My rant about the closing of My Marsh store

Marsh

I am dealing with progress in my little town.  We have had a large influx of new settlers here, some from different parts of the world, some from neighboring towns, some just temporarily – students, I mean.  And with these new settlers the large companies have decided to set up their own flagship buildings.  Some companies, though, have left.  And one of them, our Marsh store in West Lafayette, has decided to close.  There are other bigger box groceries in town. So, I suppose that was what drove our little Marsh store off the grid. We have Meijer, Walmart, Kroger-Payless, and even some smaller groceries that serve the university studentship.  We won’t mention them, in case the business gods want them to leave as well.

Our little Marsh store was not a little one at all.  It had all the amenities:  the deli, the bakery, the flower shop, and, it had international items (like Chinese and English fare).  It had a navigable footprint, we knew where to find things – and it wasn’t a long slog like with Walmart where you could easily get lost in it looking for vitamins or Coffee or canned meat.

When my family settled here in the early 90’s, the Marsh store was pretty much the only store in town, perhaps the Kroger one was also up.  But Kroger had a large store and it was difficult to park in it. I had visions of being t-boned in their parking because someone didn’t look behind to see who was driving past.  So Kroger, despite being a serviceable store, seemed a bit of a risk to me.

Marsh had friendly people, the greengrocers liked to say hello and helped when I couldn’t find the pine nuts for my recipe.  The manager, who I just met a few months ago (he’d been there for years) had informed me then that they weren’t going out of business, they really are doing a profit and so the fear of them closing had dissipated.  But that was then, the news, the cold hard news is that they are now being run off the grid of West Lafayette.

 
It is a difficult thing to see something that’s been there for decades and been the provider of your food and greens and alcohol since you started and made this place your own.  My own, as it were.  I know that another bigger, fancier store will come out and replace it.  It will tear down the building and who knows what other ones attached, and it will be a mess for a while and then it will announce itself.

Maybe that is progress.  But what progress really, for the manager who told me he was glad they weren’t closing because he is a couple of years away from retirement?  Or the green grocers who have aged through the years, and still look as young as they were with just a bit of grey around the gills – where do they go?  I know that they will be taken care of, at least, that is what I hope Marsh will do – give them a good retirement package.  But the memories will go away.

Memories of Marsh you say?  Well, we had friends who were the cashier, the ones who sold us our lotto tickets, the assistant manager who offered to keep an eye on my dog while I shopped, the friends we bumped into and regaled with news of our latest trips or retirements and so on. Where will they be next?  I doubt that there will be a greater chance to see them again – where would they be?  What do people do when their favorite store closes?  Are the alternatives going to be ok?  What will I miss most about Marsh?

I guess I will miss a few things about Marsh, besides what I have already said.  I will miss their ample parking (mostly due to the fact that hardly anyone shopped there anymore) where I could actually sit and scroll through my newsfeed on Twitter in my parked car, or, where I would eat my Starbucks Danish before going in to shop.  I will miss its accessibility. I will miss well, the past.  I guess that is what I will miss.  The past that includes my whole family shopping there and now the family has dwindled.  So, perhaps that is what I will miss about Marsh.  Those scenes in the past where Marsh figured in some way.  Not greatly, but in a significant way.

Small towns are the thing of the past, though. Our town is eager to be part of the next technological super age.  So, with that, let all small grocery stores beware.  One can’t always stay the same, one must do what they can to matter to those who are around.  Those who have patronized Marsh are in their later years, those who are more inclined to want to shop safely, to feel like there’s a warm place to go and feel like they belong.  The youth of the town will go where they have access to Starbucks, to new-fangled foods, to every type of monster drink available.  The rich will always go where the parking lot is paved and has no bad holes.  The entrepreneurs will go where there are party stuff to celebrate openings and launches.  And then where would these stores be that can’t have all for these demographical shoppers?
 

Perhaps that is what Marsh needed – and they tried to keep up, they tried to stock those things that only they would carry and not others.  They installed U-scan devices, and made the store more spacious.  But, too little too late.

I fear for those who will miss Marsh that they will completely be in a catatonic state when they enter a big box store.  What of those tender hearts who really only wanted one item and then scurry back home to cherish it with their recipe?

