Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Seedlings of Hope

Yesterday Andrew and I enjoyed a day of family togetherness. It was a cool rainy day. We all slept in a little bit. As usual, Alexander and I got up first and did our normal diaper, nebulizer, breakfast routine. Knowing Andrew would be very sleepy I put on a pot of coffee and Alexander played a little bit. As I was waiting for the coffee to brew I looked out on the back porch. It looked and sounded very tropical rainforest with the large trees hanging over our porch and the rain coming down so heavily. I became very happy. It reminded me of Washington, or Australia. I especially liked that it was not blistering hot Texas weather. It was a good day to sit on the porch. So, I woke up Andrew and told him that there was coffee and he had to come drink it on the porch. Andrew did not hesitate. He got up and poured himself a cup of coffee and joined us on the porch. We each read our books, sipped our coffee, or played with toys, respectively. We sat for a long while enjoying the gentle, peaceful, uninterrupted sounds of rain pattering to the earth. Then Alexander became hungry and sleepy with great urgency as he let me know. So, I nursed him there on the porch and he fell asleep in my arms. After a short while the coffee had created in me my own sense of urgency. So, I went inside and put the Alexander down in his crib. He napped for two hours. This gave Andrew and I time to just sit back relax and talk. We talked about how much we liked being parents and getting to know Alexander. We have had such a life fulfilling experience with Alexander. We think he has a good personality.

Andrew and I were discussing all these facts and I suddenly exclaimed that I do not understand people who do not want a family, or are hesitant about starting a family—have standoffish opinions about having children. Recently, I had a conversation with a couple who were not sure they were ready to start a family. Not that they did not want children, they just had the attitude tht most young married couples have these days. They wanted to spend a few years married, work a little on their careers, make sure they had enough money and so on. One major thing in their minds was that they could not see themselves as parents yet. These are all very common notions amongst newly married couples today. As opposed to sixty years ago when young married couples could not wait to have children and tried very hard to do so.

Initially, Andrew and I thought it would be best to wait to have children until he was finished with his PhD. I mean graduate students are not known for having the resources to support a family. But, we also did not want to wait too long. I think that many people would say that we have started a family too soon. But, that is what people also said about us getting married right out of college—too young, too soon. But, how can they know when it is the right time for us? I cannot think of a more natural and coherent progression of our lives. Andrew and I are very fortunate to be two very practical people. We were not caught up in a purely physical relationship nor were we struck dumb by fanciful idealistic views of each other and our relationship. Therefore, it was quite natural for us to grow up, become friends, leave our families and naturally assimilate into our own family.

At some point in the first year of our marriage, as our love for one another grew, our fears of having a child before we were capable of caring for one disappeared. Of course, not knowing what to expect, there was a little trepidation. However, now that we are amidst diapers and high chairs, we can honestly say that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

In our conversation yesterday, Andrew began telling me that in having a child he realized that it is the most important thing you can do (I hope that Andrew will take a little time explaining this in the blog as he did to me yesterday). It is more important than your career or school. It is the greatest thing to be able to procreate, to love someone, to love someone who is of your flesh and of your spouses flesh—forever united, and to teach the young, to have a special bond, to change and add to the world with your offspring, and to do it now rather than later. If you wait until later, you may never get the chance. The sooner you add to your family the more time you will have to spend with them. So, again, I do not understand those who do not want children and, or want to wait to have them.

Needless to say, we had great day being a family yesterday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The First Form of Character Building

Dear Sisters,

In light of recent emails from mothers seeming to need support, for that is what La Leche League is—support, I offer these profound words that I came across recently. After reading this I certainly felt affirmed as mother.

“In May 1995, Pope John Paul II encouraged breastfeeding in comments to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He noted, ‘two major benefits to the child: protection against disease and proper nourishment.’ Then he added: “In addition to these immunological and nutritional effects, this natural way of feeding can create a bond of love and security between mother and child, and enable the child to assert its PRESENCE AS A PERSON through interaction with the mother.”

Pope Pius XII believed that character building started at the breast.

So you see, my friends, as mothers, we have a trying road to travel, but we are already giving our children everything thing that is needed by virtue of the womanly art of breastfeeding.

I am a working mother and, as many of the working mothers can sympathize, there is a great deal of guilt not rearing your child yourself at home. However, we who have chosen to breastfeed in these modern times of excessive use of formula will find that we are giving our children a great deal more nurturing than we can ever know.

I hope all who take the time to read this will step back and not sweat the small stuff, but take pleasure and pride in this art we have mastered. I hope this helps you all in some small way.



Monday, May 21, 2007

The Matrix, The End of the World & Faith

“Ever since Plato's Allegory of the Cave, people have sensed that odd things go on at the archetype level of consciousness.” http://urbansurvival.com/simplebots.htm. (you must check out this site).

Okay you can call me crazy, call me a conspiracy theorist, or call me gullible, but whatever I am I found this fascinating and a little bit terrifying.

Did you know that the History Channel shows their most titillating programming from 10pm – 6am? I started watching the History Channel quite frequently during the middle of the night feedings when Alexander was first born. That aside, last night I watched a program called “Doomsday: December 21, 2012.” Yeah, that’s right a mere five years away. So, initially this scared me quite a bit. It was like watching a scary movie right before bedtime. This program looked at prophecies throughout history AND A PRESENT DAY PROPHET that point to the date December 21, 2012.

The modern prophet is the one that I found most appealing and convincing. This prophet is a computer program. The program was initially designed to predict stock market happenings. The way it works is it scans the whole of the internet picking up phrases here and there to collect data on the global collective consciousness. It scans the whole world wide web and every language. It is heavily based on the way we use language and what we are thinking. Then it uses what we are thinking to make market predictions.

They discovered it was coming up with more than market predictions. Supposedly it predicted the 9/11 attacks, the New York blackouts, the Tsunami that wiped out 300,000 people, and hurricane Katrina among other things. All of these things are definitely things that would have an impact on the stock market, therefore it would be relevant that the program would be looking for this. This program supposedly has a couple more future predications such as a small, but significant nuclear war in late 2008 or early 2009; and also it predicts a doomsday coming on the above date. By writing this and blogging it I am probably adding to the conspiracy generated by this computer program, but keep reading.

The following website explains a little bit about this project http://urbansurvival.com/simplebots.htm. The link points to a Princeton study, “Radin's work demonstrates that people are physically able to perceive 6-seconds into the future.” The theory of the project is that humans do have the ability to react and perceive the future, however we are unable to understand what is going on at the time. This program collects all the data in our linguistic shifts and interprets it into an event—the future event is something we already can perceive on a subconscious level but do not understand it, because it is in our subconscious. The author of this article points out that even the prediction output by this program is almost incomprehensible prior to the actual event. But, they have attempted to decipher it.

A lot of this makes sense to me. Let’s take the prediction of the nuclear war in late 2008 or early 2009. I can understand this prediction. In the past year several nations such as Iran and North Korea have stepped up and talked about their intentions with nuclear arms. These reports have been in the news and hence on the internet. Then people discuss it on the net, perhaps blog it; it’s on peoples minds. Then those who have the nuclear arms see how it has stirred people on the net and they get encouraged and enlivened. It’s a vicious cycle. It is kind of like school shootings. A school shooting occurs and there are almost always copy cats. Or, did you ever notice the most ominous of events occur around April 20th? It’s because people know that on that date another event occurred and it encourages their manic thoughts. Not to mention, that we have known a long time, ever since we began the nuclear arms race and the cold war, that it is only a matter of time before this type of event happens.

Finally, why December 21, 2012? On that date the Moon, Earth, Sun and center of the galaxy, a black hole, align. Scientists think there is a possibility that the Earth’s polarity will shift when this occurs. When the polarity shifts, it will cause the mantle of the Earth to shift causing earth quakes, volcanic eruptions, ice caps melting, flooding, etc. And to life on earth it probably means quite a bit of death.

Do I believe it? It’s plausible. It’s frightening. At first I thought to have to live through this, or to die in a doomsday event is a very menacing thought. But it was late at night when I was watching this television program and I was halfway in the dream world. This morning when I woke up I saw that the world is exactly as it should be and doomsday 2012 is probably not how it is going to happen for us.

As a Catholic, I was raised to live everyday as though it were my last. I realize that today, this moment, more than any other in my life I need to be in Grace with God. It is this time that I need to hold truest to my faith. And the same is true for the next moment I live. I have learned to have faith in God’s Providence and His plan for me. Wherever life leads me and whatever happens to me it is all due to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. There is something more at work here than randomness and illogical impulse. Perhaps, that is why this machine can predict what will happen, because it is all laid out for us, or perhaps that is why this machine is wrong. But, whether true or not there is nothing we can do to stop it. So let us do what we can, which is pray for our souls.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sin Stock – Where Do You Put Your Money?

This is a most fascinating article on ethical investing. I urge you to check it out. To summarize: It discusses investors who put their money on stocks that promote or practice good moral values. It is a new trend. But, if you are a serious investor and are in the business of making money, companies with a good ethical record are not the way to do it. “Sin Stocks” are what make the most money. The companies that have practice bad ethics, promote sinful activities, use immoral tactics, those are the ones making money.

