Sometimes, God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, He whacks us repeatedly over the head until we get the message. These past three days, for example...and who knows what He's got planned for tomorrow...
Beginning this month, I work early on Sundays, so am cut as a server well before the restaurant closes. Around 7:00, I'm sat one last time: two middle-aged women; nice sort, just friends out for a meal. By the grace of my God-given gift of nosiness, I ask about the calendars they have lying on the table. One of the women explains that they are from a fundraising drive and flips one open to show me. The picture is of a group of African children; the quote accompanying is from Mother Teresa. I exclaim happily at that...and it goes from there. It turns out that the woman, Pam:
- Has taken a group of teens to Africa to work at an MC orphanage there, and was accompanied by a priest I know slightly through the MCs.
- Is going again with that priest, and another teen group, to Calcutta in January.
- Will keep my contact information (and I hers) against future trips.
- Will be more than happy to take my Miraculous Medal to touch to Mother's tomb.
- Is my last table of the night, so I had plenty of time to linger at the table and listen to her tales of Tanzania and adventures with Fr. Jack and the MCs.
- Wants to give me one of the calendars, if I'm also willing to accept - more than likely - the gift of her cough. She'd warned me I'd probably need to wipe down her menu...and that had only been on the table 5 minutes. The calendar was sitting there for over an hour. (Hey, take the bad with the good!)
I was cut at 7:15; I didn't leave until after 10:00. No more sleep than usual, and even less than some previous Sundays - but oh, so worth it. Meeting her; making the contact; having my "other" world intrude into the very different enviroment of my job. Nothing I planned; nothing I expected; nothing that would have happened had I not had a table open, or had the hostess decided to take them to another table.
Monday, as mentioned, I go to the Sisters'. Typical day: Mass. Cook breakfast for the men. Wash dishes. Clean. Make soup and sandwiches for the men's lunch. Wash dishes. Noon prayer. Untypical day: Noon prayer and 2:00 Adoration are conflated, and begin at 11:00. In the afternoon will be the distribution of Christmas baskets, and last-minute shopping for those same. I can help with the shopping, but I can't stay for the distribution - I need to leave before dark. The house is in East Baltimore, and also I attend a praise-and-worship meeting out in Catonsville on Monday nights. Public transit gets me there, but not quickly.
Oh - those girls I've never seen at the house before, who've come to help with the distribution? They're from Catonsville, says Sister. Maybe I can stay if they can take me part of the way, thinks I. Though - I've never seen them at the house before, but come to think of it, haven't I seen them somewhere? I have, as it turns out. At the prayer meeting. In another city. 15 miles away. They can take me, if I don't mind stopping by their house first for dinner. A family dinner: Dad, Mom, six kids, and a meal worthy of a gourmet (on a Monday night!). Okay? I don't mind if you don't! I'd almost left several hours before, I wasn't going to stay at all, but changed my mind (like I never do that...) and decided on helping as long as I could. Against any idea of mine, that turned out to be for the entire distribution.
This afternoon, I made a stop by the Adoration chapel in Towson, to make some poor attempt to turn back to God the weekend's blessings - and the tests, certainly not absent. As I'm leaving, someone calls out to me: a co-volunteer from the MC's who I'd not seen in months and did not expect to see again. Last I'd heard, she was joining a religious order in the Philippines. She still is; leaving on December 27. We went for coffee, and a very belated chance to talk and compare notes on our respective Come-and-See visits to the MCs. And a chance to wish each other well: her as she goes to enter religious life, me as I continue to haul myself towards that same goal. A difference of even a minute on the part of either of us, and it would not have happened: we'd have either missed each other, or not wanted to pull the other out of Adoration.
I think I get the idea now, God. It takes me a while, and You need to speak very slowly and raise Your voice a little...but I think I see Your point. You know what you've got planned for me. Maybe I should quit whining and worrying, and just let be....