I was at the sink washing dishes one night last week, and suddenly I was struck by the most intense feelings—of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, and of joy for the privilege of being alive and having so, so many people to love. These emotions were triggered by the simple tableau right before my eyes on the kitchen counter: gorgeous blooming roses, given to me as a hostess gift from my daughter-in-law Braveheart's mother on Easter, when she joined us here for brunch; and nearby, a candy dish filled with chocolates, because we were still in celebration mode in this house, at least until the end of the octave of Easter. (We're still in celebration mode!)
But it was more than just those two items that stirred my soul. It was what I could see beyond the blooms, adorning the walls of our family room: family photos, many of them of our five boys in various stages of growth (five of the most lovable people in the universe, and that's no exaggeration); a poster-sized enlargement of a photo I took of the Pantheon in Rome, when my husband and I were there on a once-in-a-lifetime trip almost exactly two years ago, staying in a tiny apartment just around the corner from that iconic building; a small replica of the Pieta resting on the ledge of the transom window, a group gift from my sons for Mother's Day many years back; and two signs that were gifts from son #3 and his wife to reflect the reasons we relocated to this VA house four years ago, one that reads "Papa and Grammy's House, Where Cousins Become Friends" and another that says "Our Greatest Blessings" and has pictures of our boys and their families hanging from it, as if on a little clothesline. From my vantage point at the sink, I could also see my husband's navy blue leather recliner, a gift I gave him for his 50th birthday in 2008; it's the chair he sits in when we watch a show or movie together, and when we pray our daily Rosaries and novenas. (Okay, full disclosure: it's also where he sits to eat his dinner most nights, with a tray on his lap, while I eat mine in my comfy armchair on the other side of the room. Yes, we are those old people you swear you'll never become!)
Every single item I looked at gave me pleasure. Everything I saw warmed my heart.
There are less pieces of religious artwork in this room than in most of the other rooms of the house, and yet I was seeing God everywhere I looked.
And I thought to myself, "God, why have you given me so much, when so many have so little? What can I do to deserve this?" Of course I realize that no one "deserves" anything, and sometimes the best souls have to endure the worst deprivations and trials. But still...I did ask Him anyway. And I think He gave the answer I knew already: to whom much has been given, much will be required. (Luke 12:48) So I've got some work to do!
I really don't know why I've been fortunate enough to live the life I've lived—the very life I dreamed about when I was a little girl. I have a husband who loves me as Christ loves His Church and gave Himself up for Her, as St. Paul instructed all good husbands to do. I've been a mother to five sons whom I adore, and now I'm a grandmother to the most eclectic and adorable assemblage of little people on God's green earth, 17 of them here with us (so far!) and five in Heaven. Blessed. That's what I am. So blessed.
My whole life has revolved around what was going on at home, and I have never felt like my triple vocation of wife, mother, and homemaker was not “enough.” It was enough and then some. I always felt privileged that I was able to focus my energies on the needs of my family (especially since I'm just not as good at juggling lots of balls at once as some people are), and I will be eternally grateful to my husband for making it possible for me to do so.
I believe it's part of the Theology of Home philosophy that your home, your domestic Church, should be a reflection of what is most important to your family, and that it should provide an oasis of peace and tranquility for its members—even when the whole world outside your door seems to be in chaos and turmoil. Home has always been an oasis for me, no matter where we've lived; I can only hope that it was the same for our boys when they were growing up and sleeping every night under our roof. I hope they felt safe, cherished, and as happy as it is possible to be in this imperfect life on earth.
I stood there at the sink, deep in thought, looking like I was wasting time staring out over that counter at our family room; but really, I was doing the very important work of trying to unlock all the mysteries of the universe—and specifically, trying to understand how God would like me to spend the years I have left in my life, for His greater glory and the good of my own soul.
And all of these deep thoughts were inspired by a vase filled with roses sitting next to a bunny dish filled with chocolates!