Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friendship across the miles

One of my very dear friends from Washington, D.C. came to visit this weekend. It was so wonderful to see her, and I so enjoyed catching up with her, showing her around Nashville, exploring fun city jaunts, laughing at inside jokes, and just spending time together. The time went by way too quickly though, and I was so sad to say goodbye to her this afternoon. It made me so happy to spend time with an old friend in my new city; but at the same time, after saying goodbye, my heart felt so empty. Like when I was in college and I would return back to campus after a weekend at home with the family. It's like you remember was you are missing. And you miss it even more. The old friends, the family, the familiarity of it all. And then I begin to wonder, what the heck am I doing here.

But there is a resounding peace that I am where I am where I am supposed to be, and it drowns out the nagging unfamiliarity, uncertainty, and unknown.

I know that the Lord is calling me to open my heart to new experiences, new friendships, new horizons; blessings that have already been been touching me in subtle but profound ways here in Nashville.

But I am ever so thankful for those old friendships; for those people who know me, know what makes me tick and what makes me laugh. It is a gift. Even if my family and friends, the people I love the most, live far away, I take solace in the words of St. Francis:

Never think that geographical distance can ever separate souls whom God has united by the ties of His love. The children of the world are separated one from another because their hearts are in different places; but the children of God, having their hearts where their treasure is, and sharing only one treasure--which is the same God--are consequently always united and joined together.
~St. Francis de Sales


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lark Rise to Candleford

I discovered a delightful BBC TV series through a recommendation of a friend, called "Lark Rise to Candleford." It's based on Flora Thompson's memoir of her childhood in Oxfordshire. Set in the late 1800s, this series follows the lives of the country folk in Lark Rise and the townspeople of Candleford and the way their lives intertwine despite their class differences. The characters in this drama, from farmers, peasants, to seamstresses and the post office workers, are colorful, engaging, and always entertaining. In each episode, the daily dramas of their lives serve to give the audience further insight into their characters and often provoke the audience to see beyond the trivialities the characters engage in on the surface into themes of community, sacrifice, family, and love.

A lighthearted period drama that I would highly recommend. I am so glad that there are four seasons (I just finished season one) so that I have much to look forward to!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This is the stuff You use

Speaking of good songs, check this one out by Francesa Battistelli. Whenever I hear this song, I think about how it speaks to the fact that holiness is at our fingertips: it's about accepting the will of God in all the little annoyances, hardships, and bumbles in life. So simple, yet, so challenging!

Friday, February 18, 2011

For those who wait

I had a very lovely Valentine's Day. Although it didn't include a romantic date with the man of my dreams, it did include a delightful dinner party with a few other single young ladies that I have met through work and the young adult group here. Thanks to my friend Joannie who hosted the dinner, we had a wonderful evening of delicious Italian food, and chocolate, and chocolate, and strawberries, and chocolate and just all around good fellowship. I am so grateful for the wonderful gals in my life, old and new, who have become dear friends and have inspired and encouraged me tremendously.

It was poignant though, because as I was driving to this dinner party, this song came on the Christian radio station. I hadn't been emotional at all during the day. I generally am not on Valentine's Day, because I am one of those people that thinks it's more of a commercial holiday than anything else.

The very first line of this song caught me off guard though, and then reached the core of me: "This is for those who wait."

I thought of myself, waiting. I thought of my friends I was going to spend the evening with, and all of my friends across the US, truly lovely and incredible ladies, who are also "those who wait." I was touched, thinking of the courage that these women exude, even in the midst of great uncertainty, in the midst of waiting on the Lord to bring the right man into their lives, in the midst of their heroic patience, in the midst of their supplications to the Lord, in the midst of their surrender to His will. I truly felt like this song was speaking to us.

This is for those who wait.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stuck in the snow

I had an experience this week that I hope to never repeat. A combination of bad weather, bad timing, and bad decisions made for a miserable evening this Wednesday.

The weather forecast had been predicting a snowstorm to hit Nashville on Wednesday around 4pm. They said that we might get 1-3 inches, and that the evening commute would probably be messy. Although anywhere in the north, 1-3 inches would be laughable, I have quickly discovered that it is significant here because Nashvillians are not used to treating roads, plowing roads, and driving on roads that have any snow accumulation. Basically, any accumulation has the potential to shut down the entire city, temporarily.

Wanting to be safe rather than sorry, the college that I work for decided to close early and give the students and employees an early dismissal at 1pm. At this point the sun was stills shining, not a flake in sight, so some colleagues and myself decided to grab some lunch together to kick off our 'snow half day.'

Afterwards, I decided that I would come to Panera for a bit to use the internet and just hang out for a bit. After all, with no internet or cable, and a procrastinating spirit towards housework, why should I spend the rest of the afternoon stuck at home? I thought to myself.

The Panera that I usually frequent is just 5 minutes from my house -- you take the main road in Nashville, West End, and then there is just one turn to get to my place. I figured that even if it started snowing while I was out, I could get back to my place with no trouble.

So off to Panera I went, still thrilled that we had a few hours off of worked for what seemed like, no reason. Around 3pm, I started seeing a few flakes, but nothing threatening at all. I had decided to leave at 3:40pm, because I thought maybe I could make it to my gym to get a workout in before I turned in for the evening. By the time I got outside though, the snowfall had picked up significantly. So much so, that it was already starting to blanket the cars and I had to brush up an 1/2 dusting off my windshield.

