Monday, December 21, 2009

Long lay the world,
in sin and error pining,

til He appeared and the soul felt its worth...

One of my favorite Christmas songs is O Holy Night. I prefer the version by Perry Como more than any other I've heard, mostly because I think the depth of his voice best conveys the message of the song.

His singing brings weight to both the sorrow of sin and the great uplifting of hope that comes with the birth of Christ, and it never fails to center me. Forget the candies to make and the cookies too, forget the presents and cards and to-do list that seems to span a mile in length. I can stop for a moment and breathe, with a helpful reminder of what we seek to celebrate.

The girls want to hear Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells. They want to hear the songs with some giddy-up, something they can spin and twirl to. I oblige them, and watch, admonishing them to dance carefully, to watch out for the coffee table and book shelves, while they spin into dizziness. But then I get my turn, and put on O Holy Night, or Christ is Born or Ave Maria.

I love the lights Dave worked so hard to wrap around the bushes in front of our house. I love the ceramic Santa that my mom made so long ago. I love the wreath over our mantel, with its ring of bright apples and hint of Colonial days gone by. I love the childish decorations, snowmen and bears wearing scarves and characters from Winnie the Pooh dressed in their winter clothes.

I love these secular aspects of Christmas too. I just love the other more important part more.

I don't get all the hub-bub over the War Against Christmas. It smacks of something else to me, when people get all up in arms about the greetings we give one another, whether one says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. (I appreciate, however, Fr. James Martin's essay on some companies trying to have it both ways, trying to skirt the line between the secular and faith-filled, with laughable results.) I do understand that occasionally we have instances of political correctness run amok. But I also understand that as a Catholic, Christmas is what I make it for my family. It's the example we set for our children. It's the fact that we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and how we conduct our lives to celebrate His love for us. Just like Perry sings in O Holy Night. How someone addresses me, or a how a store decorates for the holidays, has no bearing on my own feelings, and what I hope to teach my children about the meaning of Christmas.

So far, they're still all about the presents, and so far, I'm still feeding into that far too much. It's an ongoing process. But on our mantel, we have a creche from Haiti. It was the girls' idea to put baby Jesus in a gift box, and set Him between Joseph and Mary. On Christmas morning, we'll open the box. The best present is saved for last.

However you celebrate, I hope it's lovely. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Here's wishing you a 2010 filled with peace, happiness and faith.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I am in pain.

I am in pain and I am typing, which is stupid, idiotic, ridiculous, and every other manner of adjective to describe the act of sitting at the computer when one has a migraine headache.

I am exhausted. My last go round lasted almost a full week, with my headache responding temporarily to my prescription and then coming back. I got to thinking as the relief from pain as miraculous, because there is a moment when the ecstasy hits and you want to throw yourself down, prostrate on the floor like a priest being ordained. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And then the pain creeps back again, the pressure slowly building around the eye, and then the sharpness, and then the throbbing, and you feel you can no longer worship, so you pick yourself up from that humble position of thanks and retreat, to a dark corner of defeat.

Is this a cross?

I am not good at bearing it. I find the weight of chronic pain to be unbearable sometimes. I'm not sure of an appropriate metaphor. Perhaps this:

You spend a good three weeks feeling good. The doorbell rings. Some intimidatingly huge man is standing there, and he proceeds to beat the living crap out of you. When he's done, he tells you that he'll be back. It could be a week, it could be three weeks, it could be a few days, he tells you. It takes you five days to recover. And you feel good. So good. But you wonder when the doorbell will ring again, and that guy will be back to bring his particular brand of misery.

Speaking of trials and beatdowns, my mother has been having difficulty with a mysterious condition. She gets a peeling, itchy rash on her face that stays for a few weeks and goes away, only to return some short time later. Despite repeated visits to a dermatologist and allergist, and a plan of attack, the rashes continue. She had one brief respite from the rashes for two months, and hence thought the treatment plan was working, but then everything returned, leaving all of us baffled. If someone deserves a break from hardship, it's her, having had both breast and colon cancer.

