To Fellow Seasonal Allergy Sufferers: Don't Worry, I've Alerted God to the Situation

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dear God,
I hope You know I hate spring. Yes, that season everyone in the world loves because flowers are blooming, the weather is warming, everyone is all around happier in spring. The season poets write about. All hail the God of Creation who gave us spring, right?

You know I try my best to not hate. I do want to follow in the footsteps of Your Son, after all.
But I do hate seasonal allergies. I hate the itchy eyes, the sniffling, the sneezing, the general smell of pollen and pretty much everything else about it. I hate that there's whole months dedicated to the attack of seasonal allergies unto us innocent humans.

Hence, why I'm pretty angry You created the season of spring. Or because You gave me seasonal allergies. Take Your pick. (You know, whichever is less blasphemous)

You know, breathing through your nose is a pretty cool gift You gave us humans. And I think everyone would agree. Seems strange to take it away (or at least hinder it) from some of us every once in awhile. This itchy eye thing isn't very cool day, I know I'll end up looking like the undead or at least a weird raccoon because the temptation to rub/scratch will just be too great for me to handle.

Just thought You should know.


PS: God, this was my subtle attempt to ask You to take the allergies away.
What was that, God?
"That's not the way it works".........what is that supposed to mean?!

PPS: Readers, don't take this too seriously. I am, however, pretty serious about hating seasonal allergies and spring.

Moving On: Georgia's On My Mind

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In a few weeks, I'll have lived here for ten months.

Ten months of sweet tea, ten months of pecans and peaches, ten months of laughs and some tears, ten months of "escapes" to Barnes and Noble or Starbucks, ten months of intimate daily Mass downstairs, ten months of car duty and recess duty in the extreme humidity to the freezing cold, ten months of thirteen Hispanic teens and Confirmation class in Spanglish, ten months of a 100 third through eighth graders and Spanish class in English, and Church history and Hebrew Scriptures.

But now, Confirmation is in a little over three weeks, eighth grade graduation the week after and ending with the last day of school on May 25th. Things are ending.

As is my time here.  

On June 16, a little over a year since I found out I had been accepted as a prepostulant, I'll be driving west in my old Ford Taurus, with the back seat and trunk full of boxes. I'll be driving southwest, to be exact. To Harlingen, Texas. (Man, I hope my car makes it...)

I am very excited, yes. But as the news spreads across Macon (and Facebook), I don't know how to feel. It's the same feeling I got when I announced I was leaving Bolivia. It's a strange joy, it's knowledge that God is pulling me in the next direction, but it's also sadness, as if everything ended way too soon. There have been rough times here in Macon, times I thought "can I really do this?", but yet this confusing feeling of joy and sadness invades me.

The same Someone who brought me here is now pulling me somewhere else. And sometimes I want to whine to Him - "But God, can't You see that I've finally found my niche here? Now I know everyone by name, now I feel comfortable being myself around everyone here! I've even found workable rhythms and patterns for my classes at school!" (And sometimes I think to myself "Darn it, Amanda....why did it take you so long to find your niche?!") I have about a dozen promises from different people to meet for coffee, lunch, etc before I move to Texas - half of those people I never imagined I would be good friends with, half of those people I barely knew months ago.

God does listen to my whining but He's also written a new chapter for me in Texas. I'll be living with three Sisters I've never met before, working at a community center called Proyecto Juan Diego, a stone's throw away from the Mexican border.

I was telling a friend here that I think I'll really bloom in Texas.
They said "but oh, I think you already are...."

And maybe they're right. Maybe I did my own kind of blooming here in Macon. That could be why I feel like a different person than I arrived here in August. And that could be why this feeling lingers, that could be why it won't be too easy to leave this small city in middle Georgia.

Have You Thanked Your Teacher Lately?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We never know the impact we have on others.

But this isn't a story about me. But rather someone else and the impact they probably didn't know they had on me.

A few weeks ago, I had the sudden inspiration to write my eighth-grade English teacher. I wanted to tell her that it is she who sparked my interest in writing and to thank her for her both her high standards but also her approachability to a young awkward eighth grader who didn't know where she fit in the world.

