Well, I have freshened things up a bit! I will most definitely not be able to post everyday…maybe not even once a week, but I am opening up my blog. I hope to reconnect with many of you and meet new friends as well.
The Michaelmas Daisies are blooming in my flowerbed. I love October! It’s good to be back.
Today I just wanted to say thank you for reading and sharing here with me.
I have a big list of to-do’s this week, what fun!… and that means no time for blogging. I hope to be back sometime next week.
I love Thanksgiving! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.
Blessings to you and yours,
There is great suffering in this world, and it is hard to take sometimes. I woke up this morning, Samuel snuggled up close, nursing, contented, safe. I made myself a cup of tea, prayed, made lists and to-do’s. Warm Cream of Wheat filled bowls and everyone is well, clean, plump, happy. I said thank you over and over.
In my heart I feel a swell of hurt sometimes. It’s only a thought away, my mind wonders onto the suffering of others and instantly I feel a weight…the true weight of this world. Death and suffering are all around us, we do not have to look very far…our neighbor, our kinfolk, our brethren.
My great aunt from Virginia is visiting this week. She was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. When I see her on Saturday we will share a meal, warm conversation, and say our goodbyes. Until we meet again…
I saw the link last night…Typhoon Haiyan, and I was scared to click. It is hard to look upon another’s suffering and not DO something, to feel helpless. I pray, I pray with a heavy heart. My heart hurts for the Philippines.
I saw a man in the grocery store who could barely walk, his size and weight almost too much for him to bear. I wondered who loved him, who touched him, who cared for him. His basket was full of healthy items; vegetables, fruit, a package of chicken breasts. He is trying…he sees his own weakness…he wants to change. I began to tear up, and I fervently prayed that he would find success in overcoming his passion. Lord please help him.
Today is Veteran’s day…need I say more?
I remember when I became aware of the fact that suffering is a universal experience, that everyone suffers. It was the day that I got a call from my mom, “Mandy, pray. Papa has been in an accident.” Our world changed in that moment. My grandfather, the patriarch of the family, fell into a grain auger. His children were all there, some desperately trying to free him, some watching in horror, others praying for a miracle. One son cried, “Dad what happened, how did this happen?” My grandfather’s last words were, “It just happened, son.” Another son had been the one who flipped the switch, not knowing that his father was on top of a mountain of wheat inside the barn. When the auger began to turn it pulled my grandfather into its rotation.
“It just happened.”
I have thought about that over and over. Is that statement true? Is suffering a happening that just is? My grandfather did not struggle or resist. He did not feel separate or exempt. His last words were humble. Death and suffering touch us all. “It” happens to all of us.
But sometimes the suffering I see seems unbearable. And in those times I cry to the Lord, who knows our suffering. He suffered too. That is a mystery and a consolation.
Today as we celebrate Martinmas, I hope the crafts and gifts and fun do not dull the raw and vulnerable message of Saint Martin. A man lay at a gate, freezing to death, and Martin shared his cloak. The reality of that story is horrifying. Most of the stories of the saints are. But, it is the response to suffering that make saint days worth remembering. Saints meet suffering with faith. They look suffering straight in the eyes and believe. Faith takes action in compassion, forgiveness, martyrdom, and courage. It takes courage to face a world of suffering and unbelief.
May I not look away in fear, may I not shrink back in cowardice, may I touch the unlovely and befriend the unfriendly. Let it never be said that a Christian is squeamish or afraid. The Gospel demands that I walk by faith. Death and suffering do not negate the Resurrection. Who better to care for the dying, sick, and suffering than the people of The Way. We are a Resurrection people. In Him we live, and move, and have our being. We live in a sober expectation of Christ’s return.
I want to shake off despondency and recommit myself to a life of prayer and sacrifice. I want to be courageous and faithful. I want to journey toward the Nativity with a gift in my heart…a gift of faith. True faith. A living faith. A faith that redeems suffering. A faith like Saint Martin the Merciful.
About ten years ago I discovered and fell in love with the literature of Flannery O’Connor. Her form of horror let me experience the cathartic nature of the grotesque (and literature’s role in purging), and how grappling with evil is an intricate part of the journey of faith. Often times I believe horror to be deeply and honestly religious. Confronting my own evil is what it is all about, and this is horrifying. Literature by O’Connor, Twain, Poe, King, and the like make good people nervous. It’s hard to accept that ordinary people do evil things, I do evil things. That is what should scare me the most….not the Other, the delusion that evil exists in the Other and not in me. Every year about this time I revisit Flannery…I love her writing.
Autumn is a time of year when the themes of death surround. Grey rainy skies, cold dark nights, bare branches on trees, leaves falling purple, yellow, orange, and red, and gusts of chilly wind. It’s beautiful…this dying season. It is the perfect time of year to be frightened, a little unnerved. And yet there is a peaceful quality to autumn that reassures me that death has no sting…Pascha, death has passed us over.
