Sacraments. You may hear the word and automatically think of Baptisms and First Communions, but there are some other types of sacraments that we far too often overlook. Believe it or not, if we don’t pay attention we may just bypass sacraments multiple times a day!
I’m talking about “Small S Sacraments” or those occurrences, people, places and things that allow us to gain a greater meaning and appreciation for life. They allow us to feel God’s presence, even though there isn’t some divine and formal religious event.
I had the pleasure of going on a Kairos retreat this past weekend and speak about the sacraments that have made my life so much more passionate, fulfilled and meaningful.
I shared the relationships that gave me more self-awareness from the friendships that have formed my core of support and drive, to the mentors that have guided and motivated me to the family that has been growing and developing alongside me.
I shared the moments and memories that brought a smile to my face, an uncontrollable laugh, and feelings of success and pride.
Weirdly enough, a lot of the sacraments I shared weren’t just the good times, the bright moments and the happy people. I couldn’t speak about sacraments without focusing on the times that were tough, the experiences that were challenging and the people who tested my character. Sometimes those people and experiences that leave us feeling defeated and destroyed, who make us wonder why this happened or why this person came into our lives, can be the most meaningful of all.
I shared the loss of my grandpa that tested my faith and shook my family. I shared the challenges of my job search that filled me with doubt and fear while leaving me defeated and lost within myself. I shared the people who gave me the disillusionment of friendship and sincerity only to have me abandon my own sense of self.
But because of those challenging people and events, I found myself lost. But I found myself driven for answers. If nothing more to find meaning and understanding. While I don’t understand why my grandpa passed when and how he did, while I don’t understand why the job search was as draining and defeating as it was, I grew from both of those. I become closer and more appreciative of my family and I found myself with the time to explore my passions. They may not have been the most fun and invigorating experiences, but they gave my life meaning and they brought me more in tune with myself and with God. For that, I see the beauty in these all too difficult processes.
That self-awareness was driven by the passion inside of me. I believe that our deepest desires are God’s way of giving us a hint of where we are meant to be if we only listen. Not only are they God’s hint, but they are God’s way of getting closer to us, allowing us to live our fullest potential.
I shared my own desires. Mainly my desire to explore the Spiritual Exercises – to seek out spiritual guidance and live my own faith. I also shared my passion for writing. It has given me the path to explore my career and has allowed me to feel a sense of purpose in my work. It has influential from incorporating it in my prayer through journaling to allowing it to guide me in my new job.
I shared a lot this past weekend – the good and the bad, because quite frankly, they are both gifts from God. I know I sound too optimistic maybe even idealistic, but I’ve come to understand that we are meant to encounter the sunrises, the bike rides, the pouring rain and windy days, the flat tires, the crappy jobs, the tears, the dances, the laughs, the hugs, the woo’s, the broken bones, the broken hearts, the broken spirits, the butterflies in our stomach, the running through sprinklers, the goodbyes, the hellos and the smiles. They are all beautiful. They are all complex. They are all meaningful. They are all sacraments.
My Kairos weekend was a beautiful sacrament – as the retreat experience usually is. As I start a new chapter of my life, it was wonderful to have a place to go free of distractions to think and pray and have conversations with others who were going through similar and completely different situations. I grew in kinship with my fellow leaders and the retreatants who took this journey for the first time. Perhaps why Kairos was especially sacramental this time around was because I was afforded some of the best sacraments by being shared with.
My small group and the retreatants I got to know were so willing to share, which in itself is a scary process. But I feel that my own story was so much more meaningful by being given to others, and they in turn giving their stories to me. We share each other’s struggles and we share each other’s joy. There is no greater sacrament than the act of sharing ourselves with one another.
After we finished our time at Cradle Beach, I drove to the cemetery to visit my grandpa. I was overwhelmed – in the greatest way – with the spirit of Kairos and I was surrounded by something so wonderful a sight that was so breathtaking I couldn’t help but pull out my phone and snap a picture.
It was a simple reminder through the setting of the sun, the color of the leaves and the peace of the breeze that we are all on this earth for a purpose. We just need to look carefully when God reminds us.
Don’t forget that when you wake up in the morning and are ready to take on your day, that you and God will find one another in the simplest of moments.
“God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.” -Evelyn Underhill
What are the sacraments in your life?