Hello, my name is Sherry and I have a problem. I’m Catholic, which means I’m supposed to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. However, I’m not real big on suffering. I stink at it. I howl at splinters. I don’t like shots. I grimace over bills, extra pounds and homework I think is tedious. It’s easy to write beautiful stuff. But going out and being beautiful to people? That’s hard. There are a thousand things I choose to do that aren’t what I should do, and that makes me a lousy Catholic.
Having the Gospel tell me to get up and get moving, “pick up and carry your cross,” makes me want to bargain with God. Couldn’t I come in at the last minute, and only have to carry it a little? It sounds more dramatic, more heroic, more incredible that way. Besides, I don’t have big sufferings in my life. I have socks and trash and bee stings and weeds. My life is the boring domestic. Where is the cross to pick up? What is the cross to pick up? I’m just here doing the ordinary.
I looked at the first room. There were three coffee cups, six or seven papers, two napkins, a towel, five socks and umpteen Legos on the floor. I put the cups in the sink, the papers and napkins in the trash, the towel and socks in the laundry and swept all the Legos into a bin. I went to the second room. Eight Barbies had fallen from their places in the pocket closet on the back of the door. After making the beds and emptying the goodnight cups of water, I took two towels and four outfits to the wash. The room needed a vacuum too. In the third room, the drawers were all open, and both beds unintentionally stripped. In the fourth room, there were three laundry baskets of clean clothes to put away. I got done with the upstairs. The main floor and basement loomed.
Internally, I sighed. Having all 10 kids home means they do help, but they remain children, and thus a lot of the ordinary stuff is still mine to do. The main floor needed vacuuming and mopping, not to mention having three couches of laundry to clear. “It’s too much to pick up!” My brain howled. I wanted to rail at the kids to give me a break. I felt cross … until the Holy Spirit did that little tap on the shoulder: “Pick up the shoes. Pick up your cross.”
Saint Therese of Lisieux understood. “I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.”
I was picking up socks, and picking up splinters of my cross. I don’t yet prefer the monotony of the obscure, but I recognize that cumulatively, if I keep at it, over the course of my life, it will lead to the full conversion of my soul.