Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Words for today

St. Gertrude, on the great love of God ~

"Ah, wake up O soul, how long will you sleep? Hear the words I announce to you. Above the heavens there is a King who is held by desire for you, He loves you with His whole heart and He loves beyond measure. He Himself loves you so mercifully, and He Himself cherishes you so faithfully that for your sake He humbly gave up His kingdom. Seeking you, He endured being seized as a thief. He loves you so heartily, cherishes you so vigorously and jealously, envelopes you so powerfully, that for you He cheerfully surrendered His flower-like body to death. This is He, who washed you with His blood, who through His death set you free. How long will He wait for you to love in return?"

What a great Lover we have in the Lord.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Saint that is Just me - Danielle Rose

A reader shared this song with me, and I thought it was really beautiful. For those of you who struggle with comparing yourselves to others, (as I often struggle with), or even measuring up my feeble little attempts with those of great saints, take heart in this song.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Suffering, pleasure, and meaning in life

Over the past week or two, I have discovered dozens of new blogs, mainly by other Catholic women, that I was previously unaware of. (The wonders of hyperlinks!) This has been a wonderful and also dangerous discovery. So much new inspiration and solidarity to be found, but likewise, so much more time time to spend on the internet. :-)

I came upon this quote on Kate Wicker's blog (which is wonderful, by the way!) and I thought it was very relevant to my recent pondering on discontentment and the search for fulfillment. I think often I get stuck in the trap of forgetting that fundamentally, life is not about being comfortable, superficially happy, or hopping from one pleasurable experience to the next. When it comes down to it, the goal of life is to become a saint, and realistically, that will entail much discomfort, suffering, and hardship.

Perhaps that is why this quote from the book How Big Is Your God?: The Freedom to Experience the Divine Seeing with God Eyes by Fr. Paul Coutinho, SJ spoke to me so powerfully:

“Life is not pleasurable. Any mature person, any person with common sense, will tell you that life is full of suffering. Birth is suffering. Death is suffering. Meeting people is suffering. Separating is suffering. Saying hello is suffering. Saying good-bye is suffering. Life is full of pain. Life does not owe us pleasure; it offers us meaning. Pleasure is a by-product of meaningful activity.”

In the end what we need to search for are the meanings of our lives; and those little epiphanies of meaning which very often, are wrapped up in messy, confusing, and ordinary packaging of the day-to-day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

O that green grass.

flickr/ by Xelcise

Somewhere, always, there is greener grass, right?

Perhaps it is making more money. Perhaps it is finding the love of your life. Perhaps it is having children. Perhaps it is attaining a better figure. Perhaps it is getting another degree. Perhaps it is getting more personal acclaim and affirmation. Perhaps it is ___________ (fill in the blank).

"Grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-itis" is a syndrome that I have always struggled with. I think we all do, to one degree or another.

This morning when I woke up, dragging myself out of bed and not looking forward to another lonesome afternoon/evening ahead of me, I felt it's pangs.

If only I was married. If only I had a family of my own. If only I was more sanguine. If only I didn't experience this loneliness, these feelings of futility (Etc., etc.)

In my mind, I am constantly striving after an arbitrary set of standards and expectations I have conjured up for "the way things should be." Anything that falls short of these expectations, I often chalk up as another one of life's inevitable disappointments, or one of my own personal shortcomings. Boy do those pile up when you are looking for them.

As I made my way to the kitchen this morning to dump my same old cereal, into that same old bowl, I thought, that I simply must renounce such thoughts about how much happier I would be if "X" were different.

My life is all that I have in front of me. My life is everything that I have in front of me, and for that reason I should be in awe. Every beautiful, broken, gifted, and redeemed thing I have in front of me.

I have been reading the book "1000 Gifts" by Ann Vokscamp, and the premise of her book lies in the proposition to embrace our lives and everything in our lives as gifts from the Father, and it has really challenged me to think through this lens.

It certainly is not easy though. It's not easy to surrender dreams, and open your heart to God, fully and completely.

As I was pondering all of this this morning, I was thinking about what it all comes down to is giving up grasping. Because essentially, I am grasping for what I think would be best in my life right now. Grasping for a husband, grasping to start a family of my own, grasping for a carefree and burden-free heart, grasping for talents and gifts that are not my own. Grasping for that ever elusive green grass in the distance.

But does anyone truly find fulfillment in grasping for what is not theirs, or not theirs yet?

I know in my heart that grasping does not fill the void, but leaves us overextended, and utterly distracted.

I am certain that peace lies in a hundred little fiats, day after day after day. Especially uttering fiats in the most frustrated, lonely, and desolate moments that I do not understand. Perhaps the more I whisper fiat, the more my heart will follow, and the more that my heart follows, the more my grasping hands will draw open in joyful acceptance.

What we have in this moment is what He has for us. One day, after the all of the letting goes have untethered our hearts, that alone will be enough. Fiat.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Married mamas: what would you say?

I have spoken often about the fact that generally speaking, single people have much more disposable time on their hands than their married (and child-rearing) counterparts. While some singles are better at filling up their time with commitments more quickly than others, the question beckons for me: how do I best use this time?

Now that it is summer session, my work schedule has changed from 9-5 to 8-4, and I find myself with even more free time in the evening hours. So, how do I most prudently and fruitfully spend my time, especially my alone time?

Learning new skills, like learning new cooking techniques? Or perhaps getting involved in more service opportunities? Reading some more of those classic books that I have been wanting to read? Or maybe I should take the road least traveled (at least in my life, haha), of cleaning and tidying around my house with greater precision.

