Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Journey Through Time

Life is a journey.  We are travelers through a land called time.  Because time is always moving, so are we.  We are always in motion.  We do not stop.  On this journey through time, we see beauty and horror.  We experience joy and sorrow.  We find peace and unrest.  Time’s terrain is rugged.  Its climate is unpredictable.  In one moment we find ourselves on top of the highest mountain and the next drowning in the cold, deep sea.  Just when we start to feel comfortable in the warm sun, storms arise.  Warm days give way to cold nights.  Time is a harsh land.  Those who journey here are shaped and molded.  Time leaves it mark and the travelers are forever changed.  But, what happens when we get to the end of time?  What lies beyond time?
This journey through time is our opportunity to get to know God.  We experience Him through His exquisite creation.  We see him in the faces of our fellow travelers.  We feel him in a child’s kiss or a mother’s touch.  God is present with us in time.  He is wooing us to His kingdom.  He is showing us glimpses of Himself in the hopes we will travel through time to where He is. 

For those of us who choose God on this journey, it does not guarantee the journey will be easy.  You see, we are not made for this world.  We are just traveling through it.  God allows time to shape us and mold us.  God uses time to grow us into the people He wills for us to be.  He prepares us for the wedding - the day when we will unite with Him in the kingdom at the end of our journey through time. 

Like any traveler, we need to be nourished.  We need to eat and drink and rest.  And God knows this.  Our physical world is a reflection of the spiritual world.  Just like we need water and food for our physical bodies, we need similar nourishment for our souls.  If we are to keep traveling to His kingdom, we need spiritual sustenance on this journey through time. 

“For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55: 10-11)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 1-5)

(Jesus said)”Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (John 6:27)

“So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:32-35)

“Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” (John 6: 53-57)

So, what is the sustenance God provides for us as we travel through life?  His son present in the Eucharist.  At every Mass, we take a journey through time.  We arrive at the cross.  We witness His sacrifice.  We celebrate His resurrection.  Then we experience His life as we receive the Eucharist.  Christ gives us nourishment for the journey.  And He hopes we will stay on this ill-traveled road and make our way to His kingdom where He will make us an everlasting gift to the Father.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seven Takes Friday Vol. 3


1

In June of 2006, I was sitting in a Bennigan’s in San Antonio watching the Mavericks fold under the pressure of the Heat.  I knew they could play better.  I knew they could shut down Wade.  But they couldn’t pull it together in time and we lost out on our chance at our first ever NBA Championship.  Combine that gut wrenching defeat with the fact that the Mavs shut down a new and improved Heat (Wade, Bosch, and King James) and you have the sweetest championship victory in NBA history.  The good guys won.  The nice guys came away champions.  How awesome it is to live in Dallas on this glorious occasion.  LETS GO MAVS!

2

Now that I got that out of my system, let me admit that I have not kept up with the 7 takes Fridays these past few weeks.  I’ve got a lot of excuses.  But I won’t bore you with them. 

3

This past Sunday, my oldest went away to boy scout summer camp for the first time.  He was nervous which made me even more nervous.  I want him to make memories, not nightmares.  I want him to have fun, not be miserable.  I want him to grow as a person, not feel less of one.  I have not been able to talk to him since he left.  And that is unnerving.  I hope he is doing well.  I hope he is having fun.  And I hope he is wearing sunscreen, bug spray and has taken a shower at least once.

4

Along with the revival of 7 takes Friday, I have also revived my time at the gym.  Tonight, I ran 2.75 miles in 30 minutes which isn’t bad for an old lady.  However, I feel like I have a tire around my waist.  I can’t wait for the extra 10-15 pounds to come off.  It is driving me crazy.  My previous gym was a ladies only gym.  My new gym is not.  Let me say that I like the change.  Ladies tend to walk on the treadmill so I was always running next to walkers.  Now, I have a whole bunch of running men next to me.  And I like it!  I didn’t realize how much easier it is to keep going when you feel like you are running with someone. 

5

I am not that far into Screwtape, but it has already made an impression on me.  What a great and model patient I have made for the devil.  I fall for all these tricks.  Especially, the one where the devil gets between you and your loved ones.  Recently, I have two situations where I could tell the spiritual warfare was at play.  And they both involve my being upset with my husband.  In the first situation, I didn’t respond to the bait.  I kept silent and I prayed for Jesus to take this anger away from me.  It took most of the day, but it worked.  As the day wore on, I could see things from his perspective and I could focus on what really mattered.  In the second situation, I took the bait.  I blew up.  And in the end I could see how ridiculous my behavior was.  The devil got the best of me in that one.  I’m a little afraid to keep reading Screwtape.  I fear I am going to see even more of my true colors.  I guess that will make me appreciate the love and MERCY of God on a greater level.

