Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Love's as Warm as Tears"


"Love's as Warm as Tears" by C. S. Lewis

Love's as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

Love's as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts - infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love's as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song hung in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering, "Dare! Dare!"
To sap, to blood,
Telling "Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best."

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and His.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Decisions, decisions...

So having finally finished St. Augustine's "Confessions" last week, I need to decide which of the many awaiting spiritual works I'll tackle next.

Here are a few of my choices:

The biography of Blessed Pope John XXIII can wait a little, I think, but I definitely want to read it before he is canonized in April. Other than the fact that he called the Second Vatican Counsel, I know so little about him.

St. Rita is one of my favorite saints, ever since I heard her referred to in college as "the saint of impossible dreams," or a female St. Jude. She's on my go-to short(ish) list of saints I pray to regularly and, while I'm familiar with the rudiments of her story, would like to read it in more detail.

"Love and Responsibility" I've wanted to read for ages. I also have a feeling I could read "Praying with the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory" in tandem with another one of these books, say as a devotional before bed, even.

Tackling a re-read (or re-start, rather) of "No Man is an Island" probably deserves to be at the top of my list (see the above link), since I already started it once.

The book on the bottom I think I discovered in a Leaflet Missal catalog. It's an 1897 reprint about Catholic nuns aiding the wounded during the Civil War. It's a part of history, despite knowing a fair bit of the about the Civil War, that I'm completely unfamiliar with, which ergo makes it fascinating to me.

Right, so Merton first, I think, then the Civil war nuns. :)

Romantic proposals

We've all seen them: viral YouTube videos (or, I'm dating myself here, when TLC had a show -- a spin-off of "A Wedding Story" -- called "A Proposal Story") of men proposing to their girlfriends in grand manner with marching bands, dancing flash mobs, family members flown or Skyped in, celebrity help or personal films played in rented movie theaters. They're fun and utterly joyful to watch, and you have to commend these guys for putting so much planning and effort into that special moment.

There's nothing wrong and so many things right about them, but I've never wanted that.

I think just about any woman has imagined at some point (barring those who discerned religious life from an early age) how they would like -- or not like -- a man to propose to them, even if the face of the man is still hazy. I, for example, don't want to be proposed to at a sporting event, in a jewelry store (ugh, that one Zales commercial actually makes me cringe a bit), at any store or restaurant for that matter or at a giant family gathering ( for either side). Call me selfish, but -- should I be fortunate in that regard -- I've always wanted that moment to belong just to me and the man who will be my husband. Some of the most beautiful proposal stories I've heard from my now married or engaged girlfriends are the ones where the men planned something personal, yet private, whether it was on a beach, up a mountainside or in a church.

And the other day, going through my Feedly feed, was this post by Ann Voskamp, "The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men — and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring," which I find incredibly beautiful. 

In it, her sons ask how their dad proposed, and when she says it was without fanfare in a car, pulled over on the side of the road on a cold winter's night, and that he even (shockingly!) didn't drop to one knee, their immediate response is "how boring!"

Voskamp explains to her sons, however, that it isn't the proposal that makes a life, but  "how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic."

She doesn't argue that romance is bad, because it isn't at all. But she goes on:

"Romance isn’t measured by how viral your proposal goes. The internet age may try to sell you something different, but don’t ever forget that viral is closely associated with sickness – so don’t ever make being viral your goal.
Your goal is always to make your Christ-focus contagious – to just one person.
It’s more than just imagining some romantic proposal.
It’s a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing — that’s imagining true romance. ... The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs."

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Let it begin with me

So at mass on Sunday, I was in a great mood. I'd been to the Audrey Assad concert the night before (it was essentially an hour and a half of praise and worship, which was wonderful and much needed), and woken up at 6:15, thanks to the time change, then made some progress in reading St. Augustine's confessions (which I've been reading off and on for over a year now -- but I'm almost done!).

Like I said, great mood, the priest gave a wonderful homily, and I wasn't even minding the cantor's overly operatic musical stylings that typically distract me completely from the mass. I was sitting on the end of a pew, and next to me was an older man, easily in his 80s. I got up and went to communion and got hung up in the line for the precious blood, so because the pew had filled from the opposite end, walked all the way around the section of pews to come back to my seat. When I got there, I found the old man had moved both my purse and my sunglasses over and taken my spot!

He moved off the kneeler and let me back into the pew as soon as I tapped his shoulder, but it was amazing how fast my great mood started to fizzle, and I could feel myself getting annoyed. My internal dialog as I knelt went something like this:

"That man took my seat! And he moved my stuff! How dare he?! That's so rude! I would never do that! Does he think just because he's ancient he can do whatever he wants? I bet he just wants to duck out so he can win the race of other seniors out of the parking lot....But wait, I just received Jesus in the Eucharist, I shouldn't be letting myself be angry. Be charitable, be charitable, Lord please help me to be charitable."

Guess what the closing hymn was?

"Let there be Peace on Earth."

And I started to laugh silently to myself. "Let begin with me," indeed! It turned out that my supposition about the man was wrong, as he didn't leave until the hymn was over. I have no idea about why he actually felt the need to move over and take the spot at the end of the pew previously occupied by me (I guess I can't really call it mine, either, since the pews don't exactly have assigned seating). But I got to thinking as I drive home that that's all it takes, something that small and quick, for us to take our eyes off the Lord get off track, and for the devil to slither in, even when we've been focusing on prayer.