Category Archives: religion

Constitutionally Speaking: Guns and Religion

Some of you may be like me, trapped in an On Demand, Hulu , Netflix cycle of must watch TV that requires a spreadsheet to track schedules, characters and plots; which allows me (and perhaps you) to avoid the news detailing what a mess this country is.

The news is typically so dispiriting that I have stopped watching, listening, reading much of it at all. Still, the news reaches into my cocoon. I’m going to stick to stories local to me but the hue and cry is heard throughout this great nation of ours.

This fall there was yet another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in the southern Oregon town of Roseburg.

Constitutionally speaking, I’m going to look to the right and all the people screeching about their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. I’m looking at you “2nd Amendment Voters/Advocates”. Please read the text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States before you tell me and the rest of the country about your right to own an automatic weapon.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Do you see those first four words about the well regulated militia? Do you get what that means? It doesn’t mean that everyone for any reason can own a gun or an arsenal of automatic weaponry that would horrify the Founding Fathers of this country. I am not part of a well regulated militia thus I do not need to keep and bear arms. The Oregon National Guard can keep and bear arms.

I’m not for banning all guns. I think there should be a ban on assault weapons. Automatic assault weapons are made for hunting human beings, that’s not okay. I think we should enforce the myriad laws we have for background checks and that should apply to online sales, gun shows, pawn shops, retail stores, etc.

I also think that the people screaming about their 2nd Amendment rights, should SHUT. IT. Unless they are a member of a “well regulated militia” and I don’t mean regulated by your Uncle Wally and run out of his barn. If you are a member of a police force, US armed services, the National Guard — then please feel free to assert your Second Amendment Rights. If not, stand down.

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And this guy can also bear arms

Ohhh, look over there on the left…they are all snickering about the loser conservative gun rights people on the right. Hee Hee, Maggie sure told them!

Well, folks on the left, I’m now going to have a chat with you. It is holiday time, time to decorate the holiday trees and send the holiday cards and make sure that Portland Public School choirs don’t perform at The Grotto’s (The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother) Christmas Festival of Lights, the largest Christmas choral festival in the WORLD. As I said, I am keeping it local but there are examples around the country of…wait for it, the separation of Church and State! Right!? Separate those two before real trouble starts!

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Inigo Montoya for the win!

Ahem, now that you folks have got your First Amendment knickers twisted, just a little reminder that the words “separation of Church and State” appear no where in the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment leads with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” because our Founding Fathers came from Merry Old(e) England, where the government, then a monarchy, said to all of England, “your church is the Church of England.” Period. They added, “If you don’t like it, too bad, you cannot practice any other religion.” As I’m sure you all know as informed and interested American citizens, the Pilgrims left England so they could practice their particular religion without the King putting them in jail or gaol.

The phrase “separation of Church and State” comes from this letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury, CT Baptists in 1802. The phrase in no way means there is no room for religion in public life, it simply means the government will not dictate what religion its citizens practice and that said citizens are free to practice whatever religion they wish. Or practice no religion. Up to you, American citizen.

Again, as the 2nd Amendment folks need to get their facts straight so do you Separation of  Church and Staters, and again, SHUT. IT.

I am not saying that the discourse should end on topics so important to the well being of the United States of America. I am saying get your facts straight before righteously throwing around buzzwords like “the right to bear arms” and “separation of Church and State”.

“There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.” — Dr. William James, widely recognized as the Father of American Psychology

 

 

 

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When I was growing up in the ’70s, my brother was an altar boy at our parish church, Our Lady of the Lake. Back then there were only altar boys, not altar servers like we have now which includes girls. I would always read the bulletin to see who was serving which mass the next week to make sure I went to the mass with the cutest boys.

My brother and his best friend, Mike, served together often. This was time when the Church still had Communion rails. The following photo is from ipadre.net and is not of our church but is very similar.

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Mike and John were serving a Christmas season mass and were supposed to light the Nativity candle. I’m sure neither one of them had been paying attention to any instructions prior to mass, so had no idea where the Nativity candle was. The two of them wandered around the altar lighting any candle that wasn’t already lit. My brother left the altar out the swinging communion rail gate and lit some candles that you light for people who had died or you’re praying for, which are typically at a side corner of the church. Mike went backstage and lit some wedding candles. I’m sure the priest was watching their performance in total disgust.

When John and Mike reunited on the altar, Mike said, “we beefed it.” A phrase my family uses to this day.

