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A Spark of Joy Revealed 

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Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Mari Snyder reflects on simplicity, gratitude, books that spark joy, and preparing to leave for the U.S.-Mexico border. 


Does this display of books “spark joy” for you like it does for me? If you have read one of these books and wish to recommend it, please note it in the comment section below!

I’ve now completely “KonMari’d” my house! It was a goal I began on April 1, 2017, having read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, known globally for her “KonMari”TM Method. 

I merely dabbled in its decluttering and organizing practices for a few months back then, but over the last seven weeks, it’s been my full-time job. Many things have been “thanked for their service” and donated to serve others. Now my house contains only its most purposeful and joy-sparked possessions. 

What a life review! I have assessed all that has had a place in my house over the past 14 years, determining if it sparked joy – in anticipation or remembrance, in its purpose. In doing so, I can sometimes see the hand of God at work over time. I have expressed my gratitude many, many times over the last several weeks. 

As Marie suggests, I tackled my books collectively. I gave 75 percent of them away – gasp! Afterall, I want to focus on reading Spanish-language books, so I can learn and engage as quickly as possible for my time in mission at the U.S.-Mexico Border, which starts in about a week. Once there, I plan to visit the small library in my new community for Spanish-language books; you’ll find me in the children’s section, she says humbly. 

Still, reading at night is relaxing for me so I will want to escape into the pages I can easily digest.

I laid out my top twenty on the only table left in my house. In scanning my selections, I realized that the books’ titles were striking me in a new way; they had double meanings, deeper meanings. They seemed to name and stitch together significant events from my last five years. The people I associate with the books shown have played a role. This sparked a surprising joy, a bit of a God wink. 

Just like the more life you live, the more you understand what Jesus meant when you hear the Gospel at Mass. Each of us can find a current, personal understanding in what is presented, in prose or parable. 

It may not spark joy, it may not be easy to hear, but it does feel like a personal connection to the divine.

What good read do you recommend?

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Mari Snyder, an Overseas Lay Missioner in formation, was introduced to the Franciscan charism that deepened her Catholic faith during her college years at St. Bonaventure University and Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Community in Western New York. A native of Scranton, Pa., Mari has lived and worked in the Washington D.C. and suburban Maryland area for more than twenty years. She began her career in sales and public relations, which grew to a global leadership role in corporate social responsibility with a focus on human trafficking prevention, sustainability, and youth employability. Most recently, Mari was in leadership with a small, dynamic nonprofit where she launched an economic empowerment program and worked directly with human trafficking survivors. She looks forward to her fast-approaching time in mission with FMS.