She Yelled and Called Me Names

she-yelledPulling my car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, I wondered why it was a dozen people deep. It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today. I was transporting three dogs to the groomer, and there was no way I could leave two wild Shih-tzus and one crazy Bichon alone while I went inside for my daily dose.

Millie, the Bichon, sat on my lap licking the window.

As I peeled her away from the glass, I saw the woman.

She sat across the parking lot, leaving just enough room for a thoroughfare, as she too was waiting in the Starbucks line. I smiled, and gestured to her. It went something like this: “Are you next, or am I?” Really, I was fine either way.

She was not.

Thinking I was trying to snag her spot of next up, she gunned her Suburban, rolled down the window, and let out a string of expletives that made me blush. Millie barked back a retort.

“Go ahead, please,” I said. “I wasn’t sure who was first.” I pulled Millie back onto my lap, so she could see I had been dog-distracted and truly didn’t know who was next.

She didn’t buy it. She continued with the name calling without taking a breath. I won’t write them down here, but the main mantra shared initials with the number one social networking site.

Then something really strange happened.

Instead of getting mad or yelling back at her, a sense of empathy invaded me. I looked at her again, and this time I saw someone different, someone who wrenched my heart. Her eyes were red and puffy. Her hair was pulled back in a natty ponytail. She held her phone in her palm, glancing down at it every few seconds. And she was driving that big ole’ gas hog of a Suburban, my own car of choice when I had three kids at home and a carpool.

Dear God. I was looking at myself ten years ago. Same car, same ponytail. Same frustration.

We’ve all been there. Dog vomits on the sofa. Both kids have strep throat. The garbage disposal chooses today to break, when you are trying to disintegrate moldy fridge leftovers.  Husband is mad because you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning and he’s going on a business trip. Sound familiar?

And by the way, was that him she had been talking to or texting?

She gunned forward, just to show me that she could.

I left her a wide berth, smiled at her splotchy face. She shot me a sideways scowl, mouthed the mantra again.

Pulling up to the loudspeaker behind her, I said “I want to pay for whatever the woman in front of me has ordered. And please tell her I hope she has a better day.” I meant every word.

The woman idled in front of me for a good four minutes, talking to the barista who had leaned out the window. She shook her head and handed over a bill. She drove around the side of the building slowly, this time no gunning. Hmmm.

“No takers, huh?” I said to the barista as I pulled forward.

“Nope. She said she couldn’t believe you wanted to pay for her drink after all the names she called you. She said she couldn’t allow it, and said to tell you she was sorry. She felt really bad.”

“Did you tell her I hoped she had a better day?”

“Yep. She said thanks— that she already was.”

“Good to hear.” I smiled and handed her a dollar to put in the tip jar.

As I drove away, I began to cry. Not because I had been called so many terrible names, but because God had answered my very recent prayer—which was that He would allow me to see people as He sees them, not as I see them.

That I might be able to see the hurting inside, instead of just the hurtful outside. And maybe a few tears were of gratitude and amazement that He always shows up with an answer when I sincerely ask.

Have you ever had an experience that made you see someone in a new way?

Photo Credit: shinji_w , Creative Commons

Reprinted from Susan Basham’s Blog, http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/she-yelled-and-called-me-names.  Talk about finding God in everyday life!

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Between Sundays

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by guest blogger, Michael Steinhardt

Sometimes the time between Sundays seems like months apart in terms of trying to sustain my spiritual energy. Lately, I have tried looking around during the week for reminders of the last Sunday’s scripture message, my Catholicism, my spirituality, and God’s plan for my life. The result has been amazing; there are reminders all over!  Take a look at the picture on this page; does it look familiar?  If it does, it’s because it is the current sign posted weekly by Lakeside Supply, Inc. on the south side of I-94 in Waukesha.

Here are a couple of others that appeared the past few weeks:

“Exposure to the SON may prevent BURNING?”

“He who ANGERS you CONTROLS you!”

The literary form they often comprise is an adage, i.e., “a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation or experience.”  Roadside signs are but one example and they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and places.  They don’t replace prayer and biblical readings, but they help me to stay on track and maintain my spiritual energy between Sundays.

I am old enough to remember Burma-Shave signs in the 40s and 50s along the highway that did the same thing, but have since given way to the electronic world and new age advertising that floods our modern day culture.  Not more effective necessarily, but more plentiful!

Another place I find pearls of wisdom is in the morning paper.  For example, I recently underlined a great quote in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed piece where the writer quoted French philosopher Charles Peguy, namely, “Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have become a saint.” It may be a little heavy and too long for a poster outside Lakeside Supply, Inc., but it grabbed my attention and stuck with me so much that I clipped it out and pasted it to my computer.

The cartoon page is another spot I now check regularly.  One of my favorites is Bob Thaves’ Frank and Ernest.  He recently had the two buddies meeting their maker at the pearly gates who sadly reminded them “…but I do have these nice participation trophies for you.”  Apparently, this came after being told they didn’t get the grand prize, i.e., eternal life!  Dan Piraro’s Bizarro is another great source.  Depicting a debate moderator and a group of candidates, he posed this question “As a gubernatorial candidate, what kind of guber would you be?”  All adages don’t have to be spiritual; sometimes just a smile is enough!

