Friday, April 30, 2010

Winding down from warp speed

It's Friday.

Let's say that one more time, it's FRIDAY and I am hoping that means that this week is really done.  Finished. Close the cover on this week.  Because it's been a slamming crazy kind of week, with no time to even wait for coffee to perk, much less slow down to catch a breath.  Even by our kind of unusually intensive standards, well, it's been a HECTIC week!

I caught this as I passed by the study, Chris just threw this online, and I am linking to it.  Because this slows me down.  In the right sort of way, in the take a deep breath and stop, slow, listen.  Breathe.  That's my boy singing, by Buddbug, my Chris. He's singing in Rome, at the Lateran Basilica.  How cool is that? (I know, mom moment, so sue me. I am missing him and his calm kind ways.)


Sanctus - Lateran Massbysearch244

So, I'm offering it to any of you who've had a harried week, one of the weeks where you fantasize about hopping the next plane to Bermuda and getting lost in that legendary magnetic blind spot.  I hear they serve strawberry coladas there though......so it might still be a consideration....but for now, a little peace and reminder. More at the link, go, listen. Breathe again. 

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

All about shoes

Calling all Shoe gals!
Ok all, I am in need of some input.  Because I am at times an indecisive, dithering fool I am giving a shout out for experienced opinions.  Reviews.  Top picks.  Ratings.

On what you ask? 
Shoes! 
I know, what fun right? 
I love shoes, you love shoes, we all love shoes!

 At first I thought I would just use these, below, the standard go to shoe in my closet. 
 But then I realized I might need some particular shoes.....Not just any shoes, but on the PERFECT shoes to take to travel around Rome and Italy.  Yup, I'm going.  Another post on that for the details.
But for now, I need shoes! And a good functional bag (tho I'll probably go the unwieldy backpack route, since I'll be working the mom angle...kiddles in tow). 

I need shoes that don't look totally dorky or orthopedic or grandmotherly or ridiculous.
I need them to be crazy comfy as I have cranky old feet with a history of plantar fasciitis from when I used to run (and it still kicks back up and complains too often).
I want them to be stylish enough to wear with skirts (not fancy date skirts, just the regular old kicking around kind of skirt I live in all summer).
But I need to walk all over and chase children and go into many churches and cafes too.
I don't want them to look too old or too young.
I want one pair to go with everything.
I want them to make my heart sing...
And I want them to only be twenty bucks.

Ok....I know...kidding. 
I realize my list is long and contradictory.
But I know a great pair is out there. 
I know it. 
If I could get away with wearing my Montrail flips all trip, I would.  But I can't.  I love these shoes, they are my favorite most comfortable summer shoes, for the past few years.  
 
Mine are a cute pink/orange. I love them and don't care what anyone else thinks.  But they are maybe not the Roman Holiday look, eh? Stop laughing, I realize this is an impossible dream...but admit it, don't all of you really, inside, wish you could look like that as you flit through Rome? And yeah, I'm gonna "flit" through Rome with my eight children in tow.  Audrey Hepburn would'a......don't ya think? Really. I am too. 



The little girls are gonna wear these...but they are probably too young for me, ahem.   They look totally adorable on the girls though, we have a pink, a purple, and an orange and they have happy summer skirts to go with them.  {I've been sewing...who knew? 'Nother post there too} Fun.
 The little boys will wear these, and those boys look adorable in most anything they wear, but especially these shoes.  Gabey calls them his jungle shoes and goes outside to look for tigers.  
So I need a different shoe. We don't really wanna be the dorky family that has ALL matching shoes, right? Right.

It's gonna be hot, so I don't want sweaty feet and I don't want to walk around in running shoes and skirts (I did that for 6 months with the plantar fasciitis spell, fashion be damned...but in Rome? Love to skip that).
So, what's a gal to do?
What's a mom to do? {The big guys? They can get by with their runners, they're guys!}

So, yes, this is a frivolous post.  It's all I got today.
I know you shoe gals are out there. I know a lot of you gals have traveled the world.  Surely there are some sensible clever fashionistas out there.
Help me out, leave me some suggestions, please?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Roundup: Time, mindful living, procrastination

It's Saturday, which means I'm supposed to be whipping through my house, straightening up, cracking the whip and working on some projects, getting the kids to clean rooms and so on.  But I woke with either a massive overload of allergies or a new head cold, so I'm procrastinating a bit.

