Prepare, Prepare, Get Ready, Get Set

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Prepare, prepare, get ready, get set.

Prepare, prepare, and don’t forget.

This is a special time of year.

Christmas is coming, Advent is here.

Prepare, prepare, make ready, make way,

to hear the story of Christmas Day.

Prepare, prepare, the time has come,

soon we will welcome Mary’s son.

 

I heard this on an online Advent Calendar from Ireland – there are two short audios, both recorded by a young Irish boy and they are both lovely. Listen HERE if you would like.

 

 

 

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Is What We (Who are Not Pumpkins) Need Here?

early novThis is the sunrise in Ripley Ohio today.

My stomach has been in knots for several days now – in no small part to the terrorist events in our world – far and near.

For me, my sadness is only in part about the bombings in Africa, and Beirut, and Paris – it’s about noise. Our world is so full of superficial noise. I don’t want that for my grandchildren.

That is not what I want for them. I want more than for them to know that Granny’s new favorite phrase in ASL is “my hear is your heart.” I want more than to teach them to say that to me in silence. I want more than to sing them to sleep. I want far more than to hear their squeaky little voices. I want them to trust the world beyond the front door…beyond the village borders.

I want them to trust the feeling of joy – but if I don’t – how can they? And I don’t.

As I get older I question joy, all….of….the….time.

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Every year at this time I have the same dilemma, one that is shared with the couple of weeks that come before Lent: how will I celebrate Advent this year?

“What do you need this year?” I ask myself – “Where are you hurting? What do you need to deepen? Question? Celebrate? Learn? Strategize?”

Don’t know about you, (you who do the Advent thing that is….) but it’s a matter of setting up routines. Likely, most people fall into the comfort of old routine – pull out or make the wreath, gather a prayer book, set aside a few extra minutes.

But of all church seasons….Advent means the most to me because it is about quiet. I love quiet as a way of life more, and more, and more….every day.

Neurotic am I though….part and parcel of not coming into the world as a pumpkin in a patch or a set of shoes on a store shelf – I worry.

So, every year at this time ruminations are about what routine will be set forth in a week or so for the next month of preparations for……drumroll…

the

                                                          holidays.

This year I’m going to try and write.

My prayers, unless they go in a different direction…will be about abandon. The process of finding work, making friends, committing to a bit of a career shift, and enjoying the luxury and privilege of yet another educational gig – it has softened me. I hadn’t realized how lonely and bitter I’d become because…well,

because I’m not a pumpkin or a shoe.

So, that’s that….here are the flagship words that sit by my desk and tempt me to walk out the door as I do these days….

“What We Need is Here” ~ Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith; what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

Lord have mercy.

End of the Semester Insomnia Rambling Thoughts

grad“In truth,

who we are is fiercer than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

The good thing is this – it’s only four times a year or so. I’ve been through much worse… I’ve struggled with insomnia – really scary amounts of it at a few points in time, for around 14 years now. Before that it was the “normal” kind. Worried about a test, up all night with the baby, excited to marry the man of my dreams…. But – by and large, I’ve got routines and interventions in place that have these all nighters narrowed down to four times a year or so. And the great thing is – it’s not really any longer a gigantic big deal.

It’s kind of like going to the dentist. It’s a little bit like getting ready for a birthday party.

It sometimes reminds me of childbirth.

It’s no worse than waiting on an oil change.

It’s like meeting a new gynecologist for the first time and finding out that he is old, ugly and short.

Oh well. C’est la vie, right?

No – these quarterly lay awake all night episodes have a scientific link – it happens with every season change. Go ahead and roll your eyes if you need to about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a thing. It’s on my chart and lands me a half-dozen or so check ups a year to be sure that my GrandPlansToSleep a solid 8 most nights of the year has fallen off course.

And, yes – it’s all in my head.

Which happens to contain my brain.

Which creates (and doesn’t create) chemicals that lead to a decent day after day and night after night… Yet….in the end….my hope is this: I never want a Dark Night of the Soul episode…ever…again. Literally. I can’t control that I suppose, but I dread the idea that the night may become my enemy at some point again. Night is for sleep. I’d rather wrestle demons in the day time, thank you very much. long range kitchen color plan So…last night I never did fall asleep.

I tried every single trick, of which I have honed to approximately a dozen. No luck. Oh well. Instead, I got sleepy watching “Madmen” for the first time with the volume too low to hear and my glasses off. (trick #8) Oh my goodness – that looks like an awesome series. Note to self.

And then, I got sleepy enough that my muscles started to twitch and my mind settled while listening to Kate Rusby on Pandora. (trick #2) No luck. She broke out into a fiddle reel and I got wound up about needing a passport if I’m ever going to Ireland.

So, I broke my CardinalRule of stay horizontal until 5 a.m. and brewed some coffee at 4:00. But…. at those several points when I tried to pray (trick #1, #7 & #12) they all kept landing back on hearing words like “you deserve this” and “don’t give up” and “just keep moving.” Motivational poster sayings. I HATE motivational poster sayings. So I became annoyed and woke right back up…

What brought me peace and lead to the decision to break my lay still until 5 a.m. rule was that for just a moment – I had a teeny, tiny little moment of: “you are enough.”

My nanosecond of real calm doesn’t change the fact that I have a crap pile of life to untangle…but for a moment as I was en route to dozing to a Celtic tune – I let myself be strong. So, if you too are experiencing your quarterly Spring to Summer Serotonin Spiritual Review – feel free to skip straight to giving yourself an A+ and consider this quote by Nancy Collier. I feel pretty certain that she is a Deaf woman who I quoted in a paper…she could also be someone else – it’s a sticky note quote on my desk that I just noticed…maybe she is Kate Rusby’s lead fiddle player, and is blind…who knows. At any rate…

“In truth,

who we are is

fiercer

than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

Mary Oliver: Wild Geese

 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

Found a quote about Fortitude

asl love hands

(artist and source on the internet unknown. Please leave a comment with information if you know who did this awesome work.)

