Write In Between

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A New Post

My husband is keeping a scorecard when it comes to the winter snowstorms this year. It's not how many inches we are getting, but how many mailboxes on our street will be taken down by the town plows this time? I think the number is hovering around 21.

The snows have been infrequent here this year. But the ones that have had some accumulation have brought with it this new accounting that has driven my husband to distraction.

We live on a narrow, country road, six miles out of town. We see the occasional police cruiser, but there's not much crime here. We do, however, have our fair share of what I call post-box vandals. I think its teens in cars with baseball bats performing drive-by mischief. As they drive along the road at night, the driver lines up the target. Another leans out the passenger side window with a baseball bat, or similar instrument, and slams the rural-style mailbox fixed on a post at the curb. It's sort of like striking a ball off of a tee. Around Halloween, the percentage of postbox vandalism increases. I have never actually witnessed this phenomenon, but judging from the postal post-mortems I've seen, I think it's accurate.

We've seen many neighbors become rather creative with their mailboxes to avoid being hit again. Mailboxes on swinging chains, mailboxes encased in concrete or wooden barriers, mailboxes that are taken in at night and put out each morning, just to name a few.

For many years now, our mailbox escaped notice of the vandals. My husband theorized that our post is too close to a telephone pole, making striking the box in a moving car a more dangerous proposition. A teenage driver would most likely not have the nerve to try it when there are so many easier targets to choose from. Too much chance of the box bouncing off the pole onto the car, or hitting the pole with one's bat while driving by.

Then came the snowstorms of December and January. After each storm, as we would venture down the street to school or work, we'd see a few scattered mailboxes in the snowpiles that lined the street. A reasonable person could understand an occasional mailbox collision with the corner of a plow during a dark and blinding snowstorm. There are several mailboxes that could be at risk on our street. But no, we were counting two, three, four in a row -- all launched from their posts--and many of their posts were missing too! This increased frequency was no random baseball bat bandit. This was the work of something much stronger, able to rip the blasted post out of the ground while still moving.

My husband continued his count of mailboxes lost with each snowfall. His notion is that we have a plowdriver taking delight in causing such havoc at the taxpayer's expense. Like maybe there's a team of drivers competing for a prize. Or maybe there are plow trucks with little notches scratched into their bumpers to show off how many mailboxes they've hit. Maybe its a postbox vandal that never grew up, I say. Either way, up until this past weekend, we were observers of the problem, now we were victims of it.

Our mailbox and post were ripped away after the most recent snowplowing of our street. We were amazed at the driving precision needed to avoid the telephone pole proximity. We knew it was a professional hit. My husband grumbled (alot) and added our fallen mailbox to his tally.

Fortunately, we had a spare mailbox in the garage. Even more fortunately, we had some warmer weather that allowed my husband to make the repair. He did this while I was out on an errand.

As I entered the driveway upon my return, I admired the shiny new box at the curb. I stopped to see if there was any mail in it. Carefully observing my husband's craftsmanship, and silently thanking God that he is so handy, I noticed a large spring attached to one side of the horizontal post under the mailbox. Curious, I thought. Then I saw the industrial-strength hinges on the other side. I get it, as I gave the box a push from the side that would most likely field a blow from an on-coming vehicle. The thing is spring-loaded as to "breakaway" when struck by force, then return to its original position! While grateful that my husband engineered this, I was also chuckling to myself that this man has been thinking about this stuff a little too deeply. He needs a hobby.

Now I am not condoning vandalism, and I am not accusing all plowdrivers of inconsiderate or insincere motives. Those who leave the comfort of hearth and home during a storm are performing a much-needed public service that I am grateful for time and again. However, the postal box is like hallowed ground. (Not to mention it's illegal to tamper with someone's mail.) Important communications could be lost if I forgot to bring in the mail one day, and later that night the mailbox disappeared. I would be happy to see such senseless destruction of private property stop: I have a son who is waiting each day for the mail to arrive, eagerly anticipating college acceptance letters. I'd like to know those letters have half a chance to arrive intact. I'm sure my neighbors have similar concerns.

