What a busy and tumultuous time of year it is for our family! Today is my daughter’s birthday. Yesterday was my father-in-law’s birthday. Cake and presents twice, and a 40-minute drive once were squeezed into just a 24-hour period. Just the week before two of my siblings were hospitalized (they’ve both since been released and are doing well, thank goodness). Extra prayers and a pan of lasagna was the best I could manage to help them.
That same week, sadly, one sister experienced a miscarriage, and happily a new niece was baptized. It’s been hard to process and participate in sharing everything that’s been happening so quickly. But that’s not all that’s been going on.
Our three college kids are briefly home, so I’ve been spending a great deal of time over the stove, more so because I’ve recently begun seeing a nutritionist and I can’t stand the idea of serving cold cuts for lunch. Right now the family is getting ready for an afternoon of bowling (trying to fit in some fun and some family togetherness while we can, you see), and I’m cajoling my four year old into putting on some footwear. She is, however, insisting that I picked out the “wrong socks” for her. I would try to find the “right ones” (those declared “without lumps”) but they no doubt are separated from each other in a huge laundry tub, which desperately needs to be sorted. The laundry is backed up, and expectations for what this post-Christmas break should be are different for each of our nine offspring.
These little glitches and large events are not at all what I imagined on the first day of Christmas break, when carols hummed on the stereo and sparkling snow gently floated down on the lawn. I am ashamed to say that I have not always responded with calmness and kindness when events unfolded differently than I anticipated, but I have been trying my best. Truth is, life is never dull when you come from a family of 15, marry into a family of seven, and have nine children of your own. Let’s face it — even with one child, days can be challenging!
Did you too start the Christmas season with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, of peaceful visits to the living room Nativity set or serene, uplifting, prayerful Masses with the entire family and instead end up with that six letter “s” word — s-t-r-e-s-s?
Well join the club and welcome to the imperfect world. But there’s no need to be disillusioned.
Here it is January and maybe you haven’t even thought about resolutions for the new year. Or perhaps you have made them and fallen short already. If you think that serenity is incompatible with your busy life, have I got some Psalms for you.
“Happy are all who fear the Lord, who walk in the ways of God. What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be happy and prosper.” ( Psalm 128:2-4) With our goal of heaven clearly before us, we can be confident that God is all we need to get through our demanding days. He will bless our work when we try hard and offer all to Him. What a relief.
“Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure. Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to the Lord; trust that God will act … be still before the Lord; wait for God. … Give up your anger, abandon your wrath; do not be provoked; it brings only harm.” (Psalm 37) I especially like the phrase “trust that God will act.” We can offer our happiness and sorrows to him and be sure that he will handle things for us. Peace.
When you are grieved you might relate best to this Psalm: “Listen, God, to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading; Hear me and give answer. I rock with grief; I groan. … My heart pounds within me. … I will call upon God, and the Lord will save me.” — Psalm 55.
The fact is people have been experiencing busyness, frustration and disappointment for centuries. Those things are part of the human condition. As Catholics we have the sacraments to sustain us. We should take advantage of them frequently. And we also have the ancient prayers of the Psalms to soothe our souls in the midst of the most hectic days. There are 150 of these beautiful prayers in our Old Testament. They can be aids in peace amidst harried schedules. Put your Bible in a prominent place and the next time you find your daily grind a bit much, reach for the peaceful word of the Lord. Find solace in the Psalms.
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