A Divine Schedule by Fran Salone-Pelletier

Come Saturday morning, my daughter and I chat about this and that. We catch up on all the doings and delights, fun and fears of the week. We laugh uproariously at the silly stuff and engage in mutual angst over our faults and foibles, prickly mishaps and perceived mayhem. We recollect and reconstruct all that has kept us in contained annoyance during the week. It’s more than a delightful weekly encounter. It’s a deliberate engagement which deepens our union and enhances our enjoyment of each other. It is mom and daughter, woman to woman, friend with friend. And I love it.

Sometimes we chat as we walk together across the miles. Geography separates us but space does not! She bounces jauntily along her route in Connecticut. I tread steps less vigorously, but equally meaningfully, in North Carolina. The connection is invisible, yet strong and unbreakable.

We walk alone together—an interesting phenomenon. Others often join the venture as our private conversation is peppered with public proclamations. I hear her shouting encouragement to a student who appears along the way. Ever the teacher, she shouts: “Way to go, Mike! C’mon, you can do it! Lift those feet!” Unseeing, I can hear the smile on his face as he absorbs the attentive presence of his teacher, now an ordinary walker along the route. Before long, there is another interruption. “How’re ya doin’?” she shouts out to a neighbor. “Hi, honey,” is the endearment she offers, accompanied by a quick rub behind the ears, to a cute little puppy dog. All are participants in the entwining of her life and mine. Together, we traverse a labyrinth of grace.

Sometimes we know and see the power of this place, the creation which is our home. Other times we walk by faith and not by sight. We walk in hope when we are yet feeling its absence. Always we tread our way freely, giving each other space to speak, time to listen, ideas to ponder in all the news we share. We forgive our forgetfulness. We embrace the fatigue which sometimes overrides and overcomes our phone conversations but never disconnects us.

Freedom is at the core. Freedom is the crucial component. It is learned through trial and error over many years, and it continues to be witnessed and strengthened. It is a welcoming freedom—a prayer which embraces all that was, is, and will be.

One night when I phoned my daughter to explain why I had not called as promised and why I really was not able to converse at any length or with any real animation, a call-waiting signal chimed on her phone. Recognizing the caller, she quickly estimated the importance and the possible need for an immediate response. Her choice was to ignore the persistent ringing and offer an explanation later. The ringing continued. Telling me to hang on, she switched lines in order to explain the reason for her non-response to the persistent caller.

In short order, my daughter came back on the line to tell me who had called. It was a dear friend of hers, a woman whom I also knew. With laughter chiming in her voice, my daughter repeated their conversation. “I told Carol that I was talking to my Mama and would call her back later.” The quick and joking response was, “Tell your Mama she can’t be talking to you when I need you for something.”

Laughter erupted all around. Although my daughter assured me it was unnecessary, I offered to end our chat quickly with a promise to call the next day. We quickly exchanged goodbyes, underscored with a mutual “I love you,” and hung up.

I thought for a moment or two, examining what had just occurred. What was I being taught through this episode? What might we all be learning? Could it be that my daughter’s friend—and mine by extension—was God’s voice calling? Could it be God saying to me, to us, “I am free to call you when I need you. I will keep calling until you answer.”

Could it be God asking us if we are free enough to respond? Are we willing to welcome interruptions in our conversations? Are we willing to include the needs of others in the midst of our daily occupations, schedules, plans, fun, and frolic? Do we believe “life happens while we are making other plans”? Are we able to expand our commitments, enhancing them rather than ignoring them?

It was only a phone call, one might say. Why make so much of it? Why become upset with the interruptions? Why not see them as graced, providential experiences offered by Divinity rather than simple events of the day?

So much of my life is solidified in schedules. There are so many time slots easily filled with good things to do, nice people to encounter, even chores to accomplish. And God says, “It’s wonderful that you are so busy. I have more for you, if you are willing to welcome it. I am offering and inviting you into the challenge of openness. It may disrupt your tight schedule, but it will allow you to experience mine—a divine schedule which asks you to be a co-respondent with me.

“Don’t cling to your list of things to do or places go or people to see. Instead, embrace the responsive freedom to be discovered when you release your hold on your list of ‘things to do’ and note the ‘to-be’s’ I offer.

“Be a mother when I ask it. Be a friend when friendship is essential, even crucial. Be an interrupter when life is mired in stagnation. Be a prophetic voice when ears are stopped up, deafened by the wax of mediocrity and apathy. Be the silence crucially needed in the midst of noisy chaos. Be the sounding cry of courage when silence is a tormentor.

“Let your plans, good and wonderful though they are, be interrupted by my call. Let me, your God, interrupt your life with the pleas I have heard from those you have ignored, or not recognized, or found too challenging. Let me, your God, interrupt your complacency with my constancy.

“Don’t let Divinity’s call ring insistently without response. Answer the call on the other line.

“It’s me, God, calling!” ♦

Fran Salone-Pelletier holds a master’s degree in theology. She is the author of a trilogy of scriptural meditations, Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives, from which this selection is taken. She is also a religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer, and grandmother of four. Reach her at hope5@atmc.net. This is a revised version of a previously published article.

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