This morning I'm moving slowly.  I'm thinking about how to slow things down, in general.  Because I live in a hectic house.  THE hectic house, one might fairly say.  With two graduations and one confirmation zipping toward us at a hundred miles an hour (next three weeks, all three, whew), the notion of time and how it compresses and opens up is on my mind.  I drive it away, often literally.  Too often, in this house, it gets compressed until it is gobbled up and then: gone.


So today I am thinking about how to slow it down.  Not that I can of course, I know.  But I can make it more peaceful, I can look at it more mindfully.  Which makes us all LIVE it more, and more kindly.  Which we really need to do, right now.  


My second son is graduating  high school and heading to college. I've been here, done this.  I know the drill: the assemblies, the tear jerker slide shows, the award nights, the Baccalaureate Mass, the caps, the gowns, the diplomas and cheers.  It's so easy to get caught up in all those "to do's."  In a way, it's good to get caught up in it all so you don't start leaking, misting up when  you catch him smiling that smile with a silly joke.  Now and then, it's the same smile he had when he was six.  And it catches your breath.  My breath.  And makes a lump in  my throat.  And it hits me.  He's done.  He's done already.  Golly that went fast.

So I want to savor this a time a bit.  This is now rarefied a bit.  Because it's a count down now, for real.  But the trick is: it is with all of them.  I just forget that in the compressed file of time that counts for our standard issue days around  here.  My first daughter is graduating eighth grade and heading to high school.  I don't want to busy that away either.  Because those four years will fly in a flash, more so as she is programmed much like me: be busy, always doing, go go go.

{See, she is already hobnobbing with the prez, I haven't even done that yet...}

So, as I procrastinate from chores a bit this morning, I have been dipping into this site, with this mom of many who gets it.  She understands how to savor, how to try to build kindness and mindfullness.
We need some more of that around here, so I guess I'll go make my house more of a home today, and less of a way station (an easy trap to fall into when you have a large busy family).


Don't blink.  Open your eyes, take a deep breath.  
Look.  See your home, your family.  
Here. Now.  
Today, I will too. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Really not so Wordless Wednesday

Prom-o-rama.
We all survived prom weekend.

We had the post party all-nighter at our house with this basic group of kids, below, plus a few more (plus my own and a few friends of Hannah's).   About 30 total. Yes, we are all still tired. But it was actually kind of easy because that group is a bunch of great fun nice good kids.


This is why we did it....see those faces?  We love these kids.  Really.  They are all terrific and these few, below? Extra special.


Jon and his one of his best buds: Taylor. Goofy boys. {This pic of Jon makes me smile, he looks like he's six, pretending to be 18.  That's his face I loved growing up.}
Jon and his sweet girlfriend, Leslie, below.

Beautiful kids, all of them, inside and out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How'z that again?

If this isn't the closest analogy to how a big, erm, MY family works on it's best day, I don't know what is.... Perhaps this is more apropos of a large family, but still, this made me laugh and tonight I saw this and realized, "Oh  yeah, and that's what happens in our house, on our BEST days."  No kidding.
Take a look at this:



Yeah, think about it....{And while you're at it, think about ALL the ways it can go wrong too...that too SO describes my family life! Ha!}
Yup. I know!
I thought so too.
{h/t to Buddybug}

Friday, April 16, 2010

Change O Pace

It's Friday, where did the week go anyhow?? I could'a sworn it was around here somewhere, and now, zoom.  Gone!  That's ok by me in a way, not to wish my life away, but it was a harried week.

So, on that note, I'm putting up a pic of my little guy, Gabey.  We are once again spending a few minutes together in a solo morning cuddle today.  {He wandered off to find his truck, extricating himself from my arms, so I can throw this post up fast...don't fuss!} Ahhhh, bliss.  He makes my heart skip a beat sometimes. One of the best starts to the day, though, to be sure.


