Children too are a gift from the Lord…Psalm 127:3
The middle lovelies and I have been on quite a mission the past several weeks and as is usually the case, I set out to teach them, but they were the ones doing most of the teaching! It would be an understatement to say things didn’t go exactly the way I planned, nor did they follow the timeline I had outlined in my lesson book but the outcome far exceeded any measureable standard I was aiming for. Lent is such a time of powerful reflection on the sacrifice and love Jesus offered us and the Stations of the Cross, or the journey of Jesus to Calvary is the perfect focal point. The 5th graders project involved visually depicting a Station in modern pictures, words and images as well as writing a personal reflection on the events of that Station. The kids were also asked to relate the events of their station to a modern day situation.
The fifth graders did such powerful writing in their reflections we had to add another opportunity for them to share their work because I couldn’t narrow it down to the 14 best. When the project was complete, nearly 40 of them shared their reflections before the student body or at a Parish night of prayer. I was inspired not only by the words they wrote but that the words were matched with the confidence to share something so personal in front of a large crowd. I thought I’d share just a few of their thoughts.
*Jesus, they stripped your garment from you and you didn’t complain, help me realize I need to be stripped of bad habits without complaining. Jesus, help me strip from evil things and put on clothes of kindness and clothes of love.
*Jesus, when they rolled that stone in front of the tomb it separated you from the people who loved you. Help me realize my sin is just like that big stone; it separates me from you and the more I sin the heavier that stone becomes making it harder to roll away.
*Jesus, when Simon helped you he showed us how to be unselfish, he showed us how to be a friend even to a stranger. Help me love others even when it’s hard or I don’t want to.
*When the women of Jerusalem came to meet you they weren’t afraid; I would have been. I would have worried about those mean soldiers and their whips but you weren’t. This station shows me I shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for Jesus and defend him. It also makes me think that I should be a friend to others and accept friendship when somebody shows it to me.
*Jesus, I could never do what you did. I don’t think I’m supposed to because you did it for me and I thank you for that. I can carry my own cross though; I can fold the towels when my mom asks me and not pretend I don’t hear her ask. Jesus, you give us little crosses to carry and every time I do that I make it easier for the person who follows me just like you made it easier to follow you because you did the hard stuff.
*I can understand why you fell Jesus. You were so tired and the cross was so heavy but you got up and kept going. Help me get up when I fall, help me realize things like being ignored or getting blamed for something I didn’t do are so tiny compared to what you did for me. Help me be stronger and not make such a big deal out of little things.
As I read and listened to their reflections I was inspired to be a better Disciple of Jesus. Their words were so honest and to the point they left me changed. As adults we tend to complicate things so as you begin your Holy Week I hope you are inspired by this wee dose of bottom line truth.
A Seed To Plant: Strip yourself of devices and screens and noise this week and spend some prayerful time reflecting on the Passion Narrative from the Gospel…walk with Jesus this week in a quiet powerful way.
Blessings on your day!
There you have it…those are the two words for the day! They sum it all up and there just isn’t a need for much more. What do they mean? Good question! The words mean TOTALLY YOURS.
Totus tuus was the Papal Motto of St. John Paul II and it seemed to help him do some pretty amazing stuff in his lifetime so I’ve decided we should all just borrow them for a while and see how things go. My hunch is …things will go a whole lot better.
A Seed To Plant: Borrow those words for a few days and see what happens. All the good, bad, challenging, crazy and amazing things are going to cause us to say Totus Tuus God!
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. Isaiah 61:11
God is so smart! He gives us exactly the gifts we need to fulfill the plan He has created specifically and perfectly for each of us. It sounds so simple when I put it in print, but it’s putting that thought into action that gets tricky at times. I try not to be greedy or jealous but sometimes I see gifts in others and I can’t help but stomp my foot like a toddler and wish I had that gift too. I’m certain at those moments God looks down and rolls his eyes at me and finds me completely ridiculous. Thank goodness my little fits don’t last long before I’m snapped back to reality with a dose of gratefulness.
I received a package in the mail recently that showcased the amazing gifts of a good friend. As I tore off the wrapper, I found a copy of a beautiful new book called A Catholic Gardner’s Spiritual Almanac. As I began reading through the pages of this wonderful book written by Margaret Rose Realy I was amazed at the gifts God has given her. She has three gifts in particular that inspire and impress me. She is a beautiful writer, a brilliant Catholic and an amazing gardener. This delightful new book displays all three gifts splendidly. The book seamlessly weaves together the beauty, celebrations and traditions of faith, nature and the bounty of the God who loves us.
I have trouble growing weeds but I would love to be the creator of gorgeous gardens. I love my Catholic faith but feel like I know a thimbles worth compared to the gallons there is to know and I think it would be so fun to see my words tucked neatly between the covers of a book. Considering all that, it might have been tempting to feel a little jealous of my friend but instead I was excited to dive into this new book and take advantage of the true purpose of her gifts…to build up the Church. Margaret’s gifts bubble forth from this book in such a way that I can learn and grow. I can learn about my faith, I can learn about plants, seeds and all things growing. Her gift doesn’t remain hers…it becomes mine too. At one point I just sat the book down and pondered what a beautiful servant it takes to empty yourself completely without worry of the cost, the time, the outcome or the expense. Margaret’s book is just that; an emptying of her thoughts, expertise, talents and deep love of God and all He has created for us to enjoy.
I think perhaps the greatest mistake I can make is to think my gifts are for me or that they are given to me so others might think more of me. My friend Margaret taught me differently and instead of a fit or a pout, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving and a heartfelt desire to share the fruit of her gifts so others can be touched the way I have been. Thank you God for the gifts you have given Margaret and thank you Margaret for sharing them with us.
A Seed To Plant: Give yourself a Spring gift; head over to Amazon and get a copy of A Catholic Gardner’s Spiritual Almanac by Margaret Rose Realy.
Blessings on your day!
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