Tuesday, November 23, 2010

At the Foot of the Cross

I'm a fan of the series House.  I think I remain a fan because I hope to see House's spiritual quest for meaning end at the foot of the cross. 

This week's episode couldn't hold me captive.  It was, after all, competing with Latin homework.  I only watched with half an eye.  But sometimes that's all it takes...

House's patient was reenacting the Crucifixtion in payment for God sparing his daughter's life.  It was horrific to watch his friends pounding the nails through his hands and hauling the cross upright. 

I have a hard enough time leaving my troubles at the foot of the Cross.  I'm pretty sure I don't have the courage to let someone hang me on it.

It's easy to watch others struggle with their own troubles.  So many are lost in a world of anger and pain and fear.  They stand - unable to fall - at the feet of Christ with no notion of how to let go of anything.

We were singing a song called At the Foot of the Cross at church this weekend.  Being scheduled at all three Masses means we sing the same music several times while preparing for the Masses and then during them.  That's okay.  If a song's worth using to enhance a worship service, it's worth singing multiple times.

At the foot of the cross, where grace and suffering meet...  At the foot of the cross, where I am made complete.  You have shown me Your love through the judgment You received.  You have given me life through the death you bore for me.  And [YES] you've won my heart.  Now I can turn these ashes into to beauty.  And wear forgiveness like a crown.  Coming to kiss the feet of mercy, I lay every burden down... At the foot of the cross.

Easier said than done, but there we have it.  Christ is willing to bear our burdens.

Now we just have to let Him.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Staying Young

I liked this email so much, I decided to post it here.  With edits.

1.  Try everything twice.  One woman wanted this as her epitaph on her tombstone:  "Tried everything twice.  Loved it both times!"

2.  Keep only cheerful friends.  The grouches pull you down.
3.  Keep learning:  learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever... Never let the brain get idle; an idle mind is the devil's workshop.  And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4.  Enjoy the simple things.

5.  Laugh often, long and loud.  Laugh until you gasp for breath.  And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him/her.

6.  The tears happen.  Endure, grieve, and move on.

7.  Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever...  Your home is your refuge.

8.  Cherish your health.  If it's good, preserve it.  If it is unstable, improve it.  If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9.  Don't take guilt trips.  Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county, a foreign country, but not to where the guilt is.

10.  Tell people you love that you love them at every opportunity.

11.  Forgive now those who made you cry.  You might not get a second chance.

12.  Remember:  lost time can never be found.

13.  Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Poetry Smoetry

As the leader of the Psalms bible study this season, I'm studying a new perspective on poetry with my class.  The Psalms are poetry and our study encourages us to read and re-read and then re-read again each of the Psalms we cover.  I think we've ready Psalm 1 at least 22 times in the four-week old study.

I don't like poetry. 

I especially detest the kind that rhymes.

Now and then, I find a poem I can inhabit momentarily; Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman is one such work.  When the moment passes, well, then I move on. 

Read a poem 22 times?  Never.

I'm much happier lost in prose - prose of any kind, whether fiction or non-fiction, cereal box or best-seller.

The word "prose" means straight, direct, unadorned speech, and comes from the Latin prosa oratio, meaning straight-forward.

No wonder I like it.

I'm not a fan of indirect approaches, context clues, or metaphorical speech.  I do not care for mystery in written or spoken form.  I dislike intensely having to read body language to discern someone's meaning, especially when the speaker is lying or misleading. I cannot use a cliche to save my life (really I can't; it's become something of a family joke). 

I had a professor in college the first go-round who once commented on a critique I wrote about Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country; "you craft sentences which are well-made and direct...," he typed, "[putting to] shame much of what I read on this campus."  Not only did I frame his critique, but I had a huge crush on him after that comment.

Don't get me wrong.  I can solve the mystery created by indirect approches, foreshadowing, contextual clues, metaphors, and body language.  I can unravel the language and critique the work succinctly.  I can read what someone's trying to say without words.  There are times I can even enjoy doing it.

But love poetry?  Mystery?  Metaphor? 


No.  Slap me upside the head with the straight-forward, the direct, the truth.

I'll love you for it.

And I'll never lead the Psalms again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In the Silence

There's not often silence in my life and so I'm not always good at appreciating it.

This weekend Adam was home for his birthday.  He celebrated with good friends and family and favorite foods. 

About the time Jakob was ready for Joe to get him from his "study group" (ahem), Adam was ready to leave for Morris. 

Suddenly, I was in the midst of silence - beloved boys away, puppies in exhausted slumber, football muted.

I've often made the mistake of filling the silence.  In those moments, I'll call a friend, turn on the music, watch a sitcom, play the piano, wash the dishes, read a book, hop on the elliptical...

Last night, I embraced the silence.  And found peace. Peace because I know Adam is content at school. Peace because we have three years left with Jakob. Peace because once they are gone Joe and I enter a new phase - and we're still young enough to enjoy it!

