Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Things Start to Fall Into Place

It usually means that the fight is just beginning. Or so I have found.

I have known for years that I needed to get into shape and take my health more seriously, but for whatever reason I never really got past the thought and on toward any real plan of action. I would take the matter of my slothful nature into the confessional and try to find help there. I tried to get more exercise, and I have been on every diet on the planet. Nothing seemed to work.

I would make excuses like, well at least my spiritual life is on track, does it really matter that my the other areas of my life are a mess?

Then a little over a year ago my world got turned upside down. My mom died after a long illness, and a close friend died after a battle with cancer. I fell into a deep depression from which I could not emerge on my own because my reserves were empty.

Many years ago I had suffered a similar depression after the birth of one of my children. I remember how bad I felt for so long. When I finally came out of that depression, I promised myself that if it ever happened again I would ask for help. So this time, when I found myself in that dark lonely place, and realized that I had been in a similar place before.

This time I did what I had promised myself the last time, and asked for help. With the help of my devoted husband, my Dr., my pastor Fr. Bill, and my spiritual director, I began to see a light. The light came from not carrying my burden by myself, and letting go enough to allow room for God to enter in and begin the healing process. It wasn't what one of them did, but what they all did together.

I started to see my entire life as a whole -- mind,body,soul and spirit. Without working on all the areas together, I cannot move out of the darkness. It is only when each of the areas of my life is in balance that I will become the person God intended me to be.

Now I realize that I cannot be satisfied with two thirds of a life. And interestingly, as I begin to see my plan to get into shape begin to work I an seeing that there is a spiritual component to what I am doing. I am learning about fasting and discipline and obedience and virtue. Not to mention all the extra prayer time I am getting as I work out and walk.

And as the changes in my diet and exercise affect my overall health, I am realizing that it feels really good to feel good.But, now that things are falling into place, I have a long road ahead to get to where I am what God sees as my best self.

At least I have a great team of people surrounding me helping me to reach the goal.

PAX

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Till There Was This . . .

So, it is no secret that I am a huge fan of Ignatian Spirituality and especially the concept of "finding God in all things", which to me is simply an awareness that everything we are and have comes from God, so whatever we find in the world in some way can lead us back to God.

About a month ago I got a new CD from one of my favorite singing groups that has roots right here in my beloved Bloomington:  Straight No Chaser.  Among the songs on the CD is the most amazing arrangement of the song "Till There Was You" from the musical The Music Man.   If you aren't familiar with the story, this song is sung by Marian the Librarian when she realizes that she has fallen for Harold Hill.

Only when I heard this particular arrangement, sung by these ten amazing men it wasn't a love song between a woman and a man, but to me it was someone realizing that the entire world looks and sounds different when one becomes aware of God in his or her life.  Everything changes,  colors are brighter, music is sweeter, and somehow the whole world looks so amazing.  There is Love all around,  because God is Love, and those who live in Love live in God, and God in them.

Listen to the lyrics, and put yourself in the place of the singer.  How has your world changed because you are aware that God is a part of all that you do?





Pax


Monday, September 26, 2011

God is Completely Satisfied With You Just The Way You Are . . .

the problem is, you have no idea who you are.

That was one of the messages that I got from a retreat on Practical Christianity this weekend.  I spent the weekend listening to that still small voice from within.  It was telling me that as much as I want to love God, I need to also learn to love myself as God loves me.  God loves the authentic me, and in my ego-centeredness I may or may not be close at all to knowing who that person is.  

I know who I think I should be, but does that mean that my opinion of  who I am and where I am going is the same as God's?   Probably far from it.  It is only through lots of intentional prayer, and discernment that I will ever come to know who it is that God sees when God looks at me. 

Fr. Adrian, (our retreat master) said we should look at it as though we are athletes training for competition.  We can't become elite level Christians without intentionally setting aside time to make ourselves fit enough to be the person God sees us to be.  We have to work on our whole self;  mind, body and spirit.

I am good at working on the spirit and mind part of my elite level training program.  I love to learn new things, I am constantly reading spiritual books and the bible and spending time in prayer and meditation.  I spend time offering my services to others in volunteer activities and share my joy of salvation with others every chance I get.

Where I fall down is taking care of my body.  I need to get more exercise, and learn to eat better to control my blood pressure and blood sugar.   Exercise would help my arthritis.  Eating right coupled with the exercise would lead to weight loss which would in turn be good for my knees.

So,  I am going to try really hard to work on myself.  I am going to spend some time every day being intentional about taking care of my body which is a temple of the Holy Spirit; the place where God resides.  Because from now on it is not I but Christ who lives in and through me, and He shouldn't have to live in a place that looks like it ought to be condemned.

PAX


Sunday, September 04, 2011

My Swiss Cheese Memory Worked in Our Favor For Once

So, Saturday afternoon I was sitting with two of my daughters watching How to Train Your Dragon when mrangelmeg came into the room and asked if we wanted to go to Mass that night and sleep in on Sunday morning.  We all looked at each other and said, sure.  We stopped the tape and went got ready for Mass.  When we were ready to leave we realized that our amazing autistic daughter hadn't yet come out of her room.

When I asked if she was ready to leave she said no, she wasn't planning on coming to Mass with us.  So since we had to leave immediately to get there on time we left without her.  But this is where my Swiss Cheese memory comes in to play.  As soon as we sat down in Church my angelbaby looked over at me and said, "Mom, we are supposed to sing at ten o'clock Mass tomorrow."   I just chuckled and said, "Well I guess we get to go to Mass twice this weekend then."

Does everyone remember what the lesson of the readings was though?  It was about our responsibility in giving fraternal correction when needed.  And Fr. used as an example from his own life going to Mass as one of the times when it is our chance to help people who don't go to Mass to want to come to Mass.

So, when we got home, over dinner we told Molly that Fr. Tom had talked about her during his homily.  She asked what he had said about her but we told her that she would have to come to ten o'clock Mass when we went to sing in the choir to find out what he had said.  She was so intrigued, that she was up, dressed and waiting for us when we were ready to leave in the morning.

After Mass as we were driving home I asked her if she heard what Fr. had said about her.  She said, "Yes, he said, it is important to go to Mass."    It was a great lesson, thanks to my Swiss cheese memory and a great homily by our parish priest and a lazy daughter who will probably not miss another mass for a while.

Pax

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Dirty Little Relationship Secret of Women and Purses

I have uncovered the root of the age old dilemma of why a rational woman can be in a monogamous relationship with one man for an entire lifetime but cannot remain faithful to one purse for longer than six months. Admit it ladies, we all have the pile of cast offs in the back of our closet to prove it.


A woman goes out and finds a purse that she absolutely loves, and for a short time that purse is everything she will ever need. Eventually though the purse's flaws begin to show; the cell phone pocket is on the wrong side, there is no place to secure a pen so everytime you need one you have to practically dump out the entire contents of the purse just to find one, not enough space for all your credit cards -- how on earth can you live with that -- I ask you?


After exhaustive discussion with many of my women friends, and looking over all of my stash of old purses for evidence I have come to a conclusion about why it is that women can't remain with one purse for the long haul. It is because we don't get to date our purses!


