Friday, September 30, 2005

Appreciation

The sunset was beautiful this morning. I caught a glimpse of it as I was getting breakfast ready. The sky looked like it was on fire. I took out my camera and grabbed a couple pictures although I know that they won't do it justice. And just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone and the sky turned blue, setting the stage for a gorgeous fall day. God the artist was out in full force creating this transient masterpiece. I very rarely have the opportunity to appreciate a sunrise. How many people this morning in their busyness missed this one? Yet God still creates for those of us who take the time to appreciate.

I am still working on the same two books. "Memories of Hawthorne" is nearing the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne's life. I don't necessarily understand everything they are talking about (after all the book was written over 100 years ago and culture has changed a bit to say the least), but I have been enjoying soaking up another time period, reading about literary legends who really, at the end of the day, were just people like you or me.

I took a walk to a local store tonight. It was so good to get out and soak up the crisp fall air and clear my head a bit! Three teenage girls were at the checkout counter when I was paying for my purchase. They were talking about their mothers and how annoying they were. I wanted to say something about how in five years they would feel differently, but I knew they weren't ready to hear it. I think it was Mark Twain who said that he left home at 18 and felt his father knew nothing. When he returned at 21 he was amazed at how much his dad had learned! The same goes for mothers and daughters, all the more so once we have children ourselves.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Staying Humble

My older son David (age 4 1/2) just started attending religious education classes on Sundays after mass. After class this week, I was reviewing his projects with him. One of the things they had done was to cut out a little book on things to be thankful for. There were some preprinted pages thanking God for the moon, the sun, the trees, etc. On the last page, they were supposed to draw a picture of what they wanted to thank God for. I looked at his picture and made out what were four very clear stick figures. So, I asked him, "Were you thanking God for your family?" He looked at me deadly serious and shook his head, "No, Mom, those are martians!" Never let it be said that my children do not keep me humble!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Welcome

People have been telling me for a while that I should start a blog, so here it goes. Here I will share some reflections on life and spirituality. I consider this a companion to my website - www.spiritualwoman.net - a place where I can talk about what I am currently reading (I am always reading something!), life events, and having an ongoing relationship with God. While some of the writings I post here may eventually end up in an article of mine, this will be a more informal type of writing - random thoughts on spirituality and life.

I am privileged to live in a city with a wonderful library system, not to mention a great interlibrary loan program. While I love bookstores, I rarely buy books. For me, the library is the way to go. My current reading for pleasure is "Memories of Hawthorne" by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop. My mother who is a Dominican Tertiary introduced me to Rose and I profiled her in my most recent "Profile in Faith" for my website (for more info, check out http://www.spiritualwoman.net/Profiles/Hawthorne.html). She was the youngest daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, famous 19th century American author, and his wife, Sophia Peabody. Ultimately, she would decide to embrace poverty, minister to poor cancer patients, and begin a religious community. Before turning her back on her previous life, however, she wrote "Memories of Hawthorne," an exploration of her parents' lives.

The librarian had to get the book, published in 1897, out of storage for me. It came out covered in dust and smelling like only old books can smell (I have always loved the smell of old books - one of my odder characteristics!). I am currently on page 79. Mostly so far it is letters that Sophia Peabody Hawthorne wrote, edited by Rose. Letters tell us so much about people. I'm old enough that I actually remember life before email, and had several correspondences with people via letters that were handwritten and sent via mail. There is something about receiving a letter in the mail and opening it and being able to keep and reread it. I would never trade the convenience of email, but 100 years from now, I think our world may have lost something by not having a written record of our relationships.

The last letter I read today was from Sophia to Nathaniel while he was away on business. She writes, " If I asked myself strictly whether I could write to you this evening, I should say absolutely no, for ten thousand different things demand the precious moments while our baby sleeps." How I can relate to that! With two young children, the evening hours after they are in bed are my only opportunity to pursue my own interests. The list of things to do always outweighs the time!

For my website and newsletter (which is also a pleasure - I am so lucky to do something I love), I am reading "A Resilient Life" by Gordon MacDonald (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004). In Chapter 7, "Resilient People Foresee the Great Questions of Life's Passage" MacDonald discusses the "big questions" of every decade in adult life. He himself is in his sixties, but he also spoke with his elders to get their perspective on life's meaning. The questions are worth reflecting on:

In the 20s:

"What will I do with my life? What parts of me and my life need correction?"

In the 30s: (this is where I find myself)

"How do I prioritize the demands being made on my life? How far can I go in fulfilling my sense of purpose? What does my spiritual life look like? Do I even have time for one?"

In the 40s:

"Why are limitations beginning to outnumber options? Why do I seem to face so many uncertainties?"

In the 50s:

"Why is time moving so fast? How do I deal with my failures and successes? What do I do with my doubts and fears?"

In the 60s:

"When do I stop doing the things that have always defined me? Is there life after death? Who will be around me when I die?"

In the 70s and 80s:

"Does anyone realize, or even care, who I once was? Is there anything I can still contribute? Heaven - what is it like?"


These questions certainly provide some food for thought, don't they? I think to some extent, the questions cross the decades and depend on personal circumstances, but that MacDonald is correct in pinpointing the major issues for each decade.