Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring is Here!

Spring truly is one of my favorite times of the year!  And I am particularly excited this year about spring because we are transforming our dirt plot (aka "back yard") into a true outdoor oasis!  We tilled the earth -- a backbreaking and shoulder-wrecking job, by the way -- and planted grass seeds, set up four new square foot gardens, and have been adding perennials and rose bushes to my modest flower garden.  And, wonder of wonders, it's all growing!!!  There is much excitement here, as I have been known before only for my black thumb!

Watching all these fresh green things spring up all over our yard seems to me to be nature's quiet but dramatic meditation on the mystery of the Resurrection.  Particularly striking to me is the gorgeous wisteria, which seems to produce scent-laden clusters of blossoms out of dry sticks.  One day, it is a gnarled, seemingly dead bunch of twigs -- the next, it flaunts its cascade of purple flowers!

Whenever I think of spring and growing things, I love to meditate on the lilies of the field parable from the Bible.  While the message of trust in the Lord is one that is dear to my heart, it isn't this that particularly delights me.  Let me just quote the passage here:
"And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.  But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these." (Matt. 6:28-29)
What I love to consider is Our Blessed Lord delighting in little grass flowers.  The God Who made Heaven and Earth rejoices in the simple beauty of nature -- not even Solomon, whose apparel was probably crusted with jewels and gold threads, can rival them.  It's just so striking to me!

But should it really be so surprising that Our Lord delights in humble things?  After all, His own mother was the handmaid of the Lord -- no queen of earth, but a simple woman, betrothed to a poor carpenter.  And yet her beauty and glory are beyond compare!  The world paid her no notice, just as it is blind to the beauty of the lilies of the field, but God favored her above all His creatures.  Let us strive to imitate the humility of Mary by cultivating a simple and trusting heart!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


It's a glorious spring day here in Texas, and perhaps that's why the writer's bug has bitten me so hard!  This has been a year full of great trials and unexpected blessings, hard lessons learned and new windows opened. 

I know there are so many other moms out there like me, who have traveled a long, hard road to the discovery that home, kids, and, yes, even big hairy dogs that shed everywhere at the slightest provocation are the keys to happiness!  It was not until I started seeking spiritual direction from a humble, joyful, and holy priest that I began to realize just how far away from the heart of my vocation I had truly wandered.  After many tears and some very difficult self-examination, I have finally begun to disentangle myself from those things that have distracted me for so long.  It isn't easy, but shouldering the cross never is!  What has amazed me, though, is the joy that my new-found zeal for my vocation as wife and mother has brought!  I was truly searching high and low for something that I had in my possession all along!

I now understand why, during all that fruitless wandering, I would feel so frustrated that I was not doing the best I could as a mother.  Instead of abandoning projects and schemes that distracted me from my vocation, I delved even deeper into them and grew more and more miserable.  Like St. Augustine, I too had to learn to bow my neck under the yoke of Christ:
But where had my power of free decision been throughout those long, weary years, and from what depth, what hidden profundity, was it called forth in a moment, enabling me to bow my neck to your benign yoke and my shoulders to your light burden, O Christ Jesus, my helper and redeemer?  How sweet did it suddenly seem to me to shrug off those sweet frivolities, and how glad I now was to get rid of them - I who had been loath to let them go! (The Confessions, Revised, p.209)
Unhappiness, it seems to me, is the surest sign that our road is not the one paved for us by Christ, but rather some rough path of our own fashioning.  And while we might eventually find our way, through much undergrowth and tedious progress, to the Eternal Jerusalem, how much better is it to heed the Lord's call and follow in His footsteps?

If one considers the awesome responsibility that mothers (and fathers) bear before God for the raising of their children, it is a miracle to me that God entrusts them to us at all!  These immortal souls in tiny bodies are in our charge, but they are not ours.  They belong to our Heavenly Father, and a reckoning will be made of the care we took during our stewardship.  Teaching small ones to know, love, and serve God in this world so as to be happy with Him in the next demands so much of us -- because how can we teach what we do not practice ourselves?  So, having our own spiritual homes in order and fostering our marriage -- which gives us the sacramental graces we need to fulfill our God-given duties -- is so important.

So what do I mean to say by all of this?  Simply that being a mother is the greatest honor one could hope for... and that living in the world's shadows lets us bask in God's sunshine!