It’s hard to believe that we are coming to the close of 2023. The Catholic Church has started a new liturgical year and is fast approaching Christmas. Personally, this Advent has been a bit of an administrative blur. I serve as a Dean for our Diocese, which for those who don’t speak Catholic means I am type of a regional overseer of Parishes and Catholic institutions like schools. My term was up this year and I was informed that I was renewed for another three year term. My response? … yeah… kinda… not really… oops, I forgot the proper answer… Its an honor to serve at the pleasure of the Bishop.
(Image to the left is of the Northern Lights that appeared a little over a week ago over Lake Wissota, Wisconsin.)
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I find enjoyable about being a Dean. As I’ve shared in the past, I enjoy working with the Catholic Schools of the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. As a former high school Chaplain, to have an official relationship with the system I once taught at is satisfying. Sadly, being a Dean also carries its own stress of dealing with difficult circumstances that can arise.
When you embrace being a Dean you quickly learn that anyone who wants to be a Bishop is out of their mind. You begin to see the daily stress all of our Bishops go through, demystifying the office in a healthy way. It also teaches you the blessing of “just being a parish priest.” Having seen what I have seen, why would a priest desire anything else?
To get away from the stress, Advent presents to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the shortest days and longest nights of the year. For most, this is something undesirable and stress inducing. Given my love of astronomy and astrophotography, this is my favorite time of year! I get to do some astrophotography while still getting to bed at a reasonable time.
I’m happy to share with you some of my recent astrophotography images. They aren’t the greatest images you will find, but that’s not the point. These are truly images from the backyard. They represent time I’ve spent finding peace amid the difficulties of life. They are symbols of sacred rest in the Holy Spirit. They are reminders of my personal time with God that I now wish to share with you. I do struggle with light pollution in my backyard – Bortle Class 5.
What are your “from the backyard” moments of life to reconnect with God? I’d love to read the ways you find peace in the comments below. Happy Monday!