Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Light Bright

Remember playing with LITE-BRITE?
For several years, I engaged myself in BIG holiday projects.

One year my friends and I recorded a CD of our Christmas favorites.  16 of them, I think.  The next year I wrote a Christmas show, Welcome Heaven's Light, using that music.  We performed WHL a couple years running, and then I wrote a new show, Journey of the Wise Men, I think it was called, a departure from previous work in that it had a comic twist made possible by the Wise Men.  The last concert I wrote was a reworking of the original, and I called it Touching Wonder.  In the meantime, I wrote a non-Christmas show, The Feast, to celebrate the gift of good marriages, and a couple other small shows.  The five of us also recorded more music, some of it original. 

I often describe my history in terms of the elements of light I recall.  These years of music were light bright.  Energetic.  Creative.  Dynamic.  I felt like I could achieve anything.

I find it easy to be creative when the world is light bright. 

For me, it's impossible to create when darkness falls.

And darkness fell slowly, but in a big way.  I guess it all began in January 2008 and decisively ended September 25.  In The Inferno Dante expresses a similar experience in his life, and it is so beautiful in the original Italian:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
(A gloss for those non-Italians... Nel mezzo ... in the middle / del cammin ... of the path (commonly used figuratively) / di nostra vita ... of our life / mi ritrovai ... I found myself / per una selva oscura ... in a dark wood / ché la diritta via ... for the direct/straight way / era smarrita. ... was lost.)

So I was lost.  Floundering.  Trying to find my way back to my path.  I lost trust in others.  I lost my sense of belonging.  I lost the energy to create. 

I, in fact, lost myself.

In trying to find where I belonged, I made mistakes.  I listened to well-intentioned friends.  I drove away other friends.  Worse, maybe, I stopped making new friends.

And then little rays of light started to shine. 

I successfully completed my triathalon.  I'm strong. 

I created a new music group with Rachel and Brittney, girls I've accompanied for a decade.  I make good opportunities for young people.

I taught my staff new tasks, trusting them to do important things; they have lightened my daily burden immensely.  I'm able to trust others.

I went back to school.  My brain is on fire.

I made new friends and reconnected with old friends.  I love deeply and generously.

I applied to a study abroad program and am going to Spain in January.  I'm courageous. 

I accepted a position managing a new Christmas production with new people and in a new place.  I make things happen.

I wrote a new Christmas offering for the teen choir I accompany and the girls and director are excited to perform it in December.  I'm creating.  Creating!

And you know, the world is again light bright.  I can achieve anything.

Praise God.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Synchronicity and the Dread "Perception"

A very, very wise woman once pointed out that I tend to be aware of synchronicty - when seemingly unrelated people or events have related meaning.  On a side note, I would like to see that woman again.

Last week, the ugly word "perception" appeared in six entirely separate instances. In the majority of the occurances, the speaker inappropriately used the word. Seriously. Five out of six. 

Misused "perception" is one of my least favorite words.  It became a least favorite when I received an email opening with this sentence "Unfortunately, perception is truth." The email was full of enough misperception and untruth, it turned my stomach.

This week the word has been used correctly thrice by three different sources.  In two cases, the writer used the phrase "Perception Vs. Reality."

In the third case, my favorite fictional murder cop is discussing a case with a victim's father and her colleague.

Eve: "You're in charge and therefore responsible. That's both reality and perception."

Captain MacMasters: "You're saying this could have come through any of the cases any of my men worked."

Thank you.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Two different things.  Two things often at odds with each other.

Reality is about what IS and what cannot be changed.  Is.  Was.  Will be.  That's reality. 
The world is round.  I am 42.  I dislike deceit.

Perception is nothing more than information filtered by our lousy senses.

And ok.  I'll admit.  Some sensory information is good.  If something's hot, our sensory system says "don't touch that."  Good. 

Still.  Other sensory information says "don't keep driving forward; you'll fall off the earth."  Yeah.  Get it?

I'm a Roman Catholic.  I love being Roman Catholic.  Stripping away individual belief, personal experience, and critical review, I think I could be Roman Catholic simply because the Church "gets" the difference between perception and reality.  And you know?  So does Jesus.

Got the Goods

¡Anoche recibí mi calendario para clase de enero!  Por lo que he podido hacer mi reserva de alojamiento.  Durante la primera semana nos quedaremos aquí:


Espero poder pasar el resto del mes aquí:

¿Hay una persona en el mundo tan afortunada como yo?

Last night, I received my calendar for my January class.  So now I can make my reservations.  The first picture is of the place I will stay the first week with my family.  The second and third pictures are of the place I will stay during my month of study. Is there a person in the world as fortunate as me?

