"This is it. These are some of the best days of our lives."
I stood on the stairs yesterday afternoon, looking up at Landon who was about to walk into our apartment with a bowl of grilled meat in his hand. I held the foil and the tongs, waiting for Christopher to inch his way up the stairs, and conscious of so many pleasures in that moment: cooking food outside; teamwork with my husband; the tow-headed toddler behind me; a joyful consciousness of our second child growing within me. It's late summer, time for ripening, deepening, and the rush toward harvest. Like a few other times in my life, I can sense Life settling into me; I feel the growing and ripening of my own self. There are things growing in my spirit that I neither planted nor planned for, but are sheer gifts of grace.
One recent gift of grace is courage to more fully embrace my vocation of service. My heart has been cracked open by repeated reminders of the selflessness necessary to love and serve my family well, and an increasing knowledge of my terrible inadequacy to that selflessness. In this moment, I have been give the grace that allows me not to shrink from that knowledge, but - through the tiniest of baby steps - to allow it to do its work of softening, repentance, and humility. I am amazed to see these things unfold.
Another recent gift of grace is courage to relinquish the fear of belief. On Sunday, Landon, Christopher, and I will be welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church. Landon and I will receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion, and Christopher will receive the sacrament of baptism. Again, my cooperation with this work of grace is imperfect, and so so slow, like a toddler's fingers pried off of the illicit candy in his hand; this tiny sprout of courage, too, is wondrous to behold.
I know that there are those who, through their love and concern for me, look on these things in a different light. Some of you worry that I will lose myself in mothering and homemaking, not in the positive loss of unselfish service, but in the frightening loss of sublimation and nonexistence. Some of you look at the vast gulf between the church of my childhood and the church of my adult belief and are concerned that I have lost my way. I do not blame you for your worry and concern, and I thank you for the love that motivates it. Please, pray for me. But if it is any comfort, know that when I look at my life right now, all that I can see is the work of God. I know of no other way that could have brought me to this moment. The circumstances could have come about by a certain stumbling and accident, but the seedlings of courage, the baby steps of virtue, the slivers of openness - grace. All is grace.