Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Prayer for Moms....Priests at the Wheel

Every job has its grunt work. For teachers, it's grading the interminable pile of papers. Not
all homework, tests, and quizzes can be reduced to a scantron sheet. Grading is a thankless, though necessary task—that's what grunt work is! Athletic directors find the grind in the endless scheduling of games, meets and matches—securing their location and referees—only to put out the fires when one piece of that puzzle goes missing. Every coach can name their grunt work in two seconds or less. As a cross country coach, leading runners through dynamic stretching and line drills was a drag. I was supposed to get angry when they were off task or going through the motions. I understand their importance, I just found it difficult to expend the energy to get fired up or angry. Couldn't we just run?! Today, I find the grunt work in driving the team van along the WCAL highway. Having to back this 10 passenger vehicle into a tight spot at the end of a long day put the "grunt" in the work. So where does this realization take us? Fortunately, the words of Oscar Romero taught me that the places that are tiring, demanding and unpopular, the work that is thankless and banal can also serve as the place where we are transformed. Those unlikely and unsuspecting spaces are where God can show up—in our lives in the lives of those we serve. I have a feeling that Moms already know this is true

The Salvadoran Archbishop and Martyr wrote,
How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work, that just as I celebrate Mass at the altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at the workbench, and each metalworker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand, are performing a priestly office! 

How many cab drivers, I know listen to this message there in their cabs; you are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi or yours to God, bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab.
I hope that everyone who reads his words can discover how their job can be priestly work. For moms, that might just be inherent in the job description—knowing that one piece of the job is serving as the family taxi driver—a thankless though necessary task.
I too have a sense of this responsibility as a coach. Driving the team van to practice and to matches, I have listened to many candid conversations—some which sought my opinion and others in which it was unwelcome. I have had to discern when to respond and when to just keep listening. I want the team van to be a place where my golfers can be themselves, where they can be honest and open and allow others to do the same. The van can be a place where student-athletes can vent and work through questions and quagmires, but it also ought to be a place that doesn't grow negative or ungrateful. I have no tolerance for disrespect or entitlement. I remind my golfers that Mean people suck. We are called to so much more....and so am I.

Romero states that one's taxi—for me, it's a van—can be a transformative place and space. The shared ride can yield messages of peace and love. Wow. God can do that work—all I need to do is hand that over to God—God will take the wheel on that one. This might be an important message for Moms to hear.
And, I write this piece on Mother's Day because I know just how many Moms shuttle their children to and from school, practice and games. Though the responsibilities of parenting and (hopefully) increasingly more equitable, I think back to my experience on JV Tennis at Carondelet. During my freshman year, we got to our matches thanks to the taxing of moms. I made it to every swim practice and swim meet, basketball game and Irish dancing because of my mom. The term "soccer mom" (though often not a positive moniker) doesn't exist for nothing. The women who have helped children learn a sport, master a skill, become a member of a team and pursue a dream are honored today—as they should be. They have taken us there and home, allowing us to talk, listen, vent and celebrate—with a message of love.  Being a mom is so much more than being a taxi driver (though I know how many feel reduced to that job—replete with grunt work). No, theirs too is a priestly office. Thank you, Mom. 

Photo Credits
Celebrate Grunt Work

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