Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘blessings’

Cornucopia of Blessings

Here we are at the threshold of Thanksgiving 2012.

This year I can honestly say has been a cornucopia of reasons to be thankful.

For the few years of my teaching carreer I not only taught all of the academic subjects I was also the art teacher. Well in reality it was more like time for creating and assembling craft projects. At Thanksgiving we would usually create our Cornucopia of colorful fruits and vegetables. This ‘horn of plenty’ was to appear to be too small to hold the abundane of fruits and vegetables. They were always pictured as spilling out of the horn onto the table top.

So many things can be learned from this simple cornucopia. The fruits and vegetables overlap one on top of the other…sometimes one blessing can partially obsecure another one. At times we are so preoccupied with what is easily seen when there is another blessing just out of sight.

Today if I were to be taken back in time to my former third grade classroom I would have them cut out the colorful fruit but I would also have them write on each piece something they were thankful for.

The cornucopia symbolizies aboundance. As I look back on this year I know I have been abundantly blessed. I know I have many things to be thankful for. I also know that some of those blessings in my life have been like the sour lemon. I know that some of my blessings have been like a pineapple…prickly on the outside but juicy and sweet on the inside.

A cornucopia gives the feeling that there is no end to what can pour out of the opening. You can not see inside as it tapers to a point. Which makes me think about the blessings I have received that could easily been overlooked…to tiny…too insignificant…not important…but blessings none the less.

This horn of plenty has became a staple for Thanksgiving decorations.

In Greek mythology, Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave Amalthea the goat’s horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. The Cornucopia came to symbolize the unasked profusion of gifts from the gods.This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia we believe today.

Well that does make for a nice story, but if you are thankful and express your gratitude to others you will be spreading abundant goodness out to others. If you express gratitude when it is unexpected by the other person it will be your gift to them.

The fruits and vegetables are crowded together in this horn of plenty yet they each retain their true form and properties…just as for the many blessings in our life remain unique for us.

The many blessings I have experienced this year in my life have been just like a cornucopia…all shapes sizes, different textures, some more obvious than others. 2012 has been a year filled with more blessings than I could have imagined and some I have yet to discover in the weeks ahead.

Many of you who are faithful readers of this blog are among the many blessings I have experienced this year.

Please know that I treasure the many gifts that pour forth from the cornucopia of my life.

The horn of plenty makes its own music for the heart…a symphony of thankfulness.

May you experience abundant blessings each day of your life.

Another Year Ends -The Last 12 Months

Here we are the end of another year, but not just any year for me. The end of a year is often marked with celebrations at the stroke of midnight. But what are those celebrations really? Are we happy that we have survived another year? Are we excited that the passing year is finally over? Are we hopeful for a better year to come?

I guess for some it is a combination of all of the above. You know like the multiple choice test question answers where answer D is often all of the above or none of the above. I never did like those answers because you really had to know the material well. It was much easier when you could look at the answer choices and choose the ‘one’ that you believed to be the right answer.

Life is so not like a standardized test. It is more like a Kaleidoscope where all the tiny pieces of your daily life are collected. Each year a new kaleidoscope collection is created.

At the end of the year we look at the events of our life slowly as we make slight turns of the kaleidoscope carefully examining the last twelve months. Maybe they settle into pleasing patterns or perhaps they are a total mixture of dissonance. I wish I could remember all of the wondrous moments that occur in a year, but I cannot. It seems that I can only remember those times encased in intense emotion.

Think about your past year. What stands out the most?

I would say times of great joy, intense sorrow, sour disappointment, painful hurts both physical, emotional, and joyful surprises. We tend to overlook the insignificant …the passing smile from a stranger…

…the Blue Jay in the front yard…

…the blue sky on a clear day…

…the fleeting hug of a child…

…the smell of morning coffee brewing…

…the beauty of a rose bud…

we could go on and on creating an endless list.

Can you name your personal top 10 blessings for 2011?

Here are mine, not in any particular order:

  1. Total hip replacement
  2. Death of my best friend
  3. 28 day cruise with my husband
  4. Tenants in our rental house
  5. Both sons home for Christmas
  6. Visiting the Sargrada Familia in Barcelona
  7. Donating two cars to charity
  8. Writing each day
  9. Bringing Eucharist to my friends
  10. Love and support from friends

I invite you to spend some time today; make your own list. Maybe you will want to make two different lists. First list whatever easily comes to mind then go back and take some time to really reflect on the last twelve months.

