Monday, November 28, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
My friend Irene consecrated on the same day I did, and she was laughing about how one night, she was having a glass of wine and a bath before bed, and it occurred to her to offer it, "All for!" She felt weird about it at first, but why not offer up our rest, our comfort, our blessings as well as our suffering?
I think one source of the anxiety I've felt in the past is some sense of shame about the goodness of my life. Am I undeserving of Heaven because my life hasn't led me to any significant suffering? The pleasures of having a good marriage, good kids, good friends, reading good books, eating good foods, seem to offer little in the way of salvific value. So rather than offering up those good things, I would discount them completely, choosing to focus my emotional and spiritual energy on the minute discomforts of a relatively privileged life. If nailing oneself to the Cross is the only way to Salvation--I had no idea what to do with my blessings--blessings that God, in his goodness, made it impossible for me to escape.
Offering ALL of it, the good and the bad, has redeemed the mostly good things that constitute my life. And without seeking suffering, looking for it, wallowing in it, I'm free to administer to those who really do suffer.
For those wondering if offering every aspect of one's life to Mary is idol worship, let's say it again: Catholics don't worship Mary. She is a vessel of God. She points always to her son. And Christ is always God. So when Christians offer anything to Mary it sets off a chain reaction, whereby God is the power that draws all good things to himself.
I've found it useful to my Consecration to pray the Shema: "Hear Oh Israel: the Lord, our God is One Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4). This prayer does not replace the Creed, but I love how it takes for granted belief in God, emphasizing, rather, that God is One. God is not this computer on which I'm typing, or any of the other ways I seek to occupy my time. God is One and the only thing that matters. He is what I need to teach my children, what I wake up proclaiming. There is no one else but God, and everything I have is His. All for. Totus Tuus.
When Bearing did her Consecration, she picked out a bracelet to remind her to live her day accordingly. I thought about getting something, but I've worn a Marian necklace for years, and I thought more Mary might be overkill.
Nevertheless, on special days, I can pull out the Our Lady of Guadalupe belt buckle that my friend Biz brought me from Mexico.
For those with pricier tastes, Instyle Magazine informs me that Dolce & Gabanna have just come out with a new line of luxury jewels, inspired by their Southern Italian Grandma and her religious medals.
Fashionistas might want to be aware, that wearing images of Mary may have the effect of drawing you to Christ. There are, of course, cheaper ways to come to Jesus. Before you splurge on the $17,000 price tag for that necklace, know that you can get a similar look for about a dollar at a Catholic Gift shop.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
My husband works on DNA sequencers for a living.
Ask my husband what specifically he does, and he'll tell you in very straightforward terms about various DNA sequencing technologies and how they're used. No mystery there. No romance. Every question has an answer, every problem, a solution.
When he wants to make something, there's no pining about not having the skills, no aching about bringing his idea to fruition. He studies, he gets the right tools, he practices, and then he makes it.
See here, he wanted to make our bed. He turned a couple prototypes, and then he started making the bed--just like that.
Monday, November 14, 2011
On Saturday, I cut all the boys' hair, including my husband's. Cutting my husband's hair is one of those things that sounds really romantic in theory. I orbit around his head, periodically bending over to where he would meet my eye, but I'm squinting just to the right and left of his gaze, checking for evenness and effect.
The problem I've realized is that boys, at least the five boys who dominate my life, are very particular about their hair. They have strong ideas about what looks good, and what minuscule irregularities might ruin the next month for them.
They get up from the chair, to glance at themselves in the mirror and see how things are going. They rub their palms over the backs of their necks, and brush hair off onto the floor. And there is a lot of hair, so very much hair, that the romantic prospects of giving my husband a haircut, much like the romantic prospects of making out on the beach, are over-shadowed by logistics that leave you irritable, and itchy all over.
Plus I accidentally cut the back of my husband's neck with the clippers.
