Yearning for perfection, longing for home

Note: This month’s column for the Catholic Free Press.

A couple of weeks ago our family and friends gathered to give our daughter Meredith a bridal shower. We had the entire first floor of the Asa Waters mansion in Millbury for the event. Tables were set up in the gracious hall, food was served in the elegant dining room, and drinks were offered in an adjoining room. Gifts were displayed on the winding staircase.

The theme of the shower was Harry Potter, brilliantly executed by Meredith’s matron of honor, Roxanne, and her bridesmaids. For our entertainment there were games and a photo booth with a glittery gold backdrop; masks were provided to don for comical photos, many of which were posted on Facebook pages.

Meredith and her finance Jimmy opened the many gifts and were overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of their family and friends.

The whole affair was perfection. All I wanted to do when it was over was to relive the day again and again.

Yet I had an odd reaction of sadness after the shower. It felt very similar to the days when both the children moved out of the house for good leaving a void that would never again be filled. As on those days, I went to Meredith’s room and had a good cry.

In reflecting upon those emotions I thought about other momentous occasions in my children’s lives. The day they were born. Their first day in kindergarten. School plays. Graduation from high school, and then college. Meredith’s engagement. Important days to be sure. And yet, none of those days conjured up the sadness and yearning I felt after the bridal shower. Why was that?

Perfection in life is rare, one might even say impossible. You recognize it when you are living in a perfect moment and you know it is something that will never happen again. It is fleeting; it cannot be held onto or possessed. It is to be lived only to slip away out of our grasp. We are left with the shadow of a fading memory.

And it occurred to me that I was mourning the loss of perfection. For three hours I was able to experience it only to have it end. Things of this world are temporary; everything decays and dies.

I began to wonder how Adam and Eve felt after leaving the Garden of Eden—did they mourn their loss of perfection? During His time on earth, did Jesus long for home? Did He too experience times of melancholy and yearning, remembering his existence of perfection?

We were meant for perfection; created in the Garden of Eden we were destined to live in sublime harmony with our Heavenly Father. Somewhere along the way we were misled into thinking perfection meant being God rather than being with God.

And now we are left with the shadow of the memory of perfection. And once in a great while, we taste it, reminding us perhaps of we had lost in our arrogance. We mourn the loss, we hunger for home, we yearn for what we were meant to be.

The words of St. Augustine are true: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Meredith’s bridal shower was a gift of grace, a moment to remind me of what perfection can be like. And why it is worth enduring life’s trials in faith to reach that final goal of perfection—the reunion with God which will last for all eternity. Only then will our restless hearts be satisfied.





Click to Tweet & ShareYearning for perfection, longing for home

em space





Susan’s latest CD, “Mater Dei” is now available!
Purchase here.

Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion







“Late have I loved you …” St. Augustine’s dive below the surface

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

from The Confessions of Saint Augustine

This prayer of St. Augustine reminded me that it’s not enough to ride on the surface of life.

It’s like how I feel when I go kayaking. I take in the scenery, enjoy the splashing of the water as I paddle, and drag my hand through the water to cool off. I always have such a sense of well-being when I go kayaking.

It’s all wonderful but I realize I am just an observer.

640 stream

What if I became more a part of things?

Surrounded by the warm, clear water and subjected to the heat of the sun, the urge to go swimming takes over and I jump in. All those wonderful feelings of peace and contentment are magnified when I immerse myself in the cool water.

It takes some effort to enter the water. Maybe it will be cold. Painfully cold. I won’t know what the bottom will feel like. Will it be squishy with plants and mud? Will there be rocks to hurt my feet? Maybe a fish will bite my toes!

I can’t see all the way to the bottom so I have to go on faith.

Jonathan Morgan Follow Swimming in Småland, Flickr Creative Commons
Jonathan Morgan Follow Swimming in Småland, Flickr Creative Commons

Is it worth the effort? I think so. It’s always worth it in the end.

Deciding to go below the surface in our lives is a risk too.

We have no idea what we will find. We have to trust in Something beyond ourselves leading us into the unknown.

Lawrence OP Follow St Augustine
Lawrence OP
St Augustine, Flickr Creative Commons

For St. Augustine, going beneath the surface of his life turned out to be a life-changing experience. He finally heard the invitation. And it was so compelling that he took the risk and dove in.

We can gather from the words of his prayer that it was well worth the risk. It was the first of many dives into a wonderful unknown for this saint.

Are you being invited?

Perhaps this is the invitation you are hearing this Lent, to stop being a bystander and become part of the action. We can sit in our boats and ride on the surface or we can take a chance on jumping into the water.

St. Augustine makes it sound quite inviting to me. How about you?

Here’s a beautiful song by the St. Louis Jesuits based on the prayer of St. Augustine: