Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Motherly Epiphany

Less than one week was all it took for my life to drastically change forever. Though I had no idea for a few days, I began to have a sneaking suspicion earlier than most would believe. I gave my hand in marriage and, within the week, was carrying life. I remember flying home from our honeymoon writing in my diary, "I wonder if I am pregnant!" and then laughing at the thought. But, on March 12th, I recieved the biggest shock of my life: a positive pregnancy test. I had been married such a short time that my gut reaction was, "My parents are going to kill me!" But, quickly, I adjusted to the idea and grew excited.

Because of our honeymoon surprise, pregnancy was the norm for our marriage. Married life was synonymous with being pregnant. Queasiness, baby kicks, a growing belly, preparing for the birth of a child--it all was what we shared as husband and wife from the beginning.

I thought I had figured out life. See husband off to work, clean house, do shopping, greet husband coming home from work, cook dinner, relax. Be a wife. End of story. Weekends were our time, two days I relished beyond description. We would sleep in till nine, wake up, I would make a fresh breakfast and we would have the day to ourselves. We traveled, visited family, and came and went as we pleased. Of course, we had the sinking realization that our days living this lifestyle were numbered. But, what we acknowledged even further was that they had been numbered from the outset.

My daughter was born and I find myself feeling at times inadequate and completely unprepared for motherhood. I am up at all hours of the night, rise early in the morning and live my life completely centered around a child. Diaper changes, feedings, burpings, naps, the cycle then repeats itself. I have been attempting to recover from childbirth, one that was particulary difficult since it lasted over seventy hours, since our little family came home from the hospital and am still not my "old self." I am a person that, if my schedule is thrown off, I felt I have lost all control. Elizabeth didn't throw any schedule off; she completely destroyed it. And that has made me, at times, feel like a total failure.

It's been weeks since I have cooked a meal for my husband. I struggle getting him a decent breakfast of eggs in the morning. His lunch is made in time for him to leave for work, but only barely. I had visions of baking this Holiday Season, visions which were never realized.

In the first weeks of life as a mother, I waited for it. The Epiphany. My mother knew all: how to set up a feeding schedule, the signs of colick and hunger, when it was appropriate to feed the baby a little early, and when to increase her formula amount. She made it all sound so easy: combining the role of wife with that of Mother. I would stand there, in total awe. When would the Knowledge of Motherhood occur to me? Please spare me your laughs. Maybe it was drug-induced or the cause of complete physical and emotional exhaustion, but I expected all the Knowledge of Motherhood to finally dawn on me. I just knew the bouts of complete self-doubt and inadequacy, realized in occasional episodes of full-on sobs, would end in the sudden epiphany of the knowledge my mother knew so well.

Then, one day, it hit me. I was snatching one of those five minute showers only a mother could truly appreciate, contemplating how much life had changed and once again marveling at my mother's knowledge. Then, the epiphany came, but not the one for which I had been waiting. Rather, I suddenly realized with a sinking feeling that this infusion of Motherly Wisdom would not come because there was no such thing. The only reason my mother seemed to know everything about newborns was only because she had already experienced that stage. For me, it was all guesswork. My mother had her own guesswork as she is currently living with two teenage daughters still at home. Everday of motherhood will be a series of guesses; I will never know it all.

With this simultaneously comforting and horrifying thought, I understand that all I can do now and each day is pray I am making the right choice, saying the right word, making the right decision for my children. In moments of doubt and question, I can fly to my Father, seeking His wisdom and help. That is all that I am expected to ever know. But, the thought of ignorance is terrifying, too.

Each time my daugther looks up into my eyes with those incredibly innocent, peering eyes of her own, I feel so incredibly inadequate and unsure of myself. Here is this soul, lent to me from God, expecting me to know everything and always have the right answer to all her problems. I cannot fault her. Until recently, I expected the same of my own mother. I now understand that she is only guessing herself. Someday, when Elizabeth is grown and holding her own child, she will tearfully reach for the phone and call me. I will be in bed, about to turn out the lights in my own home. She will beg me for answers. All I will do is look heavenward and pray to tell her the right thing.

