Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our God is an awesome God

The church that we attend when we're in the U.S. is very small. I doubt that there are more than 50 families in the parish, which relies heavily on support from the tourists that come to the town it's in. The priest just turned 81. Most of the parishioners are retired. The altar server and his wife just celebrated their 55th anniversary this week; last week a couple in the church celebrated their 67th (!!!) anniversary, and the week before another couple celebrated their 57th. It's a very subdued congregation. The music is terrible.

Last week one of parishioners asked for the anointing of the sick because she was going to have surgery for lung cancer on Wednesday. The priest invited all those with serious illnesses or conditions to come up for prayer, and 35 people came.

This week the priest's homily focused on the "all in" nature of discipleship, and in the middle of it he brought up the anointing of the sick and how many people neglect to ask for it. Then he reported on the woman with lung cancer. On the day before her surgery the doctor took another scan of her lungs to determine the exact location and size of the cancerous tumor, only it wasn't there! God had miraculously healed her!

Having been a charismatic christian all my adult life I can tell you that the anointing of the sick at mass last week had none of the "charisma" that I was used to - no excitement, no evidence of extraordinary faith, no evidence of expectation that God would do anything. The whole process was quite "ordinary". But God showed up anyway!

That's something that never ceases to amaze me: the humility I see in the Catholic Church, and the great love that God shows to the humble.

It was 45 years ago today...

On Saturday June 30th, 1968 I became Mrs. David Yager. That sounds odd to our feminist-inured ears now, but it used to be how married women were referred to in print. Well, I am Mrs. David Yager. Although neither of us were christians at the time of our wedding, God knew His plans for us, that He would make one person out of two very different people. Mr. and Mrs. David Yager.

We were married in the town where David's parents grew up and where his grandmothers still lived, mostly because, since neither of us had any church connections, the pastor of his grandmother's church was the only pastor that either of us had any acquaintance with, and for some reason we agreed that we wanted to be married in a church.

Maybe the idea of being married in a church was his mother's idea. After all, we were getting married because she proposed and I accepted. Actually, the first time I ever saw David I knew he was the one I was going to marry. I distinctly heard God tell me that at the time. David has never believed that, mostly because I wasn't a christian when we met, but that didn't mean that God couldn't speak to me, or that I couldn't recognize His voice when He spoke so plainly.

Anyway, it took a few months (three? four?) before David proposed, but when he actually popped the question we had both just smoked a joint, and I wasn't exactly in any condition to answer appropriately, so I put him off. By the second time he asked me, I had gotten the idea that marriage was apparently old-fashioned and unnecessary (the hippie movement had just started) so I suggested that we simply live together.

Soon after that we went to dinner at his parents' house (I was still living in an apartment with my roommates) and his mom asked me what I planned to do over the summer (we were both still in college). I told her - I must have been stoned at the time - that he and I planned to buy a tent and live in the foothills. In her wonderfully delightful way she said "oh, you don't want to miss out on having a real wedding!" and I said "You're right! How do we do that?" and that's why we ended up married instead of just shacking up.

When we went to get our marriage license his father had to come with us to sign for him because David was under the legal age of adulthood for males (21). Since the legal age for females was 18, I was able to sign for myself, having turned 18 a few months earlier.

Our wedding was relatively small and lovely. The reception was held at David's grandmother's mansion. At the end of the reception we changed clothes (I had bought a suede miniskirt for the occasion), piled our friends into our brand new Chevy Suburban that David has just bought for $3000 cash, and went to the Haight-Ashbury. After hanging out there for a few hours we dropped our friends off and headed for the swankiest hotel in San Francisco, where someone (David's father?) had made reservations for us. We were completely out of our element, but enjoyed the one-night stay and the next morning drove back to our new house in Davis where we found all our friends asleep on our living room floor. The local cannery was hiring for summer jobs and since our friends had been living in dorms during the school year, they had no place to stay after the dorms closed...except our house.

Looking back, we both agree that it was only by God's grace that we managed to stay married, given such an inauspicious start. We had no idea how to be responsible adults - in the years since, we have often spoken of how we raised each other. We had no idea how to love one another, how to show affection - neither of us had parents who were role models in that regard, nor were there any other helpful influences in our lives to teach us. Everything we learned about being husband and wife we learned the hard way...the very hard way.

But what adventures we had (and continue to have!) And what blessings God poured out on us (and continues to)! And what depth of love we found!

