Saturday, March 30, 2013

Limping into Easter

This is the high season for Catholics, especially those church going rosary saying apologetics reading catholic blog groupies like me.  

Except I am completely spent.  Emotionally, spiritually, personally, I am tired.

I have had a crummy Lent.  The irony stings. I wrote a column on Lent. I've tried adding things and taking away and I’ve forgotten and started again and forgotten and started again and deliberately ignored my resolutions and confessed and confessed and failed yet again. .

Trying to right the ship, I tried to lead a family rosary and we did it, if you don’t count the silent cold war between one child who refused to come in, and another who refused to come up from the basement after they’d screamed at each other.   I felt defeated.  How can I raise these people to be holy when I am not?  How can I be responsible for these souls when I am flunking with my own?

It occurred to me that I don’t envy the Pope trying to be responsible for the souls of the whole Church, trying to lead all of us to the heart of Christ.   We are an unruly lot of my children on occasion.
Yet all of it can turn in an instant, from the clamor of a fight to the grace of unexpected extraordinary generosity.  We keep trying and sometimes, we can approximate the love we are called to give.

We have to lay hold of, the heart of Christ, and it is freely offered at every mass in the Eucharist.  That is the great miracle of His love, that is Heart is ours for the taking, it is offered like a lover, for He is love.   Take and eat.  Be at peace. Be not afraid.  Christ will fix everything we’ve broken if we let him.

We needed the Crucifixion, each of us needed Our God to suffer that that much …just for us because we are so messed up.  We are so angry. We are so injured, we hold onto our wounds fearful of the Divine Physician’s healing touch.  We want to hold onto our pain in our pride, and let it define us.  We cannot give a perfect Lent, we cannot save ourselves.  It is only in surrendering to God’s grace that we allow his Heart which as always beat for us, to enter.  

Easter happened.  Easter is happening.  This is the great reality, that a great or crummy Lent, Christ accepts all our offerings, the crumpled resolutions that got forgotten and abandoned and the ones well kept, it is the hearts He desires.   So to all who come to crowd the Easter mass, offer your heart, He will give you His, and all the weariness and wounds of this world will be washed away.  He will heal all of our lameness, world and self inflicted.

Have a blessed Easter.

Spambot Saturday

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why I am Catholic

Bloggers over at Patheos have been answering the question and I thought it a worthy one to ponder this Holy Week.   Why be Catholic?  Why bind myself to a life I didn't plan?  Why invite upon myself this world of pain? 

Because it is a true world.  Because the only way this world of pain is made any better, is by God's mercy.  The world absent God, is one of teeth and power and pain, sickness and death. Just look at the Crucifixion, this is what we make when we reject God. With God, there is love, kindness, healing, forgiveness, beauty, truth, light, salt, peace, mercy and life. Again, look at the Crucifixion.  God makes that symbol of torture and cruelty and death, one of redemption.

I am Catholic because I believe the Eucharist is the Heart and Soul, Body and Blood of our Lord, always, every time, and that we consume Him so as to be transformed, to have that in us which is not love, burned away.  But we have to willingly allow ourselves to be consumed in the process, and that's hard.  

I am Catholic not because of feeling or sensation or miracles though I've experienced all three but
because I cannot escape the knowledge that God loves me and has a profound plan which He is working on to redeem me even though I screw up daily and often.  It is a comfort to know to my bones, God has a plan even if I cannot see it, and to trust in that plan even if I haven't been briefed. 

I am Catholic because of the Eucharist and the luminous joyful sorrowful glorious mystery that is life.  I've never been in a moment when I could not find something within the word or the rosary or the sacraments that pulled me through or out of times that were hard.   Prayers are always answered.  God is always there, He is always whispering, "I love you." 

So I am Catholic because the church has within it, all of the tools to help us find the capacity to surrender to love, to surrender to God, to accept God's grace on God's terms, not ours. The Sacraments, the seasons of the Church, the liturgy of the word, the scripture, the lives of the saints, the sacramental, the sacred music and art, the Holidays, the feasts, the obligations and the optionals like the Liturgy of the Hour, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, all work in beautiful concert together to straighten what is crooked and bend what is inflexible in my soul.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Helen Update

Sixty Five days until she's published and we're still editing.  I admit, it is hard to go through the thing again and again, mostly because it is rather like weaving a tapestry.  If you weave the whole thing and then go back to pull out the wrongly done thread, you can do damage to the whole thing, you will have to rework everything that follows to make it correct.  I have a crossroads about a moment in the book.

Without telling, I have to decide if Helen is the orchestrator or the victim of a circumstance.  The difference is critical.  I wrote it with her as victim. I know, it needs to be the other way.  I am not sure how to pull it off.  It would require actually reworking the chapter prior in order to fully give credence to her decision.   I know it is the right thing to do, I'm just mentally dreading doing it.

Like getting a new haircut, I don't know how it will look when I finish.  I have to hope and trust the stylist.  Except in this case, the beautician is me.   Ugh.  

I am currently outlining the Book of Penelope and part of her personality is starting to emerge.  I want to tell their courtship, their dealing with Odysseus leaving, the 20 years of single motherhood and solitary rule, restarting at 45 as both old married and newly wed, and the issue of infidelity which is glossed over in the Odyssey, as he comes in and slaughters all the suitors, but he's been unfaithful with Circe, with Calypso and has at least been voyeuristic with the Princess Nausicaa.  Those are known infidelities. They're part of the story of his journey home.  They had to have some ramifications on Queen Penelope's heart even upon being joyful at his return and the elimination of all the predatory men vying for her hand and his throne.

One of the issues I want to address is the having to regrow the intimacy between the two of them.  I also want to address the adult Telemachus, who has not had a father, has lived with the memory of him as a guide, and now a hero of him that is larger than life, and who has no real connection with either.  

The other big issue is time. When do I set this story? Do I do it as a diary allowing Penelope to reveal what is happening as it is happening? That doesn't work because writing was still an emerging skill at the time, used mostly to create inventories and ship manifests, part of why Pythia became critical in Helen.  If it is not set to unfold in real time, how do I tell the past stories presently?  It will have to be all from Penelope's point of view, reflecting backwards as she moves forward, but where is the beginning point?  When Odysseus returns? When he leaves?  Twenty years after when my Helen story takes place?  That's the other big question to ask and answer.  

I have to go take a kid to get braces, so the retelling of the Greek stories via the women's POV will have to wait until the Orthodontist appointment is over.

