Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feast Day: St. Jerome

St. Jerome, by Peter Paul Rubens

It's the Feast of St. Jerome today.

And I don't want to blast you all with endless saint feast days, but then again, why not? Because, well, we Catholics, we love a feast and any reason to feast! {maybe that's just me...my wardrobe is saying, um, yeah!} Kidding, mostly....

Truly, I DO love the whole liturgical year deal. I know I've said it before on this blog, but it bears repeating: it just gives such a richness and texture to our year. Days of feast and fasting, seasons of expectation and celebration, and yes, days of mourning as well (lent and Easter week can be tough). But yeah, it does make my days a little richer, have a little more meaning, when I think about the saint of the day and if they have a special connection to me or my family or friends - or if they set an example worth considering (and gee whiz, they are saints, they do!).

So today is the feast of St. Jerome and he is the patron of a dear friend's son, so a friend of ours. Happy feast day Joe!

To read more about him go here and here. And he is worth knowing a bit about, as St. Jerome was the one who translated the bible from the Hebrew into the common language of the time: Latin. Hence his translation is known as the Latin Vulgate ("vulgar" meaning common). So, clearly we are all in some debt here. He's an important saint to know, and he is also in fact a Doctor of the Church.
St. Jerome, by Fra Filippo Lippi
I like thinking about St. Jerome because here he is, a 'big hitter', and yet, he is also historically known to be a cranky guy. He was known for his bad temper and stories of it abound.

And for me, on a day with little sleep (ok for many days now), up at 4:30 to give a breathing treatment to Little Man after listening to him bark cough and wheeze, that gives me comfort.
Even we cranks have the potential to grow into saints. It gives me hope.

Plus, on a personal aside (I know, the whole thing is a personal aside) I am thinking about asking for his prayers in assisting me in learning Amharic. I am dreadful at languages and I will need "the gift of tongues", so to speak, to learn this language in preparation for our next daughter to come home!

St. Jerome, pray for us!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Feast Day: The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael


It's another Feast Day!
It's the Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.

Now, yeah, this is yet another Catholic Feast. Brace yourself, we are coming into the calendar season just chock full of Feasts. No wonder I love this time of year, full of special days, feasts, memorials, birthdays...all running right up to the very special season of Advent. (But that is for another post, in the future). Today, this Feast of the Archangels: I love this feast and I love the archangels as well. How can you not? They are always involved in the best of the stories and events from the bible. They are God's own top notch messengers, the A-team, if you will.

St. Michael is a fantastic comfort, he is the protector and guardian for us and prince of the messengers. He is the ultimate warrior for Christ. It he who I call on for extra protection when we are frightened, waking from dreams that disturb, or to comfort one of my kids, or heck, even me when I get scared or nervous. St. Raphael, he is a the one to call on for safe travel, he who traveled with Tobias, both as companion and messenger there too. And of course, St. Gabriel. Obviously, we have a special spot in our hearts for this messenger of God's will. He was the most special chosen messenger to our Blessed Mother of the divine news of her son, Christ: the Annunciation, the one who got to hear her "fiat." He was the patron of our own message of God's will: our own Gabriel Tariku, who now brings the message of God's love to us, every day.
St. Gabriel Monastery, Ethiopia
This is why we love these Archangels. They do God's work, always. They are faithful caretakers of us and messengers to us and they bring us the most exciting and comforting message of all, always and ever: of God's love for us. What's not to like? So today, we will celebrate their feast and our Gabriel's patron feast day too!Happy Feast Day!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Flying

Time.
It flies.
Birthdays zip around and around.
You have a cute funny baby boy who looks like this.
And then he grows up. Just like that. Whew!
It's my son's birthday today!
Happy Happy Birthday Buddybug!First child, big brother, goofy, happy, strong willed, precocious, sweet.
Smart, kind, good, musician, world traveler, faithful.
This is the first time you are not home with us for your birthday.
You are flying too, on to the adventures ahead;
now in your second college year and thriving.
Our birthday wishes for you remain the same:
a happy, healthy, fun birthday and year to come;
growth in grace, peace, holiness, and knowledge
(especially that knowledge part, um, don't forget to study!).

I will offer my Mass for you today honey.
I am thankful this day, the day you were born, nineteen years ago.
(and fall break....I'll make you that graham cracker cream pie!)
God bless you.
We are SO proud of you.
We all love you so much.
Have some cake!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Feast Day: Saints Cosmas and Damian

It's the Feast Day of Saints Cosmas and Damian, patron of physicians.
And so, of course, a Feast day for our own Coffeedoc!

