So, I got this book when I placed my order for our homeschooling supplies for next year. I'm not far into it, taking the advice in the introduction to read it slowly and prayerfully. It's a good little book though. It kind of reads like what I *wish* I got when I went to confession...actual constructive criticism and advice. In it, Escriva regularly chastises the reader for various character issues, often issues related to laziness in regard to daily duties, which are a special favorites in my own personal list of flaws. I fell asleep praying for help in the duties of my vocation, for the strength to avoid the temptation of procrastinating chores I didn't feel like doing, to stay on our daily schedule (which starts by making sure I get up on time, something hard to do when you aren't sleeping well!), and to tackle the projects that need finishing before the baby comes....generally for more self-discipline.
Well, you know, that God, he does know how to answer a prayer...my general plan for a weekday morning includes waking up at 6am. John wakes up at 5:15 to start getting ready for work, and so when his alarm went off I was already forming a litany in my head of all the reasons I should be able to sleep in a little this morning. Then, before John even hit the shower, Jack woke up and joined me in bed, and it soon became clear that he did not intend to go back to sleep. I put on a Thomas video and rolled back in bed, hoping that would buy me a little bit more time. John, by this time, was in the shower in our master bathroom, a sadly neglected bathroom as only master bathrooms can be. They are easy to ignore, yes? No one ever uses it besides John and me, no one else ever even sees it, and so it is usually the last priority as far as bathroom cleaning goes in a house with three bathrooms, the other two of which are accessible to visitors and also see regular kid use. Cleaning this particular bathroom was definitely on my list of procrastinated chores.
When John was finished in the bathroom, he joined Jack and I on the bed and informed me that the toilet had become terribly clogged and gross. He had managed to clear the pipe, but in the process the toilet had back into the tub, and so now the tub was a mess of,,,,well,,,you know. So, you see, my prayers are answered. Not only did I find the motivation to tackle some procrastinated chores, but I was forced from bed...not merely on time, mind you, but early enough to tackle the unexpected chores and still stay on schedule this morning. God is good. And he has a great sense of humor, yes?
On a different note, at 5:56 I came downstairs and put on the tv, waiting for Word World to come on for Jack so I could have my morning tea in peace...Jack, it seems, is unaware that our schedule calls for him to stay in bed until 7am...and while flipping slowly through to PBS I passed one of those protestant religious channels, I don't even know what it's called offhand...but anyway, this woman was preaching (something that never fails to surprise me a little bit, being raised Catholic and all). She was quite funny, so I lingered a minute. She announced that Jesus said, "I have come that you might have a NEW AND HAPPY LIFE!"
Wow...really? I actually laughed out loud. A new and *happy* life? That's not how my gospel reads. I mean, don't get me wrong, my life is on the whole quite happy. But I am acutely aware, every single day, that this is a gift. Not a gift because I'm holy enough to deserve happiness, or because I've done something to earn a good marriage and good kids, but just a gift I've been granted, for whatever reason, for this period of time, and a gift that could be changed tomorrow for a different gift, a cross of suffering. I'm aware of this because I look around me every day and see good people, better and holier people than I'll ever be, even innocent children, suffering tremendously. When you read your bible or the stories of the lives of the saints, you find that those closest to God very often suffered terribly. In fact, I think it was St. Teresa of Avila that said something like, "If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, no wonder you have so few of them."
Of course, in our culture suffering equals unhappiness...in Christ, this isn't to be the case. In Catholic teaching, suffering, done well and united with Christ, has great value. The saints were happy to suffer for the kingdom, were happy to know they were united with the will of Christ and with his sufferings on the cross. So, though I don't think she meant it this way, and she did still misquote the bible a bit, maybe the woman on tv this morning was right. Christ did come to bring us a new and happy life...if we can really embrace what true happiness is supposed to be.