Soft Touch

Recently a long-time friend of our family referred to me as a “soft touch” and I immediately took offense at this characterization.  While I joked about it at the time and fired back some sarcastic comment with a smile, I have been pondering that phrase.  After all, nobody likes to be called a wimp, right? This morning I had to look up the definition of “soft touch” and based on what I’ve come to learn about mercy and understanding, I think I can live with this label after all.  The Oxford Online Dictionary defines “soft touch” as:  A person who readily gives or does something if asked.  While that is not true one hundred percent of the time, that description sums up what I ask for daily in prayer when I say, “Lead Me, Lord.”  I often turn to God in prayer and just ask for guidance, nothing more and nothing less.  Do you ever just want to know that you are headed in the right direction?  That’s a major part of where I am in my current post-age-fifty prayer life.

 

As a child, our mom said a prayer with us every morning at the breakfast table called The Morning Offering.  I haven’t thought about it for years, but today it is a vibrant memory.   You may be familiar with it:

 

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.

 

I don’t want to be jaded and if that means putting myself out there for others and occasionally getting burned, so be it.  Most of the times when I hold back from helping another, it’s due to fear or my own insecurities, but I will keep plugging away at them, doing whatever I can in my own simple way to bring about the Kingdom here on earth.  I have a long way to go, but if I am a “soft touch” already, that means my heart has not been hardened, and in Christian terms, that’s a good thing, right?

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Fog

The last few weeks of summer seem so precious.  Warm, sunny days give way to often much cooler evenings and perfect sleeping conditions.  But a side effect of those comfortable evenings can be fog.  When commuting, fog causes one to stay focused and in tune to the road conditions and surrounding drivers with a much greater intensity than ordinary weather conditions.  To me, the most unsettling thing about fog is the inability to see very far in front of me.  Driving through fog forces me to use faith and trust to keep moving ahead. Fog requires patience and perseverance.

Perhaps you have experienced a time in your life where things seemed a little unclear, almost fog-like.  Were you concerned about a decision you had to make or unsure about a career change or a geographic change?   Maybe you turned to God in prayer on your own and when you gathered with your faith community on Sundays.  Perhaps you called a friend who you knew would listen and calm your nerves.  Just like when driving in fog, I suspect you had to be a little more deliberate in your actions, fully awake and aware of your surroundings.  Driving through fog and trusting in God are not for the faint of heart, but we always make our way through.  If life is currently feeling a little foggy for you, I hope you will know that you don’t have to go it alone.

“When I am afraid, in you I place my trust.  I praise the word of God; I trust in God, I do not fear.” (Psalm 56: 4-5)

Early Morning Coffee Thoughts

It felt like a fall morning when I awoke and took our dog outside in the backyard.  There was dew on the grass and the air was crisp, not cold but chilly enough to warrant a sweater or jacket.  The brewing coffee made the kitchen feel cozy and I looked forward to reflecting on the daily readings with my favorite purple mug in hand, wondering just what wisdom might be waiting to be discovered.

It’s the gospel reading that touched my heart today.  Jesus gathered his disciples and selected from them his twelve apostles, those who would be sent to deliver his message to others.  While the selection process itself was not carefully detailed for us in scripture, one thing was made perfectly clear: “Jesus went out to the mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

Nothing was mentioned about anyone having character references or a well-prepared resume, but the fact that Jesus took some time to pray before making such a monumental decision was made abundantly clear.

I think that reminder resonated with me this morning not because I don’t pray enough but because I don’t always remember to STOP, slow down and pray.  I’ve turned into a praying multi-tasker, if there is such a term, in other words praying while driving or praying while walking or praying while pushing a shopping cart through the frozen foods aisle.  Seems like I’ve been doing a whole lot of talking to a God who patiently listens but I’ve kind of been neglecting the listening for God’s response part.  That’s my take-away from today’s readings.  What’s yours?  I’d love to hear!

Labor Day Thoughts

 

 

A conversation with a young man yesterday has me feeling a little bit blue on this Labor Day.  Maybe it’s because what he said I have heard before from other people, young and old.  It’s a phrase that begins with, “I just…” or “I’m only…”  In this case, the young man was speaking of his employment and he was putting himself down for working in a fast-food restaurant.  (I’ll bet anything that he is working today, on Labor Day, while I sit at home enjoying a longer weekend than usual with my family.)  I was quick to tell him how much I respected the work he does, and that there is no shame in making an honest living.  What saddens me, though, is I don’t think he really knows how sincerely I believe this.

What makes people feel “less than” others, and what can we do to lift people’s spirits up?  I don’t begin to have a lot of answers to this question, but yesterday’s conversation reminds me that everyone needs to feel affirmed and appreciated.  When someone goes out of their way to say, “thank you” to me, those simple words captivate me and inspire me to share that same appreciation with others.

So, this Labor Day, let us enjoy our families and the last dregs of summer.  But let’s also remember to thank all workers for the services they provide.  Let’s start a chain reaction of gratitude that will flow right into Thanksgiving.  “Prosper the work of our hands, Lord.  Prosper the work of our hands!”