This weekend was pretty phenomenal, and I am still on a high from it, so we will see how long that lasts.
My main objective in starting this blog was to find other Catholic ladies with whom to share insights and life journeys, and I have virtually acquainted myself with several sweet ladies who appear to have much more interesting lives than my own sometimes. It does appear that the vast majority of my favorites are light-years ahead of me in some ways…or maybe I am ahead of them…or maybe the paths are just so different that there is no comparison. Anyway, most of the ladies have young children and get to be stay-at-home mommies and homeschool and basically get to do all the awesome things I wish I could. The grass is always greener on the other side, though, I suppose, because I frequently hear how they wish to pee in peace, enjoy a bath solo, or go to Target alone. I don’t have seven pairs of sticky hands trying to muck up my walls or pull on my skirt, and I don’t have the opportunity to create sweet crafts and lesson plans to busy the little hands while I create a liturgically appropriate centerpiece. These ladies all have what I hope to have someday, even tomorrow, Lord willing, but I am not there.
I love my parish, but it is in a retirement area and there didn’t seem to be much going on for young adults until pretty recently. There is faith formation for kids and there are plenty of events for adults lately, too, but I am always the only one under retirement age there. Most of the events tend to be while I am at work, but I joined a now-on-hiatus book club, have been doing the wonderful Great Adventure Bible study, and also frequent the Christian Meditation prayer group on Saturday mornings. I have made some very lovely friends that are several decades older than myself, which turns out to be just fine. I love their stories, wisdom, and cooking. Being somewhat of an old soul who loves gardening and sewing and the like, I actually have a lot in common with them, but they have more time to pursue these hobbies, of course. They are also where I hope to be someday, Lord willing, but I am not currently there.
So where am I? My Martha self is always and forever searching and pushing to have the next phase of my life or trying to obtain something that isn’t on my path. I have always had a hard time stopping to smell the roses, and an especially hard time listening to the Holy Spirit. I struggle daily with my current lot in life and yet also thank God for where I am. My husband and I are struggling with infertility, but we are paying bills down like mad (rather than paying for daycare and diapers) and I do have a sweet, well-behaved teenage son. We have a little old house, but it is ours and we are doing lovely remodeling projects (with our own hands) that I deem Pinterest or BHG worthy. I have to work long hours at a stressful job, but it is a very well-paying job and pretty interesting. I really have nothing to complain about, but I also know Jesus wants better things for me. He wants to show me a glimpse of the many mansions at His Father’s house. He wants me to be a part of and adorn His Bride by using my time and talents as He intended.
On a whim, and because I just have a fire in my heart for my faith since becoming a Catholic, I signed up last minute to attend the Christ Renews His Parish retreat (affectionately known as Chirp) hosted at my parish church this past weekend. I signed up Wednesday night and showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:30 am Saturday morning. Many women had signed up months ago and some even had a idea of what to expect…I didn’t have time to anticipate it and I didn’t have any idea of what would happen. I tried to Google it on Friday, but the only things the internet revealed were praises of other women saying it was life-changing for them…but no details about what one DOES at the retreat. In the spirit of pleasant surprises, I won’t reveal too much myself, in case you haven’t attended one…but it was SO beautiful.
As per usual for any event at my parish, I was one of the youngest attendees…but for once, not THE youngest, and there was a pretty even spread among age groups and backgrounds. Honestly, too, the sweet ladies were wonderfully young at heart and such a joy to me, I forgot to notice the difference in our ages. I learned again how strong women are and how vital our role is in Christ’s Church. It was a little “kum ba ya” in some ways, but enjoyably so and so very healing to my bruised soul. In such a short time, I feel sure I made some new life-long friends. I am so excited to have new people to talk to after Mass and pray for by name. I feel humbled and grateful to be mentioned in their prayers.
Without giving away the fun and moving activities we participated in, I will divulge the highlights:
- People, when they can talk uninterrupted, and when they have the sacred confidentiality of their listeners, can tell the most amazing stories.
- Nothing feels as good as wretchedly confessing your sins and faults and realizing Jesus already paid the price and will forgive you. Coming out of the confession room is better than a hot bath after a mud race and then receiving a hug from your mama while she is wearing Estee Lauder perfume.
- Seeing ladies old enough to be your grandma giggle like school girls and let loose is the best kind of fun. It reminds you that being an adult doesn’t mean you have to be boring and being a role-model doesn’t mean you have to be somber.
- The care and thought that perfect strangers invest in you will astound you. Humble you. Fill your cup to overflowing.
- God really does wink at you. All. the. time. He re-directed my bull-headed self away from mundane chores this weekend to spend good quality time with Him. Because of that, I met a woman that struggled with many of my same issues, including infertility, and gave me such hope and encouragement and prayers that I feel more sure of His promises than ever before. He also gave me the opportunity to participate in something bigger and greater than anything I can do alone and be a part of a ministry. I am taking a page of Mary’s book on this one and just saying “yes” and trusting the Lord.
- This picture! The faith formation kids drew placemats for our tables on Wednesday night. They were advised the theme of this year’s retreat was “Jesus knocking at the door” and this kid drew Jesus as a Hassidic Jew holding a platter of loaves and fish, knocking at the door of a house. There is also inexplicably an outhouse. God love ’em.