When I hike, I see the world differently. Glimpses of Jesus’ resurrection emerge around and within me. And even glimpses of the resurrection are sufficient for a bubbling up and welling over of hope and joy in the soul.
It’s not that resurrection doesn’t exist in changing diapers, saying “I’m sorry,” and cooking dinner for my family. Thanks be to God, it does! If God’s love couldn’t be found in the hidden moments of our lives, what hope would we have?
In nature, though, resurrection breaks though in a different kind of raw and wonder-full way.
On a recent family hike in Northern Arizona, a dead cactus on the side of the trail caught my eye. Gray in color, it shriveled back toward the earth. Out of the decay shot bright wildflowers—violet, white, yellow. I pointed it out to my dad, and he said, “Rebirth.”
Though I can steal a glance at a mountain from a window in our home, I’m surrounded by much more concrete than I’d prefer. Neighbors line up close to one another. I hear conversations I wish I didn’t, usher my children inside when neighbors’ smoke fills our backyard air, and try to make light when our “fun neighbor” blasts techno midday while we homeschool. Nothing like a little background music, I suppose. Sometimes, though, my humanity and the humanity of others feels uncomfortably close. I become cranky, judgmental, and ungrateful.
I need to be reminded of the ways God restores. The natural world does this for me. Does it do the same for you?
Phone away, chores out of sight, man made landscape left at the trailhead, the present moment is the one that matters on a trail. Open landscape shocks my eyes. God is so good to create such vast expanse. His power is evident. The air fills my nose and lungs, and I can breathe in a different way. When was the last time you inhaled and exhaled, and felt like you really filled up and let go? My ears are pleased by quiet, sounds of nature, and conversation with hiking companions. And even though my children complain of tired legs or cry out for piggy back rides, it somehow feels easier being outside.
When I’m out in God’s creation, he does work on me, his creature. He re-creates me.
If you are not and do not desire to be a hiker, I invite you to consider where God re-creates you. Where can you be yourself with the Lord? Where does God inspire you with his creativity, abundance, and goodness? Where do moments of lightness and joy come more easily? Where do the words “Thank you, God” spontaneously spill from your heart and lips? Wherever that is, perhaps you can find time to meet the Lord there this week. He lives so we might be re-created in him, again and again.
I grew up eating tomatoes off the vine, warm juice flowing down my hands and arms. From a young age, I had my hands in the dirt, participating in our family’s weekly “Pride of Ownership Hour” in the yard—my siblings and I called this time “POOH.” I giggle at “POOH” even more now that I have children who relish in any opportunity for innocent potty humor.
As I traversed my teenage and young adult years, I disconnected from food’s origins. Food became bad or good and would make me fat or skinny. A meal could come as a packaged protein bar, or other “approved” foods, and only in specific portions. I recall once walking into a dining hall with my exact meal planned. When the dining hall didn’t have a certain element of the meal, I was so overcome by anxiety I had to leave.
When I became a mother for the first time, I knew my relationship with food needed to change. I needed to nourish the life within my womb. I needed to keep another human being alive and try to help him thrive. Through motherhood, I came back to the garden.
Though the process has taken years, creating and maintaining a garden has been one of God’s greatest agents of healing in my life. Of course God brings healing through the actual food we grow—his creation is so beautiful and designed to nourish our bodies. But God doesn’t stop at healing one part of us, he wants our wholeness. God has used our garden to heal many of my wounds. God has healed and continues to heal by sanctifying our garden as a place of holy work and holy waste.
It is true, good, and beautiful to work soil through your hands. I’ve learned what soil should look and smell like. I’ve prepared soil, rejoiced in the worms that do such good for it, and put down seeds. My children help me water, watch for pests, and sprinkle coffee grounds. Together, our family watches life emerge and we care for it. We’ve also watched crops die, which imparts a lesson of its own. When the time comes, we harvest. Sometimes the food makes it to the kitchen. Other times, the broccoli or carrots I had hoped to use for dinner are consumed in the garden by my children before they come near the plate.
While the garden is a place of holy work, it is also a place of holy waste. When I was in college, my spiritual director told me to make a “holy waste of time” each week. “Sit on a bench and do nothing,” she said. Watch the trees, listen to the birds, close your eyes. Just be.
