Monday, February 9, 2009

Hitting life's pause button

Events this past week have really given me pause, which is something I don't do often enough. Usually I'm flying from one thing to the next, rarely taking time to savor things or reflect. And when you do that, you run the risk of forgetting how blessed you are. This week, however, a writing colleague's loss and her subsequent posts about the raw grief she is experiencing really made me stop and take a hard look at what's around me. You know what I found? Blessings, joy, love, and, yes, some little annoyances, but that's the beauty part. The annoyances are really insignificant when you take in the sweeping big picture. I am very lucky, something I don't tend to dwell on.

You may recall that last week I asked you to pray for Catholic author and blogger Amy Welborn Dubruiel and her family because her husband, Michael Dubruiel, an author and blogger in his own right, died unexpectedly. Although Amy and I have never met in person, we have spoken by phone a number of times for stories and such. I feel a kinship with Amy, not just because we are Catholic writers, but because we are moms closing in on 50 with a preschooler still at home. Because we are wives with husbands "in the business," so our marriages have incorporated not only our personal relationships with our spouses but professional partnerships that are grounded in and driven by our faith lives.

When Amy posted notes on Facebook this week, I could easily imagine myself in her place, and I didn't like what a I saw. Not just because I was trying to imagine her grief and the sorrow of helping her young children come to grips with their own grief, but because I was thinking of all the times -- many times per day, I would say -- that I let those little annoyances I spoke of get in the way of truly and completely loving the people I live with. I think we all experience those moments when we realize we don't say certain things often enough, don't do certain things often enough, but an event like this really brings it crashing home. What would I wish I had done if I knew that Dennis or I might head to the YMCA tomorrow morning and never come home? It's a sobering thought.

Amy wrote about planning Michael's funeral Mass and choosing the music. She mentioned that she wanted the Litany of the Saints to be played as the entrance hymn, and I thought: How beautiful. I told Dennis to file that in his memory bank for the day when my turn comes. Today, at 11 a.m., when Michael's funeral Mass is scheduled to begin, I will play the Litany of the Saints, which I happen to have in iTunes because Dennis downloaded it when I was in the midst of a church-music buying frenzy. In the haunting echo of that litany, I will try to unite myself with Amy.

That is the beauty of this faith of ours. We may be hundreds of miles apart, worlds apart. We may hardly know each other or not know each other at all. But our faith in Jesus Christ allows us to lift each other up in our suffering, to try to take on a piece of that suffering. We may not be able to be physically present to assist Amy on her journey, by we can be spiritually present, not only by offering prayers but by allowing the suffering to touch our own lives and transform the way we live.

None of us will be spared the cross. It will find its way to us in one form or another. We fall back on our faith and on the prayers and spiritual strength of those around us. We cannot walk this journey alone. We were not meant to walk this journey alone. And so we continue on our path, hoping and praying that a kind soul will come along and offer to help shoulder our burden.

2 comments:

Jean L. said...

Hey, Mary. Take a look at today's reflection on the pray.nd website (http://pray.nd.edu/) It speaks a bit to what you're saying today. I'm grateful when something or someone reminds me that it's not all about me...When we take a deep breath and look beyong our own experience, it's amazing what there is to see, yes?
Thanks for your thoughts...Jean

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Mary, thank you for putting into words how I have been feeling this week about Amy's loss and her resulting processing of that loss. Her sharing has challenged me to look at so many things differently. These kinds of lessons are gold, even if they have come on the heels of someone's suffering. There is good in all things. Again, thanks. You are a beautiful writer!