Big Red Couches

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The New Year is quickly moving to Valentine’s Day and I’m playing catch up still internally negotiating resolutions for 2015. There are the usual – exercise more, avoid sugar, seize the moment. This year daily inspirational/spiritual reading was added to the list. Books by James Martin, Richard Rohr and Ann LaMott sit on the bedside table along with America magazine and while they are read it is not happening as often as planned. There is always something to distract: the water problem in the house, the grandchildren who are visiting not to mention the work of IVC. The resolve to read from one of these books each morning and night is sometimes beyond reach. And, with that comes guilt.

In the midst of this I have been lamenting (and obsessing over) a pair of red sofas and a recliner my husband and I bought in a weak moment last year. What possessed us to choose something so big and so red? The minute they arrived the mistake was evident but I let it go. Since Thanksgiving, however, the couches have bothered me on a regular basis. Taking the time for the spiritual reading might have eased my misplaced annoyance with these inanimate objects but since that was not happening it took outside influences for the wakeup call.

Last week one of my daughters called to chat. She told me about her friend, a professor at Loyola Marymount University, who had just returned from a trip to El Salvador. Her friend was sobered by the poverty she saw. A conversation ensued between this young woman and my daughter about re-thinking priorities particularly when it came to their home improvement projects. They talked about focusing on what they had and enjoying it rather than always planning for more. I listened, touched by the story.

Toward the end of the conversation I was about to remark (once again) on the red sofas but hesitated. Why was I wasting energy and time worrying about something so trivial? The furniture will stay put – it offers adequate seating space when the family and guests gather.

The practice of including inspirational reading in each day remains a helpful resolution. It can offer direction to where God is leading but the lesson learned is that nudges from God come when least expected, from surprising sources and when most needed.

Anne Hansen is Regional Director for IVC Los Angeles and has written a column for the Tidings newspaper for many years (nearly 20)—Family Time.  She co-authored Culture-Sensitive Ministry (Paulist Press, 2010) and offers workshops and retreats throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

3 Responses to “Big Red Couches”

  1. Joe Betz

    Like your daughter’s comments to you, your message today was what I needed to put some related things in perspective. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Barbara Lee

    Why not donate them? Here in NY, the Housing Works thrift shops are always looking for furniture in good condition, that can be used by the poor or sold in their shops. Surely there is any equally worthwhile charity in LA!

    Reply
  3. Peter Matthews

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Anne, about resolutions and distractions. I often feel the same way.

    Reply

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