I might be getting too maudlin, but I really really hate that Marsh is closing here.  I know I’ll get over it.  I shouldn’t fret, of course, because perhaps it is part of God’s plan.  Yes, He has a plan even for Marsh stores.  I don’t know what that would be, but in God’s Mind, these things are present.  So for all Marsh aficionados, take heart.  God’s in control.  He will be happy to hear our fears and settle them in his Fatherly way.

 

 

What would Jesus want to hear when you pray to Him

Sacred Heart of Jesus Picture

You may recall the phrase “What would Jesus do?”  Now I want to write about another question:  What does Jesus want to hear when you pray to Him?

The question came to mind when I thought how Jesus might want us to pray.  There is no real formula, but there is the beginning (ask Him to be with you), the middle (where you and He converse) and then the ending (where you say thanks and say good night, or see You later).  So I decided jot a few things down to be more clear what I think Jesus might want to hear when we pray to Him. I’m not a great expert, but I have read a few books and listened to a few homilies in my years on earth.  So here goes (just think of these and see where maybe you could add a few more things of your own – make the list long!):

  1. You call His name and ask Him to be with you.
  2. You tell him how you did that day (p.m.) or how you are grateful for the new day (a.m.).
  3. He wants you to be as candid as you can be. Give him a lot of ideas on how you wish your day should have been, how you could have done things better, ask His help on some knotty problem!
  4. Talk to Him like He was your best friend because He is. Tell Him you aren’t that happy about someone who is such and such, or tell Him you think that someone you should love is not lovable to you. Things that bother you about the establishment, politics (He won’t take sides in this – He wants your opinion) or, even how the Church is being run. Tell Him anything as long as you think this is true. Just be frank and open. No holds barred. He’s there for you.
  5. Ask Him to watch over you, your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends – the guy down the street whoever you like – even the President. He will.
  6. Tell Him your needs, your wishes; make it something big, or just a small wish even. You can start small and then ask Him to help with something big – if it’s something good for you.
  7. Ask Him to help you to believe that dreams do come true
  8. Make Him happy by telling Him that you love Him, that you are grateful for His blessings, that you want to believe in Him more and more.
  9. Make Him be your constant friend and companion.
  10. Let Him be Your guide and ask Him to be with you in your work, your play and your quiet rest times

The Five Loves

Michelangelo GodThe Five Loves

God the Father’s Love:
In the beginning was God the Father, the Creator, who loved US into being. His love is boundless, all encompassing, and infinite. He looks upon us, his children with a fatherly love, a love that provides for our needs. His love anticipates what we wish for, what is good for us, and what will serve us in our future path.

Mary our Mother:
When Mary became the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, she became our Mother when, from the Cross, He said to John, the Apostle, “Son, behold your Mother.” The Blessed Mother Mary is our path to Jesus. She tells Him of our needs, if we ask her. She loves us and helps us when we call upon her in our daily prayers. Mary brings Jesus to us. Mary is also the one who brings us the Holy Spirit, for He dwells in her from the time she was born.

God the Father, through Mary, gave us Jesus Christ, Who came down to save us from sin.

The Holy Spirit’s Love:
The Love of God the Father and Jesus created the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit forms the Triune God, with God the Father and Jesus.

A Mother’s Love:
The love of a mother is nurturing, forming her children into living vessels of the Holy Spirit. In the act of creating children, a mother and father include God to provide that Holy Spark that enlivens the living being in the mother’s womb. This assures us that we are all connected to God as His, imprinted with His sign of belonging, elevated in the world as no other could without His grace.

A Father’s Love:
The love of a father on earth for his children is like that of our Heavenly Father. He is the provider, the responsible one for his family, the go-to person for financial need and for the keys to the car. Yet the greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother as much as he possibly can. With this and with God’s help, a family can thrive even in the most difficult of environments.

The Spousal Love:
The most important love is that of the love of a Spouse. For a married couple, this love is for the other. The Spousal love is a beautiful thing, enlivens their relationship, brightens their thoughts, creates new life, and completes each other.

For a single person, who decides to commit themselves to a religious life, that Spousal love is for Jesus Christ, and it is He that the profess to serve, to obey and be connected to in adoration, prayer, and in service to others. This is exemplified by such as St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Therése of Lisieux, and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

For a single person who decides to remain so, the Spousal love still exists if they but profess to love Jesus Christ as their Spouse. These are the ones who devote their existence to serve the Lord, to be spiritual parents of those who they care for in some way – such as their students, nieces and nephews, and godchildren.

