A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘making connections

Spring has arrived and change along with it as I find myself preparing to sell my home.

The past week or so has been a whirlwind of arranging appointments with tradespeople and sorting my belongings. I’ve packed a couple of dozen boxes, donated a dozen bags to the St. Vincent de Paul bin at my church, and set aside a pile of craft supplies for my nieces.

Downsizing from my bungalow to a condo is proving to be a challenge. As I sort through twenty years of accumulated belongings, it seems as though each item has a memory attached to it and letting go hurts a little bit. A lot, in some cases.

Sometimes these seasons of change come by choice and at other times, unexpectedly. In either case, we need to lean on God and find in him the courage to let go of the less important things so that we can move forward.

We need to remember that our belongings don’t contain our memories–our hearts do. Even if the memories are bittersweet, we can be thankful for the joy God has allowed us to know and maybe even find ourselves anticipating what lies ahead.

The biggest lesson for me in all of this? Learning to reach out for help or connect by phone, by text or in person when I need to. In times of change, we need to be unafraid to rely on others. Most of all, we need to lean into our faith, trusting that God will carry us when we feel we can’t keep going.

Whatever winds of change may be blowing in our lives, I pray that we would remember these words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)



Just a couple of months until spring sports start!

Yesterday’s weather surprised me: my car’s thermometer gave the temperature as a mild 10°C and a light rain was falling as I headed home from running some errands. Today, when I was eating breakfast, I noticed fog and brownish grass poking through the snow in the park behind my house.

With the heavy snow we had not so long ago, my front and back yards are still covered, but the streets are pretty bare and we’re wearing shoes and lighter coats instead of heavy winter boots and outerwear.

Have I heard or seen robins yet? No, but milder weather is on the horizon and, as much as I enjoy winter, I’m not all that sorry to see it packing its bags and waving goodbye.

We’re quick to spot the signs of spring in nature—longer days, more sun, warmer temperatures, the return of songbirds—but how quick are we to notice them in our own lives?

When we’re going through a rough patch, it might seem as though winter will always be with us. Our worry or fear or problems may feel like a January chill settling in our hearts that the sun won’t thaw.

But that’s when we most need to ask God to show us the signs of new life in our lives: a larger and stronger support network than we had before, growth in our faith, the desire and the will to start living again and expanding our comfort zone by trying new things.

I’ve had some wintry days in my heart in the past few months, but I feel the onset of spring. I’ve started taking better care of my health and seeing positive results. Spending more time having fun with my family. Putting more effort into finding a full-time job. Reaching out to people and making stronger connections as well as new ones. Talking to God often and letting him speak to me in prayer, through his word in the Bible, and through the homilies and advice of my parish priest.

Winter may be long, but spring always comes. If we struggle to believe the end of winter is in sight, I pray that we would ask God to open our hearts to see and feel the change of season.

What a wondrous time is spring

When all the trees are budding

The birds begin to sing

The flowers start their blooming

That’s how it is with God’s love

Once you’ve experienced it

~ “Pass It On” by Kurt Kaiser

Something might seem obvious to others—as plain as the nose on one’s face—and yet we can’t see it. Sometimes we’re so focussed on our problems that we can’t see what’s right in front of us.

Personally, I’m a bit stressed right now, a state as familiar as breathing for most of us these days. And I’ve been feeling kind of alone as I try to cope with the stress. I’m a bit guarded, so my support system isn’t as big as I’d like it to be.

All of a sudden, I’ve found myself being offered support when I just took a moment to reach out—from my extended family, my pastor, my music teacher, even a couple of my yoga instructors. A kind word in person or by e-mail and phone, an offer of prayer, an invitation to talk if I needed to, a quick hug.

These caring people might have been obvious sources of support to others, and yet I hadn’t realized I could count on their kindness.

How often do we miss the opportunities God presents us with to turn to family and friends for comfort or advice, to make a new friend, to support a colleague, to help a neighbour? How often do we miss the chance to connect with others because we’re hesitant to count on others and to trust? How often do we keep relationships superficially friendly because we’re afraid to open up in case others don’t like what they see?

So much of our contact these days doesn’t go beyond the surface. We deal with automated telephone systems and tellers and auto-reply messages. We like, share, and connect online but don’t form real relationships.

We need to open our eyes and our hearts to the chances God gives us to form new and lasting friendships and partnerships so that, when we need to rely on others because of illness or some other crisis, we don’t find ourselves standing alone—and so that we can offer that helping hand, that listening ear, that shoulder to cry on when someone else needs it.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.

~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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