Today much of my extended family is traveling to Apalachicola for my aunt’s funeral tomorrow. I am not, for multiple reasons including the need to take care of sick children. Originally it was because I would be attending services for Theophany tomorrow but with so much illness that has been set aside.
My absence from family gatherings is becoming something of a cliche. We were, glory to God, all able to be there for my youngest brother’s wedding seven years ago, but that was my last attendance. Things are generally planned to surround holiday weekends but we have a job that doesn’t stop for holidays, and certainly not weekends. Add that to the expense and difficulty of traveling with a large family and you can see why we generally stay put. It is what it is.
Something my spiritual father has tried to teach me lo these many years is to cultivate a servant’s heart. Specifically, to do the job placed before me without demanding why, complaining, or thinking I should be doing all kinds of other unassigned jobs. And certainly without concerning myself what people may or may not be thinking. I do not have a servant’s heart. But I suppose there’s progress in that I can now more easily recognize opportunities to develop one. (But does that make it worse when I choose to do otherwise? Ugh. This is why one should not try to evaluate one’s own spiritual state.) To get back to the point, God has given me a few jobs. He has asked me to raise these children, be a wife to my husband, be a matushka to our parish, and to be a faithful Orthodox Christian. He has not asked me to save the world, advise the national government, lead the crusade against heresy, abolish wars, publish books, or make sure everyone is happy at all times. Yes, that seems like a ridiculous list, but I bet if you think about it you’re trying to do some of those jobs too. The jobs I have are big enough to keep me quite busy, thankyouverymuch.
When I feel bad about my non-attendance over the years, or worry people will think I stay home out of indifference or lack of love, or look at my responsibilities as “things getting in the way”, then I am not exhibiting a servant’s heart. I need to be saying, “God, whatever you need me to do. I’m just a servant in your house. I’m not running the show. I will do whatever job you give me with gladness.” Lord, help me to have a servant’s heart!