Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reaping the Harvest

I know I constantly talk about the spiritual cycle and also how I love all of the things about Fall.

See exhibit A from last year

Exhibit B from year prior (just the last bit on harvesting of my FAVORITE things about fall: FALL WINE! And it comes so timely: just as school starts. THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES, people!)

I was reflecting this week on how great a week it had been. School seemed to go smoothly and quickly as we've "fallen" into the routine, the weather was starting to become just right for a light jacket, and all felt right in the world....


To speak ONCE AGAIN about the cycle of life, there is no coincidence that it is many a person's favorite season. (this is only my 2nd favorite McSweeney's article on fall. The 1st is too profane to link as I have previously mentioned last year, but enjoy!)

My mood is always heavily affected by the weather and so winter is THE WORST. Things outside die and I feel dead inside (Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but you get the point). Spring starts to bring about some life and I get excited to see the sun again, but Spring and Summer can still be WORK. (Well, not really anymore since I've taken up teaching....but....hmmm. Maybe I'm not the greatest example of this...)  But it's hot out and (if and when) we are working, there is sweat on our brow and while we may get some days at the beach, they are much deserved because we've been working to maintain whatever is we are trying to maintain throughout the year (for some of us, it's just a tan :)

My point is, by fall we are ready to reap the harvest of our year's efforts! We have fruit to show for the hard labor we've put in for the year,  and we are ready to slow down and enjoy the nice weather that comes with these fruits.

The school year can confuse us a bit because we've really just started, but in reality, we are nine+ months into the year! A BABY could be produced by this time! New Life! (I think my body just broke out into hives a little bit with the mention of babies, or it could just be my seasonal allergies, but again, YOU GET MY POINT). A lot has happened in these past nine months of 2012 and now it's time to start enjoying our efforts before the cold comes again and takes it all away.

So reap and enjoy this harvest! We will give thanks for it at the END of fall, but Imma start enjoying it from the get-go. Glass of wine, anyone? Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING?! Let's DO THIS.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Holy Mother! (of Grace)

So clearly I have been off the blog train this past "back to school" month and unfortunately, that means prayer time has also been a little derailed (see what I did there? ). If you haven't figured out already, muh prayer often inspires muh blogs. And lately the inspiration has been lacking at the fault of no one but, well, me, myself, and I.

You may recall when I went to spiritual direction last...oh, wayyyyy back in June (eep!) Father had told me  not to focus so much on goals or routine for my prayer in the summer, but on confidence in my prayer and in Jesus. He described it as a Marian Peace.

Here's the thing...I feel like I need to back up and explain a little of my relationship with Mary. I didn't really have one until college when I realllllyyyy liked a boy and my spiritual director at the time told me to pray a novena to Mary using the Memorare (which I had never heard of before that point). I was open to it (mainly because of the boy!) and prayed the novena. On the 9th day, I got my answer...but it wasn't the one that I wanted. Thus begins my relationship with the Mother of God: she had answered my prayer, but she was the tough love type in my eyes.

And so brings us to present day. I finally sat myself down in the chapel during one of my free periods at school and tried to do my regular routine of spiritual reading and journaling. That wasn't quite working, so I thought of how Father told me just to rest in prayer and focus on confidence in the Lord. While that was certainly very lovely, I am a girl who likes a bit of a challenge. So my mind shifted from Christ's Love to Mary- the woman of "tough love."

There she was- waiting to challenge me. I instantly thought: "it is easier for me to pray to Christ. Much more difficult to win over the MOTHER of the one you love." Right?

Mary doesn't need to be "won over", of course, but I like that idea. It helps to push me a little. Christ and I- we are good. I know He loves me. We were engaged after all! So I like the idea of using Mary to get to Christ in a different way, a new way, a more challenging way. You may recall that I often add a rosary during the Penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. I am going to make praying to Mary during my prayer time more of a point right now- even though those seasons are still far off. And I'm hoping she will draw me closer to her son in a new way.

As usual, what is happening in my classroom also affects my prayer and lately we've been talking about GRACE. I've taught Sacraments so many times that sometimes I take God's Grace for granted. It is indeed a free gift that we cannot earn. People misunderstand that. We think that we need to DO something. And there certainly are things that we Catholics can do to receive EXTRA grace (sanctifying, sacramental, and all that...) but it's not that we earn it. God gives it. Freely.

I went to Confession this evening and Father told me for my penance to pray some Hail Marys (alright, Mary!) and reflect upon God's Mercy. And so I did (need to make it a true confession, right??). The first thought that came to my mind was similar to what I thought earlier in the chapel at school: "You make it so easy for us, Lord. One Confession. Sins erased. You make it EASY for us. WE make it hard."

In an election year, I get pretty excited about the political process, but it also STRESSES ME OUT. CAN"T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?! We tend to make things difficult. But I think we need to do what the priest told me today after Confession. Let's think about God's Mercy and Love. St Paul (as usual) as some cool things to say about Love (one that we should be familiar with):

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal." 1 Corinth. 12:31

Man, are there some people that sound like resounding gongs these days! Where is the love?! There is just no pleasing everyone. Even Jesus says so in the Gospel:

"For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine and you said: 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by all her children." - Luke 7: 35

The free gift of Grace can help us overcome the negative effects of our Original Sin. (Arguing and bitterness and hate to name just some!) And Grace can help clear out the gunk keeping us from moving forward in our lives and our relationship with God. Let's pray to Our Lady of Grace for our country and for all who need prayers:

Our Lady of Grace, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.