Belly Laughs and Other Blessings – Sensing Spiritual Consolation’s Call

belly laughs

Many folks worked this past weekend. Some traveled miles in pursuit of an ultimate vacation or hobby. Still others regularly work Monday through Friday and used the days off to catch up on yard work or revel in recreational sports. It’s the season of graduations and weddings too – perhaps one of those topped your activity list?

Regardless of how your time was spent, another weekend is in the books. Hopefully it was met with satisfied sighs and smiles along the way. In pondering the last forty-eight hours I’m struck again by what blessing we find in the gift of grandparenthood.

Belly Laughs – A Short Tale of Blessings

We’ve developed a bit of routine in weekend overnights with the grandchildren. We pick them up just before supper time on Saturday and make two stops on the way back to our house. The first is at a grocery store for favorite drinks and dessert, the second – pizzas from a local restaurant.

We didn’t start out doing these things with specific intent, but somehow it has turned into a quasi-tradition. In fact, if we don’t follow this pattern, the children notice immediately. I know this because our granddaughter is the one who called the whole routine to our attention a few weeks ago.

After supper, out come the games. Some of us gravitate toward video games, others to table games (i.e. dominoes, Sorry, spoons, etc.). Sometimes we flow back and forth depending on what strikes our fancy at the moment. Each time we say that we’re going to quit in time to get to bed at a decent hour (since we have Mass in the morning). Each time we seem to stretch that rule – a lot.

The before bed routine has become standardized too. After drawing straws to see who will get the beds in the spare room and who gets sleeping bags on the living room floor (unless uncle is away at college – then his bed is somehow the most coveted spot in the house), everyone gets into pajamas, brushes teeth, and we ‘settle down’ for night prayer and story time.

Last night was no exception. After prayers, we started the story, following the “add–a–word” version. One person starts, saying one word only, and we go around the room with each person adding one word at a time. Sometimes we have three or four modifiers in a row, sometimes two nouns (which creates a compound neologism almost always), with myriad twists and turns along the way. Often times, the story makes no sense by the time we conclude. But that’s not what’s important.

What’s important is the incredible fun we have along the way. I can’t recall the entire sentence that brought on last night’s fit of giggles, but the word that started it all was ‘steak’, with something about crocodiles too, and the little ones laughed so long and loud that soon all of us were joining in. It was a golden moment – a moment of bliss – when you are fully aware of how wonderful it is right while you are in it – and all you can do is offer thanks to God for the gift.

Spiritual Consolation Fits in How?

I tell you all of that – to tell you this.

Some friends and I are currently studying The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living by Fr. Timothy Gallagher. The entire process lays out fourteen rules developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, regarding spiritual consolation and desolation. In simple terms, the intent of this study and application of the rules is to develop an awareness of the movements in your spiritual life so as to attain balance. We’ve just finished covering the eleventh rule.

This incredible moment of blessing, complete with belly laughs, is a gift of the awareness of God in my life. I savor it, pray with it, and will utilize it in anticipation of the next period of spiritual desolation waiting around life’s corner.

We’ve not yet finished the study. Perhaps you’ll hear more about the desolation side of life’s equation in another post. For now, I wanted to share what I have.

Life’s ups and downs we all will face
(for some they come at rapid pace).
Yet in the dips and on the heights
the tools we have to face the fights
are in each one of us, so true
if we could but discern their hue.
The good Lord sends, while Satan glares,
ability to face all snares.
The tools we learn, to love and grow
are there for each of us to know.
Take heart then friends, consoled or blue.
Choose grace, aware, to see you through.

Happy Rhyming, Friends!

Wishing you belly laughs today!


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