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Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

It’s been a difficult winter season here. No getting around that. And I’m not just talking about the cold and the snowfall. In some ways, that has added some beauty to the landscape, and frankly, the excuse to cocoon a bit. Just a bit, because I’ve been out straight as they say. To compensate I’ve have to let go of a few things in order to embrace whatever fire is burning in front of me. To that end, I’ve missed writing and working consistently, I’ve missed getting together with friends or experiencing restful downtimes, I’ve missed podcasting, I’ve missed walking, and I’ve missed what I call balance-in-my-life. Even my prayer life — the anchor of each day — has been getting shifted into new times and forms, though that’s not always a bad thing.

My heart has been broken over sadnesses within my family, my friends’ lives, and mounting pressures — some unavoidable and some self-inflicted. Thank God for the menopausal crying jags… they cleanse me when I least expect them! If you know me, you can laugh at that last thing. Being a woman is still a wonderful thing — and it’s a wonder that I can recognize this new me on some days! Haha!

I’m not griping or ranting as if I’m looking for pity or for sympathies. I’m just a beggar who knows where her bread comes from, and I’ve written about in my latest over at Patheos. I had one of those Jesus moments that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.

Here’s some of that…

All I wanted was a minute’s peace.

No, that’s not accurate. All I wanted was world peace, or something akin in my own little corner of it. At the very least, I wanted the noise in the church to go away. I wanted peace and quiet and escape from all that burdened me.

The Christmas season was ebbing away. I closed my eyes to pray after communion at Mass, to adore the Presence of Jesus in that moment. I attempted to pour out my heart, to break free from my troubles, to lean in and let him restore me with his holy food.

Instead I was remarkably distracted.

Normally, in prayer, I can tune out what’s around me. This day my concentration proved inadequate to the distractions.

The church seemed chaotic. I could not escape the scratchy shuffling of communicants in line to receive. After a New England snowfall, the “snowmelt”—salt and sand that sticks to the bottom of shoes—makes a scraping, gritty contact with the floor tiles in our church.

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Even the music distracted me; the cantor, Lord have mercy,was out of sync with the hymn.

Oh geez, I know I am pitiful as I nitpick others—after communion, no less! Lord have mercy… on me.

There’s the distinctive cry of a newborn baby, and a new momma trying all she can to console, to no avail. She’ll figure it out soon enough. She needs to be here as much as we need her to be here with her little one. And their small chaos jolts me back to where I am.

I refocus, this time on the other baby within my line of sight—the Babe in the manger—in all his poverty and humility; Jesus born into our chaos.

 Read it all. 

:::

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Immortal Gladness Rings Through Sadness

Immortal Gladness Rings Through Sadness

On Friday I kept my regular appointment to pick up my weekly mail. It’s a rambling backwoods drive through beautiful woodlands and fields to a small village, where the local luncheonette and the post office and a bank all share the same friendly space. For me it was a brief mental escape affording me a few minutes of quiet and normal on a cold, gray, rainy day. Actually the weather fit my mood…  since there was nothing really normal about the day at all.

It began with the earth-quaking news that a friend of ours, Steve, a longtime singer alongside us at church, was killed when his motorcycle collided with an oncoming truck.

Lord, have mercy.

There is no making sense of such things. And yet the reality that someone you know is no longer with us has a way of coloring everything you see and hear. And you understand just how connected we are.

I parked in the first empty space, and dashed through the rain to the lobby to the P.O. box. I grabbed the letters and returned to sit silently in my car for a few minutes. I opened the mail in a distracted funk. Meanwhile I perceived muffled sounds beyond the white noise of the falling rain on the windshield.

Oh gosh. Music!

I rolled down the window to listen. Across the street is a little white church, its bells pealing at noon. I had no idea of the time of day until I heard the familiar hymn, one note at a time. The godly lyrics tumbled in my brain as the bells washed over me and the raindrops blew in.

 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love…

This unexpected hymn pierced my darkness in that brooding moment. Of course, it was time to pray the Angelus and to praise! Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the weather, the noontime bells beckon us to come, to be with God, for He is, truly, with us

Hearts unfold like flowers before You,
Opening to the sun above.


Steve would have loved this musical moment with God. He understood the power of music to lift hearts. He was a cheerful song leader; a baritone who smiled whenever he sang.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away,


God knew what I needed right when I needed it. It’s a small consolation for which I’m grateful.

I am holding fast to the idea that our omnipresent and loving God knew exactly what Steve needed – exactly when he needed it. (Prov 15: 3, 1 John 3:20)

In a few days the church bells will toll at Steve’s funeral. And all present will be confronted with the truth we profess to believe.

Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!


One of the singers I know quipped that maybe there’s a new baritone in Heaven’s choir.

I’d like to think he’s right.

 

 

:::

Please lift a prayer for Steve, his wife, his three adult children, and their loved ones. He brought much good to his family and our community. May he see immortal gladness, and sing to God with all his heart.

 

This makes me think… about a woman’s tears.

Christ promises that in heaven all tears will be dried, and Kierkegaard comments about the sad condition of those who have never shed a tear. We should cry over the daily offenses to God, cry over our sins, cry over the ingratitude of man. the most holy of all women, Mary, is called the mater dolorosa (sorrowful mother)…

A woman’s way to holiness is clearly to purify her God-given sensitivity and to direct it into the proper channels. She should fight tears and pray for holy tears — tears of love, of gratitude, of contrition.

The Privilege of Being a Woman, Alice von Hildebrand, (Sapienta Press, 2002.)

Our Lady of Sorrows feast day is Sept 15.