February 20, 2018
“Nana – I’m hungry!”
Almost every morning I’m greeted by these three words, as my daughter and grandson stop at the house on their way to dropping him off at school. My answer is always the same, “come on in….what would you like”? Sometimes his answer is quick and he knows exactly what it is he wants, other times it leaves him contemplating his choices.
Recently I’ve found myself with that same feeling, “I’m hungry”, but not sure either what it was I wanted. I took this to my Spiritual Director. I shared with her some of the heaviness of heart I had been feeling, the worry, the tasks I needed to complete and the opportunities I had to share the love of God and those I had missed as well. I indicated to her of the need for a better grasp of balance and boundaries. After a few moments of silence she very astutely asked, “What will you allow yourself to do today?” This question stopped me. I knew I could answer what I need to do today and even what I might want to do today, but I hadn’t thought of what I would allow myself to do today?
Now when I come back to my grandson and his “Nana I’m Hungry”, statement it seems simple. I offer him choices to which he responds “yes, no – I don’t know – or I don’t like that”.
I realize that it’s like that with me too. At times I can’t name my own hungers either. And as the desires, or the resentments of my heart rise up within me, could this be God, the source of all things. offering me a platter of options from which to choose from or get rid of? My Spiritual Director so wisely pointed out to me that when we become overwhelmed by life sometimes, lines become blurred and we have trouble discerning our needs and our wants.
So that simple question from this very wise woman “What will you allow yourself to do today?” helped me to discern what it was I might need to settle my appetite of unrest….permission. Yes, maybe it was permission I was hungry for. When you look up the word permission it states: authorization granted to do something; the act of permitting. So to what and from whom did I need permission?
Sometimes I want permission to stop during the day for a cup of tea. Permission to take a nap. To knit – to create something. Permission to stop comparing. Permission to visit with someone, permission to “lighten up”, to quit being so serious. As I pondered my list, I realized that I have the opportunity to grant myself permission.
So how should I go about discerning what it is I need permission for? First I need to be aware; aware of the hungers within me those that are physical, emotional and spiritual. Second I need to state to God as my grandson did to me “God, I’m hungry” and then wait. And last, I need to be alert and open to God’s response and then receive in gratitude that which God extends. God does not only come to us with a platter of options but a buffet of bounty!
I am grateful for the simple and yet profound ways in which God is revealed to me. So now if you’ll excuse me, the whistle on the teapot is signaling “Tea Time”.
Permission granted to settle into this moment.
February 12, 2018
Sunday evening usually begins for me the task of looking at the week ahead. I pull out my planner and begin filling in the spaces of my week. This leads then to meal planning; you know trying to accommodate meals to match the schedules. This in turn usually leads me to the grocery store. Alas! The weekend has ended and Monday has begun, all before 6 p.m. on Sunday night. Sound familiar? While I acknowledge that for me this is an important process to keep the stress of a work week at bay, all this planning ahead and planning in, can leave little room for those “divine appointments”. These are the moments when the Divine encounters our space. But sometimes our God has wonderful ways of allowing us to be witness to and learn from others’ divine appointments.
After Sunday’s planning, I headed to the grocery store on Monday. I was hurrying to get in and out so I could get on with the other tasks of the day. In the matter of literally 30 minutes I was witness not once but twice to a “close encounter of the Holy kind”.
Briskly gathering my reusable shopping bags from the back end of my car (it was one of those brutally cold days) I saw from my peripheral vision an older couple who had just parked and got out of their car. A woman, who was parked next to them, had just begun the task of loading her groceries into her car. They exchanged niceties about the weather when the woman, who had just parked, approached her and said, “I’ll take your cart into the store for you”. To which the woman unloading her groceries responded a gracious “sure” and said “I’ll hurry”. These (“do gooders, and I say this with the utmost affection) were not in the least bit concerned about time, and even went so far as to help her get the rest of her groceries into the car. I hurriedly made my way to the entrance of the store to gather the items I needed. Finished and feeling accomplished I once again briskly started off across the parking lot, only to again become aware of an interaction. A store worker was effortlessly and with lively conversation, loading groceries into a customer’s car. As he finished she reached out to place a token of her appreciation into his hand, “a little something for your effort”, she said. “No thanks this is not necessary, it’s what I do”. She insisted, proceeded to thank him again and punctuating the fact that the care and concern he has for everyone and doing his job, did not go unnoticed.
