Big World Small Boat

Private Diary of A Priest. OK, so we're not all angels...Everyone needs a place to get things off their chest! And yes, I do talk to God about it all! Even He has a sense of humour! Want proof? Well, he made me, didn't He? Oh, one last thought-If you don't like what I've written, please keep in mind - it's MY diary. Go write your own!

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Location: England, United Kingdom

I've been serving children in crisis for over twenty five years. My goals are not to raise money, but to find organisations and individuals who can help change lives! What may be outdated equipment for you could change the life of a child in Eastern Europe! To learn more please visit our site at: www.ProjectNewLife.org

Sunday

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

A few days ago I paid an unannounced visit to a young couple at their home. I had an envelope to present to them.

I choose to do my visits this way because it permits me to gain a clear snapshot of life, as it exists, rather than a sanitised and occasionally somewhat fabricated image. This reality can often help us to identify challenges a family is facing, thus allowing us to focus our pastoral attention on genuine family issues.

They have two small children; one is four and the other is six.The mother works at home, caring for their children, doing all the essential things a good mother would do; nursery, laundry, cleaning, education, etc. I often wonder where she finds time for herself. She’s a lovely lady and in my opinion, an excellent mother.

The father is a wonderful parent as well. He’s a hard worker. At their young age, it’s clearly a struggle for them to make ends meet on a single salary. Compounding the challenge is the fact that he must travel as part of his job. He’ll often head out on Monday and not return home until Wednesday or Thursday. This happens once and sometimes twice a month. He loves his family and he readily admits that his absence causes a strain on all of them. Quitting isn’t an option; he has a good career, but must continue for a number of years before he will have better flexibility in his work.

Several weeks ago I spent some time with the father. I stood with him in their garden as he pulled weeds. His face was slightly reddened as he continually stooped down to dig up an offending wildflower and chuck it into the wheelbarrow I was tagging along with.
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The father had plenty he wanted to say. There was nothing mean spirited or accusatory in his words, but he was frustrated because he felt that his wife didn’t understand the pressure he was under: his work, having to be away from home, trying to make ends meet on his salary, and all the competitive challenges young people often face in a business, when others are vying for the same promotions. In a nutshell, he felt as if he wasn’t appreciated for all he did and all he was trying to do.

Last week, when he was away on one of his business trips, I made a point to stop by and visit his wife. I arrived just before noon. The front door was open. I could hear the vacuum running upstairs. And as I stepped into the house to call up from the bottom of the stairs, I could just see into the kitchen. The morning’s breakfast dishes were stacked up, laundry was in a pile on the floor, waiting to be sorted, and there was an assortment of toys scattered across the kitchen floor.

Thankfully, she was happy to see me. She started to apologise for the mess, but I stopped her quickly, explaining that I face the same challenges every day as well, so I fully understood. We pitched in together. She sorted the laundry (always much safer than letting me do it, so my daughter repeatedly tells me), and I did the dishes. As she gathered up the toys, I prepared tea for us. And we moved out to the garden where we could sit and have a natter.

It was still early in the day and she looked exhausted. Her hair was in her face, not like I usually see it, neat and pulled back. Her jeans were frayed and she was wearing a t-shirt that was probably older than their children. Once we got past the small talk we turned to her hopes and aspirations. It has always been clear that she loves her husband dearly. But she felt that he didn’t understand all she goes through each day and how challenging it is for her. She felt as if her husband didn’t appreciate her.

A couple of weeks later I returned for another visit. I brought with me an envelope, containing a small surprise for them. The letter inside informed them: This evening, one of our church members will arrive at their home at five. She will prepare the children’s dinner, help them with their homework and get them ready for bed. Whilst she’s doing this, the young couple will be getting themselves ready for an evening out - together – sans children!

I’ve arranged their dinner booking. They won’t know where they’re going until they open an envelope the sitter will present to them. It’s nothing spectacular, but it just adds an element of excitement. And I’ve arranged for a few small things to happen for them during and after dinner. The title on the letterhead is ‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’

And this will be the theme for the evening. The owner of the restaurant has three envelopes to hand the couple during the course of the dinner. Inside each one is a different series of questions, asking what each loves and admires about the other. Another is a list of ‘thanks,’ where they thank the other for all they do. And another is a list of questions as to how they can find spirituality in their family and how that includes their children. There are rules and guidelines as well. For one example, the word ‘but’ is not permitted to be used at any point during the dinner. (‘I love you…but’ is an absolute no no!)

And tonight, just perhaps, they’ll renew their strengths, and rediscover what they adore and admire about each other, as they sail the often-uncharted waters of life together.

Big World Small B

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2 Comments:

Blogger wayne said...

I have just arrived in at work and having found the blog world only yesterday came across your blog. I have just read your 'have you I told you lately...' entry and have tears in my eyes just as my boss is pulling into the car park for a meeting. Thanks and thanks!!
wayne b

08:00:00  
Anonymous L_McEachern said...

I'm glad to see you publish this again. I told several of my friends about it. The problem is today people just don't care about anyone else and they can only see the world from their eyes. I would love to know how the couple are doing now and have you done this again for anyone?

Laura

14:24:00  

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