Let Your Heart Beat

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"Let your heart beat" by Maggie Eisenbarth (CatholicMom.com)

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash (2017), CC0 Public Domain

I believe we are all called to the small duties within our vocation but we are all called to greatness within them. Listen to God’s inspiration, right where you are. There is a seed planted in your heart that longs to take root. There is a longing there, your heart beats for you and as a gift for others. I have seen the heart of a saint: it lives. My heart pounded in its presence.

Mesmerized by Saint André Bessette’s heart I learned a forever lesson; one I have always been inclined to believe, yet doubted, the greatness of smallness. How can I have great faith in God moving mountains and yet lack the faith to build something from nothing?

I wondered these things as I returned home from Vermont, where I had retreated for months, putting our family’s life into perspective from afar, (our responsibilities, finances, health and faith) in addition to spending a few days researching purchasing a Vermont fishing lodge. Maybe the answer to relieving my husband of some of his hard work was a new business. Yet that heart in Montreal begged me to answer. How could I have faith that God would sell our house in Montana to buy a business on an island, yet lacked the same trust that God would finish what he started, what he planted in my heart so many years ago in Montana?

After being diagnosed with epilepsy it seemed that so much of what my husband and I had been working towards ( land, simplicity, farming, and a retreat for others) became a thorn rather than a bud waiting to blossom. If you already read A Small Offering and 18 Years to the Farm, you know how we did give it to God and how I did wrap my brain around a little neuro-malfunction and took a deep breath in Vermont, where I rested under my mother’s quilts, safe, nestled (with 6 of my little ones) for two months. Sounds kinda dreamy? Yes and no.

Our lives are part of a bigger story, one waiting for an ending. Let me remind you, life is a journey, a path toward heaven, the way of the cross, a long and rugged road to sainthood. As grateful as I am to have had the time to reflect in Vermont, I must not romanticize the reality of motherhood: the chores never cease, the evening wails never mellow, the daily struggles remain. On this road there are moments of gold and many more potholes than one wants to dwell on. But you know this; you too live in this world and you too are called to be a saint, in your little ways and in your capacity for greatness.

My heart is always torn when I go home. I stand on the shore of shale, the waves lap towards me, rolling in memories. My heart longs to breath new life into this little place, Alburgh Springs, into the sad little church where I was baptized and first received Jesus; it sits as it was 30 years ago, and the collection brings in $148. I want to inspire the town, to rouse them, to paint it in hope.

I daydreamed while I was in Vermont (always do) what it would be like to live near my parents, my best friend and of another means of employment for my husband. What if his hands didn’t have to be caked with callouses and his hours endlessly long, building on a dream — would it really ever happen? Maybe we should just sell it all, the real estate is hot in the Flathead Valley, maybe we could build something new? I know not to answer these questions with a simple pros and cons list; they must be sent to heaven.

So I took a trip to Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, not only to show my boys what man can create for the glory of God, but also to pray. To pray from from the wells of my longing to do God’s will, to pray to the Saint who has always heard us. I have prayed to St. Joseph to guide my husband at work. He has always helped us with our homes and property sales; he has always been a steadfast comfort and presence. I visited Saint Joseph’s many times as a child and never understood the connection between St. Joseph and Brother André. I never understood that the massive shrine exists because of him: a fatherless, motherless, and rejected man.

I read Brother André the Saint of Saint Joseph’s Oratory to the boys as we drove to Montreal. He was a small man, puny they say, an orphan without enough stamina or endurance to be accepted into the religious life. Eventually, he became Brother André, porter for the College of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur in Côte-des-Neiges. There he stared daily at what was right in front of him, Mount Royal. There he dreamed and was inspired to build a a cathedral in honor of his heavenly father, Saint Joseph.  Saint Joseph’s now proudly stands taller than St. Patrick’s and Notre Dame in Paris at three hundred and sixty-one feet.

I took all my prayers with me that day. I prayed for healing (Brother André performed miraculous healings). I prayed for my husband and his work to St Joseph the Worker. I prayed for my friends’ business to sell. I prayed for God to take away the wrong desires and strongly plant his will, his desires, in my heart.

I didn’t know that the heart of a saint, of Brother André was at Saint Joseph’s, preserved, his love so great it could not decay. I sat in awe, in front of it, entombed love. I wrote:

My heart beats in rhythm to the words, “poor and humble servant.” You were inspired by higher ground believed the impossible was possible. Your heart, full of love and charity preserved for us all to see it. Simple, prayerful, joyful, little, weak, humble … the way of the cross inspired you, your great vision became reality. Here I sit, where I needed to. Thank you.

