So, what would you do if you found out you were Irish one day?
I grew up being told I was 1/2 Dutch and 1/2 English. Black and white – clear as glass. I also remember growing up sensing that our family didn’t have anything in common with Irish people (or other people who were not like my parents.)
I also think my parents placed people and groups into stereotypical buckets. And, sadly, I probably did it to in my growing up and young adult years. But that was eons ago, and that is just how some people felt in the early to mid- 1900’s. I don’t fault them at all – they were kind, loving people for the most part!
Recently, one of my brothers did a DNA test and found out we had some Irish – which is probably making my dad roll over in his grave.
So, what did I do when I found out I had a bit of Irish in me? My first instinct was to think, “Hmm, I wonder what else my parent’s didn’t tell me…How did they not know this?” After the initial shock, I thanked God for creating the universe with diversity, making people in all colors, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. And I thanked God for good old Irish Whiskey!
Enjoy your bangers with mash and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. – 1 Thessalonians 4:9
Does this scripture remind you of Valentine’s Day?
What exactly are its origins?
Have you heard about the god of Lupercus?
Well, apparently, that is how it all started. According to americancatholic.org,
The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years, the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.1
The Catholic Roots of Valentine’s Day
Sexual companionship for an entire year may sound appealing, especially during a pandemic; yet, what happens after the year is up?
Long-lasting relationships are built on love. Love is sharing simple things in life, such as walking in the park, cooking a meal, giggling while watching a comedy, or discussing life’s spiritual mysteriousness. And, when you find love, it is like winning a lottery – every day.
During the 18th Century in England, Valentine’s Day evolved into a card and flower-giving holiday celebrating love and romance. Maybe this holiday is an opportunity to proclaim God’s love for humankind?
Let’s think about spreading God’s love, not by participating in the billion-dollar holiday it has become but by simply loving others. Welcome God’s love and share it with others. This special once-a-year day reminds us to show our appreciation for one another. For partners. For family members. For church members. For Friends. So, embrace love. Let Valentine’s Day become an opportunity to express your love, respect, and friendship to someone in your life.
Human connection – speaking your love language to your Valentine helps keep the spark alive.
Action: Send Valentine Day wishes of love and laughter to all the special people in your life.
1Guest Author, The Catholic Roots of St. Valentine’s Day. Retrieved on November 2, 2016. .https://www.franciscan media.org/ the-catholic-roots-of-st-valentines-day/
Mary and Joseph head north to Bethlehem, the town of David, for a census ordered by Caesar Augustus. Upon arrival to Joseph’s hometown, Mary gives birth to Jesus. The familiar Christmas cast expands to include Simeon and Anna in this chapter. Both of these older adults proclaim Jesus as Messiah. In this passage,
Simeon’s proclamation is his “ah-ha” moment, and it speaks to us about salvation, in other words, belonging.
Where do you belong?
Joseph belongs to the house of David, similar to us belonging to the home of our parents. And our children belong to us. So, where does all of this “belonging” fit in?
Luke does not tell us the lineage of Simeon. And maybe that is for a good reason. I’d like to think that Simeone is you and me!
A recent study found when social relationships provide a sense of belonging; people feel life has more meaning.* We know some of us are more social than others due to different personalities, levels of mood, amount of energy, and time. Whether we feel social or not, we can know with certainty that we do belong to the family of God. Why? Because God loves us. Nothing can separate that love from us. God’s love is eternal; it can bring us a sense of belonging and contentment.
As parents, we hope our children have a sense of belonging – to their heavenly Father and us. Earthly relationships can be full of disappointment and sadness when loved ones choose to be “un” belong themselves – stagnant, separated, divorced, or estranged. God never does this; like a parent, God accepts us and loves us unconditionally. This unconditional love makes us feel loved and provides us with a broad sense of belonging in life.
To those of you out in this world who have turned your back on unconditional love – maybe it’s time to turn back toward it again? Thoughts?
Human families – bringing us a sense of belonging is crucial in all aspects of life.
Action: Discuss belonging and separation with a loved one.
In this blog post, I have taken the liberty of looking at random phrases in The Bible where the word “fall” is used. Go ahead and read each of them:
Now, re-read them. What do you see? How do you feel? At first, the word submission comes to my mind. Yet, maybe surrendering is the better word. In Julie Lopes’ blog, Dancing with God, she reflects on the meaning of submission and surrendering. She says that surrendering is an act of love where we respond to an invitation, whereas submission has a power and control element. So, with that, we will look at these phrases collectively from a surrendering viewpoint.
