Keeping it Simple

I went on a weekend retreat with my husband in May at a place just outside Chicago called “Marytown”. It’s the national shrine to St. Maximillian Kolbe, and the home of the Conventual Friars of St. Francis. It was a wonderful and relaxing weekend, during which I was able to peruse their fabulous Catholic bookstore and get my hands on a little book which has been really thought-provoking, insightful, and challenging. 

So much so, that it’s leading me to re-think the atmosphere I am creating on my blog. Let me explain. 

The book is called “Holy Simplicity: The Little Way of Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, and Therese of Lisieux” by Joel Schorn, published by Servant Books. It’s been so wonderful because it basically takes the quote from St. Teresa of Avila, “God walks among the pots and pans”, and asks, can this really be true? 

Can God be present to us in the small, mundane tasks of everyday life? (I certainly hope so! :P) 

He ties the thread of common themes in the lives of Dorothy Day, Mother Theresa, and Therese of Lisieux together to reveal a picture of a “little way” that seeks simplicity, humility, and to find God in the everyday moments of our lives, lived out through the very tasks of our vocations, whatever they may be. 

I cannot begin to explain how much this book has been needed and often over the past month or so, very challenging. I will read a section, put the book down because it is painfully real to me, think about it, then go back to it again. So it has been very slow going for this usual rapid-pace reader. That is generally a sign to me that the message of a particular book needs to sink in. 

I am so anxious to share some of the passages thus far that have spoken to me about living out my vocation.

“Before too long they found their new vocations to be made up of small things: serving the “little ones” of God; doing small, everyday acts of faith, hope, and love, over and over again; pouring love and devotion into everything they did – in short, seeing the connection between ordinary activities of life and the presence of God.”

and,

And she [Mother Theresa] believed this great love should start at home. ‘I want you to go and find the poor in our homes,’ she said. ‘Above all, love has to start there. I want you to be the good news to those around you. I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know who your neighbor is?’ Thus devotion begins with the love God places in our hearts. To love is to devote oneself to the art of relationships and doing things well. In the little way, who and what we can love are all around us, all the time.”

Oh ok, no big deal. I should have this ‘little way’ nailed down by lunch time, right? 😉 Hmm, maybe not. 

I was chewing on the rather large bite of truth in the previous paragraph when I realized I am entirely too negative. I seek out the books and articles which accentuate the serious decline of our society so I can feel dully outraged at the shenanigans passing for culture in our world. But there is only so much time in one day, and so, by seeking out those things, I am excluding certain others. Every ‘yes’ to one thing is a ‘no’ to something else. 

So I’m conducting an experiment this week. I’m not going to seek out any reading material, or post about anything that negatively comments on society. I’m going to choose to find those areas of goodness, light, and loveliness to observe and comment on. Part of loving one’s neighbor is helping to create a space (both literal at home, and virtually here) that is inviting, welcoming, and peaceful. 

So that’s that. Hold my feet to the fire dear readers. 

And to kick off the Week of Positive Posting:

and no, that’s not my family — but they sure do look fun!

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