Right now, however, I will attempt to begin and end each day with a prayer. I will find solace, comfort, and help in my Father. I will look to my earthly mother for suggestions, not expecting solid answers. In my Heavenly mother, I will look to her life, attitude, and maternal wisdom. Somehow, God willing, I will send my children forth into their vocations as successful, faith-filled persons. They will, I know, return to me for help and comfort. I will give it freely, for I will remember a time when I was a young parent and felt lack of knowledge. Eventually, they too will have the same parental Epiphany I did. And, like their mother, they will carry on, with Faith and Hope.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Best Friend

I remember being shocked when my professor made the statement to the class in college. "Your best friend is actually someone of the opposite sex." Maybe it was because I'd never been in a relationship; maybe I was surprised because I was only just making real friends for the first time. Whatever it was, I adamantly disagreed with him at first. The girls who were accepting me and with whom I was forming deep, permanent friendships were kind and open to me. It was a long time before I fully understood what my professor was saying.

Women understand women; we can commiserate, empathize though only in certain aspects. Only the opposite sex, however, can fill the void, replace what's lacking in you. I learned that fact slowly through out college, as I came to understand people and life. However, it wasn't until I met my husband that I came to completely understand. While women can understand you, he completes me.

After having spent the last nine months learning to be married and preparing for motherhood, I am still so surprised, daily, how incredibly blessed I am. As I struggle daily to be a better person, a good wife, and ready myself to be a parent, he is so patient and kind. Supportive and constant, his love never falters. He instills in me a desire to keep improving myself, in solid and practical ways. I watch him, stunned by his kindness to others, his quiet strength, his constant willingness to help out anyone however he can.

There are romantic moments, where he sweeps me into his arms or dances across the living room with me. These moments, I find myself holding him, thinking, "Thank you, Jesus." There are other moments when, while sitting in the doctor's office waiting patiently, he never questions me. Then there are the real moments, sitting at dinner goofing off in the middle of a restaurant like we are twelve again. Laughing so hard, people are staring at us, I think how grateful I am for this man who has come into my life and promised to stay there. This person who has made me life so full of joy.

As we prepare together to be parents, I know that he will aid me daily in my goal to be the best wife and mother I can be. Just when I need it, I know he'll sweep me into his arms and hold me close. Just as I can't take another night of crying, he'll sit up with me and never question or complain. When life seems to be unbearable or incredibly heavy, he'll keep me laughing.

I look so forward to each new day with this incredible man. This man who inspires me, challenges me, loves me. After years of searching and praying, here he is. Such an incredible man, amazing husband, sure to be a wonderful father. I really have found that person, though at times this seems unbelievable. The one who not only understands me, but completes me. Who not only accepts me, but calls to me. The man who not only likes me, but truly loves me. I really have found my Best Friend. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Divine Secret of Motherhood

Life is lived in chapters, filled with ups and downs, crosses and blessings. Childhood. Junior High. High School. College. As I stared out onto the silvery lake this evening, I suddenly became aware that one Chapter is my life is getting ready to permanently close while a very permanent and foreign one is about to open.

Young women always look to their mother during practically every stage of their lives. Despite all the shared moments, a mother always has one thing on their daughter--their motherhood. Then that special time of motherhood arrives and, suddenly, it seems as though they share a divine secret. A Chapter they both can share with each other.

My life has always been about me. Even following marriage, I can come and go with my husband as we please. Dinner can be early or late and we can throw our suitcases in the car on a moment's notice to be whisked away on a vacation. Nothing was ever holding me back nor weighing on my mind. I am suddenly cognizant that this is going to change. We are not getting a dog, who can be put in the kennel nor will this precious life be with us for a few months or years. This person will be mine for the rest of my life. Worries, joys, happiness, all will be focused on my child.

It moves within me, squirming sometimes and other times just slip-sliding around slowly but deliberately. I am most aware of the humanity growing within me at these moments. In a matter of weeks, I will be holding that child and will be a forever changed person. I cannot imagine that, after looking into the face of your child, a woman is ever the same she was before. Life will forever be altered.

Yet, I feel the anticipation of a child--all the Christmases in my life taken and wrapped into one. I am living my own Advent, and am taking great inspiration from the Blessed Mother. Waiting on her own Little One, she quietly pondered on the great Change within her. I so rarely share with anyone the thoughts that roll through my head through out the day, only taking them to Mary and quietly smiling as we share a moment of the divine secret of motherhood.

I am sure I will feel a tie with my earthly mother as well as my Heavenly Mother following the birth of my child. I cannot wait to wrap it in the tiny blankets and hold it close to me, to watch my husband hold it close and look down at his offspring. Visions of holding my little one at Mass or gently placing it in the bassinet makes me deeply excited.