6

I have decided I want a color Nook for my birthday.  My Mom and my Sister have color Nooks while my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law have Kindles.  The Kindle is cool and cheaper.  It serves its purpose well.  However, the color Nook appears to be really cool.  It can do more than just books.  Although it doesn’t appear to be as cool as an iPad, it does go on the internet and it runs apps.  If I had money to burn, I would just get an iPad.  But, sadly, I don’t so I will have to settle for the next best thing.  If one of you has an opinion with regard to the Nook vs. iPad vs. Kindle vs. tablet computer, please feel free to share.

7

Two weeks ago, I got two new fillings.  Let me back up by saying I really despise going to the dentist.  My dentist is a very nice person, but what she does to me is just plain mean.  I am pretty sure that hell is filled with drill wielding dentists who insist you have enough Novocain before they hold you down and drill out all your teeth for eternity.  Anyhow, I got the fillings.  That evening, I put my night guard in (I have TMJ issues because I grind my teeth into an oblivion while I sleep) and it didn’t fit quite right.  So, I bit down on it and I heard a crack.  I could not tell from the chip I found in my mouth if it was the filling or the night guard.  So, I made another appointment and went back to the dentist.  Turns out it was neither- it was a tooth.  Now, in all the moments before she told me I chipped my tooth, I had no pain in that tooth.  As soon as I got home from the appointment, the tooth started hurting.  It’s gotta be all in my head, right? 

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Light in the Darkness

We walked towards the empty chapel.  Although my kids have been in the chapel before, it has always been brief and filled with people.  This will be the first time I am able to really talk to my oldest son about what is in the chapel- who is in the chapel.  The lit candle flame above the tabernacle danced with the darkness as we entered the sacred space.  Its small light seemed to miraculously touch every corner of the dim room as if the darkness stepped aside to admire its joyful dance.  As our eyes drew in its beauty, I leaned in towards my son and softly said, “When that candle is lit, it means Jesus is in the tabernacle.”
“Really?” my son answered.  As his eyes turned from the candle to the tabernacle, he fell to his knees.  The candle’s light danced on his awestruck face.  Then he closed his eyes, bowed his head and began to silently pray. 
I came to the chapel prepared to explain why Jesus was there.  I came there ready to prove to my son that He does reside in there.  I came ready for a debate.  Instead, I found myself humbled by the child whose faith required no explanation.  He didn’t need my answers.  He knew his King was on the throne in that little chapel.  He was awestruck.  So, he knelt.  And he prayed. 
As I watched him, I wanted to reach back through my years and grasp that child-like faith I once carried.  I wanted to just believe without the head full of knowledge confirming what my young heart already knew all those years ago.  I wanted to kneel beside him with an innocent and awestruck mind and not worry that the world calls me crazy.  I longed for the child-like faith free the doubt and fear my fallen human nature easily harbors.
As Christians, we go through peaks and valleys.  We have our mountain top moments and we have our moments where we feel alone and abandoned.  Lately, I have been in the valley.  It’s not my first time here.  And I know it won’t be my last.  I know these moments in the darkness are my opportunities to love the Lord anyway.  They are my moments to rise above the despair and stay obedient and steadfast on this journey.  But unfortunately, I fail.  I fail to pray.  I fail to hope.  I fail to believe.  I feel the fiery arrows of the evil one coming toward me and I fail to put up my shield.  I fail to call out to my God.  And I lay down in defeat and wonder if I’ll ever have the desire to rise again.
 While my defeated spirit stood in that dim chapel longing for a child’s simple faith, I began to watch the light dancing above the tabernacle.  I realized how powerful the candle’s small light is against the darkness.  I observed how its joy chased away the fear darkness holds.  I saw how easily it reached the blackest corners of that sacred space and how beautiful it made everything it touched- especially the face of my faith-filled child.  That beauty stirred up the hope I had surrendered.  His unquestionable faith stirred up my will to believe.  And the desire to hit my knees and call out to my God began to bubble up inside of me. 
Although I am still in the valley, I am rising to find my armor.  I am lifting my shield.  I am opening my eyes and waiting to see the light the Lord has placed in my soul.  I have hope in the beauty the light brings to this life.  And soon, I will be looking for the next mountain.  I will be ready to climb.
“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:3b-5)