4/8 – Making Time for G-d

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​Entrance Antiphon

To you I call; for you will surely heed me, O God; turn your ear to me; hear my words. Guard me as the apple of your eye; in the shadow of your wings protect me. Cf. Ps 17 (16):6, 8

Luke 18:1-8 

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary [1]. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

[1] Emphasis mine.
In my priest’s homily on this most recent Sunday, he asked for us to make time for G-d in our daily lives. Like the widow in going to the dishonest judge, we should go to G-d with a consistency and persistency that can’t be ignored, but more than that, our consistency and persistency isn’t only for G-d to hear, but for us to project.

Looking at our everyday lives, some weeks, and days, it’s easier to find time for G-d, but how often do we make time for G-d?

Some weeks have a built in time and space for G-d and for our prayer and meditation. For me, this week, I have three times already built in. Sunday’s weekly mass, Monday’s anointing or healing mass, and Tuesday night’s Living Rosary.

As I write this, it is after that night of the Living Rosary. I went last year as well, and it is a very beautiful event. It is 56 people holding candles in a circle reciting the rosary. I sat down, said hello to my Sunday seatmate who was also there when one of the choir came over and asked if I wanted to participate. Um…no. I blinked and turned around. “What exactly would. I need to do?” That is how I became a Hail Mary bead and part of the living rosary. I will probably volunteer next year.

It’s not just time for G-d, but keeping an open heart when He calls us to Him.

What other ways can I make the time to include G-d in my day?

One way is this piece of writing. I have four more after this post until we reach the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Yea of Mercy. I will continue to think about mercy and meditate on the past year, but in these next five posts (including this one) I have a weekly session thinking about G-d’s mercy and love.

I can choose two days at home to pray the rosary. This month is the month of the rosary, a time that we can feel closer to Mary and consequently her son and His Father.

Looking out of the window at the brightness of the leaves, holding tight to the branches even in the breeze; the reds and oranges glowing like fire, the ones that have fallen spreading a carpet across the front yard. How can I not think of G-d in those simple moments?

He is all around me, and the more consistently that I think on Him, search for Him, and see Him in all the spaces that I inhabit, the more persistently He comes to me and spreads his mercy on my like a blanket of leaves, nature and warmth and His love.

50-29 – Wales, The First Time

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​When I first arrived in Wales many years ago, I didn’t know how profoundly it would affect me and change my viewpoint of everything. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the word for what I was feeling: hiraeth. Hiraeth isn’t homesickness, but a longing, a yearning for one’s homeland, and it is not so much that you know it when you feel it, but the emotion of hiraeth is so much more than its literal definition. In fact, it doesn’t really have a literal definition, but a broad emotional meaning. It’s spiritual.

Wales, that first time, was in so many ways, a surprise. I wanted to visit a castle, not realizing that the castles I associated with Wales were English castles used to subjugate the Welsh people rather than built by the Welsh to protect them and their interests.

Wales is a surprise, and never what you’d expect. If you expect rain, the sun will shine. If they say hill, they mean mountain. Their lifeblood is slate and coal, daffodils and leeks, but most of all the people. It’s palpable. No matter where you are in North Wales it seems that you can see the mountains. The English call it Snowdon, but it is Eriyi in Welsh – the haunt of eagles. So much more evocative, isn’t it? So much more poetic like the Welsh lilt and cadence.

That cadence of the Welsh tongue is much like the valleys and peaks of Wales itself. They know their history and remember their independence, although that mostly ended in 1282 with the beheading of Llywelyn the Last and the drawing and quartering of his brother, Dafydd, their blood as much a part of the land as the craggly rocks and the rivers.

My first trip to Wales came about by accident. Luck. Fate even. I was asked to join my college roommate in England. Sure, why not? Of course, there was more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. I borrowed the money from my brother, who was better at keeping his than I was with mine and off I went.

My roommate asked me what I wanted to do. My only response was, “I don’t care. I want to see Stonehenge and a castle; I don’t care about the rest. I’ll follow you.” She planned it all through trains and buses and hitchhiking, hostels and B&Bs. I followed along, collecting pictures and memories.

We made our way from London at this first day of 1987, a new year. We went westward and south and west again, and eventually entered Wales. I don’t remember crossing the border but Wales was different. Welsh had made a resurgence so all the signs were bilingual. I began keeping a little dictionary in my journal although no one made us speak in consonants. W is a vowel by the way, but that’s another memory.

Wales was different.

The air was different.

The sky was different.

The sheep were different.

It didn’t rain in Wales; at least not the Wales I was in. This was January, and Britain was grey; very grey. It held the first patch of blue sky I’d seen in the two weeks I’d been on this island. It was that perfect cloud peppered Crayola sky blue color that exists nowhere else, its reflection off the quarries deepening it and the snow evening out its perfection. It must be special.

