Work Post: Be Amazed

My latest from my work blog - "Living the Good News" at Diocesan Publications

https://diocesan.com/be-amazed/

Of Barbeque Ribs, Strangers and the Human Tribe

Had my last official visit with the surgeon yesterday. I am good to go! Very thankful for the relief my spinal stimulator has brought me, and for all of the answered prayers.

On my way into the hospital where the surgeon's office is located, a very large man was sitting on a bench by the door. He was yelling greetings to everyone. People ignored him and went on their way.

As I was waiting for the elevator, he came in the lobby. He yelled at no one in particular, "I can't wait til they take those ribs outta my freezer on Sunday!" I smiled at him as the three other folks there looked at their feet ("Don't make eye contact. Don't make eye contact!")

He looked at me and said, "You eat ribs??" Yes, I replied.

"Well, I got 18 lbs of ribs in my freezer. We gonna cook 'em up Sunday!"

"That sounds like a feast! I hope you enjoy!"

And then I got on the elevator. One lady on board mumbled something about he must be "crazy." I thought he was just really happy about 18 lbs. of ribs. Who wouldn't be?? I mean, the only thing better would be bacon.

This past Sunday, Dear Husband and Dark-Haired Daughter were running errands. Their last stop was the nearby pharmacy - a large chain. Daughter had to use the ladies' room. As she walked in, there was a woman chopping off huge chunks of her hair, with a box of hair color on the sink. The woman turned to my daughter, hand up in the universal sign for "stop" and terrified, yelled out, "No!! You have to get out!! You can't come in! Just stop!! Get out!!"

My daughter wisely heeded. Understandably shaken, Daughter got Dad. Dad got a store manager and then .... we're not sure what happened after that. Some scenarios come to mind as to why a woman would do this, and none are good, so we decided to pray for the woman.

As I told this story to my co-workers over lunch on Monday, one remarked, "That is so bizarre!! It's crazy - I mean, who sees something like this??" And I replied, "Us. For the Hiltons, this is called Sunday night."

It's rather amazing, but the barbeque ribs guy and the hair-chopping lady are just rather normal for us. (Me especially. Really. My spiritual advisor says I have a neon sign on my head that such folks can see.) When everyone else is moving away and looking at their feet, we are engaging in conversation. I've had conversations about barbeque, aliens (this one was notable as it took place in the National Basilica in Washington DC), depression, how horrible meds are, not wanting coffee (I'd offered a really mad guy who wanted money some coffee - he wasn't  happy), and the general state of the world, including transportation, roundabouts and bikes.

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. - Heb. 13:2

No, I don't see every one of these folks as angels (but they could be! I'm rather dense!), but I know they are Christ. Sometimes they are Christ who loves barbeque and sometimes they are Christ trying to hustle a few bucks. Christ in his most distressing disguise, St. Teresa of Kolkata said, and she knew a bit about those distressing disguises.

Our natural tendency towards these folks is to move away. We think (maybe not consciously, but it's there): Danger. Just Step Away. And yeah, some of these folks are belligerent and rude. They smell bad. They are mentally ill and they have taken the Crazy Train right on outta town.

But they are still Us. Our Tribe. Human. They get hungry and lonesome. They hurt, physically, emotionally. They are lost. Or maybe found. Maybe they don't want anything this world has to offer and they are trying to check out as much as they can.

But they are still Christ.

So if you see a middle-aged redhead woman nodding thoughtfully as a 300 lb. black man yells at her about barbeque ribs, just throw her a little wave. And say a Hail Mary for us. Because it's Us. We Are A Tribe.

What happens when Lent takes a left-turn? 4 ways to get back on track


Most Catholics who take their faith seriously (and even some who don't) have a plan for Lent. We know what we're giving up. We throw our spare change in the Rice Bowl. We have a book or two we plan to read, or maybe delve into Scripture more regularly.

Then, we find ourselves in the middle of Lent, completely off-track. Our GPS broke. Our map was wrong. We're lost.

What to do?

First, I'm not talking about tragedy. Someone dies, or  you lose your job or some other horrible and completely up-ending event occurs. No, this is just ... a wrong turn. How can you get back on track?

1. Pray. Without a doubt, prayer is always the best place to start. Go to Jesus and rest in His love for you. Ask that He guide you back to where you need to be. Enlist the help of a patron saint as well - they love to pray for us!

2. Fast. Yes, I know we only have to truly fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (By the way, I am the world's worst WORST worst faster. I get completely obsessed with food.....) You might choose to fast for a day, like we do for those two days. Or maybe you should fast from social media for a few days. Fast from your favorite beverage and just drink water. Then, (and here is the really important part!!): every time your thoughts go to that thing you are fasting from - pray. Just a little prayer, like, "Jesus, I love you" or "Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner."

3. Prepare well for Mass. Don't show up for Mass like you have no idea this was all going to happen. Before you get to Mass (maybe a day or so ahead), read the readings and Gospel. (You can always find them here.) Just read 'em. Don't expect too much. Then, once more before Mass, read them again, but read them with a prayerful heart: "Lord, what are you telling me here? Help me hear Your voice."

4. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, go to Confession. However, examine your life: family, friends, work. Is there someone you've wronged? Slighted? Maybe you took credit for something that wasn't yours, or you made a snippy comment to a hurting soul. Go find that person or persons and tell them you are sorry. Be specific: "I'm sorry I said your haircut looked like Captain Kangaroo. It was rude. Please forgive me." You don't need to psychoanalyze yourself with them, explaining that you had a traumatic haircut as a child and just haven't worked through it yet. Say, "I'm sorry."

Three weeks til Easter, people! Let's dig in and finish well!

