A few years back, my family and I decided to attend a different church in our diocese, one that was closer to home. One in which we could tear through the deserted streets early on Sunday mornings to beat the 8 AM church bell.
We were blessed to have fallen in love with Assumption Parish, a beautiful traditional church that is reminiscent of the church I grew up in, during the Renaissance (I held the paint palette for Michelangelo. A sloppy painter, by the way, until I whipped him into shape and told him to get his act together!).
For several years my guys and I just sat in the pew, taking a break from the very active parish we had come from. We weren't about to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity in this church.
Right. Jason took the plunge first, and joined the men's Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP). After his weekend retreat, he seemingly found such peace in his relationship with Jesus. I, on the other hand, was firmly planting my heels into the asphalt of the church parking lot, denying my need to attend this boring weekend. But as often happens, I felt a nudge in my heart, prompting me to change my mind and not to be outdone by my convert-husband. I signed up for the upcoming women's weekend and found love, peace and renewal.
I am so glad I disengaged my heels from the asphalt and took the leap into the world of CRHP. Had I not, I would never have been at this gathering last night...
Meet Maureen. I stalked her on our CRHP weekend, staring her down, examining her face and wondering where I had seen her before! And let me tell you, she has the most beautiful eyes and smile I have ever seen. She lights up the room when she laughs. See her belly? Maureen is the guest of honor...
.......at her baby shower! Yay, a party! Look at all the delicious food the girls brought. And the balloons were outrageous and fun! Lisa and Joanne did the bulk of the decorating and boy, was I relieved! 'Cause it would have looked like a redneck trailer park party had I decorated.
Did I mention that I'm Catholic? I guess by the bottles of wine, you would have guessed that. Catholic girls know how to party...not that much of that wine was consumed, mind you. But it's always nice know that it's there. PARTY!!!
And here is our dear Juanita. She's our girl Friday, the gal who does it all. Really. She has the ability to anticipate the next move hours before that next move is set to take place and then she pounces! I just stand there, like the Comcast turtles. Juanita is on it, man!
Then there are these three...trouble. With a capital "T" that rhymes with...never mind (name that musical). Oh, I have my eye on them. They're always laughing, joking around, being mischievous...pssst....*two of them are teachers! When there's an undercurrent of static, it's these three, giggling, laughing, whispering. Hey, I want to join...
Gifts! That's what we came here for! Gifts! We had no clue, no inkling as to what we should buy. We were lost. Maureen had the audacity not to find out the sex of her baby! I'm all for being surprised at the moment of birth. Afterall, when I was pregnant I didn't find out the sex of my baby. But that's not acceptable at the showers I'm invited to! What am I supposed to make for this baby? There are no co-ed fabrics out there...crikey! Once that little mooshka of a baby arrives, I'm going to have to go into yet another sewing frenzy, gender-appropriate flurry of creativity. Thanks, Maureen! (She did that to get double stuff...diabolical plan...)
Then there was this blessing. As a ruse to throw Maureen a baby shower, Mary Jo suggested to the group that we host a baby shower benefiting the Women's Help Center. As part of the Center's program, they provide clothing and other items for mother's and babies in need. Gently worn or used items are accepted and quite often, new items such as clothing and diapers find their way to the Angel Closet at the Center. With Maureen present, I nervoulsy (I was afraid I was going to slip and spill the beans) explained to my peeps what was needed for the closet, emphasizing that if they didn't have any used items to donate, a little t-shirt or pants from Wal-Mart ($3-$6) would greatly be appreciated.
Suffice it to say, my sisters didn't stint on their giving in the least. Bags and bags of brand new baby clothing, diapers, binkies, bottles, toys were piled on the table. Gently used items like a Lands End jean jacket (help me, I swooned over that), a big rubber crate of shoes (oh, the cutest little sandals and tennis shoes), baby food, cash donations...
And this afternoon, I found these Mary Janes in the back of my truck, amidst all the lovely donations I gathered last night. What little girl wouldn't love these shoes? What mother wouldn't be proud to place these precious shoes on her little girl's feet?
I am amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit, at the generosity of these women whom I call my sisters. I didn't ask for much, but they gave abundantly from their maternal hearts. Because of these women and many like them, babies all over the city will have decent clothing, warm blankets, clean bottoms. And mommies won't have to fret and cry that they have nothing decent for their children to wear.
Maureen lights up a room with her smile. My CRHP sisters light up a mother's life with their generous hearts. Babies are born. We smile and humanity is illuminated with the joy of new life, new love, joyful hearts.
Thank you, ladies. Perhaps one day, a mother who received your love in the form of baby clothing will one day be in a position to help another needy mother. And so it goes...the light shines on.