Ted works hard at a job he doesn’t like. The pay isn’t good, and he thinks the job is below him. When he gets home each evening, his two children are often screaming at each other or demanding his attention. His modest home is never tidy. Usually, his wife warms up leftovers and he’s expected to help seat and serve the children. Tonight, he looks at the bills on the kitchen counter and a crack on the ceiling that he’s repaired several times before.
“Larry left Susan,” says his wife, Celeste. “They were married for 16 years. She’s keeping the kids. He’s moving to New York. He says he’s tired of being a daddy and a husband. Oh, and did you hear? A young woman had a baby at the hospital yesterday and just left her there. Can you imagine?”
“Terrible,” Ted answers. However, he sometimes envies people who never marry, don’t work, or live to party. He remembers how much he enjoyed life when he was younger, without all the responsibilities.
The family attends a Catholic Church every Sunday, but, lately, Ted hasn’t enjoyed it much. His kids don’t sit still and don’t pay attention. Ted’s mind often wanders during Mass. But, last Sunday, during the chanting of Psalm 126, he paid close attention:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, it was as if we were dreaming.
Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs.
Then the nations said, "The Lord has done spectacular things for them."
The Lord has done spectacular things for us. We are overjoyed…
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
After church, Ted took his family to McDonald’s. They ate burgers and fries, drank Cokes, and the kids laughed and played in the PlayPlace. Ted and Celeste met some acquaintances and chatted.
Later, Ted took his four-year-old outside to “play bubbles.” Ted filled a plastic bucket with bubble liquid. His son used a very large wand and made lots of bubbles – small ones, big ones, and some stuck together – that floated on a warm, light breeze into the blue sky.
Later, Ted and Celeste lay in bed. “It’s sometimes really hard, our life,” Celeste said softly. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. You and the kids are my life. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Ted whispered.
He went into the kids’ room. They were snuggled together, sleeping. They looked so young and fresh, like two almost-ripe peaches on a leafy branch. A soft, cool breeze lifted the light curtains. “God, I love you,” Ted said.