A few weeks ago, I was back at St. Ann of the Dunes parish in beautiful Beverly Shores, Indiana for Father Lucian's annual Passionist Volunteers International mission. Believe it or not, I've been speaking to the parishioners there for seven, yes, SEVEN, years. As a "NWI local" in 2003, I spoke about my hopes in going to Jamaica, and in the following years, how the year impacted my life. It's funny, too; in 2006 I reunited with Father Lucian telling him all about "this guy" I liked...in 2007 "that guy" was my fiance Louie, in 2008 he was my husband. This year, baby Rafael was in tow, and I kinda felt like each year I add an accessory! Someone teased me that next year, kid #2 would be there, but for my personal sanity, I hope not. Truly, I always look forward to going each summer to reconnect with familiar faces who continue to support a service program that means so much to me, and most everyone is very welcoming.
This year, as I made my way to sit in the front of the church (yeah, take that other Catholics!), an older lady came up to me. She said, "Oh, I remember you- from that volunteer program!" I gratefully acknowledged her support and we chatted briefly. Then, glancing down at the baby, she said, "Well, I guess no more missions for you for a while!"
I don't know why that comment hit me like a ton of bricks, but it did. I laughed and nodded at her comment, but it nagged at me the rest of Mass. I suppose she was right in saying what she thought she was saying...with a new baby, it's not likely that I'm off to Africa again or to spend extended time in the Carribean. Sometimes, I challenge even these thoughts, and wish to have my children grow up as volunteers for the Church in the Developing World. But I can admit that these desires are probably not as realistic as the fact that the closest my kids will get to seeing the faith/struggle/poverty of Jamaica is on a week long visit.
The lady was wrong, though, in her perception of mission, and what it means to the Church. I was reaffirmed today at Theology on Tap, when the speaker was describing the Mass as a 'sending forth' to go and advance the Kingdom of God in the world around us. No, I'm not in a rural school at the top of a mountain, or visiting people in homes made of scrap metal. But we're all on mission. My mission now consists of raising a son to love, know, and serve God.
My mission consists of growing closer to my husband rooted in this faith we hold dear. My mission is to preach God's abundant love to those around me (hopefully without always using words). Not so very long ago, my mission was to bring God to 8 and 9 year olds in East Chicago. That lady was, and IS, wrong. I am on a mission. We all are. And if there's one thing God has truly taught me, it's that His missions are way better than the ones I plan and want for myself.