Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Come Be My Light Part 2

" He said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.'

He also told them, "Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." - Mark 4: 21-24

Today during some prayer time, I was thinking I needed some inspiration from St. Paul, but opened Scripture up to this passage (though St. Mark is my fav Gospel!). The 'bible roulette' technique hasn't worked for me in a while, so this was a pleasant surprise. Jesus is giving me some light! And asking me- us- to come be His.

The other day when I blogged about the Mother Teresa book, I mentioned how this is the message Jesus says to Mother Teresa- "Come Be My Light". He asks her to serve Him through the poor in India.

This whole year I've been wondering how God wants me to 'Come be His Light'. And this blog post is not to say I suddenly do. But this Bible passage today is a step in the direction of promise and trust.

God has given us all great gifts to share- we are His light. And if we believe that He loves us and has given us these gifts to share, why would he keep us hidden away? Or deprive of us of anything we need? It just doesn't make sense. Though it feels this is what He's been doing with me, I have to trust that He won't do it for long. And that's what he says here- and all with ears ought to hear! And suddenly my 'Abandonment to Divine Providence' posts and trust posts and posts on promise, are coming full circle.

Do I believe that God creates us, loves us, only to 'hide us under a bushel basket?' NO! If we believe and trust in Him and His gifts, the opportunities to shine our light are all around us. He says here that anything hidden, will be brought to the light, and we have to trust in that.

We all have been given alot, and- as de Caussade says in Abandonment to Divine Providence- even all that we need at each given moment. And Jesus says here there's more where that came from.

I know I've been wondering for a year why it seems Jesus is keeping me 'hidden'. But if I believe that I've been given many gifts, I must also believe that He doesn't want to keep them hidden, and that there IS a call to 'Come Be His Light', even if I don't know how yet.

I hope this makes sense. It was pretty empowering for me today. I still wish I had answers, but it is enough to trust and believe that God has given me many things and there is hope that there is more where that came from! And there is the promise that He won't keep me- us- hidden for long, if that is the case. (It also made me think of 'Dirty Dancing': 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner!' Or in this case, 'under a bushel basket!' ha ;)

I am confident that God wants each of us to, 'Come Be His Light'. We just have to believe this and then ask Him to show us how to use our gifts. And we have to let Him come be our Light too.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Come Be My Light

Seriously, God. Any day now. You can come bring that light on by anytime! I think 'Come Be My Light' are actually HIS word to HER, though, so I guess that does change things a little. That's maybe more work than I want to do right now anyway... :)

St. Ignatius Strikes Again!

Yesterday, I helped give a presentation for work to volunteers transitioning out of long-term service. I've given this presentation a few times now, and we have a section on Desolation and Consolation to help volunteers give a name to what they may or may not be feeling. Plus, St. Ignatius has such great tools for dealing with spiritual 'feelings', why re-invent the wheel for them?

In talking about desolation recently, I remembered a very important step from Ignatius that helped me sooo much around the summer of '06 when I was in full swing visiting religious orders. My spiritual director reminded me Ignatius says, 'do not make a major change in times of desolation'.

At the time, that was very helpful advice because I was experiencing some desolation with the sisters I was visiting, and they ended up not being the order I entered because of that. I took that lack of God's voice as a sign that that particular place was not the place for me.

Not that I'm planning on making any major changes to my life, but I wonder if maybe that's why none are coming my way either. It makes sense, if I am not 'feeling' God's presence, He's probably not going to be leading me into a new endeavor until He and I are 'feeling' whatever it is together...am I right?

Speaking of desolation, I am reading Mother Teresa's 'Come Be My Light' which brought much controversy because people thought it was an account of how Mother Teresa lived the last years of her live without any faith. I'm about 6 chapters in, and I can tell you this is not the case! That woman had a faith that I am currently envying! She put complete trust in God and trust purely out of her love for Him. I haven't gotten to the chapters on the 'desolation' part of her life yet, but just reading about what she had to go through to achieve her 'call within a call' as she refers to it- her being inspired by God to leave the order she was with to serve the poorest of the poor in India- she had to have lots and lots of faith! Shoot!

I've been reading all her letters to archbishops and her spiritual director, and even the Vatican, begging them to grant her requests. That woman was a persistent, let me tell you! She would write month after month to get her vision of the order approved, and then had to write more letters and wait longer to be excused (for lack of a better word on my part) of her current vows to start the new order. She had to wait ALOT it seems, and she wasn't always patient! But she completely trusted in God at the same time. I like to think that she and I have that in common...though I'm slightly wavering usually on the trust part!

She and St. Paul certainly have that in common- a complete love and trust for God that led them to be persistent in their goals. This requires, though, much patience, and I'm just now seeing that perseverance requires such patience.