Happy anniversary, mi querido...tu eres el regalo mas precioso que Dios me dio.

This is a photo of us at the renewal of our vows when we entered the Catholic Church in 2010.

Here we are with our son Matt and his wife Julie on our way out to dinner yesterday to celebrate our anniversary and his 41st birthday (he was born on our 4th anniversary).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Musings: wearing a headcovering

A few days ago Cari Donaldson put up a post about veiling (that is, wearing a headcovering during mass) which I had every intention of leaving alone, even though I am one who covers my head at mass. I do it because I believe that God has shown me that I personally need it to remind myself that my (as my priest describes it) fierce intellect needs to be under the discipline of love. That's my personal reason which certainly doesn't apply to everyone.

However at mass today we were subjected to the part of the liturgy known as "today's joke" (we're in the U.S. for a couple of weeks). I hope you all realize is an American phenomenon and not practiced in the rest of the world. Anyway, the joke was a long one about the 10 top reasons why God created Eve. The reasons included such things as that without Eve, Adam would get lost in the Garden because he would refuse to ask for directions, and that without her he would wear the same old fig leaf until it disintegrated, etc. The #1 reason was that when God was finished making Adam He stepped back and said to Himself, "I can do better than that!".

Now I have to admit I thought the joke was funny (although out of place at mass), but I was immediately reminded that this is another example of how our culture continually denigrates men and exalts women. And that reminded me of the question of "why veil?" that Cari had brought up. And I'm wondering if veiling might be a visible way that Catholic women can show humility in place of the arrogance that our culture almost demands of us.

I don't think this reasoning would hold up in every culture in the world - I certainly don't see the same arrogance derived from feminism in my home country of Mexico. But here in the U.S. we who seek to follow Jesus and imitate Mary cannot deny that our culture is our enemy in that regard. And as more and more catholics in America are remembering and embracing the rich and ancient traditions that were too easily thrown off in the past generation, the issue of women covering their heads might be worth a second look. I don't believe that wearing a head covering has been only a matter of fashion for the past 2 millennia. It seems by St. Paul's mention of it that it was/is a visual representation of a spiritual truth, just as statues of saints or holy water or countless other seemingly silly or meaningless things are.

I'm not one to preach that everyone should be veiling. I don't see the need for everyone to pray before statues or cross themselves with holy water either. But it seems to me that the more we all know about the meanings behind the symbolic acts that the church has encouraged through the ages, the richer our understanding of the character of the One whom we worship, and the virtues that He wants to establish in us.

Perhaps rather than arguing among ourselves, we might look for the underlying virtues that are strengthened by the wearing of a headcovering and determine, each for ourselves, whether these virtues are ones that we need help in cultivating. Not all virtues are equally lacking in every person; and Mother Church has provided many resources for the specific ones that a person may need extra help with. Let's not reject a specific help that the Church has provided simply because its adherents speak with perhaps a bit too much fervor of the help that they have received.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{p,h,f,r} - Animals edition

I told my granddaughters about {pfhr} and that I was looking for pretty, happy, funny and real things to post about. We came up with the idea of focusing on some (not all) of their animals to cover the bases this time, so without further ado:


This is Banana, one of several parakeets the girls have. When I suggested that we take a picture of one of the parakeets, the youngest granddaughter opened the cage and let out a couple of them, but wasn't able to get one to stay on her hand. She's got a lot of energy and the birds get nervous around her. Her older sister, however, is a whiz with animals. She's very calm which all the animals can sense and it makes them feel safe. So we got a photo of Banana next to the painting by the bird cage, since Banana's color goes so well with the painting.


The youngest granddaughter just got a new kitten, Ivy Rose, because her other cat got squooshed. Both she and the kitten are happy to be together.


This is a breed of rabbit called a Lion's Mane. This particular rabbit's name is Mr. Tumnus. This is the only photo of him where you can actually see that he's an animal and not just a disheveled clump of fur. My granddaughter (the calm one) has rabbits of other breeds which she can show at the county fair (she's in 4H, as are all her sisters), but for some reason the Lion's Mane breed doesn't qualify for showing. Maybe it's because it would be hard for the judges to tell which end is up.


This is Toby. He's 16 years old. We joke about our daughter-in-law running an old dog's home because they have 3 very old dogs (the other 2 are labs), and no young dogs (at least not currently). Toby is the oldest of the bunch.

