Being Salt and Light

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the familiar calling for us to be light and salt to the world! When I’ve heard and read this in the past, there was a little bubble of pride that would well up within me – light chases out the darkness and salt brings flavor! Hooray for those of us who get to bring flavor to life and chase away the darkness!

This weekend, after witnessing months of political turmoil and anger between friends and loved ones unlike any I’ve seen before, I heard it a little differently.

The same lamps and candles which illuminate even the darkest shadows, if left untended and uncontrolled, can burn and destroy. The tongues of flame which can bring warmth and comfort are the same ones that scorch and consume. Far from being an absolute gift, that light can blind if it’s not controlled, not keeping the darkness at bay, but making it permanent.

The same with the salt, when used without prudence or discretion, too much salt can be caustic causing burns and damaging any living thing it touches. Applied without care or good judgement, it ruins the food it’s added to, but makes it inedible and a waste of effort and ingredients. Sown where it doesn’t have any place being, it makes even the most fertile lands barren, so that no matter where seeds fall they are killed the moment they begin to grow.

But when used correctly, with a careful hand, salt can help to heal a wound and drive out infection and corruption. When added to food in proper amounts, it almost disappears, highlighting not its own essence, but making all the other flavors brighter, bolder, and brings out the fullness of all the other spices. Salt can add flavor and bring healing, but only when applied with knowledge, wisdom, and prudent judgement – a thing which Jesus’s audiences would have known very well.

Here I’ve been out loudly and proudly defending and promoting my Faith, thinking I was being the very definition of Light and Salt, but because I wan’t always practicing prudence and control, there are people I know I have blinded to Truth and fertile ground that I have made barren. It’s astounding when I think back on the damage I have done in God’s name through my own brash and unsympathetic approach.

This week I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to change that. How to stop over-salting or burning with a light that’s too intense. The worst thing I can imagine would be in my zeal and love of the Faith to become the very thing that forever kills it for someone else. So now I’m asking God for help in making my touch light and my approach gentle, to let me bring a welcome addition to the lives of those around me instead of a harshness that they dread.

Let me be Salt and Light applied with a Master’s touch.

photo credit:© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar, via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Being Salt and Light

The Gift of the Mundane and the Boring

Five of the children and I left the house this afternoon to run a fast errand, leaving the 7-year-old at home with his dad. As we were leaving, my husband pushed himself off of the couch and told our son, “We might as well go and get our hair cut while they’re out.”

Far from being upset by this turn of events, our boy hopped with pleasure and said, “Hooray! Time alone with Dad!” They went straight to the barber shop, and then came straight back home, but our son was beaming with pleasure as he skipped back through the door.

It wasn’t a big planned outing. It wasn’t even anything outside of our ordinary routines. The only difference was that this time they didn’t have anyone else with them.

Sometimes it seems as though we have to make a production out of things for them to be meaningful to our children, but mine keep reminding me that that’s not true. It’s not the event that they are craving, but the attention and  time from their parents.

It was something I new well when I was a younger mother, but seem to have forgotten since my children grew older and my time grew more precious – those tedious, onerous errands that I always seem to be running are not only the burden that eats up my day, they are also the opportunity to whisk away just one child for some time alone with me (or their Dad.) The long to-do lists and endless driving offer us the chance to have uninterrupted conversations, marathon sing alongs, and grocery store dance parties.

I am reminded once again that the mundane and the boring are actually gifts – so commonplace that they don’t require my attention, but allow me to focus it on the things and people who really matter most, and then even haircuts become a treat.

 

photo credit: By Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Gift of the Mundane and the Boring

March for Life – We Need To Hear From The Dads

 

I’ve been watching the Pro-Life March on Washington for most of the morning. I’ve smiled at how young the protesters look, marveled at the immense size of the crowd, and listened intently to the speakers. I’m in awe of this whole pro-life movement and how they continue to stand up for their fellow human beings without becoming discouraged. It’s been 41 years since Roe v. Wade, and yet this huge crowd of close to a half million people fills the streets with hope and determination.

The only thing I wish there were more of were men. The men are marching, they’re there…but I wish there were post-abortive fathers speaking up for the rights of the children they lost. Other than priests and politicians, the men seem to be mostly in silent or supporting roles, and I would like to see that change. At some point in the past 41 years, the media and pro-choice activists convinced the men of this country that abortion was a women’s issue and men needed to be silent. It is, after all, a woman’s body. It’s a woman’s decision. Abortion rights are somehow tied to the feminine persona it seems, and therefore we need women to speak out about them.