At first I thought, oh yes, this is very logical. I have heard the advertising saying, “Sex sells.” I have heard the broadcast news saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” These are the things that get consumer attention. But, then I began to think. There is nothing logical about heeding and falling to our animalistic urges. It is one thing to say that I am not going to invest in or buy products that contradict my Christian values. It is quite another to cogitate why.

For one thing, as a human, it is beneath me to fall prey to such temptations of my animal spirit—the urgings of evolution gone by. As humans it is our great gift to be able to discern—to make choices against our animal nature—in other words, our great gift is free will. Free will is something that is beyond animal nature. It is an attribute of humanity in which we can choose against the animal within for a higher cause—the “right” cause. And it IS our DUTY to choose rightly. We are the stewards of this planet.

This is a turning point for me, and for you and for all consumers. The idea of sin stock made me uncomfortable. I thought, I would not put my money into sin. But, I am sure I already do daily. It is the little things I chose. It is important to not merely consume because it is what our animal urges tell us to do. We should not invest in “sin stock,” watch morally reprehensible television (I guess my television programming is going to have to change) or partake in any activity against virtue. Do not claim that these sin stocks are what make the world go round. That excuse is not good enough for humanity. Use your free will to determine and choose what is virtuous. It is our great gift to be able to do so!

Put your money where your mouth/heart is. Be responsible for how you consume and spend. Maybe you will not make it rich investing in the virtuous stocks. But, that is not what Christ taught anyway. Choose virtuous business, etc., because it is the right thing to do and perhaps it will make an impact on tomorrow. Rome was not built in a day. It was built one brick at a time.

And whatever you do not be fooled by the almighty dollar.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

Does it get any better than this?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Busy Weekend...But When is it Not

On Saturday we went to the wedding of David and Katie Ramsey. I think they did a wonderful job on their wedding. It was an outdoor wedding, which Andrew touts is very pagan. It is certainly not for us, especially since we had a very ceremonious 1h45 long wedding with a lot of long standing Christian tradition. Theirs was, I think a Baptist wedding. We have never been to one of those. We have been to a couple non-denominational Christian and few Catholic weddings. Despite the heat and a few bug bites, I thought the outdoor wedding underneath the trees made a beautiful setting. It was small and intimate, and there are a couple good stories to tell.

The groom, David, cried all through his vows and Katie just smiled. You could just hear in his voice that he thought he was the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying her. He obviously loves her very deeply. I will certainly be praying that this is a happy and holy marriage.

But, the big story is when the bride almost lost her dress. They were going to drive Katie from the location where she was getting dressed to the area of the wedding. They loaded her up on the vehicle (it was like a John Deer Gator – Kind of like a golf cart) and as one of the groomsmen said he could see this was going to be bad. Her gorgeous white dress flowed off the sides of the vehicle and as it started to moved the dress was caught under the wheel and tore the back half off. The groomsman went sprinting across the property to her location to her aid, but as he put it, not that he could do anything. Then the mother of the bride followed suit of the groomsman. It is quite something to watch a finely dressed fifty year old woman go sprinting across a field. Luckily the bride’s maids, and that is what they are there for, not just to look pretty, worked magic safety pinning that dress back to exactly the way it looked before the mishap. The wedding went on and no one was the wiser about the dress.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Power of Divinity

I think many Americans share my experience of hearing the same New Testament stories over and over. We have heard them so many times that we start to lose the sense of what miraculous events these are. They have become well-known fairy tales, tales of magic, tales of a very good and noble man. However, if the New Testament does not make you quiver, shutter, tremble, feel humble, enlighten you every time you read it, then it might be prudent to ask how TRUE do you think they are?

Yesterday I read this passage:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7 ESV)

As horrible as it is to admit, I found this passage very mundane, but why? I have never seen such a miracle, but I am sure that this is an act that the Lord, Creator, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, could perform.

One thing is that I have read this one and heard it many times. Someone comes to Jesus with a problem. He teaches them all a lesson and then solves their problem. Oftentimes it is in an unexpected way, a humble way, or he uses divine powers. Ooo, that’s some magic trick, Jesus. (I’m going to be struck down right now. Keep going maybe I will redeem myself.)

Another thing, even when I was a child, I thought it illogical that this man’s malady would be caused by sin. I would hate to think that if I had cancer, or woke up blind that the cause was my sins, or someone else’s. Where did those people get that? I would think that we would all be crippled in many ways if we shared the sins of our fathers and were crippled each time we sinned personally.