Sometimes, when I feel like I'm suffering and I just can't freaking take any more pain or discomfort, it helps to try hard to focus outward. So I pray for my mom, or for my friend who has a son with a platelet disorder and a husband with polycystic kidney disease, or for another friend who has liver cancer. And I think this is a good thing.

But I still feel weird asking for mercy for myself. This morning, I did, and I immediately followed it up with an apology for those prayers. I think I need to get over this. I know that I'm lucky in my life, and that I have a tremendous amount to be grateful for, but all of that good stuff doesn't negate the bad. That pain is pain, and it's debilitating, so asking for break or a lessening or something to make it all a bit more manageable isn't a bad or selfish act.

The other day, I caught Mother Angelica saying the rosary on TV, and I watched it, and said it along with her. The focus was the sorrowful mysteries, and I couldn't stop crying. The agony in the garden, the scourging, the crown of thorns, carrying the cross, the crucifixion. It seemed fitting then, in my insular world of pain, to be reminded that not only am I not alone, but I am not forgotten.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

34 and 97

So today is my birthday.

Birthdays as an adult are far different that birthdays as a child. You'd look so forward to that day, the family and friends and cake and modest mountain of presents, and when it was over, there was a palpable sense of disappointment. You couldn't believe you'd have to wait 364 days for another.

I also used to celebrate my birthday with my grandmother, her birthday being the day before mine. So we'd sit side by side, the 28th and the 29th, 8 and 71, 13 and 76, 26 and 89. The last birthday we kind of celebrated together was her last one, when she had two candles on an ice cream cake that she couldn't even eat. A 9 and a 6, and she dozed, in and out of the dream world we start to inhabit when our bodies fail.

We had a little room in the nursing home she resided in. She had a plastic rosary around her neck. I was about to turn 33, and I knew this was it. The last one we'd be at together.

On August 30th, I was thinking of my grandmother during morning prayers, and so I opened her St. Joseph Missal to the correct day, finding that it was the feast day of the very first American saint, who happens to be St. Rose of Lima. St. Rose of Lima happened to be my grandmother's church in North Syracuse.

I probably don't need to explain that I thought that was a sign, which is hysterical, given that I used to think signs were a bunch of hopeful hogwash.

I will never stop trying to figure things out. There are things about the Catholic Church that infuriate me, that I will never agree with. There are things that have deeply disappointed me. And there are things that I love, things that make it impossible to leave, like a dysfunctional family whose great undercurrent is the most magnificent love. It's my spiritual home, as it was my grandmother's. And I wanted to write this because it was truly my grandmother's death that brought me back to faith.

I wished her a happy birthday yesterday, lit an imaginary candle that was fueled by all of our love, and watched her blow it out and laugh. There is no greater gift than belief.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I think about sin a lot. Mainly, how to minimize my partaking in it.

In all seriousness, I've been trying harder to be a good girl. Not only to squelch the type of thoughts that lead one to walk away from God, but to actively entreat my brain to think differently.

Not surprisingly, this takes a lot of work.

I mean, a lot.

When you're used to being all Judgy McJudgerson and trying to work oneself in Ms. Love Thy Neighbor.

Despite my belief that God is merciful and loving, I do have a great amount of fear regarding punishment. That one day, I could be sitting at an intersection thinking about that hot guy that used to be on CSI:Miami (Agent Delko, where did you go?), and I could get run into by a tanker truck and suddenly find myself paying for those few last unfaithful thoughts of my life.

If you were to ask me my thoughts on hell, I would tell you that I didn't really believe in it. And yet, I'm terribly afraid of going there.

I'm reading a book right now where the authors believe everyone goes to Heaven, from the child abuser and the mass murderer, to those human beings we hold up as pillars of goodness. It's a heaven where Ted Bundy could be sitting side by side with Mother Teresa. They believe that everyone ultimately is welcomed into heaven, transformed and healed by God's love.

The memories I have of what Ted Bundy looked like, with a calculating jaw and eyes that radiated the evil of a madman, do not allow me to envision this. But I just finished another book where someone was talking about Marian revelations, and that one of the secrets of heaven is that when we get there, we'll find people we had already relegated to hell.

This was humbling, to say the least.

I recently read a quote on a blog. The author was describing one of the last conversations she had with a dying friend. Her friend, having almost fully wasted away from cancer, had come to a peaceful resolution regarding death. She stated emphatically that she wanted to go to Purgatory, to be fully cleansed, so that she could ultimately experience the fullness of God's love when it was time.

I thought this was thoughtful and poignant, realizing the messy creatures we are and wanting to have that burned away, so that all that is left is this bright, pure heart

But still, if I had my preference, I'd bypass any purifying fire to land safely on a perfect cloud. Who knows how I'll be judged?

Once, as I put my then 5-year old to bed, we were having a conversation about saints. She saw that I had been reading My Life With the Saints, and was curious about what made one a saint. I had a surprisingly difficult time coming up with a definition, so I said something like A saint is a person who usually gave up a lot to serve God and other people. A saint was an extraordinarily good person. And she said to me, "When you die, I bet you'll become a saint." And I had to laugh.

From her eyes, I was good. So good. Forget self-loathing or feelings of not measuring up for any eternal reward. In that moment, I wasn't a sinner. I was perfect to my child.

This is a bit how I hope that God sees me. Not as perfect, though, or even trying for perfect. Just as simply trying. And I hope that pleases him greatly.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 Minutes

If I could choose how my mornings go, I would have a good hour to myself while the world is still and cloaked in the light blanket of a fading night. I'd make some coffee and retire to the couch. It's a good time to pray, to get centered, to have a game plan. All before my husband gets out of the shower or the kids get out of bed, collect their stuffed friends, come downstairs, and begin to jockey for a position at my side.

It shouldn't be a surprise that with the kids being so young, 6 and barely 4, that this rarely happens.

This morning, I got up and was barely outside my bedroom door when my oldest popped out of bed and was at my side. I made the coffee, and by the time I had poured it into my favorite mug, my youngest was thumping down the stairs.

I sat on the couch between them, gently reminding them not to nudge me too much, lest some coffee tumble over the edge and onto my lap.

They chattered about SpongeBob, regaling me with synopses of recent episodes. And despite my desire for quiet, it was difficult not to be swayed by their infectious tales. How funny was this sea sponge and his underwater counterparts!

On any of the few mornings that I do have the couch to myself, I like to talk to God about my becoming a nurse, because it scares me. I've been home now for 6-plus years. In my past life as an income-earner, I existed in fairly tame administrative settings. This new path is something I desire, but as it stands now, is also way outside my comfort zone. Despite caring for two newborns and successfully raising them into young childhood, I have trouble seeing myself taking care of patients.

Despite talking to women on a breastfeeding helpline, and trying to help them find some resolution with any issues they are having feeding their babies, I have trouble. I've existed as a caretaker of sorts for years now. And yet, the doubt remains.

So I talk to God about confidence, and helping me to grasp that although there will be difficult days merely getting through nursing school, it's okay. I have the capacity. I have the empathy. I have what it takes. Maybe not in every setting, but in many settings.

This is my main prayer, because there are times when I look in the mirror after a hard day, and find myself wondering, "What are you thinking?" I see myself, in my bad state, feeling somewhat defeated, and I have trouble seeing myself accomplish anything outside of getting the laundry folded and put away. And even that is completed is stages, with clothes sometimes occupying the dryer for days, until the creases and wrinkles are too bad for ironing.

