Worth Revisiting: In Deep Water

Never a strong swimmer by any means, the mere idea of treading water is completely unappealing to me. As well is the comfort of being within reach of the shore, and the proximity of my toes on the safety of the bottom. Every inch of distance apart requires surrender, faith and trust. Yet, while there is risk in venturing out there is also promise of new discoveries never to be found in the shallow.

The treasures of the day-  the perfect sand dollar tucked away under a shiny blue mussel, and the brightly colored conch shell alongside the finger like coral just out of arms length. Seems like an easy choice right? Well, not if we consistently cling to the safety of the familiar and certain. For, then even though we might glimpse the possibility of a fortune that awaits we cannot let go to claim it. God asks each one of us to be open to the disclosure of his will, to embrace the beauty that lies in surrender and the joy that springs forth from change.

Recently, our family finally made the decision to move closer to where my husband and I now both work. Having tried for the last 3 years to find a new home in the area, we have most certainly been down this road before. So what makes this time different?  Abandonment of the safety net that we had so insisted on before. After prayerful discernment, we are decidedly moving without the contingency that our home sells first.  Trusting that God will work out the rest, we are taking a leap of faith.

Sometimes, the right decision is not the easiest one.

Though this is the right decision for the family our youngest is perhaps the most impacted by the consequences of change. Heading into the 8th grade, he is leaving behind his friends, school and home that he has known his entire life. All to move into a community where he knows no kids his own age, at a time where acceptance is paramount.

“Mom, I understand that this move is good for everyone else but I can’t see how I am benefiting at all.”
“Thomas, do you trust me?”
“Yes, of course mom.”
“Have your dad and I ever made a decision without considering every member of our family?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Good. Because, your dad and I are looking at the big picture and God is revealing wonderful things to come for our family, especially more time with one another, in this move. Just like my earlier question to you, He is asking us to trust him.”
“It’s important that you know how hard this is for me. I am thankful, though, that you are listening.”
“I will always listen, and your dad and I are always here for you. Thomas, you see the gifts that you are clutching in one hand- your friends and home and their value. But sometimes God wants to give us more, that can only be taken with both hands. That doesn’t mean that we loose completely what we had but that are open to the greater that He promises.”

Pray:

Father, you are the Giver of all good gifts. Help me today, in this moment, to surrender my will to Yours. Help me not to be so content in the life that I have that I refuse to embrace the life you have meant for me. Though not always the easiest path, let me trust you always. Knowing that there are so many opportunities that await in the offering.

Peace,

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Gospel Reflections- Matthew 10:1-7

Daily Gospel Reflection for April 21, 2018Today, I share both my reflection and the wonderful community of CatholicMom.com with each of you! Tune in daily for wonderful insights, reflections, recipes, book reviews and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7

What about Jesus’ choice of the twelve, this ragtag bunch of men who are seemingly ill suited for the task? Well, we know that none of this happened by sheer happenstance, Luke’s Gospel notes that their call was the direct result of Jesus’ prayer. With Christ as their center they were empowered with the ability to battle evil and heal, as a visible witness to the unbelieving world around them. God did not see simply their limitations but their unlimited potential if they choose to respond to His voice.

Yet, the call of the twelve is our call too. For each of us, as disciples, having heard the Good News is also given the responsibility to actively witness the Gospel in our lives this very day. Do you feel you lack the gifts or talents necessary for the task? Not to worry, there isn’t a commission given or a challenge encountered that He will not equip us with the right tools if it is His will.  For this reason, our daily discernment of just how we are being asked to respond to God’s call can only be begun through our prayerful desire to know that will.

Still God does not leave us all alone in recognizing how we are being called to serve, but also gives us one another. One of my greatest joys, as director of ministries for two Catholic parish communities, is calling forth the unique gifts that each person has to offer. Then, being graced with the time and ability to see Christ at work strengthening, guiding and blessing each in their response to His call. God is never outdone in generosity, and what you offer to him today he will expand and multiply in ways you can never imagine.

Ponder:

Is my inability to recognize my gifts or talents holding me back from fully responding to Christ’s call in my life? How am I proclaiming the Gospel in my everyday walk today?

