Happiness

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton

©Nissa GadboisA maple wood bowl filled with sweet fern and acorns.
 
 

I used to believe that happiness was a matter of intensity.  I craved stimulation of all the senses, all the time.  I needed to feel life in order to be sure I was alive.

Over the last year, I’ve had more stimulation of the senses than I could ever have dreamed.  We all have.  That constant onslaught makes you tender and sore.  It makes you crave quietude.  And it often makes happiness feel elusive.  We forgot how to be happy in the storm that is trauma.  Trauma is evil.  Trauma steals all good things.  It is hell.

And then Brian and I had a talk at a restaurant dinner table recently… 

We were working through strategies for bringing back an abundance of peace and joy, hope and love into our home.  I think we both started out thinking that we had to plan an elaborate distraction – a weekend away in a totally new environment with new adventures.  But in the end, it was the small things that we decided would make the most difference – order and rhythm would restore balance and harmony. 

The gentle, orderly rhythm that is provided by our prayer life and homeschool studies, the flow of the liturgical seasons, the joy of marking holidays and holy days with simple, joyful celebrations.  That is what heals the soul, what brings happiness back to the hearth, what dispels darkness.

Remain in Me

[Chosen Lady:]
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth
just as we were commanded by the Father.
But now, Lady, I ask you,
not as though I were writing a new commandment
but the one we have had from the beginning:
let us love one another.
For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;
this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning,
in which you should walk.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world,
those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh;
such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.
Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for
but may receive a full recompense.
Anyone who is so “progressive”
as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God;
whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. – 2 John 4-9

©Nissa Gadbois
Although I’m here in my little bubble, I am not unaware of the violence and upheaval going on around the country. I know about the ugliness being meted out between friends and families. 

Two salient points from yesterday’s first reading from the Mass leapt out at me. Perhaps they will speak to you as well.

First – we must love one another.  We must will the good of one another even if we don’t have affection for one another.

Second – it is not love to preach that which is outside of accepted Church teaching.  We must not modify or innovate the Gospel,we mustn’t torture it to seem to support viewpoints or behaviours that are either explicitly contradicted by scripture and/or tradition.

We must love the person.  That doesn’t mean we can’t abhor the words, thoughts, or actions of another. But always we must love.  We must take care of each other.  We mustn’t do harm in body, mind, spirit, nor to that which belongs to another person.  We defeat evil by filling that vacuum with good… with love.

Anyway, that’s what I try to teach my children. I guess that’s what you try to teach yours.  I guess that’s what nearly all of us were taught and what we want to teach.  Perhaps we could try to channel that anger, disappointment, entitlement, braggadocio into something constructive, something to build everyone up.  I wonder what that world would look like? I suspect it would look a lot like Heaven on earth.

“If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

Martinmas

Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin
Rode through wind and snow
On his strong horse, his heart aglow,
He rode so boldly through the storm
His great cloak kept him well and warm

By the roadside, by the roadside, by the roadside
A poor man arose,
Out of the snow in tattered clothes
He said please help me with my plight
Or I shall die of cold tonight

Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin
Stopped his horse and drew
His sword and cut his cloak in two
One half to the beggar man he gave
And by this deed a life did save

Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin
Rode through wind and snow
On his strong horse, his heart aglow,
He rode so boldly through the storm
His great cloak kept him well and warm – Traditional

©Nissa Gadbois
 
©Nissa Gadbois

Father, by his life and death Martin of Tours offered you worship and praise. Renew in your hearts the power of your love, so that neither death nor life may separate us from you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.  Amen.

I wanted to wait until this evening to post this since the lanterns look so much better in the dark.  May you respond to the grace of generosity and grow in holiness!

Solitude

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
  – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

©Nissa Gadbois

I find I’m becoming more introverted as I get older. Friends and family, who know me well, will tell you that I am an extrovert to a power of ten.  I love people.  But more and more, I feel I need to love people quietly.  More and more, I feel I need to draw into my own small circle with those I love most and just be together.

I long for a time when I can visit long and deep with a good friend, maybe two.  I long to meet with some of the wonderful men and women that modern technology has brought into my life.  But so few.  So very few.  It seems, sadly, that the only place I can visit with those people is in a very bright, very loud café, constantly interrupted. I want to focus on the heart of my companion, to talk about meaningful things, to laugh together, or to sit in silent contemplation, joining hearts and hands, making memories that sustain us both.

I want to be far from the hubbub that is current society.  It’s all too loud, too angry, too brash, too rude.  I feel wounded and I need to make sense of it all.  Here.  In solitude.

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” –  Albert Camus

But I leave the door open to kind-hearted friends and acquaintances who want to come to call – through this space and in real life. 

Icon of the World

“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” Lennart Meri
 

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

It has been a light week here since we finished our main lesson block on Tuesday.  So today, Louis and Sophie made up a game to play with the United States map.  It’s rather like that game you play with a group of dots where each player takes a turn making a line between two dots and the one who closes the box claims it.  Louis won this time ’round.

And then Louis spent some time tracing rivers and highways.  We talked some about our friend Fran who walked the entire length of Route 20 from Albany (Oregon) to Boston in 2012.

Then the older kids worked together to locate both state and national capitals.  And then made the map of the world look like a nice game of Global Thermonuclear Warfare.  It was at once amusing and slightly unsettling.  The winner for the longest range missile is Tonga, which managed to reach Japan going round the long way.

Geography was my favourite subject growing up and I’m extremely gratified that my own children are having so much fun with it, too.

In case you’re curious, our pretty maps are from National Geographic, and our frames are from Michael’s.  The latter are wood with a plastic sheet to protect the maps.  We just use regular dry erase markers.

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