My response to God often entails weeping. I weep sometimes in my awareness of His Presence. I weep in gratitude. I weep sometimes because I feel I have offended Him. I weep for joy.
I guess I have never really been the dance about and laugh girl in God's Presence. Of course, I feel joyful and smile when I glimpse Him in a sunset, hear Him in the words of a neighbor, or gaze into my children's faces, amazed at what He has done for me in making me their mother, what He has created and given me a part in.
But I cry more easily. I sob when I hear stories of conversion. The tears roll quietly down my cheeks during hymns at Mass. I start to cry while telling others of guidance He gave to me quickly after I requested it, or how He turned an uncontrollably bad situation or my own big mistake into something good - that never ceases to amaze me.
This past Saturday was a terrible day. It didn't start out that way - which made it all the more surprising when an old vexation came back to haunt me, and I ended the day resentful, hurt and confused - feeling for all the world as if I had been set up by the promise of clear, hopeful skies only to be greeted with another thunderstorm. (The thunderstorm was really quite a small episode, but it discombobulated me anyway.)
I was chagrined that my Saturday ended poorly, because on Sunday I had Children's Liturgy to lead. It has begun to seem inevitable that when I need to be in a proper emotional and spiritual state for the kids that I - usually - engage in some kind of strife in the days preceding.
But Sunday morning dawned, and I felt partly refreshed and subdued. When I got to Mass I said a version of the prayer I say every week before Children's Liturgy.
Father, you know I'm here to serve you, that I want to serve you. Forgive me my sins. And bless me, so that I may serve your little ones by serving you and that through your blessing I may glorify your name and do your will. In Jesus' name, Amen
And so it was that though my Saturday had been filled with strife I largely created because of my sensitivity, I stood at the ambo in the side chapel and read to the children the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son. I was so immersed in the parable, that when I got to the part, "So the young man started home...", I got choked up very suddenly.
I paused and tried to collect myself.
What should I do? It was obvious that I wasn't going to get through it without many tears. Should I ask my oldest daughter Ana to take over? Should I call for my husband, Matthew, who looked concerned, to step in? The children were looking at me in surprise but with great attention. Both actions would seem to make the situation more awkward, and I might then break down completely, so I continued to choke out the words:
But while he was still a long way off,
hie father saw him coming and ran out to meet him.
He took his son into his arms and kissed him.
The young man said,
"Father, I have sinned against God and against you.
I am no longer good enough to be called your son." *
After making it through the emotion of those lines, I was given a reprieve; I regained some of my composure as Jesus tells us of the father's loving, merciful and joyous reaction to his errant son's return.
There are times when I feel that God wants me to allow others to see my weaknesses and my struggles, so that He can thereby reach others. I think He wanted the children to see me sob during such a story of forgiveness.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast more gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me." 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NAB)
God's power was present this last Sunday at Children's Liturgy. Jesus took my hand and turned the day around. None of my usual obstacles confronted me. I didn't struggle with a consistent theme. I didn't get lost in the bushes. There wasn't abundant unnecessary repetition. The children were uncommonly helpful, calm, and attentive and very insightful.
It was probably the best Children's Church I have ever led.
And so it was that I came away astounded at God's power being made perfect in weakness this last Sunday. After such a Saturday could derail my best intentions, such a glorious Sunday dawned all the brighter still.
*Translation from Children's Liturgy preparation materials