It was barely warm enough to be called spring. I trudged far along Carolina Beach wrapped in a quilt, brushed soft with memories reaching back to a great grandmother who stitched it, whilst thumbing Hail Mary’s as my rosary swung to the gait of my prayers. The wind blew sideways. The sand settled in moguls. It was hard to walk. There were only a few braving the breeze, besides me. Gulls screeched their usual songs. I washed my feet off and held the glass door against the wind back up to the condo.
My son Mark was sitting on the sofa with his (dry) wet suit rolled half-way down, watching a surf video.
My husband was tending to his 85-year-old mother in Florida who had suddenly gone totally blind due to Temporal Arteritis.
Granny is formal, elegant, and never a hair out of place.
I said to Mark, “I keep picturing Granny in her jammies, living in our bed, and I leading her backwards to the bathroom. It doesn’t make sense!”
Mark looked at me, pensive.
It was hard to imagine that I would become her 24/7 caregiver for the next year and a half.
We read aloud to her, a lot.
Now, I’ve grown to believe that God doesn’t waste anything. In John’s gospel account of the miracle of feeding the 5000, in the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish, it says in John 6:12: And when they had eaten their fill, Jesus told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” When I heard this a few years ago, it made a great impression on me. I started watching how God uses everything to sanctify us. Through taking care of Mom, both my husband and I experienced what Mother Teresa coined as a ‘The Call’ within ‘The Call’. We were serving and in return, Jesus washed our feet and turned our pebbled hearts more pliable.
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And guess what we cracked open? Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis. It runs second to The Bible as the most-read Christian book. This author didn’t even want to be credited. That’s how humble he was. Is that what we call a ghost writer? Here is my husband’s favorite sentence: “It is better to experience contrition than to define it.” Whoa. This book is so down-in-the-mud humble, only Jesus himself could clean us up.
Then somehow, my husband got the bright idea to read Divine Mercy In My Soul: The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.
I had no idea how deeply moved I would be.
While Rob read aloud, Granny laid in the bed, I lied on the floor, staring at the ceiling fan and listened to Sister Faustina’s writings.
Again, I had no idea.
I had no idea that while I kept vigil for my mother in law’s sake, it was my heart that would be changed.
I had no idea that Jesus would speak to me through St. Faustina.
I had very little idea, up to that point, what the word, Mercy, really meant.
Jesus talked about his ocean of mercy…
The abyss of his unfathomable mercy…
That it wasn’t our sins that grieved him the most.
What grieved him most was that we willed not to receive his forgiveness.
Then this happened: Pope Francis proclaimed this liturgical year, The Jubilee of Mercy; it began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, 2015, and will end on the feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2016.
I thought about the timing of events in our family, and in my personal life. I all of a sudden realized the connection. God took every fragment of the multitude of fish and loaves of my life and nourished my soul. The Year of Mercy is for me too!
I previously thought that the Year of Mercy was meant for the unsaved, the lost, the worst of sinners.
What I’ve learned is that in degrees and points in my timeline, I fit in all those categories.
If you’re like me, you love this kind of stuff!
I would love to hear your comments.
Has the Jubilee Year of Mercy changed you?
Copyright 2016 Susan Anderson
About the Author
Susan Anderson is a wife and mother of six. Becoming Catholic at age 33, she is an avid fan of Mary and keeps her sanity through rosary prayer. She helps Rob, her husband, at Cactus Game Design, provider of Bible based games and toys. Her book, Paul’s Prayers, is about her oldest autistic son, which will be published March 6, 2018. To pre-order: http://goodbooks.com/titles/13642-9781680993479-pauls-prayers Her website: www.SusanAndersonwrites.com