Note: I shared this story at the conference, so if you were there you may skip this post.
Go have a coffee.
Feed your cat.
For those of you who weren’t at the conference, you should have been! (And not just for this story.) In any case, here it is:
I told the kids that we were going to Mass for First Friday. They were all on board with this announcement, except for one child who shall remain nameless and who may or may not have been a teenager.
“Look,” I said to this child, while racing through the arguments in my mind for the best possible way to win him over. “The Mass is the highest form of prayer, and you never know who may need your prayers today!”
“Mom.” (You know the tone: half groan, half please-don’t-start.)
“I’m serious! Maybe it’s the person who’s going to die this day. Maybe it’s the child who’s starving in Uganda. Maybe it’s Megan [our babysitter] who’s in Uganda right now!”
The little girls all oohed and nodded.
“Maybe,” I said, leaning forward for emphasis and because it was the last example, “It’s the soldier in Afghanistan who needs your prayer this day.”
“Fine,” said this child, worn down if not entirely convinced. “I’ll go.”
We drove downtown—and were even early—but there wasn’t a single spot in the parking lot. It turns out the parish was having a Mass for St. Boniface, and every local German (and his
dog mom) was there. We had to park on the street next to a meter, and to our dismay discovered that we only had three quarters.
We have everything else on the floor of the van. Why couldn’t we have more quarters?
“It’ll be fine,” I told my middle child who is prone to fretting. “We have to trust that 30 minutes will be enough.” Still, when I saw a nice, older lady walking up to church, I approached her and held out two dimes and a nickel.
“Do you have a quarter for the meter?” I asked with a grin. “We ran out.”
(My children all stood quietly by, the undeserving victims of near-death-through-embarrassment.)
She took a small coin purse out of her bag and pressed three quarters into my hand. “No no,” I said, feeling uncomfortable with her generosity, “We only need one.”
“Take them,” she insisted, and smiled at the children.
“Okay,” I replied, “But we’ll pray for you! What’s your name?”
“My name is Sally,” the woman said, “but don’t pray for me.”
“Pray for my grandson in Afghanistan.”
And so we did.