Sunday, June 30, 2019

Trip Sense


There are as many ways of packing for a trip as there are personalities and people. Everyone has a different style and system of going on vacation and what needs to be packed. The items that come along reflect in a small sense what is most important to that person or on the other hand shows what they can live without. 

Whenever I leave home, it strikes me about how simple life really is. You can only fit as much as will fit in a suitcase and a couple other bags, especially if you are flying. To me that emphasizes the saying "you can't take it with you." A vacation is a journey like life is a journey. You realize how little "things" or "stuff" matters when you see how simple life can be without them.

I recently bought a beautiful drawing of a ship, and the quote above is by St Therese, "The world is thy ship and not thy home." It reminds us that we are pilgrims on this earth, on our way to our eternal home. We should make the most of life, not in the sense that we fill every moment with pleasures, but that each moment is lived to the fullest. Like my little red suitcase that has been to England and back, pack light so you have more room for souvenirs. Because even though "you can't take it with you," you want to be able to hold onto a piece of the memory, for that makes up a part of you.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Monastic Minimalism


"Live simply. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Love generously. Leave the rest to God." This is a great rule for life. It gets to the heart of the matter that if we are seeking to serve God, we should trust Him with all our needs, while doing our part to be vessels of charity. 

I like how it starts with "live simply." For if you try not to accumulate things, you are living for the next world. When I was in Carmel, our cell had simply a bed, bench, and a cross on the wall. It was a monastic minimalism so that our lives were fully concentrated on God. In the world, we do need a few more possessions than these, but it is a reminder of the importance of detachment. 

To be detached is not to be "cold" or cut yourself off from others. It means to own things without our hearts being ensnared by them, or to separate our affection from the thing itself. The less our hearts are caught up in the things of the world, the more free they are to attach to the things of heaven.

This is what attracts me to "monastic minimalism" or simply put poverty of heart. There is a freedom that comes with having nothing. For our hearts are filled with God, Who is Everything. Yes we need to have certain things to have a comfortable life, and this is good. It is easy to accumulate however and the religious life reminds us: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Come Holy Ghost


Most people know the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. I think what is often overlooked are the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity.

The great feast of Pentecost is an opportunity to ask for both the gifts and the fruits. One of the fruits that stands out the most to me is peace. God's presence, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our souls, brings the only true and lasting peace to our lives. Peace is the foil to anxiety. I have a feeling it is easier to worry than not to, but harder to be at peace and worry at the same time.

If peace is a "freedom from disturbance" as a literal definition, then the peace that God gives is true freedom indeed. He is the calm amidst the storm and there is not a single person on this earth who does not wish for that calm. What is unfortunate is people often look for it in ways it cannot be found. So if the source of peace is God's grace, then we carry that with us in all moments of our life when our will is united to His. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rearrange as Change


I recently discovered a list of coping skills that are helpful for those moments when life is challenging (which in my case is dealing with grief from losing my uncle). One of these was to rearrange a room, which created a domino effect of rearranging the whole house for myself. It is an idea for adding a little change to the ordinary and making the space feel fresh. I found it really helpful, for one it felt like I had all new furniture, for another it felt like a new day, and still more made me appreciate that change can be a good thing.

It's hard when you lose someone to adjust to the life without that person physically in it. It's like finding a new normal and trying to fill a void that you don't want to have to fill. It's acceptance and denial, finding you trying to rationalize and remember. There's moments where you replay the past to preserve it into the future. There's days when you can almost hear their voice or see their smile, or days when you grasp at memories before they slip away.

So rearranging a room reminds me of having to rearrange my life, rearrange my schedule, rearrange my affection so that it is directed to a person who can see it all when he couldn't before. He can see the new arrangement of the room and I can hear him say he would like the swivel chairs, the family photos, the view of the backyard, and Teddy asleep in the corner. Yes change is good, change is growth, change reminds you that life is passing and we belong in a place above.