Coming down the Mountain
February has been so labor-intensive for me and my family. In other times, the rush of the New Year is slowed down by snow days. They invite reprieve from work, time to play, and time to huddle closer as family. This year, we had warmer weather and a bout of stomach flu that took my child for three days and then took my wife for three more.
Running up and down the stairs to minister to them, I recalled our Sunday Readings unpacking Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, speaking of Holy Wisdom and choosing to serve the greater good. But in Mark’s Gospel today (Mk 9:14-29), after Jesus is transfigured up on the mountain, he comes down with his beloved disciples and meets a distraught father whose son has been plagued by demons since childhood.
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It is causing my child and my wife to retch and convulse.
They are not themselves. They are possessed.
Coming down with the flu
As my child convalesced in the basement and my wife upstairs in the bedroom, I exhausted myself going up and down the three flights. I was not transfigured! I did not hear God’s voice immediately. Instead, I heard the pleas to go upstairs with ice, to go downstairs with Tylenol, to continuously wash dishes, disinfect bathrooms, wash and rewash sheets.
Somewhere in there, Facebook reminded me that my wife and I passed a milestone on Feb. 7th, our “first date” some 24 years ago. I pinned the memory, but my wife didn’t think of it until she recovered enough to look at a calendar. “I completely missed it,” she said with disappointment. (How could I hold sickness against her?)
Coming to Wisdom & Holiness
Similarly, I was surprised when a recent homily turned toward the celebration of World Marriage Day. The pastor described this vocation as a call to holiness. Spouses mirror a relationship of hope as they journey toward that holiness. Suddenly, I remembered going up and down the stairs and thought about how many steps I have taken with my wife (and now with my child) over all that time.
I didn’t think about how tired the journey made me. Instead, I thanked God for keeping me healthy so far. I thanked God for delivering my child back to me from sickness and raising my wife from the bed.
The busy year continues. I kept my family at arm’s length to keep from getting sick. Yet, I am called to serve them in love as we pull each other closer on the path to holiness. I am grateful to do so again.
Has your relationships become fatigued? In what ways can that labor be cherished by the number of years you’ve become the marriage that you are? What have you kept at arm's length that you can now pull close to you again?
Thanks be to God for the many years and years
Of doing nothing else but loving service.
Let fatigue stretch my soul
In Holy Wisdom on the well-worn path
Copyright 2017 Jay Cuasay
About the Author
Jay Cuasay is a freelance writer on religion, interfaith relations, and culture. A post-Vatican II Catholic father with a Jewish spouse, he is deeply influenced by Christian mysticism and Zen Buddhism. He was a regular columnist on Catholicism for examiner.com and a moderator and contributor to several groups on LinkedIn. His LTEs on film and Jewish Catholic relations have been published in America and Commonweal. Jay ministered to English and Spanish families at a Franciscan parish for 13 years. He can be reached at TribePlatypus.com.