Monday, February 27, 2012

The Face of Christ

He was a regular. We cashed his royalty checks from oil companies and tried to dole out just enough for him to live on week by week but he would eventually demand the entire amounts and end up in bad shape before the next set of checks arrived. He claimed to be an artist and yet every picture that he painted looked like him. A mirror image of himself and yet he called the man Jesus. My mother was constantly and consistently giving him her time to talk and to encourage his art. We gave him the occasional food or drink but we all knew he wanted the money to get himself in trouble again. She believed in him. And, even if she didn't, really, she made him think she did. It gave him self worth, confidence. I see today from the reading in Matthew that just as he saw the image of himself as Jesus, she too saw Jesus within him.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."
He was a Catholic and she encouraged him to attend morning Mass and receive the Living Bread. We gave him water. She welcomed him every single time even when the rest of us were tired of his constant hanging around. She covered him in the garment of self respect and she cared for him when he was at the bottom. He was a man imprisoned in his own world that few would attempt to visit and yet she was always there. She bought him glasses when he complained about his poor eyesight and she bought him bus tickets when his shoes were so worn it was difficult to walk. She listened when he spoke wildly and his eyes belonged to someone entirely different and when they were as clear as any normal man's would be.
Today, as I listened to the Gospel and later meditated on it's meaning in my small little world, I remembered Paul and more than the man himself, I remembered the example that my mother gave as she took the opportunity placed before her day after day. The authentic Christian lives the Gospel message. She took time. She gave time. She fed. She clothed. She was a mother to him. Today, I remember the example. I remember the least. I remember clearly the face of Christ.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scraping the Bottom of the Jar

As I was getting the last of the peanut butter out of the jar yesterday while making pb&j sandwiches for my children' lunches, I remembered that each time my youngest gets to the end of the jar, she says, "Let's just take this over to Bill and open a new one." Bill is my father who is known by my children for scraping the last of the peanut butter out of the jar until he could literally use it again for something else it's so clean. When you grow up in the times that he did, you know not to waste even the least little bit. You know to get every last crumb out of all you are given and this thought has been rolling around in my head since yesterday.
Oftentimes, I catch myself hearing a Scripture reading or parts of the reading and thinking, "Am I hearing this for the first time? Have I heard this before and just not paid much attention?" As I enter the Lenten Season, I am fortunate to have plenty of choices of reading materials and as I have mentioned, along with Rediscovering Catholicism, I am reading Abandonment to Divine Providence by de Caussade who by the way was the person quoted for the meditation in the Magnificat this morning...alright already! I am reading it! In both books as in the Scripture Readings, I feel that I am reading certain passages and lessons for the first time, even though I know they have been there all my life. I have been raised with the same lessons and yet, somehow when I read them now I feel like they are brand new. Fresh.
Jesus' message is fresh every day. Jesus has so much more for us. We are called to listen. We are called to attend . We are called to scrape the bottom of the jar and get every last morsel. From Him, we learn not to let anything go to waste. We scrape clean only to get refilled. Today, remember not to let a moment go to waste. Listen. Learn. Love. And, after scraping what you think is the bottom, go back and get filled up all over again with something new.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

As we close Ordinary Time with the celebration of Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, I am thinking, thinking, thinking and praying about what to do for these 40 Days of Lent Oh Lord with You we fast and pray. I will eat as I contemplate and contemplate as I eat and think about just what in my world I can refrain from or do that will move me closer to and allow me to spend more time with Our Lord. I know I'll be reading Abandonment to Divine Providence because every sign in the world has pointed me that way. But I know there is always something more. If you have any great ideas for me, please comment. Otherwise, I'll be spending the day preparing for the next forty.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I have been given the Versatile Blog award by Allison at Rambling Follower. Thank ya thank ya. In return I am to list 7 facts about myself and tell you 15 blogs and websites that I read. So, here goes.

1. After college I coached volleyball and track and assistant coached basketball at my high school.
2. I attended the same high school as my grandmother, mother and sisters and next year my 3rd daughter will start there.
3. I love fresh flowers in the house.
4. I have worked at St. Mary's Bookstore with my mom for 31 years this summer. (most of my life, of course.)
5. I often help publishers decide on covers for new books.
6. When we first started, I punched and bound hundreds of church goods catalogs to send out, collating them around our pool table.
7. I love to cut grass. The hum of the mower clears my mind and I love the smell of fresh cut grass. Can't breathe for days and eyes itch but still...

Websites and Blogs I read and enjoy:
1. Graceful Wonderful writing and photography.
2. The Clay Rosary Lady Talented. Beautiful rosaries. About family and friendship.
3. The Deacon's Bench Good stories. Scripture in life.
4. Karen Edmisten Author
5. Jean Dortch Artist My mom's amazing art.
6. Ask Sister Mary Martha Fun and filled with great info on Saints and the Christian Life.
7. Home in Douglas Great new blog for me. Wonderful sense of humor.
8. Susan DiMickele Working mother. Author.
9. Moon Boat Cafe Peaceful.
10. Booking It Author
11. Thoughts That Move Great prompts for writing.
12. Random Acts of Momness Author, mom
13. Danielle Bean Author, mom
14. Jeff Goins Writer Great writing tips.
15. The Inkwell American Christian Fiction Writers

I hope you enjoy some of these places and again, I am thankful for the award.

