Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Stopping to See (and Smell!) the Signs

I wish that I could say that it's officially fall, and I suppose it technically is, but it sure doesn't feel like it. The weather has still been in the upper 80s and today it was upper 90s here in VA, but regardless if it feels like fall or not, it is October and this month is full of some of my favorite feasts.

Oct. 1- St. Therese of Lisiuex
Oct. 2- Feast of the Guardian Angels
Oct. 3- Mean Girls Day (ok, not a feast, but if you know me, it's a THING ;)
Oct. 4- Francis of Assisi
Oct. 7- Our Lady of the Rosary
Oct. 15- St. Teresa of Avila
Oct. 22- St. Pope John Paul II

And these are just a few of my favorites!

So October is a good month for prayer and intercession. Which is appropriate because September was busy as expected and last month was particularly tough. I had a couple of out of town trips scheduled that were for fun things and they were indeed fun. But I also had to extend one of those trips because after a year of suffering from the results of a stroke, my 96 Polish grandmother-Babci-passed away.

Babci and I in 2013 for my MA graduation and Easter circa 1989? '90? 

I'm still processing the loss and her life, but it was actually a very blessed time with family celebrating and honoring her life. People from so many of her walks of her long life lined up for the visitation and wake where we said a rosary with the last decade being in Polish. While we were praying, I remembered the trip to Israel with my parents earlier this year during which we saw people from Poland everywhere! It was like my Babci was with us then and I know that she is still with us now.

As many of you know, each year around the end of September, I pray my novena to St. Therese of Lisieux and ask her to show that she has heard my intentions by sending me the sign of a rose or flowers. I have prayed this novena with varying success for the past 10 years or so, but in the last 3 years in particular, she has consistently made signs known to me, including this year.

I was certainly not expecting all of these in the alley behind my house this AM when I went to take out my trash! Maybe the unseasonably warm weather is a gift after all!

Signs have been on my mind for the last month or so now. My students and I are going through the book of Genesis which is always so hard to do at the beginning of the year. There is so much figurative language but so many important stories with religious truth and symbolism. The story of Noah is always the story that they are the most familiar with and so I always show a modern movie which twists the original story slightly- Evan Almighty. 

In the film, Evan receives a series of signs from God to indicate that he has been chosen to build this ark. He is super doubtful and resists God for the first half of the movie. I also always have the students complete a worksheet while we are watching the film and ask them if they have ever received "signs" from God. In the more recent years, the ones who answer that  "yes, they have" gets fewer and fewer. Often times, they think that I am asking if they receive ridiculous ones like in the film, but I think the real issue is that their lives are so jam packed full that they don't even have time to observe anything around them (this is evident in their not picking up on various cues in the classroom, but that's another post for another time...).

I am guilty of being less observant of these signs from God myself. In the age of social media and Netflix, any spare time that I have is often spent vegging out on the couch on my phone or binging the latest series. I am grateful that I grew up in a time when these things weren't available and we had to be truly bored so that I would read, or go outside, or take time to journal, play music and pray. Because even though I don't make as much time for these latter things as I should, I still find myself doing them on occasion out of habit. I pray that this generation will also make time for and find the importance of such things, particularly in prayer.

There are several things in the Church that I feel need updating or re-looking at right now, but the things that keep me or hold me are the stories, the rituals and I believe these things are still relevant to youth today. My students love the stories in Genesis. And any time I do give them moments of silence or opportunities to reflect, they find them beneficial. They seem to make the connections when given the opportunity. We just need to give ourselves more time to observe the signs.

My goal this month is to treat every day like I treat these days around the feast of St. Therese- to try and stay open for God's signs. And that means I have to get off of my couch, turn off my phone, and stop and smell the roses sometimes.