Friday, October 4, 2013

A PEACE IN MY HEART - A short story written in a day.

I’ve been hanging around my house all morning, forcing myself to sleep as much as I can. Sleep that wasn't available to me the first 6 weeks of this pneumonia. Due to the violent coughing, that kept me constantly awake for days, even weeks. So today I'm editing all my writing. I’ve had the luxury in allowing my thoughts to build before I put them in writing in these past weeks. This story finally came clear to me. I felt the need to share it with you. Maybe someone will get a lesson from it, who knows. 

Late last night I read an email concerning my parish youth group. The email was sent three days ago. I didn't notice it, till...I'm sure, only God knows, when my heart was ready. It was an email from the Parish Business Manager. I’ve had to cancel two or three meetings with him in the last month or so. One thing or another had came up in my schedule, in my life. This poor man has been trying desperately to get me into a meeting. I’m sure our Priest had put the pressure on him, why he hadn’t landed a meeting with me. Then I got sick. 

It’s interesting how God works, when he's working on you or when he's being patience with your own human emotional hurdles. 

In the last couple of years, I had been volunteering for my church, in their youth ministry. Something my heart was fed by. I loved the work, the teens and the support from the church staff was loving, kind, above all they were unbelievably supportive. I couldn't ask for a better spot to be the human being that I want my children to observe while their growing up (all of a sudden tears are falling down my face as I write this part). I had organize a mission trip for the youth group this past August. At a church convent in Chicago. It was a very memorable experience for all of us. Mostly for me. The teens worked like a dog the entire time. Surprisingly enough the more work that was laid in front of the teens, during the mission trip, the bigger their smiles and the happier they were. We were happily exhausted at the end of the day. Everyday of the mission trip was a blessing full of lessons. 

The teens gained a different perspective, (more important) respect, for people who have chosen to give their life to God. How absolutely beautiful the heart and character of a human being, who has dedicated their entire life to the duties of serving God and how completely different from what the world has stereo-typed them. They learned and understood on their own without me having to point it out, that it takes real courage, strength, dedication to know your life’s calling. Listening to that calling. Being at peace with yourself, as a human being to dedicate your everyday life (everyday is the key word here), to work 24/7 for God. To be God’s servant and follow through, as a Priest, a Nun, Friar, all positions that ask for one to give up the outside material, emotional world, the rest of us lives in.

During the last 48 hours before the mission trip was a challenge. I was going through my own personal struggles with the man I love, admired and adore. My children who were not so happy being without their mother for another three days and coming to a head with a my own personal issue that I’ve been holding on to for a lifetime. Occurrences in my personal relationship had force me to come to terms with myself. Then there’s that feeling of being mentally fried getting the mission trip all planned out. Planning a mission trip, from start to finish, is a task I’ve never done before. I could honestly describe it, like walking into a building with blindfold and having to just feel your way around at every step at every floor. I was getting hit left and right. The pressure was building in my heart. 

At a quarter to eleven before midnight, the night before I had to go to the teens center, a place lovingly named the “Lifehouse”.  I received a phone call from one of the teen’s parent. I could tell by the urgency in their voice how desperately they needed to talk to me. The parent wanted to spill out their personal feelings, about me, concerning their teen. The parent was obviously upset with me. I’ve had numerous conversation with this parent in the past, and this revelation was something very new, to me. I sat on the phone with them and listened to their concerns. I didn’t interrupt, nor did I try to defend myself. I was in complete shock, on what I was hearing.

The parent continued on; “How they felt I had too much influence on their kid.” “all their kid cared about was being part of a youth ministry group on Sundays.” “I had given their kid too much responsibility by making them one of the leaders of the other youths and giving them a key to the Lifehouse.” “I’ve over step my boundaries because their kid shows more respect for my words and my teaching than theirs as a parent.” 
“their teen believes that their parent is dying", the parent wishes that "I not step in their place, when their gone.” I was in complete shock while listening to this person on the other line. I couldn’t help but notice the slurring in their voice. After a while it was obvious this parent was intoxicated, during our conversation. 

I’ve always considered myself as a good communicator, facilitator and mediator. I’ve always somehow manage to see the other persons point. Even when I don’t agree with them. I have to tell you, I was in shock. That is the only word I can describe what I was feeling at that moment, while I was listening to this person on the phone. I was lost for words, I couldn’t even reply. Even when they were apologizing for how they felt, all I could reply was, “I’m really in shock with this conversation”.  After all of that, the last thing the parent requested, they begged me, to still allow their kid to go on the three day mission trip with me, in downtown Chicago. Because “it would break their kid’s heart if I allowed this conversation to effect my decision” on their kid not taking part of the mission trip. I started to get angry and I knew it was time to get off the phone. I excused myself, and comforted them, that in no way this conversation had effected my feelings or opinion about their kid. Whom I adored and love, but I was angry. I didn’t know why as of yet, but I was angry. 

The following came, seven am, I met my group at the teen Lifehouse. We continued on to our mission trip and caravan towards Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago. Somehow I manage to put all my own personal issues behind, and said to myself, “This is going to stay at the Lifehouse till I return.” We  continued on to what turned out to be an amazing, beautiful, and memorable mission trip, for all of us. 

The days that followed after the mission trip was quite emotional for me. It was a time for reflection on myself. On my relationship. I was bruised by the conversation I had with the parent on the phone, along with the other crap that had been slapped on my wall. I was angry. I started asking myself questions, “Why do I keep doing things, that feels like God is calling me to do, when all that ever happens in the end, is me feeling like I get shunned by the same people that I reach out to serve?” I had to ask myself repeatedly, “Why do I keep giving to people, who knew nothing but to take?” I was mad, felt abused, maybe a bit confused on what my next move was with the youth ministry group. 