The schedule:
December 28:  Leave for Spain with the Fam
January 3:  Students arrive in Seville and Orientation Starts
January 4:  Orientation Continues
January 5:  Classes Begin (and Joe and I celebrate 21 years of marriage)/Fam Leaves
January 6:  Holiday - Día de los Reyes Magos
January 7:  Day Trip to Ronda
January 14-15:  Overnight Trip to Córdoba y úbeda
January 24:  Last Day of Classes
January 25:  Final Exam
January 28:  Leave for Home
January 29:  Arrive at Home
January 30:  Winter Semester Begins

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blessings and Raindrops

Laura Story isn't my favorite musician, not by a long shot. 

That's surprising, because it seems like her work is piano-driven and smart, and I tend to appreciate both qualities. 

However, I also tend toward more ensemble-ish (of course, that's not a word, but whatever) music, because when good ensembles hit the right blend, or create beautiful harmony, there's nothing in the world that matches the shiver of pleasure I feel. Really. Nothing.

I also think Story's music, though beautiful, is not something the average non-singer can or will just joyfully sing along. It's challenging, not really anthemic (again, I know), and just generally not catchy, for the most part.

As a liturgical musician, I would rarely use her music in a liturgy because, again, most people cannot just sing along.
Separating from my "work" I cannot even say I listen to her music while praying. When I pray, I need music that is in the background of prayer. Her music is not that. It's thinking music.

So, no, not a favorite go-to artist. And yet, she is a beloved musician.

Her songs tell stories and I love stories.

Let me say that again. I LOVE stories. True ones. Bad ones. Fiction. Even stories set to music.

"Blessings" by Story is one of my favorite story songs by this artist.  In part, she sings:
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
What if our blessings really do come from raindrops?

What if the trials and hurts and struggles really are mercies in disguise, and thus blessings?

We pray for blessings.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Commission

Because I am a wedding coordinator, I became a Eucharistic Minister.

I don't really care for the reality of putting the Host on a person's tongue. It completely disgusts me - not in every case, just a few.

The Blood is entirely different. You hand the communicant the cup, wipe off their spit, turn the cup, and offer it again. Totally hygienic.

Even knowing that the Body and Blood of Christ is unlikely to spread disease or make people ill, I have trouble giving the Hosts.

Still, if I had to, I would distribute the Hosts. After all, it's Jesus.

Recently I received notice that there was going to be a Commissioning of Eucharistic Ministers and just prior to the Commissioning, we would be attending a retreat. Nifty that the timing of said retreat worked into my incredibly scary, tight schedule. I will also be in town for the actual Commissioning.

In part, Fr Tony's invitation reads: "In this ministry, you must be examples of Christian living in faith and conduct; you must strive to grow in holiness through this sacrament of unity and love."

Well, all righty.

And, having left the one friendship that almost gave me permission to look at others and judge their actions, I know my focus will be on my own committment and not on the presence or performance of others.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Perfect Fit

Today Joe said he'd like baseball better if I were there.  I set aside my plans and went to watch his game.  I'm glad I did.  A good friend was there.

Joe's known Tim a long, long time.  They probably vs'd each other in baseball for twenty or twenty-five years.  For several years, they've been going to Florida together.  They are the Minnesota Bandits and they have cool unis.  When he once asked what it would take to convince me to nag Joe into going to baseball in Florida every year, I said "fan attire."  He hooked me up with a sweet "girly" t-shirt in Bandit colors.  I'm proud to wear it.
From the first time I met Tim, I've been comfortable with him.  He's salt of the earth - a good, good man, a GREAT father, and an amazing husband.  Then I met his wife, Beth.  She's as good as he is.  I loved her from the moment we met.  To me it felt like there wasn't even a "getting to know you" phase. We immediately and permanently clicked.  She's one of those people who can participate in a conversation from time to time - and sometimes the between time is MONTHS - and is immediately, intimately, perfectly present.
Beth is a wife like me.  She gets frustrated sometimes because her husband is ALWAYS playing, thinking about, or facilitating baseball.  Like me, she knows it is his best love.  Also like me, she would never, ever take his best love from him.  We met because our husbands were friends, but we bonded because of the unique way we affirm our husbands. And yet we rarely discuss baseball.  Ummm.... forgive me when I say, "Thank God!"
Today Tim and I visited for a few minutes before he left for his next event.  I enjoy the moments spent in his company because I am completely and totally relaxed.  There are no games, no jockeying, no stress.  He told me a story that made me grin and enjoy the husband he is to my friend Beth. God! He loves her.  She is as lucky as I am in her choice of lifetime companion. I hope she knows that - I believe she does.
These are the kind of friends God wants for us.  People who share the same values without being cookie cutter images of ourselves.  People who long for the best for us as we long for the best for them.  People who are friends to our marriage and will never, ever propose something indecent or cross the wrong boundaries - ever - because they love us like we love them.