Part of me is reluctant to see this year slip away and become the past. There are things I want to hold on to and never forget, but I know with time things fade and the colors are less intense. I have found writing a way to preserve some of life that I do not want to lose.

I hope you have honored through writing some of your most significant moments from 2011.

The beginning of a new year holds more than we could ever imagine. I hope to be more aware in 2012…to be more grateful…more loving…more compassionate…more joyful…more optimistic…remembering ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. Phil. 4:13

God has abundantly blessed me in 2011 in more ways than I could have ever imagined. We are embraced by a God who consistently showers us with surprises. I am ready to enter into this New Year…2012, believing God has more in store for me and for you.

Finally, (beloved), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Preserve all these things in the kaleidoscope of 2012…the days of your life.

Unfinished Projects: What Really Matters…

Throughout our lives we accumulate ‘unfinished projects’. I think it is normal to believe you can complete everything you begin in your life time.

I can think of any number of projects I started, but as of yet are not completed. I have an embroidered kit for a beautiful clock that has remained tautly stretched on the circular hoops for thirty or forty years now. I have lavender paint for the walls in our bedroom; I love purple that will most likely never reach its intended destination. I have neatly folded fabric for drapes matching our comforter still in the shipping carton.

I think of the time of my life much like the sands in an hourglass. Each day a few more grains transition through to the bottom half of the glass. These grains of sand can represent so much about my life and yours.

At first these ‘unfinished projects’ are perched on the top of the sands of our life. They may even at the time seem to be a priority. But, as the days, weeks, months, and years pass by these projects get buried within the very sands of our lives. Eventually many of these projects get forgotten and others are just accepted and remain as ‘unfinished projects’.

Sometimes others help you complete an ‘unfinished project’ because they believe it to be good for you or they simply desire to please you.

When I think of my life time as the sands in an hourglass; mixed into this sand are many of my own ‘unfinished projects’ which were initially on top.

Each day as the grains of sand quietly drop into the bottom of the hourglass there remains less and less sand covering the ‘PROJECTS’.

It may be a blessing to have the time to prepare for one’s death, but it can also be frightening. Frightening because as the top sand of our life dwindles those ‘unfinished projects’ become exposed; they cannot fall to the bottom ‘unfinished’. They hang in the top exposed no longer covered up by the grains of sand.

Uncomfortable and stressful for those of us who want to leave this world tidy and neat… who cannot bear to leave one of those ‘unfinished projects’ caught in the top without the sand.

This is especially difficult if you are one of  those people who believe when you die you should have everything in order…neat and tidy…

How can you leave stuff in the top of your hourglass?

 

 

Then if you are blessed a loved one comes to help you realize that who you are is not represented in these ‘unfinished projects’. This loved one draws your attention to the sands in the bottom of the hourglass. Together you look at these sands and notice that some of the grains of sand actually sparkle like tiny dazzling diamonds. The grains of your love for your spouse and family…the grains of your compassion for the homeless woman…the grains of your attention to students in your class…the grains of your smile for the depressed neighbor…the grains of your inner beauty…too many to recall the reason each has a unique sparkle.

You have heard the beautiful Beatitude message and have reflected it throughout your life. (Matthew 5:1-16) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Suddenly when attention is focused on these sparkling sands you come to the realization that ‘unfinished projects’ left in the top do not and never have defined who you are to those who love you.

May your life be filled with sparkling grains of sand too numerous to count.

 

 

 

 

Soul Stirrings: Joy within Sorrow

 

Nestled within our penitential season of Lent is the wonderful solemnity of the Annunciation. As I was trying to absorb the depth of Mary’s ‘yes’ I was struck by the church’s timing. Here we are well into Lent, a time of renewal… A time of repentance for our inability to love as we should… A time for true change. And what does the church give us, but the joyful Annunciation. What an example of renewal, love, and change. The Annunciation during lent to me represents joy within trials and sorrow. When the angel revealed to Mary, a young girl, that God had chosen her to be the mother of the messiah, she had to renew her commitment; willing to do the will of God. She was blessed with abundant grace and the capacity to love beyond measure. Little did she know then how much this love she felt in her soul would be pierced with immense sorrow. That blessed day Mary’s life changed forever and her body truly became the temple of the living God, Jesus.