Thus, each of us in God’s life, has His love and each of us must be confident of His love and deep care for us. God is INTERESTED in us, how we are doing in life, what problems we have and how best to solve them.

Include God in your daily life, from the moment you awaken, throughout the day, and at the end of the day. Speak to God of love and how you want that for yourself someday. Ask Him candidly to pick Someone Special for you. God knows how to choose – and He will find that exact, special one for you. If He desires to keep you for Himself, then He will give you the grace to understand and dwell in His love as a single person. No one is ever alone in this life (or in the next) because God is with them always.

The Lesson I Learned

The Lesson I Learned

Writers don’t care how they look.  What is important to them is what they write about.  You can look like a wreck and write the most beautiful prose.  You can have wart on your nose and write a lovely poem.  Writers have no wish to attain the heights of beauty.  Not in the physical sense.  Their world is in words, in worlds, in heaven or in some part of hell where a little bit of life still thrives.

I went to a writer’s conference last year.  The keynote speaker was a woman who was a writer -in-residence at a university. She looked like someone’s old maiden aunt.  She wore no makeup, her hair was disheveled from the wind, her clothes weren’t designer clothes.  They were the clothes of a journeywoman.  Someone who just came out of a long trip on the road.

Yet when she read her work I began to hear and see her world, her humor and her wit.  Yes, she was a writer.  Not a thing about her physically that would cause a lot of heads to turn. But turn they did when they heard her speak.

So I learned a lesson that day.  I felt like I could be comfortable as a writer.  I didn’t need makeup.  I didn’t need a lot of hair product nor did I need to wear the latest fashions to be with other writers.  Or, to write on my laptop.  In class, my classmates and I get along well discussing what I loved doing:  Writing. What we did was enough.  And that was to write, and write well.

And part of the lesson for me was to look at others without judging them based on their appearance.  It is not how God wants us to treat people.  We need to look into their eyes, their smiles, the creases on their brows, the rough edges of their lives and come to understand how God made them the way they are and see how they work, what they do. How their lives glorify God.  How their lives fit in with the Plan of God.

Each of us has a purpose in life.  Don’t let the way we look to each other get in the way.

 

Because it’s Lent

wheat_illustration_transp

The other day, I saw a coworker and friend who had foot surgery over a month ago.  He had a swollen foot now for days maybe weeks, and the swelling wouldn’t go away.  And I was recounting to him what I was thinking of that morning in prayer.  I realized why his foot was taking longer to heal: because it was Lent.

My friend looked at me and repeated: “Because it’s Lent?  That my foot is still swollen?”
I said yes.  I said to him that Lent is like that.

It may not be for all, but for me, Lent is such a hard slog to go through.  It seems to drag on for weeks.  And it does.  I have a consciousness of a dark kind of depression, even, that descends over me.

Lent is where I find that “Dark night of the soul” that St John of God wrote about.  In Lent, I find that I share in the sufferings of Jesus as He makes His way to Calvary.  It seems that Jesus is asking me to share His Passion.  By any means necessary.  One Lent, I spent my weeks sharing my Mom’s hospital room as she was going into a deep decline and final meeting with Sister Death.

I find that other friends find Lent a terrible time as well.  While I was on the phone with a good friend, she exclaimed piteously how Lent made her so sad, so depressed

Other times when the subject of Lent comes up, I hear people murmur “Oh yeah. Lent.”  And they have a sad look.

Sometimes Lent is like that.  It is for me.  A religious sister spoke of Lent to us in a group.  She said Lent is Spring.  It’s the time to look at the renewal of nature.  To look at renewing our own selves.  Our souls.

For my friend, who has a swollen foot, it is an optimistic thought.  Like the Resurrection.  The suffering of Christ finally ends in His rising from the dead.

For me, for us, Lent is a given.  We, as Christians, have to go through our version of Lent.  For the younger ones, they give up something for Lent.  For the older ones, we go through a deep dive into the Cross.  We all, each of us, has a Cross to bear. Sometimes, more than one!  It could be that surly boss, or, the copier that malfunctions, or a child who is sick, or our own infirmities.

Lent is a magnifier of our cross.  But that is ok.  We all need a retreat, a retreat into what God is asking us to think of, to suffer and to finally see that it’s all going to be ok.

