Posts Tagged With: desert

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 33

Day 33 – Friday – 10/26/12

Definitely felt the hunger pang this morning when I woke up, even though they gave me a small snack at the rancho prayer meeting yesterday afternoon. As I was heating up  my coffee I made sure to offer it up and mentioned a few prayer intentions, because I knew that after I drank my coffee it wouldn’t be as much of a factor. Today looks to be a good day. At 11, me and  Luis are headed out to one of the nearby ranchos to do a communion service. Then at 3, us and all of the mexican missionary families are going to a pecan orchard for our community Desert Day prayer time. I can almost guarantee you that we’ll be back before Mass, so I’ll take a shower and head to Mass once we get back. And tonight I really hope they do volleyball again. Hopefully it’s not a tournament either. It’s been fun the past few nights watchin’/playin’ volleyball. I just wish I’d have started doing this sooner during my time here, because I think I could have enjoyed it alot more and really gotten into it. Oh well, better late than never.

So the other thing that’s on my  mind right now is time. Specifically, how fast or slow it passes. Even more specifically how fast it seems to go by when you’re really enjoying yourself. Why is it that 2 and a half hours seems like 10 minutes? 3 hours like 30 minutes? Wouldn’t it be more logical for God to make time pass more SLOWLY when we’re enjoying ourselves? It’s the only factor that keeps something that’s 95% awesome from being 100% awesome. The only thing I can surmise is that it makes us more appreciative of the time we do have in these kinds of situations.

Before we left for Desert Day, I ended up going on a thirty minute trek around town looking for floss, only to come up empty-handed. As I was leaving one of the stores, there was a blind beggar guy sitting on a crate outside. I’d seen him before, and I’ve even given him some money. But I didn’t give him any this time. I felt bad, but I still didn’t give him any money. I told myself that all I had was big bills and no small change. Well, maybe I was supposed to give him a big bill? Maybe I was supposed to buy something at the store so I could make change? Who knows….. All I know is that he was Jesus personified, and I passed him by. I hope my conscience keeps convicting me of this and similar situations, so I can be more generous with the poor.

In other news, we did end up doing volleyball again tonight. The winning team from last night brought their discada packet that they won to cook at the end of tonight’s friendly volleyball games. Discada is basically meat and vegetables that is cooked on a round metal disc. If it’s cooked inside in a kitchen, then normal pots or pans are used. The tradition comes from many years ago, when field workers would use one of the round metal discs that were used for tilling the fields, turn it horizontal, and use it to cook the meat and vegetables. I’m assuming they’d clean the metal disc before they cooked on it. 🙂 Anyhoo, the discada was delicious, and even though I’m still on my fast I didn’t wanna be rude and turn down the hospitable offer for some food. AND, i was really really hungry too! 🙂 Volleyball was fun too. I originally wasn’t gonna play cuz I definitely didn’t have the right clothes, and was wearing my leather/tire sandals. After the second invitation to play (they didn’t have quite enough people for a third team) I decided to play. I wouldn’t be bored, and the time would pass by quicker. Like I said earlier, it also gave me the chance to have some GOOD food.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 32

Day 32 – Thursday – 10/25/12

Accidentally overslept this morning. First of all, I forgot to reset my alarm after my nap yesterday. Also, I put it inside my nightstand instead of on top, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyways. Oh well, it’s still a good morning. I think because I got a little extra sleep and am well-rested, and because God is good, and because we have beautiful clear blue skies, the sun is rising, and because there’s a nice cool refreshing breeze, I’m just happy. As I was watering the houseplants I remembered that I finished a book yesterday and get to start a new one today, and I ended up singin’ a little song and doin’ a little jig! 🙂 Dorky, I know. The book I’m about to start is published by The Pontifical Council For The Family and is entitled “The Truth And Meaning Of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family.” Looks to be very interesting and hopefully will give me guidelines and tips for when I have my own kids one day. I found it on the bookshelf here at our mission house. The next one is actually a small booklet on what the Church teaches about stem-cells, and then after that it’s a book called Mexican Martyrdom.

