I figured since Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent were the same day this year, I would share a little about what I’ve learned from the people I love. After all, Valentine’s Day is all about love and Lent is all about learning. (Does that work?)
1. My mom taught me about the worthiness of domesticity.
She lives the beauty of the title “homemaker.” She shows that making a home is about so much more than decorating, although marigolds and homemade curtains do have a sweet spot in my heart, thanks to mom. She continues to put her whole energy into the little things: home-cooked meals, front porch succulents, the herb garden, her children’s art adorning the walls, and most importantly, her presence. She shows that the most beautiful home is not the same thing as the tidiest home. The most beautiful home is the one the neighbors invite themselves over to because they feel so, well, at home. (You never know who is going to show up for Dad’s barbecues or a game of backyard wiffle ball.) My mom shows that Laura Ingalls Wilder was right, home really is the nicest word there is.
And lets just tack Auntie on to this one. She’s another domestic queen.
2. My dad taught me that everything is going to be ok because Mary’s heart will triumph.
He is the only person I know who can read end-of-time prophecies without getting at least a little bit stressed. “Don’t worry, Mary told us that her Immaculate Heart will triumph, and it will!” He understood when as a younger girl I felt that the devil was out to get me, and he showed me how to have confidence in God, and in him. He bought all of his children large purple scapulars to display in our homes or rooms as a sign of our confidence. And he doesn’t just preach. He grinds through every work day, and though the school tuitions and the work disputes and the inner crosses pile up, I’ve never seen him lose his faith, not for a moment.
3. My big brother taught me to appreciate the sacred mystery present in ordinary life.
He loves Eastern liturgies and the liturgical seasons, and made Jesse tree ornaments with his wife. He reads The Imitation of Christ on his balcony during breaks from video games. Stormy nights require him to smoke a cigarette outside in the wind and cold. Growing up he insisted on singing Joy to the World every Christmas morning at brunch and memorized parts of The Ballad of the White Horse, then recited them to my mom and me. His life is simple yet vastly rich. He’s the reason I love Byzantine chant. He’s the one I ask, when Scripture passages confuse me, “Why would God let that happen??” and his answers make sense. He shows me how to love the mysteries of God.
4. My younger siblings taught me how to forgive.
In our home, things could go from zero to a hundred and back to zero in less than a half hour. Thanks, tempers. My siblings, however, rarely hold a grudge. They emerge from their room or walk-around-the-block and act like nothing happened. For my sensitive, self-righteous and defensive self, this is mind boggling. Even the more difficult sibling rivalries seem to dissipate with time, and I could not be more grateful for the loyalty my siblings show each other.
5. My kindred-spirit-friend-since-highschool taught me what it looks like when Jesus is your best friend.
Her life is one whole. Dance parties and cheesy movies seem right at home next to daily mass and time in adoration. She shares every part of her life with Jesus. In college she would welcome girls into her room with the greeting: “Come on in! We’re talking about God and boys.” When I was sick she brought me girly, shallow magazines and two pictures of Jesus. I’ve been blessed with many friends whose faith is the center of their life, and this girl epitomizes how beautiful it is to make Jesus your best friend.
6. My in-laws taught me to ski.
Enough said. They’re the best.
7. My husband taught me how to ask for forgiveness.
He continually pulls me out of my defensive self by showing me what it looks like to see your own faults clearly and just say it: “I was wrong.” I can’t help but slowly (slowly slowly slowly) learn to do the same. He shows me how to humbly advance in self-improvement, no excuses. Actually, he’s the best.
What have you learned from the people in your life? Share some lessons with us in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the other quick takes over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.