Falling is an act of surrender. Surrendering to God, oneself, and to others. In the first three verses, there is the commonality of anatomy – heads, side, feet. What do you see or feel?
For me, there is a sense of Jesus. Jesus dying on the cross, hanging his head, and being pierced in his side and through his feet. I see a total surrendering. Surrendering of physical body and spirit. Jesus takes his last breath, and in that, he is providing salvation to the world. Abba Father, Why have you forsaken me? Jesus surrendered as an invitation for us to surrender our wants, desires, and purpose to God.
The fourth and fifth verses are analogous to the wealthy man who must sell all of his possessions to “get eternal life.” In this case, the surrendering is his tangible assets. Jesus tells the man if he wants to be perfect, he would need to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Scripture says, “he went away sad,” leading to believe he chose his possessions over entering the Kingdom of God.
How often do we feel so secure, confident, and powerful that we would not want to give that up? Some of us work hard in our careers wishing to get to the next leadership position, and we don’t. Promotions are sometimes given to those who don’t work as hard. Or those who have less tenure? Or, perhaps to the person with the right pedigree, not the one who actually has the skills and experience. Falling from a secure position requires trust. And faith. Often, we fail to see what is ahead of us, or at least we fail in trusting God to direct our lives. Speaking from experience, God wants the details, and God wants alone time with you. We need to place our lives, position, power, and children in God’s hands. Then, we can enter into eternal life. Essentially, we need to “die” to self and “live” to faith.
We can’t get up unless we have fallen. The last verse is speaking to all of us. We will all have hills and valleys in life. In other words, trials and tribulations are part of it. And to overcome these obstacles, we must fall into them, and through them, we can come out the other side as more robust and more faithful people.
In this Fall season of thanksgiving, I invite you to “fall.” “Fall” into your hills and valleys, and lying in the depths of the ravine, cry out to God. Give God your everything. Only then you will be able to stand tall, brush yourself off, and spread God’s love to others.
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Time to splash Time to sip Time to sing Time for solitude
What better place to splash than in a gorgeous built-in pool with a waterfall?
There is something spiritual about a waterfall. Hearing water cascading down a tiled and glass blocked wall sounds like rain falling on a hot summer day. The dripping sound is very calming. Does water calm you? It sure calms me! Oceans, pools, lakes, rivers – you name it – if there is water – there is calm. Yet, where there is a pool, there is bound to be splashing! Splashing water with hands and feet takes me back to childhood. Splashing seems to wipe years away in an instant. So, the next time you are in a pool – go ahead and make a splash!
Splashing brings out child-like qualities.
Sipping a beverage in the summertime is different than the rest of the year. Do you agree? In summer, whether it is sipping iced tea, lemonade, or a favorite alcoholic beverage, summer makes it sweeter. Maybe it is the casualness of the outdoors? The warm summer breezes. Or the flip-flops? Whatever it is, sipping a glass of ½ iced tea, ½ lemonade, with a splash of limeade – sure is my favorite! Sipping reminds me of savoring. Savoring a piece of pie or the last spoonful of ice cream. Sipping is slow. It is a way of saying, slow down! But, after sipping, I feel rejuvenated. Do you?
I come from a very musical family. Both of my brothers were in the high school band. My brother Bob was a music teacher for decades. My sister played the piano, as did both of my parents. In addition, my dad sang in the church choir and often performed solos. I, however, did not really inherit the “musical” gene. Although I sure love to sing, I’m not really good at all. Yet, my heart overflows with joy, and I sing anyway, especially in the shower. For me, singing is expressing joy. Joy of love. Joy of life. I really try to embrace joy and bury the sorrow. The sorrow of a failed marriage. The sorrow of an estranged/alienated son. Maybe the singing is just my way of expressing sorrow – the deep sadness that I live with every day. For me, it is a choice. I can choose to cry. Or I can choose to sing. I decide to sing because singing soothes my soul. So go ahead – sing a tune and see how you feel. Do you feel better?
Solitude is spending time with yourself. It is a time to just “be.” How often do we really do that in this busy, instant messaging world? I think of Jesus. Jesus often went off to pray, leaving his disciples. Maybe Jesus needed solitude to think or to refresh. Or to reenergize. Or, perhaps, Jesus needed time to speak to God. In The Word Among Us, Father Mitch Pacwa, writes an article entitled, Jesus Sets Out Alone to Pray, where Father Pacwa announces, “We’re Invited to Join Jesus in His Secret Place of Prayer.” What do you need solitude for? As humans, we all need solitude. Time to getaway. Time to unplug. Time to “be.”
Enjoy the rest of the summer! Life is a life-long learning experience.