I just came back from breakfast with a new friend.

I am so thankful to be settling in even further into our new community.

We mostly talked about trying to get into shape so that we can enjoy our respective jobs for as long as possible. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up though, and I just now found this quote that I had jotted in my “get healthy” journal:

“You will always be
the bread
and

the knife,

not to mention the crystal

and-

somehow-

the wine.”

(by poet Billy Collins.

I made the line breaks up myself – something that is a big no, no in the world of poetry…but in the interest of time…there you go.

p.s. I think when I did research on the poem a while ago I found out that he wrote it either because of a painful divorce, or to make fun of sappy break up poetry that is not good literature. I can’t remember which and my son is currently banging a basketball against the wall, so I’d better not dilly dally at the keyboard.

Why Mr. Collins wrote it and what it meant to him at the time does matter… but I like it today because it reminds me of communion and Catholic prayers about the Communion of the Saints.

And I like cheese, and I like wine.)

Holiday Stress? Watch the Roches Perform Handel’s Hallelujah

Our family had a very, very challenged couple of weeks as we awaited Santa. It feels like Jesus came tumbling by way of a King’s Island roller coaster this year.

On my side of the family – no hitches: all three major trans USA move transitions went fine. All systems, go, go go! (Doing the thankful daughter/sister/mom dance in my mind because when I try to do even a mini office chair samba my brain sort of explodes and my hip dislocates a bit).

Why even try to samba? Because my people are happy and that’s the goal:

1. My brother is in proud dad heaven as my niece grabbed the golden ring of what she wants to do with her life, 2. My cousin who survived hurricane Irene on Long Isle and I still love each other more than anyone, 3. My aunt and uncle’s children seem to be doing especially well this year, and,

4. My father?! Holy smokes. When I talked to him on Christmas day he sounded happier than he has, honestly,

since well before my mother died of colon cancer eight years ago.

What favorite daughter of the best dad in the world isn’t trying to reach THAT brass ring? Eh?

John Fugiel troop Douglas McEwan photog.With a little bit of help from my brother and I, his perfectly laid out plan to organize, sell his home and move permanently to Florida is, as he would say: “Finito!” Done.

It worked! The rewards of his hard work to grieve and retire at the same time seem to be that his new neighbor Rose loves him (he killed and threw away the scary dead snake in the road), my cousins went from enjoying to adoring his company (he reminds them of our grandfather), and even dad’s doctors love him it seems. (Aka: He is being compliant to their plans and in return his kidney disease issues are at a standstill for now).

In addition, though his favorite new walking park let him down mightily by closing off a path so they could chase away alligators by draining a pond, his life seems to be moving at his perfecto pace at last. Hell. After two years of weekly poker losses, he says that he’s now even winning some card hands now.

If you’ve ever met my dad even once for ten minutes, you’d agree that his life is now wonderful indeed.

Boo, and YA world! High fives all around the globe.

I imagine that you, whoever you are: stranger or not, I imagine that you are staring at your PhoneComputerTouch screen and thinking, “and this made your 2012 Christmas a disaster because…?”

…there’s more of course.

On my adoring Sleigh Driver’s side of the family, elder care issues

have come home to roost in epic proportion.

If your Christmas celebrations have you feeling like this:

(click the word BESTBEST if you have 5 minutes to watch and hear a righteous cool Handel’s Messiah rendition.Thank you SO much @JamesMartinSJ and @suzzyroche – that tweet share last night has me confused about whether or not this is the best or worst Christmas season I’ve celebrated in my 45 years.)

Or, if you feel a bit guilty that you didn’t have a crappy or complicated holiday season, just google

sudden onset of dementia

and your heart will break just enough to empathize with my favorite husband.

He has a very, very large German family in a lovely rural Appalachian corner of Ohio. We have all helped take care of his grandmother for a couple of years now as she has had some health issues. Despite those efforts, she has suddenly become what I can only describe as a five foot GermanHandful of frustration and occasional cuteness.

She was and will always be the Matriarch of, I exaggerate not, dozens, which if you count the great-great-greats, is probably more like hundreds.

But. She apparently kept us all fooled that it was perfect apple pie that was keeping us in line and clicking our rosaries for the last 100 years. It was actually her mind.

Over the past 20 years she has become blind, deaf, and in the last year or so has developed mobility issues. We’re trying to figure out what she needs most, and my SO not an “expert at geriatric care” opinion is that “Little Grandma” has been suffering from some normal oxygen loss which results in tired thinking issues. In turn, this is creating a sudden onset of dementia that is moving faster than is easy to manage for her two daughters.

I didn’t expect that my mother in law and I would be at her kitchen table trying to figure out if all of a sudden Little Grandma has Alzheimer’s or not.

You’d think since my mother in law is a librarian and I’ve mostly been a teacher or student we could combine our tired noggins and figure that out at least a little bit.

Not so much over just one cup of lukewarm peppermint tea.

For now, my approach is going to be to watch and re-watch that music video of the Roches singing Alleluia that I found on Twitter while finally giving myself a Christmas sixty minutes alone.

AP wire: Fatal Shooting at Empire State Building

In the longer post I just put up, I researched muppet images. My hope was to sweep away my worry and sadness about current and very real cosmic powers of darkness.

Because it was fun, and my sons are safely in their corners of the world for a few more short hours, It helped.

A lot.

Yet, at exactly the same time, folks were gunned down in Grover’s own fair city.

“Fatal Shooting at Empire State Building” 

~ New York TImes, AP report, 45 minutes ago

Saints preserve us.