Five Minute Friday: What Mommy Did

5-minute-friday-1My mom. Saint Harriet the Pious. Yup.

Lots of moms teach their daughters many things. How to paint your nails. How to make potato salad. How to get-eight-and-a-half-million-things-done-while-a-baby-is-napping. You know the stuff…

My mom taught me those things, and one more. She taught me how to be Catholic.This gives you the idea.

Catholicism is filled with many things. It’s a rich tradition that sometimes looks like the underside of a very complicated needlepoint cushion. There’s a lot of messy threads there, and you’re not sure where they all lead to on the right side, but oh my goodness, that’s an awful nice place just to put your bum!

There was no jewjaw she wouldn’t buy me. Rosary? Check. Prayer book? Check. Scapular? Check. Holy cards? Check.

One of my very first memories of being specifically with my mom is going to daily Mass. I don’t remember her holding my brother, so I know I was very, very small (like maybe three years old!). The only thing I do remember is going to Holy Communion with her, and we knelt on the cold marble altar railing, piously folding our hands, and then I looked up, and realized I could see my reflection in the bottom of the shiny gold paten that the altar boy held under my mommy’s face in case the Host fell (which it didn’t).

Train up a child in the way [she] should go: and when [she] is old, [she] will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6]

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

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Five Minute Friday: Beloved

5-minute-friday-1I’m not feeling it.

Beloved is for the new bride, honeymoon-rumpled and smiling. Beloved is for the newly born, powder-fresh and still a little wet behind the ears. Beloved is even a slightly strange book by Toni Morrison.

But it’s not me. I’m not feeling it.

I’m bewitched, bothered and bewildered, but not beloved. I’ve been besotted. I’m currently bespectacled. I’m even a little bedraggled, since I just finished salting the winter-time sidewalks. But I’m not beloved. I’m sometimes benighted and sometimes even bedazzled, but I’m not feeling beloved.

Fortunately, my feelings have nothing to do with the truth.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. … In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. (1 John 4:7, 9, 11)

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

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Pull Your Pants Up!

Out of the Blue ThursdaysI really wasn’t trying to look at his butt. It was hard not to, though, since his pants were practically down to his knees.

This is part of living in a large metro area. There’s a lot of diversity, and, for the most part, I really enjoy it. Among other things, some of what’s covered by the diversity umbrella is apparel and personal style choices. Afros to Pentecostal Poufs, ballet flats to Converse, split tongues and pierced ears, it’s all there. Again, for the most part, I enjoy it. God is creative, and part of being created in God’s image is that we all have some sense of that creativity.

Thankfully, it’s not a super popular trend for young men to wear their pants quite so low, but whether this guy didn’t get the memo, or just decided not to cinch up the string on his baggy sweatpants, he definitely could’ve pulled his pants up a long way. We’re not talking low around the hips, we’re talking half way down his thighs.

Believe me, all this visual took was one half a second from ten feet behind him in the self-checkout lane at a store I don’t usually shop at.

I usually don’t consider myself a flippant pray-er, but it was really hard not to just send up a plaintive mental whining. “Jesus, really, would it be too much to ask for You to please get that guy to pull his pants up.”

And at that very second, the guy grabbed for his wallet, and pulled his pants up! All the way up, and even cinched the drawstring. I was surprised the sound of my jaw hitting the ground didn’t startle him.

I almost did a happy dance, right there in line. Seriously, I laughed. But, you know, under my breath, so he wouldn’t hear me. I mean, there’s no point in gloating.

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

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Out of the Blue Thursdays is a group of women who write about surprises in their lives that God has shown them. You can read about it, and join if you’d like, here.

Five Minute Friday: Bare

5-minute-friday-1Nothing. That’s what it is. Nothing. There’s no leaves, no flowers. Just the bare limbs outlining the sky like scribbles on a blank page, left there from when a toddler got ahold of the pen.

I feel like I have nothing to offer. There is nothing left in me.

There’s an old Zen story about how a student went to ask about meditation, and while in consultation, the teacher began to pour tea in some waiting cups. The student went on and on, gesticulating wildly about meditation and what its purpose was. During this discourse, the teacher continued pouring tea, until all the cups overflowed and tea began to wash over the side of the table. Feeling his robe grow damp, the student began to shout at the teacher, “Old man, what are you doing? Can’t you see that you’re pouring too much tea?”

“Ahh… so I am. And so it is with you, my friend. You are already so full of ideas, that there is no room left for learning. If you were empty, then you could learn something.”

Chagrined, the student realized the error, and wisely, shut up.

