Archive for March, 2016

All The Everything All At Once

Palm Sunday: We went to the beach with the family two Sundays ago. Chris’ parents were unexpectedly visiting and we took full advantage of the California sunshine with our loved ones after church. Grace asked if she could take my camera and climb the nearby hill to take some pictures. Next thing we knew, there were sirens and blaring police horns and three different official vehicles surrounding the bottom of the hill and waving at her to come down from that hill. Everyone on the beach was looking up at her while she happily and obliviously continued to take pictures. We were part of the people on the beach looking up at her, laughing and making jokes about we hoped our daughter getting arrested didn’t cut into our In-n-Out time that my husband so desperately wanted. At some point, I realized maybe I should go talk to the police and help them to get Grace’s attention. I mean, she is my daughter, after all. As she finally became aware and climbed down the hill with her embarrassed smile making her dimples extra deep, the police explained to me that not only was she on private property, but she was walking through poison oak in bare feet and bare legs. At least she got some cool pictures.

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The next day (our 24th anniversary, actually): We were once again surrounded by emergency vehicles with multi-colored spinning lights and noises when I called 911 because Chris appeared to be having a heart attack. One minute he was fine, the next he was doubled over in the worst pain of his life, unable to move, hardly able to talk or breathe, his face a scary green color, with rivers of sweat pouring off of it. We got an ambulance ride to the hospital, where they found a kidney stone. He has now worked on passing that thing for eleven days, through all seven services of holy week; the busiest week that a priest knows. I didn’t get any pictures of the ambulance ride or the time in the ER, or the green, sweaty face, although I did get to go the beach one day with two of my girls (because yes, all THREE of them live here now, along with my son-in-law… how can I be anything but thankful?). That was pretty much just as exciting. Even if we didn’t make it to our steak dinner that we had planned for our anniversary…

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Holy Week came to an end with my favorite service of the year: the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, followed by the Easter Mass at midnight, followed by feasting and partying until about 3:30am. I really think it’s the most beautiful liturgy of the entire year.

Oh night truly blessed, which alone was worthy to know the time and the hour wherein Christ rose again from hell! This is the night whereof it is written: And the night is as clear as the day; and, Then shall my night be turned into day. The sanctifying power, therefore, of this night putteth to flight the deeds of wickedness, washeth away sins: restoreth innocence to the fallen, and joy to them that morn: casteth out enmities, prepareth concord and boweth down principalities.

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4. Our landlord called last week and wants to put our house on the market. Our house that we love. Our house that we have only lived in for six short months. And so, we are moving once again. Stay tuned…

This year, it seems like Easter is harder than Lent…. so far anyway. I am glad that we have a full 50 days to turn this thing around. We have a lot that is heavy on our hearts, and many of our friends and family are experiencing hardship as well. And still I know that my redeemer lives. I do know it and I am thankful.

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Alleluia, alleluia. Christ, who created all things, is risen: and he hath had compassion on mankind.

…how can I be anything but thankful?

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My Unreal Life

A few years ago, when social media was still new, and everybody had a little blurb next to their name that described everything you could ever want to know about them at a glance, a friend of mine put something that has haunted me to this day. She described herself as “Delightfully out of step with contemporary America.”

Reading that simple sentence affected me so greatly that I immediately sent my friend a note. I want that, I said. I feel like I’m definitely out of step, but not necessarily happy about it and even feel like I’m constantly fighting to get back in step. Or I at least want to look like I’m in step while continuing to live according to my conscience, which I notice is increasingly pulling me further and further from the American Normal. I want to find the delight in not caring. I want to not care about my dignity or even my individuality and I want to rest. I want delight in this good life.

I’ve always had a bit of that very thing that I feel like I so desperately want more of. I’ve always valued “differentness” perhaps because I’ve always been a bit different; perhaps because my parents were a bit different; perhaps because I have been given a different sort of life by a good and loving and different God. (Is “different” the opposite of “indifferent”? Interesting that this is the first time I have noticed that.) And yet, I always fight the pull toward sameness. Standing out is only good when you look cool. Whatever you do, avoid looking stupid at all costs.

And so here I find myself, years later, miles more out of step than ever before and ever so slightly inching closer to the delight. It’s definitely been a journey. I know I do things in a way others don’t understand. I hate more than anything when people think that I (or we; my husband and I) have not given serious thought to our decisions and acted based on honest conviction that this is the best thing for our family. I’m sure the old You’re-Too-Young-To-Get-Married-And-You-Don’t-Know-The-First-Thing-About-Real-Life perceived demon crops up regularly in my mind. But the good news is that I think the defensive stance I have been used to taking is slowly starting to melt away.

The other night, I went to a school function with Grace and one of the school administrators smiled at me in a welcoming way. I smiled back and approached her to say hello. She kept smiling while looking at me in a vaguely confused way as though she couldn’t quite place me. I let her know that I was Grace’s mom. The connection clicked as she remembered and said “That’s right! We haven’t seen a lot of you…” We kind of just stood there in an awkward silence for a moment before I nodded and moved on. In my mind, for a brief moment, I started running down the list of defenses for the not-so-subtle guilt trip.

I work full time, and then some (just like you, lady… I haven’t seen a lot of you at my job either), I get regular migraine headaches and battle depression and pain daily, I have regular church events with my husband and my church is more important than this school, I just moved across the country and I’m barely keeping my head above water here with all there is to do and learn, my children are battling their own culture shock and loss of their roots and they need a present and sensitive mom, my oldest daughter and her husband also just moved here and are living with us until they get their own place, my middle daughter is getting married, and good grief, Grace is in high school…I think she can come to school and do her homework all by herself at this point!

Yes, I found myself indulging my bruised ego for a moment. But then, I started to laugh. And while it could have been a bitter sort of laugh, my laughing was actually an outpouring of delight. I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone, least of all myself. I am totally okay with the fact that I am not too involved at my daughter’s school. I’m becoming okay with some of my other out-of-stepnesses. For now, I’m trying to focus on all the beautiful things surrounding me while I walk through yet another mental and physical valley in yet another Lenten season.

I get to smell orange trees in full blossom every time I walk outside my door. I get to sit on my porch and watch the slowly changing color of the wisteria hanging down over my head as the sun gently rises over the mountain directly facing me. I get to quietly share workspace with the last remaining woman-child in a house that’s filled with light and color and laughter. I get to take a drive with my family through hills that are impossibly green because it’s been raining in a land where it never rains. I get to live in such a way that I am surrounded by people that I love deeply and that love me deeply while we break bread and wine and plan a wedding together in a community that is truly, delightfully, out of step with contemporary America. What have I done to deserve such grace?

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How can I respond with anything other than delight?

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