These two twin brothers were physicians, born in Arabia and known for their great faith and healing. They never accepted payment for their services and instead healed because it was their gift and skill and a desire to live a life of charity. This mindset and behavior, even way back then, wouldn't go unnoticed and they came to the attention of Diocletian. They were martryed under his persecutions of Christians. They had a holy mother who taught them their Christian faith and set them on their paths. Here is another place to read about them as well.

And so, these two twins are great patrons for physicians (and pharmacists), an example of living a life in the pursuit of caritas and comfort of others. Our Coffeedoc counts them as his patrons, and rightly so. They have been faithful intercessors and so today, we celebrate their saintly example to us all.
Happy Feast Day, Coffeedoc!
Saints Cosmas and Damian, pray for us!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Java Jive

This is JUST what I needed to start my day, today.
Made me laugh. Perfect for the Catholic Coffeemom that I am.
Thanks Buddybug! You know me so well.
Go here to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, for a fun read.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Blast from the past edition.
Because, yeah, when you're a parent, you're willing be a goof!
New Orleans 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Novena: St. Therese of Lisieux: Starts Today!

Today is the start of the novena to St. Therese of Lisieux!
Go here for the novena prayers.

St. Therese is a favorite saint around here. She has been an intercessor for us over the years and she is a faithful pray-er if asked for her help. She is known as being a patron saint of missions, among other things. However, she never went on a mission, though she deeply desired to.

St. Therese is known as "the Little Flower." She died young, of TB (a grizzly painful death), and she led a humble hidden life. Her sisters in the convent didn't think so much of her, but she had a burning simple faith; a pure love for Christ in a childlike simple uncomplicated manner. Her writings reveal such truths that she is considered one of the few Doctors of the Church. And while her writings, her autobiography, was written during that Victorian era when the writing was florid and frankly, difficult for modern eyes and sensibilities to digest (ok, me), it has profound deep truths in it. The biographies of her are better (see Gaucher), IMHO.

I love this saint. I love her because she was simple, because people totally underestimated her, and because she really strived to lead a more faithful life even though it was a struggle. I love her because she is honest in her writings both about the depth of her love but also for the challenges of her struggles in being charitable and kind sometimes.

"I'm certain of this - that if my conscience were burdened with all the sins it's possible to commit, I would still go and throw myself into our Lord's arms, my heart all broken up with contrition; I know what tenderness He has for any prodigal child of His that comes back to Him."

I love her because her story comforts me in my measly efforts and tells me we don't have to all be amazing heroic saints here, but if we love, truly and simply and keep trying, that counts for everything. I need that.

"You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them."

"For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to Heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy. Finally, it is something great and supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus."

I am going to start this novena tonight. I have prayed other novenas to her over the years and, as with all novenas, the prayer itself transforms. The remembering to pray and intention itself helps transform our hearts and souls, as of course do the prayers. I need that. This novena will be for this next adoption we are in. For a small miracle with CIS to amend our approval swiftly, and thus get our paperwork there so this girl can come home. She too, is little and hidden, like St. Therese. So I think St. Therese, who was a young girl, little, overlooked, but with a huge heart for reaching out to the world....just might intercede and pray for this other little one, half a world away.
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Toddler Adoption: Adjustment, Part 4

Gabriel has been home FOUR months now!
This past weekend we passed our four month mark!
Imagine!
Here's his report:

Brothers are great fun.
Maybe more fun than girls.
But they are pretty good too.
But wrestling and running is best of all.
That kid in the mirror?.....He's a blast!
Dancing is great fun, especially if it's got a good beat!
Mom is a terrible singer but I like it anyway.
Hey, I can really throw things, far!
And kick 'em too!
Yeah, I can do magic. Dad's keys? Gone!
Love the shoes!
Ok, most all shoes.
Meat is disgusting, unless it is hidden in lasagna.
Potatoes, tomatoes and berries are best of all.
Unless it is chips, salsa, or popcorn.
Who needs sleep anyhow?
Boating is maybe the best fun of all.
Dad's beard is worth exploring, haven't quite figured that one out yet.
If I don't know the word, a loud shout and emphatic point work just as well.
Up, Mama, Hi, and Eewww, seem like good words.
Baby cussing works too.......
Ok, not really, just trying to get those pesky words straight.
But if you say them emphatically and with great expression and a big gesture, then everybody laughs...because it's like baby cussing.
Laughing is fun.
Dishwashers are for climbing.
Ok, everything is for climbing.
Toys? I laugh at toys.
The whole HOUSE is my toy!
I can make a toy out of anything!
Man, I'm FAST.
But not as fast as the cat.
There is something fascinating about the computer, I mean, look at all those buttons.
The warming drawer is just a fine place to sit.
Baths are fantastic fun.
Splashing water everywhere is very satisfying.
If I smear food in my hair, I get a bath!
Mom gets really loud when Notre Dame plays that ball game thing.
Which means I get to be really loud too!
I like that.
There are always people around in this place, and they are always the same ones.
Hugs and kisses are there for the asking, and even a lot of time when you don't.
I think it's alright here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paper Race, not Chase

