The other day, ‘The Jude’ came up to me upset and demanding a band-aid for a scrape. As I looked at his microscopic (But dire! So dire! And “in need of a band-aid, Mommy!”) injury, I noticed that the foot covering portion of his Superman costume was getting frayed. There was a long floppy bit hanging right in front of his feet, and I knew it would end up tripping the poor boy sooner or later.
Despite his increasingly loud protests, I did not bandage his scrape. Instead, I cut the frayed part off his costume, so when he went running up the stairs, he didn’t trip, fall flat on his face, and necessitate a frantic rush to the E.R. for stitches.
“Don’t bother thanking me, Jude.”
“I won’t, Mommy. I wanted a band-aid. Why aren’t you giving me a band-aid?”
* * *
This afternoon, my husband called me from work. He’s got the not-remotely-family-friendly second shift, which means we get leisurely mornings together, but it also means that when bedtime comes, I’m the Lone Ranger
of bathing, pajama dressing, teeth brushing, bedtime story-ing, tucking inning, prayer saying, and “No, you cannot have a glass of water right now, you’ll wet the bed”-ing. (Hi-ho, Silver, and all that.)
Anyway, he called me right at the threshold of the Witching Hour. You could feel the very air quivering with all hell about to break loose in a flurry of hungry, tired, over-stimulated children that wouldn’t stop until they were all asleep. I made small talk with him for a few minutes while changing a diaper with one hand and pulling the head off a Lego guy with the other (the Lego guy was quickly given a new head, don’t be alarmed).
Then the point of the phone call came.
“Well, I’m going to be leaving work around 11. If I’m lucky.”
I pause for a moment. I pick up a broom and start sweeping idly. “I’m sorry. Did you just say you wouldn’t be home until 11? At night? That’s three hours later than you usually get home.”
“No, I said I wouldn’t be leaving here until 11. If I’m lucky.”
Still sweeping, I ask, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Ken tells me about a co-worker who had to take a trip to the E.R., leaving the warehouse short staffed and requiring that he fill in.
I’m concerned for the co-worker, who may possibly be out for several days with his illness. I’m concerned for Ken, whose wife didn’t pack him enough food for a 13-hour shift. What I’m not is angry and yelling.
Which is a big deal for me.
Not so long ago, when Ken would call with news like this, letting me know about some unexpected turn of events that meant overtime for him, I’d be furious. I was mad at the situation mostly, but I’d take it out on my poor husband and yell at him for something that was honestly beyond his control. I would swear; I would fume; I would turn something inconvenient into something so much worse.
But not today.
I told him I’d call him later. We exchanged “I love you”s, and I hung up the phone. I went about the business of the Witching Hour – making dinner, settling disputes, turning off the TV, “You kids have played enough Lego Batman for today; go read a book!” and the like.
It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I realized how out of character my response to Ken’s phone call was. Instead of turning into a screaming brat when my plans were disrupted, I expressed genuine concern for others. I didn’t lose my temper. I didn’t get snarky. I felt calm, when before I would have been stewing over the extra hours my husband would be spending away from the family.
Immediately on the heels of that observation came the realization that this was the direct result of the Eucharist working in my soul. I had an image of myself during the consecration, telling Jesus that I wasn’t worthy for him to enter under my roof, but if he would only say the word, my soul would be healed. I thought of the specific things I bring up at that moment – injuries to my soul that I think should be fixed: gossip, laziness, too much food, too much drink, too much time on Facebook. Things that I keep asking to be healed from because I keep struggling with them. Surface scrapes that I want a band-aid for.
All this time, while I was showing God all the paper cuts and bruises, He was looking at my feet, and seeing the frayed pieces of fabric that would cause me to trip and get seriously injured. I was asking for a band-aid, and God was offering me the Eucharist.
And in that, there is no such thing as surface healing.