Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where You At?

It seems like forever since I've blogged, but yet it's only been a couple weeks. And at the same time, I feel like time has flown. Oh, the never ending quandary of time. Where has it been, yet where does it go? I found myself saying to God before I sat down to pray today: "I'm going to be real glad when it's eternity and we don't have to worry about TIME all the (er) time." For reals.

My students always think heaven sounds like it's going to be real boring, but that's because (well, it's because of a lot of things...) but I think it's just because they have yet to appreciate the beauty of NOT running around and just getting to BE.

We all know God can take us whenever He wants us, and for some it seems like they go too soon, but my guess is He in His infinite wisdom will take us when He knows we are ready to just sit and BE for all eternity...and that is looking better and better as we get older and more tired...am I right? :)

So amid the flurry of the lesson planning, weekend trips, and grad school research, I stopped to ask myself today: "Where am I at with God? What's He doing in my life right now?"

You would think I would be asking myself this everyday! I do take time everyday to at least give God a shout out, but last week I found myself just wanting to SIT with Him for a LONG time and I hadn't DONE that in a while.

So go ahead, I'll wait :) Ask yourself: "What is God doing in my life right now? How is He working?" and "Where am I at with my goals for our relationship, spiritual life, etc."

(Can you tell I am in need of my women's prayer group right about now?? ;) Ladies, where you at?! We would meet once a month and ask ourselves these questions, but it has been waayyyyyy too long! Hopefully, we will re-commence soon.

Well, I can, of course, speak for myself and say that I need to be spending more time with God's word to figure out what He is saying to me. A couple blog posts ago, it was clear He was speaking to me through the book "He and I" which was totally what I needed at that moment. Today, when reading Scripture, I was reading from my fav Gospel writer- Sassy Mark ;)- about the father who wanted demons cast out of his son. He says to Jesus, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

And I think this perfectly sums up where I am with God right now. It seems like a contradiction of terms: how can the dude BELIEVE yet be asking Christ to help with His unbelief?

But that verse makes sense to me at this moment 'cause I think I'm there. I'm believing and things are GOOD, but if everything was smooth sailing I wouldn't be struggling to take time in prayer and all that jazz, right? So, I do believe, Lord. Help me in the areas where I am still struggling.

That's kind of all I got right now, but that's enough, I guess. I was reading Teresa of Avila's "Way of Perfection" and stopped last month because it didn't feel like the right time to read it. I picked it up again today and the chapters 6 & 7 on love seem to be what I need to hear right now, so praise God for that.

I'll share with you a little of her stuff from Chap 7 on true love in true friends:

...to get to know God's friends is a very good way of 'having' Him...For, under the Lord, I owe it to such persons [friends]that I am not in hell; I was always very fond of asking them to commend me to God, and so I prevailed upon them to do so... - Way of Perfection, Teresa of Avila

With that, pray for me friends! Until next time...


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 on the 10th Anniversary

I'm sure there is no coincidence that the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 fell on a Sunday. 9/11 is, of course, one of those dates that we will forever reflect upon and Sunday is a God-given day for reflection.

Today is a day when we ask one another: "Where were you when....?" Along with our parents' "I was doing ______ when I found out JFK had been shot" or perhaps even our grandparents' "I was _______ when Pearl Harbor was bombed." It's a day when everyone remembers exactly where they were when.

Prior to 9/11, the only thing my generation had as an approximate equivalent was perhaps the Oklahoma City Bombing. I remember being in 8th grade and being asked to stand next to my desk for a moment of silence as we watched the names of all those children who had died scroll across the TV.

As the anniversary approached, many people started to ask the question and reflect on: "where were you during 9/11?" I met a friend for coffee on Friday who happened to be my Campus Minister at CUA ten years ago and we discussed where we were that day. We were both on campus during 9/11. I was in my junior year Media seminar. She was working in Campus Ministry.

