Friday, June 10, 2011

Do You Know What Fortitude Is Like?

I've been praying this novena to the Holy Spirit, leading up to Pentecost. On Monday, the daily reflection focused on the gift of Fortitude: (my emphasis)
By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear... .
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

I've been trying to put at least a minimum of thought into the daily prayers, but this Fortitude thing particularly struck me. It was like God was nudging me with his elbow and pointing to it.

That night, when I went to leave for my prayer meeting, the van was dead. When it had failed to start the previous Wednesday, I had figured an interior light had been on because a door wasn't shut completely. This time I could find no interior lights on, no doors not-fully-closed. Something was wrong. I resolved to call the mechanic the next day and got a ride from someone else to the meeting. When I got back, Ken jump-started the van again, and I drove it around awhile to charge the battery so I could make it to Elijah's two doctor appointments the next day.

The next morning, the van wouldn't start again.

And I thought, "Yep, I need that Fortitude now, God." My normal way of reacting to troubles like this is to feel completely panicked and try to hide out in the bedroom until someone else handles it. I've gotten slightly better at this sort of thing over the years, but it's still usually overwhelming to me.

Umm... pretend that one of those flowers is "Fortitude", so that this pretty picture has something to do with the post. And while you're at it, pretend Kyrie doesn't have something red on her nose that I don't know how to photoshop out. 
I prayed a little to calm myself down and figure out how best to handle the situation. I called the first clinic to re-schedule and then called the mechanics, who agreed to see me right away. I piled the kids in the van, and with the help of two neighbors I eventually got the van jumped again so that I could drive it to the mechanics'. The kids stayed in the van and munched on snacks while the mechanics took the battery out, cut back the very corroded wires, put new attachments on, and put it in a new battery. We were only there for a half hour or so before they had us all set to go. We even had time to stop by home for lunch before the afternoon appointment.

Thinking it over later, it wasn't just that things worked out so quickly and easily, although I appreciated that.1 It was that, throughout the whole experience, I was much less anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, and so forth than I would normally expect to be in a situation like this. Where I usually get caught up in the web of unknowns, I instead focused on resolving the next step. Where I usually hesitate to ask the questions that I am wondering about (Lord only knows why - maybe he'll let me know sometime), I came out and said them this time. A situation that would normally have deluged me was instead completely manageable.

So now I have a better idea of what the gift of fortitude feels like. And I will try to remember to ask for it, whenever I see that that is the one I need more of right then. Which might be often, because clearly it is not one that comes naturally to me.

1. Seriously, thank you God. And thank you mechanics. If any of you live in the Gresham area, check out D&V mechanics. They're awesome.

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