P.S. Helen would have me mention that she is annoyed I would discuss anything other than her on the Wednesday Book of Helen Update.    

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Think I Made a Mistake

Last week, I went shopping for groceries at a new store and spied what I thought was a bargain, a 36 value pack of yoo-hoo drinks for 10 bucks.  My kids love these things.  I grabbed one thinking, if I put one in each of their lunch boxes each day, that's 7x5 --35, it leaves one left over and it makes packing the snacky part of their lunch (what do I have that's good?) question so easy.

Alas, I did not anticipate my 4 year old's lust for chocolate even in a diluted form to rival my own.

Within two hours of unpacking, he'd learned where they were stored and snagged one.  I did not raise an alarm, 35 were still ready to go. No biggie.

  Within one day, he'd become the bartender bringing drinks to all his siblings. They praised his ingenuity, his self reliance, and his thoughtfulness in bringing them drinks as well.  As the courier of these confections, he scored himself a second round.  We are at 25 and it is Sunday.

Monday rolls around, I load up the lunches.  Seeing the stash go down by six causes a momentary panic in my son, so he helps himself to one for breakfast while I'm making the sandwiches.  I have to resupply the lunch he just raided.  We are at 18.

After returning to the refrigerator the multiple yoo-hoo's he's brought to me in the course of the day as a means of advertising, I want to drink this all day until I explode, I weaken and we both indulge in a 5 o'clock pick me up drink.  A grave error in judgement on my part, as it sets off a cascade of kiddos running to get their own hit.  I call a truce, surrender my own to the kindergartner dearly afraid she'll get squeezed out of her treat in the rush, and control the damage.  We are down to 12.

Tuesday I deliberately blocked access to the garage via a load of towels awaiting a free spot in the dryer.  (Good luck with that).    He dumped them to get to his true love and brought back extra for his sister.  10.
I put up two stacks of wet laundry.  He climbed over them.  A gate, two loads of wet towels and I put the drinks on top of the refrigerator.  I caught him bringing the step ladder toward the laundry room exit to the garage.  I have come to know that yoo-hoo is the snack equivalent of toddler crack and woe to the adult who thinks she can stand between him and his fix.  Rather than risk his neck, I gave him and his sister a drink for lunch. 8.  

Then I do a recount and discover, his brothers have also performed a raid from the back.  We really only have 4.

Bottom line? I will need to come up with another snack by tomorrow if not sooner.  My grandmother's wisdom come drifting unbidden to the front of my brain. She raised 9 so I take her  advise seriously, "I have yet to buy my first bargain." She meant it about not being cheap with the things that are important...but I'm beginning to too.   Me too.  I surrender, handing the two toddlers their yoo-hoos.  They dance around me in joy. We will be going back to the store today.

But before I go to make that extra trip, if I'm going to have to, I'm getting the last yoo-hoo all to myself.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Small Stones Monday

Monday's stone

Nothing can annoy
not a tick, not a snake
not sand in one's food
like an older brother
in the presence
of a younger sister
entirely too content
to be tolerated.

Tuesday's Stone

Nothing makes the house stiller
than a child with a fever
Even with 9 others home
they feel the whisper
of unwellness
and unnatural silence.

Wednesday's Stone

Spring Says You!

I should.

I should garden
and organize the closet
and exercise.

I should edit
and get a hair cut
and clean.

I should clear out the frige
order prescriptions
and change the sheets.

I think I'll read
surf the net
eat some chocolate
and sleep.

Friday's Stone


has a lollipop in her hair.

Saturday's Stone

I saw the silliest phrase...
We are the ones
We've been waiting for.
I know it can't be true.
Because I know me
and she's been busy all day,
she's not waiting for anyone
but she'd love it and so would the world
if we all stopped waiting on ourselves
and waited on others
for a change.
Sunday's Stone

They run so fast
down the driveway
oblivous to anything
... but the sun and the stretch of freedom
not being tethered to mother brings.
Swooping in to catch them
and lock them safely
in the car,
they have been returned
safely to the eggs,
baby chicks that they are,
unware of all the ways
the world could swallow them up.
They giggle in their restraints,
unknowing of anything but the joy and the sun.
It won't always be so.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to Get Rich on a Stupid Conspiracy Spambot Saturday

Was it a Spambot Saturday Crawl by or wasn't it???  Originally run on May 4th, 2011...

There are the birthers, the truthers, the deathers and the Roswell hopefuls, JFK and Marilyn Monroe conspiracy theorists, and fan fiction writers of history who believe anything but what is considered common knowledge.  Everyone has some blind spots, but it's when we decide that what we see is missing a few fractals and we suddenly presume our vision is clearer than anyone else's that we run into trouble.  That being said, in this age of instant access to a google's worth of dubious sources, I'm of the mind that if one fabricated purely fictitious conspiracy and seeded it out there in the Internet, cottage industries supporting the validity and veracity of the mystery would pop up faster than dandelions on a summer's day.

Thus I'm here to provide the formula for the next Sham Wow P.T. Barnum Seller of expensive exclusive imported bottled sunshine. Apply at your own risk.

1) Watch the news.  Pick an item: Sports, Weather, Celebrities, Politics, Food, Economics, Seasonal, Feel Good Local Stories.

2) Fire up your imagination and add a little Charlie Sheen type reasoning or read the Inquirer.  Is it drugged, fixed, forged, corked, destroyed, observed by satellites, photo shopped, controlled by a secret society, alien, undead, heavenly, magical, extinct, curative, radiated, chemically deadly, a super bug that causes every condition known to man, or a wonder drug that cures every condition known to man.  Macro or micro, all you have to do is decide that something of reality is completely fabricated and Dan Brown like, only you and a select few insightful ones know...the TRUTH.

2) Create a Wikipedia page stating the stupid theory whatever it is.  Give it a Catchy name that sounds vague yet threatening...What's the secret of THE BOX?  Attach photos.  Circle random spots in red or add dashes or lines to intensely written explanations that insinuate multiple crazy claims that are all overly technical and in very tiny print.  Below the pictures, write in ALL CAPS TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS IT IS IMPORTANT, your key theory. Make sure the take home point is digestible without reading the fine point or thinking too much.  You want the kid in his mom's basement to take the message with them to their next YouTube viewing.

Poor Example: The box devalues currency by proactively adjusting the cost of everything to make the cost of living progressively more oppressive inversely indexed to one's means.  


