(Photos accompanied by a spring vacation meditation.)
Yes, Lord, I am tired of running the show – and tired of running. This has been a particularly long stretch. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy some of it, but how much better everything would be with you. I miss you.
I want to be led – not driven. Please take me. I want to hold your hand. To slow down. To stop. To be still. To be within. To stop the noise and be quiet. I am finally alone with you. I am letting go of my agenda. I surrender. I know that your peace will come. I am yours now. I will do whatever you tell me. Your mother has helped me. Bobby and I prayed the rosary. She took my hands and brought me to you. Thank you, Mary.
There was Easter prep… shopping, cleaning, services, time with family. Vacation planning, a tennis match, a movie. Rushing… Gilmore Girls with Mom, cleaning, shopping for food, TV shows, a shop til you drop day. Preparing for the trip – laundry, cleaning, fixing broken pipes. Trying to make the house perfect. There was anxiety about leaving and coming. Anxiety about being late or early. I took everything into my own hands, and pushed to the limits. I ignored my feelings and my body. I could do more – sleep less – running on empty – running away from the silence. Wanting to control…
Something?? It’s OK. I’m just a human. I do what I don’t want to do – and don’t do what I truly want. I want my way and that will not make me happy. And I run from what will. I don’t need to figure anything out. Only to sit with you and be in your presence. Love you and others and myself. I am a sweet little human. Glad to have you save me Lord. I need you…
We was like peas and carrots again. I was blessed to attend Masses on Saturday and Sunday. And on Sunday afternoon, I walked in pleasant awareness that I was not alone, and not in charge. I walked through Brooklyn, across the Manhattan Bridge, around Chinatown, and back over the Brooklyn Bridge. There was no rush. It was a beautiful mixture of nature and architecture that seemed to be just for me to enjoy. I’ve read that spring is a season of renewal. Yeah, I’d agree with that.
Today I accomplished three tasks that were on the to-do list in my head. One I waited a week to do, one I “should” have done at least a month ago, and the other has been on my mind for over a year. My excitement over overcoming procrastination grew when I realized that today is Wednesday. In the old days, when my children were all pre-teens, and my hair was practically black, the FlyLady was a fun motivator for me. She reminded me to follow routines, to meal plan and cook, and not to whine. And Wednesday was Anti-Procrastination Day.
Nostalgia is the word I’d use here. I spent some time during my lunch break on the website reading her lessons which have not changed at all. This led to my reading posts from My Simple Spot, a place where I blogged from 2009-2010. It was a year when I was particularly focused on simplicity. It started out as a methodical decluttering of possessions, was sidetracked by a miscarriage, led to pondering the reduction of distractions, and ended in my deciding to give up blogging there, and at my other blog, My Thoughtful Spot. I was pregnant with my sixth baby; and decided that as I was adding more to my plate, some things had to be removed from it. Bye-bye blogging.
It was interesting to see how some things haven’t changed. I still spend way too much time reading and researching topics I already know enough about. It’s an idle pastime that doesn’t usually bear fruit. I suppose it reinforces conviction; but without action, it’s really procrastination.
Another thing I noticed; was how I miss being able to express ideas freely as I used to do. I was much more open back then. No time to ponder why right now. Chores and a warm bath are the plan for tonight. Maybe a little reading in bed. A book. No iphone. Abandonment to Divine Providence. Something I don’t already know enough about.
No, my tree is not still up. I took that picture in December and I like it.
I love this book! I had no idea so much could be said about St. Ignatius’s rules of discernment. Now I realize that the practical examples are endless. I made myself some old-fashioned index card notes from this book. They are full of ideas I hope to remember. I imagine they will be quick reminders for me as I attempt to put these rules into practice.
So, instead of typing out a blog post, I am going to share with you photos of my notecards.
Well, well, well… it’s that time of year again! Sitting under a blanket in a comfy living room chair, admiring the cozy lights on the Christmas tree, hearing the sounds of sneezes, coughs, and the clearing of throats… realizing that I have some time to blog now and that it’s been three months since I’ve posted.
I don’t feel interested in reflecting here on what has been, but on looking to what will be. It’s the time of year when I usually begin a new planner. I ponder priorities, not alone, of course. This week I want to pull out the notes from a Spiritual Exercises retreat I went on in October. I wrote down some resolutions that weekend, but they were lost in the sea of busy days, weeks and months that followed.
In the quiet, slowed pace of this Christmas vacation, I am filled with hope. I am out of the mindset of “I have to do this” and “I’ve got to do that” and resting. I am thinking of what I might like to do in the new year. Maybe I’ll post a Book Notes series on St. Augustine’sConfessions. Or the Letters and Instructions of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Maybe I’ll work-out in the basement, or go outside more often. The possibilities make me happy. Living in the present moment and enjoying God’s Presence and direction… these are the things I miss in my rush to get everything done. Today there is no hurry, no agenda, just peace and joy. I am thankful for these gifts.
