As I turned the corner onto a deserted, snow covered road during a late afternoon walk, my thoughts moved to all the stuff on my to do list. I reflected on the plans which needed to be arranged for an upcoming family event, some other important things I had to finish, the promises I needed to fulfill and after that, I stopped walking altogether and thought “how will I get all of this done?” My mind raced so fast that I missed out on the peace that God had invited me to enjoy in that moment. In my haste and senseless anxiety about the future, I had lost an opportunity to be nourished by the natural beauty which surrounded me in all its splendor. I arrived home near darkness and felt absolutely frazzled. I decided that I would head to bed early and start fresh in the morning. Then I realized that bed would have to wait – my son was altar serving at the Saturday evening Mass.
As we headed out into the cold evening darkness I prayed for a short Mass. My thoughts remained on all the stuff in my life and I had not given any time or room in my heart for God. As the readings unfolded during Mass, I began to hear a familiar theme. It wasn’t until the homily that it all started to come together. I felt like God was tapping me on the shoulder and gently whispering “I am here..today...have no fear about tomorrow.” I rushed to grab a pen and write on any scrap of paper I could find in my purse. Later that night I read my notes. “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep…Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8: 8-10)
Our priest reflected on this reading from Nehemiah then also preached from chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel where Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor...” This lovely missionary priest looked at his congregation and offered “What is the Spirit of the Lord telling YOU today? How can we live this gospel message today?” He went on to remind us that God is with us each day – just like the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus so many years ago, to bring good news to all people. The priest didn’t say anything about tomorrow or yesterday, only today. He then shared “Every moment of our lives is grace filled.” I thought this observation was so magnificent and my mind was drawn back to the beauty of my surroundings during the afternoon walk. It was truly a place filled with God’s awesomeness but I had missed it because I was not giving thanks for today, merely worrying about tomorrow. “That’s it!” I thought. Each day has its own gifts – either joys or sorrows – and our challenge is to notice these gems and give thanks. Both are beneficial for our life.
I thought of my new philosophy today and smiled. Despite the challenges of physical back pain which escalated to my neck and head, there was much to give thanks for. After I picked up my son from school, we chatted for a few moments until he excitedly said “I have a new playlist that I’d like to put on.” I secretly cringed as I knew I would dislike it because Andrew is a hard rock fan. Something inside me though told me to go with the flow and let him play it. Then, an interesting thing happened inside our little black car whizzing through the tree lined roads of Dover and Holliston. My son has discovered GREAT music – the Beatles, Don McLean and Billy Joel! Imagine my delight as I sang out the words to American Pie with Andrew watching me quizzically. We both laughed and enjoyed a festive ride home from Catholic Memorial.
“We will not pass this way again” I hear myself whisper tonight. I think back to my beloved mom and all that she had taught me during my 48 years with her. How I wish I could enjoy just one more today with her. Did I enjoy every moment I had with her? Instead of getting anxious over these thoughts I pause and give thanks for the gift of her – the beautiful, loving, selfless, light-filled soul who was my mother. Then I think about the little priest again and his sage advice. I know my mom would have loved his words of wisdom “Every moment of our lives is grace filled.” I vow to remember these words and turn my thoughts back to my beautiful husband, girls, son and extended family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for – the worries and pain of tomorrow will all be there. I don’t want to waste a moment of today thinking about them. Today is enough – I will try to live in the moment, giving thanks for the many blessings that come my way. God knows there are many.