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Archive for July, 2008

My children have recently discovered the game of badminton. Thanks to a sale at Canadian Tire, we are now the owners of a badminton/volleyball set that originally came with four rackets. The set is now down to three sound ones and a fourth that is – sadly – quite broken. (This broken racket found itself accidentally whacked against the unsuspecting face of a seven year-old girl during a particularly exciting game.) Such is the way of the world in this big family of ours.I am typing out this entry on a picnic table in the shade of tree and the light of a sun that is not yet ready to set. The fifth boy (a.k.a. the baby & 8th kid) is sitting in his stroller behind me, entertaining himself with the toes on his very chubby foot.

There is a son sitting on the grass a few feet away from me, laying a claim to sheer boredom as he concentrates on trying to dig a hole in the ground with a stubby stick. The four oldest are playing badminton – three with proper rackets while one is — as far as I can tell — like a court jester of sorts. Don’t ask me how that works because I honestly don’t know. It must be working for them somehow because they are keeping score and there is a certain air of competitiveness about them. The two other girls are kind of walking about here and there, not trying too hard to stay out of trouble.

(The game in front of me is evolving. The court jester is now playing at being referee, picker-up of the birdie and the human badminton net. I have to say it looks far more exciting than a regular game and perhaps this should be further explored as a possible alternative to playing this game……….or not.)

How else could I have spent this afternoon of good weather better, I wonder? I sit here breathing in the good, clean air as a breeze makes the tree branches sway gently. I have seen countless number of airplanes in the sky off to some far off place. Would I have a more fulfilling afternoon in Europe or Africa? Would I have more exciting adventures in Asia or the Carribean? Would I have more important things to do if I were working in an office, rushing to meet deadlines, meeting with important people and making way more money than I do now which is – well…..nothing really?

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (or the Jesuits). My alma mater is the Ateneo de Manila University which the Jesuits founded and run to this day. The Jesuits live out their vocation “for the greater glory of God” – ad majorem Dei gloriam. These are words that call to me, not only because of my Jesuit education but, because of the very clarity of its purpose and the love it professes for my Father in heaven.

What does my most spectacularly ordinary afternoon have to do with all this? At first glance, it would seem as if we spent a day of lazy pleasure outdoors for wont of something better to do. The truth could not be farther from this. This is an afternoon spent doing the kind of “work” I as a mother am so privileged to be doing — and it is for the greater glory of God. Humanly speaking, what do I stand to gain by this afternoon: a nice pile of dirty clothes, most of which will likely have grass stains; a passel of sun-kissed and breathless children who all very badly need a bath; a whole lot of “stuff” that need to be loaded in the tan van and then unloaded by a very tired and unenthusiastic crew at home.

Kid #8, Boy #5

Kid #8, Boy #5

In fact, all I have to do is to look at each child and see the very real proof of divine Providence at work. This is important work, indeed! Learning about each other and about life without even realizing it is a tremendous gift. This afternoon, my children and I spent several glorious hours of being together as a family of unique individuals. We looked around at the beauty of the garden we were in a wished that my husband was with us. The children played volleyball, badminton and soccer with great enthusiasm and – sometimes – one or two bruised egos. I asked each child to take a turn in pushing their baby brother’s stroller around the garden path and the requests were not always met with a smile. But walk around the garden path they did, pushing their baby brother’s stroller dutifully. In this short afternoon, we’ve dealt with happy shouts of victory and not so happy shouts of protests; badminton birdies stuck in a tree and a soccer ball gone AWOL for a brief moment in a dense cluster of trees; sullen looks of disappointment at not getting what one wanted — and a quiet realization that being the grump of the group just isn’t fun.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or one who is working full time and then having to rush home to get dinner on the table, know that you are where you are because what you do and who you are makes every bit of difference to those who are around you. You are where you are for a reason – not because of fate or destiny or random luck.
Do you ever wish you were off somewhere else doing something more exciting than whatever it is you’re doing? Don’t. Be where you are because it is where you are needed and where you belong. Do what you do for love and for the greater glory of God.

