“Do you mind if we stop at the church for a couple of minutes?” I asked my nephew.
“To say hi to Jesus.” He said nothing. “Do you?” I said as I turned on my blinker. I asked again as I pulled into the parking lot. He remained silent.
We walked into the sanctuary, the heavy fragrance of incense making me close my eyes and breath deeply. For a few minutes, we knelt and then sat back in the pew. It was completely quiet and empty. The stillness in striking contrast with the usual full bustle of a Sunday morning Mass.
I turned to say something to my nephew and saw that he sat there with eyes closed and hands folded. And so I waited in the weight of silence until he suddenly turned to me and asked if we could go.
We spoke for a little bit about the silence, spent some time reading about St. John the Beloved on his feast day, and then I asked if we could pray for a friend of mine who was suffering from an illness that was lasting years. It was her birthday and she was on my heart and mind throughout the day. So I offered a brief intention for her and my sister before asking if he had anything to add.
Continue reading “The Beauty of a Child’s Prayer”
It seems keeping the heart one of flesh, instead of being one of stone, is the continual work of a lifetime. Softening, rather than hardening, requires a strength and intentionality that doesn’t come naturally to me. In the wake of my defensiveness and desire for self-preservation, I repeatedly need to engage in the work of letting my heart be real. The simple act of believing in the goodness of others (and living in that truth) is one that requires me to be soft-hearted over and over again.
As I’ve gone into the prison, I have grown in seeing the goodness in people who have made many mistakes. Many of the men I interact with are easy to find goodness in because they are seeking the Lord, too. Their zeal for the Lord or their desire to love Him or find Him invites me to see how God is moving in their hearts. Others are a little more difficult since they make me feel uncomfortable or continually lie to me. But as a whole, I am able to look at men who have raped, murdered, and committed all sorts of crimes and proclaim their inherent goodness.
For whatever reason, we often look up what crimes the men are in for and how long of a sentence they received. At times, it helps to understand their position: are they in for life or a few years or simply back after breaking parole? We decided to look up one man I’ve talked with several times and see his crime. It was surprising because the kindness and gentleness I’ve experienced from him ran contrary to the crime he was sentenced to serve. Yet, despite the surprise, it didn’t really change how I felt toward him. The goodness and kindness I’ve experienced are real and he is far more than the crimes of his past.
Continue reading “Break Our Hearts of Stone”
I found this poem through a podcast that has a “poem of the day” that they read and analyze a bit. While I often forget, reading and learning more poetry follows a desire I have to immerse my life in more beauty.
The poem is called “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
Continue reading “Perhaps the World Ends Here”
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”