3) Source your selected paranoia by playing connect the imaginary dots.  Velcro your suspicions to national corporations or organizations that recently got bad press.   Then leave teasers on Facebook, Twitter and blogs in the commentary section in forums that might be interested.  In Economics for example, go to Real Clear Markets and in the comments section, "Want to KNOW why you make less money than your neighbor?...FIND OUT THE SECRET OF THE BOX..."  with the link embedded to your wiki page.

4) Merchandise your theory.  Design a T-shirt, Slogan, bumper sticker, hats.  Make sure the t-shirt is dark and smugly cryptic.  "I KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BOX."  Exclusivity of a conspiracy theory makes EVERYONE want to join. Be the Smartest one in the room, KNOW THE SECRET OF THE BOX.

5) Create the Counter Theory using the same method.  Be sure to adopt a snarky tone and attack theory and it's backers  page personally.  "Jane you ignorant slut" type slams are de rigour.  Make sure your t-shirts are the mirror opposite in color scheme.  "THINKING OUTSIDE THE STUPID BOX" or showing a round peg breaking through a square hole.

Tag the originals with a derisive knickname. "Boxers" or some such.  It will double your income and increase original followers as everyone who wants to know what they think will try to be open minded by checking both sides out before picking one. Do however, make the upstart counter theory have a swagger or machismo to it's identify by slurring the whole mass of people who follow the original line of thinking.  Example for a bumper sticker: When Dealing with a BOXER, Keep it BRIEF.  Sarcastic fonts and a sneering attitude cannot be emphasized enough.

6) Become the face of the theory.  Post a video explaining in excruciating detail the nuances of your theory or counter theory.  Use the commentary that will have been generated by those lemmings that have glommed onto your wiki page to buttress your initial theory, it will validate their joining you and make you seem even more brilliant in their eyes.  Speak as though the theory itself is passe, common knowledge, that way the conspiracy becomes perceived as possibly being not simply a theory but a fact that everyone  ought to know and probably learned in grade school or high school but forgot. 

7) Write a book explaining the progression/story arc of your theory. Flesh it out with personal stories that reveal that even if the theory itself ever gets disproven, you are a worthy intellect that should be consulted from time to time because you tell good tales and can fill air well.  Be sure to create multi-media displays that do not actually advance any knowledge but retell everything you've said in a more colorful and visually arresting way.  Also, put in proper outrageous claims of the utopia/serenity/wealth/dream like existence either being denied or actively destroyed by not subscribing to the theory.  Be sure to include a public disclaimer that you just don't know you only suspect so you can't get sued.

FINALLY*Blog Writer/Editor Note: None of these tips have been proven to work nor are we advocating in any way creating crank pot theories for the purposes of getting rich beyond your wildest dreams.  Or are we?  Yes. There are two number that an editing error or a clue to the untold riches I've not yet found but are all locked in the back side of a two dollar bill...I'll never tell.

P.S. The first hit to this piece was from an unknown and untrackable I.P address!  They're on to me!

Host your own Spambot Saturday and leave a link to it in the combox.  Come on people, all I'm asking is to be invited to read prose lost to the passage of time on the internet. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. So what happened to Small Success Thursday?  It didn't happen.  I'd like the meme to catch fire, but it seems I keep running into Thursday without having crafted the post. I will try again for Holy Week and see if the graces of Easter can help us start anew.

2. Did you hear about the Catholic Blogathon to raise awareness about the continued existence of Gitmo and the detaining of at least 87 prisoners who have been cleared of any charges?  And the hunger strike that is now going on 5 weeks resulting in the US government having to tube feed some inmates?  Aparently, a 49 million dollar Guantanamo Prison is being proposed, as the existing infrastructure was never designed to be permanent.  Someone yesterday asked me why focus on this question now?  Why is it important now, as versus before now?  Because I learned of the hunger strike and the 87 prisoners who have been cleared of all charges but are still kept yesterday.  Because we cannot change yesterday, we can only act today. Because this sort of thing needs to be addressed and stopped before the buildings are made more...permanent.  Because I don't want indefinite detaining of innocent (of any crimes that can be proven in court) to become a permanent policy.   Here's the link to yesterday's piece in the Huffington Post about the proposed "improvements."  and there's also this.

3.  The war on sleep continues.   It seems none of my children need more than 4 hours of rest and none of them rest at the same time.   You know how diet advisors say eat 4-6 little meals a day to lose weight?  I wonder if 4-6 little naps will work for being well rested. 

4.  Today Day.  I may have to go dust off some Star Trek VCR accent.   I always preferred Captain Sisko.  Having a nerd attack, may have to put on a marathon of Deep Space Nine, for those intervals when I'm not able to fall asleep after dealing with whomever is not sleeping.   

5.   Maybe I'll just I referenced A Swiftly Tilting Planet when I meant Out of a Silent Planet.  Now that Madaline E'ngle and C.S.Lewis are both annoyed with me, I think I have some weekend reading to do. 

6.   This week, my daughter's high school did an impressive (mandatory) parent/student meeting about the dangers of alcohol.  It was effective, it was informative and yes...sobering.  Despite two other teens, nothing like this had ever been done in my experience.  The administration meant it.  You felt it.  I wish they would have added a component about "trusting your instincts" and not going to parties where you don't know the hosts, don't drink the punch...go with more than one person, call if anyone gets wild, call if you want to come home, call if you feel uncomfortable, call if you feel unsafe, call if it is boring...and perhaps a testimony from a kid who had to make that call.  Those were my only sticky points, but otherwise, it seemed a smart move.  Yeah, I would have liked a touch (touch) on the moral component of not abusing your body (with alcohol), not lying (by drinking alcohol), not endangering others (by being silent about the use of alcohol), but that's I think, something that should perhaps be addressed sophomore year.  

7. 12 years of Catholic school has left my son ill equipped for the world outside of t-shirts and jeans, so I took him shopping for his birthday. (He's 20!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  While browsing for sweaters and shirts, I heard a woman whose deep accent sounded familiar.  She was a neighbor from when we first moved to Maryland, back when my son was not yet 2.  Hugs and warm feelings all around, and my son was very pleased with his adult wardrobe.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nothing That Concerns You Has Happened

Nothing that concerns you has taken place.   Be calm.  Be of good cheer, no bad evil or wrong thinking is going on in your government, we're benign happy people who only spend money responsibly on good things.  The only people who ever are wrong or bad, are those other guys who aren't in power, but are stinky heads anyway, to be spit on, possibly jailed, and always ignored.  If any of them raise any concerns, it's not because they're right or we're wrong, it's because they're greedy for power we have.  You can't trust them.  But you can trust us. We've the better intentions even if we do exactly what was done before but don't tell you. 

