Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
We’d had plans to go to Holy Thursday Mass, but the Mass itself was interrupted for me by the needs of my family. Getting into the car, the thought that “sometimes emergency errands are a means of washing the feet” drifted into my head, but I couldn’t quite hold on to the comfort even as I returned to experience the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Hosting Easter this week with my mother, brother and his family, I’ve spent a lot of time organizing, making lists and cleaning. My kids are home on spring break, so everything took longer and felt constantly interrupted. I’d hoped to go to adoration, but the time got eaten up watching my kids on the playground. Motherhood can be a constant pull in a thousand directions, and I heard “Sherry, you are anxious about many things” in my head, which quieted the nag demons.
On Good Friday, we made it to Tenebrae, but I’d hoped to go to the Stations of the Cross. The errands of the day, the needs cluttered up. Instead, that evening, we kept vigil from afar for my little niece in another state, who was admitted to the hospital. We knew they felt the Agony in the Garden of having to endure the weight of the cross of illness. We felt the frustration of distance and helplessness. Eating dinner, we sat awaiting text message updates and trying not to worry.
That evening, I finally made it to the church. Staring at the empty tabernacle, and knowing everyone anywhere who entered the Catholic church would find the same experience, all I could think was, “They’ve taken the Lord and I don’t know where to find him.” Though there were many people in the pews, the church felt smaller, and less itself, because the Holy Eucharist wasn’t visibly present, being worshiped, being consumed, being celebrated. The cross itself and the altar felt barren. They lacked the presence of the Eucharist. Except I looked at the pews, and saw His hands and feet, kneeling, praying, loving the Father. The emptiness revealed His presence, as we can come to know Him, as God had been trying to point all week to me, to serve.
Returning home, my husband grabbed the keys. He took the two teens who felt like they hadn’t had much of a fun day out to get a little dinner. The irritation of the teens evaporated with the prospect of exclusive time with Dad. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Feeding the sheep.” He told me.
Life is a process of learning how to love more, love better, love exclusively, and to love as God would have us love. Prying our own will out of the equation is a constant struggle. I thought back on the schedule, and where the wrestling with God took place. It wasn’t that there weren’t good or even reverent or holy plans. It was that “feeding His sheep,” like “washing the feet,” sometimes took a different form, like trips to the playground, or out for a bit of food. It wasn’t the prettiest or calmest or quietest of Holy Weeks, but I felt awash in the blessing of it and the lesson God never seems to tire of teaching me. “I AM. Be present to them, be present to all of His creation, and you will be present to me.” Be present, that gift will be multiplied.