The race is on.
Not a chase this time. But a race, against time.

As some of you know, we've been pondering and praying. {And all of you pals, thank you so much for your support and prayers, they help SO much!} And we have decided and been given the all clear, the go ahead - against all odds and against the tide of normal.
We are going back.

I hesitate to post this as I know it will bring a tsunami of opinion; some welcome, some, not so much. But this is not being done to court opinion and favor. This is going to be done, in hope and faith and trust, with a little bit of fear and the usual fretting. But it is going to be done stepping out in trust instead of holding back in fear. {And yeah, now you know why I've been sort of obsessing in my recent posts...it's all about me and my stream of consciousness folks!}

That's no small thing. This is bundled up in fears and caveats. Boatloads of research: professionals, texts, personal experiences. But we have chosen to not live our lives in fear: intellectually, emotionally, or (and most importantly) spiritually. We choose to live in the light of faith. And our faith tells us that this is right. Not that this will be easy. Not that this might not be very hard. But that it is right. And there, in the right, in the faith and trust and effort, there is where we will find the joy.

Why? Many ask, and will ask, and have.
Why not? We say.
(And yes, there are many reasons why not. But again, where do those lie?)

So. We are going back. We have started the paper chase again. For a girl, in Ethiopia. We met her. She is twelve. Special circumstances. And that makes it not a chase, but this time, a race. Against time. For her. Not because she is ill, but because at her age, each day away from a family makes it all harder. Because she has been through enough and needs to land safely.

She does not know about this yet. She cannot. It is not allowed yet. She will be asked and told about us after our Immigration approval/update comes back again.

I have really struggled with who and when and how to tell people this time. Because this time it is so different, with an older child, one we met. This time the reactions are muted, tending toward the 'deer in the headlights' look and a short "oh." And those are the good reactions. Sigh. So I tire of bracing myself for that. Because, hey, I'm shallow, and I like the happy, excited response! But I've decided, w/ Coffeedoc's encouragement, to go ahead and tell people. Because we are committed. We are in. And we are not in for what people think anyhow. And it is exciting.

So we are going to embrace our joy, our excitement, because there will be joy in this. We are going to be excited when we can. And it's fun to shout the news and if people don't understand or agree: ok.

We covet your prayers, beg for them, if you pray. We count on all the support we can get. We are not proud, we are informed, we are probably fools. We know. But. When you feel such a pull, such endless bricks and nudges....what else can you do? For us. Nothing but this: step forward. One step at a time. And embrace it, all.

On your mark, get set, go!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thank you Brother B

For my brother.
Thank you.
I am so glad you live closer now!
Love you tons.

Another: Almost Wordless Wednesday

Just for the sheer happy of it.

The big stuff: Go figure

This is a painting Coffeedoc brought back from Haiti. It is a favorite of ours and the photo doesn't do it justice. But it brings up stuff we've been talking alot about lately.

What do you do about the hard stuff? The big stuff? How do you reconcile the whole concept of suffering? How do you endure it and not succumb to it, meaninglessly? How do you not just wither into it and wallow in your pity party (ok, me)? How do you factor it into a life: suffering, joy and all the in-between?

