Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Working together for the good




4:40am was going to come very soon, and still sleep was elusive.

We had big plans, important plans. We were headed to Washington, DC to help at the Gift of Peace House of the Missionaries of Charity. This was a opportunity for service that we had long anticipated, and everyone was excited about it. I was not going to let a sleep demon get in the way!

Missionaries of Charity Sisters

I said a Rosary, and finally managed to to drift off from 1:30am to about 3:30am, but was awakened by my son, Eddie, who also wasn't sleeping well. My husband, Lyle, had tried to soothe him several times, but he was uncomfortable. Being non-verbal, it is difficult for Eddie to tell us what is upsetting him. We have to observe his behaviors and check his temperature. And, when Eddie is uncomfortable in the middle of the night, it typically means for the rest of the night, all night.

So, by 4am, I gave up trying to sleep and just decided to offer it up.

I got up and prepared for what I knew would be a long day, but hopefully, a very good day for the glory of God.

The girls rose, groggy and a bit reluctant to leave their cozy beds at 4:50am, but were driven forward by their excitement. We met up with our friends and headed down for Mass, morning prayers, breakfast and  lots of manual labor in support of these wonderful religious sisters who do so much to serve others through their prayers and work.

The entire morning, the very vibrant, and tremendously giving sisters delegated: we peeled potatoes, chopped vegetables, breaded and fried eggplant (actually, this was Marie's signature task which she never left!), picked vegetables, weeded gardens, cleaned bathrooms, mopped floors, and simply rested in the joy that comes from service, and the peace that emanates from the Missionaries of Charity Sisters.

After about 5 hrs of work and cheer, our group (Kim w/5 kids; Marie w/6 kids; Me w/4 kids) said our goodbyes to Sister Gemma and Mother Clovis, who both worked side by side with us. We made our way to our cars to have an intimate tailgate for 18 before we headed for home. Shortly after noon, we were on our way down North Capitol St. headed to Constitution Ave., which parallels the DC Mall, and over the bridge to Virginia.

We arrived at home after a really wonderful morning a little after 1pm. Everyone was exhausted. Meg rode home with her friends and headed to their house. We brought our friend Grace home with us to relax in front of a movie.

I was headed to take a nap when my friend Peggy stopped by to chat and check on her daughter, whom she hadn't seen since 5am.  We got engrossed in a conversation on the front porch as she started to leave. We must have been there for 20 min. chatting casually.

The windows began to rattle and shake.

The house literally heaved.

We rolled with the porch as it rose and dipped.

"What was that?" she asked, quite surprised.

"It was an earthquake!" I offered, half shocked, half excited.

I couldn't believe that one of the most peaceful days, would end with an event of seismic proportions, literally!

The juxtaposition of the peace to the peril was unbelievable, almost surreal. The pure joy of serving those in need, those who reach well beyond themselves to help the most helpless among us, compared to the anxiety caused by 20 sec. of undulating earth was remarkable. And, all held in existence by the power of God; all working together for the good, for those who love God. (cf. Rom 8:28)

It was a day of feeling proud to have served, coupled with the fragile and humble reality that we are small in comparison to the Father. It reminded me of a quote from Scripture:
My hand made all these things when all of them came to be—oracle of the LORD. This is the one whom I approve: the afflicted one, crushed in spirit, who trembles at my word. (Is 66:2
He is all kind, powerful, benevolent, merciful, just, holy, knowing, charitable...He is ALL PERFECT! He desires that each of us come to understand ourselves in relation to Him and to His creation. Because we live in a world that is impacted by sin, evil plays a part in our lives every single day -- moral evils and physical evils. As we grow closer to God, we begin to understand that suffering is an opportunity to know ourselves better, to know the God Who dwells in our hearts better, as a result.

We are small and He is great -- He creates and He holds creation tenderly in His hands as we work our way through the self-imposed sickness that is sin in our world. Recognizing His "holy interruption" in our lives will help us to understand more vividly, how blessed we truly are to serve with charity, to suffer with dignity, to LIVE with vigor!

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