Sunday, August 14, 2011

In The Full Moon

The substitute caregiver came early, and I was still napping on the couch, the alarm on my cell phone still minutes from going off. I heard her open the kitchen door and I sat up, groggy, and turned on the light. “I’m a little early,” she said. “So you’ve got time to stop for coffee on your way to church. It’s a beautiful night out, now that the storms have passed.”

My drive to church was quiet, there were few cars on the road. But it was not until I reached a four-way stop sign that I became aware of the full moon. Looking for traffic to the south, I saw nothing in the darkness, but then I perceived the light. The fields were softly lit up; I could see the open grasses and each individual tree in the distance. And I could see the six deer, slowly, quietly moving about. And on the horizon I could see the lightening, flashing brightly, outlining the distant storm clouds. I sat there watching the surreal, live-action painting for a couple of minutes. It was so peaceful. I remembered that one of the nuns in grade school had told me that Mary could be seen in the moon, as a reflection of the brightness of her Son (sun). Looking up I saw the man in the moon. He didn’t look at all like I pictured Mary, and I smiled at my silly thoughts.

Arriving at the chapel, I begin writing my thoughts. On the altar in front of me is the large host, surrounded by the gold rays of the monstrance. Round like the moon, this IS the Son. He doesn’t shine like the earth’s sun; if He did, I wouldn’t be able to look at Him. But, oh, He gives off a warmth to me. I know my God is here, and He radiates the warmth of love.

At breakfast on Saturday morning, I had had a conversation with a friend. We discussed the Peggy Noonan article from the Wall Street Journal: children who are missing love. I commented somewhat confidently about how so many parents give their children things, even well into adulthood. Our society went from people living on farms where the children grew up with responsibilities, eventually inherited the farm and, of course, cared for their aging parents --- no social security/government welfare. Then the depression of the ‘30s came, and people learned to save for bad times – and to get by without frivolous things. My mom has money to take care of her, as long as necessary. Then my generation came along.

We heard of the depression. We struggled, for our parents didn’t unduly give us things. We learned to earn them. But somehow we thought that this was bad, and resolved that our children would not have to struggle as we did. So we gave them things, many things, even if we had to do with less. And they got used to it, and expected it. And even now in our older years many of us we want to scrimp and save, not so much to ensure we can be cared for in our old age --- we expect the government to do that, but so we can continue to give things to our kids, who aren’t really kids any longer.

I commented to my friend that this constant giving we seem to equate with love, but it isn’t really. And Peggy’s comment about the English children rioters being missing love, despite the welfare state (or parents) giving them everything, says this form of love is to the detriment of the children, and our culture. And it is our fault; we forget, or perhaps never learned, what love truly is. It is not about giving “things”, even to our kids. It’s about giving love, real love.

My friend was quiet and thoughtful during my long self-confident rant, and then offered only one comment: “You never had kids.”

He had me there. I remembered my thoughts on how you can never know something with wisdom unless you have experienced it, and I have not experienced having kids. All my Godchildren don’t count. Perhaps I really don’t understand these things I think on, and worry about.

But then, what about Peggy’s final question: What next? Perhaps I don’t understand how things got to be the way they are, but like her I can see these rioting younger people and know that “giving” them things is not the answer. They are not starving nor living in the streets, but like Oliver they “want more.” Only unlike him, they are not saying “please.”

Perhaps all I see is like the soft shadows I saw in the field this evening, reflections in the full moon. I think I see everything, but there might be other things in the shadows. I felt a peace in the moonlight, but in the shadows of the world today, I see and feel a growing fear.

Oh how I wish the sun would shine on us and we could see things clearly, and know what to do. How do we really love our children or our neighbor, in imitation of God’s love, for we are made in His image. If we could love as He does, that must be for the best. But how?

And then I looked again at the host on the altar. He gives me no things, but He is always there, whenever I call, whenever I am scared, and He gives me His very self, totally. Why would I ever riot for more? In Him, I have everything. That is the love I am given to imitate. Can our children learn to be content with that? Can they learn that it REALLY IS everything?

Thank You, Jesus, for so loving me.

1 comment: