In 4th grade, I made it to the final round of our class spelling bee.  Mr. McGee was wielding the spelling list like a sword, trying to take one of us down so as to proclaim a winner.  But word after word, my opponent and I kept the spelling bee buzzing.  Until…

Mr. McGee asked me to spell “COUCH”.  Immediately, I saw the letters flash before my eyes: C-O-U-C-H.  But then, I thought: “Wait, that’s too simple!”.  I quickly went back to phonetics, then thought about the silent “gh” in  caught, then I wondered if it was spelled with a “tch” like notch.  Again he repeated, “Please spell: Couch.”  Then it happened….

I said: “Couch: C-O-W-G-H-T-C-H.  Cowghtch.”  He looked at me in disbelief.  I looked to my best friend for reassurance, but she too looked at me in disbelief.


Turning to my opponent, he said: “Please spell Couch for the win.”  My opponent looked at me quizzically, then said: “For the win, Couch: C-O-U-C-H.  Couch.”

And that was the end of the 4th grace spelling bee.

I distinctly remember taking my seat, with a red face, thinking: “But it was so simple – I can’t believe I lost because I thought it was too easy.”

Perhaps it was on that day – after a face-palm and a chuckle – that St. Therese decided to be my special patron and friend.  Some 30 years later, she’s still giving me lessons on simplicity.

I don’t know about you, but often – for me –  going from cowtghtch to couch, from complicated to simple, really stretches my heart!

As Lent draws near, I can’t help but sense that this is the journey He desires us to take…from cowghtch to couch, from complicated to simple, from me to Him, from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from constraint to the glorious freedom of the children of God. 

Let us ask St. Therese to accompany us along this way.  Below are some thoughts from her heart to yours about simplicity, the little way, and prayer:

“For me, prayer is a burst from my heart, it is a simple glance thrown toward Heaven, a cry of thanksgiving and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy.”

“I (pray) like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me.”

“The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes.”

“Doubtless it is good to recollect one’s spirit, but sweetly because constraint does not glorify the good God.  He understands all the beautiful thoughts and expressions of love that we should like to offer Him, and He is content with our desires.  Is He not our Father and are we not His little children.”