And I agree…

It is a woman’s body, and she is the one making this decision….and yet…it’s a man’s child too. It is his son or daughter who is butchered in the name of convenience. It’s his baby. It’s his heartbreak too. Why have we allowed these men to be silenced? Why have those of us who are concerned with the sanctity of life not pushed this point? Men are broken by abortion too. They need to be allowed a voice. We need to hear from the dads. We need men to stand up and challenge the position that because they don’t possess a uterus, they aren’t entitled to an opinion.

One of the primary roles a father has in the life of his children, is to protect them and keep them safe. Abortion laws, and liberal feminism, have silenced fathers and denied them the ability to do the very thing their instincts tell them to do – protect their babies. Further, societal pressures are such that it’s not accepted for fathers to speak about the pain and senses of helplessness and loss. We have, by codifying some sort of “autonomy” for women in law, stripped men of their dignity as fathers. We have made the role of fatherhood one that is completely dependent on the whim of someone else, i.e. the mother involved. Would women accept such a thing? Would we allow men to tell us whether or not we were allowed to have children? Would we allow men to tell us how we were allowed to feel about our children, whether or not we were allowed to feel anything at all? Of course not.

The idea of someone dictating a woman’s emotions to her is absurd, and yet we have allowed liberal feminism  in the pro-choice movement to do this very thing to men. We have accepted the notion that men should have no input, no grief, no regrets about their aborted children. Why?  What is it about that Y chromosome that makes us think men are unfeeling or uncaring? Why are the fathers of miscarried children allowed the gift of their pain, and the fathers of aborted children told that their pain does not exist?

Let me tell you a story:

A few years ago, our family participated in the 40 Days for Life protest outside of our local abortion clinic. Like most such clinics, it is in a rough part of town. Next door to the facility was a run down apartment building which our group had been warned to avoid. It was filled with drug abuse and gang activity, and the prayerful protesters on the sidewalk were not a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

It was on one drizzly cold afternoon, as we stood clumped together and praying our rosaries, that a young man in gang colors brushed past us toward those apartments. He glanced at our signs and then turned around and came over to the only man standing with us. The anger rose off of him in waves, and he loudly demanded to know what the f we were doing. The gentleman with us, quietly led him aside and we overheard snippets of “babies”, “speaking up for them”, and “defending the weak.” The young man, who was around 19 or 20, shifted uneasily on his feet. He sniffed a few times and glanced away, but he listened. When the man with us finished, the younger one nodded his head a few times and loped away.

After about 10 minutes, he returned. He was no longer wearing any visible gang identifiers – he was dressed instead in jeans and a plain white shirt. He stood nervously with us for a few minutes, shifting from foot to foot with his hands crammed in his pockets – unsure what to do. Finally, he spotted the pile of signs on a lawn-chair nearby. He sifted through them for a moment before selecting a red octagon that read “Stop Abortion Now.” His face twitched and he pinched the bridge of his nose, but he continued to silently stand beside us holding that sign for all the world to see.

An hour later, we began putting our things away to make room for the next shift and he said “So what’s the purpose? Are y’all trying to close him down or what?” We assured him that we were, but that we were doing it peacefully and with prayer. He fought back tears as he nodded one more time and said “Good. That son of a bitch killed two of my kids and I never got to say nothing about it.”

One of the older women took his hand as he struggled to keep his composure. “Why didn’t I get to say nothing?” his voice cracked. “Those were my kids…they were my kids.” He looked determinedly over our heads and sniffed once more.

The woman patted his hand and told him “You couldn’t say anything until now..”

He looked down and smiled a bit, pulled his hand from hers and said, “yeah..” and slowly walked back home

There are now generations of men who have been wounded by the violence of abortion, and further wounded by a society that forbids them a voice. It’s time that those of us in the Pro-Life majority (because we are the majority) stand up to the tyranny that denies them the right to speak for their children’s lives.

We hear quite often about the evil of men who force abortion on the women in their lives…isn’t it time that we acknowledge the pain and suffering of the men who have had the violence of abortion forced upon them?

 

Photo credit: By Kiefer.Wolfowitz own work The original uploader was Kiefer.Wolfowitz at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on March for Life – We Need To Hear From The Dads

We don’t have the right to force someone to stay pregnant

**this post originally appeared in Jan 2015, I think it’s important, so I’m sharing it again.

My previous post about abortion has sparked some interesting conversations in its comment box, on Facebook, and Twitter. One of the most common views expressed by those who hold a Pro-Choice position is “you don’t have the right to force a woman to be pregnant.” I know it will shock them to hear this, but they’re right.

I don’t  have the right to force someone to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to continue to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to become a mother against her will. I simply don’t.

And neither does anyone else.

To say that someone has been forced  either to do or not do do something implies that they are being compelled to perform an action which is against their will under threat of physical harm or reprisal. This is what it means when we accuse someone of forcing someone else to do something. When we use the verb to force as it is properly understood, then it becomes immediately clear that no one has the right to threaten a woman with any type of punishment until and unless she continues a pregnancy.

Nobody has the right to do that. Nobody. What we, as a society, do have the right to do is to require, and we do that all the time.

It is an accepted norm of human society that we require parents (this includes mothers) to care for their minor children. We do not accept conditions and exceptions to this rule. The age, sex, stage of development, and location of the child do not in any way preclude the obligation, the societal requirement, that the parents ensure that that child’s basic needs are met. This is true whether the child is living in the same residence as the parents or not. The obligation remains intact even if the minor child is away at boarding school, or living with relatives. Human society requires that the parents of each child be responsible and answerable for his/her health and safety.

In the event that the biological parents choose to pass the obligation for raising that child along to someone else (adoption), we still require that that happens in a way which is in the best interest of the child. This is precisely why a mother may leave her newborn in the safety of a hospital or other designated area (in Texas they can be left at fire or police stations as well as health facilities), but not in the dumpster, a field, or other unsafe place. Even in these extreme cases, our society requires that the parents of a  new baby take care to ensure its health and safety.

This is not a new and radical position. The social contract which exists between parent and child is ingrained within every culture on Earth. This basic understanding of the duty owed by parents to their offspring predates its being codified into written law. There has never been a human civilization which did not hold this expectation for parents.

What is new is the position we now hold. Western society has decided that in the unfortunate instances when the biological parents of a child are incapable of caring for their child, we as a society will step in as a safety net, and see to his/her health and safety collectively. We recognize and so value each life that we have made  the historically unprecedented decision to fulfill the parental obligation even in the absence of parental ability.

It is this basic human premise and recognition of human value which Pro-Life people call upon with regard to what is owed the child in the womb. We acknowledge the biological fact of the humanity of that developing human being, and require of its mother the same societal norm which exists for the well-being of all children. We expect that the parents of that child will meet and fulfill the basic needs of that child. In the event that they feel  incapable of caring for that child long term, we place upon them the same obligation which is already in place – that they transfer the care of that child to someone else in a manner which safeguards the health, safety, and well-being of that child.

When it comes to abortion, my Pro-Choice readers are right. We cannot force a woman to do anything which is against her will.  It is in light of the pre-existing societal obligation that we can and do require that she fulfill the duty which is already rightfully hers.

 

photo credit: Sean McGrath via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on We don’t have the right to force someone to stay pregnant

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

Alright Ladies,

I’ve had enough, and I’m willing to bet that you have too. I’m done with the self-doubt and the perfectionism.  I’m through with the amazing women in my life taking the innocent word “should” and using it to make themselves feel inadequate. (I’m in favor of a bit of self-improvement, but y’all are taking this to a whole new place.)

My gorgeous neighbor with the most luscious red lips I’ve ever seen, talks about how she should be as thin as the size 0 mom who lives across the street.

So what if you’re not rail thin? I once heard a man in Mexico say “Bones are for the dogs.  Meat is for the man.”  I’ll tell you what, a little meat is kinda sexy on a gal.

The friend, who baked the tastiest chocolate cake I’ve ever had (and I don’t really like chocolate cake) for her son’s birthday, looked on Pinterest and then began lamenting all of the things she should have done to make his party better.

Does it really matter if you never throw a “perfect” children’s party? Will your children be ruined if you let 3 year olds dance with balloons while the moms drink mimosas? That’s more my speed for a party game anyway.

The homeschooling mom with the crazy smart son doesn’t take any pride in the insane achievements this kid has made in the last year, instead she laments all of the extra science experiments she should have done with him in her spare time. (I’m assuming that extra time is the pesky moments she wastes in breathing because she’s insanely busy.)

There is no limit to what I could teach my children, which means that eventually they’re going to have to learn the rest of it themselves. I cover the basics and a few fun things along the way, but letting go of doing it all has given me peace.  Wouldn’t you like to get to a place in your life where you can have a bit of peace?