As this current chapter closes, finishing up days of self-fulfillment and a freedom of responsibility, and the new one begins that contains complete self-abandonment and motherly fulfillment, I pray to remain selfless. I hope I always remember to put my children and husband before me and, through this loving and serving vocation, obtain salvation for my family. I pray, more than anything, to be a good and loving mother, always full of kind words and prayers for my little family. May we always be a model of the Holy Family.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Dark Moments, Great Blessings

While preparing for marriage, people offered a great deal of advice and commentary, some of it not exactly welcome. Out of the plethora of statements and suggestions, one seemed to be most frequent especially from veteran married couples. "Marriage is hard sometimes. But, with lots of love, even the hard moments are beautiful and make you stronger." Naturally, I envisioned couples bitterly fighting late into the night, wondering if their marriage would last. Not I, would cross my mind. I realize now, that's not necessarily what they meant.

This last week saw a great joy followed very quickly by a great tragedy in my husband's and my life. Tuesday, we received a phone call that Richard's brother Chris and his wife Sarah had had their second child several days early. Sophia was healthy and fine, and could we come down and help watch Eden, their oldest son? Of course. A darling, bubbly child, Eden is a joyful two year old boy that we love to be around. Richard took leave, we packed, and hit the road within a few hours to spend the night. We arrived at the hospital and, as I was holding little Sophia, realization and nervousness hit me that my own little one, squirming in my abdomen, would arrive soon and I'd be holding my own. We all smiled around the new life and the happiness of Eden as he met his new little sister. Truly, God's joy was almost tangible in the room.

Then, the call came. Richard's stepped into the hallway and we heard the distress in his voice. We caught snippets of the conversation and faces became serious, emotions fell. He got off the phone to tell us that his and Chris's mom was in ICU and in very serious condition. Minds processed the information, emotions fell severely and, in a moment, wives were holding husbands as they broke down.

We left for Houston the next morning and spent the next few days with Richard's father and next to his mother's bedside. Not one to enjoy watching people suffer, it pained me more than words could describe to see his mother in that state. Tubes, wires, and machines were everywhere and she looked so flat. Prayers were said, tears shed, and encouraging words offered to a woman in a coma.

In one flash of a moment, I understood what all those couples meant. They weren't necessarily citing fighting and tension. As I looked into the broken face of my husband one night last week, fear overtook me--a fear that seemed to cut into my heart and lungs at the same time--we threw ourselves into each other's arms. We could not be strong alone--we were strong only together. He told me later that week, "I couldn't have done this without you. It's so much easier to be strong with you here." I don't know what I did or said, but apparently my prayers of being his support were answered. I had felt sadly inadequate the entire time.

We are home now, still living by the phone and email for updates and making decisions a family. Prayers still are being said and occasional tears still fall. We are beginning a long road and I can't see as I look out. I still am watching my husband suffer deeply--a personal hell for any wife. But, day by day, Richard and I stand by each other. We hold each other and support each other. One day at a time. That is all that can be expected right now.

One blessing, through all the sadness and Crosses right now, can be acknowledged. This tough, painful time is strengthening our marriage more than I think I can even realize. I see us growing incredibly closer, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I remember learning that while God does not will us to suffer, He always brings good out of it. Praise God for this Goodness. While this wouldn't have been my chosen method, I am thankful for the strength and humility this is infusing in our marriage. So, those married couples know what they are saying. Life can be so tough. But, when this chapter concludes, the strenght, humility, and beauty added to our marriage will truly be a blessing from God.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm leaning against the wall, staring at it. Somehow, I feel as though this will help the reality sink in all that much faster. The walls around it have been painted subtle neutrals and the pictures and decor are ready to be hung. All around it, change seems almost to be tangible.

I remember my mother's, white and small yet so grown up, resplendent with its ruffles and skirt that stretched gracefully to the ground. I had one, too, though mine was much smaller and far less resplendent. I used to gently lay my babydolls inside, much like I'd seen my mother do with my little siblings, practicing for the day I'd have my own bassinet someday. Those days seemed far away, cloudy and surreal.

Of all the items my husband and I have been purchasing for our child, the bassinet seems to make it most surreal. The spare room was cleared out and cleaned; we were doing some Spring Cleaning. The paint went up; we were doing home improvement. The bassinet arrived; time has frozen. That very item will sit at my bedside, holding my most valuable and delicate possession in this life. I will pick my child up from that tiny sleeping area and lay him or her back inside to rest. As beautiful and romantic as my little wicker bassinet seems, there is a reality that has arrived with it that has me realizing how little time I have left.

