Extra helpings of humble pie

One of my favorite saint stories is about St. John Paul II. At one point (says biographer George Weigel) the pope had to call a young priest in the Vatican to his office. The pope had the task of reprimanding the young man for some error that went beyond an "oops" but was rather an error in judgment and conduct.

After the pope finished, he stood and walked from behind his desk. He knelt in front of the young priest and said, "Now, will you hear my confession?"

Humility.

Fr. James Farfaglia likes a definition from St. Teresa of AvilaShe said that humility is living in the truth ("andar en la verdad").

This makes sense. If we are pompous, we are not living in the truth. If we see others as "less than," we are not living in the truth. And if we believe ourselves to be horrid and ugly and unlovable, we are not living in the truth.

 If humility is the virtue, pride is the vice. When we act pridefully, we place ourselves in higher esteem than others. We believe some tasks are simply beneath us, and that we are not meant to serve other people.

Humility, like any virtue, must be cultivated. It does not come naturally. We need to pray that we are humble, asking God to give us the grace we need to possess the humility of Christ. Christ washed the feet of his disciples. He welcomed children, telling his followers they needed to be like them in order to gain Heaven. Ultimately, the humility of Christ led Him to the Cross.

Of course, when we pray, God answers those prayers. If we pray for humility, not only will He grant us humility, He will give us circumstances to practice and grow in humility.

As the Bard would say: there's the rub.

A couple of weeks ago, I accepted a job, ending my 3-1/2 month of being jobless. I prayed, and it seemed like a good move. Sure, there were a few hiccups, but no job or organization is perfect.

It did not go well. Not well at all.

I had been told my job would be one set of responsibilities by the owner. Just after she hired me, she left for a 3 week trip for work. I was thus left to be trained by a manager that I had not met.

The manager seemed to have a completely different view of what my responsibilities were meant to be. Was this poor communication or bait and switch? I didn't know, and I had no way of contacting the owner, who was literally half way around the world.

There was a steep learning curve. I'll admit, I had some trouble learning things. There were many details, all important. However, I thought I was doing pretty well. My manager did not. She told me I was not learning quickly enough and was asking too many questions.

I was a bit baffled. I'd never had a job where asking questions was considered troubling.  The manager, it appeared, had done her job and it was done. Any further questions seemed to signify moral failure on my part.

I was getting more and more uncomfortable, and she was getting more and more frustrated. Finally, they "made an executive decision," deciding "this was not working out."

I nearly blurted out: "Thank God!" Of course, it still stings. It feels as if I can't do anything right. In fact, the only thing I seem to be good at is losing jobs.

Yes, it is humbling. It is not comfortable. It is not easy. It is not fun. Yet, God has His reasons, and I must trust Him, despite how awful it feels. If I want to be more and more virtuous, I have to gratefully accept this lesson.

I'd rather kick and scream and suggest that this was all the manager's fault. Yes, there were clearly problems on the part of the employer. But I have to accept responsibility for my own issues. I am not better than, more than, holier than. Nope, I'm the same old sinful soul that has been praying for the perfect job, the place where I can really shine.

Humble pie is not shiny. It does not taste good. It's not bad either. It just is: sort of like oatmeal. It nourishes and fills one up, but no one is excited about it.

So pass me the fork and I'll eat my humble pie. The Chef who prepared it knows that it is just what I need.


Families And the Ties That Bind

A number of years ago, I interviewed for a job. When I was hired, the guy who would be my boss told me: "We will treat you just like family." I hesitated. I mean, no matter how a great a family is, there are some bumps in the road. If you're from an Irish family, being treated like family can mean anything from getting terrific gifts for your birthday to getting un-invited from a reunion because you forgot your 2nd cousin's anniversary.

In our family, we've had a couple of small weddings in the past few years. Typically, our family weddings are all-out bashes, sending out invitations to everyone from Mom's great aunt Clodagh to your cousin, his wife and their 10 kids.

