As I was preparing to embark on parenthood, I read several books and articles from reputable sources that offered a counterintuitive piece of advice: don’t say “no” to your child. “Don’t say, ‘no’?” I wondered incredulously. “Have modern parenting techniques really deteriorated so drastically?” As I read on, I realized that the advice was more…
I’m always perplexed when I see people at concerts trying to film the experience. What we can capture on our phones won’t look or sound all that great - certainly not as great as the recorded version or professional photos we could look up later. Really, the purpose of being at a concert is just that: being there. Feeling the music vibrate through you, being among the crowd of fans, enjoying proximity to someone whose talent you admire. None of what is great about a concert can be captured by our devices. In fact, trying to do so actually places distance between us and the experience we seek to capture.
My phone is a great asset when it comes to learning about prayer and living a life of faith, and connecting with the catholic community in the literal sense of the word - universally - across the vast space of the world and even across time. My phone serves many beautiful and inspiring purposes. What it doesn’t help me to do is to be more present.
As I approach the milestone of turning 30, I am struck by how differently my life has turned out than how I anticipated. I am beginning to realize how deeply I’ve bought the lie that true “living” is where the glamour is, where the cross doesn’t accompany me—that it’s somewhere over there, somewhere I am…
The more I encounter the liminal space of waiting, the more I am able to accept that waiting has a purpose. God works in the waiting. Looking back, I can recognize God’s handiwork in many of the waiting periods of my life. At times, I’ve waited with the patient trust I had as I anticipated receiving the Eucharist (it helps when God gives you an end date). Others, such as the final trimester of my last pregnancy, have felt supernaturally long. Even in retrospect, I don’t always see God’s purpose in the waiting. But sometimes, God offers me glimpses of what he is doing. Just enough, I suppose, to encourage me to have faith for the next long wait.
When I imagine myself in the story of the prodigal son, I am the older brother - the brother who is glad when his good-for-nothing sibling leaves home because it makes him look so much better by comparison. He preoccupies himself more with how his brother’s absence benefits him than with compassion for his father’s broken heart. With the younger brother gone, it’s all about me.
We make messes of our lives at times. Sometimes, the mess gets so big that we are at a loss for how to clean it up. We find ourselves overwhelmed by the muck. We’re not alone in this. Moses killed a man. David committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed. Peter denied Christ. If God wanted shiny, perfect people, he sure did a poor job of choosing his biblical leaders.