During my run on this Holy Thursday morning I was noticing all the daffodils alongside my favorite creek and road. I was amazed thinking that some of these bulbs were submerged in inches of water just 2 weeks ago because the creek overflowed from all the snow and rain we have had. In the midst of these thoughts and this beauty, I started to cry. Why? because I have to confess that I have a love/hate relationship with daffodils.
Love – because they are one of the first signs of Spring here in the northeast. Love – because they are pretty, hardy, vibrant, and engaging. Love – because we have hundreds to them in my family’s yard in New Jersey. Love – because my dad loved them and planted every single one in our yard.
Hate – because my father loved them and planted every single one in our yard. Hate – because they remind me of him and every Spring they make me cry my face off when I first see them. Hate – because I want him here to see how beautiful and full of life they are. Hate – because we will never talk about them again – never stand and appreciate how pretty they look – never talk again about where he can plant more for next year.
Here I am – almost 4 years since my dad died – and the life he lived, the life he loved – is still surrounding and embracing my family and me. His faith, his love of his family, his embrace of each day, his love of talking and meeting people – all this is wrapped up in these Spring daffodils. Like those bulbs that were covered in water a few weeks ago, I could have been swallowed up with loss, pain, and sorrow, but my dad would not have wanted that – he would have wanted life and love to win – he would have wanted the toughness and tenacity of these submerged daffodils to bring smiles not tears – life not death – laughter not sorrow. LIFE WINS! Happy Easter!
This past weekend we celebrated my youngest sister’s 50th birthday – I am the oldest of 5 girls! As she exited the 40’s and entered the 50’s, I began thinking of all the exists and entrances we do during our lives.
At the beginning of our lives we exit the womb and enter the world. During our lives we exit and enter a number of relationships – some friends come into our lives for a short amount of time and leave, while others remain with us forever. We exit elementary school and enter high school, we exit college and enter the work world.
There are some exits and entrances that are more significant than others. We exit single life and enter married life – pictured above is my first niece to be married. We exit being childless and enter parenthood. We exit being young and enter into the “golden years. “We exit being healthy, limber, and, carefree and enter into physical decline and worry about ailments, falling, etc. We exit just being a parent and enter into becoming grandparents. We exit living and enter into death.
Exits. Entrances. Change. These are part of our entire lives and I have come to realize that there are two constants throughout this whole process – my faith in Jesus Christ and my family. FAITH and FAMILY give me a sense of peace and joy even in the midst of difficult exits and entrances. FAITH and FAMILY ground me and allow me to trust the process of change, even in the midst of deep pain and suffering.
I know I still have many exits and entrances left in my life – and I know that with my family and faith – it will be an exciting adventure until the end!
As any of my friends can tell you, I have not been a lover of the Lenten Season – I kind of felt like the above picture of one of our students – …do I really have to do this?…is this really fun and good for me? I love Advent, I rejoice in Easter, and I relax in the rhythm of Ordinary Time, but Lent just never really did it for me. I did not like that I felt this way, but I did not put any effort into changing this attitude and I was very good at coming up with excuses about why I did not have to “do” Lent.
In February I decided this was going to change – I felt this inner nudge that I needed Lent (maybe it was really me who decided?) Tired, weary, and feeling a little disconnected from my faith, I found myself craving this season that gently invites me to return in a very intentional way. However, I was feeling stress over what to “do” for fasting, almsgiving and prayer. I decided to tell God that if He wanted me to “do”something, he better give me some hints, direction, suggestions.
Guess what? He responded in a very clear message! His response: take a specific time each day for quiet, prayer, and reflection. To help me with this, I am listening to Matthew Kelly’s “The Best Lent Ever”and writing in my journal. Another part of the message was to fast from television and aimless scrolling through my devices – so I have decided to do that on Wednesday’s. Finally, and what I am most excited to do, is to walk around my neighborhood and pick up trash that is laying around from all the windy days we have had this winter. – ask and you shall receive!!
This Lent I am trying to stand still and be astonished by the beauty of creation, the gifts I receive each day, and the blessings that are endless and make me smile. May we all learn to see and may we move towards that which brings us true life and happiness. Go Warriors!
