Friday, August 8, 2014

On Life and the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"Go on in all simplicity, do not be so anxious to win a quiet mind, and it will be all the quieter. Do not examine so closely into the progress of your soul. Do not crave so much to be perfect, but let your spiritual life be formed by your duties, and by the actions which are called forth by circumstances. Do not take overmuch thought for tomorrow. God, who has led you safely on so far, will lead you on to the end. Be altogether at rest in the holy confidence which you ought to have in His Heavenly Providence." Francis De Sales

I have started this post too many times to count..... somehow the words fail to flow. I've tried to ignore the whole thing and write instead of sewing projects or little boy hugs or summer activities or any number of happy, surface subjects. It doesn't work.

Somehow our two week trip turned my world on it's ear and I've been trying to right myself ever since. Issues that I thought were resolved, struggles I thought I had conquered, feelings I felt I had overcome - or at least learned to deal with - all seemed to re-surface at the end of those two weeks and I've been left feeling like somebody picked me up by the scruff of the neck and dropped me back down at ground zero! Above me is a huge gravel pile, and I've scrambled and clutched and flailed in my desperation to get back up to the top, only to feel the gravel slide and slip under my grasp and all my efforts get me nowhere.

Somewhere, down deep in my heart, I've known that my whole problem is summed up in one little saying I always thought was so dumb as a child - "You don't HAVE to if you WANT to!" But all I've seemed to be able to manage is, "Oh, God. I HAVE to do this and I don't WANT to!!" I've been at this place before, over these same old issues, and the fact that I found myself there again was more cause for the struggle than the struggle itself!

One night I took my lawn chair to a quiet corner and, while all the mosquitos in the neighborhood flocked to my chair, I looked it all square in the face. I wrote the stuff out it in all it's ugliness - the anger, the selfishness, the sadness, the rebellion.... As is often the case for me, getting it all out there is half the battle! I cried and I stormed and I slapped at mosquitos. I closed my tablet and went in and did bedtime duty while my children eyed my red eyes warily.

In the morning, I took up my planner and mapped out my day, and then I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I'm not even sure what made me think of it, not sure why the idea crossed my mind, but in the corner, in tiny letters, I counted 3 Gifts - *Beautiful day *Big kid helpers *little boy hugs - and in that simple little act, I felt something shift inside. It felt suddenly like a window opened, and light streamed in; like my foot found solid ground, instead of the slippery, sliding gravel.

I think it was a day later that I got the email with the above quote. The third line seemed to stand up out of the text and wave it's hands in my face, "Do not crave so much to be perfect, but let your spiritual life be formed by your duties, and by the actions which are called forth by circumstances." I don't think I can even explain how the truth of it seeped down into the dry, ragged cracks in my soul!

Here is the truth: Life happens, I am human, and it will not be perfect. As long as I am on this earth there will be ugly, hard, unwanted things. There is no help found in resisting life; go with it! And never forget that there is a Father in Heaven who always, always showers His children with gifts. Hunt them down, count them up...and offer up the sacrifice of Thanksgiving. (Ps 116:17) It will open a window to the sun; provide solid ground for your feet!

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