Ginny Kubitz Moyer the esteemed author of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God (St Anthony Messenger) had this cute column in San Francisco’s Archdiocesan paper on how her and her husband end their day together by naming positive attributes of the other before bed. Here’s a snip about how it all began:
Several months into dating my husband, I thought of a way to celebrate our relationship. “Let’s each make a list of what we love about one another,” I told him. “Then you can read me your list, and I’ll read you mine.”
Weeks later, on a mild San Francisco afternoon, we spread a blanket on the scraggly grass at Alta Plaza Park. We took turns reading each other our lists. Hearing the specific things that Scott loved about me, gathered in one place, was flattering, enlightening, and moving all at once.
When we’d finished, I gave him my list to keep. He didn’t return the favor. “My handwriting is terrible,” he said, tucking the folded list firmly into his pocket. “I’m going to type this up for you.”
The following Thanksgiving, he gave me the list, but with a twist: he’d turned it into a book. Each page featured something that he loved about me, illustrated with photos. The second-to-last page said, “Will you …” and the last page asked, “Marry Me?” Needless to say, it was a very thankful Thanksgiving.
We’ve now been married for almost eight years. Every night, before going to sleep, we each share one thing that we love about the other. It might be a personality trait (kindness, intelligence) or a physical characteristic (smile, blue eyes). Sometimes it’s intimate; sometimes it’s funny. We have never run out of things to say.
Indeed this is a practice that is well worth doing and is also very Ignatian. Gratitude is at the heart of the spiritual life, or at least Ignatius seemed to think so. In my own life, finding one moment of grace per day is indeed a way to keep our spirit out of the doldrums at minimum and a way to connect with the idea that God always gives us what we need. I would even say that doing and being go hand in hand here. We need both–when we recognize gratitude in our lives, we might be moved to in turn give that same grace back to others.
Yesterday wasn’t the best day for me. I received the news that a conference that I’ve done a lot of work on would need to be postponed. My wife always has a way of getting me out of my pessimistic moods. She sent me an e-card telling me how proud she is of my work–complete with a little cartoon dog who looked a lot like our little guy, Haze. Needless to say, I was suddenly no longer in the dumps and saw that in fact it wasn’t the end of the world. I ended up calling the board president of the organization I was working on the conference with and we had a great conversation about possibilities for down the road. I also wrote a letter to our board which was well-received by the director.
Sometimes the things we notice in our lives are small but they mean so much when we bother to look at them. A smile, a joke, a kind word, a breeze, no traffic or maybe something unexpected. Do we take the time to notice and to tell others how special the moments we spend with them are? This need not be a sappy, syrupy exercise in romance either. Rather it could be a serious look at how we are growing in relationship with each other, dreaming together and admiring someone else’s tenacity that has helped get through some tough periods.
Ginny was able to awaken me to that sure simplicity that I all too often miss.
So what is your moment of gratitude today?
Read the rest of her articlewhich coupled with my wife’s e-card is my moment of gratitude today. Be forwarned, get a happy hanky out and go and tell your loved ones one thing each day about what you love about them.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the gospel contains the line…”My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they know me.”
Many people have chosen to take the time to use this as a day to concentrate on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and for religious life for women. But I’d like to take two steps further.
The first is that we can’t just leave our religion to the auspices of the priests. We all need to hear that same voice calling us to serve the people of God. How we choose to do that may be by becoming a priest or religious–which indeed is a good thing for those who are called to that life. But how do the vast majority of us hear God’s call working in our lives?
This weekend I attended the wedding of my dear friend Marc Adams and his lovely now-wife, Lexie in Washington, DC. These two people have lived their lives for others and have been a sign to all of us individually and now collectively as a couple of God’s deep love to the world. They met in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The legend of the story was that Marc met her at a JVC retreat and that Lexie had gotten on a bus to head back to her community before Marc had the chance to pursue getting her phone number.
So he ran after the bus, shouting…”You’re the nicest person I have ever met! What’s your name again?”
It seems that Lexie heard Marc’s call. At the wedding Lexie stole the show by saying “I”d like to introduce you to my family. She then started with her parents and her sisters and brother and then she ended with the touching line:
“And this is my husband, Marc!”
And we heard that call loud and clear. Lexie had chosen Marc to be her own. More importantly, these two people offer themselves as gift to each other in love and in that love they are able to be gifts to the world.
Their pastor, Fr. Patrick Smith, at St Augustine’s Church, in Washington, DC reminded us of that and more importantly that Marc and Lexie need to remember that all of their love stems from God’s love for them. That they are not enough for one another even in all of their love that they so clearly have in marriage–they will need God who is the only one who gives us everything we will ever need.
I think there are many priests and more importantly many seminarians who need to hear that message. Too many seminarians place the idea of the priest as an “all too holy,” vocation. That their calling is somehow “better” than other callings that they could have chosen.
In truth, I think these men who act in this fashion, (dare I say) are probably not called to the priesthood at this time. In fact, before they can truly be called, they need to learn a bit of humility. Before they can hear that voice they need to hear the struggle of loving beyond boundaries, of choosing celibacy so that they can be truly free to give themselves to the world’s needs, of things not being about YOU.
I fear we have too many priests and seminarians who haven’t heard that call. The call of being an obscure shepherd–always chasing after love and not caring about one’s own ego.
And there are often too many married people who haven’t heard the call that Marc and Lexie have. The call to place our own needs behind those that we freely choose to love for a lifetime. I know I don’t always do that–and I need people like Marc and Lexie to remind me of that call.
“My sheep hear my voice…I know them and they know me.”
Do we let God really see us for who we are–without all of the pretentions? Can we offer all of ourselves to God in love and not in our own arrogance. Rather can we hear Jesus’ voice calling us to be Christ for others even if that means that we have to continually go running after love, after that sheep that nearly got away.
Can we run after God in the same way that Marc ran after Lexie –offering all of ourselves, being unafraid and even risking embarrassment?
Because that’s how the Good Shepherd runs after us.