I've always known some of my gifts are perseverance and persistence...I'm pretty good at 'hanging in there'. But having patience is NOT. Why would God do that? Give someone a couple of gifts, but leave one major component in making those gifts WORK out??? Hmmmm, God...you are making me wonder more and more about you lately! I suppose, though, that this is so we WILL rely on Him like Mother Teresa and St. Paul did. He's sooo tricky like that...

So I know I just prayed to St. Joseph for patience, but now I'm calling on Mother Teresa and St. Paul too. All you holy men and women, who love the Lord, give me patience through Him! Amen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lovely Ladies!

These ladies keep me sane! This is a pic from our latest women's group meeting. We took a break from our usual prayer format and had a BBQ! Though we are each in very different places in our lives, it is so clear that God brought us together at this time for a reason. And they definitely help me and support me in whatever God is taking me through right now and what He's done in the past, thanks ladies!!! You are such witnesses of Christ's love and you are beautiful!

Sunny Days

Usually summers in DC are pretty unbearable. It's one of the first things people say after you say, 'oh, I live in DC.' They usually respond with- 'oh, cool! But the summers are so humid...'. I've spent about 10 summers in DC now, and this is the first one that has actually been relatively mild! It's still hot, like 80's, but there is a cool breeze that definitely makes the heat more bearable.

I feel like that 'cool breeze' is what I've been asking God for lately. After the acceptance of 'this is where I'm supposed to be, even if I'm not super excited about it' there still is that prayer of, 'okay, God. But a little consolation would be nice!'. The 'cool breeze' is like the consolation that makes the 'heat' or this 'waiting period' a little more bearable in my life.

Again, I hope I'm not being dramatic. MY LIFE IS NOT UNBEARABLE. But I certain have been praying for consolation, just some reminder of the hope and promise that I am trusting in.

"Sunny Days"- Jars of Clay

sunny days keepin' the clouds away
i think we’re coming to a clearing and a brighter day
so far away and still i think they say
the wait will make the heart grow stronger
or fonder, i can’t quite remember, anyway

so if you’re waitin' for love
well, it’s a promise i'll keep
if you don’t mind believing that it changes everything
time will never matter

winter, spring -- is what love can truly bring
ice turns to water; water flows to everything
you can lose your mind
maybe then your heart, you’ll find
i hope you won’t give up what’s movin' you inside -- no

if the car won’t start when you turn the key
when the music comes on, all your cold, cold heart can do
is skip a beat

it’s a promise i'll keep when you’re waitin' for love
if you don’t mind believing that it changes everything
time will never matter (time will never matter)

This song is on the Jars of Clay album, 'Who We Are Instead' that I bought in 2003- the year I was on NET. I love Jars of Clay's lyrics because though they are Christian, they aren't in-your-face-Christian. And they can be interpreted in many ways, even years later.

This song was not one of the ones that spoke to me back then. But it's one that I've re-discovered recently, and I'm sure you can see why I'm loving it now!

"The wait will make heart grow stronger"

Mmmm...good to know the wait is good for something!

"If you are waitin' for love, it's a promise I'll keep"

I hope so Jesus! But the next line is OUR part of the deal-

"If you don't mind believin' that it changes everything. And time will never matter".

Before I entered the convent, it was easy to see how my commitment to love- the love I have for Jesus would 'change everything'. And it took some struggle to come to terms with some of those changes (some which I never could quite come to terms with, hence, the departure a year later), but ultimately when I said 'yes' to trying, I didn't mind believing that things would change. But the changes were a little more dramatic and visible.

Now, I say want change, but if I'm really honest with myself... I've just gotten comfortable again. So this 'not minding that love changes everything' part- it's harder than it seems. And God, I'm sure, wants to honor that for me. Which is why I'm probably in this holding period, even though I'm struggling to get out.

Regardless, this song makes so much sense and gives hope. I'm waiting for the car to start and that 'music to come on' which will make 'my heart skip a beat'. I like that image. Our hearts skip a beat and jump when things are unexpected....

End reflection #1 :). Now onto my next update/randomn thoughts!

Last week I also finished my St. Joseph novena. I do think I've gotten some consolation. I still need to practice patience, but today at Mass I felt a little bit closer to Jesus, and I like to think that is St. Joseph's doing :)

And...Gina from my women's group brought us a little St. Joseph to keep in our house! I was so touched by the gift! And on the day after I finished my novena! Thanks, Gina! You are the best and so thoughtful.

Sunny Days are HERE and also even more are on their way. We just have to keep the faith!

Which brings me to my last point for this blog...

