Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘Jeremiah 29:11’

Five Dollar Parking

 This weekend we continued our quest to find a church we would like to attend for the remaining months ahead. So this week we ventured into the downtown area of the city. We went to the local Cathedral. After driving the sixteen or so miles to reach the location, we were surprised by the parking situation. The biggest surprise was the five dollars it cost to park across the street to attend Mass.

Now granted we do have some people back home that bid much more than that for a single parking space for a year. But five dollars on a Sunday when people are attending church seems so greedy to me. In many other cities, on Sunday, parking is free in the nearby parking lots.

Well needless to say we will not be returning to the Cathedral very often. What if I did not have the cash money to pay for parking? Of course we were not aware if perhaps there was additional parking in another direction from the church building.

This experience gave new meaning to the gospel message of giving to Caesar what is his and to God what is his. This city has found a way to tap into both at one time. Not sure if it is clever or sneaky. The city was sure to get its share whether or not you were giving to God in the church.

The truth is any time you must divide your income or your time there is the potential for conflict and tension. In life we find ourselves in situations where more and more people want a portion of both your income and your time.

Before Mass began the presiding Deacon come down the main aisle and shook hands and personally greeted many people. He even asked us where we were from…how did he know we were visitors? I checked to see if our camera was visible, but it was in my husband’s pocket. I guess we just looked like we were not familiar with the worship space.

Sitting behind us were about six or seven young Dominicans, possibly seminarians. It was a pleasure to hear them singing throughout the Mass. Religious men chanting make for a unique prayer experience. Their voices are full, rich, and dynamic symbolic of what our spiritual life should be like.

This cathedral is also a Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The architecture is classic Victorian. The high pointy steeples are symbolic of our prayers rising up to the heavens. The choir loft houses an impressive pipe organ and the cathedral choir was very nice.

I must confess that the music at Mass greatly supports my overall state of prayer.  The music probably should not matter, but in reality it does matter, at least to me.

We are still on the hunt for a good Sunday homilist. This Sunday was adequate, but not that inspiring, yet better than most others we have heard in the last three months.

Yes, it now has officially been three months since we began living this foreign life…Living in a space that could fit in our living room at home. Housekeeping came today. Funny I actually look forward to their weekly visit. I guess it is at least someone to talk to. The last couple weeks we have had a different person cleaning our room, a man. He does a terrific job, nothing gets past him. He takes pride in his work. He wipes up the kitchen floor on his hands and knees. Pretty impressive.

In all fairness I must ask myself these questions…

How much in the past have I just taken for granted?

How many things went unappreciated?

How many things went unnoticed?

I am still wondering what God has in store for us here in this place. I am confident he does have a plan…a ‘plan for good’ just as he revealed to the prophet Jeremiah 29:11.



Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans

I have for you,

declares the Lord,

plans to prosper you

and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope

 and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

This has been my favorite scripture verse for quite some time now. It brings me comfort and joy, but it also brings me sadness. I am humbled as I take the time to hover above my life so far. I am beginning to appreciate how his divine plan is unfolding. It is as if I am unfolding this intricate piece of origami. As I unfold each tiny piece I see another part that before I did not see. Or now I am able to see it from a different vantage point. It was there neatly tucked away inside a paper crevice.

“For I know the plans I have for you…” some may think that is predestination, but I do not believe that to be the case. I could have always changed my mind and taken a different path. I believe it is grace freely given from God that helps us realize the plans he has for our lives.

For many years now I have been trying to live my life according to the plans God had for me; at least as I saw them. There may be the catch, ‘as I saw’ his plans. Maybe there was a larger plan that was impossible for me to see. Maybe certain parts had to be completed before I was allowed to see the bigger picture. Or maybe I am still not in a position to ‘see’ the whole picture.

We can only see things from where we are until we unfold another corner of the origami and more is revealed.

Our youngest son used to occupy his time in church making origami peace cranes. What can I say; he was quiet. As you are making each fold you cannot see how it will turn out in the end. You just continue to follow the ‘plan’ i.e. the directions until you see the final creation.

Sometimes I feel physically ill; like I want to throw up and regurgitate this thing called grief out of my system. But I know that will not help it go away. Instead I cuddle it like a newborn; caressing its soft cheek. Holding it; close to my heart just as I once held her close…the frail body of my dear friend.

I saved a white rose from one of her funeral arrangements. I placed it in fresh water. I positioned the vase right near where I fix my morning coffee. Every morning for over a week now I have been gently kissing the soft petals. It has become part of my morning ritual.

Why you may ask?      I cannot give you an answer.

It’s symbolizing an expression of my love for her.

“…plans to prosper you and not harm you…”  I feel blessed to have so many friends willing to be here for me. It is difficult at times to believe that God has plans not to harm you. My ‘faith twin’ of the heart is gone. I reluctantly accepted the past year that she was not able physically to contribute as she had before. Before the ruthless pancreatic cancer took over her body, she relished in what we created together. I cannot see deep between all of the folds, but there is a delicate paper crane. I must believe this to be true.

“…plans to give you hope and a future.” Speak Lord your servant is listening. Unfold another piece and reveal to me how I can better serve you and your people. You are the way, the truth, and the life…what lies ahead in the future?

God’s plan so far has joined our two families so that we can be there for one another into the future. She was not just my friend I have a special relationship with each person in her family and so does my husband. We love each one of them as we have shared much of our lives together. They are each as much a part of our lives as our own sons. God’s plan…

Whatever the future holds it will be filled with love. Love can never be taken away. It continues to grow stronger as memories of our loved one lives on through us. She took love with her to heaven…love she had for us and the love that we had for her.

We are called to love one another tenderly.