When my sleep has been disrupted for more than one night, as it has been these past couple of nights, I feel somewhat zombie-ish the next day. This morning, after waking at 3:30 am & eating breakfast at 6:30, I fell back to sleep at 8 & didn't wake up until 10. That, of course, threw my whole day a-kilter. After a quick shower, I figured that, if I dressed quickly enough, I'd have enough time to get the bus downtown so I could go to daily Mass, something I promised myself I'd do during this Lent. So I wasn't quite totally awake when the phone rang & I answered it. The caller was one of my mother's friends.
It seems I've inherited a whole cohort of my mother's friends. Most, although not all, attended synagogue with her. They're all women, every one; my mother never had very many male friends -- only Howard (her partner of 40+ years) & Brad (with whom she worked during her days at Connecticut General Life Insurance). I really love and like all of these women, and what's wonderful is that two of them are my friends as well as my mother's. This morning, the friend who called -- I'll call her Jane -- is a marvelous woman, and I'm tremendously fond of her. She loves to talk & loves to tell stories. She knows, she has told me, that she tends to talk too long (according to some people) & that she tends to ramble (again, according to some people), & she has warned me that I need to intervene to stop her if I need to end a conversation.
Jane had a stroke a couple of years back, & she is very sensitive to how the stroke has impacted her cognition. She struggles at times for words, although since I've known her & seen her on a more frequent basis, I've seen that her word recall has greatly improved. She is in her mid-80's & the widow of a physician. She openly states how fond she was of my mother, how good they were together -- for one, they could talk politics together & agreed almost all of the time -- and how grateful she was for their friendship. I know that my mother felt the same way about her, and I've told her that.
At some point in our conversation, I realized that, if I didn't cut Jane off in the next 2 minutes, I would miss Mass. But I couldn't cut her off; it was clear that she misses my mother & clear as well that I've been remiss in not calling her, although she would never say that. So I missed Mass. I think G-D was giving me the opportunity to choose caring, compassion, and relationship over ritual & something I really love to do that is easy. All I could think was how often Jane tells me that people tell her she talks too much & goes on too long, and how hurtful and humiliating that must feel, how dismissed she must feel when someone says, "Jane, you're taking up too much of my time," which is what the message to her is in reality. I suspect that hundreds of people hear each day, in one way or another, "You are taking too much of my time," which really means "You are not worth my time."
Yet I truly believe that the G-D we love & in whom we put our trust & faith finds each & every one of us worth Her / His time. Each & every one of us is precious in G-D's sight, as precious as the sparrow, as valued as the lilies of the field, which is, ultimately. This Lent, I believe I am called to follow Christ, to deepen my life with Him, to more closely imitate Him. And for me, that means especially imitating Christ's compassion. That means slowing down, listening in & to the silence, & also hearing when someone speaks from the silence. People gravitated to my mother because she listened to them & heard them, & I think her friends are expecting the same from me. What I learned today is that G-D is expecting it, too.
Being home in silence & without the radio on is harder than I'd expected it would be. The radio provided instant distraction from whatever I'd been thinking, especially when I didn't want to be thinking that particular line of thought. It acted as a buffer between my thoughts & myself. I'll explore that more tomorrow night. Right now, although it's still early, I'm going to sleep.