It’s been another insane attempt at church. Impatient kids fighting. Loud baby escaping. Tired parents trying. A family failing at prayer. It’s our usual scene. And amidst all the squealing, the shush-ing, the wiggling, the “stop that”‘s, and the frazzling commotion of pew #3 (aka, our pew), I still somehow (miraculously as it seems) manage to hear the priest’s words, and I respond instinctively along with the congregation in rehearsed response:
“LORD, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”
‘Isn’t that the truth!,’ I think to myself as I respond. My roof houses three nutsie little kids who I can’t even keep quiet and under control for an hour at Mass, let alone for the hours that make up the rest of our week. My roof sits atop disgustingly dirty floors that haven’t been swept in days – a task that was made all the harder to do this morning when the toddler pushed her big brother’s cereal bowl off the table, splattering milk EVERYWHERE. My roof covers a husband who’s been sick and a me who’s been overwhelmed and impatient throughout it (well, EXTRA overwhelmed and impatient, on top of the usual overwhelmed-ness and impatience that have been under my roof since moving in). No, unless he likes baskets of unfolded laundry, stepping on Duplos, running out of Kleenex and noise (oh, so very much noise!), my “roof” is no place for my LORD to enter!
“…But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”
I wish it were that simple! I think to myself, as I barely finish the sentence before having to quickly grab the toddler smiling at me as she runs down the aisle, once again having escaped pew #3. Everything about the chaos that lies under this family’s roof screams unworthy. With no sign of being “fixed” any time soon. My child now wailing because I won’t put her down again (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…ok four times in one Mass, shame on me!), and me frantically searching for her pacifier that isn’t where it’s supposed to be in the diaper bag which just fell and spilled all over the floor, including rolling back into pew #4. Oh my! Thank goodness GOD isn’t knocking at my door! It is not a worthy place for my GOD. We did it – we made it to the end of another hectic, All-Eyes-on-the-Loud-Family Mass! As I am trying to find everything that has been spread all over (and under) pew #3 (and 4), while my husband attempts to get three squirrely kids into coats before they dart off to run up and down the sanctuary ramp, I feel a tap on my shoulder. “You have a beautiful family!” the stranger tells me.
I think to myself, as I watch my son almost trip an elderly man in his quest for that ramp-run he’s been waiting for. Beautiful? Don’t you mean busy? That’s what we usually hear: “You sure are busy.” And after this past hour of desperate attempts to maintain order (and a volume level acceptable to the poor worshipers around us), I find it hard to believe she meant beautiful and not busy. But it is nice of her to offer the pity compliment. I smile and say thank you, ready to get out of there as quickly as possible before my kids do anything else worthy of another comment by the strangers, or worse yet the friends, who have witnessed our Sunday morning ritual of mayhem. I take a long, deep breath – one of disbelief. And I look at my husband, who just let out a similarly painful sigh. “How does this happen?” “I don’t know; let’s just go home.”
Home, under that unworthy-roof. Where chaos abounds in unending heaps. Where tidiness does not (though the heaps part is accurate). Where noise (I’m pretty sure the neighbors across the street and down the hill can hear us despite closed doors and windows) happens. Where life happens…
Where my “beautiful” family happens.
Home, where we raise three ridiculously rambunctious, but incredibly clever, kids. Where we laugh (oh, their cute little laughs) together. Where we cry (those heart-breaking cries) and comfort with each other. Where we pray for one another. Where we love one another…
Where so much of GOD is present.
Home, where I am blessed by a loving husband and the three children that came from that love. Where we enjoy enough food, water, and health to satisfy more than our basic needs. Where we enjoy enough fun to satisfy a small army. Where my life is made messy by the daily challenges of life and motherhood, but where those same things also offer me growth…
Where my soul is healed.
We gather up our kids, the oldest nicely saying good-bye to the gentleman he almost knocked over, the middle jumping up to hug her beloved “Daddy,” and the youngest reaching out to hold my hand in her tiny fingers as she wobbles towards the door. Another long, deep breath of disbelief. But this time, one of gratitude.
How did this happen – that under my roof lies an abundance of GOD and so much of His grace! Blessings by the handful, all of which I am completely unworthy of. And all of which, make me whole.
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”
Yet here you are, day after day, entering and abiding with us, showing us yourself through one another.
“…But only say the word and my soul shall be healed!”
It is, just look at them, it so is.
Tonight I will be taking my children to Mass at a time over-lapping with both their supper and their bedtimes, the longest service we go to all year. And as if that didn’t make me enough of a glutton for punishment, it is also my favorite service of the year. Why give up my most meaningful night of prayer and community for the usual “Ritual of Mayhem” that is going to church with my kids? Because…they, like the God who gave them to me and the church I give them to, heal me in ways I never knew possible. Because the reasons why tonight is my favorite (the presence of Christ, the humble service, the feasting and fearing together with those you love) are my favorite things about being their mother, too.
Happy Holy Thursday everyone!