Saturday, December 31, 2005

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Friday, December 30, 2005

The Sound of Silence

I am excited. I have the prospect of a relatively silent and quiet day ahead of me. The house is empty and will remain so until tomorrow. I love the quiet. This might surprise the people who know me well, because I also love music and movies. But the older I get the more I am learning to appreciate the all too precious and rare commodity of silence.

True silence is hard to come by in this day and age. Our world is so noisy. Some of us awake to the sound of a clock radio, amble into the kitchen for that morning cup of coffee in front of the t.v. and then switch on the radio the minute we hop in the car for the trip to work. We can't even go shopping without some form of music being piped into our ears. And if it isn't noise distracting us 24-7, we have advertisers doing their level best to use every available surface to attract and cajole us. Can we say "overstimulated"? It seems like someone is always trying to tell us what we should think, what we should like, how we should look and what we should buy. When do we have time for our own thoughts & meditations? When do we have time to compose the music of our own souls? Are we really so afraid of our own thoughts? Are we afraid that if we examined the contents of our own souls we would come up empty?

I often have the opportunity to spend time in our very large church sanctuary praying and meditating. For the most part I am alone and I treasure the silence of that space. I could sit for hours if my life didn't necessitate otherwise. Many times I pray and or sing, but many times I also just sit - listening. When I enter the silence I feel as though I am taking a shower internally. Things just drop. The external noise of the world dissipates. I am at peace. For me there is a beauty to the silence that is a music God alone can compose. From time to time I am not alone and someone comes in to clean or do some other task. On this day the young woman came up to me and asked me how long I was going to be there. She wanted to play the radio and was gracious enough to be willing to wait until I was finished. "This silence is so oppressive!" she said. I could only smile.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

More Great Quotes

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"We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God"

Apostle Paul & Barnabas
Acts 14:22

Doesn't sound much like prosperity theology to me . . . or maybe I'm just missing something.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

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Ando Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858). Night Snow at Kambara (No. 16), Color woodcut

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sticks and Stones

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A while ago I lived over a crack addict who was also a prostitute. Her name was Loretta and she made my life hell. She hated me and made no bones about it. One day, while on one of her rants she began to talk about how much she hated me. She said, and I quote, " I don't like her style. I don't like the way she carries herself. I don't like the way she talks, I don't like the way she sings." Although Loretta did her best to drive me as crazy as she was, I have to admit, I couldn't help but appreciate her honesty. . . she didn't lie to herself or anyone else about why she had an issue with me. That's more than I can say for most people I've been in conflict with over the years. . .

I remember being told as a child, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But as an adult I have to say I've found those words to ring insanely hollow. Over the last 41 years of my life I have witnessed the destruction words, and more precisely gossip, can render. I have seen them bring political campaigns to a screetching halt. I have seen them split churches and destroy ministries, I have seen them divide families and break up couples. I have witnessed job loss and alienation, mental illness and suicide attempts, all due to the destructive power of words.

I think not.

I believe they can be one of the most harmful forces on earth. They wound us, yet leave us alive to bear the acute pain left in their wake. They can bring about a hemorrhage within our emotions that can bleed indefinitely.

No THIS is Christmas . . .

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Okay . . . so my Christmas spirit has officially been rejuvenated.

I went to work today, our last day before break only to walk in and find a very unexpected pile of gifts from my students on my desk. . . and as if that weren't bad enough, I had come just in time to partake in an assembly of children in wild celebration over the birthday of Christ . . . they sang, they danced, and they cheered the incarnation of our Lord. . .

What can I say . . . they were contagious and I became infected.

In the afternoon we did our After-care Christmas program. My firstgraders were a small herd of naughty sheep who became transformed by the arrival of the good Shepard. They played their roles all too well . . .

Did I mention a friend is bringing me a homemade liquor infused fruitcake from his mother in Dominique? And another has promised a piece of her father's Jamaican Rum cake...

Just let those sleigh bells ring a ling, jing jing jing a ling tooooooo!
Merry Christmas!!!

Eggnog anyone?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

So this is Christmas . . .

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Lately I have been thinking about two very distinctly different memories of Christmas from my childhood. When I was very young my parents made quite a bit of money. My father, although uneducated, had started a carpet installation business and managed to land the contract for the largest housing complex being built at the time. I remember one year in particular when the tree was so packed with presents that we actually grew tired of unwrapping them.

A few years later, in one of my father's many impulsive quest for fulfillment, he gave it all up and bought a farm. It didn't take too long for the money to dwindle. I remember the first Christmas after the fact. No presents. I don't know if it was because there were really no funds, or if my parents were just so depressed they couldn't muster up the energy to make the effort. I know that there are programs out there to help get Christmas presents to children whose families are in need, but accepting charity was something my parents just didn't do. It was out of the question.

I guess looking back, I'm just puzzled at my own resilience as a child. I don't remember being crushed at the fact that there were no presents. I just remember that it was then that I came to an understanding of how dire our circumstances were. And I remember my parents misery. The downturn did eventually become an upturn for many a year afterwards. But our parents never did regain their original zeal for Christmas shopping. The bubble had burst.

Now, as an adult with two sons who are nearly grown, I have to say that Thanksgiving is the holiday I most look forward to. Yes I know that Christmas is and always will be special, the celebration of the birth of our Lord, the greatest gift of all. But we all lament the commercialism of Christmas as we continue to spend, spend, spend and run ourselves silly in search of that perfect gift.

But at Thanksgiving the focus is on how grateful we are - for family, for the table we are able to come to, for the abundance on it, and for the presence of God and His favor in our lives. We pray at our table, and talk about how much we appreciate one another and mean to each other. I talk to my sons about how, as a single mother, I could not have made it without the help of God.

I guess the reason I like Thanksgiving so much is that the focus is on the real gifts.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Great Quote

"Jesus was not asleep on the boat, the apostles were!"
Fr. Michael Louis Pfleger

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Annunciation

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Sandro Botticelli

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Henry Ossawa Tanner

Interestingly enough, the second painting is by an African American. Honestly, I think it is much more likely to reflect reality.

Yesterday we had our most controversial mass of the year - The mass for the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. I think the only ones present who believe in that particular doctrine are the visiting priest who does the mass, the four nuns who work at our school the handful of oldschool Catholics who raise a ruckus if we don't have the mass. Fr. Mike refuses to do it, but being that our school is Catholic, we have a visiting priest come in every year and do it. Our staff for the most part tries to emphasize the fact that Mary said yes to God and changed the world.

I work with two nuns who keep a watchful eye on me, especially when saying the Hail Mary. I refuse to say it. I'm not trying to be conspicuous about it, but its kind of hard not to be when people are staring at you!
I never would have survived Catholic school growing up. They would have thrown me in the dungeon or burned me at the stake.
Regardless, the annunciation has been a popular theme throughout art history. I thought a comparison of two would be interesting.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I got an A in one of my courses from this past quarter. The other course was pass/fail - yes I passed.
Also recieved an anonymous Christmas gift - a cook book. Pretty cool.
Made my day. . .

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

To Tree or not to Tree

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This is my oldest son's first year at college. Recently there was a big debate in his dorm about putting up a Christmas tree. Some of the students felt it wouldn't be "inclusive" to put up a tree. My son's response?
"If anyone doesn't like Christmas they can go to hell! Why would you come to a Catholic university and bitch about the policies?"

You go Abe. Take a stand for Christ.

The apple doesn't roll far from the tree. . .