I LOVE this movie- Keeping the Faith with Ed Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman. I must've watched it a buhzillion times in college and surprsingly (or not at all ;) in the convent as well.

I love it because it really discusses vocations in a real and deep way (but is super funny!). It points out the struggles for single, married, and religious vocations. The workaholic Anna who is the typical 'single', Jake who is discerning marriage, and Brian who is the vowed religious. They all question their vocations at different times, and there are many scenes that stand out- in particularly the one where Anna and Jake are in a fight in Anna's apartment, 'discerning' their relationship, and also one where Brian is talking to the pastor of his parish.

Today when I was watching it, for the buzillion-and-one time, the latter scene really stood out for me. Brian is telling the pastor about his confusion of his feelings for Anna, and the pastor says something really powerful about our vocations. I wished I could find this quote on imdb.com, but alas- you'll have to settle for my paraphrasing-

It was something about how we have to choose our vocations EACH DAY. It's not like you choose once and you're done. I could see this to be true when I was trying out religious life, but it really hit home today for me for some reason.

Anyways, take that for what it's worth. "I think we're coming to a clearing and a brighter day" :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Prayin' for Patience...Again.

I have returned to DC after an AH-mazing time in California. I am really grateful to my friends for encouraging me (so much so that they bought me a plane ticket! Sooo generous! I have such great, great friends) to come visit them in LA. It was a much needed vacation and the trip was totally perfect. Perfect weather, lots to do, beautiful location! My 2 college friends who used to live in my dorm at CUA and then also in my apt. building in Arlington, moved 2 years ago to LA and none of us could understand why. I now understand. Here is the view of their 'backyard':

I'd been to Cali before, but not LA. We did the touristy LA stuff like Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I was also there for the 4th of July, so I helped them prepare for their BBQ (well, 'help' is a loose term when it comes to me in the kitchen, we know) and then we also spent time relaxing on the beach in Malibu. If it were not for grad school and my friends here in DC, I would seriously consider moving there. I do love DC, but it is loosing it's allure for me, and I do love me some beach and sun!

Here are more pics of the aforementioned friends and events:

But now it is back to reality. I was really sad to leave. I was taking a vacation from many things it seemed- work, prayer, and my life here in DC- all of which have been leaving me just a little...for lack of a better word...."meh".

Today is the year anniversary of the day I started at my current job. It's not been the year I anticipated, let's just say. I do believe in the work I do and the organization's mission, but it hasn't been 'fulfilling' as we know. And as a single laywoman- my roommate has brought up this point before- it seems we seek fulfillment in our work, since we do not have a family or other vocation per se.

But I know that we cannot take our identity in our jobs. Nor can we take our identity in being a mother or a wife, etc. First and foremost we are a child of God. All the other things stem from and lead to that. It's not our main identity.

This has been my little mantra, anyways, that I like to tell myself.

But what to do when everyone else around seems to be 'fulfilled' by jobs or spouses or families??? PRAY, I say! It's all we can do!

My roommates and I have long joked that we need to get a statue of St. Joseph for our home to bring us husbands- since he is their patron! And today I just realized, on this my one year anniversary of my job, he is the patron saint of workers too. Laborers often pray to him for just wages and finding work.

I'm not one for statues myself (a weird phobia for a Catholic living in DC I know, but they FREAK me OUT) so I found a novena to St. Joseph that I think I'm going to start. What the heck. Can't hurt, right?

But as I found myself praying the prayer, a little tidbit that my spiritual director confided to me a month or so ago came to mind, 'don't pray for THINGS'. And I myself was hesitant to ask St. Joseph straight outright anyways for a husband...it just doesn't seem right. GIVE ME THIS. NOW. IN NINE DAYS. Probably not the best use of prayer time.

Into my head this thought pops- TOTALLY unsolicited or invited, mind you, such rude thoughts....

'pray for PATIENCE'

Now, we all know this is the LAST thing anyone should ever pray for because then your patience is TESTED, friends! So I battled it out with St. Joseph briefly.

Really? I should pray for 'patience' for a spouse or a fulfilling job? That's really what I need to be praying for? Haven't I been patient enough?? Humph. I know people always say things come when you aren't LOOKING for things. But how do I FIND them if I don't LOOK, huh? HUH?!

I realize my verbal foot stomping here makes me look like a three year old child in need of a little...well... patience. Fine. I will try this patience prayer novena thing. St. Joseph did not have it easy. He definitely got a bum deal in many ways- angels telling him stuff in dreams, getting the responsibility of a father kind of sprung on him without his invitation necessarily....I guess he could be a good patience patron for me. At least maybe he could help me be more understanding of it.

Well, I'll let you know how that goes...

St. Joseph, Foster Father and Patron of Husbands and Workers, pray for us!