By Kerry McGuire
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)
“Kerry, you’ve got to come hear this!” came a cry from my friend’s living room, where the ladies in my book club gathered. I quickly looked up from the dining room table where I stood nearby, slicing a heavenly-looking cake for our evening treat. I was so absorbed in this important task, I nearly missed out on the conversation.
As I joined them, attempting to inconspicuously lick the frosting off my fingers, I could tell by their wide grins and bright eyes that something very important just happened. I sat down, completely forgetting about the cake, and eagerly listened to the recount from one of my sisters in Christ, which went something like this:
“After a long hectic week at the hospital with Mother, I walked into her room and saw her sitting quietly, not moving, in a straight-back chair. Coming up from behind, all I could see was how unkempt she looked, so fragile and innocent. She seemed to age right before my eyes during this latest bout of sickness. Her long black hair, now streaked with grey and usually kept up in a tidy bun, was tangled in knots. I realized we didn’t have time to comb her hair with the craziness of the week. As I stood there, a strong wave of compassion washed over me. Without thinking, I picked up a comb from the small table beside her and began to groom her hair. Very slowly and gently, I started at the roots and combed to the ends at her shoulders, and back up again until all the knots were gone. It was like my movements became rhythmic and I could feel the tension and anger that we held in our hearts toward each other just melt away. We finally felt peace.”
For several months, we had been praying for this friend as she and her husband struggled to care, 24/7 for his sickly, live-in, elderly mother while raising three young children. Complex medical issues required many trips to the ER and doctor offices, very late nights and long days of worrying, all of which began to pile up. Frustration and resentment were building up between them, especially for my friend who was full-time caretaker. There seemed to be no positive end in sight.
The book club at this time was reading about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux who is known for her “little way,” consciously making an effort to love others through small, selfless acts of kindness. My friend was inspired by this saint who believed that how we love is more important than the actions themselves. My friend literally became Christ in the flesh with each loving stroke.
Just like during Jesus’ Passion, when he carried His cross on the road to Calvary, bearing our own crosses in each season of life is significant to our journey as Christians. This was the revelation my friend shared at book club that evening. She finally understood that the role she played as caretaker was her cross to bear at that point in time, and as long as she listened to God’s voice and heeded His call to love others unconditionally, she could learn to love her cross and get through the hard times. She finally could see the light of Christ shining at the end of the tunnel; what utter and complete joy and peace filled her heart!
I pray that we, too, may follow in the footsteps of Saint Thérèse, the “Little Flower,” who made a big impression on the world. May we seek to hear our Father’s voice and do everything in our daily lives out of love for him and neighbor. Let’s make the ordinary become extraordinary through a gentle humility, loving service, and sincere childlike faith.
About the Author:
Kerry McGuire, wife and mother of two, is founder of Catholic WE (Women Experience), a lay apostolate in Houston that strives to help women deepen their faith and relationship with Christ through connection and participation in Catholic parishes and communities. She is applying her 23 years of communications experience and seven years working at a large, vibrant Catholic parish to oversee the ministry. Kerry also is a contributing writer for the Texas Catholic Herald, and hopes to share and give back all that she has received through her own wonderful spiritual mentors and friends. Her favorite scripture is Romans 8:28: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.