I've been through an insanely hectic and frustrating week at work, followed by an even more hectic and frustrating weekend at home. I know I'm not the only one who feels the burden of extra stress this time of year and who struggles to let Advent be a time of watching and waiting instead of a time of running, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc...I've been looking for some relief, some peace to make this last week of Advent feel a little more silent and prayerful, and I found this: take a deep breath, and let yourself be drawn into the beauty of All Angels...
And speaking of angels...as I was watching the previous video, I received an email from my nine-year-old daughter, Mary, who is on the upstairs computer. It makes me laugh to realize that we are in the same household and yet we communicate via email instead of physically walking over to one another to share information, but when the words she sends me are loving and poetic, the method of communication doesn't seem to matter at all and the physical act of holding each other in our arms is soon to follow:
"Hi, my beauty, I love you very much! You make my heart glow and your love makes my heart sing. It's like you are building a church in my soul. Your caring and kindness overflow the nation of my heart. Your love is growing in my heart and I love you so very much."
Although her communication methods might not be traditional, her love reaches right into my aching heart and wraps it in love with the tender touch that only an innocent child can give. Along with her loving words, she asked me to watch this video...
Now that I've been refreshed by the love of my daughter and some quiet reflection with these two videos, I have decided that instead of letting life get me down, I will choose to be thankful for my many blessings. So I am joining Ann Voskamp at Holy Experience in a list of gratitude...
~for that sweet and affectionate little daughter of mine who brings the love of Christ to me and to all of those around her with her every action
~for my job, even when it has me gasping for breath as I race to serve the never-ending clients who wait for nutrition information and healthy foods for their families at Christmastime, and, even though it recently has me frustrated by a diminishing of what had once been a good relationship with my boss
~for a beautiful and loving family, even one that argues and fights their way through tumultuous teen years---and, in the midst of rage and tears, for the blessing of the Missionary Servants of the Holy Family who pray for my family and all families and who providentially reminded my family to begin a Novena in anticipation of the feast of the Holy Family on a night when the battles raged at their most fierce, then...
~for a son at the door after a fearful absence, and a father who embraced the prodigal with no words other than "Don't you know how much I love you?" followed by a penitent family gathered in prayer, asking for the blessings of the Holy Family upon them
~for a compassionate confessor and the glorious gift of absolution
~for the flicker and glow of Advent candles and the hush of a dark night with flakes of frosty snow descending from the heavens to dress our world in cold, white beauty
~for the renewing grace of Taize prayer in a silent, candle-lit church, as I sit between two dear, loving friends and ponder an icon of Mary and Jesus while the words of the psalms move through my soul
~for an annual Christmas card from my deeply-loved Archbishop Dolan; even though he has been gone from Milwaukee for several years and his life is beyond busy, he never fails to keep our family on his Christmas card list and we receive a gorgeous and prayerful card each year that always has the power to thrill me
~for Christmas cookies, fudge and wine :) No matter how determined I am to fast and abstain during Advent in preparation for Christmas, these treats always seem to comfort me at the end of a frazzled day
Won't you join in creating your own gratitude list?