It’s a fool what looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart
Ken tried telling me last night that he was going to the evening Mass today because wearing his ashes to work would be contrary to the Scripture reading for Ash Wednesday.
Nice try, buddy. You avoided the morning Mass because you didn’t want to have this repeated 60 bajillion times today:
I understand. Much better to take six kids toeing the threshold of bedtime to church.
Between fasting and evening Mass, I’m not even going to make it past today. Lent’s going to kill me.…
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
-William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood
We were at Mass one Sunday, and a couple came and sat down a few pews in front of us. They had a teenage girl with them, and the woman was carrying a very young infant in her arms. Ken mentioned that he’d seen that same woman at daily Mass when it was his turn to take Lotus to serve, only then she didn’t have “the nanny” with her.
“Nanny?” I asked, wondering what he was talking about. “The nanny they brought to Mass,” he said, motioning to the teenager with them. “That’s not the nanny. That’s their daughter. Or the daughter of one of them, I guess. I bet it’s a second marriage.”
Yes. This is the conversation my husband and I were having in front of the Tabernacle while waiting for Mass. Even while I was having it I knew how horrible it was. I knew it, I felt a flicker of uneasiness about it, and- wait!- I allowed it to get worse.
“I saw that quite a bit when I taught. There’d be a remarriage and a new baby, and you’d end up with an age gap like that.” Ken nodded, but was still going with the nanny theory, and I lapsed into semi-moody observations about how thin the new mother looked. …
Over the past few days I’ve seen a couple references to selecting a “word of the year”. The concept seems to be that you pick a word to focus on during the upcoming months.
I’m a big fan of words, patterns, and themes, so this seemed like a fantastic idea. Only I couldn’t pick. So many great words! How do you narrow it down to one?
So I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the word that would best sum up what I should focus on for 2013.
Immediately, the word “respite” came to mind.
For a number of reasons, I balked.
1. It’s not a pretty sounding word, like “glimmering” or “marmelade”.
2. It’s not a word that conjures up the same things that “luxurious” or “plucky” do.
3. It means this:
Sure, sure, there’s the “rest” aspect, but that’s only part of the word’s meaning. It’s a brief rest from something unpleasant. A breather before you have to go back out there and keep slogging through whatever it is you’re slogging through.
I asked the Holy Spirit for some pretty firm confirmation that this was the word He wanted me to meditate on for the next 360-something days.…
You know, in case I misheard, and He really wanted to tell me something like, “naps!”
While I waited for a sign, I kept remembering the last Christmas we spent in Mississippi. It was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had.
A while ago, my dad emailed me this picture:
With the craziness of Christmas, I didn’t have time to fully appreciate what I was seeing until today.
I sat down and really looked at it, a group of people I share blood with, in a basement I spent so much time in as a child. Almost 50 years and 750 miles separate me from the moment. My grandma sold that house years ago, and some of the people in this picture have been dead longer than I’ve been alive.
I called the kids so they could look at the picture. ”This is a picture of Grumpy as a teenager,” I said. They crushed against me, jostling to get a good view of the computer.
“Oh my gosh! Look at that dog! What’s his name?” (Sniffy, and he’s possibly the fattest cocker spaniel I’ve ever seen)
“Which one is Grumpy? Is he that one right there?” (Yes. ”Right there” being the not-awkward-at-all 14 year old in the plaid shirt and glasses.)
“Where’s Grandma? Is that her?” (Not in the picture, and no, that’s not Grandma, that lady in the white shirt is your great-grandma.)
“Where’s Grandma? They didn’t even know each other yet, did they?” (Don’t know where Grandma was at this precise moment, but she and my dad did, in fact, know each other as children.)
“They had cameras back then? For real cameras? Or is this, like, part of a movie?” (Yes. …
Years ago, before I converted, I got this painting, called “Winged Wonderment“, painted by the artist Pamela Day. When I saw it, I was enchanted. Not particularly religious at the time, I was drawn in by the colors and the serenity and the fact that it had birds (I’m a bird watcher). It hung on the walls of one apartment and two houses, filling whatever room it was in with a burst of color and dreamy peace.
Then, when I became Catholic, my relationship with the painting changed. I worried that this painting may be blasphemous in nature, and in that new “want to do everything by the rules” phase that I suspect a good number of converts go through, I put the painting away, lest I accidentally offend God, while I tried to discern the meaning of the painting.
Now, a good six years later, I I finally got my answer. And the painting is now happily back on display at Clan Donaldson, filling a corner of the living room with the serene happiness that drew me to it years ago.
I found my answer in a Nativity set.
Well, a series of pictures of Nativity sets posted at various places on Facebook, really. The first one showed up in my feed earlier this week, and the caption read, “A friend of mine had her 11 year old son put up their Nativity scene. If you have boys… you totally get it!…
Ken is the Yin to my Yang (or is that backwards? I don’t know), the creme to my Twinkie, the helium in my balloon, the up to my down, whatever metaphor you want to use here (frankly, I’m juvenile enough that they all sound hysterically sexual in nature), but I swear to you, that man has a preternatural understanding of what I need before I even know I need it.
Case in point: I’ve been very “What am I doing important with my life? What am I leaving behind? Why do I do this wife/mom/teacher/self-proclaimed agoraphobic gig day after day after…?” lately. Yes, recently I’ve been every bit as thrilling to live with as I sound.
