Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Holding pattern.

We're gearing up for another major move in the next few days--this time from MA to NH for a month. Then it's down south to central CT, where the Scientist Dad has landed a cushy professorship (doesn't that sound grand?). We're hoping and praying that this move is a move toward home.

Meanwhile, the madness of planning, packing, and sorting has descended. The kids are a little discomforted, I'm relapsing into stress-mode, and it's hot. We're in holding pattern, just waiting and counting down the days.

At first, I was just sad. Western MA has got to be one of the most beautiful places I've been blessed to live. I don't want to leave, even for the golden egg of a tenure-track position. Then I was angry: What the heck? Another move? Then mad at myself: And why is this bothering me so much? I chose this life. Suck it up, Momma!

I'm still sad and mad, but starting to feel the anticipation of a new life. The idea of really being able to set down roots somewhere (even in suburban CT) is so appealing. That restless, insatiable desire of the heart for a real home is giving me the strength to keep packing.

In the wee hours, I try to turn that desire and exhaustion to heaven, our final home. It's not that hard to do: it is a common (and possibly universal) human tendency. We long for home.

As we approach the end of the Easter/Pascha season and the great feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, the whole trajectory of the Christian mystery comes into view. The long, dark Lent and the radical light of the resurrection -- they've all pointed to this moment when the Lord rises into heaven to receive his crown. The fruit of this mystery is hope: And hope does not disappoint.

I haven't seen much of our new home in CT. I have heard good things, but am still stepping into the unknown. Another death: another resurrection. "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has prepared for those who love him."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Miriam the Philosopher.

Miriam offered to do the dishes last week, and I figured that a little splashing in the sink wouldn't hurt anyone. To my delight, she actually washed them effectively! She has been happily doing my lunch dish work for the last few days. She's thrilled to be a big girl. I'm thrilled to let her do the dishes.

As she approaches 6 years old (oh, wow), she's also becoming quite the existentialist.

If you have any answers (that do not involve Sartre) to the following, please let me know.

Miriam the Platonist: "Mummy? If Daddy had married a different Mummy, would I be Miriam?"

Miriam the Thomist: "Mummy. If God had not made me to be me, who would I have been?"

Bella (3 years old): "Miwiam is so silly!"

Miriam the Wittgensteinian: "Mummy? If Daddy had married a different Mummy, would he live in this house?"

Miriam the Aristotelian: "Mummy. Why is the world so wonderful?"

Mummy the Husserlian: "Mummy! When I am not here, the trees will still be here!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yes to everything.

This is a re-post from last year's Lent (so long ago...). I've been reacquainting myself with my Mother in heaven. Or rather, she's been chasing me down lately. As May draws to a close, I wanted to honor her.

One of my Lenten disciplines will be to renew my consecration to Jesus through Mary in the mode of Louis de Montfort. The plan (emphasis on "plan") is to post the daily reflections (not all the prayers, though!) here. The three-week period of preparation starts this Thursday, March 4, but here's a little Marian reflection from Hans to get us going.

He's been discussing the foundation of contemplation, which is a listening to the Word of God in Scripture and the person of Christ.

He writes:

"The hearer par excellence is the virgin, who becomes pregnant with the Word and bears it as her Son and the Father's. As for herself, even as Mother she remains a handmaid; the Father alone is Lord, together with the Son who ish er life and who fashions it... She still carries him within herself, even after she has given birth to him; to find him, all she has to do is look into her heart, which is full of him."

I love the image of a virgin--a sort of symbol of purity, of a person who is completely emptied of all else (including herself) in order to be "full of him." Certainly it is an elevated vision of virginity, and not one we encounter on primetime!

He continues:

"With all the strength she can muster she listens to this Word as it grows more and more vast, divine and seemingly alien; its dimensions almost tear her asunder, yet it is for this, for everything, that she gave her consent right at the start. She lets herself be led where she 'does not wish to go'--so far is the Word she follows from being her own wisdom."

This section--right in the middle of a discourse on virginity!--speaks to me so much as a married woman trying to follow the Church's teaching (which is the Word of God in a certain form) on spousal love and fertility. Isn't it just a learning what my original vows meant? Every time I am led "where I do not wish to go" in this married life, I must remember that it was "for this, for everything, that I gave my consent right at the start."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blog is not dead, nor doth she sleep!

"The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men."

That little jingle keeps going through my head whenever I wail, "But the BLAAWWG!" (That's "blog," in wailing parlance.) Things have just been busy around here, what with editing work (Yes, I have a side business! Let me edit your next book.), attempts to homeschool (now well-devolved into unschool), and continued physical therapy on the ever-improving back.

These are all very little things, punctuated every five minutes by even littler things: diapers, a spilled drink, a toothache, a phone call.

Before the demands of these littlest things, writing swells in my mind into some Great and Wonderful Work. If only I could sweep aside all these little, insignificant tasks, and Really Do Something. If only I could read that book I've been eying for three weeks, then surely Something Great would transpire in my soul!

I note my desperation. I recognize the frustration.

And then I can say, "Get thee behind me, Satan. There are no little things. Every task is different in kind, but not in greatness."

