I planned to go to Mass yesterday (of course). I didn't plan to stay home with a child who was feeling ill. Thankfully, the illness turned out to be the beginning of a cold, but since the combination of that and some sinus blockage made her feel quite, quite ill until late in the afternoon, she and I missed Mass anyway.
I planned for my family to go to Midnight Mass tonight. But it's going to be rather cold by eleven o'clock p.m., and even though DD#2 is feeling much, much better today (and has no fever) I don't want to take her out that late and turn what is shaping up into a mild cold into something worse. Our church does an earlier vigil, and though I don't much like going to an early Christmas vigil, prudence is suggesting that is the best option.
We usually go to Midnight Mass, and when our late choir director first began discussing his plans for the music at this year's Christmas Masses we were all pretty excited about them. I'm praying for his widow today--this is going to be such a hard Christmas for her; and the ambitions plans for the music have been, of necessity, simplified, since we don't yet have a new music director.
My husband was planning to run an errand after Mass yesterday, but since he had two of the girls with him and no Mom to take them aside and distract them, he had to go out and do it today. No matter how hard we plan, there's always some last minute chore needing to be done on Christmas Eve!
I was planning to cook some shrimp as a treat for my girls' lunch today. I forgot that we used up the last of the frozen shrimp we had, and didn't buy more. We had plenty of other lunch foods on hand, but it's not what I planned.
The more my plans, large and small, get rearranged, though, the more I'm thinking of the saying that if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans. It's so easy to get bent out of shape when the things you intended to happen don't happen, or the plans you carefully crafted fall apart like a house of cards in a tornado. The truth, if we really examine it, is that life is a series of unplanned events with small interludes of intact plans laced around them, giving us the illusion that we're more in control of things than we ever are.
But that illusion can shatter pretty rapidly, leaving us anywhere from frustrated, as I've been lately, to devastated, as those who have had major sorrows occur recently can attest.
And then we recall the first Christmas.
Mary, planning to remain a virgin consecrated to God, is told by an angel that God plans for her to be the Mother of His Son without loss of that virginity. Joseph, planning to take Mary into his home, learns that she is pregnant; he plans to divorce her quietly rather than shame her. He, too, is visited by an angel who changes his plans according to the will of God. The two of them, planning for the arrival of the Child, must instead journey to Bethlehem; and wherever Mary had planned to give birth I'm sure she hadn't planned on a stable. Among the well-wishers greeting the Baby I don't think either Mary or Joseph planned on shepherds, and I doubt they expected the three visitors from the East--or their symbolic gifts. I'm sure that Joseph didn't plan on taking Mary and Jesus to live in Egypt, either.
But the Holy Family shows us how to deal with alterations in our plans: graciously, obediently, lovingly. They radiate the example of the trust we should have in God, even when He sees fit to turn our lives upside-down, and far more when the ordinary events of everyday life change the plans we thought were set in stone. He is in charge; His Will will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Following the Holy Family, we can learn to set aside our grumbling and frustration, and accept with grateful and obedient joy whatever He chooses to do with our lives.