Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crossfire of Heaven and Hell

This morning, I put a new pair of socks on Lillian's feet.

"Wow, these are soooooo soft," I told her, as she thrust her feet up in my face.

"Oooooh," she said back. "Are these Hannah's?"

"No," I told her. "They belong to your piggies, and your piggies alone."

She smiled and turned her head sideways, burying it in the couch cushion. This was a moment to absorb and keep and hold. Socks. Strange.

It's been a weird morning, punctuated by news stories that wound and weird dreams and news of upheaval. I took my migraine medication with my Italian roast, but my neck remains stiff and unwieldy.

I took Lillian to school and one of her classmates told me she was going camping this weekend. Everyone in her class was invited because they were 'her family.'

"When are you coming to pick me up?" I asked her.

"In one minute," she said.

"I'd better start packing then. I'll bring the marshmallows." The kids giggled and looked at me, expecting me to continue. Another moment. Gold among the gray.

I really want to go to church this morning. Masses are too early for me to make, but I know a room that's open always and filled with candles and maybe I can sneak into the back pew, if the church door is open there. I need to say 'thank you' and I need to say 'I'm sad, horribly sad.'

And I need to kneel there among the still flames cupped by glass and ask to be steadied. And I need to ask, 'what can I do, Lord, with my sadness, with my anger?'

I don't know what the reply will be.


The title of this post comes out of the lyrics to a song by The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers' new solo single "Crossfire." Just saying.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Merton before dawn.
A single light, rare quiet.
I try to make the

body feel what it
doesn't. The brain, register.
Something's amiss. I

reach for it, attempt
to lasso and pull the word
of God. Last night, me

and Judah, Ben-Hur
on the television, Christ
dying and lepers

healed. Judah crushes
his mother and sister to
him, their skin clean, whole.

I cry, always with
the quake, bloody puddles that
drip from the cross, light

flashing across the
wounded sky. Esther gasps, sees,
touches faces and

hands. Judah echoes
Christ: "I felt his voice take the
sword out of my hand."

Monday, September 20, 2010

When Lillian was a baby, I tried to bargain with God.

It was, I suppose, a version of prayer, called in by the desperation of a bedraggled and insanely weary mother.

On a mild November day, I had put my infant daughter in her stroller and taken her for a walk. Fully anticipating her normal routine of screeching after being placed ANYWHERE, I was pleasantly surprised when she feel asleep.

As I went around the block and all over my little neighborhood, bumping along the sidewalk, crunching the fallen leaves, I asked God if he could relieve me a bit, maybe have Lillian take to a bottle; or maybe not breastfeed 50 times a day; or maybe sleep longer that 45-minute stretches at night; or maybe entertain being put in a swing, carseat, stroller; or maybe allow her own father to hold her.

I walked around all day carrying her, her head nestled between my neck and shoulder, and I pretty much ignored the 2-year old I already had by necessity. No one else could pick her up. Her screams signaled that she was actively being wounded, not being held by the father who helped create her.

Things....they were not going well, and I needed a bit of assistance.

It turns out the particular answer to that prayer was no. Or, at least, that's how I heard it. Lillian continued to nurse very frequently, continued to require constant holding (by me only, of course), and continued to have the sleep patterns of someone addicted to speed.

Eventually I just gave up, taking things minute by minute if I needed to.

Somehow we got through, and perhaps that's where I'm wrong about my prayer. Perhaps it's in the strength I still don't think I possessed back then. Perhaps it's in our survival. Perhaps it's in the fact that she did turn a corner...even if it was 6 months later.

(Also, she turned into this....that's a hard face to be irritated with!)

I've been thinking about prayer a lot. I've been thinking about my approach to it. Wondering how to make it more of a part of my life.

Not too long ago, I was trying to find someone a birthday present at the mall. I sat on a bench people watching for a bit, and watched a woman make a loop around me with a rosary dangling from her left hand. Her fingers, of course, at their particular spot on the beads. I watched her mouth move and no sound come out. I know someone was listening, though. me out. What do you do? Do you have a favorite prayer you say daily? Do you attend daily Mass? I'm not sure my schedule will ever allow that, but I wish that it would. Do you say the rosary? Download homilies to your iPod?

How do you actively weave prayer into the fabric of each day?