But today- today!- Ken started putting together his annual family picture slideshow. He takes our pictures from the past 365 days, sets them to carefully selected music, and creates a sort of “year in review” for us. The slideshows always make me tear up. Always. And while watching his rough edits of this year’s show, I was overwhelmed by how good and beautiful my life is. Seeing picture after picture of my gorgeous family showed me how I lose sight of the forest for the trees, and this existence that I sometimes feel weighted down by is actually more breathtakingly wonderful than I realize.
For example, this year alone- this year that before the slideshow I would have grumbled was “messy and inane and insignificant”, contained a First Confession, First Holy Communion, a new baby, and a Baptism. …
My best friend used to have the first email I ever sent her. Ken and I had made the decision to give homeschool a whirl, and as I searched for local homeschool groups, I found “Kim Trouy, new member contact” listed on the website of a Catholic group serving the greater Memphis area. I banged out some ridiculous email about thinking about homeschooling our four year old (!), and being interested in meeting up with a group. Years later she found that email in a folder somewhere, read it to me when I was pregnant with baby number five, and we had a good laugh (side note- composing formal emails are not my strength).
I vividly remember the first phone conversation I ever had with her. She called me a few days later to invite me to a playgroup that she hosted every Friday afternoon. As she spoke to me briefly about curriculum choices, I could hear yelling in the background. Lots of yelling. I think I asked her if she had company and did she need to go? She paused for the slightest of beats, then said, “No, that’s my kids. I have nine and am pregnant with number ten.”
I may have paused for slightly longer than polite as this sunk in.
“Uh-huh? Ten? Um…” and Kim, bless her supernaturally patient heart, didn’t say a word beyond directions to her house so I could go to that Friday’s playgroup.…
I’ve known my sister-in-law since we were in seventh grade. Even way back then, the two things she knew she wanted in life were to be in law enforcement and to have children.
When she got her first job working for a police department in Georgia, it seemed just a matter of time before she got pregnant and fulfilled both of her lifelong dreams. But in a sort of cosmic bad joke, she learned in her mid-twenties that she wouldn’t be able to have children.*
The news hit everyone in the family hard, and it was one of the things that prompted Ken to re-examine his desire to remain childless. So when he found me sobbing in the bedroom that day, brokenhearted over my realization that I wasn’t on board with the “no kids” thing, it wasn’t very long before we decided that maybe we’d been hasty in the whole childless lifestyle, and that having a baby sounded like a Pretty Good Idea.
Every October Ken and his dad would go fishing for a week up in Frankfort, Michigan. When his parents moved to Atlanta, my mother-in-law would make the trip up with my father-in-law, and we two fishing widows would spend the week together at my house while the men would go stand out in freezing weather, trying to wrestle giant fish onto land.
She and I were out to dinner one night during that fishing week, and she started telling me a story that ended with her getting very very sad when she thought that she’d never have grandchildren Since I am biologically unable to keep secrets, I blurted out over our enchiladas and margaritas, “Ken and I are going to try to have a baby!”
Once that admission sunk in, she asked, “When?”
Did I ever tell you that when we got married, Ken and I didn’t want children?
I feel like this is something I would have told you
I can see you scanning over my bio, re-reading the part where it mentions six children. I know. Trust me. I know.
Anyway, we didn’t want kids.
Or rather, Ken very much didn’t want kids, and I was ambivalent, so his formed opinion trumped my lack of one. He had no reason for this barren desire. It was an unexplored, unquestioned decision.
And for the first couple of years in our marriage, it remained just that, and we were fine with it.
We spent our first year of married life in a dreary Livonia apartment that we tried our best to escape. Then Ken got hired with Ford, and we were able to get a down payment on a house in Dearborn Heights. As soon as we got the keys to our new home, I started looking for a dog. I wanted a dog so badly it burned. I had my heart set on rescuing an ex-racer greyhound, and as I made my way through the adoption process, I built up a stockpile of doggy accessories that would have seen several dogs through several lifetimes.
Harvey, as we renamed the dog as soon as he was ours, became our baby. My mom, stoically resigning herself to the fact that she would have no grandchildren through us, sewed the dog winter coats (yes.…
I feel like I have consumed enough zombie stories to move up to semi-professional status. From classic movies to comic books, plots scary to dreary to funny, fast zombies to shufflers, I’ll give anything in the zombie genre at least a try.
So when Jen Fulwiler sent out this tweet almost two months ago, I knew what my next helping of the undead was going to be.
A guy named Ryan is handing out copies of his Catholic zombie novel, written as series of letters; sealed in envelope. Get 1.
Ryan Charles Trusell, the author/brains (heh, get it?) behind Ora et Labora et Zombies, the “Catholic zombie novel” Jen tweeted about, is a 33 year old author/printer who first thought of the title sometime in 2010. However, he didn’t act upon this stroke of genius until 2011, when he met a woman in Houston who liked the title, and he began work on the novel as a sort of love-letter-in-disguise for her (his plan worked, by the way, as the two are now happily married). The zombie conceit is secondary, he says, to the deeper questions he’s interested in exploring: those of the nature of man, the soul, and the true, Catholic meaning of the Apocalypse. Trusell declares Ora to be a multi-faceted love story; in his words, a story “about the love of a man for his wife and son, the love of neighbor inherent to the life of a monastic community, and overarching it all, finally, the love of Christ for the Church.…