I spent the day rearranging the house. Spring cleaning fever sometimes comes late but when it does come, I try to take advantage of it! The master bedroom, the master bathroom, the art closet, and the coat closet look totally different (the coat closet in a bad way -- piles of things everywhere waiting to be sorted -- and I will have to acquire a new set of shelves. But the rest is all better!)
My local Catholic study group has started doing a retreat called 33 Days to Morning Glory. Today was the second day and the reflection was about Louis Marie de Montfort -- apparently he and the peasants in his parish worked very hard to build a shrine to the Passion of our Lord Jesus. But his enemies reported it to the government, saying it was a rebel fortress, and he was ordered to tear it down. He told the people of the village that if they could not have the shrine to the Passion on their land, they could have it in their hearts.
Fr Gaitley, who runs the video retreat and wrote the book, makes the daily readings short so that they can be read even by very busy people, but he tells us to try to "ponder in our hearts" as we go about the day. In my effort to continue musing on the reflection, I started thinking that a lot of a homemaker's work is much like that shrine. The dinner that was prepared gets consumed (in 15 minutes!). Then there are a lot of dirty dishes. The clean floor is soon dirty, etc. I spend several hours with a child -- sometimes several dozen -- helping him work through some issue. At the end there isn't necessarily any mark left of how that time was spent (though sometimes I am astonished years later how this or that conversation has left its mark). Certainly I can't check it off my task list. Yet that time is not really gone. It remains somehow.
Yesterday I was going to get the chance to be alone in the house for the first time in 28 + years (or at least, as far as I could remember). My husband was going to take one of the grown boys to the train station and then take the other 4 boys still at home to a baseball game. Though I love my family and prefer "quantity time" to "quality time" all things considered (that is, I like having my loved ones around, but I get sort of tired out when I am interacting actively for too long -- so basically "parallel play" ), I was looking forward to this once in a quarter century milestone. Alone! No one within shouting distance but me! Maybe I would dance, or just hang out on the computer! Or sing? Or something!
But at the last moment, it became clear that Aidan was very unhappy about going somewhere without me (he is not a clinging young man -- he has gone on several week-long journeys with his Dad by his own choice and quite happily -- but he knows that I am going to Virginia to be with his sister next month, and I think he is feeling a little ambivalent knowing that he will miss me). Anyway, at the last moment plans were changed. My husband bought an extra ticket to the Grizzlies game. Fortunately there was an empty seat still next to their group. I went with the guys to see Brendan off at Amtrak and then watch baseball in 100 degree Central Valley heat.
Did I have regrets? NO! I had fun spending time with my family, I liked the baseball ambience, and I know that time alone in the house will come someday -- maybe more days than I want! (I know that I always feel sad when one of the kids departs, even a grown one as happened yesterday, and I wish they could stay here all the time, or at least in the same neighborhood).
Do I regret all the days spent cooking meals that quickly got demolished, moving furniture that will get moved again next year when I am again in a reorganizing mood? NO! Though my teenagers asked me if the gigantic chest of drawers could stay put for longer this time -- they were quite astonished at having to move it AGAIN in only 14 months! I guess I will have to tell them the Louis de Montfort story!
Louis de Montfort was not the only saint to face disappointment in a holy endeavour he had set his heart upon -- Alphonsus Liguori also had to face the possibility of his order being disbanded. I am no saint -- but I do think that God gives mothers opportunities quite equivalent to those that the consecrated religious receive. Those crosses may be littler or humbler than the destruction of a shrine or the disbandment of an order, but as far as what goes on in the heart, they probably feel somewhat the same. We ought to pray for each other as we deal with the little heartaches, the little deprivations, that may be exactly what God needs from us to sanctify that particular situation and make it bear abundant fruit.
BTW -- Chari's daughter is back at home from a year in Slovakia ! (see Item 6.). I am sure you will hear more soon, if Chari gets a chance to share pictures : )). WELCOME BACK MADDELYN! !!!