I confess that I am a “Type A” individual. I like my schedules and my conclusions, my to-do lists and my calendars. These past two weeks have shown me that for Lent, I am apparently giving up schedules and plans. The ministry of Brothers and Sisters of Love continues to challenge me.
On Ash Wednesday, the schedule was perfect. We’d show up at the office, get a few routine tasks accomplished, and head over to Catholic Charities for Mass at 12:00 noon just before our weekly walk in the Back of the Yards. There was plenty of time to accomplish everything.
And then the phone rang.
One of our elderly friends needed transportation to make her appointment for a medical card and food stamps. She needed the medical card so she could care for her diabetes, a condition which was worsening with each day she did not have the proper treatments. The appointment was at 10:00am. It was 10:15 when she called and the clock was ticking. 20 minutes passed waiting for her at her home. 30 more minutes and we were in to see the case worker.
The case worker’s fingers moved across the keyboard as minutes slipped off the clock. At 11:30 we began the signing process. Seven painstakingly slow signatures later, we were asked to wait in the lobby until the Link card was ready. Knowing defeat, I sighed as I went through the final process. We dropped our friend off at 12:30.
Plan B. There was a Mass at Catholic Theological Union at 4:30. Since we were walking early, we thought we would be able to make it in plenty of time. If not, we could get to the Cathedral by 5:15.
During our walk we ran into dead-end after dead-end looking for the family of 22-year old Tytus who had been shot coming out of a restaurant. The community was not yet ready to talk to us. We would definitely make Mass.
Just as we were deciding to head over to CTU, our friend called needing clothes for a funeral that Friday. We picked him up, taking him to a discount clothing store he liked to find a pair of pants. Things went smoothly until we waited in line without being served. And waited. And waited. Time again evaded us and we missed both Mass opportunities.
Despite this, Mass was waiting for us at 6:30 right at the office at St. James. Though not our plan, we experienced a meaningful liturgy and reflection before we headed home. It was the Mass we needed to attend.
The next week, it was time to walk in the Back of the Yards again. There were plans for a night walk, but they fell through. I got information that there was a shooting just where we were planning to walk as a sign of peace.
Our times and schedules were not working according to plan.
The next day, however, we walked the streets at night. The same people who had given us the cold shoulder were approaching us with recognition, asking us to pray and talking about the happenings in the neighborhood. Other community members approached us with hugs, asking for rosaries and exclaiming their comfort at seeing us in the neighborhood. It was a friendly walk.
Fr. Greg Boyle states in his book, Tattoos on the Heart, that “It takes what it takes for the great turnaround. Wait for it.” In other words, things happen on God’s time. Relationships and trust develop, grace floods a community, and change happens. It does not happen how we would always like, but perhaps we are bad schedulers instead of bad ministers. Perhaps our openness to presence matters much more than our accuracy to timing.
This Lent, I invite you to take the 10 minutes that you would normally spend planning the day and say a prayer instead. Because chances are, your schedule will not go according to plan, but God’s plans will reveal themselves to you through prayer.
May we have the patience to live in God’s grace according to God’s time and not be blinded into frustration by trying to control time ourselves. It takes what it takes. Wait for it.
—-Megan Sherrier, BSL
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