9.06.2019

Wounded Hearts



After Holy Communion one Sunday, I rested my head in my hands, my fingers lightly touched my temples and I expected to feel pimples. They weren't there. I am in my forties and there should not be any pimples on my face, so them not being there was no surprise. The surprise was that I expected them to be.

Back in my high school years I had pretty bad acne. What was interesting about this Sunday worship was that I had just spent the time forgiving a friend from those high school days. A particular moment had come to mind. My friend and I sat on the hard, wooden, gym floor in our basketball uniforms waiting for our game to start, when she said something very hurtful to me. Our friendship, already on the rocks, ended there.

For all these years without realizing it, I have carried her hurtful words, and that moment of rejection, in my in my heart. It has hovered around every friendship and relationship since. A quiet, insidious presumption lingered and I believed that any new friendship would end badly, like many others before, because, somehow, I am was not lovable.

This wound, like most emotional wounds, lodged like a thorn in my heart. The pain from the initial hurt got stuck and any incidents that resembled that first pain got caught on that thorn and also stuck in that spot. The barb became a nice hook to hang more hurts on until I gathered enough to identify myself by that wound. This may be true of all emotional wounds. We can sort of become our hurts, "I am annoying," or "I am a loser," or "I am unlovable." Then, like a well-worn path, many of our life choices and how we respond to new situations are dictated by these past hurts.

When I study the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I find  consolation for my own wounded heart. The images above are the pictures that hang in my dining room and in many Catholic homes around the world. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, is crowned with the thorns of his passion, and drips the blood from the wounds of His crucifixion. Mary's Immaculate Heart, although only crowned with flowers in the picture I have (above), is often pictured with a sword piercing through it as well. This brings to the viewers mind Simeon's prophecy when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to be presented in the temple, "and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:35).

The month of September is devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows which draws on the same theme. Images of the Sorrowful Mother can be shocking because her heart is pierced, not just with one sword, but with seven. Each sword represents her Seven Sorrows. These sorrows are the hard things Mary suffered during her life, including the horrific death of her only son.



It strikes me that the pure hearts of Jesus and Mary did not deserve to be wounded as mine did (and still does). I was not innocent on that gym floor when those cruel words pierced my own heart. There had been many times before, and many more since, that my own sins have wounded others' hearts and further damaged my own. But, in these images there is also fire. The flames that  leap out of the tops of Jesus' and Mary's hearts represent their burning love for me, and for every person. They endured undeserved suffering out of love. Their suffering and their wounded hearts are a total gift of selfless love. My own wounds, sins, and weaknesses can be consumed by the fire of Divine Love if I have the courage allow it.

What can I do now but weep for my own sins and for the wounds I've created in others' hearts and in my own. My only response is to seek forgiveness from those I've hurt and from the Divine whose heart burns for love of me. Then, I too must learn to practice selfless love of God and others, to put others before myself, to sit at the lowest seat at the table, be a servant to all. Like a child learning to talk, or walk or read, progress in selfless love can be slow and frustrating. But, these two hearts, wounded for me and burning with love for me give me the courage to carry on.

----


In the middle of writing this a friend sent me a link to a novena to Our Lady of Sorrows that starts today. Join me in praying this novena that our wounded hearts will be healed and we will draw closer to the Divine Physician.











1.01.2019

Lame seeking Fame



I was questioning my own self worth (again) the other night as I listened to some really great music. The lyrics, the feeling, everything spoke to my heart. I was overwhelmed with awe of the artist. How does she do it? How is she so talented and gifted to create something so beautiful? Inevitably the next question: Why am I so lame? Why can't I be as creative and gifted as (fill in the blank because these questions follow me whenever I see people who excel in all areas of life)?

I think what it boils down to is the age old question of human flourishing. How does one become truly happy (content, at peace, abiding in joy that runs deep)? It has something to do with following one's passions, but it's more than that. There is also the actual work that must be done. The practice of one's art. The use of one's gifts. That's the part that's hard. That's what keep me banging my head against the wall of lameness.

The people who succeed, and find fame if they want it, are inherently driven. I know this is a thing. My husband wakes up every day with a fire burning. The only thing that stops him from checking everything off his list is that pesky need for sleep (sometimes his need for food can slow him down too). I am convinced if he decided to seek fame, he would find it by his sheer determination and his tenacious spirit. Whatever he puts his mind to, he achieves.