My only small sacrifice of the morning came when I realized I had no creamer for my freshly brewed coffee. Small thing, I know. But when coffee is a vital part of your morning routine, creamer is quite important! No worries though, cuz my coffee was fresh, hot, and had a little sugar in it too. Got to do a communion service at the nursing home and at one of our home visits. After that we made our rounds to the other missionaries’ houses to let them know that Desert Day prayer time is tomorrow at 3. It’ll be our last chance to do one as a group before the other missionaries arrive in November. Gonna do lunch at Rita and Gallo’s house, and then go with Raul and Marta to one of their rancho visits. Not sure if we’ll get back in time for Mass, but no biggie if not, because I got to receive the Eucharist when we did our second home visit. 🙂

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 28

Day 28 – Sunday – 10/21/12

Today was a good day and a LOOONG day. Woke up a little before 7 so I could start getting ready for 7:30am Sunday Mass. What on earth was I doing going to Mass that early? I’ll tell you what I was doing. I was…………….going to Mass, that, early. 🙂 For reals though, I go to the early Sunday Mass on the 1st and 3rd Sundays because all of the eucharistic ministers in the parish get a blessing from Father after Mass and then go out to alot of the rancho chapels surrounding our town and do communion services. Me and Luis got our guitars and a few other small things together after the 7:30 Mass and then headed out to our ranchos. As usual, he did Estacion Marte and I did Pilar de Richerdson. Now we did have a slight change-up today. Typically, we do those two, and then we backtrack exactly the same way we came and do a third one on the way back. But, we would also typically do another communion service at another rancho chapel on Monday, this one also being really far away.

Here’s what we figured out: we could do the two we normally do on communion service Sundays, and instead of doing the third one we normally do on the way back, we’d visit the one we normally do on Mondays. But how? Well, the route we take on Sundays and Mondays parallel each other. But, there is a feeder/connector “road” (more like a rocky dirt path through the desert) that could get us from the two that we do on Sundays, to the one we have been doing on Mondays. And after we finish the one we normally do on Mondays, we head back down that route, essentially making our entire trip a big triangle. Then, what we’ll do is take the 3rd one from Sunday, and move it to Monday, couple it with another rancho chapel visit (that we already visit on Mondays) that’s really close to it, and save time and gas. I haven’t calculated the exact amount we’d save, but it’ll be a good bit. Add up the cumulative effect (which we could have been benefitting from if we’d have thought of this route sooner), and that’s alot of savings. When gas prices are high, and your income as a missionary is low, savings are a GOOD thing. So yeah, we did the Sunday part of that plan today, and obviously the Monday part will be tomorrow. Feels good to be saving time and money. Not to mention it made us feel smart for figuring it out, and going on that lonely rocky dirt path through the desert between the two routes made me feel very brave and adventurous. 😀

Had some good hunger pangs today too. I’d say yesterday was the first day since quite early on in my fast that I did my once daily meal exactly that way, as one meal, all at once. No snacks before or after. So when I got up this morning, I was already quite hungry. I did have my morning cup of coffee, but didn’t have any food. And seeing as how I knew communion service Sundays are long (we leave 30 mins – 1 hour after the 7:30 Mass and don’t get back to the house ’till 2:30), I knew I’d have something to offer up! 🙂 That was the good part of the hunger. As I’ve said before, literally experiencing strong hunger pangs, and then having your first physical food be the literal Body and Blood of Christ in The Eucharist, is amazing. The downside is that at the first chapel where I conducted a communion service, I was feeling a little weak. Nothing too bad or unmanageable, but nonetheless, I was feeling it. I was fortunate though that I had brought my bottle of Gatorade. So I took a few swigs after the communion service, and that seemed to do the trick.

