Friday, February 26, 2010

Miriam, the Biologist.

Miriam and I watched a rather filthy, but adorable, raccoon last week as he rummaged through our compost pile. She wanted to know all about the little creatures and was especially intrigued by the fact that they are nocturnal (fortunately, she herself is not).

So, this morning when she overheard me complaining (er, remarking) to the Scientist Dad that the in utero Ahern had been kicking me all night, she fell to ponderations.

"Mummy! A baby is like a raccoon! She sleeps all day and stays up at night when she can see!"

She'll do just fine on the SAT analogies section.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ah. Welcome back, brain.

Echoing Melanie over at Wine Dark Sea, I didn't intend to simply stop writing for the first week of Lent. But it all just worked out that way. We've been getting into a Lenten rhythm as a family this year (since Miriam really is old enough to participate in sacrifices and prayers), which has been a beautiful glimpse into the next stage of our lives.

So, here's to getting back on the blogging train. More soon, should life and neuroactivity allow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

With homilies like this...

... who needs to blog?

"If anyone be devout and love God,
Let him commence this radiant fast with joy!
If anyone be a wise servant,
Let him, rejoicing, enter into the school of repentance."


"We are embittered, for we are banned from Eden.
We are embittered, but it is we who have mocked God.
We are embittered, for now we shall surely die.
We are embittered, for we have succumbed to the serpent.
We are embittered, for we are fettered in chains.
We partook of a fruit, and met the deceiver."

and finally...

"Let us delay not, lest we remain dead in the grave, sold under sin!
For God desires not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live!
So, let us choose life, and live, for the mercy of God endures forever!"

Thanks to Evlogia.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Praying with small children (around you).

At first, I thought that Abigail's "How to Pray with Small Children" would help me find some appropriate Lenten practices for Miriam. But it's actually meant for me. How to pray with small children constantly poking, prodding, screaming, humming, coloring, spilling, and laughing around you.

"One of my Carmelite friends is the mother of 10 children and someone in our class questioned how she could possibly pray each day with that many children. My friend simply answered "I get up before anyone else in my family wakes up to get in my half-an-hour because I need to pray everyday." That answer mystified my classmate. Yet it made perfect sense to me. If you've got 10 kids from ages 2 to 20, you need to pray everyday."

And if you have two children ages 1 and 4, you need to pray every day.

Check her out.

Thanks to Wine Dark Sea!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nesting and pondering.

The nesting instinct has been so strong for the past few weeks, I feel like a hibernating bear. Electronically, this has meant (an obvious) dirth in blog posts, emails, and the various twerps and tweeps of the world wide web. The house isn't much cleaner, the kids aren't fluent in Latin or Greek, but my little heart has been healing and gaining strength for the coming changes and upheavals of the spring.

The nesting this time around has been an interior nesting, a dwelling in silence along with this new little person inside me. She's our third girl, and we've named her Ana Therese--for the prophetess Anna-in-the-temple and my dear friend St. Therese of Lisieux (who surely has earned a name in our family).

Had she been a boy, I think I would have pushed for the name Hans Urs von Balthasar. I would have lost that battle, but his words have become an inseparable part of this pregnancy. Here are some of my treasures from Prayer:

"Harassed by life, exhausted, we look about us for somewhere to be quiet, a place for refreshment. We yearn to restore our spirits to God, to simply let go in him and gain new strength to go on living. But we fail to look for him where he is waiting for us, where he is to be found: in his Son, who is his Word."


"Perhaps we think that God's word has been heard on earth for so long that by now it is almost used up, that it is about time for some new word, as if we had the right to demand one. We fail to see that it is we ourselves who are used up and alienated, whereas the word resounds with the same vitality and freshness as ever; it is just as near to us as it always was."

and, finally

"The better a man learns to pray, the more deeply he finds that all his stammering is only an answer to God's speaking to him; this in turn implies that any understanding between God and man must be on the basis of God's language. It was God who spoke first..."

It was God who spoke first, and we listened.

I'm listening now, trying to formulate some sort of Lent for myself and the family. Any physical cross, such as pregnancy or chronic illness or autoimmunities, can make the idea of a Lenten penance ridiculous: "Me? I have to give up something more?" But the deal is that, first, God spoke first; second, he said he wants to be our everything; and third, all of us still have something we cling to and that we put above him. That's what has to go this Lent.

We all have crosses (some heavier than others). But suffering does not save us. Giving it to God saves us. It was God who spoke first. We must reply in his language, the language of the Cross.

Come, sweet Lent. Show me where I still worship other gods. And smash them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On inertia.

Things are calming down here, virus-wise, in the philosophical household. The incredible inertia of the third trimester, too, is sitting over me like a lead cloud. It feels like acedia, that spiritual sloth of uncaring, being unable to care, that Kathleen Norris describes so well:

The demon of acedia—also called the noonday demon—is the one that causes the most serious trouble of all. He presses his attack upon the monk about the fourth hour and besieges the soul until the eighth hour. First of all he makes it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and that the day is fifty hours long. Then he constrains the monk to look constantly out the windows, to walk outside the cell, to gaze carefully at the sun to determine how far it stands from the ninth hour [or lunchtime], to look this way and now that to see if perhaps [one of the brethren appears from his cell].

There is a great temptation in these last three months to always be looking out of my cell window: How many more days? How much longer? It's been a long road with this little friend inside me already, and today it seems endless. Time barely moves, just as I wish I barely had to move.

Third trimester inertia, however, does not have to turn into acedia. In the moments when I allow myself to obey the pleas of my other children, or the gentle urgings of my husband ("Go get some exercise!"), the time begins to move again as I begin to move again. And at the end-of-the-day moments--reading in bed or watching a movie--I think this is going so fast. Inertia suddenly becomes my friend, and I want to just let myself rest in those endless hours of pregnancy. Take a breath and simply be here and now.

With my little noonday demon. He thought he'd threaten my peace, did he?

It sure makes getting up and blogging difficult, though...