Blogs I Know · Lent

Waiting for Rain

Over at Simple Gifts I found the above video. 

I suppose it is the greatest of Christian challenges to just live for God.  I know a great deal was made of Mother Teresa’s journals when they were release about ” The dark night of the soul” that long period of spiritual dryness that she, and so many great souls, faced.  To me it was a blessing to know how she felt.  Our world is a place where there are many dark Corners, where the light is sometimes difficult to see, or worse burning so pure and complete as to make us feel not just naked but transparent.

We are halfway through Lent and Easter is edging closer everyday.  In ways this has been a very good Lent for me, in others it has felt somewhat disconnected, I guess would be the right word.   I am looking forward to Easter.  I can feel the journey through Lent building.  When I was a child living in Eastern Oregon storms never felt sudden.  You would see clouds gathering in the distance, the wind would begin to pick-up then the smell of the rain in the distance.  Easter is like that for me this year a distant storm that grows and travels, I can feel it and hear it and smell it coming.  I am waiting in anticipation, but I am not sure exactly what will be.

Blogs I Know · Caritas · My world

Moments of pure gold.

This weekend I found the video that I had originally wanted to put with this post so I am bumping it.  I hope no one minds. Thanks to the Anchoress.

A couple weeks ago the Anchoress took a little break from blogging and on the way out left us with a link to an essay about Johnny Cash which can be found here.   I read the essay really hopeful, ended up somewhat disappointed, but came away with a few useful thoughts.  Key among these thought was this:  God can bring the worst of us to moments of pure gold for His glory and for our good.

 I will try to help you understand what I mean by that.  One of the first few comments following the article was this,  ” A rather shallow article about an unrepetant[sic] sinner. Can’t Catholic writers do better than this?”   I have seen this attitude from my fellow Catholics far too often and Christians in general more times than I could remember.  A slightly “holier than thou” attitude, pleading to the good that is really nothing more than thinly veiled self righteousness that smacks of deep-grained ugliness.  This is not the light and saving love of Christ, liquid and vibrant, blood and flesh, fertile and open.  It is a brittle, dried up attitude that  claims itself superior while becoming more and more detached from the obligations of need and weakness on the human heart.  It is the Pharisee and the Priest crossing to the other side of the road — tisking at the sinner, crime and the state of world while offering no balm to sooth it.   And the greatest irony is the sinner they are tisking in the above comment was the one offering the balm to so many.

McMullen spends a good deal of time quoting Cash’s lyrics and relating them to his feelings as a Catholic.  It is all in all an enjoyable read.  But I  feel it really didn’t go deep enough.  There are two thoughts I feel are important.

First Cash is a man of his time.  His voice spoke to men, hard working country men, men struggling with modern life and men for whom  the Church had taken a feminizing turn that really turned them off.   His songs struggle with faith as I am sure the man did, as many men of his generation did and many still do. 

Second that Cash’s personal character and the state of his soul had very little to do with ability to serve as a tool in God’s hands.  This is a thing that slips the minds of many Christians I fear.  God doesn’t need us to be perfect, good, or even trying.  God doesn’t need us to be in a state of grace, saved, believing or even wanting Him.  He can take us while we are running at a break neck speed straight to the gates of hell and wring out of us something good.  Sometimes for our souls and sometimes to save someone else.

Continue reading “Moments of pure gold.”

My world · rants · Simplicity

If you want to save the earth…

Every once in awhile I read something that makes me outright chuckle.  Last night I was sort of surfing around and I found a little gem.  “You want to save the earth? Here’s a little hint. Don’t. Buy. Shit.”   It was tucked away in an article over at Pajamas Media; Desperate (Green) Housewives.  The article is a response to another at the New York Times which more or less takes a sarcastic look at the antics of suburban mothers consumed with “ecoanxiety” who  are doing little things and spending lots of money to make the bad feelings go away.  Laura McKenna takes the game a little further and points out the erratic hypocrisy of that particular style of “hip” green living in general.  

I really had to laugh at the whole thing.  What are those bad feelings called?  You know the ones you get when you realise that your 4000 square foot house that is home to four people creates a huge tax on resources, not to mention all the stuff that it is filled with?  The favored phrase is “ecoanxiety”, of course, anxiety is something that sounds treatable, pop a pill and relieve your anxiety, treat that symptom, get over it.  It is a term coined to express an interior reality, a trick of the mind, a feeling that is rooted in mindset, something you should be able to just get over.  If you call it what it really is, if you dare speak the word “guilt” then you create an external reality.  With guilt there is something real wrong, something you must correct.  There is no quick pill to take,  you must repent to fix what you are doing.   Guilt supposes a moral judgement. 

If you feel guilty because your lifestyle is consuming more resources than is equitable than that is where you should start, your lifestyle.  All those little pacifying “baby steps” might be better than nothing and they might make the “Green Moms” feel better, but the root problem, the core issue is left untouched. 

Blogs I Know · Faith in Action

Make the faith important

At “Called by Name” Fr Kyle has this really great bit of thought: “One line that sticks out to me from the Fishers of Men DVD: ‘Where the faith is important, the kids pick it up, just like they do with the language.’ Make the faith important in your lives, a priority, and it will pass down to your children, whether biological or spiritual.”