I remember my professor stopping class and pulling up the article on the internet that announced that one of the towers at the World Trade Center had been hit. I had just been to the World Trade Center for the first time almost exactly one year prior with some friends who showed me around NYC. There was an image along with the article up on screen that will always, of course, be etched in my mind. There it was: a plane dangling out of the middle of the World Trade Center building.

Classes were cancelled and I walked down towards the campus ministry office. As I walked, I was stopped by an acquaintance who asked me: "did you hear the Pentagon was hit too?" I shook my head. I hadn't heard, but it was also in disbelief.

Then I remember being afraid for the first time during this day. The Pentagon was far enough from Catholic U, but what if people were going to try and hit the Capitol building which was only 2-3 miles away? We would, of course, find out later that this was indeed part of the plan, had not some brave men and women crashed the plane in PA to save the nation's capitol.

I met the priest I was close with at Campus Ministry and he asked me if I would help spread the word about a Mass the university was going to put together with the President of the University and Cardinal McCarrick. I said I would. My parents tried to call me while I was running around distributing flyers. When I returned to my room in the middle of the day, I had voice messages on the answering machine (pre-cell phone!) from my parents, my sister, and one of my best friends who lived in KY wondering where I was and if I was alright.

I went to the Mass and then I went to a place on campus called "The House" where some of my friends lived. I remember sitting with one of my best friends, watching the news as the second tower just crumbled. I couldn't believe I was watching it happen live on TV. I tried to block out images of what I knew were people jumping from the building. I just held my breath and prayed.

It was a sunny, beautiful day weather wise. I remember wearing a T-shirt and jeans (a rarity for me, come to think of it! I'm not a T-Shirt and jeans kind of girl, as we know ;). The weather was similar to that of today as I now sit in my t-shirt and mesh shorts having just come from the gym, lesson planning in my own classroom ten years later.

This 10th anniversary of Sept. 11th comes literally after seven days and seven nights of rain here in the District. We have had recent hurricanes and earthquakes, and school was even cancelled on Friday because of flooding in the NoVa area. Looking at images and articles on Facebook made me paranoid that this could be the end of the world, especially with the anniversary of 9/11 coming. This is, of course, a paranoid point-of-view and not the way to live as Christians. We have Christ as our hope to trust in.

I expected there to be some kind of memoriam before, during, or after Mass today. I did not expect, however, for the Church to do a Requiem Mass. I had read the readings for today and they were all about forgiveness. Perfect messages for an anniversary such as this, I thought.

When I walked into my parish, I should have known something was up. The veil that usually is white which lays across the tabernacle was purple today- a penitential color. I knew it wasn't Advent or Lent, so there had to be some reason for it! (I love that our Church gives us cues- we can tell there's going to be something special going on from the vestments the priest wears, liturgical colors, etc. I also LOVE in a ridiculous liturgy-nerd way that our parish lays a veil over the tabernacle to begin with, but that's another blog for another time ;)

Father processed in wearing the black garments that I had taught my students about, but never actually seen for myself. There are very few occasions on which black vestments are worn. Even the funerals I've been to have been white, purple, or green vestments depending on the priest and parish.

The readings were from Lamentations, Psalm 23, Paul's Letter to the Romans, and John's Gospel of Jesus as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." And while I was disappointed to not have the original readings for the day proclaimed on forgiveness, these certainly provided messages of comfort and hope.

The Mass ended in silence with no recessional hymn, but silence and four bell tolls which I thought was pretty powerful. I never ceased to be amazed at the power of silence.

As I drove to the gym and school this afternoon to complete my post-Mass Sunday routine of workout and lesson planning disciplines respectively, I forgot that I would be going past the Pentagon. Traffic was a little backed up because the Pentagon had provided additional police today. Security was heightened around the district this weekend, as you can imagine. Cars were no doubt stopping to see if anything was being done around the Pentagon today to commemorate the event. There wasn't anything that I could see, but I saw the large flag placed on the side of the building where the plane had crashed and I remembered.