We have had a year of the highest highs and lowest lows: bringing home new child, our toddler, from Ethiopia and losing a beloved Grandma, Coffeedoc's mom. And all around us too, we find friends and family in different variants of hard and happy....just like the rest of the world. And I think it's human nature to want to make sense of it all, as best we can.
And we talk around and around this. And pray through it, for it, about it.....it seems that there is not that much we can figure out except this: Suffering comes in many forms and it's hard. It hurts! It can be pervasive or precise, overwhelming or simply pointedly excruciating. Joy too, comes in many forms, also broad or the perfect pinpoint moment.
But they are connected.
They are utterly connected.
This I know. This we are taught in our faith. It is scriptural.
I forget it, just about every darn day. When I am fearful, I am forgetting. When I am controlling and trying to shape every thing that happens, push, pull, heave, ho, I am forgetting. I tend to want to jump over, and protect my loved ones, from any bit of suffering (unless it's the dishes...). The idea of their suffering is ever much more awful to me than my own, of course.
And that path, it is all about the fear.
And when I talk about suffering, I am almost always, really, talking about fear. I know, you're thinking I've already hit on this, a few posts back already! I know. Bear with me. Because, I am a slow learner and I learn and process by talking and typing. So here we are. Again.
We are taught, and I need to be reminded, again and again and again, that even through suffering, we are transformed, and with that, we are brought into joy. In fact, I can point to some of the greatest suffering we have experienced, personally and as a family, and I can say, that is where we grew into ourselves, our joy. We are taught that our sufferings, especially when we are trying, giving and pouring ourselves out for something beyond us - stretching, that we will be returned good. Shaken, tamped down and overflowing good abundance. But first we have to walk through the fire of a given or accepted suffering. And, well, that is hard. Often "hard" doesn't even begin to describe what it is.But in faith, I know, that it is all for a greater good. For MY good, even if it is good for anything beyond me as well. But it is so easy for the fear to stymie that. To stop the whole process or accepted effort in it's tracks. So, I need to be reminded. Again and again and again.
It's about the JOY, stupid. That's for me.
That's where it is. That's what I forget. That's what I need to remember to tell folks, to tell myself, to tattoo on my forehead so I won't forget.
It's about the Joy. The real stuff. Go figure.Heb.12:1... let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,[2] looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Almost Wordless Wednesday

To lighten things up:
I've been posting serious lately, somber.
But we are not only serious.
There is still plenty of silly around here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Risks of Adoption

There are many risks in adoption.
The list can be long: time, money, public perception and opinion, exhaustion, attachment issues and so on and so on.

But one of the risks is specific to international adoption, and the travel.
This risk is not written about so much, specifically. It is alluded to.
It is often tossed around in conversation; sometimes in a flip dismissive cocktail party comment.

But it is a real risk.
It is more real than some, maybe many, would like to admit.

It is the risk of tearing your heart.
It is NOT the risk of opening your heart, the stretching that you do to make room for your next child - the one you have jumped through hoops for and finally, blissfully, amazingly have in your arms. That expansion is a known, accepted and expected event and/or process.I want to talk about the surprising hole that is torn in your heart, your soul if you will, after visiting these kids in the orphanages.
I know, it's an old story. Drippy songs have been sung. Boxes have been stood upon to make speeches. Just by typing this I know I lost a chunk o' readers. Yadda yadda.
It's been done. It's been said. I know.

But it's a whole 'nother thing to go and see and touch these kids, big or small. Jen Cantwell writes about this. Go, read if you dare (bring a tissue).
I am putting this out there, again, because it's been more than three months now since we were there: in Addis Ababa, at the orphanages. Time enough for the hectic balm of our modern life to fuse those shredded seams...right? You would think so. But, no.
There are seemingly permanent jagged ragged edges now. A gash. More than one.
We were wounded, and didn't know the risk. And it's done. No bandaid is gonna cover it up and smooth it out. Or should, maybe. And I'm not complaining. I'm just saying...it's the risk that goes kind of unspoken.
They don't have a chapter on this in the books. They don't have a page in the agency manual or travel info:
"Warning: upon meeting the children in the local orphanages you might experience a certain sorrow. This is likely to continue and in fact can manifest in the positive upswing in overall gratitude and a more global perspective and outreach but it is important to consider that it is also a fairly certain risk of a significant shear in the fabric of your heart."
So, for those in the process and paperchase, or considering international adoption:
Fair Warning. There are risks below the surface of adoption.
You could be torn, just a bit, but forever.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Monday

Because it's Monday, that's why.
Lot's going on.
But for today: this is it.
This is what a homeschool Monday can look like.
It's just a Monday.
And ok, because he's still just so cute!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of Exaltation of the Cross

Titulus of the Holy Cross,
photo by Coffeedoc, Santa Croce, Rome 2003

It's the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross!