I also have prayed in that waning dark to be a better mother: more present, more positive, less exasperated. Because no matter my goals, they were here first. Each one, pulled from me, slick and screaming, and I signed on for our duration in my blood. Sometimes I forget this, just like I forget God. There are times when I sleepwalk, until something jolts me. The sound of their laughter, a cough in the night, how viciously they can fight.

A friend sent me a link to the Loyola Press website, as the Jesuits have a wonderful thing called the 3-Minute Retreat. Giving a brief quote from the Bible, the retreat asks questions of you and then offers a prayer. In lieu of my time, alone in the dark, I can turn here, as even I can usually find a few minutes of peace.

This morning, the retreat reminded me to "Rejoice in the present. See the Lord in everything and everyone." And though I usually find the prayer moving, this morning I actually wrote it down, intending to stick it with a magnet to my fridge:

O God, grace me with a rejoicing and glad heart. Bless me with saintly vision and uphold me in my times of doubt. Keep me aware, O God, of your constancy in my life.

Sometimes I have to laugh at His perfection, because when I'm open and listening, that voice I hear can be exactly what I need.

For this doubting, faltering, forgetful woman, exactly what I need.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lord in the End

Last night, I had a dream that my mother-in-law told me I was going to Haiti. At first I had misunderstood her, and thought she said she would be making a return trip. "No," she said. "You're going."

I woke feeling slightly queasy, knowing I would most likely never make the decision to go somewhere so violent and so poverty-stricken, where children eat cakes fashioned out of mud and contaminated water, and life expectancy, if childhood is survived, is somewhere between 45-55. Despite the good people working there truly doing God's work, and how much I support and admire that, I have immense difficulty imagining myself there as an observer, helper, worker.

My in-laws were there several years ago, working with a priest named Fr. Tom Hagan, who founded Hands Together back in the 80s. With their tales from abroad, and with a DVD my husband and I watched that detailed the amazing work that Hands Together is attempting (building schools, employing teachers, creating health clinics, training citizens to screen for basic health issues, creating sound structures for homes instead of dilapidated shacks, showing people how to utilize sustainable agriculture), it provided a stark reminder of how little some people truly have, and by great contrast, how much we do.

I've been obsessed with the new David Gray CD, and my daughters love it too, making it easy for me to just keep it in the player. On his first track, he sings, "When will you realize my friend, Lord in the end, now you can't take it with..."

And I look around and see all the stuff that will be left behind when I am but a shell in the ground, or ash, or whatever I decide when I get over the fear of being a corpse.

And I admit to being confused sometimes, knowing in my heart that the accumulation of material possessions isn't why we're here and looking around for inspiration. Perhaps we needn't be Fr. Tom Hagan. Perhaps we needn't go to Haiti. But God wants us, not our iPods.

And honestly, in my Church, we're not always provided with the best example.

Recently, the Vatican launched an investigation into the activities, practices, and adherence to doctrine of American nuns. I can't pretend that I'm particularly well-read on this investigation, so perhaps my opinion should wait until I digest a few more articles. But I doubt my views would change much, if at all.

Here we have women, a great many of whom follow the example of Christ and his disciples, giving up material possessions, the trappings of money and ownership, and administering to people. To the public. Like Fr. Hagan does in Haiti, here they are feeding the poor, running homeless shelters, helping the abused, the addicts, the most vulnerable members of society. One cannot help but note they're being investigated by men in one of the most opulent places on Earth. Men who didn't make a vow of poverty. Men whose very robes probably are made of material so expensive, the cost could feed a family for months.

And I wonder what kind of message that sends to people in the trenches. That perhaps it's better if they're not seen, not heard, not helping, just in case anything they do or utter goes against Church doctrine. I wonder about sexism. I wonder how we can continue to spread the message that single line from David Gray's song details, in barely a dozen words, if some of the people who best exemplify Christ on Earth are being intimidated and reined in.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Because He Can't Return to Sender

Dear God,

I apologize for being absent these last couple of weeks. I know I was all gung ho about you and then I up and left without so much as a courtesy wave.

