It was a freezing cold night as we left Mass and headed across the street to pick up dinner for our daughter before we headed to our New Year’s Eve party. It was the kind of cold that stops your breath when you venture outside and freezes your eyelashes together in seconds. My husband ran in to the McDonald’s, leaving my daughter and me in the running car to spare us the harsh temperatures outside. Shortly after he left, someone knocked abruptly on my car window. Startled, I rolled down the window and winced as a cold wind whipped across my face. It was a homeless lady. “I’m hungry,” she said. “Buy me something to eat.”
I do admit that I was rather unimpressed. With my daughter watching from the back seat and just having left Mass, I felt cornered into helping this woman. I turned off the car, loaded up my daughter, and begrudgingly headed into the McDonald’s. This lady was a rather demanding sort as she ordered me, “Get me this”¦not like that.” Irritated as I was, I was also very much worried about how she was going to get through this night. We were far from any shelters, and my discussion with the woman only confirmed my fear that my family was all she had. We ended up missing our party and spent the evening finding shelter for this lady. It took us on an adventure completely outside of our plans.
“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will,” St. Ignatius prays. So often it’s easier to say the words than to actually carry them out. I have a very faithful friend who tells me that he desires to desire to say that prayer, but he’s not there yet. My experience with the homeless woman brought my friend’s comment to life for me. We desire to let go of ourselves and follow the will of God, provided it doesn’t interfere too much with our own. But how much more fulfilling it is when we do manage to just let go and follow!
That night, instead of partying to mark the New Year, I, by the grace of God, had the privilege of ensuring one of God’s children was fed and sheltered against the horribly cold winter; perhaps we even saved her life. That sort of fulfillment beats a champagne toast any day, and certainly helps to stoke the desire to desire for the Lord to take and receive my whole will.