So here I am on what might just be a regular Wednesday. Or maybe it will turn out to be an extraordinary Wednesday in the course of history, who knows?
It has been tough going these past days and weeks. Difficulties with my family, friends, myself. Ugh. Where would I be without prayer in general and the Rosary in particular? I am unable to get myself to daily mass since the advent of school, and am very fortunate if I remember to go on a first Friday. Heck, I can't even rein myself in enough to sit and say a daily Rosary. My strategy is to start while I am in my morning shower; and finish while I dress and tidy the upstairs, start laundry and do other tasks. Occasionally, I will force myself to sit down for the last decade or so, but that doesn't happen much.
-- this is my hand knotted Rosary. I made it because it travels well. Corrie gave me the cross. which I treasure for that reason and also because Kaden broke it the first time when he was a tiny guy of about one, because I let him play with it and he swung it around, cracking the cross in two as it whacked into a wall. Ever since, if I drop it in church on the marble floors, it breaks in the same place, and I remember again how much fun he was, running around Meghann and Jeff's cute first apartment, swinging my rosary (then beads).
Today, though, I did pray. I also cleaned house, which is the best therapy when I am feeling anxious. I did much of it simultaneously. I don't think the Blessed Mother minds. I'm sure she did her share of household chores. There is something good about adding work to prayer. There are particularly serious situations happening now that are way beyond my ability to control or even figure out. While I was praying/cleaning, and wondering what I could do, I remembered the verses about adding fasting to our prayer. So I am.
I woke up this morning with the taste of tea in my mouth. I just kind of laughed to myself and went on, but as I prayed and decided to fast, I remembered that. So -- you guessed it -- a Tea Fast. It's not bad! It helps that Rachael baked the cake I wanted to bake today for me and is helping with dinner preparations. Cause, yeah, the growlies are starting. But, if I didn't feel the hunger, where would the sacrificial element be? So--BRING IT ON! Haha. I say that now. It's only 3:15.
But I love to put God's word to the test. (Not God himself). He even invites us to put his words to the test, and see how faithful He is.
*note--it is now after dinner, and we ended up having my daughter and her fiance, who also brought lovely additions to the meal, so, out of COURTESY I had to eat. I am thinking of trying again tomorrow, even though I know even a partial fast "counts." Hopefully I will not wake up tomorrow with the taste of --say-- chocolate cake, cause that would be a weird fast.
You know how sometimes the strangest things can give you hope and inspiration? Right now I am reading the novel Shogun, by James Clavell. I've read it a couple times before, but it's been years. Something I find very striking is the courage and faith of the character Mariko. She is a convert to the Catholic faith, but she is also samurai. A woman's role in her world is a strange mixture of quiet subservience mixed with respect and even power. As samurai she is trained to fight and courageously defend her liege lord. She prays to the Virgin, but can wield her swords when necessary. I feel drawn to that image; a Catholic woman, living in the modern world that is very often hostile to my beliefs, having to face difficult, often impossible situations, and occasionally having to fight against oppressors, both human and spirit.
Another aspect of the Japanese culture, as portrayed in the book, is the ability to draw serenity and solace from the beauty of nature, during even the most turbulent experiences. The Lord Toranaga is, at one point, hemmed in by enemies and desperately casting about for a way to survive, both physically and politically. Before he makes any decision he has a cup of tea, and listens to the rain. There are scores of examples of this kind of practice in the story, and while they are drawn from an Eastern pattern of thought, I equate them with drawing my thoughts away from the present moment, and turning toward Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am looking forward to getting my back patio spruced up for summer, to provide just that kind of spot to sit and be quiet in.
Last night, after a pretty rough day full of inner distress, I looked out my bedroom window, and the full moon hung just over the tops of the houses across the street. I was touched by the beauty and singular position I had just happened to catch it, so I took this picture.
All those other orbs are my windows making crazy effects. But it was a cool moment. Take my word for it.
The other thing I am doing, besides, praying, cleaning, fasting, and not fasting, is trying to say thank you to God and to people.
Today--thankful for my health, my home, the love of my husband and children, the beautiful weather, God's provision of our needs. For certain people knowing I needed some extra company and support. For friends that pray. For a lovely quiet morning.
Now here are the harder ones -- I am grateful nonetheless, because they are opportunities for Grace: tough financial times, illness of family members, other broken sinners who say hurtful things in hurtful ways, my own wounds being reopened, sadness, fear, regret. These may not provide comfort now, but they teach.
Here are a few pictures that arrived with perfect timing--unbeknownst to the senders.
Who could not feel the smile of God when looking at those?