I just want to hug these women…. or shake them…. I’m not sure which, and beg “Please, please stop should-ing on yourself. Can’t you see that all you’re doing is making yourself feel like cr*p?”

We live in the post-Martha Stewart age of Pinterest perfectionism. It’s a world where moms with good lighting and excellent editing tools spend weeks planning how to take that one perfect photograph that will make everyone else wish we were them. When are we going to realize that the perfect picture lady’s life isn’t always picture perfect?  She owns a better camera and cool editing software.  That’s why it all looks so great.

Let’s be honest about that girl, she probably has a stash of clutter hidden just out of view or a serious Hanson addiction she never got over.  People who are crazy enough to spend weeks prepping for the one perfect pic are c.r.a.z.y,  and do you really want to live with the dialogue and pressure inside her head?

There is no such thing as perfect, and thank goodness for it.  This is your one and only chance at life.  Why would you spend it bemoaning all the things you imagine you should be instead of loving the things you are?  I’m tired of funny, sexy, smart, and amazing women abusing themselves for being the people God made them to be.  They ought to tell that awful mean inner voice to pack that “should” up and get the heck out!

photo credit: By SSG Adam Mancini @U.S. Army [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Stop Should-ing on Yourself

The Mother of Nine

Once upon a time, I was only the mother of the sweetest baby girl. We were inseparable.

We traveled the country for her Irish dancing competitions, spent hours at the kitchen table homeschooling, and even more time curled up on the couch watching mindless TV and chick-flicks and just “being” together.

We talked about boys and life, and we joked about the guys she knew. We especially laughed about this one.

Her best friend and the son of a friend of mine. She laughed when we called him her future husband, because he was “just Jack,” and she didn’t think about him that way at all.

He was the guy she took to homecoming dances because she wasn’t allowed a date, but we would let her go with her friend.

He made her laugh. Always.

Then came the day he stopped by the house on his way home from college. He’d lost a bet to her, and she got to color his hair blue.

Their eyes met as she walked down the stairs, and I knew that he suddenly wasn’t “just Jack” any more.

This weekend they announced to the world the words we’ve known were coming, and “just Jack” became her fiance.

Their smiles say it all.

It’s not every woman who gets to be the mother of a newborn and the Mother of the Bride at the same time. Our family is leaping from seven children to nine, and we are incredibly blessed and excited to see what the future holds.

Welcome to the family, Jack! I hope you’re ready for us!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

That Which You Do For The Least of These

The older kids and I went to a different parish for Mass last weekend. The events of the day had run longer than expected, and by the time we realized it we were too late for the 5pm Mass. A quick Google search led us to the “ugly” parish that we had studiously avoided when we moved here two and a half years ago. We were so turned off by its modern architecture that we never even gave it a chance. In doing so, we missed something truly special.

When we walked into the narthex last night, we were immediately greeted by an energetically friendly man who pumped our hands and loudly welcomed us. He hugged me and loudly exclaimed “I’m so happy to see all of you!” He then turned to the people coming in after us and greeted them in the same overly affectionate manner. While it was obvious that he had some degree of cognitive disability, it was equally apparent that he was a regular fixture at the door and that no one minded his being there….quite the opposite, in fact, everyone who walked through the door seemed as delighted to seem him as he was to see them.

I watched for a few moments to see how long it would take for someone to slide along the wall and duck past him to avoid his embrace. It never happened. Young children and old women, teenage boys and moms balancing new babies, everyone smiled at his greetings. I didn’t see annoyance from anyone as he showed off the Special Olympics medals which hung around his neck. He showed them off proudly, as he had obviously done many times before. The ribbons were dingy with wear, but his joy for them was undimmed and his audience didn’t seem to mind.

We walked into the sanctuary and sat in the vacant second pew. We were still kneeling when the door greeter sat triumphantly in the pew in front of us. He turned to look at me and smiled. When I smiled back he gave me a thumbs up and turned back to the front. He prayed then, a little loudly. I glanced at the sour-puckered-lips woman on the other side of the aisle, certain that she would be frowning. She wasn’t. She was smiling at him with the affectionate look of a beloved family member. When he glanced her way, she put a finger to her lips. “Sorry!” he answered in a slightly raised voice.

When Mass began, he was sitting alone. The hymn sounded and he said to no one in particular “I love this song,” and then proved it by singing every word. Twice he waved a hand to the teenagers in the choir, and both times someone discreetly waved back at him.

