Momentarily Misguided

The bright sun bounced off the fall leaves in a kaleidoscope of color as I pulled into the small, gravel parking lot.  It was a glorious morning.  Yet here I sat, biting the inside of my lip.  I silently cursed myself for the nervous habit, then cursed myself for cursing.  Especially here.

Arriving early had its advantages.  I parked the car near the front of the lot, secretly praising myself for having the foresight to back in.  I might need to make a speedy exodus.  I climbed out of the car and deeply inhaled the chilly air, the woodsy scent of autumn tickling my senses and momentarily distracting me from my quest.  As I turned and opened the back door of our Dodge Charger, I was greeted with a heavenly smile.  “Are you ready?”  I asked, more to myself than my pint-sized passenger.  I unbuckled my baby girl, hoisted her out of her seat and shut the door.

Cheery and heartfelt “Good Mornings” greeted us at every turn, as we made our way into the modest building.  I scanned the room.  The seats in the rear were taken, making my escape plan all the more difficult.  I turned left and walked up towards the front.  Choosing an end seat, so as not to get trapped with people on either side of me, I plopped down and stowed the diaper bag next to me for easy access.  An enormous sigh escaped my lips.  Getting here was half the battle, I thought to myself.  It’s all downhill now.

As if to mock my optimism, my 1 year old started to squirm and fuss.  After all, she could walk now and wanted to do so every chance she got.  Before her feet even touched the floor, my little angel was exploring.  She smiled and waved at everyone around her.  The returned smiles and waves encouraged me.  My visit to God’s house was long overdue.  I’d been telling myself stories for months now, that my little one wasn’t ready…that she would be disruptive…that people would be staring and scolding me with their eyes…that I couldn’t possibly get anything out of mass if I was constantly trying to keep a toddler in check.  I neglected to acknowledge perhaps one of the most important things to be “gotten” out of mass.  And I saw it in the faces of all those around me and in the sense of community that brought me to this cozy, little church in the first place.

My eyes drifted to the front of the church, to a wall hanging of Jesus our Teacher.  It featured Jesus, sitting under a tree, surrounded by children.  The misgivings I carried in with me were immediately forgotten.  I couldn’t tell you what all the readings were or any of the songs we sang that day, but I can recite to you every kind word spoken to me and to my daughter after mass.  More importantly, I remember vividly how those words made me feel.  Relieved, welcomed and embraced.  Embraced by God’s love.

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