Saturday, February 6, 2010

The World is too Slow for Me

Being involved in a sports organization is so exciting when I can contribute my ideas to help make it run better for my children. However, being just one wheel on the train I have to wait for all those other wheels to turn along with me! For me to do my job I have to wait for people to return my calls or emails and get me the information I need.

Patience is not a virtue I was born with. Like I teach my girls in Little Flowers, the virtues must be perfected by practicing them. If you don’t feel cheerful, start with an outward smile, and you are on your way to perfecting the virtue of Cheerfulness. So every day I pray for the patience I need for dealing with all the challenges of motherhood. Even when I feel impatient, I try to act patient; at the very least I give the outward appearance of calm, which is contagious to those around me.

As the week progressed, I was feeling rather dubious about presenting the virtue of Piety to my Little Flowers group. With all my pent-up feelings of impatience, I felt like I was the last person to be representing this virtue.

On Friday morning I brought a softball flyer down to Staples to be copied. It sounds like a simple task but I was surprised at all the complications: (1) getting approval from the school district to distribute it in the classrooms; (2) finding out how to pay for the copies through the treasury; (3) about 20 minute questions from the photocopying manager before she could get me a quote on the cost. I brought the flyer down and thought I was done. Then she asked me if I want plain white or the league color (green)?

I had to agree that my flyer looked lovely in green. But I didn’t know what the rules were for handing out flyers in the school; would a colored background be acceptable? My cell phone had lost its charge. So I told her to hold the order until I could get confirmation from my supervisor. I went home and emailed him the question.

An hour went by and I became increasingly impatient. Staples had enough collators that morning to get the job done before a big snowstorm came in; and I was planning on taking my kids ice skating when they got home from their half day at school. “He’s probably busy at work and doesn’t want to be pestered with this stupid question about green or white”, I thought. So I put in a call to the school district and found out that background color is fine.

I emailed him again saying, “School district says color is fine. I’m going with green unless you tell me otherwise”, waited five minutes, and called the lady to say we had decided on green. “That’s great,” she said, and I hung up.

Then I got the reply to my first email, “White”.

So I called her again. “I’m really sorry, but I just got the reply from my supervisor. We will have to go with white.”

“Don’t worry about it – I didn’t start yet,” she said.

Then I got a reply to my second email, “Green is great.”

We finally confirmed the decision through a telephone conversation. “Green would be nice, but if you don’t want to call her again I understand,” he said.

But I really liked the idea of the green flyer, so I called the lady one more time. “I promise you I’m not crazy,” I pleaded, “But I just got permission from the district that I can use green. I promise you I won’t change my mind again.”

“Well, we’ll see about that,” she replied, but with a good-natured tone.

With an hour to go before the kids got home, I sat down to go over my lesson plans for Little Flowers. I opened up the book and was pleasantly surprised…

I started my lesson by asking all the girls what they thought piety was, or how a pious person should act. The picture they all seemed to have was of a really serious, straight-faced person who prays and talks about religion all the time. Then I told them that that was what I thought too, and that I had thought I was the last person who should be presenting this lesson. I shared with them the green-or-white story. Then I told them what piety really is.

From “The Catholic Girl’s Guide”, edited by Fr. Francis X. Lasance:

“The genuine flower of piety is no mere sentimentalism and does not consist in a multitude of pious practices. If you would be truly pious, do everything you have to do as a service done to God. We see true piety to be an interior frame of mind or disposition, a love which comes from within and gives life to everything which is without. Or it is the active love of God which makes men eschew evil, do good, and endure suffering. An unmistakable mark of true piety is that it makes its possessor cheerful and merry. How indeed could it be otherwise? Who has more reason to be cheerful than a truly pious young girl? Who can look up to heaven with more confidence?”

I said that because I was acting out of devotion to my children, which springs from the love of God, my actions of the week could be seen as actions of piety. Whatever they are called to do on a given day, if they do it out of the sincerity of their hearts and through love of God and neighbor, they are practicing the virtue of piety.

I got home to an email from Staples. She had gotten the order done in half the time she had estimated – either she was nervous about the snowstorm or she didn’t want to give me a chance to change my mind again!

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Piety is hard work. It's one of those things that pushes down the ego and makes one feel boring, (next to the rest of society). It takes so much self control to make pious choices, and only through faith can one sense the bigger plan.