I am not like my husband and, darn it, whole world is not made up of driven personalities. So what about the rest of us? What about those of us who languish, or those of us that are more drawn to comfort than success? St. Irenaeus of Lyons once said, "The glory of God is a man fully alive." Is it possible to be fully alive and not be driven? Is it possible to find happiness, true contentment, and be a little bit lame?

I think the answer is partly yes, and partly no. As I have said, not all of us are as driven or as talented as others. It doesn't necessarily follow that we are losers, although without the constant fire to push us to success, we have to be careful not to languish in mediocrity entirely. Each person does  have a "thing" that is unique to that person. Maybe it's something great and showy, like an incredible singing voice, or it may be less showy, like a person who keeps a beautiful home that only those close to her see. Somehow we must be humble enough to recognize our own "thing" and do that thing well.

In the end, if you're like me, we need to stop beating ourselves up for not being great. Being ordinary is good too. Embrace being ordinary.









11.26.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 5}

~Road Trips~


We just returned from a road trip to Montana for Thanksgiving. As a family, and even before the kids were with us, we have traveled so many miles that we can define ourselves as a Road Trip Family. Our destinations usually involve visiting family and are rarely less than seven hours. When I was a child I spent a lot of time on the roads with my parents as well. In Montana, the fourth largest state in the union, to get anywhere takes a few hours. It's just in my blood to get on the road again and I just can't wait.

All the memories of trips we've taken, especially now with the kids, makes my heart swell with gratitude. We pile in the tightly packed van with blankets, pillows, books, CD's and screens and settle in for the long haul. We try to keep the kids off the screens for long periods of time so they can look out the window or we can have lively conversations (which mostly happens at the end of the trip when my nerves are frazzled).

Road trips are also a time for reflection. Adam and I make our plans for the future over sips of Starbucks and around potholes or even herds of cattle. We also take advantage of the time together to listen to inspiring CD's (usually about Saints) and pray the rosary together. It's good for a family to get away together and our road trips provide a that time for us. It's like a mini family retreat.



~Scattering Agates~

I started this blog in January of 2009. That means in a couple months it will be ten years of blog bliss (I just used my fingers to count...I can't believe it has been that long!).  I'm so grateful for my little corner of cyberspace where I can share my tumbled thoughts, and you are free to take or toss them.

Scattering Agates began, so I thought, as a way to communicate the contents of my brain in a cohesive way that all the world could understand. A friend at the time told me, in essence, that I think about things and they roll around my head until someone comes along and picks up my thoughts like she picked up agates on the beach. Hence the name of my blog.

At that time, I thought blogging would be the answer to my communication problems. I hoped I could scatter my thoughts, my agates, in a way I wasn't able to in conversations. Instead of incomplete thoughts with a person here and there and everywhere, I could actually complete my thoughts and make a difference in the world.

What I found by blogging (that may be a word now because my computer didn't underline it in red) was that I was still misunderstood. Eventually, I decided it didn't matter, and in the meantime, my reason for keeping a blog changed from a desire to be understood and communicate effectively to a place to continue and pursue my passion to write. Here is what I understand now, readers hear what they want or need to hear. My writing takes on a life of it's own after I hit publish. Most interestingly (to me) is when I write to vent frustrations, often readers find what I say funny. I never imagined I could be funny. I also never imagined the positive feedback I've received by scattering my thoughts.

And so I've continued on and on for ten years and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon!

It seems a little silly to be so grateful for a space to dump out the contents of my head, but I truly am. Thanks to you, my faithful readers, for sticking with me. I wonder if any of you are still with me from way back when I started (besides my mom, of course)?

~Gratitude Notes~

I'm grateful for the completion of November Gratitude Notes. This was a task I set out to do to get myself back in the writing game. The format was good for me because it was a challenge. I intend to keep writing on a weekly basis, maybe more. It seems this writing thing really soothes my soul and I need some soul soothing. Don't we all? 

