I work in a challenging environment when outside of the home.
It can be very dirty. We who work there see and experience very disturbing things. I hear profanity almost continuously on some days, some of which is directed toward me.
Most of the time while there, I experience peace in my heart.
This week, my patience and compassion have both run terribly thin.
There is a coworker of mine with whom I have never communicated to any meaningful degree. He always is very serious and gruff, and, while never rude to me, we don't have a lot to say to one another when we're around each other. We also don't do the same job, so our encounters are more occasional than anything.
Imagine my surprise when his face brightened into a smile as we trudged through a particularly ugly and hostile zone of my work environment. One person had yelled profanity at me, so others had started escalating in volume and intensity, either to continue his efforts or to mock him.
"Hey, you're Catholic, right?" my coworker asked. "What do you think about this Pope stuff?"
With eyes bugging right out of my head, my heart softened into a puddle, even while in the midst of such chaos.
"I love our Pope like a father," I responded. "I wish him every blessing, and look forward to learning who our new Pope will be. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the Church."
He then told me that he had been raised Catholic and that he had traveled to Rome within the last few years. His face continued to beam with joy as he described the sights to me, and how he had visited the tomb of Bl. John Paul II, and how magnificent it all was--with the exception of the dirtiness of Rome and the number of pickpockets. He promised to bring me some pictures to show me, and encouraged me to visit.
Thanking him. I told him our conversation was an unexpected ray of light in my evening which had been somewhat ugly up to that point, both internally and externally.
It has been a year since I have worked there, and I find that I am getting hardened in some ways. I don't think that is all bad but it is sobering to wonder how my Christian witness will unfold if my heart continues to harden.
As I was driving home, a somewhat obvious epiphany dawned upon my mind. By the grace of God I have been able to frequently communicate, receiving Holy Communion almost everyday. During the last several months, my reception has been far less consistent. I can't imagine this hasn't had an effect, because when Jesus isn't the center of my day, then all the other stuff is...which, as I have mentioned, isn't necessarily the healthiest thing to have in that position.
Jesus, I love You and need You with my whole heart and soul...I pray You will continue to arrange my circumstances and life so that I am able to receive You frequently.
In the meantime, I also thank You for the unexpected opportunities You give me to experience Your peace.