Incense and White Sneakers

candlesIn the adoration chapel on Thursday night, Deacon kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament wafting incense from a censer onto the Host. He was wearing an alb under robes of white and gold that glistened beautifully in the candlelight. The scene was surreal and mystical until I noticed his nondescript white sneakers poking out from underneath the alb. A moment in which the mundane meets the spiritual.

He reminded me of Zechariah, who drew his lot and went into the temple of the Lord to light incense. He didn’t expect to meet an angel there, even though he knew he labored before God. We humans are very good at forgetting the spiritual reality which underpins our entire earthy existence.

I lose my bearings amid my anxieties, busyness and comfort. I tend to look at seemingly impossible situations and forget that with God, anything is possible. I turn into Zechariah, disbelieving God’s promises. When Zechariah questioned the angel’s message that Elizabeth would conceive and bear John the Baptist, he was struck dumb for her entire pregnancy.

Yesterday at Mass everything I had experienced for several days synthesized and brought me back to the glory of God as I sang the refrain from the responsorial psalm, “let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!”. Zechariah, indeed.

There is something that I have been wrestling with. I waver between thinking that it’s God’s will for me, and waffling because I see my own weaknesses.

Sunday He gently reminded me, anything is possible with God and I am not in it alone! Neither are you.


This is Your Brain on Microsoft Paint

progress[My heritage is approximately 1/8 Italian. This entitles me to an afternoon espresso break. Obviously. Carry on.]

Yesterday I shook the foundations upon which our world is founded when I mopped the floor before cleaning the countertops.

This is a big deal. I’ve always had a certain preoccupation with efficiency. It’s this quality which made me an excellent runner for the law firm I worked at in college. I would first collect a queue of errands, arrange which stops would be made at which point in my route and the knock them out in sequence, always taking into consideration the projected busyness of the stop and the direction of traffic in relation to my preferred parking spot.

The proper order of operations for cleaning the kitchen is as follows: unload dishwasher, put dirty dishes into dishwasher, clear clutter away from counters, spray and wipe countertops, sweep the floor, mop. Always in the same order. When things are done in this way everything runs smoothly in the world.

Unfortunately I am in a season of life in which I am in charge of a clingy toddler and a 3-month-old baby. The counters have not been cleaned in a timely manner. Christmas crumbs have become more than seasonal residents on our floor. Dust bunnies sashay past me as I chase Lillian away from the cat food for the seventieth time every day. Over the course of two months I observed helplessly as a stain on the floor grew and darkened like a tumor. Conditions were never perfect enough to facilitate a good floor mopping. There was nothing I could do. It’s a sad, imperfect world we live in.

So then yesterday I swept the floor and mopped it while the dirty countertops looked on in jealous horror. Imperfect progress was made. Like I said before, it was a big damn deal.


This is your brain on Microsoft Paint

I often find myself frozen with indecision because there is no efficiency plan complete with bullet points to follow when I think about how I am going to live my life. I hate trying and then failing and trying again. I don’t always enjoy the confusing little twists and turns and full stops. Let’s not forget the full stops.

In times when I’m tempted to freeze and zone out I’m finding that I have to remind myself to continue on imperfectly and do little things while leaving the bigger picture to God. When I look back at my past it seems like a sad little squiggly line in which very little progress was made due to backtracking and changing direction.

I’m hoping that when you zoom way out, like all the way out, maybe the whole thing is leading straight toward some definite purpose imagined by God from the very moment that I became a thought bubble in his infinite imagination, and that all of the little twists and unexpected bumps actually sent me hurtling forward in his good time.

I am definitely over-thinking this.

Saint Paula of Rome, Pray for Us!

paulaFor the past four years it’s been my tradition to visit Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint’s Name Generator and have it choose a saint to be my companion for the new year. My resulting saint has always been just the one I needed for that year.

The first year I did this I was not yet Catholic, but would be at the coming Easter vigil mass. My saint? St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, whom I was already planning to take as my confirmation saint.

The second year I got St. Paula of Rome, patroness of widows. This one baffled me because I prefer my husband very alive and very well. I was confused all year by this choice. Moving on.

Last year I got St. Elizabeth of Portugal, a holy wife and peacemaker. I became pregnant that year and gave my daughter the middle name Elizabeth in honor of this Elizabeth and Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin and mother of John the Baptist.

This year I was given St. Elizabeth whom I mentioned above, mother of John the Baptist. Utter perfection. Bravo, God.

And Monday I finally figured out why I was given St. Paula.

Today I realized that Monday was her feast day.

Mind. Blown.

I guess more than the specific circumstances which I’m alluding to, the revelation speaks about God’s presence in the midst of what I thought at the time was a hopeless situation. He was there, helping me and guiding me even during those times when I thought he felt absent.

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7