Tuesday, May 25, 2010


What is it about today that has me missing a particular friend so terribly? I can't put my finger on it. All I know is that it's hitting me hard today. He has been the definition of "a good friend" for the last few years - good for a laugh, good for a hug, good for counsel, good for conversation. Due to some particularly trying circumstances, we've had to go our separate ways other than an occasional email. I miss him... and today I miss him more than usual.

My priest often comments on how we all have to learn the difficult lesson of letting go of certain relationships at the proper time. When clinging to it or remaining in it would undermine what was good in the relationship in the first place, or when the other person is keeping you from continuing on the road the Lord is taking you down, the question arises of whether that person is supposed to be in your life any longer (or you in theirs). His remarks had yet to hit home for me, not because I've never seen someone leave my life or experienced an end to a relationship but because all those endings have happened quite naturally. For one to end when nothing in me wants it to end... to have to make that choice because I know it must be made but nothing thereafter makes me glad it has ended... that's a new experience for me and not one that I am enjoying.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Early Rising

We've now come upon the time of year when the morning sunlight is already filling my bedroom by a little after 5 a.m. My friends think I'm crazy for only keeping a white curtain over my window, nothing to keep the room dark while I sleep in the morning hours. But that's just me. This time of year, I start getting up 30 or 45 minutes earlier than necessary a few times a week just because the sunlight is all it takes to get me out of bed. I wake with a small smile on my face as I realize I don't have to hear my alarm clock sound because I've woken before the time for which it's set. When I do sleep until that time, I have fewer grumbling words for the chipper radio DJ rousing me to consciousness. Not every day, of course, but plenty of days.

This particular morning was one of those days. Daylight (not sunlight for the clouds had come in during the night) illuminated that white curtain and I was awake and eager to be upright. My legs held a bit of stiffness from the tennis games played the night before but I stretched them out and dressed for a walk. I scrolled through my iPod and let Switchfoot's "Beautiful Letdown" take me out the door. The rain, only a sprinkle at first, began almost as soon as my feet hit the sidewalk but the temperature held some lovely warmth and the rain did too. 30 minutes of me and God and the music. 30 minutes of footfalls on empty roads. I stopped for five of those minutes at a neighborhood park as the swingset proved to be irresistible. That first hour or so of daylight holds an aspect of peace belonging exclusively to it. There is a sort of authority in the sun's light compelling me to awaken and acknowledge it. And I don't mind at all.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Although the Church at large celebrated the great feast of the Ascension of the Lord this past Sunday, I found myself that morning reading the Mass readings for the 7th Sunday of Easter. Those details don't mean much to you unless you're familiar with the Catholic liturgical calendar. My point is that before anyone else in the house woke up on Sunday, I tucked myself into the corner of the couch and read through a selection from the Gospel of John, chapter 17. How many times have I read or listened to that chapter? How many times have I contemplated or studied that marvelous prayer of Christ in the hours before His arrest? Dozens, at least. Yet never has my attention been caught by what snatched it up this past Sunday morning.

"Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am, they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)

I didn't skip over this verse in all the other instances. Even so, I felt like I was reading the initial statement of the verse for the very first time. "Father, they are your gift to me." At this point in the prayer, Jesus is praying for all the believers in Him who would come down the road of time. The ones who would come to faith through the evangelization of the Church, who would be brought into the fold for however many generations will come and go until the end of the age. He was praying for you and me.

It's possible that I was especially in need of this message in that particular hour of that particular day and that's why it stood out to me. The words continue to ring in my ears since then though. "They are your gift to me." The Lord, Most High considers me a gift to Him. He desires that I be with Him, in His presence, enjoying His everlasting glory. Me. You. A gift to Him. The notion soaks into me like the warmest sunshine.

Pride shooed away for a moment, we can all admit in our hearts that we long to be treasured... to be loved so exquisitely and unconditionally that the lover desires that we always be with them, near them, sharing in their lives. The lover's own joy is multiplied because we are theirs. Their glory, so to speak, is magnified by our presence.

Turns out, we are loved exactly so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keep It Simple

Did you know that your big toe has only two bones in it while the rest of your toes each have three? Well, you do now. That was the fun fact on my Snapple cap today and it got my friend and I thinking. We both thought that seemed a bit backwards. Could be a sad lack of remembrance of our high school biology lessons, or it could be something more. After all, the big toe is, well, big. It's important; it seems to do more than the little toes when it comes to balance. Surely it's more complex on the inside!