In the meantime, we're awaiting the next snowfall, hoping our mailbox is not put to the test.

I'll keep you posted.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Monday, January 30, 2006

On Finding Your Voice

You may have heard the of the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I recommend it. In recent years, Covey has been presenting The Eighth Habit:

Find your voice, and help others find theirs.

Here's a little story. 30 years ago I was a high school sophomore sitting in a hallway of the fine arts department, outside a closed door audition for THE chorus. I had sung in public at our parish church at Mass as part of a music ministry. But I never had to audition for that group. I really wanted to sing in our prestigious high school chorus.

I waited until the last day of auditions. There I sat in the fine arts hallway, straining to listen to each audition taking place on the other side of the heavy oak door. One by one, the next person in line took their turn. Over the course of an hour, I kept moving to the back of the line, losing my nerve. Finally, no one was left in front of me, and I would be called in next. At my moment of truth, I quietly picked up my books and walked to the bus, never taking the audition.

For four years I sat in the school audience and listened to that high school chorus sing, and watched my friends sing their hearts out. I didn't perform anywhere in school and regretted it. I learn an important lesson: Life isn't a dress rehearsal.

The love of music never left me, first as a musician, then as a songwriter, and eventually, due to a profound lack of confidence, as a vocalist. Somewhere along the line I had contracted a very self-conscious fear of hearing my real voice... I felt like I sang like a man, rather than a woman. My deep tones never seemed feminine enough. Silly, I know, since I really did know how to sing, read notes and carry a tune. I loved Karen Carpenter but had the range of her brother Richard!

Despite not auditioning for the high school chorus, I still sang at church and on the back of the bus with my pals from camp and with the doo-wap loving teammates from the high school volleyball team. I discovered harmony. Having that deeper range made me search for ways to blend and connect with the other singers. And it translated into my music at church.

My best friend in high school was a soprano in the high school chorus. It took me a long time to actually do any singing with her, intimidated as I was. She played guitar. I played too and that was the first step to singing together. We both were assigned to work together on the music ministry team for a high school retreat. We would pray first, that the Lord would use our music to minister to others, and that God would be glorified. And when I sang with her, something happened. I could hear the music in a different way. It was like God blended the voices to create something greater than the sum of its parts. And it was enough for me. With the help of God, and the nudge of a soprano, I found my voice.

I still sang at church and eventually got into the wedding business... church weddings using acoustical guitar were pretty popular in the late 70s. But that's how I met my husband--another guitarist who played the church circuit. If you'll pardon the pun, we made beautiful music together.

Fast forward to the mid 90s. I'm new to my church, having just moved into a new town. I meet a woman who also shares my musical interests, and, you guessed it, she's a soprano. It was months before I had the guts to sing with her. Our first musical assignment together (at church, of course) was when she needed an accompanist for a Lenten prayer service. I played and she sang. And she was amazing. Well-trained and poised, she sang from some deep place inside that you just knew that God was involved somehow.

Eventually, we had more opportunities to perform together, and I stepped out in faith to sing alongside. Over the years, singing with my soprano friend, I've had that same experience over and over again... God knows what he's doing when he lets me sing alongside those amazing sopranos. I humbly submit to my harmony role and that's enough for me.

But wait there's more. Aforementioned soprano has given me the nudge to join her in the local community choral
society. And immediately I was transported to sitting outside the audition door back in high school. So, I knew I needed to pray over it. I needed to kick out some old demon that had taken up residence in my music closet. Somewhere, somehow, I'm about to step out of my church music comfort zone. God even sent a new song called "Brave" from Nicole Nordemann's new CD to sure up my musical courage. (Sometimes it's nice to have a soundtrack to your life.)

