And within the span of that 48 hours we also planned to attend Mass Saturday night. There were many Catholic churches in Little Rock, so once Nicholas signed the lease for his apartment we Googled nearby churches and arbitrarily picked one to attend.
Here's what I envisioned (hoped!) would happen: We'd walk into a church with lots of young people -- people my son's age! -- and he would feel welcomed and excited about joining a new parish. Maybe even someone would even come up and speak to him and tell him about a Bible study or a young adult group.
Instead, here's what happened: We walked into the church, and of the 40 people in attendance Joe and I were the youngest which, as you can imagine, was not a good sign for Nicholas.
It was definitely not how I would have planned things. Not. At. All.
But as I knelt in the quiet of the church before Mass started, I wrapped myself in the comforting traditions of our faith and unburdened my soul to God.
I gave Him everything -- my hope, fears, doubts, and tears. I told Him how proud I was to have a son primed and ready to go forth into this world, but at the same time confessed how letting go is so contrary to a mother's heart. I gave Him my confidence in my son's intelligence and maturity, but also my fears of him being in a city of strangers. I asked for patience with the arrogance of youth (of which we have all been guilty) who think they can go it alone and often forget that seeking advice, asking for help, or kneeling before God is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
And then came the homily. The priest, who was originally from Vietnam, told the story of his last few months in seminary when he was consumed with worry on how he was going to buy a chalice for his ordination. He knew his family back in Vietnam could not afford it, and as a seminarian on scholarship with no funds of his own he didn't know what to do. He told no one of his dilemma. Then one day a priest teaching in the seminary informed him that an elderly priest from another parish had died and that his family wanted his chalice to go to a seminarian. Would he like to have the chalice?
Sitting in that nearly empty church in a strange city, listening to this story of a man who followed his vocation to live among strangers, I realized that there are times in our life when God has given us that chalice -- such as the moment He provides exactly what we need at the exact moment when we need it, or when He gives us something we didn't even realize we needed, or when we don't know how to ask for something and He gives it to us anyway.
I also realized that maybe, just maybe, God brought us to that church not for Nicholas (the way I wanted it to happen), but for me.
Somewhere in Italy
(photo taken by my cousin)