Anticipation and Hope – Finding Peace

Have you ever looked forward to something? And in doing so, has the thought of that something completely spoiled the day you were having? I definitely had one of those days last week and I’m kicking myself for letting anticipation get the better of me.

A friend and I decided that for the rest of the summer, we are going to try to help each other out by doing some kid swaps. She has 4 kids, similarly aged to my own. So, this particular afternoon she was going to take my 4 for 2 hours. Next week, I’ll take hers. We’re offering each other a bit of respite and support and it’s such a great thing!

But, there’s always a but, the morning leading up to my afternoon of freedom was a disaster. Guess who had no patience, no tolerance, few smiles and frequent bouts of frustration? Yep, it wasn’t a pretty sight and I’ve had to apologize to everyone a few times over. I was so looking forward to time alone, that I started to want it immediately. Why should I have to wait? Why can’t these kids just [insert anything your mom has said about why you should leave her alone]. Why is there so much screaming, arguing, wanting, whining, pushing, etc?

These “why’s” where filling up my head, pushing me to behave in a manner I am not proud of. And under it all, was one more “why” that I should have been listening to along, one much more quiet but of much greater consequence.

Why are you reacting this way? What good comes from you losing your cool, expecting behavior beyond their age and demanding perfection when you yourself can’t keep it together? 

Conveniently, C.S. Lewis provides some insight into this particular situation. We are currently reading aloud The Silver Chair and are enjoying the antics of Jill, Eustace (John loves to shout and giggle his full name, Eustace Clarence Scrubb!) and Puddleglum. During the course of their adventures in Narnia and beyond, the group travel across a vast and harsh plain in search of a ruined giant city. They meet a Lady and Knight, who tell them not of a ruined city, but of a thriving one called Harfang. The children, who have been sleeping on the ground and existing on little but what they could catch, are overjoyed by this news. However, their joy doesn’t last long:

Whatever the Lady had intended by telling them about Harfang, the actual effect on the children was a bad one. They could think about nothing but beds and baths and hot meals and how lovely it would be to get indoors. They never talked about Aslan, or even about the lost prince…And though you might have expected that the idea of having a good time at Harfang would have made them more cheerful, it really made them more sorry for themselves and more grumpy and snappy with each other and with Puddleglum (94-95).

There is no sin in looking forward to something. We all have hopes for what will come, be it in a few minutes or years from now. There is something captivating about hope. It draws us in and points us forward.

The problem I was facing, and that the children in The Silver Chair were facing, wasn’t an issue of hope, but of anticipation. One of the definitions of anticipation is “The act of anticipating, taking up, placing, or considering something beforehand, or before the proper time in natural order.” I was anticipating this good thing that was coming to me at the expense of the good things right in front of me.

The theological virtue of hope is what I should have been dwelling in. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has some beautiful things to say about hope. At the very end of its paragraphs on hope, there is a quote from St. Teresa of Avila that really speaks to this particular situation:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

Impatience makes doubtful what is certain…..preach St. Teresa! How often do I get caught up in impatience that it blinds me to what I know to be certain. Hope is what gives us the strength to wait for the Lord, to be at peace with His timing. If we know our Scripture we know what has been promised – blessing, love, mercy, goodness, and ultimately, life everlasting with our Father in heaven.

We are given opportunities each day to grow our hopeful spirit. Instead of anticipating, or focusing all our energy on what is to come, we should focus on what gifts and goodness God has given us right now. Through a proper attitude of hope, we discover true and lasting peace.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

On Mother’s Day….after Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was just a few days ago, as I’m sure you all well know. It’s hard to miss the flowers, cards, and gigantic balloons (at least they were at our grocery store, the kids loved them!). At our Mass on Sunday, and many churches regardless of denomination, there was a special blessing for mothers and we were given a rose.

I happened to be the one holding Eliza, now almost 16 months old and full of her own spunk and will, so naturally I brought her to the front with me for the blessing and flower. During the course of the blessing, she caught notice of the yellow rose and lunged. What followed was a rather comical tug-o-war between she and I over that rose. At first she managed to simply bruise a few petals, but that’s when her desire to fully experience that rose kicked in. I nearly dropped her while trying not to smack the woman next to me with that tempting rose. Despite my best efforts, she managed to get a hand on it and began squeezing the bloom within an inch of its life. I did salvage some of it, now rather lopsided and looking less than full.

We still brought the damaged rose home, along with a few extras the girls received after Mass concluded. It is in our bouquet on the dining table. As I pass it, I meditate on how it is actually the bruised rose that offers the fullest representation of what motherhood is.

On Mother’s Day, motherhood is held up as the crown of roses it is. Mothers, those with us and those who await us, are celebrated, cherished and loved. And this is both wonderful and important. But Monday always comes. And Tuesday, and Wednesday, and every day after that. GK Chesterton so wisely said, “A crown of roses is also a crown of thorns.”

There are moments of motherhood that are bursting with roses, and those when you are acutely aware of the thorns. And this is true for all vocations.