Now, time to go wake the troops and dive into morning rush hour!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stepping Out

"Weeping Nude" painting by Edvard Munch, 1913

I have hesitated to post this.  
But, finally.  I am.
See that woman, in the painting?  That was me, minus the long thick tresses and youth.  
No longer.
But I was there.

This post is a stepping out.
I have hesitated, hemmed and hawed about writing this.  
I have a knot of fear in my gut doing it.
But I hope, maybe that if I do...then others will see that you can move on.  
Others will maybe realize that it is ok if they get snared.  
And so that I can be true.  To me.  To this record, my blog, my virtual journal.
So that it's "out there."

This post is about that dark secret: things can kinda fall apart for awhile after an adoption.
It can be to varying degrees, but it can also be a form of Post Adoption Depression.
Yup.
Been there. 
Done that.
It maybe wasn't only official Post Adoption Depression, but it was a huge squeezing tangle of that and just generally being overwhelmed by changes and hard differences. 
And it scared the life out of  me. 
It froze me.

And I feared to let anyone know that I was a mess, outside of a trusted two or three {and, oh bless you, you know who you are}....because no one really wants to be known as the big fat phony that they really are.  
Well.   
Hello to you all.
That would be me. 
Bit fat phony.
Hypocrite extraordinaire.
Me.
Writer of old blog posts extolling the truth and joy of adopting and love and the swift sure glide into same, if only you embrace it fully, unreservedly.  
I extolled the utter beauty of adoption.
I still do, if not more so...but for the first time after four previous adoptions, I had hit a wall.

Let me emphasize, tho I felt during all this like a fake, looking out from the mire of last summer...
now, I still hold to those writings.  
I did write all those. They were not, are not, lies.  Still.  
Even now, still, I believe them to be true...and I see them more clearly.

But I also know, from my own shocked broken self, found too many times on the bathroom floor weeping in gulping panic, that sometimes....those feelings are out of reach.
And that it doesn't even have much or anything to do with the particular child, it's just the, um, whole "muchness" of it.
Those feelings of confidence, love and surety are grasped for, mutely screamed for...and they are out of reach.  
And the sharp cold piercing icepick of fear and despair stabs just under your ribs and you gasp in shock.
And you weep.  
Or, more accurately, I wept.
Then.  Last summer. Yes, then.
I wept at night after dinner, after bedtime until I couldn't breath and my eyes were swollen shut. 
I woke looking like a bullfrog and could barely get out of bed.  
Only the pull of my toddler Gabey, prying open my eyes and telling me he wanted milk pulled me out into the world again...that and the clank and clamor of the early morning sounds of a house with many children.
The house won't wait for despair.  
The children can't understand, nor should they have to, the indigo binding cloths of bleak.
So you muddle along, faking it, trying to breathe even as you are a little bit frozen.
I tried the last fibers of poor Tom's patience and endurance to be sure; him befuddled by my gulping sobs and shaking head.
I tried to pray, and grasped for words, instead groaning soundlessly.
Finally, stumbling through the first weeks and month home, last summer,  yes then....Tom finally, gently, said with a sad hug "You are hurting you and her and them.  You are not finding your way. Call your doc. Get  help." 


It's kind of like having a colossal migraine (I get those)...you think you can keep muddling along, dropping things and shunning interaction because it hurts too much, physically, and finally someone says, um, "Look, for pity's sake, do what it takes to make this stop: lie down, turn off the light, drink some water, rest, take the med,...you'll feel a lot better and at least be able to get through the rest of the day."
Tom said that to me, in essence, but this time not about a migraine.
Shocked that he said it out loud, I did.  
I got help.  
And it humiliates me to type this, even as I know it shouldn't.  
The getting help doesn't humiliate me.
But the shock and confusion of finding myself overcome on the floor...yeah, those are not my proudest moments. 
But I am vain. 
I am full of pride.
But I am a phony.  And I know it.
So, I brace now for the embarrassment; but truthfully I have long ago flogged myself for it.

