Friday, January 29, 2016

Strawberry tower

Sunday mornings -
after the endless, mind-numbing Mass -
our then-family of six
would race the few blocks
from the church over
to the Village Inn restaurant
for breakfast.

The privilege and extreme treat
of going out was allegedly
completely dependent on us
kids behaving during the service.

If we had ALL been successful at
not fidgeting in our itchy dresses
on hard wooden pews
through the interminable droning
of the priest and mystifying,
eternal rituals of sitting/standing/kneeling,

   (and had resisted
   the urge to pinch or tickle a sister or
   even give her a look out of the corner of one's eye
   or cried because one was just too
   little to sit still for over an hour
   or rustled the pages of the missal too loudly
   or kicked one's shoes
   against the kneeler or floor or
   the pew in front of you - horrors!
   or fiddled with the lace/hat pinned
   to unruly curls -
   the list of infractions was
   interminable and ever evolving
   as well),

it was time for fun!

Four little heads bent over the
coloring place mats provided by
a friendly waitress, busily employing
crayons to tint pictures, connect dots,
and (for older ones) figure out mystery
words and puzzles while our parents
murmured and sipped coffee.

But the best part was the pancakes.

This was before we had discovered
the mandatory glories of bacon.

Pancakes as big as a plate,
heavily decorated with the whipped
cream stylings of the day's cook
with strawberries strewn in decadent
abandon over the crisp tender disks.

Powering through this sugary treasure,
one carefully and thoroughly chewed
dainty bites of sweetness at a time, savoring
the cream, the cakey richness,
and the fresh jeweled fruit, delicately
dusted with powdered sugar.

Never imagining that some day,
I would be sitting at work, sipping a
protein shake, typing away,
while visions of strawberry tower
breakfasts with my little sisters would
sweeten my memories.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Electronically cradled

"They" say that we are
too plugged in and
have fatally isolated ourselves
with our use of
and dependence on
screens and devices.

I beg to differ.

I have never felt as loved
as uplifted
as cheered on
as understood
as I am now by my family and friends
fellow travelers
in the virtual world.

This connectivity may seem superficial to
but to me,
it is deeply meaningful
to get texts, calls, emails, and messages
24 hours a day
from family and friends,
local and international,
missives bursting with information,
moral support,
emotional underpinning my day
and my life
every day.

I never feel lonely, abandoned, or
suicidally indifferent

(like I used to.)

I am loved.

The electronica also assist me
to be organized, to be my 'brain'
in remembering my commitments
and tasks and anniversaries,
and indeed, the Web is like a
part of my mind -
an external storage of sorts
for anything I
ever wanted to know,
on tap
in an instant.

It even seems that God can use
the Internet and all these inventions
to further His hopes and purpose
for us because now,
not only is His Word disseminated
more fully and farther than ever
in human history,
the intuitive thought of another
is the deed in moments,
as I reach out to others
in likewise manner
to lift them up from their reclusive despair
to celebrate their victories and achievements.

Of course, anything can be used or perceived
in negative or harmful ways, but that is the
fault of the user, not the means.

I observe those that are NOT plugged in
as the ones who are missing out
and isolating themselves
from the love and care of
the world.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Much ado about "I do"

How intoxicating it is
to take in the sheer excitement  and
well wishes of others
upon hearing the news of our engagement.

In looking back, I realize
that no one has ever, ever
been excited for me in these matters.

In the past, most folks
(especially those I am related to)
have looked at me askance and muttered reluctant
congratulations, or even went so far as to
roll their eyes and belligerently state
'if that's what you want.'

(Thanks a lot for nothing. You know who you are.)

Today, I truly believe that the energy and intentions
of others, of the those who are supposed to be
our intimates and family, affect each of us significantly.

Right or wrong, good or bad,
I am certain that the energy and hopes of others will
affect this new liaison in
a profoundly positive way.

Thank you, thank you, all of you,
for loving us.

Friday, January 8, 2016

When 'faith' isn't enough...and never was

A decision that was twenty years in the making
spending most of those years wearing out
my knees and my (rosary) beads
praying for understanding, acceptance, faith.

I did all the things that were suggested to me
or taught to me as 'supposed to' do's...

I faithfully attended Mass
confessed my 'sins' and thoughts
sang and prayed my heart out
volunteered and served as
lector, cantor, choir member, eucharistic minister,
religious ed teacher, RCIA sponsor, and
even was gainfully employed by the church
for five years.

I went on searches and hosted retreats,
attended parish missions and meetings,
chaperoned youth trips and conferences.
bible study and Bingo,
joined and started prayer groups,
Christian singles groups,
cooked for funerals and church dinners,
oversaw the nurseries, everything...

Everything that was asked.

Yet, when it came down to it

I didn't get it

I could see others seemed to have
I never did
though I pretended mightily
(and successfully, it seemed.)

Even though I had carefully and devoutly
followed the instructions.

During those empty years
of struggling, discerning, and serving,
I had a secret life, though not so secret
where there were other activities
that were perhaps not acceptable
to the faithful.


Out of many, many reasons, I was exploring,
for answers,
for completion,
for relief from the doubt, fear, and anguish
of not believing despite seeking
of finding no peace where I was assured there was much to be had
of realizing that no one really wanted to hear what was going on with me
   the hurts, the betrayals, the neglect of early years
of giving my all and then, when troubled, receiving nothing back
   except condemnation and judgment.

I was just supposed to offer all of the hurt and disappointment and betrayal up and
go on

But I could not go on, despite offering 'it' up.

So I went through the motions, hoping for results and relief
and when none came,
bandaged the gaping places
in my soul with the things of this world
especially alcohol.

Those didn't work either, though it felt like it, for brief periods.


One day, I was presented with a different approach
to life and belief, different from the church and in stark contrast to
the secret life of alcohol and supposed immorality,

Eventually, finally, I took a chance on the new suggestions



the holes began to close, the past began to recede
and then disappear,
healed by the meetings, writings, and fellowship of
like minded individuals,
patience, prayer, empathy,

I was filled to overflowing and loved by
a compassionate, unconditional God
who was not punishing or controlling or capricious,
a God I did not know existed and would have never
found if I had not dared to step away from the other.

I healed. I am whole. I am happy. I am useful.


So don't tell me what to believe or how to live.

Your way did not work. It only hurt me more

almost to my death.

And it was not the only path, despite your surety that it is.

The new way fulfills me.

And I'm tired of being tormented about it, however subtly and gently.

To a healed fragile soul, working to strengthen itself,
subtle and gentle is almost worse than rape and abuse.