Yesterday, I read about the hunger strike at Gitmo, where possibly as many as 166 inmates have been on hunger strikes owing to the abuses and conditions they endure in their never ending confinement.

It seems only a few years ago,  I remember when the political left was a champion for their rights, for human rights, for the Constitution and the rule of law.  I remember when the idea of the U.S.A being engaged in torture or permanent imprisonment without possibility of trial or parole or even charges, brought thoughtful and consistent outrage at the administration for its slow responses and casual indifference to violations of agreed upon standards for treatments even of "hostile enemy combatants."  I remember back when Bush was president, feeling horrified at the existence of the camp, and thinking, anyone brought there, if they weren't broken when they went in, would hate  the US if they ever got out.  I remember thinking, this couldn't be our government, being coy with the rule of law, pretending to somehow parse the constitution to allow something like torture and indefinite imprisonment to exist.  I remember feeling ashamed.  I also remember musing that in creating such a place, a door was opened for future mischief.

That future mischief happening has now been going on for a while.

Now that it is 5 years into the existing administration's run of the land,  can we possibly consider the moral legitimacy of arguing against this policy without being told such criticism undermines the existing president, is politically or racially motivated, or has no weight since Bush did it first and worse? 

Wrong is wrong. Violating rights and holding prisoners in permanent limbo isn't a policy any person with an R or a D beside their name should endorse, it is UnAmerican,  it is inhuman.  People who watch Fox News and those who comment on Das Kos ought to be on the same page about this, that we can't be a nation of laws if we ignore those laws when they are inconvenient.  Human beings matter.  They matter whether they are Muslim or have Alzheimer's or Down Syndrome or have been raped, or are the teenagers who committed the crime or are unborn.  We are a nation that claims to be better, to cherish life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as part of our core.  We are ignoring that core for some people, because it is easier than the alternative that freedom demands.  We are going to have to live unsafely and be okay with the reality that life and liberty, involve risk.

So how do we let these people go?  We swallow hard. We recognize that we have probably created by our unwillingness to follow our own laws, regardless of political affiliation, a whole new generation that can declare us hypocrites and justify by their own pain, any rage they throw our way.  We will have to work seven times seventy times to earn the trust we have burned over the years. Some of those injured or who view the injuries, will never trust us.  We will have to live with that too.

We live in an age that is honestly burnt out on outrage.  We should be. We have seen how little fruit it produces.  Our congress passes laws without reading them and spends money without thinking.  It holds committees that make recommendations that are promptly filed away never to be used.  As a people, as a government, we waste, we idle, we blame, we rule, we smother, we take, we spin. But we never stop a program. We never cut back. We never stop what is politically convenient.  We never release power once acquired.  

For our society to begin to get better, Americans have to not spend energy being outraged, and instead spend our talents speaking and learning and pushing back against the political sloth that paints all approval or dismissal of policy as purely based on politics and thus not worthy of note if it goes against your guy's side.    We need to insist to the President and to the house and the senate, that this place be closed. We need to insist that these people be returned to their homes.  We need to have trials with charges to illustrate to the world and ourselves, we aren't petty tyrants with large credit cards.  We need to respect the rule of law for all people at all times, if we would be a society that values the rule of law.

Everyone gets that those laws, following them, in all scenarios, it's hard. It's why we've failed in some cases, but we have the power to stop failing. Being a nation of laws is what makes us a nation worth having, worth keeping.  Call your representatives and senators, write your papers an email.

My fellow blogger The Ironic Catholic has some excellent links and her piece also talks about the need for all of us as Americans, as people of good will, as humans, to speak out and ask that this place be closed.  Those who have been cleared, must be set free immediately.  There is no excuse, save fear of what we have done, and we need to be a braver people who when they see something is wrong, stop the wrong itself.

So I stand with my fellow blogger in asking questions, and the others who have joined...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Helen Update

The first round of edits went to the editor last week.  Now, I am tackling the second round.  She has sent me the first 80 pages. I have run through the first 43.  I hit a wall.  Writing about hitting a wall helps me acknowledge I've become stuck and thus start becoming unstuck.  I'd been living in the world of I'm a writer, I just finished editing so I can rest on my laurels.  Or as my daughter illustrated: 

One of the first things you learn to NOT do, is head hop.  This is not taught or even talked about outside of writer circles. I'd never heard of it until I read about common mistakes writers make in the course of exploring the forums of Absolute Write. Head hopping is where you get insights into what different people are thinking in a scene that affect the scene without being voiced or observed by anyone in particular.  If you have an all knowing narrator, this is still a problem as it can be confusing who is doing the talking.   I have a few moments I need to rewrite to eliminate hopping from head to head.

Absent having characters with telepathy, which if I wrote sci-fi would be a prerequisite of writing such stuff, as conversations within conversations would be fun, you can't do it. Even if you think your book is ground breaking, you can't do it.  This give me small satisfaction, to know if Faulkner wrote the Sound and the Fury today, he wouldn't be able to confuse the daylights out of me because his editor would have flagged him for major head hopping.   Yes, I'm still smarting from my American Authors class in junior year of college and I should let that go.  

So I'm going to hit the next 20 pages today. 

With the first book in the second editing stage, I am now starting to collect the books needed for the sequel, the Book of Penelope.  Why? I need background, a blueprint and scaffolding. I don't want to make the same mistake twice. 

What mistake? 

I cannot stress this enough, I would have finished Helen at least a child and a laptop ago if I hadn't tried to write this thing without the benefit of an outline or at least a map of the story.  I knew where I wanted to go, but not how to get there.  Dead reckoning for the novice writer seldom gets you to the destination.  You can be bull headed (my favorite technique), and you might eventually get to the magical words, "The End," but only after a lot of detours.  In my case, at least 50,000 words of deleted chapters before the ones that got deleted in the editing process. 

Why bring this up?  Yesterday, I saw a comment on a writing post, "I'm a great writer and I've written a lot of little things but I want to write a book.  I don't want to do an outline, I just want the book to happen." 

I can say right now, that book won't happen. 

