I don't normally comment on my "Sacred Places" posts, but since it is Memorial Day, I just wanted to share this.
One of my best memories is visiting Arlington National Cemetery with my mom and dad, before my dad's Parkinson's got the best of him. Dad served proudly as a US Marine, and standing with him watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was sweet and sad and perfect.
Let's remember all those who have given all in service to our country, so that we remain free to do things like blog.
The reading from Proverbs today is extraordinary. It isn't one we hear very often, and it warrants some reflection.
For those of you who aren't Catholic, we use a 3-year cycle of readings, and we read/hear almost the entire Bible in that cycle. (If you are Catholic and DON'T know that, shame on you. May guilt follow you all your days.) Remember, it's almost all of the Bible, so Proverbs doesn't get a whole lot of air play, especially on Sundays.
So here is part of today's reading, from Proverbs, ch. 8; the voice speaking is the wisdom of God: ...and I was [God's] delight day by day, playing before him all the while playing on the surface of his earth and I found delight in the human race.
What a stirring image: the delight and joy of play in creation. This inspired snippet gives us such a broad view of our God: a God who in wisdom is joyful in us, the prime creation. God delights in us! God plays! Play is carefree, in-the-moment, and uninhibited. Pla…
We all know what a treat family car trips are. Growing up, my sibs and I enjoyed an added feature. You see, my mother cannot read maps and my father could not follow directions. As kids, we never asked, "Are we there yet?". We asked, "Are we lost yet?" My sisters and I spend loads of time, necks craning backwards, staring wistfully at that just-passed exit, knowing it would be another hour or so until we finally located that motel we had reservations for. On one memorable trip, my dad drove around the CN Tower in Toronto for an hour, muttering, "How do you GET to the damn thing?"
Little did I know, this magical mystery tour I endured on every family trip would be good training for life. I am often not where I thought I was going to be. I thought I would get married, get pregnant and have a houseful of kids. That sorta happened, but not without a lot of tears, frustrations, classes, social workers and courts. And the whole pregnancy thing never …
There are a lot of stupid things on TV, and you don't need me to tell you that. However, I do want to call attention to one stupid thing that burns my toast.
TLC has a show called "Say Yes to the Dress" that features women with way too much money shopping for wedding dresses. I mean WAY too much money: thousands and thousands (and even more) on a....dress. Not a house. Not even a vacation of a lifetime. A dress. (As my father would say, "And it doesn't even have a basement under it.")
One young woman, after driving the sales staff nuts with endless fittings and her general neediness, finally made it to her big day. The camera caught her just after the ceremony, and smiling with great joy, she said to the camera, "Everything was just perfect. And the most perfect part of the day was [wait for it] the DRESS!"
Gee, honey, what about that guy standing next to you? Doesn't he count for anything on this special day?
My kids have taught me that.... Dandelions are really beautiful, especially when clutched in a toddler's chubby fist. Thirteen year old boys can out-eat just about anything. Cleaning bones of dead animals is not really that bad (bleach and a bucket, if you ever need to know.)
I will be annoyed by my teen's music, even though I DECLARED I never would. Sorry, Dad.... Laundry is never done. Mud never killed anyone. They are loud. The house is quiet when they're not here. I don't always like that. Please don't mention that to them. Not yet.
I like routine. I like comfort. I like to know, when I get up in the morning, about how my day is going to go. I think most people are like this: we feel safe when we can calmly anticipate the future.
And yet, over and over again, Life keeps showing me that I can't get comfy. There is too much change. Circumstances change, then I have to change. I don't wanna. I wanna lay down on the floor, and have a temper tantrum. It doesn't do any good: I still get dragged, kicking and screaming into my future.
There are a lot of trite things we can say about change: "I don't know what the future holds, but I know God holds the future." Yeah, well, that's not very comforting when you're scared, confused, unhappy and your head is spinning. Please, God, can I just keep on keeping on? No change for me, thanks! I'm perfectly happy where I am! Give my bucket of change to someone else, please! I don't think I'll be taking any change now; maybe later,k?