We all know this assignment can be exceedingly difficult. But, if you begin a garden, I think you will be one step closer to making a holy waste of time. The garden holds more than meets the untrained eye. It reintroduces awe with discoveries of caterpillars that will become butterflies, ladybugs helpfully eating aphids, seedlings poking their heads through the surface, gorgeous broccoli and beetroot opening their leaves to the sky. The garden, especially with the help of children, is a place of wonder. It invites us not only to work, but to rest, marvel, and enjoy.
I sometimes wonder about the gardens where Jesus wandered and prayed. I find myself thinking of this more often during this season of Lent, as I pray the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary a bit more often. I look out at my own garden, and picture Jesus there, deep in prayer.
Jesus, help us come close to the earth as you did. Knees on the dirt, hands working in stewardship of your Father’s gifts, hearts grateful for the moments of holy work and waste you provide.
My four-year-old daughter’s face was covered in dark chocolate sea salt ice cream bar. A vendor at the farmers market said, “That’s farmers market face!” He grabbed a towel for her, and when he handed it to me, he said, “There’s a story there.” He was right.
For years, I wanted to be somewhere other than where I am.
In vulnerability, I open my interior narrative to you: If we lived in another state, we could afford a single family home with a yard. If we lived in another state, we could afford to send our children to Catholic school. If we lived in another state, we could be closer to nature. If we lived in another state, we could build community more easily.
What was the true longing behind the narrative? If I was somewhere else, I’d be happier.
If I could add up the time of my thoughts, I’m sure I would find that I’ve spent weeks of my life coveting a life that is not mine.
We have tried to make a move—more than once. More than once the job opportunity was there, within reach. And then—the door would slam shut.
God was being abundantly and mercifully clear with us. For years, though, we didn’t want to listen.
Why can it be so difficult for us humans to accept God’s will? Personally, I think I suffer from a type of spiritual amnesia wherein I forget that God is good and loving. Or, I am fooled into believing the lie that he isn’t who he says he is.
I accepted our unfulfilled desires and waiting as part of God’s plan, perhaps a way that he wanted me to grow in patience. I was hopeful, however, that the waiting would be no longer than minimally necessary. I never laid roots, because I kept expecting to leave.
Something happened, though. My husband and I sat in our garage one day as we paused from housework. We started talking about our week, and like a bolt out of the blue, God’s goodness broke in. It actually made me laugh. I saw with clarity: God is at work in our lives. God is at work right here in this place.
For years, I was blinded by my desires. They were good desires—a yard for my children, access to nature, authentic community. But, they were mine because I believed that these desires could only be met in a certain way. I was living out of scarcity, but our God is a God of abundance.
In the garage, I laughed. And after I laughed, I cried. I wept over my ingratitude. Over desiring other than what God had generously given.
In the months that have followed, I have wept again, but this time over seeing God’s goodness so clearly in my daily life. I look upon the mountains so close to our home, and God fills my heart with awe. A friend drops off pedialyte popsicles and supplies when a stomach bug runs amuck in our home, and I know we have community. Our doctor moves around his schedule so he can see my children rather than have them see a doctor they don’t know, and I know God’s care. A stranger offers me her child’s spare clothes when an accident left me walking around with a toddler in a pull-up, and I know God is merciful. A vendor at the farmers market gives me a towel and a kind word for my sticky daughter with farmers market face, and I trust that it’s all part of God’s story. Isn’t he a beautiful author?
I had only been homeschooling for one month, and I was desperate. Why did I think I could do this? Why did we think this was the best fit for our family?
I wanted the day to paint this picture: I gather our children to begin school. They listen and move to our “classroom” area. The children sit at my feet and we pray together and read a story. Then, I commence one-on-one work time with our son while our girls play peaceably together.
As the mother of my three small humans, what was I thinking?!
Instead, our children would gather, sometimes half-clothed. We would pray, some of us sitting, others standing, others on the ground playing with their sibling’s hair or toes. At the mention of schoolwork, our son would moan, and at the start of schoolwork, he would melt down his chair, defeated by some invisible thing I could not understand. Instead of play together, our two-year-old would either take off running in her diaper or displease her sister by playing incorrectly with a certain toy, and our four-year-old would protest that the schoolwork I gave her to do was not schoolworky enough!
One day, as I cried and looked into brick-and-mortar schools for our son, I decided to look for a podcast that could speak words of wisdom to my weary soul. I typed in “Homeschool struggle.”
