Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Where Was God at Your Thanksgiving Table?

Last weekend was Thanksgiving weekend for us. Honestly, I don't remember ever worrying about the political talk at the dinner table any other year. Over and over I saw blogs and news stories and all manner of social communication telling me how to avoid conflict at the dinner table.

I don't know about your dinner, but mine was just lovely. Uneventful even. No drama. And for that I am most grateful.

We are a big, warm, loving and loud Italian family that gathered at my sisters house this year. Three big kids were home from college and we couldn't wait to hear their stories and smother them with hugs and kisses. There were elderly aunts (myself included now I guess...) sisters and cousins. We all just enjoyed each other. (alright, for the most part...) And for that I was grateful.

When I asked folks afterwards about their Thanksgivings and where they might have found God in it all (because that's what we do in RCIA after all right?!) folks had simple tales of seeing how much they've grown because of rugby, practice parenting with younger siblings and what that felt like, HS reunions and welcoming old classmates, gratitude for studio apartments and life after 15 years of cancer wars, and friends at thanksgiving meals. In all our gatherings and in the coming home to quiet, we could find God. In weddings and lunches and small business Saturdays we found God. (I think God avoided the black Friday craziness...it's hard to find anything or anyone in those crowds!)

Finally, at church on Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, in the routine of the prayers and the music, with this congregation I love, there was a very real quiet breeze that gave me goosebumps, and helped me see how very grateful I was for how I absolutely know God is with us here, in this place, in all our crazy humanity, as we await his coming once more.

If you're wondering about that photo on top, that's my Goddaughter Olivia. She gets frustrated with me when I don't remember to snapchat or instagram as many times as she teaches me what to do. Where do I find God? Look at that smile of hers! Look how her face lights up!! She reminds me all the time to be more loving, more patient...she makes me my best self. I find God in her!!

As we move into Advent, take time to look around you and see where God is for you today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Where Have I Been?

Dear Friends,

Honestly, I have no idea what has kept me so busy since the summertime, that I have not been able to find a few minutes for a weekly reflection. As I think about all that has happened in our lives, in our parish, in our world since June, it is overwhelming.

Where have I been? While I'm tempted to say: "at work"! I must admit I blew the budget this year on two very special vacations: a week long cruise with the family, a chance to be with the nieces and nephew with little or no cell phone reception. What an amazing week to discover again why those kids are so absolutely amazing to me. Now that half of them are away at college I realize more than ever how important they are to me. I am so excited to see how they will grow through their college experiences.

The second vacation was a trip to England and Ireland with some friends. A chance to visit a land I have always heard about, dreamed about and absolutely loved seeing with my own eyes. I am grateful for the chance to relax and discover more of the beauty in the world around me.

I must acknowledge too, that being in this parish, St Francis de Sales is always, always such a treat. People here really are so good to be with. I love my Sundays on the porch greeting folks for Mass. As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for this parish, my family, my friends.

The world has changed a lot since the summer. The elections are finally over and we begin to move on. I can't remember a time when emotions over an election have been so deeply felt. It saddens me to see a map of this country that looks so divided. How did we get to this place where we can't listen to one another? I have found the quality of my prayer has changed dramatically of late. On Thursday, at church, when we sing America the Beautiful, I think there might be tears in my eyes, in my voice. I will continue to pray for God's blessings on this country. Dear God, be with us please!

As the church begins another new year we ask ourselves, as we always do, what are we called to do? How are we to be followers of Christ in our day and age? I find myself remembering what I learned so long ago. I offer it here, if it helps you as you contemplate your "New Church  Year Resolutions".

We are called to listen. Where is God calling to us? Are we willing to hear his voice?

We are called to look at the signs of the times. What is going on around us? How are we to be witnesses to the Gospel in the midst of our world?

We are called to see, to judge (in the best sense of the word, not each other...but to judge what must be done in a situation) and to act as Jesus would.

As our days get darker I can't help but long for the light to return. The very darkness around me reminds me that we are all called to be light in our world. How will you do that? To whom will you be light?

Lots to pray about as we step into this Advent of our lives. Thank you God for this new year. Please guide us and be with us in it all.

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Advent. See you in church!