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Perfectly Imperfect Moments

Every now and then, for the past 34 days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about next on this blog. I hemmed and hawed and sat on my mental fence…..and waited. I waited for that elusive and unpredictable friend that is Inspiration to come and sweep me away to flights of creative expression. It hasn’t happened. Yet. And since it hasn’t happened (yet), I feel compelled to make myself write.

Yup, that’s right: I am plunging into the icy cold waters of writing without waiting for warmer, more inviting temperatures in which to wallow. I will not wait for that bright flash of inspiration because it may come when I happen to blink or am otherwise occupied with other things. Life goes on, whether I am googly-eyed and rapturous about this and that or I am mentally kicking myself in the head for managing to snag a spot in traffic behind the slowest driver on the road. Life does not stop to consider my lack of wonderment or awe. It moves along at the pace of ordinary time; neither slower nor faster.

I realized this morning that in waiting for what I would deem a “perfect moment”, I was missing out on the “now moments” that where always taking place. The truth is that my life (and I suspect most people’s lives) consists in way more imperfect “now moments” than THE “perfect moment”. We have twenty-four hours in a day, 60 minutes in each hour. There is only so much a person can do within this time frame of life. I stand to lose a great deal of opportunities for conversation and friendship and love if I do nothing while I wait for the ideal moment – if there is even one.

When I left for Spain to go to Torreciudad more than a month ago, I did not know what to expect. Were there going to be fireworks going off in my soul, transporting me to another spiritual dimension? Was I going to feel time stop as if the world was suspended in motion? Were copious tears going to flow from my eyes, rendering me a sobbing mess of saltiness and pathos? Well, I was moved to tears during the first benediction at the shrine, but thankfully I was not this way for long. But how can one help but be moved, after all, at the genuine beauty of this place of prayer and faith that is Torreciudad?

And the world did not stop revolving. Each day that passed seemed to stretch at first, but quickly filled up with many, many moments I am so grateful for now: quick, stolen moments to greet our Lord at the tabernacle; small, fervent kisses on a cross as I told my Father in heaven that I was putting my life in His hands; precious time spent in conversation with my God. What a luxury! I reveled in the richness of these extraordinarily ordinary moments with God, Our Lady of Torreciudad and those who were with me.

What does Torreciudad have to do with the “perfect moment”? The chance to go came at – humanly speaking – the wrong time. I was still a nursing mom with eight children and our family budget did not include any money set aside for “extraordinary travel to places of interest”. Should I have waited, then, for a better time to go? Perhaps another chance would come my way when I had more money, extra money, more time, extra time……I really don’t know. In my heart, my instantaneous and heartfelt response to the invitation was, “Yes, please!!!” So I went, and I am richer for it in so many ways I cannot even begin to tell you.

At Torreciudad, I realized that as beautiful the whole place is, my own place was with my family back home. I often thought of and brought to my prayers my very generous husband and each of our eight children. I recalled with a slight pang the two souls that would have been born into our family had they not gone straight to heaven after just several weeks in my womb. I remembered with fondness and affection each friend (or at least as many friends as my poor memory could recall….) and his or her particular intention or need. In this beautiful home of Our Lady of Torreciudad, I was strongly drawn home to where God had placed me. I could see that my ordinary life, filled with ordinary and less-than-perfect moments was part of the greater and whole picture of Life. My life means something; what I do matters.

Which brings me back to the past 34 days I’ve spent trying to find the perfect moment to post an “awesome” entry on this blog. It’s never going to happen – the “perfect moment” I mean for that “awesome blog”. There is this time I spend writing, which I must consider important enough so as not to brush off as unnecessary. I do not know exactly who will read what I write, but if it helps even that one person who may or may not have meant to land on my blog – then it will have been worth it. If I write with the conviction that I am communicating with other souls, then my ordinary post becomes something extraordinary in its purpose.

And that is definitely something worth spending time my time on.

The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. (C.S. Lewis)

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