I am going to be a mother. These words, still, seem laughable. For months, I have felt the flutters then kicks and movements of my child. I have watched my middle grow forward, while it nourished a growing life. I have begun wearing clothes with giant panels and flowing middles. I've laughed and cried over sonograms and heartbeats. And still, the reality of me as a mother seems...large. I have two months left to prepare for the coming of my child. I feel as though I will never get everything I need done and yet am perfectly aware most of it doesn't matter. My child will enter this world with or without bassinet or crib sheets. He or she will come home from the hospital whether or not I have finished crocheting yet another baby project. This preparation is not my main concern.

I am acutely cognizant that I will be holding a child's life and soul in my hands. Anything I say and do can shatter or affirm my child. In carefully or carelessly chosen words, I am the first to impact my child's sense of worth and value. By my loving or empty actions, My child will feel infinitely valued or finitely worthless. As a mother, I will introduce my child to the Man who lent him or her to me. I will be responsible, first and foremost, in cultivating a love in my child for this Man. And should I fail, I will be responsible.

This young, tiny life rolling and squirming inside me has no idea how much its already truly and deeply loved. Tears have come and laughs exploded on empty ears at home, when I feel its body move about inside. I've seen feet project from my side and a head roll around my abdomen. I love my baby. I cannot wait to hold it and love it everyday for the rest of my life.

Until then, I will prepare. Yes, I will buy the sheets and hopefully finish the crochet projects. But, more importantly, I will continue to spiritually prepare myself for the beautiful servitude that is motherhood. Days spent with teething wails and nights up with high fevers will, God help me, be used solely for the salvation of my growing little family. Repeated statements and requests for obedience, God willing, will stem from patience and love. I desire to be a good mother, with a happy family. While I don't know how all this will end, I know how all good things begin: with God. He has and will continue to give me the strength and courage to face this daunting, beautiful task.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

True Love in Life

The beauty of the Eucharist holds me awestruck every Sunday. Feeling undeserving and humble, I crawl forward towards the priest to receive my Lord and my God, and feel so free and joyful as I walk to my pew afterward. Once a week, I become one with Our Lord, bonding with Him body and soul. I have come to realize, through an expensive liberal arts education and my own experience that this is the draw of true Love--the desire to become one with another.

As a married woman, I see daily the beauty behind my true Love for my husband, as well. When he has down days, I try to be more cheerful, cooking him a better meal, cleaning the house a little longer, or giving him extra hugs and kisses. I am blessed to say the same about him. With pregnancy, when I don't feel beautiful, he showers me with compliments, wonderful gazes, and extra embraces. When I am cranky, he is so kind and patient until I am myself again. We advise each other through our faults and vices and praise each other through the virtues. Truly, I find our personalities and their facets like puzzle pieces. Praise God for this.

More so, though, I find when we are lying next to each other in the middle of the night or during a movie, this is not close enough. I want to be as close as possible, but know that any given proximity will never be enough. Fulton Sheen phrased this lofty idea perfectly, saying that love is a complete giving of one's self into another. While we petty human beings rely mainly on our senses, some of blessed few know there is reason and the soul that soar far higher than any touch or taste, above any sight or scent. While I can never physically get as close as my senses would desire, I know that our souls have been forever fused as one through the Sacrament of Marriage.

Through this ultimate one-ness of marriage, we are blessed to be expecting life. Here, too, I find the beauty of love--a beauty men will never understand. I am one with my child. In my body there is another life being sheltered, nourished, and grown. As my sister-in-law once aptly put it, "two souls in one body." Truly, this is similar to receiving the Eucharist each Sunday, when I am with Jesus in one body.

I find similarities here, as well. Nothing whets my appetite more quickly for the glories and beauty of Heaven than receiving the Eucharist. I am never more excited about, God willing, achieving my Eternal Salvation than when I am kneeling in prayer after Holy Communion. At times, the beauty of being so close to Christ and yet feeling so far away from He and his glory brings me to tears.

