Archive for the ‘good for the soul’ Category
Hey! Go visit the incredible Advent Wreath Link-Up event at Catholicmom.com. Clickie here.
One of the things I’ve discovered about the empty nest is that we celebrate things — whether holidays or special events or even the daily non-celebrations — differently. Not better or worse, just — different.
I enjoy it, as one enjoys the different seasons. So this season in our lives is slower, less complicated by hustle and bustle. And, to my amusement (and no doubt my mother’s relief) a lot neater.
I don’t think I would have ever attempted to throw together the clippings from the Christmas tree into a vase, and work around some Advent candles. That’s a fire waiting to happen on that dinner table. That’s why we keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen — you know, this propensity to have a nice quiet dinner go up in flames.
And so, we begin Advent today with joy, and hope, and a little bit of wonder and anticipation.
A few days ago I was whining about the leaves not changing fast enough for my liking. It’s been an exercise in patience, for sure. Sometimes, okay, often I am impatient, wanting things immediately, like a little child. Lucky for me my friend, St. Teresa of Avila, reminds me that I need to trust God in all things, even in adversity, even when things aren’t going on the timeline that I want.
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.
I’m attending a conference in downtown Atlanta this week, a STEM event where I presented with a colleague earlier in the week. Today, for reasons unknown to me, the session I wanted to attend was cancelled, leaving me with something like a two-hour window before the next session. I decided to take a little walk down the street to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This lovely church was a part of my life as a child. We sometimes went to Mass in Spanish there when we first came to the United States. There was usually some kind of pot luck fellowship thing going on, but what I remember most was playing with my friends after Mass.
Years later, I went back with my teen-aged kids to work in the soup kitchen. The church is right smack in the middle of downtown, and while it is surrounded by beautiful hotels, luxury condominiums and professional offices, there’s an intense police presence in the area and what many folks might consider a bit of an unsavory crowd. The truth is, there’s a reason why there’s a soup kitchen in the church basement, and there’s a reason why some of the most important ministries there serve the poor and marginalized.
I was lucky enough to make it to daily Mass, and was struck by the simple beauty of the prayers of the faithful, which were not only for the residents of the area, but for the people who worked there, and surprisingly, for the visitors who come on business and find respite in its beauty, a retreat in the middle of the noisy city.
That’s certainly what I found there, and to my double delight, when Mass ended, there was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I was overcome, thinking I was just going to slip in unnoticed and take some pictures, and not only Mass, but Adoration awaited me.
God is good, all the time. I needed that respite, the silence I can only find in Adoration which always begins with so much chaos in my mind and in my heart, and never fails to end with peace.
It seems like these days I bring a lot to the foot of the cross. Some of it I want to dash angrily, and other things, heavy with resignation, get piled up, one on top of the other. It’s quite a consolation, to lay myself bare, even though it’s something I’m still not comfortable doing — and yet it’s the most natural thing when I let go — it’s what I crave and what I need.
I was happy to have my phone with me to take some pictures. I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to return, but I’m grateful for the long visit today.
The other day I was talking with my dad in one of those meandering ways that touch upon all kinds of subjects, and we ended up discussing how a society that produces disposable things is in danger of treating persons as disposable.
I’m afraid that we’re already in that place.
I see it too often from my little perch on a stool, safely behind a lectern so I don’t get too close.
The following video, one I may have posted before but is newly getting some attention since George Takei posted it, speaks to this disposable attitude. In fact, one of the speakers in the video shares the same concern I’ve brought up.
Watch it. If the sheer humanity of it doesn’t get to you, surely the music will.
I think I must be walking around with a frown or a distracted look that begs some kind of intervention, or maybe that’s just how I feel on the inside, but I can say with certainty that dear little Miss Rose put an end to that in a hurry.
I went to the post office during my lunch hour and had the pleasure of watching her in action while I waited in line. It’s a small town post office, the kind where everybody knows everybody else. There’s only one clerk at the counter, and Miss Rose not only had to engage her in a long conversation, but she also demanded to talk to everyone working behind the scenes, too.
I looked at my watch.
Nobody cared that I was looking at my watch.
