It is one of those days when I feel like the luckiest girl in the world (and if you think I’m not still considered a ‘girl’ – please don’t tell!)… because I have the best job in the world. A job that this morning brought me a few miles south of my South County home to the Charlestown Breachway. I was happy to be reminded that my family’s summer oasis is just as beautiful on a crisp March morning as it is on a muggy August afternoon. Once there I was able to first accomplish today’s task of collecting rocks for an upcoming workshop I am presenting. That behind me, I put down my bucket and my canine pal, Sherra, and I hit the sand.
I walked along the water’s edge in Maddey’s clunky rain boots (when did she get old enough for us to start sharing shoes?). At times I had to make a quick break to escape the waves of foam that raced in from the ocean’s ebb and flow. Other times, Sherra got wind of something exciting and I was forced to jog along behind to keep up. Between the trudging and the running in those weighty boots, I do think that I replaced my gym workout nicely!
During this unexpected break from my regular routine, I found a wonderful opportunity for a bit of prayer and reflection. First, I called to mind all of those around me who are in need of special prayers right now: friends who are struggling with the care of aging parents, families who are struggling with the loss of a loved one, little girls who are fighting for their lives in the hospital, another friend who is facing a physical challenge in order to help a family member, the cardinals who are tasked with the enormous responsibility of choosing our next spiritual leader, the pride of my son becoming an Eagle Scout, the immense gratitude I feel for the doctors, nurses, and teachers who are caring for our Ellie as she prepares to have her pacemaker replaced, the list goes on and includes each and every one of you!
As I walked, I could not help but notice the state of the beach, the pond, the state facilities, and a large number of local homes. The aftermath of this season’s hurricane and the blizzard left behind quite a mess: piles of sand fill the parking lots, natural and manmade debris litter the beach, the footprint of the pond has once again shifted, buildings are in need of repairs – small and large. This reality gave me pause as I pondered the power of water. The beauty of it. The physical needs that it meets. The fun that it can inspire. The havoc that it can wreak. The risk that it invokes. And especially the new life that rises out of it. The beachfront community today reminded me of the power of the waters of Baptism. Water that we pass through, reminded of Jesus’ dying, where we find new life. Walking along the shore, new life was evident – workers were beginning to repair the buildings to get them ready for the upcoming summer season. Boaters were scouting the pond, seeing what changes will need to be made when it once again fills with families and fishermen. Walkers were occasionally stooping to pick up various litter to help clean the beachfront for sunners and swimmers alike. The promise of new life was all around me.
My thoughts then turned to last week’s Gathering where we spoke of what it means to be Church. I asked myself “What does today’s experience say about being church?” I think the answer is a lot! Church is more than a building as we discussed at L.I.G.H.T. Church is people and their experiences. Walking on the beach I was able to see, feel, and hear the beauty of God all around me. Experiencing God is being Church. Spending time in prayer, I was able to connect with people who are important to me. Supporting one another is being Church. Collecting rocks and preparing to lead a workshop that will benefit catechists and leaders in our diocese, I was able to get ready to help people share their knowledge of the faith with local Catholic families. Sharing our faith is being Church. Viewing the work being done to bring new life to the area, I had a sacramental moment. Living the sacraments is being Church.
We all ARE CHURCH much more often than we realize. Find a moment to stop yourself today and consider, how are you being or experiencing church? If you need a hand – check out the lesson extenders for March. They will help to guide you through the process. http://scplight.weebly.com/
Enjoy the day everyone!
P.S. When the day began, we were Pope-less. This evening we find ourselves with a new spiritual Father to Shepherd us all into the days, months, and years ahead. Let’s all take a moment today to thank God for our new Pope Francis and to pray for a blessed future for all of us who call ourselves CHURCH.
You would have to be living under a rock to not know that today is an important one in the history of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI, in an act of great humility, is retiring from his role as leader of our Church. I think he timed it to go along with our L.I.G.H.T. theme for the month as we will be discussing what it means to be Church. Ha ha! J The two topics surely go hand in hand, and as a result we will be able to discuss many of the implications of today’s news when we meet next week.
A funny story in relation to that news is (perhaps) a great compliment to Father Friedrichs!
This morning, as we watched the pope greet each of the cardinals who came to Rome for the conclave, I told my youngest (Ellie) who was eating her waffle, that the Pope is retiring. Well, much to my surprise, she nearly burst into tears. Her urgent plea to me was, “Will he do church again?” Puzzled, I asked if she was talking about the Pope saying Mass? She said yes and that she wanted to see him again. That she had to say goodbye. That’s when I realized that her church is not a global one, but a very small brick building in the middle of Apponaug. I was then able to assure her that Father Friedrichs was not the Pope (Not that he wouldn’t do a fine job at it!) and that he wasn’t going anywhere. (As if I’d let him!)
Her tensed shoulders settled down and we had a nice talk about who the Pope is and what will happen next in Rome. So, over a meal of simple Eggo Waffles sprinkled with chocolate chips – it wasn’t only Ellie who learned a few things. I too had some lessons that were very appropriate to the day. First, I assume my children know more than they do, and I need to remember to take the time to share with them the news of our Church, as I do the other news of the day. Because ultimately for Ellie, it is her parents who are her primary catechists and we need to remember to keep the conversation about our faith alive in every way so that she and her siblings will grow up with a strong faith foundation.
The other thing I learned is that “Church” matters to kids, even more than we might realize. Ellie would just as soon run past Father than say hello when she arrives at L.I.G.H.T. each month. After all, it’s not him, but rather Mrs. Gouveia in the kitchen who will allow her a sneak preview of dinner! But when she thought she would never see him again, the devastation was apparent. She counts on coming to St Catherine’s. She revels in in the Children’s liturgy. She adores her catechists, the other families at church, and (obviously) her pastor. She senses the importance of the Eucharist and anxiously awaits her turn to join us at the table. Church is important, our pastor is important, our church community is important. Do we show that to our kids by what we say? And more importantly, do we show that to them by what we do?
Just something to think about!
Enjoy the day everyone! I’ll look forward to seeing you next week as we gather for L.I.G.H.T.!
Have a great weekend!