Smaller weddings are certainly understandable. It's expensive. A lot of our family members are footing the bill themselves, rather than relying on Mom and Dad. And, honestly, some of our family members don't know each other too well. If you're trying to be frugal, the guest list has to stop somewhere.

In a perfect world, all of this would be understood. But this ain't no perfect world. Feelings get hurt. people feel left out and drama ensues.

Here we are, a few days after one of our small family weddings, and not only are feelings getting hurt, but salt is being rubbed into wounds. It's ugly.

This is the sort of "ugly" than can tear people apart. I'm saddened but I'm trying to be Switzerland (not a place I'm terribly comfortable.) What should be a wonderful event is tainted by hurt feelings that others won't acknowledge. We'd all hug it out, and things would be fine. Yeah....

Seems like the Golden Rule is applicable here. Sometimes, we just have to keep quiet (and if you're Irish, you know this is darn near impossible.) The balm of Gilead should be applied generously. Maybe by the time the next wedding rolls around, all will be forgiven.

I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.

Family Dinner (and why there is a kitten on my head)

With our kids now grown (one at home), it became obvious to me this past year that unless we made a specific effort to be together, it wasn't gonna happen. Thus was born Family Dinner.

It's simple: we host dinner the last Sunday of every month. Bring a date, bring a friend but be there. Dear Hubby likes to cook, so it's win-win. And the kids responded. It's became rather sacred to all of us: "Oh, sorry. I can't. That's Family Dinner."

We hosted a Special Edition Family Dinner yesterday, as Curly-Haired Daughter is home for a family wedding next weekend. As Hubby laid-out a roasted pork loin dinner, I was happy to have the table set and extended, a couple of extra chairs rounded up, and kids surrounding us.

Our "entertainment" was the newest edition to the family, a tiger-striped kitten named Galway Girl. She has yet to learn that the table is not a playground. Her preferred sleeping spot is either my shoulder or the top of my head. Who knows why? She is like all kittens in that she is curious and fearless and funny, and she is unique because she is ours. Also, our older cat, Mojo, seems to have forgiven us for bringing the pip squeak home.

Even better yesterday was that Curly-Haired Daughter stayed late and talked. When she and her hubby decided to move out of state in January, it rocked our worlds. (I HATE having her so far away - despite the fact that I know how silly that is. I mean, come on: the age of the internet and cheap travel means she is still "right here." It's not like we live in the mid-1800s and she and her hubby decided to strike out for the West.)

It became apparent to me last night that she has matured SO MUCH in these past few months. There are a lot of reasons for it, but she is clearly thinking like an adult. I'm so proud of her and her hubby in that they truly believe in marriage and they make theirs a priority. Oh, she is still my baby girl but the world is gaining an amazing young woman. I'll still cry when I have to hug her good-bye in a week, but I could not be happier with the fact that she is a beautiful, fierce, funny woman. And when she is visiting next, I'll curl up in my chair, cat on head, to listen and talk.

What to do at the end of your rope? Hold on tight and cry.

In some ways, things are looking up. Curly-Haired daughter is home for about 10 days, as she is matron of honor for her cousin. Esther, her cousin, is 90 lbs. of dynamite. She's a bit off-beat, and the wedding is going to be a bit off-beat, but I'm still excited for her.

I've got a job! I'm keeping it a bit low-key as I interviewed for another position Friday. I'm 99% sure they are going to offer me a job, and I don't want them to read about me taking another job on Facebook. More on the job and the process of getting there later.

I'm also going to be doing some freelance writing for extra money. Busy girl.

Yet, with all this, my heart is filled with dread. Our bank account is in the negative numbers - 14 weeks of my being unemployed has added up. Our expenses have not increased (and in some ways, they've decreased) but here is the sad fact: we can't pay our rent this month. We honestly could be evicted. I've hit up a couple of people for a loan, but so far....

As much as I'm enjoying the early days of a new job, I keep seeing us living out of our cars. So, I'll pray. It's all I have left....

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...