So, I'm taking my soprano friend up on the offer, and my first rehearsal is tonight. And as I sing, I'll be thinking of the women who have helped me find my voice over the years -- not just the sopranos-- but all the women who have mentored me in so many different ways. And I'll be grateful for the challenge and opportunity to try something new at age 45.

May I be open to helping others find their voice, as I've been helped to find mine. And why not? Life isn't a dress rehearsal!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I've been slipping... been missing in action with regular posts this week. I slipped on the ice about 10 days ago while walking Brady, the family dog. Now, slipping does not mean falling... I kind of made a herky-jerky motion to prevent full impact with the terra firma. Instead, I pulled a muscle that does not allow me to sit for long periods of time, and its cut into my screen time for sure. In clinical terms I suffered a groin pull. And I have to say it ranks right up there with some of my all-time great painful moments.

I can, however, lay down and recline so I've been diligently studying up a storm and that's good as I have an exam coming up soon. I also can drive, even if I can't get in and out of a vehicle very gracefully. I look about 20 years older since I'm limping and stooped at an odd angle, especially getting up from chairs and in and out of the car. I've been offering up my pain for those cancer patients I know, so I am hoping my hopping is doing some good somewhere.

My chiropractor gave me good advice the first few days after the injury, but my pain has been intense, so I went for a round of xrays today. Good grief, just when my winter exercise program was in full swing! Whatever the outcome, I'm prepared for the recovery period: either to studystudystudy or start into the stack of books I've got on my must-read shelf.

In search of my sense of humor as I fumble around limping and groaning, I found this quote from Reinhold Niebuhr, who also gave the world and all 12-steppers the Serenity Prayer:

Humor is the prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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New Encyclical!

Read Pope Benedict's first encyclical "God Is Love".

Here's a nugget from the introduction to whet your appetite:

Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.
We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.

I'd love to see your comments on its contents over the next few days.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No need for Jeeves

Matthew 7:8: For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Last weekend I ran into a friend after Mass. She joked and referred to me as "Ask Jeeves" , since she had recently sent me a few emails containing questions about the Catholic faith. I answered her questions via email using materials I could easily locate on the web, namely Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and some Vatican documents. I've had to write so many papers and take so many exams toward my graduate degree, that I take for granted ready access to these sources.

And I thought that perhaps you might also like to know about a few helpful sites, if you don't have them bookmarked already.

For Catholic bible search and study:
Click here for the RSV (Revised Standard Version) of the Bible. This site has a great search engine that I use constantly. I am grateful to Scott Hahn and the St. Paul Center for the link. (Scott's site has many excellent bible study helps too.) One note about the RSV, it is the one translation that both Catholic and Protestant biblical scholars can agree, and its one of the better translations for critical bible study.

There is also the NAB translation (the New American Bible) courtesy of the USCCB, but there's no search engine on it. It's just a listing by the books of the Bible. It is useful, however, since this is the translation that the Catholic Church in the USA uses for liturgy.

Additional source for bible search and study:
Now our Protestant brethren have many translations of the Bible to offer as well. Mostly, I like to read the New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible when I'm doing personal bible study, especially for word and verse comparisons. To see them all, and to see numerous language translations of the Bible, click here.

For the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
Many thanks for St. Charles Borromeo Parish of Mississippi for this link of a great search engine for the CCC, click here.

For Vatican documents (including the CCC): go straight to the Vatican website.

You can also visit EWTN's library, complete with search engine, here. EWTN's site is one of the most popular sites (based on hits) in the world. No surprise, it's great... sometimes easier to use than the Vatican website.

Happy seeking!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Hope the World

During and after my experience with breast cancer back in 1996, I committed a few verses from Scripture to memory that became my life's anchor. This is from 1 Peter 1:3-25.

3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4: and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5: who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7: so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

8: Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. 9: As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

10: The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; 11: they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. 12: It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

13: Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15: but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16: since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17: And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. 18: You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19: but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20: He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.

21: Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22: Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. 23: You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24: for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25: but the word of the Lord abides for ever." That word is the good news which was preached to you.

