Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Working things out in my mind

Monday, December 20th, 2010

This one’s going to ramble a bit.  I need to work my head around it.

Yesterday Allena and I went shopping for Christmas, and we left all the kids at home with Dominic.  It was almost like a date.  We stopped at a couple of stores, and while walking back to our car, this homeless lady asked us for some money.  We didn’t have any cash, but we offered to take her to get her something to eat.  She turned us down, but you could tell she was interested in the idea.

I think most people would have taken the out, but we pressed her, and she accepted.  We ended up at a Subway so we could get a hot sandwich for her.  My original thought was we’d get the sandwich and be on our way.  It ended up going very differently.  Once we got her to Subway, we couldn’t get her to order.  She wanted us to order, so we could all eat together.  (We of course, had eaten lunch just a little earlier).  I finally ended up ordering a foot-long sub, that we could share.  The guy working the counter gave her a bowl of soup – I guess he helps her out sort of regularly – and I got her some cookies as well.  I think she originally wanted to eat the soup, and just have company, but ultimately  I ate a quarter of the sandwich, and she ate a quarter of it.  We were unable to get her to take the left over half, or the cookies, or even the soup that the Subway guy gave her.  She even had a can of stew and two dollars that she tried to give us, but more on that later.

By this time Allena and I had both come to the conclusion that this lady was a little “off”.  She wanted to show us where she slept (NB: in hindsight, it was stupid of us to go with her to her little campsite – it could easily have been a setup for a mugging.  God looks after the idiots I guess).  She was proud of her cardboard, and she had a little bit of a piece of brush sticking out of the ground that she called her “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”, and she had a rock she was really proud of – it had a fossil of a sea-shell in it that was perfectly heart shaped.  She had told us that she had a blanket and that it was hidden, but she flip-flopped on that one several times.  I think she didn’t have one.

We told her we wanted to get her a sleeping bag or some blankets.  She didn’t want any part of that.  She kept saying that cardboard was really pretty warm.  I finally told her that I was going to go get her a sleeping bag, and that I was going to bring it back to her campsite, and that if she didn’t want it she could give it away to somebody else.  So she came along to Walmart with us.  She kept worrying that we would be embarrassed by her.  Truth be told, I could see why she might worry – she said and did some pretty odd things, but nothing too bad.  My kids have done worse.

By the time we had the sleeping bag, it was after dark.  She had us take her to a place back behind a used car lot.  I guess they have a vehicle there that they don’t lock – she climbs in and sleeps in it on really cold nights.  It took her 20 minutes to finally get out of the car.  I think she really didn’t want to go.  We kept inviting her home with us, but she wouldn’t have it.

We spent a couple of hours with her all told.  We talked some about faith.  She said she’d never had time for God until she was homeless.  We invited her to church with us.  Again, she was worried that she’d embarrass us or that her clothes would not be good enough.  She finally agreed to be picked up to go to church with us today.  We all dressed down – jeans and t-shirts, so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.  I didn’t even shave.  She didn’t show up at the place we were supposed to meet, which we half-way expected to happen anyway.

The whole thing has had me very thoughtful since.  I’ve worried about our debts and such, but we still have a house, and 3 vehicles, and more food than we can eat, and the list of our blessings goes on and on.  This gal had the clothes on her back and some cardboard and a couple of rocks, and that. is. it.  I’ve worried about how I won’t be able to spend that much on my kids for Christmas, and she doesn’t have any one to even share Christmas dinner with.  We gave her a nice gift of a sleeping bag if you want to call that a Christmas gift, but she was worried about taking it because she was afraid somebody else would just steal it from her.

It really leaves me with a low opinion of myself.  Not the fact that I helped her out as much as I could (and as much as she’d let us).  I just feel like I must be incredibly spoiled because my worries are petty compared to hers.

What would it be like to spend a week on the street?  She said she’d been there just over a year.  Could I make it a week?  Would I beg for food or money?  I have so many other resources – family, friends, etc. that I’d have to exhaust a *lot* of possibilities before I was on the street.  Plus, I have sense enough to make use of the services available to homeless people – but how long would that last?  I think this lady’s mental problems are probably due to being alone and being scared for a long long time.

I guess I’ll close.  I still feel this swimming circles in my head, but I can’t think of anything else to say.  Say a prayer for the homeless if you read this.  And remember the phrase “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

Drama in your life

Monday, July 12th, 2010

One of the blogs I read had an interesting post today, and I thought I’d share a couple of highlights.