Halloween brings out all of my ghosts..the things that haunt me. Fear is a wonderful gift, a purging gift. I would not want to live in this fallen world without fear. A fallen man without fear is a monster.
For a good autumn read try:
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Sometimes I make things so complicated, and truly that is unnecessary. I realize there are circumstances that require extreme measures, but my life is not one of them. Why do I get so stressed and anxious…wound up like an eight day clock? I suspect it is because I am tired, just plain tired. Being tired is not a sign that my life is falling apart. Maybe it is a sign that my life is good, that I have a full and wonderful life…so much to be thankful for.
However, when things start piling up, pressing in, and coming undone I know it is time to do something different, settle in and refocus…just tweak things a bit. There is no need for me to take a magic eraser to my whole life or to go through everything with a fine toothed comb. Just a gentle redirection is all that is needed. Gentle, but thorough. You see, the bones are good, the underneath is still in tact, the anchor is what holds this ship in times of crazy schedules and busy days. In times past I would begin a complete overhaul when I felt this way, but I have learned that extreme makeovers are most often the acting out of obsessions. You know…that running dialogue in your head that makes you feel thin and shaky, nervous and irritable. We moms have to learn to be gentle, even with ourselves.
A very dear friend asked me the other day if I believed that sometimes there are cases where a person who was once whole could now be broken, with no hope of being whole again. I listened to the question and took my friend seriously. I told this friend that, yes, I think it is possible, and that she did not have to be whole. As I have thought about our conversation I have come to the conclusion that we are all broken in some way, and that it is most likely that we always will be. Being whole is not about being completely put together…there is a reason that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put Humpty together again. Life comes down on us, it presses us, it breaks us, and we fall apart. Once we have been broken there is no way to be whole again…not the kind of whole that we desire. Being whole often times means we do not want to suffer this life and its trials, we long for naivety and simplicity. But, those who get out in the world and bare burdens, get hands dirty, work hard, walk with damaged people, befriend the unfriendly, and try to be a part of the world will always be broken..it is inevitable. The only way I ever imagine that I can avoid this is by shutting the world and people out. In the end, I would rather be broken.
And this can apply to practical areas of my life as well. If I desire to be out in the world living and learning with my kids, if I value relationship over everything else, if I put people on the top of my priority list, well then other things suffer…my house, my laundry, my body, my put togetherness. I always feel that my life is a little undone, a little unkept. But, in a way this is intentional. I have chosen other things, to me they are more important things. When criticisms come, and they will, I must be prepared to OWN my own life and choices. I must be rooted and grounded in my heart. I must also be willing to be honest, truthful with myself most of all. This is the way that I face my life head on and how I deal with brokenness.
Today, as I was dealing with all of the emotions and stress that obsessions cause I waited for the panic to pass. I got still and a wonderful thought came to me. It does not take much to Get Your Life Together, Mandy. In fact I am confident that it only takes one day of gentle internal work to feel better. This is because I am not expecting too much from myself or anyone around me…we are all broken. It is easy to be gentle when I recognize this. Here are a few things I am doing today to regain a sense of confidence and beauty…how I am getting it together.
- Recognizing the dialogue in my head. I am not trying to change it, just being aware of the Editor in Chief, the voice that keeps bossing me around, criticizing me.
- Writing this post to share my thoughts, getting them out in the open.
- Talking to my mom on the phone and enjoying our friendship.
- Putting on a fresh face and a nice outfit.
- Planning a trip to the pumpkin patch near our house.
- Lighting candles.
- Letting my kids be tired as well, we have been very busy. No drill sergeant barking or correction.
- Taking a survey of my pantry and planning the meals I want to cook this week.
- Doing a few loads of laundry.
- Taking care of a speeding ticket that I got a few months back. I made it through my probation period, and a big stress is off.
- Opening windows and doors to let the cool fresh breeze in.
- Drinking Ceylon Tea..a new favorite and a wonderful gift from my husband.
- Being quiet and just doing the next thing…gently walking through this house…room by room… accepting and being very thankful.
- Praying the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” Over, and over again.
- Accepting the financial stresses of a large family lifestyle and owning my spending choices.
- Letting my kids be who they are…not requiring that they be caught up, on target, or ahead.
- Washing dishes in warm soapy water.
- Listening to sounds…a lawn mower, Mockingbirds, eggs boiling on the stove. Just listen.
- Smelling the things cooking, the fresh autumn air, Samuel’s little head, Elinor’s sweaty puppy dog yumminess, out of the dryer laundry.
- Waiting for my husband to come home so I can give him a hug.