A Place for Relationship – The Living Room

Most homes have some kind of “hang out” space. This could be a living room around a fire place, a family room where the TV is, perhaps a sunken den with an oversized comfy couch. It is somewhere were people in the home enjoy gathering. They choose to spend time there. Perhaps in yours there is a bookshelf or game cabinet. This space is not a place for isolation. You can’t expect perfect silence for constructing that card pyramid on the coffee table. If you are video chatting with someone, expect others to join your call.

As we talked about last week, the dining table is a relational place. Families come together to share their day, to talk about what’s going on in their lives. The living room is also a relational space. But instead of a space for talking about what’s going on, it is the space where the going on is happening.

Take a look at your living space this week. What is the focal point of the room? Is everyone able to access their favorite space in the room? Slow down this week and be intentional in observing how your family uses the space. Consider the following ideas to make this space inviting, clean and functional:

  • Vacuum under the couch and tables.
  • Vacuum or deep clean the furniture
  • Untangle and organize any wires, cords or other electronic elements that have become untidy
  • If you have bookshelves or other organizers, take everything off, deep clean and then reorganize the materials in a thoughtful way
  • Consider adding a plant or flowers to bring greenery and life to the space (artificial is ok!)
  • Clean windows, inside and out
  • Launder drapes or curtains
  • Invite your family to a game night. Make it fun with popcorn or other treat
  • Begin a read aloud with the whole family. If you need ideas, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is a great place to start. Even of some have read them before, there is something unique and special about these books which makes them worthwhile at all stages of life. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is particularly appropriate for Lent. If you would like other ideas, check out The Read Aloud Revival and take their short quiz on the homepage. We have loved all the recommendations we have taken so far.

What about your spiritual living room? This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve been fed at the Eucharistic table and been brought into closer unity with Christ. Now you have to go home, go back to work, go out into your community, and interact with people. You have relationships with a great many people. Some relationships are presently flourishing. Others, perhaps in need of tending. Part of being in a relationship is being open to that other person. We listen to their needs and share our own. How well have you been sharing your needs? Are you willing to ask for and accept help from others? How well have you listened to the needs of others and been willing to be generous with your time and effort?

We are also in relationship with God. In the mystery that is the Trinity, we might be interested to discover that there is the opportunity for 3 relationships with God, while still being one relationship overall. We can spend time with God, our Heavenly Father. We talk intimately with Jesus, our Savior and our Brother. We feel the movement of the Holy Spirit deep in our souls. Lest this isn’t enough to contemplate, you also have a spiritual mother in Mary waiting to assist you on your journey to holiness.

Don’t be overwhelmed! This one week will not be sufficient time to cultivate all of these relationships. Spend some time in prayer and ask God for the wisdom to see where He wants you to spend your time and with whom.

Next week, we will travel to a more humble space. It is one of privacy, but is shared by all. There is always an opportunity for cleaning in this room, both physically and spiritually. See you then!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A Place to Commune – The Dining Room

In the kitchen we prepare the food. We sometimes, if we are lucky, get a little taste test. But the full meal isn’t experienced until we transition to the dining room, or primary eating area. I know not all homes have an official “dining room.” For the sake of this reflection, hold in your mind your main eating area, that table where your family typically eats its meals.

Eating together is an ancient practice. Every culture has its own traditions, rituals and procedures for shared eating. Eating, especially eating with others, serves multiple purposes. First, the obvious, you’re eating to stay alive. The human body can impressively go about 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. We need both food and drink to live full, healthy lives.

Eating together has other purposes as well. Eating together places everyone at the same level – you are at a common table. In many cultures and throughout much of history, you were eating out of shared vessels as well. We are sharing the fruits of our labor, our harvest (or our grocery trip). We have conversations with one another. We find out about our day, our plans, our hurts and our joys. While the ideal family meal of everyone smiling, sharing appropriately, using their utensils with competency and napkins on every lap might sound out of reach for your family, no matter how messy the meal memories are being made. We are teaching our children, and reminding ourselves, that we are on a journey together through life. We come together at table to share with one another.