For other {pfhr} posts that have nothing to do with animals but are interesting just the same, click over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

5 Favorites, Forest Edition

We're up at our original homestead with the forest part of our family, and there are so many things here that are long-time favorites, it's hard to pick out just five. Plunging right in, here are five things that I'm always blessed to see when we get here:

[1] THE FOREST. Redwoods, everywhere. They may be rare in the rest of the world, but they are the main species around here. Our property is in prime redwood forest, and our son does a wonderful job of managing it and doing selective logging (which is necessary to keep the trees from crowding each other out).

[2] THE OCEAN. When our boys were young, my mom would come visit and take them to the beach. One time when the ocean came into sight she asked them, "what's the name of the ocean?" (thinking this would be a good teaching moment). Our oldest son answered "Joe!" so from then on the Pacific has been known to this family as Joe Ocean.

[3] THE COMMUNITY. One of the nearby volunteer fire departments had a barbecue fundraiser on Father's Day, which is typical of the sort of community gatherings that happen around here. The entire county is rural - forest, vineyards, and other agriculture - and the events that happen regularly around here are low key gatherings that draw people from the many small communities in the region.

[4] OUR CABIN. We built this for my mom when she retired, and she lived here for over 20 years. When she died a couple of years ago, the Pirate and I fixed up the interior and turned it into our "home away from home". It's about 30 feet away from the main house which the Pirate built when we were newly married and which our younger son and his family live in.

[5] OUR OLDEST FRIENDS. Wherever we've lived, we've made a special place for our "first friends" - the stuffed animals and dolls that we had from infancy. They watch over our cabin while we're in Mexico and are comforting presences to come back to when we come to the forest cabin.

For more Favorite Things, visit Hallie et al at Moxie Wife.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Musings: you CAN go home again

We've arrived at the homestead in the forest. We flew up to San Francisco on Friday and drove up Highway 1 (The Coast Highway) on Saturday. We've only driven that route maybe four times in our lives because it takes about twice as long as it does to use the big freeway (Hwy 101). But we wanted to celebrate this visit in a special, slow pace way since it is the first time we've been up to the homestead in probably 20 years that I didn't have to bring any work with me. The view is gorgeous all the way up (about 150 miles). I told the Pirate to pull over at any point that he thought was particularly photo worthy, but we immediately realized that would mean stopping at every pull-out. Here are a few examples:

I am a cherry fanatic - I come by it genetically, and I've passed it along to one of my sons. He and I could easily eat an entire flat of cherries in a single sitting. One of the great treats about this trip is that it's cherry season, and of course we stopped at the first cherry stand we saw.

As long as I was active in my profession our vacations were primarily "working vacations" for me, especially here at the homestead. The Pirate could relax and do whatever took his fancy, but I had to spend much of my time focused on work. This visit is SO different - I can be fully present when family members want to come over to our cabin and chat; I can go to local events without having in the back of my mind all the things that I'd have to get done when I got back to the cabin; I can just loll around and read and knit or crochet.

Yesterday (Father's Day) one of the volunteer fire departments in the area (there are lots of them because there are lots of small communities around here) held its annual Father's Day chicken barbecue.

Our son, who is on the volunteer fire department of our local community, helped grill the chicken.

Our daughter-in-law and granddaughters held down the booth selling non-alcoholic drinks (there was also a booth for beer and wine)

The Pirate and I got to have some good, long conversations with old friends whom we rarely see. That's the Pirate in the black cap and our granddaughter Jordan standing behind him.

What a great gift God has given us to be able to come back to our original home and spend time with old friends as well as family. And in such a beautiful place, too!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sing a Song

Sing a song
Make it simple, to last your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear
Sing a song.

Our years in the forest were lived with Sesame Street songs in the background. These were the songs from the early years of Sesame Street, and we had ALL the cassette tapes that were produced by CTW. We played them in our home and in the car. We sang them when we weren't playing them. They were a fundamental part of our lives.

The Pirate and I are flying up to the States tomorrow, to spend three weeks with the forest branch of our family. One of our granddaughters won't be there because she's on a mission trip to Africa with Teen Missions. But we'll get to hang out with the rest of the forest family, including miscellaneous goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats and birds (I don't think I've forgotten anyone).

