All is Well
This is the May column of Concerning Women for the Catholic Free Press.
Over the months leading up to the Gather Us In 2013 Women’s Conference, “Concerning Women” columns will offer a taste of the topics to be presented by our esteemed speakers.
This month’s column profiles Peggy Patenaude’s workshop entitled “All is Well.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Life is messy. It is never 100% the way we want it to be. It rains the whole week you’re on vacation. The plumber doesn’t return your call. You burn the chicken. Life is messy in innumerable ways. The question is what do we do when things do not go our way? How do we respond to the unpredictable?
Peggy Patenaude of Taking Time Out Retreat and Workshop Ministry gently challenges and encourages us to consider these possibilities in her upcoming presentation, “All is Well” at the Gather Us In 2013 Women’s Conference at the DCU Center this coming November 2nd. It is sponsored by the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester.
She describes her talk in this way: “Many unwanted “interruptions” color our landscape and challenge our peace of mind. God, however, is present in every circumstance of our lives. When we accept what is, and remain open to grace, all is well.”
It’s a theme she touched on with the parish secretaries of our diocese at the April 25th Secretaries Day luncheon. Secretaries certainly know about unwanted interruptions to their day, being on the front line in their parishes. These daily bumps in the road can certainly push the hot button. The question is, do we let these interruptions color our attitude, making us irritable and aggravated? Or do we welcome them as opportunities of God’s grace?
And what about those larger, unwanted intrusions into our lives? The onslaught of debilitating illness. The sudden loss of a loved one. Financial pressures. The endless search for work that leads to hopelessness and despair. Are these too, opportunities to experience God’s grace?
Mrs. Patenaude believes all these adversities are paths to grace. “We all experience pain in life but if we embrace pain it can transform us. There are many gifts in the ‘mess.’”
She continues, “I believe much good has come from my own difficult times, including growing up in an alcoholic home, living with chronic health issues and the loss of several significant people.”
The crucial elements are acceptance and living in the present moment.
“A major lesson that I have learned in life is that the key to living well in the face of adversity, whether major or minor, is acceptance. When we are faced with challenges, I cannot think of anything else more effective, if we expect to find happiness, than acceptance of reality, no matter how harsh it might be. Acceptance is the key to inner peace,” she says.
Mrs. Patenaude is a strong believer in the meaning of the commonly used phrase, “It is what it is.” Its true meaning? “Stop fighting reality and learn to embrace it, then we’re on the road to healing and acceptance.”
The theme of “letting go” necessarily goes hand-in-hand with acceptance. Acceptance of difficulties always includes some kind of surrender. It places us on the path of transformation. That simple “yes” to whatever comes our way turns a stagnant life into one of unlimited growth and possibility. Hardly a passive action, acceptance is pro-active. By embracing pain, we stand up to fear and become empowered by God’s grace.
Mrs. Patenaude’s workshop will contain some specific tips for dealing with the unplanned and unwanted situations of our lives, such as making the choice every day to focus on what is right, not wrong, about our lives. “We have sole custody of our attitude no matter what happens to us,” she says.
“To paraphrase author Anne Lamott, ‘It’s not always good to get what you want or else you’d be shortchanged.’ Many blessings really do appear in disguise. I’ll share some stories, which will illustrate that mess has value.”
Mrs. Patenaude’s hope is that women who attend the conference and her workshop are affirmed in their belief that God is present in every circumstance of their lives offering them the grace they need.
We too on the Commission hope that you will join us at the Gather Us In 2013 conference. Save November 2nd on your calendar. Information will soon be forthcoming on how to register for the conference and reserve your place.
If you have not signed up for our mailing list, write to us at email@example.com. This is the best way to receive the most up-to-date information on the conference.