For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there I am among them. ~Matthew 18:20~
These past few weeks of my life will be scribbled into the book of history as Ye Olde Tempestuous Times. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they bordered on the dismay of the Dark Ages, but in some of my weaker, self-pitying moments I probably would have said so.
Because every now and then I get dramatic.
But not often.
I won’t go into the intimate details of said Big Issues, because for purposes of the events that unfolded today, they’re quite irrelevant to my story. I humbly believe there’s not a soul alive that doesn’t, at least once in their life, shake clenched fists heavenward and with overwhelming fear and frustration holler to the Lord, ‘Is life ever going to be normal?’
Through the years, I’ve come to understand normal is just a word with an infinite array of possibilities. Sometimes I could just kick myself in the backside every time I act utterly and completely surprised when Trouble comes a’callin’.
IT’S JUST LIFE.
However. It appears, even after repeated visits with Mr. Trouble, I haven’t quite grasped the concept that he’s comin’ … and when he leaves, rest assured at some point … he’s a comin’ back.
OH. YOU AGAIN? DRATS.
After not having attended Church for the past few weeks, coupled with the Edict from Said Church about attendance envelopes and the underlying tone of We’re Watching You … blah blah blah … I went to Mass alone today. On a side note, I abhor the guilt the Church heaps upon it’s parishioners. But. I give them credit.
Because of the Memorial Day Holiday, Church was relatively empty this morning. I settle myself into a barren row and shortly before the Mass begins a woman about my age and the size of a Barbie doll sits down next to me and gives me a weary smile.
We get through all the Catholic Rituals without any real interaction. Then. In the Catholic Church when we get to the recitation of the Lord’s prayer, it is customary to hold up your arms and lift up your palms. Today, this woman reached over and took my hand firmly in hers. And, of course, after the past Bad Weeks, it made me weepy, this stranger holding my hand tightly in hers while we’re giving praise to God.
WHEW. BIG STUFF.
When it gets to the Kneeling Time After Communion, I kinda lose it. Sometimes, especially if I haven’t been to Church in a few weeks, that part of the service can be very overwhelming to me. The only way I can describe it is that there’s an immense sense of release, of just letting it all go. Of being in His presence and the simple knowledge that He knows Mr. Trouble has knocked on my door again.
So the tears are running down my cheeks and I’m praying, and all the while I’m thinking, ‘Good grief, do I have Kleenex in my purse?
OHMYGAWD I HOPE NO ONE IS LOOKING AT ME.
The priest finishes, we kick up our kneelers and sit back in our seats. And then, this Woman With the Weary Smile, wordlessly pats my leg reassuringly. I fish a Kleenex out of my purse, scrub at my face and lean over to the woman, ‘I’m sorry, it’s just been a trying few weeks,’ I manage a mascara-less smile in her direction. She nods and whispers, ‘Oooh I hear you. For me too. It’s been a bad few weeks for me too.’
Walking out of Church with her after service she tells me her story. And, Lord, would you believe it’s the EXACT SAME TROUBLE AS MINE.
ALMOST TO THE INTH DETAIL.
And I exhaled.
I’ve never seen this woman before. I rarely go to Mass alone where I would have had the opportunity for this interaction. The Church was wide open, yet she sat next to me.
AND WE HAD THE EXACT SAME TROUBLES.
When we parted, two strangers sharing a common burden, we hugged and wished each other a better week. And when we pulled apart, we laughed a little and she said, ‘I feel better already. I don’t feel so alone.’
Sometimes, that’s all we need to feel.
Post Scriptum: To the dear souls who have held my hand through time and space and listened to my incessant whining and attempts to puzzle things out, I thank you with my very being. The sharing of your stories and selves makes me realize I am richly blessed. Sometimes when I’m asking God to show His presence to me, He shows up in the form of incredible friends.