Okay, I admit that is a provocative title. My sophomores just got done watching "Molokai: The Story of Fr. Damien" and had to write papers about it. If you're not familiar with Fr. Damien - now St. Damien - he was a Belgian priest who voluntarily spent the last 16 years of his life caring for the lepers on Molokai. It was a notorius "outpost": dreadful cases of the infectious disease sent there to die on a rocky, unforgiving island with no law. Watch the movie; it's great. Now, my students had to write a reflection on this. God love 'em: some of the kids just couldn't get their facts straight. I had Fr. Damien serving the "leapers" (giving me thoughts of people jumping off the Hawaiian cliffs) and "leopards" (a circus atmosphere with ring-master Damien). But my fave by far was this one: "the island of Molokai in the Leper Sea". Really. Could I make this stuff up???? Teaching: it ain't ever dull.
http://www.wordle.net/ (Click on "Word Play" to go to the site.)
I entered my blog address. The site creates a "word picture" for you, and the size of the word is based on how often you use it. Apparently, I mention "time" a lot here; hmmmm, wonder what that means, Mr. Freud?
Anyhow, I am going to use it for vocab. words in my class. I figure for kids that are "eye-minded", it might be a cool, new way to look at things!
1. Celebrity moms who complain about struggling to "balance" their careers and motherhood. Yeah, must be tough, what with the nannies, personal trainer, chef, cleaning staff and personal assistant. I'd hate that....
2. My neck. I always thought Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck was quaint...until it happened to me.
3. Parents who step in and won't allow their kids to fail. Failure isn't necessarily a bad thing, Mom and Dad. It's how we learn. If your kid never has to pay the consequences for his or her stupid decisions, he or she will continue to make said stupid decisions. Quit trying to make everything "good" for the little buggers.
4. A court system that holds juveniles accountable for the REST OF THEIR LIVES for crimes committed when they were 11 and 12 years old. Yes, I know they did something wrong and should be punished. However, would YOU want to be held accountable for all your…
I was blessed to be invited to a graduation Open House today. It was at a local social services agency, for foster kids who were graduating from high school. A bunch of happy, smiling faces for what should be a completely normal part of any American kid's life.
Except, of course, it is not. These are kids who have had to overcome huge obstacles: getting bounced around in foster care, drug and alcohol abuse (maybe theirs, maybe a parent's), having adults let them down (over and over again), the embarrassment of being a 'foster kid', and other horrors added to the horrors of getting through high school. Yet here were 10 kids that had overcome all that, getting a piece of cake and a piece of paper that basically said, "All right! You did it!'
There were a lot of people in that room that deserved a piece of cake and a piece of paper: foster parents, social workers, siblings (whether biological or foster), therapists, teachers and a host of other people who basically…
Technically, a fugue state is a disassociative state, one where the patient can wander lost, unaware of his or her own identity. I'm not exactly there, but it is a weird time of year in High School Land.
One of my co-workers came to the startling realization today that we are only a week and a half away from exams, then the exams themselves, then done. Yikes! The teachers are scrambling to stuff a bit more knowledge into the kids' heads. The kids are fighting to get a few more assignments done and in the grade book. Administration is struggling to figure out how we are going to pay for it all.
We are happy to launch our seniors into the world, a bit sad to see them leave (most of them...not all of them.) The juniors are strutting around - almost seniors. The freshmen are happy that this horrible year is almost over. (If you don't remember your freshmen year in high school, thank your lucky stars.)
At the beginning of June, we'll all heave a great sigh of relief and look f…
I have to admit, it is hard sometimes to find the beauty in my school building. It's an old place - not old as in "enchanting" and "charming", but old as in "cold", "utilitarian" and "decrepit".
But look a little deeper and walk through our halls: there is awesome student-created art hanging in the halls. Three junior girls laughing so hard they are crying, over something silly: just a shared moment. Our statue of Mary wears a beautiful crown for the month of May. The cafeteria walls remind us, by quotes from saints (diligently painted by our campus youth minister), what our purpose in life is. The staff choir practicing a (surprise!) benediction for the senior Mass and Baccaleaurate.
