This past Sunday, I had a luminous moment. It wasn’t mine, it was simply mine to witness. Going up to receive the Eucharist, I spied a mother pushing a wheelchair/stroller hybrid with a son I guessed to be about 12, but suffering from cerebral palsy and other complications that rendered him fairly immobile and verbally handicapped. Still, the young man smiled in his chair as he rode down the aisle. His smile was matched by the one on his mother’s face.
That afternoon, my husband and I had held a budget conference and we were feeling the teeth of our economics keenly as we had discussed just how tight things had become. I’d tried to shunt them aside at mass but knew I was full of worry despite having just asked to be protected from all anxiety and asked for peace and forgiveness in preparation to receive. Yet once I saw it, I could not stop looking at that woman’s smile. I knew she had other children as well, and all I could think was I should be smiling with the type of confidence and inner joy that this woman held so publicly. Here I was worrying about something as stupid as money when we were in line to receive Christ himself. She had gone to the front smiling and joyful. I wanted to be like her.
Returning to our pew, my youngest daughter announced she needed a change and I was forced to shuttle her back to the bathroom. In leaving the back of the church, I once again came into view of that luminous woman and there was the smile again, being beamed at each of her four other children. I could not help but marvel as I then hustled downstairs to give a toddler a quick cleaning up. In that moment, I could see that this was how God hoped each of us would be for each other, luminous and filled with the joy of our vocation, transparent and filling at the same time to anyone who would see.
I don’t know her name because I wasn’t able to snag a moment to introduce myself after the mass ended, but I do know, her face is burned in my memory as an example of how all of us are called to joyfully take up our cross and follow Him, and of how we are to receive the Eucharist. The worries would still be there, her son was no less handicapped, but his smile and hers transformed the reality of their crosses. Our money issues did not cease to exist, but I knew He would be with us and free us from all anxiety, and if we followed Him, he will help us such that we would consider whatever our cross, the burden to be light.
Copyright 2010 Sherry Antonetti