Learning from Heroines of the Faith: The Little Way

It is a joy to have Michelle DeRusha here today. Her memoir  released around the same time as mine, and I found in her easy humor and gentle faith a kindred-friend in this spiritual journey. She recently released another book, , a book I've been keeping by my bed. (It is perfect for late-night-I-can-only-keep-my-eyes-open-for-5-pages reading! I've been reading about one woman before I fall asleep each night.) I'm thrilled to share Michelle and her new book with you today. (PS Click on the Rafflecopter icon at the bottom of this post and enter to win a copy of her book!)

The sun hangs low, bathing the path and the tall grass golden. A rare stillness drapes the rolling land, interrupted by a single bird call, an unfamiliar one. I crane for a glimpse of feathers amid burnished leaves as my dog strains the leash taut.

I am walking the dog, something I’ve done nearly every evening since we adopted her last February. Tumultuous downpour, sub-zero temperatures, searing Nebraska heat – the weather makes no matter. After the dinner dishes are stacked in the dishwasher and the counters are wiped clean, I slip on my shoes, grab the purple leash from the hook by the back door and call for Josie.

I thought I’d dread walking the dog. As we considered the pros and cons of dog ownership, “walking” ranked right up there with cleaning up the yard and clipping the toenails of four paws. I never expected my daily dog walk would become one of my most cherished spiritual disciples.

Josie’s not a fast walker. She has squat Corgi legs, a choppy gait and the snout of a hound. At first I was irritated by how often she stopped to sniff and snuffle in the weeds and wildflowers. I was accustomed to walking with a mission, intent on burning as many calories in as short a period as possible. But Josie does not allow that, and I’ve learned to surrender to her olfactory whims.

Sometimes I pray as we walk – occasionally even out loud, when there is no one else within earshot. I talk to God on these walks in a way I’ve never talked to him before – easily, comfortably, honestly. I tell him what’s on my mind. I confess my shortcomings and ask for guidance and direction. I tell him my fears; I thank him for the beauty I see all around me.

And sometimes I am quiet.

The lone stately fir stands tall and majestic like a lighthouse on a hill.

Across the field, the long, straight limb of a white oak, hanging low over the grass, offers an invitation to climb, though I’ve resisted so far.

The red belly woodpecker taps the gnarled trunk of a Scotch pine, sap threading around its whorls and knots like a meandering stream through a valley.

Therese of Lisieux was a French Carmelite nun who lived during the late 19th century and desperately yearned to do something big and radical for God. She chafed restlessly against the ordinary duties of her daily life in the convent, pining for an opportunity to do more – “a priest, an apostle, a martyr, a doctor of the church…martyrdom was the dream of my youth and the dream has only grown more vivid in Carmel’s narrow cell,” she once said.

Eventually, though, Therese found significance in these ordinary duties, in the simple, humble ways she connected with God. She called it the petite voie, the little way. Even the smallest act, from maintaining the altar as a sacristan to serving in the laundry room, became an opportunity for Therese to demonstrate her love for and devotion to God.

“I realized that love includes every vocation,” she wrote, “that love is all things…My vocation is found at last – my vocation is love!”

And so I think of Therese of Lisieux while I walk the dog as the sun slips below the tree line. It is a little thing, really, this ordinary routine, this daily responsibility. But it is worship, this walk. It is a vocation of love.

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Therese of Lisieux is one of fifty Christian women featured in  recently released book,  (Baker Books).

From Catherine of Siena and Anne Hutchinson to Susanna Wesley, Harriet Tubman and Corrie ten Boom, this book of engaging narratives spans more than 900 years and brings into focus fifty incredible heroines of the faith – women who inspire and encourage us. Women who remind us that we are not alone, that the battles we face today are not new, and that God is always with us in the midst of our struggles.

Michelle is also the author of  She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and their two boys. You can connect with Michelle on  and on  and 

 

 

 

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