Inspire. March.

Standard

Some of my tools for this year’s Lenten Journey, including art from Bro. Mickey McGrath, my rosary, a key tab from my church, journal and Scripture gift, and really thoughtful and and prayerful daily devotions for Lent from Michelle Frankl-Donnay. (c)2020

“…the road that we seek is often the road we have already found.”

– Fr. James Martin, SJ, My Life with the Saints

Thoughts

One of things I’m learning through the Cursillo movement is how I can grow in relationship to Jesus through the three principles of piety, study, and action. These are key components of Cursillo, and while I did my weekend this past October, it is still taking me some time to regularly incorporate these into my life. I believe that I’ve always done them in varying degrees, but Cursillo has given me new eyes to see what it is I’m doing.

Lent is another way, a time of the year, to reflect on my relationships and what I do for myself in spiritual ways. The picture above illustrates some of my tools for my Lenten journey.

We are all obsessed, those of us who practice with giving up something for Lent. It is usually a food or a technology – social media, cell phone during dinner, etc. A lesser known thought is to add something to your life during Lent. This is only the first full week, and I am still discerning what I will add in addition to reading the daily devotional book my church gives us.

What have I given up?

Pizza. And bacon.

I didn’t even think about it. It just appeared in my head, and once it was there, I knew it was the right choice. My family still can’t believe it.

Adding?

I’m trying to journal a bit more, and heeding Brother Mickey’s advice to take fifteen minutes a day to just be with G-d. I’ll let you know how all of that goes.

In addition to prayer and fasting for these forty days, there is also almsgiving. I always support my church and my St. Vincent de Paul Society, but for this Lent, I will also be supporting RAICES, and I encourage all of you to take up that mantle. There are still children in cages; there are still families separated. RAICES is on the front lines with all kinds of help, and have been since the beginning of this nightmare.

Monday’s Good for the Soul – Mass Returns

Standard

With much less fanfare than General MacArthur, I returned to church this morning. The door was heavy, and the air conditioning was cool. I crossed myself at the font of holy water, and took my regular seat. There was no one there who I usually sit with but there were the many familiar faces of the “regulars”.

Flipping through the missalette to today’s date, I waited for the hymn number to be announced.

Number 39. Humbly, Lord, we worship you. Good tempo, not terribly long, simple, serene, and lovely, and then the mass began.

It was as if I hadn’t missed a day.

As much as I might have wanted there to be something acknowledged for me in my head, petting my feelings, there was nothing to make me think that that any time had passed or that I had somehow was gone too long. In fact, I didn’t feel as though I was absent or that I was coming back, I was simply home again.

I hadn’t been to the physical church building, but I hadn’t been ignoring my faith; G-d was still everywhere with me.

I look forward to tomorrow and the rest of the week’s Masses.

Faith?

Standard

“So if you’re down they push you down, fella, they push you down .” – Calvin Crabill, The Dust Bowl documentary, 2013

This is how I feel with my financial troubles. I know that we’re responsible for our mistakes. I accept that. But when you’re lied to and misinformed add deliberately deceived, how can you escape that? How can you get back up from that?

As for me, I trust in the Lord. Let me be glad and rejoice in your mercy, for you have seen my affliction. Cf. Ps 31 (30):7-8

Birthday Rituals

Standard

Since I graduated high school I have not attended classes or worked on my birthday. I went on a job interview once; almost got into a car accident and after getting the job it was the first one I was fired from. No more.

I’ve learned my lesson.

I even prefer when my birthday falls on a weekday. My husband works; my kids are in school. I do my thing and we meet at home after school and work let out.

I wander, usually. I go to the mall or if it’s a nice day out, a rare treat even in early December, I go to an outdoor mall. We have a fancy one nearby with boutiques (I can afford to window shop anyway) and a café with benches and statues throughout the open space. It makes me feel as though I’m traveling some place new. I get to pretend I’m a tourist or researching my non-existent novel or a wayward traveler and I take pictures of the most mundane things and enjoy my quiet time with myself.

In the years before she died, my mother began to send me money for my gift. There’d be enough to buy myself something I needed, something I didn’t need and have lunch. I started taking myself out to lunch and beginning to be comfortable in my own skin and on my own, something I dread, but am more and more coming to appreciate and treasure.

The year after she died, my husband gave me his work incentive gift card, which happened to come the same week as my birthday– $50 from American Express and I have the same birthday ritual that I had with my mother’s gift.  He knew how much it would mean to me, and it really did. It was one of the nicest things.

I almost always go to Starbucks, breakfast or lunch, have a drink, or two, relax. Write. By my birthday, the cranberry bliss bars are available.

One year we had a major snowstorm on my birthday – schools were closed and everything; no going out for me. I planned ahead to cook Shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding from scratch. I’m not sure why I wanted it so badly. I might have been reading a Welsh history book or historical novel at that time, and that was all I wanted for my birthday dinner. It tasted amazing! It was also one of the only snowstorms where I wasn’t anxious or panicky.

When I was a kid we always got a birthday cake. It was always a surprise, even when it wasn’t. Whoever’s birthday it was would get called away or asked to do a chore and when we came back, the lights were out and there was cake, lit candles and everyone singing happy birthday.

Every year as we got older, we continued this, every year, and every year we would all be surprised when it was our turn. It was sweet. And we all played along even if we did roll our eyes when we were asked to do the “chore.”

We were always taken aback, surprised, thrilled everyone remembered, and if we weren’t, we played along. This was one of those family traditions that my parents loved.

In our family now, we usually pick a restaurant to go out to dinner and come home to cake. I love birthday cake – anytime of the year. It is never the wrong time to have birthday cake. My favorite kind is vanilla with buttercream frosting and some kind of flower or something made out of frosting. This year we had a vanilla raspberry that I want more of. It was the perfect blend of cake and fruit, whipped cream and fondant. Yummm.

I began my most recent birthday by attending Mass. This really is one of the most enjoyable things I do in a week. The way the light bounces off the pews and the altar; the way the words wash over me; the way the host tastes when it’s mixed with the wine in my mouth. So many senses filled in such short moments.

This year, I actually went home and shared breakfast with my husband and drank Doctor Who tea (the ninth doctor to be precise) before going out again.

Believe it or not, I spent the next hour in Payless Shoes trying on boots. I might have mentioned in earlier writings, but I was so excited to find these boots and that they fit pretty perfectly that I even walked out of the store wearing them. I can’t remember the last time I wore shoes out of a shoe store and still kept my “old” shoes which hadn’t worn out to the point of falling off my feet. I now own three pairs of shoes. Woo-hoo! The last time I bought shoes on my birthday were winter boots several years ago from my mom.

Lunch at Starbucks and cake at home. Since my son was working we had my birthday dinner two days later.

It’s funny how every birthday is the same and yet different. I pack up my Kindle, my notebook or journal and my camera. I wear my favorite clothes – this year my favorite long sweater, my new black boots and my cute black knit hat. I become me for a day and try to figure out how to stay the me I am on my birthday all the rest of the year.

The ritual stays the same year after year; it almost takes no thought or planning at all, but the happenings change just enough and each  year I’m in a new place mentally, emotionally so that year’s wandering brings on new thoughts, new reflections, new grace to find.

The sun is in a different place, the clouds have different formations, the blue in the sky is a different shade. The people I run into in the shops or the café are all different and each brings a special presence to my day that I welcome and can add to my growing inventory of people and places and things and they all form the index for my reflecting and writing, always striving to find my way through the shadows.