My father was an altar boy back in the 1930s when there were many altar boys serving every mass. One Christmas Eve mass, there was something like 20 altar boys in the processional for opening mass. See those boys in the front of that group holding the candles? Well, that Christmas mass in Belleville, Ontario in probably 1936, ALL of the altar boys were carrying those candles.

Los Angeles parish 1936 from flickr.com

Los Angeles parish 1936 from flickr.com

My dad was 12 and one of the head altar boys. There were two brothers in the procession, who fought with each other all the time, that night one of them purposefully tilted his candle forward and lit his brother’s hair on fire. My dad ran up and started beating the kid on the head to put out the fire and before you can say, permanent scarring, there was a Christmas Eve altar boy brawl going on.

One of my pals, AVC just commented on Facebook with this story:

At my Grandpa’s funeral, my brother was an altar boy, standing up there near the casket. It was hot, he locked his knees and went down like a tree. Totally passed out. I was 11 and thought he died. Commence freak out. Father Ansgar didn’t miss a beat and just said, ‘take him away’.

Most any cradle Catholic you talk to is going to have stories of ridiculous things that happened at church. Catholicism is an endless trove of good comedy material.

Last evening after work, the girls and I went to mass at St. John Fisher, where I have never been before, simply because they had a 6:00 mass.

This is what we saw there. Brigid took the photo on Annie’s phone because she could get the best angle. Yes, I allowed Brigid to take a picture on her phone in Church because, of course, what choice did we have? I’m giving up bread for Lent, it will all even out.

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That is the actual church and the actual altar boy out cold during mass. Best performance by an altar boy on Ash Wednesday….EVER.

It should be a meme, right?

Well, happily I have twisted friends who have already gotten that ball rolling.

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Credit to Bob R. brother-in-law to my bestie, Judy.

 

By Donofalltrades one of my all time favorite bloggers.

By Donofalltrades one of my all time favorite bloggers.

There it is the new viral altar boy meme. Take it. Make it yours.

Happy Lent.

The Ash Wednesday Altar Boy

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Let Me Ash You Somethin’

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I’m giving up bread for the next 40 days. If I do that successfully, it will be the second time in a row and in my whole life that I have stuck to my Lenten guns. Last year was Diet Coke. I was thinking about giving up cheese this year but that just leaves me with my other two food groups: wine and Diet Coke. So bread it is. Let me ash you, are you observing Lent this year?

My favorite Ash Wednesday story (you probably don’t hear enough Ash Wednesday anecdotes) took place in Boston in 1988. I was working for the Bank of New England and since most everyone in Boston is Catholic, lots of people were going to get ashes at lunch. I joined the crowd and we walked to the chapel at Downtown Crossing. I had never lived in a city with such a large Catholic population and was amazed at the Ash Wednesday machine. The St. Anthony Shrine has two chapels — one upstairs, one downstairs. The service took 20 minutes and as we left our chapel all ashed up, people were entering the other chapel and that’s how it goes All. Day. They were cranking out ashed Catholics like Star Bellied Sneetches.

I just checked, St. Anthony's will be giving out ashes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today. Nice to know they haven't changed since I was there.

I just checked and St. Anthony’s will be giving out ashes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today. Nice to know they haven’t changed since I was there.

Derwood was confirmed into the Church last Easter. We have some very interesting conversations about Catholicism. He being a recent convert and me being born this way — results in very different ideas on the Catholic faith and the practice of that faith. Last night was one of those conversations that made me really think about what Lent is to me, what is my understanding of it. As a kid and clearly into my young adulthood, I got the ashes and talked the talk about giving up something but it didn’t mean much. Everyone was doing it.

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I think that Lent has become something akin to Labor Day or Memorial Day. Its true meaning has been lost in the chatter. Ash Wednesday is like New Year’s Day and Lent is a second chance at New Year’s resolutions. That is not its intended purpose.

To me, Lenten sacrifice is to remind believers of what Christ went through in the desert for 40 days prior to his crucifixion. Lent takes Catholics through our faith in 40 days ending in the heartbreaking Passion of the Christ, His sacrifice for our sins and the joy of the Resurrection.

It’s not a jump start on quitting smoking or dieting. Whatever little sacrifice we make during Lent is just a nudge. So when I want a bagel in the next hour, I’m reminded that I’m not going to have one and why I’m not having one. I am a pretty self-indulgent gal, which is why I’m hard to shop for (50th bday countdown: B minus 8), so actually imposing a restriction on myself isn’t common. Forty days isn’t much to ask to think about something other than the weather, Brian Williams, or what’s on Netflix (and those are all worthy topics).

