by Father Mark Goldasich
Every year I lie to myself: Once the busyness of December is over, the new year will be calmer. And, doggone it, I fall for it every time.
So far, 2023 is galloping right along! Is it any wonder that many of us live in a state of constant stress? With our cellphone practically glued to our bodies, we’re reachable 24/7. And, like Pavlov’s dogs, we’re conditioned to respond immediately to its every buzz, ring or ding.
Sadly, even when in bed at night, we can’t stop the mental swirl of undone things on our to-do list or unresolved issues.
l take comfort, though, and find inspiration in this story:
A harried young mom almost lost it when the phone rang. One more interruption, she thought. But her mood lightened when she heard the kindly voice on the line, “Hi, sweetheart! How are you?”
“Oh, Mother,” said the young mom, breaking into tears, “it’s been an awful day. The baby won’t eat, the dishwasher broke, and I tripped on the stairs and sprained my ankle. I ha-ven’t had a chance to go shopping and the house is an absolute mess. And, to top it off, we’re having company over for dinner tonight.”
“Stop crying, darling, everything will be OK,” said the soothing voice. “Sit down, relax and close your eyes. I’ll be over in 30 minutes. I’ll pick up a few things on the way and cook din-ner. I’ll take care of the house and feed the baby. Also, I’ll call a repairman to fix the dishwasher. I’ll take care of everything. In fact, I’ll even call George at the office and tell him to come home early.”
“George?” the overwhelmed housewife said. “Who’s George?”
“George! . . . You know, George, your husband!”
“But my husband’s name is Frank,” said the housewife.
After a brief pause, the voice on the phone asked, “Excuse me, is this 555-1758?”
A tearful reply said, “No. This is 555-1788.”
“Oh, I’m so terribly sorry,” apologized the voice on the phone. “I must have dialed the wrong number.”
Another brief pause was followed by the would-be daughter saying, “Uh, does this mean that you’re not coming over?” (Story adapted from one in Brian Cavanaugh’s “Sower’s Seed That Nurture Family Values: Sixth Planting.”)
I’d bet money that the sympathetic voice on the phone did indeed come over to help this would-be daughter.
If you laughed at that story, that’s a great first step in dealing with stress. Equally helpful is to share your struggles with a caring friend. Just knowing that you’re being listened to lightens the load. Then, it helps to write down the stressors to determine which one needs to be dealt with first. Finally, figure out what is the one next step you need to take . . . and do it.
On my kitchen table is a prayer card written by Sister Pat Bergen, CSJ. It thanks God for the “gift of today.” Toward the end is my favorite line (used often): “When life is overwhelming, call me to Sabbath Moments to restore Your Peace and Harmony.”
Whoops! Gotta go! My phone is ringing and someone’s at the door . . .