Pregnancy is similar to this seemingly inadequate proximity to my husband and the transitory one-ness of the Eucharist. For the only time in my young child's life, I am truly and physically Loving my child. We are one. This tiny, darling child squirming inside of me is closer to me than my husband ever will be. This blessed child's presence inside of me is lasting far longer than that of the Eucharist each Sunday. Yet, in this situation, I find a yearning to distance my child from me only to see, touch, feel, smell him or her. Oh, what irony! I have a mere fifteen weeks left in this pregnancy. Though, God willing, I pray to be pregnant again with several more children, this one is unique. I will never be one again with this particular child.

I see myself in the months and years following the birth of this blessing, yearning once again to pull my child closer, hold him or her nearer. Visions of lying next to my bundle of life, my arms around it, still happily unsatisfied at how seemingly far my child is--these serve as constant reminders to adore every moment of my pregnancy. For nine short months, I have been blessed to be completely one with my child. I hope to never take advantage of this time, to wish it over so soon. I relish every movement, every moment, acutely aware that they are bringing me that much closer to the joyful separation from my child, if only physically.

I love Love! Praise God for this wonderful gift which He gives so freely and in so many ways. Through each, I have learned the power and service that comes with Love, the draw and the seeming inadequacy that this gift brings. May I always be burdened with that incompleteness, only so that this may serve as encouragement and motivation to keep me seeking the Completeness in His Glory

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There's Someone There!

I confess that there are days when I don't shower and dress until the afternoon. I get so busy doing housework and catching up on tasks around my house, I look at the clock only to realize that it's two o'clock in the afternoon. Fortunately, I no longer forget to eat; I have a growing, energetic alarm clock inside of me reminding me I am no longer nourishing only myself.

Today was one of those late days. Three o'clock rolled around before I ran to the shower. I have a reason--the massive monster known as Laundry. I spent the day finishing what has been doing cycles through my washer and dryer the last two days. I finally conquered the task, along with many other items on my to-do list. I felt I had a successful day and sat on the couch for fifteen minutes of relaxation time.

The last two days, my child has been moving almost constantly. Today was no exception. I have felt, finally, movements simultaneously all over my abdomen and am suddenly cognizant of how large this baby is getting. What a wonderful feeling to sense a pushing on my sides. But, what caught me by surprise this afternoon was the lumps and bumps coming out of my abdomen for seconds at a time. Looking down, I could see where hands and feet where pushing my abdomen out. I was, admittedly, brought to tears.

There really is someone there. Rest assured I have not forgotten that aspect. However, I become more acutely aware each day of the child--the human being--my husband and I made that is growing inside of me. I can't see him or her directly, but what energy and life it has already.

I suppose that is the beauty of it: the life my child is already displaying, though some would argue he or she has no life. I would disagree. We say an energetic person is "full of life." My little bundle of energy is no exception. I am awakened at night by the somersaults and jumping jacks. I am moved to giggles almost constantly when my little one begins to dance. Action. Movement. Life.

Praise God for this little life rolling and tumbling about inside of me. Oh, the joy and jubilation that comes from one poke, prod, or kick. The sheer happiness that comes from the squiggles and squirms. Yes, there is life being sheltered in my abdomen. In my body, there is someone there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Joys of Pregnancy

I had started dinner just before my husband arrived home from work. Squatting down to get a glass casserole out from under a cabinet, I felt it. Mistaking it for a kick or a poke from the inside from my child, I placed my hand gently against my lower abdomen. The pressure neither subsided nor felt like a poke. I realized what this was. I am not sure if the pressure came from a head or foot, but some appendage of my unborn child was pushing against my side.

When I first announced my pregnancy, many people told me how much they despised being pregnant. These people said they could not see the beauty other women saw in the nine months of what they compared to torture. I've heard this attitude constantly, even while growing up. For this reason, I could not understand why my mother said the best times of her life were when she was expecting one of us six children. Pregnancy had been made as this uncomfortable, painful nine months that one endured for the sake of a child.

I now understand my mother. I don't know how people can despise being pregnant. I have never felt so fulfilled as a woman, never experienced such a culmination of what I was designed to do. I am truly living out the vocation I committed myself to. I promised, four short months ago, to lay down my life in every way possible for my husband and our children. My body is no longer my own, my abdomen no longer the sleek figure I worked so hard for prior to my Wedding. But, I am growing a human life.