When the first lector finished his reading, he slipped into the pew next to the man in front of us. He was hugged and his arm was patted in greeting. I heard him whisper the words of the responsorial psalm to the door greeter who nodded his head and sang along. All through Mass, I couldn’t help but watch the greeter and the lector. The greeter talked quietly to his neighbor the entire time. He listened to the homily and said “He has a good point” or “that’s funny” and the lector would nod his head and squeeze the greeter’s hand. Once or twice, his responses were a bit closer to yelling than being spoken and the lector whispered quietly to him and he settled back down.

“Ah,” I thought to myself, “this must be his brother. What a good brother he is to be so patient and loving.”

During the Consecration, he whispered several times “This is the Grace part! This is the Grace part! I love the Grace part!” He murmured every prayer along with the priest and enthusiastically added the replies. When at last the priest raised the Host overhead and the bells chimed, he said “That’s my Jesus. It really is.” with all the love and awe he could muster. Father heard him up at the altar, and smiled at the devotion in the front pew. When it was time for Communion, nearly everyone who walked past the first pew reached out and touched his hand. It was subtle and easily missed unless you were looking for it, which I was by this point. The door greeter was the recipient of many warmhearted pats and smiles as the entire congregation filed past him.

As Mass ended the teenage choir began to sing and play a song that was a little more rock than hymn, and the man in front of us put on his sunglasses and started to dance along. Father touched his shoulder as he walked past and said “No sunglasses. It’s not a concert.” to which the joyful dancer smilingly replied “Yes, Father” and put the glasses back up on his head.

I spoke with the lector after Mass and complimented him on taking care of his energetic brother. “He’s not my brother,” he told me. He went on to explain that it has become tradition for the first lector at this Mass always sits with him, and helps him when he needs it. “He loves the Mass,” he told me, “and he loves God. Sometimes that makes it hard for him to sit still or be quiet, so we sit with him.” It was an honor, he said, to sit with someone who was obviously beloved of God and that the entire parish treats it that way.

All of this has kept me in prayer and deep thought for most of today. First, I’ve sat in wonder at a parish that has rallied around a man most of society would see as worthless, until he has become the best loved person in the room. They’ve looked at his limitations and seen, not a burden, but a call to love, and have beautifully stepped forward to answer that call.

It has made me reflect on my own life and how I treat the people who the rest of the world sees as “less than”. Their example of great love has me wondering how the lives of the people I know would be different if I saw and treated them as the “beloved children of God” that they are, and how things would change if I behaved as though my contact with them as the honor that it really is.


“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” – Matthew 25:40

 

Photo credit: By taken by Bergmann (ja:Image:Ibaraki_Kasugaoka_Church_Light_Cross.JPG) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Disreality and Unconnection – Life With Antepartum Depression

*I have struggled with antepartum depression throughout most of this pregnancy. (And through my pregnancies with my last few children.) I haven’ always known how to talk about it. I thought I’d just share the sounds of my thoughts instead.**

To bed at 10:30 and up again at 4:50. Just over six hours of sleep. It’s the longest consecutive stretch of sleep that I’ve had in months. My body feels tired, but my mind is wide awake.

I keep running my hands over my distended belly and thinking about the girl inside. I’m 31 weeks pregnant now. I’ve watched my skin jump as she bumps and stretches inside of me. And yet I’m having a hard time with believing that she is real. It’s as though she’s some fairy story I’ve told myself about a make-believe girl. My mind simply refuses to believe the fact that she will be anything more than this bump in the front of me, or that our lives are about to change in the old familiar ways.

We have seen her on ultrasound, chosen her name, and announced her coming to the world; so why does my mind refuse to accept the inevitable? It’s not that I have some strange premonition of loss or tragedy, just that my imagination can’t go any further down the road than the reality of today. I try to call into focus daydreams of little hands and sweetly curved cheeks, the familiar warm boneless weight of a newborn in my arms, but while I can remember its truth with my other children, I can’t imagine this one.

I bought a few onesies last week, and one footie pajama. It’s all that she has in the closet so far. There are the two blankets a far-away friend sent, and the pictures of the beautiful quilt she’s creating for this newest baby, but there’s no crib to put it in. The bed which had held so many of our other children was worn out after the last one, and is somewhere in a landfill I’m sure. I’ve looked at a few online, but can’t find the enthusiasm or motivation to buy one. How do you buy furniture for a figment of your imagination? For someone whose existence you steadily ignore?

