Sunday, September 6, 2020

To Everything There Is A Season

 

Life is so much about seasons. St Bernadette wrote, "If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces...never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. That's the beauty of being alive...we can always start all over again. Enjoy God's amazing opportunities bestowed on us. Have faith in Him always." 

It has been nearly five years since I first started this blog. It has been a real joy to share these ramblings of blog posts, as well as my novels, with readers and hope that God may use them to touch souls. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have prayed and supported me throughout the years, and know that you will never be forgotten. This may sound like a good-bye, but as I said in my last post, I believe only in saying, "until we meet again."

There are seasons....and after much prayer and discernment I believe it is time to step back from maintaining this blog. God is opening other doors for me to go through in life that are vocational, and it seems fitting to let other things be put aside. Sometimes it appears that God asks us to give things up that may be very hard, but rather I have come to understand that He instead fills our heart with things that matter more...and namely hopefully Himself!

If I were to leave readers with any thoughts to ponder it would be this: "If a bird were to carry away one drop of water from the ocean every thousand years, there will come a time when he will have emptied the entire ocean, but that time is less than the shortest moment compared to eternity."

This life passes so quickly, so let us remember that "adventure awaits" and "the only real sadness in life is not to become a saint."

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Until We Meet Again

 

I absolutely hate "good-byes." There is a finality to them that doesn't ring true. Because we have immortal souls, we have the hope that partings are not forever, be it the loss of a loved one, moving away, or simply that your life passed through another's never to pass by theirs in this life again. After all a "good-bye" should really mean "farewell" and "godspeed" to express well wishes to the wayfarer on his journey, for as St Therese says, "the world is our ship and not our home."

This, while true, does not usually make the "good-byes" any easier. We may assent to this truth intellectually, but the heart is another matter. The loss that comes with a parting can be one of the most painful experiences a person has to go through. I think this is because it is an adjustment to life without a particular person or particular people in one's day-to-day, and this may carry such a heavy weight because of exactly that...the weight, the magnitude of that person's influence was such a presence to us. 

I have a picture frame whose caption reads, "some memories we never forget because our lives are forever changed." In it is a photo of my uncle who I lost last year, who was one such person to me. It has taken me more than a year to realize the simple truth that he is more present to me now than he could have been on earth. When our lives are changed because of a particular person, it means that their presence will always be a part of who we are, and that is extraordinary.

Sometimes the unexpected "good-byes" are easier and sometimes they are harder. It doesn't seem to me that the preparation or lack thereof for that change makes it any easier. The strongest consolation for this comes in the Irish blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind always be at your back; may the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His Hand.” 

For the knowledge that you will meet those you love again fills your heart with anticipation rather than loss because there will come a time when there will be no more partings, no more "good-byes," no more farewells, but only joy in each other's presence within the Presence of One Who will "wipe away every tear." 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Rainy Days

Some people love them and some people hate them. There doesn't seem to be an in between opinion on rainy days. I wonder why that is particular to that kind of weather. I'm on the side of loving them. Not necessarily thunderstorms or having to drive in bad weather, but the soft kind of gentle rain that falls lightly on the earth, almost without a sound that makes the whole world seem still. 

It's that dreary gray sky that makes home feel so cozy. It's that chill in the air that makes the fireplace so inviting. It's that wetness that clings to your skin that makes coffee or tea so soothing. I believe herein lies the answer. It's almost as if the rainy weather pushes us towards the opposite. We seek refuge from the rain and that refuge is in the happy things of our home. It keeps us "in." In a world that's bustling and in constant motion, the rain sort of creates a pause.

Snow does this too. The hush that surrounds nature when there's a crisp layer of fresh snow can be deafening. There really is no more peaceful landscape than a walk through a forest after it snows. Weather can be on both ends of the spectrum...destructive like natural disasters and harmonizing like a sunset. I think either way it shows majesty . . . and something majestic is something with power both to hurt and to heal.

Next time you look out your window on a rainy day, let it remind you that "life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about dancing in the rain." 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Thinking On Him

"The more I contemplate God, the more God looks on me. The more I pray to Him, the more He thinks of me too." ~ St Bernard of Clairvaux

This quote really struck me because the saints often talk about we receive from God as much as we hope for. If you don't ask for help, how do you expect to get it? I think we feel when life gets overwhelming that God is less present, but the classic "footprints" poem reminds us that He carries us through those difficult moments. Sometimes the fear and uncertainty don't go away, sometimes we have to do things while we are afraid.

