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Seeking the Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

by lifetalk

Seeking the Peace that Surpasses All Understanding follows Turning Over the Keys.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by lifetalk on May 3, 2009
"Tears cannot save one from the debt collectors. Strength helps. A plan for survival is a must. Even working two jobs isn't enough. Bankruptcy looms while children wonder how did their parents let this happen. "

Turning Over the Keys

Elana used to love being home. She took pride in making it a welcome place for her family. The counters sparkled, the laundry was lined up in neatly folded piles, and the floors were glistening. A cake was usually rising in the oven and the family Irish Setter was always bounding through the house with a toy. In the evening, Elana sprinkled essential oil of orange throughout the house so that it cheered everyone. She made wonderful meals, kissed her children, was kind to her husband, and loved being a mother and wife. Not a person who entered Elana's house ever wanted to leave. Homey they said. Warm. Inviting. Safe.

The change was subtle. Elana's husband started to sigh as the bills piled up in the mailbox. The stacks of bills remained unopened. Soon, the bill collectors began calling day and night. Elana's peace and security were threatened, but they were shattered into a cold reality one day when a tow truck pulled into her driveway. Elana had just returned home from picking her daughter up from school. As she was closing the door of the car, she saw a stout, solemn faced man approaching her. Without an introduction, he told Elena he was there to repossess the car and demanded the keys. Stunned, and forcing back the lump that was taking over her throat, Elana offered to write a check. No, that wasn't a possibility. Clear out the car and turn over the keys.

Elana heard the soft footsteps on the landing of the house door. Her fifteen year old daughter was watching. Without a word, she went to the car and began taking out her belongings. Elana worked next to her taking out pens, drinking cups, papers, a rosary -- all the items of living that occupy a second home, the family car.

The repo man found his heart and leaned into the hatch to take out the dog blanket. Elana handed the stranger the keys and felt compelled to tell him how ashamed she was. He replied that she wasn't the only one, he was behind on his bills, too. Hand in hand, Elana and her daughter watched as the car was towed away. Hand in hand they walked back to the house and pulled down the garage door and went into the house where Elana sobbed without a sound.

The phone rings all day and night now. Collectors asking for money that isn't there. Elana wonders how she will collect the money to make things right. And the children no longer watch television downstairs because they can't stand the sound of the ringing phone and listening to the requests for money.

Elana still has a home. The family still has each other. But it isn't a safe haven anymore. Strangers wanting money have made their way into the walls of the house. Elana is fighting to save the soul of the family. She will find a way.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by lifetalk on May 13, 2009
"Elana learns humility as she turns her problems over to a higher power. "

Celestial 9-1-1

Driving to the Adoration Chapel Elana knew that the plan to save her family had to begin with the family. Finances were only a part of the rescue operation. Elana drove with the highest of expectations to the church.

The stone steps of the chapel were uneven and the heels of her shoes made a clicking sound as she climbed the steps. Elana stopped to touch one of the apple blossom branches that tickled the top of her head as she reached the front door of the chapel. She paused to take in the perfume -- a fragrance so fresh that it purified with each deep breath Elana took. And as she opened the door to the chapel, the perfume from the blossoms mixed with the smell of burning candles. Silence and strength waited beyond the door; she was steps away from help.

Elana entered the little room. It held only fifteen people. She knew that the Adoration Chapel rules stated someone must be with the Lord at all times - He was never to be left alone. This morning, it was an elderly man with a round, large face who was on watch. He looked up as he heard Elana enter, and he briefly acknowledged her with a nod of his head before he lowered his gaze.

The room was cool. The stained glass windows were cranked open to allow fresh air to circulate. The flowers in the crystal vases below the small alter fluttered in the breeze. The gold monstrance held the Body of the Lord, glistening in the soft light. Elana knelt and exhaled as her knees hit the soft leather cushion of the kneeler. She bowed her head and waited. Waited for the words to come to her. Waited for peace to flood over her. Waited for discernment from the Holy Spirit.

Elana picked up a rosary and began the first Hail Mary of the first decade. Her tears spilled onto her cheeks as she prayed. Elana turned her swollen eyes toward the Lord, realizing that she must tie her suffering to the cross. Was this redemptive suffering? What was she supposed to be learning?
She waited.
Elana asked for help again.
Her quickening heart slowed.
She wondered if she should bargain.
Should she negotiate a swap?
Elana realized she was clutching the rosary so hard she was bruising her skin. Why, she thought was it taking so long to get an answer?
She narrowed her eyes and stared harder at the Lord.