Although I consider myself to be pretty neat and organized and believe that everything has a place – some close to me would say crazy obsessed with neatness and organization – I do admit to having a drawer that I throw in all the stuff I am not sure how to organize or do not know where the correct place is for that “stuff”. Over time, this drawer can get full and packed with mementos, pictures, cards, opened packs of gum, chip clips,phone chargers, rubber bands – you get the idea.
When I can’t take it anymore – usually when I can’t open and close the drawer – I sift through the drawer and usually end up getting rid of most of the contents – only to begin a new cycle of filling it up. One recent drawer purge caused me to stop and reflect. As I was looking through all my drawer treasures, I found, from previous drawer purges, a few notes from a few very good friends – notes that I just can’t get rid of – notes that I don’t look at every day, but when I do, they make me smile, inspire me, and encourage me to be a better person.
What treasures are in your junk drawer/s? Do you have something in there that you just can’t get rid of – a family heirloom, an old key to your first car or house, something that inspires you, makes you know you are loved, helps you to grow, challenges you, lets you take a walk down memory lane? Give yourself some time to rummage through your drawer and see what you find! Happy hunting and remembering. Go Warriors!
I just returned from Deacon Larry’s funeral – a man who served St. Patrick Parish for almost 30 years. He touched many, many people through celebrating baptisms and weddings, visiting the sick, and praying with families.
This morning I looked around the full church and noticed how many present students and their families, as well as alums and their families, were in attendance. The sight of the strong Warrior community and nation brought me to tears – not that bringing me to tears is hard to do – I cry at every episode of This Is Us and will cry at a great interview after a big Notre Dame win – but seeing the love, the loyalty, and the strong faith connection of our school community was moving.
As I reflected on this show of love and support, I felt proud to be a part of this wonderful, prayerful, and faith-filled community. It is at times like these that we need each other – that we count on the witness of others – to find strength and to feel support in our grieving.
We do not, however, end is sorrow and sadness. We implore our faith community to help us focus upon the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Fr. Redcay told us in the homily that when Deacon Larry was ordained, the Cardinal handed him the Book of the Gospels and said: “Believe what you read, Teach what you believe, and Practice what you teach.” We ask Deacon Larry to help us follow his example and do the same – to Believe, Teach, and Practice – to visit the sick, care for each other, and continue to pray as a faith community.
Deacon Larry, pray for us and help us to be strong messengers of the Gospel by our words and actions.
For the past 3 years, a good friend of mine – shout out to Kay – challenged me to think of 3 words to focus on during the year instead of making New Year’s resolutions. My 3 words for this year are Prayer, Pace, and Party.
Pace – This is a carry over from my Advent focus. I really tried to be mindful about slowing down my pace (not my running pace because that is slow enough!) – especially my inner pace – so that I could enjoy and be present to the moment. While I have been working on this since Advent, I am nowhere near close to being good at it – it is hard work to slow down my mind and feet in order to be able to appreciate and drink in the moment.
Prayer – I want/need to give more time to be present, to reflect, to listen, to read the Gospels and learn more about the message of Jesus Christ. Hopefully this will allow me to share and be The Message to all those with whom I come in contact.
Party – I love to have fun, laugh, joke around, tell stories, and have a great time. I want to make sure I take time enjoy my friends, family, co-workers, students – to know that these moments are a gift – to be able to treasure them and not take them for granted. Part of this party theme to continuing to work on my bucket list – the more I cross off, the more I add to the list – adventure – fun – party!
What are your three words?
The presents have been opened and put away, stockings have been emptied, trees and decorations have been taken down, and we have eaten more cookies and treats than we care to admit. So, I find myself asking, “what am I going to do for the rest of this year about this Baby Jesus who came into the world – who came to save us – who came to change our lives and our hearts?” How am I going to use his messages of joy, peace, forgiveness, presence, and healing in my daily life? How am I going to bring this message to all with whom I meet? And, how am I going to remember these messages when life gets tough, when I am sad, when pain and suffering come into my life?
I think part of the answer is reminding myself that this Baby Jesus came to save me – he came to comfort and guide me, he came to listen and be part of my life, and he came to call me to be in a closer and deeper relationship with him.
This baby Jesus is challenging us to be nice – to share his love – to treat others the way we want to be treated – to be a good friend – to take time to pray, to be quiet and listen – to be present to the Presence.
Let us allow this Baby Jesus to come into our lives each day – let us pray to be aware of his presence, because, a Baby Can Change Everything.