Archive for March, 2009

Finding my voice

Throughout Lent, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to pray throughout the day.  The easiest way for me to do this is to sing the formal prayers that I know in Latin.  From the beauty of the Panis Angelicus to the Ave Maria both in chant and the version written by Gounod, singing prayers as I go about my daily responsibilities has kept me grounded in the grace to be found in the simple tasks of every day life.  However, I noticed something interesting while I sang my way through dishes and laundry:

My voice sounds best when I’m not trying to stifle it to keep it quieter.  If I am trying to sing quietly, my voice cracks and sounds off from where it is supposed to be.

Timidity alters how I sing, and in this case how I pray.  When I try to minimize and contain my singing voice, it becomes distorted and a distraction from the words I sing.  It’s only when I sing without reserve that I sound like myself, and my voice faithfully communicates the words I am praying.

Singing is just one way to speak truth about God, and I wonder how much timidity colors the other ways that I try to share the Gospel.  Where else does my timidity muffle and distort the message of a God who loves enough to die for love of His beloved?

One of the fundamental realities of conveying a message means that you have to speak so that people can hear it.  This is something that I have never been comfortable with, but my discomfort with the potential for conflict really doesn’t matter much in light of my obligation as a Catholic to love my neighbors well enough to risk discomfort to share Christ with them.

I know it won’t happen overnight, but for now I will work to speak with my own voice the truth I embrace.  The message is more important than the messenger, and I need to get out of my own way and prepare the way for Christ.


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Blister on pinkie toe, and one on my heel that you can't see that well

Blister on pinkie toe, and one on my heel that you can't see that well

I think that I just might have a problem setting limits in my own life.

I’ve been growing the blister you see on my pinkie toe for days now, and I knew it was hurting this afternoon when I got on the treadmill for my daily walk.  About .3 miles in, the blister opened but I kept on walking and got that 2 miles in.  After all, I’m not a wimp!  I gave birth to an 11 lb baby in a kitchen, so surely I can handle walking 2 miles with a blister.  Right??  RIGHT????

If this were a one time thing, that would be one thing, but I am seeing more and more clearly that I do this all the time in ways that are not helpful or healthy.  Giving birth without an epidural when you have a medical reason making this course of action safer does mean that I willingly choose pain, but it’s sacrificial pain with a purpose out of love for someone other than myself.  Walking 2 miles with blisters (I actually have blood stains in my sneakers from two other blisters) shows love for whom exactly?  This wasn’t a pilgrimage.  This wasn’t a march of love, or a race to convey an important message.  This was pain because I was not willing to show myself the same kindness that I would show anyone else. That’s not love, and it’s not good.

Intentionally choosing pain without purpose isn’t noble.  It’s not the sign of a strong person, but an arrogant one or perhaps one who doesn’t think that his or her feelings matter compared to some overly elevated concept of “obligation.”  I think it is good to be willing to push yourself and give your all, but are my feet best blistered walking a treadmill so that I am more physically fit?  How much am I no longer able to give because I am constantly draining myself in little ways that are thoughtless and downright wasteful?  Pain for absolutely no reason is not part of God’s design for anyone’s life.

Scripture tells us that the feet of those who preach the Gospel are beautiful on the mountainside, and this would be true no matter how pedicured or blistered those feet would be. They are beautiful because they convey the Gospel.   If my feet will be blistered and tired, I want it to be because I am carrying the Gospel with me, not because I wouldn’t stop doing something on my “to do” list just because it hurt.

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