It had been one of those mornings. More accurately speaking, it had been one of those months. Without getting into the gory personal details, a series of life events had recently unfurled, not the least of which were related to my father’s health, financial worries, and marital “bumps in the road.” I had this sense that all of my splendid life expectations had spiraled out of my grasp. (This happens in life sometimes, no?)
It had been a long commute that morning. The baby was still young, so he came to work with me at the church. I had been stuck in traffic, and he had been fussing in the back. When I finally pulled into the church parking lot, opened the door, and began unpacking the lunches, the baby gear, and my little guy in his hundred-pound carrier, the voices in the back of my mind were whispering their ugly taunts, “This is no place for a baby.” “What kind of mother are you?” I was tired and stressed. And it was only 8:30 a.m.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted one of the priests. It seemed as if he had come out of nowhere while I fumbled with my stuff and buried myself in self-defeating thoughts. The early-morning sunshine illuminated his beard as he greeted with me a smile, and said, “Here…let me get that.” He scooped up the bouncy seat, grabbed the diaper bag, and accompanied me to the parish office where he left me to set myself up for the day doing the work I love—with my baby at my side.
A little while later he walked back over from the rectory with a cup of steaming hot coffee. I almost cried. Not because he did anything earth-shatteringly special, but because he saw me during a moment when I felt invisible. Without fully understanding the context of what was going on in my life at that time, he was able to minister to me in a very simple, very Christ-like way. I remember thinking to myself, “THIS is what the priesthood looks like. All those little things they see and do.” You know, what Mother Teresa referred to when she said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
With a single cup of coffee, this priest had silenced the negativity, restored my dignity, and turned the day around.
Since those unhappy days, everything has taken a glorious upswing, but if it were not for the gentle attentiveness of a dear priest on that one bad day, I might have given up. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Jennifer Edwards holds a Master's Degree in Biblical Theology from Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. In addition to being a wife and mother of 4, she has served as a Pastoral Associate and a Consultant to parishes in New Jersey and Georgia. See her blogs: "Out From Under The Broom Tree" and "Overheard at the Edwards' ".