Inevitably, one of the boys doesn't want his hair cut at all--and it's the boy with chronically dirty ears, the one whose pants are always too short, the one who most needs a decent haircut, and all the help his mother can give him, really.
I've done the calculation to see what it would cost to send them all to Greatclips--and for five heads, it's about fifty bucks a month, which is about $600 a year in hair-cuts, which is so not in the budget. So there's nothing to do but stand there wagging the fiskers over the boy's head, reigning in tempting digressions about the miseries of pre-adolescent hygiene.
I wish I could say a prayer for serenity, gently squeeze the boy's shoulder to let him know that I love him, but that we've got business to accomplish, and he's going to cooperate. But when the kid keeps wiggling towards the pointed end of your scissors, and you have said, "STILL!" so many times you've quit caring whether or not he gets hurt, it's really best to blow the joint before you earn fifteen minutes of the most unflattering kind of fame.
I only have to run for two minutes or so, before I'm in the middle of nowhere. I cross a creek lined with the white trunks of Sycamore trees that have dropped their leaves, and then I'm in the open fields. The corn and soybeans have been taken in, so the brown grasses on either side of the road form the tallest line on the horizon. One could feel overwhelmed by such a desolate landscape, or overjoyed by its openness. I was inclined to feel both that day.
Having appreciated the wonders of creation outside my home, I could think more kindly about the wonders of creation within it. Just kids, back there. Just normal kids, doing normal stuff--being caught up in legos, and not wanting to take baths or get their hair cut. Funny kids, with their own ever-evolving rebellions and modes of escape. Hot and cold kids who, for better or worse, have much in common with their mother.
In fact, it occurred to me, that their mother was the common denominator in all five miserable haircuts administered that afternoon. Perhaps, when that many people are complaining, I can't just blame it on their vanity or immaturity or their male-ness. Maybe I really am not the hairdresser I thought I was.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Mostly I'm talking about a book by David J Linden:
If that doesn't sell you, I don't know what will.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The post was in response to an author elsewhere on the internet who posited that her parents' over-emphasis on chastity before marriage made it difficult for her to enjoy her intimate life after marriage.
Pinpointing and addressing the source of sexual difficulties takes a lot of time and effort, and if one is already too tired to think about sex much, it's understandable why she might prefer fixating on one of the only factors that cannot be changed--the past. But present factors are probably way more influential in determining one's interest in sex: hormones, childbirth, emotional intimacy with one's spouse, techniques, time, fatigue, medical concerns, etc. All of these factors are mutable (one's present disposition towards the past is also mutable).
The spiritual and physical danger of premarital sexual liaisons is real. If one has never had the experience of being dumped after sex, of being lied to by a partner, of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, of feeling separated from God or from one's family due to imprudent pairings, then I can see how it's possible to underestimate that pain, and romanticize pre-marital sex as some gentle and innocent exploration of the libido.
Advising a young woman to take on the myriad risks of premarital sex, in the off chance she might have a better married sex life someday, is not something I want to do. Parents who promote chastity to their children are not trying to tie up burdens, difficult for others to carry. They are trying to relieve burdens that their children may have to carry throughout the rest of their lives.
As a parent myself, I assume that my children will have and enjoy their many long years of marriage to figure out what makes them tick in the bedroom. Nevertheless, from the responses to my last post, I noticed two trends that may promote that end:
1. Engaging in age-appropriate dialogue with our kids about bodies, reproduction, and its place in marriage.
2. MODELing appropriate affection with one's spouse. Let your emotional and physical openness to one another and God be a visible sign to your kids of the fruits of a healthy relationship.
Even still, there are no guarantees that our children will heed the lessons we want to teach them. I enjoyed Elizabeth Foss's recent post noting this fact. And how it's still worth the effort to teach our children well, to embody chaste, healthy physical relationships with our spouses for our own benefit, and so our kids will have that reference as they make their own decisions about marriage.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Somebody had to put the sex in Hallie Lord's new book. It turns out that person is me.