Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

Yesterday was the feast of Saint Thomas and I'd written a piece that ran last year, but happy for me, got a boost again this year.   If you missed it because you were doing hot dogs and fireworks last year, here' my piece on Saint Thomas and his reaction to the Risen Christ.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Blessings of the Year

I usually do a bucket list for what is to come every summer. This year, on my birthday, I'm counting my blessings from the past one in part to answer the question from my husband, "What does it feel like to be 54?" Yes, being married to a writer means every question gets an essay answer.  He knows this, and mercifully, he loves me in spite of it. 

By rights we should hate the year 2020, because there has been much suffering, much turmoil, and many sins and sores and long standing injustices exposed.  Yet it is also a year of great blessing, because the many sins and sores and long standing injustices have been exposed, and thus can begin to be addressed and with our cooperation with Divine grace, healed.

I am grateful for all the stollen time with my family, time that would not exist if we'd gone about business as usual.  While I want the pandemic cured and over, I do not want the return to ordinary time, where we don't think we need to spend time with each other. I don't want the excuse that business allows, where we spend time doing the unneccesary things don't eat together or even if we do, we're not present. 

I am grateful for the jobs some of my family have been able to acquire, and for the degrees some of them attained. I'm proud of all of them for their work and accomplishments. None of these feats are easy, none a given, and all should be properly celebrated. 

I am grateful for everyone that is still healthy, despite the risks of a world wide illness we do not know how to stop, only treat.

I am grateful for answered prayers, and that God keeps answering my prayers even when I'm not immediately grateful even when I know a prayer has been answered.  He knows I'm a needy greedy and self indulgent soul and somehow, He still answers, He still loves.  Very grateful to be in His heart.

My life has been one big blessing.  What is it like to be fifty-four? It's a blessing, just more of it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Churning of the Storm

Today, I think everyone who looks at the news or has endured this long seige of Covid-19, or who does any self examination about how we've failed as a nation to deliver the promise of freedom to be to a multitude of people through what we say and don't say, do and don't do, must feel like they are on the boat, with the storm swamping the deck on all sides.   "Lord, save us, we are perishing."

And Jesus seems to be fine sleeping.

We've tried doing this without Him, it's not working.   We've tried using the world's means of bringing about a Heavenly outcome, it's not working.  Politics and power is not the way.  Law and lawsuits are not the way. Policy is not the way. Procedure is not the way. Perception is not the way. Even actions alone are not the way.

 The only way is love.  Loving our neighbor. Loving our enemies. Loving those in our home. Loving those in our neighborhood. Loving. Loving. Loving. Loving. Loving. Loving. Loving.   It means sacrifice, it means living day in and day out and letting yourself pour out day in and day out. 

It doesn't matter if there is a storm.  Love.   It doesn't matter if the storm is swamping the boat.  Love. It doesn't matter if no one knows. Love. It doesn't matter if no one else cares. Love. 

The churning of the storm is the world and sin and all the craziness that sin creates.  We all want the peace the world cannot give. 

When Jesus woke and calmed the storm, and the waves died down.  My daughter came in to my room to tell me about her attempt to work on her relationship with her sisters. She went to their room and said, "I don't always tell you, but I love you." and something of the storm of life ebbed.  I sat amazed at the results of faith, of love, of answered prayers. 

So to quote Saint Padre Pio, "Pray, hope and don't worry."  and get to the business of loving because the world needs more of it.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Write Up

Today I slept in, marshalled the power of the birthday week and got everybody to clean for two-to-three hours.  HOURS.  My house is in shock. 

During that time, I found treasures.  Books we'd missed, socks, shoes, movies, magic cards, coins, markers, it's a wonder we can do anything around this house given what I found but the big treasure was a rosary I'd been missing for four months --like pre-Covid-19. I was certain I'd lost it somewhere at work, and yet, it was here in the basement. I'd been in the basement cleaning. I'd worked on that area, and found it now.  Don't ask me how because I really don't know other than this past weekend I really prayed to Saint Anthony and explained to him how much I wanted to find this rosary and how much I missed it. 

Here it was. 

Now I'd been struggling with saying the Rosary. Sometimes I'm a champ at it, but the last two weeks, it's been very little or none.  On Saturday, when doing research, there was the hint in a quote about staying close to His mother.   That night in the petitions at mass, again Mary was mentioned, with the reminder to pray with her, and ask her intercession.  So seeing the rosary here, felt like a directive. 

So you'd think it would be easy right?  No.  But as I sat there going over the beads, it came to me, that our wills are sufficient, because I can opt to do the wrong thing countless times, effortlessly because I will it, ergo, if I willed otherwise, I should likewise be able to do it effortlessly.  Nope.  Because will and desire are two different things.  I desire to eat a Klondike bar, but my will fights against it because I know I don't need to eat such things. My will and desire are not alligned.  My will and my reason are not alligned.  My will and my mind are not alligned.  I pushed through but it took effort until it didn't.   That will be true tomorrow too I know. 

When I finished, I spent some time saying thank you to the Saint.  Thank you thank you thank you.   The trouble for the poor saint is my constant thinking around the problem.  Hey Saint Anthony, could you help me find a way to allign everything so it isn't so hard to do this?   I can almost see him shaking his head.   I added, "Please Saint Anthony, don't lose patience with me. Thanks for the rosary."

Friday, June 26, 2020

Sifting through my find where they go

I have tried for mamy years to write things.  I learned to write with poetry, with literary devices that popped the sentences and made them rush out onto the page like confetti and explosions. I was and probably still am to some extent, a Pinkie Pie Catholic --in love with the feasts, with the beauty, with the promise of connection, with all the aching glory of what the mass is.  I desire community, I crave fellowship.

Loving all things Catholic, I found my favorite spots...the daily mass, certain columnists, and a few podcasts that always seemed to be filling rather than full.  I wrote for various places, trying to find a home and lamenting as a writer, of being a b-teamer, because I didn't quite fit any particular slot.

Mommy blogger?  Yes, but more a humor writer.

Mom of a kid with special needs? Well yes, but he's not the sole focus of our lives.

Prayerful person? Well yes.  I pray.  I know God answers. I often know what the answer is.  But that's all a gift, and not my merit or my capacity, it is merely, God invites us to pray, and we pray and we do what we can with God pouring into us the grace to do it better than we could on our own.

Saints? I love them. Not an expert by any stretch on any particular one though I have my favorites.

I wrote and still write like I prepare dinner --competently but with no particular specialty and sometimes without all the ingredients, time, care or success as others.

In recent weeks, life in the bigger world has thrust its biggness onto all of us, and we're called to respond.  Now all the stuff from before, as important as it seemed to me, as fun, or as wonderful as it might even have been, feels like "so much straw."  Like everything before was a warm up, an apprenticeship, and now, the real work begins. 

As Catholics, we can't bubble wrap our lives away from what is, in order to sustain ourselves comfortably.  That's dismissing the crowd to go fend for themselves.  It's saying Catholicism is okay for when it fit into the mold, but when I don't, it's wrong.  That's not following the faith, that's being a mostly agreeable person who actually fancies themselves a better pope than the pope. 

So what does it mean for writing now?  I'm not sure except I'm being pushed, and that's hard because I can still reflexively write the stuff I've done, but it's not something I should do.  The reality of being a Catholic is recognizing there are seasons to each mission, and just as none of my children are toddlers or even young children anymore, that season of life is over.  There will be different fruits in the season to come. 