When we see a purse we like in the store we have to make a full time commitment to it. We don't get the chance to try it out for a while and see what flaws it might have before we decide to take it on. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I had had to make a decision about mrangelmeg on the first day we met, chances are he would have not made the cut, as cute as he was at the time it took a while for his charms to grow on me. On the other hand some of the guys I thought I really liked on that first look turned out to be really really not worth a second or third date (one wasn't even worth the first date, but that is entirely another story).


Yet, when we pick up that purse in the store and look it over and decide that it is the right color, or has the right kind of pockets and amenities we have to make a commitment to it. It is only after we are committed to it that we find out that it has flaws.


In a relationship with a person, you tend to learn their flaws before you make a commitment to them, and you can decide if you are willing to live with the flaws, or if you are wiling to put in the effort to help them overcome their flaws. Not so with purses. A purse has flaws that will never go away, so you just have to live with them, and they begin to grate on your nerves.


That is why a woman will put a perfectly good purse on the pile at the back of her closet at the start of a "new season" and go off to hunt for a new model. The old one let us down. We are looking for perfection.


I noticed in my research that I tend to buy almost the exact same purse, just in different colors each new season. It has a pocket for my IPod and another for my cell phone. It has a built in wallet and is medium in size. I considered for a moment just going back to one of my old purses when the latest one let me down, but as I looked through the pile all I saw were the flaws in the old ones.


Sigh, I suppose it is time to go out and try to find a new, perfect match. Maybe, just maybe this one will be exactly what I am looking for in a purse.


Hey, stop laughing, it could happen!

Pax

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Year


It has been a year since my mom's death.  In the Victorian era it would be time to take the black wreath off of the door and stop wearing black clothing.  It is time to move on, get on with the stuff of living. They had the right idea.

Now I feel as though I can move on.  My regrets are fewer, and my memories are sweeter.  I can imagine a life without my mother in it now.  I am ready to get on with the stuff of living again.  I love my mother, but I know that she is where she wants to be, in heaven with my dad.   And I can be happy that she is there now in a way I couldn't be a year ago.

My year of mourning is over.

Pax

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Class Act from a Classy Kid

Glee is getting a new foreign exchange student this season thanks to The Glee Project.

Damian McGinty won a 7 episode arc on Glee last night on the finally of The Glee project.  He did such an amazing job singing Beyond the Sea and giving it his own unique twist (in a way that no one on Glee has ever done to my way of thinking.  A kid with an old world, Sinatra-esque charm will be a nice addition to the show's cast.

What is most impressive to me is that throughout the entire Glee Project Damian was the most humble, consistently nice and endearing, and real contestant of all of them.  Of course he was trying to win, but he didn't have to be fake or hurtful of others in order to do it.  That is just the kind of kid that he is.

And his class really showed through in this letter that was posted on the Celtic Thunder Website today.  He has been with Celtic Thunder since he was 14 years old (oh yeah, that is why he looks so familiar, you are saying to yourself).  While he is sad to have to leave them, he knows that being on Glee is just the start of a whole new part of his life.

I wish him all the best.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What He Said: Fr. Barron responds to Bill Maher's "Religulous"

The Longest Journey . . .

is the one that takes us deep within.

It is this inner journey where we encounter God in the most profound way, because at our core is where God resides. This journey involves spending a lot of time in prayer. And to me, the best form of prayer for the inner journey isn't verbal, conversational prayer, but silent, contemplative prayer.

I read an interesting quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel about prayer that in essence says that it is conceit to think that we can actually talk to God.  Prayer is more of an immersion in God, being enveloped and surrounded by God's love and mercy.  

That is the best definition of contemplative prayer.  When I practice contemplation that is exactly what I feel,  I feel as though I am immersed in God's love, totally surrounded by it and gaining strength from it in the silence of my prayer time.

My favorite analogy for God is the ocean.  I am a fish in the ocean and God is the water that surrounds me and sustains me in every way.  In it I move and breath and have my being.  I am so comfortable in my surroundings that I sometimes forget that everything that I have comes from God's love.   As I meditate on this image it helps me to go deeper into myself and uncover my dependence on God and my deep and abiding love for his tender mercies.

Don't be afraid to try contemplative prayer,  just remember that in this case, the longest journey, begins with one image.

Pax







Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blogaversary: I'm 7 This Year!

Seven years ago this month I started on this journey of blogging my thoughts for my loyal readers to enjoy. I have written a lot of my life experiences and done some pretty darn good essays about matters of faith. I have enjoyed sharing things I have read or seen on other sights or in the news. But to be completely honest, the most important reason that I have kept this up for seven years is that I can't afford therapy.

Writing is my therapy. I would continue to write on this blog if no one ever visited this site. I have wondered at times about ways to increase my readership, but it doesn't really matter. I write for me, and in some cases, I write for God. So if someone stumbles onto my site or is directed here because of my Facebook or Twitter links and is inspired or challenged by something I write, that is God's plan.

My goal isn't to have thousands of followers or win awards for what I write here. My goal is to write what is in my heart. If what I write touches one person, then that is enough for me.

Thank you to those of you who show up here from time to time to see what I decide to share on these pages. Thanks even more to those of you who comment on my posts, because your comments make me think and make me stronger in my faith and make me a better writer as well.

I wonder what the next year will bring? It will be fun finding out.

Pax

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Real Vocational Crisis: We Aren't Praying Equally for All of Them

Twice in the past two days I have heard or read impassioned prayers for young people to be open to God's vocational call to the priesthood and religious life.  Neither prayer mentioned asking God's help for these young people to listen carefully and thoughtfully to God's call to Holy Matrimony, which is also a vocational path to which arguably most of these young men and women will be more likely to be called than to either the Priesthood or religious life.  I think this is a very huge mistake.

I contend that a lot of the problem with marital difficulties among men and women who were raised in the Catholic church might be because we live in a larger culture that sees marriage as a limited, disposable and often unnecessary institution.  And then within our churches we hear prayers for vocations which call only the priesthood and religious life as being set apart, called by God for a higher purpose.

Speaking for myself as well as my devoted husband,  we both know that from a young age we were called to the vocation of marriage.  We went into our marriage thinking of it as a vocational choice to honor God and through how we live our lives and raise our children to point others toward God.  In the act of having our five beautiful children, and raising them in the faith we are doing it for the greater good of the Kingdom.  We continually pray for our marriage as a vocation, and to help  our children be open to God's vocational call to them wherever  that call may lead them.

And yet, when the Church as a whole prays for vocations, my children only hear about vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  They don't hear about marriage as a vocation and rarer still are prayers for the vocation of single Catholic adult. (to which at least one of my children has been called I believe).

As I see it (and have only heard in one vocational prayer) Marriage is the source of all other vocations.  Without holy marriages open to procreation where will  the Church find the children  to be called to be the next generation of priests and religious?  Since the church doesn't believe in artificial insemination they won't be creating them in a laboratory.

