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The Church Lady with the Smokers Voice

Today at mass the Lord decided to teach me a powerful lesson.

As my wife and I were sitting at mass, a woman walked in late and sat directly behind us.  I don't know what it was, but everything she did seemed to get under my skin.  I was annoyed by her raspy, smoker's voice, her Queens NY accent,  her distinct, floral (I hate floral perfumes.) perfume, her incessant coughing, (while not covering her mouth), and the impulsive way she responded to the mass parts 3 seconds before everyone else.  In my judgmental mind I began imagining what type of woman she was:  I imagined her as that rude driver who constantly cut off people, as that person who wouldn't respect a person's boundaries, as a person who no one could live with. All of this was based on a raspy voice, a New York accent, and a cough!

When I settled down and began to focus on the mass I realized what was really going on.(Let me rewind first.)  Last night my wife and I heard a teaching which spoke about how peace was something that could not be taken away by anyone or anything from the outside. The teaching stressed how peace was ultimately an "inside job", something that was the rightful inheritance of every Christian.

Armed with this supernatural awareness I tried seeing this woman as a gift from God.  God was trying to show me how my peace could not be taken away by her.  It was as if the Lord was telling me again and again, "Peace be with you."   The serenity prayer really covers it:  "God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,  to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  AMEN.

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