Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yet Another Layer of the Onion Peeled Away

Tonight was my last class of faith formation. I signed up to be an aide for an 8th grade class. For the previous 3 years, I was teaching 4 year olds. By the end of this year, I would consider myself a co-teacher. There were several nights where I was standing there, vulnerable, scared and generally feeling out of my element because fate would have it that *I* would have to lead the class. A few times, the real teacher would notify me last minute that she couldn't make it. So, instead of arranging for a sub, I just took the situation for what it was worth and made the most of it.

Thinking over the last 8 months or so, I reflected on how I have grown. I also reflected on my opinion or prejudgements of the kids in the beginning of the year versus the end. Wow! What a difference in opinion I have! And I am ever grateful that I have the openness to change opinions (some of you would call that 'being female' or 'womens perogative', and to you I say: Yeah, SO! ~~ just before I stick my tongue out at you.)

I was terrified of 14/15 year olds. I thought: they will disrespect authority. They won't participate in class discussions. They'll sense my fear and like a bear will eat me alive. On the first day, one girl asked, "uhh Miss, is this for 14 year olds? 8th graders?" I said enthusiastically all doe-eyed, "yes! it sure is!". She responds, "oh. Well, uhhh, I'm 18. I don't think I'm supposed to be here." I panick (she looked 18!). Then she busts out laughing and relieves my panic by saying 'just kidding Miss!" Grrrrr. So, with that experience, I was proven right, right?

I was wrong.

Very wrong.

These kids *displayed* the holy spirit to me and *each other*! During a prayer service one night in the youth room, we went outside, in the dark. We had a lit candle. We stood in a circle. Each kid prayed a heartfelt prayer *out loud*. They prayed for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, for a family in our parish that recently suffered tragedy, for their friends and families, they prayed do better in math, reading, homework. They asked for patience. The asked for comfort. My pre-judgement I spoke of above had me pigeonholing them as "IF the even participate, they'll want to do it silently". During the school year, as we got to know one another better, they were interested in my story. The asked questions about my annullment, my baptism, etc. It was really cool to capture their interest. Then we played bible-themed hangman. hahahahaha

Thank God I was wrong! Thank you, Lord, for peeling back that next layer of my blinded spirit and bringing me still closer to You and allowing me to see another beam of light.

Of course, God might be going easy on me since it's my first time 'round the block officially (termed loosely) teaching. He's trying to make sure I'll come back.

Coming back next year is my crossroads right now. Granted, I would love to continue with these kids into 9th grade. Or, I could teach a whole new set of 8th graders. But, I miss my family. Which is the higher calling ~~ my motherhood or my discipleship? Either way I know I'm serving, being a witness and a steward. I'm just not sure; so I'll pray. Which brings me to another philosophy by which I have learned to live: pray twice as much as you fret.

Happy Summer! And to all you kiddos that made my first year of teaching 8th grade catechism: thanks for making it less scary. Good luck with high school. Come find me in chruch anytime! Love you all!

Besos y abrazos.....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wishing Upon Falling Stars

It's done.

Just like my cowboys, the Stars have fallen. I'm wishing for better things for my fallen Stars....

I even held out hope for Calgary since my employer has a Calgary office. Nope. They lost, too.

It's going to be a long, dry summer.

I know, I know. If I was really a fan of hockey -- as in the inherent sport -- I wouldn't be so despondent. But it's because of the Stars that I even started watching hockey. I do plan on keeping up with road to the Stanley Cup, but not with as much intensity as I would have if the Stars had advanced. Sigh.

(At least NFL draft day is around the corner!!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Worm

My Eldest is so creative. It's all that reading she does! I love her imagination. Sometimes it surprises me. She can be so literaly and analytical, that I wondered for a long time if she even has imagination. She also is a girl who can read at above 6th grade level (she's only 6 years old) but can't button her own pants after going potty. God love her....

Last night at suppertime, Eldest randomly says, "....in Shel Silverstien's book, there's a poem about if you were an inch tall, you could ride a worm to school."

Looks dart back and forth between the adults.

Smiles curl.

Me: oh really?
Eldest: yeah. and know what else? And if I was only an inch tall, a cotton ball could be my bed.
Me to my mom and husband: how cute is she??!

We all smile.

Eldest (this is the cutest image...): and when an ant cries a tear, it can be my swimming pool.

Hoaky, I know, but I melted. What beautiful imagery, huh?

Okay, so imagination alive! Yay!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Daaaaa Starce



I'm rooting.


Even though we are Texan, I'm rooting.


Even though they transplanted for Hockey Centrale, I'm rooting.


Even though Texas rarely gets snow, we get ice, and therefore, I'm rooting.