The world is so strange, Lord. Maybe you’ve known this, but I keep on pinching myself (not literally). Why am I surprised about what’s happening? We are under attack as we have always been. This is a spiritual battle. Maybe there are fewer people aware of this fact and fighting back. Maybe I am aware and not doing my part. Looking at my part is what I can do. Praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet, loving my family, getting to know people, forming relationships… these are things I can do. I need to have faith, hope, and love before I can give it away. I need to stay in the present moment with you, Lord. To take care of my responsibilities at home. Do not grow faint – Run the race – Read Your Word. Seek the Truth in the places I know I will find it.
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17-18
I’ve read the new Motu Proprio by Pope Francis. It’s troubling me and I’ve been trying to figure why because I don’t even attend the TLM. I did one time. I was on a trip and wanted to go to a Saturday morning Mass. I may have been in New York State or New Hampshire. I can’t remember. I do remember having trouble finding parking and the entrance to the church. I could barely hear anything the priest said, and I felt like I was dressed inappropriately. The women wore dresses and head coverings and I most likely was wearing jeans and a hoodie. But I did like that most of the families had similar appearances to my homeschooling friends, holding babies, and filling up pews with toddlers and teens. I don’t remember music. I was not moved to search for a Latin Mass back home.
That was before Covid. I’ve been thinking about going to one for many months now. I’ve struggled with identifying and feeling my feelings about wearing masks at Mass and receiving communion in the hands rather than on the tongue. I didn’t want to be deprived of receiving Jesus when the churches opened up after the shutdowns, so I received Him in my hands. I felt very sad and disappointed. I saw a few women not receiving the Eucharist at all when communion on the tongue was denied and wondered if what I was doing was selfish. I prayed about it, asked for guidance, and decided to receive Him as reverently as I possibly could at the Masses I attended. The rules changed frequently. I often got anxious when I would wait until the end of communion wondering if the priest would wait in the front of the church for those receiving on the tongue as planned. And I did not enjoy sometimes being the only one to walk up to the front of the church, kneel on the kneeler, and receive Jesus on my tongue.
I talked with friends who attended Latin Masses about 30 minutes away from my home. They shared that they didn’t have to wear masks and they could receive communion on the tongue. And kneeling at an altar rail! They said the homilies were moving, the music was beautiful, there were lots of families… I continued to go to Mass close to home to go with my family. My daughter plays the piano at one church once a month. The other weeks we go to our parish where my children are comfortable. They used to be in the choir there when that was allowed. And I’ve been receiving communion in my hand in NYC because that is what the priest allows. So I have been holding onto a desire to try a Traditional Latin Mass for a long time now, but not taking action. Then I heard about these new rules. And they don’t make sense to me. Question # 1.
This morning during my prayer time, I was journaling and more questions came to mind. Why would you want to get rid of the growing communities and make those people go to the declining ones, which they may have left because they wanted to be more reverent? Why would you ever want to discourage faithful practicing Catholics at all? Will this put priests in a dilemma of obedience or disobedience? This seems very similar to what is happening with the government and vaccines, and it doesn’t seem necessary. It looks to me like forcing people to choose what side they are on. Are you with the current leadership or will you resist or oppose it? Do you trust us completely or do you have reservations? Will you believe what we say or do you see the contradictions in speech and actions? The leaders speak of desiring unity but they make rules to cause disunity. What is the intention or purpose of what is happening?
As I was thinking these thoughts I realized that my thoughts are not God’s thoughts. I barely know anything. I asked Him: Lord, do you wish for us to choose a side?
And guess what I remembered. We are either with Him or against Him. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and mammon. We are sheep or goats. Jesus wasn’t afraid of division.
I’ve made a plan to go with a friend to a Traditional Latin Mass in CT this Sunday morning. I’ll continue to live my life one day a time, enjoying the moments, trusting that God has a plan and I don’t need to know the details yet.
I just returned home after a week in Cape Cod with Bobby, five of my children, and Joseph’s girlfriend (some of the days). In bed at night, I read Diary of a Country Carmelite, A Year in the Garden of Carmel (just up to today’s entry) by Cynthia Montanaro, OCDS. I know her in real life, and I so enjoyed this peek into her days during 2015, when she made her final profession as a secular Carmelite. While I don’t feel particularly drawn to Carmelite saints, and I don’t really enjoy gardening, I found Cindy’s entries fascinating. They were so peaceful. I know I was only getting a glimpse of the whole picture, but I believe that Cindy does live a peace-filled life, and visuals from her descriptions have stayed in my mind.