What was she supposed to do. Elana began a silent dialogue.
She told Him the bills were stacked as high as a log pile, the car was repossessed, her husband's company was floundering and his paychecks were going to stop for the summer. There wasn't even money for her son's high school graduation party. Her son who struggled to learn, and who never gave them an ounce of worry. How could she not celebrate his graduation and his accomplishments?

On top of it, there was Carla, their teenage daughter who was barely passing her freshman year and was at risk of failing. Carla, who was so talented but scattered that she couldn't focus. Her teachers had started emailing Elana suggesting that testing was in order. They didn't know how to help her anymore. She wasn't turning in work, not studying, and seemed to be overwhelmed. Carla's behavior was an SOS that required immediate attention.

Elana sighed. She was ready to scream. What's it going to take to get an answer?
And then she thought she heard something.
Start with your house.
Help your daughter. Set her path straight.
Elana looked around the room. Did the man hear what she heard?
It didn't appear he heard anything. He was praying.
Elana looked up at the Blessed Sacrament.
She had heard the instruction but didn't know if it had really been uttered or if she had imagined it.
She waited.
Help your daughter.
That was it. She picked up her things, made the sign of the cross and knelt again before the altar.
Thank you.
Running toward her borrowed car, Elana ran across the blacktop.
She slid across the seat and picked up her phone, dialing the number to the one man she knew could help her. The phone in the rectory rang. Elana waited for Father to pick up . Help was as close as his hello.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by lifetalk on May 15, 2009
"Elana finally decides to get help for Carla's ADD.

Striped Socks and One Step at a Time

Elana dialed the number to the rectory. The line on the other end came alive with Father's voice.

"How are you, Father?"
"I'm grand."

Grand. How simply grand. Elana wanted to feel that way. Someday I'll be able to answer with those exact words, she thought. It couldn't happen soon enough because Elana was on the verge of becoming the biggest squirrel in the nut house.

The kid was driving her crazy. Passive aggressive to the hilt. Even when she entered the school building, she walked very, very slowly. And doing homework? Or helping around the house? Or picking up a towel? What was that all about?

The ultimate conflict centered around Carla's socks. She wore mismatched socks to school every single day. One orange. One blue. One red, one striped. Honor the creativity, thought Elana. Not today. Today she gets help. Today I get help.

Elana sighed as she pictured Carla running an art gallery. Her spunky attitude and her funky attire would lure customers -- and her commissions would reflect their appreciation for her - especially for her socks. Those infuriatingly colorful socks would make them write checks in purple ink. And Carla would laugh all the way to the bank.

Elana remembered the socks this morning. They took on their own life; Carla might have had them on her feet, but the socks were doing the walking and the talking. Elana laughed at the thought and laughed harder when she made up her mind to buy Carla white socks the next time.

It was teenage angst. Elana knew it and Carla knew it. Carla was a walking storm front, and Elana needed a sophisticated Doppler system to detect the squalls that erupted out of nowhere. Early warning system, my ass. Elana needed the Pentagon. Since that wasn't going to happen, she needed the next best thing. A priest, a shrink, and Ritalin.

On the other hand, Carla was great. No drinking, no drugs, no sex, no parties. She was a good kid. And it wasn't that Elana was a control freak, but there were enough signals from the school that indicated something had to be done. The kid was taking up space but her mind was detached. Carla had an out of body experience on a daily basis and none of it included a single thought about homework.

"Can I help you, Elana?" Father's voice jarred Elana back to the moment.

"I hope to God you can." And then it all spilled out. It didn't leak out the way juice spilled out of a kiddie cup, it erupted. Just the way the soda exploded out of a can that has been shaken and then opened.

Elana heard the emotion behind her words and Father heard it, too. He knew that Elana had tried everything - art therapy, homeopathic remedies, diet. It was time for a big gun. You couldn't cure an outbreak of gout with a tofu compress, and Elana knew that all the green tea in China wouldn't calm Carla down. Call in the troops and write the scrip for Ritalin. While the doctor was at it, Elana thought, write a scrip for everyone in the house - including the dog.

What did she need? Elana needed a million dollars, the house needed to be painted, the carpeting replaced, and she had to find a car since hers had been carted off by the repo man. Just get the kid on Ritalin. Then maybe she could learn some strategies to get herself organized. Funny, after years of fighting the idea of using medication to manage the ADD, Elana couldn't wait to get the little blue pills.

"So, here's the name of a doctor who can help you. He's a good Catholic. He's had a great deal of experience dealing with teens who need help with ADD. Take down this number."

Elana scribbled the number on a napkin. Thank God for small favors. She owed Him. Big time.

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