I prayed if God did not want me in Vermont to take the desire from me and firmly place it where it belonged. He heard every whisper and plea. God took away the desire to sell it all and move and replaced it with a greater desire to finish what we started. To live where my children can freely romp, forage, run, hoot, and holler. To build and to serve the needs of others on our land, to offer a retreat for families. My heart was reinvigorated to keep focused. Yes, Cory and I would have to forge on, work instead of vacation, but the way of the cross reminds us that the future and what we are working towards is glorious. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you with get neither.” We have to hold true to what we know, that the saints know God because they work for him and do not stray from the target.

Joan of Arc said, “Act and God will act.” So today, I write this as a first act to remind myself that our land is a refuge for others, a home to the spiritually lonely and undernourished. I am reminding myself and therefore inspiring you as well, that you must act on your deepest desires even when they seem impossible, because our faith tells us nothing is impossible with God. Brother André’s work was hard and he was belittled yet he focused on a mountain and built the impossible. I share so we both can remember that what is in front of us is where we start.

“The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a homeless person at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child. … Doing the duty of the moment means focusing our whole person — heart, soul, body, emotions, intellect, memory, imagination — on the job at hand. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God.” –Catherine Doherty

We all desire to do God’s will, to trust our judgement to have faith in the longings of our heart and to believe they were put their by God. We have to remember that when the road gets weary and long is the time to put one foot in front of the other and nothing more; it’s not the time to scrap the journey, it’s time to shovel the snow and tend the fire.

In our smallness let us reveal our greatness that comes from God. When you question God’s will, God’s plan for you, ask; take it to prayer, take it to the heart of the saints, they are ready and waiting to guide you HOME.


Copyright 2018 Maggie Eisenbarth

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About Author

Maggie is the mother of nine children. She longs to do God’s will, seek His truth and wrap it all up in a life of joy, offering hope to others. Her family is living the simple life; community, bonfires, good food and nature. She is working on a memoir, writing about how God’s grace and His Church freed her from the bondage of our culture. Follow her on Instagram @ 11arrows11.

6 Comments

  1. Maggie, my favorite Maggie! I read your article, without remembering who you are, (since we’ve not met face to face). Love your thoughtfulness. I wonder if what draws you back to Vermont (did I get that right?) Is what drew you to Montana, years back?
    We live in a rural mountain area of NC and long to go back to the beach. Not In Florida where we are from, but NC coast where two of our children are settled. Our oldest is autistic and we think there may be more resources for him there. But we don’t know. Selling our house and our warehouse are the factors. St. Joseph, lead us. We prayed and buried his statue in the ground at our warehouse a few years ago. Still waiting, working, and praying. Ora et Labora

  2. Maggie Eisenbarth on

    Hello Susan! Here I am… again, writing my articles and missing deadlines and thinking I can pull off writing in a few hours… not. So I just resort to speaking from my latest life lesson, I am glad you read them and love them too! And that is a very good question that you present. Hmmmm…. to me VT is like an old woman and MT like a rugged man, the Eastern mountains are worn, dense, rolling, and slightly mysterious and here in MT there is a wild surge of adventure, exposure to the elements and untapped wilderness. I ended up in MT because I wanted to be where no one new me, I was 19, I flipped open a college book and said I would transfer to wherever the page landed, phew, so glad I got Bozeman.
    For me it’s little tugs of the heart, mostly the longings of childhood loves, maple syrup, farms, fresh milk, etc. I am probably nostalgic to a fault. I do know something, we are country people, small town people and I love that I know that about our family!
    St Joseph will definitely lead you, without a doubt. Have you prayed his novena? How old is your youngest?
    I can imagine it is challenging when children start settling elsewhere. What do you do in your warehouse?
    Ora et Labora for sure, and be full of joy all the while! 🙂 Maggie

    • Our youngest is a senior in high school. She’s 17. We publish Christian games. Cactusgamedesign.com
      Yes, it is difficult when they leave. My husband describes that it’s like missing an arm. We miss them, and they miss us sometimes. We are a close family and I am grateful for that.

      • Maggie Eisenbarth on

        Wow, I love your stuff, just checked them out! Thank you for the work your family does, the world needs it! We are going to pray the novena that was posted on CatholicMom for families starting today. It feels like families are under attack, I pray your family stays close and holy. Peace

        • HI Maggie,

          Please follow me as well on CatholicMom.com. I’ve figured out that you and I post our monthly articles on the same day, (first Friday of the month). I feel like we are kindred spirits. I have written a book about my oldest son who is autistic. It’s called Paul’s Prayers and will be published in March by Good Books. Here is the link if you are inclined to pre-order: http://goodbooks.com/titles/13642-9781680993479-pauls-prayers. When you get to the link, if you scroll down, you’ll read a description of the book. Needing prayer support for this, please.
          Also, I love your comparison of Montana being a rugged man and Vermont being an old woman. Again, you are my kind of writer!

          • Maggie Eisenbarth on

            Yes, will do! Congratulations on your writing and publishing, that’s wonderful! I will check it out! Peace!

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