St. Josemaria Escriva writes,

"Do everything for love. In that way, there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in the little things for love is heroism." (~no. 813, The Way)

Amen. And now I must break up a fight over whether Daddy's birthday comes every year or every week.

With love.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ana Therese!

Dear Ana Therese,

One year ago, I was induced at 39 weeks.

We chose to induce in the hopes that you would be smaller than your sisters at birth.

You weighed 10 lbs. and 10 oz.

Our biggest yet. And our happiest Cinco de Mayo ever.

But next time (Lord willing), I think we'll induce at 38 weeks.

Happy birthday, Big Girl!

Monday, May 2, 2011

When Bin Laden died.

It's no news by now that President Obama announced in the wee hours of the morning that Osama bin Laden is dead. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and omnipresent instapundrity, there's hardly a reaction on the emotional spectrum yet to be recorded.

The most quoted Scriptural quote of the day? "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he is overthrown." (Proverbs 24:17) Okay, I get that. Real Christians shouldn't be all excited and dance around in the streets when even their worst enemy is assassinated. All you people who posted how proud you are: BAD! All peace-lovers: GOOD!

While we're quoting Scripture, we could probably force the sweet Holy Spirit to say just about anything that matches our own emotional reactions to Bin Laden's death. I think David asks the Lord several times to slay the wicked, pulverize his enemies, and gut the unrighteous (Psalms 54 and 58 come to mind). So, maybe the firemen dancing at Ground Zero were just expressing an equally Scriptural feeling.

This is a gross oversimplification. Every Tweet and Twittle and post is simply a symbol, a sign of much more complicated feelings and thoughts and theologies of war. (The death of bin Laden demonstrates again the incapacity of our social media to deal worthily with our most fundamental human thoughts and feelings and choices.)

It is of course only natural for the Western world to feel relief, even joy, at the news that a once-powerful terrorist is dead. If you are an American, it is natural to feel pride that "our guys got 'im!" You would hardly be human if you couldn't sympathize (or even empathize) with the demonstrations of rejoicing. David was human, too, and he sang songs of victory over the defeat of his enemies. And he wasn't speaking metaphorically.

But, as the oft-quoted Proverb reminds us, we are both natural and supernatural beings. We live in a world forever changed by the death of the only innocent man ever to live. We know, at the level of our transformed human nature, that Osama bin Laden was beloved of God. We know that he faces a terrible moment of personal judgement that we all will face. I hope for God's mercy on the day of my judgement. Can I forget to beg for mercy for bin Laden? As Jen writes, it is a central truth of our faith that God wants to forgive bin Laden, just as he wanted to forgive Hitler and Stalin and Mao. If I can't swallow that truth yet, I need to ask God to change my heart.

There are men and women alive today whose lives were destroyed in any meaningful sense by bin Laden. I cannot expect them, if I am merciful, to pray for him. Forgiveness is not a human action--it is divine. I did not lose anyone close to me on 9/11: Rage is rightly theirs. Because I was spared on that horrible day, however, I have the obligation to do what perhaps the bereaved cannot yet do. I must pray for mercy on his soul. The day will come when I cannot forgive someone, and I will need the prayers of others who can forgive.

After we pray for bin Laden, we can forgive ourselves for perhaps feeling a little joy at his death. The death of violent, however tragic, may also be, as the Vatican statement notes, a chance for peace. But posting about the glories of a bullet to the brain? I don't know if that will accomplish what we all hope for.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beatus! Version 2.0

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us! Dearest Papa, you have changed our lives by your fidelity to the life of Christ. Pray that we may be as you now are.

I've cited this poem before, but it sings so well. It was written for John Paul II by his fellow Pole (and one of my all-time favorite poets), Czeslaw Milosz:

"Ode for the Eightieth Birthday of Pope John Paul II"

We come to you, men of weak faith,
So that you may fortify us with the example of your life
And liberate us from anxiety
About tomorrow and the next year. Your twentieth century
Was made famous by the names of powerful tyrants
And by the annihilation of their rapacious states.
You knew it must happen. You taught hope:
For only Christ is the lord and master of history.

Foreigners could not guess from whence came the hidden strength
Of a novice from Wadowice. The prayers and prophecies
Of poets, whom money and progress scorned,
Even though they were the equals of kings, waited for you
So that you, not they, could announce urbi et orbi,
That the centuries are not absurd but a vast order.


You are with us and will be with us henceforth.
When the forces of chaos raise their voice
And the owners of truth lock themselves in churches
And only the doubters remain faithful,
Your portrait in our homes everyday reminds us
How much one man can accomplish and how sainthood works.


"In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: 'When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan WyszyƄski, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’.' And the Pope added: 'I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the 20th century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate.' And what is this 'cause'? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: 'Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!' "

A gift of Divine Mercy, most suitably commemorated with this awesome electric guitar solo.

"Ask yourselves, young people, about the love of Christ. Acknowledge His voice resounding in the temple of your heart. Return His bright and penetrating glance which opens the paths of your life to the horizons of the Church’s mission. It is a taxing mission, today more than ever, to teach men the truth about themselves, about their end, their destiny, and to show faithful souls the unspeakable riches of the love of Christ. Do not be afraid of the radicalness of His demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give Himself to you, as well as asking of you. If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much."
~Blessed John Paul II (The Meaning of Vocation)