When Miss Rose finished spreading her cheer, I posted my letter and tried to get out of there quickly, but of course, the only way to do that was to run over her, so instead, I walked along with her and held the door for her. She thanked me and smiled, and I had to smile back because, well, I know better than to be rude. That’s when she caught me in her web.
“Would you like to hear a joke?”
How could I resist?
“I’d love to hear a joke,” I said, and for that moment, I really did love hearing her joke. It was cheesy. And dumb. And I’ve heard it a dozen times, but it made me laugh out loud as only a cheesy joke can.
That’s all the encouragement she needed, so she regaled me with two more jokes. I laughed at those, too. That’s when I asked her if I could take her picture. I want to be this full of life when I’m that age. I explained I’d probably write about our encounter and that seemed to delight her.
When I was done, she said she had one more thing for me, a hug. So crusty old me got a hug from a random stranger. I’m not even cootified by the thought of it.
Rose got me good with her jokes. So good, in fact, that the joke’s on me. I thought I was doing her a kindness, condescending in my busy lunch hour to listen politely to an old lady. It didn’t occur to me that I was the one who needed that hug.
Let somebody hug you today
So the internet has been abuzz over this amazing little film about Giving.
If you haven’t seen it, you must have been hiding under a rock. Here’s your chance.
But tucked in behind all the hype, I discovered this gem. Check it out.
I dream of one day returning to the land where I was born. Even if I’m 81 and deaf
My husband likes to fish in the early morning when the sun comes up, and late afternoons as the sun goes down. I’m not a fan of swimming while he chums the water with disgusting cut up squid, so I sit in the surf to keep him company. That means I’m reading a book or doing some writing.
Well. That means I take a book or journal with me to the water’s edge, hopeful, but not always successful. The rhythmic waves that cool my legs and bury my feet in the wet sand — the gentle breeze that softly tickles the tiny hairs on my arms and neck — the bright sun that makes me squint and half-close my eyes into a dozing state — that’s the cocktail par excellence for relaxation.
I relaxed a lot, and he caught some fish. Mostly, though, he just fed the fish a bunch of squid.
I did get some reading done, but it’s a shame I didn’t read more. I also got some writing done. In fact, quite a bit went into my journal in spite of the occasional splash that sent my arms up protecting the book from the water. I must have looked like a crazy woman randomly calling “touchdown” when a big wave hit. It’s a good thing the beach was empty although the seagulls started looking at me suspiciously after a while.
I prayed a lot, too. It was easy to do in such a setting, devoid as it was of all distractions I ordinarily give into. I’m embarrassed by that realization — it looks like I turned to prayer because there was nothing good on TV. Because I didn’t have internet or cell service. Because, perhaps, I didn’t have anything better to do. I’ll have to do a deeper examination of conscience, for sure, but there’s more to the story.
I usually begin my mornings reading Magnificat. If nothing else, I get morning prayer in, even if on some days it takes me right up to lunchtime. I like the video reflection at the USCCB site. I try to get a rosary in for a coffee break, even if sometimes I need two coffee breaks to finish. So you see, I have a discipline for ordered prayer.
It was the other, spontaneous, conversational prayer that swept me up in the tide. It was those moments when a thought in my journal would spark a conversation with Jesus. When a line from scripture would leap to my mind, and I’d ask my heavenly Father if it was He leading me.
It was the calming silence in the midst of crashing waves and screeching seagulls where I settled into a comfortable intimacy with the Holy Spirit, enveloped in the warmth of the sun and the breeze. And where I had an on-going conversation with Mary, sometimes counting beads, other times counting out shells in little piles of ten, but mostly, letting my mind wander absently.
In one of those distracted moments a huge wave hit me and I lost the grip on my journal. Terrified that it would fall into the water, I flailed about a bit and caught it against my body, but not before some of my holy cards and bookmarks spilled out. I saved all but one: a beautiful postcard of Our Lady of La Leche tumbled to my feet.
The card folded into itself, creating a make-shift barge that cradled Our Lady within it. I reached for it, but a wave captured the card, taking it away from me toward some unknown destination down the beach. I laughed delightedly — it wouldn’t be the first time Momma Mary surprised someone at sea.
I had the feeling it was like a message in a bottle, only better.