“For me, prayer is a burst from my heart,
it is a simple glance thrown toward Heaven,
a cry of thanksgiving and love
in times of trial as well as in times of joy.”
St. Therese of Lisieux
This week, we celebrated the feast of St. Therese the Little Flower, one of my favorite saints. How much I can learn about gratitude by meditating on her quote above! To glance toward Heaven with thanksgiving and love during times of trial and suffering continues to be one of the hardest parts of gratitude for me. Particularly when the trials are ongoing, or daily annoyances, or problems without clear or foreseeable solutions.
While sharing on my blog my weekly blessings has helped me be more faithful to the practice of recognizing them, I am hesitant to constantly mention my trials, in the fear of seeming too “holy” in being “grateful” for them, or of seeming to have a perfect life if I don’t mention at least some of my crosses!
Blessings are funny things, are they not? For those with eyes to see and appreciate, even the most mundane things may be rightly regarded as blessings, and for those accustomed to complaining, cynicism and negativity, even the greatest goods may be looked down on or disregarded. Likewise, since life consists of so many little moments, both happy, sad or ordinary, it can become so easy to focus on the negative and overlook the positive. By personality and childhood experience, I always considered myself to be a positive and happy person. Cynicism and sadness I found very distasteful. And then I grew up, and the cares of adulthood pressed in, and I endured terrible loss and sorrow. Slowly, my natural, happy and carefree girlhood personality threatened to be overwhelmed by a cross and unhappy woman of 32 (so old, I know!)
This past year, my discouragement and depression became so acute that I had to find another way; a way to live both the reality that life is difficult, and the hope and faith that God has and will continue to abundantly bless me. Although numerous elements have influenced my return to a more positive and happy day to day existence, gratitude undoubtedly plays an important role in cultivating a life of faith, hope and love.
- This past week, I was grateful for the opportunity to host a Blessed Brunch, and spend time with several lovely Catholic women.
- The weather in Virginia has been beautiful, and we’ve been playing and doing schoolwork outside. Tuesday, we had an outdoor reading session on the front lawn.
- I have been getting back in a groove of creative dinners and baking. This bruschetta chicken was ah-mazing. I also baked an apple pie with the apples we picked last week, made a yummy jambalaya at my husband’s suggestion, as well as these apple chicken sandwiches on raisin bread that I need to make again ASAP.
- School with the girls has been progressing well. Hope to write a quick post about that soon, too. Last week, we made puppets and a xylophone, and the girls have enjoyed putting on shows!
- I am grateful that despite some coughs and cold as the cooler weather settles in, we have been mostly healthy.
- Looking around at my home, which I decorated with a few fall items, I am immensely grateful for this cute, smaller house, which has proven much easier to keep clean that the sprawling one level we used to live in.
- I am grateful for new friends, new opportunities, and the fact that old friends are only a phone call away.
- On Monday, we were blessed to attend a special Mass offered for the homeschoolers in our parish.
- Also on Monday, I got through a dental appointment with no new cavities being found!
- I finished reading Mansfield Park on Sunday evening. I dearly love Jane Austen, and have read Pride and Prejudice and Emma many times, as well as most of her other works more than once. But Mansfield Park I only read once in high school, and I totally did not appreciate it. Now, I found it quite enjoyable, and was better able to grasp the character intricacies and faults which Austen was bringing forward. I understand now, as I didn’t 15 years ago, that the charm and brilliance of her work is in the characters, their dialogue, their foibles, and their ordinary lives. I think Mansfield Park lacks a character of wit and depth such as we see in some of the other novels, but nonetheless I found it wonderful read.
- After that side note, I’ll close my reflections from this past week with the most ordinary, and yet extraordinary blessings I have: my husband, my children, my Faith, my freedom, my health, my home, and my friends and family.