With Franciscan Eyes

in Advent

God is Our Hope

As we enter the blessed season of Advent, this quote seems appropriate. I always think of Advent as a quiet season. It is a time of reflection and stillness. In a season that can be crazy, we need to go to our inner sanctuary and be still. Of course, we can go there anytime or any season. What do we do during our stillness? We listen to our loving God to hear His voice. The first week of Advent focuses on the virtue of HOPE. One of the things everyone hopes for is peace throughout the world and here in our own country. It is heartbreaking to see all the mass shootings, the impoverished people, especially the homeless suffering from cold and hunger, as well as those who are disabled, sick, lonely, or elderly with unmet needs. These are just some issues in our own country as well as in the world. Sometimes life may seem hopeless, but it is not. God is our hope.

God sent His Son to be with us no matter how rough life may be. He is our light when all seems dark. This is when we need to go to our sanctuary to converse with God. We need to let go of things that interfere with our stillness. If it is not good for your soul, then let it go! God sent Jesus to be our light and we are to spread this light to others. When you see the Christmas lights, reflect on the strands of light. If one of them burns out, the whole strand is affected. If they are all lit, they shine and light everything around them. Think about how you are a light to whomever needs it in their life. Remember to spend time in stillness and your sanctuary so your light shines even more brightly. Let us light up the world and send HOPE to others so that our strands do not burn out!

Slowing Down Our Life

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The American culture we live in values speed and getting things done quickly. Doing is more valuable than being, thus our hurried pace. The more we do, the faster we do it and that makes us feel harried and disconnected. I often wonder why we continue to live in this way if it makes us feel agitated and hectic. When we hurry through life we miss the simple wonders around us. Rushing through activities can diminish the quality of our work and relationships.

So how can we solve this dilemma we are in? Here are some tips that might be helpful. Relish your morning and evening rituals such as brushing your teeth and showering. Eat your meals with intentionality. Really taste what you are eating. Live each moment consciously and deliberately. You will find that brings greater pleasure and peace when you do. Stay in touch with yourself. Do some soul-searching, meditation and journaling. Take time to think and reflect, nurture yourself and savor moments with friends. Spend time with people who seem to live a simple life at a slower pace. Learn from them.  Doing things in a relaxed manner will open your mind and heart to deeper levels of awareness which will make you feel more alive. Slowing down allows you to savor your experiences and will help you to fully focus on the task at hand. Make time for stillness, silence and solitude. We don’t have to be doing something all the time.

All the above seems easy but it is not, especially when everyone around you is rushing at a frantic pace.  It takes practice and discipline. The secret is being conscious and aware. If you have that, you can catch yourself when you are rushing through life. Once you take notice, then you can do something about it. We all have only one life to live. That does not mean we have to always be in a hurry to experience everything. No, it means we want to live our life with meaning and purpose, consciously and deliberately which eventually brings peace and contentment. 

A Favorite Pastime Becomes a Way to Serve

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Years ago, at a Blue Stem Festival at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, I was intrigued by the Water With Blessings program. The people, the service they provided, the low cost, the spirituality aspect and the person-to-person touch. That’s where I met Mary Meyers, who lived nearby. There was no way I could consider helping then, so I wished them well.

Early in 2022, our Sr. Christina Fuller e-mailed me asking if I crocheted. She sent a video from Water With Blessings showing how to make filter covers. “Could you crochet these?” Sr. Christina wrote. I watched the video, learned a new stitch and knew I could. Her final comment was, “You could start a group of crocheters.” This was just what I wanted to do!

On May 3, 2022, after advertising in various places and online, our first meeting took place. There were six of us. We have almost met most every month since. The largest number we have had was seven, but the average is four. People can come and go as they please. People of all faiths are welcome. We crochet or knit, help each other with the pattern, pray and enjoy each other’s company. Now our “Stitches & Blessings” group meets the first Wednesday of each month. During the rest of the month we continue to crochet and bring the finished ones to collect for mailing. During one meeting Mary Meyers came to tell us more about Water With Blessings and demonstrate the filter. Her facts and stories were amazing, and that water was the best I had ever tasted!

Many people have donated yarn for us, which we share among the group. Our members take turns mailing the covers to Kentucky. (Sometimes Mary Meyers takes them when she is going there.) I love to spread the word about this fantastic program. When people see me crocheting they ask what I am making. If someone asks, “What’s new?” I tell them about my project and the Water By Women program. These ripples in the water go out and hopefully a lot of good comes from my tossed stone!