But here is the key, and why I am stepping out: IT HELPED.
It helped.
I thought that I was just a failure.  
I failed at my own words.
I failed at loving well.
I failed at persevering.
I failed at mom-ing. 
But getting some help, by which I mean admitting I was a mess, not making it.  
By which I mean, talking with close friends, family.
By which I mean, stepping forward blindly, soundlessly maybe, but trying to trust in prayer (because yeah this was kind of a spiritual crisis too).
By which I  mean, giving myself permission to be a mess and not a supermom.
By which I  mean, zoloft, for a few months...well it helped. 
IT ALL HELPED.
I stopped crying at night on my bathroom floor.
I calmed and was able to be present for my kids again, fully. 
I looked to the wider picture.


Nothing changed on the outside of that picture.
The hards were still hard.
The lack of communication and slow building of bonds were still there.
But, with help, I stopped only seeing the disconnects.
I breathed.
I slowed. 
I stopped crying. 
I was able to look further, by which I mean, beyond my own panic.

So, did I fail?
Um, yeah.
And I do still.  Every. Day.
That's not new, that's not even new with this adoption...old old news, that one.
But again, I know I can live with it. 
I knew it before, but then, couldn't see past it.

I really think, it was a good jolt of Post Adoption Depression (and let me say the acronym, "PADS" is simply dreadful..maybe that's apropos...hmmm).
It's real.
It's kind of a post stress syndrome thing.   
Maybe lot of it, for me,  might have been unmet, unrealistic expectations.
Maybe it was an impatient, controlling thing.
Maybe, I don't know...
It might very well be a "failed superwoman" thing.  
Because I can very easily get the "big head" and think I can take it on, as a mom.  
Well, now I know better, to be sure.
A lot of it was a spiritual "trust" issue, cause apparently I am really bad at that.
Ouch, and "surprise!"
I've been humbled to the utmost (well, maybe NOW upon posting I have..ahem)
I will NEVER think I am "all that" as a mom, ever again.  
Not that I did so much...but maybe a little, and maybe a lot more than I ever will again. 

Anyhow, that first month last summer....it did me in.  
Kicked my right back on my fanny.  Or the bathroom floor, whatever...you get the idea.  
Yes, I was sicker than ever in my life (can you say 'swine flu in Africa?" I can!).   
That surely didn't help a bit.
But also, this adoption was just somehow so different than any one before.  
Just like every birth is different, and every child is different, so, of course, every adoption is different.  Doh.  
Like I didn't know.  
But.  I didn't KNOW....because I hadn't lived it to this degree. Or lived this one, maybe. 
I could go on.  You don't want to hear more.  

But hear this:
I gave up Zoloft for Lent.
Yup.  I know, goofy maybe.  
But OH so hard...scary mostly.  
I feared falling under that dark shroud again.  I feared it.  
But I didn't.  

And now, NOW, it is EASTER! 
{Yes, it is STILL Easter! The season of Easter, I mean...Isn't that just the coolest thing?}
And with Easter comes the light.
So, I'm posting about this. 
I kinda think I must.
Because it is the gift of Easter - we are given back our very selves.
I've been given back my very self
It was time for me to move forward, all these facets (the friends, the bolstering support, the prayer and prayers on my behalf, and too the brief stint on zoloft) helped me walk out of it, that dark spot.

I am back to the me of me, out in the light.  I've stepped out.  
And it's bright here.  
It's also still the old standard me moody and louder and has the same ol' land mines, but they are familiar turf.  The hards are still hard.  But they don't make me crumple.  They might make me tired and cranky or loud too.  But I can withstand them.  Before, last summer, I could not.  Now, with this time, I can.  And do.
 (This is my fake "I am mama, hear me roar" pose! 
Too goofy this shot, but perfect for this post where I'm already at my worst.)

But for any of you out there in the blogoverse, if you have adopted and feel like you are under a stuffy shroud of hard and can't breath...stop beating yourself up, think about help.
You're not alone, even Melissa Fay Greene has written about this, multiple times, go check.
There are many kinds of help to pull you up from the panic: time, friends, talk, prayer, and yeah, maybe a med for a few months.
Maybe the most important help is to know it happens, to any one of us.
So, give yourself a break.
Help; different shapes and forms and ways.
It can help. 
It's ok.  You are not alone.  
You might feel like you have to hide, that you're alone...it's isolating in a horrible way.
But you're not.
You're not alone.
Remember, been there, done that. 
And it will pass.  It can pass. 
Read that again, it can pass.  
Life isn't gonna be what it was.  
It's going to be different. 
But it's going to be richer, not necessarily easier, but still oh so good.  