As an aside, I have since typed in “homeschool struggle” (though not for the same reasons), and many other options populate, homeschooling with joy not included. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for having my back that day.
I listened to an interview with Bonnie Landry, and then tracked down her four-part workshop on homeschooling with joy. I took in her wisdom, humor, and encouragement. I picked up tools and put them in my homeschooling tool belt. Most of all, I gathered up hope. It’s going to be okay. We can do this.
Every family is different, so home education in our home will be different than in the Mackenzie, Foss, or Landry homes. I also don’t know if we would still be homeschooling were it not for the tools and support these women provide to so many. Through their books and other media, they have helped our family find joy in home education.
So, what have I learned and how has it fostered joy?
Reading Aloud is Never a Waste
A friend introduced me to Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival and her book, Teaching from Rest. What I’ve learned both from Mackenzie’s words and my own experience is that reading aloud to my children is never a waste. Picture books can be beautifully written and illustrated. Adults do not need to and should not settle for cheap made-to-sell picture books based on television shows. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” Reading aloud together brings us physically close and connects us—even if only for a moment—in a common task.
On the difficult days reading aloud seems to be the only thing I know how to do well. Or, rather, that we, my children and I, know how to do well. Because even when we are sick, tired, or on edge, we can still cuddle close and enter a story together.
There is joy in this presence.
Education is Everywhere
In home education, our children (and we) do not learn in blocks of 30 minutes, move mechanically from subject to subject, and then neatly close the school day to commence our not-learning part of the day. Rather, education is an environment and disposition. (Elizabeth Foss’s Real Learning Revisited is an excellent resource on this.) My children learn during math and reading work and while we sit outside to notice and wonder at nature. They learn when they help put away laundry and the clean dishes. They learn when they play, fight and then forgive. They learn when we pray together, read Scripture together, and talk about the saints. They learn from me—from my habits and virtues (or lack thereof). Learning is a way of life.
There is joy in this curiosity and wonder.
Pleasing, Not Perfect
How am I supposed to keep a home clean, educate my children, get meals on the table, and steward my own self-care? Given that being frantic or discouraged all the time is not a good option, we are called to find a more life-giving way.
Bonnie Landry offers a wonderful phrase to guide us: pleasing, not perfect. Our homes do not need to be perfectly clean or organized, but it helps tremendously if they are pleasing. Sufficient order in our space helps us think clearly, allows for creativity, and fosters peace.
Upon transitioning from one thing to another, we tidy up. We clear our dishes from the table and push in our chairs. Even toddlers can assist in these simple tasks. The beginnings of responsibility, respect, and good habit building. There are moments in the day that our home does indeed look as if the toy closet has vomited all over the house. But, we try our best to tidy as we go.
There is joy in the discipline of pleasing, not perfect.
What’s Your Why
When we started to consider home education, some of our motives were based in fear. But, those motives were only partial truths.
Our true why comes from a love of what is good, beautiful, and true. It is good, beautiful, and true to see our children teaching and helping each other. To discover what our children find joy in and struggle with as unique persons. To pray together, visit Jesus together, and talk about the deeper questions of our minds and hearts. To keep “Papa time” on Wednesdays and to “read with Omi” on FaceTime. To learn together what it means to know, love, and serve God, and become the people he wants us to be.
While education looks different in each family, I’m grateful that God has placed home education in the heart of ours. Though I would not have believed it in the first month of school, and it can be challenging to believe on the tough days, it is possible to homeschool with deep joy.
I recently realized I had been listening to a lie: You can’t become a saint like this. You’re just a mom.
As a woman who writes and reflects on how our vocation as parents leads us along the path of holiness, I was shocked I could be so deceived. When I shared this with my confessor, he shepherded me back to the simple truth that my ego loves to forget. He said, “Caitlan, we are called to become little.”
My ego is repulsed by humility—You can only become a saint if people know who you are. The hiddenness of your life isn’t doing real work for the Kingdom. You’re not doing enough.
But, the saints didn’t live outside of sin, temptation, or the mess of life. They don’t show us the perfect, easy, or sanitized way. They journey with us along the demanding but well-trodden path of authentic love, self-sacrifice, repentance, praise, and prayer. They show us how to set our gaze on and remain in God’s love over and over and over again.
Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. André Bessette, who was born Alfred Bessette in Quebec on August 9, 1845. Alfred was sickly from birth—he was baptized immediately after being born in case he lived only a few days. By the time Alfred was 12 years old, he had been orphaned. He continued to have poor health and lacked formal education.
