The Church, like families, has Ordinary Time, and in many ways, it’s those ordinary times that are most important for families.
I snapped the above photo on Sunday, January 12, the same morning the Church celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. It was also the first Sunday in Ordinary Time. Here in central Iowa, we were treated to some spectacular sunrises those first days of Ordinary Time. Brilliant color combinations of red, orange, yellow, purple, green, and blue that only the Master Artist could create with His sacred palette.
The photo above, I admit, is not the best. Not only am I still learning how to operate the new camera, the lookout point for this photo was off our deck and didn’t quite capture the full magnitude of what we witnessed that morning. The second-floor, south-facing bedroom window peering over the neighboring rooftops provided the better view. But I couldn’t take the photo from there with a screen that is barely hanging on, covered with dust, dirt, and bird droppings. Ordinary times. I suppose the resulting photo is a gentle reminder that some (most?) things just can’t quite be captured by technology, no matter how great the gadget may be.
I actually started writing this post on that first Sunday in Ordinary Time. And here I am nearly two weeks later trying to finish and publish. My ordinary life has kicked into high gear. Here’s a snapshot of how we’re balancing these first days in ordinary time with prayer, work, rest, and play.
When you give every last crumb of your five loaves and every last bite of your two fish, expect multiplication miracles.
The feeding of the five thousand from the Gospel of Mark cycled back around in the daily readings two weeks ago. I’ve read and heard this passage umpteenth times, but upon reading it recently, it clicked in a new and challenging way.
Except for the Resurrection, the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is the only one that is repeated in all four gospels. Probably a good sign it’s important, huh? In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and symbol of what God always does: when He gives, He gives abundantly. But here’s the catch. We have to first give Jesus our all. When we give every last crumb of our five loaves and the very last bite of our two fish, we should expect multiplication miracles.
I think it’s resonating with me so strongly because I’m pretty good at hoarding those last crumbs. Hoarding, not exactly the hallmark of a good steward. Good thing my word for the year is stewardship.
I’m back on the speaking circuit again! And guess what? My little “Pray, Work, Rest & Play” series here has served as the inspiration for a couple of the talks. Drawing on the inspiration of St. Benedict’s Rule of Life and St. JoseMaria Escriva’s “way,” I’ve put together a talk titled, A Mom’s Rule of Life: Incorporating Pray, Work, Rest & Play Into our Daily Lives.
My friend Julie who co-hosts Catholic Women Now for Iowa Catholic Radio and also heads the family life ministry for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in West Des Moines gave me the nudge I needed to get this talk off the ground. I’m so grateful she recognized a strength and passion and provided a safe platform (a mom’s group at her parish) for me to work out the kinks. Now I’ll be sharing the same talk to two more parishes in the coming weeks.
So in that spirit, here’s a challenge: go be a cheerleader. When you recognize a strength in someone, tell her (or him) specifically what it is you see and encourage her to cultivate it.
Two words. Piriformis syndrome. That is what has me “resting” this week. Or at least it’s the reason I’ve been spending more time than I would like off my feet and lying flat on my back. While pregnant with Jude two years ago, that lil’ big man and sure-to-be future linebacker/hockey goalie/soldier in God’s army, I was nearly immobilized due to a pinched sciatic nerve. I had some postpartum physical therapy back then and thought this was all beyond me. Nope. It flared up again so now I’m vowing to get this figured out.
In his best attempt to cheer me up, Joel said, “Hey, this is a common injury among triathletes.” Yeah, if only I doing something that involved such athletic prowess. I simply have terrible posture, and it was a car ride that finally did me in. Rest, epsom salt baths, a few trips to my favorite back doc, gentle stretches . . . I think I’m on the mend.
On the bright side, I guess it’s a good time to be off my feet with a little more down time given we’re reading The Odyssey in Well-Read Mom this month. I’m anticipating a challenging read, so I went ahead and checked out the CliffsNotes, too. I think I can, I think I can.
And the other book? Given that aforementioned lil’ big man turns two on Monday, I’m refreshing my memory on the terrific twos. Yay. Because they are terrific, aren’t they?! Pray for us. :)
While Joel was busy with deacon formation classes a couple of weeks ago, I took the kids to story time at our local Catholic bookstore. Each month a storyteller shares a liturgically-timely story with the kids. This month’s theme was Epiphany, and the kids enjoyed playing puppeteers while caravanning through the store looking for the star of the Bethlehem. Please, dear God, let us get out of this store without having to ask if they have a “You break, You buy” policy.
The caravan ended with a snack break of rosca de reyes, or Three Kings bread, a pastry traditionally eaten in Latin American countries on Epiphany. Hidden inside the bread is a figurine of the Christ Child and, as the custom goes, whoever finds the baby Jesus, has the responsibility of hosting a dinner and providing tamales and atole.
As you will see in the photos below, Lucy found the Christ Child in her slice of bread. Now I guess we’ll keep it going by hosting a dinner with tamales and atole? With that, I’m off to leaf through our collection of America’s Test Kitchen cook books in hopes of finding some good recipes. Any brave soul interested in testing our Latin American cuisine-at-home experiment? We’re taking reservations.
May God continue to bless these ordinary times!
How are you incorporating prayer, work, rest, and play into your ordinary week?