Not everything now is perfect or all adjusted or a dreamy soft focus portrait here in my newly grown family. 
It's not gonna be.
And, truthfully, it wasn't even close before.  
But, I want to step out.  I don't want to be a hypocrite or phony even if you rightly want to call me so.
  

 I am just me, in this forum: this mom full of scars and cracks, bad hair and sweet tooth but trying her best.
Not holding her breath anymore. 
Step and exhale.....

Monday, April 12, 2010

CSI: Adoption edition

Maybe I should title it "ASI" : Adoption scene investigation.
Because ok, "crime scene"....no. But, "investigation"...yes.

Got your attention tho, huh? Good.
Because I need to call out for input; trying to figure something out.

Name changes.
Marta just told me that she had "baby name!"
NOT a nickname, a wholly different name.  
Now, I think it was so cute (and so did her mom)! Not sharing it online tho, not yet, maybe not at all (just because I haven't asked permission, cut also because she says she didn't like it and "13.  Marta, no baby, Marta").

However, I want to find out what this is/was about:
1. a custom?
2. a religous event, similar to our confirmation in the Catholic church?  She is/was Orthodox, but they confirm at the same time as baptism, in infancy.
3. a legal thing, since they don't track birth certificates?
4. something having to do with school?


Ideas? Knowledge?
Any of  you Ethiopians out there who have stopped by the blog (yes, I know, a reach, just trying to brainstorm...) have info on this?
Any of you parents of older Ethiopian kids have any info, or can ask?

Marta's name change involved her and her father consulting with the "Abbat", or priest, and writing it down in a book in their church for the record.  Thus, my conclusion that it might be sacramental.  However, seems upon my quick research.... maybe not.
It might just be an individual way of changing a  name as she said her dad wanted to do so. 
I don't know.  But, our info is so limited that I am hoping to find out more.  Please comment or email me if  you have further knowledge or possible links.  Thanks all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy

Painting, "Divine Mercy" Michael O'Brian

It is Divine Mercy Sunday.
I don't know about you, but I need all the mercy I can get.  
For quite some time, I didn't pay much attention to this devotion.  It seemed goofy, in a way. Sorry, but it did. I sometimes shy away from things that I haven't fully looked into and/or fully understand. And also, frankly, the more sentimentalized  traditional imagery and ever more sentimentalized editions of this devotion didn't set well with me, or my oddball aesthetic.  I know, shallow perhaps, but there it is.  My reality.

Anyhow, but as I learn more about this devotion, I am learning about the simple beauty of it.  And I think it is what we all crave.  Mercy.  Just that.  Just a little mercy. 
To that end, the Church recognized today,  the first Sunday after Easter, as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Because Easter is ALL about Mercy, Divine Mercy.  If it is not, there is no real reason to even get out of bed.  But it is.  I know it, heart and soul. 

So today, I join in the prayer:

"....for the sake of His sorrowful passion, 
Have Mercy on us, and on the whole world."

Happy Easter...still easter....yay.....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Turn-keys: Transitions

 Photo by Danielle, from Domodossola, Italia, from Wikimedia Commons

Ok, so I've written about a couple of turn-keys in adoption adjustment, here, and here, and here
There is another key in the process of adjusting in an adoption.  {Now, if you haven't adopted older kids, a lot of this might just be gabble to you...I know.  And I will put up this disclaimer...this will be disjointed due to my hard to pin down thoughts but also due to the assault on my mind from allergies, and my muzzy head which swings back around to my meandering thoughts. Fair warning.  But if you have adopted older child, I think you will probably understand what I'm talking about.}
It's a player in all adoptions but I'd say, in my experience, it is a very BIG player in older child adoption.   And really, you could quite fairly say it's more of a pass key than a turn-key.  But it is a turn-key in that I don't think you get in, make progress, continue to connect, without this:
Transitions.

