This morning after attending Mass at the San Fernando Cathedral, I decided to stroll the River Walk here in San Antonio where I’ve begun my lay missionary service. Tourists roamed along the canal lined with shops and restaurant after restaurant after restaurant. I couldn’t help but remember the last time I visited, I was one of these tourists, vacationing with my husband and son.
My life is hugely different now. My roles changed completely. How could I have known then that I’d be back several years later, David gone from this life, Davis attending college in upstate New York? And me, a lay missionary?
It sounds bizarre even to write this. Almost surreal.
But even though I find myself in this unexpected situation, I feel strangely peaceful. And that’s saying a lot, because at the moment, I’m uncertain what my role will be here. Currently, only two moms and their children are living at the transitional housing program where I’m serving, and one of them will soon be moving out. Exactly what I’ll be doing is still evolving.
This, too, is unexpected. I honestly thought I’d show up, be surrounded by a brood of energetic kids begging me to play with them, and I’d pull out my crayons and jump rope, which I brought along in expectation, and everything would fall into place. Not so.
And that brings me back to why I was on the River Walk this morning. With a day free to do as I please and no one in particular to do it with, it seemed like a good idea. Suddenly I came across words etched into the stone wall that struck me.
I’d been praying to stay open to ways that God was showing up in all of this. These words loomed up in front of me, speaking to my heart in a way I couldn’t deny.
If you know me, you know I love trees. Trees have been a metaphor for many of my life’s lessons, not the least of which is how to bend in the storms. Hold onto life no matter what raging wind shows up. Adjust to all types of climate change.
I recognized myself in those words. Certainly I have learned — and am still learning — how to bend and adjust. I also recognized all the ways I’ve been spiritually held during those “adjustments.”
No sooner had I snapped a couple of pictures and wandered off when my cell phone beeped that I’d gotten a text. It was from my son. He’d just been to a church service where the pastor had talked about losing his own dad at a young age. Moved by this pastor’s words about his mother’s influence during that trying time, Davis sent me one of the most beautiful messages of gratitude I’ve ever received.
David, Davis, and me — connected once again in an unexpected moment. By an unexpected loving presence reassuring me that learning to bend can be a good thing.