I also contend that if we worked as a church to pray for and strengthen the vocation of Holy Matrimony, and teach it as a vocation to which men and women are called the crisis in vocations to the priesthood and religious life will be overcome.  Men and women will choose marriage more wisely and with a thought toward having more than 2.2 children (if you look at some of the families in our churches today you see these kinds of couples already emerging).  More children raised in the faith means more children for God to call to vocations  to the priesthood and religious life.

So the cure for the vocations crisis is not in praying for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but in praying for the vocation of holy matrimony first, or at least as equal to and on the same level as the other vocations in the church.

I wonder if we had an International year of the Family within the church, and focused all of our prayers for an entire year on that vocation, what kind of miracles might begin to happen?

Pax

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Knitting Myself Back Together

I just realized something about a week ago.  I haven't really been knitting much since January.  That means since the worst of my depression I haven't been able to pick up the needles and work the stitches.

Then about a week ago I pulled a book off of my stack of "to be read when I have the time" novels and began to read.  The book just happened to be The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood.  It is a book about knitting and grief.  One woman early on in the book even says "We knit to save our lives."

In an amazing God-incidence, the final character introduced to the knitting circle in the book is a woman named Maggie who is so filled with grief that she can't seem to learn even the most basics of knitting.

After I finished reading the book I read the Author's forward (in the reading group copy, Norton Publishing,). In it Ms. Hood states that during a time of grief in her own life she lost her ability to write.  I too am experiencing a very dry spell in my own writing.  I can't seem to get any ideas from my head into words on the screen.  I am at a total loss.  I barely even write in my journal.  It was such a gift to know that 1) another writer had been where I am now and found her way out of it successfully and 2) knitting helped.

So, I am picking up a project I began last Christmas when my daughter was visiting; a shawl for her to take on airplanes where she is always cold that she can use as a blanket on the plane but wear as a shawl through the airport.  It has a beautiful basket-weave pattern that is very rhythmic and will help me get out of my thoughts.  Each stitch will be a prayer for my daughter and with each stitch I will hopefully be closer and closer to feeling like I can live without the weight of my grief someday.

It feels good to have the needles in my hands again.  The yarn slips through my fingers and with each row the shawl takes shape.  In a very cathartic way it even feels good to tink and frog -- remove mistakes for non knitters.  Tink means to remove stitches one at a time  (knit spelled backward, get it) and frogging means ripping out entire rows or numbers of rows of stitches (rip-it  rip-it rip-it).  And when I finish this project I have already picked out my next one, but I need to make a trip to the yarn store for that because I looked in my needle drawer and I don't have the right needles to make it.  Wonder what treasures I will find when I get there?

Pax

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock-Pot Healing

We are so immersed in the Microwave generation it is really hard for us to think in the long term anymore.  So when healing takes a long time it can be really hard to be a patient patient.  I am in the middle of a long slow healing process, and I am running low on patience.  I want to be back to normal now.  Each time I go to the Dr. I get good news, but even that isn't enough.  I want a microwave healing instead of a crock pot healing.

As I was thinking about this the other day I remembered a story one of my spiritual directors told me about St. Therese the Little Flower.  She was very impatient for something to happen and her spiritual director told her that you can empty  a vase by turning it over and dumping out the water or you can empty the water by dropping in one tiny pebble after the other.  Each tiny pebble displaces a bit of the water, and eventually after enough pebbles have been dropped into the vase the water will all be gone,  and in its place will be thousands of tiny pebbles.  God works in both ways; sometimes God chooses the latter way because it is more compassionate.  We need the time that it takes with each pebble drop to adjust to the change in water level.

So the slow and steady upward trend of my healing is just fine by me because God's timing, while it may not be my ideal choice, is perfect. I would love to be healthy tomorrow, but there is much I can learn as I wait; patience, cooperation, determination, courage, strength and an appreciation for how fearfully, wonderfully I am made.

Pax

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Be Careful How You Word Your Prayers

So, I have had a horrible dry stretch in my writing.  I have attempted at least three times a week to open the files for either project I am working on and I sit for at least a half hour staring at a blank computer screen and I can think of nothing to write.   I haven't even been able to write blog posts that I think are very good.  I have written a few that I thought were passable,  but not like the old days. 

I mentioned it to a friend how frustrating it feels to be a writer with nothing in my head to write and she told me a story.  

There is a psychologist who works with people in Los Angeles. At times he works with creative types like screenwriters and authors.  When one of his patients has writer's block he says they should try this:

Every day when you wake up you say a prayer asking God to allow you to write the worst sentence you have ever written, and then set about the task of writing.  Somehow giving yourself permission to write lousy prose breaks through the mental block you are experiencing.  

So, I did just that, for weeks I prayed that God would allow me to write the worst sentence I had ever written.  Then I sat there at my computer and still nothing came.  Then one day I was sitting at my computer trying to write a blog post about gratitude and it happened.  I wrote three of the worst sentences I had ever written in my entire life.    They were trite, uninteresting and  made less than no sense.  

I sat at my computer, and looked at them and almost cried with relief.  God had answered my prayer.  

I learned two very important lessons that day:  1) God answers prayers in God's time, so be persistent in prayer.  and 2) be really specific about what you want from God.  Why couldn't I have asked in my prayer for God to allow me to write like I used to write; meaningful prose from deep in my soul?   Prose that was so beautiful that sometimes I would read it and wonder at the fact that it had actually come from me.  

Thank you God for answering my prayer, but next time could you give me what I need and not what I ask for?

Pax

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Downloading Patience

So, I am sitting here at my favorite Starbucks, sipping a Zen tea and waiting for a very, very long download to complete to my computer/Garmin.  It occurred to me that watching something download is the New Millennium equivalent of watching paint dry.  It is the most boring, frustrating activity I can think of doing.

Silly me, I forgot to bring a book with me.

It wasn't until I had been watching the numbers go down, then back up, then down, then back up again for about  thirty-five minutes, that I was wasting a great opportunity to practice patience instead of annoyance.  I mean really, here I was drinking Zen tea, and becoming more and more frustrated instead of using all this wonderful free time to let my mind center on God.

I began to take that inner journey,  letting go of everything; my surroundings, the smooth jazz coming from the XM radio station playing in the background, the download status that kept trending up-then-down on my computer screen, even the fact that my hair was still a bit wet from my workout at the gym just before I came here, and sat with my eyes closed and centered myself on that seed, planted deep inside.  (The image I have come to use as my center).  Conscious of my breathing, and then even letting that go I let the moments slip away along with my frustrations, cares, heartaches and prayers.

I allowed myself to completely rest, wanting nothing, seeking nothing, doing nothing.

Patience is surrender.  Surrender is peace. Purity of heart is to will one thing.

Who knew downloading Garmin Maps would be the pathway to peace?

Pax

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blimey!




Even funnier if you realize that the accent he uses in Law and Order UK isn't his real posh upper-middle class British accent either.

Jamie Bamber is a really versatile actor.

BBC America Rocks.

