This particular post wavered back and forth in my heart today. I posted it early in the day, then withdrew it into a draft, re-posted it and then deleted it. I am a wishy-washy soul who has quite a bit of growing to do. But after a nap, praying the rosary and seeing my husband and sons arrive home with a new washing machine and then re-reading "Winter of the Spirit" which I had posted last January, I felt supported by the words from the former me and I realized that maybe these words written today in the midst of a panic attack, could really be a possible help to me in the future, and maybe, God-willing, they might be a help to you as well. And please, keep Roses for Our Lady in your prayers for a successful May Crowning on Mother's Day to honor Our Blessed Mother!
When my husband and I were leaving for the hospital to have our third son, I told my mother-in-law who had come to stay with our older sons that I didn't want to do this, didn't want to have to deal with the labor. Although I'd been through this twice before, I was still very fearful and would rather have skipped past all of the pain and get right to the baby in my arms. Of course, what woman doesn't feel that same way. I've never met a woman who said, "I can't wait to be in labor, I just love that intense pain!" My mother-in-law's response to my fear and worry was, "It's too late now! You've got to do this!" And of course, she was right, there's no backing out of a labor of love, and as it turns out, that son's delivery was the easiest of all my five children, there really was nothing to fear.
Your Holy Thing
It was , two days before what my son whose delivery I feared calls "your holy thing" in other words Roses for Our Lady's annual May Crowning, when that long ago memory of my fear of labor returned and I uttered those same words I spoke back then..."I don't want to do this." And although working to help organize a May Crowning is nothing at all like having a baby, and can't even come remotely close, somehow the fear that I knew in that long-ago moment came back to me and panic set in good and deep.
The day began in an ordinary way, my husband and I both arising well before the children to get started on our day. When five-thirty arrived and Paul was dressed with a cup of coffee in his hand, but didn't say good-bye and head for the back door for work like usual, I was mystified. I had forgotten that he had taken a vacation day to attend our school's VIP day with our youngest son. On VIP day the students are allowed to invite a special person, usually a parent or grandparent, to spend the school day with them. This special day begins with an all-school Mass at 8:15 instead of the usual daily Mass at 7 AM which had been canceled.
With no 7 AM Mass to begin my day, especially on a First Friday, I felt the first ominous signs of fear. Since that day last January when I was elected president of Roses for Our Lady, an organization with a thirty year history for which I am completely unqualified to lead, I have thrown myself into learning as much as I can about holy hours and May Crownings and Eucharistic rosary processions. This upcoming event which will be held on Mother's Day, which I had only attended last year for the first time, is just so beautiful and holy, that no amount of preparation feels adequate for me. Upon arriving at work, I read some correspondence from my friend Kurt who has been mentoring and helping me through all of the details involved in being the president of Roses for Our Lady and in planning a May Crowning, and I found these words:
"remember, the devil is still gonna try to screw things up the closer we get to the actual event...be prepared...in the end though, all will be fine, and Our Lady will triumph!"
But instead of focusing on "Our Lady will triumph" I dwelt on "the devil is gonna try to screw things up."
The Devil at Hand
After a morning at work, I made a quick stop at home before my dentist appointment, to check the mail and throw the laundry in the dryer. The mail contained three letters from the high school with my three oldest son's fourth quarter progress reports. Although two of those reports were fine as expected, the third was very unpleasant with less than ideal marks and notes from the teachers stating, "does not turn in assignments." Doesn't every mother blame herself when her children fail? Doesn't she think, if only I spent more time helping him, nagging him to study, double checking his work instead of running around with all of my "holy things," maybe he'd do better. Well, whether or not every mother blames herself, this one certainly does, and I've no doubt it was the whisperings of the evil one that lay this guilt upon me, since I know from past experience that mid-term progress reports don't tell the full story of how my children are doing in school, and that there is still plenty of time to pick up the pieces and improve.
With that self-blaming knot in my stomach, I ran downstairs to tend to the laundry and found that our eighteen-year-old washing machine had finally seen its last load of wash. The laundry was still soaking wet. I ran the spin cycle again and was met with the loud noise of a broken motor and a wringer which stood absolutely still. There was no time to deal with it now, as I had to hurry to the dentist, fully expecting him to find a cavity, thinking bad luck was on the schedule for the day. Fortunately, sitting in Dr. Baggott's cozy new dental chair was the best part of my day. Dr. Baggott and his wife had been parishioners at St. Matthias when Paul and I had first joined and they were the ones who taught the baptism class when we were expecting our first son. I told Dr. Baggott about John's recent Confirmation and about how his faith began with those classes that Paul and I had attended all those years ago. "Oh, so it took!" he exclaimed, making me smile behind all of the dental instruments in my mouth.
This surprisingly pleasant experience at the dentist's was followed by an appointment with a loan officer. My husband and I are working on a refinancing deal for our home, looking to scrape together a few extra dollars to cover the cost of Catholic School tuition for the upcoming year. Dreading a dental appointment is nothing compared to the stress of refinancing your house, so when we arrived home, I was grateful for the and the end of fasting so that I could enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner. But wine wasn't what I was needing. What I was needing was prayer which at the present time, I simply could not put forth.
A Few Words
By the end of the day, my tired and weary eyes felt like sand equal to the dryness of my throat from which no prayer could flow. I clung to my rosary as if it were Mary's hand and trusted that others would be praying for me as I drifted off to sleep.
Upon arising the following day, I opened my Magnifacat Magazine and read the following words from prayer for morning:
"Throughout her life, Mary emptied herself of every shred of even sinless self-interest. Filled instead with the presence of God, the water of life from the fountain of salvation, she was free to offer her Son to the Father on the cross and to sing with joy in his resurrection."
Then, when I opened my emails, I found these words of wisdom from a new-found friend regarding the May Crowning:
"A blessed Mother’s Day to you! What a great way to honor Our Lady! If you focus on honoring her, all the little details will take care of themselves, as you will surely see. "
What wonders a few words can do to turn my attitude around!
And so, I turn all of my stress, worry and fear over to the Blessed Mother. Today I will empty myself of all my self-interest and focus on honoring the Mother of us all, and I will remember that I am not in this alone. I am blessed with the presence of so many wonderful friends who care deeply about honoring Mary and are selflessly giving of themselves to make the May Crowning a truly special event. Making the May Crowning a joyous and holy occasion will probably be one of the easier things I'll ever have to do in this life when I remember the often repeated phrase "It's not about you" and realize that those words are wise; for it is not about me, it's about the woman who leads us to the only One who matters, Jesus himself. My involvement with Roses for Our Lady and the May Crowning is a labor of love; a holy thing, that will reap heavenly rewards beyond my present understanding, if only I would get out of the way and let her gently lead.
"On this day, O beautiful Mother,
On this day we give thee our love.
Trusting thy gentle care to prove."
, fondly we hover,