Lent: Going Swimmingly, Thank You

I've mentioned here before that I have given up trying to make any Lenten plans. God simply chuckles and then throws whatever He wants at me.

My surgery was successful, but there's a glitch. Apparently my little apparatus does not prevent or help with muscle spasms, an issue I've dealt with since I was about 14. Now, when I say "muscle spasm," do not think "charley horse" or "cramp." No, think: woman lying on bathroom floor screaming. Once in awhile I can work through them on my own, but usually they require a trip to the ER.

I've have 4 of these episodes since my surgery. My nurse thinks that the surgery probably aggravated some stuff, and my muscles will settle down in a few weeks. I can only say: I fervently hope so.

I've had an ear infection for about 10 days. Two antibiotics and every home remedy under the sun.

I continue to struggle with apartment life. Don't get me wrong - I REALLY like our apartment. It's quiet, the neighbors are respectful, the price and location are great. Now that we've got art up on the walls, it feels like home.

But it doesn't quite feel like home. And that makes me...sad, angry, jealous. Icky. And supremely ungrateful.

I also completely lost it with Dark-Haired Daughter the other night. Why? I just wanted some space, and in a two bedroom apartment, there is not a whole lot of space. It ended up in this horrible shouting, slamming doors, sulking show. Ugh.

My oldest daughter has moved, with her hubby, 1000 miles away. And she likes it there. Snot.

I can't seem to get off the ground spiritually for Lent. I've missed Mass a couple of Sundays - once for a muscle spasm (well, more for the drugs after the spasm) and once for this crunching ear infection. I'm trying to keep up with readings and weeks and themes, and the best I can muster is a sleepy Rosary said every morning.

Dear Hubby has started girls' soccer season, so right now our communication life is limited to, "Did you eat?" and "Love you. See you tomorrow sometime." (I'm not exaggerating.)

God, in His infinite wisdom, plunked down St. Patrick's Day in the middle of Lent, so at least there is a reprieve of sorts. I got an adorable Irish gift from a dear friend - the sort of friend who seems to telepathically know when I need a pick-me-up.

I need to go to confession. I need to pray the Stations. I need Lent, and not just grinding-down-pain-and-doldrums. Thankfully, I know where to get me some Lent.


Not A "Nasty Woman" But A Blessed One


We are coming up on A Day Without Women, a brain-clumpofcells of the Women's March.

I was thinking about Ashley Judd's little rant, A Nasty Woman. It makes me sad, frankly, that this rather gross, base description of "femininity" was so highly praised. What a lost opportunity to truly celebrate what St. John Paul II referred to as the feminine genius.

Anyhow, I took the liberty of re-working the Nasty Woman piece. (By the way, that piece was written not by Judd, who performed it. It was written by 19 year old Nina Donovan.)

A Blessed Woman

I am a blessed woman. I'm not as blessed as the woman who knelt beside an animal's food trough in a cave to peer at the face of God. A baby who held the entire Universe is his tiny hand. A woman who transformed the world with one word: "Yes."

Not as blessed as that wrinkled little woman in India who saved kids. That woman who shamed a president and his wife for promoting abortion. That woman who likened children to flowers and struck fear into the hearts of many Church leaders.

I'm not as blessed or as brave as that White Rose girl - Sophie - who fought against that nasty swastika. The symbol of an evil government legally chosen, we must remember. Because we do choose evil.

I'm not as blessed or as brave as Joan who got on a bus in Mississippi to register people to vote. I'm not as blessed as Mae, who breathed in smoke so that others could stand in their school gym in November and cast a ballot.

I'm not as much of a blessing as my Dark-haired Girl, who inspires me every day to speak out and fight against traffickers - those people who believe that  women and girls, boys and men, are chattel.

I'm not as blessed as that queen whose voice could blow the roof off a church, child, and who was "'buked and scorned" - but blessed as well.

I am a blessed woman. I am a daughter of God.

I'm not as blessed as Ruth. I'm not as blessed as Esther. I'm not as blessed as Therese' or Catherine, as wise as Clare, as sure as Elizabeth. I'm not as bold as Magdalene. I'm not as stubborn as Angelica (Oh, wait. Maybe I am.)

I'm not as tenacious as Kateri or as fierce as those Yazidi women, clinging to life and tradition. I am not guided like Harriet, or as assured as Bakhita. I am not as selfless as Katherine or single-minded as Susan and Dorothy. But I pray I can be!

I am blessed. Oh, Lord, I am blessed!

I am blessed, as are you, dear sister. We are blessed to be able to conceive and bear life. We can create with our Creator! We are blessed to be able to hold the world in our arms and heart. We see that child's body washed up on the beach, and he is our child.

We are hard and soft, yin and yang. We are blessed and broken, creators and created, matriarchs and queen bees. We cover like a quilt - a quilt we made with scraps our mothers gave us.

We are blessed with dignity, the dignity of holding our head high when we feed our kids with a soup full of noodles or a soup that a thin broth. Blessed in our roles as wives and mothers and friends and teachers and bus drivers and nuns and sisters and directors of plays and director of play groups.

We uncork the wine and stir the gravy and bless the food and bake the cake.

Oh, we are blessed! We are blessed because we hold peace in our hearts. We offer peace to the world and hold off destruction and sin with nothing but our wombs and breasts and heels that strike the serpent's head. We hold that power of peace in hearts souls. We are blessed.

God blesses us with a heritage of sisters. I am a blessed woman. A blessed woman indeed.


There is a bike in my dining room....

Really. There is a bike in my dining room. DH got obsessed with cycling after we bought our first house. You know: young, married, no ki...