I'm a huge sports buff, but NFL is my thing...not NHL. I'm a rookie when it comes to being an NHL fan. I can hear you now, 'ohhhh, you're one of those *fairweather* fans who likes a team when they're winning!' WRONG! ASS! I liked the Stars since before I moved to Dallas 10 years ago, and have ever since. I certainly couldn't tell you all the names of the best players, or spout stats, or even tell you their record this year. But it's a kick-ass sport with high energy, a fast-pace, complex rules (icing??huh??), toothless men and lotsa other cool stuff. I like it, and will continue to learn it. Allthewhile...rooting for YOUR Dallas Stars.




By the by -- total sidebar -- my favorite thing about going to the games, besides them winning, is the National Anthem. Whenever 'stars' is sung, the whole AAC audience screams "STARS". Wowee...am I an easily entertained date, or what?




All tht being said, YOUR Dallas Stars are in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. We are hoping to bring back the Glory O '99. Let's hope we can do it.....Right now, we are down 2-1 vs. the Canucks.




What the hell is a Canuck?? I had to look up the definition because their team jersey has a shark or some weird sea animal thingie on the front of it attempting to be ferocious. I pondered, 'is a canuck really a type of shark or other sea animal thingie?'. I hopped onto encarta @ MSN and looked it up. Comically, a foul language warning flashed and I had to acknowledge that I was indeed over age 18 (God bless them over there at Encarta thinkin I look that young...). So I happily press "continue" and the page flashes the definition. I had to laugh out loud. What's so offensive?? I guess I'm not Candienne, so I don't get it (re: definition two). However, it clearly has nothing to do with sharks or sea animal thingies as seen here:






Canucks are Canadians. Yawn. No wonder they need a ferocious looking shark or sea animal thingie.




Good luck STARS!




Bon soir mes amis,


~Moi

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easterbabble

Last night, we went to Easter Vigil Mass. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of a vigil Mass, it is the Saturday evening mass that sort of 'takes the place' of going to church on Sunday. I live for the vigil Mass because I love football and sleeping in too much (sorry God).

My 2 favorite things about the Vigil Mass: the Ceremony of Light and the Baptisms.

Adult baptisms are so different that infant baptisms even though they are serving the same purpose. And as I watched the baptisms last night, I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy because the new Christians being purified and welcomed into the community of the Body of Christ. Happy because I remember that just last year, I was being submerged by the gentle hands of a loving priest who had the biggest grin on his face when he said, "Monica, I baptize you in the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit". I'll never forget begin drenched in warm water, being lifted up to the top step and looking up at the crucifix in our church. I wanted to cry but I didn't. I felt so much peace, joy and relief. SAD because I won't ever get to do that again. SAD because I realize how much I have to work to keep my salvation. I'll never get the 'free pass' again. I have to meet God halfway, y'know? Anyway...it was bittersweet.

And then....today....the Great Easter Egg Hunt of 2007. Four little girls ranging from age 1 to 6 all looking for eggs. Not that hard considering the yard is yay big and we had roughly ohhh 5127 eggs to 'hide'. So, the yard is rainbow colored covered in various eggs: soccer theme, polka dots, flowered, bespeckled, and 'plain'. Did you know they make eggs representing the head of Spiderman now?? (Poor Spidey. I wonder if he feels like he's accomplished all he can outta life now...) The girls scoop up Target bags full of eggs because they had so much loot that their giant baskets overflowed and overflowed and ohhhhverflowed.

The eggs are paraded into the house where 3 of the 4 girls who can talk proceeded to open EACH egg in front of all us adults and announce in their squealy voices each prize that was hidden in the egg. It's hard to stay enthusiastic about ANOTHER bendy bunny and ANOTHER Snickers. Imagine 3 mousy voices, all sweet like angels, high on sugar and Easter celebrating going through over 5K eggs with little prizes (most of which don't have much practical purpose really. I mean are we ever going to use the Easter themed erases in a lifetime??) I appreciate the thoughts and gestures (even though it sounds like I don't) but I am filing this kind of activity under the same file as my "Christmas gift giving" one. I don't know what we'll do with bendy bunnies and whatnot.

So Lent is over and it is the Easter season. I am ever grateful to be baptized and I love the light that Jesus has lit inside me, which perseveres eternally, radiation in those around me that I know intimately, am barely acquainted with and joined with globally as a part of the Body of Christ. The rest I can do without -- well, except for the immeasureable memory of the girl's smiles, their pretty dresses, their sweet curiousity and of course, the squealing.

He is Risen! Rejoice!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Church Chat

Any of you familiar the Catholic faith know that this is pretty much the holiest time of year. I'm not here to convert you or witness. Just...bloggin' my experiences....

