What is the Meaning of Easter?

It is late afternoon. The sliding glass door is open slightly, letting in the sounds of children splashing in the pool, cars driving past, someone is vacuuming three doors down. It is as quiet as it is going to get for a moment of reflection time. Holy Thursday Mass happens later tonight. Tomorrow, the Good Friday Service. Then finally, Easter morning itself.

For the past few days I have been thinking about what Easter means to me now. It used to be colorful Easter baskets with the green plastic grass. Plastic pastel Easter eggs filled with jelly beans and chocolate. Easter used to mean getting dressed up in my white and pink flowered dress with the puffy sleeves, wearing pretty sandals, and singing my favorite Easter hymn. “Jesus Christ is risen today, Aaaaa-le-e-lu-u-ia.” It used to mean decorating a dozen Easter eggs, eating bagels with strawberry cream cheese, and the anticipation of a delicious late afternoon dinner feast.

But today, Easter feels very different. Partly because I won’t be getting an Easter basket, but mostly because I want it to mean something different. I don’t want to just go through the motions. I want to understand in a deeper way.

When I lived in the Philippines, I got to experience some incredible Holy Week traditions. One year in particular, I went to the Holy Week Festival in Marinduque. We watched a live play of the passion story that started in the streets, then we followed Jesus to a field where we watched him get crucified on the cross.

Another day I witnessed special men in the town who flagellated themselves until they bled, in order to experience the suffering of what Jesus might have felt. One evening, I stood on the street watching a candlelight procession, watching the faces of the faithful as they passed by. It was one of the most powerful Holy Week images I have witnessed in person.

What I’ve noticed about Filipinos and Holy Week is that they focus a lot on the suffering Christ, on Good Friday – Jesus’ death and suffering on the cross. Perhaps, when most of your life is a series of struggles, it is a suffering Jesus that is easiest to relate to.

However, Easter is not meant to focus only on suffering but on the joy of the risen Christ. It is the signal of a new beginning, a new age, one that we are all called to participate in bringing about the kingdom of God. We don’t just sit around waiting for the second coming; we live our lives working towards that eschatological vision. Jesus’ death and resurrection – showing that our bodies and creation itself are good – help us to know that our lives here on Earth have meaning too.

Trying to contemplate the fullness of what the resurrection means can make your head spin. It is complex. However, what does speak to me is that the resurrection is God’s love statement. It is an “I love you” expressed to each and every one of us. The fact that God had a plan to become human and reveal himself to us is a great act of love. One that I still have a hard time understanding.

I’ll never forget the Easter Mass in Marinduque. During the uplifting song the “Gloria,” a cloth that had been placed in front of the statue of Jesus was dropped to the ground and a spotlight was turned towards it. Smoke began shooting upwards from behind Jesus, catching the light in a surreal way – a real vision of Jesus risen in glory. I almost laughed out loud at the scene. While all of us may focus on the suffering of Christ at times, it is Easter that reminds us that there is hope, that God’s power is present among us, and that God loves us very much.

 

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Esther’s Prayer

A few weeks ago, one of the daily readings was about the story of Esther. I was so excited to see that because Esther is probably one of my favorite characters in the Old Testament. Her story has always stuck with me because I felt that she was a strong woman who was strong in her faith. I’ve always admired her relationship with God and even once tried to imitate her by taking three days for prayer before making a big life decision.

However, reading the story for the first time in awhile, I saw it in a new light:

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids,
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.
As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers
that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you.
Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you,
O LORD, my God.

“And now, come to help me, an orphan.
Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion
and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy,
so that he and those who are in league with him may perish.
Save us from the hand of our enemies;
turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.”
(Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25)

I could see just how much anguish she was in and how fervently she prayed. That last line, “turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness,“ really got to me. Instead of just praying for happiness, she also prayed for wholeness. Without wholeness, happiness becomes fleeting. Wholeness is what we really want. Wholeness makes us complete.

During Mass this morning I thought about this. I thought about the craziness my life had been lately. I thought about the ups and the downs. Sometimes it seemed like a lot of downs. I knew that I needed to pray for wholeness a lot more than happiness.

“Lord, make me whole,” I prayed. “Make me whole.”