Over the years I have collected and received many gifts that bear the word "HOPE" on them: a ring, a rock, a candle, a cross. Today I received another little gift, and a heavenly reminder... this one from a pal from church who circulated this. Enjoy.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Music for the Soul

In a former life BC (before children) I was a radio disc-jockey for a Christian radio station in New York. I was also the copywriter (surprized?) and the production chief, which meant I spent hours in the studio creating musical programming and commercials.

Those years changed my approach to music, and ever since, I can never just listen to music without considering the lyrical content. I simply cannot tolerate lyrics that are offensive to my senses--particularly my Christian sensibilities. For my Christian life, it became a matter of encouragement for me to have a musical soundtrack that echoed my Christian walk. Well, I've been hooked on Contemporary Christian music and worship music ever since...having about 400 CDs in my library.

Moving to New England, I discovered that Christian radio stations were scarcer than they were in New York. They are rare, and those that exist are underfunded, and most have weak signal strength.

I remain amazed at how much of the general population remains largely uninformed about the great encouragement modern Christian music is. So, I'm doing my bit to bring you up to speed.

Through the miracle of the world wide web and interconnectivity, you can now hear many radio stations streaming audio on-line. If you have an internet connection, and a set of speakers attached to you computer, you've got all you need.

One of my favs is K-Love that is generated out of California. It is actually a network of stations throughout the USA that transmits the same programming to each affiliate, but if there's no K-Love station near you, all you have to do is click

Here's a gutsy independent called WMSJ Joy Radio out of Maine, click
here and go to "listen on-line."

One of the better Catholic efforts out there is Relevant Radio, worth a click

And finally, a growing getting-better-with-time Catholic online radio is Omegarock. Find it
here and go to "listen now."

I suggest you bookmark these sites or add them to your "favorites" so you can keep the good stuff handy to listen to when you are surfing, blogging or just doing your homework or housework.

Be encouraged!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Picking up Pine Needles

For us Catholics, we are post-Epiphany and the Christmas season drawing to a close. Last night, my children and I spent time "deconstructing" the Christmas tree. My oldest son dragged the remains of it out the front door, and we dutifully packed up our decorations. This morning I am to complete the clean-up process we started... my task is to finish picking up the wayward pine needles.

I decided to start outdoors and work in. As I came out the front door, I saw that the deer knocked over St. Francis again. (See Jan 07 post!) I picked him up as ice-encrusted snow stuck to him from head to toe. I had my broom handy since I was about to sweep up the thick trail of pine needles from our once-live Christmas tree that was winding down our walkway from our front door. I broomed off Francis and got to work on those stubborn little needles now sticking to the cold ground. I mused about the many thousands of pine needles I must have swept up over the 23 years I have owned a home, chuckled to myself, and came inside.

You know, I never really get all the needles picked up. Either, I'm not an aggressive housekeeper, or my eyesight really is going! I know I'll be dusting a window ledge months from now and I'll probably pick up a few more I've missed. Or I'll be turning over a carpet, or moving the sofa, and spot needles that escaped my attention. I remember one year-- on Good Friday--I was picking up in the family room and, lo and behold, a lone pine needle dropped from the side of the baseboard--and it's presence took me, methaphorically, through the life of Christ in that one instance--from his birth at Christmas, symbolized by the pine tree needle, right to the "tree" of Calvary. It was all in full view, right in the little green needle.

Isn't it amazing, when we look at life with the eyes of faith, even the tiniest speck of creation, can show us the greatest mysteries of God? All things echo his Name.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Monday, January 09, 2006

De-lurking is Delightful!

It's De-lurking Week! All this week, lurkers (those who just read this blog and never comment) can come out and say "hi." No need to be shy! "Anonymous" is okay too. You don't need a good reason to comment - the week is the reason! Bloggers everywhere will thank you!