Thanks to dear Derwood, I’m reminded that Lent can be and should be more than an empty ritual of my faith. I think about what I’m doing and WHY I am doing it in ways I really never bothered to before because, again, that’s was just the way it was.

prettycatholic

 

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Terror in France (and All Over the Place)

In 1793-94, the Reign of Terror led by Maximilien Robespierre resulted in the execution by guillotine of thousands of “enemies of the state”, as labeled by the Committee for Public Safety. The official number of death sentences served during the Terror is 16,594 infamously including Marie Antoinette of lemony cake fame.  According to the website HistoryToday:

For the first time in history terror  became an official government policy, with the stated aim to use violence in order to achieve a higher political goal. Unlike the later meaning of ‘terrorists’ as people who use violence against a government, the terrorists of the French Revolution were the government. The Terror was legal, having been voted for by the Convention.

Ironic that the use of terror as policy started in France. Not that the French government supports terror or has in centuries, but still an interesting bit of trivia. Honestly, nothing against France at ALL, just an observation.

I spent a semester of my junior year in college in Dijon, France. In 1986, there were terrorist bombings throughout France and Europe and the U.S. was battling Libya and Iran. One lovely spring day in 1986, I was walking home from class with one of my group’s French student advisers. I looked like a typical American goof ball in my Reebok high tops, drinking a Coke (because they didn’t have Diet Coke in France then), sporting a Sony Walkman and that’s all. No, I had clothes on, just joking. Christophe and I were walking down Rue Charles de Gaulle, chatting away and we passed a couple of guys of middle-Eastern descent who made some comments. I have no idea what they said. We kept on walking and then the Middle Eastern guys started yelling and chasing us and I realized they were yelling “You Fucking American” at ME. What?! Christophe and I took off running and we kept running past the house where I was staying so these assholes wouldn’t know where the American lived. We kept running till the jerks lost interest and turned around.

I'm just an 80s chick with a bad perm, what do you want from me?!

I’m just an 80s chick with a bad perm, what do you want from me?!

On Wednesday 12 people were killed in Paris by terrorists angered by magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons mocking Islam and the prophet Mohammed. Charlie Hebdo satirizes all religions but this tragedy was due to their cartoons regarding Islam.

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Sadly terrorism isn’t new to France and yesterday’s slaughter is the latest attack by Islamic terrorists on Western freedoms.

That’s what I think it all comes down to… Islam doesn’t like Western society’s freedoms of speech, assembly, religion and the press. They don’t like women having the right to an education or to be able to show their faces in public or to have a driver’s license.

Those of us of a certain age will remember what happened to Salman Rushdie upon the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. After a “fatwa” was issued against him, Rushdie went into hiding for 10 years. Rushdie, born to a Muslim family in India, wrote a book that Muslim clerics didn’t like and he was in fear for his life for 10 years. As a matter of fact, the fatwa was restored about a year ago but Rushdie is not going back into hiding.

The following quote is from an interview of Rushdie by the New York Times:

There have been arguments made even by liberal-minded people, which seem to me very dangerous, which are basically cultural relativist arguments: We’ve got to let them do this because it’s their culture. My view is no. Female circumcision — that’s a bad thing. Killing people because you don’t like their ideas — it’s a bad thing. We have to be able to have a sense of right and wrong which is not diluted by this kind of relativistic argument. And if we don’t we really have stopped living in a moral universe.

Read more from Rushdie here

Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 by a Dutch Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri, unhappy with Van Gogh’s film “Submission” criticizing Islam’s treatment of women. Van Gogh was shot about 10-12 times, then the killer slit his throat in an attempt to decapitate him.

It seems almost every day we hear about a journalist being kidnapped or beheaded by ISIS.

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head three times (and lived to tell about it) for daring to blog about her life under Taliban rule and for advocating education for girls. She is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and is going to turn the ripe old age of 18 this July.

There seems to be some commonality here. Islam is at war with the West and Western ideals no matter where in the world they are espoused. And I, like you I’m sure, am getting damn tired of it.

Yesterday I read quite a bit about the savage attack in Paris. My reading included comments steeped in what I think of as historical and moral relativism. What about the Inquisition? What about slavery? What about the awful things done in the name of Christianity? What about the treatment of Native Americans? Blah. Blah. Blah.

