Of Nerds and Habit Change

I love words. I love words written well, words spoken well, words in poetry where the sound of the consonants and vowels also have their own meaning.  When I was a child, my favorite subject was creative writing. When I first went to college I studied English for a while.

I connect with God best through beauty, and that beauty includes well written words, often the writings of saints.  For the last month or so I’ve been “waking up” and realizing things about myself, mostly that I am who I have always been. I am not going to be satisfied unless I start reading literature again, writing more, and praying from meaningful reflections and thoughts. This is who I am. And it isn’t enough for me to just read them. I  need to engage with them and let these thoughts be a catalyst for my own. If I read lazily, nothing happens. If I really try to understand it, though the work may be difficult, I am made more than I was.

Last week, I was lonely.  Usually when I’m lonely I see who’s live on a certain website and wants to chat.  With a few exceptions this is highly inadequate but, when it’s late and I am already home, this is the best I can do.

This time, I did something different. I picked up a book I was reading.  I didn’t expect this to satisfy anything, yet my loneliness subsided. I was in shock. I didn’t realize it could work this way.  Last week I also worked on my To Do list which includes various forms of reading and writing as well as learning a skill, art, and music, in addition to more mundane tasks. The week was glorious.

Many of us, are lonely and turn to habits and addictions to deal with that. Many are lethargic and worn out.  There are a number of things that can help with these, and here is my new favorite:  Geek out on something. Get really into something that challenges you, and yet energizes you even more.  Whatever your thing is… do it. We waste so much time on distractions in this day and age, but knowing about conjoined cats’ love lives doesn’t satisfy me and chocolate makes me want more chocolate.  As  I wrote last week, “If we are who we are called to be we will set the world on fire…” St. Catherine of Sienna.  Our hearts will be set on fire too. In a good way.

I know just about everyone reading this has worked out.  We don’t often want to workrunners-373099_640 out, yet once we are, we feel alive. Restlessness settles. Angst dissipates. We know we are on the way to becoming. Our brain is like this. We need to exercise it and grow it; we will continually be unsatisfied if we don’t. We have a mental hunger which can translate into hunger for too much food, or lust, or TV, or any number of things that will only create more emptiness. But other things can feed us. There is a hunger in my soul and mind, and it needs to be fed with substance. Learning and studying, perceiving beauty, mediating on the love of God as birthed in me through the words of the saints… these things are substantial food to me.  What is it for you? After an exhausting day, try doing one of these rather than something easy.  Watch your life change.

May God bless you.







You be You Part II: Lent’s Sunset

There is a one year old in my life. She is a wonderful human being, and I don’t know much about who she is. If I were to describe her behaviors to anyone who knows children well, they would say, not that I am describing an introvert, extrovert, artist or scientist, but that I am describing a one year old. I think I have discerned that she thinks before she acts more than some other children her age, and that she doesn’t seem to have much fear. There are a few unique traits that I have been able to discern. But for the most part, who she is is slowly unfolding and remains a mystery. We love her for who she is as much as we can discern that and beyond. But she is still at the beginning.

I have been learning a lot more about myself lately, and that is normal for my age and for any age. As we grow and mature, we learn more of who we are. As others grow and mature, we can see more of who they are.  I am surprised sometimes at the deep thoughts of my nephews who have grown far beyond the toddlers I used to know.

I went to an evening Lenten retreat.  One of the points that the speaker made is that when we do things to escape, such as eating ice cream when sad, movie binges when lonely, more benign actions and much worse actions for that purpose,  we rob ourselves of our humanity. We are not facing what is in us. We can’t ponder our feelings or perceptions when we numb ourselves. We are not growing. We are not becoming more human. We are losing ourselves.

The desires of our hearts show us who we are. As St. Catherine said in the Italian of the 1300s, ”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  Her words been translated many ways. But as we follow that sense in our hearts of what we truly want, and as we become more ourselves, not only are we happier people, but we make a huge difference to those around us, and, even if not seen, to the world.

We have a little less than two weeks in Lent.  Those of us who do Lent and who give things up for it may have failed. We may be running out of steam.  We just read at Mass how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Let’s let him raise us from the dead too.  Where are we hiding? What are we hiding in and from? It is by facing the uncomfortable with perception, thought, and received help, that we can process and become more amazing selves not only for our own sake but the world as well. In these last two weeks of Lent, what is a little discomfort compared to that which we meditate upon? He did that. We can do this. Let’s go.

Grace be with you.