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alec vanderboom

I had my little sketch of what this week was supposed to be, intensive prayer, reading and teaching about the Servant of the Servant of God. I meant to reread Spe Salvi with a highlighter and make notes on the margins. I meant to get through Jesus of Nazareth & share my insights with my husband. I meant to drink orange soda pop with the kids, decorate our front door with "Welcome Pope Benedict Signs", and read "Joseph and Chico".

Then on Monday night, around 8 PM my homelife feel apart. A neighbor two floors above us called her son, instead of our apartment's maintenance man, for help when a pipe burst in her house at 7 PM. By 7:45 PM, Jon noticed that the sprinkler over our washing machine was leaking. He put a bucket under it and continued to put our kids to bed. When he called for me to check with the maintenance guys, it was 7:55 PM. We sat in a mixture of fear and facination as leak after leak exploded in the front half of our apartment and six inches of water poured into our entry way, our laundry room and our kids room. Jon and I frantically moved all of the kid's furniture, toys and photos further and further back into our apartment as the soaked carpet stain grew and grew. The maintenance guys shut off the water at 8:35 PM. It was only 40 minutes, not 40 days, but we still felt like Noah.

Unfortunately, I did not have the faith of Noah. Instead of praying for strength and sensibly thanking the Lord that no one was injured and not even a child's horse poster was ruined, I started to whine: "I just finished spring cleaning, now look at this choas! Every surface of our living room is crowded with dangerous items and I can't even get to the kitchen to make a snack. How am I supposed to handle breakfast tomorrow? How am I supposed to get through tomorrow with 3 cranky kids and no place for them to nap? Why did this have to happen during this MOST important week of our Holy Father's visit!"

Tuesday, I woke up and felt like I had been run over by a train. I fought with Jon (who thankfully is a calm optimist during all such crisis), I fought with our kids, I fought with the baby who didn't sleep, and I fought with our apartment manager. My low point was flinging myself before Jesus during Adoration, saying "you have to help me!" and hearing the back door of the chapel bang open. The three year old had escaped during my 30 second prayer, flung open two sets of chapel doors and had his hand on the last door needed to exit the building. I flung my kid on his rear end, shoved him up against the wall and barked "NO! NO! NO!" three times in his face. As I'm yelling so loud that spit is flying into my son's eyeballs, I think "Jesus is watching right now. I'm bullying my kid because he won't let me do a few minutes of uninterrupted Adoration." I had about a half-second of clarity on this situation but then I went right back to "I REALLY need to pray right now, and you never listen to me, and I so need you to learn obedience RIGHT NOW."

Yikes! The cringes I'm going to have when Jesus reruns my life for me at the end of time.

Thankfully, I did get something out of my non-restful time at Adoration. I made it to the Bascilica of the Immaculate Conception. There we were surrounded by clouds of human kindness. A parking lot attendant pushed up my stroller "Chitty Bang Bang", loaded with 3 heavy kids, up the steep hill to the main entrance. We met lots of smiling priests and nuns. We bought rosarys for the Pope to bless and a shiny new copy of Joseph & Chico. We ate red jello and chocolate pudding. Everyone was so happy and shiny. We joined in the good will and wished everyone a blessed time during their visit with the Pope.

We were hot and tired when we drove home, but happy. The kids couldn't wait to read their new book, Maria couldn't wait to nurse and I couldn't wait to take a nap. We walked home and discovered that the repair guys had not replaced the carpet. It was ripped up, nails exposed in almost every room. Huge (read dangerous for small hands) fans were blowing in each room. The entire house smelled like mildew remover.

I watched the Pope's plane land in the middle of my non-fruitful discussion with our apartment manager.

Suddenly, it just didn't seem worth it to fight for a hotel room voucher anymore. Our Holy Father was here. Everything else seemed like small potatos. That's when I remembered that the upstairs neighbor, the one with the former leak, was also a former Catholic. I know this because her son, who is also a former Catholic, attempts to convert my husband to Scientology everytime they walk their dogs together. I don't know what the possible spiritual metaphor is for Monday's flood, but if it's going to get her to take a second look at our Holy Father during a time of trial in her own life, I'm all for offering up my suffering.

Today, we made Daily Mass as a family & ate the Eucharist. We drank our orange soda & we sang "Happy Birthday." The kids learned about our Holy Father's love for a little tabby cat named Chico. I'm feeling prepared for my first Papal Mass. My preparation has little to do with clean clothes for tomorrow's church service. Last Sunday, I thought I could make myself, my spouse and my children "ready" to hear our Pope. Jesus showed me the best way to hear his good friend, however, is to humbly acknowledge my own weakness and be "ready" to receive the message that "Christ is our hope!"