The following is a quote from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance…Sometimes entire families participate unconsciously in a culture of self-dramatization. The kids fuel the tanks, the grown-ups arm the phasers, the whole starship lurches from one spine-tingling episode to another. And the crew knows how to keep it going. If the level of drama drops below a certain threshold, someone jumps in to amp it up…It’s more fun than a movie. And it works: Nobody gets a damn thing done.

The follow up quote to that (which is what really struck me on a personal level) is from the author of the blog I read (Conversion Diary):

I think the primary difference is that Resistance drama is ego-focused, whereas the healthy ups and downs of the spiritual life are God-focused. When I get mired in bad drama I withdraw into a tiny solar system with my blazing ego at the center, where I fixate on who said what that offended me, whether people will think what I’m doing is great or terrible, whether what I do is good or bad in comparison to other people’s work…and I give nothing back to the world. I’m a black hole. Paralyzed by Resistance. Whereas on the occasions that I’m swept up in positive drama, I’m more focused on God than myself, more concerned with helping people than comparing myself to them, and, most tellingly, I’m still creating. I’m still giving something back to the world.

I see a lot of “ego” based resistance drama in my life (sadly).  It’s something I need to work on, and I thought this was expressed eloquently enough that it was worth sharing.

Quote of the day

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

Thomas Merton

That struck me as rather profound this morning – I think I live dangerously close to the doorstep of hell all to often.  I’ll have to work on that.

Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

It was a white Christmas for us here in Southwestern Missouri, but coooooold!  Brrrrrrr!  It was about 15 degrees today, and the wind was howling.  Needless to say we did not go outside to play in the snow.

It was also kind of a humble Christmas for us.  We did things a little differently this year.  We didn’t put up our Christmas tree until the 24th.  Heck, we didn’t even do any Christmas shopping until the 22nd.  We opened the vast majority of presents on Christmas eve – St. Nicholas only brought candy and one toy – a “Little People” nativity scene for the two youngest kids (although the older girls still play with it too).  Our Christmas day dinner is just a roasted chicken, with mashed potatoes, green beans, and some cranberry sauce.  We didn’t have lots of family over, or go to their house either.

We tried very much to keep Christmas (the day of Christ’s birth) separate from all the other things that we tend to get caught up with in the holidays.  Sadly, we weren’t able to go to Mass today – the roads were not in good shape, and Elizabeth was running a fever of 102, so we wouldn’t have gone regardless.

In any event, I thought it was a nice day…we’ll probably do it again this way next year too.

Once again, Merry Christmas to everyone!

Reconversion

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Many of you know that I’m an adult convert to Christianity (Catholicism specifically).  Probably what you don’t know is that I have periods where I wonder if it’s all true or not – where I feel very distant from God and my faith in general.  Ironically, sometimes I drift further from God when things are going badly, and sometimes I grow closer to God when things are going badly.

Lately, I’ve been having a bit of a re-conversion or renewal of my faith.  I’m sure that my recent problems with epilepsy and lack of sleep, and the many changes in lifestyle these things have caused have played no small part.  One of the things that has been an eye-opener for me in several was has been a blog I’ve been reading called “Conversion Diary” (there’s a new link in the sidebar for it).  This blog actually started out being called “The reluctant atheist”, and it’s about this lady’s conversion from atheism/agnosticism to Christianity and Catholicism.  Her story is quite different from mine, but she writes eloquently about a LOT of the same things I’ve struggled with since converting.  Her words have been eye-opening and timely in more ways than one for me.  I found this quote on her site today:

When I decided to stop talking about being “open-minded about religion” and actually open my mind to religion, I became a Christian. And when I set aside what I want to be true to seek what is actually true, I became a Catholic.

Catholicism just rings true to me.  I haven’t done nearly the reading or research that she has (but I’ve listened to a LOT of sermons from EXCELLENT priests – check out http://www.audiosancto.com) so my Catholic education has not been totally lacking.

I’ve also started reading “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese which has been excellent so far.  I frequently feel like a very un-holy person, like I’m just going through the motions and not even trying.  Maybe I don’t acknowledge the little things I do quite enough.  I hope to find more of the little things that St. Therese incorporated into her own path to holiness.  One analogy she put forth that I really like (paraphrasing here) is that the splendor of the rose and the lily do not diminish the beauty of the humbler daisy or violet.  When God looks at the daisy or violet and smiles, they don’t wish to be roses or lilies – they are simply glad that God has decided to look at them.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a “rose” to use her analogy, but I think I might be able to pull off “daisy”.