 

Living Honestly, Living with Positivity

Living Honestly
Living in relationship with others helps us to live (if we allow it) more honestly and humbly. Other people reflect back to us aspects of ourselves we might not have realized before. By seeing that reflection, it helps me to examine and reflect on how I might be perceived by others. Being in a long-term relationship, for example has shown me so many things about myself I had never noticed before. Some of them silly or trivial – I had never realized, for example, how my cooking can sometimes resemble the swedish chef, or the fact that constantly tripping over things or dropping things is not actually normal for the average person (the struggle is real). But there are serious things I’ve learned as well. Like how I can no longer run away from my cranky self, my bad moods, and pretend that they don’t exist. I have to face them head on and learn how to ask for support, time by myself, or just a nice big hug. I have learned that my positivity or negativity can affect how others see me. I have learned much about myself through the eyes of others.

Living with Positivity
With that said, this Lent I have decided to adjust my attitude towards a more positive one. It doesn’t mean I hope to be happy dappy and chipper everyday. It simply means that even on tough days I am trying to not dwell on things I cannot control and to put a positive spin on the situation.

I realized this morning that in order for me to cultivate a truly positive spirit, I must first recognize and show gratitude for the many blessings in my life that bring joy, and I must also better learn the Ignatian spiritual practice of detachment. If I can get those two things down, I will make it.

Detachment, despite the awkward soundingness (almost like cold and calculated) of the word, actually just means that one refuses to attach oneself to any object, person, idea, etc. as their ultimate means of happiness. Things happen in life. One minute you’re running happily through the neighborhood, the next thing you know, your phone slaps on the cement sidewalk. Shattered screen (yes, this did actually happen to me this weekend). A person who practices detachment would be able to accept that physical objects come and go and that happiness does not come from phones. Instead, our happiness is rooted in our faith and relationship with God. Detachment sets you free, allowing you to pass through life unafraid of what might happen, what might break, what you might lose and accept that all things pass away. But no one can take away your attitude in life, or your love for God.

Maintaining positivity starts with being grateful for all the things in life I have been given and, really, how wonderful they are. Friendships, warm beds, the ability to go to college, living in eternal sunshine, food in the refrigerator, a refrigerator (I have gone without one before, it’s not easy), a loving boyfriend, a fun family, the list goes on. The more I can recognize what I already have, the more I can see how blessed my life is, and to not be impatient when I don’t get what I want right now. I can sit back and know that things will come together in time, and that even if they don’t, or if they come and then leave again, my happiness will not be dependent on any of these things.

My dear friends, pray for me to cultivate a joyous spirit of positivity through Ignatian detachment and a grateful heart this Lenten season.

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Traffic is God’s Way of Telling Me to Slow Down

Traffic is God’s way of telling me to slow down, calm down, and stop freaking out at everything that is completely out of control in my life.

My drive to work is around twenty minutes (eleven minutes on a good day according to google) and while it is nothing painful to drive through, I still find anxiety welling up inside of me as I maneuver through traffic. Everything about rush hour makes me tense and, more often than not, angry at random strangers.

HONKKKKKK! Yeah, that’s right buddy. Shouldn’t have cut into my lane so close!

HELLOOO! Are you gonna block me or what?!

Why is this grandma car driving so slow?! Nothing is worse than the grandma car that drives 40 mph in the middle lane. MOVE OVER lady!

Why are there so many cars out today? I have places to be!!!

So, you see, traffic can make me a little cranky at times. I can’t help it if there are so many uneducated and or/oblivious drivers in California.

But, you know the worst thing about traffic is? We always think that other drivers on the road are the cause of traffic, but as it turns out, we are just as guilty. You see, if I choose to not get in my car each day, there would be one less car on the road. So yes, we all cause traffic to some degree.

I am a contributor of traffic jams.

It is frustrating to admit that in some ways, because although I have no control over what others do, I have control over myself, over my own actions and behavior. But maybe sometimes, I just don’t want to admit that. Maybe I prefer to think that life’s problems come from someone other than myself.

Sometimes my problems are caused by my own frustrations of immobility. I hate being still, motionless, out of control. I prefer the open road, the constant steady pressure of the accelerator, the freedom of space to move forward. I crave momentum.

Stop. Slow down.

