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"Beat Down" and in the company of ostriches

In their introduction to the Book of Job, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops explains that this Old Testament book is "an exquisite dramatic treatment of the problem of the suffering of the innocent."

What this means is: "This is great to read, especially if it's not about you."

No one, of course, escapes suffering, but one person's suffering is never the same as another's, even if they are going through the same experience. These differences - after a few rounds of suffering in our life - begin to strike us as "unfair."

It's unfair that our child has cancer, and yours does not. It's unfair that my husband lost his job, and yours just got a big fat promotion. It's unfair that my health is so poor, while you're out running marathons.

Of course, we can turn each of these situations around. I'm so sorry your child has cancer, but mine's a drug addict. It's terrible that  your husband lost his job, but mine is a phi…
Recent posts

A work in progress. Just not THAT work.

My work life has been spotty at best the past two years. My job at Company A (which I adored and would go back there in a heartbeat) got budgeted right out of existence. I was totally bowled over - never saw it coming.

That meant months on unemployment and serious financial pinching.

I was hired by Company B (alas, no bugle boy), an organization who's business plan was written by blind and deaf chimpanzees. It was unpleasant, in the way that diarrhea is unpleasant.

I was having some issues with the way things were done, and my understanding of processes that I had not been hired to do. My tenure there lasted 2 weeks. Good-bye.

Then, a round of interviews for a job with the local diocese. Sure, it wasn't what I was looking for but I could easily do the job.

Or so I thought.

My last two jobs have taught me something: my brain does not function the way it used to. Oh, I'm not saying I've got a serious medical condition having to do with my brain. No, it seems as if the t…

Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.

A Perfect Mess

I've said here before: I'm a recovering perfectionist. Since my young teens, I've wanted everything planned, thought out, well-executed and: perfect. Yes, it's an unattainable goal, but dammit, I was up for the challenge.

That meant never giving my parents a moment of worry. Striving for the Dean's List and making it. Having that paper done weeks in advance. Making sure my kids were not only dressed well, but well-mannered.

What I never bargained for was that the Universe is not geared toward "perfect." It's geared toward "good enough," "survival of the fittest," "natural disasters," but not "perfect."

I was always missing the mark. And I was always unhappy with myself. Why, God, did you make me crave "perfect?"

This week, I got what I wanted. And it is really, really painful.

I took a job a few months ago because I really needed a job. I told myself that the place I worked would balance out the fact …

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

People say that when they don't know what else to say.

"It's always darkest before the dawn."
"There's a light at the end of the tunnel."
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

It's not true.

Your heart is shattered into a million pieces. Your grief overwhelms you. You can't eat or sleep. Everything you know about your life now seems wrong.

But, hey! Perk up! In a little while you'll be stronger.

This has not been my experience.

When you are grief-stricken, down on you knees and weeping, you are not getting stronger.

You may be getting more empathetic.
You may be getting more faithful.
You may be getting clarity on what really matters in this world.
You may be getting bitter and angry.

You are not getting stronger.

No one handles tragedy well. Some of us crumble, some of us remain resolute. But stronger?

When you drop a piece of china, you do not make it stronger. It breaks.

You can do one of two things. You can sweep up …

Hate your boss? Hate your job? Welcome to the club

I've got a relic of Bl. Solanus Casey over my desk. I pinned a note next to it: "'Sacerdos Simplex' yet still a saint." He strikes me as a genial fellow, but he must have felt some sense of disappointment when he finally graduated, was ordained and then told, "Yeah, you can't do a bunch of priestly stuff. But you can answer the door!"

While St. Damien of Molokai volunteered to head to Hawaii and care for the lepers, he really had no idea what he was getting into. The living conditions when he arrived were about 7 steps below squalor. Over the years, he helped his people build homes, a church, organized choirs and planted gardens. I'm sure he had his moments - he could not possibly have dreamed as a child that he would travel to a tropical paradise, only to find it full dreadfully sick people.

Whenever a pope is elected, he is asked if he will serve. If he assents, he is taken to the Crying Room, where 3 sizes of white robes await. And those men…

"What's so special about today?"

One perk of my job is that I'm within a 3 minute walk of the Cathedral of St. Andrew. It's a beautiful church, and it's always a blessing to worship there.

Last Friday (which was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and a holy day of obligation), I went over for noon Mass.

[An aside here: the following sort of thing happens to me a lot. A lot. My spiritual advisor says some of us attract unbalanced people, lonely people, those on the outskirts. It's like I have a neon sign on my forehead: "SAFE PERSON!"]

I had just entered the church itself when a young woman came up to me, very close. I thought perhaps she was someone I knew, but she was not familiar. She said, "What's so special about today??"

I have to admit that my first thought (and this is how you know I was a religion major) was, "Hey, that kinda the first line of the Passover Seder. The youngest asks, "Why is this night different from all other nights?"

The young woman …