Sunday, November 30, 2008

joy in the front rows

I was listening to NPR on my way to work, as usual, and heard a story about last year's Super Bowl- the author of a new book was saying that football tells an epic story of a leader (quarterback) leading his troops (team) to victory by conquering the field. The author mentioned Eli Manning, last year's victorious quarterback, as such a victorious leader and great character of the story.
I wondered about Mr. Manning- I wondered if he wakes up every day since last January saying "I am the victor!! My story is amazing! We won the freaking SUPERBOWL!!!" My guess is that the joy that struck him on that day has faded, and while he's still fond of the memory, he's probably moved on to other things, like working toward this year's victories.
It occurred to me that we live longer in our losses than in our wins. Losing someone we love seems to settle on us and stay- and it is much much longer before we can move on, start to focus on new things. Victories peak and then fade, while losses of love cling to us and color every day.
I don't have a remedy for this, it just occurs to me that it's true, and it makes me wonder why.
Whenever I get to the 4:00 Saturday Mass at my parish, I go early and visit with the Front Rowers. These are the people, older people, who sit in the first three pews every week. When these people aren't at Mass, you wonder if they're visiting family or if they are sick. I spoke with one of the women about how unbelievably fast Advent has come upon us, and she told me she had had a wonderful, blessed year. I said I hope that next year will be as good as this, and she said, without a pause, "oh it couldn't be! Every day I get out of bed amazed at my blessings, and thanking Jesus for my life."
I think what she's talking about is the difference between joy and happiness. Joy stays with us long-term, and if we allow it to, it will cling to us just as fast and sure as sadness does. Just like sadness and grief can withstand moments of happiness and return just like the tide when the moment has passed, joy can do that too. Joy can withstand heartache and sad times and loss, and come back, unbidden, if our joy is grounded.
It's for this reason that I am a Christian, for this reason that I am Catholic- because joy is here in my Church, even despite horrible heartache and loss. I am grounded here, kept ever connected to my source of joy. No matter how hard it gets (and it has gotten hard!) the joy- it just creeps back in and takes over. I hope someday I'll be a Front Rower, telling some young person about my joy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Come On Down!!!!!!!!!

I was in class a week or two ago and we were talking about salvation and the Cross Event. I had a pretty great (well I thought so) revelation and it's been fun chewing on it for the past couple of weeks. I was excited to talk to Scott about it, and shared it with my spiritual director, and have prayed about it some, too- pretty cool.
But here is the cool thing I realized about it, that I think is hopeful for us minister-types: when I was having a big A-HA moment in class, my professor, nor nobody around me, knew it was happening. They didn't notice a thing- to them I was just sitting there, participating in class, taking notes, and whatnot. My aha didn't look like anything out of the ordinary to them.
I realized that this is something we forget when we are leading youth groups or prayer groups or what have you, things may be happening that we are not aware of. The Holy Spirit may be doing amazing things in the hearts of people we are serving, and we mat never know it. Aha moments do not look like winning the showcase on The Price is Right. Often, I think, they don't look like anything at all.
So it's important to remember that even if it looks like a program or activity was less than mind-blowing, we can have faith that something great might have happened. Isn't that encouraging news?


In class on Tuesday, I looked at the people in the seats around me and thought, "bah, I don't need this. I won't miss these people. HA that they have to keep going while next semester I will be reading David Sedaris books and watching tv instead.
But the night before class, I had sent an email to the financial aid person at BC for help and after class I checked my email to find word from her: they will cover the balance of this semester for me, and pay for my costs for next semester too. The concentration I'm in is made possible through the Luce Foundation's grant, so thank you Luces for helping me continue my education!
Thank you, too, readers and friends, for all the wonderful comments you left me here, very touching! I am a blessed girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