Pax

Monday, June 27, 2011

The World-Wide Outrage No One Talks About

It is estimated that there are up to 160 million women missing world-wide.  This has been attributed to poor healthcare, nutrition and education in third world countries.  But this is only half of the story.  Second trimester abortion for gender selection has become the norm in countries like China where the ratio of men to women is becoming more and more out of balance with each generation since the practice began just after the one child per family rule went into effect.

Read a great opinion piece on the topic here.  

When will Women's Rights Organizations take up the fight to save these women from wholesale slaughter for the sake of male dominance?

Don't hold your breath.

Pax

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Laude Sion

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi,  no it isn't they day that we celebrate the city in Texas, but the Body and Blood of Christ our Savior.  What better way to do that than with this amazing Sequence written by Thomas Aquinas:

Laud O Zion

ZION, to Thy Savior sing,
to Thy Shepherd and Thy King!
Let the air with praises ring!
All thou canst, proclaim with mirth,
far higher is His worth
than the glory words may wing.



Read the rest here. (in Latin and English)


What does the Body and Blood of Christ mean in your life?

Pax

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tonight: Sharing Burdens Sharing Joys

Have you ever heard the saying that sharing your burdens cuts them in half and sharing your joys doubles them?  That is the way it has been between my sister and I.

We were both born in March, two years and one day apart so we shared a birthday celebration our entire lives.  Although I went to college and she didn't we both married guys from the same fraternity at the Engineering school in the town where we went to High School, even though she met her husband when she was still in High School and I didn't meet mine until I was nearly out of college.

When our children were growing up we shared the joys and hardships of raising our kids.  When our mom became ill it was together that my sister and I shared the burden of her long term care.  If not for having my sister to help me think through the decisions that had to be made I would probably have been in a lot worse shape.

Last year as my sister and her husband were dealing with the horrible accident that nearly took the life of their son and the ensuing lengthy rehabilitation, it just happened that my sister's and my birthday fell right in the middle of their ordeal.  Mrangelmeg and I took it upon ourselves to drive up to the rehab hospital with our oldest daughter so that she could stay with our nephew while we took my sister and brother-in-law away for a night of celebration and relaxation.  They rarely left the hospital to do things for themselves.

We took them to a wonderful dinner at my favorite steak place where, because it was my birthday, we got an amazing desert called Mile High Chocolate Pie.  It took all four of us to eat one piece.  It was the most wonderful evening and really helped them relieve some of the stress of their long ordeal.    

Our husbands' birthdays are in June,  four days (and one year) apart.  

This year, to repay us for the favor we did them,  they have invited us to join them for another dinner at the same steak house tonight, on my brother-in-law's birthday (to celebrate the men's birthdays).  I think as much as my brother-in-law wants to celebrate sharing the joy of being together again, he is really looking forward to that Mile-high-pie.

At least no one is going through a major trial this year,  but we will share the little sorrows and joys of parenting,  as there are always those.  And we will talk about the memories we have of growing up, and all the years we have known each other, and the upcoming retreat we are all attending at St. Meinrad (my Holy Hill Gradual School), because my brother-in-law has been on retreat there and wants us to join him.  (How funny is that?)

It should be a very enjoyable evening.  I am looking forward to the company, well, that and the pie.

Pax

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Memories

When I was very young I had a friend named Jeff.  He was a year ahead of me in school and wasn't afraid of anything in the entire world.  I was in awe of that, because I was afraid of just about everything.

Jeff was a daredevil.  We lived on a very steep hilly street, and Jeff's house was one block higher up the hill from mine.  Jeff would ride his Schwinn Racer bike so fast down the hill and go flying past our house like a blur.  I was too afraid to ride as fast as he did.  In the winters we would sled down the hills of the park across the street from our houses and Jeff could make his sled go so fast, careening around trees and flying off the end of the hill out into the middle of the street.   It is a wonder he didn't break his arms or legs each winter.

One winter,  Jeff got the insane idea that he and I should  pour water down the concrete embankment on the side of my front steps and let it ice over and then slide down the ice on our feet.  He convinced me that nothing bad could possibly happen to us, so we did just that.  We carried pitcher after pitcher of water out and poured it over the concrete, watching as it froze the snow into a sheet of ice.  When he judged that it was frozen enough he took an running start and jumped onto the ice and slid, with a bit of a wobble, all the way down to the bottom of the stairs.

I was terrified, but didn't want to look like a sissy, so I took a try,  it was the most amazing sensation I had ever felt; even better than sledding.  We both took another turn, and then another, which was probably wearing down the ice because on my next turn down the slope I lost my balance completely and fell face first onto the edge of one of the concrete stairs.  I cut my forehead just above my eyebrow, and there was blood everywhere on the crisp white snow.   Facial cuts bleed quite a bit,  apparently.  Jeff went running into my house to get my mom,  when they came back out he was in tears apologizing over and over because it had all been his idea.  My mom had to put a butterfly bandage over my cut eyebrow to stop the bleeding, and then ice over that to keep it from swelling but the cut wasn't really all that big.   To this day you can see the scar there above my eye from our little luge adventure.

He had a fascination with leprechauns, and for one entire summer he carried around a huge butterfly net determined that he was going to catch one in the woods of the park.  My brothers put a doll head in the knot hole of one the trees in the woods and teased him that they had seen one on their way home for lunch.  Jeff got all excited and took his net and ran off into the woods. I remember the look on his face,  he was so full of glee that day.  He was so close to his goal of having his own pet leprechaun.  We followed him up into the woods my brothers giggling  and giggling so hard .  He was so sad when he realized that they had tricked him.

We went to an Elementary School that had an open campus meaning we were allowed to walk home for lunch if we lived close enough to get there, eat lunch and get back in our forty-five minute lunch period.  Since both my mom and Jeff's mom were both better cooks than what we could get from the cafeteria,  we often walked home for lunch; Jeff would leave me at my house and walk the extra block to his house.  When it was time to go back to school Jeff would stop at my house and wait for me so that we could walk back together.  We had wonderful talks about so many things on these walks.  They were very special times.

I remember the last day of his sixth grade year when we were walking back to school and he said, "I am going to miss this next year", because he would be going to Junior High and I still had another year of elementary school/   I didn't say anything then, but I would miss them too.  I took my lunch a lot more often in sixth grade,  somehow going home for lunch had lost its charm.

Jeff had a paper route before I did, in fact it was because of Jeff probably that I got a paper route.  He got his because he wanted a new bike and a new fishing pole and his mom said they couldn't afford it,. so he went out and got himself a job as a paperboy to make enough money to pay for the things he wanted.

He loved to fish, and most of the spring, summer and fall he was never without his fishing pole and tackle box strapped to the back of his bike.  The Mississippi river was just a few miles from our house and he loved to ride down there on his own to fish, sometimes for the entire day.  I hated fishing,  this was one adventure we never shared.

You may wonder why I am suddenly reminiscing about my old friend?  It is because the summer that I was 12 years old Jeff died. On June 8, 1972 Jeff came home from his paper route, gave the money to his mom and went down to the river to watch the fishermen, something he did all of the time.    He was never seen again,  People in the community searched for nearly a week first finding his bike and then his badly decomposed body naked and strangled on June 15.