This is the first time I've had a chance to just BE there without having to spend a good portion of my time working at my profession. Now that I'm fully retired, I can do the things that have always been most satisfying to me, the things I learned as a young wife when we lived in the forest. Knitting, crocheting, cooking, sewing, as well as hiking around in the forest and seeing dear long-time friends. For the first time in a LONG time I have nothing that I must do there and I can simply settle in and do what comes naturally in that place that will always be our family home.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Beatitude Attitudes, vol.8

Linking up with Rakhi at Pitter Patter Diaries for Tuesday's Beatitude Attitudes.

[1] Blessed am I to have found a real friend in my former neighbor who moved to another part of town. She and her husband have been through a lot since we first met them, and we have had the privilege of helping them from time to time in different ways. What I am particularly blessed by is that she looks past our age differences, our significantly different backgrounds, and my stumbling attempts to speak her language, and just enjoys my company (as I do hers). She gave me a tip today: if you have trouble getting to sleep, put a sprig of fresh basil in your pillowcase (so you can smell it) and it will help you sleep well.

[2] Blessed am I to know my Mexican neighbors. I was talking with an American woman the other day who has lived for maybe 5 years in a neighborhood in which a lot of our Mexican friends live. But she doesn't know any of her neighbors and feels lonely all the time, mostly because she doesn't speak Spanish.

[3] Blessed am I to be adept at learning a new language. Most Americans who come down here don't speak Spanish and (apparently) don't think they can learn, so they end up living in American enclaves where everyone they know and see every day speaks English. The sad part is that it separates them from really experiencing the Mexican culture, which is what most of them say is why they came here.

[4] Blessed am I to have a husband who believes in the importance of being embedded in the local community. In case you can't tell which gringo he is (there's only one) he's at the top in the back.

[5] Blessed am I to live in a culture where the family is still regarded as the center of the society, large families are common (I mean REALLY large - we have one friend who has 12 siblings, and another with 16 siblings), and life is lived outside, with all your neighbors, not cocooned in your own home by yourself.

[6] Blessed am I to live in a place where many people don't own cars (too expensive) so everything is within walking distance.

[7] Blessed am I that God revealed Himself to me who had no religious background at all, and adopted me as His daughter.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

3 Reasons, vol. 3

I'm linking up with Micaela at California to Korea (and home again, home again, jiggety jog) to tell the world about the amazing blessings of being Catholic. I love the Pope Francis edition that Micaela has this month, and that picture of the Pope in the rain! He is beyond amazing!

Here are only three things that I love about the church:

IT IS FULLY INCARNATIONAL. Of course protestants (of which I was one for over 40 years) believe in the incarnation of Jesus, but in the actual "working out of one's salvation" - the living of one's faith - the emphasis is on getting the right concepts. The Catholic Church is not ashamed to acknowledge the value of physical things in aiding the growth of faith. The difference between being in a typical protestant church building, which often could be mistaken for a conference center, and being in a typical Catholic church, with the many reminders of the glories and mysteries of God's love for us, is striking. To be able to contemplate Jesus' sacrifice for us by looking at a statue of him hanging on the cross is to have an incarnated experience of this verse: "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God".

IT HAS A SOLID AND ENDURING LITURGICAL AND HEIRARCHICAL STRUCTURE. This is sooo important! If the structure of a thing changes it becomes something else (stay with me here; don't go looking for exceptions!). The structure of the Catholic Church hasn't changed for 2000 years and isn't going to start changing now. This is what is needed to have true freedom - if you can't be sure that your church's structure will be the same in the future, some part of you isn't settled and free of concern in that regard. We were in denominational churches for years which had a certain liturgical structure to them, but that structure was changeable based on the desires of the pastor or the congregation (depending on the denomination). We were also in nondenominational churches for years, and the greatest threat there is that virtually all of them are based on the charisma of their leaders. Once the founding leaders are gone, often changes are made which take the group away from their unique charisma. The structure of the Catholic Church - both liturgical and hierarchical - was the same in the first century that it is today (just read the Didache, written in 90AD, to see that).

IT HAS EUCHARISTIC ADORATION. This may seem weird to non-Catholics (heck, I KNOW it seems weird to them!) but I've also heard many stories of people who don't believe that the host is Christ who nevertheless find themselves at Eucharistic Adoration and feeling the deep peace of His presence. That ought to be a fairly strong sign that the Catholic Church may be on to something here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

{p,h,f,r} Hand Made

I'm joining the folks at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {pretty, happy, funny real} with a focus on things that the Pirate and I have made, and how they turned out.

