Things That Make Me Happy

I love my little talks with St. Ignatius of Loyola. He died in 1556, of course, but that doesn't keep him from helping me out as I pray. He's rather predictable in conversation--mostly he repeats things I began to learn by doing the Spiritual Exercises. Nonetheless, his familiar words often resonate in fresh ways as I grow and encounter new situations and people.

Sunday afternoon was a dazzling autumn day in Wisconsin. I enjoyed time spent singing and praying at church, relaxing with my family, handing out Halloween candy to smiling trick-or-treaters, and soaking in the impossibly rich fall colors. As I reflected on my gift-wrapped Sabbath day, however, guilt began to stalk me: My Lord's Day had none of the suffering in it that so many people are enduring around the world right now. How could I dare to enjoy myself so deeply when, for example, thousands of my brothers and sisters in Africa are dying from Ebola?

Just a minute before, I had been soaking up the gratuitous splendor of God; in an instant, I was bitten by grief. And then St. Ignatius smiled patiently at me and uttered one word: consolation. St. Ignatius describes consolation as a movement of the heart, a time when God makes it easy to draw closer to him. On the Loyola Press website, Margaret Silf reminds us what to do with consolation: "Store this moment in your memory to return to when things get tough."

God was lavish with me on Sunday, drawing me close to him through church, music, family, community, and nature. Why would I sabotage his invitation to intimacy, his consolation? I must continue to pray and discern how to help others who suffer, certainly, but the panicky guilt I suddenly felt constricting my heart was a dirty trick. The movement I had noticed all day was joyful consolation; only an enemy would be interested in sucking the gratitude out of me. Once I got that straight, I decided to accept God's gift, gratefully, and to store up the peace for more difficult times that might lie ahead.

Brimming with joy, then, I made this little list of 5 things that make me happy. Maybe they will make you happy too, or remind you of other happy things you've been meaning to thank God for. And now, Things That Make Me Happy:

Happiness #1: October.

I have nothing to say that could rival these colors.
I'll just quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ:
"Glory be to God for dappled things--"!!

Happiness #2: Kid President.

Kid President's Pep Talk
Robby Novak, better known as "Kid President," makes me smile. CBS News did a story on him in 2013, when Robby was nine years old. He lives with brittle bone disease which has caused more than 70 bone fractures. When he gives me a pep talk, I listen.

Happiness #3: Loyola Press.

About a month ago, I wrote about Loyola Press and the their adaptive materials to pass the faith on to young people with disabilities. In the post, I might possibly have hinted that I would enjoy receiving a copy of their latest adaptive kit for Confirmation. To my delight, the good folks at Loyola Press sent me a kit ASAP, and I love it. I'll write more details about this great resource another day, but here let me say the kit's conversation-starter beach ball is inspired, and the music CD has some cute and catchy tracks. "The Gifts of the Holy Spirit" song reminded me of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," which is groovy.

Happiness #4: New love.

One of my godchildren called me Sunday evening to gush about her first date with a man who's already been a close friend for a while. She has been praying about the dating scene at college for quite some time, and this relationship is off to a great start. She and her beau laugh together, go to church together, and encourage one another.
I am thrilled that this lovely goddaughter of mine calls me to share her joy!

Happiness #5: Praying with Silence.

Our "Praying with Children" video series continues this week with episode #5, "Praying with Silence." Many parents recall holding a newborn baby as he or she slept. Those silent, bonding moments happen in a new way when we learn how to pray silently with our growing children. Though I love music, conversation, movies, and swanky parties, silence satisfies me in mysterious ways. I hope this week's video leads to some wonderful prayer with the children in your life.

(By the way, many people have contacted me to ask permission to share these videos.
No permission necessary! Share away! We really love helping people pray.)

Now, what makes YOU happy?