But the sky wasn’t all that made it special. There was a feeling I’d never experienced before, not deja vu, but I had been here before. I don’t know how or if, but physically I’d never, but I was.

How can everyone not feel it?

It was overpowering. I needed to be here, high in the mountains, midnight hikes, counting the stars, not having an historical clue, but knowing that I walked in the footsteps of ancestors, of family, of specialness, feeling as though I’d taken these steps before. This wasn’t restless spirits like I’ve felt at other historical holy places; these were memories, memories of feelings.

Crazy, I know.

There was a weightlessness, a joyful singing in my soul that nothing else compares to. I only imagine this is something of the feeling that people get when they travel to Israel, but I don’t actually know.

It is my spiritual home, an ancestry I wasn’t born to, but I was called on to feel, to be a part of,  to let inside and settle into my soul. It is always there, this feeling of Wales and the Welsh, the people as much a part of the land, and as much a part of me as my own children.

When I went back almost twenty-three years later, I found the feelings still strong with only my research and readings that gave me more context and made it more tangible to breathe in. My footsteps following Welsh princes, understanding how remote a castle stronghold really was breathing the same air, wondering if I would ever understand these feelings.

Even home, I get fleeting glimpses through a looking glass – the wet colored leaves on a rural road and I forget that I’m not in Wales. The hesitation at a roundabout, confused about which way to enter it. The tree outside my church’s window when it rains – it is always a surprise and always a physical reaction and then I realize it’s through a window and I’m not in Wales. These come upon me through no special thought, but there is the realization that Wales is a part of me and who I am, and maybe one day I’ll find out why and maybe even how I have this connection.

50-28 – Like a Birthday or a Pretty View

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High school was a time for friends and music and concerts. I still feel the ramifications of standing too close to a speaker in a closed building listening to The Stray Cats. Now that was an experience and an amazing memory.

There was Berlin, the Thompson Twins and others, but none more important to my life as the five Brits known (and still known) as Duran Duran. Named for Doctor Duran in Barbarella. With their hair and their makeup, their synth pop. The three unrelated Taylors, Nick Rhodes, and Simon LeBon creating music that was danceable and singable, but also moving and inspirational, a creative catalyst for my writing and exploring what was barely in my mind’s eye, but that wanted to come out in ways.

My friends and I would go to the park, climb up on the big stage at the amphitheatre. They would play their air instruments, and I would take their pictures using my air camera.

Click, whirr is the sound a camera makes, and I was the paparazzi following them on tour.

We were 100 Club, and we opened for Duran Duran. We wrote creative fiction, not song fic, maybe closer to fan fiction. Mine was a murder mystery – Murder at the Odeon. and it was my second moment of fandom and writing colliding.

Duran Duran also contributed to our creativity with their videos – The Chauffer, Night Boat. Their videos told stories that encouraged us to tell our own stories.

My current text notification is Late Bar, one of my favorite songs from them, conjuring up holes in walls, drinking, and mystey. It influenced a poem I wrote for the yearbook called Spies, which in turn encouraged a new Dungeons and Dragons game that was called Top Secret that was role playing for secret agents and government spies.

Their Hungry Like the Wolf was very much like Indiana Jones and New Moon on Monday reminded me of those undercover agents sneaking around foreign lands.

Thirty odd years later and I still listen to them. They remind me of high school, and college but they also fill me with new bouts of creativity and writing inspiration.

50-27 – Ice Storms

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When we first moved into our house in 1977, we had a ridiculously big ice storm. All the trees were weighed down from the crystal encompassing branches and whatever leaves were left on the trees. We lost power, and at some point we piled into our car and drove to my Grandmother’s house. She wasn’t too far, about twenty to thirty minutes, and I don’t recall how the roads were other than my usually wild anxiety of we shouldn’t be going out in this weather.

But Grandma had power and we didn’t and so we went to use her heat and to visit her and my uncle and my great-grandmother.It stayed in my mind, and after she moved and we continued to have bad winter weather over the years, I wondered where we would go to warm up when we inevitably lost power again.

Fast forward to the winter of 2008. It was our second year in our new house. The ice landed on the roof, froze, and got so heavy that it slid off onto our front stoop. We discovered that we could not use our front door throughout the winters. The danger of getting an ice concussion was too great. In fact, it was so heavy and fell so hard that it broke our wrought iron handrail, making it more or less useless.

We lost power early in the day, and everyone, including our three children, aged two, four, and eleven were bundled up as if we were going sledding or building a snowman. We were sitting in our living room under the covers, waiting for the power to come back on.

We waited all day.

We waited most of the evening, and then, after much discussion and argument found out that there was a Red Cross shelter at the high school in the village near our town.