So what season am I in?  Don't know that yet either, just not what it was.  I still want the fellowship I once felt across the internet with countless voices, but it isn't there anymore.  There are factions, divided by those who love and hate Pope Francis, by politics, by policy, by the mass, by masks, by how we hold the Eucharist and how we say the Our Father, by everything and anything.  We spend a million words on what divides us and why everyone else is wrong.   It's a funny thing to me, because when we do any examination, it's never what the other person is doing wrong, it's what we've done I sit there thinking of all that binds us --the same Body and Blood of Christ, the same Holy Spirit, the same desire for living the Faith, and wonder how these individual fiefdoms could crop up like bad weeds to choke the life out of everything.  How do I help reduce the weeds? 

 Begin creating community, breathing on the embers.  Remind everyone of the more that sustains us, the real, as opposed to the personal preferred.  We've been obsessing over the wrapping and not the gift.   I don't know what it means in terms of writing, I only know what it doesn't.  It doesn't mean safe.

It means being willing to lose when you write what is true.

I sat wondering if I'd been an artificial sweetener to the Catholic media, rather than what I should be and I still don't have a full answer to that, only that I wrote what I believed at the time, and that what is, needs to be better than what it is. 

Over at the Register today

Wrote this about a two months ago, Are You Anxious about Things? Count your Blessings.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What Reveals and Reflects God's Image

The tearing down of statues of Saint Junipero Serra in California, and the advocation of the destruction of other renditions of Christ and Mary that reflect Western European and White American skin tone isn’t so much about how Christ has been depicted, as it is about how Christians have (both past and present) failed to reflect Christ’s deep love for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What people of goodwill want destroyed is not the art or the icons or the images, but the attitudes, presumptions and mythology that have been allowed to persist both overtly and covertly.
On a conscious and unconscious level, news of atrocities, of brutality, of relentless cyclical poverty and violence inflicted on people of color, has been ignored as a matter of national policy. Tragedy after tragedy ho-hummed by the majority to the point, a person in a position of authority (the policeman), could know he was being filmed, and keep his knee on George Floyd’s neck despite cries from others and from George Floyd himself for mercy. Black lives need to matter to the nation, to everyone. Evidence over history has proven, they do not.
This is not an advocation for the removal of statues, art, icons or stain glass windows, it is a reflection on all the people, lives and history we’ve not preserved. We ought to be more dismayed at the smashed lives, the pulled down humans, and the paintings we’ve rendered as a society of our fellow human beings and of ourselves.
Christ came to us, he took fleshy form, he endured the reality of our reality, of a body and a skin and all that comes with being a person, bleeding, sweating, needing so much more than food, so much more than merely shelter. He came so we might know God, and when we depict him in a creshe or on the cross, we are attempting to convey that fleshy reality, to show the connection between God and man that Christ is.
Being human, we make God in our own image, but in doing so, we enter into the mystery of how Christ is more and yet fully us whether we know it or not. When we look at a cultural image of the crucified Jesus, we know it is Jesus by the cross and the nails, and the crown of thorns. When we see the incarnation in the stable, we know it is Jesus by the presence of Mary and Joseph, by the meagerness of his estate, and by the star and the angels. When we see Jesus in the Eucharist, we know Him in the breaking (a violence) of the bread, and we know Him by partaking in His feast of pouring out His blood.
The question remains for each of us, is if we can see Christ in the Eucharist, and know Him to be there in the bread that still looks like bread and the wine that still looks like wine, how is it, we have managed as Catholics, to not fully see Christ in those around us made in God’s image, whose wounds remain open and bleeding?
Statues can be recast, and glass, reformed into new images. Humans, though each, a mosaic of experiences and yet each a complete unique whole work of beautiful art, cannot be replaced. The lives destroyed by racism, the souls we injure and/or ignore, they are not lost to God, though we lose ourselves in committing the sin, we lose so much by not seeing those around us as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each of us is worth a world of sparrows, as Saint Junipero might remind us, and thus is to be welcomed and allowed a home in our hearts and in our Church. Our faith demands it.
If you’re angry about the statues, remember the art is only important in calling us to sainthood, while the history is important in reminding us we’re not yet so holy. Even if in anger, all the statues and art are removed, Christ remains before us in the fleshy faces of everyone, and in the Eucharist. It is not the outside statues of stone we need to take down; it’s our own hearts that were hard enough to not see Christ in others.
Our use of icons to remind us of the fleshy flesh of our saints and the God we love, is not there to champion us, but to challenge us to go and wash the feet, feed the hungry, visit the prisoners, to care for the sick and bury the dead. The saints live, and work with us and through us now, or want to, and they would remind us, the statues aren’t where the sacred lies, the statues remind us to live sacred lives.

Monday, June 22, 2020

If You Want to Know How You're Doing with Your Kids, Get a Pet

A month ago, we acquired turtles (plural).  I have since learned what type of parents my children will be once they have children.  Maybe I've mellowed in my fifties, maybe they've eroded my will to worry sufficiently that I don't sweat it, or maybe I was always a slacker mom.  Whatever the case, I've raised adults who will be hyper vigilant about their prodigy if caring for reptiles is any indication. 

As one explained to me after doing extensive research watching Youtube turtle care videos, we can't have just a posse of them in one tank. They're solitary creatures, and thus, we have two so that the biggest one can be alone in his bigness.  I pointed out that my own offspring don't have solitary space and they're much bigger and more complex, but this didn't sway any of the new experts fresh from their crowdsourcing the internet. 

They make the turtles eat. They watch over what they eat. They foist more veggies on them than I ever did and they keep notes.  There is a record of what has been fed to which at what time by whom.  As I wrote this, I became aware my eleven year old had mastered the art of making his own sandwich from Oscar Meyer Beef Bologna, whole wheat bread and a thick squirt of ketchup.  I declared that since he made it and he seemed pleased, he should be allowed to eat it without comment.  He did.   They're thinking, "Ewwww." I'm thinking, "independence...good." 

There is exercise and turtle field trips. The terapins sojourn to the back yard for sun and to the pond for a fresh water dip to meet the neighbors, the frogs and the gold fish that have yet to be eaten by Mr. Fox that capers through our yard and does nothing to fend off the endless parade of rabbits or deer that mauraud our garden. The turtles like the pond but it's my opinion they view these excursions as opportunities to escape petivity entirely, but have thus far not been successful. 

While we haven't yet witnessed anyone reading Harry Potter to their pets or playing Motzart to make them smarter or insisting they wear helmets when they plunge head first from the bridge into the water, I feel it's only a matter of time.  My children maintain a strict bed time for when the blanket goes over the tank.  They regulate a  strict water temperature and a regular schedule for tank cleaning and clearing. They rearrange the rocks and have lengthly discussions about the best terranium arrangement for both turtle health and enjoyment.  As one child discussed the diet of shrimp and dandelion leaves with another who argued for blueberries and cucumber, while another questioned whether they were receiving sufficient UVA rays from the light bulb purchased for said purpose, pointed out the turtle food is created for feeding pet turtles, and that turtles survive in the wild without gourmet food or special perfectly maintained water or light. 

They shook their heads at me for not getting it, I had to wonder if one day when I'm a grandmother, if I'm going to be the one that corrups their kid's tastebuds with McDonalds, Cheetos, 7-7up, comics and poptarts while binge watching Animaniacs.   I took the temporary hair dye brush and picked out pink and tossed a few turtle pellets in the tank and added a twelve pack of soda and poptarts to the online grocery order.  If I'm going to one day be the rebel in their lives, I better start to look the part and start stocking up. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Small Success Thursday

I told you I'd restart this and I have.  Today's Thursday and once a week, starting today, we will go over the past week and count the blessings that came.  It's a reminder to me of 1) what day of the week it is, useful in the Summer of Covid-19, and 2) make me remember to be grateful for whatever happened this past week. 