How often do I stop to think that my frustrations don’t have to be frustrations? I simply need to adjust my expectations, my attitude towards myself and others, and accept the lack of control. God tries to tell me this on my commute everyday, but I guess I just don’t listen. Accepting immobility is easier said than done, but there is a peace in it and I am trying to remind myself.

Every morning when I take the on-ramp to the I-8, I can choose to face life with annoyance and anxiety, or I can choose to turn the music up, think about all the blessings in my life and just sit with that for a while. Sit with God in my car, with good music, and forget about all those other drivers. Because in the end, I choose my own attitude, I choose my own happiness.

 

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Look at the Birds in the Sky

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
~ Matthew 6:25-27

spring blossoms

My sister and I used to climb the apple tree in our front yard. There was a magnificent knob jutting out of the trunk that made a convenient hand and foot hold which allowed us to hoist ourselves up into the thicket of branches. The best spot was a curve in a large branch that served as the perfect seat for a twelve year old girl. I could spend hours up in that old apple tree, just sitting and looking over the world. I’d watch the little finches who fluttered in and out of the tops of the tree. The tiny hum of bumblebees as they hovered over the white blossoms. A swish of the occasional car passing by.

Today’s scripture reading is one of my favorites, probably because it reminds me of how connected I was with nature as a kid. Everything from the squirrels that buried their nuts in the backyard, the potato bugs we used to poke (gently!), and the rhododendron bush that always bloomed in May just in time for my sisters’ birthdays. Life seemed much more uncomplicated and I didn’t need much to be content. I suppose I lived with an innate sense that I simply needed to be outside enjoying nature, and that there was great joy and beauty in that.

Today, when I see the beauty of God’s creation around me – a rainbow after the rain, dolphins playing near the pier, my succulents stretching taller – I am reminded of how amazing this world is, and how much God really does have a bigger plan in mind that any of us understand. When I think about that simple fact, I feel a sense of calm in my life, and sometimes, that’s all you need.
 
Yours truly,

a girl who dreams
 

How to Find Your Place in the World

find your place in the world
 
How to Find Your Place in the World
The year before I turned twenty-five, I experienced a “quarter-life crisis.” I had almost reached the ripe old age of a quarter of a century, and what had I done with my life? Nothing of significance I could recall. This can’t be right, I thought. I’ve wasted my life up until this point. Feeling absolutely lost in my twenties with little direction and sense of meaning, I began a search for my place in the world. Where did I belong? Why could I not find it? Why had everyone else found theirs?

I decided that I needed to finally “live life to the fullest” and stop pretending that my life was just in transition. My life was happening now, and I needed to find where I belonged. Then I could finally sit back and know I had achieved something.

In an effort to find my place in the world, a friend told me that the things that bring me the most joy, make me the most excited, and bring me passion were a clue to the path that I should pursue.

I took note of this and began to pay attention to the things that gave me a vision of joy, passion and excitement.

I started a blog as a way to chronicle the things I did each day and the joy that I experienced from them. I wanted to cultivate an appreciation for the little things in life; to pay attention to every blessing I was surrounded with. Throughout the year, I began to see how the most seemingly insignificant things brought me a sense of joy, and that happiness came from seeking life, not having it served on a silver platter.

“Happiness came from seeking life, not having it served on a silver platter.”

 
I found that what I was most attracted to was the connection I had formed with people in my life, the world we shared together, and the joy of experiencing life with a grateful heart.

Since then I continue to pay attention to what brings me joy, making the effort to understand my passions and how I am called to use those in the world.
 
If you want to find your place in the world, first ask yourself these four questions:

1. What brings you the most joy?

what brings you joy

2. What inspires and makes you the most passionate?

What inspires you- What makes you the most passionate

3. What brings your heart closer to God?

What brings your heart closer to God

4. And lastly, how can you use all those things together in your journey through life?

Your answers will be vastly different from everyone else. You may be called to live your life through a variety of ways. And don’t forget, your path will also change along the way too. Never be so set in life that you can’t see what new things lie awaiting just around the corner.

Here is the simple truth. Finding your place in the world is simply finding the path God is calling you to. But, understand that you will walk that path blindly. None of us ever really knows what our final place will be until we reach the end of that path. Until then, walking that path with faith and courage is what we are called to do. And long as we continue to say “yes” to God’s calling in our hearts, we will arrive in God’s timing. Perfect timing.