Post a detail about yourself, or me, or the blog, or about the weather where you are, or what your favorite Christmas gift was. Or just write "Happy De-Lurking Week" and hit Post if you're not feeling creative. Let me know you are there.... its kind of like honking the horn at me if you drove past me on the street!

Acknowledge! Comment! This could be fun!

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Oh Deer!

In winters past, when my children were small, the snow in our yard was a landscape of footprints, snow-angels, snow forts and the occasional snowman or snow creature. These days, the snow-covered lawn is once again covered with footprints, but not from children. We have deer.

I have lived in the wilds of New England for 11 years now, having come from Long Island, New York--the very definition of suburban sprawl. Long Island, in the words of my non-native brother-in-law, is "one giant shrub contest." I would say that was accurate. I knew people who could quote the going prices for azaleas every Easter, and when the discounts would kick in at the end of season.

When my husband and I finally bought our first home, I, too, began a love affair with evergreens and flowering shrubs. The property we bought was barren and needed a lot of care. So, when family members asked what I wanted for my birthday, anniversary, Mother's Day and so on, I requested outdoor shrubbery, bulbs, and flats of annuals. Drive around certain neighborhoods on LI and you could see the "competition" for the well-dressed lawn and well-appointed garden. Often, homeowners would accent their lawns or landscaping with birdbaths, or ornamental pieces of statuary. And yes, there are full-color deer statues to be had. Not that I ever had one. No make-believe Bambis for me. I am more the birdbath and birdfeeder type. I also enjoy seeing Madonnas or favorite saints honored in gardens.

Imagine my delight, when upon moving to my new home in Massachusetts, the landscape included flowering shrubs and evergreens throughout the park-like property we had. We reveled in the quiet, if curvy, road we lived on. There was a state forest nearby and plenty of wildlife. Outside of some really loud bull frogs and mosquitoes in summer, I had no complaints with our furry four-legged neighbors. My Christmas present that first year was a 36" statue of Our Lady of Grace who merited her own backyard garden the next spring. And about a year ago, we added St. Francis to our bird sanctuary out front (where the feeders are.)

However, the local Massachusetts folklore provided plenty of deer "horror stories." You know the type-- deer running across roads and highways at inopportune moments. I have passed many roadkills of former deer. Its not a pretty sight. It took me 8 years of driving in these parts to finally have my own high-speed deer-in-the-headlights experience. I was zipping down a highway off-ramp when a deer jumped the barrier and landed on the pavement just ahead of me. Fortunately, despite screeching brakes, I was able to stop in time, inches away from Bambi's mother. I gave a quick toot on the horn and the animal hopped back over the barrier to safety before another car approached.

Other than that one night, my deer experience had been limited to the very occasional deer sightings late at night or early morning. I'd see them around the edges of the property, usually near the woods, and then they would hop right away. In general, I had an appreciation and a fondness for the deer -- from a distance. I recalled fake deer statuary in New York, and smugly thought, "ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby."

My husband, on the other hand, would never see the deer. The scenario goes, "Hey, Dad, come look at the deer!" Dad arrives at window. No deer. Even coming in late, when it might be common to see one or two around the yard, he never saw a single one on our property. For eleven years. Saw lots of hoofprints in the snow, but no live deer. It was kinda like he was a kid trying to see the elusive Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. What's worse is the kids started teasing him after late night walks with the dog, "Dad, see any deer?"

Well, we know they are out there. I've seen them, and my oldest son had a close encounter with a deer late at night about four weeks ago. He was almost home, driving along a back road, and a deer hit him! He never saw it coming. Just thud against the front bumper, a brown blur leaving a dent, then running off. My son was so shaken, he called us at 1AM to report in about it. Then, he turned his truck around in search of the deer, thinking it was dead, but it was long gone, probably off playing chicken with another motorist.

