Tag Archives: Twin Cities

What are you Waiting For?

19 Oct The Waiting Place – Dr Seauss
The Waiting Place – Dr Seauss

The Waiting Place – Dr Seauss

 

  Something feels off, not quite right? You must be in a bout of sadness. If so, what would lift you out the unwelcomed sullenness? Get home and grab a glass of Shiraz. It has worked before. Maybe start that book that you set on the edge of the dresser weeks ago and have passed in between the last duty and the next obligation. Fine. But, the words are uninteresting. Flip through photos to remember spring or munch on candy corn from the freezer and think of upcoming autumn. Uneventful. Sun always does the trick, so bike down to the park. Ride quick across the bridge, too. There is nothing in the Twin Cities that can revive a torpid soul like flying over the Mississippi. And so you do.

   But this time it seems to be only a river to get over. How was it before? The fishing spot, the place for a long run. It was a shoreline wondering with a cigar hanging from your lip mid good conversation: like that one on the nature of space travel or whether your friends were for or against gardens inside the house. The river has been the reason for sitting all evening to watch the sinking sun. How once you were flabbergasted for a whole afternoon by the fact that this section of water somehow makes it to Memphis and Baton Rouge, and then may someday splash a Cuban kid or rain on Mongolia. Now you cross the bridge with some appreciation, of course, but in no way are you elated to sing into the wind or ride without hands.  It is a bunch of water and you are entering busy traffic driven by the overworked and unaware.

   It is as if there was once a kind of life to be experienced inside the kayaking or homemade Juicy Lucy’s on the grill. However, in sadness, the components are still there: trees, friends, evening time, but the crucial component is missing – that hidden life within it all. The stuff that presses itself into memory and catches you from falling asleep to the world has left your surroundings.

   So what to do to get it back? Two options: fill the day with more activity and as many short thrills as one can manage. Or wait. Wait until that life comes again, and get ready for its coming. For the Christian, this life, or liveliness, is from God and can only be seen as an unachievable gift. And according to a saint, Bernard of Clairvaux, waiting is a kind of active searching: “let us wait for the Lord, let us seek after Him.” It is a brave way to remain tied to what you wait for. Waiting is not a giving up, but a realization that we cannot create our happiness, but to be ready for when it is given.

– Laura Eusterman

 

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From the Midwest to Big Apple

15 Jul Midwest Peace

Daydreams dancing in my head, a rainstorm of heels tapping the sidewalk, the power of the subway passing. I dreamt of the artists of the Lower East Side, the rooftops of East Harlem, the aristocrats of the Upper East. I desired to move into that world, the world where you swim with art, culture and lyrics. I was moving to New York City, and I was moving there with dreams.

The Big Apple  Friday at rush hour, arriving at Penn Station, duffle bag in hand, I stood in a sea of people who moved, dancing with one another, avoiding collisions with wisdom and alertness. Stumbling and toppling, I took refuge in a corner of the station to observe, immediately facing the reality of the city I painted so whimsically in my mind. Run over by high heels and swatted with briefcases, I watched, awakened.

With a year behind me now, I recently climbed the subway stairs with a learned confidence, walking with the wisdom and alertness that I so envied in the Penn Station crowd I had first encountered. A phrase that has visited me often repeated itself in my mind, “I can’t believe I live in New York.”

With this awe lingering, I left the city to visit my new nephew in the Twin Cities. While sharing a beer and dinner in the peace that the Midwest seems always to provide, my brother-in-law inquired, “How is it living in New York City?” Looking up I was brought back to that new moment of confidence, and I realized the dreams I had thought would be life here had disappeared. It is not jadedness that I have found, it is a new wonder. It is not until the projection of ideas for our future are surrendered that we truly encounter the Divine.

While I stood in awe that I had moved to the City, there was a fight between expectation and reality. I had expected to encounter something different, something separate from myself. But standing on the city’s corner, I encountered my true self. For wherever we run, for whatever dream we are going towards and conflict we are running from, there comes a moment where we are asked to encounter reality. This wonder that I was so adamantly in search of was always with me, it was the wonder that comes with the realization that this is all given, all given to us by Christ to explore and encounter. Now, I am falling into a new dream, a dream of the present where beauty is continually given with my surrender.

– Colleen Pesci

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

13 Feb Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics all over the Twin Cities will receive ashes on our heads and hear this message: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” More Catholics go to Mass on Ash Wednesday than on most Sundays or Holy Days. I have heard both Catholics and non-Catholics complain about this. Both seem to be pointing to hypocrisy and self righteousness amongst people who return once a year to this Mass. I wonder if either group understands the real mystery going to Mass on Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is, in many ways, the saddest day of the year. The message: we are sinners and we are going to die. We try to keep death far from us by medication, exercise, and products to make us look younger, yet we gather to be reminded of something everyone already knows. Not only are we reminded of our sorry state, someone smears dirt on our foreheads while telling us. The day begins 40 days of fasting, based off of Jesus’ time in the wilderness and his rejection of Satan. Is this reason we fill churches, death, fasting, and fighting Satan?

In part, this is why. We all know that something is wrong not just with the world, not just with politics, but with us, with me. On Ash Wednesday, we finally recognize the time we did not help an elderly woman because we were in a rush. We remember the times when we have thought of a human person as a means to our own sexual gratification. We apologize for ignoring the poor and helpless. Above all we repent for the pride that keeps us from loving each other and God. We do this because we are reminded we are going to die.