Despite the ice covering every conceivable surface, taking down trees and power lines, the roads were remarkably clear.They would be dry from the bright sunshine the next morning although we still would not have power.

We gathered the diaper bag, a fanny pack for my stuff, and found ourselves in a new situation, waiting in line at the shelter, signing in, getting supplies from the volunteers who didn’t know how their own homes were faring.

They were kind and managed to entertain the kids when I had reached my limit. It was the most stressful experience I think I’d ever had in my life. It was surreal. There were a few other kids there, but not many. My oldest son and middle guy went to the game room and played with them while my baby girl alternated from running around in circles, crying, and being the nuisance that new walkers do, but that seems so much worse when you’re stuck in a place.

When it was time to sleep, there were cots and pillows and blankets, but my daughter wouldn’t sleep. She cried, and I had to leave the gym to rock her to sleep even though she wouldn’t go to sleep. If I sat in a chair and rocked her, she stayed quiet for short bursts.

We stayed there for two nights and moved to a new shelter at a local college for most of the next night. We were able to go home. Our gas was working so we were able to take hot showers and change our clothes. We also cleared out our refridgerator, throwing all the food away. Our house was freezing but still not cold enough to keep the food sustained. We had just gone grocery shopping in anticpation of the storm and it was two weeks before Christmas. It was a trying time.

The little ones were given stuffed animals – Mickey Mouse’s to help them feel comfortable. They were also given Red Cross fleece blankets that we still have and pull out on those really cold nights.

The Red Cross people were amazing.

My friend started a collection and gave us a Walmart gift card for almost $450 to get groceries at their supermarket.

As difficult as that weekend was for all of us, it showed us what was important, and how kind and supportive our friends could be as well as the kindness of strangers who uprooted their lives to help all of us.

We see it with tornados in the Midwest, hurricanes in Florida, and winter storms in the northerrn states, but never did I expect to receive Red Cross aid in my own town.

I know that the Red Cross has its problems – all places do, but they are boots on the ground and they ask nothing in return for the victims of disaster. They kept me sane and kept my kids warm and fed when staying in our own house would not have.

In looking back, we knew we were lucky, but we were also blessed and I try to remember that when I see people struggling with everyday issues that are sometimes too much.

The Post Office, Part 1

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Starting at the top, clockwise: Lapel pin of America Responds stamp, Ornament commemorating 100 Years of Letters to Santa through the US Postal Service, America Responds stamp sheet, Harvey Milk stamp sheet, plastic mailbox to hold stamps or Valentine’s. (c)2016

Starting at the Top, clockwise: Baseball Sluggers, Sunday Funnies, Star Wars, Disney Magic, Super Heroes Chapter Two, Animals, Super Heroes Chapter One, Disney Romance, Star Trek. (c)2016

50-26 – Horsing Around

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Writing Prompt – High School
I had three very close friends in high school. I am still friends with them today, seeing them daily on Facebook. Every high school class has its senior skip day and we were no exception. I don’t remember which one of them planned it but it was most definitely a conspiracy against me.

First, I should say that I grew up on Long Island. I can’t swim and I hate the beach. Maybe it’s all the water. Most of the senior classes went to Jones Beach for their skip day. The school had gotten wind of this over the years, so pretty much anyone who went to Jones Beach got detention. The assistant principal, Mr. Allen would drive down there and scour the sand for students, jotting down names, walking the beach in suit and tie and his school shoes.

We, however did not get detention. We did not go to the beach.

We got into Ds car and drove east on the LIE; the Long Island Expressway. It was forever in the car. I think I was in the backseat. It was a “surprise” but clearly I was the only one in the dark. I don’t know when I figured it out, maybe there was a road sign, but we were almost there when I realized we were going to a horse ranch – a stable. Of horses. I nearly jumped from the moving car.

Here is where I should probably mention that when I was in elementary school, I went with my cousins to a dude ranch in Peekskill. I loved it there. I loved horses. They are beautiful creatures, but I could not get on the horse. Not any of them. I cried. It was traumatizing.

I wondered if crying as a high school senior was appropriate now.

I got on with ranch hand assistance and off we went. The sky was that perfect blue, not a cloud in it, dust kicking up from the hooves as we set off from the corral into the wooded area. It became a bit darker under the trees and slightly cooler, but it was still a comfortable temperature – the shade keeping the heat of the sun from really getting to us, and our horses.

I had the gentlest horse, or so they told me. He was trained to follow the horse in front of him which was great, espeically when the horse in front of mine decided to trot along the edge of the cliff. It probably wasn’t a real cliff, this was Long Island after all, and I probably wouldn’t have died or anythihng but it was still terrifying. I fell getting off at the end, but I had still done it.

One and done.