Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I'm Reading

My library finally got a copy of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. I have been waiting to read it for close to a year. I've seen it in the Christian bookstore but I try to live simply, not possess too much, be true to my vow of poverty. I didn't need to own the book; I just wanted to read it. It was a want, not a need, so I never purchased it.

I have my hands on it now, and I am enjoying consuming each page. So many aspects, so many parts of the story, resonate with me. You see I have been a seeker of God in a mess of a life myself. I’ve sought out spiritual direction with a Franciscan monk for a few months a couple years ago, read numerous books on the presence of God and other related topics, referenced other religions outside my Catholic faith—all in an attempt to try find joy, peace—GOD. Seeking meaning to life—my life—for the circumstances I found and continue to find myself in. Is all this mess and despair a sequence of consequences to past sin, poor choices? Is there some higher purpose for why my life, the people in it, my past, my present is the way it is that I don’t see or understand yet?

One of my New Year’s resolutions (as usual) is spiritual progress. I am forever trying to acquire patience, and joy, and peace . . .—true, lasting spiritual transformation. It’s fleeting. Instead of an open ended make spiritual progress daily, for 2012 I am trying:

“Every day keep the intermediate goals into achievable segments, and fix sights on these midway markers: one pound shed this week, 15 minutes of organization, one date night a week with a child, set sights close . . .”  Read more here.

I read this morning in the book about a 10 day challenge—a 10 day eucharisteo experiment—

"Ten days of eucharisteo as a stress intervention, eucharisteo as a practical miracle, not on the mount, but in the faces and the crowd. Whenever we felt stress in relationships, we audibly gave thanks”( pg.133).

Stress and strain has climaxed in just about every relationship in my life: with myself, God, my husband, my children, my parents, etc. I am so not fulfilling my vows as a Lay Missionary of Charity. What a poor example I make. In fact it was only back in September I considered leaving the movement, giving up my vows.  I even gave it a go. But instead of peace, relief, in my choice I found discontent. I don’t think God wanted me to give up my vows, being a poor example, He wants to try harder with His grace-try a different approach. Something (good) will come out of my LMC experience—from my life experience— if I hold on, endure, wait patiently. So instead of giving up completely, I continue to try differently. And for the next 10 days I will try the eucharisteo experiment; I will hold my tongue, intentionally be less reactive in stress situations, relinquish control of situations over to God, instead only offering thanks—eucharisteo—to God for all and everything, whether I perceive them to be good or bad. I have already been doing the 1000 Gift Challenge, but this is taking it deeper. This is a full immersion course in the presence of God. And I know this is the path-for me at least-this is the stuff, the spiritual practices, we used to talk about in spiritual direction. But how easy we forget--I forget. How much easier it is said than done.

And so I start right NOW, this very second. God knows, I’ve already blown my morning, but I will not waste another minute. From this moment, I begin my experiment—good, bad, or indifferent. I expect it to be difficult. I will no doubt have set backs. But I will give it my full, whole hearted, conscious effort for a period of 10 days, that way there is an end in sight--an achievable goal.