It makes me wonder whether or not roses had thorns in the Garden of Eden. When everything was in perfect balance, would roses have needed thorns? Before the Fall of Adam and Eve, they lived in perfect harmony with creation and with God. Now, as products of that fall from grace, sweetness is mingled with sour, joy often contains a tinge of sorrow, a rose has a thorn. It goes both ways though, for even in sadness we find hope.

We look to the Cross for our prime example of this. When Jesus died, we don’t call it “Sad Friday”, but “Good Friday”. Here is the most awful, horrific thing that could happen to a human being. Yet we call it “good,” because through this terrible sorrow, the whole course of human history was redirected heavenward.

I hope that the vocation you follow is one blessed with abundant roses, even knowing that mixed in there will be thorns. May the beauty of the rose inspire you to look for the beauty and goodness in your life, even in the midst of the thorns.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Too much of a good thing + Big Announcement!

I think by now most of you know I enjoy crafting. It is something that fills me up, that brings me joy. As a mom, I want my kids to have a love of creation and creativity. I enjoy sharing my projects with them and letting them help pick out colors, materials, etc. I also love to learn new craft skills (see these cookies or my brief stint at crochet pattern design). As a person, I am a learner. Some people thrive under pressure, others in peace and stillness. I thrive in any type of learning environment/learning experience.

The desire to learn this new craft become all consuming. I am slowly pulling my head out of the sand from such a period of time – English paper piecing people, it’s super awesome and I love it! However, like all parents have said to their children, there can be too much of a good thing.

My outburst of energy and excitement for the new thing completely outshines all the other projects and sometimes, responsibilities, that need my attention. For obvious example, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, for which I sincerely apologize.

I love this blog. I love the space to write, a place to share my thoughts, ideas and hopefully my feeble witness to our beautiful faith lived in the everyday ordinariness of my life. As I’ve mentioned before, I am as surprised as anyone that this blog is still even a thing, since my usual habit pattern is to follow the bright shiny new craft/project until another one comes along. That is almost what happened these past few months.

No, I haven’t been English paper piecing this whole time (for those who didn’t click the link, basically it’s a kind of hand sewn quilting method). I was writing, a lot actually. Just not here.

I’m pleased to announce, and hopefully by announcing it here I will find the inspiration, stamina and discipline to finish, that I am in the process of writing a book.

Yikes, I said it. Yes, I am writing a book. 2 if I’m perfectly honest, but one is more of a long term goal versus the immediate project. I’m avoiding saying “trying” because that’s the kind of attitude that has filled up too many craft bins of unfinished “bright shinies” that no longer hold my interest.

So, this book. It’s actually in a rather different direction than what I usually write. The book is tentatively titled In the Person of Christ and is an in-depth look at St. Paul’s Christological hymn in Philippians 2:5-11. The idea springs two places. First, from the popularity of the Lent and Advent Lectio Divina journals. Second, from a blog post I read about a group of monks who have all 150 Psalms memorized so that they are able to say their daily prayers without needing any texts. Amazing, right!?!

From my general and theological reading, and conversations with friends, it has become apparent to me (and this is also apparent to many other Catholics), that our love for God’s Word is quite simply, lacking. We know a few stories, some nice parables, perhaps a miracle or two, but that’s it. The Bible isn’t often an integral part of our daily prayer, and our primary exposure is readings at Mass. There are books upon books, videos upon videos, about the Scriptures. These are fantastic resources, but they can be often large, overwhelming, or simply contain too much information for any fruitful prayer to result.

We should love the Scriptures. We should be able to keep it upon our lips and hold it at the forefront of our thoughts. My book will, I hope, inspire you to pray more deeply with this specific passage as well as see the fruits of having a Scripture passage memorized.

This book is part journal, part guided lectio, part Scripture study and part memorization tools. Here’s how it will work. I am breaking down the hymn into its individual verses. Each chapter begins with the focus verse and a page for guided lectio divina and journaling. This is similar to the lectio divina journals. Then, after praying with the Scripture, I offer a well researched and concise study of the verse. I have spent a great deal of time reading articles and listening to lectures about the Christological hymn. St. Paul packs so much into these few verses, it’s incredible! That is why I wanted to take it slowly, verse by verse, so we can really soak up and allow God’s Word to mould our hearts.

The final piece is memorization. There is something to be said about the things we can rattle off without thinking. How many songs do we know by heart? How many math facts can we say without thinking? What stories and fables from our childhood do we still remember? Our brains have an incredible capacity for information and when we work at it, for memorization. How wonderful would it be if, like those monks, we had a Psalm for when we are worried, or when we are bursting with joy? In this case, by the end of the book you will have memorized 7 of the most powerful verses in the New Testament. The message of these verses quite literally changed the world.

This book is still in progress, but I do have a draft of the first chapter to share with you. I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, comments, critiques, anything that you think would help make this project a success. (A quick note, I do know that some of the footnotes may not be complete/in the proper format yet. As I said, work in progress) My aggressive timeline is to have a final draft in the hands of an editor before we start up homeschool in mid-August. Click on the link below to see the draft.

In the Person of Christ Chapter 1 Draft

I hope you enjoy this sample. If nothing else, please pray for the success of this book and the people who will read it. It is my deepest wish that through it, they fall more deeply in love with God and His Word.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com