Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Serenity Prayer for Challenged Catholic

I few posts back I wrote about being a new kind of Catholic. To spare the reader any need to see the reference, the motivation for the post was my challenges to the family faith with regard to preparing my children for the death of their Nonna. (she's still hanging in there, so that it's a worry at the moment)

I'm not ashamed of being a Catholic. I do go to church as much as I should. Meaning, when I feel the spiritual need to connect with something I can't find in my husband's arms, my childrens' hugs, my dog's face or in my own backyard. Spirituality for me can even come while listening to music, seeing a painting, watching a dance, hearing a marching band, meditating through a sunrise. Spirituality rarely comes packaged in the 9.5 minute sermon sandwiched in the 46 minutes of Sunday Mass.

A return trip to my home town is sort of a religious pilgrimage. The first time I breathe the air when I step out of the car, the first smells of my mom's house, her kitchen, the skin on her neck - all ring comfort. They  are a reminder of the compassion that is shared by human beings, not by divine intervention.
How we choose to observe others and respond to others instead of our own needs as primary motivation for doing anything is what brings balance between peace / comfort to fear / greed.

When I get into a funk, I think about going to confession. I know that I'm wallowing in self pity. What usually pulls me out of the funk is recognizing that I haven't fully engaged healthy coping mechanisms for whatever is causing stress in my life. Whether it is work load, my inability to say "no", family needs, or wishes for self improvement miracles, I highly doubt that confessing these sins to a priest who will assign me a few Hail Mary's and bless me on my way, will be he magic "pill."

A colleague once told me the need for a vacation is when you can least take one. This time couldn't be a more direct 'spot on'. Even though I'll need to bring work with me (and yes, I have to do this or I will regret not being a part of major decisions that will impact the rest of my year, or future for that matter) - I'll still have plenty of time to watch a sunrise, go for a swim in the moonlight, take a few long runs in the woods, and sit on the deck to watch my kids.

In the quiet moments, I'll have a prayer to recite. This time, I'm using an agnostic version of the "Serenity Prayer" because I simply can't say the prayers I was taught and not be angered by what the Catholic Church is and isn't doing about so many things that would bring peace and compassion to others in the world. It's so hard to hold onto my spiritual thoughts when I want to strangle the "holiness". (mind, the priest of my current parish is a really nice man. I have no problems with him. It's his bosses with whomI have issues)
If there be a god or gods and he/she/it/they care and are amenable, grant us, if it be in your power to do so, to whatever extent you are able and willing to do so, the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference.
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles.
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to so without it if we do not,
and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.
~adapted by Mike Gonsalves 
I'll think of all my ancestors and mentors who brought me to this place in time. I'll think of all the silent heroes who fought for peace and justice for others (some of them are saints, some of them are sinners - if they made a difference to someone else, that's all that matters.)

I'll remember those who are struggling for life in Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, our military, people without health insurance, people without health care, people without the freedom to love who their heart choses, people trapped in abusive relationships, people who are sick but don't look like they're in pain, people who grieve.

I'll see blessings in front of me every day - when they rub the sleep out of their eyes and stumble toward breakfast, when they wrestle, when they argue, when they roll their eyes at me, when they laugh, when they hug me, and tell me they love me before they go to sleep.

I'll see blessings in the man who gives me the freedom to escape without judgement; knowing that I'll be back in only a few hours - after I get some things off my mind and can come back to the moment in front of my face.

I'll see the blessings in the flashes of memory before I fall asleep; in the faces of family and friends who have shared precious moments with me.

I'll slow down. I'll sit quietly. I'll breathe.

#55 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

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