I thought today was going to be a really good day, at least in a spiritual sense. I went to Morning Prayer and Mass at my parish, something I almost never do on weekdays, and I didn’t even feel flustered when I found myself lost during the Liturgy of the Hours, flipping pages back and forth to find the right prayers. I just soaked it in, being uncharacteristically patient with myself.
Then I came home and was confronted with a situation that has been a bit of burden for my entire family for the past two years. Again, instead of getting annoyed or angry, I felt strangely at peace and decided that when I had a moment of quiet, I was going to call the person at the heart of this problem and try to put things right once and for all so that everyone could move on. I thought surely the Spirit was at work. I didn’t feel any anger toward this person — who had treated me very unjustly. All I felt was love and a sense of forgiveness. I wondered to myself, “Why don’t I go to daily Mass more often? Look at the positive effect it’s having.”
So I dropped Chiara with a baby-sitter and a came home to make the call. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would give me the right words at the right moment. I took a deep breath and started. It seemed to be going well, and then suddenly this person turned angry and aggressive and unreasonable and scary. The next thing I knew, the line went dead and I was standing there in tears — mouth open, speechless, wondering why God had moved me to make the phone call in the first place.
I thought about the exchange a little more, cried about it a little more and called Dennis to get his take. As the day wore on, I began to realize — I’m a little slow with some of this spiritual stuff — that the point of making that call wasn’t necessarily to get a “happily ever after” but to be willing to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to welcome back into my life someone who had become, in a sense, an “enemy,” or, at the very least, someone very difficult to like. But I could not control the outcome of the conversation any more than I could control this person’s thoughts and behavior.
Somehow it seems particularly appropriate that all of this took place during Holy Week, a time drenched in sadness and mourning. I feel that sadness in a very real way today. The Spirit was surely at work, but what I always seem to forget is that the Spirit doesn’t necessarily tie things up in neat packages the way we would like. The Spirit leads us where we need to go, even when where we need to go requires us to walk through the dark to get to the light.
Holy Week continues. We may be dwelling in darkness and sorrow today, but light and joy are just around the corner.