Show, Don't Tell

A customer, acquaintance, friend came by the bookstore yesterday to pick up her daily Lenten reading book. She sat on the stairs and thumbed through her book, deciding whether or not to buy more copies for friends. She asked about a Miraculous medal for her sister, a Daughter of Charity, and she told me that her sister discovered her vocation on a trip to Guadalupe and I shared that I had a strong conversion experience in Lourdes. She talked about trying to figure out what to read for Lent and I shared that I was going to read Abandonment to Divine Providence because for weeks I had been prompted by readings and by visitors to read this book. She said it's one of the best. Another confirmation. She shared that a sister once told her, "To be a Catholic is to live the Gospel message." And, then, she repeated it, followed with, "I think that's what it is to be a Christian period."
Last night, having finished a small book I bought my sister and myself for Christmas, "Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers", I searched my bookcase to find something I've been meaning to read. I came upon Matthew Kelly's Rediscovering Catholicism, a first edition hard copy that I've probably had for 6 or 7 years. And I read,
"Our siblings, parents and children are sending us this message, as are our friends, neighbors and colleagues. They are saying, whispering and crying out, "Don't tell me, show me!" ....they don't want to read another book or hear another tape about Christianity, they do not want to hear your amazing story of conversion. They want the real thing. They want to witness someone, anyone - just one will do - living an authentic life. Someone whose words are spoken by the authority of his or her actions. Someone striving humbly but heroically to live by what is good, true and noble in the midst of and in spite of this modern climate."
As we begin this season of Lent, may we search for that authentic person in ourselves. May we strive to begin to let go of the cravings, the temptations, the ways of this world and work toward being that witness, that someone who lives the Gospel message and whom those who meet may refer to as Christian. May we strive to show, not tell.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Downtown Public Library

Yesterday I took a field trip. Yep, you heard me right, a field trip. I packed my little net book and my folder which is stuffed full of work and headed off to the Downtown Nashville Public Library. What an amazing place! Three floors of books and art and archives!
I parked in the lot attached and walked up the escalator and immediately came face to face with a security guard. Typical for me. I asked him which way to the entrance and he pointed saying, "First time? Are you from here?" "Yes and yes! I've just not gotten down here since it's been built."(ashamed to say 2001) "Well have fun." "Thanks."
I went straight to the information desk and admitted it was my first visit and she informed me where to find a good spot to read. Of course, the Grand Reading Room. I toured the place first. Went right up to non-fiction and looked up my name so I could see my book on the shelf. Just had to! The front cover of course is laminated and it's so thick it could be a hardback. Made me think I may laminate my own.
The Tennessee Room with all the wonderful displays of history was my favorite but the children's area with the massive Theatre and Craft Room had to be a close second. I snuggled into the Tennessee Room under a large original oil of the Tennessee Festival of Books(I have a print in my play room.) While I worked, a couple of classes from area schools came through for a tour. Precious young ones with eyes and ears wide open. I got a lot accomplished, thank goodness, and headed downstairs to Panera for lunch. The restaurant is attached to the library and they have daily librarian specials. How cute is that? The people there were as overly pleasant as those in the library. I started reading Marge Fenelon's book "Strengthening Your Family" and didn't really want to put it down to go back to work.
After lunch, I landed in the Grand Reading Room where there were a few more distractions due to the large # of homeless guys occupying the space. Of course the place is massive and there is room for all. They were reading away and using the computers. Before I left there was just one guy who couldn't stop yapping out loud, but hey, it's public! If I ever wonder where they all hang during the day, I now know. Most of them were relatively clean and like I said, just reading. Anyway, I got a ton of work done and told my husband that if I could just do that for a week straight, I could actually finish this next project. (Not a chance.)
So, today it was back to reality but I truly enjoyed my field trip and am ready to plan another. I don't see any other way to finish some of this work if I expect to do it at home with the nine million distractions like laundry and drywall patching and cleaning. Yes, I think this idea from Julia Cameron that I read years ago might just be the ticket!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Link Up: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Allison over at Rambling Follower is doing a link up about 10 things you probably didn't know about me.

Here goes:
1. I am number 6 of 8 children, the baby girl and my parent's favorite.

2. I was asked to play college ball at Austin Peay, declined, took a year off, tried out for Vanderbilt and didn't make it. Freshman 15 was tough to move up and down the court.

3. As outgoing as I am in most parts of my life, I get extremely nervous talking alone to a crowd and sharing parts of my personal or spiritual life.

4. I traveled to Medjugorje, Rome and Florence with my mother. Made her ride the train 2nd class from Rome to Florence and had to stand between the cars the entire ride. She's never let me make the travel plans again.

