This morning, before 9:00 Mass began at St. Joseph’s, a parishioner told me that he and his wife had been wondering why I hadn’t preached at Mass in a long time. When I explained that I would no longer be doing that he told me what a loss that was for him and his wife.
That really got me thinking. More accurately, it got my feeling. Recently, that “loss” has been real for me, too, and I have felt unable to put my thoughts together to reflect in any depth on Scripture or my own faith journey. My blog had gone dormant.
But in the space of an hour, this parishioner shared those kind thoughts; I got a sweet “happy half-birthday” text from my daughter Laura; I heard today’s readings again; I spent time with three adults seeking the Sacraments of Initiation; and I heard Fr. Jim’s Schwartz’ homily for a second time which brilliantly brings together the many facets of the parable of the sower and the seed.
In the light of those enriching events, one more line jumped out from the Scriptures that helped bring it all together for me. That is the line in the letter to the Romans, “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now…”
As a mother, I sometimes feel I don’t have the right to wear the badge of honor that comes with having been in labor. I had the easiest labor and deliveries ever. And we have been blessed with wonderful children who made parenting near effortless.
Yet, like all of creation, aren’t each of us individually still groaning in labor throughout our lives to give birth to our most authentic selves as children of God? Are we not always writhing with the pain of knowing we can do better? To mix metaphors, don’t we always know that our soil can do with a bit more cultivation?
And so on this my half-birthday (my sister Margaret began a tradition of celebrating half-birthdays with my daughters when they were born 17 months apart at opposite times of the year so they would have something to celebrate near the other one’s birthday) I reflect on recommitting myself to the labor and pain of finding new ways to share my reflections on the Gospel. I am deeply grateful for the kind nudge.