A Spiritual Exercise in Flexibility

by Maria Peceli

Ah, man! This was not the kind of day that I planned. No siree . . .

I like doing all my errands in the morning so that I can be home for naps and making dinner but on this hot Thursday, God had other plans.

We left the house about 10:20 the morning with many destinations planned. I wanted to visit my husband s work, then stop at Costco, Easter's, Catholic Bookstore, Halberg's and if we could fit it in, Trader Joe's.

Well, as we were leaving my husband's work, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to put checks in my now empty wallet. OK. I thought to myself. I have my debit card. But as I remembered this, I also remembered how dear hubby had used my card the night before to put gas in his car when he couldn't find his. I also remembered how I had seen my card on my bathroom counter before I left that morning. I was penniless for all of my errands.

"Well," I said, talking to myself, "Looks like we'll head home to get checks and the card."

You know, naptime at our house is usually pretty consistent. But not today. As we were driving home, my sweet Joseph fell asleep in the backseat.

"OK, I'll just pick up what I need and we'll be on our way," I thought to myself. Alas, it was not to be. By the time we got home, all of my children - minus Joseph who's still in diapers - had to use the potty. This meant the three girls had to get out of their car seats and that chaos awaited. I decided we'd stay home, do lunch and naptime. With that out of the way, in the afternoon, we would be on our way.

God was cracking up by now.

As I said earlier, naptime is generally pretty consistent at our house. But not today. Nothing went according to my plans. But, deep down, I was beginning to sense there was a distinct reason.

Finally about 2:00 pm, when it was very hot outside and I was sweating just thinking about the errands left undone, we left the house. We had water bottles, we had checks, we had a debit card and we had things to do.

We deleted Costco from the list, but made it to Easter's, and then the Halberg's. Finally, at 5:05 p.m., all of us moist with perspiration, we pulled into the parking lot of Trader Joe's.

I unloaded my precious treasures from the car and reloaded the two little ones into one cart, grateful to get out of the heat. Isabella and Juliana took turns (sometimes unwillingly) pushing the other cart meant to hold the food for our tummies. We made it through the whole store without much attention (yeah, right) and on to the checkout lines.

"Hmmm, that man looks like the Bishop," I thought. "No, it can't be. Oh yes, it looks like the Bishop." As this internal dialogue went on, I mustered up the courage to ask.

"Excuse me." I put my hand on his shoulder. "Are you the Bishop?"

Turned out it was.

He wore a red polo shirt and khaki shorts.

I tried to give him encouragement and support. I told him that we thought what he was going through must be very hard. He put his head in his hand and said it was, very difficult.

I told him that we supported him and the Holy Father and that we were loyal to the Magisterium and that we were practicing Catholics.

I told him that I thought his job must be very hard, independent of the scandals, because he has to contend with many people and many opinions. He said, "It is very complex." He seemed weary.

We chatted for a while longer, then went our separate ways.

But I left Trader Joe's amazed at the brief conversation. It wouldn't have happened if I had been determined to stick with my schedule instead of being flexible. I also left with the conviction of how important support, encouragement and prayers are to our spiritual leaders. Please pray for all our Bishops.

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