5. I'm a complete book nerd, oftentimes visiting a bookstore on my way home from working in ours all day. Visit bookstores in every city I visit.

6. I backpacked through Europe when I graduated from college with a younger guy I have known most of my life (just travel partners). Even took a boat over to Greece, saw the Passion Play in Oberammagau and shook hands with Pope John Paul II.

7. I have a huge itch to go visit Guadalupe. Can't get it off my mind.

8. I killed my sister's goldfish when I drop him on the floor after he wiggled out of my hands and he rushed down the floor vent. I got him out and he lived a few days but the dust in the gills was just too much I guess. She's still mad and we were 8 and 9 or something like that.

9. I met my husband on New Years and he asked me to marry him on Easter.

10. I spent the day today in the downtown library. Took myself on a field trip and had one of the best days ever and got quite a bit of work done.

Now your turn. Link up with Allison

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fresh Fruits

Oh my goodness! I think that sometimes the people who write these meditations or who ordered the liturgical readings watch me as I move about in my life. Just so happens I have been praying for humility, trying to remember to give God the recognition due for anything that I may write or that may come wandering out of my mouth that touches another. After all, I have to light candles and pray to the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to have anything to say or write that is worthwhile and all who know me know that is true. Anyway, the meditation in the Magnificat yesterday was on self-forgetfulness and one specific thought really stuck in my mind. The thought is that self-forgetfulness frees the Spirit and enables Him to make progress within me. Then, then, then, and I love this part, "all the fruits of the Holy Spirit - 'charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty, continency' - ripen and scent the air." Now, it's stuck in my mind that giving credit to God for anything that possibly makes a difference and that focusing on others will ripen the Fruits of the Spirit. I want that fruit to mature, to grow, to nourish, to become sweeter and less green, to come closer to completeness and perfection. How much better would this world be if we could actually smell the "scent in the air" of the ripening of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit? What a challenge to each of us to forget ourselves and to free the Spirit to enable Him to make progress! What a challenge for me to remember to give credit, if there be any, where credit is due, to our Great God. Today and every day, may we all seek to humble ourselves enough to aid in the ripening of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Tassel of His Cloak

I received a couple of different takes on today's Gospel reading from Mark. One is the idea that there was absolutely no holding back or keeping track of the healing that Jesus does in Gennesaret. As soon as He is recognized, the people gathered the sick from everywhere and all who touched were healed. "It's a good image for those times when we, too, are exhausted by the endless needs of God's people." When every child needs something and there's one more committee to serve on and your boss has one more favor that needs done and there's groceries to buy and laundry to do and one more story to write, "may the mighty God made manifest in Gennesaret cloak us with fresh spiritual power." Alicia von Stamwitz from Give Us This Day
In the homily at Mass, Fr. Mike mentioned that Jesus has something that everyone wants so once the crowds hear that He is in their village, they come from everywhere to see Him, to touch Him. They have heard and they believe and they recognize Him immediately. It reminds me of when I asked my father something like why he went to daily Mass or why he made Cursillo (doesn't matter what)and he answered because he saw the people who were doing it and wanted what they had. This Gospel makes me question just how do people recognize me? Would anyone look at my life and want what I have? Does anyone see Jesus Christ in me? Immediately? A short reading with a lot to think about!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Learning From the Elders

I make no qualms about the fact that all I have are hand me downs. I guess, so to speak, it's what most of us have. Maybe not so much in the way of clothes and shoes, but in the way of spiritual gifts, wisdom and understanding. You know, the things that really matter. Today, I took the time to sit on a "panel" with 4 other women and answer questions about life as a wife and a mother and a woman of faith. Every time I do something like that I think afterwards, man I wished I had said... And, today is no different. For one thing I wished I had plugged my blog and my new book coming from Our Sunday Visitor end of March. But, spiritually, I wished I had plugged the importance of stressing to our children about praying for their needs. I was so careful to ask the Holy Spirit not to let me say anything embarrassing that I forgot to ask Him to make sure I said something intelligent. Now I'm home and I'm wishing I had said more about the importance of being an example to all our children and not just our own, the importance of teaching children to be kind to one another and to their elders and the importance of raising children strong in the faith. The elders at the table and even the one or two women younger than me passed on the importance of a good relationship with our spouses so that our children know how to have healthy relationships. They spoke about enjoying marriage and children and taking time with each child on an individual basis. They shared how to dig deeper in our busy lives for what really matters. They were filled with joy. If I said that in front of my 10 year old, she would blurt out "JOY - Jesus others you".
Today, on this Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, I am reminded that my mother once told me that she would stop by the Chapel with one child at a time and at some point present each one of us to the Lord. I am reminded that our elders oftentimes recognize what needs to be said and done and they say it and they do it.
Today may I learn to present myself more clearly. May I learn to present to the Lord all that is in my life. May I learn from my elders and their great wisdom and their unselfish ways. Lord thank You for putting me in the right company, learning from the elders, sitting in the temple.