I had announced to all that was involve in the teens group and the parish office that I needed a break. My priest brought me in for a meeting. Which mostly consisted of me wanting to know more of his background in the Catholic priesthood and his academic history. I wanted to get to know more about my Priest. A man whom I admired and highly respected. I really didn’t want to discuss what had happen the night before the mission trip or what was on my mind on continuing on with my volunteer work for the youth ministry program. I hadn’t come to terms with it myself. I was still mad.

Then I caught a cold. The cold turned into an inner ear infection and in a short time, grew into a pneumonia. I was forced to deal with myself, whether I liked it or not. In my normal, healthy everyday life, if someone was to clock me, I can run a top speed of 200 mph, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That’s if they could catch up with me. I fill my automobile with gas, twice a week. I run circles around my three children and mostly everyone else in my life. My kids think their mother have super powers. I’ve heard them whispering to each other. 

All of a sudden, I was relegated to my bed. Force to rest, or else they threatened to admit me in a hospital. I threw a tantrum, even threatened my doctor with a lawsuit if he dared put me in a hospital. A hospital bed was not my option, I can’t smoke my cigars in a hospital and walk around half naked with only a man’s button up white shirt and my “good luck charm” Panama (writing) hat. Being in bed for weeks is like a prison statement for me. I got even madder at my position as the days followed. I was a royal pain in the ass, to everyone that tried to help me recover. 

So there I prison, in my bed, feeling like a crippled mute. I lost my voice from all the coughing, which blew out my vocal cords. One evening I got really angry at a thought I was having, and I made up my mind right there and then, that was going to immersed myself instead in my writing. With a vengeance, I will finish my novel! That’s it, that’s how I’m going to run away from facing all these inconveniences emotions in my life! I’m going to stop saving the world and everyone’s problems, that aren’t mine to begin with. I’m going to be a Pulitzer Prize Author, damn it! As I threw the covers off my lap, and headed to my main computer, to start “the new purpose of my life”, my prescription glasses flew in the air. When it finally landed it hit the wall first, then fell on the floor. My glasses, laid on the rug cracked in pieces. Great, now I was mute and blind, there goes my talent for writing. There goes my Pulitzer Prize.  I sat for a day or so crying, having a pity party for myself. Till my new glasses was finally delivered. 

God is good, all the time, and he’s also very patience and wise on how he leads our life, my life. In my mind, he said to me, “Your ass is going to stay in that bed, until you figure out what I’m trying to tell you, and what I want you to do. No matter how long this takes you!" "And darling you are not going anywhere to try to find something else to fill these voids you are currently experiencing.”

Before I got really sick and forced into recovery confinement in my bed, I had a talk with one of my good friend, Bradley Allan Perry. We discussed my lack of desire to volunteer or to give myself, my money, my time to anyone, anymore. I mentioned my experience with the inebriated parent on the phone the night before the mission trip. Bradley Allan Perry, has a way with his words. He knows exactly what to say to me, to snap me back to my senses. Just as he is snapping a rubber band. Of course it still takes time for me to process them, to put them into action. I’m only human. Out of our conversation he asked me; “Rae since you follow the Catholic teaching, let me ask you this, what did Jesus get for all his work, teaching, ministering and giving his unconditional love to his fellow human being?” 
Death, of course. Humans persecuted and killed Jesus Christ, for his work and his beliefs. In the calmest voice, that Bradley Allan Perry often uses on me, he asked, “And what makes you think that you or anyone truly giving their all, for the cause of God’s work would not be judge by anyone? You are never going to please everyone, someone will always find a fault and judge you for your work, no matter what field you choose or how hard you work or how much you give.”  - His words shook me back to place. All the doubts and self pity I had disappeared. Right there and then and I got it. I got it. Even if I tried to run away from it, he nailed it.  

Bradley wasn’t finished with me. He asked what it was that drove me at a young age to want to do service work with young people. for the first time in my life, I came to the realization why. My childhood was stolen from me, being the daughter of a child herself, my mother. She was a teen when she gave birth to me. Thirteen to be exact. I grew up watching her and her horrific struggles as a teen, and as a very young mother. Her and I had a very hard life. A very complicated childhood. We grew up in the streets, poorest of poor. Experiencing hunger to the pit of our stomach. Nothing screams mercy, than a child's empty growling stomach.  

In my entire adult life, I have subconsciously searched to do work with young people, who had their own struggles. So that maybe, just maybe, it would allow me to recapture some of the helplessness I had as a child. Wanting so badly to help my mother. Yet I wasn’t old enough to do so, nor did I have the resource, at five years old. The service work that I’ve done so automatically and the burning need to so desperately save others was because of my own past. I’ve spent my entire adult life serving those in need, to help ease my own pain. That was my main reason for all my generosity. It is, difficult to face yourself in the mirror. It’s difficult to say the least, to come to peace with yourself and the many things that haunts you or drives you to be the person you’ve become. 

Now that I know what has driven me, to give so much of myself, my focus is clear. I can say, with peace in my heart, I’m not disappointed in myself. Even if I didn’t understand what drove me with so much passion. I have always given everything in my life my best shot. When I failed in the past, I’ve always manage to keep striving for something better. I have a new understanding of myself. Why and what drives me and what’s important to me. More important, I’m aware of which direction I should take when I give myself to doing service for others, again.  

I finally replied to the Parish Business Manager’s email and committed myself to meeting with him on our new goal for the youth ministry program. The fire in me came back. It started in as an amber and has grown into a flame. Even bigger than what it was. Love it or not, life is a process. It's the ending that’s crucial, and it is, our will and our choice, always. Finding peace in my heart, I whisper to God, please allow me the honor to be at your service. 

© 2013