However, from a young age, Alfred had fervent faith and a devotion to St. Joseph. Alfred’s childhood pastor (named Fr. André) encouraged a vocation to the priesthood, and sent Alfred to the Congregation of Holy Cross with a note that said, “I am sending you a saint.” The Congregation did not accept Alfred, because of his poor health. Rather than become discouraged, Alfred gained assistance from the Archbishop of Montreal, and was accepted into the Holy Cross Novitiate in 1870.
The Congregation assigned Alfred—now, Brother André—to be doorkeeper of Notre Dame College in Montreal. His poor health and lack of education seemed suitable for this simple position. As doorkeeper, Brother André greeted visitors and tended to their needs.
Visitors to the College who prayed with Brother André experienced physical healing. News spread and pilgrims traveled to see Brother André, pray with him, and experience healing. Brother André was confused by his popularity and attributed all healing to St. Joseph’s intercession.
Brother André desired to increase devotion to St. Joseph, and so founded a shrine to St. Joseph—the Oratory of St. Joseph—across the street from the college. In 1909, Brother André was released from his duty as doorkeeper to become caretaker of the Oratory and tend to sick pilgrims who traveled to the Oratory to see him. Thousands of miraculous healings were attributed to the “Miracle Man of Montreal” over the next decades until Brother André’s death on January 6, 1937.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized St. André Bessette on October 17, 2020, making him the first saint from the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
One may assume that being a mom automatically equals being humble. After all, cleaning poopy bottoms, having food smeared on our clothes, caring for sick children, and driving to and fro is the status quo.
However, external realities like these don’t always show forth the state of our hearts. We might ask ourselves: Do I give joyfully? Do I serve out of love for Jesus? Do I freely entrust myself to God’s will for me and my family? Do I trust that God is always good, trustworthy, and faithful?
When I beg God to give me a humble heart, he does that and more—he fills that humble heart with joy, peace, and desire to love.
As we celebrate the feast of St. André Bessette today, let’s join together in asking his intercession for faithful and humble hearts. For, in the words of St. André, “It is with the smallest brushes that the Artist paints the best paintings.”
My family’s little garden always bears fruit by way of the lessons it teaches me. As Southern Californians, we get the great gift of planting in the fall to harvest in the winter. The winter garden is a special treat—it bears peppery arugula, intensely purple beets, sweet broccoli, and carrots perfect for picking by my children. This season, the garden is teaching me about how we wait. An aptly timed lesson (Holy Spirit, you are always on point) as we walk through Advent, the liturgical season of watching and waiting.
Sanguine (temperament) that he is, my son talks a lot and expresses how he feels from one moment to the next. The reality of waiting is often the tragedy of the moment: “I can’t wait anymore!” I’ll respond, “You’re right. Waiting is not easy.”
It can be hard to accept waiting. It is difficult for my children to wait for exciting events on the horizon. (For me, too!) As adults, it can be even more difficult to wait as we bear the crosses of life. Periods of seeming silence from God. Uncertainty at work. Sickness. Marital struggles. Infertility. Financial stress. Family members who stay away from faith. Sorrows we experience in life cannot be done away with by the click of a mouse or tap on a screen. Instead of detest our crosses or become discouraged by them, what can we do?
Let’s walk back to the garden together.
We planted several sunflowers from seed in our garden in the late summer after a workshop at a local farm. The planting time was not ideal, given that we planted sun-loving flowers on the cusp of shorter days and cooler weather. We’ve had to wait much longer for our flowers to bloom.
Over the past two and a half months, my children and I have cultivated a daily habit of watching and waiting for our sunflowers to bloom. In the waiting, we have witnessed seed become seedling and stalk shoot up past the fence. We have marveled together at how the buds unfurled a bit at a time, and opened their intricate and bright faces to the sky. Waiting has grown us in patience, gratitude, and awe for God’s creation and our collaboration in it.
The garden can give us hope and faith that God works on us in the waiting. The waiting time is holy because of how it forms us. Waiting is not easy, but it compels us to return again and again to the garden. Again and again to our Blessed Mother, and to the feet of Jesus. If God can bring such beauty from out-of-season sunflowers, imagine what he can do with us, his crown of creation.