11.18.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 4}

~The Holy Rosary~


Oh where to start with my gratitude for the Holy Rosary? Well, for one, the picture above is my rosary and I love it for many reasons, but mostly because of the natural beads and beautiful colors. It is from company called Rugged Rosaries and I specifically bought a rosary from them because they claim to be unbreakable. Mine (like all my rosaries) broke. I had to send it back. Thankfully, it's good as new. But, that's not the reason I love the rosary.

Maybe it's best to list:

1. The rosary is very Catholic. It's not (gasp) in the Bible and so non-Catholic Christians don't get why it's such a big deal. I'm not thankful for it because it's not in the Bible and other Christians don't "get" it, just thankful for it's very Catholic identity.

2. Each of the five decades of the four different sets of mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous) help me to recall different scenes from the life of Jesus, ironically, from the stories of him in the Bible (so it is Biblical!). I'm grateful for how the rosary helps me to recall those important moments without flipping through the Good Book and also how my imagination comes into play. Often I imagine myself in those scenes while I meditate on them.

3. I am grateful for all the different kinds of rosaries and how they range from highly functional to ornate. Each rosary has it's own personality and usually fits the person who owns it (see photo above of my rosary). It's kind of like dog owners and their dogs.

4. I love our Blessed Mother and am so thankful for her in my life as my mother in heaven loving intercessor (we call her Queen of All Saints). She is pretty central to the prayers of the rosary. In each decade we pray ten "Hail Mary's."

5. The #1 reason (I should have done a countdown) that I am grateful for the rosary and its prayers is....PEACE. Have you ever seen that bumper sticker that says, "Pray the Rosary for Peace"? It's true! In those times when our family is not at peace, when I'm not at peace, when things are scary, horrible, sad, frantic, or mean, praying the rosary brings peace. I pull out those beads and begin to pray and the demons flee.



Here's a link: How to pray the rosary.


~Whistle blowers~

I tried to only put part of the interview of Siobhan O'Connor. It's near the beginning of this newscast. She was the personal secretary of a bishop who was covering up sex abuse in the diocese of Buffalo, New York. Although  I don't like to highlight the horrible news that keeps coming out about our beloved church, I am so grateful for people like Siobhan and others who are holding people accountable even when it is heart wrenching and difficult. I hope, especially if you are Catholic, that you watch her interview. She nails it with such grace and humility (it starts at about 4:15).


~Anniversaries~

Seventeen years ago on the 24th of this month, Adam and I were married. That happens to be one of the top five best days of my life (we have four kids). Adam and I were married about six months after we met. Those first few years were a bit of a shock as we got to know each other. Plus, Grace joined us just under a year after our wedding day. Of course Adam and I both have personality quirks and selfish tendencies, but what amazes me is how marriage and children has slowly chipped away at our pointy edges. Both of us have changed and grown over the years as we practiced the, sometimes very uncomfortable, dance of give and take.

I wouldn't say our marriage has been rocky, but it has not been easy. What I am most grateful for is our shared faith which we have depended on to get us through. When times were tough, we each had a fountain of graces to draw from that gives so much help in the hard times and it's also a place to come together in times of thanksgiving. We have stood side-by-side during the joyful times of our babies' baptisms, and have stood in line together, heads bent and hearts heavy, for confessions. In each circumstance we have come out refreshed and ready to begin again.

I'm so grateful for this day, our anniversary. It is such a joy and a privilege to be married, to have someone to walk side-by-side with to our final destination. I am especially thankful that my partner is Adam. Even though we didn't know each other very well, God knew each of us intimately, and I'm convinced it was a match made in heaven.

~Thanksgiving~

As cliche as it may be, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, specifically the first Thanksgiving. Each year my kids and I remember the pilgrims and their trek across the ocean in search of freedom. Although they were not the first colony in America (that happens to be a Catholic colony in Florida established by Spain), the reason we remember them was because of the Mayflower Compact. Maybe you already know this, but my early education was hazy and sporadic and so now I understand better why that was important. It was important, in part, because they were the first colony of people that claimed themselves (we the people) as the leaders. They did not pledge allegiance to a king or country, but established their own government. It was revolutionary and the seed of the American Revolution over 150 years later. I'm grateful for the pilgrims bravery and fortitude. They are a continual example to us to strive and even fight for freedom from tyranny, and especially religious freedom, because inevitably someone wants to control who or how people worship.