When I finally got in my car and on to the main road, the traffic was already getting dense; this is the main road out of the city, and it was evident that many other downtown Nashville workers had decided to take an early mad dash out of work. After sitting in traffic for nearly 20 minutes, it was clear that I wasn't going to make it to the gym in time for the class that I had planned on. Oh well, I would just go straight home.

That's when I got the "brilliant" idea to try and take a shortcut. Important side note: I have almost solely relied on my GPS when trying new routes in Nashville, and have a horrible sense of direction. But I figured that I could just wing it this time, turn onto a parallel road, avoid the glut of traffic on the main road, and then turn back to the main road right before I needed to turn onto my road.

Bad idea. Really bad idea.

As I turned off the main road, the snow was getting heavier and heavier. It was also clear that the roads had not been plowed or salted at all. I was slipping and sliding on a sheer sheet of ice. After about 10 minutes of driving around a neighborhood, I realized that I was completely lost, and completely had no idea where I was. I finally pulled to the side of my road to seek the advice from my GPS, which unhelpfully told me to take a bunch of back streets and then get on the highway. I didn't dare take unknown backroads for fear that I would get stuck or skid off the road.

At this point I seriously considered parking my car and walking home; but it would be about 4 miles. I wasn't quite that desperate yet. So instead I tried to get my GPS to take me via a route that I knew would be well-traveled, and hopefully, a little less icy.

Thankfully, I was able to get to that road safely, but the worst was not over. I sat on that road, in the height of rush hour, for a full two hours. This route would usually take me a few minutes. The roads were a complete bottleneck, though, and it would be 10 times that the light in front of me would turn green before I actually got to move. I was frustrated, upset, impatient, and couldn't believe that I had gotten myself into this predicament. If only I had just stayed on the main road! I thought to myself, exasperated. I would have been home hours ago!

The iciness continued, the traffic continued. To make a long story short, exactly 4 hours after I had left Panera, I was back to where I started. And it took me another 15 minutes to get home from there. So, a drive which normally takes me 5 minutes, took me over 4 hours.

What a nightmare! It was really an awful experience, but I am just grateful that I got home safely.

As I drove past my originally starting point, I thought to myself, "I bet there must be an analogy in the spiritual life to this."

I think that it taught me that just because you think you are taking a shortcut, that you will get to your destination sooner, you might be completely mistaken. If we choose to stray from the path that the Lord has set out for us, trying to get what we want faster, trying to hurry His plans for us, we can end up taking a very unpleasant detour. And if we would have just stayed on His path to begin with, we would be so much better off.

It's 60 degrees and sunny today. Thank the Lord.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soups: A perfect winter meal for the single girl

flickr/ by suavehouse113

Anyone else who is single knows how difficult and often unmotivating it can be to cook for yourself. I love cooking but it's hard to find recipes that feature a variety of ingredients that I won't get tired of before the dish goes bad. I discovered last winter how perfect soups are for the single person. First of all, you can find soup recipes for every taste -- vegetable-based, meat-based, poultry-based, with a Mexican flair, Indian flair, you name it! Recipes usually call for a variety of ingredients, but often inexpensive ingredients.

Plus, you get the whole warm, cozy experience of preparing the ingredients, melding them together in one pot, and smelling the spicy steam waft through your house for a good hour or more. Making soup is just a comforting experience that is bound to warm your home and your heart on a cold winter day.

The best part is that by making a big pot of soup, you have your lunches for the week! Make it once, and simply bring small containers to work each day to heat in the microwave and you are set! I really enjoy soup in the wintertime, so this is one meal that I don't seem to get tired of eating, especially if I rotate recipes.

Here is one of my all time favorite soup recipes. It's simple, very inexpensive, healthy and SO delicious: Persian Lentil Soup.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The unfolding of the Kingdom

“Across the distance, steals, perhaps, the fragrance of God; I can even hear the whisper of his voice. Gradually I find that there are inner meanings to all of these sanctities of God, which come only to those who patiently await the unfolding seed of the kingdom.”
~ Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.

To “patiently await the unfolding seed of the kingdom” is the hardest thing to learn. Our Lady was a model in this. For certainly she didn’t rush through the day-to-day, begging for the Kingdom to come, already. She trusted, probably sometimes with confusion and uncertainty, in the perfection of God’s timing. Christ Himself had to trudge through His earthly life, living a quiet, hidden existence for 30 years, waiting for His public ministry to begin, patient in His Father’s time for the perfect unfolding seed of the kingdom.

How many seeds I have in my life, waiting to see them unfold. This meditation beckons me to look closer, deeper, longer. If I do, might I see that the seeds are unfolding? The sanctities of God being revealed in minuet but calculated ways. With each moment of acceptance, a tiny glimmer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our offering

Fra Angelico, Presentation of the Lord

On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord when Mary and Joseph offered Christ to God in the temple, I think it's fitting to think about the things that the Lord is calling each one of us to offer to Him.

Our Lady and St. Joseph showed such obedience and gratitude in their Presentation of the Lord. Through their witness we can be inspired to give back to God what He has given to us -- in gratitude, in obedience, and most of all, in a surrendering love.

And you know what?

Whatever He is calling us to offer Him is probably not glamorous at all. It might be specific daily struggles, personal weaknesses, frustrations with difficult people, illness, worries, you name it.

But it is through this offering that our holiness is born.