And another smacking good homily by Father G. I'd say its yet another brick, but its more apropos to say its a beam. Of the Cross. Whacked up side my head.

Because you can't talk of the Cross, much less of the Divine Contradiction of the Cross, without talking about suffering. And Godzdogz covers this feast day so well. Much more thoroughly and better than I ever could, so go there and read about it! (Because, as usual, this bit is all about me, and us and our doofy little lives and crosses; my stream of consciousness. )

And once again, my life runs smack into the homily. Or the homily runs smack into me. Because carrying the cross can mean even the little ones, right in your face (literally sometimes, like the toddler on my lap with the runny nose...excuse me while I take a "life break/cross lift" and medicate three kiddos for allergies/cold). Jen, at Et Tu, Jen, writes beautifully about this concept. Her blog is always worth a read!

Carrying the Cross, and the exaltation of it, can sometimes mean the dramatic suffering that is the unspeakable, hard, once in a lifetime (hopefully) event. It can also be the constant setting aside of self, and responding to the tasks - even the dreary mundane tasks - set before you. Again, go to Jen for another on this, worth the read. Here is where we find the best examples: the Mother Teresa, the St. Teresa of Avila, the St. Francis de Sales.For me, it's this that is so difficult. It's so easy to write it and read it and say, yeah, that's right! Embrace the Cross, big or small. Carry the little ones you see, every day. You can do it!

But to live it, to actually oh, get up from the computer when I want to blog stalk or type or answer email and go get the milk, answer the question, swap the laundry...its very difficult. To set aside my moody self, especially on a foul mood sort of day (today?) and respond with kindness and patience (again, not one of MY virtues)...well that is a challenge. That is a dying to self that is asked for again and again. Lift that cross, die to me. For a control freak, a proud one, it's very tough to put ME aside, my wants and ways.

So today was a good brick, erm beam, I mean, Homily for me to hear. I have had a migraine for two days, finally it is fading, almost gone. The kids are starting to get a cold, I see a few snuffly noses starting. And we have been wrestling with some of the more big dramatic sort of choices and bandaging the bumps from the falling bricks.

I guess I needed one more. Today.
But it's alright. I have my hard hat on. I think I might keep it on my head as a permanent fixture: maybe slap a sticker on it to make it cuter. I'd rather have the bricks clonking onto my head than the perfect coif anyhow.

I'm gonna need it, because as Fr. G pointed out, embracing the Cross is also, all too often, a stepping out into the unknown. A willingness to step out in blind faith, a willingness to keep lifting, even if you drop that Cross. Yikes. But it's true, we don't get to pick or design our Crosses (and that just freaks out gals like me) and we often look at things others are going through, their Crosses and think, or say, "Oh man, I could NEVER do that!" Happily, we don't have to. Our Cross, our sufferings that transform us, are designed perfectly for our own shoulders. Its just so easy to forget that we have such Designer togs to don.

Happily we have feast days, where we get to be reminded of all this. Usually, for me, JUST in the nick o' time! Today, as it usually goes, it just confirms where we are at now and the effort, the conscious nervous, concerted effort, of opening our arms wide to embrace the cross. Little or big. We want to try. How can we not? So, on this feast day: watch out for falling bricks and beams!
Crossbeam of the Good Thief's cross,
Santa Croce, Rome, 2003, photo by Coffeedoc

Update: I forgot! A book that I am reminded of on this day: The Sign of the Cross, Recovering the Power of an Ancient Prayer, by Bert Ghezzi. A quick, easy read - all about the sign of the Cross - as a prayer. Very much worth a read. It's short and easy to zip through but packs a positive punch.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prayer: Memoriam: 9/11

painting by Deacon Bernard Deschler

It is, of course, the anniversary of 9/11. How do you remember such a horrific event? How do you honor the memory of those who died, who suffered, who suffer still? I don't know, except you don't forget and keep them, all, in your prayer. When I see the tributes, they make the tears stream. Of course I remember exactly where I was, where my family was, that whole morning and day is seared into my memory. It is a somber day. So, for me, there is prayer: one provides the best example, below. (h/t Whispers in the Loggia)
From our dear Pope Benedict XVI, servant of servants:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths

and traditions,

who gather today at this site,

the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,

we seek your light and guidance

as we confront such terrible events.