What happened this past week? 

On Wednesday, for the first time since March 8th, I attended mass in person and received the Eucharist.  I remember the last time well, because I remember I struggled with focusing the entire mass and thought almost I needed to go again if only to pay better attention. On Wednesday, you would have thought I'd have had no trouble at all focusing, and yet I still did, because I'd get caught up in the moment, thinking about what the priest said or what the prayers really meant or adding intentions and lo it was time to respond and I'd almost miss it because I'd been trying to really pay attention and yet somehow wandered.  Mentally, I am a lost sheep.  That's what I know. 

The readings were great though, because I loved hearing about Elijah and Elisha and I love the prayer/favor Elisha asks for, for a double portion of Elisah's spirit. It reminded me of Sunday's mass when I felt frustarted with my children not paying attention during the video of the mass and wishing I could take my heart, my faith when it's at its best, and break it into pieces and put some of it in each of their hearts, to help them focus.  Aparently, I need the same.  Asking for a double portion seems like a wonderful request as crazy as it sounds, so I prayed as I walked up and down the driveway, asking for a healing of the whole of our family as we wrestle with the dull montony of a seemingly empty summer.   We need twice the fire of an ordinary summer. 

I'll let you know what happens next week. 

Happy Small Success Thursday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ask and You Shall Receive

I've been writing and writing and writing, but with lots of crickets as of late.  Today, I received an email with a note that a piece will run and I have to just say, "Thank you." and get back to writing more. 

Wisdom is the Breath of the Might of God --and boy could we all use some. 

Over at W.I.N.E today

I have a piece over at Women in the New Evangelization today.  Timely.

Love Your Enemies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Rules for Living with Adult Children

10) You are adults.  You live here. That means you do need to communicate at least when you will return.  As keeper of the home, you cannot stop me from worrying so eliminate the worry by communicating.

9) You have a phone. It is handy for phoning me to say, "I'll be home by..." and in case you didn't get the message, that's why we showed the movie E.T. to your younger brothers and sisters today...E.T. phone home. 

8) This is a home, not a hotel.  The kitchen is not room service and there are operational hours.  Once cleaned for the night, if you feel peckish, please tidy up afterwards --or risk your mom blogging about it to the world. 

7) The car, computers, telephones and appliances are all here for use, but are not exclusive.  If you need things exclusive, try after hours.  Memo to after hours laundry machine users...jumping the line to wash your clothes and leaving wet things out is a crime against mother.  Punishable by folding socks, dishes for a week and lots of yard work.  You have been warned.

6) Special orders don't upset us --you can cook your own food.  Special dishes not attended afterwards, do.

5) Television/movie entertaiment follows the rule of the younger.  You must adjust sensibilities to the most innocent. Yes, I know we've seen more than our fill of My Little Pony.  I've even agreed to ban it for the summer, but the rule of the younger stands even if MLP does not.

4) Ditto for music, conversations, etc.  No aging up the youngers.

3) Business hours of the home are 9-9 meaning, don't drop a "Hey, I'm thinking of (insert big ticket project/expense/life decision here) after midnight as a way of saying, "Goodnight Mom and Dad." because sleep is a premium resource around here and that's just not fair.

2) We know you're adults.  We also know, you'll still want us to be Mom and Dad on occasion.  Let us. 

1) We know your adults.  We will also sometimes need to let you be adults on occasion. Let us.

P.S. If you eat my emergency chocolate, replenish.  That is all.

We All Play A Part

"Set before you are fire and water;
    to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
17 Before everyone are life and death,
    whichever they choose will be given them."

These words from Sirach 15:16-18 reflect the reality of today in so many ways.

With the reality of Covid-19, when we wear a mask or limit our social exposure, we are choosing life, not only for ourselves and our families, but for others.  When we opt to refuse or ignore the restrictions to satisfy our own impulses, interests and comforts, we choose death --for we risk the spread and continued cross contamination of our families and all the families of those we encounter, and all the people they encounter.  It's a very straight forward equation, and the mask is a sign of humility, like the crosses on our forheads on Ash Wednesday.

With the reality of racism, when we petition, when we speak up, when we educate ourselves and listen to the stories of those who have endured this rot in our society for far too long, we are again stretching out our hands to the living water. When we pay attention to our words so that they do not tear down another by either silence or speech, we are asking for life.  When we refuse to accept "what has always been" over what could be, it is seeking life for our brothers and sisters in Christ and ourselves. 

The reality is we keep being presented with opportunities to stretch out our hands, and sometimes, we don't even know it.   The reality is we keep forgetting, we are always the Body of Christ --and as such, we should know, we should only be reaching for the water, to put out the fires in other people's lives and our own. 

What can you do?  

1) Educate yourself --these days, it's pretty easy but start.  Don't use "I don't know," as an excuse, do the work. 
2) Write institutions you care about (colleges/schools, baseball teams, etc) and politicians.  Make your voice heard --you have a unique perspective and it counts. 
3) Be part of the solution --we don't have to solve all ourselves, solve some of it in front of you now.  The how of it is up to you.
4) Invite others to go deeper and deeper in...that's part of how we change the world too. 
5) Share your talents/platforms with others --we're all small potatoes...but we can still lift each other up.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Sunday Start

Returning to blogging is harder than I thought.  I used to pull threads together from the week and make something fun. I admit, I'm out of practice.   It's like exercise or reading or any other good habit, I have to discipline myself to start. 

So...let's get this party started. 

Ten reasons why I've not blogged with any consistency for the past year...

10) Too busy exercising. (This is a humor blog).
9) Testing out the possibility of this thing called sleep.
8) learning how to play the drums quietly.  Learning precussion is akin to learning the violin. No one wants to hear anything but the finished product, and no matter where or when you practice...someone wishes you weren't. 
7)  It's Monday when this is posting. I'll add Time Managment to the list.
6) Haven't watched anything trending on Netflix or a grown up movie really in years, tried and coudn't focus...realized my tastes have been stunted and blunted by 26 years of parenting, and are the intellectual equivalent of a happy meal. 
5) Marie Kondo paralyzed me when she suggested throwing out books.
4) With ten kids home and 8 needing to do Zooms, on line learning and in some cases, homework,  my computer is practicing self imposed social distancing.
3) Fell into the lucky habit of not needing to write for the blog, because I wrote for other places...but it made me lazy and now, there are all these intellectual dust bunnies to sweep away and I think they've evolved such that I may need to enter into negotiations for them to leave.
2) insert feeble excuse here.
1) Because I used to be a mommy blogger, it's harder to tell stories. My children aren't toddlers anymore, so the antics are theirs, not mine to tell. The medium age in the home is 23.3 and as such, there aren't the same kind of little moments that lend themselves to humor writing, and satire in 2020 is, let's face it, a tad difficult. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Sorry I've been AWOL

The days blur together. I promise I'm still writing, but not as much is sticking which makes me wonder, what next?  I always worry when I think "What next?" because "What next" usually means something more.

I've submitted lots of pieces, but they've seen no traction. It's been two weeks since someone said "Yes" to one of my bits of writing and that's a long time publishing wise without a piece when I've sent 4 respectively to two different publications and two to two others that I'm attempting to court. 

Someone emailed me, "What's your new project?" and I didn't have an answer. I've almost always had an answer since I started this writing journey back in 2004.  Do I still love words --oh yes. Love pulling them together and weaving stories. 

If I  just told about today, it would include the burial of one turtle, a trip to the dentist to schedule an appointment for wisdom teeth to be removed, a sprint through the classroom to clear out papers and stuff, a sister carrying her sister who fainted from the heat on a bike ride and me worrying about not so much about writers block as being a blocked writer.   My son is playing the tamborine and watching Godzilla.   My nine year old is trying to outrun a rabbit that tried to get into the garden. 
Everything feels tired and strange at the same time. It must be day 91 of the Quarantine. 