At our last home I had a separate studio where I did all my fiber projects - knitting, crocheting, and what I called "nature weavings". I've had my works in various shows, but not the one below, which is my favorite of all. It used to hang in the hallway of our old house, but now it's on the wall right above my treadle sewing machine. It's one of the first things I see every morning. The yarn is actually more colorful than the closeup photo shows.

When we moved down here to Mexico I didn't think there would be any point in bringing any of the sweaters that I had knit over the years, but I did bring one that I had knit long ago with a nubbly cotton yarn. I love that yarn and I didn't want to consign this sweater to a plastic tub in our storage unit, so down it came with me. It has been hanging quietly in the closet for the past 4 years, but the reason it's hanging on a chair in my bedroom is that I just wore it. Yes, after a couple of days of warm, sunny weather, the fog is bag and I'm wearing long-sleeved knits all day, PLUS sweaters when we go out in the evening. I'm sure glad I brought that sweater down here!

I've been begging the Pirate to smoke some cheese for me (in his smoker), so the day that I asked him to smoke some chicken legs and potatoes for dinner - I had already partly cooked them - he decided to throw in some monterey jack cheese as well. As you can see, the right amount of time for chicken and potatoes is definitely TOO LONG for cheese, which melted down onto the chicken. Actually the "mistake" turned out pretty tasty!

When our oldest granddaughter was staying with us for a couple of months earlier this year I bought some yarn for her to have a knitting project. She found a pattern for a clapotis shawl and started it, but didn't get very far into it. I told her that I'd finish the shawl for her birthday, so last week I picked up the project and knitted it to the halfway point (it's a triangular shawl). However, when I started to decrease stitches to make the triangle I realized that the pattern had a major flaw in it (at least for the type of yarn that was being used) and I wouldn't be able to continue. Happily I had bought WAY too much of that yarn because the color is so lovely - actually a deep brownish burgundy - so I started the shawl again with a new ball of yarn and a change in how stitches were added and subtracted. This is the original piece, which I'm about to rip out so I can use the yarn in the new version (rather than using up more new balls of yarn).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

5 Favorites: My Colorful Life

Linking up with the Hallie and the gang at Moxie Wife for Five Favorites. This week I'm celebrating all the colorful things that are part of my life which I had no part in making so colorful.

[1] EGG CARTONS. All egg cartons down here are this happy shad of fuchsia. How can you not love eggs when they come in packaging like that? Actually, after tortillas and beans, eggs are the most common ingredient in meals down here.

[2] THIS BOX OF TISSUES. If they would just keep offering the same pattern on tissue boxes I'd be ecstatic. But I haven't seen this in the stores recently, only depressingly pale patterns, dull enough to make you come down with a cold just looking at them.

[3] THESE SHOPPING BAGS. Everyone who sees them is fascinated. What's super cool about them is that I can fit 4 of them in my purse (and I don't have a very large purse!). They are sold at most of the high-end grocery stores in NorCal.

[4] THESE BLANKETS. Okay, I suppose you could say that I'm at least partly responsible for this because I chose to put the blankets there, but I didn't choose the blankets themselves - they all just showed up at my house over the years - and I don't have anywhere else to put extra blankets, so here they all are!

[5] THIS CEMETERY. I know, strange choice for a "favorite thing", especially one based on color. But as you can see, Mexicans don't stint on color in the event of death; instead color is one way to celebrate the eternal life that death is only the door into. This is the "old cemetery" in town, but the new one is just as colorful. I took the photo from the front yard of a good friend of ours, and he told me that the large pink tomb is where a war heroine from the Mexican Revolution is buried. She was a famous army commander in that war and a native of our town. They call her "La Coronela".

Beatitude Attitudes, vol. 7

Yes! Gratituesday is here! After you're done reading this post (I hope you read it!) head on over to Rakhi's at Pitter Patter Diaries for more.

[1] Blessed am I that God communicates with me in pictures. He knows how thick-headed I am and is faithful to make sure that I understand Him by embedding what He wants me to receive in images I can understand. Come to think of it, that's how Jesus taught when He was here on earth, and that's how God so often spoke to Israel through the prophets. I'm grateful that He's so intent on communicating with us.

