Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I'm reading

People always ask me what I'm reading.  I used to read a LOT more, but since I've embarked on a grad school quest, I'm trapped into reading things I care nothing about most of the time.  Ahem.  Anyway, I'm still reading about a book a week or so of my own choosing.  You should know I'll read just about anything, especially if someone says it's controversial.  I actually don't believe in hating a book without reading it.  And I believe we can read something we completely disagree without falling off the alleged deep end.  These are the books I'm reading currently.  Most I've read before and going back to reread for various reasons.  
 I love Ed Dobson.  He's living/dying with ALS right now and that gives him an amazing perspective on a lot of things.  He's friendly and The Year of Living Like Jesus is a great read.  I love his discovery that the rosary actually isn't just about praying to Mary.  I love his conversations with Rabbis and Catholic Priests.  It's a great book.
 I'm doing some research on death for an upcoming project right now so I've headed back into my bookcase to reread this one.  This book is a dance between a woman who's dying and the man who loves her.  It's biographical and a beautiful memoir that will leave you longing for Heaven.
 I'm also rereading this memoir.  I love this book.  It's long and drawn out, but I have great respect for anyone who tries to do anything to get closer to God.  It's an incredible journey and you'll be glad he let you come along.
 Ooooooo!  Controversy!  My favorite.  Someone told me not to read this book - so it's next on my list :)
 Sophy Burnham is one of my very favorite authors.  Her books are beautiful and welcoming.  Eloquently written, don't stop with this one.  Read her other books too.
I pretty much hate history, but I make myself read books about history because it's good for me.  I suppose.  I actually do love Arlington Cemetery so I'm looking forward to this one. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grace with free refills

Though I do love the mysterious element of serving an invisible God, occasionally I would prefer He come over for coffee, explain what was what is and what is to come, and leave before I get so convicted of my unworthiness that I die on the spot in an undeserving heap. 

I love the physical presence of Christ.  And even though we're on this side of actually touching the scars on his hands, I have to believe he's here.  It's why I love the Eucharist when the liurgy invites the presence of Christ to appear\.  And it's why I love prayer.  For those few minutes we're sharing the same space and the distance between Heaven and Earth disappears.

It's no surprise to anyone at this point that coffee is my love language.  Yeah, sure, I'm addicted to the large amounts of caffeine I mix into blonde roasts and lattes every day.  And I do feel more secure in an unsettled world that even if my Starbucks blows away, I have the Verismo at my house and I will survive.  But, it's more than the cream and Truvia blending my happiness into a cup of happiness.  It's the experience. 

Coffee with friends invites us to linger.  To discuss.  To not know what time it is.  To not be in such a hurry to get to the next thing that we miss this thing.  And God invites us to the very same thing.  To not just say our prayers to move on.  To not complete a spiritual checklist. To not just ask God for what we need or want, but, to linger. 

If I'm honest, I get so wrapped up in my own little world that if I'm not very intentional, I'll forget God.  I'll leave Him out of the big decisions and the little details.  I'll forget to listen for His heartbeat in every situation and I won't let Him lead this life.  Oh, sure, I'll pray, but I won't linger.  I won't stay with His presence long enough to make a difference.  In me.  And I won't let the lifegiving presence of Christ change me.

Sometimes I need a literal reminder.  So, this morning I sat my favorite coffee mug on the counter and prayed, "God.  I invite you into this life for coffee.  For a lifelong conversation that never ends.  I invite you to linger.  Stay when I want to hide.  Stay until the parts of me that look nothing like you disappear.  And give me grace.  With free refills."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The winds of change

In retrospect, it may have been too much.  Working two full time jobs (for the last 10 years!), taking two grad school classes (one of them Statistics - yuck!), putting out a book, and having some semblance of a life all in the same 10 weeks.  It was heavy.  It was an invitation to blow things out of proportion and not be able to think clearly.  At all. 

And I found myself at the beach one day a few months ago holding this shell and thinking, "This is the heaviest thing I've carried today."  I suppose I meant that literally, but I also meant that emotionally, spiritually, humanly.  It felt so light in my hand, so effortless, so important. 

I believe God will let us go and go and go as long as we are willing or until we can't anymore.  He'll let us stay in the wrong place for the wrong reasons until we finally hear His sweet whisper saying, "Let go."  And it's a scary thing.  What if what changes is uncomfortable?  What if I don't like the changes?  What if??

And yet, the soul seems somewhat immune to fear and if you ignore it long enough, it's voice grows louder and it's call becomes clearer.  God leans in and before you can think to not listen, you hear Him say, "Stop crowding me out."  And you realize in that moment that you want nothing more than to make that space, that time.  And it feels more than right - it feels free.

So, recently I've put down some of the things I've been carrying for a long time.  I'm down to one full time job.  I'm making room for my writing.  I'm finally finishing grad school soon to get my master's in Psychology.  And I'm reconnecting with friends.  I can spend hours at lunch now if I want to or join them for a walk in the evening to talk about what God is up to or discuss plans or struggles.

For the first time in over a decade, I don't always have to know what time it is.  I don't have to be somewhere after somewhere before I have to be somewhere else.  I can just be sometimes.  I can get lost in a book.  I can take a nap.  I can finish my schoolwork without getting up before I go to bed.

And I can get completely lost in a yoga session, prayer time, or spending some time in quiet spiritual thought.  I can find God because I'm not too exhausted to look.  I'm redefining what it looks like to be me.  I can feel the winds of change blowing and I'm not just surviving.  I'm living.  I'm breathing.  I'm free.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Official book announcement

I didn't mean to write a book.  I meant to write down some memories, some moments, some thoughts about the time I spent at monasteries.  I wanted to remember the look in the eyes of an elderly monk when he talked about Heaven.  I wanted to remember the questions and how I found the Answer within those walls.  And I wanted to never forget that God was enough, is enough, and always will be enough.

So, I started writing some things down and people started reading them.  And laughing because I was painfully out of place initially at a monastery.  And they cried because the human condition is, more often than not, universal.  People started asking me about the Daily Office.  They wanted to know how I pray the offices in my own everyday normal life. 

And then right before my eyes a book started to develop. 

Longer story shorter - my book is currently available on Amazon.  How crazy is THAT?  And it's had a great few days thanks to many of you.  Soon I'll be embarking on a blog tour.  Stay tuned for more information!  In the mean time, I'd love for you to pick up your own copy and share your thoughts.  It's been an incredible journey and as always, I'm grateful to be on it with all of you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Change in the air

Back to blogging with a few announcements!  October is going to prove the month of change for this life.  Stay tuned for more entries about a whole bunch of really exciting and different things.