Another simple term.
Transition.
To go from one state to another, one place to another, a change on some level.
Transitions are hard.
Heck, transitions mean change and change can be hard on all levels, for any or all of us.
Lots of kids have problems with change, transitions, big or small.
How often have you had to give the "five minute warning" that it's gonna be time to go?
Like, every day, right?
Right then, you see what I mean. 

In adoption adjustment, that term comes in all shapes and sizes and forms.
Because adoption is pretty much NOTHING BUT transition.  
It's all transition, all the time.
Whew, no wonder it's hard!
No wonder we are all so tired!

Of course there are all the obvious, literal transitions:
from the past to the future,
from then to now,
from first family to second,
to new ways,
new families,
new language possibly,
new culture,
new city and country,
new place, new people.
With no time out to breath the familiar.

But the transitions that are the turn keys, the ones that open the doors or close them shut, are usually the emotional transitions.  Yeah, swinging emotions and moods. And those, well, those are complicated.

The parent trying to help a newly or recently adopted child, especially an older child, adjust faces a steep and swift learning curve for navigating these emotional transitions.  And there are NO books or articles or experts who can guide  you precisely through them.

But those emotional transitions, the swings, pack a wallop.
And I guess the reason I want to post on it is that it's just SO easy to get blindsided by them.
By which I mean, and this is one of those keys:  Transition comes at a cost.

I think that it is best to know that MOST of the time, it seems, one step forward, or two, or more, will almost always be followed with the two step cha cha back.
Sometimes giant steps backwards, sometimes, if you're lucky, only small ones.
But those steps aren't only simple regressions, they can be emotional spirals of grief or anger or dark deep untouchable mood or acting out.
Because that's how it plays, it seems.


Maybe those steps forward, are just kind of so scary, way deep down where it can't be touched or explained completely, that the only thing that makes sense somehow is to follow the trigger, ride the swing down.
It's primal reaction in a way.
It can't be just halted.
If it could, oh I think, I know,  all of us would.
Halt it.
But it can't.
It seems that it has to be moved through.

And it's in the moving through it, the swinging through it, that the healing comes. 
Hard to remember...but it is.
That's why it's a key.
A passkey AND a turn-key.
Emotional transition.
Without that emotional, moving, transitioning, through it, they can't get beyond it.
It will snag you, them.
It has to be passed through and over and beyond.
But sometimes it has to be done again and again.
Yes, swung through again and again.
Yes, it's exhausting.
For the them, for you, for everyone.

Luckily, a key is made of strong stuff.
And it works to turn those locks, to tumble them...as many times as necessary.

Then, at some point, different for each emotional scar or hard place, for each child, that key finally turns, tumbles open that lock for good.
The swinging can stop.

We aren't there yet on most of these transitions.
We are still swinging.
But I trust, and pray, that sooner or later (hopefully sooner), that key will turn that lock for good.
And my child from hard places can leap out of that swing, flying free from the spiraling hard emotions.

I'll be waiting to catch her and laugh with her at the giddy free air of it.


Until then, I hang on tight to the key, holding her, holding on to the swing.
Waiting for that leap.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One to One: barefoot

So today is a day to go barefoot....not only because we all prefer it when it's warm (c'mon, you know you do)...but because it can  help a good cause:



Today is the day that TOMS, the cool shoe company and one of my personal favs, has a push for awareness about the need for shoes, worldwide.  Go to their site, go see, watch below.

Now, once in a blue moon folks ask me to post a pitch for their products (I know, imagine! Me, who'da thunk it?).  And I almost never do it.  Because really, I'm not anyone that folks ask for opinions or reviews.  And so, I offer them freely, on the things I USE, HAVE, or THINK about.  And only those things.

But these shoes are one of those.
I love TOMS!
I have a number of pairs, which makes my husband kind of crazy.  He of the fashion challenged maleness doesn't understand the style differences and needs between pairs.
But they are the shoes that make me happy: because they are so cute, because they are so comfy, and most of all because they get a kid who needs shoes a pair.  So, they are worth it.
Kids, shoes....c'mon it's a mom template.  

