Figuring what out? A book review.

Box-of-Paper-Facial-Tissues-with-Pile-of-Used-Tissues-190Snot. Prodigious amounts of snot, buckets of it, really. Honestly, I can’t ever remember needing to purchase an accessory for reading, but this book was different, and boxes of tissue – boxes, not one box, were de rigueur. Members of my family could tell where I had been reading. No matter the location, bed, chair, or sofa, living room or family room, many telltale piles of used, crumpled up tissues would start springing up, like little mountains of white fluffy muck. It was unprecedented. All from reading a book – all from reading this particular book.

At this point you are confused, aren’t you? You look down and to the right, and you see an image of a book with the word, well, an approximation of the word sh!t in it. Then the opening paragraph is all about snot. What the h-e-double hockey sticks is going on?! This is a faith inspired blog, isn’t it? Well, the Catholic faith is deeply incarnational, meaning things like sh!t and snot are unavoidable. Sorry. Tune out if you wish, but take note – you will be missing out if you do. And who wants to miss out on sh!t like this?

Figureshitout-book-kindleFiguring Sh!t Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival, by Amy Biancolli (Behler Publications, 245 pp, $15.95, also available on Kindle) is a highly unusual Continue reading

Where I am today…

Today I am over at Margaret Felice’s blog, talking about the influence of one particular hymn on my life… I was not always the #churchnerd you see today. Of course I believed in and loved God, but I was terrified of God, and totally turned off to organized religion. But…

Anyway, what a privilege to be amongst those who are guest blogging as part of Margaret’s “How Can I Keep From Singing” series.

Rejoice, arise, and persevere – a Marian reflection

Boundless Love - Janet McKenzie©

Boundless Love – Janet McKenzie©

Today on September 8, many of us celebrate the Nativity of Mary – or more simply put, Mary’s birthday.

Now there are those who scoff at Mary, or who at least scoff at the devotion that many of us show to her as Mother of God. Once a long time ago, the woman who did my dry cleaning, and with whom I had exchanged many a God bless you, freaked out upon hearing that I was Catholic. She predicted hell and damnation for me because in her mind, I worshiped Mary, and not God – which is not true. Mary is many things, but she is not God.

While many Christians have a devotion to Mary, there are Catholics who also have their own Mary issues, even if they may be more quiet about them. As you can tell, I am not one of them!

I always hold up the thought that we should not always Continue reading

A Distinctly Disquieting Silence

silenceIt is a different kind of quiet. Not the silence of no one home for the moment, it is not the same as that at all. This silence has a depth and texture to it, heretofore unknown in these parts. I’m all for quiet, but this version… has a distinctly disquieting aspect to it.

Let me back up for a moment. When Mark and I married in 2007, his daughter Erica, a young woman who I was already very close with, officially became my stepdaughter. She was with us very frequently, always on Friday, Sunday, and Monday nights no matter what, and every morning. When high school started, she moved in with us pretty much full time, which was a gift.

When I first met Erica in 2004, she was 8 years old and she was at once timid and fierce. The day we met she had her face firmly buried in the safety of her dad’s arm. When he couldn’t get her to talk to me, I noted that I wished that I had someone’s arm to hide in myself! That made her laugh, and from there on in, we were set.

Part of our commitment to married life was that Erica would be a part of everything – and so she was. We truly embraced our commitment to one another as a family and we have been spending time together all these years. As she got older, she would be out or away more often, but she always came back. The silence communicated more of a “see you later.” The room in disarray, clothes draped on furniture, papers scattered, books piled up, and shopping bags everywhere.

EricaThingsThis past week the moment that we have all been waiting for came, and we dropped our beautiful girl off at college. This is a great time in her life, and in ours as well, but what an adjustment. The whirlwind that led up to the departure had us all in a high gear. Now the house is more orderly and very quiet.

Today it seems we are at a doorway or a gate, that opens to lead us all to new places. Who knows where we will go, but I do know this… for the moment, the distinctly disquieting silence shapes our days. We respond by doing our typical tasks and activities. None of this is bad, it is just different!

Today we hear the noise of no noise – a new sound that rings throughout the house and our hearts.

Where I’ve Been

OC_11Vacating. It was wonderful, and it is wonderful to be home again. Blogging to resume soon! How has your summer been?

Hope it has been good in some way, and don’t mourn its end too badly. Fall brings new gifts. And I can smell fall in the morning air. Can you?

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Unexpected and unwanted gifts

price-pritchett-quoteMy time on retreat touched my heart so deeply. Here I am, days later, and I continue to experience many riches from those 2 days. I feel more convinced than ever that if we all had some quiet time, disconnect time, be with God and nature time, we might find a better way. Some of us live with the sin of being too busy to find such peace – and most of the time this sin is not intentional, but it remains a sin.  Or I think about those who live with the consequences of low-paid labor,  or no work – who cannot find any better way.

I keep thinking of what I read in Bishop’s Ed Scharfenberger’s column in last Thursday’s Evangelist. He said:

Are you ready for a change? Is it time to let go of that habit, that attitude, that relationship that is causing so much unhappiness and frustration? Jesus stands waiting, knocking gently at our door. All He needs from us is a heart open to His outstretched hand.

Are we ready for change? If not, peace will not come – nor much else. If we think about this one day we must just take the leap of change. It sounds so promising – and awful, too. AT least to me! Here is the gift and virtue of community, I can ask for your help, you can ask for mine, and we can all ask God to help us. That may be Continue reading

Retreat

QuietI just returned from a wonderful retreat at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT, a place that I have long wanted to visit. A number of years ago, I did visit Litchfield a few times, but I have not been there in a long time, nor had I been to this place.

In the on-going embarrassment-of-riches department known as my life, (thank you God)  I was asked to help facilitate this retreat, which was being presented by a team. What a joy to be able to say yes.

For almost 48 hours I did not listen to a radio, watch a television, look at a computer screen, see or hear any news. What I did do was receive the grace to be able to fully sink into a real place of peace – a true retreat.

There were 18 retreatants, and 6 of us on the retreat team. My portion was near the very beginning so I really got to participate and relax with everyone else. The topic of the retreat was prayer, with different forms presented. There were no shortage of both aha and ahhhh moments. This diverse group of women was a joy to get to know; I arrived knowing only one of them and I left feeling my heart touched by many. God shows up in everyone, giving new meaning to the Catholic idea of “here comes everybody.”

LabWisdomDawnWe had a good amount of free time and I walked the labyrinth more than once. This morning I arose, heading out there shortly after sunrise. Oh, how I loved walking with the sun peeking over the hills and trees in the morning quiet, barefoot in the wet grass.

Returning around noon, I made two more turns, quietly praying the Jesus prayer at first, then making up a short prayer of my own. The space between heaven and earth seemed little more than a diaphanous veil at that point. Many prayer intentions and thoughts of friends and loved ones were alive in my heart during these two days.

Today I drove home in silence, relishing the quiet and peace. Now to find ways to continue to nurture this gift, one I have been actively trying to cultivate in the garden of my heart this summer. I am so thankful for the gift of retreat.

What would the world look like if we all had time for retreat, or at least some respite from every day living? Very different, I suppose. Very different.