There is no doubt we are living through difficult and uncertain times. As someone who seeks peace at any cost, I find myself confronted more often than I’d like. Civil discourse and reason have been replaced with hot emotions and shout-downs. I’ve found myself editing my Facebook news feed to filter out all political discussion. Surrounded by those who feel differently from me, I do my best avoid debate because I don’t think well on my feet. I am cordoning off a part of myself as protection. Continue reading “Navigating this war-like world as a non-combatant, with a strong woman to guide me”
NOTE: This is my upcoming column in the Catholic Free Press (for Friday, January 13) and it is currently running on Catholicmom.com.
Before I share my column, a few words.
It’s been a while since I’ve written regularly for this blog and this is because I am involved in a mammoth writing project which you can find out more about here.
This is the book I was working on when I was offered the opportunities of River of Grace and Louisa May Alcott Illuminated by The Message; these works (thanks to excellent editors and publishers) taught me how to write professionally, making this new book possible. It is the work of my heart, the book of my life. And it being all consuming, it’s been difficult keeping up with my two blogs.
A new direction for this blog
While prepping for River of Grace, I read a book of essays about the adjustment to an empty nest (I had originally intended to include a chapter on that subject). In writing for Catholicmom I thought I might focus on being an empty-nester as I have many thoughts on this stage of life; I will share those columns here as well.
My first column, “The Season of Comings and Goings”, was published this week on Catholicmom and I invite you to read it:
Another Christmas has come and gone. The tree is outside on the deck for the birds to enjoy; the wreath, brown and dry, is feeding the soil on the other side of the fence.
All the lights are wrapped up (with their extension cords this time!) and put away.
And the letdown after Christmas begins. Every ornament carefully placed in the box, each stocking taken down reminds me of the family time I still crave and so cherish.
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The long Christmas break is over and the letdown is leaving me a bit melancholy. The stretching of the heart that comes with the empty nest made full, and then made empty again, hurts.
Both of our adult children were home for the holidays. Our daughter spent both Christmas Eve and morning with us despite the fact that she also needed to see her fiancé’s family (she got engaged in November). Our son spent the week with us, having come up from New York.
Each time they come it’s an adjustment, requiring me to make room, not just in my house, but in my heart. Of course I do it without hesitation, but it is still an adjustment. It took me ten years to get to where I enjoy the empty nest.
The room is made and is filled only to be emptied again; it continues to surprise me how much it still hurts when they go away. Eventually this room fades into the background, waiting for the next time it will be needed. Slowly the new life I began when they left the nest filters back in and it soothes my heart.
This has been the conundrum for me with regards to the empty nest, this making room. I find it requires a heart that is vulnerable, supple and open. It requires a bit of courage, even for the creation of the smallest of rooms.
I distinctly remember the day I created that first room. All of a sudden the barriers came down and I announced to my husband that I was ready to have children. That moment came after several years of chasing a dream of being a professional musician, an all-consuming passion. I soon found out that motherhood is equally all-consuming; something had to give. I sold off my recording equipment, put the guitar away and immersed myself in my babies. It was not a hard choice. Love facilitates room-building
After five years the desire to write and record songs returned and it became a painful tug of war. Creative work requires large blocks of quiet time and as any mother knows, that time is non-existent, especially if you also work outside of the home. There were plenty of moments of guilt and regret and before I knew it, my children were grown.
So many moments of great joy and pride. Moments of heartache and sorrow. My heart was exercised and stretched in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
Would I do it all again in the same way? Probably. Do I miss those childhood years? Very much so. Am I haunted by some leftover regrets? Sometimes. But it’s nice to have found a resting place in this empty nest.
In the meantime, I can enjoy the companionship of my grown children. Watching their burgeoning careers, enjoying pictures of the new apartment, marveling as they learn how to cook and make a home, meeting the significant others and reveling in the engagement and planning for the wedding all make for a rich post-childhood life. We share dreams and hopes for the future. The blossoming of my children into well-adjusted adults is an enormous blessing. As the song goes from The Sound of Music, somewhere along the way, “I must have done something good.”
So, I will continue to make room. The stretching will continue to hurt but it makes for a strong muscle. And while waiting for the grandchildren, I will hug and kiss my cats in anticipation.
My latest Catholic Free Press column.
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The recent ruling by the Supreme Court on the legal state of marriage has reverberated across the country. People cannot stop talking about it and the conversations are often heated. A seismic shift has taken place in our culture. It caught me unprepared for the personal storm of confusion and fear that I would experience as a result.
Facing the inevitable
Christians are facing a “brave new world.” Confrontation is now inevitable; I cannot avoid it no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I have to be clear as to what I think and how I feel and learn how to express it both firmly and in love, as Jesus would do. Continue reading “Confession of a timid soul”
I am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.
In preparation for mass this Sunday:
Life is full of transitions. The longer we live, the greater the number of our years, the greater the number of transitions.
Some transitions are rather universal like adolescence and leaving home, marriage and childbirth, illness and aging, or separation through death. Other transitions feel as if they are thrust upon us like the loss of a job or an unwelcome medical diagnosis.
In every case we’re forced to look at life anew in order the rebuild our lives.
In this week’s gospel Jesus’ disciples are struggling to deal with his departure from this world. They will be forced to let go of their former ways of relating to him. In the future, Christ will be present to them, albeit in a new and different way.
Sorting all this out is something the disciples will have to do together. So Jesus prays that “they may be one.”
It has been said that most people belong to two families:
One family is your biological family. These are the folks with whom you share a common bloodline, genetics, DNA.
The other family is your psychological or spiritual family. These are the people that care for you, love you, stand by you. These are the communities that give you strength and hope when you need it most.
Biological families and spiritual families are sometimes the same. But frequently, they are not.
The disciples needed a community of faith to get through the transition.
We, modern-day disciples need spiritual families to navigate and find strength through the changes and upheavals of life. The big transitions of life are not meant to be travelled alone…
Who are the people that make up your “spiritual family?” Who are you a “spiritual family” to?
How are you traveling life as the years (and the transitions) add up? Traveling alone? Or, with companions?
We pray for the grace to have and to be, faith-filled, hope-filled and loving travel companions.
Copyright 2015 by Steven Michael LaBaire
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