A real blessing in my life since the summer has been 2 friends I meet with once a week. I had been praying for at least a year to find someone to help me along my journey, especially through the trials of last year – perhaps a spiritual director, or a prayer group – it seemed like nothing was going to come of my desire for some IRL company. Then C. approached me and asked if I would be interested in meeting once a week, and away we went!
So we have a little formula of prayers etc we follow, and we read the readings and psalm that will come up in the next Sunday mass. This week the readings were about preparing a way in the wilderness, making straight the paths, John the Baptist. B. shared with us some reading she has been doing from a book called ‘Donkey Bells’ (now on my wish list) which talks about how the donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem was also carrying the Christ child, the new life which was to be born. B. recommended to me that I consider ‘being’ the donkey – as I walk, run, dance, plod or trudge along my path – I am carrying a new life, a life that will become known to me and change me. Perhaps there will be new revelations for me at Christmas, perhaps not, but it will come sooner or later.
Another really profound thing that B. shared had to do with offering up whatever we have to give at mass. When the gifts are carried up to the altar, or on the altar, make it a point to give God our anxieties, our fears, our joys, our plans – whatever is in us to give. I did do this at church this morning and an amazing thought came to me: Catholics believe that the bread and wine which are brought up become transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, which we receive in communion. So here I am offering my sufferings, anxieties, etc … which are being carried up and placed into God’s hands … to be transformed … to be given back to me, in a way that will strengthen me and bring me peace and joy. (maybe? I hope so anyway).
I haven’t yet started to put myself in the place of the donkey (I love the thought that I have official permission to be an a$$! hee hee hee). I still feel overwhelmed by everything I need to do, especially as DH is away for periods of time and I need to manage working full time, the kids, the house, etc etc. Most of the time I am fine with it – just thankful that we are in a much better place financially (though we still have a lot of catching up to do, at least we are not going further into a hole), my job is challenging but satisfying and I love my colleagues, etc. Every now and then, though, I think of my good friends who are single or married and childfree, pursuing careers but having a relatively more peaceful and undemanding home life. (Definitely tidier house, time to enjoy other hobbies, time to travel, etc.). Other times I see the friends who have easily had their children and are, for the most part, stay-at-home-moms – everything they are able to do for their children and with their families, but it just isn’t going to work that way for us. And those who have had the # of children they want – 3, 4, or even 2 but knowing that 2 is the right number for them. Although it may indeed be better for us not to have had some of these choices, sometimes I do wish we could have chosen.
Every time I check Lori’s website (from the road less travelled) I see the quote she has put up, along the lines of ‘we must be willing to let go of the life we had planned in order to live the life that is waiting for us.’ I absolutely think it is true, but it is hard to do.
So there we go. As the donkey, I can carry all of the things I can rejoice in, as well as all of the ‘I wish it were different’ things. And definitely my prayers for those who are in desolation, and find it hard to be thankful or find joy, about their situation – the lack of choice that seems in such direct conflict with their desires and longings. While I do feel it at times, it is a far, far cry from what it has been at the darkest times of life.