I realize this is a stretching of the simile but please let me say it: the big toe isn't so different from life's big things. I tend to assume that every occupant of the "things that matter most" category is complicated. They must require a great deal of deliberation, maneuvering and so on and so forth. Could it be that the inner workings of the big things are actually simple? It seems too good to be true for a girl who tends to over-think most everything. In the way that my background tends to influence me, my thoughts on the big toe analogy brought me around to Scripture and the beautiful yet challenging simplicity of life in Christ. Here more than anywhere else, "simple" does not equal small or inconsequential. The calls placed on our lives, the commandments we receive, they're a big deal. They're an eternally huge deal. Yet Christ keeps it simple.
  • "Follow me..." (Matthew 5:19)
  • "Let your light so shine before men..." (Matthew 5:16)
  • "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." (Matthew 6:20)
  • "Do not be anxious about your life..." (Matthew 6:25)
  • "Come to me..." (Matthew 11:28)
  • "Listen to him [Christ]..." (Matthew 17:5)
  • "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind..." (Matthew 22:37)
  • "Love your neighbor as yourself..." (Matthew 22:39)
  • "Make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19)
  • "You must be born anew... of water and the Spirit..." (John 3:7, 5)
  • "Go, and do not sin again..." (John 8:11)
  • "You also should do as I have done to you..." (John 13:15)
  • "Abide in my love..." (John 15:9)
  • "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world..." (John 16:33)
  • "Make love your aim..." (1 Corinthians 14:1)
  • "Be imitators of god as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us..." (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • "Do nothing from selfishness or conceit but in humility count others better than yourselves..." (Philippians 2:3)
  • "Rejoice..." (Philippians 4:4)
  • "Seek the things that are above, where Christ is..." (Colossians 3:1)
  • "With confidence draw near to the throne of grace..." (Hebrews 4:16)
  • "Do right and let nothing terrify you..." (1 Peter 3:6)
Am I now oversimplifying? Over compensating for my overthinking? Well, perhaps it's not that the situations, the decisions, the relationships, the risks and so on are all that simple and straightforward. They can all be plenty complicated and difficult. The lens through which we view them though, the avenue by which we approach them, that's where the simplicity rescues us from ourselves.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This & That

I haven't even seen the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film but this rumor is a thrill to hear: Pirates 4 to film in Traverse City?? The photo on that blog does away with any doubts that it's a usable setting for the film. It's crazy how much I love that area.

Each and every flowering tree around here is obscenely fat with blossoms right now. It's fabulous. The season for such sights is also the season for dandelions though. Seriously, I mowed the grass only last night and already there is almost as much yellow as green in our lawn. If I gave any credence to such things I'd have to deem the dandelion the single best representation of survival of the fittest in the plant world.

This morning I found a new favorite poem. Not many poems give me the inclination to memorize and loudly recite their verses but this one accomplishes exactly that.
Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.
On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor, --
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.
Blow, breath of inspiration, blow!
Shake and uplift this golden glow!
And fill the canvas of the mind
With wafts of thy celestial wind.
Blow, breath of song! until I feel
The straining sail, the lifting keel,
The life of the awakening sea,
Its motion and its mystery!
(H W Longfellow)

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Sights & Sounds of May

"Yesterday was the first of May. I love the special days of the year.... A May Day that feels as it sounds is rare and, when I leaned out of the bedroom window watching the moat ruffled into sparkles by a warm breeze, I was as happy as I have ever been in life. I knew it was going to be a lucky day."
(Chapter 9, I Capture the Castle)

The arrival of May puts me in the mood for yet another delightful reading of my tied-for-favorite book, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Since I just read it for the fourth time about a month ago, maybe I'll only revisit some favorite scenes. Also appropriate to both the book and this May temperament, I am listening to Bach's Adagios with a smile on my face. Do you suppose he composed them in springtime? Some of them, certainly. It's hard to imagine the creation of "Sheep May Safely Graze" occuring in late autumn's dryness or the depths of winter.

May causes me to wish to live in the countryside. The colors and brightness of the month are reason enough to long for a lengthy drive to reach any destination. I often wonder how long I will stay where I am - in this town, in this house. The notion of a move seems much more believable in May.

Yesterday I finished writing chapter 14 of The Mercy Hour. It's Thanksgiving in that fictional realm and late November in Michigan is difficult to capture when you're in a May mood. The contradiction of those realities is soothed at least a little bit though as it's awfully easy to dwell in the imagination in the spring.