This month, we end our current liturgical year, and begin a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent on November 28. The secular world gets excited for new beginnings, resolutions, and a better way with New Year’s Day. As a Church, though, we have an opportunity now, at this liturgical transition time, to have a conversation with Jesus. To reflect back, look around, turn in, and step out again in love. The autumn weather and nature scenes remind us that things die, there is time for rest, and God is always at work, bringing new life to our hearts, our homes, and the world.
What has this past liturgical year looked like for you? How has God been at work in your life over the past year?
If Jesus was sitting with you, how would you describe your life right now to him?
If Jesus was sitting on the sofa with me right now, I’d offer him a cup of coffee (I wonder how he’d take that) and a cozy blanket. I’d tell him I’m both tired and grateful. I’d tell him I love my husband and children, and I feel so blessed by them. Blessed both by their love and by the ways they stretch me to become a holy woman. I’d tell Jesus I know he’s working in my life, but I can’t see the whole path ahead. I’d tell him I hear him when he plants the Jesus Prayer (Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) in my heart when I’ve got no other words, or when I can’t get the lyrics, “Abba, I belong to you” out of my head. I’d thank him for the saints, and their words of wisdom and consolation. I’d say, “Remember when Saint John of the Cross said, ‘Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides. They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden.’—that’s kind of how I feel right now.” And if Jesus was sitting on the sofa with me, I think I’d like to sit with him for a nice long time. No words necessary.
We have the grace of entering into a new liturgical year when Advent begins. We can intentionally simplify our homes and our schedules, even when the world tempts us to speed up for fear of missing out. We will begin again by waiting on the Lord to come. We will not begin the new liturgical year as we often begin the New Year, sure of our own resolve and ability to change our lives. We begin with hearts set on Jesus—the One who is to come.
As Jesus would finish his coffee (I’m presuming), and before I’d offer him a refill, I think I’d like to turn to him, and out of the quiet say, “Jesus, I entrust this day to you. Jesus, I entrust my work and my worries to you. Jesus, I entrust my children to you. Jesus, I entrust my marriage to you. Jesus, I entrust this next year to you.”
So, as one year in the Church ends and another begins, let’s entrust what has been, what is now, and what will be to God. In the words of the late Rev. John Dunne, C.S.C., “For what I have been given, Thanks; for what is to be, Yes.”
I sat down on the sofa with my mug of coffee to start the day with prayer. The house was quiet apart from the patter of rain and song of birds that reached my ears through cracked open windows. I’d slept alright, but I was tired. Tired from long hours, packed into days, stacked into weeks, collected into months.
Do you feel that way too, at times?
Do you sense that there is hope for a new beginning—a new school year, the new season of fall, new relationships—and also that what we would like to leave behind still lingers?
I opened my devotional and read from the prophet Isaiah: “You shall nurse, carried in her arms,/ cradled upon her knees;/ As a mother comforts her child,/ so I will comfort you;/ in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort” (Isaiah 66:12-13).
The word that stayed with me: “cradled.”
This word spoke to a deep longing in me. In that word, I knew my prayer for the day: “Lord, I want to be cradled by you. Let me sit in your lap. Hold me in your arms. When I’m cradled by you, I find rest and peace.”
God is sure and steady, but by midday I felt myself getting rocked right out of that cradle. Child crying (alas, screaming) unless held. Child melting down the chair at the thought of math. Text chiming with messages of sickness, news of a death, prayer requests.
Gaze no longer on God’s face, my tear-filled tired eyes looked down at the bathroom floor as I rested where parents of young kids rest.
I mustered the energy to leave the bathroom, to put one foot in front of the other, and figure out what to do next.
And then I remembered our Mother, Mary. And she invited me to rest with her.
So, while my littlest napped, and my bigger kids played with LEGOs, I laid down and prayed a Rosary. Every prayer held me. Mary cradled me in her arms. I laid, cradled in love. Secure. At peace.
How does our Mother, Mary desire to cradle you? Will you accept her invitation?
God, you are a good Father. You comfort us. You embrace us with tenderness. Thank you for the gift of our Mother, Mary. As we move through the minutes and hours of our days, give us the grace to remember that Mary is always present to us. She knows this journey, Lord, and she loves to cradle her children in her arms. Amen.
One of Jesus’ most moving words to his disciples post-resurrection.
Jesus’ promise to us.
We all want it. And yet, our world and personal lives can seem to be anything but peaceful. News bites, social media, tense conversations, loud kids, and incessant interior chatter can eat away at our peace.
