I don’t know if it’s just the time of year, or the change in the weather, or some straggling ragweed still in the air, but I felt puny all last week. I decided to take Friday off and I made a 9:15 a.m. appointment to see my doctor. On Thursday night before bed I told my wife that I was looking forward to sleeping in an extra hour or two. Then she asked me if I would like to go to 7:30 a.m. mass with her, something I never get to do because of my work hours. I replied I would be glad to, but then thought to myself I need to change that “hour or two” of extra sleep to just one hour.
Melinda woke before me on Friday morning and was already down stairs when I rolled out of bed. We met up after I showered and dressed and, unlike every normal work day, I had a chance to give her a big hug and good morning kiss. I growled, “I love you”, in my broken voice that was about two octaves lower than normal. Melinda replied, “You don’t sound too good!”, to which I said, “I feel great, I got an extra hour of sleep and I’m getting to hug you this morning. My day is starting off fabulously!” She responded, “Boy, it just takes little stuff to get you feeling good.” I didn’t tell her but I thought, “No, darling, this isn’t little stuff. This is big stuff. This is why I decided I’m going to retire. These little moments of intimacy are the big reward. They’re what makes life worth living.”
We went to mass and got there a couple minutes late. I seldom get to go to weekday masses and always get a little confused with the slightly abbreviated version as compared to the usual Sunday mass. In one way I miss the hymns (the people around me probably didn’t miss my singing!) but then without them it gets me to the Celebration of the Eucharist that much quicker. Receiving Holy Communion is always the high point of my day. As I accepted the Blessed Sacrament I marveled at how that one little round disk, which just a few moments earlier was simply a wafer of bread, can, with its transformation, transform one’s whole life. And, then, with a glance towards the crucifix which hung above the altar, I thought, “That’s not just a little round wafer of bread, no, that’s BIG stuff! Bigger than BIG! It is truly the body of Christ!” Upon kneeling back at my pew I gave thanks to Jesus for the unity with Him, for His nourishing my spirit, for His forgiveness of my sins and for the grace to avoid sinning, and for giving me the grace to listen to the Holy Spirit and let it fill my heart with love. Yeah, that’s real big stuff. It’s what makes life worth living.
Later that afternoon, I had the opportunity to join a friend to talk about our faith. We meet weekly to share with each other how our prayer life has been going over the last week, what we’ve been doing to study and grow our faith, and what actions we have taken to spread the word of God or bring Christ to others. We’ve found that this weekly exercise helps us hold each other accountable so that we don’t get lazy in our faith. It only takes an hour. To some it may seem like small talk, but to me it’s that man to man time when we can be honest with each other and we know that we can trust the other to help keep us on the right path. More big stuff. And, more of what makes life worth living.
I love the big stuff. How about you? What’s your big stuff?
“Heavenly Father, thank you for opening my eyes to the big stuff in life and helping me decide to turn away from the things that have kept me from the big stuff. As I move into retirement I pray that I can always keep the big stuff the big stuff. But, Lord, I know I will lose focus from time to time and I pray you will gently bring me back. Amen.”
(The Big Stuff was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic.)
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