There's a quote from the classic show "Full House" that goes, "if you never try new things, you'll never know what you're missing out on." Do we want to feel comfortable all our life, or fly by the seat of our pants and have adventures? It's so easy to cling to what is familiar and known rather than launch out into the deep. Many people live quiet lives and are content with that. I wish I was one of those people. It's almost like that itch to experience new things is a thorn in your side, but without it who knows what "might not have been" in the words of Chesterton.

I have always liked the end of the Hobbit movies where Thorin tells Bilbo to return to his books, his armchair, and plant his acorn. I love that acorn. It's become my own little icon for adventure, home, and the journey. I love the quote he says about his acorn, "one day it'll grow. And every time I look at it, I'll remember. Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad...and how lucky I am that I made it home."

Let's take our acorns with us, our experiences, our joys, our sorrows, and keep going, always moving forward, and never to forget to enjoy the journey, knowing that the more we keep looking toward God, He keeps looking on us and smiles.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Expectations

 

We all have them. Ideas about how situations are going to go. When they don’t go our way then we are put out. Why do we expect things to happen according to our plans? It’s nearly impossible to look back on a single day in our life that everything we expected to happen took place. 

Expectation is different from hope. Hope looks for a certain good to come about, but is perfectly content if the outcome is different. Expectation demands. It does not accept other results, or at least not results that we didn’t anticipate. We need to instead mold our expectations to be accompanied by abandonment.

In a way it goes hand in hand with patience. We become impatient when something went the way we didn’t expect. It’s because we don’t look at every moment of our lives as from the hand of God, and when it’s unpleasant as an opportunity to sacrifice and surrender our will to that of God’s and to at least accept that He allows certain things so that we can grow.

Growth is the essential element of a healthy life. If we aren’t growing spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, physically (as in taking care of ourselves), then we are standing still. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an elevator because the purpose of an elevator is to move up or down. The standstill of an elevator is infuriating. So it is in life that we are either progressing upwards or downwards. 

The saints progressed upwards because they loved whatever God did in their life, trusting that even though they could only see the back of the tapestry that the other side would be beautiful. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

About Face

Have you ever had it happened when you are going through life minding your own business and all of a sudden your plans take an about face? Unexpected turns come up all the time and it can throw us for a loop, but the thrill of knowing adventure awaits tempers the change that inevitably comes.

We often fear the unknown because we can’t control it. Control gives us a sense of security, but when we actually think about it there is not much that we have control over. The unknown future really isn’t unknown. We have to trust that the experiences that have shaped us through life have in fact prepared us for what is ahead, even though we can’t anticipate everything that will happen. 

An “about face” simply means a new direction. A new direction holds so much potential. Potential means there’s a reasonable chance of success...and that’s what we’re looking for right? We don’t want to take chances unless we believe we can succeed, but failure all depends on how you look at it. If we don't see anything in life as a failure, then we have learned something.

I think when it comes down to it, the regret will lie not in making a change or taking a chance, but in sitting on the fence and wondering what it would be like to get off on one side or the other. For after all, “life is a canvas, not a tightrope to walk on.”

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Screen Time


I think 2020 has easily seen the most screen time this world has ever known. With the quarantines and work from home requirements, technology has stepped in to save the day...but has it really saved it? What has been the cost?

I find it interesting that the smart phones, which are the serious time suckers themselves, are the ones with "screen time reminders." They keep track of our usage and limits can be set to monitor the amount. Do you ever stop and look at how many hours a week are spent on your phone? Outside of what work requires of you, how much of your life is being stolen by screens? 

I am not against technology in the least, and am the first to take advantage of it. For one, I would not even have my self-employment if it were not for technology and e-commerce. Yet, do you ever notice the difference when a phone is not present in the room? I think it's good to revaluate how much we make our phones our priority. Sure they are the means to connect us to other people, but do we really want to spend the majority of our lives glued to a screen?

Think of all the amazing things we miss when phones take over. The average person picks up their phone 150 times a day, while on average a person only laughs 15 times a day...why is there such a big difference? Do our phones really make us happier? Another stat claims the average person will spend 5 years of their life on social media...five years...

"All things in moderation." It is good to set limits. Try cutting your screen time by at least 30% and see what your life looks like. You might surprise yourself at how much more is out there.