Those things happened and they were awful but the glory of time is that it continues to move forward and civilization moves with it. Forward, better, new, improved. If the Inquisition was still going on. If Americans were still owning slaves. So on and so forth, then all of that ugliness could be compared to Islamic terror today but they’re not.

I am a practicing Catholic and I was horribly upset by the sexual abuse (rape) scandal in the Church that was going on long before I was born but really came to a head in the US in the 1990s. I never once sided with the priests or the Church hierarchy. I spoke out loudly against the abuse and the cover up. I refused to give money to the Archdiocese of Portland because I was not going to waste a penny on their legal expenses. Millions of Catholics in the U.S. and around the globe raised Holy Hell about the scandal and demanded recourse and change. It’s not over but it is glacially moving in the right direction.

catholics

Where are the millions of peaceful Muslims protesting the terrorism done in the name of their religion? Where is their Million Man March? Why are they not turning in those they know are terrorists and reporting those they suspect? Why are they not decrying the wearing of burkas by women and demanding that women everywhere deserve the same rights as men? Why are there no Islamic uprisings against stoning of women and girls? I don’t see it. I am told this is a peaceful religion and if that is true the peaceful branch must retake their religion from the savages that are causing death and chaos around the globe.

There is plenty of evil throughout the world but I ask anyone to name another group who is actively at war with modern Western civilization like these Islamic savages are.

I’ve been in trouble here before and I’m sure I will be in trouble again but this is my house and I’ll write what I want to write, just as everyone should. Ross Douthat wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said.”

voltaire

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A Miraculous Good Friday to You!

Ten years ago on Good Friday my dad was dying. Not like, he was sick and frail and was going to die soon. Dying. Multiple organ failure and that Friday his kidneys were beginning to fail. Renal failure generally means you aren’t long for this world. He had been ill for weeks. My parents came home early from Palm Springs, a trip he never had any memory of. When they returned to Portland they went to St. Vincent’s hospital for testing and then home and then back to the hospital for close to two weeks and that was when the organ failure from congestive heart failure almost got him.

I was married to Mitch then, stay-at-home mom and the girls were 4 and 6. I remember Matea, the cleaning lady (who was only in her 20s at the time) was working. My father “discovered” her. She called him “Sir”, even when referring to him. “How is Sir?” instead of “How is your father?” Matea has a thriving business today and I will say that is in no small part due to my father’s efforts to spread the word about how great she is. Anyway, Matea was at the house, all 4’10” of her and she said, “I so sorry Maggie” and I fell apart and cried all over her.

Good Friday is a horribly sad day. This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, I teared up as I do every year at the reading of the Passion.

‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’

That line gets me every time. Jesus was human and he knew what was coming and reeeaaallly did not want to do it.  The story is so awful. A good man was taunted, tortured, and murdered. He was abandoned by those He trusted. What a dark and empty day. And that is how I felt, that day in 2004. So sad and scared.

I have a strong faith and I have never asked “God, why are you doing this?” When the shit comes down, I’m not blaming God,  I’m praying for God’s support and when necessary just letting Him handle it because I can’t. This is the season of miracles and back in 2004, the miracle came in the form of Dr. H. Dr. H was a friend of my dad’s and also the Chief of Internal Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital. And he had one more thing to throw into the mix and if that didn’t work, we would have to say goodbye to my Dad and I knew none of us were ready for that.

And on the third day he rose again. “He”, in this case, being my father. On Easter Sunday, the nuclear antibiotic that was being IV’d into my dad began working and brought him back! Miracles don’t have to be supernatural, sometimes miracles are trained professionals and modern medicine. Sometimes miracles are foster parents or paramedics. Sometimes miracles are good Samaritans or teachers or friends or dogs or technology. And I always thank God whenever a miracle happens.

adorable-candy-help-distract-easter-ecard-someecards

In other Holy Week news. Derwood is being confirmed into the Church tomorrow night. That amazes me. I certainly didn’t ask him to convert, this is something he has been thinking about long before he met me and this is the year he’s doing it. I can’t imagine picking a religion and putting it on. To me, it is a true leap of faith. And when you throw Catholicism into the mix, dear God!

