So it’s Wednesday morning, well actually Thursday, but I am walking with my Wednesday morning buddies.There are three of us.

We are on the first strides of our walk. The sun a bit hotter than it should be at 7:30 in the morning. As usual, I am a step behind.

They are talking about my column.

“Be careful you might just find yourselves in it,” I tease.

“That’s fine as long as you give me a really great name, like ‘Candy,’” says my one friend.

My other friend, laughs and nods in agreement as she looks back at me still huffing behind her. She gives me no indication of the moniker she will prefer so I will call her ‘Cookie.’

Cookie says she loves my last column, but she’s distressed that I call myself ‘Divorce Barbie!’

Candy pipes in that, she too, finds it troubling.

I choose to believe that it’s not because my fellow three mile walkers have a hard time believing I can achieve Barbie’s actual shape. No, they chuckle, instead they tell me it conveys an emptiness between the ears that they don’t believe I have.

Only there has been a distracted, emptiness to my head and to my heart. An emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion.

“I may not be empty-headed, but I am empty-hearted,” I say.

As we walk each week, it is a reminder to me that as I physically workout I have been emotionally working out for longer than I wish to remember. I have written about it and have long pondered why we encourage physical workouts and shy away from talking about our emotional workouts.

“I heard a great sermon,” I say.

I know a priest that has a fabulous way of weaving stories with unforgettable images, leaving you with priceless nuggets of faith. I will call him Father “Hope.” I think he will appreciate that considering the names Candy and Cookie.

I had just listened to him speak of St. Therese, known as the Little Flower and her hugely popular autobiography, The Story of a Soul. In it St. Therese speaks of a nun that she is having problems with in her convent and her ultimate conclusion that this nun must be the one that she is called to love the most.

In his sermon, Father Hope explains there are many difficult people that we encounter in life. He goes on to suggest, that much like St. Therese, perhaps we should turn it into a little prayer, “Lord this must be the one who you want me to love the most and that when we do that we discover that God becomes our strength.”

I can’t help, but think of my marital problems and my impending divorce and of how ‘the one’ that I once loved can now be the source of such angst.

Father Hope goes deeper and explains that the body only grows stronger when there’s imposed stress.

If you lift the same ten pounds a week the body will not become stronger. However, if you add one pound a week, the body will respond and you’ll be stronger and made even stronger to lift that weight.

Father Hope speaks of the soul being like that and that God is our strength.

“He sends certain people into our lives as imposed stress because he wants to make us stronger,” says Father ‘H.’ And waits to see our response whether we embrace it or reject it. These difficult people, these difficult circumstances are the pipe cleaners of the soul, chosen instruments from God on high to bring you to himself.”

Candy and Cookie nod in agreement as they take in Father Hope’s sermon.

We are walking towards our physical and spiritual strength. Of course, I have always believed that adversity is there to make us stronger, but it’s so easy to lose sight of that amidst pain and loss.

Father Hope helps me see my marital problems as bench pressing for the soul. Not a distracted and protracted period of unhappiness that I should be hard on myself for. On the contrary, I am working my way towards spiritual fitness.

While it feels like I have been lifting unbearable weights amidst impending divorce, I have actually become a ‘spiritual pro-bodybuilder.’

It looks like Barbie’s body might be within my reach after all. And with names, like Candy and Cookie can they really now cast a stone at ‘Barbie?’

Oh and did I mention, my Confirmation name? It would be Therese of the Little Flower.




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