Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for April, 2011


This morning the 4th grade at my sons’ school left on an overnight trip to Ellis Island. Neither of my boys are in 4th grade, but I have a 3rd grader who is already excited to go on this field trip next year (despite the fact that no electronics are allowed on the the bus…Imagine! Six hours with no DS! He said, “I guess I’ll just have to read a book.” Yes, yes you will!)

But while his first thought is what to do on the long bus ride, my first thought is of course the bus ride itself. I’ve come a long way when it comes to buses. For years I didn’t ride them. If you follow this blog, you have probably witnessed my slow progression in allowing my children to ride the bus. And why not? Bus trips with your friends can be so much fun. For me, however, I am at the stage where I am okay with them riding a bus, as long as I am with them. So looking forward, I am aware of what is in store for my son’s 4th grade year.

This morning as I turned down the road to the school, we passed the 4th graders on the bus. It’s a narrow road, so for a second the bus loomed over us – and for that second my heart skipped. Sometimes we face our fears figuratively, and sometimes literally.

A minute later, after I had dropped the boys off but was still stopped in the parking lot, my cell phone chimed, indicating a text message. I picked up my phone and read the following message from a friend who was on the bus with her daughter: “Seat belts on our bus, Miss Haley!!!”

She included a picture of her daughter showing me the seat belts – which was blurry, either from the movement of the bus, or because my eyes were teary from the thoughtful gesture of a friend who sent a gift via text.

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    It’s Holy Week and I have many reminders on my calendar to do various tasks: buy Easter baskets, prepare eggs for my son’s Easter egg hunt, order the honey-baked ham, clean the guest room, etc…things like that. But there is one task that I will do tomorrow that is the most important: Mail our Lenten Retreat letters.

    Six weeks ago I hosted and ran a Lenten Retreat for women in Washington DC. For those of you who follow this blog, you already know that. You also know that the Retreat provided for me my Lenten theme: Mohammad Ali’s quote: “Service to others is the price we pay for our room here on Earth.” I have referenced this quote several times during Lent and it has reminded me of the true meaning of Lent: service to God and preparation for His sacrifice.

    At the conclusion of our retreat we each wrote a letter to God with our reflections from the retreat and goals for ourselves during Lent. These are the letters I will mail tomorrow, that the attendees will receive as they move towards the Easter Triduum. My hope is that their reflections will continue through the holy weekend…and beyond.

    I remember once having a discussion about Lent and what I was giving up. I forget with whom I was having the discussion, but he/she said, “Lent is not about giving something up, it’s about improving who we are.” Whether or not that is true, it has stuck with me. Just as Mohammad Ali’s quote has stuck with me – and I hope will remain with me long after Lent has ended.

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    A friend of mine posted the following quote on Facebook:

    We learn as much from sorrow as from joy, as much from illness as from health, from handicap as from advantage and indeed perhaps more. ~ Pearl S. Buck

    Indeed perhaps more. Not even perhaps. This quote struck me, and stuck with me. It is easy to be joyful when you live a life of advantage and good health. Just as it is easy to be sorrowful when you are struggling with an illness or handicap. Yet there are lessons to be learned from both joy and sorrow – and the lessons we learn from our sorrows are often the most meaningful. Why is that?

    I believe it is because when we are struggling, or sorrow-filled, we have little to lean on except for what really matters: our faith, our family, our friendships. And when we focus on what is most meaningful in our lives, we are given the strength to deal with our trials, to embrace the struggles and to find meaning in our suffering. Does it make it go away? No. Does it make it more bearable? Yes. Sorrow gives us the opportunity to focus on our faith and core values. Joyfulness does too, but it is easy to be faith-filled in times of joy; it is harder to be faith-filled in times of sorrow.

    I struggled. I was not always faith-filled during my times of sorrow. But I was surrounded by my family, my friends, and a faith that embraced me and showed me how to live life with a grateful heart, a faith-filled heart. A joyful heart: That’s what I learned during my time of sorrow, illness and handicap.

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