Posts Tagged ‘God’

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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The Sound of Silence

At about two o’clock this afternoon, I will start off on a five-and-a-half-hour drive to Coteau du Lac in Quebec for my annual retreat. It is something I look forward to every year. And as I was explaining to my 12-year old son, it is something I not only want to do — it is something I truly feel I need to do.

Do you not ever feel as if you can barely hear yourself think? What with all the noise and sounds that make up our everyday life, it can be pretty difficult to find that moment of silence to reflect and ponder about life. What for, you might ask? Well, if we consider your life to be a journey of sorts, there are times when you and I must stop to rest, look around and think. Are we still on the right track? Have we fallen behind or gotten distracted? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere along the way? Are we moving too fast? Are we moving too slow? Have we been taking care of ourselves?

Call it a spiritual pit stop, if you will. We get off the highway of ordinary life that has a posted speed limit of a multi-tasker’s nightmare. We remove ourselves from the buzz and noise that we and others make in order to give ourselves a chance to hear the sound of silence. If you’re not used to it, it can actually be deafeningly loud. A sudden silence can shout out the absence of physical activity and perpetual motion. Many are not used to it. In fact, there are those who can bear “silence” only with some music quietly playing in the background. There is this need for others to fill this void that can be scary for those who are not used to it.

What does silence sound like? I suppose it is different for each person. For me, silence sounds like a breath of life slowly taken in and calmly blown out. It is the many familiar gestures of care and affection that go unnoticed. It is the rhythmic beating of a heart, unseen but felt. Silence sounds like the echoes of a life filled with laughter and tears, ups and downs and many things in between. It is the wordless prayers that form, almost unconsciously, on my lips.

A period of silence allows me to take a good look at my life and what I have done with what I have been given. It is not forced; rather, it is a choice I willingly make. The human being, regardless of religion, race or gender, is composed of body and soul. We spend an enormous amount of time and energy taking care of our physical bodies, to the point of indulgence at times. In the process, we often overlook that essential part of the person that, in fact, lives on even after our mortal bodies die.

In a sense, I could say my retreat is like a spiritual spa for my soul. I go in order to strengthen and refresh my spirit; to renew and refill my spiritual reserves. I am eager to go because I know how much I need this. I am a wife and a mother, firstly, and my family stands to benefit from what I gain at the retreat. The silence with which I surround myself will allow me to hear what my Father wants me to hear. The silence affords me the chance to talk to my Father in confidence and with great love, without rushing off to do this and that. This is my precious time with Him.

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At the Check-out Counter

The FamilyMost people get excited for couples expecting their first child, and rightly so. There are still looks of pleasant surprise and congratulations with the second and the third. The fourth pregnancy can bring about moments of silence for some, looks of genuine surprise from others. It gets pretty interesting from the fifth onwards.

I’ve had people look at me in disbelief, one woman even ask me point-blank if I was crazy. People who see our family all together for the first time almost always have a reaction. It has taken some getting use to, and was not very pleasant at first. I had to remind myself that, in truth, my husband and I were not doing anything wrong even if there were those who acted as if we were committing a crime.

So it was not with dread that I heard the question asked again today. Let me back-track a bit here…..

I brought four kids with me to do some grocery-shopping. The kids are great to have with me since I can ask one to get an item, while another kid can get something else. At the check-out, the kids started getting some boxes for the grocery items while I started to pay the bill. The cashier smiled at me and said, “So……3 boys and 1 girl, eh?”

I smiled back at her. “Eight. There’s eight kids.”

Her eyes kind of popped out a bit as she stared at me. “No way….”

“Yes! Eight kids — a girl, then 4 boys, then 2 girls, and a boy. I gave birth last August.”

And then came the inevitable question.

“So that’s it, right?” I could almost hear her holding her breath in anticipation.

I had to laugh. This lady with a wonderful smile was still asking me if eight was “enough”! A lot of people had stopped asking at number 6 or 7 because they either got tired or figured it out for themselves. Or thought we were plain crazy. In any case, this lady wanted an answer, and I had one for her.

“No! Listen, I have a 12-seater van, you know…..Besides, God has never let us down. He’s always taken care of us, gives us what we need. And what we don’t have, we don’t need. That’s how I see it.”

And you know what? This lady got it! She smiled at me, looking really happy this time.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

It thrills me when people “get” my family. And if they don’t — well, there’s always hope that they will one day.

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