There is, of course, another table which we come around as a community. We come to the altar, the table of the Lord. We gather here to be fed in a supernatural way. When we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, we believe that we are receiving true food and drink which will sustain us, body and soul. Jesus’ gift of Himself remains unchanged. As Catholics, we believe the the Eucharist is the True Presence of Christ. Each time we receive Jesus, we open our lives to Him, to be transformed by Him, from the inside out. As a community we come to become one in the Body of Christ.

This week, take a look at your eating space. Ask yourself, “What kind of eating experience have we been having lately? I am I happy with it? How can we model our gathering at table to be more reminiscent of the Eucharistic table?”

Consider spending extra time and effort this week in your eating area by tackling any of the following projects:

  • Washing table and chairs
  • Laundering cushions
  • Oiling any hardwood areas
  • Moving table and cleaning rug/moping whole area, not just around the table
  • Dusting and cleaning any wall hangings or pictures
  • Using china or fancy dishes for one meal, not to celebrate a special occasion, but to celebrate your family
  • Cook as a family and then eat as a family – no one is left out from the preparation
  • See if you can identify one or two meals as unique to your family, what are your favorites? What do your children think they will cook when they are adults?

Thinking about your spiritual “eating area,” consider the following:

Next week, we will move into our main living spaces. We have been fed at table, now we go to engage more deeply in the relationships that were strengthened there.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A Place for Welcome – The Front Door

Let’s kick off Ash Wednesday with a step outside. Since this is a short week to begin Lent, it seems appropriate that we begin at the beginning and the first things first. Every home has a main entrance through which you enter your home. Some homes function with two entrances. There’s one for the family coming home from grocery shopping and day to day activities. Then there’s the official “front door” where you greet guests, pick up packages and decorate with holiday wreaths. Depending on your home set up, consider this reflection for the main or “official” front door of your home.

We want our home to be an inviting space and first impressions matter. We all have driven through a neighborhood and unfairly judged the homes based on their curb appeal. “Did you see the color of that door? Oh my, there’s a couch on the porch. Why do you think they chose that statue? When have they last trimmed their bushes?”

I am not saying you need to go and higher a landscape firm to overhaul your flower beds or contract a painting company to redo your front door. There are a few simple things you can do this week to help your entrance be an inviting place.

  • Clean any windows on your doors or near the entrance, inside and out
  • Wash the door
  • Shake out door mats and launder if possible
  • Sweep steps
  • Depending on your weather and season, begin preparing flower beds.
  • Ensure proper holiday decor is up and presentable, if applicable

What about our spiritual entrance? How do we welcome Jesus into our spiritual homes? In order for Jesus to come into our lives, we have to invite Him. We need to participate in the life of the Church through prayer and the sacraments. Most importantly, we need to attend Mass to receive Jesus in the Word and in the Eucharist and we need to go to Confession. Each week at Mass, Jesus offers Himself to us in the Eucharist. In His generous love He found a way to remain with us here on earth even after His ascension. When we receive Jesus’ Body and Blood (I know, Covid), we ask Jesus to come transform us into His own Body. We change, if we unite ourselves with Him.

We know that we don’t always live up to our call to holiness. We fall, we falter, we turn away. We let this world get the best of us. We need healing and strength to continue on our journey. While we will talk more about the Sacrament of Confession at a later point during Lent, it doesn’t hurt to begin planning to go from Day 1. The Church asks that all Catholics go to Confession at least once a year, though we are encouraged to go more frequently. Receiving the Sacrament of Confession is like throwing open the doors of your spiritual home and welcoming Jesus to come inside.

These first few days of Lent, reflect on the following words from Pope Francis’ Lenten message from last year. How do they inspire you to pray, fast and give alms for this upcoming season?

Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.

Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com