I know I smiled big, as I neared my car and praised God for allowing me to witness this parking lot ministry in action; thankful too for the awareness but feeling a bit humiliated.
As I started my car, I took a quick second to do an “examination of consciousness” and realizing rather quickly that in my own haste I might have missed my own “divine appointments”. I chuckled aloud (rather sarcastically too) at the thought that less than probably 4 hours earlier, in my prayer and reading, I had been prompted with the thought: If your deeds could speak, what statement did you make in the past 24 hours? Whoa 24 hours!! I hadn’t even made it four!! My deeds to that point were all about me!! What I needed to accomplish, what I needed to do – how accomplished I was feeling at checking off my list. God had used some ordinary moments of my day to teach me some extraordinary lessons.
Now please don’t misunderstand, I’m not criticizing list makers or planners, rather what I learned in that thirty minute time span was the need to remain alert and that my prayer must call me to action. I’m grateful to have been witness to these moments of kindness and like to believe that if given the opportunity again that next time I too might respond differently to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Someone once shared with me that it’s important to plan enough to be prepared, but leave room for the Holy Spirit to enter.
As I enter this season of Lent, I will continue to pray to “remain alert” and then most especially to respond. Mostly I pray not to allow the activities on my calendar to serve only as tasks to be completed and ways for me to feel accomplished, but that they become opportunities to encounter the Holy; and to see that these divine appointments will be my simple attempt to meet God in the work I do every day.
February 03, 2018
Sometimes the messes of everyday life can bring awareness to us, of needs or changes that have to be dealt with. Take for instance a clogged bathroom shower.
Mornings for me begin with at least one cup of coffee, prayer time (usually) and a shower. Once these rituals have been completed I am set to begin my day. On this particular day my prayer time ended right about the time I finished my second cup of coffee. I turned on the shower as I gathered my attire for the day and “gurgle, gurgle….water began to back up into the bathtub. I located the plunger, baled water from the tub, called upon drain cleaner and of course Pinterest for home-made natural drain remedies; Nothing!! I worked for a day trying to remove this beast of a clog. In a “not so flattering moment of bad words” a question arose in me, “Is it possible you might be spiritually clogged”?
Now what could that mean? However this thought did make me smile and stop for a minute. What is happening in my spiritual life right now? Have all the tasks of daily life caused me to be too busy to sit for a few minutes with my God? Have I been quick to judge lately? Critical? Am I so planned in my day to day stuff that I leave no room for unexpected moments of blessings? What keeps God’s grace and love from flowing freely through me? All these thoughts started to swirl in me and I soon realized that this drain had a deeper message for me.
It took a call to a plumber to fix the drain in our shower, and sometimes we need to call upon others for help in our spiritual life too. While a weekly or monthly dose of drain cleaner can keep the plumbing in our homes clear, in our spiritual lives especially as Catholics we have opportunities too. We have the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist to keep us moving deeper into the love of our God.
As we near the beginning of the Lenten Season, I would invite you to take a look at the offerings we have at St. Bridget, to awaken, enhance or unclog your spiritual life. If this isn’t what you need, just indulge yourself with some quiet time to reflect on the presence of God in your life. Becoming aware of God’s presence in the day to day moments of our life is a step to keep us open to the possibilities and the love God has for us.
Chances are this won’t be the last clogged drain in my life, but I am now aware of how to try to keep it from happening anytime soon. It’s the same in my spiritual life; I know what I need to do to grow closer in relationship with my God. For me, it’s daily quiet time and the Eucharist; sharing in the wonderful opportunity to receive Jesus and to gather with my parish family in prayer and praise. It will be different for you.
God sometimes uses the simplest of moments to cause us to push pause and enter, if even for a moment, into that quiet space with Him, where God alone can “unclog” us to become his conduits of love in this world.