I miss him so much this year especially for some reason, maybe because there has been so much loss in my life.  Even my sister called to say she had dreamed about him just the other night.   Was Jeff too fearless for his own good?  Was he killed by a serial killer passing through the area?  We have always wondered.  My younger brother spent years trying to solve Jeff's case, which remained open until the mid 80's when the FBI declared it closed due to lack of new evidence.  

We had an idyllic childhood,  we had total freedom to roam wherever we wanted to, miles and miles away from home, until the summer Jeff disappeared, Then everything changed.  I don't know if we were scared, or our parents were scared, but we didn't get as far from home after that summer.

I have wonderful memories, and frightening dreams and a little scar over my eyebrow.  Jeff would be 52 years old this year.  I have always wondered what kind of man he would have become.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Come Holy Spirit Come

the earth was a formless wasteland, 
and darkness covered the abyss, 
while a mighty wind swept over the waters
Genesis 1:2



Today is Pentecost.  The day when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the Upper Room and the birth of the Church in the world.  For me this day has an entirely different meaning as my faith matures.  

I have become a person of faith not because of God the Father or God the Son,  but because of God the Spirit.  I can relate to the vast wasteland living in darkness waiting for something to happen,  until the Spirit swept over me and moved me to a deeper understanding of myself and my relationship with God, the universe and everyone I encounter.  

Of course I have to admit here that I am moved by the Spirit within the structure of the Catholic Church,  it is where I find I can express my faith with complete authenticity.  I am fed by the Eucharist, and  refreshed by the Reconciliation,  and my marriage is a vocation lived out in sacramental holiness on a daily basis.  The more I learn about my church (as human and flawed as it can be at times)  the more I fall in love with the intimate connection it gives me to this Trinitarian, relational God who is One, yet Three, forever in motion in a Celestial dance and in whom I I move and breath and have my being.

The closer I move to this ineffable force that draws me deeper and deeper into a love relationship with my faith I am finding that as I am learning more and more Pneumatology (great big word that mean Spirit talk) The Spirit is the guiding force compelling me onward, or in the case of most spiritual journeys, inward.

The Spirit moves like a gentle breeze, or a mighty wind, and moves me where it wills.  As I learn to move with the Spirit the dance becomes easier.

So today is a day to remember the Spirit of God.

How does the Spirit move you?

Pax  







  

An Evening of Animated Blues Well Spent

This past weekend was my semi-annual visit with my Gradual School family in our favorite little house down on the grounds of the Monastery/School of Theology where we spent so many years together studying theology, scripture and philosophy.  Now when we get together we usually don't have an agenda, but rather spend the time mostly eating, drinking, chatting or sitting in companionable silence as we each read our own books.  Sometimes we shop at the gift shop or Scholar Shop (the Theology School Book Store).

On this particular weekend we were surprised by our beloved professor Fr. Damien when he brought a movie with him and asked us all if we wanted to watch it instead of our normal round of conversation.  Of course, because we love him and trust his judgement implicitly, we said yes and put in the DVD.  Boy did we get more than we bargained for.

The movie was  Sita Sings the Blues   (see below).  It was the most amazing animated adventure.  It weaves a contemporary story of a young couple with the Indian Myth of Rama and Sita from the Ramayana (a well known tale to all young Indian children).  and in between the two is the music of Annette Hanshaw from the 1920's era.   I wish I could explain it better, but it is something you have to experience for yourself.

So, Netflix, or Amazon, or however you can, find a way to see this wonderful little movie.   You will not be disappointed and you will learn some wonderful Indian Folklore in a very inventive way.

Pax

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Catholic Summer Reading Program







Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where Do You Hear The Voice! of God?

I have for years contended that there are many secular songs that can be perceived as songs of love from God to us if you listen with the Ignatian view that you can find God in all things.  In fact in certain cases I would contend that the songwriter's intention was to leave it open to that broad interpretation when he/she wrote the song.  Many of the band U2's songs have that impact of double meaning, on one level a love song and on a deeper level a song of searching for a deeper relationship that goes way beyond human love.

I have always had a very special affinity for "You Got Lucky" by Tom Petty.  From the first time I heard it, many years ago I have thought that it could be heard as a love song from God.  Perhaps my feelings were colored by the fact that at the time I was a lonely college kid who didn't have a date in sight and was looking for love from someone, and found consolation in the thought that God would always love me and I was truly lucky that God had "found me".

The other night when I was watching my new favorite competition show on television:  The Voice! on NBC,  I had another AHA moment about a song I have probably heard hundreds of times sung by Keith Urban, but on this particular night it was sung by an 18 year old woman.  The song is Stupid Boy,   and it turned into an entirely different song, about losing faith instead of just losing a girl.   It gave me chills.

I don't know why this surprises me so much.  I have always felt that You'll think of Me,  by Keith Urban is a song about turning  away from God.  We can move away, but we can never get so far away that we don't have that thought of God in the back of our minds no matter whoever else "arms" we find ourselves in.

So there are many songs that bring me to thoughts of God,  okay so no matter how masterfully it is sung,  I will freely admit that "Baby Got Back" doesn't have anything to redeem it,  but then maybe someone else can find the God-ness of that particular song.

What secular song makes you think of God in a way that takes your breath away?

PAX

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opportunity Comes from Circumstance

This morning the priest who was supposed to fill in for Fr. Tim for daily Mass didn't show up.  This was the Middle School Mass, so the Principal of  our school frantically tried to find the priest, but when he realized that there wasn't going to be one available, he went to "plan B" and prepared for a Communion Service.

Sadly this isn't the first time we have had to do this since our sudden pastoral change, but in today's case it turned out that the lesson that the kid's got in lieu of a homily was really great, so while it might not have been a best case scenario,  our principal did make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

The Gospel for today was John 6:35-40


Jesus said to the crowds,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
But I told you that although you have seen me,
you do not believe.
Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”


He got eleven of the kids from the school to come to the front of the church. One young man he blindfolded, and the other ten he asked to stand randomly between the young man and the other side of the church.

Then he told the blindfolded young man that the other young men and women represented land mines. Would he rather try to get to the other side of the church on his own or with the Principal's guidance. Of course the young man chose to be guided by the Principal.

The Principal then guided the young man through the "land mines" to the other side. He then spoke for a while about how the students, especially the Eighth graders would soon be moving out into the world where they would find many "land mines" that would be dangerous for them, but Jesus promised them that if they believed in Him and were willing to Follow Him, He would not leave them and although it might be hard, they would be able to get through anything if they would put their trust in Jesus.

He then asked the blindfolded young man to trust him, and without touching him, only by following the sound of his voice, the Principal lead him back through the "land mines". Each step was taken very carefully, and with each step the Principal gently said "follow me" so that the blindfolded young man could follow in the direction of his voice. He came close to a few "land mines" but never bumped directly into one.

What an awesome visual message. It isn't always easy to follow Jesus, but if we listen carefully He will lead us in the direction that we are to go.

