Sometimes I get ready for Mass and just sort of automatically settle into a pew, look around to see who’s there, follow along in my missalette, responding on cue, and never really say “hello” to God. It may suddenly hit me that I’m just doing a rote thing and have not really lifted my heart or mind even once to Jesus present in the tabernacle and on the altar. I will say, “I’m sorry,” and “Have mercy on me,” and “I’ll try to do better.” And then I go back to responding on cue.

A mother gets up in the morning, gets the kids dressed and fed and off to school, goes about her motherly duties, cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping. She usually does not wake up and say, “This day I will be the best mother ever. This day will be all quality time. This day my children and my husband will really feel my love.” More than likely, she just responds on cue, doing what needs to be done. There is a deep commitment, but it’s not on her mind. She is expected to be there, and she is.

Some of my friends go with me to the local abortion “clinic” to pray the rosary every Tuesday and Saturday. We greet our friends and catch up on the latest news. We are a motley crew, and in the process of praying that the lives of a few babies scheduled to be killed will be spared, we have shared a lot of our own lives. Sometimes we are there for five or ten minutes before we remember to check and see if the business is even open. We feel there needs to be a witness to the violence going on inside the mill–and we’re there.

As a homebody, I remember what it was like to look forward to someone coming home to me in the evening. As a working woman, I knew what it was like to look forward to going home to someone. It’s not that there was going to be any major communication or a super meal to share (though these things were within the realm of possibility.) It’s just that someone would be there.

I am reminded of the working single mother who had struggled to raise her children and though she had done a pretty good job of it years later she asked one of her sons what he remembered of those years. “I remember sitting by the window, watching for you to come home,” he said. Which of us has never sat by a window, watching and waiting? Being there is often hardly noticed or appreciated until it is missing.

Being there is a quiet, steady thing. It speaks of faithfulness and commitment. It is, indeed, a humble thing but very important because it is in the climate of being there, that being there occurs. There is sharing and then there is sharing. The moments of true intimacy, the moments to be remembered forever, the moments when love is a heart-searing reality, are not, cannot be, forced or planned. With friends, with spouse, with children, with God, the precious shining moments are rooted and blossom in the well-tilled soil of “just being there.”