For years, I have struggled to grow close to Mary, mother of God. Meditations and prayers, readings and Scripture study left me at a barrier. Frustrated, I continued to try. As an expectant mother, I finally understand the identity and beauty behind Mary. I understand and can relate to "pondering it in her heart." Nothing has ever filled me with greater joy than carrying a human life that my husband, my God, and I made. This joy is one that is indescribable. She has on her face the same expression of quiet joy that I have seen on many expectant mothers who understand that same beauty, as though it were a secret. I always wanted that secret. It looked like it tasted of the sweetest fruit imaginable. I know that secret now. I hold one inside of me.

I love my baby. I keep telling my child that. "Oh, if only you could know how much I love you." I feel so undeserving of this true, unadulterated joy. I pity men that they never experience pregnancy. I relate to Mary's firm, but unknowing Fiat. I could never have seen myself as a mother, but I am not turning down this God-given opportunity. Fear is dominated by confidence, Self-doubt conquered by God's grace.

I pray the next twenty-one weeks of my family's Advent pass slowly. I relish every moment of sensation from the Little One, and love feeling each movement gain strength. Too, I pray that this time of preparation is spiritually fruitful. I am preparing to be a mother, with all the kicks, pokes, and hiccups that come with this time. I know already, I will sorely miss being pregnant, but will love when my baby's Christmas comes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Other Side of the Screen

I have no excuse. According to society, I fit the description. I am in the appropriate generation. I frequently check my electronic mail daily and love a good instant messaging chat. I have a cell phone on which I make phone calls and send occasional texts. I recently acquired a portable music player and have taught myself how to download music from my CD's to the device.

I am still, however, somewhat of a misfit. I prefer to send a long, hand-written letter rather than an email. I will place a phone call before I text. I have no idea how to use iTunes nor have I ever been on their site. And I am sure that, while I used Facebook frequently, I have no idea of half the features it offers.

Case in point. Recently, I was communicating back and forth with a person concerning an upcoming event. Not sure if my husband and I were able to attend, I sent an email (for which I would rather have done one mass phone call) and began deliberating on our RSVP status. The person requested via email that I call her, but did not include her number. I was perplexed. I was sure I did not have her number and was unsure how to obtain it. After a few days of fruitless searching and an out of town, Internet-less trip, I had yet to call her. As such, she sent me an email, angered I had not placed the phone call. I wrote her back and explained that I did not have her number, but remembering to include mine.

I was away from my phone when she called, but she left a long voicemail wondering why I had not gone through a mutual friend to get the phone number or had not looked on her profile page on Facebook to get her number. Phone numbers are on Facebook?! I was so surprised. I had no idea a person could publish their address and phone number on Facebook. Furthermore, why would I call a mutual friend, only to request the phone number for another person?

I miss the days of phone calls and letters, when people communicated in one long conversation rather than sporadic emails where miscommunication is both very possible and quite prevalent. As as society, I believe we have become too busy with technology to remember there is a person behind that computer or cell phone. As such, we forget to spend the needed time just talking, catching up on life's ups and downs. I know that my generation, not to mention the generation following, are the biggest perpetrators. However, there are a few of us, though we seem to fit the profile, who are still just as confused and perplexed by the new technology and its unestablished etiquette.

I will continue to learn through unintended trial and error. However, I will obstinately remain an old-fashioned misfit. My lengthy letters and simple phone calls will continue. I will continue on Facebook, but will not let this become my primary form of communication. I know, as technology continues to advance, I will become both more updated, but also more stubborn in my ways. I have no problem learning new things, but I refuse to forget the humanity on the other side of the screen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama, Meet Miss Manners

Georgetown University, a supposedly Catholic institution, recently invited President Obama to speak at the school. He graciously accepted, only to request that all religious symbols be covered. Georgetown, not surprisingly, acquiesced. The IHS symbol, usually depicting the name of Christ, was covered with black plywood and the name of Jesus with a blue shroud. According to White House officials, Obama desired a simple backdrop of blue with the flags; the backdrop, however, was insufficient in hiding the IHS symbol. The White House requested the coverage because "it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context," according to the President of Communications at Georgetown University. In that case, all present should have been covered, including the President himself--as we are each a symbol of God.

Out of context? Growing up, my mother frequently would remind me of the proper behavior when I was a guest at other people's houses. If I went for dinner, I ate what was on my plate even if I did not care for what was served. If I spent the night, I graciously accepted sharing a bed with a friend, even if they were a kicker. If they had a religious picture that did not depict or was opposed to my beliefs, I did not say anything--I was their guest.