People ask us the name of our baby, and I smile coyly and say “We aren’t telling.” It’s not true. My husband and children are telling. I’m not. It feels false to speak her name out loud. The sound of her name doesn’t fill me with anticipation and excitement. It doesn’t make me feel anything at all. I’m just numb to it. I carefully chose what we would call her, naming her for two women I admire more than almost any others. I’d hoped that would tether her to the earth for me, give her flesh, and make her real. It hasn’t.

I know from experience that she will come roaring into this world and become instantly real. A necessary part of my life, as indispensable as breathing. It won’t be long before traces of this newest girl will overtake our house, and she will be enmeshed in our family life, forever a part of who we are. But it has’t happened yet.

In these early morning hours, I watch as her leg stretches out searching for more room. I rub the skin over what I know is a tiny foot and say a prayer for the small girl who is in there, trying desperately to feel anything but indifference. I know this will pass, it has before, but I also know that it won’t be today. Today, time will continue to stand still for me before the days will leap unexpectedly ahead. A hazy blur of disreality and unconnection, as I continue to wait for the miracle moment when she will at last be made real to me.

**I’ve discussed it all with my doctor, but the reality is that he can’t tell me anything new. This is all familiar ground to me. The only difference this time is that the feeling of suspension has a name – antepartum depression. Most people are more familiar with postpartum depression, but there are millions of women (1 in 5 prgnant women to be exact) who battle with depression throughout pregnancy. Not because we don’t love or want our babies. Not because we’re bad mothers. Not because we’re crazy or incapable of love, or any of the other things we tell ourselves. It’s because the hormones of being pregnant cause us to become chemically unbalanced, and this weird state of limbo is where we live. If you’re living in this place, like I am, please talk to your doctor about it. You’re not alone in this. It’s a real thing, and there is help. 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The 13th Day of Christmas Cleanout

From October through December, the Amazon boxes arrived. Tiny ones holding games and books, and larger ones with Lego sets and bigger treasures. They were stashed in car trunks and the attic, or hidden in plain sight on the shelves of my closet. On Christmas Eve, while the children were at the movies, I gathered the packages into one place and began sorting, wrapping the gifts that were inside, and stacking the empty packing boxes to the side.

This week, as we recover from the holidays and prepare to get back to school, we are filling those boxes back up again. Amazon and Goodwill have partnered up to cover the cost of shipping those boxes to the nearest Goodwill, and while I would prefer to send our things to the St Vincent de Paul thrift store, the sad fact is that at 31 weeks pregnant I’m too lazy to drive the 30 minutes to get there with the multiple car loads of stuff that I can pack into this plethora of packaging. Right now, “we’ll come and get it” works for me.

This year my annual post-Christmas purge has a goal – I will send out of this house as much as we brought in. We are filling up the dozen or so boxes, and I’m gleefully watching the mail people take them away.

If your house is like ours, and holdding a stash of Amazon boxes, I invite you to join us on our 13th Day of Christmas Cleanout.

Sing it with me now “On the 13th Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to me a postman to take all our junk awaaaaaaay.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Mary, the Storyteller

When I was leaving the Church when I was a teenager, I remember scoffing at the infancy narratives of Jesus and saying, “These are totally made up. Clearly. How does anyone even know that an angel came to her (Mary) and said anything? There wasn’t anyone there to see it.”

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties, I’m embarrassed to say, that I listened to the Gospel of Luke’s “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” that I heard the implied next part “and then she told them all to us.”

For all that my mother had tried to raise me to be an independent woman, it hadn’t occurred to me that the teller of the tales was the woman who had been there. In all the titles that are given to the Blessed Mother, the ones which seem to be forgotten are Story Teller, Keeper of History, and Chief Witness.

As the mother of my own brood of children, I often feel that the most important role I play in their lives is as the observer, the witness, of their lives. “Tell me a story from when I was a baby,” “Sing me that song that I used to like,” “Tell me about the time I…..” are near daily parts of my life. I recount for them the tales from before they were old enough to remember, the stories of my sweet babies before they were big enough to remember their own histories for themselves.

It must have been the same for Mary except on a larger scale, with not only her son but his followers asking “Tell us again about how John leaped inside Elizabeth at the sound of your voice.” “What does an angel look like, and how did you find the voice to actually speak to one?” “Tell us the story of the Magi?” And she would begin, “When I was a young girl/new mom/running for my life….” and the listeners would sigh and settle in for the tales of Our Lord in his infancy.

Which is why this year I’m dedicating my blog to the most famous forgotten story-teller of them all – Mary, the Mother of Christ and Teller of His Tales. She did so much more than just ponder these things in her heart, she kept the stories safe for me and for you.

 

artwork Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mary, the Storyteller