Walking in the Dark

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I have no idea what is going to happen. In this country. In my state. In my town. Even in my own home. There are so many stories, nay true events, of injustice. They are not stopping. They are increasing. Injustice is being supported. My faith, my academics, my life’s work is being disregarded. Power seems to be all that matters, something that by chance of birth I have very little. I do not live in squalor or lack, but on many days I feel I might as well. Poverty sits outside my door. Worse is the feeling that if the worst happened people would simply walk right by me. As I have done so many times to those in dire situations. I am certain that Jesus is with me. I am certain He is here. Am I willing to accept whatever He has for me? I feel like a blind person walking through a war zone. I have only Jesus to hold my hand and help me and my son survive. These are days where faith is being challenged on a global scale.

Falling off the wagon, Getting back in the boat.

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This is my familiar creative cycle. Wonderful ideas, fast start, invest what I can, and then family happens. Not my son. Who is the light of my life.  Just everything and everyone else. Suddenly the demands grow and I am scurrying to find moments of time even to pray in peace. If only I had more of everything and the question I have heard over and over again. What am I going to do? I need to make more money. What am I going to do with my looks? How will I be more impressive, more organized, more efficient. Why isn’t my son smiling every second? Why is he crying? ….even as I typed this in my five minutes a call for assistance came again. Don’t get me wrong I am thankful for the moments of assistance my family gives me but the pressure is intense. Become an amazing mother while continuing to build a profitable career. It seems like an insurmountable challenge particularly when my health is calling me to change my work entirely. God is demanding I do something different. I know what my heart yearns for but how to I bring in dollars in the mean time. I can’t work the 8 hours a day on my feet job I used to do on top of my professional work to bring in extra money. I have to find a way to make money that is easy on my body. All I have ever wanted to do was learn and share what I learn with other people. Does a single mother begin the road to ministry and a doctorate in theology at 38? I believe that is exactly what the Lord is asking of me. My faith tells me our God can do anything. He can move mountains. I will follow where ever He leads me. Just one foot in front of the other. One prayer, then another, and then again. God is with me. Jesus is with me. Mother Mary is with me. The angels are with me. The saints are with me. I am not alone.

Are my favorite authors a brand?

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When I think about Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis I never think of them as a brand. I never read their works and think to myself “I can’t wait to read the twitter commentary and the Jezebel think pieces!” I place the book down and think about the story. I think about the life I have lived through sharing this story. I consider the beautiful words that created this story. The story was an experience. I was living for those moments and nothing else. I stayed up way too late to finish one more page, one more chapter, one more act. When did stories and authors become brands? I know that I have engaged in twitter universe madness when it was about my favorite comic book characters, my favorite fantasy. George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling. Yet, I never engaged in this kind of social media cage match with my favorite romance novelist. I could give a damn about what twitter has to say about Nora Roberts or Diana Gabaldon or Danielle Steele. I am sure all of those authors have an online presence but I don’t care. Is this intentional on their part or simply a product of their writing and genre?

Teacher Trauma Creative Malpractice

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Can’t stop thinking about the ads my facebook, youtube, google everything has been sending me for masterclass.com featuring Margaret Atwood. Atwood is an amazing writer. She truly is a living legend. Her class is for creative writing. I cannot help but think it will be filled with help since her ad almost brought me to tears.

“If you really do want to write and you’re struggling to get started…You’re afraid of something.”

Well that was like hearing a message from God. No I don’t think Ms. Atwood is a God but I do believe she is a messenger created by Him.  When I hear something or someone speak something that creates a visceral reaction I notice, I stop, I listen .  The message of my last post was to listen.

What am I scared of and where did it come from? Rejection and even more than that dismissal.  I have many, many good teachers and I have had a few truly great ones. Yet the teachers that rejected me seem to have stuck the deepest wounds. Whispers and statements that the young overachieving, people pleasing woman carried with me. Don’t try, Stop, Make Me Happy, Stop Being Different, Follow the rules, DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD.

Not everything that is spoken over you is true.  Spiritual study calls recognizing the truth  discernment. Discernment takes patience and experience. Discernment was simply not available for me as a young woman.

Young woman no more but I am hardly a crone.  I welcome Discernment’s arrival to my party. I had no idea Discernment would be bringing such a good time.

Reading Speaks If You Listen

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Well I read the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson and discovered something about myself.

I give a fuck.

No criticism of Mr. Manson but you see the book is simply the discoveries of a man who became older than 29 and realized he was caring about the wrong things. Sex, money, etc. I appreciate learning about his perspective but it did not speak to me at all.  As a woman in my late thirties with a family, there are many, many things I give a fuck about and rightfully so.

Thirtyish dude not speaking to you? Where else to go…a Jesuit Priest. I know a celibate old man does not seem like the most logical move. It may seem like a total over correction. But au contraire! James Martin SJ’s ” The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything” has been a fantastic experience and I am only half way finished! His book is about people who really do care and want to know how to go about doing so correctly. So far the line that has spoken to me so clearly is “When you pray, however you pray, and feel that God is speaking to you-pay attention.”

I am paying attention.

Missing the Mark, Changing the Target

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Well it’s my twenty year high school reunion this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing everyone and hearing all of their stories. I wish I could give them a glorious story of my professional triumph and my lovely home. That isn’t my story though, My story is more like a classic rock and roll tale about a star that shined too bright, too soon, took too many risks, fell and is now seeking to rebuild after the fall.

No one starts out a saint.

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What do you love? I know the first thought that should come to my mind is “I love God.” and it’s true I do love God but I must tell you that was not the first thing that came to my mind. Or even the fourth or fifth. It is a thought I must constantly remind myself to think. I have to constantly work to keep the first commandment at the front of my mind. Of course God made everything that does pop to the front of my mind when I ask myself that question.  God brought me my son, my husband, my mother, my brother, the books I read, the art I love, even little thing like my magical hairdresser or my Phillies t-shirts. God made everything I love. He made all of those things. He made everything. Even the things I don’t love, understand, or even like.

I received a token of John Paul II. I kept wondering why and why is he insisting on being carried around with me. I got part of the answer today in my prayers. John Paul II wasn’t always a Pope.

God didn’t make me a saint. At least not yet. Maybe not in this lifetime.  He isn’t done with me.  I am not a completed creation. Creation is not a swift business.

Words are Life. The Pause When Life Ends.

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My blog began with a story about my father taking me to the opera. Just a few weeks later. He passed away suddenly. I had no words. Death came like a thief. I felt like Death had been casing my home but I said nothing. I felt it and did everything I could to discourage it. Time with family. Phone calls. Health advice. Like I was banging pots and pans around the house to let whoever was outside know I heard them. I was awake.

It doesn’t matter. We have no control of mortality. When the Lord comes to take you home your time is done. My family rushed to the hospital. We prayed. We circled his body. I felt it though as I said the words. He was gone. The machines performing a maudlin show. His soul had already left his body which hadn’t been helpful to him for so long. I was oddly calm. As I tend to be.

Silent. Silent as the machines continued to beep. Silent as the crash carts came. Silent as I held my mother. Silent as I heard the sobs and shouts of my mother. My brother. Silent as I hugged my young niece. Silent as I hovered in the space between here and there.

Silent as the curtain closed on my father’s show. Words so rarely come to me right now. Although late at night tears have finally come. Silent slow tears. Gentle relief. I can only hope that was the feeling for my father as he passed from this life to the next.