Betty Duffy


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The God of Reality

After Easter dessert at my parents' house, my husband and I went out to jog around the block, which is a weird sort of date we find enjoyable sometimes. It's the best of both worlds--time alone, time together in a pastoral landscape--since often one of us will feel the need to push on harder and run ahead, and then we each enjoy a bit of solitude as well. 

It was the first reliably warm day we've had this Spring, and my parents' house is very remote, where white steepled burgs of a few hundred people nestle in the slightly rolling hills of Southeastern Indiana. And after three or so miles of keeping up with my husband, I let him go, on the promise that he would circle back to get me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Underskins of Gold

Still stringing up old ideas--this one on the marriage question--how well can you predict the fidelity of a spouse:

I've encountered a few Holy People in my lifetime, and recently too, people who appear to be salt of the earth, but when you start scratching their surface you find layer after layer of pure gold, or a crystalized interior like a geode. Even their underskins have been purified and refined, and the mystery of their interior tabernacle draws me closer, making me want to both be with and be like them.

I know that I experience genuinely holy longings myself, but one would only need to scratch me lightly to find that underneath a relatively tidy exterior, I'm a stoney substance through and through, that God has only just begun to penetrate me. I have moments of insight, though I usually don't remember them. They occur just long enough for me to write them down or tell them to a friend, and then all wisdom is gone at the moment of the test, when my six children and my husband are there standing witness and judge like the fourteen eyes of God. 

Just Keep Going

I like to take walks at night now that it's warm outside and sit and have a cigarette on the handicapped swing at the park across the street from me. The dog sits next to me, and I look at the moon, which is mostly full, as the park lights go off, one section at a time. This is a freedom to be able to do, and so the heartbreaks of the afternoon seem less heartbreaking, because even the worst day can come to a satisfying end.

I took the kids to Stations of the Cross, and I thought it started at 5, so we were half hour early, accidentally. Too early to sit still and too late to go home. I let the baby down to crawl because we were the only ones in the Sanctuary, and before long all the kids were out of control, following her around on their hands and knees as well--even the teenager.

Getting them back in hand would not be possible, and my several attempts to reign everybody in in a stage whisper as other worshippers started to arrive yielded nothing. I had  given the teenager permission to watch the baby in the narthex during Stations and that started a fight between him and my daughter, because she felt she should have childcare rights as well. And before long the baby wanted to nurse anyway, so we were all in the narthex when Stations began. 

I nursed the baby, boy and girl fought, autistic son rambled God knows where, five year old sat at the electric votive station lighting every candle under St Therese. Even the one kid I can usually count on to do what I say had given up sitting meditatively in the sanctuary and had come back to get in on the fight.

We had been early to arrive but I still missed half of Stations by the time everyone was disentangled. And when it was over we were all hungry. I went to the Knights of Columbus thinking we'd eat at the fish fry, even though it wasn't our home parish, and I didn't know any of these particular Knights at our sister parish with whom we are supposed to form one parish, "Connected in the Spirit." Dinner cost $8 a plate, which was a debilitating price for six kids in need of cheap fast dinner. So we left.

On the way home I felt like crying, and said so, in spite of the kids protestations that McDonalds also sells fish for a nice price--but it wasn't the cost that was making me sad. It was the whole plight of the thing--you want to pray? You may not! You want to eat? You may not! You want fellowships with your fellow man? You may not!

That life often feels like a big bag of No--that's what made me sad. Even what I'm supposed to do, to pray, to care for my kids, to discipline and nurture, to stay up beat and model charity--everything is so hard.

The kids were cheerful now--and I'm always surprised how they commiserate with my disappointment, if I let on that I'm feeling it. Too often I hold it in and let it seep out as irritation with them.

We decided to go home and listen to Jim Gaffigan for lafs and fry some potatoes. I let my oldest slice and dice the fries, while second oldest folded laundry, and third oldest set the table, and fourth, fifth, and sixth evaded all duties by virtue of their being quiet and peaceful. And before long we had a fine dinner on the table and a tidy house for my husband to return to.

There's no great moral to this story. The trials are temporary, the rewards enormous. After dinner and clean up I let the kids watch a movie while I went out to spray the fruit trees--which has been another arduous process, relocating all the supplies I needed after the shove and duck of winter. I had to buy a new hose, and the sprayer was clogged up, and I think even the dormant spray has gone bad, so the job still isn't done, but each day I get closer to completing it.

The weather is warmer and I'm inclined to keep trying.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I've been writing a lot and it's piling up on my desktop, but none of it feels finished. I'm moving it out anyway, clearing off desk little by little, and maybe some of this will turn into something.

But I've enjoyed my little internet hiatus here these past couple weeks. It's almost hard to come back.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Go to the ant;
ponder her ways and grow wise.
no one gives her orders,
no overseer, no master,
yet all through the summer she gets her food ready,
and gathers her supplies at harvest time.
How long do you intend to lie there, idler?
When are you going to rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little drowsiness,
a little folding of the arms to lie back,
and poverty comes like a vagrant
and, like a beggar, dearth.

Proverbs 6:6-11