Travelling Soul

                     Predictable Pete   

I have often marvelled at the lives of those men and women who are classified as the “creatures of habit” or “the regulars”. Day in and day out, they find the same table at the cafe, order the same coffee with one cream and sugar, or engage in the same conversation each morning. It would appear, that these individuals value an unchanging routine. Perhaps the thought of change is a frightening concept for these folks. Maybe, they just figure they have found something that works, so why change. Either way, they know what to expect, and they like it that way.

These creatures of habit, regulars, and predictable Pete’s are somewhat enticing to a person like me. Each new day brings the same kind of events, circumstances and expectations. One can wake up with a 95% chance that things will go according to plan, and the day will flow smoothly. If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty good set up.

Journey of Surprises 

Now, another category of people could be called, the ” free spirits” the “spontaneous” or the “adventerous”. Generally, these kinds of people thrive with the unexpected. They are always ready to try something new and ready to make exciting plans. These passionate people do not get caught up in expectations, for they live in the moment.

If I had to choose between the two, I would definitely go with predictable Pete (or in my case, predictable Patricia). I feel comfortable in the known, the certain and the reliable. However, in the past few weeks, whether or not I wanted it, I was thrust into the second category of the free spirit and adventurous type. Jenny the Spontaneous is my new alter ego… I have recently started working as a substitute teacher with elementary students. With each new day, comes a new grade, school and set of students. Sometimes the day is wonderful, other times, the day makes me question my career choice! No matter the day, there is no way I can predict what will happen, or who I will encounter.

At first, I thought this kind of schedule would make me crazy! How could I possible feel content when my life was like the tasmanian devil-twirling around the city, jumping to schools each day and feeling like I was going out of control. Needless to say, it is getting easier with each and every day. I am still a baby sub, and I have so much to learn, but I think I am finding ways to cope with this change!

Tips for the Travelling Soul

I will list a couple things that are helping me in this journey as a substitute teacher:

1. Today is a gift to unwrap : I may not know what I’m getting into, but there is always something special to be found in the day! It might be a great conversation, a compliment from a student or a welcoming school community

2. Appreciate the small stuff: Do not overlook the smiles in the hallway, the student who held the door for me, or the teacher who helped me find the staffroom

3. Make love the priority: To share the love of God with each student, class and school I encounter. To never loose the opportunity to share this great love!

4. Laugh it off: To keep things light, and not overthink everything! I will make mistakes, and say the wrong things, but it’s O.K. Life is beautiful, and I better laugh, or it will be a long ol’ journey.

Although I would rather find myself comfortable in the shoes of predictable Patricia, I see the beauty of embracing Jenny the Spontaneous. I’m learning that it’s all about trusting in the Lord and having a positive outlook. I am beginning to see the beauty that is found in the unknown. With each new day comes a new adventure. Just like the disciples who would travel from town to town, I am called to live like that. To be ready to share the love of the Lord with those I meet each day. I might not always know what to expect, but it’s how I live, love and serve others that really matters!

To live like a travelling soul, is to love no matter where you are

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The Eternal City

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Saint Peters, Vatican City, Rome

Rome. What comes to mind when you think of this city? For some, it is the pizza.   For others, the crazy drivers. Or perhaps the pasta, gelatto, siestas, espresso, fashion, museums, love… the list goes on and on.

When I think of Rome, I think of the early Church and her history. I picture the architecture of the incredible churches and monuments. Of the cobblestone streets on which countless saints have walked.

Roma is home to many famous historical sites like the Colesseum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain and the Roman ruins. The winding streets of the city, never cease to provide new and amazing historical treasures. Take for instance the 900 churches/chapels that are in Rome alone. Not only are these churches incredible on the outside, but their interior structure and design is often breathtaking.

There is something so unique and magical about the city of Rome. It is not difficult to find beautiful places, structures and designs. I have often asked people traveling through Europe, what their favourite place to visit was. Time and time again, they choose Rome. They speak to the food, the culture, but almost always, about the historical architecture and the Church history.

