Thursday, April 21, 2011

From Extreme Stress to Easter Sunday

The thing about extreme stress is that it burns itself out eventually. You can't stay that stressed out for long before you collapse in a heap, have a good cry or an afternoon nap, and then let it go for a while. Or at least, that seems to be my coping technique for the time being.

Letting it go.

Not completely, of course, it's still my life after all, that I'm called upon to participate in, but I'm trying to do the work I have before me to be done each day without letting it consume me. Without imagining that I control the outcome or can will things into being with the power of my mind (a delusion I seem to be particularly susceptible to).

Whoever dies with the most stress doesn't win.

I took a line from the "Our Father" and made it a mantra: your will be done. I repeat it when I feel stressed, and it's proven to be surprisingly effective! Although I think the particular package of stress that I've been carrying around recently (aka: what the heck's going to happen to the rest of my life, starting any minute now?) was just plain getting too heavy and was ripe to be set down anyway. The teacher will appear when the student is ready, and all that.

So I guess I could claim I've been praying, although it's mostly just that phrase said again and again, on an as-needed basis. Still, that's something, right?

My mom's birthday falls on Easter Sunday this year. My husband and I -not-practicing-religious-anythings- never celebrate Easter except as a family holiday, getting together for brunch or dinner with extended relatives if we live close enough. This year we're dyeing eggs with the kids, but that's more a good excuse for an art project than any real observance of the holiday. But I grew up Catholic and all six of us girls got new dresses and hats for mass on Easter Sunday, and searched the house for candy to fill our baskets every Easter morning. My mom still goes to church on Sundays and I proposed to my husband that we dress the kids up and take them this weekend. It's her birthday, and that's where she chooses to spend it, so I thought it might be nice to join her.

And it's fitting to say thank-you -on the celebration of the resurrection- for my prayer: your will be done. I let go, and God appears, and carries my load. I'm sure it's a story told countless times in countless creeds; the Catholics don't have any special claim on grace in the universe. But here I am in this story, in my story, and when I look around at what's before me to do, it's to be in charge of dinner rolls and green salad for twenty, hard boil a dozen or so eggs and bring dye kits, suffer through a couple hours in the car with my kids to break bread with my family, and to keep on praying my four word prayer.

And I think it might also be to celebrate mass with my mom on her Easter Sunday birthday.

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