Timeless Masterpiece or Masterpiece of the Times?

 

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                            Leuven, Belgium

Reasons for Travel & Exploration:

Adventure (entering the unknown)

Diverse cultures, religions, foods

Meeting new people & communities

Developing broader world views

Seeing beautiful landscapes & architecture 

 

Let’s open up that last point for a moment. When in Europe, I was often shocked by the amount of breathtaking architecture, churches, pantings, mosaics, cobblestone streets, statues, fountains and stonework. The amount of manual labour required to create these masterpieces, is hard to imagine. These men and women would spend their entire lives perfecting their trade. Some would spend decades on a single piece. What dedication to their work. What a vision for beauty.

In North America, we have a instant, one time, throw away mentality. We design, create and produce for efficiency and short term use. This is extremely evident in the way we mass produce clothes, cars, appliances, houses even. We want to get the best price, so we compromise for quality. We compromise for beauty.

I would go so far to say that our culture, especially the North American culture, has really robbed itself of beauty. In our hopes to make financial gains and the latest findings in technology, we lack vision for the future, for what is breathtaking. A church is better to be white, plain and simple then to waste money. A shirt is mass produced to be sold at low prices. A car is made to last for 15 years not 50.

I think it’s worth while to consider the way we  view material goods, creation and beauty. Pope Francis has written the Encyclical, “Laudato Si” about the environment and the current status of our world. He really urges us to care for the globe, to care for one another. Not to become a die hard tree-hugger, but to really ask ourselves if we care for the generations ahead? Are we only able to see what in front of us, or do we have a vision for whats to come? Do we spend time investing in the masterpieces of the times? Has the latest technologies, the cheapest investments, the fastest means for growth and gains consumed us? Or, are we striving to create and foster a culture of  timeless masterpieces? Do we invest in people, in the ancient trades and traditions, in the practices that are humane and community oriented?

Generations have gone before us, modelling this culture of beauty. When we look at the cobblestone streets, the museums filled with historic artwork, the churches filled of marble and gold, we get a glimpse. Perhaps this is what draws us to travel. We are drawn, like a magnet to these places of beauty. We desire a culture founded upon human connection, authentic dedication, genuine efforts and a vision of beauty.

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness” ( Pope Francis, Laudato Si # 53)

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                         Czestechowa, Poland

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Prayer of the Lamb

Father forgive them, they do not know,

They can not see Your light.

Your Mercy and Love I’ve come to show,

Yet they search and seek to fight.

You are in I, and I in you,

I speak on your accord.

Your Word is right and it is true,

I come on earth as Lord.

To save them from all earthly sin,

From death and from their pain.

A battle Father, We will win,

For this is why I came.

Father, I’ve come to do your will,

But I know where it will lead.

I see the cross upon the hill,

My side, that it must bleed.

I love them so I give my life,

To bring them close to You.

No matter the sorrow and the strife,

This is what I’m sent to do.

When I will leave, the Spirit can come,

He will guide them in My name.

To understand where I came from,

That the Father and I are same.

With the Spirit we are unified.

Three persons yet one being,

This love in which we all abide,

Is source of all thats freeing.

Father, I’m Shepherd of the sheep,

May Your will be done today,

Pray for those who mourn and weep,

That they do not loose their way.

For I am the Truth and the Light,

I bring them all to You,

I will come again, enrobed in white,

To give them life anew.

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love letters from Above

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Winter Sunrise on the Prairies

Life is busy!  If you talk to most people, they would say that their career, family life, extracurricular activities, communities, housework, hobbies and travel take up the majority of their time and energy.

However, some of us get caught up in this every day grind and we find ourselves sort of floating through the days, months and years without knowing where the time has gone. I’m quite convinced that as we age, there is a shift in how we relate to time. Life seems to just cruise on, full speed! Regardless of how we might feel, we are thrust into the realities of life, adulthood, decisions and choices. Honestly, it can be a bit daunting at times. I see why so many movies are based upon time travel and going back in time…

I got to thinking about this accelerated time thing. Life is progressing, bringing with it all the joys, difficulties, accomplishments, fears, happiness and the rest. So, how do we feel content with the rhythm of our everyday lives, without feeling like were loosing out on time?

I think the answer is relatively simple, even cliche you might say. But how often do we actually do this: appreciate the small, seemingly insignificant moments which are presented to us each day? This is something I’m trying to do more and more. Throughout the course of my day, I try to take note of the bright and wonderful moments that occur. I want to see these moments, these experiences, as a gift. I often call them love letters from Above. Love letters from God. Some days, I will specifically ask Him to send me a love letter; a small sign or gesture of the great love which He has for me. For each one of us. He is truly a gentleman, and sometimes waits for an invitation! I love seeing the different and creative ways in which God can show His love. Usually, this is done through people, but I’m beginning to see that His love extends into all aspects of my day. The more I begin to seek these love letters, the more I find that he is present in all things, all the time. Here is a brief list of some of the love letters that I have experienced:

  1. Advanced green arrow at a light ( best. feeling. ever.)
  2. Student appreciation at school (compliment, conversations, gratitude)
  3. Compliments/kind words from a friend or family member
  4. Scripture verse of hope or inspiration
  5. Perfect coffee shop moment (coffee in hand, great music, yummy scone)
  6. Impromptu hug from my nieces of nephews
  7. E-mail or message update from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while
  8. Genuine smile from a stranger
  9. Man at Starbucks who bought my coffee
  10. Music lyrics that speak to my heart
  11. Opportunity to attend daily mass or adoration
  12. Buying a shirt that turns out to be on sale ( YAY)
  13. The guy at the gas station washing my windows even though I didn’t get gas
  14. All green lights on my way to work
  15. Answered prayers ( job, clarity on decisions)
  16. Nice conversation with a stranger (grocery store, street, neighbourhood)
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Perfect Coffee Moment

 Although this list appears simple, or relatively common place, I think it’s so important to be able to identify the little love letters within our daily lives. I believe that this is one of the recipes for happiness, joy and appreciation. To be able to look back and see that we utilized the time we were given. That we saw our lives as a complete gift and beautiful adventure. Hopefully, we allow enough time to stop and marvel at the love letters from Above. For God is so ready and willing to show us His love at all moments. Have we given Him the invitation yet?

“…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…we love, because he first loved us…” – 1 John 4: 16, 19