The Catholic Church is a mess just as any huge bureaucracy is a mess and I have been appalled at the priest sex abuse scandal, the coverup, the greed, etc of the humans who run the organization that is the Catholic Church but it has never affected my faith. I love Catholicism because you always have the chance to start over. Every single day. I don’t find the Church to be one of hellfire and damnation but one of forgiveness. No matter how far gone you may feel, you can always start over again. There is always that opportunity to live a little longer, a little better, a little happier.

We had my dad with us for another year and a half. That was a miracle.

Derwood is taking on the mystery of faith tomorrow night and that to me is a miracle. I am so proud and so in awe of his decision. And he will have his new beginning, which I’m sure will rub off on this ol’ cradle Catholic and give me a new perspective and interest in my faith and religion.

Happy Easter. I hope the renewal and miracle of Easter stays with you throughout the year.

 

Just two Catholics just takin' a selfie.

Two Catholics just takin’ a selfie.

 

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The Miracle of Elephant Eating

How do you eat an elephant?

You know, because an elephant is really, really big and could weigh up to 12,000 lbs, so it would be really tough to plan an eating strategery. I doubt anyone would want to eat a real live elephant so let’s instead ask, “how do you eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie?’ Let’s say, you are a 120 lb girl and you want to eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie, a cookie that weighs 100 times what you do. That’s a big job. How do you tackle something so daunting?

Photo courtesy Pinterest.

Prettiest Elephant Cookie Ever. Photo courtesy Pinterest.

The answer: one bite at a time.

That question has been the theme of Katie’s recovery. Katie, my daughter’s friend, who was in a serious car accident the night of November 15. Please see here and here.  Katie is in the process of eating the elephant cookie, of recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Because I am old and jaded and have seen enough, I get very nervous when there are no Katie updates. The silence scares me. The first update was that Katie was being put into a medically-induced coma to help with the swelling in her brain. What concerned me was what wasn’t being said. Every time I expressed the slightest doubt or concern, Annie (my daughter) would tell me “She’s going to be fine. Why are you looking on the dark side?” OK. I will continue to think good thoughts and have faith that Miss Katie will recover.

She had surgery on her pelvis and bladder. She had a feeding tube put in and a tracheotomy so she could breath without an apparatus on her face.  Bite, bite, chew, chew, bite and bite.  There goes a bit off the elephant cookie’s ear.

Everyone continues praying and thinking good thoughts and sending positive energy, wrapping Katie and her sister and parents in love and support. Katie is taken off the coma-inducing meds but stays in a coma of her own making. Her brain is in charge now and it has decided that her energy must be focused inward so she will be staying inside for the time being.

Katie moved her fingers. Not a lot but she did.

Katie opened her eyes. She did not awake, but she opens her eyes.

Chomp, Chomp….

Katie is moved from the Trauma ICU floor to the Trauma floor of the hospital.

CHOMP!

The next benchmark is for Katie’s eyes to track. I suppose that means to follow movement. I think she has begun to do that.

Then yesterday there came this update:

Katie has taken another bite of the elephant! Yesterday, Katie gave us a gift! Her father was doing PT on Katie’s legs and she was looking right at him. He gave Katie the “I Love You” hand sign that he has given her nightly since she was a baby. Katie lifted her right hand and returned the “I Love You” sign! We haven’t seen anything else from Katie since yesterday, but SHE IS IN THERE!
Katie is still in a coma, but she continues to take small steps forward in her recovery marathon. We are asking for prayers for Katie’s nose to clear so she can continue to breathe with ease. Please pray to help her brain continue to heal. Katie is making baby steps toward tracking with her eyes and we are patiently hopeful that Katie will start following simple commands. Pray for Katie to awaken from her coma.

This is the season of hustle and bustle and shopping and cooking and partying. I remember when I used to have Christmas lists that were as long as my arm but as I have aged and had kids, I can’t think of anything that I want for Christmas. I know that is a hassle for people who ask me what I want but anything or nothing is fine with me, I don’t need a thing.  With all the bustle of the season, it is easy to forget that for many Christmas time is the season of miracles.  On December 25, those who believe celebrate a miracle. A miraculous gift of life and love in the birth of Jesus Christ. But there are miracles every day. Some as small as the twitch of a finger and others as large as the movement of a hand. Miracles.

I can’t imagine being Katie’s dad yesterday. I would imagine that December 10, 2013 is the best day of his life probably even better than the day Katie was born because she let him know she’s in there!!! She is not lost. What a gift. What a miracle. What a heartwarming, heartfilling reminder of what is most important in this life.