Perhaps this is not the answer that you seek. You might, like me, be impatient. You want to know your place now; you want to feel you have finally arrived. But life is never meant to be stagnant. We are capable of doing more than we ever imagine. Living life is about continually striving to be better than the day before, to grow in strength, courage, and learn to love like God loves. God gave us gifts so that we could use them, improve them, and learn new ones. God made us people with imaginations, a desire for exploration, and a thirst for adventure.

One of my most favorite prayers comes from Thomas Merton. I like it because it’s simple, honest, and shows our vulnerable side. But it also reminds us of how our faith and courage can take us far through life.

Thomas Merton’s Prayer:



My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. 

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. 

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. 

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

 
If you haven’t found your place in the world yet, don’t fret. God intended it to be so. We are all of us searching deeper to find belonging and fulfillment, and one day we will, in Him.
 
Yours truly,
a girl who dreams
 
 

Quiet Strength – The Freedom to be Myself

quiet strength

The first time I believed with utter conviction that it was ok to be myself- completely myself – I was slurping spicy ramyun at the Filipino/Korean cafe below the tattoo shop where I got my first tattoo. The aroma of kimchi and fish sauce lingered in the humid twilight air. Cheesy elevator music blared from the SM mall up the street and snippets of Tagalog conversations ebbed and flowed from passing pedestrians. My wrist seared with pain but my heart was ablaze with triumph. I had a tattoo.

All my life I had been categorized as the “shy one.”

“She’s so quiet in class,” teachers would tell my mom, concerned at my inability to chatter away incessantly like all the other girls.

“You’re so quiet,” friends who didn’t know me well would blurt out, as if being quiet was the ultimate insult.

“Why don’t you like to talk about yourself?” people would ask. “We never know what you’re thinking.”

Why do you like to talk SO MUCH about yourself? I’d think in return.

 

quiet strength mountains

 

During my time in the Philippines, I spent many quiet evenings drifting gently back and forth in my hammock, gazing at a mass of mountains upon mountains in the distance. Sometimes the rain came, pounding on the corrugated metal roofs, trickling off banana leaves, dense misty fog slipping through the valleys like a chiffon veil. And yet, the mountains stood tranquil as ever, a still, black silhouette amidst a frenzy of rain showers.

Sometimes the sunny clouds came, bright white puffs that carried with them the essence of the ocean. Calm, powerful, vast and swirling, those gentle pillowy formations stretched for miles, engulfing all but the tips of my mountains upon mountains. And yet, those peaks stood tall and defiant; not to be overshadowed, even by floating snatches of heaven.

Sometimes the sun dipped lower and lower in a lazy decent, and the sky was filled with brilliant gold and pink patterns, trumpeting loud cries of sunset glory. And yet, without the dark contrast of the familiar mountain outlines, a twilight sky was nothing but a twilight sky.

 

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other
– Only the mountain and I.

               ~ Li Po

 

Those mountains became my resting place, a source of comfort for all that they represented – silence, tranquility, peace, strength. I was mesmerized by their beauty, taken by their stature and stance; I felt pride and assurance that I too was like them. I reveled in silence, I basked in peace, I drew energy from tranquility, and I emitted strength – a quiet strength, not unlike the mountains I so much admired.

It was then that I decided that quiet was ok. See how the mountains stand dignified and strong? I told myself. I am like that. My strength came from my calm and quiet nature. I liked quiet; I liked me.

I sketched out an ambiguous idea and let it slowly percolate and transform through the next few months. Arranging and rearranging, drawing and scribbling, my sketch began to materialize into what I had envisioned.

A simple outline of the mountains represented strength. Underneath, inscribed in ancient Tagalog script Alibata, was the word tahimik – Tagalog for “quiet.” Quiet Strength. That was me to the core.

 

Tahimik – Tagalog for “quiet”

 

be yourself

I liked that no one could read the Alibata writing.

“I like your tattoo,” people would say, “but what does it mean?”

And then I would proudly explain my story; I would explain who I was.