The rest of the afternoon/evening has been pretty relaxed. Ate a good, late lunch. Folded my laundry, read some more from the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). Looks to be a pretty slow and relaxing rest of the evening. The Saints played while we were away at communion services, and there are no other games to watch or chores to do. Gonna call Mawmaw Doris then Mom & Dad, and then who knows what else after that.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 19

Day 19 – Friday – 10/12/12

Chillin’ out at the local graveyard for our weekly Desert Day prayer time. It is very peaceful and serene out here. Beautiful mountain scenery all around. Sunny day. A few wispy clouds is the sky. It’s a great place to come for some peace and quiet. We began our Desert Day quite appropriately by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as a group before splitting apart. Getting to pray the Chaplet, on a Friday, in a cemetery provides a unique and somber opportunity to meditate on my own physical mortality. The principal thought that is coming to my mind is how little I seem to think about it. It almost seems like at times that I forget that I’m mortal, because I get so wrapped up in life here on earth.

But even if I live to some crazy Biblical age of 900+ years, that’s still a blink of the proverbial eye when compared to how old the universe is, how long it will be around after me, and especially in comparison to eternity. And while it’s good to enjoy the journey I can’t lose sight of my final destination, eternity with God. When I think about leaving behind all of the good stuff one day when God finally calls me home (family, friends, loved ones, cherished places, memories, etc…) it’s a little saddening. But then I think about how much greater eternity with God will be, and it gives me hope. Please Lord give me strength to persevere through this life and especially give me strength and comfort to persevere through the gateway of death so that I can be with you forever.

Today I’m reminded again of the awesome parallel with Jesus that I’m experiencing in my own 40 day fast out here in the desert. The hunger, the temptations, the closeness to God. It’s pretty surreal when I really think about it. If I only experience one IOTA of the grace that Jesus experienced during his 40 day fast, I will consider myself extremely blessed. If hunger is any indication of the level of grace I’m experiencing, I’m definitely receiving more grace as the fast continues. And if battling and subduing my will, inclinations, instincts, feelings, and desires is any indicator, then there too I’m experiencing alot of grace.

To end today’s entry, just a few reflections on the Eucharist, the ultimate fulfiller of the ultimate hunger. My physical hunger today is pretty noticeable, because instead of eating a meal split into two snacks (one at breakfast and one at lunch), i’m waiting until supper to eat because we have our monthly community dinner with the other missionaries. (edit: actually, I have to admit that the hunger pangs are pretty intense today.) I think also now that i’m well into my fast, and i’m taking two smaller snacks instead of a meal, my body’s adjusting and feeling the hunger more. So, I decided to do a communion service for one of the old men at the Comedor, because otherwise he wouldn’t receive the Eucharist. I can’t say no to him receiving the Eucharist, especially when I’m able to bring it to him, and especially when I know he really wants it. So besides the extreme privilege of bringing the Eucharist to him, I was also able to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist as my first solid food nourishment of the day.

To be able to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in The Eucharist when you are feeling strong hunger pangs heightens the experience of the Eucharist. It’s pretty amazing. I was equally astonished as to what he said regarding the Eucharist. Once I got there, it was apparent that he had a little bit of chest congestion and a little bit of a cough. He said he wanted to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist, but wasn’t sure if he should because of his cough and he didn’t want to disrespect Jesus by possibly coughing him up. I assured him that Jesus wants to be with him in the Eucharist, and that it was ok to receive Jesus anyways. That Jesus understood his situation, and could even heal him. I was just awestruck by this old man’s way of having so much respect for the Eucharist. If only we all had that same respect……..

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 13

Day 13 – Saturday – 10/6/12

Yesterday’s Desert Day and Rancho visits were good. It had been since the 3rd week of September since we visited, due to the fact that finances are tight so we spend even less on gas and because we wanted to do more in town as per father’s advice. We’ll be going again this week for our final visit as a team of singles before the Intake missionaries arrive at the beginning of November. When we got back and I went to buy a few things from the store and then came back to eat supper, I was reminded how even in the midst of fasting God is still allowing me to feast. When I say “fasting” I’m referring to both the “going without” that is experienced by many here in town on many different levels, as well as my own “going without” that I experience in the missionary life (combined with my 40 day fast). I had to carry two huge 5-gallon jugs of fresh drinking water that cost a mere 10 pesos each (less than $1 U.S.) I ended up carrying at least 4 grocery bags heavy with stuff. After my simple supper, I got to eat some inexpensive cookies for  dessert ($17 pesos/$1.25 U.S.) that many people here can’t afford, and one of my mission partners let me have a piece of his Mexican chocolate to make a cup of hot chocolate. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