But the truth is that despite the sorrow of Ash Wednesday, it is still a joyful day. Why are ashes on our foreheads and skipped meals a cause for happiness? Why should the thought of death and sin leave space for hope? Because, the Church offers us the truth that Ash Wednesday does not have the final word; that God does not leave us to the dust. On this penitential day, we still look to Easter and we know that our sins have been washed away, that death has been defeated, that the alleluia of the Church will never fail.

What should we do with this hope? Offer this season to Christ by fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Come back to Church for all of Lent. If you are already a churchgoer, invite others to join you. Don’t judge the people next to you at Mass; love them. Don’t be crushed by guilt; be freed by grace. This is Lent and this is our season of joy. It may hurt at times to think of death and sin, it may be painful to turn from sin and embrace those around us, but in the end the freedom of Jesus’ love is greater than dust and sin. We at The Heart of the Matter sincerely invite you to join us in repentance and grace. For truly, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” We look forward to seeing you during Lent and to sharing the alleluia of Easter in 40 days.

-The Heart of the Matter

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

21 Feb Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics all over the Twin Cities will receive ashes on our heads and hear this message: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” More Catholics go to Mass on Ash Wednesday than on most Sundays or Holy Days. I have heard both Catholics and non-Catholics complain about this. Both seem to be pointing to hypocrisy and self righteousness amongst people who return once a year to this Mass. I wonder if either group understands the real mystery going to Mass on Ash Wednesday.


Ash Wednesday is, in many ways, the saddest day of the year. The message: we are sinners and we are going to die. We try to keep death far from us by medication, exercise, and products to make us look younger, yet we gather to be reminded of something everyone already knows. Not only are we reminded of our sorry state, someone smears dirt on our foreheads while telling us. The day begins 40 days of fasting, based off of Jesus’ time in the wilderness and his rejection of Satan. Is this reason we fill churches, death, fasting, and fighting Satan?


In part, this is why. We all know that something is wrong not just with the world, not just with politics, but with us, with me. On Ash Wednesday, we finally recognize the time we did not help an elderly woman because we were in a rush. We remember the times when we have thought of a human person as a means to our own sexual gratification. We apologize for ignoring the poor and helpless. Above all we repent for the pride that keeps us from loving each other and God. We do this because we are reminded we are going to die.


But the truth is that despite the sorrow of Ash Wednesday, it is still a joyful day. Why are ashes on our foreheads and skipped meals a cause for happiness? Why should the thought of death and sin leave space for hope? Because, the Church offers us the truth that Ash Wednesday does not have the final word; that God does not leave us to the dust. On this penitential day, we still look to Easter and we know that our sins have been washed away, that death has been defeated, that the alleluia of the Church will never fail.


What should we do with this hope? Offer this season to Christ by fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Come back to Church for all of Lent. If you are already a churchgoer, invite others to join you. Don’t judge the people next to you at Mass; love them. Don’t be crushed by guilt; be freed by grace. This is Lent and this is our season of joy. It may hurt at times to think of death and sin, it may be painful to turn from sin and embrace those around us, but in the end the freedom of Jesus’ love is greater than dust and sin. We at The Heart of the Matter sincerely invite you to join us in repentance and grace. For truly, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” We look forward to seeing you during Lent and to sharing the alleluia of Easter in 40 days.


-The Heart of the Matter

Words at Mass

11 Dec
 The New Translation
 I have been thinking about the new English translation of the Mass (that’s right the words are a little different on Sundays but the Eucharist is as good as ever). There is something comforting about repeating the same thing every Sunday, but is our rote usage of the same prayers just about comfort? Why is it that Catholics are so obsessed with saying the same things in unison repeatedly (try the Rosary, couldn’t we just say one “Hail Mary” and be done with it?) Why can’t I just pray using my own words?

I have a suspicion that these questions miss the point. The namesake of one of our Twin Cities (not Minneapolis) had something to say about prayer, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” So maybe Paul is trying to tell us that we should just groan at Mass but that seems unpleasant. The point is that there is a deep prayer in all hearts whether they be Catholic or non-Catholic hearts. That prayer is for communion with God whether it is experienced in a yoga studio, a concert at First Avenue, or kneeling in a pew. Even if we think we don’t believe in God; we all want the divine.

Are we supposed to give up words? No. People were made for language; we are speakers and listeners. The scriptures are full of prayers. Paul tells us to pray with words, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. . .as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”

So, we have the deep desire in our heart (that’s the Holy Spirit working) and we should use words, but do we have to repeat them? Yes. Our hearts are formed by the words we use (which is why I shouldn’t swear at cars when I am biking). At Mass, the words we say and the words we hear, teach our hearts how to love; they teach our hearts who it is we are groaning for: the Word Incarnate. Augustine advised his monks, “When you pray to God in psalms and songs, the words spoken by your lips should be alive in your hearts.” Those outward words will transform us (if we let them). This transformation leads us to love our brothers and sisters who are groaning for God; they bring us into communion with the Divine, and help prepare us to eat the Word in the Eucharist. So the next time you go to Mass respond, sing, listen, and maybe even groan (quietly); you may find yourself transformed by repetition and love.

– Terence Sweeney