Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kind and Present

You might think that because I've been lax in updating that I've fallen victim to the subtitle of this blog. You might think that I've forgotten about God, and understandably so.

This, however, is not the case. I had grandiose ideas that I would attend weekday Mass a few times a week, but weekday Mass is at 8am, and I'm often just dropping my girls off at 7:55am, which would make me about 15 minutes late getting there. Either that, or I'm in stained sweats with coffee/morning breath, having yet to make myself presentable. I'd show up late, thinking the priest would rather have me tardy than not at all, but it's Father Don't Call Me By My First Name Because It's Too Familiar, and so I feel a bit awkward clicking the heels of my slip-ons down the tiled aisle. Click, Click, Click, Yes Father Surname, I'm late.

I have been there once on a Friday, and managed to be only 7 minutes late, but still, I like to be on time. This is almost fully within my control, so barring any meltdowns with my youngest, I should be able to remedy this. I believe it would be to my benefit. And my kids'.

I spent the summer seeing God in my children, primarily when they were asleep. I still see God in them when I peek in on them before bed. But it's hard to see God in my children first thing in the morning. It becomes slightly easier after a cup of coffee, but then becomes difficult again when they begin arguing at the breakfast table.

They're so beautiful, it cracks open my heart just a little bit, making a mess. Children can be achingly lovely one moment, and near demonic the next. It is the nature and challenge of parenting.

One of my most frequent prayers is to be kind and present for my children. Sometimes I'm cross with them. Short. Abrupt. And I catch myself, hopefully then, but sometimes not until later, and I say a prayer for help and guidance.

I am guilty of being that person that cannot wait to be doing something outside of this home. And it's not that I think there is anything wrong with wanting to contribute something to the world outside of the domestic realm. But I think I give short shrift to what I do here, and that includes my children, who I will one day let loose upon this world. Sometimes when I realize the enormity of that, it can quickly overwhelm me. We have so much to teach them, and if I want them to be loving, kind, compassionate women, I have to model that for them. In how I treat others, yes, but also how I treat them.

So it's my mantra. Kind and present. Kind and present. Kind and present.

Have I written before that I'm a better parent when attending Mass regularly? I probably have. I'm probably repeating myself. But it's true. Going to Mass makes me a better parent. I could write a series of blog posts on the reasoning behind this. To be the most concise about it all, the most succinct, I guess I would just explain it as a clean slate. There's no other place where I feel I can sufficiently rid myself of the week's detritus: failures and mistakes and sins.

Sometimes when I take Communion, I feel awash in love. If you know me, you know how hard it is for me to type something like that. I am sarcastic, cynical, negative, jokey. I am uneasy stating that. It is a soft feather to my rough edges.

I hope one day the girls feel the same thing. It may take them 30 years, and it may happen in another church or faith. That's completely cool with me. As long as they realize there is always a new chance and beginning. Always a place to try again. And always a massive love that exists as a guiding force.

It's so lovely outside today that I think I'll take them to the park after I pick them up from school. Because I also see God in them when they laugh. Sleeping and laughing. I'm still working on the rest in between.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Danieal Kelly

She was stuck to the bed of the room she died in. Bed sores infested with maggots. She was 14, with cerebral palsy, and 40-something pounds, having been starved to death by her mother, abandoned by her father, and forsaken by social workers.

Her mother is in jail. Her father is on trial.

And I want to know. Where was God in that room? Was he there? Did he talk to her, as her body metabolized itself, as her organs shut down?

Did he whisper that he loved her? That all would soon be love, and peace and light? That suffering was transient? That mourning would be replaced by laughter? That the kingdom of heaven would be hers?

I find myself struck that the universe can know one child, and another can be forgotten, discarded like trash. Did she at least know one Father, after having been left by the other?

I want to know this. I need to have this answered.

And I feel horrible for even asking it. Because I don't know where God is, and can't say for sure that even in the most deplorable conditions, He is absent. Who am I to say?

I am just someone who hopes that child was held and loved, that she sat in the arms of the Father or Mother, as she slipped from a life she didn't ask for into the eternal one that she deserved.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent got off to a bumpy start.

We were informed at the end of the 9:15am Ash Wednesday service that our priest was one of 21 clergy members in the Philadelphia Archdiocese put on leave for suspicion of child abuse.

It was an interesting juxtaposition of feelings. I remember walking into church feeling like I was in dire need of a Lenten season of renewal, but also feeling hopeful and good. And then I walked out feeling sucker-punched.

I don't really have a lot of Catholics in my life that I can discuss this with. I wouldn't exactly call our church community vibrant. It's the kind of church people go to, and then leave. There's no Bible study, no volunteer community, no book clubs, no places for discussion. I checked the parish online bulletin board when I got home, but it was closed due to spam. It somehow seemed entirely fitting.

On my way out that morning, an elderly woman told me she hoped this was all a horrible mistake.


I tried to discuss it with one very Catholic friend, and the 'conversation' left me prickly. In her words, 'she wasn't going to participate in judgment,' and the thoughts that went through my brain following that statement were very uncharitable.

Seriously? No thoughts on what is going on? What has been going on, like, forever? When the entire course of some people's lives has been put on a trajectory of pain? When those who could protect fail to do so?

I think it's all very fine and good not to cast stones, but when you have a situation that involves the systematic cover-up of horrendous child abuse, it changes things a lot. And I think some stones should be cast. I think some stones should be thrown, hard. Or hung around necks, like the millstones Christ talked about.

I didn't go to Mass this past Sunday.

The crappy fact of it all is that I trust no one. And it's sad that I trust the hands of Eucharistic ministers more than I trust the hands of the ordained.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Overdue Update

I find it hard to believe it's been over two months since I posted here. Time seems to be flying in a way that I have trouble processing.

Today, the girls are home from school -- the second day of a stuffy cold -- but they are outside in the mildest weather of the year playing with a neighbor. I should be making them stay in and away from other kids, especially given the very dramatic ways they both arose today. I've been there, as a kid, not feeling my best and wanting to stay home. The air will be good for them, a little bit of sweat too.

And yes, they're going back to school tomorrow.

I have nearly finished The Sign of Jonas, and started the Kathleen Norris book Acedia & Me, but both are currently collecting dust as I once again return to my textbook. The lymphatic system reigns.

I spent the good part of December finishing up a nursing school application and some financial aid stuff. There were three applications in full. One school told me my GREs were too old, and so I'd have to retake them to be considered. I can't type here what I said to that bit of info. Another school has already said no to me, and I'm waiting for my third to tell me what my plans will entail this fall.

I might just have a really clean house, and time to fill with computer work. I've been trying to settle into the possibility that nursing school is not in the cards this fall, because I don't want to get my hopes up.

I've been working rather hard for over 2 years fulfilling these prerequisites, so it stings a bit to encounter a roadblock to my self-imposed schedule.

This was my plan! To be in school full-time this fall! It was going to be perfect, with both the kids in school full-time, and me too!


I'm not sure what this all means.

Though I'm not sure about all that 'everything happens for a reason' stuff, it's a bit heartening to think that my way has been stymied for something better. At least, that's what will take me through the disappointment. I'll find out in March.

There is a single bright side to my failure to gain nursing school entry. I will take the summer off from classes. No Microbiology Monday-Thursday for 12 weeks, because there'd be no need to try to stuff it in. I could take it in the Fall and regroup, and try to figure out what's next. There are a few more school possibilities for future applications, but I'd really have to weigh time requirements/benefits.

I'm just kind of spilling here, and thinking out loud.

It just kind of sucks to put in the time and be told no.