Pray:

Lord be my guide as I seek to witness your light and love in my everyday encounter with others. May the desire found in the depth of my heart, the words on my lips and in the work of my hands be made enough to bring your kingdom near within my family, friends, and parish community today.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: The Scent of Her Presence

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“An awareness of smells can illuminate our present. It can help us live more mindfully and gracefully. It can help us recognize that God’s goodness saturates the world, in scents that are both obvious and subtle.”

Ginny Kubitz Moyer, Taste and See ( Loyola Press)

Early morning dew, the scent of grateful peonies and roses greet me.
The aroma of homemade strawberry rhubarb and blackberry pies cooling midday meet me.
Nighttime breezes carrying a day well spent at play, leave me ..the promise of yet another summer day in the South.

My Grandmother’s house was my favorite place to be as a child, particularly in the summertime.  What might appear as lacking in structure or activity, each day was abundant in hidden treasures that could only be discovered by a slower pace and ready spirit. All this I too might have missed had I not been seeking- albeit anticipating- God’s respondent grace and presence. Grandma’s hard work in the garden wafted through her small home as she baked and canned the fruits of each day’s gifts. Receiving the present she also prepared for the future, when these would not be as easily gathered. Mindful also that nothing given should ever be wasted.

Indeed, there are so many indelible memories forever tied to the smells of my childhood spent with my Grandma. Sunday mornings brought an even more unique scent- as my Grandma readied herself for church service. Not accustomed to wearing makeup or perfume during the week, grandma was on this day a delightful combination of Ivory soap, Jergens lotion, Covergirl makeup and Emeraude perfume. How I loved this smell, so much so that I would take it all in as I cuddled close before church. Infused with the understanding that Sunday’s were intended to be special, she put forth her best for God.

Many years later I would smell that smell once again, over 1, 400 miles apart. Then 33 and in my third trimester I could not travel as she feel seriously ill this time. My heart was nonetheless with her, and almost without pause I found myself praying for her throughout the day.

“Lord let her know how very much I love her, let her know that though I cannot be there in person that I am truly beside her. If I could carry her as she carried me all these years, I would.”

God heard my prayer, and knew the close bond he had established between us would not end in death. Only moments before the phone rang, God gave me an otherwise inexplicable gift-my Grandmother visited me. In the shower, I suddenly and overwhelming experienced the all enveloping scent and presence of my Grandmother. It was all around me, permeating every space with love and memories. As tears of joy and grief streamed down my face, I said my goodbyes- for now, fully embracing the gift of being with her again. Profoundly aware that God was allowing me to experience this sacred moment of my Grandmother’s passing from this world to the next.

Then just as suddenly as she had come, she was gone. Though I tried to recover the scent for an instant, I knew that she was no longer there. As the phone rang, with my cousin who had been sitting with her in these last few moments on the line, I knew her words before they were spoken.

“Liz, Grandma just left us..”
“I know..she was here..and just left too.”

I then shared with her how I knew and the unbelievable love that I had felt in these last moments.Together we cried tears of joy for the gifts given to be with our grandmother all these years. Though eleven years have now passed- the fond memories of growing up through every season infused with the scent of her presence will forever remain, evidence of the world unseen .

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Messy Beds & Coffee Mugs

Of messy beds..

The first day and a half of silent retreat was spent unpacking the finer details of life, work and family that had been occupying time and space in my heart and mind lately. Even knowing that the goal of an Ignatian retreat was to leave my bags and enter into intimacy with God..I was seemingly unable to let go of the handle. I had told myself that this was my time to pray on these things and yet was I truly lifting this up in prayer? Or, was I simply filling the space that God wished to be with the thoughts that came my way?

My bed a safe haven- I crawled into every chance that I had. It’s clean soft embrace welcomed my exhaustion and reminded me of the need to pray. Why bother making it when I would just be a return visitor? I realized that despite my initial reluctance, my body needed the rest and I was more than happy to comply. Would this I wondered be the new norm for my entire stay here? For, I had always relished the sunrise Mass, long carefree walks on the grounds and still moments in chapel before the tabernacle. How was it then that I found myself here in a state of apparent inactivity? Once stopped I began to wonder if I would ever move again.