But there was one small problem. I hadn't talked to her since my brother graduated middle school two years after me. I had no idea where she worked or lived. But this is where my investigative journalism skills come in...or rather, my Googling skills. Through Google, I eventually found out that she retired from the school system a few years back and I thought "well, there goes that idea.", yet I kept searching and I eventually found her picture and name on a membership of a charity in the Midwest. So I sent the letter there, in the hope that she would somehow get it. But I wasn't expecting much.

I definitely wasn't expecting a reply. But a reply did come today, just a few weeks later. A three page letter, in fact (long letters are the best kind of letters!)

Her first line resonates with me:
"Many of a teacher's most wonderful moments come after the teacher leaves the classroom. So it was when I received your letter!"

She impacted my life dearly, though she was only my teacher for eighth grade, though it was thirteen years ago now. And it was wonderful to read her reply and to write her again.

Her comment along with the bishop's comment got me thinking.....who else out there deserves our thanks but hasn't received it? which teacher - in elementary, middle or high school, college or grad school - changed our lives and doesn't know it?

I invite you to write them as I did with her. Write out of a deep gratitude, write to reconnect with a part of you that stems from your past, write out of love.

I think when we do that - when we reflect on those who have impacted us by sharing our gratitude - we can more easily see God's hand in our journey and how He sends us just the right people at the right time. Yet, we can also smile knowing  at one point, maybe God has worked through us to be one of those "right people at the right time" for someone else...though we may never know it.

God is Nothing but Mercy and Love.....and He Asks You to Be Yourself!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A little more than one hundred years ago, a young French woman asked to join the Daughters of Charity. She was absolutely sure this was her vocation but she was mysteriously turned down. We don't know the circumstances but we do know that she was told that maybe marriage was her vocation instead. Was she heartbroken? Did she swallow what the Sisters told her as if it were a bitter pill or did it lead to a deeper discernment of that piece of her vocation?

We don't know all that but we do know the Sisters turned out to be right. Because that French woman was Zelie Guerin....soon to be Zelie Martin. That name ring a bell? It could be because she's a Blessed in the Church or maybe because she was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux.

I have been reading a lot about St Therese lately and you would think that the Daughters of Charity or the Vincentian spirituality would have nothing to do with this cloistered Carmelite saint. At least that's what I thought...but I was wrong. Zelie was turned down by the Daughters but Louis, her husband, was active in the St Vincent de Paul Society . The two of them would bring their daughters along when they would visit the poor...there's no way of knowing but these visits to the poor may have come from these exposures to Vincentian spirituality.

A recent conversation with a friend led me to reflect that exposure and love of the Vincentian spirituality doesn't mean that a person is called to be a Vincentian priest or a Daughter of Charity.  I think St Vincent called for his spirituality to be for everyone...and even if God doesn't call us to those specific communities, if we have a love for his spirituality, we will practice it in our everyday lives - whether we're married, single or a Carmelite. Even St Therese admits that her parents were a huge part of her religious formation and led to her entering the Carmelite convent. So I think Therese carried with her a small part of Vincentian spirituality as well.

But that connection to Vincentian spirituality isn't why I wrote this, although it was an interesting find. I wrote this because as I read more and more about St Therese's "Little Way" spirituality, I realize that it is one specifically pertinent to those of us in formation. "The Little Way", as best described in the book Maurice and Therese, is not just accepting who we are, but wanting to be who we are, gifts, faults and all. For those of us in formation, it's important to remember that we are being formed but we're still who we are and we should remain so....and that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. It's wonderful, even beautiful. Because if we don't stay true to ourselves, not only will it be painful but no good changes would come about in the community, no new gifts found, no new ways of thinking. Granted, that doesn't mean we can't improve ourselves, but, as I wrote before, part of "vocation" is fully being who you are. And more than a hundred years ago, a cloistered Carmelite nun preached that simply by being who she was.

And I think we - those who aren't Carmelites, who aren't cloistered, those who aren't even nuns - have a lot to learn from this great saint. She showed us that God isn't asking us to be perfect - He's asking us to be ourselves because we are a wonderful creation of His. Be yourself and don't be ashamed of it!

We have been trained in the habit of looking at our dark side, our ugliness, and not at the purifying Sun, Light of Light, which He is, who changes the dust that we are into pure gold. We think about examining ourselves, yet we do not think, before the examination, during the examination, and after the examination, to plunge ourselves, with all our miseries, into the consuming and transforming furnace of His Heart, which is open to us through a humble act of confidence.  
- St Therese of Lisieux

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