All of this reminds us that we humans, together with our Creator-God, are the only ones who can create …
I didn't sleep last night, and that always puts me in an "off" mood for the day. I get to work, grab a Diet Coke and plunge into the day, head full of fuzz and body struggling to keep up the pace set by a school full of teens.
Students straggle in. The sophomores are doing generalized testing this week, so my classes are scattered - a few kids missing here and there. They turn in their weekly reflection papers (this one on Fr. Damien - who took care on the lepers on Molokai - and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick), and check the board for today's work.
One of the boys seems to think he's playing baseball - he's making all sorts of weird gestures. "Are you telling Dom to steal third?" I ask, and he goes back to his reading. They take delight in pointing out a mistake I made in a worksheet. They shuffle out, and in comes the next herd.
My afternoon is quiet, as most of the seniors are done. A couple…
1. Spouses who complain about their hubby or wife to others. Ya know, a spouse should be the ONE person in the world you can ALWAYS count on to be your biggest cheerleader. Gotta beef? Keep it between the two of you.
2. Students who don't put their name on their work. Geez, people, this is high school!! (And you've been reminded three times...sigh....)
3. Menopausal mind meltdowns. What was that thing called again?? Oh, yeah, a "pen."
4. Not minding your own business. Don't be nosy. If I want to tell you more, I will.
5. The pajamification of America. That's right, you slacker, you over there in the produce section, wearing your pajamas to the grocery store. Put on clothes - you know - the kind you wear in public. Get dressed!
6. Dressing casually for church. I don't mean a pair of clean jeans and a polo shirt. I mean the shorts and the Iron Maiden t-shirt, finished off with the flip-flops…
If I had to choose a metaphor for my life right now, it would be this: "My life is like eating yogurt with a fork: not altogether impossible but difficult, and occasionally quite ridiculous."
As the mom of five teens, I often have questions that go unanswered, wafting aimlessly through the air like dandelion down: How many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches CAN a thirteen year old boy eat? How long have you known about this project you now so urgently need $30 of art supplies for? What do you do to your socks? Has anyone fed the dogs?
My current unanswered question is: Where are all our spoons? Really. I don't know. We have knives. We have forks. The spoons, apparently, have run off, sans dishes, never to be seen again. Thus, I had to eat my yogurt with a fork this morning.
So goes my life. The laundry is never caught up, I feel like when I'm at work, my mind is at home and vice versa, there is always a forgotten appointment or a phone call that needs to be…
I've always been a big fan of Stephen Mosher over at the Population Research Institute, and his newest blog merits consideration (click on "POP Science" above to go to that website).
It is unconscionable that a woman or man would be sterilized against his/her will or without prior consent. As Mosher points out, there is no way to read this EXCEPT as ethnic cleansing.
What many people don't know is that Margaret Sanger, founded of Planned Parenthood, was a strong believer in ethnic cleansing and eugenics. She believed that, "Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race." Her goal was to target blacks especially, and called for black ministers to spread the word of artificial birth control so that "word [would not] go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population".
Did you know that 50% of pregnancies in the African-American population today end in abortion?
We can be silently complicit, or we can raise our voices in protest. We can p…
I am fascinated by religion - all religions: big, small, weird, bland, worldly, sect. Love 'em all. (Except Scientology. Really.) I love the fact that all people, everywhere, in all times, wrestle with the same questions of the human existence. I love the creative answers we've come up with. I love that we build amazing pieces of architecture and create beautiful pieces of art and music in order to give glory to God, however, we understand Him/Her. I love that we continually search for Truth.
So, no surprise that this story caught my attention: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125223168 I have an affinity for Japanese Buddhism anyway (no gift for it, mind you - I couldn't sit in meditation for more than a few minutes before wandering into the next room for a nice cup of tea), but the idea of walking the distance of the world's circumference in search of peace of mind is enthralling. And I really love the idea of the Immovable Wisdom King.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strain) Ch-ch-Changes Don't want to be a richer man Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strain) Ch-ch-Changes Just gonna have to be a different man Time may change me But I can't trace time
[Insert whiny tone]: "But I don' wanna change!" Apparently, the Universe and its Creator have other plans.
