Sunday Evening Time Out

I’m usually pretty good at counting my blessings and seeing the glass as half-full.  Occasionally, though, I get stuck.  That’s right…stuck.  And stuck is right where I am as I write this, buried under a pile of soft blankets, in comfy pajamas, ready to call it a day.  I know very well that this mood will pass, but in the meantime, I’ve put myself in “time out” to get these thoughts down on paper.

Everyone has their own concerns that sometimes weigh them down.  For me, it’s the fear of the unknown as the last of our children prepares to leave home for college this fall.  As excited as I am for her and all that lies ahead, I truly have no idea what it will be like to not have a child at home because that has been my reality for the past twenty-six years. There were only three early years in our marriage when it was “just the two of us,” and those years seem so long ago.

Some people will say, “The best days are ahead,” and while that may be true, I have such fond memories of those baby days, the middle-of-the-night feedings when the house was completely quiet except for the baby and me, and the creak of the rocking chair. I know there will be a time someday when Steve and I can retire and create some new adventures, but right now there’s a little part of me just wishing the time hadn’t gone so quickly.  And I am filled with moments of sadness and concern about whatever might come next.

In prayer, though, I am comforted by the ONE who has accompanied our family through the best and worst of times, the ONE who has never left our side.  These words from Jeremiah seem to sum it up nicely:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

 I hope that these words might also bring you some comfort if you have lots on your mind today.  I hope you, like me, will be patient with yourself as you try to accept whatever your current situation may be.  The important thing to remember about being “stuck” in whatever mood one finds oneself, is to not stay there too long.  Otherwise, you may miss out on whatever plans the LORD still has in store for you or me!

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Torch

I’m inspired this morning by the often-repeated words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Yesterday, immediately after Mass, two dozen members of our faith community assembled two hundred four sandwiches for a local soup kitchen and put together fifty “blessing bags” for people who are homeless.   This one little effort by a group of concerned individuals, plus a handful of other gracious donors, is a visual reminder of how we are called to share our time, talent and treasure with others.

Our small, initial attempt at a Martin Luther King Day of Caring is merely a spark in a much bigger effort to keep the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy alive through service to others.  But isn’t a spark all we need, to keep the light of Christ alive in our hearts, and to hopefully spread that love to those around us?

The Winter Olympics begin in a just a few weeks and one integral part of the opening ceremonies is the Lighting of the Olympic Torch that will burn throughout the entire duration of these winter games.  The torch used to light that flame, however, began its journey on October 24 in Olympia, Greece, home of the first Olympics.   Over 7,500 torchbearers will pass along the flame to its destination in PyeongChang.  Each torchbearer’s mission is to keep the fire lit.  Isn’t that our mission, as well—to keep the light of Christ’s love going?

We have the power of our words and actions to keep the light of Christ alive in our own hearts and in the lives of others.  Let’s keep turning towards the light and use our love to drive out the darkness of despair, bigotry, gossip, poverty and injustice.

Flea Market Rocking Chair

It’s just a chair that we paid fifteen dollars for at a flea market back in 1991.  We were coming home from a weekend trip and stumbled across a Sunday afternoon flea market somewhere outside of Elmira–it’s been too many years for me to remember exactly where it was.  We had no babies at the time but hoped that one day we would become parents, so maybe the rocker was like a beacon of hope.  Or maybe just a piece of furniture.  I don’t know, and I don’t really care what our motive was at the time.  All I know is that one rocking chair has moved with us four times in the past twenty-four years and it’s a permanent fixture in our home.

So, why am I rambling on about a fifteen-dollar rocker?  Here’s the thing.  We’ve celebrated Epiphany and now the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (in the United States, it’s observed on Monday, January 7 this year), so the Christmas season is winding down and we’re returning to Ordinary Time.  We don’t really know what the New Year brings but there’s still a glimmer of Christmas hope in our hearts.  Not unlike the Magi, we move forward into unknown territory, not entirely sure what lies ahead, but open to discovery and beauty and all that is good.  When we bought the rocking chair, we were only two years into our marriage and had no idea what parenting would even look like.  We didn’t know, but we moved forward anyway, willing to open ourselves up to a new kind of love.

Our three “babies” are grown and as our youngest prepares to leave the family nest this fall for college, I often find the phrase, “What’s next?” creeping into daily prayer.  I have no idea what this next chapter of our lives will bring, but I want to remain open to whatever the LORD has in store for me and my husband and our family.  It’s been an incredible journey so far!  I leave you with a few words from Jeremiah 17: 7-8 to ponder this week:

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD

and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat

or worried by long months of drought.

Their leaves stay green.

and they never stop producing fruit.