The other night, the Confirmation class I was teaching had a discussion about the 10th Commandment, and how we should not form unhealthy attachments to material things. I never thought I was attached to the shrubs and plants in my yard until now. You see, in the beginning, the deer were slowly eating the evergreens that surrounded our property. Arborvitae and yews seemed to be the favorites on the menu. I guess they got bored since they moved on to trampling a good section of juniper and rhododendron. Now, they are downright brazen-- coming right up to our house to munch on shrubbery right under our front windows! The deer are becoming less endearing to me.

Several nights ago, our dog Brady was barking like a crazy fool. My husband kept trying the shush the dog since the game was on TV. I mentioned that the bark sounded like the "warning bark"--that maybe Brady was a being a deer-alarm. My hubby rushed to windows, no deer. But it was easy to see that they were probably there most of the night... the carnage right outside our front door was proof. Not to mention we can see their hoof prints in the fresh snow-- strolling right up the front walkway! Who needs foraging and dining al fresco in the woodlands when you can just saunter up a paved path for a free dinner?! I am planning on researching deer-proof greenery and calculating the cost of bush replacements come next spring. It's not pretty. The front yard I mean, not to mention my attitude.

This morning the deer finally crossed the line with me. I took Brady out for his morning walk, observing last night's deer cuisine left us nothing but stubs and nubs of our pick-over shrubs. I was aghast! St. Francis was lying face down in the snow! (Note to deer: he's the saint that LOVES ANIMALS!) Now, chomping the leaves, needles and branches off my bushes is one thing, but don't go messing with my garden statuary! I apologized to Frank and righted his frozen image as best I could. I'll deal with my attachment to things when I done dealing with the balance between living in harmony with nature and domesticated deer!

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Essentials--or Momma's Got a Brand New Bag!

I was looking for a theme or phrase to remind me of my resolutions for the New Year. I thought, maybe a scripture verse or something I've read recently would do. Instead, I stumbled onto one unexpectedly.

With all the carpooling I do, I "live" in my car. Therefore, I often travel with my briefcase so I can study while waiting for piano lessons or sports practices to finish. But on Fridays I'm scheduled to pray during a certain hour in our parish adoration chapel. So instead of the "school bag" I take along my "prayer bag" (a totebag that keeps my Bible, my prayer journal and my missal all in one place.)

Early Friday morning I brought my car in for a service appointment. I later drove my husband's car to church-- without my handy prayer bag--having left it in the trunk of the aforementioned car now being serviced. As I drove to church, looking forward to my special prayer time with Jesus, I realized my error, lamented and made a general mental fuss that I would miss using all my "stuff" during my prayer time--especially my prayer journal.

All I had with me was my pocketbook, and I'm a minimalist at best when it comes to pocketbooks; I only carry the barest necessities-- the essentials. My rosary beads, however, make the cut and I had them. Mid-fuss, I heard the Spirit in my heart say "that's all you need."

The Essentials: What are they, really, when I go before the Lord in prayer? Me + Him = the Relationship. Everything else is optional or non-essential.

So, I made my way to the chapel and I knelt before the Presence of Jesus in the monstance, and I said, here I am, just me. No bible, no notes, no books, nothing to define me or the relationship.

After a while, I did pray my rosary, which is a good "settling in" prayer for me. It slows me down, and orients me to the mysteries of God's love in my life. Then I just meditated on what I 'heard' in the car on the way over: I only need what is essential.

What is essential is this relationship with Jesus. All things I need, have, want or want to change in the new year flow from, through and in Him.

As I prayed I considered how "the essentials" are what the Lord is calling me to this new year...

...to keep it simple... to find delight right where I am.

...to pare down... to better manage my waistline and my bank account.

...to prune back... keep only what allows growth, cut the rest away, especially on the calendar.

...to travel more lightly... by making my lists, then cutting them in half, so they are realistic.

...and most of all, to be present to the relationship--not the trappings--like my chapel experience with Jesus. This applies to my life with my husband, my family, my friends and beyond.

Only with Jesus do I comprehend that less is more; what is essential is the only bag he wants me to carry.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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