So, the last 6 or so weeks, we've been in Lent. Lent is all about being in the desert for 40 days with Christ. It's about cleansing your soul, stripping down to nothing and no one except you and God. It's about finding your demons and overcoming them. It's about facing temptation and denouncing it. It's about sacrifice and weakness. It's about personal crucifixions and being resurrected in light each time something bad in you dies. It's about ultimately being more Christ-like.

Powerful.

And that's just the desert part.

Today is Holy Thursday. Mass was 2 hours. It's pretty much my favorite night because the act portrayed in the Mass is so simple yet screams of incredible humility. The act I'm referring to is the washing of the feet. In case you are unfamiliar, this is the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to show them that we should all serve one another. Even Jesus -- the Almighty -- the One -- the Son of God -- the Most Important Being EVER -- washed the dirty nasty crusty feet of his disciples. So...at church, the priests wash the feet of the catechumens and candidates who are to be joined in the church on Easter. It's a lovely ceremony. I especially am fond of the action of an authority figure being in a servant role. Maintains balance, y'know?

Tomorrow is Good Friday. I will go to the Stations of the Cross at 3:00. This is another favorite prayer ritual. Basically, it's the Passion depicted in icons. You will find these same icons in every Catholic church. Of course, the artwork will vary, but the acts are all the same. Some examples are: Christ Carries His Cross, Jesus falls for the 3rd time; Jesus meets his mother, Jesus is laid in the tomb....and my particular favorite: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus (future blog about Veronica coming -- stay tuned!). Anyway, the prayer sequence basically is interactive and it is meditative on each icon. The icon should speak to you. Themes might be obedience, thanksgiving, etc. Very deep. I haven't been to Stations in a few years now. I am determined to make it tomorrow. :)

Enough of the church chat for now.... thanks for reading!

Looking forward to the Feast,
Me

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vacation!

I took vacation time from work this morning and dedicated it to My Eldest. She's been asking almost all school year for me to come and eat lunch with her. If their lunch wasn't at 10 freakin 45 in the mornin, I'd do it a lot more...and *without* having to take vacation time! But I digress....

My Eldest has also asked me all school year to please try to attend Mass with her one morning. Every Wednesday, the children of the school attend Mass "in the big church". Several friends at church have also encouraged me to come because "it's so special"..."it's like something you've never seen"..."to hear the kids sing!" (then they make the sign of the cross).

In order to fulfill these requests, my brain went into overdrive last week, and it's processing went something like this:
1. It's Lent. Lent means more prayer, more almsgiving and fasting.
2. How can I pray more?
3. I can attend church a little more.
4. Hey! Eldest wants me to go to the children's Mass sometime....
5. Hey! How about Holy Week?? That'd be *perfect*!
6. Heyyyy! I could have lunch with her *too* -- all in ONE lovely day!

Wow.

I'm brilliant. (Now I just gotta work on that fasting part...)

After my brainstorm settled, I got things all planned out. My Eldest was thrilled. I was thrilled she was thrilled.

And, you know what? I can't believe I waited so long! I was moved to tears as Mass began. The children sang a beautiful processional song. (Even cooler, they signed it!) The sound of children's voices singing collectively in the name of God is truly a spirit-enhancing experience. I cannot convey in mere words the level of depth and warmth and unity I felt. When I was welcomed to the Church last Easter, I felt suddently (and unexpectedly) connected to the whole world. Today's experience went Beyond. I can't even describe it.

Processional is finished; we sit. I wiped away my tears and settled into the pew next to My Eldest. We hold each other's hands. Of course, she gets distracted and starts piddling around, but I listen intently on the message. (Preachy Side Bar: The message today was about how God so deeply yearns to forgive us for all our sins and inequities. He longs to love us and needs us to reach out to Him in our anxious and fearful times. God so wants to forgive and love us unconditionally that He sent us Jesus. Jesus fulfilled God's promise by being sacrificed. Big, giant, monumental concept, but such a simple message. Such a small act of faith and humility. Why is it so hard? I needed to hear that message. But I digress.... )

Throughout the Mass, the children sang songs familiar to them; most of which I had not heard before today. I am still riding upon the musical waves they created....

So...the Mass was wonderful and I am going to do it again before school gets out. As for lunch, I picked up Chick-Fil-A and took it back to the school. We shared chicken minis and fruit and a sweet tea. We were accompanied by the deacon and his granddaughter who is in My Eldest's class (they are quickly nurturing a cute lil friendship. It's so nice for My Eldest to have a girl friend!!) We exchanged stories about bugs and mangoes and Hawaii. It was quite a fun morning!

So, My Eldest, thank you for inviting Mommy to Mass and lunch. Thank you, Love, for being persisitent and patient. I love you so much!

xoxo