And because it is one of my most favorite Christmas minutes.

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Sorrowful, Hopeful, Thankful

As I wrote here last week, on the night of November 15, three girls who are juniors in high school and friends of my daughter, Annie, were in a serious head-on car accident. Sadly, the accident was caused by a teen driver who was in the wrong lane. Miraculously, the passengers in two of the cars were unhurt. As far as the girls who were in the car, in the wrong lane: the driver had to be cut out of the car and taken to the hospital where she stayed for a day or two, the front seat passenger got out of the car by herself, was checked out at the hospital and released; and the third passenger, Katie, was in the back seat.  She is still in the hospital in a coma and has had surgeries to repair her pelvis and bladder.

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SORROWFUL

I am so sad for the girls, their families and friends.

It would be easy to judge the 16-year-old driver who set these events in motion. I’m not going to do that. She is hurting enough. No one can punish her as harshly as she is punishing herself. One of her best friends is still in the hospital. Just like any mother, I want to shake this girl and say “what on earth were you thinking?” and then squeeze her and beg her to forgive herself. Don’t let this event define her but allow herself to learn from it and to teach others from her experience.

I pulled way too many stupid teenage driving tricks back in the ’80s to get too high and mighty about a horrible situation like this. When I was 16, I was driving to a volleyball game at Oregon City High School, to the south of Lake Oswego. I was confused about which ramp to take to get where I wanted to go. When I reached the end of the ramp and realized I was about to get on a freeway that I did not want to be on, I made a quick decision. What did I do? I turned the big old station wagon around and drove BACK DOWN the ramp, against traffic. I sure did! Nope, I wasn’t hit by a semi. There wasn’t another car in sight! I could go on and on about stupid things I’ve done behind the wheel of a car but I think I’ve made my point. My number hasn’t come up. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes.

So the poor driver of the car in the accident two weeks ago, could have made it back to her lane and gone on with the evening. But that’s not what happened. There was another car. It’s just how it goes.

My heart breaks everyday for Katie’s family. I think of her mother sitting next to her daughter’s hospital bed praying, begging for her to open her eyes, to be okay. I imagine her disbelief. This can’t be my daughter!  This is NOT what was supposed to happen, don’t let this be happening. Last week, I was thinking about this while walking into the house after work and my breath caught in my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I felt this horrible desperation. I don’t even know these people but I want to scream and shake somebody, fix this girl! Make this stop. Heal her and make her whole. She’s only 17.

HOPEFUL

The Power of Prayer. The POWER of PRAYER. I have heard those words plenty and typically scoffed at them. I was raised a Catholic and still practice the faith. I was taught to say my prayers at night, “Bless Annie and Brigid and Deren and Q and John and Katie and Molly, Matt and Sebastian and on and on.” I’ve prayed to not get in trouble. I’ve prayed to get a job or pass a test. I’ve prayed that he would like me or that I would get that new sweater.

But the Power of Prayer? I don’t know about that.

Years ago, a priest during mass asked parishioners to “pray for those in your family who have left their faith that they will return to the Church.” Or something like that. I thought to myself, “Or I could just go call whoever it is and say, ‘get back to church!” Who needs to pray when there are cell phones?

As I have aged, I have become more aware of my own helplessness. I can do what I can do. I can do my best to raise kind and responsible children. I can donate time and money and clothes and hope that it helps someone somewhere. But I am just me and I have learned I don’t have the power  to fix everything as a younger, more foolish me once believed.

Over the past 10 days, I have learned the power of prayer. Of quiet, fervent, sincere prayer. I’m not the most regular church goer but I go. Last week I went to two rosaries and to Mass. I had Sunday’s Mass said for Katie and her family.  What else can I do? These families don’t need casseroles or gift baskets or all the wine I can fit in my car, they need their girls to heal physically and emotionally.

I can pray.

I will renew you, so you can soar. Isaiah 40:29-31

I have never seen a spiritual outpouring like the one I have seen in the past 10 days. There is a Facebook page for Katie. There is a CaringBridge page. Say what you will about Facebook, but people are writing their hearts and prayers on that site. Words from friends and family and classmates and strangers pour in hourly. And that’s what can be done….hope, inspire, encourage. That’s all. There are people in Lake Oswego and Portland, all over Oregon and the West Coast, around the U.S. and around the world praying for Katie and the other two girls (I am not mentioning them by name because their names are not out in the public realm like Katie’s is and it’s not up to me to put them there.)