Covid-19 is still here no matter what people think.  I worry about the uptick over the next three weeks. There is so much going on in life, and the news is such that people need both to stay informed and have occasional methods of relief.   So I'm going to try to make this blog again a source of relief.

How?  1) try to write humor for it on the regularly posted days in addition to linking to any publications should they happen. 
            2) Restart Small Success Thursday (next Thursday) and
            3) still keep at the 500 words a day no matter what policy. 

Hope the drought ends soon though.  Will start redecorating blog soon too.

Monday, June 1, 2020

My latest at the Catholic Standard

The world feels overwhelming...but as Mrs. Beaver says in the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie, "It's the world dear. Did you expect it to be small?"   Our job is to reveal God's love through all the little moments.  Cummulatively, all the little moments make up history. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

“He’s human bro.”

The man asking the police to stop says, “he’s human bro.” George Floyd dies on the video with the policeman’s knee upon his neck. We can’t keep saying a few bad apples if three policemen watch while a fourth causes a restrained handcuffed non resisting man to die by his actions. That’s a bunch. That’s indicative of a barrel.

American society still lacks the will to admit there is something fundamentally wrong when we can witness the death of a person by another person while they’re running away or while they’re begging for mercy. No one wants to pause and recognize the innate wrongness of what has taken place. No one with enough heft demands that everyone stop and listen. Everyone needs to stop and hear that our black brothers and sisters “can’t breathe.”

Somehow our country lacks the stomach to say this is wrong. When we can see them dying and still some debate whether this is wrong, our whole capacity to identify good and evil is what needs adjustment. Our first reaction should be to seek justice for the blood of our brothers that cry out from the earth. We cannot be silent, or we tacitly allow for the sanitized phrase of George Floyd dying from the results of a “medical incident,” in a “police interaction" to persist.

Pedestrians pleading for him and his own words, brought no change in expression, no change in pressure, no change of action on the part of any of the officers. Eight minutes pass. 

He dies.

The four officers have been fired subsequently thanks to public outrage over the video, but no one has yet been charged with causing his death despite knowing who, when and how. Investigations on the State and Federal Level are ongoing. It’s true, we are a nation of laws and procedure and such things are important and even necessary to ensure due process is observed. Were there this reflective pause and hesitancy in investigations involving crimes the norm, George Floyd might still be alive.

When will our country stop pretending we don’t need some systemic reformation of how we want police to protect, serve, investigate and when necessary, arrest?

Answer: When we have leaders unafraid to hold all of us to a higher standard, a greater calling.

It should be unnecessary to say racism is always wrong, and racism is something we will always have to both be vigilant against, and mindful of, but it is, because too many people don’t think it’s real enough. 

How real does it have to get?

Too many people think if we talk about racism being a grave moral error that hurts all of humanity and continues to destroy the promise of this country, we’re somehow engaging in white hand wringing guilt or virtue signaling.

Racism is a toxic weed that poisons the garden of the American community. It hurts the children whose dreams die before they finish school when no one expects anything of them. It hurts the families of fathers and husbands and sons who might not come home. It hurts the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters who see the problem ignored time and again.

It hurts our government, schools, families, friends, churches, parks; it hurts our everywhere all the time. We’re all our brothers keeper. We owe it to our brothers, to love them better, to protect them better, and serve them better, in every arena of life. We owe it to ourselves and to each other because, “He’s human bro,” to come together and work to be part of that great coalition of this country that wants it to be good as it was meant to be, but never yet quite has been.

We owe it to our future, to make sure everyone in this country can breathe.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Over at the Standard Today

I've been a bit of a writing funk, meaning I've written a lot of junk I sent nowhere.   However, I did get a piece that I wrestled with for a good long time published over at the Standard.   Here's the link to The Unexpected Gift.

So just a reminder, be delibrate in your celebration of today and who knows, you might find an unexpected gift.  

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Five Things I've Learned from this Time of Online Learning

1) Teaching via proxy is hard, because teaching is not merely data mastered or skills repeated, but connection. Connection is most easily formed when we experience it via relationship. We can open cookbooks and read recipes, we can watch videos and practice techniques, but there’s something to working with a master, that makes mastering a skill more. The same is true with any other subject. In many subjects, in most subjects, learning comes easier with others in the mix. Children all across the country are aching for that more, that mix.
Think of the most moving examples of Zoom effectiveness we’ve seen; the orchestras and choirs. They revealed connectedness between individuals, working to one end, the production of a finished piece. Perhaps we need to require all those students to use their phones and connect with each other as a way of helping each other on, sharing their gifts, and the push and pull that normally takes place in the classroom. Perhaps we need to give the opportunity for that more by our being with them and bringing them out of isolation via the demands of instruction. We've become the facilitators of community or must be.
2) There is a difference between learning and working and that difference is measured in enthusiasm toward the subject itself. My son with Down Syndrome loves his math class where they are using calculators to facilitate number recognition. He’s mastered it sufficiently to recognize the code we use on the television and order himself Monster’s University and Scoob! before I realized he knew how to rent a movie. In reading class, they’re doing a chapter book one chapter a day, and he sits for the reading, but the quizzes indicate, he’s just putting in the time. The difference was illustrated to me, $3.99 at a time.
3) We are made for community, and anything short of it, is Folger's Crystals. We know it’s not butter. The Zoom meetings help my younger ones, as do the phone calls and Facetimes, but it’s not what we want. The other day, I drove to Jiffy Lube to get service and sit in my car while it happened and the mechanic in a mask engaged me in a long conversation about teaching, about the summer and Corona. Leaving from the appointment, I felt oddly refreshed and realized, we pine for conversation, for incidental encounters, for community and all three of these things are limited by the nature of staying at home and all the precautions we must take to keep everyone everyone loves safe.
4) Expectations don’t need to be low. They merely need to be clear. Yes, students and families are stressed as never before, but school and academics provide an anchor that isn’t there otherwise, of ordinariness in an extraordinary time. Students need the component of consistency academics give to a world that seems increasingly unpredictable. What students learn now in this time away from the classrooms may be the most important lessons we teach –that we care, that we’re here for them, and that we want them to challenge themselves even when the world is challenging.
5) Education is as much about connection as it is about introducing them to new thoughts. Everyone shares something of a common bond, as we all have been affected by the stay at home orders of our communities. We can teach about the importance of communities –the need for good civil leadership and laws, philosophies and principles, (government), the need for good health and hygiene systems (science and p.e and health), the consequences of supply and demand capitalism and finances and the interpretation of statistics (math, economics, more complex math), and the necessity of the arts. For what are we all starved for in this long isolation? Entertainment. We want beauty, we want art, we want comedy, we want escape from the boredom, we want the catharsis of story; (Yes, English and Art and Music and Theatre) which are of course, all my loves.
Everything is grist for the mill of the craft of teaching, and right now, giving students the gifts of these subjects we love. Our biggest task, is somehow conveying our love of those subjects through Zooms, slides and phone calls. Ultimately, our whole task as educators, is to keep strengthening the bonds of community forged through class and the classroom, whether virtual or actual, by what we do.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

At the Gaithersburg Book Festival

It's been an eight year long dream to be part of the GBF as more than a volunteer and this year, I had the joy of being a presenter of a workshop in addition to helping with the Saint Martin's childrens' workshop.   

Here's yesterday's livestream recorded workshop on You Don't Have Time to Write, Yes You Do!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Over at the Standard Today

Have a couple of things for you weekly piece at the Catholic Standard Saving the World by How We Offer Each Day, and the work the Saint Martin's Team did for the Gaithersburg Book Festival. 

