I am trying to be a list person. Typically, my lists get left behind on the kitchen counter, or if they are more goal-oriented, require me to breathe into a paper bag. Instead, I am a do-one-hard-thing-a-day-and-act-peppy-about-it kind of girl. Read more
This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Since mercy is kind of my thing, I figure I should write about it. Only, all I can think of are answers to the question, how did mercy become my thing? Mid-life crisis? PTSD? Exposure to pesticides?
I have other things I am passionate about including cats, dogs, and color-stay lipstick. Unlike mercy, those things make sense to me.
For most of my life, mercy felt above me like one of those words at the top of the hierarchy that I could never reach. It was like the incense used during Holy Days that rose to meet the cherubs at the top of cathedrals. It was an enigma, because I never took the time to contemplate what it meant, how it’s shown, and its source from which salvation hinges. Read more
“Reunited and it feels so good,” are lyrics from the 1978 song by the vocal duo, Peaches & Herb. But upon returning a stray dog, the lyrics that played to the song’s melody sounded more like, “Reunited, and it feels like crud!”
It was far from peachy.
When I found the elderly dog, he was thin, filled with fleas, and uncharacteristically aloof for his breed. After twenty minutes of convincing him I wasn’t a serial killer, he reluctantly succumbed to my coaxing him into the backyard. Within minutes he escaped and sat stubbornly in middle of the road. I directed cars to drive around us while begging him to follow me. Perhaps, the dog binge-watched Criminal Minds before running away, because he clearly knew the finer points of stranger danger. After getting him into the backyard for the second time, I jammed logs in the passage in the gate he eluded, creating fine fence folk art that I am sure would become the envy of my neighborhood. Then I went back inside to post his picture on lost-dog websites. Read more
As a native Floridian, winters are hard for me. It’s not just the closed toe shoes and the cumbersome layers of clothes that make me feel constrained liked a mummy wrapped in fleece.
It’s the darkness.
The shorter days, gray skies, and the browning emptiness leave flowers blighted and bare trees somber. I don’t notice how much it affects me until spring arrives, and I am awed by the glorious light. I catch myself staring out the window. I see the green growth of new leaves on the mounds of sticks sprouting up from the earth and the reliable bloom of azaleas bursting bright with joy, but it’s the light, pervasive and ethereal, that captivates me. Read more
Be Still. God knows I heard this often as a child. I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes. When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with “happily ever after.”
Stillness remains a challenge for me. By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down. I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cats they are pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again. Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme. It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life. I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.
Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness. Go faster, be efficient, do more, be more, make more, and have more. But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still. Don’t stop and smell the roses. Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it. Your time is too valuable. You need to be producing.
The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by. You will be considered slovenly. You will miss out. You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.
When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control. We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning. And tired. So many of us are tired.
Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God. I was terrified. I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it. Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance. But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.
And you know what? I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons. I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write. I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.
Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness. I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace. It was so much more of an intentional way to pray. I even read scripture before I started my timer so I felt more deliberate about my conversation with God.
I continued my habit for a while after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into. Like a child, I resist. But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.
And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy. It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.
Want more to help you on your Lenten journey read this.
I will preface this by saying I promise this is about Lent.
Do you remember that song by the band, Queen, Another One Bites the Dust?
Another one down,
another one down,
another one bites the dust…
another one bites the dust. Read more
My son asked me the other night if I had a bucket list. This struck me as funny at first.
After all, he’s eight– what the heck does he know about a bucket list? He doesn’t even have all his teeth. I am 40 and don’t think much about them. Of course, I saw the movie and understand the expression, but I can’t say I ever bothered to make one.
Partly because when I make grocery lists, I inevitably leave them on the kitchen counter and when I get home I find they are only useful for checking off the items I forgot to buy at the store. I am not sure what happens if you lose your bucket list. Do you forget what’s so important for you to see or do, the way I forget to buy Q-tips? Read more
My first experince with Simbang Gabi started like this: Mama tomato and Daddy tomato are walking along the road (presumably to shop for a new topsy-turvy for their growing family), when they notice that Baby tomato is quite far behind (probably from admiring the cute cherry tomatoes they passed.) Daddy tomato yells to Baby tomato, “Ketchup!!”
Get it? Like Catch Up — ketchup?!
I didn’t get it at first because I am kind of slow (like Baby tomato). Once my husband explained it to me though, I thought it was funny. Of course, I added the part about the topsy-turvy and the cherry tomatoes to spice it up a little bit – salsa anyone?
The priest used the tomato joke to explain a tradition in the Filipino community that includes a Novena to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in anticipation of Christmas, called Simbang Gabi. It is nine days of going to mass and then celebrating after with food, traditional dance, and songs. The last day of the Novena falls on Christmas Eve. Read more