Have you no plans to interest you? Tell Me all about them. Do they concern your vocation? What do you think of? What would you like? Are you planning some pleasure for your mother, for your family, for your guardian? What do you wish to do for them?
This fifth mediation before the blessed Sacrament made me oddly uncomfortable. Do I have plans about which I’m concerned? Some event I’m planning for family?
I found I didn’t want to think about it. I moved instead to clean some dishes left over from an earlier dinner with friends and put them away. I noticed the silver probably needed to be cleaned and polished it before the next weekend’s company. I fixed myself a cup of coffee and began reading others’ blog postings, hoping for some inspiration. I re-read the meditation once or twice and began a couple of sentences about something that seemed mostly unrelated.
And then it struck me.
Well, yes, I do have an upcoming event that concerns me…that dinner party next weekend. And no, I have not yet asked for God to take my apprehensions into His care. In one part of my mind I uncharitably figure God’s to blame for getting me into this situation to begin with. (Editor Angel – Oh, dear!)
A bit of back story will probably help. Even as I write, I can feel my own resistance to the whole subject. How to describe this? (Editor Angel – Stop this procrastinating, Just write; edit later!)
My husband and I have been estranged for several years from his brother. There wasn’t anything in particular that prompted the estrangement — no triggering argument or incident. Just years of this sort of competition of wills.
Just one example: An atheist, my brother-in-law nonetheless always participated in our family Christmas and Easter gatherings, especially after their father passed and their mother was most-often with us for the holidays.
For several Christmases he would decorate the tops of his gifts to us and our children with little rubber ducks. Potentially cute, but instead of the yellow, smiling duckies that we all remember fondly from our childhood, his rubber duckies would be red and black, sporting a devious smile and devil horns. Better yet, they came in varying sizes, so my pre-teen daughter at the time could make little families out of them.
Whoopee! I had a choice of being a wet blanket or acquiescing in a pretty aggressive, but non-verbal tug-of-war in my own home.
The duckies quietly disappeared.
After their mother passed a few years ago, it just didn’t seem we had enough in common to bother getting together with him and his partner. It was a relief for me, actually, to be able to forgo gatherings, where I would have to work to avoid being pulled down by the undercurrent of tension that always seemed to threaten.
So, I guess my resistance is laced with equal parts guilt and simmering righteous indignation. Even I can detect the not-so-latent hostility I’m still carrying around.
As I have been called over the last year to a different level of commitment to Christ, though, I have felt a need, if not yet a desire, to make more of an effort. One minister I heard preach years ago said God has given certain of our family members to us as sandpaper gifts; they’re there to help smooth our rough edges. Still, I don’t know if a real relationship is possible or even a good idea.
But, maybe he’s evolved somehow over the last couple of years. Maybe my prayers for him and his partner to be touched by God have found some traction. Or maybe we can enjoy a simple evening just discussing our favorite new recipes, how all the kids are doing, our travel plans for the year, our favorite new books. Safe topics. Non-personal topics. Maybe.
But, is there something further I would pray for if I had real, honest-to-goodness faith that God was a mighty God, capable of any and all things?
I know I can’t give up God in order to satisfy my brother-in-law, so I guess I could pray for Him to take all of us and our relationships into His care and to show us His way. To make us a miracle.
Oddly (maybe), this following prayer was what I wrote at the beginning of this reflection, those words that I earlier didn’t think were related to this topic:
Our God — father, brother, companion — who walks with us, sits next to us, patiently awaiting our attention, who is always available to comfort and guide and protect us, who understands our humanity — hold my hand. Lead me. Steady my steps when I falter. Strengthen my heart when fear and anxiety creep in. Help me to know Your love so fully that I cannot keep it in.
I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week, too, as we all prepare for this upcoming visit. (Editor Angel: There now. Was that so difficult? Well, yes, actually, I feel just a bit naked, all things being equal!)