There was record-breaking attendance that sultry Midwestern summer night. Anticipating a crowd I arrived about ninety minutes early, astonished to see the Great Lawn already half full.  Picking my way between picnic blankets and lawn chairs, I claimed a space – not too greedy, but enough to provide some elbow room for others to maneuver once my companion arrived. As the start drew near, people continued to fill in every available space. First one couple sat in the buffer zone in front of us, but there was still  place for people to walk between our groups. Later we re-arranged to accommodate another couple who edged in behind us on a small blanket. Then, with less than five minutes to go, two women arrived and, with a little nod of apology, proceeded to unfold their fluorescent orange Illinois Fighting Illini fan chairs in the tiny space that was left!

I had now been out in the heat and humidity for almost two hours.  “Who do they think they are?” was going through my head with exasperation.  Then I recalled with chagrin, “Are you envious because I am generous?”  In a brief colloquy with Jesus, I found some breathing space.  He brushed away my annoyance about perceived loss, and then helped me remember that he was free to use the lawn as he wished. With humor he moved me to gratitude for not being rude to the ladies, for the beauty of the evening, and for the convivial atmosphere that prevailed among the diverse crowd as we all settled in to enjoy the show.

What are you being asked to share generously today?

—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.