Books don't happen.  They may be inspired, they may write quickly, they may be clear, they may be best sellers.  They don't just happen.  Waiting for inspiration in order to write is like waiting until you are hungry to start cooking. You can bang out some mac and cheese or maybe a steak if it's defrosted, but to make a good meal, requires planning, technique, the right ingredients and time.  So also, a good book.  I don't have a genii producing a gourmet meal, and there is no book genii writing the book either.  The book genii says "Hey genius, you want to write the book?  Start outlining."  (See, your english teacher in high school was right about this). 

I'll have my same 7th-10th grade response too.  It's hard to outline a piece you haven't written.  I don't yet know all that the Book of Penelope is supposed to be about.  However,  I've learned the inspiration will come if I just get moving and it's a lot easier to craft the scenes you want than to kill scenes you've poured time into and fallen in love with, but which don't advance the story. 

So I do understand the desire to wait for lightning to strike before starting, but I've told myself, you know how this works, so get to it.

If you need me today, I'll be editing or outlining, presuming inspiration will come and maybe saying "Thanks" in my head to my high school english teachers.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Calling Us To the Vineyard

Today is Saint Joseph's feast day.

It is also the day the Catholic Church inaugurated Pope Francis.  Hearing this pope talk about how husbands and wives must protect each other and then their children, and from there, the community, and thus the world, it resonates so deeply.  Then I read the main stream media tag line that emphasizes, Pope says serve the poor and protect the environment.  The Pope said that, but he also stressed that stewardship  started with the sacramental hearts involved in the most intimate of relationships, husband and wife, and from there, grew outward.  

We are to care for the poor. We must.  They are a pathway to Christ, because they make us live out the beatitudes. All service done properly is love.  All love given to others, is given to the Father. If we serve others out of love, we serve the Father out of love.  Saint Francis understood this, and Pope Francis does as well.   He is harvesting, this pope, seeking to pull those who love the social justice component of Christ's teachings, to come into the liturgy more deeply.  He is sowing, this pope, to push those who love the liturgy, to live out the word in the world around them, to spread and share God's love on every continent, and in every home.  

There is no greater way to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph, than to be a steward of one's family.  There is no greater way to honor Christ than to imitate his human parents in their devotion and stewardship of him. 

The world needs to be peopled with Saints, who echo Saint Joseph, who imitate Saint Francis, who model themselves after Mary.  We must cloak in humility, humor and gentleness, our deep devotion to the one who is Truth.  We must compel with our words, with beauty, with kindness, with generosity, with mercy, with wisdom, the world that thinks all is sharpness and fire and politics and power, to wonder at a way that is decidedly holy, decidedly better.  

How do we do this? 

Prayer.  You knew this right?  Nothing works without prayer.  Ask. Dare to ask.  Ask for faith. Ask for discernment.  Ask for a more luminous marriage. Ask for wisdom in dealing with a problem.  Ask for self discipline in the silly things like diets and budgets and housework. Ask for self denial in big things, like forgiveness and service to others. Ask for knots to be untied, wounds to be healed, help with the most worldly and impossible of situations.   Ask. Ask. Ask.  God never tires or grows weary of our askings.  We cannot ask enough.  God does not give out grace today and say tomorrow, I already did you.   Ask.  Then watch.  Your world will unfold and transform, unmistakably. 

Fast.  Give up something. Today.  You can give up something else tomorrow, but give something up today, something that grips you, something that keeps you stuck in the mire of whatever it is.  If you can't give it up for the day, try for an hour.  Deliberately bend your will against your desire.  This is the practice of great athletes and great scholars and great saints.   Sublimation is the hallmark of our Blessed Mother and her most chaste spouse in their lives, and their son's.  You cannot serve in love absent sublimation of the will.  If we want a world that is luminous and awash in people living out the beatitudes, we must practice daily sublimation, daily humility, daily service. 

Serve.  The how of service is whatever surrounds you. God is terribly efficient in this matter.  He uses wherever you are with whomever you are with to bring you closer.  He may push you out into the world, but He will do the pushing.  Everyone wants to somehow become the break out feel good story of the day, the one that becomes a motion picture that others want to emulate.  That's not service, that's pop celebrity sugar frosted calorie free fame.  Service is the hard stuff of taking out the trash and making phone calls, of doing what no one will ever cheer, but which is given because it is needed, and out of love.  You know the cliche, character is what you do when no one is watching?  Service reveals character, by what you do without getting credit, pats on the back or accolades.   Service is to God the Father who sees, for those who need, it is about being the hands and feet that wash and carry, not the face or the name everyone remembers.

The poor are all around us, we need only start praying and fasting and the service will flow from there.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Small Stones Monday

Sunny Defiance

Despite the bills
need to shop
and three errands
that are all necessary
and all at the same time,
I declare
we will seize the joy of Sunday
and live out a day of rest.

Six Word Saturday

There is nothing like Mom's lap.

Friday's Stone

All the plans I had
dry cleaning, groceries, paperwork
just threw up in the car.

I've also learned that all stones must be cut and pasted as soon as they are written, or they are lost to cyber space once we get past one week.  Ugh.  I'm writing one a day so that's a lot of lost poetry.  Next Monday, you'll get seven stones. 

If you'd like to join the small stones project, go to the facebook page,
Small Stones: Writing Our Way Home and ask to join.  It is a closed group.  No one critiques so you can feel free to post what you wish, the goal is to write a poem each day.   There's an explanation of the origin of small stones and other information on the page.   It's a good way to keep the pen moving so to speak, when writer's block threatens.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Everybody's Irish!
Everybody sing!
We're going to mass and to watch the Quiet Man today and I might force some Irish soda bread on my children, but more likely, they'll eat hot dogs and french fries and carrots and broccoli.  

Last night I got to hear some Irish music at my kid's auction, and it takes me back to college and a rare moment, when all of my friends and I senior year, congregated in the college center and there was an Irish singer.  We spent the evening listening.  Not telling each other what we were studying or how our boyfriends or fiance's were or what we hoped, just singing along.  It was a perfect evening. 

So maybe I'll try reading a page of Joyce...and have a toast of Bailey's...because I'm a lightweight and while I like Guienness beef stew, I find the beer too much for me. 

And I'll ask you to celebrate, to help remember this day because it's not enough that Saint Patrick has to deal with the nonsense of leprechauns and people who use the feast day to drink themselves drunk. The other day two radio announcers talked about Saint Patrick not even being religious...which is a half truth, used to erode the whole truth.  

