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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Making an impression

We grow up learning how to walk, talk, eat, write and speak in order not exclude ourselves from certain opportunities and to get a good job; in a word, to make a good impression.  But to what end? What for?

There is a woman who has come into my life as my house cleaner. She was always good at her work and a huge help with the load of laundry that has my name on it. But not until recently did I grasp the impression she has quietly made upon me.

Sometimes I wish I could harken back to the time when everyone had less and expected less. Some of my favorite memories are from visiting my grandma in her magical little farmhouse in her quiet town in minnesota. Her life was simple yet filled to the brim with small joys and purpose. At 95, to everyone she meets her warmth, enthusiasm and zest still makes an impression.

This weekend I visited a Latin American art exhibit in St. Petersburg and saw a replica of someone's bare essentials kitchen of their childhood home. They were celebrating it. Were they taught the necessity of making a good impression?  What for?Life was good then.

It made an impression.

You see, I have no idea where my house helper lives or what she has in terms of material possessions. My house-helper likes her work. She knows she helps me and she is happy knowing this. She has her hobbies, her work, her home.

She has made an impression.

Don't get me wrong. Culturally we value things that are good. There is value in doing your best, having good posture and manners and to be able to communicate effectively.  You just have to figure out what for.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


St. Teresa of Avila said, " Dear Lord, if this is how you treat Your friends, it's no wonder You have so few," as she was bucked from her horse while on her way to one of her monasteries.

Do you ever feel that following God is too demanding? More than you thought it could be or should be? Shouldn't life following God be sweet?

It's hard to explain to a looker on the maxim "by the grace of God go I." If life is so hard, why not chose an easier route? It is yours for the choosing. But we each have our own path God has called us to walk, and we recognize the light on our path and know there really is no other option than to follow. It's like a magnet drawing us on. 

But what makes it so hard? Why does following Jesus have to be so hard? Maybe it's because we care too much what happens to us. We want to be seen in a certain way, we want certain creature comforts to make us feel important, we want general admiration. We want to relax, take it easy, and really just have no worries but what pleases us. Too much responsibility really cramps our style! All of this leads to the conclusion that we still think we know what will make us happy and don't live the Faith of a true child that lives happily in His Father's house. If we do, we can thank the people who have shown us how, who have made it easy, and thank God for that mega grace. 

Don't get me wrong. There are noble parts in our soul, or we wouldn't be following the path. And these noble parts keep us trudging, thank God! And there are great and unexpected joys as well, joys that we wouldn't have otherwise known even existed if we didn't follow the path God set for us. But the crosses are entwined along the road and are just as much a part of our reality. 

Let's pause to reflect upon them, because that is our gripe this morning. "Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few(!)" 

Our crosses carry out an inner purification that slowly set us free, inch by inch on that journey. And set others at a quicker pace if we bear some of our load for them, or even bear their load for a bit. And then we can all start to smile more as we see into the heart and true, spiritual successes of our friends, knowing we are getting on in the journey, peering into the water jug inside of us that is being cleansed from murky water and so, capable of holding more and more of the Living Water. 

We are friends with God. Let's not forget it for a moment. And God didn't just skate by in life. So "carry" on, and live more freely and fully in His house.