Oh, how wrong I am to initially think very little of this passage. I especially thought very little of it because, plain and simple, I have heard it before—I was desensitized to its meaning. I saw this passage on www.byzcath.org and it was followed by this teaching:

St. Ambrose of Milan teaches that the blind man touched by Jesus received more then just his sight. In one instant we see both the power of his divinity and the strength of his holiness. As the divine light, he touched this man and enlightened him. As priest, by an action symbolizing baptism he wrought in him his work of redemption. The only reason for his mixing clay with the saliva and smearing it on the eyes of the blind man was to remind you that he who restored the man to health by anointing his eyes with clay is the very one who fashioned the first man out of clay, and that this clay that is our flesh can receive the light of eternal life through the sacrament of baptism.

Blow me away, St. Ambrose! This short passage was so rich I probably could not handle it. How could I have forgotten that this is not a silly fairy tale, or a mundane act from a man that can cure anyone He touches? No, this was pure Act, pure Good, pure Truth, an act of Divinity being imparted on a man who, sin or no sin, suffered in this world of exile, in which we are not yet saved from sin.

Constantly, Jesus Christ redeems us sinners. He redeemed this man and reminded us of many other things (1) We are created by Him (it can be so easy to forget that in the workings of daily life) (2) We can receive eternal life (3) We must live a sacramental life passed down to us from Christ himself through his own ministry, which was given to the Apostles. Lastly, we are redeemed daily through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is a particularly difficult and emotional day. It is what would have been, my brother, Adam’s 21st birthday. I would have taken him out for a Guinness. Well, he would have been away at school, so in reality, I would have called him to wish him a happy day, and then I would have called him the next day to hear all the dirty details of this significant birthday. Which, I imagine, would not have been so dirty, but more like, “We went to this pub and I met some girls, and then when I got really toasted and I sang every Irish ballad and drinking song I know. And have you heard of an Irish Car Bomb?!...One of the girls I met gave me her number. She goes to Catholic U. I think I am going to call her.” And that is what I am going tell myself he did.

I feel that I have been able to grieve properly. By that I mean I have been going through the healthy psychological process that helps one to move on. But, it has not been a year yet since the day he died and I expect there will be days like this. I do not want to even think what my parents are going through right now.

Psychological processes aside, I cannot imagine what the despair in the loss of a loved one would be like without faith. Yes, I am sure that for any normal individual one will recover from the loss whether there is belief in God, faith and hope. But, what a miserable time it would be. It was hard enough being faced by the death of my brother. It was great comfort to hear the priests say, “Life has not ended, only changed.” Knowing what a good person Adam was, I do not think that he was out of grace with God. I truly believe that God gave him a chance to prepare himself for coming into the light. I truly believe that when I say prayers that they are heard by a saint in heaven. Knowing that he is with our Creator, who created us out of His Love is a tremendous comfort. I learned that it is in our suffering that we are closest to God.

All year long I have been thinking about “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. (The best novelists are those who can observe life and translate it into words.) He described grief so well and how one might feel toward God and faith in this situation. I do not have a copy of this book at hand, so I cannot include any specific quotes. But, he described how when his wife died, he could not remember what she looked like accurately, because he had seen her so many times from so many angles that it was now all a blur--a combination of it all dancing in his head. The best way he could remember her was in a picture--still, from one angle--and that made him angriest of all. That is not the way he wanted to remember her.

Similarly to C.S. Lewis' experience: On the way home from Adam’s funeral, on the plane, I sat clutching a little white Bible with name monogrammed in silver on the cover, and in it I had stuffed several eulogies people in my family had written, the programs from the funeral, a prayer card that had Adam’s birth-death and a quote (Wisdom 1-6 & 9), a print out of eight of Adam’s poems, and a few pictures. Andrew and I had been doing Sodoku puzzles. We had finished one and were taking a break. I set the Bible down on the tray in front of me and a few things fell out. I could hardly bear to look at them. I was so mad at the sight and I began to crumble inside. I panicked and thought, “This is all I have left of him! These little scraps of paper, this is all I have to hold on to! I have my memories, but those fade and change. These are the only material things I have!” It was quite a moment of terror in my heart, the same as the Sunday morning my mother called and said, “Adam is missing.”

“Only the good die young.” That is so true. Adam was so amazing. He accomplished so much and had some very deep thoughts to pass along to us all. He was destined to be a great poet and a great diplomat. I am so grateful he took the time to write down his thoughts. He had such a unique and beautiful way of thinking. He is greatly missed.

Happy Birthday Adam!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This is the First Post

Testing, testing, 1,2,3, is this thing working?
I chose this font, because it's called Trebuchet and that reminds me of the amazing, medieval weapon that flings rottening animal heads at castles. Yay, for medieval life.
Now for more important things, which is that I promise I will try my best to post important things from now on--or things of interest.