Fair warning -- this post is going to be sappy as hell. Sentimental. Cloying.
I am in that kind of mood.
When I went to mass this morning, I was so grateful to Greg for staying home with the boys so I could go to mass on my own. No one pulled off my pants, stuck their hands down my blouse or repeated "Look Mama! It's Father Roger!" all through mass.
The mass was beautiful. I love the advent colors -- purple with gold. I love the candles, I love the symbolism, I love the prayers. Mostly, I love the people at Mass.
The Giving Tree was up -- this is our way to provide The Ark with gifts and needed items for the year. We select an ornament off the tree. The ornament has a child's age and gender on it, with an item that needs to be purchased. These kids need toys, but more than that, they need toiletries, clothes, medicine. What they really need is a safe and loving home, but unfortunately, the Giving Tree isn't much help there.
The Ark is an emergency shelter for kids who have to be removed from their homes. Usually, they have to be removed because of violence, neglect and abuse. Frequently children are removed in the dead of night, when drinking and drugs bring out the worst in those who are supposed to protect them. These kiddos come from all ages, races, religions and income levels. Most of them come from poverty -- if only because the poor have fewer mechanisms to control the damage done by the violence.
As soon as mass was over, families descended upon the tree -- taking one, two or three ornaments. People where waiting four and five deep. I know many of the families clamoring for the ornaments. When you know people, you learn their struggles. I saw people who suffered layoffs this year. People who have suffered miscarriages and other medical emergencies. People who have several small children at home. People who are caring for terminally ill parents. I saw people who struggle with addictions of their own. I saw single parent families and even a family that lost a child. Struggling families who couldn't wait to help the kids at The Ark.
We're going to do what we can too. We'll give. It will be nothing compared to what we have received. I am grateful for the chance to attend mass on my own. More than that, I am grateful for the chance to be a part of this Parish family.