It wasn’t getting a tattoo that made me someone special. Anyone can get a tattoo but it doesn’t change who you are. It was my acceptance of who I was; the pride and joy I felt at being the unique person God made me to be. No longer did I find the need to be someone that others thought I should be. I simply wanted to be the person I thought I should be.

 

“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Every day I continue to walk the path of discovery of who I am and what God is calling me to do. When I stay true to my core self and what I know to be my own strengths, I am continually surprised with how much joy and freedom comes with just being completely me.

And I like that. I like me.

 

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Does God Really Speak to Us?

Image attributed to Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/i-love-lucy-anniversary-2013_n_4098323.html (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Image attributed to Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/i-love-lucy-anniversary-2013_n_4098323.html (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Does God Really Speak to Us? – Listening for the Small Voice of God

 
During the lazy summers of childhood bliss, I enveloped myself in books, sprinklers, riding bikes, and watching I Love Lucy reruns everyday at noon. In one particular episode, I remember how Lucy decides to run a grocery buying business from her kitchen, charging everything to her grocery account and pocketing the cash she receives from the customers she buys groceries for. Ricky mistakenly believes she is buying stocks in the actual stock market and when confronted, Lucy lies and attributes her “investment knowledge” to the “small voice” in her head who speaks to her and gives her stock tips.

Ricky: Now honey, tell me something. Where did you get this power you have? Is it some kind of sixth sense?

Lucy: Yeah, yeah that’s it. Some kind of sixth sense. I found out that if I just stand still and listen, a little voice tells me what to buy.

Ricky: Little voice eh?

Lucy: Yeah, and yesterday it said, “Buy Canadian Allied…”

Ricky: Petroleum?

Lucy: Petroleum…yeah.

Ricky: How about that!

god's voice

Does God Really Speak to Us?

Does God “speak” to us? Have you ever heard the voice of God coming straight from heaven?

“Ahem…Hello (insert your name here). This is God speaking. Yes, it’s me God and I need to tell you something immediately.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? But hearing God speak is not what we expect. It’s certainly not easy. We want the dramatic bolt of lightning, the neon flashing sign, the loud and trembling voice from above that tells us exactly what to do.

“God, please. Just send me a SIGN!”

But God is not a God of easy answers. If every choice was obvious, how would we ever be challenged and grow deeper in faith and trust? God is a God of surprises and intrigue. God draws us closer with mystery, inviting us to search deeper for answers that satisfy and fill us. In fact, we can hear more through the small whisper of silence than we can from a giant sign or lightening bolt. Let’s take a look at how Elijah encounters God in the first book of Kings:

“Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?…” ~ 1Kings 19:11-13

 
Violent wind, earthquakes, and fire and still God is not present. It is only until Elijah hears that quiet soft sound that he knows God is present. Ok…so we get it. God speaks to us through the small voice in the most silent of silences. But what does that mean exactly? How do we hear that voice?

Sometimes, nonreligious friends have looked askance at me when I say things like, “I felt God tell me that.” Or, “I feel God is calling me to do this.” I can hear the inquiring thoughts in their head as they wonder (with good cause) how I really “hear the voice of God.” It is difficult to fathom how you can hear the voice of God without actually hearing a real live voice.

Listening to the small voice of God sometimes feels like I’m straining to hear through the fuzz of TV white noise. It sounds like it might be there, but I don’t always know what God is trying to tell me. And that’s where prayer comes in. LOTS of it.

 

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3

 
God's voice in quiet prayer

There have been times in my life when I could very clearly hear messages from God about what I needed to do in that moment of my life. Surprisingly though, those moments came through the most random ways. I’d be praying and reflecting on a particular situation, and each time I allowed myself to open up and trust that God’s answer would come, I’d receive a confirmation through something that seemed so perfectly addressed to me. Have you ever felt that a homily was written specifically for you alone? I have.

I believe that God works through the world that he created and speaks to us through creation, through other people, through the small moments and snatches of our ordinary lives. Although God speaks through the smallest voice, if we are sensitive, aware and receptive of hearing that voice, I find that we can hear him everywhere. I hear God speaking to me through the words of a friend, through scripture and the Mass, through that conveniently placed quote painted on the wall of a coffee shop, or through the random words of an extra friendly stranger. When I watch the sunset over a San Diego skyline and I feel at peace with a decision I had just made, I hear God speaking to me through that. God works in mysterious ways and we can find answers to our hard questions in unexpected encounters.

sunset god's voice

Just remember that without prayer and spiritual reflection, nothing will make sense. You might even be bombarded with conflicting messages and confusing thoughts if you do not allow yourself the time and space to just be with God and to listen. It is only through the silence you can begin to finally hear that soft spoken voice.
 

