Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not So Complicated

Flying home, the college lady next to me mentioned she was in a “complicated” relationship with someone back home. I smiled and said I’d been there.

“Make sure you draw clear lines,” I said. “Relationships don’t have to be complicated.”

Perhaps this sounds too simplistic – as I fear the lady took it – because life itself is full of complications. But if it’s the wrong time for one person, it’s the wrong person for both parties. If this is the case, it is time to step back and seek perspective on what God could have planned for us during this season of our life.

In Isaiah, God says that he knew us before we were knit in our mother’s womb. In Tobit, he speaks of putting two people together before they were born. Yet, this is not to say that one specific person is destined to only be with another specific person. A highly romantic notion, to be sure, but also an unlikely one. That idea puts limitations on God’s creation and takes away the beauty of two people who choose to marry, verses two people whom accept that they are destined to be married.

Love is of God, and God allows people to be compatible with more than one person, just as people could be happy and able to do many different jobs or live in a variety of locations. God works between the cracks of choice and acts of free will. God has plans for us: follow his commandments, love and be loved. The rest is expendable.

It is easy to talk about the hook-up culture, tsk at the people who participate, explain intellectually why playing with such emotions through a physical relationship is damaging in the long-term; but in the short-term, it is much, much harder to break out of it. The people involved are not looking for easy love – they’re looking for any kind of love. They want authentic love and they’re scared it might pass them by. They have a hard time grasping an emotion without a touch, a pursuit without a guarantee, a promise worth forever.

The place to start is yourself and with the company you keep. When you ask your friends for advice, do you often turn to God as well? He is no fair-weathered friend. He may know all, but he still wants you to ask and show that you value him. Make time to pray and find quiet within so as to listen better. Frequent the sacraments for grace and read the day’s mass readings. God talks to all of us through the Holy Scripture.

The more we turn to God as our friend, the more readily our complicated situation will have more light shed upon it and the right road shall be easier to tread.

Originally posted at Ignitum Today

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Would You Write To A Baby?

Meg at Held By His Pierced Hands wrote a fantastic note to her new baby niece, part of which is excerpted here:
 Because, sweet one, you are so loveable and you are so loved. Your parents have loved you since the moment they knew about you and maybe even longer. They have longed for you and ached for you. You are a miracle. And oh, darling girl, this life is going to be so hard on you. People will hurt you and ignore you.

You will fail in ways that seem earth-shattering. There will be days when you don't know why you bother. But I have seen through to the other side of suffering and I know that there is joy. Through the darkness of heartbreak and mourning, dawn breaks again, brighter even than before.

Hope, dear one. Trust that there is meaning in life, in suffering, even.When you can't see the purpose, step back to look at the beauty of this world. Sit in a dimly lit room with Nora Jones and a cup of peppermint tea. Keep company with Claude Monet and John Donne. Just once, climb a mountain by yourself to watch the sunset from the top. And when your heart aches beyond imagining, Rachmaninov.

Fight for the weak (I know your daddy will teach you that), rejoice in beauty, read till your eyes hurt (Mommy will be proud), and oh, baby girl, love until you have nothing left. That's what makes life great. As you take on this world, I wish you passion and joy, a cause to fight for, and a home that comforts your weary heart. I wish you a life filled with beauty and laughter and music and simple pleasures. I wish you a love that calls you out of yourself and makes you greater. I wish you an open heart and an open mind and the wisdom to cling to what is true. I wish you strength to endure suffering and loving arms to hold you up when your strength is gone. I wish you loyal friends who challenge you. I wish you peace but never complacency, success in many things but not all, and a life of laughter tinged with tears. I wish you a road that sometimes seems too steep, sometimes too rocky, sometimes too dull, and I wish you the determination to press on. Dear heart, I wish you a wild, mixed-up, terrifying, joyful, confusing, incredible life.

Sweet girl, I love you already! I'm counting down the days. 
 I think this is a lovely idea. I only have one married friend couple whom have a baby, and then one of my best friends is preggers and skipping my wedding so she can have her peanut. I just visited the aforementioned couple last weekend, and I have until December for the second - so I think it's time to start writing letters to babies!

What would you write to a baby?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Crying and Dying, And Life In Between

Tonight, I came home from work, too tired to even eat dinner, and decided that I was going to watch part of a movie for laughs. I picked Big Fish. Two hours later, I emerged, sobbing wildly and starving.

Big Fish is the story of an estranged father and son. The father, Edward Bloom, is a teller of tall tales (well, they're certainly not short) and the son, Will, would prefer the facts. Will feels he does not know his father, and he holds a grudge against him for not being around more when he was younger.

Three years after one-story-too-many, they come back together as the father is dying, and it is through this passage of time that more is revealed. The movie is itself a tall tale, truth mixed with imagination, fantastical, and shows the power of love and kindness to overcome any situation.

I've already spoiled it for some of you, if you like guessing endings, by knowing that I sobbed and sobbed and could hardly breathe I was crying so hard.

But life isn't about the ending to the story, and neither is this movie. It's the journey Edward Bloom had and the adventure he made his life into. It's amazing and it's worth crying over. The beauty of his life is what touched me and moved me to tears.

I used to be embarrassed by crying. It took many years and not enough tears to teach me differently. I no longer, for instance, think it is a weakness to cry, though I still try to resist. When I told my fiance I probably wouldn't cry at our wedding, he kindly reminded me that I cry during P&G commercials. (Those were happy tears! Yes! Happy!)

So what changed? What makes me [more] okay with crying now?

Would you believe me if I told you Christ made it okay? Could you see a genuine conversion if I said he broke open my heart and poured in his forgiveness? He softened my need to be strong for me; now, he cries with me, and laughs with me, and is always with me, even in despondency.

I cried because I saw my own dad in Edward Bloom -- a teller of tall tales, a warm smile and quick laugh. I cried because of all the people whose stories we also saw in the movie - people whose lives were made better by Edward Bloom - were there at the end.

Isn't that what we want to imagine Heaven is like? A giant coming home gathering, where everyone is there and everyone is happy to see you. And God! God is there, and God is love, and you are completely enveloped and overwhelmed by that love. It's just too much. So you cry.

I think about death a lot. I know this sounds morbid, and maybe it is, but bear with me. I think about death because I value my one scrawny life so much. I think about death because I miss people whom have passed from this life and into the next. I think about death because it's real, just like the judgement I'll face after this life is real. I think about death because there are people I can't imagine living without, and I have to remind myself to pray for them so as to never, ever, ever lose hope.

If there is one thing Christ gave us, it's hope. Hope for the future, hope for our lives, and hope for renewal of all. Nothing is out of his reach and nothing is outside his redemption. I cling to that hope when I'm having a rough day. I rejoice in that hope when I think of my fiance and my elation that we are joining our lives together. I am blessed by the hope that my family will all be together in Paradise when the day comes that we cannot be together here on earth.

Big Fish is a movie worth watching. It is thoughtful and charming, and the cast is excellent. It is more than a story worth telling: it is a story worth hearing. Death is never the ending. If you watch it, I hope it touches the crags of your heart; and if you're moved to smile and laugh and cheer and cry, you're in good company.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from. (T.S. Eliot, from "Burnt Norton")