Thank you for indulging me in this reflection. You all know I'm not a particularly patriotic person, but I am a reflective one :) And there is no doubt that this event affected us each deeply, regardless of faith or politics.

The hymn we sang at Mass today was the same one we sang at the Mass I helped to spread the word about 10 years ago:

"O God our Help in Ages Past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home."

We will never forget. And we should always remember our hope in Christ, especially on days like this.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School, Back to the Beloved

And Back to the Blog!

So, I totally just wrote my spiritual director an email and used these words: "Is there a time we can meet? I'M SURPRISINGLY NOT BUSY THIS MONTH."

Can you believe those words were uttered by a TEACHER?! In SEPTEMEBER?!

Ah, but I'm a SECOND YEAR teacher now, folks! And it makes a WORLD of difference, let me tell you.

(I also cannot say enough about how much I love having my own classroom! Teaching six classes last year in five different classrooms suuuucked and I knew that. I guess I didnt' realize how much so until now when I GET TO TEACH IN THE SAME PLACE ALL DAY EVERYDAY. I AM VERY EXCITED. CAN YOU TELL?)

So since my return to the classroom has been less stressful this year I can turn my eyes to greater things, right? Sure! Like in the first reading today:

"Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above...
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth
- Col. 3:1-2

I have been trying to keep to my summer routine as much as I can: gym, prayer, research paper, rinse, repeat. So today I headed to Adoration after work to take me some prayer time.

I remembered that I had been all about focusing on "the Beloved" BACK IN JUNE. WHICH WAS NOW THREE MONTHS AGO. What the?!

How did I forget to delve into that concept? How did I fail to make that a part of my prayer for MONTHS!? Where did the summer gooooooo????

Whenever I get real angry A.) it's usually because I haven't had coffee yet. MANY people can attest to this and you can rectify the situation by GIVING ME SOME. or 2.) I use THIS as my go to book to calm me down and re-discover the "warm fuzzies":

Tonight I opened up to a passage I marked a little over three years ago. It was (not surprisingly) exactly what I need to hear today. I'm not going to include the exact passage 'cause it's gonna make me sound like I was all depressed or something when I went to the chapel but that's NOT the case. I'm not sitting at home crying playing R.E.M. all day...things are GOOD, remember? But I was having a MOMENT. Sometimes I do that. Anyways...

If you are unfamiliar with the book "He and I" 1.) it is AWESOME. B.) It is written by a lay woman but it's her journal with the words of Jesus. ("She writes what Jesus speaks to her" is a less awkward way of saying that ;).

So as not to seem like I'm one step away from ordering a bunch of cats to keep me company, I'm going to give you some OTHER examples OTHER than what I read tonight- (even if it was PERFECT and what I needed) from "He and I" that are very uplifting:

January 10- Holy Hour
"Don't you love this hour when we come close to one another in such intimacy that My thoughts seem to be yours? It's as though our souls were one inside the other. And how can My joy be described? The joy of your Christ who yearns so much for oneness with His children that He invented the Eucharist in order to merge with them..."

Awww, Jesus! I'm blushing!

"Wake up loving Me. Hunt for Me, and I'll let Myself be caught. You will win and we will begin the game again...it will be another way for Me to keep you 'very close'..."

So sweet!


"April 23- Even though you don't always feel Me beside you, I never leave you. Sometimes I come nearer...I hide behind a veil so that you may learn to walk by faith..."

What a charmer! You can hopefully see why this book never ceases to make me leave the chapel feeling peaceful and loved. So I'm picking it up again as I RE-focus on "the Beloved" these days.

Speaking of going back to things...Back to School night is tomorrow. I pretty much remember it being the worst thing ever last year. Not because of parents or anything but who likes the idea of teaching all day, then going BACK to school from 7-10pm, only to teach AGAIN the next day ALL day. WHO likes this idea, I ask?

Ah, but I can't complain. I gots my own classroom this year and my warm & fuzzy "He and I" book and that makes everything kind of better right now.