Archive for April, 2011

Holy Week

Christ on the Cross, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1646

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected* by men; a man of sorrows*, and acquainted with grief; * and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4* Surely he has borne our griefs* and carried our sorrows; * yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5* But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. –Isaiah 53:2-5


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Yesterday I lost my temper.

It was after mass, of course. It had been a beautiful mass, preceded by a good confession. I’ve been down lately. Palm Sunday was an oasis of calm and beauty. And then I walked out of the church. A man I know slightly was asking some pretty rude questions about Catholics and fertility, which, honestly, I need to develop a thicker skin towards. I need to be able to speak calmly. But it had been such a hard few weeks. I told him off and stalked off across the street, seeking to sooth myself with coffee.

Well, it kind of messed up Sunday.

My husband told me the man apologized. That’s fine.  I had a hissy fit at home. Will calmed me down, my dad prayed for me and my mom listened and gave  good advice. They all reassured me that i’m not crazy. My immediate reaction to being a flawed human being  usually is to think I’m nuts.

I hate when I mess up, especially when it’s totally understandable and human. Perfectionism has been a cross of mine for some time. It’s deadly. It leads to discontent, questioning God’s love for you, and depression. It keeps me in a mixed state of anger and sadness.  I really hate my imperfections.

So what do I do? Simon of Cyrene has been very present to me this Lent. He pops up beautifully in different blogs, and, after an encounter I had with him while I was in labor I like to run to him as often as I can for a little help. Yesterday, my husband, as he calmed me down, mentioned that he would always be my Simon and help me carry my cross, because it’s his, too.

This is poorly written and incoherent, but I have to say, depression and perfectionism, for me, go hand in hand. It’s all intertwined with nutrition, and spirituality, and emotions, but that just points to the ultimate wholeness of the human person.  If one thing is off, it follows that the other things might get more of a look-in. I guess maybe good old Simon is showing me more and more that I really can’t do anything to help myself under my own steam.  Maybe I need to say “I can’t do this,” and not let it get me down. Maybe I need to be okay with being imperfect. Maybe I need to accept help graciously, as Jesus accepted help from Simon.

Maybe that weakness of acceptance is really strength.

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We just got in from the Walk for Life supporting the Savannah Care Center, a crisis pregnancy center across the street from the only downtown abortion clinic.  It was great. Lots of women and young people, lots of good daddies, and lots of people who have benefited from the Center’s work.

Seeing the moms with their little ones, several of whom had been in crisis when their toddlers were unborn was such a hopeful sign. They were good mommies, too. They belied the idea that women in crisis pregnancies make bad mothers. Sometimes choosing to raise her child is just what is needed to heal her brokenness.

In that light, check out Calah Alexander’s beautiful post here.

And, because mothers are amazing, take a look at Elizabeth Scalia’s wonderful reflection on Mary as Mother here.

Mary Cassat, Mother and Child c.1905

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Philomena is getting to be a big girl.

Will and I have been watching last summer’s videos of Philomena. She was so tiny! Her voice was so squeaky! And now she can write five different letters.  She knows her numbers up to fifteen. She can pour a cup of water, brush her teeth, wash her hands and go up and down stairs without the handrails. We’re feeling nostalgic for the good old days of two. You know, because three is so old.

Not knowing whether we’ll be able to have any more children, or at least knowing it probably won’t be for a while, makes the normal “my baby’s growing up” thing  a little more achy than it would be otherwise. If I took fertility for granted, or was one of those amazing women who are pregnant every year or two, maybe the conversations at the park about where to send the baby to school wouldn’t make me as blue. There would  be at least an expectation of another soft, pink baby in the future.

I’ve entered a peaceful place with my infertility.  The tears don’t come regularly, and I’m happy to pick up this cross every day. God is bringing forth a lot of good through the pain and difficulty. I’m learning to say yes to God. It’s just that sometimes watching Philomena as an even littler girl makes me wonder if that was our only chance to see a first step, or hear a first song. This is our openness to life: that we look at our suffering and embrace it, trusting that it will flower and bear fruit in our lives.

God’s will be done.

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image source

You know you’re a truly great parent when your daughter calls 911 by accident twice in two days.

On Sunday, we were getting ready for mass when we heard a great big knock on the door. I looked out the front window to see three burly policemen.  “What is going on?” I wondered innocently. I hoped there hadn’t been some terrible incident nearby.  Spazzing out, I called for my husband. Will answered the door and the police asked if anyone had called 911.  we looked at each other and said “nooo….”

And then we looked at Philomena.

She had been playing with the phone. we had told her no, and she hadn’t touched it for a good ten minutes. Just long enough for the police to respond to a hangup. Those are usually domestics, you see, so they head out pronto.

After explaining the embarrassing situation, the police departed and we sat our darling daughter down for a little chat about telephone use. We assumed that would be the last time it happened.

How wrong we were.

This afternoon, I was drying my hair (one of those days) and Will was doing dishes. Philomena was playing in the living room with her puzzles and semi-watching Shaun the Sheep.  Suddenly, there was a great big knock on the door.

Oh no.

Nine cops, all wearing bullet proof vests, were at our door. They assumed another hangup call meant a domestic, and ran my poor husband’s liscense. They asked to see me, so I toddled out of the bathroom. It’s a good thing I was wearing a sundress. They could see that I didn’t have any bruises. They asked to see Philomena. Again, I apologized profusely, turned seven shades of red and reassured the police men that we’re really a normal family. Really. We just have a three year old. They didn’t look pleased.

The phone has migrated to the kitchen wall.

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