Cover me, Lord, with your loving kindness.
Save me, as you have promised. Then I will
answer those who taunt me, for I put my hope in what
you have said.
–Psalm 119: 41-41
So many of our problems do not go away overnight. Often, there they are the next day.
And, the next.
A woman handles her problems different from her husband, different from men, in general. If we women had any idea of the power and influence we exert over those we love in our lives, we would both shudder and rejoice at this amazing reality. Our power and influence are largely spiritual and psychological. It is worth some reflection.
Even the most outgoing woman tends to internalize her problems and stew on them. Women often make excellent problem solvers because we do not leap to conclusions and are able to wait. We wait, as we so often wait for a baby to be born, wait for our husbands to return from a business trip, wait for medical attention and answers to complex health problems, wait and be patient with ourselves as we balance ten thousand things at once.
This waiting may have the effect of producing in us a gentle, contrite spirit with a firm resolve to wait for the good in ourselves and in others. Well, and honestly, there are times when this waiting causes many other reactions, like binge shopping in my case!
I was on my way out the door to use the Dress Barn coupon I got in the mail, but I decided to wait –this time– and do my chores and bag up some more old clothes for charity and consignment first.
Let’s get back to our soup, for now.
The kindness comes from our Savior. There is nothing as good and gentle as a Christian woman. I have been blessed to have been raised by such women and to be friends with them. Recently, one of my friends made a group of us a hearty soup for lunch.
It is Monday, as I write this; and, my fridge was full of odds and ends. I thought of my friend’s soup and dusted off my red, enamel-coated, cast iron soup pot.
I also started to pray and think about how much waiting and wanting is involved in life. So many things that I want to happen and seem out of my control. Rummaging through our leftovers, I began to hum and pray and think of the Mercy of God, how He has waited on me, has forgiven me, has extended his forgiveness over and over…
Every. Single. Time…
…truly, He has done this every time that I have asked for those most important gifts of grace. I know in my heart I receive them, even though I may not see how it all plays out.
What if you or I were capable of that? What if we were so pure, so serene and so wise, that every, single time chaos broke forth, we could both rise above it and offer timely solutions. What if we were so strong and patient that we could know every time when to speak and when to stay silent, when to act and when to wait.
Do not worry! We are not capable of perfection, but we are capable of constant repentance. If we were already perfect, then, there would be no need for Mother Church. In her is the “grace factory” that extends every grace to a fallen world so in need of His saving graces. There are folks all over the world, both Catholic and non-Catholic, receiving graces from sacrifices made in far-flung and unexpected places.
Sacred spaces and places exist in kitchens and convents, in parishes and retreat centers. They exist in the Rosary carefully kept in the pocket of the prayerful auto mechanic and hanging from the rear view mirror of the nurse who counts her “Hail Mary’s…” on her fingers pressing each prayer to the steering wheel as she braves another day’s hectic traffic. Most of all they come from consecrated men and women who have accepted poverty, chastity and obedience as their rule of life.
Whatever our vocation or state of life, the hearty, warming, nourishing, nothing-is-wasted soup is! The soup represents all the loose ends and leftovers that God does not waste because God works with every gift given in His Love, no matter how small. What if we were to be more like that? What if we could stop and ask Him into every matter, be united as One as Jesus and His Father are united in the Spirit of true and abiding Love? What if we could reach for His Word instead of the credit card, go on a walk in silence instead of punching out a crazed text or dumping on a friend…
…I sure do not have all this down. I am thinking and praying about it. I am fifty years old –just this past month– and see so many changes in myself and in others because God is praised and loved, however imperfectly we go about loving. It seems God loves the loose ends and leftovers the most. The thief hanging beside Him on that glorious DAY that our salvation was won on the Holy Cross only had loose ends and leftovers to give, and that gift won him Paradise in an instant.