From my journal: Such a good example of living the liturgical year – putting God first. Doing unpleasant things -accepting what she cannot change – being grateful and thanking God for the good – or pleasant – Simplicity. Not trying to do too much. Just a little each day. Prayer – Mass – work – family – chores – a bit of recreation. An example of an ordered life. Is there a better compliment than the last one?
Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He is my favorite saint! (not including Mary and Joseph) I’m going to watch two movies about him tonight. One is a drama and the other a documentary. They always inspire me. I like the example of Cindy’s simple, ordered life and I love the example of St. Ignatius’ life, and his way. I have my own way. I have my own life. If I put first things first like they did, it should be an interesting story.
Today I’m doing things I like to do that I rarely make time for, such as giving myself a pedicure and playing double solitaire. (You could add blogging in there too.)
Being a low maintenance person who rarely wears make-up, has not had my fingernails painted in almost twenty years, and has never plucked an eyebrow, you’d think I wouldn’t enjoy pedicures. On the contrary, they are the best sort of pampering. With the clipping, exfoliating, and soaking in warm water, they are both practical and pleasurable. Very satisfying. And if the nails are painted, they need no more attention for months.
As for double solitaire, I always appreciated the uncountable hours my grandparents spent playing cards with me when I was younger. It was the slow paced quality time that enabled me to talk freely and be myself. It helped me feel close to them. I asked for and received two brand new decks of playing cards for Christmas (with the intention of using them with my children.) I didn’t open them up until last night. Let me back up a bit.
I came to New York City with Bob this week mainly to put together a new TV stand while he was at work. I decided to make my ten year old, Mary, come with us. I wanted to spend some time alone with her. So yesterday, besides building the TV stand, we played Sleeping Queens, Lion King Uno, and you guessed it, double solitaire. And she even helped me get an app called Game Pigeon to play more games. I’m enjoying being with Mary and holding her hand as we walk through unfamiliar neighborhoods with her stuffed dog Dandee.
There’s a church nearby that has a 12:05 Mass. Yesterday we attended but left right before Adoration to come home to eat lunch. Today, a thunderstorm at the end of Mass encouraged us to linger longer, which I appreciated.
Back at the apartment, I put on a “Spa Day” playlist and gave Mary a pedicure while she played games on her iPad with a friend from home. I felt like a professional, but my nail painting needs practice. Then I gave myself a pedicure and wrote this post as I took breaks. The music and the being still has put me in a very relaxed state that I highly recommend.
Billy Joel is one of my favorite musicians. Vienna is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. It popped into my head as I sat down to write this post. It begins…
Slow down, you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, well, tell me
Why are you still so afraid? Mm
Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You'd better cool it off before you burn it out
You've got so much to do
And only so many hours in a day
“Slow down” seems to be the theme of this blog, and maybe of my life. I often come here to ponder “aloud” my desires to be simple. To remind myself of what’s really important, which is doing God’s will and not my own. And slowing down seems to be the only way that I can hear my Lord. The noise of constant busyness drowns him out for me. I keep cycling between feeling close to Him, then doing too much work or socializing and not spending enough time with Him, and then feeling burnt out and disconnected. I’m learning that I love getting things done, I try to please others, and I tire easily. I seem to be married to the Energizer Bunny, and my life would most certainly be more boring without him. And I have six children and relationships with family and friends. I wonder if God has given me the gifts He has given me to continuously show me how much I need Him. Maybe I just need to keep practicing putting first things first.
So the details are, that I am recovering from two days of shopping, cleaning, triple birthday party prep and hosting. And that was after two weeks of traveling to and from New York City, including shopping, packing, and moving into our new apartment there. Yes, we have an apartment in NYC, and a home in Western Massachusetts. I don’t think I can call myself an aspiring minimalist anymore.
My husband will be commuting there for work. I have been helping to set up and furnish the place. It’s a big change happening in our lives, which means I really need to rely on God. And I need to not look into the unknown future, but to stay in the present moment, where He is with me. I need to slow down and listen.
I hear myself breathing. I try to drop all my worries and trust Him. He takes care of all always. I need to reject the illusion that I am in charge. I do not even want to be in charge. I will bring Him everything and let Him decide what the outcome will be.
Nothing needs to be done but what He asks me to do. I do not need to do things for Him to love me. My existence is enough. Every part of me, body and soul. There is not anything that I can do that will stop His love for me. And He tells me that when I am weak, He is strong. All my strength comes from Him alone. I don’t even think I can surrender without Him. His grace seems make it happen.
He tells me to enjoy the gift. He means of His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, which I feel privileged to enjoy. But I think I should enjoy all the gifts. I have so much to be grateful for.