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Jan 13, 2020 255 0 Teresa Weider
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A STORY IN ‘THE STORY’

A Comical Touch

Sitting down to a blank screen, I chuckle as I recall many amusing moments where grace has appeared in the midst of farce. It is difficult to pick just one story to share. The truth is, my whole life is a story, since the day God called me into being. “You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13) I have had one encounter after another with God. How do I choose just one?

Looking back, this series of events seemed to be comically orchestrated by God to teach me a lesson. Although I know that God is always with me, the time I spend quietly in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is fundamental for my well-being. Spending time alone with my Lord enables me to recharge my spiritual batteries. This particular day, I had planned to spend an hour with God in the Adoration Chapel. I drove into the parking area and was pleased to see so many empty parking spaces. “Aah, perfect,” I thought, “a nice quiet hour with Jesus all to myself!” I grabbed the prayer bag I had equipped with a Bible, a journal, prayer books and a rosary and headed to the Adoration Chapel.

Happily on a Mission

At this point, I felt proud of myself for having carved an hour out of my busy schedule for adoration, for having gathered the appropriate adoration materials and for being on time. I was pleased that God had rewarded my endeavors by clearing the chapel for my arrival. However, as I turned the corner and walked up the pathway, I saw two women engaged in an intense conversation directly outside the chapel door. Had they not seen the sign—Adoration Chapel, quiet zone?

I was happily on a mission and I only had an hour. Jesus was waiting for ME. But wait! … There were two other people in the chapel … Where did they come from? No matter, I was still happily on a mission and I still only had an hour.

The Chapel is small and seats approximately 25 people. Choosing the right seat was crucial if I wanted to avoid interrupting other adorers in their prayer or avoid being interrupted by them. I scanned the room, spotted the perfect place, settled in and knelt to pray. Ugh! Although I was desperately trying to focus on my prayer, the restlessness of the other people began to distract me. One rustled her papers and books and the other repeatedly searched the contents of her purse or readjusted her chair. “Block it out, block it out” I repeated to myself. Meanwhile, the conversation between the two women outside seemed to get louder and more animated. Calmly, I got up, opened the door and quietly placed my pointer finger to my lips. Common courtesy would surely dictate that they would take their conversation elsewhere. Yes, they moved … but only a few feet to the left! Sighing, I returned inside.

Heaping Up

I knelt down again, closed my eyes, placed my head into clutched hands and tried to pray. As if on cue, another woman walked and who chose to sit in the seat next to me. Although she settled in fairly quickly, I thought I heard her sucking on hard candy. The candy clicked against her teeth in the relatively quiet room. A few minutes passed and it occurred to me that she was taking a long time to finish this candy. I discreetly glanced her way. Immediately, I took a second glance to verify my first impression. “Oh my!” It was not candy in her mouth. She had false teeth and clicked them quite vigorously, in and out of her mouth, as she prayed. I quickly faced forward. A little stunned, I just knelt there, partially wanting to laugh and partially wanting to cry as MY hour was slipping away.

Distracted by thoughts far from adoration, the frustration of MY hour not proceeding as peacefully and spiritually as planned began to wear on me. Breathing deeply, I helplessly sat in the Lord’s presence. One of the other adorers took her rosary out to pray. She was an elderly woman and seemed unaffected by the things that distracted me. “How sweet,” I thought. Perhaps if I took her lead I could focus properly on the prayers and mysteries of my own rosary. She began but prayed in an audible whisper in a foreign language with a choppy cadence. It was impossible to follow her rhythm; it was impossible to follow her language. It seemed impossible for me to focus on my rosary and pray to MY Lord, who was certainly waiting to hear from me.

One of the women who had been talking outside came into the chapel. She approached me and apologized for talking loudly. I politely nodded while smiling at her and closed my eyes to concentrate on my rosary. As luck would have it, she sat directly behind me, noisily settled in, pulled out her rosary and began to audibly whisper her prayers in my other ear. At this point I thought of yielding MY time to the circumstances but the hour was not over yet.

