Lent is hard. Being thankful during Lent is even harder. I entered the desert a few days early this year. It started as I was preparing to begin my journey to Covecrest’s staff retreat; the doctor’s office called saying that my blood tests had come back abnormal.
After our staff retreat ended, I did not fly back to Europe with my community. Instead, I sat on Delta Flight 2715 headed to Phoenix, Arizona, to pursue more medical testing. Weeks later, I still find myself in my parents’ house awaiting more doctors’ appointments and tests.
The Lord is teaching me much through this. First and foremost, that He is God and He is in control of my life and of this mission, not me. Second, despite my suffering, to be aware of and thankful for the little blessings and gifts that the Father gives me throughout each day.
I will share with you some of the little pleasures God has blessed me with over the past few weeks:
-Meeting Him face to face in Reconciliation and drawing deeper into His Sacred Heart, particularly through Holy Communion
-Realizing how weak I am and my need for God
-Hot water for taking showers
-A washing machine that is capable of washing ALL of my clothes at the same time and a DRYER!
-Semi-trucks pulling over on a two-lane highway so that I don’t have to drive below the speed limit
-Vulnerability, honesty, and truth
-Wind whispering in the mountains, bringing back old memories
-Dairy-free cheese and sesame seaweed
-A compassionate allergist
-The beat of the Apache Drum
-Rain that smells like dirt
-An old Shih-Tzu waking me
-The care from my spiritual family in Holland and Germany
-Birds chirping in the sunlit morn
- A capo to use on Mom’s 12-string guitar
The list goes on and on. You see, the Lord provides us with so many little things to be joyful about, even in the midst of suffering. This past Sunday, our priest told us that it is through suffering that we grow closer to God. I have a medical battle ahead of me. And you know what? I’m excited. I have to rely more on our ever-present God, who continues to reveal Himself to me in powerful ways (as seen in the list above). God is here, and He is inviting us to open our eyes to see the many gifts that He gives to us each day, especially in times of struggle. He is a God who wants to bless us. Are we open to receiving His gifts? Or, do we become blinded by our sufferings? God desires us to have joy in our hearts. This doesn’t mean that our lives are going to be completely perfect, but He wants us to invite Him into the deepest places of our being. He is the One who gives us joy in times of trouble. We need to have open and grateful hearts. Gratitude brings us true joy and freedom; let’s be united in that. Are you with me? See you in the Eucharist (Greek for “to give thanks”)!