And don't give me that "God closes a door and opens a window" crap. I'm not ready to hear that quite yet. I know it's true; I just don't want to hear it....yet. I'll get there.
It's been a tough few months for our family. We live smack in the middle of Recessionville, and with my dear husband working in the auto industry, finances have been tight. (Okay, squeaky tight.) With five teens, there is always drama, but with five special needs kids, you can quintuple the drama. Now, it seems as if my job is on shaky, shaky ground.
The Grand Rapids Press does a regular Sunday feature about 'someone you need to know': a local phenom of some sort. I always read the feature, and I always agree that it is someone I need to know. I got sidetracked today, though.
The woman featured, at one point, stopped the interview to shoo away a stray cat tempting her dog. Then she acknowledged, "I feed the cat. I suppose it's mine." And that's where my thoughts went astray, along with that cat.
There are a lot of things about myself I don't wish to acknowledge. I can be stupid, stubborn, selfish and mean. I would like to think those things don't really 'belong' to me, but like the lady in the interview, I feed them, so they are mine. I shoo them away, but then leave out morsels to tempt them back. Like a scrawny, slim cat, they take up residence, not because I've created a home for them, but simply because I let them. They aren't cuddly, personable or cozy...but they ar…
This is probably my favorite image of Mary. For those of us who are Catholic, we honor Mary every day, but especially on Mother's Day. Since we are brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is our Mother as well. Since God honored her with the greatest of honors - to be the Mother of the Savior - we honor her.
We don't worship her; that is reserved for God alone.
In my own life, Mary has been a contant source of comfort. Granted, there have been times when I've though, "Her kid was perfect; what can she do to help me??" Then I humbly remember that we are ALL her children, and we are less than perfect. She has far more worries about her kids than I do with mine.
Happy Mother's Day to all you moms, and Happy Mother's Day to Mary!
It has been a long week. School was long and hard, home was tough, my body and brain rebelled, and I'm done. All I've got left is a little piece of my mind to share, about peace. I've been looking for some peace this week, and ran across this lovely (if disconcerting thought) from Father Bede Jarrett, OP: "[Peace is] compatible with every form of suffering, with every privation, with every failure....it as compatible even with discontent; nay, it really necessitated discontent." He goes on to say that we must be always be discontent until all things are restored to Christ.I know this is true. I know that my dark-haired daughter won't have the peace she needs and deserves in this life, but I am confident she will in the next. However, I plan to do everything in my power to make sure that gets as much peace as she can enjoy now. I know that our finances will be "discontented" for some time, if not forever, in this life anyway. And I really shoul…
On my way to work yesterday, I heard a radio ad for a weight loss product. They were advertising a Mother's Day special.
I don't know much, but I do know this: do NOT, under ANY circumstances, buy any mother a weight loss product for Mother's Day. I don't even care if she asks for it. Don't do it. Bad idea. Get a bunch of flowers and a kiss on the cheek. Trust me.
I'm having a little trouble in a discussion with some young people. Their claim is that God and the life of Christ is "a fairy tale" and therefore not true. Something lacks in critical thinking skills, methinks: since when were fairy tales NOT true?
Let's take "Hansel and Gretel", for instance. Two parents who are desperate: they can no longer afford to feed their children. Lot of that going around these days. That much is true.
The parents hit upon a stupid plan: kill the kids or take them out to the woods and abandon them. Sadly, stupidity abounds. Some parents have taken these routes, either out of fear, ignorance or evil. We've become accustomed to abortion and abandonment in our culture.
So, we end up with two kids trying to survive on their own and using their wits to stay alive. Yep, kids around the world do that all the time.
Then, something evil, which appears to be good appears: a candy house! (Of course, H & G don't know that the witch is…