I learned fancy french terms like “pas du chat” (which means “step of the cat”), how to turn without getting dizzy, and that actual ballerinas have to be really, really strong. Some more complicated jumps and turns took my days of practice to achieve correctly. Even after a lot of practice, I probably looked less-than-graceful. But the simplest concepts, like standing with proper form, proved to be a lesson all their own, too.
As I approach graduation from Kansas State, I am confronted daily with the ways I have changed since arriving here my freshman year. I remember being excited, nervous, and unsure of where exactly I would find a sense of belonging. Quickly, within the first week of my time at Kansas State, I realized I would find solace in a church on Denison. That church became a place where, even though I didn’t know a soul there most days, I felt comfortable. It was as if God kept drawing me near to Him in St. Isidore’s because He knew I would make friends there and come to share my love for that place with friends of my own that had yet to visit.
On the first day of Lent this year, I got the chance to accept a dream job. The next day, my friend surprised me with my favorite muffins for breakfast. Weeks of sudden spring weather have filled my hours with sunshine after some brutal winter days. A few weeks into this Lenten season, and it hasn’t looked much like the dry desert I expected.
Hey, I have a fun idea! Let’s talk about something that can be agonizing! Have you ever wanted something so intensely that you can feel it in your gut? I mean, you know when you can feel your stomach turn and stretch and ache? Let’s be real. It can be agonizingly painful.
This is an experience I’m sure many of us have become a little too familiar with over the past few months: aching for people, aching for experiences, aching for justice, aching for health, and aching for the Eucharist.
Do you think your life is a love story? A friend asked me last December. Christmas mass, as I stood in front of the Nativity, I was confronted with the hopelessness of my response: “Not really.” For too long I felt burdened and embittered by instances in which I felt I loved others better than they loved me. For too long I’d been counting the things I wished and prayed for but had not received. Sadness and boredom pervaded me constantly. But standing in front of the Nativity, it was in His will for me to ask: “Could you show me my life is a love story?”
Why is it sometimes hard for us to love ourselves completely, when we have a Father who has done so before we even existed?
This is a thought that has crossed my mind more than once in my life. We have been given such a great example of love thanks to the Father.
Most of my reflections come from conversations with good friends. I really think the Lord works through the people in my life most often when He wants to reach me. Over Christmas break, I was walking with a friend through a few rough days of her feeling tired and overextended. These talks often revolve around how to love and take care of ourselves better, something that we both struggle with and was an original point of bonding in our friendship. Through our conversations, I began to reflect on my journey with self-care and love, and how that journey has gone alongside my journey towards Christ.
Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of our Lord and King Jesus Christ, is upon us in full force. This preparation, though, is not the frenzied finish to pre-Christmas shopping, nor the frantic preparations of a family preparing to add a new member, but a preparation in silence.
It’s fair to ask how this could possibly be, given the fact that this is the noisiest time of the year, in perhaps the noisiest year in human history (certainly there were worse and more eventful years, but never before has the world had such universal access to our ears). How are we to quietly, meditatively prepare for Christ’s coming?
This question takes on added importance when we remember that our preparation is not just for the celebration of the Incarnation, but also for his second coming. Pope Saint John Paul the Great said rightly that we are an Easter people, living in the afterglow of Christ’s victory over death, but we are equally an Advent people, always preparing for the messiah, always making straight the way of the Lord.
There is not much I love doing more than getting up at 5 am and driving to a city two hours away.
Getting up at 5 a.m. allowed me to meet a young man who moved from New York City to Kansas on his own at the age of 14 to have a more wholesome high school life. Getting up at 5 a.m. led me to a community I had never encountered before and could learn from. Getting up at 5 a.m. taught me that you should always ask a 14 year old boy with a microphone what his dad joke is BEFORE he shares it with the group.
A group of friends, including my older brother and our campus minister, put on a retreat for students approaching confirmation. This experience was one that definitely demanded a lot from us. For each of us differently, we had to step out of our comfort zones through praying over individual students or answering the difficult Q&A questions.
Once I hit my pillow that night, I was out for nearly 12 hours, and I can’t remember the last time I fell asleep so fast.
“Won’t you give our hearts some weight so they fall in the right places?”
One of my favorite songwriters, Joel Ansett, wrote that phrase as a lyric for a melody. He compares the human heart to falling leaves that drift on the wind and glide to the ground. I can’t help but be reminded of the song every time a brightly-colored fall leaf lands in my path (which is pretty often lately).
For me, “Lord, give my heart some weight” has become a frequent prayer. To pray for a weighty heart seems strange at first. Isn’t a light, carefree heart much more comfortable? I think it is. But it is much, much less alive.
There’s been a lot of content here on the Konza Catholic Blog lately about searching out and finding peace. There’s a good reason for this! In times like ours, with the Coronavirus disrupting our lives and political, social, and economic injustice being brought to our feet every time we check our phones, the question of peace is on our minds, and we have to assume it is on your mind as well. The question that comes to mind for so many of us is natural: “how can I find peace?”
There is another question, though, which we as Catholics ought to be ready to ask and answer: What is peace?
It is so easy in our society we live in to become so intertwined in the fabric of popular culture. To believe that all we are good for is working a 9 to 5 job, making a living, and succeeding in the eyes of the public. Even if our faith is at the very forefront of our lives, experience tells us that the pressures of the world can still creep in.
The problem with this overwhelming influence of the outside world is realized when we notice that achieving certain society-established landmarks of life by certain ages dictates how worthy we are as humans to be appreciated, cared for, and most of all (the thing humans desire most)-- loved.
This, however, is clearly shown to be untrue when we look to the Father. We all most likely know this deep down, or at least have heard it repeated to us enough times that we should believe it. But we still so often must fail to internalize it, otherwise we would never feel unworthy of love, especially the love of the Father.
It’s become a bit of a joke to refer to the chaotic stage of history in which we live as “these unprecedented times” (I have a classmate who has changed her email signoff to the phrase out of a sense of irony). The sentiment, though, is easy to understand and share. These are indeed strange days, combining a worldwide plague with a noxious political climate coming to a head on the day this piece will be published. Combine those with the standard goings-on of a world infected with sin, greed, and a lack of love for one’s neighbor, and it would be easy and understandable to despair. The problem seems so novel and large, and we feel so small, that there is nothing to be done, except perhaps to hide until it’s all over.
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