Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Too Shall Pass



My son Peter performed in his 8th grade play last night. The play, a musical parody of Fairy Tales, highlighted the many talents of the 54 students in his class. Plot lines are sacrificed for laughs in these productions. It’s a long standing tradition at our catholic school and it signifies the end of an era; after nine years together in parochial school they will be moving on to different high schools. Peter is my youngest son; this was my last 8th grade play. After four children and 18 years, I feel ready to make the change. Still it is bitter sweet in many ways.

After weeks of hearing that “the play is terrible” and “there’s no point in coming”, I was once again surprised to see a child of mine shining on the stage. As Prince Charming, singing a solo and dancing his heart out, Peter really did shine. Its a parody, so after wooing all ten princesses, poor Prince Charming was revealed as the villain and vanquished from the land from the unlikely and extremely funny heroine, The Old Woman who lived in the Shoe, who was played by Peter’s friend, Pete. Seeing kids I'd known for years walk out on that stage and really perform, well, it was one of those parenting moments I treasure. And like all shining moments, there is a tinge of regret afterward, the realization that part of the journey is behind me.

Not all the moments in our life fill us with regret when they pass. Only the highlights, the mountain tops, like watching Peter on stage. There have been other moments that couldn’t pass quickly enough in my perception. Peter’s first three months of life come quickly to mind. Finding out I was expecting another baby was a miracle for me. I was told I probably wouldn’t conceive again after medical problems I’d experienced during my third pregnancy. I was thrilled to be pregnant and I knew in my heart it was a boy. Coming off a year and a half of illness and recovery from surgery after Andrew’s birth and finding that Andrew, at 15 months, was a reincarnation of the Energizer Bunny, I was not as energetic as I was enthusiastic about bringing another baby into the family.

By the time I was rushed into the hospital two weeks early for an emergency induction, Peter’s young life had already diminished the last vestiges of my former “Type A” personality. I’d completely lost control. After five days in the hospital Peter and I were home only to find ourselves back in four days later. He is the baby who had every serious symptom and nothing actually life threatening, praise the Lord. It does explain the premature graying of my hair.

Peter’s daily schedule for the first three months of life was: cry for three hours and sleep three hours (if I held him). This cycle ran in a 24 hour continuous loop. At three months of age he had surgery to repair double hernias and practically never cried again. Those first months fall smack dab in the middle of what I refer to as “the black hole” years. I accomplished almost nothing each day other than the bare minimum child care duties. I hated feeling out of control. I was exhausted. Unable to fulfill my expectations of what a “mother” should do, I was a bit lost. Thankfully I had a great deal of support from really good friends who had walked the path before me.

I will never forget what my friend Kathy said to me one afternoon, when I was lamenting on the telephone that I couldn’t get anything done, because if I put the baby down, he cried. “Anne, this too shall pass.” Kathy’s voice was so reassuring. “Pick up a good book, sit down with Peter, and enjoy the time you have to rock your baby. Everything else can wait.” And that’s exactly what I did. Kathy was right. Fourteen years later the precious time to rock my babies has passed, but the mess in my house remains.

“This too shall pass” has become my mantra in good times and bad. It helps me to put things in perspective; to see life for the up and down journey that it is. I distinctly remember watching my oldest daughter Emily crowned as Homecoming Queen her senior year in high school. It was a rather surreal moment. Everyone was cheering, people were coming up to me in the stands congratulating me, Emily was crying, hugging her Dad as they put the crown on her head, and what I heard in the back of mind was “this too shall pass”.

The last thing I was expecting in that moment was a message. It is one of my most vivid memories. I think God wanted to remind me to appreciate my blessings, my mountain top moments, but not to hold on to them too tightly. He knows we need the mountain tops, to encourage us to persevere through the valleys. I felt strongly God was reminding me I had not yet arrived; this was not the apex, but just one brief leg of the journey. Just like Peter’s starring moments in the play, or continual discomfort as a newborn, these were just stops along the way. The path would level out again, for a time.

In retrospect I wonder if Jesus had similar thoughts as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, amidst the cheers and adulation.

“They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: "Hosanna!BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David, Hosanna in the highest!" Mark 11:1-10

Jesus knew what was in store for Him. He knew this mountain top experience was just a moment, and in a few days all He would hear from the crowd would be “Crucify Him. In one week’s time, the time it took His Father to create the world and all that lives in it, it would all be over. A new covenant would be established and His saving work of the cross complete. This too would pass. It would pass into something better, something complete, eternal glory. And so will we.

No comments:

Post a Comment