When I played the piano with a choir in Buffalo, the kids had a favorite song.  The words were, "In the silence of the garden, Jesus knelt to pray.  He said, 'heavenly Father not my will but yours be done this day.'"


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Fall... Into Lonliness

I've often said how John Blase's words speak to me.  His words often have the power to make me catch my breath. Like today.

Read today's post yourself (http://thedirtyshame.blogspot.com/).  He writes of how Adam and Eve descend not into sin alone, but also into "lonely."

I love how he breaks the word into parts:  "a word defined largely by its sound, the long O creating a moan leading into the n allowing you to rock on it a moment before tipping into ly and then it drifts away."

He's so RIGHT.  Sin makes us lonely (hear that moan?).  We sink further and further into lies and deceit to keep our sin... well, to keep it secret.  We cut off ties with those who expect us to account, who would hold us to a standard of right, who shame us in our sin. 

And then one day, the Light pierces the darkness.  Today it comes in the words from Jamie The Very Worst Missionary.  She writes about the Big O, obedience, and how being obedient to the Word is worth the effort.  Read this excerpt:
But you can’t have it both ways. If your goal is Obedience, you can’t phone it in. If you think you can just show up on Sunday morning and stick your hands in the air during the third song, you’re wrong. That’s faking it. If you think you can simply waltz into Bible Study with a tray of double-chocolate-chunk-brownies, you’re faking it – and you are good! but still, faking it. If you think you can put on a lusty voice and say all the right words during corporate prayer, you are so faking it. And yeah, that might get you by for a little while. It might even please the people you fake it for. But in the end, your shallow faith will leave you feeling fragile and insecure. You’ll end up wearing a thin fa├žade of Christian-ness that isn’t worth its weight...

But obedience will treat you right. Obedience has never left me feeling used and it’s never left me empty, because the foundation of Obedience is built not on whether or not other Christians are impressed by me, but on whether or not God is pleased with me.
I think it's my unwillingness to be "wearing a thin facade of Christian-ness that isn't worth its weight" that makes it difficult for me to sometimes say the words "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive..."  Sometimes I'm not ready to forgive.  Other times I'm not ready to ask forgiveness.  Saying the words without meaning them might be someone's idea of asking for the Grace it takes to forgive and be forgiven, but for me it's hypocritical -- going through the motions when I don't want to just go through the motions. 

Matthew West has a new song, The Motions.  The refrain says exactly what I mean:
I don’t wanna go through the motions; I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me.  I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?  Instead of going through the motions
Thank God for wisdom wherever it's found.


In other news, I learned the Hail Mary and the Glory Be in Latin today.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen. 

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in murlieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. 

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritu Sancto.  Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et in saecula saeculorem.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen.

They're beautiful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And Here Ends Baseball Season

I had the distinct pleasure of watching my son and husband play ball together in Phoenix.  They only managed one game at Tempe Diablo Stadium, but it made for a couple nice photo opps.

I managed one shot of them on the field together, Joe pitching and Jakob on second.

We had some spare time to do a little sightseeing and Jakob actually posed for a couple extra photos.

And my favorite...

The boys posed outside a bordello in the mining town we found on the way to our scenic paddleboat ride.

They didn't enjoy the baseball trip as much as I'd hoped.  Jakob hit well and Joe pitched like a pro, but the first year with any new team is a little awkward until everyone finds their "place."  I sure hope they go at least one more time!

After bringing Jakob home, I was able to spend the rest of last week with Joe in Florida.  I love the people who play in the Roy Hobbs series.  They're so happy to be there all week and the men turn into boys again.  This year, the ladies actually received fan attire - and it was very tasteful!

It's always just a little sad when we get home after baseball in Florida.  We know the season's over until spring and the cold of winter is just around the corner. 

Then there's always next year to plan!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fabulous Fifteen

Catching up on Facebook posts this morning, I sawfriends listing their fifteen favorite authors.  I haven't stopped thinking about it. 

Who ARE my top fifteen - or at least the fifteen that come to me effortlessly? 

Here's my contribution to today's list making...

The Fabulous Fifteen
1.  Diana Gabaldon
2.  Elie Wiesel
3.  St Thomas Aquinas
4.  Fyodor Dostoevsky
5.  Nora Roberts/JD Robb
6.  William P Young
7.  Plato
8.  Charles Dickens
9.  William Shakespeare
10.  Flannery O Conner
11.  Walker Percy
12.  Fr Andrew Greeley
13.  Margaret Mitchell
14.  Bobbie Ann Mason
15.  John Blase
Each of my Fabulous Fifteen has written something that informs my life, shapes my world view, and uplifts my spirit.  And those names filled the screen in seconds.  I wonder how the list would change with time to ponder, time to crack open some of their work, time to reread favorite quotes...

Maybe a post for another day.