Confession of a timid soul

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”

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Clinging to and Letting Go: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel John 12:20-33 by Father Steven LaBaire

father steven labaireI 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:

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” That’s from this coming Sunday’s gospel reading.

Tim VanReenen, Flickr Creative Commons
Tim VanReenen, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m reminded that every step of life, every advance toward growth and maturity requires a kind of “letting go” and the “death” of something that once was in order that something better and more fruitful can come to life.

Couples in love

A young couple in love learn this quite soon into their relationship. Gone are the days of endless freedom and going and doing “whatever I want, whenever I want.” Now, love compels them to navigate life together, conscious and mindful of each other’s needs and feelings. If either of them tries to cling too much to the way things were before, the relationship will not survive. A sacrifice, a “letting go” is necessary in order for love to thrive.

Expecting a child

This same young couple will relearn the lesson of “ letting go” all over again on the day they learn that they are expecting a child. Once again they will be challenged to “die to self” to that they can live their lives more focused on the life that will soon be born. In doing so, they will discover love on a new and different plane.

All of us, whether married or single, young or old, are caught up in the process of letting a part of our lives die in order to discover a fuller life.

Loss of our youth and the changing landscape

martinak15 Let Go
martinak15 Let Go, Flickr Creative Commons

Some of us mourn the loss of our youth. Others confront the death of some of their dreams. Or, we may be grieving the loss of a certain idea about God or the Church or even a fantasy or plan about how life was “supposed” to be. No one says all this letting go stuff is easy. It’s tough to do.

Which way is life-giving?

But, clinging to what can no longer be is draining and ultimately toxic.  The journey of the Christian is an on-going embrace of the journey: to “let go” and embrace a new reality so as to allow the blooming of a new season of life, of existence.

Death to life

This is the faith that live even to the threshold of our own death where we relinquish the “outer shell” and everything familiar to us, so as to be embraced by something infinitely more awesome than what we can imagine. This whole journey goes to the heart of what Easter is all about.

So, how are you doing? How are we doing… on the journey?

Copyright 2015 Steven Michael LaBaire

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For millennials and boomers alike: Waiting was never this good! “The In-Between” by Jeff Goins

The-In-Between_KDJeff Goins is an old soul in a young body. How else can I explain his wisdom? One would think his latest book, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing would be geared towards millennials, people his own age. Yet I found myself relating just as easily to it. And I am old enough to be Jeff Goins’ mother.

The waiting game

Using stories from his own life, Goins tackles an interesting problem that we all face in our daily lives: what do we do with that time of limbo, when we’re suspended in midair either waiting to fly away or waiting to fall? This waiting, as he calls it, requires that we examine the breakneck pace of our lives, filled with to-do lists, running here and there, jammed to the gills but never satisfying our deepest longings.

“Slow down, you move too fast …”

Goins writes, “Waiting is the great grace. It’s a subtle sign for those with eyes to see, reminding us there is work yet to be done—not just around us, but in us.” Waiting requires slowing down and stopping, taking the time to examine our inner selves, and allowing for the development of that third eye, the one that reads between the lines and sees the value in the small stuff.

The waiting hot button

jeff goinsGoins admits that he is terrible at waiting (but who actually is good at it?). I had to smile at his multi-tasking example: opening his laptop to check his email, surfing the web while waiting for messages to load, checking Twitter because heaven forbid a single second should be wasted! The computer is the hot button when it comes to waiting: when that little circle goes round and round indicating a delay, I feel my impatience rising quickly. The technology we have today is so instant that waiting has become a lost art. I imagine many brains are scrambled like Goins’ thanks to TV and the internet.

Waiting hurts

Waiting requires suffering and we don’t like to suffer. Goins maintains that it is in the waiting that the “good stuff” is revealed, the dreams, desires, lessons and revelations. If our lives are filled with noise and busyness in an attempt to avoid waiting, we’re going to miss the results.

“Light out wanderlust, head us out to sea …”

Goins had wanderlust and opted to satisfy it through travel. During his trip to Europe he felt a frantic need to fill every moment with sightseeing. It didn’t feel right to stand still for an instant and the result was exhaustion. One day while standing in line at the Accademia Gallery to see David, the masterpiece sculpture by Michelangelo, he and his two friends stepped out of line and stood against the wall, eventually sliding down to sit. Too tired to move, they stayed for hours in that position looking at the statue. It was then that Goins had an epiphany about the value of slowing down, of waiting. He was able to study the statue and recognize its beauty. His companions did the same. The statue spoke to them in ways it never could have had they remained in the line and rushed through.

It’s true!

Goins and his companions had made the mistake we all make—obsessing over more when actually less is better.

Two sides of emptying the nest

As a mother of a son and daughter around the same age as Goins, I very much appreciated chapter two when the author writes about going home to visit his parents. On winter break from college, he chafes at the idea of spending time at home now that he has lived away on his own. Mothers especially tend to mourn their children leaving the nest, often for many years until finally, an acceptance settles in and the peace and quiet that ensues is welcomed. Visits home are a big deal and can be disappointing, even hurtful, if the child doesn’t want to be there. Goins helped this empty nester understand better what goes through the mind of that child, reminding me of how I felt in my twenties visiting my parents. It had never occurred to me that my son, visiting from another state, would be going through the same kinds of adjustments that his father and I were going through. Rather than moving on together, we remained stuck in time: he was the little kid and we were the parents. We weren’t allowing the relationship to evolve to the next level. Home is now a place he visits and that’s the way it should be. In reading chapter two, I felt like I was reading the minds of my children.

Creative journeys

I especially appreciated the chapters where Goins talks about his creative experiences, first as a musician, and then as a writer. He was telling my story. His evolution was mine. Goins’ blog, Jeff Goins, Writer, has been instrumental in helping me to embrace my vocation as a writer. He did in a few years what I did over a lifetime and he did that by recognizing early on the value of waiting, the value of reflection. He has allowed that third eye to develop and has encouraged that development and as a result, is able to dream and realize those dreams. This is a man who does not waste time and it’s not because he is filling every second with activity. It’s the recognition that life must have a chance to breathe.

Fear of marriage

Chapter five on his courtship with his wife was very enlightening as to how twentysomethings feel about marriage. Goins is a solid man with a deep faith in God and yet he was terrified of committing to marriage. There is no doubt that today’s world does not support commitment. There are too many choices and too many easy ways out. His experiences helped me as a mother better understand why my children feel the way they do about marriage despite the fact that my husband and I have been happily married for thirty-five years.

Sacred times

The final chapters about his grandfather and death proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this guy is indeed an old soul in a young body. Death is foreign and terrifying today thanks to today’s medical advances. It was not that long ago that death was non-discriminating, hitting any age group. Today, young people have little experience with it, making it all the more frightening. Goins’ acceptance of the sacredness of dying and death demonstrates why he is a man of wisdom. His stories of his grandfather’s deathbed conversion and the two pillars of his church community, Lois and Al demonstrated a man who has learned to live in the present moment, appreciating what happens when it happens.

Heartily recommend

Waiting has taught Jeff Goins a great deal. The In-Between is a remarkable book written by a man wise beyond his years. It transcends generations and would make wonderful reading for millennials and their parents.

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