I feel as I can squarely place the blame of my absence on that tricky system of blood, hormones and fertility that seems intent on doing me in. My period was like 20 days late, though I'm sure you know that. I'm sure you might have stopped in when I was counting the calendar days, purchasing dollar store pregnancy tests, and practically trying to squeeze the blood out on my own. You were probably there for a while when I spent multiple mornings crying in a thankfully empty house, truly believing the world was ending and the origin was my uterus.

I'm sure you know I've been trying to make up for my disappearance by being effusively thankful. I've thanked you for everything from the sun shining to the particular colors the Japanese Maple makes as it grows into Fall, for kind friends and for a family that makes me smile as often as they make me roll my eyes.

(I cannot, however, thank you for the a-hole that keeps leaving Skoal cans and empty Pepsi bottles that he fills with his dip spit on our lawn. I know we're supposed to pray for the people that piss us off, but I'm finding this charge particularly hard to fulfill. Instead of folding my hands, I'd like to clench a fist and let it land on his nasty, litterbug chin.)

I'm also sure you know I've been perusing the library for titles of books to help keep me thinking about you. And certainly you know I put most of them down and walk away, because Lord! I want to think, but not THAT hard. Seriously, how many of them are essentially reference books? I can only read one text at a time, and right now, that textbook is about chemistry.

So I picked up another of Anne Lamott's books called Grace (Eventually).

And I'd like to thank you for Anne Lamott, because her book about her son's first year was my bible after Lillian was born. Her words -- bitter, passionate, searching, healing -- got me through the toughest parts.

I like Anne because she's messy. I'm messy. We're all messy. But I like how she includes her messiness in her thoughts on faith, along with those moments when suddenly, it all makes sense, if only for a second and without the arrival bells to announce grace's presence. Anne says she wishes for the bells sometimes. Me too.

A kind of celestial suckerpunch.

And so Anne got me thinking. I was going over some of my old non-fiction essays that I wrote in college about my hospitalizations, and I was struck by all these moments of grace throughout. Moments that at the time, I just thought were quirky or funny or poignant, like Jackie, the dementia patient, asking for a bird feeder to hang outside her second floor security window; or another patient, Vaughn, telling me how much I was worth; or a nurse staying with me longer than required; or even that weird guy who always had phlegm in his beard telling me how pretty my hair was.

Okay, that guy was just creepy and I'm not sure there's a moment of grace there, but anyway.

And I guess that's what I'm trying to do here, even if the moment isn't graceful, exactly. But those moments exist and in them, that's where you can be found, if only we don't close our eyes. And it's astonishing how often I do walk around with my eyes glued shut, either angry or depressed or resentful, and so I don't see, I don't take comfort, I forget what you desire for us.

At the end of one of these essays, I'm standing in the floor's rec room looking out the window at the waning light of evening and the people leaving their hospital jobs or leaving their relatives after a visit, and Jackie comes and stands next to me, watches for a second and then exclaims after seeing the traffic light turn, "Green means go!" It's impossible not to view that through some other lens now, one that is merciful and loving, and see what you wanted for me then.

So I'm trying, God. I'm going to throw my apple core in the composter, say a prayer, and maybe take a walk while my world is quiet. Or maybe read Anne a bit more.

Maybe I'll pray for the Skoal-sucking litterer. Probably I won't. Baby steps, God. Baby steps.

Most sincerely,


Monday, September 28, 2009

God Does Not Leave Us Comfortless

Do you believe that? The title, I mean.

The line comes from one of my favorite poems, from one of my favorite poets. It is a portion of the last line of Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come, which I've read was written for a dying friend of hers.

God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.

I've been feeling strangely alone these past couple of weeks, and the searching I've been doing seems to be put on temporary hold until I can find my bearings again. Of course, this isn't what faith is for, is it?

