Amy Welborn is a contributor - five devotions per issue - to the Living Faith daily devotional quarterly.
For example, today, October 17:
My parents and grandparents left behind boxes and boxes of letters and photographs. They left record albums and books. I wonder sometimes about my generation and, even more so, those that follow. Most of our communication is digital and exists only as a series of 0s and 1s. So it is with our music, our photographs and even our books.
, October 2
There's nothing unusual there--it's part of the early vocabulary of most toddlers, isn't it? But what strikes me is that he doesn't just say it when something "bad" happens. Any time there is any transition, it's what comes out: "Uh-oh!" It's cute, but I wonder, do I react the same way to potential or real change? Do I reflexively react with hesitation or even outright fear, or do I react with confidence that, with the help of God's power and love, I can move forward?
Once a week, I volunteer in an after-school reading program. The children arrive at the parish following a day in a struggling school in a struggling neighborhood. The early readers may have a few words they are sure about, but when they hit an unfamiliar word, their reaction is always the same--their eyes move from the letters and start darting about the page. There must be a hint. They're looking for a sign.
But there is someone, and the psalmist guides me to him. The God who created me out of love knows me. I listen as he teaches, I understand as my heart opens to his wisdom. In the stillness, he sketches the flaws, he captures the truth, and I see.
For example, May 31:
To see Mary is no distraction. For when I welcome her, something else happens too; like Elizabeth, I welcome the Christ she bears. In greeting her, I offer God praise, as her cousin does, for it is God who has done this, graciously entering creation in this ordinary, extraordinary way.
Vowed religious life, the bishop said, is also a radical sign of grace and mercy. He said that the heart of a religious is bound in love to "the poor Christ, the chaste Christ, the obedient Christ."
Then one day I was moved--by grace--to make a decision. Stop looking and pretending you're not. Stop feeding dissatisfaction in this earthly home. Accept where you are, now. It's enough.
And there it was. In standing still, I was free.
If you've ever had corrective lenses of any type, you know how it goes. You get the glasses, or perhaps an updated prescription, and the first time you look through them, you're amazed. You knew your eyesight was a little off, but what a surprise to find out how off it actually was.Quite often, my time on this earth is marked with the same certainty that everything is just fine, that I'm seeing life with absolute clarity, and I must be on the right path because, well, it's the path I'm on. No other reason, really.
At the end of Mass, the celebrant felt moved to add a word of thanks. The choir, normally very good anyway, had risen to particularly stunning heights. So he thanked the musicians for their dedication. "And," he added cheerfully, "thanks to our baby choir too!"That morning, as usual, the baby and toddler voices had echoed through the cathedral as well. I don't think anyone minded, and if they did, the celebrant's words of gratitude undoubtedly gave them food for thought.
Also, last fall:
November 17, for example.
'Beauty in Simplicity'
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
- Psalm 3:4
We regularly attend Mass at a convent of a growing order of young sisters who provide retreats, catechesis for small parishes and warm hospitality to locals who attend Mass with them. The Masses in their small chapel are careful but not fussy, simple but not plain and beautiful in a way that it is not at all self-referential or showy.
The sisters chant in Latin and English, sing polyphony and traditional hymnody, and it's gorgeous. The other day, as the glowing harmonies faded into silence, I glanced around the small congregation--there were about ten of us besides the sisters--and thought, "What a shame there aren't more here to hear them sing. They must be disappointed." But then I glanced back at their content faces and realized that of course it didn't matter. They weren't singing for us. They were praising the Lord, and that was reason enough to pour out their gifts...for him.
Creator God, I praise you today through my thoughts, actions and choices.
One of my sons asked, "Why don't they sell these in stores?" I pointed out that these were oddly shaped, they were too big, they were too small. They were imperfect and, in a way, "weak."
As a consequence of some ill-considered decisions by a nine-year-old, I recently spent five hours in a hospital's emergency room. More.
I have never climbed a real mountain and have no strong desire to. But I have ambled among hills, some of which might come close to being mountains and sometimes feel that way, depending on what kind of shape I'm in. More
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