“Be still, and know that I am God!” ~ Psalm 46:10

 
Allow yourself to develop a constant alertness and awareness of God at all times and you will begin to hear God speaking to you through the most interesting ways.
 
How has God spoken to you lately?
 
Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

This article was originally posted on the Words of Witness Blog. Check it out for more articles on Faith and Spirituality!
 

Feeling Stuck? – Finding Freedom in the Stillness

live life to the fullest
 
I’m the type of person that if the world tells me I can’t do something, I prove to the world that I can.
 
“Your asthma might make it difficult for you to do strenuous exercise…”
“HA! I’m going to run every day.”

“You wouldn’t be able to do that, you’re shy…”
“HA! Just watch me.”
 
I’ve spent my entire life in continuous momentum – planning, doing, pushing, striving, working extra hard for what I want. Trying to overcome obstacles. Triumphing over challenges. When I encountered a, “No,” I pushed harder. Don’t take no for an answer. Inactivity is considered weakness. Stillness is being lazy.

And then I began to encounter periods in my life of suffocating inactivity and immobility in which I could not run away from. It was completely out of my control. Why won’t this project get off the ground faster? Why can’t I get to where I want to be in life? Why isn’t it happening when I want it to? Why am I the only one still behind in life?

I began to realize that the insane amount of energy and work I invested in my dreams and goals was not a guarantee of immediate success. I was not always going to be in control of everything that happened in my life and I needed to learn that it was ok to simply sit and wait in the stillness. To be patient. I am not always good at being patient.

God is the friend of silence

Why Do We Avoid Stillness?

Sometimes it feels like the world values most those who are constantly busy, constantly achieving success, and doing it very quickly. We seem to have forgotten about the principle of long-term, careful, and diligent work. What ever happened to slow and steady wins the race? Somewhere along the way we have learned to devalue stillness; we feel uncomfortable in silence.

 

“God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon, and sun, how they move in silence.” ~ Mother Teresa

 
Sometimes inaction – I prefer to think of it as resting and contemplating – is just as important as action. Sitting in stillness doesn’t mean that you give up on your dreams or goals. It just means you recognize that not everything in your life can be controlled. And there is freedom in accepting that – freedom to allow God to work in your life in unexpected ways.
 

“Be still, and know that I am God! ~ Psalm 46:10

 
Silence and stillness provide a way for your heart to become more receptive and open to God speaking to you. Those moments can help you reassess where you are and where you’re headed. As your limits are tested, you will grow and be strengthened in God’s presence, realizing that you are capable of much more than you thought possible.

I still believe in working hard for what you want. I affirm the fact that you must create the life you want to live. But, now I understand that is a life-long mission. Those who achieve incredible things in life have a passion that does not waver; they understand that it could take years, possibly an entire lifetime to achieve their goal. But their drive motivates them to continue on despite what feels like failure, setbacks, and people telling them that what they’re doing is a waste of time. They have a lifelong calling and work everyday towards that.
 

“A calling is a lifelong journey.”

 
St Ignatius lifelong calling

Lately I have taken to carrying good ole Saint Ignatius with me while I do my work. He did amazing things in his life (uh, like starting the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits order), but it didn’t happen quickly. He was disappointed when he wasn’t able to accomplish what he had originally thought he was supposed to. But throughout his life he continued to simply work on serving Christ, being a man for others, sticking true to his convictions despite setbacks and obstacles. I use that as a reminder to myself that a calling is a lifelong journey. I get impatient at waiting. I know my calling but I don’t know all the next steps to get where I need to be. I want to do something now. I want to take action. But I have to be reminded that hasty actions are not what God asks of us. God wants us to be educated, to understand, to listen, to be patient and persevere. To simply be still in the silence; to be in the presence of God. These are the things I want to be better at.
 
Yours truly,
a girl who dreams