I think people are drawn to Rome, because it represents an ongoing history and tradition. These sites, churches and events have been preserved and upheld for thousand of years. You can walk into a church, hundreds, or even thousands of years old, and participate in mass. This mass, is the same mass that began at the time of the disciples. So when tourists come to Rome, whether or not they realize it, they are completely immersed in the history of the Church. Yet, unlike most historical realities, the Catholic history is not something only of the past. The beliefs, traditions and Church itself, exists today.

Rome is and will always be a destination of beauty. Not only does the culture, food and people contribute it’s appeal, but the history and tradition of the Catholic church. If you have never been, I would recommend Rome for your bucket list. As some have said, Rome Sweet Home. I couldn’t agree more.

The Wonder of Creation

While contemplating how to begin my first blog post, I decided to start with a topic very close to my heart. Unforuntately no, this topic has nothing to do with lemons, or citrus fruits for that matter. Although I do enjoy lemonade, lemonIMG_1040 meringue pie and marmalade. It is actually about the beauty of creation. More specifically, the wonder which is completely revealed through nature. Take for instance this photo of a very simple lemon tree. Taken with my humble iPhone, I was able to capture a stunning moment in time. Between the contrast of the light and shadows, the yellows, greens and blues, this photo is quite magical. What makes it even more special, is the memory with which it is connected to. When I see this photo, I remember the garden where the tree was planted. I remember the friend whom I walked with and the conversation we had there. I recall the oranges that we picked and ate on the next tree over. The colours of the trees and flowers, the smell of the fruit, the warmth of the sun, and the fresh air- each played it’s part in the beauty of that afternoon in the garden. Perhaps the greatest gift of creation, is the peace that can come from it. How often do we find ourselves longing to be out at the cabin, fishing on the lake, snowboarding in the mountains or simply getting outside for a walk after work. As humans, we desire this connection to nature, because we often feel rejuvinated or energized afterwards. There is something in the air, something in the water, that makes us feel alive again! For me, this happens when I go to the cabin up north. From the moment I shut the car door and breathe in the fresh air, I feel quite free and calm. I just love going up there because it’s so relaxing- but I think it’s more than that. It’s because I have an interaction with the beauty of creation.

Now, taking a more existential approach to the concept of beauty in creation, I turn to the great Catholic Theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas. Framing his argument ( the 5th way) around the natural world, Aquinas argues that everything has been created with a final purpose from an intellectual designer of the universe; God.

Take for example the small seed which over time, with sufficient water, sunlight and soil, begins to grows and develop. Eventually, this seed transforms into a marvellous oak tree and towers above the rooftops. How is it possible that this tiny and simple seed, has the capacity to become an incredible tree with a complex organization? It now has roots, bark, leaves and branches. It also follows an established routine with the seasons, as leaves begin to change and fall.

Did you ever actually ask yourself,  how it is possible for this seed to know how to change into a tree? Why didn’t the tiny seed become a pine tree instead? How was it possible for the seed to differentiate what kind of finality it would have? On the argument of the 5th way, Aquinas writes   “… Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Article 3, Question 2).

It is reasonable then to conclude that this seed, which lacks the capacity for an intellect, cannot direct itself to a final end, without the assistance of another. This other, must have a final plan for the seed, which will be fulfilled in the final oak tree.  If we understand this other to be God, then we see that God can cause all things to come into existence, and has their final end in mind when he creates them. It would mean that God is the sole creator of all creation.

However, some may feel skeptical to this argument and attribute it all to chance. Yet, this does not hold when you look at the structures of order vs chaos. We would then have a completely chaotic universe becoming almost perfectly ordered in their structure, function and organization. This is just not a reasonable argument for the finality of created things. Chance does not accurately explain the finality and purpose of our universe.

One of my teachers explained this topic so profoundly when he said that looking outside and observing the great beauty of creation, is like looking into the intellect of God. For if God has designed everything- from the tiny seeds, to complex human beings, then each day we receive the gift of seeing the mind and beauty of God. He has planned and crafted each sunset, flower, snowflake and dew drop! It’s no wonder that we find such  peace and beauty in nature. We are coming into contact with the creator of the universe!

” The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament proclaims the works of his hands”

           -Psalm 19:1