• Whether the pitcher hits the rock, or the rock hits the pitcher, it's going to be pretty bad for the pitcher. - Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't even try...

First day of school - 1 student in 8th Grade, 2 in 5th Grade, and Dear Husband teaching in High School Chemistry. And I, at work, receiving calls and emails from teachers who needed their online course support materials yesterday.

I used to write things - way back in the days before the internet even, let alone blogs. Now, I never have any unbroken time at the points when I feel the creative twitch.

I suggest a new category for us to recognize as 'creative genius' - those people who in the midst of all this sort of thing manage to produce anything that has cohesion, beauty, or even a glimmer of Truth. I do not put myself into that category,

-- and on cue, Dear Husband arrives home early, before kids are in bed, so no slack-water creative time tonight!

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009: Catholic Refinery in Full Operation

Today is Day 1 of Post-May 17, 2009. Here are my thoughts in response to Fr. Z's blog.
(Fr.Z's specific post: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/05/my-take-on-sunday-at-notre-dame/)

My response:
I am still reading and consider all of this post, but here put in my own considered response to May 17, 2009. I choose to remember first the students who chose not to participate in the common Commencement, and became leaders of an alternative, most truly Catholic ceremony. These young, unwitting,leaders inspired others, INCLUDING Bishop D’Arcy, to participate in a truly Catholic ceremony. THESE young people are the rocks that are forming a stronger, if smaller, foundation for Our Lord’s Church. THIS is an answer: a positive and visible presentation of what true Catholicism is. Gold has been proven by fire.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Changing Mind

I love to hand quilt. It takes a long time to do anything, but I find it very soothing, and I enjoy having the finished product. I make nice quilts. I don't feel any vanity about them, I just love the look and feel of really good quilts, mine or anyone else's, and I can only afford my own.

I recently had the ambition to make a quilt to donate to the annual fund-raising action at my kids' school. We receive something of a discount which is the only way we could afford to send all three to Catholic school, and I would love to do something that would raise the funds we are not able to give in tuition. And maybe I did feel a sense of pride at the thought of my work finally on display.

I mentioned it to the principal. She responded to my offer with a "Oh, that sounds very nice," then quickly went on, "Didn't you donate a blanket to the layette drive during Lent? I wanted to tell you, that really thrilled the Pregnancy Center staff when I brought our things over. They grabbed that up first, they said 'Is this really hand-made?' and they were SO thrilled. I wanted to let you know."

The blanket in question was something I crocheted in a couple weeks time, because the Layette Drive was announced just a few weeks before the contribution deadline. I learned to crochet from my late mother-in-law, and it is also a very soothing activity. It is also a lot more portable than a quilt, but the results don't impress me as much.

But the principal's remarks changed my mind. Literally - I have a new perspective on both craft activities, and while I still love to quilt, I see the crocheting as an offering, something I can do that helps others in a direct, very personal, and real way. It has become a more personally rewarding work.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Suddenly the world changed

Bad news abounds. Natural disasters overtake have the globe, filling the media with the tragedies of strangers. In my own life, people have strokes, become unemployed, fall on general hard times.

I suddenly remembered some time ago prayerfully wondering what could I do, as a Catholic, to 'help the poor and suffering' beyond writing a check to the local St. Vincent de Paul organization. It just hit me today, this is the answer to that prayer. The bad things would be there no matter what, surrounding someone, no matter what, because "the poor we always have with us." What's happened is that God has given me the grace to be that someone.

My unemployed neighbor needs help weeding and watering her garden, and paying for the vegetable plants we are growing; I have the blessing of being the one to help her. My fellow parishioner is ill and unable to attend to his parish responsibilities; I can share the blessing of helping him. My coworker's mother had a stroke; I have the blessing of praying for her and helping him take care of work while he takes care of her.

The world isn't wallowing in misery anymore; I have been given the grace to live my faith more completely.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What is normal anyway?

I am an ordinary person, extremely average. In fact, years ago I had occasion to take a battery of medical tests. The doctor told me that not only did my results come back "normal," but they fell into a range of normal that only 5% of the population achieve. Thus I have objective evidence that I am definitively normal.

I take comfort in that at times, in a whimsical way. It gives me something of an out, so to speak, when something extraordinary happens. It means that some force outside me, or events themselves, are out of the norm.

Unfortunately I also feel constantly at odds with the world around me, which means the world itself is abnormal, as are most of the people in it. Very few share my interest in understanding how things work, or what would happen if, or why something happened. Perhaps because, for me, the world is not normal, I am not surprised that something goes wrong, that accidents happen, that people get hurt. Most bad things are not actually the result of a deliberate act by someone intending harm. I marvel as people around me search for someone else to blame and attack when they suffer some injury. What's the point? The Universe is and to a certain extent, the Universe is random, and accepting that has given me great ease of mind.

I do believe the Universe has natural laws as solid as rock, and is rational. Irrationality leads sooner or later to a confrontation with those laws, and whether the pitcher hits the rock or the rock hits the pitcher...

Rationality brought me into the Catholic Church. In my 20's I did not practice or follow any particular faith, though I did believe in God. A series of events caused me to begin seriously studying my perceptions of the Universe, which then led me to a conscious 'credo' or understanding of my beliefs. Years later, I picked up the newly published Roman Catholic Catechism, and found my own beliefs matched the Church's. The teachings of the Church are founded in rational understanding of the Universe!

Some time after that I picked up C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and found it would have brought me to the same point, in a quarter of the words, had I only known it. Ah well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Other Son

Driving to work the other day, listening to the news, I suddenly realized that I'm "The Other Son". In the parable of the Prodigal Son, I've not thought much about the Other Son, the one who stayed home, did what his father asked him to, and in general Did The Right Thing. The story is all about the Prodigal, who breaks the Commandments, repents, and comes home. I especially identified with him when I made my first Confession as a Catholic -- receiving Absolution was an overwhelming sensation of ... renewal, cleansing, I don't know how to describe it.

Until now, I've never really understood why Jesus has the Other Son protest so strongly when his Father celebrates the return of the Prodigal. But as the news about bailouts and handouts and stimulus packages circulates, I understand. I've done the right thing, I've not been victimized, I've managed my life and my finances so that at least so far I am able to fend for myself. Businesses that should have known better have taken money and squandered it, and now the government is effectively killing the fatted calf for them. Where is MY reward?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great love has no one...

I saw this years ago but can never think of love without remembering this scene.

I was at the light rail station waiting for the train home late in the afternoon one September day. On the platform across the tracks a man held a sleeping boy and walked slowly up and down the platform. The child looked to be three or four years old, and the man was not tall. The boy’s head rested on the man’s shoulder, his legs swung gently, his feet were level with the man’s knees.

The tenderness of the scene was unmistakable. The pair was on their way somewhere and the boy was tired. The father carried him to help comfort him to sleep, and walked back and forth to sooth him. I watched them for a quarter hour until my train came, captured by the scene of complete love.

But what made the scene iconic was not the living figures but an ignored object. Against the bench behind the pair leaned a heavy cane, and the father walked with a heavy, labored limp.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January brings moments that give you hope for spring

Today's moment came as the sun lies low in the afternoon sky, so that shadows fall across the buildings but the bare limbs of tall trees glow orange against the white-blue sky. The day had warmed enough that I needed only a good sweater, and the breeze blew away the chill hiding in the shadows. That was wedge enough to open time and bring a moment from Spring into the middle of a winter afternoon. I will spend the next six weeks waiting for another.