Every night, every morning, it seems almost always… I am praying and hoping she will be okay.

The doctors said that they have seen signs that Katie may be healing, coming back. There is hope!

lordwillfight

THANKFUL

Why do reminders have to be so harsh? I don’t often need to be reminded to be thankful. Sometimes I need perspective. I need to realize that what is an inconvenience is just that. It’s not the end of the world, it’s simply a hassle. Last night Derwood and I walked Mudd around the circle. The neighborhood was quiet, the sky clear and full of stars. It was cold but I had on gloves and a jacket. It was just a walk around the circle and I thought, “This is so easy, it’s so nice. I am so lucky.”

Here in the U.S. on Thursday people will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. A holiday, like so many here, that has lost its meaning to food and a day or two off work.   I will do my best to remember all I have to be thankful for….I will have my children safe and warm and with me. I will know my loved ones are healthy and well-fed! I will be robustly grateful for God’s blessings and I will continue to pray that He will bless Katie and her family and all the families touched by this accident. Because that’s what I can do.

Right?? So I am grateful.

Right??

Misc. Maggie

Miss me?

See what I did there? Oh, I haven’t lost it! Not by a long shot!

Speaking of long shots, did you hear the one about the Pope that resigned without warning? The first Pope in 600 years to resign?  The Pope who changed the American liturgy and then bailed? That one?

Who do you like for next Pope? Here’s the last Pope bracket brought to you by “I can’t believe it’s not Jesus!” As soon as this is updated for the surprise resignation, I will get it to you.

popebracket

So I’ve been MIA for awhile. I’ve been working on a contract job for an auction to be held this Saturday the 16th (coincidentally my father’s 89th birthday except he’s dead. He always said “if I weren’t this old, I’d be dead.” And he was right.)

I’ve been working very hard on the auction project and the week before that, I had to do work at my job!! What the hell, right?!

I’m free now so I’m back. Do you have a friend(s) that you don’t see very often but then when you do, you almost talk over one another because you have so much to say? The conversation is full of non-sequiturs and bad segués and tangents? I actually have a couple of friends that I see regularly and we still are like that because we never seem to run out of things to say.

That’s how I feel right now. I have been gone so long and have so much to write.

Last I left you, I had applied for a job at St. Mary’s Academy as Special Events Director. I would rock that job. I do every single thing in the job description. It’s been a long time since I applied for a job that I knew I was 110% qualified to do. That I wouldn’t have to go to the interview and bullshit my way through my qualifications, skills and experience. Yet, I didn’t even get an interview. At least, not that I’ve heard and they started reviewing resumes on Jan. 28. What could have gone wrong?

I have given it some thought. I should have gotten an interview. This job was posted three months ago and they either didn’t fill it or they did and someone quit or got fired so they had to open up the listing again. I should have gotten an interview. EXCEPT for one thing….

My blog is posted on my LinkedIn page.

Perhaps they didn’t like my blog. Perhaps they wouldn’t appreciate the Pope-A-Palooza. But that shit’s funny. I’d like to say I’m in a quandary about what to think or do about this. Do I remove the link to my blog on my LinkedIn page? Do I censor myself so that I don’t offend potential employers? They won’t find me on Facebook because I have a fake Facebook name (because I don’t want everyone I went to high school with to find me, that’s why.) Have you run into this issue in the digital age?

I’ve thought about it and nope. I’m not going to do it. If potential employers Google me and don’t like what they see, then they don’t want me and I most definitely do not want them. And I am positive that it is their loss.

Also, I think about a job like Director of Special Events. That’s a real job with a real salary. A salary that, while not huge, would definitely make my life much easier. It would also mean that I work more than 40 hours a week, that I have to be on time to work and probably have to wear pantyhose and that is not a move I’m willing to make.

I’m dedicating 2013 to expanding my contract fundraising work. I will hopefully hear this week on a job with Dress for Success, which is a charity I enthusiastically support so would be thrilled to work for them. My original goal for 2013 was five new contract clients. I also want to work more with my Aunt Shanere (auctioneer) and hopefully transition out of this job to do work where I am busy and know I have the expertise to actually help my clients.

Misc. Mash

A date has been set. Derwood and I are getting married on Saturday, May 18. I’m looking for a dress similar to this one but not really.

It's my second marriage so I don't have to wear white.

It’s my second marriage so I don’t have to wear white.

