Sharing your burdens through Reconciliation

Originally Appeared in : 9818-8/30/18

“Why is there a Home Depot bucket in your bedroom?” was the first question that came out of my mouth as I looked in the boys’ bedroom the other morning. Problem was, I already knew the answer.


Over the past six months, our family has endured more stomach ailments than one might expect on an out-of-country mission trip where they don’t serve Coke, and this time around the “bug tummy” (as Eli coined it so aptly when he was three years old) was taking down Halcombes faster than the trenches of Verdun.
Hot dogs with mustard, and not mustard gas, though, seemed to be the root cause, transforming our home into a makeshift MASH unit.


A deeper glance showed that Simon’s bed was bereft of bedding, with our second-oldest huddled in a corner near the closet beside the big orange pail. Isaac was still in his neighboring crib, looking over his stuffed elephant in drowsy confusion.


Before we had time to process everything, Jesse, Eli and AnnaMarie were leaning into the doorway like gawkers at an accident site, needing only a smartphone and an active Facebook account to “go live” with scenes from the disaster area.


“Guys, let’s go,” I said, sending everyone back down the hall towards the living room so that Magan and I could get a more detailed debriefing (of which I’ll spare you the details).


Around 10:45 p.m. the night before is when everything went down (literally), and what we learned is that Noah, instead of waking his mom and pop to aid in the relief efforts, single-handedly cleaned every affected area, gathered up fresh bedding for Simon and, yes, got the Home Depot bucket (lined with a fresh trash bag).


“Why on earth didn’t you get us up?” Magan quizzed.


“I know y’all have had to be up with everyone else: Mommy’s been sick, and Ruthie has been waking up a lot, so I didn’t want to bother y’all,” Noah replied.


“Noah, you’ll never be ‘bothering us’ with something like that,” I said. “That’s our job. Anytime something like this happens again, don’t hesitate to get us up. We will never mind having to get up.”


“Yes, we don’t mind a bit,” Magan added.


By mid-afternoon, it was obvious that the previous night was catching up with Noah. Bags under his eyes, and his own bout with the illness just days earlier, left him in a lurch so much so that Magan even encouraged him to take a nap.


In Noah’s zeal to “go it alone,” he had unknowingly made himself weaker and less able to help across the day.


His example is a reminder of how we can sometimes do the same in our faith lives. It can be hard to relax your guard and feel comfortable laying your burdens, whether they be worries or transgressions, on someone else’s shoulders: namely, your parish priest.


The Bible, though, tells us to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).


By cleansing our souls through the act of Reconciliation, we not only refresh our hearts and minds for the trek ahead but we also signify that we are beings who were never intended to be solely self-reliant. Just like any family, asking for help, and receiving it, is a basic principle of our faith, and one that should be practiced regularly.


Hopefully next time Noah will heed our advice, and be blessed with the relief of his brotherly burdens. Otherwise, he’ll not only be stuck tired and weak but also smelling of the chlorine gas that comes from disinfecting a "bug tummy" war zone.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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