As I try to sort through this jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings, I’m struck by how connected two opposites are: my greatest blessings are also my greatest struggles.
I truly, honestly know how deeply and greatly blessed I am. I feel deep gratitude to God for the blessings He has poured out on me from the moment of my creation. And my greatest blessings are my children – they are healthy, beautiful, wonderful young adults finding their way in this troubled world with their own style. Individually they are each unique and kind and make me proud; collectively they are my very heart – I love and enjoy being with them more than any other people on earth.
My biggest struggle is about them … but also not about them. It’s about them in that for several years now God has steadily been taking them away from me.
It’s not about them in that the deep sorrow I feel about this fact is between God and me.
For sure, it has turned me more fully toward God; our relationship has grown; He has increased my faith and my trust in Him; He has drawn me ever closer. Enormous blessing.
At the same time, I miss my kids. I am so sad that we once were very close but no longer are. I struggle with the fact that the last time I saw two of them was 1-1/2 years ago; the next time I see them will easily be another 1-1/2 years, and more likely 2 years or more.
I feel great loss and sadness about it and I feel very alone; there is nobody I can express my feelings to. I can’t tell my kids – who wants a guilt trip? And I can’t discuss it with my husband; as my eyes well up with tears again he looks away, uncomfortable. He’s not being unkind or mean, he just doesn’t get it, really. He loves them and is proud of them and tells others about them, but he’s ok with seeing them “whenever.”
And so I’ll return to my home after a lightening-fast visit; I’ll settle back into a routine of work and living in my own little corner of the world; I’ll watch as friends and co-workers celebrate holidays and birthdays and frequents visits with their kids and grandkids; and I’ll struggle with this strange mix of being happy for them and feeling envy and knowing I’m blessed and feeling great longing for my own kids and fighting to stop wallowing in self-pity.
And I’ll continue to ponder the mysteries of His ways and trust Him even in my emptiness.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Rejoice Always! Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
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Sometimes the little blessings God places before us are simple and beautiful and very personal.
This morning I sat on my porch swing and started a novena, praying for the upcoming marriage of my son Joseph to his fiancée Amber.
As I was praying, a purple finch alit on a branch in front of me. He was soon followed by a female and they perched together, either grooming each other or sharing food.
They sat there together for the longest time before flying away and I thought how appropriate and sweet it was to observe the pair even as I prayed for Joe & Amber.
Then the male returned and I don’t recognize a finch song when I hear it but he was directly in front of me, so when he opened his mouth I learned that he has more of a chatter than a song, and it’s a long burst.
And that made me laugh because Joseph is a very chatty guy. So I continued my novena, praying a Hail Mary and then stopping as the finch burst forth its chatter-song and we traded off that way for quite a long time.
And it was wonderful and a blessing and it was just for me alone. Because to whom would I try to describe it? With whom could I share it? Who wouldn’t roll their eyes at me and think me a little nutty?
Yet without a doubt, I was given this gift by our kind and loving Father. His creation – His little finches – joined me in prayer this morning and we gave glory to God, together.
Posted in Personal Bible Study | Tagged Blessings, Marriage, Novena, Prayer, purple finch | Leave a Comment »
I love the story of Jesus in the boat. He is sleeping on a cushion when a storm so frightens the disciples that they wake Him in fear for their lives. His words, “Peace, be still” silence the raging storm.
It is a story of His power and command even over nature’s terrifying violence. I love it so much that I have a print depicting the event hanging in my home.
Peace Be Still by Stephen Gjertson
Today I was blessed with a new look at that scene and how it applies to our lives today. Many saints have written about their struggles with a “dark night” in their lives when God seemed very distant from them; when prayer seemed dry and the human feelings of being close to God evaporated. I have gone through such a time and it is very painful; it’s a struggle to continue crying out to Him, wondering if He’s turned His face away or if you’ve done something wrong.
Since that time in my life I’ve read more about the dark night and have come to understand that it is a time of testing, of teaching one to walk by faith and not by feelings.
This morning I read a passage by St. Therese of Lisieux during her dark night. She wrote:
“[The retreat] was far from bringing me any consolations since the most absolute aridity and almost total abandonment were my lot. Jesus was sleeping as usual in my little boat; ah! I see very well how rarely souls allow Him to sleep peacefully within them … He will undoubtedly awaken before my great eternal retreat … “
That just made me smile, seeing how she connected the passage in Mark with the dark night.
There are times in our lives when Jesus is sleeping in our little boat, or appears to be. But He most certainly is not uncaring. Have faith; in an instant He can calm the most violent storm.
“A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
May I always allow the Master to sleep peacefully within.
Posted in Personal Bible Study | Tagged dark night, Jesus, Mark 4, Peace Be Still, Prayer, St. Therese | Leave a Comment »
At Palm Sunday liturgy last night, the Passion of Christ was read. I listened and as I heard this, it gave me pause:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’”
I ponder that.
I know scholars agree that Jesus was talking about the upcoming fall of Jerusalem and the terrible suffering that was coming upon her people. And perhaps in a larger sense, it describes all calamities where people watch their loved ones suffer terribly.
But last night, I “heard” it in a different way, a different layer.
Today, we hear people calling abortion “sacred,” “a blessing.” Today, the call to make assisted suicide and euthanasia legal is gaining voices.
Are they not saying “blessed are the … wombs that never bore?” Are they not calling to the mountains to “fall on us! cover us!”
Jesus tells us to weep over this.
And indeed, I do.
Posted in Personal Bible Study | Tagged Abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, Evil, Jesus, weep, wicked | Leave a Comment »
At mass this morning the second reading was from Luke 16:19-31:
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried …
It really caught my attention that the poor man, Lazarus, was carried away by angels but the rich man simply “was buried.”
I have been pondering that point – one man carried away by angels, another was buried. Angels for one … I suppose human beings buried the other?
And this line of thinking brought me back to the first reading from the same mass. From Jer 17:5-10:
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
The rich man, suffering in the netherworld, certainly was like a barren bush in the desert, standing in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth!
As I listened to the rest of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, I was reminded of a reflection that pointed out how the rich man still didn’t “see” Lazarus. He only addressed Abraham, asking him to instruct Lazarus to quench his thirst, to go warn his brothers. Even in the netherworld, the rich man continued treating Lazarus as someone to be sent to do his bidding.
I appreciate how daily readings from the old and new testaments compliment each other, even if they aren’t obviously nor directly related! Interesting readings today.
Posted in Personal Bible Study | Tagged Jer 17, Lazarus, Luke 16, rich man | Leave a Comment »
I began a novena this morning and read this passage from Matthew:
“… and now she will bear a son.
You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save
his people from their sins.”
Is this really the first time I noticed?
“He will save his people …. ”
Not from other people on this earth – to this day His people are being killed for their love of Him and their faith in Him. Since His death Christians have been hunted and hated “the world” has tried to eliminate them.
Not from petty discomforts on this earth, nor was He born to elevate us in an earthly way with wealth or comfort or earthly power.
Not even from terrible suffering in this life, even from oppression or slavery or starvation.
No! “… for he will save his people from their sins.”
Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross to save me from other enemies, real or imagined. He did not die to shower me with earthly blessings (though He certainly does that).
He died to save me from my own sins – the very things I have chosen that harm me and others around me, that are killing my soul and separating me from Him.
That’s a lot to digest this morning. It’s so easy to look at how messed up this world is, to observe how much evil is in it and devouring people every day and to pray in earnest for those people and against those great evils. And that is important to do.
But it is also important to remember to reflect and to pray: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Posted in Personal Bible Study | Tagged Evil, Matt 1:21, Prayer, Sin | Leave a Comment »