Some 15 years ago, my agriculture-researcher husband changed jobs and we moved from a smallish city to a farming town about 300km distant.
Two years later, we returned to our original home for a weekend visit, and we enjoyed chatting with old friends after Sunday Mass.
I remarked how good it was to be back, and one woman in our group (not a close friend, but someone with whom I had been on parish council) said, “Oh, have you been away?”
I had no desire to embarrass the poor lady, but replied a bit awkwardly, “Yes, we moved away two years ago”.
Evidently she hadn’t missed me, but I didn’t take it personally; I hadn’t really missed her either.
Thus, dear Record readers will be forgiven if they have not noticed my absence from these pages these last few months.
Some may have noticed and rejoiced, hoping it was a permanent thing. Time (and the editor’s good grace) will tell.
My hiatus was intentional, and taken for various reasons: our family has struggled this past autumn and winter (in Canada, September-March) with numerous health, employment, academic, and personal challenges.
Low points included difficulties with homeschooling (mum’s and kids’), husband’s job stress, too many health tests and one minor surgery (mum again), and kids getting sick repeatedly.
This was a very bad winter for respiratory infections, culminating on New Year’s Day when we rushed one university-age daughter to hospital via ambulance.
She tested positive for an influenza strain (H1N1) that had killed several people in western Canada before and during the Christmas season (she recovered quickly and is fine now, praise God).
Oh, and did I mention living amidst the ongoing ‘Do It Yourself’ kitchen renovation, which, like love in Colossians 3:14, “covers all things and binds them together in perfect harmony”, except it doesn’t?
You know you’re in trouble when the inability to find the coffee filters makes you break down and weep.
At times I regret undertaking the reno, but once cabinets have been pulled off the wall, there’s no going back.
Sometimes I think I might die (of old age, if not frustration) before it’s complete. This is not a criticism of my hard-working hubby; he simply doesn’t have enough time to work on it, except in fits and starts.
He and I had talked (and talked!) about a second honeymoon in Hawaii to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, but somehow that never materialised (we will be married 28 years this October).
Holidays are now off the discussion table; any and all time off work is dedicated to finishing the kitchen.
I often joke that there is always something to complain about. The corollary is that there is also always something for which to be thankful.
This Lent, I have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to abstain from the former, whilst spending more energy looking for (and thanking God for) the latter.
That includes seeing the upside when things go down though it was a bit of a stretch to find anything positive about town-wide sewage backup problems the day after my husband left for a week-long business trip in March.
At precisely that moment (‘No Flushing Until Further Notice’ day), I was contacted by a friend, Deacon Ken, who helps organise a Catholic homeschool conference in a neighbouring province: would I speak at their function next spring? Feeling overwhelmed by sewage and temporary single-parenthood, if not life in general, I almost declined.
What did I have to offer? Deacon Ken replied: “It is good to see the hand of God at work in the lives of other people; this makes it easier to recognise him in our own struggles too”.
I guess without realising it, he just summed up my reason for writing, if not mothering, if not life.
Early on in Lent, I read this commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine (Liturgy of the Hours, First Sunday of Lent):
“Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.”
I hope you have had a fruitful Lent. Watch for the hand of God at work in your life today, during Holy Week, and throughout the forthcoming Easter season. And rejoice, even if a trip to Hawaii is not in the offing.