Here's the video that Regina did the illustrations for...I just did the narration.  Saint Martin's School's Workshop: The Plotting of the Plot

Monday, May 11, 2020

On My Soapbox Today

My son is twenty.  He’s run almost every day of his life since sixth grade. As he grew, his route grew longer and further from our home, into other neighborhoods. While I sometimes wished he’d bundle up more or wear more reflective gear, I never gave a worry about his returning home.  One of his best friends also runs, but I bet his mother worries when he goes out to train.  His mother shouldn’t have to worry any more than I do.  She should be able to trust that the community in which both our sons live, is a place that cherishes all humanity. 

The tragedy of Ahmaud Arbrey’s death is not merely the senselessness and absolute wrongness of Gregory and Travis McMichael’s thinking and actions, but also the sustained non-response of those entrusted with ensuring those who commit actual crimes (murder) face justice.  Failure to act is tacit acceptance and allowance for such actions.  If this weren’t enough tragedy, armchair experts on social media have attempted mental yoga to somehow justify the killing of Ahmaud, the voiced suspicions of the McMichaels, and the nearly two and a half month delay in filing charges, given that the authorities held the video from the day after the shooting.   National uproar prompted movement in the case, not the mother’s pain, not the actual footage, and not a sense of the need to ensure justice for all citizens when a crime is committed.   

Some have even argued that it was legal for the McMichaels to pursue Arbrey. 
If the laws of Georgia permit the actions of the McMichaels, by that same reasoning, it would be legitimate for outraged citizens who recognized the McMichaels committed a crime, to hunt them down with trucks and use lethal force without being charged.   Since no state operates under a Wild Wild West vigilante type form of law enforcement, it seems ridiculous to make such a claim.  
Some on social media have argued that why should we worry about this injustice when there are other injustices even worse, as if arguing for justice in this circumstance, somehow prevents or dilutes the capacity of a society to seek remedy for other injustices.  Pointing out an injustice is not a tit-for-tat type equation in conversation or policy that requires we do equal time for all injustices in order to discuss the one presented before us in reality today. 

As Catholics, we are obligated to lead, to speak out when someone is treated in a way as less than human. It is an opportunity to identify with the crucified, rather than those who condemn. It is a call for each of us to make sure we watch the sons and daughters who run or play or bike or go about the business of life with the eyes of mothers and fathers who love, rather than strangers who fear.   It is a call for each of us to remind all we know, that society will only be just when we cease to allow injustice to go unchecked or unmarked.  

It shouldn’t take courage to speak up against the wrongs done to Arbrey’s family, and to Ahmaud himself, it should be easy.  However, if we are afraid to speak out against what was done to Ahmaud, it reveals how much work we have to do.  

Want to do more?  Write your own letter.  Speak up when you see someone dismissing this case as the latest attempt by the media to do whatever it is...and keep an eye out on everyone's child, no matter how old they are, to make sure they're all safe, and they all make it home.  

Sunday, May 10, 2020

At the Register today

It's a good piece from about eight months ago --what a difference 3/4 of a year makes but it fits with today.   Don't Forget to Call Your Mother.

A Tale of Two Countries in One, with the Same Problem

Much of my family lives in Texas, while I and my brother both reside in Maryland with our spouses and children.  The state of Maryland has shut down most venues for public gathering, restricted restaurants to take out only, and prohibited assemblies of ten or more people to stem the curve of infection.  The state has testing sites, but you must exhibit symptoms to be tested. 
In Texas, in the Houston area, anyone who wishes to be tested can be.  I don’t know why one state has access to anyone and the other limited, but in Texas, masses restarted last weekend. I have to hope my home state is right in its implementation of policy, because they just bet the lives of all who might be compromised on that plan.  We’ll know in fourteen days or so, if they guessed right.   I hope they did.   

My mother called to tell me how happy she was to receive, and I sat wondering, am I afraid, or is my home state being imprudent?  My mom falls into the vulnerable class of people most affected by Covid19 because of her age.  I admit to mixed feelings, because I want normal, I want people to be able to get haircuts and go to movies and I miss mass. I miss all the things that would have crowded up my schedule and our lives and now aren’t and I know, I’m not alone.  
I wonder what is the right course and don’t envy those in position to recommend policy.  I look at the numbers for Maryland, for DC, for Virginia, and for Texas.  Right now, for every three thousand or so we test in Maryland, a thousand are found to have the disease.  While the number hospitalized has decreased, and the number released from the hospital have increased, until the initial diagnosis statistic starts dropping and stays dropped, we won’t be out of this.  I wonder how many false starts we’ll have as a nation because we want normal, and I also wonder, how long can we as a world, bear this isolation. 

Driving out for necessities, the world reveals, it is not waiting, it wants something other than staying at home all the time and what feels like a listless slog from day to day and meal to meal.  We want celebrations and fairs and sports and ordinary people watching. We want to have places to go and people to see and the distinction between work and home to once more be distinct.   On the internet, we see evidence that people are driving, going to parks, and pushing against the regulations, and also arguing against them.

The problem with these demonstrations is, it won’t be only those who protest who pay the consequence of this pandemic. In this circumstance, carelessness or playing fast and loose with interpretations can lead to someone going to the hospital or worse.  It sounds alarmist, because the reality is alarming.  This is a Kobayashi Maru scenario in which it will be a test of our nation’s character as to whether we exercise good will because we value the health of all, or we admit to the triumph of the will over the public good, because we value liberty more.  It is not something that squares neatly with our values as a nation, because we value both liberty to do and go as we will, and profess to be not merely a nation but a united nation that values the public good.  We don’t always live up to the ideals of our nation, both as individuals, and as a nation, and here is a time when we as a nation are wrestling with what will define us for generations to come.   Will we sacrifice for others, or will we opt to sacrifice others?   

Friday, May 8, 2020

Just so you don't think I've stopped writing

I'm preparing two presentations for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.  One is on the Purpose of Plotting the Plot, and it's geared towards K-3rd graders about writing out what will happen before plunging into creating a comic book.    Regina did the art, and today, I'm inking it so it will show up when we scan the pages into the computer.  It is a slow process. 

The second piece is called (ironically enough), "I don't have time to write, yes you do!"  and it's geared towards those who aspire to be writers, who want to finish that book or write for a newspaper or magazine and don't know the hows of it, or feel too paralyzed to start. 

It will be 30% merely encouragement to dare, and 70% showing the how of making those darts out into the bigger world more successful. 

How to find time to write.
How to write when you don't have any ideas.
How to submit your stuff somewhere. 
How to succeed in having your stuff somewhere get published. 
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

I am tired of COVID-19.  I miss the ordinary encounter of community.  I miss mass.  I miss going on date night to the movies.  I miss restaurants and their ambiance of busyness.   I miss teaching and all the random wonderful energy of teens going about the business of being teens.  I miss all my friends from the various places that became part of the ordinary routine of a week, the drycleaner who always says, "She's so blessed," and she is, the guy at the jiffy lube who told me the last book he read and liked was The Outsiders when he was in high school, the familiar faces of people I know but cannot name, and those of people I consider extended family because they've been part of my life for so long.  I miss everyone. 

Writing helps me remember all I'm missing in a format that doesn't stiffle my spirit such that I feel worse for remembering.   Praying for a speedy end to all of this, for a return to something like normal.   

Here's this week's article: A Time to See Faith is an Always Time Thing.

