On the Seventh Day…

I just returned from vacation, and having a family that needs to eat, we have to stop at a store for essentials, before arriving home.  The first thing I did, when I got home, was check my garden.  It’s exciting to see the growth and blooms on the plants, the promise of delicious things in the future.  There is also, of course the two week accumulation of weeds.    Then I have to deal with a mound of mail, and wash clothes from our suitcases, and there’s the lawn, house cleaning, and other things that have been without my attention.

Everyone faces their own brand of aftermath following vacation.  We know what we face, when we get home, yet vacation is planned, anticipated, and worked for.  It’s that span of time that we get to pretend that our lives are a Garden of Eden, and we have not a care, but to enjoy this beautiful planet, its nature, people and fruits.  We are even blessed to choose almost anywhere we want to go in the world.  Vacation is meant to refresh us.  

God planned this very respite for us weekly.  I think that I have failed at Sunday, this day of rest. I don’t think I have been doing it right. I don’t think He meant just  “don’t work”.  I think He meant, look around you, at Who I Am, and who you are.  Not in an egotistical way, but as a loving Father. We are creation, and He, the Creator.  Indulge in that moment, and leave the world and its cares behind….vacation (verb).  Think of Him saying to you. “I loved you into this world…I created it for you.  Remember once a week Who I Am, and that I Am loves you with everything that Creation is….  it’s people, nature, fruits and Wisdom. 

He invites us to join Him.

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Gn 2:3

Tomorrow you can empty your suitcases.

The Pieta

Pieta means, “pity” and is traditionally depicted by the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her Son. Although there are many art forms that express the Pieta, the carving by Michelango is probably the best known. This image of Our Lady embracing the lifeless body of her Son is moving in so many ways.  This time, what was jumping out at me, were the two figures.  The created Images of God.  I have reflected on the new Adam and the new Eve, but this time it all sat with me differently.

Here before me is the restoration.  The Blessed Mother is sinless, and Jesus, wholly human, defeated satan himself.  In the Pieta, I find God’s vision of creation restored, carved into the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnate Savior. They are who God created humanity to be, within Himself.  Mary and Jesus are the two Fiats that destroyed the disobedience of the Adam and Eve.  God has restored us, to who we once were within Himself….a reality chiseled into the vision of the Pieta.  

The Pieta inspires me toward the image of God:  Purity’s (Mary’s) love for her God, for the Son she holds, and the sacrificial Love of God for our purity.  The peaceful look of a soul, who blindly trusts the lifeless body in her arms, to still be Savior.  She trusted God, even though in her arms would seem to be, an unsuccessful Messiah.  The Son, who became man, to walk this earth as we do, and show us how, even in death, in fact lying there, He had no breath within Him. 

The Pieta to me, though, is Hope.  Hope that we can be restored, by the lives of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ to the new Adam and new Eve….as we were created to be.  Children of hope, love and trust in the image of our Creator.  This is the image of God…male and female, as our Creator intended…sinless and worthy of life eternal with Him.  Restored!

The Pieta speaks this to me, through the inspiration and  artistry of a 24 year old man, who saw it in a piece of marble, and passionately gave it to me….and I am grateful for the help.

The Sound Of Silence

If you’ve ever been in a quiet neighborhood, or even more so in the woods, after a heavy snow, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  When blankets of white, grace the branches of the trees, and cover the ground.  It feels almost sacred, like the snow shouldn’t be disrupted by man, and there is a tangible silence.  The world is still spinning, nature still moves, but it feels like time has stopped for just that moment.  It is a magnificently beautiful experience that I cherish.  

In reality snow is actually a natural sound insulator, because of the pockets of air trapped between the flakes.  God, in His wisdom, gave us this gift of contrast to our modern world   It can be a little disappointing that the snow plows come, and the salt is dispersed, and we have to pull ourselves away from this pause, for work and school.  

Coming home from the March for life one year, traffic was stopped on Interstates and marchers were trapped in buses and cars.  Food, water, and gasoline were brought to the stranded, and several Masses were celebrated.  How tremendous that must have been, in the silent winter oasis that God prepared for them.

I’ve also experienced this same sort of thing, in a way, at convents.  If you’ve never been to one think about “The Sound of Music”, Maria didn’t fit in, because she was too loud, in voice and movement.  They moved quietly and slowly.  It’s beautiful, this constraint, the purposeful spirit of calm, it seems almost contemplative, and leaves one with a feeling of peace, just like the snow.  A void of noise to be filled with the silence of God.