He was captured and brought to Ireland, where during his years of servitude, he grew in faith, such that when he eventually left, he was willing to return as a missionary.  His name was Succat, but his Roman name translated, was Patrick.   The radio announcers basically represented Saint Patrick as being not a person of faith, and called him by his non saintly name from that point forward.  I'll admit, the Irish in me was up.  

But Ireland was pagan and then, through Saint Patrick's outreach and teachings about Christ, was not. So completely did Saint Patrick convey Christ's message that the idea of Ireland and Catholic became synonymous.  A fact conveniently ignored by the radio people, a fact that reveals the long strength of true witnessing, even to an unbelieving world.   Surely, a saint for the trials of today.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

Go Irish.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spambot Saturday 4/22/09 Offering

The Scrutiny of Jelly Beans

This year, the real Easter egg hunt began before April 12th, as shoppers scoured the local pharmacies, grocery stores and bulk warehouses for what have apparently become the latest scarce commodity in these economic hard times; jelly beans. Now normally, no one cares one wit about these rainbow colored sugar gel confections. Oh sure, they enjoyed popularity under President Reagan when Jelly Bellies were all the rage and a brief renaissance via Harry Potter’s Every Flavor Beans, but ultimately, they remain the third stringer in the candy world of Easter baskets.

This year, there weren’t any to be found despite multiple stops. I know it wasn’t just me, as I heard several other parents asking the store staff and calling out, as if they needed to summon these candies by name. Jelly beans were missing. The parents looked lost as they gazed at row after unhelpful row of pure chocolate candies. Jelly beans allowed one to stomach giving one’s offspring as much candy as Easter baskets provide without feeling totally indulgent. They’d get candy but one could be sure, they wouldn’t eat all of it. One adult summed it up perfectly, “No jelly beans…How could it be Easter?”

Leaving aside the lack of theological connections between rainbow colored peanut shaped licorice and the salvation of all our souls, I had to agree.

Those little colored jewels are life savers for when it’s ten o’clock at night and frankly, the Energizer Easter bunny needs a nap. Pour those suckers into the plastic eggies and boom, you’re done. Even better, they come in bulk, and thus multiple eggs can be filled in a short period of time. This is why the rabbit invented jelly beans. He had to get around the world in one night with no elves, no reindeer, he was both the UPS delivery guy and the truck itself. The poor creature needed to streamline if he was going to get to everyone.

Now I know perfectly well why those classic candies aren’t in the stores or on the shelves. It’s a conspiracy and I blame the children. While all kids love finding the eggs, jelly beans rank somewhere above lima beans but not by much. They’d stashed the bags somewhere behind tax software so that parents wouldn’t find them or be in a buying mood when they saw them. I went through the alternatives in my head. We could still fill the eggs.

Some would have money. Some could have chocolate or even malted milk eggs and Cadbury crèmes. I saw bubble gum eggs for sale, but consider that too adventurous. There may be parents out there who don’t mind cutting a lot of hair after Sunday mass, but I am not one of them. I was pining for the beans myself, not for eating mind you, I wanted my filler. But the absence of them made me recognize the reality of the life of a jelly bean.

Check any Easter basket two days post Sunday. You’ll find the foil remains of the bunny and no small number of wrappers from the malt, chocolate and marshmallow eggs. Beneath the green stringy grass, lurks at least a quarter cup of jelly beans of all assorted flavors.

Then, the sorting begins.

Three days after Easter, the yellow, red and pink ones have disappeared. By day five, the need for a sugar fix is still insufficient temptation to venture a bite at those black ones, though the purple, green and orange ones have all been sampled. Eventually, experimentation takes the place of voluntary eating, with jelly bean tooth pick statues, microwaved beans and dissected candy being amongst the most memorable alternatives.

As I lamented the loss of this bulk content piece from the children’s Easter baskets, there was a run in the store on marshmallow peeps. As I grabbed one of the last six packs of yellow chicks, a fellow mother had her hand on the bag. There was a brief tug-a-war, but I surrendered when she said, “Let my Peeple go.” It's Easter and you have to let these sort of things pass over.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.  Setting Myself Up For This...

Yesterday I introduced an ambitious blogging schedule.  Today, I'm trying to keep to it, but reality keeps reminding me, "You are not in charge!"  How?  Well, today is Friday. It is a half day for some, an off day for one, a whole day for another, and trial day for my husband.  Fixing the ONE lunch was actually NOT possible.  The little horde of voracious toddler raptors and teen walking locusts had consumed all the macaroni and cheese, bagels, cheese sticks and tortillas that might be used to make a meatless lunch. The kindergartner had given all 4 CANS of tuna away in the food drive.  There was only meat in the house. No fruit.  Barely any vegetables.  No time to make pasta. No yogurts.  no pineapple cups, and the school has banned peanut butter.   So I thought, no biggie, swing through Taco bell, grab a bean burrito to go and we're set. They're not open yet.  No biggie, I'll bring it later.  My 2 year old threw up in the car.  We will see if today is a hard fasting day for my 16 year old...or not.

2.  Habemus papam franciscum!

I'm really loving getting to know Pope Francis.  Everything I've read about him reveals a person of deep humility.  If you'ld like to read more about him, Simcha Fisher has a great piece over at the National Catholic Register giving you little snippets that reflect the reality of how he has lived his vocation up to this point.   It seems obvious he should be the Pope and I'm very glad. 

3.    Not Reflecting the Dignity of the Poor

I was on facebook the past few days to snatch news and rejoice with others about our new pope, and there was an ad for the SSDI (Social Security Disability Income).  The facebook page which I will not link here, was a means for people to apply with the federal government.   The thumbnail that showed up next to the link either was hacked or shows a profound lack of charity for those who need the safety net that the government can provide.

 Are You Kidding Me? This is not Okay.

Having sent Helen off to the editor, it is now time to write up a 100 word pitch, a 300 word summary, select snippets I want to show to hook readers, create a facebook page, write an interview about how Helen came to be, provide resources and additional bonus Easter Egg type material --like the bonus features of a DVD, and draft a way to launch the book.  My 16 year old took pity on me and created the Facebook page.  You can help it grow by linking and sharing it --here. 
Guess I'd better get in the car and go deliver her a lunch.  
One daughter is in the tech for Les Miserables.  One daughter is in tech for a version of 12 Angry Men.  We have an Auction this weekend.  Their father is getting ready for trial.  I could really use that bi location grace right now, if I am to get all people where they need to go when they need to go.  Fortunately, my oldest son (a driver huzzah), is coming home for Spring Break. We may yet survive. 
6.  Need to Tackle Birthday Paloozah.
Marathon necessary to prepare for and recover from eating not included.