When Easter comes, we will look at each other and say, “We survived another Lent.”  Kind of when winter is over, and spring buds are out.  We survived another winter.

I guess I just had to write about Lent.  It’s almost over.  We will survive.  My Mom passed a few weeks before Easter.  But she spent her Easter in Heaven.  So we all have that one, that First Easter in Heaven to look forward to.  And while we spend the remaining years of our lives counting each passing Lent, let these earthly Lenten Seasons season us and make us worthy of that First Easter.

Ruminations

Ruminating, as I read my homework assignment, about how it seems that human beings are so wrapped up in their work, the shiny things they want for themselves (money, power, possessions) and the many ways they can achieve these.  People look at “the steps to climb the ladder of success” and, in these, see people – their supervisors, coworkers and upper managers and family members, as the rungs to plant their feet upon and dig into as they try to reach the pinnacles of success.

In this world, we are given the opportunities to know God, the Truth and Beauty that He is, through our lives and our loves.  He doesn’t care if you won the Nobel Peace Prize.  He cares if you would, once in a while, look up at the sky and smile, saying “Thanks!”  He cares that you see you parents that love you and you take them out to dinner sometimes.  He cares that you love your children, not by buying them the latest toys, but by the gift of your time.  He cares when you send money to help His less fortunate children.

I think God wants us to think outside the boxes of our work lives and reach out to examine with Him how you ought to look at your life as it is now.  God wants to save you from despair, the mind-numbing repetitions of your life, the hardships within the material successes in your life.  He wants you to succeed at gaining Heaven.  He wants you to see Him as the Source of everything that is good and rich, more than what money can buy.  He loves you as you were made and wants you to follow Him, not the shiny objects, not the power or fame.  He wants you to live an eternal life with all the people who ever lived and loved you always.

God places people in your lives to represent him in one way or another – don’t make the error of ignoring those who you come across who need a smile, a helping hand, a little greeting to ease their day.  Little things count with God.  St. Therese of Lisieux wrote about her “Little Way”.  Let this philosophy be your guide in the encounters with God in your life.

I encourage you to write your daily thoughts in a journal and think of God as the Person who looks over your shoulder, not as judge, but as the Lover of your Soul.  He will read your words, the feelings you write down, and act to help you in your problems and dilemmas, and enrich your mind in ways that you’ve not done in the past.  God will provide, as the Divine Provider.  What you need is not what the magazine ads tell you nor what your neighbors’ new devices tempt you to buy into.  What you need is to listen to God’s voice. Ask and you shall receive, seek God and He will find you.

May the Lenten journey be light upon your shoulders as you ask God to accompany you.

Thoughts on the Gospel of the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God

275px-virgen_de_guadalupe1As I listened to Father’s homily this past weekend, the quote that came to me is that the “Same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead resides in you”.  (This quote was something I saw posted on Twitter.)  And, I also remembered this when contemplating how our Lady received the news from St. Gabriel about having a child, Jesus.  In those days, Mary was a young girl, and being with Child even in a very holy way would have been a very difficult situation because as she told the angel, she knew no man.  To add to this, St. Joseph found out she was pregnant and he had the challenge to accept this and carry on as if this was ok – to become Mary’s husband and Jesus’ foster father.  I imagined how very difficult this was in those days – and even now – to have a baby and just go along with it as if it was the natural thing – which to others, it was, not really knowing that God “said” it and “It” was done.  I think my point is, that God works in mysterious ways and Mary and Joseph accepted this with the simplest of faith and placed their trust that things were all going to be alright.  Mary and Joseph truly relied on God and His angels to bring Jesus into the world and that is so very GRAND.

So what I am getting down to is that we, too, must place our trust in God’s plan for us, no matter how tough things seem to be.  God is the Divine Provider, Who will always listen and send us what we truly need, not what we want or think we ought to have.  Because He sees everything and has no boundaries, the plan He has for us is truly wise and for the good of all. He won’t forget our little lives either, because, in the words of Isiah (paraphrasing here) God knew us before we were knit in our mother’s wombs.  God wants us to be with Him in heaven after our lives are finished on earth.  Pray for His Will to be done in you and trust in Him implicitly.

May the blessings of Almighty God be with us all.  Peace and all good.