My mind is flooded with images of the Passion. My heart is saddened by Mary’s sorrow as she must stand by and witness unspeakable assaults on her precious son. I see the exquisite image of the Pieta…Mary tenderly holding the lifeless body of her beloved Son. Mary’s joy at the angel’s announcement is somehow entombed within this season of lent. But yet we often hear of the many joys that can be found within pain and sorrow. Some even consider these gifts.

Reflecting on the Annunciation during Lent is a reminder to always be mindful of the joys in our life.

Celebrating the Annunciation during Lent is a reminder that even when we are struggling with life and draped in purple cloth joy can still be found.

 

Every year during Lent; we have the opportunity to renew our commitment, love more, and change our heart. Mary had one moment in time when she embraced the ultimate commitment to love more and she was forever changed for us.

Where have you missed the joy in your life?

Has sorrow instead overshadowed the joy in your life?

 

Random Blessings

How you look at things in your life can translate to how you see your blessings too. Recently I came across a posting titled “25 Random Things about Me.” So I began my list of 25 things and it occurred to me that I should be counting these as blessings in my life.

Blessings given to me have made me the person I am today. Certainly there are things I would like to change from time to time. But in reality those too can be turned into some of my random blessings.

Here is my list of 25 Random Blessings.

1. Motherhood 2. Marriage 3. Friendships 4. Music 5. Singing for the healing Mass 6. Proclaiming the Word of God 7. Collecting butterflies 8.Baking cornbread from scratch 9. Spending Wednesday’s with mother and sister 10. Reading 11. Playing the piano 12. Becoming a spiritual director 13. Loving my husband 14. Talking with children 15. Petting the cat 16. Eleven sisters and brothers 17. Seven day cruises 18. Pedicures/manicures 19. Cozy blankets 20. My Blue eyes 21.Years spent in religious life 22.Lavendar scented candles 23. Playing one of the Seven Dwarfs 24. Sunsets over the ocean 25. Gurgling water fountains.

I am posting a challenge to my readers this month.

Challenge of the month: respond below by posting your own 25 Random Blessings.

I look forward to reading yours. Leave your first name or post with a “pen” name.

May you be blessed always in all ways.

 

With Gratitude

                                    If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that  would suffice.  Meister Eckhart

I am deeply grateful for our five senses; such incredible gifts from God. Our senses connect us to everything in our environment, whether living or non-living, in a unique way.

~Sight~

I am grateful for: the smile of a child…the colors of a rainbow…leaves…cardinals in flight…goldfish in the pond…nighttime sky…the new crescent moon…brilliant sunsets…glowing embers…flickering candlelight…delicate butterfly wings…waterfalls…words to read…rising bubbles…sparkling diamonds…fireworks and sparklers…old photographs… twinkling Christmas lights… traffic lights…graceful dancing…the American flag…corrective lens…

~Hearing~

I am grateful for: children laughing…tears of joy…purring kittens…train whistles…live music…frogs croaking…corn popping…bells ringing…monks chanting…words of love…crashing waves…water fountains…Christmas songs…barking dogs…clicking seat belts…ringing phones…chiming clocks…embryonic heartbeats…gentle rain…sirens…

~Smell~

I am grateful  for: fresh linens…coffee brewing…evergreen trees…red roses…baby powder…incense burning…chicken frying…forest air…bacon…BBQ smoking…perfume…chrism oil…leather…scented candles…apple pie…fresh cut grass…

~Touch~

I am grateful for: baby’s tender skin…powder puffs…warm showers…pedicures…massages…furry pets…hugs…kisses…bath oil…cotton candy…down comforters…our waterbed…cool breezes…summer sunshine…comfortable shoes…hands, fingers, and toes…snowflakes…teddy bears…ear muffs…soft pillows…

~Taste~

I am grateful for: crunchy Cheetos…marshmallows…onions…dark chocolate…peppermint ice cream…balsamic vinegar…crisp bacon…French fries…warm chocolate chip cookies…hot coffee…cool whip…egg drop soup…juicy strawberries…grandmother’s Pound cake…salt…steaming hot chocolate…fresh water…

These are just a few of the many things I am grateful for today…

Create your personal gratitude journal or litany of thanks.

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?” 

William A. Ward