early graduation

Augh I'm frustrated. I'm nearing the end of my first semester of grad school and wanting it to be my last. Mostly, the trouble is that we just can't afford this. It's a big chunk of money on top of all our already-bills, and let's face it, a bad investment. It won't lead to a higher income when I'm done, and I've pretty much hit the ceiling for advancement in the Archdiocese o'Boston. Basically, it's a very very expensive hobby. I've gotten great help from the college, and from my pastor, but our budget really doesn't have any wiggle room, at all.
So, maybe it would be worth the added time and stress that it undoubtedly has added to my life, if it were flat-out free. But it's so. Not.
It's not final, the final-ness, but we'll see what happens from here... in the meantime I've got a stupid paper to finish. Ugh- I'm paying to write papers!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I don't know if I'm in peri-menopause, or peri-peri-menopause, or maybe I'm just stressed (it's hell-week; GOF this Sunday and the big paper due next week, and tons to do before surgery in December...) but I have some serious hotness every once in a while, I am tired a lot, and I sleep much less soundly. And, darn it, I cry more!
Loyal readers (hello, all 6 of you) will know that I am not against crying. I believe it's a useful thing, and I feel the effects if I go too long without indulging my need to shed a few. But lately almost every week at Mass, some song will hit me, or the face of someone will touch me, or the sound of voices praying or singing in unity will send me swooning.
Tonight I'm crying over Grey's Anatomy. One thing that will, for sure, get me crying is a story where a spouse dies... it's the scariest thought ever, to me, the thought that kept me awake nights when we got engaged, the thought that makes me call him compulsively when I haven't heard from him in a while... with much love comes much risk. It's the best risk I've ever taken, and the scariest. Maybe it'd be easier to deal with if I didn't watch so many medical dramas!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Promises and promises!

As a parish employee with no real job description and an invented title, the thought of having to be re-elected to your job every now and again is intriguing to me. I don't have any set standards by which to measure my job performance- there aren't any other Parish Formation positions out there. As Youth Ministry Coordinator, it's easy to figure out the rules, and to know what a good YMC does there are even books about what one should strive for and accomplish in one's first two years.
So, I try to stay busy and productive, try to initiate new things as often as I can manage, and try to be as helpful to everyone else as I can. I try to be able to make a list of things I've accomplished or started or taken on- actual, visible things. I'm not sure what the expectations are for me, or if anyone's expectations of me match anyone else's. But as a YM guru said once (I forget which guru), hey- there's no history of failure to overcome. I guess, with no job description, maybe no one will notice if I fail. How would they know, right?
So when I was listening to the pundits and critics and talking heads on the radio and tv I wondered what they might say about me if I was trying to be re-elected to my job. There are definitely improvements I need to make, but I hope that my parishioners (the percentage who would vote, anyway) would vote me in.
Four More Years! Four More Years!!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election night

Here we sit, waiting for the election results to roll in. I'm almost as interested to hear the numbers of people who voted as I am in hearing the results.
Just now, CNN "beamed in" Will.I.Am to be interviewed, as a hologram... he's all graphic-looking, and standing on a red dot. Now that's technology- the whole production is so Jetsons.
I was excited to vote this morning, and proudly wore my "I Voted Today" sticker, even though I didn't have a chance to get my free coffee or ice cream with it. It was a novel experience to feel pride in the voting booth. I hope this is the beginning of something very good, no matter who wins.
When I was a kid, I was taught that you shouldn't ask people how they voted, and you don't ever have to tell anyone how you vote. When I hear people ask each other nowadays I often jump in and say "you don't have to answer that!" This year it seemed that everyone was hot to tell everyone else how they voted, and how they should vote. The Catholic blogosphere has all weighed in on how Catholics should vote. I do believe that how we vote is a privileged, private bit of information, and I don't share my choices. Partly because I don't want to debate with anyone, and partly as a matter of principle. Ballots are private for a reason.
Anyway, that said, I'm very hopeful that as a country we can turn a new corner, no matter who is elected. Change, I believe, is coming.