Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Bangle that Beat the Blues

I love jewelry.  A simple and well-chosen piece completes an outfit.

The act of chosing which piece or pieces to wear is often part of my morning routine. 

I find such pleasure in the act of clasping a bracelet around my wrist or fastening earrings at my lobes. 

And yet, left to the unconscious act of preparing for the day, I won't always chose to wear jewelry.  It's only something that happens easily when I'm happy.

Some days I make a conscious effort to find pleasure.  It always starts with the simple things.  A pause at the window in the early dawn.  Resting my forehead against Joe's for a quiet moment while saying goodbye.  Stopping at the jewelry box to paw through the tangled mess I've made.

Today I slipped on my alltimefavoritebangle.  Hidden in the cuff of my jacket, I'll catch sight of it randomly during the day.

I'll feel the weight of it with each key stroke and reach. 

When the stresses of the day mount, I'll play with the clasp and find comfort each time it closes on my wrist with a happy little snap.
Somehow today feels like a good, good day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"And Just Who Have You Become?"

There is so much beauty at St Kate's.  For the fall, the groundskeepers created a vibrant horn of plenty to greet all comers.

I've found more than just physical beauty there too.  Being on campus feels like being home.  My professor so evidently loves Latin and all things Roman and that makes the sixty-five minute session pass quickly.  I find joy in my fellow students with their youthful optimism, fear of authoring mistakes, and curiosity about us old folks. 

I feel privileged to be doing what I'm doing.  In fact, today's Rotary speaker educated us about education in Cambodia.  Because of the horror of Pol Pot's reign, an entire generation lost the ability to get even the most basic education and here I am going back for my third helping!

Last week I encountered a professor from my first stint at St Kate's, back when it was a college rather than a university.  She was one of my favorite instructors because she so passionately loved her discipline and wanted to share it with everyone!

After the initial greeting and delight in recognizing a familiar face, she asked me the most unusual question, "And just who have you become?"

Think about that question for a minute. 

Are you the you you thought you'd be when you were 18 years old?

For me the answer is a resounding no.  The rest of the answer is neither simple nor brief.  I am not who I thought I'd be, and - for the most part - that's a good thing.  I will mourn the loss of my willingness to be completely optimistic and trusting for the rest of my life.

The question itself I will not answer in this format.  But I have thought about my answer since that day. 

And just who have I become?

I would guess my answer isn't yet final.  :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We Come to Share a Story

We are a people of stories. 

Two of my favorite theologians talk about our human need for story - and about our need to understand our own place in the story.  Fr Andrew Greeley says what first draws us to Catholicism are the wonderful stories we hear as children; it's also what keeps us connected to the Catholic Church as adults (Why I Am Still a Catholic, by Andrew Greeley).  Educator Jeff Cavins says the stories are wondeful, but, he adds, "The story of Jonah isn't big enough to live in.  The story of Noah and the ark isn't big enough to live in."  He contends that we need to know the whole story of salvation history and then enter into the story - find our own place in it, so to speak.  Unless we do, we are cast adrift and and wandering, looking for something to fill the empty places inside, some of us knowing there's something to Catholicism, but unable to articulate what exactly it is (Passing on the Greatest Story Ever Told).

And then there's the music.  This morning I woke to the haunting melody of Song of the Body of Christ (David Haas).  "We come to share our story.  We come to break the bread.  We come to know our rising from the dead."

Rhyme schmyme.  Hallmark and song writers can stuff rhyming.  Still, the melody is haunting. 

By the time I was on my way to work, the melody morphed into What Faith Can Do (Kutlass), probably because it was playing on my favorite station. 

Or it's plain old Godspeak
Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise

From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you're stronger, stronger than you know

Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
I woke, too, to the realization that my own story has not belonged to me for some time.  I jotted lines here and there, twisted and tangled the plot no doubt, but my story has been taken from me as certainly as anything tangible can be taken.

I'm taking it back. 

Danglers be damned.