Living silence in a very busy and loud world, takes effort.  Rushing and hurrying is loud, not to our ears maybe, but to our souls, and the souls around us. Retreats offer us this silence, but maybe we should take a look again at the religious communities. Maybe we should make silence for ourselves…just walking from the chapel to and through our task for the day…in search of that sound of Silence.

Opening Doors

58A39C47-8D1E-4164-B12E-05643D602A6AIt’s fun, when you encounter a new place, a B&B, someone’s house, a church, a new establishment, to see what’s behind the door.  The decor seems to often reflect the destination. If in the mountains there are forest scenes and bears, out west, cacti, broncos, and southwestern art, and along oceans and lakes, beach and nautical themes. Even though the locations may be similar, each place has its expression, and one can get to know the owner a bit through the decor.

Even churches and cathedrals can tell you something about the place, people or period, whether gilded in gold and silver, carved in marble, or using stone from fields and prisons.  They can be simple, or have a cherished gift, the Tilma, Infant of Prague, Veronica’s Veil, or tomb of a treasured Saint.

I too choose things that say something about me.  My home is simple, and doesn’t follow the latest trends.    The walls tell you that I like color, and my decor likely has meaning behind it…items from someone I cherish, religious pieces that inspire me, or souvenirs that spark great memories.

Our Creator has been as selective  in each of us also.  He uses us to share Himself. What part of Him can we learn about, in each one of His human expressions?  We sit and contemplate nature and it’s beauty, and that is good, but do we scrutinize the creation in each other?  What part of God escapes us, in those who we deem uninteresting?  What part of creation are we missing, because we can’t get beyond flesh…whether attractive or unattractive, disabled, emotionally needy, ignorant, obnoxious, criminal, politically opposite, successful, unpopular, unwanted, impoverished etc? What part of the Creator are we blind to, in humanity, when we can’t “see” our neighbor?  Would we be pleasantly surprised to discover a hidden treasure in someone, if we were invited in, …to encounter…  To encounter the Creator.

 

 

 

 

What’s the difference?

DSC_9237“I knew I could help you, because you’re not a feminist”. This is what my neighbor said to me, when he came over with a shovel, while I was moving a pile of dirt.  Hmmmm?

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Wait a minute!  I think I am a feminist! I don’t  understand what that has to do with shoveling dirt. My neighbor was being kind, had bigger muscles, and knew rain was coming.  I appreciated his help. He was being funny, not really trying to label me.  It was his way of saying, I didn’t think you’d mind if I helped you. Yes, you can help me anytime!!!

I think, though that we have lost sight of, who we are as men and women.  God created us man and woman in His image.  We are similar, but not the same, and I am grateful for that.  We should be celebrating our differences, yet so often I think we try to negate them.  We as God’s creation are both male and female; this is purposeful.  Both sexes are created in God’s image, so when we degrade the tendencies of either, Who do we think we are insulting?  What we are together, is one in God. 

There are many ways I identify with God as female.  Our brains are wired to multi-task, our hormones incline us more to empathy and nurturing, our bodies are made to bring forth new life.  These are all good, and have purpose. There are times though that less distraction and more focus is helpful, or our empathy can overpower our reason, and our bodies are needed to be less soft and with greater muscle mass. I think we need to rejoice that God provides so well, instead of being threatened by our differences. 

I am so grateful that my neighbor felt free to “treat me like a woman.”  That’s what I am, and I like being a woman. Ok, I realize that there are muscled women out there and empathetic men, but there are also undeniable physical differences that are typical to both genders.  Jesus is man, obviously, but one of God’s greatest gifts to us is Mother Mary. She felt Life in her womb, held “all these things” in her heart, and noticed a need at the wedding feast at Cana, nudging her Son into public life.  I don’t think it a last minute thought that Jesus chose the crucifixion to give us woman… behold your mother. From the cross, He gave to us a wonderful gift, the sinless feminine.

So, I am grateful that my neighbor brought his muscle mass to my backyard, and my burden was lightened.  I am thanking God today that in His infinite wisdom, He created us male and female.  I’m praying that we can rejoice in God for our differences, rather than tear each other apart for them