Tuesday, November 26, 2002
The big news lately is that I've been teaching a class on Greek and Roman liturature to some home-schooled high school students. It has been rather challenging to adequately prepare for the classes, but I've enjoyed it.
Monday, May 06, 2002
Retreat at Pacem
The following are excerpts from my journal entries written while I
was at Pacem in Terrace, a wonderful retreat center in
Minnesota. I took this retreat in early February. When you take a
retreat at Pacem, you get a little one-room cabin in the woods. You
spend your time praying, reading, writing and sleeping. With the
exception of weekday dinners you do not spend time talking
with other people. It is amazingly peaceful.
February 1, 2002
Tonight I sit in my little hermitage at Pacem in Terrace. I'm at the
St. Mary Magdalene hermitage. I am enjoying the quiet. My
thoughts coming up here were somewhat scattered. Earlier I had fears
about the silence, fears about boredom, and fears that I would feel
afraid! Now the Spirit of Peace is filling the room. I feel
scattered, but not distraught. I need so much just to experience
My thoughts turn to Dear Denise who is very likely experiencing no
silence right now. Bless her, Lord! Bless my entire little family.
Looking for an anchor for this time, I opened my Bible to
Psalm 30. Verse 2 reads ``Oh Lord my God, I cried to Thee for
help and Thou hast healed me.'' That is my anchor tonight.
February 2, 2002
What a joyous, calming time this has been! The Lord is marvelous and
gracious to me. I feel so much at peace.
It has been a time of soothing. Last night I slept almost 13 hours! I didn't feel exhausted when I went to bed around 9:00 PM. But I woke up, realized the sun was up, and rested a while more. When I finally got up, it was almost 10:00 AM!
The simple ritual of making my meals has given me great pleasure. Arranging my bread, fruit and cheese while brewing a cup of tea was, again, soothing and peaceful.
When I cracked the window for fresh air I was delighted to discover that falling snow makes noise!
I am struck at how much we must all miss in the constant noise that surrounds us. Last night, well after dark, I had been looking out the window. It was inky blackness. There were a couple of stars, but almost nothing else ware really intelligible. Then I turned out the lights. It was amazing to see how well lit and clear it was outside! What had been an uninviting gloom became a forest underneath a blanket of stars.
I must cut down on the noise and chatter in my life! How much is the Lord trying to say that I never hear?
During my walk I was asking Jesus to calm my spirit. I want to know if where I am is where He wants me (especially regarding job, use of money, etc.). If it is not, then where should I go? My concern still centers on money. We have so much while others have so little. While praying, several thoughts came to me:
- Jesus desires all to be saved, and has made it possible for all (from the morning's office of readings).
- Jesus chose for me to be born at this time, in this society, in this family.
- He is with me, loves me, does not want me to live in servile fear.
It was a calling again back to prayer. Jesus wants to speak with me, communicate His love to me, each day. When I am listening and loving He can direct me in these other areas.
Sertillanges' book has addressed itself to the act of writing. He emphasizes the importance of it, and how one must create in order to continue to grow.
My first reaction was discouragement. I started to cast about, thinking about things I could write. Then, came anxiety about my schedule. How can I write and do all of the other things I'm suppoes to do? I fell pulled in 20 direction in life, and I never seem to walk any of the paths well. It seems I should take a look at my roles in life and the major responsibilities in each. Then, purpose to focus on particular areas and make progress in them.
But first, I must return to focus on the Lord. Desire to live well is, I pray, a gift of grace. Anxiety and panic in the face of my many responsibilities and obligations is not.
Friday, April 12, 2002
Tonight I almost completed my taxes while Densie (my lovely wife), Donna and Gene (my wonderful in-laws) took care of the children. It is wonderful to have them (almost) done. Tomorrow I start on Mom's taxes.
God bless you all.
Saturday, March 30, 2002
He Is Risen!
I wish I knew how to say it, and not have it sound like a cliché. But I have to say it: Jesus is risen! On this day, when so much pain encompasses the world, when the very land of Jesus is wracked with violence and suffering, I must speak the truth. He is alive!
The problems of the world seem so overwhelming. I find that despair is often at my door. But we can know in our heart of hearts that the pain we see will not have the final answer.
The pessimist would say that all of the suffering in the world is reality. He would say that Christians who are joyful and have hope really only have their head in the sand. Yet the pessimist misses the fact that the joyful, the beautiful, the sacred things that happen are just as real as the evil that we see. To see only the evil is to despair. To see only the good is to deny reality. To see the evil, but to see that God will eventually be victorious, that good will win, and that truth, beauty, and mercy will have the last say, is to be a Christain.
I’ll say it again: He is alive! Jesus is risen!
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
I want to make a note today of the great joy in my life. I tend to
write in order to deal with problems. When life is going well then I
tend not to write.
I love my family! I look at my children and I am overwhelmed
with love. It just flows and wells up within me. I desire their
happiness, holiness and growth with my whole being.
Hektor, in book six of The Iliad, captures this feeling:
Then taking up his dear son he tossed him about in his arms, and
kissed him, and lifted his voice in prayer to Zeus and the other
immortals: `Zeus, and you other immortals, grant that this boy, who is
my son, may be as I am, pre-eminent among the Trojans, great in
strength, as am I, and rule strongly over Ilion; and some day let
them say of him: ``He is better by far than his father''
...', (emphasis mine)
It must be a tremendous burden to have children, love them like this,
and not know the Lord. I would have unrelenting anxiety if I did not
know that Jesus loved them even more than I do. I would go crazy with
fear for them. Thank you, Lord, for your love and care.
Friday, March 22, 2002
On being a rotten parent
Last night was a very frustrating night. My four-year-old daughter, Amanda, has pink-eye. She is supposed to receive drops in her eyes three times a day. Amanda doesn’t want drops in her eyes three times a day. She doesn’t want drops in her eyes once a day. She would rather be forced to sit still for ten straight hours than get drops in her eyes. (Actually, if given the choice between the two, she’d choose neither. She has yet to fully grasp the concept that a choice between several things you don’t like has to include one of the things you don’t like. But I digress.)
I tried a variety of tactics to get the drops in her eyes, but they all boiled down to bribery, threats, or force. Last night, none of them worked. (I didn’t really try force. I made her sit in my lap, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make her hold her eye open against her will.) She kept getting more and more upset, taking more and more time. Eventually I had to give up. By that time it was also time for Emily, my six-year-old, to also go to bed, so they both went without our usual long story time. I really didn’t know what to do in this situation. I felt bad for Emily since she missed out on the story and had to put up with all the screaming from Amanda. I felt bad for Amanda because she needs the medicine, plus it does her no good to win fights with me. (More on that thought later.) And I felt bad for me because it put the whole evening in a depressing mode.
I am glad that I had the grace to not try to really force her to take the drops. In a situation like this it is very hard to tell how much of her behavior is motivated by fear and how much is willful disobedience.
A good friend and I were talking yesterday about how much our image of God comes from our fathers. It is an awesome responsibility. I realize that I fail miserably in that responsibility in many ways. Yet, I also have many times where I can see that Jesus gave me the grace to do the right thing, say the right word, and show my children the love of the Father.
We have to be really humble, begging God to make us the parents we should be and to protect our children from our failings.