Giving Back

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In my reflection of November on Thursday, I talked a bit about gratitude. Today, while many are going to enjoy fall activities of seeing families, playing or watching football, catching up on reading, applepicking, and other fall favorites, and getting ready for Thanksgiving, I will be at my church, and have been since about seven-thirty in the morning for our second annual morning of service.

At last count, we have over three hundred volunteers who will be helping out at nursing homes, Habitat for Humanity, the local city mission, day cares, and creating projects at the church to be given out to a variety of places like Ronald McDonald House, Operation Christmas Child, and other local charities.

There are many ways that we all give back for what we are lucky enough to have. We donate clothes, food, money, and time in all kinds of ways.

One organization that has helped my family and many, many others is the St. Vincent de Paul Society with the Catholic Church. If you want to donate money, time, or items, contact your local  Catholic Church, and ask them how.

A second organization that comes highly recommended to me is Catholic Charities.

In many cases, you do not have to be Catholic to utilize their services, and you most definitely do not need to be Catholic to donate to them.

My favorite group to help and support is Random Acts. They are the epitome of teaching that each of us can do a little, and it all adds up. Small gestures mean big things to many.

This year, in particular, I would recommend Hispanic Federation. They take care of all kinds of needs, but especially this year, they are doing important work for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Help them if you can.

And if you can’t help these groups directly, please share their names and contact information on your social media accounts so that others may help if they are able.

Thank you for all that you do.

Incense

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This was in response to a free write for the prompt scent in the theme of comfort. In other words, write about a scent that gives you comfort.

​I would not have expected to be writing about incense being a comforting scent. I was never a fan of incense. Perhaps, it was the specific scents that I was exposed to. Perhaps, it was Allan, who lived across the hall from me in my first year in college who used it to mask his pot smoking. At the time, I was so naive that I didn’t realize that’s what it was for. I thought he was just kind of dopey and laid back, and the incense was just him being a late blooming hippie.

Either way, the smell of it was enough to put me off both pot and incense.

When I visited church for the first time that they used incense was probably around Advent, maybe Christmas Eve. I remember the sounds of that day more than I remember the smells. Our music director is an amazing musician, and it is a joy to listen to his carols before the Christmas Eve Mass. I don’t know if there was incense that night, but I know that it’s been there as the liturgical season warranted.

Every Tuesday, the Host is incensed and a hymn is sung before adoration. I try to watch the smoke rise until it dissipates on its way to the skylight. I try ot make sense of the shapes it makes and the directions it flows in, but usually it just goes, and I continue to meditate on it.

After the Mass of Christian burial, the casket is incensed on its way out of the church to the burial or interment. 

The incense is carried in a bowl through the church during the Sunday procession during Lent. I know it is offered up with a solemn hymn that just touches me deeply. The whole process of the incense rising, the low singing of the prayer, the hush that falls over everything. It is very similar at Advent.

During one of the RCIA rites, I was standing in the back with the other catechumens while we waited together for our time to bring our oils to the altar. It may have been the rite of welcome, or perhaps, during the Holy Thursday Mass. I can’t remember at the moment, but I do remember looking to the front of the church where the incense was being carried, and i distinctly saw the smoke rise and form the shape of a Jewish Star of David. It was one of many signs that I received that I was making the right decision to go down the path of conversion.

While at first, the smell bothered me, the more I became engrossed in the Catholic liturgy and ritual, the more comfortable I became with the scents and the smells of the church and the incense.

I would not expect it during a service, and then I would smell it, and a warmth would come over me, a comfort, and it reminded me of what I found in the church, but not so much in the building but in the pews.

As we are often told, we are the church, and I find a small part of myself floating through the air along with the incense.

Nanowrimo – An Introduction

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NaNoWriMo is the acronym of National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November. The Nanowrimo website offers regional write-ins and support, pep talk emails and onsite messages as well as writing buddies and if you want feedback. It is a good time to jump start or restart your novel. This is my third year participating. My first two years I concentrated on a fan fiction that is still in progress, and while this year, I’m working on a non-fiction, part-memoir, part-travel guide, part-spiritual journey, I think that I can use Nanowrimo to get me on the right track.

As implied in the title it begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th.

Yesterday was not a very successful day. I forgot pretty much everything in my life, and ended up missing non-writing events as well as entirely forgetting about it being November 1st. I completed 0 words.