A few minutes later a sister of the other original adorer came in looking for her sibling. She recognized me and asked if I could stay in her sister’s place. I quietly nodded. Overcome with gratitude, she engulfed me in a big hug. As her powerful perfume and copious hair spray overwhelmed my senses, I gasped for air and tried to hold back laughter at the same time. This could not be happening!

Nothing’s a Coincidence

The cherry on the sundae came as the two sisters exited the Adoration Chapel and the regular Friday lawn service showed up, complete with back-up beeping trucks, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chatty gardeners. Out wafted the heady aroma of perfume and hairspray and in drifted the sweet smell of freshly cut grass.

What was happening here? Why were so many noises and disruptions obstructing the peaceful hour I had planned to spend with Jesus? Did these people not realize how selfish they were being? No sooner had these thoughts crossed my mind when a light bulb turned on in my head and heart. Perhaps God was using these back-to-back disruptions to speak to me. What could He be trying to teach me?”

I reflected:

“Humility” popped into my mind. Having such a busy schedule, surely God appreciated the sacrifice of MY time. Although this might be true, I could see my attitude was distorted. What was I thinking? Although it is my will, it is His time. He gave it to me. It was not me giving Him a gift. It was He who gave me the gift of Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Furthermore, every minute of every day is His gift to me.

In the midst of such a busy life, I was inordinately proud that I had carved out an entire hour to spend with my Lord. However, I felt like Cain, in the book of Genesis, who gave God his leftovers. I did not give God the best of me, I gave Him my leftover time. My self-satisfaction left and I felt shame wash over me.

Prepared with all the appropriate tools for an hour of adoration, I did not consider that He might want me to just BE with Him, like a friend. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. Do I have eyes to see and ears to hear when He tries to get my attention? I did not have to plan the entire hour as if it were a meeting with an agenda. I just needed to BE. Although He wants me because He loves me, it is not He who needs me, it is I who need Him! Additionally, I should not have entered the Adoration Chapel as if I were looking for an auditorium seat but with reverence for the Holy ground I had entered.

Although I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and truly love Him, the fact is He does not belong exclusively to me. Each person who came to this Adoration Chapel came to be with Him. I acted like a selfish child demanding parental attention to the detriment of other siblings who also had needs.

Broken Silence

Many other thoughts surfaced as I sat in quiet shame. The heaviness began to steal my joy. Then suddenly, and almost as if orchestrated, everyone left the Adoration Chapel, one by one. I was going to be alone with Jesus for the last 10 minutes of the hour. God in His mercy and tender love knew my sorrow and gave me the longing of my heart. At last I was alone with Him!

I began to well up as I read the scripture etched on the Adoration Chapel door. It said, “Come all who are weary … and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In my heart, I knew I was not His only child seeking consolation from Him in this chapel. Internally I smiled, humbly sighed and counted myself as one of the many as I said aloud, “Okay, Lord, I am here and I am weary.” After a few minutes of alone time I am pretty sure I heard Him chuckle as MY cell phone rang and broke the precious silence.

When recalling the abundant grace, mercy and forgiveness Jesus patiently bestows upon me as I falter through life, I am awed by His great love for me. I am blessed because He knows my love language and uses humorous situations to catch my attention so He can patiently teach me to love as He loves.

From the moment of conception, we become part of “The Story” in God’s Book of Life. Often, we chalk up our encounters with God to coincidence, happenstance, annoyances or fate. However, if we realize how intricately our lives depend on God it suddenly becomes clear how He reaches out to us so we can become aware of His presence in our lives. He tells us, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

I recall the words of Saint John: “But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). I understand that passage a little better today and feel a kindred spirit with Saint John as I look forward to accumulating more anecdotes of God’s story interwoven with mine.

Teresa Weider

© Teresa Ann Weider serves the Church remarkably through her active involvement in various ministries over the years. She lives with her family in Folsom, California, USA.

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