Years ago, I was asked at jury duty to stand and tell the courtroom about myself. It was like being a contestant on a game show and being asked to whittle the sum of my evolving, quirky, and complex identity into three tidy sentences. I’m not sure where I was in my hormone fluctuations that I couldn’t just keep it to my name, kid count, and occupation, but I shared that I only wanted to do things in my life that matter. Of course, I was asked to explain this like it was some complex equation instead of a simple intention for living. But whatever, it got me out of jury duty and that mattered!
Here’s what else matters to me:
The nuns and the Baltimore Catechism from my Catholic grade school and high school taught me about God, but he existed in my heart for as long as I can remember. The more I learn about Jesus the more I want to be like him. But there is that whole human thing which would doom me entirely, if not for his mercy.
Faith in God, ourselves, and our humanity matters. Believing the best in someone else, in do-overs, in possibility, and despite the odds — that’s the kind of faith the world needs.
My husband and I went to high school together, but we didn’t date until after college. He lets me be exactly who I am, even if that changes five minutes from now. (He says I’m dynamic). I will love him forever for the way he loves me.
We have two boys and they have been my greatest teachers about life and love. They matter to me more than anyone.
I graduated with a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida, but I wish I had majored in English because I love to write (and hang out with my cats who also show a sometimes annoying interest in writing).
Before I stayed home with my children, I had a career in development for various non-profits. I raised money for a domestic violence center, an AIDS service organization, and a children’s hospital. That seems like a lifetime ago and I suppose it was since I used to wear pantyhose to work and I’m not even sure they sell pantyhose anymore? I hope not. I always had a God-awful time getting them on straight.
More recently, I’ve been a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines like Our Sunday Visitor, the St Augustine Catholic, and for the Florida Times-Union. I love to write stories that matter; about people doing good; because I believe very much in the exponential value of the way goodness spreads. I also wrote the book, Simple Mercies: How the Works of Mercy Bring Peace and Fulfillment because the world makes service feel like another chore instead of a way to connect with God and fill the chasm of our hearts. I wanted to show that our everyday compassion makes a difference.
Other than that, I write grocery lists and inadvertently leave them on the counter. But that really doesn’t matter, now does it?
I spent my 40th year doing corporal and spiritual works of mercy (and explaining to others what that meant, i.e. feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison etc.) (You can read more about that journey here.) I figured other alternatives to a mid-life crisis would be too complicated, costly, and regrettable. Turns out I may have been wrong about that. Still, I have no regrets. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with mercy, and more than ever, I think the world is desperate for its grace. I know I am.
It’s easy to get distracted from what matters by being caught up in the motions of life. We chase success, the material, the accolades, the supposed to’s, and the narrative we are hawked about what makes a happy life. Mercy doesn’t care about any of that. It isn’t about metrics or paybacks. Mercy cares about empty bellies, runny noses, and broken hearts. Mercy is about compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, and tolerance. It’s about helping someone get through a really hard day. It’s about recognizing the humanity in our neighbor; the God that exists in each of us.
What could matter more than that?