Today, however, I drove myself to Cracker Barrel, and wrote on my Kindle & keyboard for almost two hours for a CB total of 1396 words. I’ve come home and done another 529 words in between making dinner and juggling kids and afterschool snacks.

I do not intend to use this space for Nanowrimo updates, but I may share excerpts. I may do both of those on the Nanowrimo website or on my Facebook page associated with this site.

If you’re not already following me there, I can be found at Griffins and Ginger Snaps FB, and to reach my Nanowrimo Profile Page, just click the link.

My Nanowrimo working title is A Wales Roundabout.

That refers to the roundabout way I discovered my attachment to Wales, my discovery of Wales, and how Wales has even impacted my religious life and spiritual journey. It also references the abundance of roundabouts found in the nation of Wales. Really, more than necessary, and way more confusing than any I’ve encountered in the US, and we’re definitely trying to compete with that complexity.

I will be continuing with regularly scheduled posts throughout November. Im back on track with my weekly reflections under the tag, the new 52. I’m not sure that it will continue through 2018, but other than losing my way now and then, I do kind of like having a weekly reflection about everyday life that also stands out as different and/or special.

Welcome readers to the Nano experience and welcome new Nano friends to my writing site.

44/52 – November

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​November is that month.

We’re hopped up on Halloween candy, if we haven’t already, we’re about to turn on the heat, raising our utility bill that’s given us a break since we turned off the air conditioner, and we look at the calendar and see how many days off the kids have from school because of holidays, staff development days, and parent-teacher conferences and then realize that it’s fifty-five days until Christmas and there’s only a couple of paychecks left in the year to get it all done.

And Facebook post after Instagram post after writing prompt, we’re expected to be grateful and show gratitude.

Keep a gratitude journal for thirty days.

What are you grateful for? Thankful for?

Go around the Thanksgiving table and express what you’re thankful for. And then everyone looks at you.

Sunday’s prompt for The Daily Post was gratitude.

Most of us feel grateful, even when it’s not the holiday season. For some of us, expressing that in a meaningful, non-eye-rolly way is not easy. It puts us on the spot; the focus is entirely on us, and if we forget something that someone did, we offend people.

Our gratitude is not only for us, but for our kids, and knowing that we’re raising good-most-of-the-time, decent, compassionate people who won’t think twice about helping others and getting nothing in return.

Our gratitude is to let others know that we appreciate them, and through that, they feel gratitude and appreciated.

So, this year, I have a different gratitude journal in mind.

Two blurbs a week from now until December 1st. Why December 1st? Because gratefulness doesn’t end with Thanksgiving dinner.

One blurb, choose something simple. Getting to work on time all week. Sticking to your diet (if that’s your thing.) Getting to worship.

And one blurb, choose a bigger one. My husband does all of the laundry. This is a huge thing that doesn’t get acknowledged, and it should, right? Using my coping skills for my depression recovery. We all have our own things that we find important, so this second blurb will give us something to think about.

I’ll start.

November 2nd:

1. I actually started Nanowrimo yesterday.

2. I’m grateful for the amount of time my husband “lets” me write without the guilt of needing to do something else. I say let, but it’s not permission; it’s opportunity, and if often goes unthanked.

My Pin Collection – 2

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Post 2. I’m not sure how I missed that I have two sets of doubles. Oh well, they’re pretty.

L-R: From my Fantasy Collection: Shield with chains. (This was my first pin that I remember getting for myself. I wore it all the time. I was a medieval history buff and a medieval re-enactor, so it was apropos.) Fancy feather with silver locket, Crescent Man in the Moon, Unicorn, Lion on a Shield, Carousel Lion (I collected many lions when I was in a medieval group. Our town was called Lions End), Castle on a mountain with a crystal ball. (c)2017


Clockwise: Art deco pin with purple crystal, Art deco pin, Gold pin with red and white crystals, Silver bow, Gold oval with filigree details, Gold Knot with “pearl”. (c)2017


L-R, top to bottom: Silver twist with pink “pearl”, Gold braid with clear crystal, Kilt pin, Art deco with purple crystal (again), French horn with “pearls”, Gold leaf with Oval Rose picture, Oval gold flowers, Art deco – silver with white stone, Silver bow (again). (c)2017