I need to throw a party for my 9 year old son.  On his actual birthday, he refused to celebrate.  Why? One of his friends had lost his mother over the weekend. The funeral was his birthday.  So he told me, I'll wait on the cake and the dress down day.  What a heart.  If anyone deserves a party with balloons and bounce rooms and firecrackers and piecaken, it's him.  Will plan party after I drop off lunch for 16 year old. 
7.  For fun, here's the last one, a bit of poetry written just after learning we had a pope. 
A Watched Smokestack
Never Popes.
I leave the computer and
We have white smoke. 
May have to scoot over to confession to take advantage of Pope Francis's offering of an indulgence to make up for that and other transgressions, right after I deliver lunch and plan John's party.   Have a great Friday!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Changes in this Blog

Anyone who still reads this thing knows postings have been sparse lately.  However Helen has now gone to the editor.  I'll get her back for the line by line and then the final spit and polish.  In the meantime, I want to make sure coming here, you get your money's worth.  Granted, you didn't actually pay, but if you are going to read my two cents, I want you to get at least 2 pennies' worth of entertainment or thought.  

Therefore, in the interest of disciplining myself, the blogposts will work as follows. 

Sunday --original post
Monday --small stones day --poetry written in the past week.
Tuesday --original post
Wednesday --Helen teasers --material on Helen, including interview, removed play, prologue of the villian, origin...
Thursday --Small Success Thursday
Friday Conversion Diary Reflection for the week
Saturday Spambot Selection

Mind you, life happens as does inspiration, so you may sometimes get extra helpings of whatever I'm serving.  Thank you for your patience.

How I Know We Have the Right Pope

Catholicism is always both and.   Neither the left nor the right is fully happy with this choice and worries, worries because the Pope might be not only in agreement with their side.  Guess what, while most people think they'd be pleased as punch to have Jesus meet us, we'd probably have to first swallow a lot of humble pie and recognize it is us that need to run out to meet Him.  

His humility is another sign that we have a Holy Spirit driven shepherd.  We have had the charism of Pope John Paul the II, or the Great, who smiled and welcomed everyone. We have had the quieter charism of Pope Benedict the XVIth, who provided us with the theology and bones of our Catholic Church tradition.  Now we have a quiet man who lives it using both his left and hands, teaching us with his one lung, to breathe deeply the presence of God and that will impell us to go out using both hands, to live it.  

God bless Pope Francis.  It does not matter if it is Saint Francis of Assisi or Saint Francis Xaivier, they are all on the same team, that of the All Saints.  He, like all the popes before him, is called to look at the Church, at the Body, and help straighten the limbs that are crooked and teach the whole of it to reach out and heal the world. 

He started by asking all of us to pray for him, and offering us an opportunity for an indulgence. So he has started by trying to help all of us get to Heaven faster.  That's a pretty awesome beginning, to offer us a fast track to our real home.   There may be two weeks left until Holy Week, but it already feels like Easter dawn. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spambot Saturday

Today's Saturday Spambot selection is Cupcake Wars, originally run on 4/29/2012.  You can join in too by scrolling through all those lovely spam comments you delete and selecting an old blog post to rejuvinate on Saturday --frozen leftovers microwaved and refreshed all for you, today.  

I've been working on being more present to my children. I've read stories individually, forced myself to stop working after 9:00 am to sit with my daughter and play whatever she wants until 10 and in the evening, to try and involve one or two with making dinner and let it be fun. It's not always easy. I keep discovering all the ways in which I've tried to be efficient and as such, closed myself off. Opening up those closed efficient ways is not painful, but it is an act of the will. With a triple birthday party in the works, it was very tempting to return to my ordinary ways.

To have enough cupcakes when one wanted strawberry, another chocolate and a third vanilla, meant four boxes of cake. I made one of lemon just to add variety. We made 77 cupcakes in about 4 hours. But the issue was frosting.

Now my kids watch Cupcake Wars. It's one of their favorites.

So presentation mattered. It was like having Florian in the kitchen.

"You should put butterflies."

But they also wanted to help.
So I told myself to let it happen.

I even walked away to let them be about the business of frosting. It was not easy. Eventually it was my turn, and I got to show off my skills with the frosting tube. But the strawberries with their acid started melting the frosting. I could hear judge Candace Nelson explaining that I should have coated the cakes with more frosting to give a cushion between the cake and the berries. The sprinkles didn't stick to the cake and I found myself pushing the jimmies into the white cream. I'd be out before the first round.

But that was a minor skirmish. One of my children, I suspect just to be contrary, does not like frosting. Not a lick. Ergo, his cupcakes must be naked. This was not his birthday, so I opted to only designate one or two that would fit his desires. But of course, he took pink ones and this upset the girl whose party it is, and who wanted pink cupcakes. She felt her birthday allotment of joy was being infringed upon because she only had 16 cakes, not 18. The plain upon thars cake eater grinned in triumph. Out in the second round too for presentation.

How do you parent a child to stop wilfully seeking to tork off his sister when you're reduced to stop grinning evilly and don't take only your sister's cupcakes? You distract and delegate to help move the volatile situation along. "Go outside. Ride your bike." or you divert. "Go play the wii." or you delegate, "Have you finished your homework?" "Did you make your bed?" anything to come up with something either necessary or more enticing than the golden glow of seeing one's sister miserable. I can see him thinking about it, but not making a move away. Sibling rivalry is hard. It is a shiny red apple, as compelling as sin.

But since we had cupcakes, I handed him a chocolate and a vanilla. We'd made 77. So what's two less?
"Take these two. Now shoo."

The cupcakes survived the party survived and the siblings survived and I survived. I'm keeping a stash of unfrosted cupcakes in reserve for future distractions. I may create a display to represent the peace I'm seeking, a monument to the no fight zone I'd like to make my home.

Now where are my 10,000 dollars?

Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

 7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 210)
1. Sorry about the Super Light Blogging. 
My daughter has helpfully provided the motivation. 
2. How is Your Lent Going?
Mine is oddly well.  I know I'm turning to prayer more, that's for certain.  The scary wonderful thing is, I can see the effects.  The kids have always claimed I have an unfair friendship with Saint Anthony. They can cite many examples of things lost that he's found for me almost instantaneously upon request.  My oldest daughter jokes that I have an unpaid internship upon my death answering his calls as restitution for all of his intervention.  I told my daughter she could have a deeper relationship with a particular saint if she sought it.  That day, she and her sister had been at odds.  It was day three of deep dispute.  Both had been lectured. Both were urged to reconcile.  Both refused. 
Frustrated at the level of discord in the family, I went to both of them and told them each to pray to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.  Now I know she has that title, and I even understand that title, but I didn't know the origin, nor did I really know why that particular suggestion came to my mind other than, the Holy Spirit knew what we needed.  Less than an hour later, the two who seemed so set in their grudges, so hard in their hearts, had made a real peace. Thank you Mary, Undoer of Knots.   
3.  A Miracle Every Day
This morning, my daughter came upstairs more chatty than usual, her heart was light.  "I prayed last night to Saint Joan."  She added.  It's her favorite saint.   She'd prayed it would snow.  As soon as she said it, I saw flakes.  There was a swirl of flakes, surrounding our home.  A cloud had parked right over our house and it was snowing, really snowing but only here.   I quipped, "You know, Saint Joan probably said, "This is not really my forte, I'm not normally associated with cold things."  But it was an answer, and the answer was yes.  It was silly and small and yet joyful.  I'm becoming more and more convinced that if we had our eyes open and our hearts as well, we would see the miraculous in the world every day. 
4.  Editing is like purgatory. 
All your writing sins are revealed, line by line, word by word.  And you spend the editing process trying to fix all the writing sins, knowing because you do not have eternity, that your penance shall be that whatever you fail to fix, will be read by your friends and family.   I'm suddenly regretting gently ribbing my sons for spell check errors like "The Dairy of Anne Frank" and Jesus visiting the sick leopards, and my daughter for the essay, "Why We Need a Book Club at Saint Martians."  Hey Sherry, how's that Buck ov HELL AND coming?
5.   Sin is Like McDonald's.
Wish I'd had this insight, it came from my daughter who has a particular weakness for their chicken nuggets and fries.  She explained, "You KNOW it's bad for you. You KNOW it has long term bad effects.  You DON'T want those long term effects.  But it looks good and I'm hungry so I'm eating it now."  Catechism through fast food...who knew?..well, I should have, because eating fish on Fridays at any of those places is penance..but then, I'm stupid enough to have eaten fish on a Friday at one of those places.   
6.    Not a Scouting Mom
Three of my children are currently in scouting programs.  This is the emotional equivalent of existing for 40 days on Filet-O-Fish for me.  One of my children was in the pine wood derby contest. We didn't go to the workshop so his car looked essentially like a block of wood with wheels.  He made it, he painted it, he thought it was beautiful.  Every kid at these things gets an award.   His award said, "Best Block of Wood."   He was still proud. He did not get the veiled insult/irony.  However, this does not make me love scouting more.   
7.    Healthy Eating
I have two committed athletes who run or exercise daily. I have two others with massive amounts of misinformation but who are trying their darnedest.  My doctor has requested a food diary.  This too feels like confession, every day I'm having to write something like I confess I ate a bowl of cheese grits, a Wendy's spicy chicken and a free chocolate frosty, the leftover Frito's and washed it down with an extra large diet coke.  I also snagged a peppermint patty at the gas station and ate half a Klondike bar because my daughter was full.  It is not fun.  It does explain why my diet is going nowhere fast. 
Fortunately, my children have come to my rescue. There is a contest to fill the food pantry at the school.  Yesterday I discovered as I hefted two unusually heavy backpacks into the car, half our can goods have been donated.  How do I explain charity in moderation to an 8, 7 and 5 year old?  I haven't.  They're too happy giving away my soups and beans and pasta and tuna.   Hopefully their generosity will translate to my sveltness.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thank You

My dad's surgery went as well as could be expected.  

He now begins the long haul of rehabiltation and recovery. 

Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prayers Please

Most of you know through this blog that my father has Alzheimer's.  Sometimes, it can cause people to misjudge distance and thus fall.  Yesterday, my dad fell.  He broke his left hip.

Today, he will have surgery to replace the ball in the hip. 

So I am asking all of you to pray for the surgeon, for the team that helps the surgeon, for my dad, for my mom, and for all of us who get the frustrating task of having to keep going, because we don't live close enough to go and be simply present. 

While I am at it, I will also ask you to pray for a complete stranger.  Yesterday at mass, I took my youngest to the cry room.  We were at our "It's-5-o'clock on Sunday Mass" Church precisely because they have a cry room.  The space for children at this church is a large open kitchen, walled in with a large glass window, used for meetings where whoever is meeting, will also be serving coffee and probably food.   There is a bin of toys, and there are chairs stacked available for the adults who bring their children there.  

When I arrived, there were two mothers and seven children in the room.One mother had an 8 month old and a 3 year old boy. The other mother had two sets of twins, ages 5 and almost 7.  The sets of twins were very busy playing and the mother's face looked stretched like leather, too thin, worn from pain and stress.

I cannot help myself.  During the offertory song, I said "Hello." 
She spilled open. 
"I don't know why I come to this mass. I've been coming here since they were babies and I can't get them to listen or get anything out of it and I'm getting less and less."  If ever there was a soul that seemed to be begging, "Please don't let me quit coming to mass but help me get something from it," it was she.

I sympathized, told her I understood that there were masses like that for every parent, and she mentioned that she normally goes to the 11:30 where there's a children's mass but they don't like to get in the car.  I admittedly made a joke about how if they want to control the schedule, they should learn to drive.  She smiled.  I then suggested bringing along a friend, that she needed some help.  I couldn't stay because at that point, my two year old found the door knob, opened it and was skipping back to where the rest of my family was.  

But her lament stayed with me all mass.  The Communion song felt like a love song from a Smitten God to her soul to me, "Come Back to Me...with all your heart...stay with me..." I could hear God courting her.  The closing song was an encouragement, "My grace is sufficient, My Grace is enough. My Grace is enough."

After mass, I returned to the cry room. She was still there packing up.  I told her I'd hoped I'd find her again and suggested the Magnifcat as a way of feeding herself daily, and Fr. Barron's Word on Fire for Sunday preparation.  It was all I could do, my family was already bustling out the door to get back home for dinner.   So I would also ask also, that all of you pray for this woman, that she heard how much God wants her and her children at the mass no matter how they act, His Grace is enough.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Today at the Catholic Stand

I have a piece running.

I apologize that blogging has been uber lax lately.  Busy editing, ergo all my writing energies are very focused.   Hope to return to normal blogging soon.


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