I am sure you are familiar with the old saying “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.”
Most of us can probably apply this to some major areas of our lives. In my case, for example, that phrase sums up perfectly my life story and faith testimony. I never thought in a million years that one day I would be in Catholic radio and promoting the teachings of the Church.
This Christmas season, I found that saying challenging me again, in yet another surprising way.
Talk about having “plans.” I am a triple-type-A personality who is married to an engineer, so you can imagine that when a goal-setter like me gets together with my very organized and linear-thinking husband, we make a pretty dynamic duo. We approach projects with gusto, and when the holidays come around, that means getting our schedule and our house in order so everything is in tiptop shape. We are blessed to have many friends and to be invited to, as well as host, many Christmas gatherings.
Well, that was until a few weeks ago. That’s when my husband, as he was wrapping up the outdoor Christmas tree-lighting project, went tumbling from a stepladder, landing smack on the concrete driveway.
I will be forever grateful to God that his injuries were not more serious. He did shatter his wrist and also broke a rib or two, but other than that, Humpty Dumpty was successfully put back together again. What was suddenly in a shambles, though, was our “normal” Christmas routine.
For example, normally we have an annual dinner at my home with a couple we met on pilgrimage a few years ago. They love Italian food, and it gives my Italian-American husband and me a chance to show off our heritage. We have a mutual priest friend who joins us each December. He studied in Italy, and says a visit to our home is like being in Rome again. We put a lot of time and effort into planning the meal, setting the table, choosing the wine, etc.
Well, as you can imagine, that dinner was quickly taken off the activities list. Also off the list were several parties involving close friends who share our Catholic faith, as well as church-related parties, concerts and other events that we build into our schedule.
The doctors told my husband after his hand surgery that the best thing was to stay home and be still in order to give his bones a chance to heal properly. Imagine that! “Be still”; where have I heard that one before?
After our initial trips to the emergency room and the doctor’s office, we first thought that this Christmas season would be a big letdown. But as the quiet days progressed, our attitudes started to change to one of gratitude; gratitude first and foremost for the limited extent of Dom’s injuries, and gratitude also for being forced to slow down. It has been a real reminder and wake-up call for me. I have given a number of Advent retreats over the years encouraging Catholics to really take advantage of the penitential season leading up to Christmas by not buying into the mentality of the world. And like many in ministry, I can forget to practice what I preach.
It’s not that I am normally stressed over the holidays. It’s more that I love God and life so much that I don’t want to miss anything having to do with Christmas. But then again, maybe I was missing a lot of the real reason for the season. At the top of everyone’s priority list should be to dig deeper and get closer to God. That involves more reflection and downtime on our part.
Too bad it took an accident to get my attention. Or maybe it was no “accident” after all.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.