Sunday, June 5, 2011

God Give Me the Stamina -- For More Great Weekends Like This

Mosaic from the IHM Chapel -- (c) 2011 KV
This was quite a weekend to remember. It started with a party to celebrate a dear friend's birthday on Friday night. Boy did we have to scramble to make that happen! Between the first round of a two day volleyball tournament for Grace and Lainie and Eddie's Challenger baseball game, we had three events all at the same time. We managed it though, and a fine time was had by all. Making the effort all the more worthwhile was knowing that birthday boy was quite surprised and very excited that everyone was there. So nice, but I was already exhausted from the day, and this was just the beginning of the whirlwind to come.

Saturday was a day of non-stop movement and merriment. First stop, Starbucks for coffee with the RCIA class before we met our Associate Pastor to head to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. I have to say, driving shotgun with a priest into DC on a day when the roads are closed for a major charitable event was a blessing and frightening all at the same time. First, he drives like a man (women, you all know what I mean), so I was holding on for dear life on a couple of the exit ramps -- the poor women in the back were tossed from side to side more than once. I think every male harbors a hidden dream to drive NASCAR. Nevertheless, we were all laughing and telling stories and enjoying the ride. My cheeks were hurting from laughing over the lament  about the NATS losing the night before -- only funny because it shouldn't have come as any real shock.

When our convoy arrived at the Basilica, we gathered in the IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary) side Chapel. We helped Father set up the altar for Mass, and on a beautiful first Saturday morning in June, he celebrated Mass for us. He even managed to work the NATS losing into his homily -- which, of course, made me hoot out loud. Oh, how reverent of me! Still, it was a great homily and a lovely Mass.

After Mass, we were joined by a group of 8th grade students from a school in DC who had recently made their Confirmation. They were all very interested in the art and architecture. One child, in particular, wanted to know about the artists motivations behind each of the mosaics. "Why did he choose that color blue; What made the artist decide to put those yet to be judged in flames that would remind you more of hell than awaiting final judgement?" she would ask. I felt very grateful to have her on the tour, we learned more than the typical information.

But the look of wonder and awe on the faces of my RCIA participants who had never been to the Shrine before really made the trip for me. There is really nothing like visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine. It is stunning in every way you can imagine, from the mosaic domes, to its tomb-like Crypt Church. One can visit for hours and only really take in bits and pieces of her authentic majesty. And the sense of peace when you enter envelops you, as if you had just been taken into the loving arms of the Mother of God. Really, you can feel it.

The ride home was as much fun, if not more so, than the ride down. Of course, we were all in the best mood after Mass, a tour and lunch. It was such an amazing time. But, it was only the beginning for me.

I went straight from the Basilica trip to a bridal shower at my friend Darby's house for a lovely young lady, Meghan. She will be married to her best friend and the love of her life, David, in July. I realized on the way to the shower that I had forgotten to get a card at the Basilica like I intended to do. So, I had to stop at a store and try to find a card that had something other than "sappy" written on the inside. Eventually, I decided to just buy a simple card and write my favorite scripture verse on the inside -- Rom 8:28. That worked together for my good, and off I went to celebrate with the ladies.

And then, there was a phone call -- actually, I had missed three.

"Mama, you have to call now!" with a time stamp of 11:10am. It was now 2:20pm.

"Oh no!" I thought, "I hope no one is hurt."

So on my way up the parkway to the bridal shower, I called home -- saying a little prayer as the phone rang.

Why the three phone calls?

Lainie, my recently 8 yr old had not made the All Star team for volleyball, but her big sister, Grace, had. And everyone in the family was working on consoling a very distressed (and somewhat jealous) Lainie. The resolution -- from my husband, a very brilliant veteran Dad -- McDonald's, only after she had calmed down, to celebrate a great volleyball season.

At this point, I was on the edge of over tired and a bit concerned about my daughter. But, I when I arrived at the shower, I managed to have a wonderful time. Easily accomplished when you are with some of the finest women God has ever placed upon the planet? What a particularly astounding group of young women -- most of whom were graduates or current students at Steubie, Franciscan University, while the rest of us were veterans of motherhood and married life. We reveled in the stories of raising our children and watching their joy as they entered this next stage of their lives, wondering how we were entering into this new stage!

After several hours with the ladies chatting, laughing and opening presents, I resisted leaving. I knew that getting home would mean reopening the wound that was bandaged by McDonald's earlier. "I'm a coward," I told Darby, "I just don't want to make her cry again." But, as we all know, sometimes the only one who can really make things all better is Mama! And, Mama was going to have to hug, kiss, and make this one better and quick, because she had plans to attend the volunteer dinner at the parish with her husband, the very resourceful McDonald's Man. I was only supposed to drive by, pick up Lyle and off we would go. But, that had to change because Lainie needed a hug BIG TIME. I took my time and told her in my most compassionate Mama way -- next year you will be the right age to be picked for All Stars (she was playing in a 3rd/4th grade league as a 2nd grader). And, although she still thought it was unfair, she finally accepted the fact that she just wasn't legal and couldn't be picked -- next year she'll have a fair shot at it.

And then off we went -- leaving behind smiling children and no concerns other than whether I would last through the appetizers without passing out --  to the parish volunteer appreciation dinner where I met up with Fr. NASCAR and my fellow passengers. We started the day and finished the day together! We enjoyed a lovely morning, a delightful dinner (I ate more food in the course of 12 hrs than I typically eat in 3 days!), glorious music from Julia and Bill, and basked the warmth of the very real humility of those honored as volunteers of the year. They were all quite deserving of the praise, and each and every one appreciated the thought and was grateful but could think of someone they thought deserved it more! This is what it means to be a servant of God. Just wonderful.

When I finally arrived home 14 hrs after I had first left, I was beat. Beat, but blessed. What an amazing day -- only to be followed today by 3 of my girls singing with the Children's Choir, one of whom sand the Responsorial Psalm from the Ambo -- 9 yr old Grace! She did a fantastic job praying twice by singing. We were really proud of her.

Oh my, this weekend was unbelievable, but not so different from the last few weekend, or the next few to come. Life is grand -- and God makes it possible! I can't thank Him enough for getting me successfully through this one, may He grant me the stamina to keep on going!

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