PAX

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This is the Reality

I read recently that Michael J. Fox's foundation is pouring millions of dollars into embryonic stem cell research to combat the Parkinson's disease that he has been living with since his early thirties.  He is hoping to find a treatment that will extend his life by twenty or thirty years, and possibly even a cure.  My problem with this is,  at what expense?

The reality is, people die; and some people die young. My father died at the age of 48 of brain cancer. If there were a treatment available for my father that involved the destruction of human embryos, I know for a fact that he would have refused it. There is no way that he would destroy other lives to stay alive one more day.

We are not guaranteed that we will live to old age. We don't have the right to stay alive at any cost. Selfishly we all want ourselves and our families and friends to live long lives. The reality also is that the world is full of incurable diseases, and there are just some things we should not do to try to cure them, such as use the bodies of unborn children as research material. We can only prolong the inevitable for so long anyway.

 My mother suffered for nearly twelve years from alzheimer's disease. What was once a vibrant, intelligent woman became a helpless shell who could no longer do the simplest tasks for herself. Yet, I would no sooner wish that Alzhiemer's reseachers used embryonic stem cells in their search for a cure for this horrible disease than I would wish that my mother had been hooked up to Dr Jack Kevorkian's little machine with the "get me out of here" button so that her life could have been ended sooner than later. While to some her life may have seemed meaningless, to me it had dignity and purpose until such time as she died not by some artificial means but when she died because it was her time, as she did last August.

In point of fact the only real success that has been achieved with stem cells in treating disease has been with adult stem cells.  Embryonic stem cells are too erratic (or so says Dr. Oz, of Oprah fame) and unpredictable in how they grow and change.

One of my close friends who was struggling with Multiple Myeloma was being treated with adult stem cells.  He had tried two types of adult stem cell transplants (one his own cells and one from a donor- his sister)  in his efforts to beat back this disease. After four years,  he lost his courageous fight with this disease at the age of 57.  I am sure that if they offered him a chance to try an embryonic stem cell treatment he too would have refused.  


Life isn't fair, we aren't promised a certain quantity of years.  but we can control the quality of the years we have.

Pax

Friday, May 06, 2011

Love and Death And Winning at Tickle Tiger

 When we were growing up we would play this game called Tickle Tiger with my father.  We would all crawl around our rather large living room.  Dad would roar and chase us and if he caught us he would tickle us until we were giggling little slugs rolled into tiny balls on the floor.

For my sisters and brothers and me, it was the best game in the world.  Dad was a really big guy, over six feet tall and had played football in high school and college.  He had an amazing laugh that could make us laugh even before he got close enough to us to tickle us.   Dad would play until he had rendered us all senseless.

Sometimes mom would join the game.  When that happened dad would chase mom behind the couch, and it would become very quiet.  Eventually we would climb up onto the couch to look and we would find them; mom wrapped in dad's arms and they would be kissing.

Once when my younger brother Matt was three and we found them behind the couch he said " Dad you don't 'posed to kiss her you 'posed to tickle her, silly."  But I was six and much wiser and I knew that our game of Tickle Tiger was over, and mom had won.

My parents had an amazingly loving relationship.  They produced nine children, and were never embarrassed to show affection in front of us.  They often sat at the table in the morning over one last cup of coffee before dad had to leave for work holding hands and chatting about nothing in particular.

When I was 12, my dad got sick and a very tense year later died of a brain tumor.  My mother suddenly had to become totally chaste, not by her own choosing, but because of a circumstance beyond her control.    I had always hoped that she would find love again, but she always maintained that there was only one love for her in this world.    For the next 38 years she lived waiting for the day when she and my dad would be united once again.

When my mom died early last fall  (just days after her and dad's wedding anniversary) she was reunited with my dad.  They are buried together in a military cemetery, which means they share the same burial plot and headstone with dad's information on the front and mom's on the back.  When she was buried I could imagine dad's arms outstretched waiting to wrap them around mom in a loving and eternal embrace.  They are together forever.

I miss mom every day, but when I think about how they are buried, in that loving embrace, I realize that she is exactly where she has wanted to be for a really, really long time.   I know she is happy there.  The game is over,  mom has won again.

Happy Mother's Day mom.

Pax

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dear God,

When Alex Renton an atheist came home to find his daughter had written this letter:
rather than shrug it off he handled it this way:  
This is the text of the letter from a most surprising source:

Dear Lulu,
Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –
‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.
Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.
But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’
And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.
I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.
+Archbishop Rowan  (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday

Today is Dyngus Day , a traditional Polish day of festivities after the long Lenten Fast.  If you live in our near a Polish Community you are lucky, because the food is amazing.  We are blessed to have a Dyngus Day celebration at one of the local parishes, complete with all those great Polish delicacies:  beet horseradish and hard boiled eggs,  pirogies, polish sausage, sour kraut, and of course beer.

Fortunately for me, most of those foods would pass muster with my new eating plan,  but unfortunately I have band practice tonight, so if I go it will be a quick run it to grab a bite before band and not a leisurely stay to visit with friends as it has been in the past.

One of the best things about Dyngus Day is that it reminds us that Easter isn't just a Sunday.  Easter is a Season.  We celebrate the Easter Season for 50 days, from now until Pentecost.  Each day should ring with the sound of the Alleluia of recognition of the risen Lord's saving action in our lives.

After all, If Christ conquered death for us what other response could there be except to celebrate?

How will you celebrate these 50 days?

Pax

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday Reflection: Rise!

Part of my Lent was spent in a very depressed state.  I was dealing with a lot;  multiple health issues, the death of my mother months ago and then the death of a very close friend on Ash Wednesday.  I was so deeply depressed that I was incapable of helping myself.

Most people who saw me outside of my house would have never known that there was a problem, because for a short amount of time I could put on a happy face and do what needed to be done, but those moments took so much energy that when I was home I was usually sleeping or laying on the couch incapable of doing much of anything.

I thank my husband and children for pitching in around the house, because without their help it would have been really bad around here.  But I realized that I couldn't help myself, and asked for help, not only from God, but from my Dr.

I have been on anti-depressants and a new diet for a month now, and while I am not completely back to my old self, I can certainly tell the difference.   When I told Fr. Bill last night after the Vigil Mass how much better I was feeling he gave me a huge hug and said. "She has risen!"

I had never thought about it that way, but I see now.  I have risen from the depth of my despair and and can see that my life has joy and meaning and purpose again.   Like Christ rising from the dark tomb;  I am rising to new life.  My resurrection may be a much slower process than His, but no less miraculous.

Where is resurrection happening in your life?

Pax

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday: Waiting is The Hardest Part

We went through the entire season of Advent waiting for Christ to be born as a human child.

Now we wait again.

This time, the Christ has just suffered and died for our sins and is in the tomb.  And we wait.

It isn't fun to wait.  We feel as though time moves more slowly. We hope in the promise that Christ would rise, but the reality is, we wait.  We hope and we wait.

This day, Holy Saturday is a day for preparing for the resurrection,  so we spend time in prayer and contemplation.  We clean our houses for guests, because with the Resurrection of Easter tomorrow will be celebrations with family and friends.

And, we wait.

What is your hope this day as you wait.

