March 04, 2019
We’ve been dumped on with lots of snow this past month. For those who are reliant on cold and snow it’s been pennies from heaven, but for others it has caused a burden with extra money spent on snow removal, a challenge to get around and the extra task of managing schedules due to snow days! Whatever the situation, it has certainly gotten our attention.
As I continue to tend to the snow in my driveway and watch the snow piles grow and the driveway narrow, a question arose in my spirit, “What might be piling up within your heart, dear Jodie?” It certainly did not take me long to realize some of which was stirring and causing chaos, but also to realize what I have to be grateful for. When I feel pressed upon I often experience feelings of weariness, fear, hardness of heart and insecurity that can alter my perception and keep me from dealing with things in a truthful way. I see only the “piles” that cover the blessings.
This week begins Lent. As a kid, I didn’t always appreciate this season; I only saw the drudgery of Lent and having to go without candy or TV or grumbling because we knelt to pray the rosary as a family each night after supper. However this has changed and Lent offers me a chance to start again, to “triumph over the piles”. Instead of giving up, I am committing to get going and choose “letting go” as a way of discovering what’s in the layers of my “piles”. I trust that the work of letting go will help to create space; space for the graces that only God can give. By doing my inner work, I hope to begin to see not the burdens, but the blessings. On Ash Wednesday we will have the opportunity to come together as “Church” and sing in unified voices, “Come back to me with all your heart, don’t let fear keep us apart”. What a wonderful invitation!
This Lent, I am going to commit to enter more fully and with greater awareness into God, asking God to help me clear those piles that have become barriers to my blessings. I would like to invite you to join me.
May Lenten Peace and Joy be yours.
January 04, 2019
Epiphany Moments: The Hunting Soul.
What if the Magi hadn’t paused to look up and see the star? Think of the beautiful encounter they would have missed.
Today, I took the time to pause and look. Seems rather simple but man I can miss some pretty awesome moments right in front of my nose. Take yesterday and today for instance, the morning and evening skies have been brilliant with color. As I sat in my favorite chair sipping on my first cup of coffee, I admired still, the lights of the Christmas tree and looking a little deeper saw the pile of dust bunnies that had accumulated under the TV stand. J So what made this morning different from other mornings…..I allowed myself to ponder. I was feeling extremely grateful; and gratitude allowed me to see through a different lens.
Pulling out my daily reading books my interest piqued to see that both reflections had been written by the same author, for the same date, but in different books. A coincidence? Not likely. God wanted me to get this message.
The first reading came from Joyce Rupp’s book, Fragments of your Ancient Name, written by Karl Rahner SJ’: “Only when the hunting soul comes near you with respectful openness and humble desire, will the immensity of your simple presence shine forth with strobe light awareness”.
“Hunting soul and strobe light awareness”… these phrases jumped off the page. They seem to contradict one another with “hunting soul” evoking images of slow movement, quiet, patient, preparation and the other just being astonishingly there. Both of these phrases however reminded me of the responsibility I have to continue to move and do my part in seeking and maintaining my relationship with God. Like the Magi, I must continue to look to observe the signs placed before me and continue on the journey and yes sometimes those signs might have to be really obvious in order for me to see, like an obnoxious strobe light.
The second reading came from An Ignatian book of days and read: “Wherever space is really left by parting – by death – by renunciation – by apparent emptiness- provided that emptiness is not filled by the world, or activity, or chatter, or the deadly grieve of the world – there God is”.
Empty space, what does this look like? Well as I look around my home decorated still for Christmas, there is not much space left open. And the days leading up to Christmas were packed with preparations and family and friend gatherings, little space there too. So I think that as I sat there still in jammies and a warm cup in hand, God was challenging me to turn off the “no vacancy” sign in my life and decide how together we can rid the clutter or rearrange how I want to fill these “spaces” moving forward. Ponder! So that’s what it meant when the scriptures say “Mary pondered all this in her heart”. With the swirling events of this young mom’s life and all that was happening in the days that followed Jesus’ birth we read, Mary pondered. I like to imagine this meant she gave herself time to reflect before being called into action again. So I too must receive this invitation to ponder and reflect before forging forward, trusting that God will know what I might need.
So as we near the end of the 12 days of Christmas and recall the journey of the Magi, may we too be prompted to “look up” to see with the intensity of “strobe light awareness” the star or the sky or the person put in our path guiding us to that “soul encounter” with the Baby, born in a manger 2000 years ago. And like Mary, may we “ponder” this experience and return by a different way being forever changed.
December 30, 2018
“My precious family is more than an heirloom to me….”