Grant that those whose lives were spared

may live so that the lives lost here

may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

--Pope Benedict XVI
Prayer at Ground Zero
New York, 20 April 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On Not Being Able to Paint

study of Leonardo, mmg

It's a bit of a curse, being a perfectionist control freak.
It is stifling.
It is limiting.
It is stupid.

I used to be, back in the day, almost an artist. I say almost, in that I was never quite tortured enough (though I tried) to be one, I suppose.
And really, never talented enough either. Not driven. Not truly.

And therein lies my problem. Because, if I was a REAL artist, I'd wouldn't care. I would just paint for the joy and release of it. And sculpt and draw. All those things that ARE such a release and a joy....all those things that when I remind myself that's it's ok to take the time to do it, and then DO it....I feel such joy, such pleasure. I feel such a flood of "oh, yeah, I love this, no matter what, this is part of me."

So, if I get that feeling, that simple pleasure, every time, WHY can't I just jump in and keep up with it? I can only guess because I am not deep down a true artist. It's ok, I can live with being a dabbler. The problem lies in the control aspect, the perfectionism. Because I want every piece I start to be, well, perfect. And if I don't have the time to devote to making it so, or if I am rusty or in a medium where I am less proficient, then I am somehow.....stifled.

And I do nothing.

And I think that is the saddest thing. And when I intellectualize it, I can jump start myself again, because the intellect in me knows that the control freak is an idiot.

And then I realize, this overflows into so many aspects of my life and choices. I gave up running, back in the day, when I knew I would never be anything but laughably slow (and they did) and to run any distance whatsoever would be almost beyond my ability. I do the same thing with gardening, sewing, quilting, some cooking....I often don't start because I fear that I or it will not be good enough.

It can even overflow into mom-hood. I can choose to not start or to shut off, out of fear of not being 'good enough" or totally in control of a situation - of a 'life-painting', if you will. The intellectual side of me can easily live in fear.

That is what the urge to perfectionism is, the control freak side really is: fear.

But, I did end up running that half marathon. Then I ended up running that marathon. And I was laughable. And it was still awesome. Worth it. Joy, pleasure, amidst the dorkyness and pain. And I didn't care about that anymore. It was liberating. I gave up the perfectionism there, and it worked.

So I am determining to choose. I choose to not choose fear. {And yeah, that scares me. Ha!}

But.
I am tired of not of being able to paint.

So, I think I am going to carve out a bit of time, even if it is nowhere near the amount I used to spend in my marathon painting sessions, back in the day. And I think I am choosing to paint again...in different new mediums, new canvases.

I'm going to go find my brushes.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Mary!

It's the feast of the Nativity of Mary! Happy Birthday Mary!

Today is the day we celebrate and remember the nativity of our Blessed Mother, Mary. The birth of the Theotokos, Mother of God. I know some have questions or issues with this whole concept...but I am all about loving our Blessed Mother, and all about celebrating birthdays, so I can run with it! Go to the ever interesting Anchoress for a good read on this feast and why it's so good to ponder....also here for a quick bit on it as well.

I am so grateful for her and for her birthday that we will celebrate with flowers for her and maybe even a yummy dessert....Because living the liturgical year is fun and cool and gives much needed texture, rhythm, and depth to the warp and woof of our lives.

And here is a lovely prayer for the day: shamelessly nabbed from Deacon's Bench, but from the Liturgy of the Hours:

Father of Mercy, give your people help and strength from heaven.
The birth of the Virgin Mary's son
was the dawn of our salvation.
May this celebration of her birthday
bring us closer to lasting peace.
Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

-- the Liturgy of the Hours

Lastly, dear sweet holy Father Luckas promised to offer Mass today, on this feast, for a special intention for us. And for that, and for the intercessory prayers, I am so humbly and deeply grateful. And just in case you want to know HOW much that Mass offering is worth to us, this treasure of a book explains it well.
So, this is a bit rambly...but well, think of your Mother today...your Blessed Mother and maybe say a prayer of thanksgiving for her. Because like all of us moms, she loves us even when we don't love her nearly well enough back....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Living in "Calcutta"


Just what this mom needs during a Sunday funk: a nudge, or maybe a soft slap in the face reminder. From the excellent Deacon's Bench. Another excellent homily for today. Here's a bit:

This past week, when a lot of the world was fixated on Sarah Palin’s daughter, and the problem of teen pregnancy, there was news about one baby that didn’t get much attention.

It should have.