Of course I would, but it wasn’t to be accomplished by my own doing. Given a choice of desired outcomes for my retreat,  I felt challenged in my operating mode for the past day and a half. Either I would leave with a myriad of pastoral planning directives or I would leave refreshed and reconnected with God. To my surprise I realized that I had come to the crossroads. It was time to let go of what was not needed and finally go away to be with God.

Putting my “bags” down, I slipped on a set of gym clothes and set off on an unknown course. As I began the walk, I found myself with no inclination to stop and the tiredness of before was to be no more. Walking, then running, I experienced at last the spiritual freedom and peace I had so craved. In fact, when I finally returned it felt as if it was the start of my day rather than the end of it. Finding a pew inside the chapel I sat. Now I could receive the consolation that I had so desperately needed. My heart, no longer busied with the concerns of the day, was ready at last for God to walk through.

Of coffee mugs…

In a Jesuit house there is no shortage of food, smiles, or hospitality. To be honest, the only essential that I was missing was a REAL coffee mug. Not a dainty little quarter cup that needed to be refilled numerous times, but a large rounded hugable work of art. There were just a couple of these set aside and I resolutely mustered up the courage to motion my intent. “Yes, you can use one..they aren’t just for the resident Jesuits.” Thanks be to God!, I inwardly prayed. Finally I could enjoy a serious cup of coffee and drink in my gratitude for the moment.

Of the present moment..

I am one who is known to consider the past, present and future together instantly in reflecting and discernment. So, to just rest in the present moment is a bit less familiar ground. Yet, here I am- listening to the birds sing, and watching the light dance in the water droplets from the fountain. Even the sound of my feet on the path and the occasional crunch of a fallen leaf do not escape my ear. The beautiful white headstones of our Jesuit saints stand as reminders of the gift of their very lives in heartfelt service. Today I noticed four new souls, in fact, made way to their rest in just a year’s time. A brotherhood of love, a commitment of service- a life spent well.

So, though I do not know what each day ahead may bring, I give God my day to do with it what he will. In retrospect, which is key to the examen, I see the journey that I have undertaken and the steps that have led me here- some expected,  innumerable surprises, and still almost always prayerfully directed.

In His Peace,

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Gospel Reflections: Matthew 7: 15-20

Today, I share both my reflection and the wonderful community of CatholicMom.com with each of you! Tune in daily for wonderful insights, reflections, recipes, book reviews and more!

Gospel: Matthew 7:15-20

 

As a mom, we can easily recognize those choices that our children are asked to make each day. The food that they eat, the things that they watch on tv, and the friends that they listen to, all shape their growth and determine future choices. And it is the same for us as adults. We need only to glimpse the events of the day and the discernment called for in this gospel passage becomes clear.

What nourishes us at our roots will determine the fruit that we bear or even if we are to bear fruit at all. Because of this, we are asked to test with certainty that what occupies our thoughts, captures our hearts, and feeds our souls is worthy. And when the Spirit reveals otherwise, we must be willing to decisively cast away that which is detrimental to our physical and spiritual life in Christ. While the faults of others may be more than evident, Christ is calling us to examine our own heart first before we attempt to counsel one another.

So, what are the fruits? In Galatians, St. Paul speaks of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These good fruits take time to grow in our lives, and require attention and practice. In fact, it is far easier to produce bad fruit or to allow fruit to ruin on the vine.

Yet, through prayer and Word, God gives us both the tools for pruning as well as the ability to be bearers of good fruit. This is the witness that others will come to also see as they look for the rooted faithful to seek shelter with, to lean upon, and grow closer to Christ.

Ponder:

Do I ask God for discernment for the right things in my life? Am I willing to remove that which is not enriching my growth in my relationship with Christ?

Pray:

God, thank you for choosing to be involved in the most intricate details in my everyday life. Help me to be bold in discerning that which is good and enriches my life in You.

Peace,

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