~Amy Grant, Heirlooms”
Christmas day has come and gone and I’m sure with it numerous family gatherings, but as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family this weekend, the words from the song Heirlooms come to mind. I’m sure some of our gatherings have been wonderful; and some are painful reminders of what should or could have been. This year we have been able to linger in the family celebrations of Christmas. It began for us on December 22nd and will continue through January 20th.
I began preparing for Christmas the week after Thanksgiving. I dug out my totes of Christmas decorations and began the tradition of decorating my home for Christmas. This ritual task becomes a walk down memory lane for me. It’s almost as if my decorations speak to me, giving me the ability to remember the memories and feelings that attach. As I place each ornament on the tree I am able to reminisce and say aloud the names of the people of whom I’ve received this trinket of love. “Our first Christmas together” ornament is a precious reminder of the years that have passed and how through the years, our love has grown and matured, blessing us and our lives and filling this tree with many wonderful memories. I’m reminded of all the people who have come in and out of our lives. Our tree is adorned with ornaments created in love by the hands of our girls, nieces and nephews, grandparents who are no longer with us, and loved ones who have touched our lives. All of the “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments are melancholy reminders of the births of our own children and how in the blink of an eye those little ones are now mothers or mothers in waiting to their own children. This tree also reminds us of those who are also no longer with us. I remember vividly how four years ago in this season of Christmas of being called by a social worker with the news that the little girl I had placed for adoption 30 plus years ago had requested to learn of her birth origin and would result in us meeting.
This decorating ritual has become so very precious to me. It’s a loving and bitter-sweet reminder of the family I belong to; the family that formed and continues to form me. As we gathered this year with both my side and my husband’s side of the family we happily took our places in the origin of where we began.
The feast of the Holy Family is a time to stop and recall your own nativity story and to embrace the “holy family” that we have been born into. It is a time of recalling our own “journey” remembering the people, places and situations that helped to form us. Jesus’ birth was anything but ideal, we know the story, but it is bound in faith and love. It is adorned with the “yes” of a young mom who accepted that which God placed before her and trusting that God would be with her in it. It is strengthened by a man named Joseph who risks believing, even when everything around him makes it easier not to believe and trust. The conditions of this holy birth remind us that not everything is going to be ideal; just as it might be with our own families. But we can experience the love that this little baby boy brought to the world over 2000 years ago when we extend our arms to embrace the joy, the pain and the imperfections of our own “holy families
So on the weekend of this feast of family, embrace your own “nativity” and ask the Holy Family to strengthen your family in the bond of love and faith in 2019.
Merry Christmas and Joy and Peace Always!
October 30, 2018
What simple task can you do today?
To do lists! Vibrations, ringtones, message pings all vying for our attention; reminders of tasks we should or need to attend to. We move hastily from one assignment to another “checking off” what we’ve accomplished. But, in our quest to complete, what have we missed along the way?
What if we looked at all these “assignments” as opportunities; as moments to encounter the Divine, enter the Mystery, or perhaps to put ourselves in “direct contact with God”. What if we viewed each encounter as an opportunity to make our difference in the kingdom?
Today in my reading I was introduced to St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., a saint who lived from 1533 – 1617, and as a lay brother spent 45 years serving as a doorkeeper at a Jesuit school. His story went on to say that he “exerted great influence on Jesuits and lay people who came to know him.” 1. This just struck me. A simple task of minding the door became an opportunity for this man to extend hospitality and welcome, to all whom he encountered. This image of doorkeeper has prompted me to ponder more, the metaphor of “doorkeeper” and how well do I open the door of hospitality and care to all that I encounter?
There are no tasks too small or unimportant. I think the key to understanding these tasks begins with gratitude. Gratitude for all that we embody and possess, and the action of bringing this to our homes, families, communities and workplaces. Once we are able to reflect and accept our gifts, we then begin to understand how these gifts and actions have a way of becoming instruments of God’s peace, mercy, joy and courage in our own little corners of the world.
So for today and the rest of this week especially, how will the pings and vibrations of your phone and mine offer us the chance to encounter God?
Maybe today, it means being grateful for the barista who offers you your favorite coffee drink handing to you the much needed gift of comfort after being up most of the night with a sick child.
Give thanks for the mechanic who keeps your car running allowing you for today to be with a friend experiencing her last chemo treatment.
Being ever-so-mindful in my moment of hunger and wonder (what will I fix for dinner tonight?) of those who may not have food to eat this night and the ability and resources I have to prepare a warm dinner for my family.
Receive with warmth, the smile shared with me, from the stranger who passes by on the street. Making me aware that in that brief encounter, of our connectedness and the simple and yet profound ways we offer Christ’s love and compassion each and every day.
“The more we are able to celebrate the small miracles of daily life, the more we realize the very personal action of God in our daily living.” 2.
(An Ignatian Book of Days)
( Eucharistic Adoration, Reflections in the Franciscan Tradition)