A Spiritual Marathon

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​I had expected to be able to post throughout this week, but unfortunately this is probably the busiest week of Lent for me. Until next week that is. As I mentioned to my priest last night, it’s all good busy, but this morning I was beyond exhausted. I stayed in bed an extra hour until my headache subsided, and now I’m slowly getting ready for today.

As part of my Lenten journey this year, in going to the desert figuratively, and finding my own wilderness, I have taken on many spiritual projects that are dear to me. It was fortunate that my local retreat center had so many sessions and experiences to choose from.

I have been keeping a Lenten journal since Ash Wednesday, and I have been loving it. From the feel of the pen gliding across the paper to the beautiful green Celtic designed journal itself, it has given me a feeling of purpose that I will try to continue, although not daily, throughout the spring and summer, and perhaps convert it to an Advent journal later in the year. Continue reading

Advent Reflection – Dec. 1

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​Each of us has to decide on what or whom we will build our spiritual security.

-From the Reflection portion of Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

While we’re in anticipation of the birth of Christ, it is a good time to evaluate or re-evaluate our own spiritual security and/or foundation.

Today is World AIDS Day, and while things are much better than they once were, there is still a long way to go as we strive to help those afflicted and find a cure.

Two days ago was Giving Tuesday, a charitable follow up to Black Friday. Before the end of the year, our family will contribute to:

ACLU
Planned Parenthood
NAACP
Random Acts, and

my local church parish or St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Three of these have stemmed from the recent election here in the United States. Find where you want to support with your money, time, and talents and discuss your reasons with your children. Let them make their own suggestions for charitable contributions.

I’m pretty clear on my spiritual foundation and when I have concerns or a lack of faith, I find a way to think more about it and get through that period.

I’m enjoying praying and meditating privately on a daily basis.

I’d like to share this article that I read this morning on Vox

Advent, explained

7/8 – Year of Mercy: Reconcilation

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​On this, the second to last weekend of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I had scheduled my topic as reconciliation. I wasn’t sure quite what I was going to write about, but there the word said in my planner:

Nov. 13 – 7/8 Reconciliation

It kept getting pushed back and I wondered why. It seems G-d had other plans for this post, which is good because the act of reconciliation, of confession, is still not an easy one for me. I just don’t know how to do it or what counts. Do I ask forgiveness for cursing when I will continue to curse? I don’t know. Perhaps one day it will come to me. My priest is a very patient man.

Today, however isn’t about the Catholic rite of reconciliation, but of reconciling two sides, two passions, two opposites that must come together now or risk tearing it apart forever. Finding mercy for ourselves and for others.

Almost one week ago, on Tuesday, I went from thrilled to happy and excited to numb. When I went to bed at 2:30am nothing was decided, but I knew. The outcome was clear.

What I didn’t know was if I could face the morning of Wednesday. How would I explain this new world to my daughter? Even my son was worried before bed and I reassured him not to worry; that Donald Trump would not become our president. Our country was too strong for that.

As I said earlier today, this isn’t about my candidate losing. It’s about what we allowed to happen over the last fifteen months. Journalists can never give a pass again.

But right now, in the aftermath of an election where in reality apathy won, it is time to stop and breathe and reconcile.

Regardless of where we stand on any one issue, we still must work together. We still must move forward. Together. We don’t have to like our president – Republicans proved that for the last eight years, but we do need to work with him and I can promise you that we will work more cooperatively with him than his party worked with the last president. Cooperation and not obstruction. Maybe we can teach them a thing or two about humanity and grace and dignity. We will stand up for what’s right.

We will reconcile our feelings, our emotions and make sure that we are all on the side of ALL Americans no matter their party or race or religion or gender or any of the other things that make us individuals.

We are all in this together and we can be the example that we talk about setting for our children and our neighbors and our friends.

I have faith in us.

Gifts

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On Friday, I talked a bit about my mother-in-law and the life she led. We were lucky to see her as often as we did, with her traveling to us by bus or once in a while by train before her accident three years ago, and our traveling to see her as often as we could. She lived about two hundred-fifty miles away from us so it was a long drive, but well worth it.

We were visiting her the last week in June. We had waited for the kids to get out of school, and down we went. We had no idea that she would be gone before we left for home. There’s being sick in the hospital and there’s sick in the hospital, heading to rehab to regain mobility and since she was the latter we were already making summer plans to visit again when she passed away.

She was able to have seen her three children and three of her six grandchildren. She admired my daughter’s outfits, which I mentioned on Friday were inspired by her own free spirit and her grandmother’s. She asked us about visiting my parents’ graves and bringing rocks from her garden. (Leaving rocks on gravestones is a Jewish tradition that we followed whenever we were at the cemetery.)

My mother-in-law grew up during World War II in and around Belfast to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. I mention this again because it influenced her lack of use for the Church. She had seen too much. Even as her kids went to catechism, her opinions on the bureaucracy remained.

When I told her of my decision to join the Catholic Church and be baptized, she was nothing but supportive. She immediately went into her dresser and gave me the prayer book pictured above. She said she wondered why she kept it all these years; now she knew why.

On another visit, she gave me the keychain/folder that is also pictured above. I don’t know that she ever carried it seriously in her purse, but it was the most perfect piece of religious kitsch that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

She also gave me a little confirmation statue of Jesus and a girl that she happened to have, probably from one of her beloved garage sales, still in an old, dusty box.

Despite no love for the physical church that she remembered, she supported my new found faith and asked me about it whenever we were together. She enjoyed looking at my Easter Vigil photos from my baptism, confirmation and first communion.

No matter what she thought, everyone had their own path to follow and she encouraged them in it, always.