With a family of 11 you find yourself at the grocery often. The kids are thankfully old enough at this point to unload them once I get home. This is mostly a blessing, but sometimes in their rush to get things done as quickly as possible (why don’t they have this attitude about getting up in the morning?) disasters occur. Last Friday is a prime example.
Joseph was unloading milks gallon in the garage fridge. Carrying two at a time, he wasn’t able to open the fridge door so he plopped them on the ground. A little too hard. I was inside putting the groceries away. Joseph comes running in saying a milk jug is leaking. I go out to the garage to find a ¾ empty milk jug sitting on the ground leaking all over the garage floor. Well there is no use crying over spilt milk - but there is something to be said for yelling. I picked up the milk jug with what remained of the milk and moved it outside to the driveway where it happened to be raining. That was the easy part. Now, I had to clean up all the milk that had leaked under bikes, the lawn mower, strollers, etc. etc. Although the rain helped keep the leaking milk in the driveway from causing a mess, it made cleaning up the garage a bit more challenging.
I told Joseph the next time a jug starts leaking when he slams it onto the ground - take it OUTSIDE immediately and them come and tell mom. I also suggested NOT slamming them onto the ground!
Trying to get things done as quickly as possible usually means not getting things done well. I am only into my second week of schooling, but I am trying to avoid falling into this trap. My children, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to throw themselves into it. The result is a lot of sloppy work, and inevitably, having to redo the work.
This can also be applied to our personal relationships. I was recently watching a movie on Fr. Capodanno, the so called “Grunt Priest.” He was a military chaplain that served the men fighting in Vietnam. He died heroically going from one wounded soldier to another, giving absolution while being shot at himself.
He was deeply loved by the soldiers for his willingness to listen and his love for all of them. One soldier said that Fr. Capodanno never ended a conversation, you always had to. He never rushed anyone when they came to him, instead patiently listening and giving encouragement. He never tried to get things done as quickly as possible, he sought to do things with great love to the best of his ability. He would receive over 150 letters a day, doing his best to respond to all.
I am so busy in my daily life, I know we all are. How much of my life is rushing through the motions and how much of my life is taking the time to do it well AND with love. Would those that know me describe me as someone who takes the time to listen? Or do I make them feel like I am in too big of a hurry to give them my time? Am I just trying to get things done as quickly as possible? Too often I believe the answer to that is yes.
St. Mother Teresa’s feast day was yesterday. The kids all wrote a little something on her. For some of them it was simply a list of her accomplishments; starting the Missionaries of Charity, serving the poor, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, etc., etc. These are all incredible, but this is not what made her special or inspired millions. I will redeem Joseph and his milk spill with what he said in his paper, “Mother Teresa loved all those she met as a mother loves her childen.”
Yes, Joseph you hit the nail on the head. What made St. Mother Teresa different wasn’t all the things she accomplished, it was how she accomplished them. She loved each person she met as a mother loves her child, taking time, never rushing, and always giving.
I will continue to encourage my children to take the time to do things well and with love. (Love the milk jugs, don’t slam them!) I know this will not be easy as I continue to struggle with this myself. However, I will look to great examples such as Fr. Capodanno and St. Mother Teresa to inspire me. I will pray to God to give me the grace to live what I am trying to instill in them. JMJ
For more information on Fr. Capodanno: