Are you a night worrier? My mother has never had any trouble falling asleep at night. But once in a while, if she’s unlucky enough to wake up during the night, that’s it for sleeping. She calls them “racing thoughts.” Turning, churning, and tumbling in her mind at a pace that won’t stop.
What is it about the middle of the night that things always seem so dire? We awake with a feeling of dread. A worry that seemed small during the day seems to blow up in the dark of our bedroom. Taking on a menacing shape. Like that monster from our childhood, threatening to creep out and grab us in our sleep. Larger problems seem insurmountable, even hopeless.
In the dark we are scared children again. We’re alone and helpless. We forget everything we know about God’s love and faithfulness. We let fear take over. It becomes impossible to place our trust in God. We focus on the darkness (the metaphorical absence of God’s light) instead of the quiet.
But remember…the quiet is the best time for hearing. Listen to what God is whispering to you: Continue reading →
The season of Lent is a journey.
A journey to the foot of the cross at Calvary…and to the heart of Jesus.
Years of working in retreat ministry has shown me that more than anything, women long for a daily encounter with God. Whatever form that may take, the desire to connect with the Divine is a major driver in a woman’s spiritual journey. A retreat presenter recently urged, “Don’t ever be satisfied with where you are with God at this moment. Always desire something deeper.”
Reaching for that “something deeper” can be a real challenge. Today’s woman is pulled in a million different directions. Always on the go, we are doers and nurturers. This hectic pace can make if very difficult to listen for the voice of God. Women need TIME! We need quiet. We need a safe, sacred space, free from distraction. We need to stand still long enough to be found. Only then can we take up our cross once again and resume the journey. Continue reading →
A year after I graduated from college, I was vacationing on Cape Cod with some girlfriends. One evening, I drove over to the next town to visit our friend Dave, who was staying in a rental cottage with his parents. I had heard lots of stories about Mr. and Mrs. F., but I had never met them. When I got up to the cottage, Mrs. F. flung open the front door and wrapped me in a huge hug. Pulling me into the living room, where her husband was sitting in an easy chair reading the paper, she said, “You must be Sheri. I’m Judy.” Then she pointed to her husband, “and this… is my beloved.” Mr. F. gave her an affectionate smile and got up to shake my hand.
It was over 20 years ago, but I have never forgotten this encounter. Somehow, at that young age, I knew I was witnessing an important truth about marriage. Just like so many of us, Mr. and Mrs. F. had a pretty ordinary life. She was a mother and homemaker. He was a professor at a nearby law school. They raised one son, took care of their house and garden, and every once and a while, rented a house on Cape Cod for a week in the summer. Yet that moment of a wife looking at her husband and calling him “Beloved” was anything but ordinary.
St. Francis de Sales talked about looking for God in the everyday circumstances of ordinary life. In other words… finding God in the details. That’s the perfect way to describe the encounter I witnessed in Cape Cod all those years ago. This simple, intimate exchange between a husband and wife was a moment filled with grace. To me, “finding God in the details” is a perfect way to describe marriage and to start seeing married life as a true sacrament. Looking through all the mundane, ordinary tasks of married life and seeing “the Beloved” is the truest sense of experiencing the sacred. Continue reading →
For many years I’ve been collecting a book series on spirituality called “Elf-Help Books” by Abbey Press. The series contains over forty mini-books on a variety of topics, each one accompanied by charming illustrations by R.W. Alley. Titles include: Trust-in-God Therapy, Stress Therapy, Forgiveness Therapy, Keep Life Simple Therapy, Be–Good-To-Your-Marriage Therapy, and many more. The books are beautiful in their simplicity. 35 to 40 short statements to help you reflect on each topic. Click here for more information on how to order Elf-Help books.
One of my favorites is Prayer Therapy, written by Keith McClellan, O.S.B. In the foreword he writes: “Real prayer is organic—it grows out of your own life, personality, needs, and rhythms. Each day and every moment are filled with opportunities for prayer. If we seize these moments, we open ourselves to the greatest enrichment—and most effective therapy—possible. Prayer isn’t for specialists. Prayer is for you and for me.”
I love this idea that we all have access to a rich prayer life if we only embrace it. Prayer is not reserved for only the most holy. It does not take place only in churches. It does not have to consist of poetic words. Prayer is simply a connection to God in whatever form that may take for each one of us. As Fr. McClellan suggests: “Pray where you are. God is everywhere.” In line at the grocery store. In classrooms. On a busy street. Deep in the woods. High on the mountaintop. In the depths of the valley.
You can bring any emotion or thought to prayer. God loves you and knows you best, and He wants to hear it ALL. Bring your gratitude to God. Your sorrow. Your anger. Your confusion. There may be times when you can’t even find words for what you’re feeling. Let your sigh become a prayer. Or your tears. Or a shrug of your shoulders. Or a clenched and shaken fist. God knows what your heart is experiencing and is listening and loving you.
If you pray where you are often enough, you’ll find it becomes a part of you. A “second-nature” response to every situation. This living, ongoing conversation with God will enrich your life in countless ways. Answers will come. Peace will come. Contentment will remain.
Fr. McClellan closes his book with this beautiful thought: “To pray is to breathe. Do it deeply and you will be filled with life.” AMEN!
We hear so often about the importance of wellness of body, mind, and spirit. We visit a doctor for our annual check-up. We measure the health of our bodies through blood work, cholesterol tests, EKG’s, etc. We have assessments for measuring different aspects of our brain and intellect. But how often do we give our spirit a check-up? How often do we ask the question: “How healthy is my spirit?”
Try this little exercise. Read each statement below and say whether you agree or disagree: Continue reading →
For today’s reflection, I would like to share the following story. The author is unknown, and the story can be found in various places on the internet.
There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view. Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there. The cave had never seen light. The word “light” meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what “light” might be. Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit. When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted, because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience. Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness, and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime, because the sun had never seen darkness. So the day came, and the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what “darkness” would be like. Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” (Source Unknown) Continue reading →