 My husband and I were talking about this Saturday when we drove by the synagogue.  He wondered at what age boys were supposed to start covering their heads.  I really don’t know.  I remember seeing Jewish families with even the youngest boys wearing yarmulke tied under their chins with ribbons.  What better way to form a Jewish identity than including something so culturally indicative in a child’s early life?

My two thoughts on this almost seem contradictory.  Families should include their children in faith life.  It should be a living, serious, important part of their lives.  They should understand from the earliest years the important truths of the faith and practice in family religious activity should be expected and not optional.  The second thought is that adults should stringently avoid bringing the  faith down to a child’s level.  Even with the laudable idea of bringing the children to greater early understanding of the faith. 

Catholic by its very nature of being universal lacks a single cultural identity.  But there are things that set us apart.  The liturgical calendar is one.  While the rest of the western world is twirling at breakneck speed in the Christmas Rush we are (ideally) sitting around lighting Advent Candles.  Lent, an amusing arcane tradition amidst our neighbors, has real impact on us.   Our Sacraments and prayer life are other distinctly Catholic things.  We have the right and duty to live out our lives in a way that our children can see so they become a part of the day in and day out rhythm of life.

The other thing might just be a matter of personal taste, but I dislike the “Children’s Liturgy” thing.  Children do not need to be taken away from the “big” Catholic mass to experience coloring sheets and musical skits.  And while instruction in the faith needs to take place at the child’s level this is something that needs to be taking place in the home and in CCD.  Essential truths should never be watered down.  Certainly taught to the child’s level of emotional and intellectual development, but not skirted.  Children need to see the faith as something for adults that they are encouraged to learn about and participate in, but not something that anyone expects them to completely get as a child.  Something they can look forward into growing into a full understanding of – something important.


Autism part two

Being the nerd that I am I like to look at my blog stats to see how people get here.  The autism post early this week has led to some interesting searches finding me.  Phrases like “Autism parents despair”, “My autistic teen” and “Autism failure” have popped up in my referring searches.  I want to say hello to those who have found me because of the autism article and I think I have a little more to say.

My daughter Rachel is 14 and lives in a residential house for autistic and behaviorally challenged teens.  She has been there almost two years.  We are very luck to have a house that meets Rachel’s needs and is so close to us.   Rachel takes two types of medication for her autistic symptoms and a third to suppress seizures, she has only had one, but it nearly killed her and we are disinclined to take any chances. Rachel’s current situation is a case study in “never say never”.

Not so many years ago I claimed I would never medicate my child to deal with her behaviors.  I was also certain that I would never place her in an institutional or residential placement.  Then puberty approached and that all changed.   Autism for us has been a series of coming to terms with things only to have to come to terms with them again.  When Rachel was first diagnosed she was classed as mildly autistic in most areas and severely autistic in language, especially expressive language.  Rachel was always affectionate, you could get her to look at you, she had imaginative play, but the ability to communicate wasn’t there.

The experts I talked to couldn’t tell us much.  They have therapies, medications, diets, treatments and a variety of strategies, but they also would say, when pushed, that no one knows what exactly will work or not for each child.   I remember one psychiatrist saying “support groups for very young children with autism are always so hopeful.  I have never met the parents of an autistic three year old who didn’t say their child was ‘mildly’ or ‘Moderately’ autistic.  By nine that changes.”  He was so very right in that.  A mildly or moderately autistic child will likely respond to early intervention and be able to function reasonably well in a class room and life in general.   I have met some parents who tell me about their autistic four or five year old who is doing school work a year ahead but has some social quirks.  I don’t doubt they have a diagnoses of autism, but our children are on different ends of the spectrum.  Eventually those of us with severely autistic children have to face that this is the hand we’ve been dealt. 

There are those parents who are firmly set in denial.  The parents who’s three year old child is licking the carpet and has three functional words and say their child is “mildly autistic”.    I think I was one of them.   I kept hoping things would get better.  We did the therapy, the special classes, the in home therapy.  The whole gambit.  It is draining both for the parents and the child.  But you have to do it because, everyone tells you, this is the only hope for your child.   And it is hard to stop at some point and say “This isn’t working”.   Some parents stop later than others.  I met a woman and her nine year old autistic son at the pool last year.  He was non-verbal, he occasionally hit himself in the head while his mother and I were talking,  he couldn’t follow basic directions.  Mother claimed he was “moderately autistic” that he was doing behavioral intervention, and had been since two and that it was working really well for him.  She was sure he would lead a full and active life.  My heart broke for her.

 My heart breaks for myself as well some days.  I go through phases where things seem hard and then seem better.  But I can always look back at some words of wisdom offered by a friend of mine.  “Darcee,” he said, “don’t be sad for Rachel, there is no reason to feel sad for her.  She likes herself, she is happy most the time as happy as most kids her age.  The person you are feeling sad for is yourself, Rachel is fine.”

And that was so true and still is.  Rachel has times where she is upset or sad.  But so does any 14 year old girl.  She struggles at times with letting people know what she wants and how she feels.  More so than most her peers, but her life is also somewhat more simple than theirs.   I worry for her, what will happen to her if she out lives us.  How will we provide for her care.  But those are my worries not her’s.  Rachel’s life looks very different from her peers’ lives, but it isn’t a bad life and it is her’s and she is mostly happy.