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 thoughts...to 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 wrong...so 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. 

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!