Does my bare emptiness mean I am ready?

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

It’s a Conspiracy

Bad day. No amount of bad days ever prepares me for the next one.

At Paul’s advice, I tried calling the doctor, yet again. No luck. Three calls later, I’d gotten nowhere but being put on hold for several minutes, and transferred to nowhere twice. The temptation here is to think this is a conspiracy. “If we keep ignoring her, maybe she’ll kill herself! Then we can stop paying those damn Social Security payments!”

At least, I hope it’s only a temptation, and not some new psychic insight. That’s probably a temptation, too.

Sigh…

Unashamed: Part Deux

UnashamedCompared to the time I wet my pants in second grade, it was nothing. (Yeah, we’ll talk about that another time. Maybe.)

It was the first day of first grade, in my new parochial school, Saint John the Baptist. My class had the lay teacher, Ms. Ditton. (There was a mix by then of both lay teachers and sisters.) She was one of the nicest teachers on the planet. (I’ve been blessed in that regard. I can’t remember really having a bad teacher. Less effective? Yes. Bad? Nope.)

I guess I was probably as terrified as a dorky nerd-ette could be. Lots of children (most of whom I didn’t know), new building that had multiple floors, having to sit at a desk that was probably a little too big. All curiosity and wonderment, confusion and not a little bit of awe.

Time for lunch. In those days, our school didn’t have a cafeteria. We went down to the basement, which doubled as a church “hall” where church-related clubs like Rosary Sodality, Legion of Mary, and the Knights of Columbus met for their meetings. There was a kitchen where actual lunch “ladies” prepared home cooked food. (No white uniforms, no hairnets, just dresses and aprons. For real. They were probably grandmothers from the parish.) We walked up to the open “window” and picked up a tray filled with honestly delicious food. Sloppy Joe sandwich (we never had that at home), and corn and something else obviously less memorable. Dessert was, I kid Little Debbie Star Crunchyou not, a Little Debbie Star Crunch Snack Cake (which remains a favorite of mine to this day)! We were instructed to take our trays back upstairs to our classroom to eat. (So much for food fights.)

I made it to the first floor landing when it happened. I don’t know how. I must’ve tripped, or had a hard time balancing the tray, or something. (I distinctly do NOT remember being tripped or any other boy-oriented nonsense.) But the next thing I knew, the tray was all over the floor and I was crying and some kids were laughing and Miss Ditton was drying my eyes and shushing them and giving me a hug and taking me back down for another tray. I think I was almost as sad about having someone else clean up my mess as I was for making it in the first place.

I think that was the first time I felt ashamed. It wasn’t the last. (I still haven’t talked about wetting my pants, but believe me when I tell you, it won’t end there. Nope.)

You see, I didn’t understand then, about the difference between shame and guilt. Even at the tender young age of six, I had developed an idea that something I did had a direct relationship to who I was. That doing something bad (yes, I know, it was really an accident) meant that I was bad.

How ridiculous.

As if our value as human beings can ever be determined by or the equivalent of our actions. Doing bad things can never diminish our worth, our inherent human value. Likewise, all the good things we are capable of doing, all the Mother-Teresa-Wanna-Be actions we’re adding up on the goody-goody scorecard can’t increase the value we, as human beings created by God, have as our personal endowment.

I had nothing to be ashamed of, and neither do you. (Even wetting your pants in the second grade.)

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

5-minute-friday-1Let’s just put the cards on the table right at the beginning and play this hand open, okay? I’m a Christian, and I’m a Catholic (although there’s plenty of people who think that never the twain shall meet, they’re obviously wrong). So, I’ll probably get all up in your face about Jesus, or Mass, or Mary at some point, which you may or may not like. And because of that, you may or may not like me.

That’s the scary part. I’m often afraid that people don’t like me. (I’m actually afraid of a lot of things. Don’t let’s go there, okay?) I’m afraid they’ll think I’m a lunatic who, indeed, would be better served by being on medication. Probably a lot.

But if there’s one thing I’m not afraid of, it’s God. As you can see from my previous post, I’m certainly not afraid to take on the Creator of the Universe in a giant, tear-stained-face, foot-stamping, roll-on-the-floor-in-a-fit-of-toddler-like-temper-tantrum blather that, frankly, often leaves me exhausted.

But then we’re cool.

Because the other thing I’m not afraid of is that He’s going to love me less for it.

Nope.

Not gonna happen.

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter the other day, and I really believe it:

God loves each of us so much. There’s not a single thing you or I can do to make God love us more. Or less. Realizing that will set us free!

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What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.