Monday, November 29, 2010

Walk in the Light

After my first child was weaned, I went on my first-ever overnight retreat. It was hard to leave my new little family, but I had experienced so much in that year-and-a-half of motherhood that I really felt called to spend some time apart, undistracted, before the Lord. I know some people don't need this kind of silence and separation, but I've experienced it twice, and the practice has borne great fruit in my life. Anyway, on the third and last day of the retreat, I had a final meeting with my spiritual director, and his parting words to me, thoughtfully, deliberately, and gently spoken as he looked directly at me, were "Walk in the light." I have a hard time explaining exactly what that phrase has come to mean to me, but if I had to give words to it, I would say it places me. It puts me exactly where I need to be. The notion would be that right where I am, standing right here at the counter as I type, or as I bathe a preschooler, or as I help a child with his homework, or as I drive a minivan (hey! No laughing!), my response to God's presence puts me in the Light or in darkness. And I choose light.

The first scripture reading from Isaiah yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent, contained this verse, my verse, and I sort of lit up when the lector read it during Mass. The glow from the first lit candle on the grand Advent wreath gave illustration to the words, and I felt that wonderful sense of being right where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Sitting right smack in the middle of God's will.

As mothers, I think we are blessed to have a vocation where the right choice is usually fairly obvious. It is when I toy around with thinking and debating and mulling things over that I realize that I am really trying to cajole God into seeing things my way. It's a red flag of sorts, and a warning that I am trying mightily to step out of the light. But what's there? I shudder to think what's there. Momentary satisfaction, and then what?

We are blessed that the frequent appearance of literal light throughout Advent can serve as a reminder of the Light of the World, and how we should live our lives in His glow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Wait

Some of the most precious times in life are ones of waiting. 



These are times when we can abandon ourselves to lofty dreams, or succumb to fear.  Or, if we place ourselves within the protective palm of our loving Father's hand, we can rest in a peaceful anticipation, trusting in the knowledge that though we don't know what is to come, He does.  And He will carry us through.

It is with this perspective that I embark upon this Advent.  The Wait is upon us, and though I am sure busy-ness and bedlam is likely to rear its head frequently as we navigate these weeks, I will seek wholeheartedly to do His will, and keep my eyes on the Child for Whom we wait. 

And so it will be the fruits of the Spirit that I try to cultivate more deeply in my being this Advent. 

I will dwell not on the perfect Christmas tree, but on charity. 
I will seek not compliments on my cuisine, but joy in the coming of the Lord. 
I will aim to cultivate a home not of grandeur, but of peace. 
I will give more thought to exercising patience,  than to exercising my body into a smaller dress. 
And while kindness pours forth easily from me toward store clerks and school personnel, I will endeavor to pour kindness upon my family always. 
May my goals reflect the goodness of the Great Good I believe in, so that when people see me, they see Him. 
And may I bestow generosity on the needy, rather than juggle my budget to satisfy my wants.
 Oh, gentleness, gentleness, how I need to hear you take over my voice and the motions of my swift moving hands and feet, trying to get so much done.  Slow me down and sweeten my gestures.
And may I obey in all faithfulness the will of the Lord. 
May modesty regulate my dress, and eliminate my boasting.
May chastity flower in my marriage, as we place ourselves beneath the Lord's guidance, seeking to do His will in our marriage.
And self-control will be my primary goal, for all else depends upon it, doesn't it?

A blessed Advent to you all.