In morning prayer this morning the reading was from Hebrews 13 & the words that really stuck out to me were “…imitate their faith, Jesus Christ is the same, do not be carried away…”. Simple but powerful. Experienced a very small victory/grace from my fast earlier tonight. I remember that someone told me my fast will be less of a struggle with the hunger feeling and more of a struggle with controlling my desires and will. I wanted to eat a small piece of the Mexican chocolate that Albert gave me (which I had decided to give to one of our missionary families). Almost convinced myself that it was no big deal, then I remembered about how small victories are still victories. Resisted the chocolate. Felt good. Went over to Gallo and Rita’s so she could show me how to make bunuelos, which are thin flour tortillas that are fried and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Apparently they have to dry overnight, and then we’re gonna fry them up tomorrow morning. Told her we were gonna save them to eat when me, Luis, and Albert go over tomorrow night to watch the final episode of one of the telenovelas. Have us some popcorn too. Gonna have a good ole time 🙂

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 12

Day 12 – Friday – 10/5/12

!On the twelfth day of fasting, my stomach said to me, FEEEEEEEEEEEEED MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

anyhoo, here’s my real journal entry:

I’ll have a little bit more of the hunger factor for at least part of the day. This week I’ve been eating lunch but because of Desert Day today I have to wait until supper to eat. No biggie. God will give me the grace to offer it up. For Desert Day, I’m reading St. Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians. And I guess as a missionary I’m starting to read this from a new perspective (bout time! considering that I’m already into my third year of missionary service). I almost feel like I could replace the names in 1 Thessalonians with my name and the names of my fellow missionaries and the people who are part of the local churches we serve.

I’m reading how people talked about the impact of St. Paul and his fellow missionaries’ visits. It also talks about how the people turned from serving idols to serving God, the Living and True God. It gives me alot of hope and encouragement for my missionary vocation. And thank goodness I was reading in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5, because now I know what our vocation as Christians is. But you gotta read verses 16-18 to find out. 🙂 Hasta La Pasta!

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I put mayo on my bread tonight

Friday, September 14, 2012 – Noon-ish – mountainous area outside of Ejido Tejocote, which is a “municipio” of General Cepeda, in the state of Coahuila, in the country of Mexico

writing down my thoughts during Desert Day prayer time

So, I promise the title of this journal entry does pertain to it. You just have to wait till (or skip ahead to) the end. My original title was “Desert Day is a misnomer”, but that sounded kinda nerdy and boring, and didn’t think it would grab anybody’s attention enough to make them actually wanna read my journal entry. That was the original title, because we call our weekly “get away from everyone and everything” prayer time “Desert Day”. We do this in imitation of Jesus who took time away to pray and be with the father. But, aside from the fact that I was in a mountainous area instead of a desert, it was also VERY foggy. Like, visibility 50 yards or less type of foggy. The fog was so thick, it was starting to coagulate/coalesce/stick together and formed water driplets that were just big enough to be pulled by gravity down to the earth. “Drizzly” is a good word to describe it. But not quite heavy enough for me to use the word “drizzling”, as in, it was actually drizzling. And I use the word “driplets”, because they were even smaller than “droplets” of water.

cactus look so much cooler up close (but not too close)

not a whole lot goin on in this pic. A path in the forest. It just looked really simple, beautiful, peaceful.

coolest danged pine cone I ever seen

Desert Day is once again full of peace.It’s a profound peacefulness. Profound. Yeah. That’s the perfect word to describe it. I see the layers of fog drifting by me. I hear the wind blow through the trees and across the landscape. Kinda reminds me of the Holy Spirit talk we’ve been giving this week & how you can’t see the Spirit, but you can see and feel and hear the effects of The Spirit. Kinda makes me wonder too if Adam and Eve appreciated The Garden of Eden the way I appreciate this Desert Day peacefulness and tranquility. What was their basis of comparison, since everything at that point was perfectly beautiful, tranquil, and sinless. They had no sucky-ness to help them appreciate the beauty of it all (prior to be kicked out of The Garden of Eden, of course) Came across this really cool little horned desert lizard. Snapped a few pics.