Friday, May 1, 2020

At the Catholic Standard Today

Whenever I feel a bout of non-inspiration coming on, I go looking.  Facebook is often a source for what I write, especially when I see things that indicate confusion.   Today's offering over at the Catholic Standard (the Washington DC Archdiocesan paper) is one such piece. 
Enjoy:  Awaiting the Eucharist.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Over at the National Catholic Register Today

Sometimes, I pounce on breaking news and it results in a good blog piece and today's is about Pope Francis' gift of two prayers to the end of the Rosary for the month of May.

Walking Towards What We Miss

Today, my youngest son completed his Zoom meeting and everyone left. He tried to restart the Zoom on his computer. He texted on his machine, all his teachers and classmates names and home car Mom go. Explaining that he'd see them tomorrow, I went about the business of cleaning up from breakfast.
We heard the door shut and realized, Paul left the house. He'd packed a bag with his pull ups, a change of clothes, an apple and his stuffed monkeys. He sat at the tree where we always wait for his school bus, and all I could see on his face was the howl of a heart so lonely, it no longer could stay still.
I can say "You'll see them tomorrow," but I can't say when they'll be back together. It's his last year at the school. I can't even say when he'll enter a school building again.
I know this shut down has made me wary of everywhere. Getting gasoline for the first time in a month felt risky, even wearing gloves and a mask. The pump's controls were broken and I had to go inside, where there were at least five people working to upgrade the store, but there were five people moving around, within six feet of me, all of whom I did not know and thus I felt fearful of being exposed. I didn't want to catch Corona or bring it to my family for what amounted to twenty-five dollars and a tank of gasoline.
Back in the car, I sat there thinking, how much seven weeks of quarantine changed my sensibilities, and how much more might they change as this extends. I do not want the country to open up prematurely, and at the same time, we weren't made for living in isolation, even when we're with most of the people we love.
Walking with my oldest son that evening, we prayed the rosary and joked about how this pandemic is making everyone a little British. We're drinking tea in the afternoon, because it is different and warming, and communal. We go for walks. We're noticing all the different birds and talking about it. We feel robbed when the fluffy grey cat isn't sitting at the front door of the yellow house staring out at the world and judging us.
Equally dismaying is the absence of the black angora sewer stray that used to hiss as we'd walk by. Guess we're no longer invaders but shrug your shoulders kind of neighbors to it. We eagerly await the mail for some contact from somewhere.
"My God, we're becoming a Jane Austen novel with none of the money or romance." I said. "Still have the humor though." my son said. "If we switch from tea to alcohol, we could be Irish." "I am Irish." "Yeah, but it's diluted by all the other genetic stock. We don't fight nearly enough. To really commit, we'd need to be composing poetry." "Too late. Did already yesterday." My son laughed. "I'm on the next step of Anglophile assimilation. I ate a digestive and yesterday, I asked if the post arrived!" "That's nothing. I just stopped myself from enrolling in an online course to learn caligraphy."
My son spoke the rest of the walk in a faux English accent. "Day fourty-seven. We spotted two hawks and several brilliant cardinals. We've taken our state authorized constitutional and mum seems in better spirits. We're on our way home from our expected journey, and plan to cook some boiled meat and potatoes with turnips and wilted greens for dinner because, we're the country that scoured the world for spices and use none of them."
Somehow, the stupidness of it all made the ache a little less, and we ordered pizza for dinner. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Friday Writing...

It's day 42 of being at home, where sitting in a parking lot waiting for someone wearing a mask to bring out groceries feels like a risky maneuver. We've become regular walkers, regular chefs, and frankly, I don't care about my kids' academic career anymore. I'm calling this semester a wash. They can read books, play cards, play baseball with me and sleep in, they can eat ice cream for dinner for all I care, not because I don't care, but because right now, the landscape of life is surviving the long seige as we wait to re-open, and hope it isn't too soon, but that it's soon. I'm worried because I'm starting to hear stories, almost one a day; from my doctor, her brother-in-law died, from my student, his grandfather, from a facebook friend, her mom. I wonder, when the degrees of separation will shift and come closer. I worry, they will. We wear masks. We wear gloves. We hunker down, yet life kept going on.

I wonder if one day, when all of this lifts, if we will feel comfortable going into stores, going out into the world, or if every place from this point forward, will feel like a potential threat to all we love. My daughter picked her college (with five days to go). Another child turned thirteen. Five of my kids graduate this year, and one finished her thesis but it won't be reviewed, it won't be vetted, and it won't be noticed. She struggled as the degree itself starts to feel less valuable, with the price tag remaining just as high as it was before the Corona Virus struck, but the benefits now seem transitory at best. How do I help her enjoy and celebrate her accomplishment when what is valuable and what is not, keeps shifting? The losses they have, I can't fix, not the lost prom, the lost track season, the lost confirmation, picnics, field trips, all the extras that make April and May and June so crowded, all of it's gone.
I remember grousing about how busy we'd be, and now, it's all wiped clear. I have a daughter graduating from college, another from high school, another from eigth grade. Will they wear the robes? Will their degrees carry the weight of their work, or only the stamp and stigma of being 2020? I don't know. If there's a lesson from 2020, it's that. We don't know when will end. We don't know if next week, we'll have jobs. We don't know if when we order groceries, if they'll come. We don't know if the degrees will count. We don't know if colleges will be open in the fall. So my daughter has chosen her school, but the reality is, we do not know, we do not know, we do not know. What I do know is, we just have to live with this uncertainty as a constant, and that will change how we respond to everything.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

On Reopening for Business, the Corona Virus and Ignorance

Let's not play this game. Right now, the world is worried about the vision of an ongoing perpetual pandemic and we've got people in California, in Michigan, in Minnesota and other places protesting in a complaint that amounts to, "But Mommmm....all the other kids get to watch that show." I know Tiger King ended, but now isn't the time to audition for what could be the next Train Wreck Reality show smash hit.
Every place that understands we all hang together or we all hang seperately, is knuckling down for the long haul, knowing this will be hard on business, on education, on families, but not as hard as bodies stacked and burried in a mass grave. We need to counter the contagion of ignorance, which is more deadly to society than even this disease.
All of us are writers. All of us know how to use words to cut through something of the crud of life to reveal truth, and move hearts to feel something beyond what they'd planned before they read our work. The world right now, needs the gifts this room has to offer, in your local papers, to your local newscasts. Write Op-eds to whatever news source you watch/consume and let's start providing a counter to all the missinformation that people defend to the point (in this case) of potentially causing other people's deaths.
As to the reality of businesses being also a casualty of this pandemic, it is true. Right now, we have begun to overload the system with new claims of job losses, so we need to be equally creative in finding ways to work and provide means to work. Work has within it, a basic dignity beyond the pay check, and for most of us, is a necessity not only for finacial reasons, but as part of who we are. We've chosen professions for a reason, because they satisfy something in us that isn't found even in familial relationships.
The reality of this pandemic sets into sharp relief the difference between being a consumer who wishes to go on consuming, and a citizen who understands, our whole world depends upon us sublimating our desires to do what we want when we want it. Write to the states that keep opening up beaches and places and thus allow for a restart of the infection process. Write to your representatives and senators and urge them to find creative ways to let small businesses stay alive.
Call your small business friends and ask, what can I do? Call your friends who work for places that were furloughed and say, "What do you need?" Ask the local restaurants to give to the local shelters, or to make all their waitstaff delivery people, and give them the same wage, so they can go on. Create a national, let's support our local restaurants night a week, to help sustain them. Do the same with the other businesses out there.
As writers, we know, the most creative, resourceful, inventive weapon/machine/resource in the world, is the mind. If all of our minds push on the problem, the small minds that aren't seeing it, will be washed away by the tsuami of imaginative problem solving and civic strength from all of us. Call on all you know, via words, via phone, Zoom, and what have you, so that we who are trying both for those we love, and all around us who have loved ones, including the misguided, uninformed and self focused, can help save everyone from the primary threat (Disease and death) and the secondary one (economic ruin and ignorance).
I'm going to get off my soap box now and go write some letters.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Things Learned during the Corona Virus Quarantine

10) We annoy our pets. They don't want treats or walkies anymore, just some serious personal space.
9) Playing chopped at home is harder than it is on TV, and the judges are much much meaner.
8) While there's a finite supply of toilet paper, the surplus of stupid is near infinite.
7) While there's an infinite amount of fecal matter, the amount of stupid compounds the issue of toilet paper.
6) That meeting didn't even NEED an email.
5) Online learning works as well for children as it does for adults.
4) We're going to have Formal Fridays if only for the novelty.
3) Cookie therapy is real.
2) Disorganization and messiness were always a lifestyle choice and not a result of a lack of time.
1) Our tolerance for stupid is less than our supply of toilet paper.