Obama seems to have forgotten his manners. Georgetown asked the President to attend a function and, kindly, to speak. He accepted, and then proceeded to ask that all characteristics of an environment change. I dare to say, as a Catholic, that if he had attended a Mosque and requested that all religious symbols be covered, outrage would have inevitably followed. However, since the symbols were Christian, no backlash ensued.

The fact remains that Georgetown--supposedly a Catholic institution--accepted this request. As previously quoted, they did not want to seem out of context or disrespectful. Disrespectful to whom? Obama was entering a place that has specific beliefs, though weak. Georgetown is a Catholic institution. How would religious symbols be out of context?

As a Catholic, I would ask that my President return to his Miss Manners book and re-read the section on acting as a proper guest. If I attended his home, I would not ask that he cover his dog's Swarovski crystal bowls. To ask that he remove his liberal agenda from the White House desk because it offends me would never occur to me. Instead, I would be a gracious host, compliment the cooking, and pray an opportunity for debating his many anti-Christian and anti-American policies would arise.

Also, I would request Georgetown finally return to the Religion on which she was founded. I was asked once to remove my ashes on Ash Wednesday at work. I refused. I am Catholic and I am committed to my beliefs. As a Catholic institution, I would expect them to do the same. If someone, regardless of how important they mistake themselves to be, no matter how "out of context" and disrespectful the country's leader supposes a religion is, I would expect Georgetown to remain consistent.

Similarly, I will be interested in seeing if Obama dons the traditional doctoral robe--emblazoned with a Cross and a prayer to the Virgin Mary--when he attends the commencement at Notre Dame University. However, I am praying that Notre Dame leaves the president in the White House on Graduation Day. Why would Notre Dame even consider giving a man an honorary Law degree despite the fact that he is so opposed to the core beliefs of Christians and Catholics? Catholics and Christians, both as individuals and institutions, must remain consistent and strong. We must stick strongly to our beliefs. I will continue to pray that Obama has a conversion and becomes more accepting in his beliefs. Prayers will also be said that Georgetown and Notre Dame return to the Faith on which they were founded. Most of all, I will intercede that Obama remembers his manners.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Tone of Voice

(This was taped to my computer the year I taught High School--and frequently pops into my head. Thought I'd share it.)

It's not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it;
It's not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it.
"Come here!" I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
"Come here," I said
He looked at me and smiled
And straight into my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair
But the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words maybe soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art
But tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether your mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
Envy, anger are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words
Keep it out of your voice.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A Bride's Words

As I write this, there are a mere 14 days remaining until my wedding. Despite the ever-growing and tangible evidence, I honestly cannot believe any of this is happening. I have wedding invitations consuming an entire drawer in my entertainment center, RSVPs filling my mailbox daily, Wedding Gifts piling up at my doorstep, and a veil cascading down from closet shelf. I have a suitcase packed with beach clothes and an apartment rapidly growing empty. I, Adrienne Smith, am getting married! And yet, it all feels strangely...surreal. Despite the Bridal Showers and dress fittings, the honeymoon shopping and apartment packing, the list-making and day-planning, I can't make myself believe--it's about me this time. Not someone else, not another bride. I am the Bride.

I am the happiest girl on Earth, I think. All the excitement, all the anticipation is about to culminate. It's not about the dress for me, dear reader. It's not the shoes or the veil. It's not about the parties or presents or people. It's not even about the Mass. In a swift 14 days, I have the honor of vowing my whole life and self to my vocation--to humbly and completely serve one man and our children for the rest of my life. That is the the thought that brings tears of complete and total joy to my eyes. I am honored with the job of getting him and our children to Heaven all the days of my life. Daily may I die so that he may live. Through cooking his meals, scrubbing his floors, and scouring bathtubs, I can get a man and his children to Paradise. Hand in Hand with this, I am going to be God's channel for new life into this world. In a lesser way, I will be a Mary.

Sometimes, I worry--am I spiritually prepared for this arduous vocation? Am I ready to daily lay down my life for my family? I realize that temptations of pride and selfishness will sometimes prevent me from fulfilling this huge, God-given task. After much reflection, I have concluded that no one is ever fully ready, or there would be no learning. There would be no growing and, therefore, there would be no coming closer to Christ. As such, I pray to have the humility to just focus on each set of twenty-four hours--how can I spend that day getting my husband and, eventually, our children to Heaven?

Please remember me in your prayers, dear reader. It is only through the graces of our Lord that I shall, after years' battle, win what I set out to attain: the salvation of my family.