Came across this little guy when I was doing some exploring

funny thing is i almost didn’t see him, he camouflages so well with his surroundings

“aerial” view of my lizard friend

head shot

Sittin in the van now, all the windows opened/rolled down. Enjoying the stillness from here, because I didn’t bring a blanket to sit on. And, it’s (just barely) too drizzly.  Read a little bit from The Bible. Reading in 1 Corinthians how you don’t have to be a wordsmith or academic scholar in order to preach the Gospel. Which is quite ironic considering that earlier this week was the feast day of St. John Chrysostom, whose last name literally means golden-tongue (or golden-mouth?). But as much as I admire St. John Chrysostom, I’m glad I read that passage in 1 Corinthians, because if there’s one thing I am NOT, it’s a golden-tongued orator. 🙂

Anyhoo, later on we’re headed to Tejocote & 2 de Abril (two nearby ejidos) to do prayer services in the chapels. In the meanwhile I’m gonna go harvest some of this good mountainous/foresty topsoil for our garden at the Casa de Misiones. Till next time…………………….

p.s.- So, to explain the title of this entry, you have to realize that I journal in a “one size fits all purposes” notebook. It’s a journal, notebook, post-it note pad, and everything in between. I had some mayo in the fridge that I wanted to use up before it went bad, ergo, the funny/random note that gave birth to the title of this journal entry.

p.s.s.- Having your house right next to the city hall (La Presidencia) and right on the town square (El Zocalo) has it’s advantages. Last night (Sept. 15th) the town celebrated Mexican Independence Day and we got to observe alot of things up close. Getting to hear and see the Mexican Hat Dance song performed, in Mexico, has now made my life a little more complete.

p.s.s.s.- Seeing the fireworks display that was literally right in front of our house, while standing on our rooftop, was pretty cool too 🙂

Our local church parish, La Parroquia de San Francisco de Asis, all lit up for Mexican Independence Day

the local city hall, La Presidencia, decorated for Mexican Independence Day

some of the fireworks show we saw from the roof of our Casa de Misiones

watchin’ the baile (dance) from the rooftop

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We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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Silence and The Sower

Friday, August 17, 2012 – Noon – Ejido Tejocote – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Sometimes we prepare the soil. Sometimes we sow the seeds. Sometimes we water and nurture the plants as they grow. Sometimes we reap the harvest. All 4 are important. These were some of the thoughts that came to me during my weekly desert day prayer time. In my time here in Mexico I’ve been slowly reconnecting with my childhood hobby of gardening. I’ve also been thinkin’ about the parable of the sower and what happens to the seeds when they fall on the different types of soil.

And that’s what got me thinking about the 4 stages I mentioned above. So much emphasis is put on the reaping of the harvest. But so often we forget that for there to even be a harvest, someone has to first prepare the soil. No good soil = no plant. And what good does it do to prepare the soil if we aren’t actually planting the seed. Furthermore, if we plant the seed but never water it, nor prune and nurture the plant as it grows, then all has been for nought. And as we all know, if you do all that but don’t actually go out and reap the harvest, then it’s a waste. Maybe because of the line of “work” i’m in, I can’t help but think in terms of evangelizing and helping others. To me, preparing the soil is equivalent to forming a relationship with people. Sowing the seeds is equivalent to evangelizing. Watering and nurturing the plant is the follow-up that must be done and the maintaining of the relationship. And reaping the harvest is equivalent to helping them put their gifts to good use.

As I sat in silence during my desert day prayer time, I was enveloped by peace and stillness and this came to me: “The most profound silence I’ve ever experienced outside of Eucharistic Adoration has been during my experiences of desert day prayer time. Sometimes it’s so peaceful and quiet that I think I may have gone deaf because I see a blade of grass moving silently, or a spider web glistening in the sun. But without fail, I end up hearing the breeze blowing over the rocks and through the trees. And I think the silence is as profound as it it because of its nature. It’s not a purely nature-inspired silence. It’s not a mere admiration filled with awe and a love for natural beauty. It’s a God-infused silence that stills you way beyond the capacity of anything in the nature created realm to do so. It’s the Creator inhabiting his Creation.

