Sunday, November 29, 2015

Waiting with Our Lady

Today I was meditating on the Visitation, when Our Lady visited her cousin Elizabeth. I was thinking about how many times I have had that friend who has come to me in my time of need. Come to me in person, come to me in a phone conversation, or come to me in an e-mail or letter. A friend who says exactly the right words at the right time. Who listens to my sorrows, comforts me in my anxiety, rejoices with me in my joy, offers me words of wisdom in my time of perplexity. Their visit is a relief, comfort, Godsend, blessing.

As I was thinking about The Visitation, I was thinking about how, beautiful this event is. It expresses the friendship and love between Our Lady and St. Elizabeth as they share the unfolding of God's plan - Mary, with Child, the Son of God;  Elizabeth, with Child, St. John the Baptist.

Mary doesn't just visit Elizabeth, though. The expectant Mary will come visit US, if we just ask her to. This Advent, she will come to us, with the same joy of the expectancy with which she went to visit her cousin. She will come to us, the with the same fulfilled Promise with which she came to share with Elizabeth. If we ask her to come be with us, to stay with us, that same power of the Christ child will stir our hearts, just like it stirred the heart of St. John the Baptist - even in his mother's womb.

Mary is the best friend that could come to visit us. She too will listen to us, comfort us, rejoice with us, inspire us. And most of all, during this Advent season, Mary will teach us, in a perfect way, how to wait for the Savior - in joyful hope.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Advent Season of...Me?

Advent is this Sunday, and I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do to make it a prayerful, meaningful 25 days. Something came to me tonight, that was rather unexpected. What if, this Advent, I focus on self-care, rather than self-denial? Sacrifices and penances absolutely have their place. But perhaps the Lord is asking me, for 25 days, to be especially good to myself. To be mindful of  my need to unwind, to rejuvenate, to be refreshed? To honor that need, to honor myself, a daughter of the King, created in the image and likeness of Christ. To intentionally try to temper the temptation to do, do, do, with the permission to be.

As it is, December is a month that tends to stress me out. Introverted me gets overwhelmed about the quantity of small-talk holiday gatherings I must attend, cookies and treats I must bake, gifts I must buy, etc. By December 25th, I just end up tired, and cranky and certainly not feeling very edified and spiritually prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ.

This past year as been an extremely busy one for me. It has drained me and stretched me and left me feeling pretty depleted here in late November. I am weary and worn.

But Jesus says come. He says to "be still and know that I am God."

How do I attain this stillness, this tranquil hush where I can hear Him whisper, "My daughter, you are Mine. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved."

Perhaps for me, perhaps for you, this is to be intentional about self-care; perhaps it means creating and oasis of rejuvenation in the midst of a frantic, totally stressed out world.   Perhaps it is in creating that spiritual space - getting rid of the clutter - so there is a place for communion with the Little One when He comes at Christmas.

I remember once in a homily, a priest talking about our duty to love others; and first and foremost, the duty to love and care for ourselves. For if we don't first care for, honor, and love ourselves, we will not be able to be present and whole to those around us. Another time, a priest at a retreat while I was in grad school talked about how "we need Divine Mercy in order to love ourselves." We can be so, so hard on ourselves. We must ask Jesus for His Divine Mercy in order to help us see ourselves as He sees us. If we could do that; we would be receiving the most beautiful and perfect gift at Christmas.

So what will help me to be still? To settle? To be well? I think I will create a list, but for starters, things like making nourishing meals, listening to calming music, writing letters to old friends, gentle exercising, sweetly smelling candles and journaling may be some ways.

In giving myself a little extra care, may I be reminded of the sweetest care that He has for me. Maybe you will too!