Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's The Rush?

When I was in kindergarten, I couldn't WAIT to go to middle school.  When I was in middle school, I couldn't WAIT to go to high school.  When I was in high school I couldn't WAIT to drive a car.  When I could drive a car, I couldn't WAIT to move out of the house.

Are you seeing a trend?

As I was growing, each milestone that approached gave me a rush.  Just as if the turbo-button had been pressed on my spaceship, I'd be propelled forward by a momentary burst of excitement, freedom, and awe.

I still experience the rush of approaching, smashing, and passing milestones: engagement was awesome, my wedding was beyond awesome, and becoming a parent is simply indescribable.  I even enjoy less common milestones: end of deployment, moving back to the states... heck, sometimes I celebrate the passing of a rough week!

I wonder, am I so enthralled by the passage of time or am I simply entertained by newness?  Perhaps I feel that with each milestone passed I have entered into a new realm of personhood. I am slowly being inducted into the club of people who have Been There and Done That.

Since becoming a parent, I have frequently caught myself thinking, "I can't wait until..." I can't wait until he laughs.  I can't wait until he can sit up by himself.  I can't wait until he crawls.  But, HOLD THE PHONE!!!  I try my best to stop such nonsense from leaving my brain by way of my mouth.  My son's approaching, smashing, and passing of milestones is all happening way too fast for my comfort.

I now think back to the adults who have told me "don't be in such a rush."  I will probably hear myself tell my son the same thing.  (Probably sooner than I expect!)

I wonder, will I clench my fist in triumph when my long-awaited AARP card comes in the mail someday?  Will I feel the rush of excitement and freedom as I purchase my first senior-priced item or get an invitation to my very first colonoscopy?  (SCORE!)

I realize I have an opportunity now, while I'm young, to make a life choice: get stoked about the experiencing of milestones or get stoked about the experiencing of moments; the grand and the minute.

I think I'll choose the latter... and I can't WAIT to pass that on to my son.  I just can't wait.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Divine and The Dummy

On our recent trip to Paris, I was most excited to visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Steeped in a history of love, charity, and true miracles, I have been reading about this place for years.  I've had such a special experience with the Miraculous Medal and been so touched and inspired by the story of St. Catherine LabourĂ© that I made it a priority to visit this sacred location and see where St. Catherine's body is on display, peaceful and incorrupt.

Walking into the courtyard of the chapel, I silently prepared myself for an emotional experience that I'd get to share with my husband and son.

We entered the chapel just as the Eucharist was being received.  The line was short, but we hadn't been present for the entire Mass so I didn't think I should get in line to take communion.  We stood hesitantly on the sidelines for a bit, then decided to leave until Mass was over.  When we returned I made a beeline to the front of the chapel to an elevated glass coffin.  Here she was! Here was the woman that had played such a big part in the changing of my life!

For propriety's sake I'd sidled into a pew not-too-close to the front of the chapel.  As I gazed into the contents of the glass, I felt terribly underwhelmed.  I stared past the people taking pictures in front of the coffin and I couldn't help feeling that something was just not right.  Why did she look so fake?  Why didn't I sense anything special?  Why did I feel like just a dumb tourist looking for a photo opp?

I watched another line begin to form at the center of the chapel, probably people there to offer Mass intentions or prayer requests to the nuns in attendance.  I felt a desire to join the people and quickly dismissed it because I don't like being part of a fuss; part of a crowd.  Then I thought of my husband waiting for me at the back with my son, so, without uttering even a short prayer, I snapped a picture and hastily left.

The historic chapel was beautiful and I felt the satisfaction of checking a spiritual to-do off my list, still I was left with a feeling that something was missing.

It wasn't until the next evening, searching online for an answer to my disappointment, that I discovered my blunder: in my attempt to make my visit quick and not get in anyone's way I had snapped a picture of the only glass coffin I'd seen, the tomb of St. Louise.  In fact, the "person" inside wasn't a person at all, but a plaster representation of the saint housed below the glass.  My dear St. Catherine's body lay not 20 feet away at the other side of the chapel.

Had I gotten in line to receive the Eucharist I would have seen her.  Had I stayed in the chapel to see the end of the Mass I would have seen her.  Had I not avoided the crowd and simply gotten in line to see what the other people were fussing about I would have seen her.  Had I taken my time and not worried about what my husband and son were doing I would have seen her.

When I realized what a dummy I'd been, I cried.  I felt like such a fool for giving into impatience and missing the very thing I'd gone to see.

This is not the first time this has happened to me; not the first time I've pridefully given an unfamiliar situation a half-hearted effort and bowed out early.  This is, however, the first time I've felt so bitterly the disappointment of trying to be in control.

My husband assures me that we'll go back one day.  Until then, I'll be reflecting on my dumbness, my humanness, and learning to simply let go.