Many of these reminders are founded in biblical writing and borrowed, restated, paraphrased, and updated with modern day vernacular.  For example, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise” which comes from Proverbs 1:7 might have been the source of Gen. Colin Powell’s, “Get mad, then get over it.”

Have you seen things of the ilk I’m talking about that got you to thinking about bigger issues than the traffic or the weather or the Packers 53-man roster?  Share them with your friends. It can be a modern day method of evangelization.

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The Beauty of the Catholic Church

 

 

How have you experienced the gift and beauty of the Catholic Church?

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The Archbishop’s Kitchen

ListeckiCalendar

Take a closer look at the photograph!

On Friday morning, this photo was taken in Archbishop Listecki’s kitchen.  Our St. Dominic’s spy was there for a visit.  Look which parish’s calendar graces his kitchen!

The Archbishop said that he receives tons and tons of parish calendars every year, but selected ours to grace his kitchen because of it’s distinctive quality and beauty.

Hooray for St. Dominic’s!  (And I’m rather liking the color of his kitchen!)

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Heroes Among Us, #3

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Meet Miss Kate, St. Dominic parishioner.  She recently celebrated her 8th birthday by asking her friends to bring a donation for the Christ Child Society to her party, in lieu of gifts for herself.  Here she is, with her sisters Sophie and Emma, bringing bags of donations to the Christ Child Society, which will be used for layettes for moms in need, and for My Stuff Projects (My Stuff is a special outreach program of the Christ Child Society to children being removed suddenly from their homes because of abuse, neglect or crisis.  Often children in crisis leave home suddenly or without notice to pack clothing or personal items. “My Stuff” bags are given toto children in crisis. They bring comfort to children placed in difficult situations and remind them that someone cares about them).

Hooray for Kate!  We all are so blessed by her!

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Father Quintin

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On Friday, I received one of those phone calls no one ever want to receive.  A friend called me with the tragic news that our former associate pastor, Father Quintin Heck had died, and even more sadly, that he died of suicide.  I spent much of the weekend trying to make sense out of it all, struggling with my own feelings of shock and wrestling with unanswerable questions.

Father Quintin and I had what you might call a “multilayered” relationship:  we worked together closely for the three years he was the associate pastor here.  I can’t begin to count the number of funerals, weddings, anointings and home visits I assisted him with.  He called so often that, for years, he had a special ring tone on my cell phone.  He was a frequent visitor for dinner with my family, and was the priest who baptized my husband, and my two older children.  He was the coworker and priest with whom I would regularly joke, tease and laugh.  With new ministries for him, and a new baby (well, not so new anymore) for me, life took us in different directions, and I didn’t see him much in recent years.  I know that he suffered terribly from health problems, which continued to worsen over time.

As I’m wrestling with my own feelings, and all those unanswered questions, I’m also praying about where I find God’s presence, God’s grace, in moments of tragedy.

Father Ron Rolheiser, a noted author, has written regularly about suicide and faith.  He says:

The death of someone we love is always difficult, but in situations like this, the pain is compounded. Everything that Jesus reveals about God assures us that God’s hands are much gentler and safer than our own. In the end, nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from God’s love and forgiveness.

We are, in this life and the next, in hands far safer and gentler than our own. Where we stand helpless, God’s compassion can still reach through. God’s love can breathe peace and reconciliation into anger, and fear. God’s hands are gentler than ours, God’s compassion is wider than ours, and God’s understanding infinitely surpasses our own. Our wounded loved ones who fall victim to suicide are safe in God’s hands, safer by far than they are in the judgments that flow from our own limited understanding.

I remember, a number of years ago, hearing Father Dave preach at a particularly sad and painful funeral Mass.  At that time, he spoke about how none of us are ever a finished product, and like the image of the potter and the clay in Jeremiah, God is always forming and shaping and molding us.  He spoke eloquently of how none of us is ever completely defined by one hurtful decision or action.  The sum of our lives is always greater than any one moment, and God’s love and mercy are always greater than the limitations of my human understanding and experience. This has stuck with me for a long, long time.

May Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, bring peace and rest to Father Quintin.

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Into your hands, Father of mercies,

we commend our brother, Father Quintin

in the sure and certain hope

that, together with all who have died in Christ,

he will rise with him on the last day.

We give thanks to you for the blessings

which you bestowed upon Father Quintin in this life:

they are signs to us of your goodness

and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.

Merciful Lord, turn toward us, and listen to our prayers:

open the gates of paradise to your servant

and help us who remain to comfort one another with assurances of faith,

until we all meet in Christ

and are with you and with our brother forever.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto Father Quintin, O Lord.  And let perpetual light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace.  Amen.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

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Is Jesus Knocking?

Jesus Knocking

From our Guest Blogger, Peter Murray:

A nurse on the pediatric ward, before listening to the little ones’ chests, would plug the stethoscope into their ears and let them listen to their own heart. Their eyes would always light up with awe, but she never got a response equal to four-year old David’s comment. Gently she tucked the stethoscope into his ears and placed the disk over his heart. ‘Listen’, she said…’What do you suppose that is?’ He drew his eyebrows together in a puzzled line and looked up as if lost in the mystery of the strange tap – tap – tapping deep in his chest. Then his face broke out in a wondrous grin and he asked,   

‘Is that Jesus knocking?’ 

 

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