The past two years have proven to be more than challenging for our little family. Right after Thanksgiving of ’06, the plague of cancer made its rounds through our extended family. Last year offered a surgery, cancer treatments, and three deaths. Evidently, the Lord has more trust in me than I feel, because on the day my 91-year-old grandfather died, my husband got orders to Korea: a USAF assignment that is a year long and without family.
To say I have been numb would be an understatement. I have grieved the loss of my relatives. I have grieved even more the doubt and uncertainty that their lack of faith brought to me. And my heart went to Korea the day my husband boarded the plane to take him away from us for a year.
Now, I am a busy, self-admitted Type-A personality, with all the quirks that go with that label. I am a doer. And when I am stressed, I do more. Two months before my husband was supposed to leave, we decided that the boys and I would “make the best of a bad year” and come to stay near family. We figured it might be the only opportunity the boys get to live near extended family. And so, because there wasn’t already enough stress in our lives, we moved 600 miles to the place I now call home.
Here starts the Year of Distraction, or so I thought. We would stay so busy that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to even have the time to miss Daddy. We would have the chance to do a lot of things that the boys have never experienced. We would get involved in lots of things and the year would go by before we knew it.
I was staying busy mentally and logistically, but spiritually I was a wasteland. Prayers had gone from a nightly family Rosary to Grace before meals and “Dear God, please make these boys stop fighting.” I was used to going to daily Mass and now I was only going Sundays. I felt as if I was going through the motions at Mass, except when I received the Body and Blood of our Savior. In those brief moments when I, an unworthy sinner, became one with Our Lord, I fought to hold back the tears. I couldn’t let go, because I might never get it back. And I couldn’t fall apart in front of my boys.
Throughout these times, while my prayer life has not been as formal, my constant internal prayer has been to ask God what He wants me to do. Should I go back to school next year or should I be getting involved in more ministries or should I be praying differently? What could I DO to better serve and show Him how much I love Him? And how do I do more when my spirit is weary?
There is a saying that we are human beings and not human doings. And here is how God has answered my prayers:
We started getting the first glimpses of fall. The trees were losing their green and little hints of color were popping throughout the trees. Intense burgundies, lively yellows, warm oranges, rustic browns and vibrant reds sang praise to their Creator. And I asked myself, “Isn’t it ironic, that when the trees stop producing, when they start resting, is when they are the most beautiful?”
The Holy Spirit whispered more. These trees are doing exactly what God has made them to do. They produced buds and leaves and nuts and offered homes for the nests and shade for the children, and now, they have stopped. Not forever, but they are in their season of rest. And look what happens when they just BE. They are glorifying their Maker at a time when they are doing nothing. They are the most beautiful when they rest in Him, and they let God work THROUGH them.
I finally realized, this is my season of rest. I have had times of much ministry and I am sure those opportunities will present themselves again. Right now, in this time, I don’t need to be “doing” more to glorify God. I need simply to place myself in His presence.
Blessed Mother Teresa said it best:
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Listening requires rest. God will take it from there. And letting God take everything is when the most beautiful things happen.