At the Catholic Standard Today

Talking about Missing Jesus in the Eucharist. 

"Feel the presence of God in the midst of our fears and anxieties" --Fr. Tony in today's mass. 

It occurrs to me, the reason the disciples and the women did not know Jesus on first sight, was like we are now, when we are steeped in worry, and thus do not always see what is persent before us.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

We are always in Holy Saturday, awaiting the fullness of Easter

It’s Holy Saturday but before dawn, so it feels like a continuation of Good Friday, when I bet the followers of Jesus on that second day, struggled to rest.  The world must have felt empty, and the future, only uncertain. I imagine their thoughts and conversations must have churned over the whole of those three years and that Good Friday in a ruthless fashion.  “They’d crucified Jesus! How could He die?  Jesus raised people from the dead! He healed the blind. He cured the mute and the deaf and the lame and the sick! He cast out demons! He walked on water! He fed the 5,000.  He fed us. How? How? How could He die?” and “Why?”

I imagine they must have hunted through their memories for every word of His they could remember, most especially, that he’d warned them, He would suffer and die.  Palm Sunday must have felt like another lifetime ago, rather like the luxury of attending mass seems now.   We are in the midst of a storm knowing something of that emptiness, as our lives are stripped back, as the stores are stripped bare, and as the future for well, everything, is revealed to be what it always was, uncertain.   It makes all we do, an act of faith or a revelation of our fear of trusting in the Lord.   It’s easy to see how the apostles would have locked themselves in an upper room.

We are awaiting Easter with the knowledge it happened and is happening now.   That’s the gift of Holy Saturday for us.  One day, we will receive again the gift of being able to go to mass, to participate fully and receive.  We know it will be true infinitely should we respond to God’s invitation to love Him with a yes, forever.  We will be before the Lord of Hosts. We will be able to see and touch Jesus more than we have up to now whenever we’ve been given the blessing to receive.  Today, most especially this day, we’re between Good Friday and Easter in the world, with the knowledge this disease is about us and dangerous, and the hope of one day, being able to move about without fear.

Holy Saturday is a gift to the Church, as Jesus descended into Hell and preached the Good News of His endless love to the dead. (We profess this in the creed at every mass).  Holy Saturday must be a day of special joy to the souls in Purgatory it seems to me, because all time is now to God, and so the souls in Purgatory now, must be offered the gift of hearing God’s love, every Holy Saturday and all time in Purgatory must also be like that first Holy Saturday, the time in between death and life everlasting, where the souls hear and rejoice at the word.

If we want a slice of Heaven now, when we can only watch the mass but not partake fully, we should rejoice at the word, and live in hope of the eventual time when if we are so graced, we get to participate in the fullness of Holy Saturday, as a prelude to experiencing the fullness of Eternal Easter. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

And So the New Age Begins,

Who will we lose? My son informed me today, his summer boss died in his sleep of complications  from COVID-19. The reality of why we must stay at home even when it is hard, even when we are bored, even when we think it's over if some of us think it's over (it's not), hits home. How many people will not be in the restaurants or classrooms or pews because someone could not bear the idea of staying home.
It's easy to think, we'll be okay if we just go here or just go there, it's like diets. We think we can just cheat a little, but we all know with diets, cheating leads to not dieting which leads to not succeeding if the goal is to lose weight. The same reality exists here, except cheating leads to possibly someone dying and that someone, whoever that someone is, will be missed by many, by those who needed that someone, those who loved that someone, those who needed the love that someone gave.
The someone we affect, who gets infected may have had plenty of pre-existing conditions, but so do we all. We all come with pre-existing conditions that we wrestle with, it's just some have their pre-existing conditions more visible than others. Each time we go out, we endanger all the someones told they're essential, by what we bring out to the world, and all those who work with that someone or get needed resources from that someone.
If we want to be the somes that won in this battle against the Corona-Virus, we must stay home, and we must encourage everyone to do the same, not so that we will simply be safe, but so that all the someones out there will also be safe. Be someone important today, save all the someones.  We owe it to all the someones who die from this, to make that number as small as possible and help end it as soon as possible. 

What we should know from this pandemic is every one of us is essential.  We can all be the ones who fought the battle of Bedford Falls for everyone else, dying to our wants, dying to our preferences, our pettiness, in favor of having everyone we hope, survive this crisis.   Stay home!  

Over at the Standard Today

I got swamped and didn't cross reference this piece, but it's not too late. 

Celebrating Holy Week at Home.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sherry's 2 Cents Worth

1) We're all in this together. We will survive or not based on understanding this reality.  If you don't understand this reality, you endanger everyone else. 

2) We need all the hotels near the hospitals to clean their buildings so we can have room for emergency places in the event the numbers of patients become beyond what the hosptials can bear. Here's where the feds can put some of that money, to pay the hotels, to rent the rooms so to speak, so that there will be space to keep people quarantined. 

3) We need business that can to make masks and ventilators and gloves, to mobilize as if for war, because this is a war against a virus to save the world. 

4) We need the food industry to repackage itself as take out only, you order online.  You pay online, you bring your phone with the code. It's scanned. The food is loaded in bags into the trunk of your car.   That way no one can overload, no one can fight over toilet paper.  No one exposes the employees and no one exposes the consumers. 

5) School.   Zoom Homeroom for attendance and emails of immediate concerns/needs/paperwork/announcements. 

Alternate day schedules, like college.  Academics online.   Office hours online. 

6) Religious services.  We've seen drive thru adoration --love it.  Drive thru confession.  Inspired, and we could hold drive in masses.  Everyone is parked.  Everyone participates.  Everyone is watching the same thing on their phone in their cars so everyone is participating, and sees the Body of Christ also participating. 

7) Movies --the return of the Drive in.   Bring your own snacks. 

We can get through this, and we'll be stronger for it, provided we keep allowing ourselves to think beyond what we've lost, and what we can't, to find what is possible. 

Just my two cents. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Things to Do OTHER than obsess over living through this...