I realize that this abundance of time is quite a gift, and one that a great many people are not fortunate to have. Additionally, I often think about the time and flexibility that a single person has as a time for cultivation. It is a time where we can cultivate our gifts and passions in a more focused way, and allow these pursuits to form our character for whatever long-range plan God has for us.

So as I was pondering my 'free-time' as I arrived home from work this afternoon, I began to wonder. When (if) I get married and have children, what sorts of things will I wish that I had focused on more during these years, hours, and minutes of availability? What things will I be grateful that I focused on and cultivated? What will make me a better person, and bring grace, peace, and joy into my heart?

And so I pose the question to any of you married women out there, as well of any of you mothers out there. (Not sure that I have all that many mothers that follow my blog, considering that I focus on topics of the single life, but I might have a few. :-) What would you tell to the single ladies that you know who have extra time on their hands? What skills to pursue? What opportunities to seize? What will form us to be the women God wants us to become?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our perfect ideals

I have been struck with a heavy weight of discouragement the past few days, over a variety of facets in my life. If I could only believe this quote, freedom would come. And so I pray.

"I often think that the ideal of our perfection that we set up, and often go through torture to achieve, may not be God’s idea of how He wants us to be at all. That may be something quite different that we never would have thought of, and what seems like a failure to us may really be something bringing us closer to His will for us. " ~ (Caryll Houselander, quoted in Caryll Houselander, That Divine Eccentric by Maisie Ward)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Springtime impressions

The honeysuckle are bursting forth in bloom here. The greenway on which I often walk is teaming with bushes of honeysuckle. During my evening walks, as the sun pours through bushes and branches, I drink in the sweet, tender aroma that permeates the path.


The hillsides are bright green now, well-watered by all the rain we have gotten in the past few weeks. Since I moved here in the fall when the leaves had already started to change, this this my first experience of green Tennessee rolling hills. It's really a lovely landscape. Unlike the long, continuous hills of Pennsylvania, Tennessee's hills are truly "rolling", like large bunny hills, rising and falling across the horizons. One can also see the"ranges" of hills, each slightly higher than each other, in variations of green.


There is an owl that lives in the trees above my house. I noticed this sound the first few nights that I moved in. Nearly every night, I hear the "whoo-ing" of the owl. It has become a comforting, rhythmic sound in the evening hours. It makes me feel cozy, like I live in a forest or something. I still haven't seen the owl, but I am on the lookout.


This afternoon there was a violin concert under the magnolia trees in my neighborhood. It was in someone's front yard a few houses down from me. There were probably 100 people in lawn chairs watching the elementary school age violinists. Very quaint.


One of the things I love about my neigborhood, besides the fact that the majority of houses are darlingly cute cottage-style 1930s houses, is the prevelance of delightful front porches. Long wooden swings and rocking chairs line these porches, and I can just imagine people sitting on them in the summertime, drinking their sweet tea. Perhaps some of them end up being mainly just decoration when the folks opt for the air-conditioned living rooms rather than sticky front porches. But simply the existance of front porches creates a warm, neighborly feel, methinks.


Unfortunately, I am not one of those with a cute exterior house or a front porch. But I do have some flower pots. And a large magnolia tree which canopies my yard. At least a little quintessential southern flair graces my yard.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Surrender on a Saturday

Is letting yourself be
exhausted from the week,
whether exhaustion comes from a grueling pace or
a gruelingly distracted mind.
Is accepting the imperfection of what is,
and the unrevealed of what is to come.
Is recognizing the empty of an apartment as calm
Is allowing yourself to be who you are
without self-censure.
Is looking the stagnancy in the eye and
hoping for a flicker of light.
Is grasping for momentary gratification, but knowing that this way will only fall short
of the Way.
Is wondering, wondering, longing, accepting, structuring, tidying, accomplishing, hypothisizing, tiptoeing, insisting, believing, obeying, resting,
pushing through, finding yourself
in Something greater.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Words for today

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” ~ St. Augustine

Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Paul II, we love you!

What a beautiful day! The Feast of Divine Mercy AND the beatification of the Late Pope John Paul II! I woke up at 2:30am this morning and watched (most) of the beatification Mass with a friend. It was a very moving Mass, and I felt myself once again welling up with emotion and gratitude for this loving shepherd, JPII, who lived the message of mercy. EWTN showed various clippings of John Paul II, and it evoked the memory of how even through his appearances on television in far away places, the people of God could feel like he was speaking directly to you. JPII truly exuded the love and tenderness of Christ to the world; how blessed we are to have had such holy pontiff as he.

"Inner peace comes from knowing that one is loved by God and from the desire to respond to his love."
~ JPII, "Women: Teachers of Peace," 1995.

"Do not be afraid! Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure. He alone can give full meaning to life, he alone is the center of history. Live by him!"
~ JPII, "Mass with Youth, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, 1997.

"Christ responds neither directly nor abstractly to human questioning about the meaning of suffering. Human beings come to know his saving response in so far as they share in the sufferings of Christ. The response which comes from this sharing is before all else a call. It is a vocation. Christ does not explain in some abstract way the reasons for suffering, but says first of all: "Follow me," "Come," with your suffering share in this work of salvation of the world, which is realized through my suffering, by means of my Cross."
~ JPII, Salvifici Doloris

"The search and discovery of God's will for you is a deep and fascinating endeavor. It requires of you the attitude of trust expressed in the words of the Psalm..."you will show me the path to life, fullness of joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever" (16:11). Every vocation, every path to which Christ calls us, ultimately leads to fulfillment and happiness, because it leads to God, sharing in God's own life." ~ JPII, Message to Youth.

Blessed John Paul II, Pray for us!!