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Basking in the afterglow

The re-entry period after my retreat was not as smooth as I would have liked. After 26 hours of prayer and reflection, I was submerged back into the craziness of life with three kids. Within 12 hours of arriving home, I was yelling — in the immortal words of Frank Costanza of Seinfeld fame — SERENITY NOW! I started to wonder if there had been any point to my short retreat from the world.

Then Monday morning arrived and I sensed something different, a kind of peace that rarely feels within my grasp. Deadlines and obligations were pressing in from all sides but I felt blissfully unconcerned by all of it. I listened to the CD of retreat music that each of us was given. I played with Chiara and took her to the library. We made smoothies. I read to Olivia. I smiled.

When I drove through the grocery store parking lot, I let other drivers go ahead of me left and right. Even the snarly kids on skateboards, who always seem to make unsuccessful jumps just as my car approaches, didn’t faze me. Throughout the day, the different things we talked about and prayed about on retreat kept coming back to me. I thought of the one mom who said that she has a pillow on her bed with a Mother Teresa quote sewn into it: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” 

We had talked about about how sometimes it’s easier to be Christian to the stranger in the soup kitchen than it is to be kind to the little people clamoring for snacks and drinks in our own kitchens. We do not need to go to Africa or Appalachia or even Albany’s inner city to serve God — although those types of ministries can and should come down the road. We can begin our Christian outreach with the people who are quite literally within our reach, our families, where the seeds of God’s love are sown and nurtured.

As Monday flowed into Tuesday, the afterglow continued. I woke up thinking of Jesus instead of thinking of myself. I went for a long walk, again listening to my retreat music. I worked. I prayed Morning Prayer, which is something I rarely do. I went out to lunch with Dennis. I moved through my day not at a slower pace but at a calmer pace, even managing to run the school bus, play practice, piano lesson, dinner, baseball practice gauntlet without one outburst of impatience. If you know anything about me, you realize that feat verges on miraculous.

I realize that it’s unrealistic to think that I can keep this up forever. Kids will do things to make me crazy. Work will get overwhelming. Obligations will pile up until I feel as if I can’t possibly meet them all. But, as one of my friends commented on yesterday’s blog, Jesus knew we could not — and didn’t expect us to — make this journey alone. That’s why he sent the disciples out two-by-two. And so, as I continue to move two steps forward and one step back in this spiritual dance of mine, I am finally learning that I have many spiritual sisters out there who are dancing the same dance, even if the tempo is slightly different.

Whenever I start to let my spiritual path get overgrown with the weeds and clutter of “normal” life, I will call on one of my new dance partners to take me for a spin across the floor until I find a clearing where God is waiting to cut in.

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