#Snacks

Even the Sparrows

Out hiking, I noticed from a distance this birdhouse someone had placed in the canyon. Knowing that yes, even the birds need a place to call home, a place to rest from the elements. The scripture Matthew 6:26 came to mind: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” A synonym for valuable is precious, something of great value. Do you often think of how precious you are to God? If our God can care for these tiniest of creatures, we can be thankful that this great love extends to us as well. Driving home that day these song lyrics played on my radio,”If He can hold the world He can hold this moment. Not a field or flower escapes His notice, Oh even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.” Coincidence? I don’t think so.

by Cathy

Family Table

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I am remembering how I used to LOVE to set the family table when I was a young girl. I carefully ironed and folded the cloth napkins with the fork resting on top, the knife and spoon nestled together, with wine goblet and water glass close by. Thanksgiving brings to mind that somehow eating together creates a space where we can be vulnerable and present. Whoever is at the Thanksgiving day table is there for a reason–-to connect to our human need for nourishment and to each other. Whether sharing our food or coming empty-handed, we receive from another’s bounty and we are in communion. We are blessed by the generosity of the farmer’s labor, the earth’s many organic abundant gifts, and the joy of companionship.  I cherish my many Thanksgiving memories that involve pure presence and exchanging stories. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving day with your family and friends, sharing food and gratitude.

by Liz

 

Tiny Prayers of Thanks

Each night, I lay down next to my little boy on blue whale sheets and we join together in grateful prayer. We sing quiet songs of praise and recall the beauty we encountered in our day, a simplified and pure version of St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen. I guide him in naming the many people in our lives whom we love and other aching souls we do not know, praying that God will hold their hearts close. His tiny, melodious voice melts my tired heart. We ask for one more day to love more like God, live like servants for each other, and recognize each precious gift in the moment. This way, our gratitude is a dance that weaves into the inner workings of our everyday lives. We wake up each morning, thankful that God granted us our plea for one more, beautiful day.

by CMM

Place of Respite

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I spent the weekend on retreat with 120 men up at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu. The Franciscans bought this prime piece of real estate in the early forties, turning a half-dilapidated mansion into a place of respite and peace.  The Franciscan charisms of hospitality and joy are ever evident in the kind and welcoming spirit of the friars and staff.  The church in her wisdom has always created spaces of retreat; venues often up and away from the daily noise and distractions of life for us to breathe and restore our weary souls.  The Franciscans welcome people from every walk of life to come and refresh their burdened hearts. Often, it is not until I come to such places that I am able to notice how tight my chest is and how beaten down I am. I am grateful for these milieus of peace and refreshment, the healing of silence and the love and care of these followers of St. Francis.

by Andrew

Thank You Mama

My mother passed away this past March. I had the great privilege of being able to be with her for her last months and in many ways, it was a “refresher course” for me on being a Catholic woman. My Mom lived her faith daily. She prayed the rosary every day and in fact, went to her eternal reward with her hands wrapped in her beads. She always, always gave of herself to everyone, no matter how difficult it was. When it came time at the post-funeral reception for me to give my remembrance of her, all I could put on paper were about thirty lines, each of which began with “Thank you, Mama” and was followed by some aspect of my life that was a direct result of her having been my mother. Even six months later, I still find myself looking upward every so often and saying “Thank you, Mama.”

by JAM

Cultivating Gratitude

Although it is difficult at times, I try to cultivate and teach those around me to start every day in thanksgiving. It’s like gently planting a seedling and hoping it will take hold and grow. Say grace before you partake and express gratitude frequently for the little things in life–for wiggly puppy companions,  parking spaces in a crowded lot,  meaningful work, babies sleeping through the night, listening friends who really care, moments of wondrous beauty, family who know you by heart. But most of all, since Eucharist means “thanksgiving,”  think of the mass as the ultimate gourmet thanksgiving dinner. We come eagerly to the table famished, fill up in a fleeting moment, go out to the world and come back, hungry to eat and drink of the Light again and again. Remembering gratitude for life, embracing every moment is simply another chance to plant one more sign of hope for a world in need.

by DC

Beyond Lip Service

A few years ago, a close British friend of mine came to visit me here in California.  During our first meal together in the States, she thought many things were hilarious:  free refills on beverages, American accents, but especially how often we say, “Thank you!” for EVERYTHING. When she brought this up, I began thinking about it.  We Americans say thanks to so many little actions throughout a normal day.  However, I realized how often my “thank yous” were merely lip service.  I even started recalling how many times my words of thanks were said with a hardened heart, perhaps because I didn’t receive exactly in the manner I was expecting. I want to mean what I say.  I want to look at the person who is journeying with me in some way, big or small and acknowledge it completely.  I need to put my heart into these words because I know they have the power to transform my life and the lives of others.

by Laura

You Are Loved

I was out hiking the other day and I came upon this message hanging from a pine tree. I am always amazed when another pilgrim on this road of life takes the time and intentionally leaves a message of encouragement and hope, someone that comes out of his or her own little world or existence to expand the love of a bigger world. Love means simply to will the good of another. I am grateful this day that I am loved deeply by a very personal God so I send this message to all of you to never forget how much you are loved as well. “To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put into doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

by Cathy