So think about it.  Think about your feet.  I have very cranky feet and I utterly appreciate good shoes. 
Everyone deserves a pair of shoes, at the very least.  Everyone.

Moms always want kids to put on their shoes.
Now you can help with that.
Wiggle your toes.
Feel your feetThen, go buy a shoe, give a kid a shoe. 
One to One.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Holy Laughter

Rejoice!
It is Easter!
He is Risen indeed! Indeed He is Risen!

Painting, Fra Angelico

I love Easter, my favorite holiday. It is. It is just too full of pure grinning hugging laughing tear blinking elation. The ever great guys over at Godzdogz make a good point, often lost in the hussle of dying eggs and gobbling candy and oohing and cooing at the beautiful little kids in their Easter bonnets and best:


but this is THE big reversal! This is the big laugh out loud rejoicing because death itself has been foiled. And we can laugh the purest laugh of sheer joy and gratitude at the mind blowing goodness of it all.

Gosh any teen boy worth his salt or brash "too cool for you" comedian should be clapping his hands and howling at the pure "great one" of this day: He didn't die. He turned death upside down, reversing it for all, for all time. Now that makes the purest truest laughter spring forth, when you really think about it. Because that laughter starts as unsure, tiny niggles of fear, "Can it really be true, c'mon? Do you really believe that?" And now, well, Yeah! He already has spoken with Mary Magdalene and called her by her name!

Painting by Bouguereau, "The Holy Women at the Tomb"

She was so amazed that she ran off to tell the disciples. Talk about taking your breath, blowing your mind...think she just cooly stood there and gazed and thought, "Meh?"
Um, no. I think she ran and tripped and her mind was racing and she couldn't get to them fast enough. And, as an aside (because I am all about asides) I love it that He saw her first: a woman, a sinful woman who was trying her best, and who made huge changes in her life, because of Him. That gives me hope, that kind of mercy and love.

Anyhow, so, even though I oh so often tear up at the vigil Mass (especially if I catch sight of my dear friend Sonja, who always cries...because it just means SO much to her), at the end of the Mass, after the traditional recessional song of "Jesus Christ is Risen Today," (Played and sung LOUD and with jubiliation)...at the end, I want to laugh and shout and clap my hands and grin stupidly from ear to ear. Because it's real.
It's the BIG reversal, the ultimate gift.
And it's ours.
Whoa.
That's just pure pure JOY. Jubilation!
It's just the best.
It's holy laughter.

Happy Happy Easter!

Michaelangelo's drawing, "The Resurrection of Christ"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Silence, Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is a day of silence.


It is the tomb.
It is the day of grieving and being still, quiet for it...or mindful of it and trying to find that still silent spot inside; ever difficult in our modern days and our/my busy loud lives.
This is the day when the tabernacles, across the world, are barren.
And the emptiness is visceral.
I feel it.
I think the world feels it.
I do.


Tonight is the vigil and the promise of the return of the light, Light itself.
But for today. 
It is the deposition, the tomb.



It is silent....
So.  We wait.

Friday, April 2, 2010

High Holy Day. Psalm 22


So.  Today it is.
 

Today is Good Friday.
One of the hardest days of the year.
Today He died.
Battered.  Given.  Crucified.


Today is a day of fasting, abstinence, silence, prayer.  

It's supposed to be hard.
It is.  


"They have pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."
Psalm 22

The Postmodern Why: holy linkage

painting by Dali, of course

So, today is of course Good Friday and a day to ponder our faith, if any. 
And as I do this often (some will say tooo often, and some will say not nearly often enough) I am most interested when others do it too.  And this gal has written a piece on NPR today that is worth reading.  Because, as usual, she answers this question, the one that is  blazing around the modern media outlets of late (well, not overtly, but it's in the subtext, it really is):  
Why? Why be Catholic? Really?  How can you? How could you?  
Especially now, in light of scandals and more mud thrown and slings and arrows and accusation and supposition and on.... why?  
Well, here is an excerpt, below.  But, today, of all days, I'd ask you to go read it.  It's worth a few minutes. 