Pax

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday of Holy Week: Good Friday

I have really bad knees, one is worse than the other, so I favor my left leg.  For probably fifteen years or more I have been standing with more weight on my right side than my left side and it has caused serious problems with my left hip, knee and foot.  I have lived with varying degrees of chronic pain over the last few years.  Finally with a combination of physical therapy, exercise and acupuncture the pain is pretty much handled, but I still have to be very careful not to stand with all of my weight on my right side (old habits die hard).

What does this have to do with Good Friday, you ask?  The entire time I have been going through all of the years of pain and suffering I would think about Christ on the cross, suffering for my sins and not once did it cross my mind to ask "Why me?"    In fact in the face of that great love that Christ poured out by offering his life as reparation for my sins, I am able to say "Why not me?"  Why shouldn't I be willing to carry this cross?

I work really hard at keeping my leg in shape, and for each incremental increase in the strength of my leg I begin to see the person that God intended me to be.  The person that is capable of doing what God has set out for me to do.

As Christ did the will of God by carrying His cross  and dying for all.  I can do God's will by carrying my cross and living for all.

What cross are you living with this Good Friday?

Pax

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday of Holy Week

My very good friend John had a lump on his breast bone.  he went to the Dr. to find out what it was.  He was trying to remain upbeat and to leave the concern in God's hands.  A week later he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma,  It was a devastating diagnosis.  What was the first thing he and his wife did after hearing the diagnosis?  They went on vacation.  They would deal with treatments and drugs and surgeries later, but first they would enjoy each other's company.

My friend John died a few weeks ago.  I miss him so much.

To me,  Holy Thursday reminds me of my friend John.   Jesus knew what was coming on Friday,  but on Thursday he had a dinner with his Apostles and enjoyed their friendship one last time.  He took Peter, James and John to the Garden with him.  He wanted his friends around him as much as he could. 

Holy Thursday is our time to revel in those moments of Christ and the Apostles together.  The calm before the storm if you will.  The music is so beautiful during the Holy Thursday Liturgy (and I am not just saying that because I sing in our Church Choir).    Pange Lingua has to be one of my very favorite hymns and we are singing Durufle's  Ubi Caritas as well.  

And tonight at Liturgy, I can be with John at Mass,  because the Mass is the one place where all people who have ever been to Mass and all those who will ever go to Mass are there in that moment of Kairos (God's time).    

I love The Triduum.  Holy Thursday is the celebration of that first Liturgy.  Enter into it with all of your senses.

Pax

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If There Isn't A Lock-Out

Colts 2011 regular-season schedule
Week 1 - @ Houston Texans, Sun. Sept. 11, 1 p.m.

Week 2 - vs. Cleveland Browns, Sun. Sep. 18, 1 p.m.

Week 3 - vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sun. Sep. 25, 8:20 p.m.

Week 4 - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mon. Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m.

Week 5 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Sun. Oct. 9, 1 p.m.

Week 6 - @ Cincinnati Bengals, Sun. Oct. 16, 1 p.m.

Week 7 - @ New Orleans Saints, Sun. Oct. 23, 8:20 p.m.

Week 8 - @ Tennessee Titans, Sun. Oct. 30, 1 p.m.

Week 9 - vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sun. Nov. 6, 1 p.m.

Week 10 - vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sun. Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Week 11 - BYE

Week 12 - vs. Carolina Panthers, Sun. Nov. 27, 1 p.m.

Week 13 - @ New England Patriots, Sun. Dec. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Week 14 - @ Baltimore Ravens, Sun. Dec. 11, 1 p.m.

Week 15 - vs. Tenneesee Titans, Sun. Dec. 18, 1 p.m.

Week 16 - vs. Houston Texans, Thu. Dec. 22, 8:20 p.m.

Week 17 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars, Sun. Jan. 1, 1 p.m

NOTE: » The opponents' combined record is 133-123, a schedule that ranks fifth-hardest in the league.
hmmm  curious
Pax

Wednesday of Holy Week

Did you know that this day of Holy Week used to be called Spy Wednesday?  It is a day when the Mass readings talk of betrayal.  Betrayal hurts,  Jesus was not only betrayed by Judas, but also Peter denied even knowing him while he was being tried, scourged and put to death.

We all feel betrayed, by friends, sometimes by family.  It leaves deep wounds that sometimes  never heal and leave us unable to trust.

I am experiencing a type of betrayal that I suppose is true for everyone,  my body is failing me.  I have arthritis,  and sleep apnea.  I have bad knees,  and asthma.  I suppose it just means I am getting old, but it is worrisome to know that if the day is cold and wet my body will ache and I will not be able to feel warm no matter what I do.

It bothers me to think that without a machine I might stop breathing in my sleep, but at least there is a machine that will keep me breathing, right?

I watched an amazing story on 60 minutes the other night about a profoundly autistic young woman named Carley who finally has learned to communicate with the help of a computer.  To the world she looks completely and totally disabled, but deep inside a body that constantly betrays her is a mind that is fertile and funny and forgiving.  She has now started a weblog and a twitter feed to share her thoughts, which are not bound to her damaged body, with the world.

The point of all of these betrayals though is that no matter how many things we lose us.  This is what Jesus remembered at the end when he commended His Spirit to His Father from the cross.

We may feel betrayed, but we are never forsaken, no matter how deep the wounds are.

If you can't do something one way, learn to do it another.

Pax

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday of Holy Week

In the past two weeks I have gotten two birthday presents in the mail.  They have both been wonderful surprises, especially since my birthday was over a month ago.    My children think it is really funny that I just keep getting gifts even though my birthday is long past.   I just enjoy them, and feel very blessed.

God's grace is quite the same as those unexpected birthday gifts.  If you live in a sense of awareness of God working in your life,  everything is gift (grace).   Every day in little ways and sometimes in very grand ways God reveals his love for us through graces in our lives.  Which doesn't mean that when we make ourselves aware of God working in our lives everything is sunshine and rainbows.   Sometimes, in the words of one of my favorite authors Flannery O'Connor God's grace can be "dark and disturbing" too.

Sometimes God's grace comes in a way that makes us realize how much we need Him.  It is revealed in our weaknesses and our failings, which bring us to our knees in prayer and turn us back to His loving arms.

I am sitting here this morning on a cold rainy morning, which makes my arthritis flare and every joint in my body ache, waiting for it to be time to go to my Zumba Class.  I know that it will take all the energy I can muster, and a little extra grace from God, to make myself go to Zumba this morning,  But I also know that in God's dark and disturbing way if I do go there will be a benefit for my overall health and well being.

How will you be aware of God's grace in your life today?

Pax  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday of Holy Week

I belong to a band made up of parents of children at the school where my daughter (previously known as the angelbaby, until she hit her teen years) is in the 8th grade.  Some of us have been playing an instrument for years, and can easily read music, and others are relatively new to the instrument they are playing and are just beginning to get the hang of reading music.

We practice together once a week.  But those of us who don't practice more often than that feel as though we are falling behind, myself included some weeks.  We have to work at our own parts so that when we get together we can work at sounding like a real band sounds and not a group of people who are trying to play instruments they are just learning how to play.  We have also found that when we play with enthusiasm and joy,  our sound is much better than when we play like timidly.  