100.  Listen to or watch a musical.  Put on and sing along.  You can.
99. Plant a garden.
98. Clear out your closet you've ignored for years.
97. Journal.
96. Bake something.
95. All those photos on your phone?  Make into a scrap book.
94. Read one of those books you've been meaning to...
93. Pick up or practice an instrument.
92. Write your representative/congressman.
91. Pray a rosary.
90. Begin a fitness regimen.
89. Write a letter to a friend. (Not an email).
88. Paint a room.
87. Play a game outside with your kids.
86. Draw with chalk on the driveway.
85. plan a vacation for when this is over.
84. take a course online.
83. hold a family talent show.
82. Create a rube-goldberg machine in your house.
81. Make soup.
80. Listen to/watch daily mass.
79. take an hour nap each day.
78. introduce yourself to a new type of music.
77. read poetry aloud.
76. write poetry.
75. Grill food.
74. Play wiffle ball with your family.
73. Texas Hold-em, let people dress up for it too. Do the color commentary if you have enough people.
72. They're trapped now, family photo for the Christmas letter.
71.  Take a long bubble bath during the day.
70. Donate blood.
69. Donate food.
68. Take a walk with just one other person from your family to give them time.
67. Create a Zoom meeting with your family, extended.
66. Eat cake for breakfast.
65. Go outside at night and look at the stars.
64. Take a virtual tour of a top museum.
63. Paint your nails.
62. Learn a craft --sewing/oragami, whathaveyou.
61. Marie Kondo your room.
60. Make a care package for someone else.
59. Spring Clean.
58. Bike ride.
57. Call your local pantry/food distribution service, see what they need.  Get it for them.
56. Make natchos.
55. There are thousands of podcasts. Find something to listen to and go for a walk by yourself.
54. Play cards.
53. Pillow fight.
52. Draw.
51. Write down stories from your childhood.
50. Read one of those magazines you get and stack and don't touch until you get a new one.
49. Declare a spa day.
48. Now is the time to learn how to play the video games with your kids, it will be their revenge for all the homeschooling you're now doing.
47. Capture the flag outside.
46. Hide and Seek Inside.
45. Every kid eligible for driving lessons should get their 60 hours of practice in, one hour at a time.
44. Trim the hedges, grasses and pine trees. --Yes, aggression towards plants is cathartic.
43. Plant roses.
42. Stretch.
41. Do a chore every day to help the house.
40. Chess challenge. (Bragging rights are fun).
39. Pray for our nurses, first responders, and all affected.
38. Clean up your resume.
37. Clear out your paperwork.
36.  Get 8 hours of sleep per day.
35. Call your relatives.  Talk. Listen. Enjoy.
34. Use the good plates.
33. Shower and get dressed every day.
32. Poppers and sparklers.
31. Read aloud a book that hits multiple ages.
30. Watch a play or symphony from the Kennedy Center or Shakespeare Company.
29. Ice Cream for dinner.
28. Host a picnic outside.
27. Spend a whole day reading.
26. Now is a time for talent shows, things that allow everyone to show off.
25. Listen to/watch the mass.
24. Create a quarantine play list. 
23. Pitch a tent in the backyard.  It makes for another place for kids to hunker down with books.
22. Rollerskate/scooter in the neighborhood.
21. Reorganize rooms. 
20. Take a quiz on your geography knowledge each day.
19. Try to spend a meal talking in another language.
18. Puppet shows. 
17. Card castles.
16. Make cookies.
15. Learn how to floss (the dance) until you don't embarrass your children.
14. Create a video of your family for your extended family.
13. Yoga
12. Sunrise Chaplet.
11. Drums. Both actual and homemade.  Again, theraputic.
10. Make lists of what you will do when this is over.
9.  Phone others to see how they are doing.  Ask what they need.
8.  Declare a screen free day. 
7.  STEM night at home. --kids as scientists/engineers
6.  Olympics at home. --family athletics at their finest. (or not).
5.  Art Museum at home. 
4.  Iron Chef Home edition. (More like Chopped but you get the idea).
3.  Scavenger hunt --sometimes adults have to pull out the stops. 
2.  Clean.  (I didn't want to put it on the list but there it is).
1.  And the final guaranteed way to get your kids to find something to do, ask the big question, "Have you done your school work? Do you need any help?"   Clears the room very quickly.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Over at the National Catholic Register Today

The goal is to keep writing, keep churning through even when I don't feel it.  It's why I'm happy to report, I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register.  It's Now is the Time to Embrace the Mass even if it's on TV.

So today, I'm praying my way through the crisis as we begin the STAY at HOME part of this pandemic.    The rosary is a favorite means for me to do a litany of sorts, of petitions.

Because no one wants to be here...waiting...fearing illness.  Hail Mary.
Because no one wants to be sick and alone.  Hail Mary.
Because no one wants to be the one who keeps a mother from her child or a husband from his wife, or force an elderly person to die without the comfort of a hand holding them.  Hail Mary.
Because people fear what is next.  Hail Mary.
Because people long for a return of normal.  Hail Mary.
Because people worry they will fall into bad habits while home. Hail Mary.
Becuase people will lose their jobs. Hail Mary.
Because people worry about having to choose between going to work/paying bills and exposing their family.  Hail Mary. 
Because we miss commuity.  Hail Mary. 

Because people struggle with anxiety.  Hail Mary.
Because people struggle with underlying conditions.  Hail Mary.
Because people lack a means to pay for medical attention. Hail Mary.
Because Medical Staff are overwhelmed and overworked.  Hail Mary.
Because people worry about the unknown want.  Hail Mary.
Because school is stop gapped and people worry about what will happen next. Hail Mary.
Because people don't know they're contagious. Hail Mary.
Because people will blame each other if they get sick. Hail Mary.
Because some people will die from this virus.  Hail Mary.
Because some people will live through it with scars.  Hail Mary.

Because people miss parties.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss graduations. Hail Mary,
Because people will miss trips.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss lessons.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss boyfriends and girlfriends.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss Aunts and Uncles and cousins.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss Grandparents.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss friends, all the friends from the ordinary encounters of life.  Hail Mary.
Because people will miss families. 
Because people will miss priests and sisters and deacons and others who minister to them spiritually.

Because people miss going places. Hail Mary.
Because people worry about needing to get things.  Hail Mary.
Because every ache and cough and sniffle makes us nervous. Hail Mary.
Because we cannot clean enough.  Hail Mary.
Because all the days bleed into each other.  Hail Mary.
Because no one seems to have a handle on how to make it stop being impossibly hard. Hail Mary.
Because no one knows how long this will last. Hail Mary. 
Because we're used to having so much more liberty. Hail Mary.
Because we cannot play together or cheer for a team together, or go to a concert or a museum together.  Hail Mary. 
Because it's harder to recognize Sunday. Hail Mary. 

For all those who are sick with this virus. Hail Mary.
For all those who care for them. Hail Mary.
For all those who can't care for them. Hail Mary.
For all who await testing.  Hail Mary.
For all who want testing and can't get it.  Hail Mary.
For all who are called into service. Hail Mary. 
For all who shelter in place.  Hail Mary.
For all who need to shelter in place. Hail Mary.
For all who don't believe this is real.  Hail Mary.
For all paralyzed by the reality of it.  Hail Mary.

For all who miss the Eucharist, and all the sacraments we've grown so accustomed to receiving as needed, when wanted, because we want it, we now get to be like the apostles and disciples of the Early Church, who knew the experience of being in Christ's presence, and now had to go out and tell the world about who they'd met, and what meeting Him meant. 

Fighting the Virus of Mental Fatigue

Yesterday, I sat with the hardness of this pandemic. 

Today, I'm doing something. 

I conferenced with my colleague.  I called my mom.  We made a plan for getting some necessary fun equipment to make the stay at home orders bearable.   We went for a walk.  We read the rules for maintaining mental health while eating pizza, treated by my son. 

I read.  I watched funny videos, and encouraged two people who seemed down. 

And the day felt normal. Better. 

Three students reached out and I gave them assignments they needed to complete. 

The day felt better. Brighter.

I dusted off my blog. 

So what did I learn?

Every day...walk. 
Every day ...laugh.
Every day rest.
Every day make the best.

Every day...pray.
Every day...create.
Every day...relate.
Every day we do all of this, we succeed. 

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