[2] Blessed am I to be able to see, and to live in an era when doctors can eliminate cataracts. Today's Old Testament reading was from Tobit, where he describes his blindness due to cataracts. My grandmother had cataracts and it was only when she was VERY old (she lived to be over 100) that a procedure was developed to replace the clouded lens of the eye. So for many years she was blind due to something that, for me, will require a simple outpatient procedure.

[3] Blessed am I that we can afford to eat out several times a week. I remember how poor we were in the first years of our marriage; eating out was never part of our reality. On our 10th anniversary we set aside enough money to go to a renowned local restaurant owned by friends of ours and have dessert. We couldn't afford a whole meal, but just being able to go there for dessert was such a treat. Although eating out is a regular thing for us these days, I don't take it for granted - it's still a treat every time we do, whether at a taqueria or an upscale tourist restaurant (we mostly go to the taquerias - we love the local food!).

[4] Blessed am I to have developed friendships with people who live far from me, but whom I can encourage and share my thoughts with via the web (hey friends, do any of your toddlers have a cute way of saying "world wide web" or "internet"?)

[5] Blessed am I to have the muscular strength to knit and crochet. About 15 years ago I got carpal tunnel syndrome in BOTH wrists - and we had just moved to a place that required me to drive a mountain road to get home every day! Suffice it to say it's a miracle that I managed to do that without having an accident, since I had to wear braces on both hands and didn't have any flexibility of the kind needed to turn a steering wheel. This problem also meant that I couldn't use my hands for other things requiring wrist strength or flexibility - like knitting and crocheting. However, one of the members of our (Presbyterian) church was a chiropractor (the best I've ever been to) and after a couple of months of regular sessions with him my problem was completely gone and has - thanks be to God - never returned. I can hardly imagine my life without fiber craft, so I am deeply grateful that I didn't have to give it up.

[6] Blessed am I to have the resources to serve. Last night our Bible study met at our house. Padre had encouraged all the groups in the church to study the booklets on the sacraments that were put out by our diocese, which could be downloaded from its website and printed out. However, nobody that I know here has a printer except us, so I was able to print copies of all the booklets to hand out to the members of our group. A small service, but one that was appreciated.

[7] Blessed am I to have gotten a ripe mango from our own mango tree and shared it with my DH the Pirate - our first home-grown mango!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Musings: Ode to the Desert Plant Lady

As I was praying today my eyes were drawn to this small olive wood statue that sits on my desk, and my thoughts went to how Mary nurtured Jesus as a baby. That led me down a path of reflection on the holy things that we should nurture in our lives, which ended in contemplating how some of our relationships have a special quality about them that one could call "holy" even if the friendship isn't based on a common belief in God.

I'm not talking about people that we know well - family members, people we've known forever, etc. Those are by nature "holy": special, deep, complex. The relationships that my thoughts led to are those with people that we really don't know that well, but that we feel a special bond with. We want to seek them out; we want to NURTURE the relationship rather than letting it drift away.

One such person recently emailed me after reading my blog. She is someone who I've only spent a total of maybe 10 hours with, but oddly, I had been thinking a lot about her and her husband in the past several months. They lived in our town when we first moved here, and then moved to Chile fairly soon after (not exactly a quick drive away!).

I might think that this relationship is special to me because she and I both love desert plants, but I know other people who do and I have no sense of wanting to nurture my relationships with them. I might think that it's because we both came from rural areas in California, but again, I know many people with that same background whom I wouldn't seek out. Who knows what the mystery ingredient is....but the key word is "mystery". That's a fundamental characteristic of holiness (at least from my perspective). God is mysterious, and all that is touched by Him has some of that mystery embedded in it, that element that you can't access through your head, only through your heart.

The goal is to have a heart sensitive to those gentle tuggings, those calls to nurture the less obvious things, the seemingly small things. Mary nurtured Jesus when he was a newborn, when he was a toddler - when he was small and unremarkable in the eyes of others, easily dismissed as "just another baby". What must it have been like for her to look at him and know that God The Creator had taken on flesh in the form of her son - this helpless baby in her arms.

As C.S. Lewis reminded us in "The Weight of Glory", if we could see each other as the immortal creatures that we truly are, we would be tempted to fall down and worship each other. What splendor is veiled in ordinary things! And this goes for certain relationships - ones that have in some way been touched by the God of mystery for our benefit. Let us not fail to nurture the treasures that have been granted us.