This Triduum I lived Good Friday in its depth.
Fifteen years ago I lived a very different life. I was discerning to become a monastic nun, I was coming to the tail end in recovery of an illness that nearly killed me for fourteen years and I was contently single.
I honestly could say my faith was the single most important part of my life. I rose before the sun to walk meditatively praying my rosary to church deep in the city of San Francisco. I first would pray early mass followed by morning Lauds, or commonly known as the Divine Office with the Dominican community. It was the most blissful way to start my day, nothing felt more right in an otherwise challenging journey I had been on at the time.
I would then go on with my day to work as a professional nanny during the day often popping in to the church for an afternoon prayer with the babies, to only return for evening Vespers followed by regular evening ministries I volunteered in from Young Adults to RCIA. I couldn’t get enough; my heart was always fullest at the church. I would happily end my day with Compline among the friars then peacefully walk home through the city lights. I would pray for another hour at my personal altar in my apartment, then rise to repeat the day all over again. Weekends were even fuller where I was able to be a Eucharistic minister or lector often at more than one liturgy and singing in the family choir as well. It filled me with such light and joy, I was certain of where the road would take me.
Then for reasons beyond my control I was unable to enter a community when the time came, the devastation was indescribable which I did not always handle in the best of ways I must admit. But after a period of deep darkness, I faithfully turned it all around and knew I must find a new path. Much to my and everyone around me surprise that turned into a whirlwind relationship with a former Catholic priest, a marriage within months of meeting and soon after two beautiful children would follow. We never did get the whole marriage gig down very well. We were both used to being solo, I enjoyed and was at my best solo and after a lifetime alone learning to share my space in every way was quite difficult.
For one our spiritual directions began to differ, we both yearned for the private prayer practices we once practiced and once children fell into the equation the thought of meditation or ever being able to attend a Triduum as we once had participating 200% were simply a far far away memory to never return. We never did get the hang of finding our space or personal time even within the irony that we ran a retreat center! I missed it, I still miss it.
Sadly, as a decade went by and certain realities sunk in that some weren’t really set out to be in a marriage, we went our separate ways. In doing so as a single full-time mama I now needed to take responsibility for re-building my spiritual life, more so than ever as I was an example to my children.
It is a slow process, it is taking time, but gradually I am coming back into my own. I have loved having my personal altar space once again, my spiritual music as wanted, as well teaching my children the beautiful traditions of where it began for their mama. A slow process, but I have treasured it.
The only thing is it still is not single life and it is still not the Triduum as I once knew it. Today began the kids first day off from school for Spring Break. I had a random work day off myself, so took the weekday opportunity to do needed errands. First stop was mama’s doctor while already stressful two little impatient people were not too pleased by the over an hour task, as displeased as mama was to even be there! Next stop was a car inspection needed to re-register our failing car only to find it failed and is un-drivable. This may not be big to some, but to a single mom scraping by Good Friday just kept on getting better. Did I mention that the kids woke at 6a and my very vibrant Greek stubborn 7yr old son loves to create chaos? I am not sure we had more than an hour of non-bickering the entire lot of the day.
So now finding we couldn’t take the 30min drive to services during the three hours, I figured I would put them in quiet time with an option to watch the live services in Rome on my laptop. Nope, he wasn’t having it. On a day where I just wanted to be in solitude and prayer, there was more yelling than I care to admit. The three hours was just one big headache around here and this mama was devastated at not getting her quiet prayer.
Finally, I decided to kick them outside to play to get some peace, but not 15min in did my son fall off of his bike and break it. Did I mention it’s only 3 months old? So I banish them to their rooms, start making my fish dinner, pour a glass of wine and after a bit retreat to my ‘office closet’ to breath for a moment. Not more than one minute did I spill an entire glass of red wine all over my desk papers I hadn’t gotten to yet, the wall, the Beachwood desk, already dying computer and just froze as the smell just seeped into all my clothes…lovely. I kept pausing all day to find what God was calling me towards in this day, what more could I possibly need to learn right then?
I served the kids dinner, began to clean up the mess counting the minutes until lights out where this single mama prays for peace and solitude. While in a perfect world I would light my candles on my altar, turn my music on and sit in contemplation lucky if I can stay awake until 8:30. Well…8:30 came and went as said 7 yr. old was still at it with his uncommunicative tantrums. Knowing the root is missing his dad I try to have compassion in my exhaustion, but I won’t lie after almost 15 hours of this I was beyond done for the day and my patience thin.
Life isn’t perfect. And I am still trying to figure out this whole single parent gig alongside my own personal journey. But if anything came from today it is to remember I survived, there is always tomorrow as a do over and one day not too far off they will be out of the house for me to return to my single life ways. Right now, as insane as they drive me most days, I will treasure the beautiful gifts of life they are to me if it kills me.
We all have our Good Fridays. We can’t compare each other’s struggles for they are intimate and personal to each person. We do need to honor the experiences for each other, be present to our friends who need this compassion and remember Jesus was teaching this to us all along in these Holy Days. Community. Love. Faith.
Resurrections come in all shapes and sizes.
Peace be with You.
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