About a week ago I was deciding internally what to "give up" for lent .. which is usually something Ryan and I decide on together, so we can be supportive to one another when we experience deep cravings and desires ..! Hahah =) But this year, as we are planning Thomas' baptism, I found myself wondering about the why and the so what? of giving up something as trivial as Starbucks and how it relates to Christ and his suffering ... often thinking of my sister Margaret's words, "Yeah .. O.k. That craving for candy and coffee is supposed to bring you closer to God?!" ... with her words echoing in my head I decided to do some Lenten reflection and reading.
Choosing a book became a huge task for me .. I asked a few friends. I asked my dad. I asked my mom. I browsed the shelves of Barnes & Noble and dug into some "Top Religious Non-Fiction of 20xx" lists. I talked to my husband ... the challenge for me was putting in to words what I wanted to discover and learn through reading. I wanted to embrace the values and heart of Christianity - not just Catholicism. I didn't want to read something too deep, negative, holy, etc. I wanted something written by a person I could relate to (Not the Pope, necessarily...). Dad kept saying, "Well, pick up the bible!!" Then it was Mom who recommended a bible study.
... now to find one within our church or close to home. Google was pretty miserable - there are a lot of churches in our area. Would they welcome a "stranger" ..? Finally I turned to Campus Ministries at Notre Dame. Ryan and I did our Pre Cana through Notre Dame and had a wonderful experience that we oftentimes reflect upon ... as it has shaped our communication, relationship, commitment, and understanding of marriage and the dynamic of our selves within our family. Additionally, Campus Ministries is helping us with Thomas' baptism ... so contacting them should have been a "duh" move by me once I initially had questions ...
Either way. I discovered a bible study offered during the Spring semester, and within 12 hours of e-mailing the coordinator, I was invited to his office not 12 hours later. Sweet! A meeting within 24 hours! I met with John Paul Lachon who was a great resource, inviting me to attend an RCIA Lenten bible study that will meet on Thursday nights. Even though I am not an RCIA candidate, I am still welcome to attend, and Ryan and Thomas could come, as well!
After having a great talk with him, and expressing some of my desires, ideas, needs ... we got back onto the topic of recommended reading. After disclosing that I wanted to read about love, compassion, community, warmth ... he pulled a book from his shelf entitled The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, by Henri J. M. Nouwen. After admitting that it is a book that he typically recommends to people who are grieving, he said he felt it could possibly be a great start on my journey, recommending other titles by Nouwen, both for their easy reading and approach-ability. The book is broken up into many "vignettes," as Ryan described them, meant to be read and digested over a longer period of time. Each of Nouwen's "spiritual imperatives," as he describes them, "are meant to be like salt for the meal of your life. Too much salt might spoil it, but a little at a time can make it tasty!"
I was also handed another title on our visit, My Life with the Saints, by James Martin, SJ. This book is more of a memoir, having won a few awards and making it to the Publisher's Weekly best book list.
On top of digging into Christianity, attending a Lenten bible study, and reflecting upon my own spirituality ... I also plan on ditching out on my Starbucks addiction ... which is going to be challenging on a cold, rainy day like today ... where I would typically grab a coffee on my way out of the house, to say, a bible study ;-)