The AP reported the story of a little baby named Solomon, an Ethiopian child who was left by his mother at an orphanage there when he was just one year old. The only things his mother left with him were a crucifix and a picture of Jesus. It was, in effect, a death sentence. Because little Solomon had HIV. He was one of about 14-thousand Ethiopian babies born with the virus every year. The health care system has to struggle to care for these infants, with limited resources.
But during a visit to Ethiopia, a Wyoming mother named Erin Henderson saw Solomon, and fell in love. She decided to adopt him on the spot. Officials told her they weren’t sure he’d even live through the weekend. But he did. And Erin Henderson brought him home to Wyoming.

And, one more snip, because this part is from one of my very favorite saints: Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
This past Friday was the feast day of that nun, Blessed Mother Teresa. When people would show up at her convent in India, wanting to volunteer, she would tell them instead, “Find your own Calcutta.” The fact is: Calcutta is here. It is Forest Hills. It is Long Island. It is in an air-conditioned office with a cubicle. Calcutta may even be found in your own living room. It is anyplace people are in need, desperate for encouragement, or comfort, or hope.

Mother Teresa knew that. “There is a terrible hunger for love,” she said. “We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”

But it’s not the sort of love that belongs just to saints. It belongs to all of us, if we choose it.

Go, read, it's Sunday, just perfect for the day.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Adoration

Monstrance courtesy of NYU.edu
Every Friday morning, I have an appointment that is sacred.
By which I mean, I keep it at all costs, schedule around it and don't miss it unless I have a darn good reason.
By which I mean, somebody is sick, I am sick, or my husband or babysitter can't be here, or an appointment is SO important that I will miss my standing one, just this once.
By which I mean, if I don't go my day, my week, gets out of whack a bit and I have to fight myself not to sulk just a touch.

Sacred, by which I mean: it is Sacred time. Holy. Of God, not men.

Every Friday morning, I have a standing slot of adoration.
This is one of those Catholic things. One of those that I used to think was a little bit nuts maybe...
Ok, for some I guess, but I was sure I would never manage it because I was way too busy and really, who can just sit for an hour? Really?

But about, oh six or seven years ago, I agreed to give it a try. One of our local parishes was starting up Perpetual Adoration and needed people to be able to sign up for an hour. A serious commitment, you had to be there if it was your hour.
No, "Oh gee, I forgot."
No, "You know, I'm just not feeling it today."
It was a commitment, to Christ himself. Talk about pressure! But I signed up. Coffeedoc and I each took an hour, separate days. You have an adoration partner who also mans your slot, it's so important to have someone there.

Adoration is based on the Catholic belief of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist, and the line "can you not stay with me for one hour?" So we do. We go and sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Christ himself, exposed in a monstrance, on top of the tabernacle. We pray. We read sometimes, spiritual reading, lectio divina. Sometimes we just sit. We look at Christ and He looks back at us. We keep Him company.

It made me so nervous to start this. I worried about being able to slow down and SIT down for an hour without getting all fidgety and twitchy....worried about being able to slow down the little gerbil mill of my mind and just BE there, quietly and mindfully and prayerfully. Such pressure!

What I found however, was that it is one of the best hours of my week. It is certainly one of the quietest, but it is also one where I can simply be. It is a phenomenal comfort, it is like drinking cold clear water. It is sacred.

When I used to bring Little Man with me - back when he was just Little Babe....it brought home to me a deeper parallel. Little Man/Babe would lie in my arms, and just gaze at me (he was only 3 or 4 months old), and I would gaze back at him.
And that was when I got it.
I didn't have to come up with the profound words or prayers. I didn't have to formulate the right way to get my ideas across. I only had to be there, and gaze at God himself. Just look at Him. And He would look back at me.

And that was not only enough, it was everything.

So, today, I had another appointment that was so pressing, so important, that I had to get a sub for adoration (thanks Jeanmarie). And I have been mildly out of sorts all day, partly due to that, as usual.

By which I mean, I was in a mild funk, until I realized something this afternoon. (Remember, I am a slow learner.) As I watched Sbird and little Gabe, just happily and calmly, peacefully, sit together in the big old faded chair in our sunroom....I realized, that I really hadn't missed adoration at all.

I just had to open my eyes to see it; slow down my gerbil mill mind, stop my endless shark cruise through the house, and gaze on the very presence of God. Not quite the same as in the adoration chapel. But, still. He was right in my sunroom, His love and presence squooshed together grinning at each other in a big old faded chintz chair.
So I sat down, and spent an hour or more, just being there, with them all.