Let the light of late afternoon shine through chinks in the barn, moving up the bales as the sun moves down.

If I was to tell someone I'd been feeling down, they might believe me, but they wouldn't have seen any sign. I keep going, full speed ahead, but what I want to do most is hunker down beneath the covers with a box of tissues and weep.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned in the tall grass. Let evening come.

I missed church yesterday (a mortal sin!) and last Sunday, felt as if I were merely wasting my time on a very uncomfortable surface. I had no sense of being in God's presence.

And yes, I know, God isn't the church, the building, the pews, the altar, but usually all of that adds together quite nicely and makes me able to focus on getting in touch with things I may have forgotten during the week.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den. Let the wind die down.

I wouldn't call myself depressed right now, because to me, a person with a lengthy mental health history, depressed carries a different heft than feeling mopey and removed. Perhaps it's hormonal, perhaps it's stress, perhaps it's mild depression (dysthymia), perhaps (most likely) it will pass and I'll be back to hallelujahs and hosannas in no time.

Let the shed go black inside. Let evening come.

God doesn't have any responsibility in making me feel better. I'm just struck by the sensation of loneliness, and the fear that there is nothing out there. Here I sit, a child of relative privilege, neurotransmitters all jumbled. Sometimes I feel silly in my sadness. Sometimes I believe it shouldn't be real.

Let it come, as it will, and don't be afraid.

I have to say my morning prayers. Haven't said them in days.

When I made my Communion, my Aunt gave me a small statue that showed a child standing, cradled a bit within a large hand. I long to feel this way, cradled and safe. And I know that, worldwide, others do too. And others deserve it way more than me, that sensation of safety and love, that sense of comfort.

God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.

I took a ride this morning after the girls were in school. At a red light, wind blew leaves down in a storm of brown, scattering across the street. Some made their way through the partly-opened passenger side window, coming to rest on the seat and my lap. I cannot tell you the feeling I had then, like, yes, here is something. Here is something for me. No matter how small I am, or how small I feel.


Portions of poem by Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bible Study For the Socially Awkward

I was trying to do some research this morning, which is difficult considering both of my children are home with me today, and both are totally fine, which drives me crazy. Lil has a cold, but is bouncing off the walls and isn't the slightest bit lethargic. (Is it a sin wishing for a bit of lethargy?) Hannah is home early from school complaining of a sore neck, and apparently has a fever of 99.1, which, if you are a parent, you know is the tiniest of temps and if you actually called the pediatrician, you'd get laughed off the phone. And yes, I'm a hypochondriac and I know what 'stiff, sore neck' in children can mean, but when she's whining about not being able to eat Cheetos or walk to our neighborhood coffee shop, I'm calling bullshit.

So the research I'm trying to do is on Bible study groups, and I'm having zero luck. I checked my parish website, but they have a generic message with no actual calendar dates, and I checked the Presbyterian Church nearby and their calendar is from 2008. Which means I'd actually have to call, and seriously people, don't you know how much I despise using the phone? This is what the Internet is for! So insular, anxious, phobic, socially awkward people like me don't have to talk on the phone.

Why does an insular, anxious, phobic, socially awkward person like myself want to actually join a Bible study group? When there will probably be other people present? Why not just open the Bible and read it myself?

Because if I count on myself to do it, Bible-reading will fall into the same category as waxing my legs, organizing my closet, scrubbing the grout in the shower, or planning that yard sale. It'll be on that to-do list that pretty much is forgotten about. Sorry, God. I'm just trying to be honest here.

("Ah...why read Corinthians tonight? Ghost Hunters is on!"

"Revelations...Sookie Stackhouse. Revelations....Sookie Stackhouse."

"I could read Genesis...or I could watch my pretend Phillies boyfriend Carlos Ruiz from 7-10pm!")

I am easily distracted, which means I require homework. I require outside expectations. It is necessary for someone to tell me to read which sections and why, and what we'll discuss.

And then I'll do it.

