Learning what our Catholic faith teaches does not always have to mean trying to figure out on our own how to put deep theological insights into our everyday lives.
Because we are blessed with many Catholic thinkers and authors who figure it out for us.
I discovered this recently for myself. You see, my life has become exceptionally busy. My schedule has multiplied with many good things, so I am not complaining . . . . too much.
But it became apparent, as weeds started sprouting in my garden beds and dog hair accumulating along the baseboards with not a minute to spare to pull and sweep, that I needed a plan. Things were out of balance. So because I learned through my Catholic reading the importance of balance for a Godly life, I went about finding a way to remedy the situation.
I hired a landscaper and housekeeper, my thirteen year old son. I knew it would not be long as school floated into summer that he was going to start asking for money. So, I decided I could use some of the tips from Catholic parenting books on raising virtuous children and teach him the value of work and money while benefiting myself in the process.
It has worked out beautifully except for one thing. A few weeks into this new arrangement, I began to feel strangely disjointed. I would not have been able to explain it before, but now I realize that what I was missing was a connection I once had and no longer enjoyed.
It was in reading a book by one of this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference speakers, Emily Stimpson, that I discovered why. She writes in her book, These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body, that humans need to move their bodies in participation with God’s creative plan in order to be fully human. She says it does not have to be anything extraordinary; we just need to use the bodies God blessed us with to create a ‘good’ on a regular and consistent basis.
It made me wonder if this was true in my life and I realized that I was not moving my body parts as much as I had before. And even though the writing I am producing and the conference I am coordinating do participate in God’s creative plan, the sitting and staring at the computer screen is not the motion that completes the deal.
I decided to test her theory by giving myself one do-able project each week that I could complete from beginning to end that would:
- Move my body
- Participate with God by creating a ‘good’ for others (my family, the world, or both) and
- Fit into my very busy schedule
My first project was to weed the garden beds. I told myself, no going to the nursery to buy more plants, no trimming hedges, no getting distracted and piling on more than I have time to handle. It took only an hour and the beds looked clean and beautiful. The next weekend, I cleaned out one closet and put clothes we no longer wear in a bag for St. Vincent de Paul. An added ‘good’ was when my husband came home thrilled that our walk-in closet once again lived up to its name.
What did I learn?
That disjointed feeling I was experiencing disappeared. What I had missed was using all of me: soul, mind AND body. Yes, it is a little thing, but it is a little thing with Eternal perspective. And in a world that loves to complicate, I learned a simple way to live for God by being fully human in the very everyday circumstances of my life.
So as you make your summer reading list, do yourself a favor and add a few Catholic authors to it. It is very possible you will find the answers to whatever is just not quite right in your everyday life.