I was expecting a lot of things for my retreat, but I wasn’t expecting that not wearing eyeliner would be one of them.
By most standards, I don’t wear much makeup. Despite the fact that my mother has sold it for my entire life, I don’t like even really talking about it or experimenting with it or purchasing it. I utilize it, but I don’t really care about it. On retreat, I eliminated it from my morning routine for a few practical reasons: I wasn’t going “out” anywhere and it seemed it would only look worse when I would inevitably cry as the Lord worked through different matters within me.
The second or third day of not wearing eyeliner, I found myself looking in the mirror, slightly bewildered. That is what my eyes actually look like? My fair complexion and light hair is exactly why someone created eyeliner and mascara. Without it, my eyes aren’t as emphasized and everything looks a little paler.
Since I was on a silent retreat, I leaned into the discomfort rather than away from it. It wasn’t about vanity so much. I would look in the mirror and I would remind myself: these are your eyes. This is what they actually look like. And as the days passed, they seemed more mine. It stopped seeming like I was missing something that ought to be there, but rather that I was seeing reality. When I left retreat, I found that I wanted to keep seeing those eyes that are really mine and in the way they actually are.
(Stick with me, guys, I promise this is not an entire post about makeup!)
I’m not swearing off eyeliner: it does what it is supposed to do–it makes my eyes stand out. But I realized on retreat that I never want to forget what my eyes actually look like. It was a perfect physical takeaway from the tremendous interior work that the Lord was doing during that time of silence. The entire retreat was one of re-crafting my eyes to see me how the Lord actually sees me.
Continue reading “Eyeliner and Reality”
Kids can get away with so much.
Whether it is because they are adorable or because we can chalk it up to their innocence, they are able to do things that are unthinkable to adults. The small child that escapes the proper place in the church pew and scampers toward the front of the church is often met with smiles, even if the bishop is offering Mass. A few weeks ago, a child at an audience with Pope Francis ran to the front and when the Swiss Guards tried to block him, the pope welcomed him forward.
They also seem to have the freedom to just ask for things. My nephew once saw some money sitting on my parents’ counter and, after clarifying that it was indeed money, asked if he could have $40. Children are quick to ask for food (even if it is the food you are eating), a drink from your water bottle, and anything else that might be slightly weird for an adult to request.
Yet there is such freedom in their general disposition. A freedom that is nearly enviable when one considers how they present their needs and desires to those capable of actualizing them. It made me consider how freeing it would be to approach God the Father in that way. What would it be like to truly be His child, with all of the fidelity and trust found in the hearts of the little ones? Continue reading “Childlike Trust”
Kids are really good at living in the moment. It is what gives them the ability to swing from laughter to tears in a matter of seconds. They can have great joy eating an ice cream cone and then become distraught with five minutes in time out. Right now, right here is the most important thing for kids.
My niece is a prime example of both sides of this. I gave her a mermaid tail blanket for a belated Christmas present. She was enthused as she slipped it around her legs and then flopped along on the floor. Coming to me, she grabbed my legs and exclaimed, “I look exactly like a mermaid, Trish!” Contrast that scene with several weeks prior when she fought against the injustice of being forced to sit at the adult table while her two older brothers sat at a kid table. “Not fair!” she sobbed, pointing at her brothers, “They get to sit at the little table! No fair!” A few minutes later, having switched places with one semi-willing brother, she was more than content.
Adults can be similar, but we also are more prone to live in the past or the future. Sometimes we can forget that the present is all we really have.
Precious moments can slip away because they don’t come shrouded in the extraordinary. Everyday moments, ones that are ordinary yet give life beauty, are some of the most treasured once they have passed. I’ve heard it said that people often miss the ordinary moments when they lose people close to them. I have found that to be true in my life. My paternal grandfather died a few years ago and one of the things I miss most is giving him a hug before leaving his house and hearing him say, “Come again.” Continue reading “When the Ordinary Prepares the Way for the Extraordinary”
The wind is chilling as it caresses my cheek with a frigid wisp of air. Walk quickly, breath in the exhilarating fresh air, and scrunch my shoulders to my ears to keep in the warmth. Of all the things I do, this is one of the things that makes me feel most like an adult. I am hurrying from work to a little chapel, tucked away in a hospital. My feet will lead me out of the wintry cold and into the warmth of a chapel. I will be united with the universal Church in prayer and receiving the Eucharist. I will rest in the pews and hear the readings proclaimed. While I like going to Mass during the school day, I feel most adult-like when I am trudging through the snow on my way to Mass. Something seems so beautiful about that prospect. In college it was typical for people to go to daily Mass often. There were multiple Mass times on campus but it was only when I would go to Mass off-campus, surrounded by people who had come from work or brought the young children from home, that I felt a strong interior gladness. It was as though college was an artificial world and stepping off the campus and into the town I was stepping into reality. I was taking my place among the adults of the world and showing the importance of the Eucharist. The fact that I wasn’t going because it was so accessible or expected, but because I desired to, my heart longed to go.
I love Mass regardless of the season or location. But there is a special beauty found in going to Mass when it is cold outside and the church embraces you like you were in your mother’s womb. The outside world might be cold and hostile, but Mother Church will always take you in, nourish you, and send you back out to fight the good fight.