I think the same thing is true of the spiritual life.  We are all at a different point in our spiritual life, and when we come to a point in the Church year like Holy Week, the more time we have put into our own spiritual development, like we should have been doing throughout the 40 days of lent, the more We will come together as One during this week.

Don't just sit back and let Holy Week happen to you,  enter into it with all of your enthusiasm and joy, and not with timidity.  Even if you haven't been practicing as much as you wish you had been the last 40 days.

Pax

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Reflection for Palm Sunday

THE DONKEY
 G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Birthday Gift

How lucky am I?  My birthmonth was over 12 days ago and I got a birthday present in the mail today.  One of my Gradual School friends sent me a book by Richard Rohr about Spirituality for the second half of life.

Now,  I realize I am getting older,  but I actually laughed when I saw the book.  The second half of life,  I guess that means I get to live to be 100 if I look at it with the most positive light, so I have that going for me.

On the serious side, I started reading it today and like other books by Fr. Rohr, it is very well written and talks about both halves of life, so I can still pretend to not have crossed over into the second half when I want to delude myself.

I will write a review of it when I finish reading it, which probably won't take long since mrangelmeg is off on one of his long trips and won't be around for weeks.

Pax

Monday, April 11, 2011

Surrender Means Not Wanting What you Can't Have

In my ongoing attempt to understand all of the changes in my life I am constantly finding a spiritual lesson in most things.  My big aha moment for this weekend was that it will be much easier to live with the changes in my diet if I learn to not want the things I can't have, like alcohol or processed foods or sugar.

I have been reading all of lent about surrender.  If not eating these things will make me healthier then surrendering my will to the improvement in health I will gain from not wanting or craving those foods will make me stronger.  It doesn't make it easier to do it this way, but if I look at is as a spiritual exercise, what I am gaining is even greater than what I am giving up.

So, my mindset is changing.  It isn't an easy or immediate change, but each day as I make good choices and don't crave or whine because I can't have something I would have just mindlessly eaten a few weeks ago I know that God is leading me.  And I can see by the numbers on the scale and the way my clothes fit that my lifestyle changes are making a difference.   I think of those things as signal graces that I am on the right track.

I hope my journey can inspire others to take charge of their lifestyle and health and make good choices.

Pax

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lifestyle Changes and Obedience

So the Dr. says I need to change the way I do things in order to be a healthier angelmeg.  I have known this for a long time and have been working on small changes for about two years now, but only with half  a heart really.  Now it is get serious about it time or I will be dealing with major health issues later on.

One of the things I need to change is how I plan and eat my meals.  I am one of those people who can skip breakfast and then go till maybe three o'clock before I actually sit down to eat something.  Even when I make good food choices this is not a good plan.  So that has to go.  No more skipping breakfast or lunch.  Regular meal times with good lean protein at every meal (it's a liver thing).   I need to eat more vegetables too, because I do eat veggies, but not enough of the dark green ones that are really good for me.

Because of my food allergies I am already pretty limited on carbohydrates, but I do tend to indulge in potato chips, or French fries because "I'm not allergic to potatoes".   Those are out of my diet now.  Nothing fried for a while at least.  and only really good oils in moderation.

No refined sugar either,  which pretty much means no chocolate, unless it is really dark very high cacao content (because they have less sugar).  For the first two weeks of this new diet, no chocolate at all.  Then a little (like one small piece every four or five days) after that.  Now that will be the hardest thing.

I started this new meal plan on Monday afternoon, and I'm not gonna lie,  I actually feel better already.  It is amazing how well your body's engine runs when you give it the right fuel.

The next hurdle is to tackle a vitamin D deficiency.  This one is a little harder for me.  I need to get out in the sun more often.  The problem is, I can't stand the cold and it really has only gotten sunny lately.  So,  Now, whenever there is a sunny day I need to take my work outside if I can, or take a walk, or find some other way to be out in the sun.  Maybe this year I will actually get my flower beds in shape.

As I was thinking about all of the things the Dr. is asking me to do to improve my health it occurred to me that it all comes down to obedience.  God gave me this body in order to do His will here on earth. If I don't take care of this body I am not at all effective in doing God's will because I am ill or just too darn tired. Just think how much more energy and vigor I will have when I am not dealing with all of the potential health issues that are looming over my head right now.

When I put my lifestyle changes into that kind of perspective it makes the doing of them a little easier.  I can look at them as a form of prayer and praise to my creator.  I am growing closer to being the person that God created me to be before my own willfulness got in the way and led me astray.

So, with each new change, no matter how much I am resisting it, I praise God.  Even for roasted beet salad,  I will praise His holy name, because I know that if I am eating good fuel I will be stronger in His service.

Pax

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Butler Basketball’s Success Has Nothing to Do with the Score of Last Night’s Game

"That’s the Butler culture. The winning is nice, but a school should be about graduating kids ready to meet life’s challenges, and that doesn’t simply mean making bank. Butler does that exceptionally well."

Read the rest:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Psalm 46:10a

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I AM.

Be still and know

Be still.

Be.


Pax

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Mrs. Obvious Question of the Week: Why is Lent so Hard?

I have had four friends say in the past week that this Lent has been very hard for them.  I have resisted the urge to say; "Well, duh!"

If fasting, and sacrifice were easy would it bring us closer to God?  If we didn't struggle with our devotion and stumble in our attempts to maintain our goals for Lent would we be as likely to see how much we need the Supreme Sacrifice that Christ makes for us on Good Friday?

In a way, the more we struggle during Lent, the happier we should be.  Each time we stumble, each time another of our human failings is uncovered for us in the light of Truth we are drawn closer and closer to the source of our strength.  In our weakness God makes us strong.   Unless we know where our weak points are how can we ever gain the strength we need to grow stronger from them.

How blessed we are that the Church gives us this time to work through our failings.  As we meditate on the way of the Cross we should think about the fact that among the fourteen moments memorialized are three times that Jesus fell, carrying His cross.  If Jesus fell, and had the strength to get back up and continue to carry His cross, then we can pick ourselves up after we fall and get a stronger hold on our chosen cross and begin to move forward too.  We are blessed that we know the end of the story.  We know that our journey will not end on the Cross, but with the Resurrection of Easter and new life won for us by Christ.

So, Lent is hard,  and that should make us happy rather than grumpy, because if it is hard then we are doing it right.

Happy Lent People,

Pax

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Much Does a Teacher Make?





This teacher reminds me of all the reasons my father was such a good educator.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stopping By Lent on a Pensive Evening

(With my deepest and most sincere apologies to Robert Frost)

Whose Lent this is I think I know.
His house is in the Heaven's though;
He will not mind me stopping here
To watch this Lent begin to grow.

My little brain must think it queer
To stop without a purpose near
setting aside chores I must partake
His presence coming ever near.

I give my weary head a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of restless thoughts and deep heartache.

This Lent is calling, dark and deep.
But I am afraid of the steep,
pathway upward that I seek,

And miles to go before I sleep.