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Desert Day in the Graveyard

Friday – August 10, 2012 – 10:30am – Panteon Santa Ana – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Desert Day in the Graveyard

So, my mission partner is about 5 hours away in another part of Mexico with one of our local missionaries riding along. They’re doing the bi-annual (twice a year?) renewing of the Mexican permit we need to have our American van here with us. No van = weekly Desert Day prayer time at a location that I can walk to. So I chose the tried and true local graveyard. Lest you think I’m some kinda morbid sort of person, let me explain myself. The idea of Desert Day is to follow Jesus’ example of escaping the busyness of ministry by retreating to a quiet locale, free of distractions/disturbances, for some much needed time with the Lord. Obviously, the graveyard is very VERY quiet. The people who “live” there don’t make any noise at all. (Ok, ok, corny/bad joke, I know). Also, there are a few really good shaded spots to escape the sun. Last but not least, if you’ve never been to a Mexican graveyard, then you’d never know how colorful and decorated they can be. The graveyard here in General Cepeda (Panteon Santa Ana) has nary a totally plain gray or white tomb. Many are painted various bright and varied colors. And for those tombs that are white or gray, they are usually adorned with a colorful Jesus or Our Lady of Guadalupe statue.

My reflections today centered around two bible passages I received during my Desert Day prayer time as well as a excerpt from the current chapter I’m reading in the book “Catholicism for Dummies: 2nd Edition”.

First passage – John 10:27-28 “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand.”

When I came across this verse, it really struck me. I caught myself thinking that sometimes in life I succeed in listening to his voice, ergo, being his sheep. But how many times do I NOT listen to his voice? Everytime this happens, I am not his sheep. Not out of his decision. He ALWAYS wants me to be his sheep. But he also respects my freewill, and that is how we as human beings are the most unique species of “sheep”. Unlike our animal counterparts, we have more than just animal instinct that guides our decision to follow or not follow him. We have, as previously stated, freewill. So, back to my point, because I have not always heeded his voice, there have been many times that I have not been his sheep. Many times that I have not followed him and he has not known me. Again, always because of my decision and never EVER because of any decision on his part. He always gives me what I need, including every possible chance to turn from my ways and towards his. Sometimes out of my nature of being a “tete-dur”, I choose my way. (“Tete-dur” is a cajun-french phrase my dad taught me when I was a little boy. It means “hard head” 🙂 ) But, the consolation of my reflection on this passage lies in the last verse. If I do choose to be his sheep, I will have life…………….ETERNALLY. I will NEVER be lost or stolen from his hand.

Second passage – John 11:41-42 “So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said: Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.”

This passage was with Jesus, Martha, et all at her brother Lazarus’ tomb, days after he died, moments before Jesus raised him. To me it shows two things, which I just so happen to desperately need, day in and day out, as a missionary. (All Christians need this too). It says to me that I need to be confident that God hears my prayers. And, it tells me that I need to pray not for selfish reasons, but in service to others.

This last passage is from the book I mentioned. “Darkening of the intellect: This wound is the reason many times we can’t see clearly the right path to take even though it’s right under our nose, so to speak. Sometimes, our wounded human nature cloud’s our intellect’s ability to see with precision the proper course to take. Often, we need good advice, counsel, and perhaps even fraternal correction to compensate when our minds are unable to digest the situation or we find it difficult to figure out the proper solution to our problem”

It’s a passage that really struck a chord with me. Currently I’m living out my commitment to be in Mexico until the end of November. What will happen after November, I honestly have no earthly clue. (Maybe a heavenly one?) And it’s frustrating. But, when I read this I felt like it helped me to understand the nature of why it’s hard to udnerstand God’s will and path in our lives. And the compensation it mentions (good advice, counsel, and fraternal correction) is right on the money. I have and still continue to benefit from all three.

And that’s all I got for today. I felt really good about my Desert Day prayer time today. Like God really spoke to me. It’s a great feeling.

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