Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lenten Lessons from our Unexpected Pilgrimage

Lately, we have gone on pilgrimage a lot. I admit that whenever we take a trip, I make sure to check Catholic Shrines to see what we can check out along the way. It is often a good way to break up the trip and it's always rewarding when we make the effort.

Our trip South held no such appeal. The site lists no shrines in WV or NC and only one in SC, not near our destination or route of travel. Fine, I thought, for once we can just take a 'normal' vacation like the rest of the world (well, the rest of the world who go to the beach when it's 40 degrees). Looking back, I realize how the journey itself was preparing us to enter the Lenten season. I will be reviewing these with the kids in the coming days; to reinforce the lessons. They are too good to miss :0)

Lesson Number One: Die to Self

Parents usually have a front-row seat to this one anyway but our journey South provided two very distinct opportunities to choose other-over-self. My husband passed with flying colors...I learned the lesson after-the-fact (but, that's OK too...I learned the lesson).

The first day we drove through 7 straight hours of spotty snowstorms, some blinding, to arrive at our hotel in Charlotte. It was not a pleasant drive for me because, sitting in the driver's seat, I had tiny man directly behind me, giving my kidneys hard-but-irregular blows with his feet. This is acceptable on a normal day but having the body aches that accompany the flu, it was merciless. I managed to suffer quietly the majority of the time and we made it safely to our nest.

Homewood Suites is our favorite hotel because, with the pullout couch, there are never more than two people per bed (unless that is their choice) and DH and I share the king, which is a huge treat since we don't have one at home. It is luxury that makes everyone involved happy and we look forward to our space. Alas, that would not be the case this night. This time, a little sick person wandered into our room about midnight and stayed there until morning. 
DH who was likely looking forward to spending some quiet time with his wife, instead had a little hot-bod as a buffer. By the middle of the night G's temp had shot through the roof and he was slightly delirious. Knowing I had driven all day, DH got the meds and rubbed his back for many hours while I pursued my much-needed sleep (I'm sick too, remember?). He is a keeper, that one. World-class dad.

The second opportunity grew out of beach combing the first night. There were an abundance of oyster shells on the shore which, to my delight, could only mean fresh, local (read inexpensive) oysters on the half-shell. You must know by now that they are my delight in life. Truly. A little horseradish and I could eat them by the dozen. I was looking so forward to Sunday. A day out to tour the city then the only dinner I wouldn't have to cook while we were away (I don't mind cooking but I don't really shuck oysters either).

Alas, little people sometimes intervene. The trip through the city was less-than-stellar on many counts. Tiny was still sick and the others were about as naughty as a bunch of little kids can be. I could have ignored it and gone to dinner but that is bad parenting...behavior comes at a price. So, our fish fry would be of the takeout variety. (See? I'm not that hard...they still got to eat.)

Except that you can't take out raw oysters...ever. If you sit down to eat and are immediately called away, they toss them. Can't take them off the premises. I offered to sign any waiver releasing them from responsibility when I contracted hepatitis or food poisoning. No dice.

So, I did what all selfish people do when their dreams are crushed. I threw a hissy fit. A small one. I didn't say "Why must my dreams be crushed by people under 4 feet tall? Why must I always forgo what I want to teach them a lesson?" Not out loud anyway. I simply told my husband to shush while I had my moment. Then I did. When we got home and were enjoying our very nice dinner, I apologized to everyone for choosing the self-centered response. See? I learn.

Dying to self is a difficult lesson. I, myself, am getting better at it only because I seem to have so many opportunities presented on my behalf. I am grateful for them because perhaps, when my children see them and the result, they can one day choose the better road.

I am blessed!

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