During my single years, I lived in the cold and snowy state of Connecticut, which was quite an oxymoron for a sun-seeking Southern California girl transplant… go figure. And since I had no family to speak of in Connecticut, I always felt a bit of relief when the holidays had ended. The parties and celebrations were over, and everyone went back to their routines, and this was always a welcome thing in my book.
But when January rolled around, yikes! It got dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, the snow and ice made everything seem more difficult and frustrating and everyone was always barracaded in their homes. No one to talk to. In fact, I couldn’t even get out on my tiny apartment balcony because my sliding glass door was frozen shut! January was a rough month to get through and I found myself feeling depressed and out of sorts. Daily life seemed empty, and that’s when I realized it wasn’t just that the holidays were over, I was also feeling a spiritual emptiness along with the emotional emptiness. Can you relate to this scenario?
It took me a little while to recognize that not only were the holidays full of social celebrations that were now just memories, but for the entire month of December we Christians were intensely focused spiritually. Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the birth of Christ, the Feast of the Holy Family… and now, it was all over! I felt this interior longing that begged the question, “Where have you gone, Lord?”
As you return to your normal routine, does your emptiness lead you to wonder where God’s presence is in your life? If this is how you are feeling, I’d like to offer you a few simple suggestions that will help you avoid this sense of spiritual loneliness and remain feeling connected:
1. Get up 15 minutes early and do a gospel reflection. It is a great way to start the day. Living Faith, The Word Among Us, and the Magnificat are all excellent publications to use because they provide content for reflection. The great thing about these publications is they are all available in print editions, internet sites, Kindle, and smart phone apps. I encourage you to try it and see how much your daily mood changes in a positive way.
2. Reflect on the 5th Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. It’s one of my favorites because of the humanity of Mary and Joseph that I can fully relate to and the sense of calm that I encounter when they found Jesus in the temple. Mary and Joseph had been long gone from Jerusalem when they discovered Jesus was not with them. In a panic, they searched without success. Three frantic days later, they found Him sitting in the temple, doing precisely what He was supposed to be doing.
3. Read and reflect upon the story of Jesus asleep in the boat in the gospel of Mark verses 37-40. Again, what affects me in this passage is the utter humanity of the apostles, and their natural reaction to a stressful situation. But Christ is there, calmly asking why they are doubting when He is in their midst. It’s no different in your life. You may not feel God’s presence at this moment, and that may distress you. But rest assured, He is near and He is working in your life. He is doing exactly what is needed for you.
4. Focus on the Catholic Calendar. There are plenty of great saints whose feast days coming up this month, and one of my favorites is today, St. Andre Bessette. I encourage you to find out about the saints this month and focus on the great things they did. You’ll probably receive a lot of personal inspiration and who knows, you may find a new favorite saint.
Overall, I invite you to remember that God’s presence in your life does not depend upon whether or not you feel it. He is always there. Sometimes the distance you feel is His doing, which simply means He wants you to search for Him, and draw closer to Him. Other times, it’s your own doing. Maybe something in your life has become an obstacle between you and Him? No matter what the situation is, trust that He is there and can’t wait to encounter you again!
Count on my prayers for you as you begin this new year and I welcome your prayers, too. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.