Where is this eternal reality to be found?
The Simple Path
During my last semester of college, I read a book that changed my life’s course, A Simple Path by Mother Teresa. The book introduced me to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and she became kin to my heart. The book created space for the Holy Spirit to work simply and powerfully in my life. The Spirit led me into a deeper relationship with God, gave me the courage to make difficult decisions, and filled me with confidence and peace.
As we approach Saint Teresa’s feast day on September 5, I offer you her Simple Path. I pray that it provides enough light for you to see the next step on your journey toward peace.
Mother Teresa’s Simple Path:
The fruit of silence is prayer;
The fruit of prayer is faith;
The fruit of faith is love;
The fruit of love is service;
The fruit of service is peace.
The Fruit of Silence is Prayer
Mother Teresa begins her Simple Path with silence. We know that silence is the font from which we draw spiritual hydration. We watch Jesus seek silence in Scripture. We hear the prophet Elijah’s words about how God speaks in a “a light silent sound” (1 Kings 19:12).
C.S. Lewis writes about how the devil hates silence in The Screwtape Letters. The senior demon, Screwtape, says, “We will make the whole universe a noise…We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, 119-120).
Our world and our homes may be noisy, but silence is non-negotiable if we want to make space for God’s peace to dwell in us. Can you find silence for a few minutes before your family wakes up? On a morning walk? During your work commute? After your kids go to sleep?
In the silence, prayer begins. God speaks to our hearts and we respond.
The Fruit of Prayer is Faith
When we habitualize silence and prayer, we grow in our desire for it. We know the strength, comfort, and peace that comes from resting with our God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith that God is with us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. ‘Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God’” (CCC 153).
The Fruit of Faith is Love
When we spend time with God, God inspires and assists us to act like him. We grow in our likeness to God. We may pray for someone who has hurt us and desire to forgive them. We may desire to grow in virtue—to practice self-control, patience, courage, or wisdom. We may feel some of our hard edges—our defensiveness, resentments, bitterness—begin to soften, sensing there is a better way to live. Through silence, prayer, and faith, we are formed to be people of love.
The Fruit of Love is Service
Authentic love cannot stay within us; it moves out toward and for others. Love is a habit of self-gift. Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that to love is to consistently will and choose the good of the other. In his practical sensibilities, Saint Francis de Sales advises, “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving.”
What happens when we become weary in our service of others? When our service lacks joy and feels exhausted, perhaps we have forgotten to lean on the One from whom our strength comes. We might ask ourselves if we are striving to serve apart from Jesus. We remember that true service is the fruit of loving relationship with Jesus.
The Fruit of Service is Peace
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks encouraging words to us on our journeys of everyday holiness. She reminds us that no matter where we are, God dwells within us. She says, “The entire Trinity rests within us, this whole mystery that will be ours in Heaven: let this be your cloister.” As we sit, stand, walk, and talk, God is with us. As we cook, change, teach, and work, God is with us.
The Holy Spirit guides our steps. The Spirit guides us to seek silence, and gives us the confidence to respond to God in prayer. The Holy Spirit sits with us in prayer and gives us the gift of faith. The Holy Spirit moves us to love, and strengthens us for service. The Holy Spirit whispers words of truth to our hearts that God abides in us, and desires to give us his peace.
Friends in Heaven
Saint Teresa of Calcutta introduced me to her Simple Path one decade ago, and continues to work in my life. Reflecting on her Simple Path now reveals how many heavenly friends she has helped introduce me to along the way. It seems that these friends of God all knew something of God’s eternal peace even as they lived surrounded by noise, sickness, chaos, and uncertainty on earth. I rejoice knowing that they now live with the Source of all peace, and I pray that someday we will join them.
Motherhood brings me face-to-face with my own weakness and vulnerability like nothing else. Beauty, truth, and goodness emerge in simple moments on a daily basis. Moments of difficulty sometimes seem to be just as regular.
Our culture trains us to prioritize and become proficient in productivity, independence, and power. When we desire to parent our children as listeners of God’s will, those worldly values get rocked.
Sometimes I hold onto those worldly values even though I know there’s a better, more life giving way. I’m like a toddler with fists full of Cheerios, staring at a toy I yearn to play with, but am unable to because I won’t let go of the Cheerios.
When I hold onto my Cheerios, I turn in on myself. I allow my imperfection to fill me with shame.