4.13.2009

My Joyful Easter (a personal reflection)

At Easter Sunday Mass this year our priest said something that seemed simply profound to me. He said that every year we celebrate the same Easter feast with basically the same readings from scripture, the same themes and the same message. We, as individuals, are the only things that change. We each come to the celebration a different person than last year because of our peraonal experiences and changes in perspective. This concept became very real to me when I thought about my own experience of Easter just last year.

Last Easter I was not "feeling" the joy of the resurrection. Instead I was feeling stressed and removed from what was going on. We had just moved into a new home, our baby was not quite a year (a very busy stage), and my faith was being tested in ways that I was not completely aware of at the time. I remember sitting in the darkened cry room bouncing my baby around and holding tears back. I could not focus on anything going on. It was like a sunny summer's day on the coast when the fog rolls in and surrounds the house. It feels, not like summer, but the middle of winter.

Not too long after Easter, my world seemed to crash in on me. It was not anything anyone could see from the outside. It was inside of me. I was confronted with doubt about my faith. It was a scary and disconcerting time for me. However, God is so faithful. His influence in my life became so clear, and so crisp in the depths of my soul, that I could no longer doubt. Because I fell on my face, spiritually speaking, I was more than ready to actually hear what God had been waiting to tell me. I've learned so much about myself as God's creation, and ultimately, about Him. It was as if I woke up from years of restless sleeping.

The glory of God is a man [or woman] fully alive.

Of course, God did not reveal himself to me through audible words, but through books I've picked up, conversations I've had and a series of personal epiphanies.

Here are some of the books and ideas that have changed me over this year in roughly the order I stumbled across them. (Just click on the title of the book if you'd like to order it for yourself.):

1. I read What Every Mom Needs by Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall. This book got the ball rolling for me to get my priorities straight and helped me to realize that this mom job is more complicated than I first realized. It's where I began to understand that to be a happy mom, I have to be happy.

2. Then I read Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World by Carl Anderson. I read these simultaneously. At some point all these ideas came crashing together in my head. My book club probably thought I was crazy when we discussed Mortenson's book, which is a completely secular book, and I was pulling out Anderson's book on Catholicism. Basically what I figured out for myself was that being fully alive is realizing my own potential and utilizing the gifts I have with the life I've been given. Through my own experiences, I can become something great. I need to stop looking for greatness in places where I am not, but where I am with the gifts I have. This is when I began to seriously contemplate starting this blog.

3. On my birthday I took a hike with a good friend who told me about her attitude of surrender. Basically, life as a mom with small children is crazy, hectic and hard. By surrendering to that life and just letting it be what it is, we are more able to enjoy it and not be so stressed about the perfect car trip, shopping trip or bedtime routine. Now I try to just take a deep breath and surrender to the moment.

4. Along the same lines was the book I picked up by Dr. Laura Schlessinger called, Stop Whining, Start Living. Of all the books over the year, this one brought on the most dramatic change in my attitude toward my life. Dr. Laura helped me to stop dwelling on what is negative, and wishing for something better, and to instead count my many blessings. I recommend this book highly.

5. One day a friend of mine said, "Holly, you really think about things a lot. Your thoughts tumble around in your head like an agate that my girls and I pick up on the beach." Later in prayer, I was lamenting how disconnected my thoughts seem. I can't ever really portray all that I mean when I talk to one person or another. It was frustrating to me and then I realized that I am an agate dropper. I just scatter my tumbled thoughts (agates) wherever I go and that's my gift. Thus (do I even need to say it), the name of this blog.

All that has happened to me in the last year contributed greatly to the Easter I joyfully celebrated on Sunday. Despite the fact that the words, themes and scriptures were the same as last year, this year was wonderful, glorious and just a plain happy time for me. Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

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