I have been going to Weight Watchers and have lost 6.4 lbs total. I need to lose 20 more before May 18. That should be grueling.

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How the Game Should Be Played

Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Robert Fulghum

The game may be dodge ball. The game may be Mystery Date. The game may be life (not the game of Life but life as we know it, like living everyday). The game may be blogging; in this case, it is blogging.

When I started this blog, I didn’t get a rule sheet from WordPress on how to do it. WP offers tips and tricks and advice on blogging but I haven’t read those because I don’t like to read true things. I assume I’m doing okay until someone informs me that I’m not.

I have only had one confrontation on WordPress, one serious, nasty confrontation. And happily that blog has been removed from my and most everyone I associate with blogrolls. Sure, I have had disagreements. I have voiced an opposing viewpoint but that is public discourse and I do my best to adhere to the rules of civil public discourse. I am happy to agree to disagree.

Over the Christmas season, I made the decision to stop reading my friend Le Clown’s blog. This was difficult for me because we are so totally friends, I have like totally talked to him on the phone before. So bite that, all you wannabe amies du Clown.  Eric is a friend. We come from very different ends of the political spectrum. Agree to disagree. He’s Canadian. I’m deceased descended from a Canadian. He is a parent and I am a parent. We are both laugh out loud, wet your pants, gaggingly hilarious. But still I had to stop visiting his blog. I actually opted to not even get alerts from his blog because it bummed me out that I wasn’t going to read it.

sorry

Why did this happen?

Eric, who was raised in a Catholic household but is no longer a practicing Catholic, decided to make a bold statement on his blog about the commercialization of Christmas and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. Le Clown is known for pushing envelopes all over the place, as a matter of fact (not really), I just found one under my desk. I typically, grin and shake my head, “ahhh Le Clown, you rascal.” But not this time. My friend’s Christmas statement included a mast head of the crucifixion but in Eric’s version, Jesus, and the two other criminals nailed to the crosses, wore photo-shopped Santa Hats.

Let’s set aside the fact that the crucifixion is for Easter not Christmas and just look at the problem I was having. I couldn’t look at those images. I felt guilty (I know, I’m Catholic) just seeing them. I felt that if I were reading that blog, that I was tacitly okaying blasphemy. I’m not the best Catholic in the world at all but I do have a strong and devout faith. This image was nauseating and so ugly to me, I couldn’t overlook it. I couldn’t give it a pass. I abhor plenty of the Catholic Church’s actions and stances but I have faith in the birth, life and death of Jesus, the Son of God. I am comforted by the ritual of the Mass…until the Church changed the words a year ago, thanks for that Benedict.

I made the decision to stop visiting my friend’s blog. He noticed I was gone and understood why. I didn’t post a comment lecturing him on his choice of mast head. I knew Eric was not trying to hurt or upset me, even though he had. The masthead made me sick so I decided not to look at it. I vehemently disagreed with Le Clown’s statement but I will always defend his right to make it.

I get so tired of people bitching about banning this or that TV show, website, video game, etc. Censorship is not the answer. Vote with your feet, your wallet, your mouse….don’t watch it. Don’t buy it. Don’t visit your friend’s blog. That’s all.

BUT here comes the good part. Here is the reason that my friend Eric is a force on WordPress and I know is going places with his career and his writing and all of his Magnificent (I don’t know how to make that TM thingy Eric so shut it) projects.

He heard and understood what many of his readers were telling him. He took down the masthead and….wait for it…. he apologized for hurting and upsetting his friends and readers. Here is his post. Read it. This lesson applies to blogs and non-blogs, to situations and relationships on and off line. “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” That sounds easy but we all know that apologizing is hard. Swallowing your pride and admitting you went too far whether it is on line with the blogging community or with your kids or your best friend or the check out girl at the grocery store; it’s not easy but it is the right thing to do and you will win the respect of others. More importantly, you will know that you did the right thing.

“Sorry” is a powerful word and should not be overused lest it lose its import. The Catholic Church has a rule about making a “Good” confession. Sure, you can go confess whatever the hell you want and you will get penance and, as many think, Ta DAH… you’re all done. You’re all clear. Wait a minute though, if you are just saying you’re sorry and you don’t mean it and you know you’re going to go right out and do it again, that confession means nothing. The penance means nothing. There is no reconciliation.

Any confession, any apology must be sincere or it is meaningless.

Merci, mon ami, Le Clown. You are an example of what it means to be a good human.

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