But I was thinking, "'What if everyone annoys me?"

And then I thought, "What if I annoy everyone else?" After the meeting lets out, they'll all go to Denny's for coffee and discuss the weird, quiet chick who is clearly just looking for an excuse to get out of her damn house.

So you might be thinking, "Kel, why do you need to look outside the domestic bliss you are blessed to find yourself in order to keep in touch with God? Just look at the beautiful children you have. Surely proof of God's goodness. Let them serve as reminders."

And I'd be like, Yeah, sometimes they do remind me of God's goodness, but that's usually when they're asleep. Because, man, kids can be pure evil during the day, and they still manage to look all kinds of angelic when they're sprawled out in bed, their hair disheveled and their breathing calm and rhythmic.

So, during waking hours, I need an alternative.

Can I get an 'Amen?'

Monday, September 14, 2009

Inaugural Post

This template isn't working.

I like it. I really do. And I think it fits within the context of a blog about spirituality.

The lone tree, standing in a field of green, with a hill taking shape above it.

Still, I'm being all saucy with my title and URL. And this template is not saucy. And I'm not a web designer.

So my inaugural post on my new blog starts off not being about God at all. It's about trying to find a template that fits both my quest and my personality. Turns out that's challenging if you lack computer skills.

So what does the title mean, anyway?

I've always had a weird sort of attraction to the virgin martyrs, all of whom met gruesome deaths at very young ages after refusing to bow down to demands that they turn away from their faith. I first starting reading about them in my Grandmother's missal. We'd visit Grandma's house and I'd pick up that missal and start reading about St. Agnes or St. Cecilia or St. Lucy. I found it hard to fathom having that strong a faith at that young an age. (That their virginity is even important to their status as saints is odd, and despite my affinity for their stories, the feminist in me rebels at this classification.)

So my title is a play on that.

There also is the fact that I'm not a virgin. Haven't been one for some time now. I'm not a martyr, either. At least, not in the traditional sense of refusing to denounce God and instead worship the planets or whatever, and subsequently being tossed into an arena with wild beasts for my steadfastness.

But I am sometimes a martyr in that I feel bad for myself and do the woe is me crap and act like everyone is so totally working against me before I snap out of it and get on with things. It happens. I'm human. And a mother. We're good at that stuff!

And so yada yada, an experience led me to this place. I am a most imperfect Catholic. And for the most part, I am okay with that. I don't need perfection. I disagree with the Church on many an issue, and perhaps at some point I'll delve into that here. But there's a part of the Church that I love, and some of it is just my history, being born into it and eventually dying in it. But some of it is also that the Church stands for so many basic human rights issues. And that we have some damn good troublemakers who call this Church their home. Hopefully I'll write about them here, too.

And I believe in God. I believe that our charge here is to make the world a better place, somehow. I wanted to start this blog because I get so wrapped up in the minutiae of my own life that I frequently forget God. God becomes this faraway relative that leaves your mind until you look at the calendar and think, Oh shit, it's So-and-So's birthday! And so you scramble to the drugstore to get a card and send it, and it's not because you don't love them, or don't care about them. It's because you're busy and life is hectic and in all the hubbub, it's easy to forget what matters.

There is this song by The Innocence Mission that sums up the frustrating way I seem to approach faith, and in it, Karen Peris sings in her ethereal voice that God is like a ticket stub she finds inside a pocket, forgotten but not exactly discarded.

"I take the ticket half and put it on the table, saying, this is God and he's here through my comings and my goings. But I walk past the ticket half...just as I walk past the cross on my wall."

Seconds later, she sings, "Our self-indulgence grows so dazzling, we don't see you..."

Yeah. Pretty much.

But what I hope is that this blog helps change that. For me. I'm hoping you don't mind, and you come along for the ride.

I'm not a virgin. But I'm sometimes a martyr. And somehow, I'll get this place looking like I intend it to, however that may be.