I had the privilege of serving as a Eucharistic minister at Holy Thursday Mass. Ministry has been a gift. I have difficulty forgiving myself for the sinful choices I make and I wonder if I will collapse on the altar someday. It is a blessing to be able to offer Eucharist to my fellow parishioners. Those intimate moments when we look at one another and sometimes share smiles are beautiful. I feel small and humble. I am reminded of my call to service.
All the Eucharistic ministers were asked to take part in a procession during the transfer of the Eucharist. It was a simple procession around the church. We walked in lines of two. I was so proud to show reverence. As we approached the Blessed Sacrament, I sensed my loved ones who have died: Brett, Don, Charlene, David, both of my grandfathers. They were there as all the candles were gathered around the Blessed Sacrament. As we knelt, I felt the love of everyone around me including those who have crossed over. It was a perfect way to end Lent.
I am truly grateful for these last 40 days. Despite my struggles, I gained so much. I recognize the blessing of being M’s mother and to model love the way God loves me. Listening to music that promotes spiritual reflection and speaking and speaking daily about my faith and experiences has been transformative. Writing for 40 days has changed me. I will soon be announcing a major change in my life. That would not have been possible if I hadn’t been in the middle of my Lenten journey. I’m more aware of who I am and of who God intends me to be. I am grateful to God. This is a very Good Friday.
Last week, I revisited a theme that recurs in Matthew Kelly’s books, presentations, and now Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever. Matthew Kelly has always said, “Our lives change when our habits change”. The day’s particular reflection focused on the saints and their habit of daily prayer. Matthew drew a parallel between the saints and successful people having certain habits. Some habits build us up and make us better versions of ourselves while others do not.
As part of the reflection, I was asked to write down three good habits I practice. As a family, we pray every day. M and I do a daily litany of saints and pray for special intentions. Another is that I tell M and her father “I love you” at least once, if not multiple times, daily. I’m good at hydration. I carry my water bottle to work and as I go about my day. It has become a routine that helps me feel refreshed.
We then were asked to list three habits. My worst habits are my time on my phone, my inconsistency in daily exercise, and my poor sleeping habits(ok so I mentioned leaving dishes in the sink but when one of the Dynamic Catholic speakers mentioned sleep, I realized I needed to change my answer.) These are habits that need to be reshaped. Getting enough sleep and consistent exercise will help me feel physically better. Disconnecting from my work phone and my personal phone will lead to improved focus and increased mindfulness. Since I didn’t disconnect from social media this Lent, my ability to commit to spiritual reading and actively participate with Dynamic Catholic has been negatively affected.
Matthew Kelly pointed out that 10 minutes to be with God and pray can make a difference whether you do it for 60 days or 100 days. When I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours, that helped set the tone for my day. We used to pray the rosary in its entirety and do night prayer daily. These are habits we can bring back; they are not lost. Now is the time to be proactive. On Friday, like most people, I feel rejuvenated. It’s a good day to commit to something with renewed energy. It’s time to make a habit to use time productively and pray in gratitude consistently.
Saints by Fra Angelico. Who wants to be in that number?
During the second week of Lent, I had to reassess my progress with my Lenten challenges. Bagging up items I no longer need was going well. There are fewer items to discard though my house still looks cluttered. My writing is going well in producing drafts. I haven’t managed time well for revising and publishing. I spent four hours doing a week’s worth of posts. I have to come up with a new system or I have to let go and accept this will be the process. In terms of more prayer, I’m listening to gospel music daily. I’m not being diligent about doing my spiritual reading or truly taking time out of my day to pray.
Today’s prayer was for a better relationship with my daughter. While she may get upset by what happens in her school friendships or in dance competition, the biggest influence on her life is the relationship with her parents. When we’re hard on her, it hurts her. It’s a busy time of year with dance competition, Carnaval prep, and Lenten activities at my daughter’s school. Busyness and multitasking keeps us from diving into each moment. I’m notorious for multitasking, especially at work when multiple devices are on.
I need to manage my time and stress levels. I’m working on a job search. My taxes haven’t been done. Work has been hectic. This is no one day Ides of March phenomenon; it’s been difficult for months. Adult and youth behaviors show a lack of boundaries, self-control, and common sense. It’s taxing to manage all of that. On the home front, the 4th member of our household, my mother in law, arrives this week. That will change the family dynamics. The kitchen will be cleaner but I may have more interpersonal challenges. My schedule may be called into question more often than usual.
Lent is a time of struggle. I’m put to many tests daily. I have to face them day by day, hour by hour. I really want to do minute by minute because I’m not enjoying the moments. There’s no quick fix. I have to sit in the desert hungry, thirsty, irritated, and tired and let the sun beat down on my head.
I had several moments in the last week when I broke my Lenten promise and lost my patience with M. Despite these challenges, M and I have a great relationship. I have fostered close communication. We are similar in sense of humor and in the way we articulate ourselves. People point out she’s your mini-me; she tries on my vocabulary and certain phrases and idioms. We can have relatively deep conversations about different subjects because she’s an observant critical thinker. I appreciate her how she perceives the world. She jokes, “I’m much pettier than you are.” I replied, “No I’ve been petty for forty-four years.” She said, “I’ve been petty for millions of years.” She says that in fun because she has a better understanding of situations than many kids. I am confident that M will continue to evolve into a good woman because I deeply love her. She doesn’t always feel that. She sometimes says, “I don’t feel like you love me right now.” I am committed to mending our relationship and reassuring her that I will always provide support as her mom.
With the coming of spring, new life arrives. My best friend had her second child last week and one of my dance sisters had her firstborn child that week. I’m excited for my friends who are new moms. It’s not easy to be a mom but it is motivating to know you have a person in your life who wants what’s best for you, of you, and from you. The mother-child relationship is like no other.
I know of a fellow writer who publicly declared that her romantic love exceeded her mother love. I am still judging her for it. For the longest time, I was fixated on romantic love. My early blogs were focused on the search for romantic love and its challenges. Mother love is pure, infinite, and endures through many tests and trials. The way society has conceptualized and portrayed romantic love and the way we experience romantic love doesn’t measure up. Mother love is my greatest love.
M enriches my life in ways nobody else ever has. Of all the people in my life, my daughter has truly made me evolve into the best version of myself. I may have my bad moments. Motherhood motivates me and makes my world more beautiful every single day.