"The question has come my way several times in the past week: "How do you maintain your faith in light of news stories that bring light to the dark places that exist within your church?"
When have darkness and light been anything but co-existent? How do we recognize either without the other?
I remain within, and love, the Catholic Church because it is a church that has lived and wrestled within the mystery of the shadow lands ever since an innocent man was arrested, sentenced and crucified, while the keeper of "the keys" denied him, and his first priests ran away. 

***snip****

The darkness within my church is real, and it has too often gone unaddressed. The light within my church is also real, and has too often gone unappreciated. A small minority has sinned, gravely, against too many. Another minority has assisted or saved the lives of millions.
But then, my country is the most generous and compassionate nation on Earth; it is also the only country that has ever deployed nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
My government is founded upon a singular appreciation of personal liberty; some of those founders owned slaves. 

***snip***

I am a woman with very generous instincts, and I try to love everyone, but I am capable of corrosive scorn. Have I been much sinned against? Yes. So have you. Have I sinned against others? Oh, yes. So have you.
Like a pebble cast into a pond, our every action ripples out toward the edges, reaching farther than we intended, touching what we do not even know, for good and for ill. It all either means nothing, or it means everything.
As a Catholic, I believe it means everything."


Go.  Read.  Then, ponder faith. Ponder being human. Ponder the why of faith.  

That's what today is about.  It's Good Friday.
 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Why is this night different from any other night?"

It is Holy Thursday.
The first day of the Triduum.
It's also known as Maundy Thursday
But, no matter the term used, it's a high holy day, and it's one of the ones that is rich and complex and beautiful and difficult all at the same time.

(And, as an aside, everyone I know is kind of suffering all sorts of larger and smaller slings and arrows this week, escalating today.  Right.  Exactly. I guess that's how we know it's Holy Week and we get to participate in our own mini-wimpy-passion....because "we can't handle the truth" {to paraphrase Jack} of the real experience.  Just saying.....)

Sadao Watanabe print
Tonight the Mass remembers that special Passover supper, the last supper.  This is the supper of the institution of the Eucharist.  The disciples didn't even really realize what was going on...how typical, then, and now.  But, oh the beauty of it all.


So too, this night, Christ washed their feet, showing them how to be the servant of servants that they would be called to be...that we are called to be.  How often do I forget that one? Daily, how many times a day is the better question.


Sigh.  This is such a complex layered night.  I can't begin to do it justice.  The emotions range all over the map: from the quiet humbling of the washing of the feet, to the beauty of the institution of the eucharist, to the stripping of the altar and processing out that brings me to blinking away the tears.....It's a rigorous beautiful piercing night. For me, this night does begin the vigil...the vigil that doesn't end until the close of Saturday night's vigil Mass (finishing Sunday) 

"Why is this night different from any other night?"  
This is one of the Passover questions.  So too, it is our question, mine.
And these three days ahead, I get to ponder it and pray over it and grow my heart bigger to answer it well, or try.

There is also a long tradition of a late Holy Thursday night service, called Tenebrea that means, literally, "shadows" or "darkness."  This service is one of the hardest and most beautiful.  It starts in light and over the course of the service moves to darkness....because these are the three days of darkness and the greatest of suffering.  It ends with a cacophony of clapping wood.  It jangles and disturbs me deep inside, as it should, as it's meant to.  The Sisters of Carmel explain it well, go read the whole thing here, but below is a snip from it:
 
There is placed in the sanctuary, near the altar, a large triangular candlestick holding fifteen candles. At the end of each psalm or canticle, one of these fifteen candles is extinguished, but the one which is placed at the top of the triangle is left lighted. During the singing of the Benedictus (the Canticle of Zachary at the end of Lauds), six other candles on the altar are also put out. Then the master of ceremonies takes the lighted candle from the triangle and holds it upon the altar while the choir repeats the antiphon after the canticle, after which she hides it behind the altar during the recitation of the Christus antiphon and final prayer. As soon as this prayer is finished, a noise is made with the seats of the stalls in the choir, which continues until the candle is brought from behind the altar, and shows, by its light, that the Office of Tenebrae is over.




Wishing you a mindful and Blessed Triduum.