"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

31 December 2008

To me, the neatly planted rows of trees, each one right next to a formerly neatly planted stump, making a pathway to nothing in particular, seems to be ultimately pictoral mediatation on Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 (vanity of vanities).

Optimism (moved)

It occurred to me today that there is a strange optimism about graveyards. Putting up a monument, no matter how small, requires the fundamental belief that there will be another generation to come and see. Engraving a name, a date, a few words of description demand that we acknowledge that a single person made a difference, no matter who may remember him. The inscriptions assume that someone will want to know who lies here. None of these things are for the dead. Their bodies decay and they will one day be resurrected, re-made incorruptable. Cemetaries are not about who is buried there, but who walks among the stones; they are not about who has gone before but about who is yet to come. But perhaps, the past and the future are not so separable as one might think.

(For the curious, this is a snap of St. Matthew's burying grounds, Baden, PA.)

27 December 2008

The Day after Christmas (moved)

The Day after Christmas (Okay, really the second day of Christmas)

'Twas the day after Christmas
And all through the house,
Every creature was stirring
Except me and my spouse.
The stockings no more by the chimney, beware,
meant chocolate for breakfast for that boy with red hair.

The children arouse with great glee from their beds
to play with their goodies while I rested my head,
One boy on the computer,
and one sprawled 'cross the floor
laying out circuits,
while mom and dad snore.

When out from the hall there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
The toddler arisen had made off with wires
young electrician screamed, as if there were fires.

The battles beginning: "He's touching my stuff!"
"Can I play with that?" "Oh you've had enough!"
More rapid than eagles indeed the noise came
As they whistled, and shouted, called each other names.

Now mamma, now daddy, now parents come here!
My wiring is missing, it's the toddler I fear.
Then off ran the toddler as quick as a flash,
He climbed up the steps and made off in a dash.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the top bunk, the toddler, he flew
and middle child shouts, "that's mine! Not for you!"

And then in a twinkling, I heard down the stair,
the clicking and typing away without care,
Eldest boy on the computer intently did play,
His favorite new game, the day wasting away.

He was still in his PJ's from his head to his feet,
and he defeated the bad guys, oh boy what a treat!
A bundle of toys lay flung 'cross the floor
And I waded my way to the computer room door.

But his eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!
He conquered space pirates, those bad-guys so scary.
His sweet little face beamed with a fresh glow
"Mama! watch this! It's such a great show!"

A screech from the next room, the circuits, are grand
A fresh-made radio, he holds in his hand.
Then a splatter, a spill. I quick turn around,
And the toddler has poured his fresh milk to the ground.

I cleaned up the mess, just as quick as a flash,
but the next thing I knew, the boy'd made off in a dash.
wet pants and all, to avoid a clean-up
"I wan' wear train pj's all day until sup."

They spoke not a word, each went straight to his work
His circuits, his games, his trucks and damp shirt.
And laying a finger up high in his nose,
the youngest at least, had not slugged his big bro's.

And husband at work, with no school for the boys,
I'm left home alone to deal with the noise,
but to each little boy, with their eyes shining bright,
I love you the best. But early bedtime tonight.

26 December 2008

My most unusual Christmas gift (moved)

I have a dear friend, who over the years has come to know most of my quirks and still seems to love me anyway, who has two cats. I'm allergic to them. I'm really not all that fond of cats by nature... my mother hates them (she doesn't even like it when cats meander through her yard). I don't hate cats, but I don't really bond with them either. Big fat fluffy cats with long fur are the closest I get to actually liking cats. In fact, there was once a cat named Motor who I referred to as the only cat I ever truly liked.

My friend knows I'm allergic to cats. She reminds me when I'm visiting her to take my Claritin first. She's a neat friend. Her cats hide from me, a reasonable truce.

What my friend may not know is that I love the big cats... those astonishing combinations of elegance and power... lions, leopards, panthers and tigers. I love to visit them in zoos. The way they move, the sleek of their fur, the subtle motion that says "I could take you down right now, if I felt like it, but instead, I think I'll just move over here where it's sunny and wait." They do wait. I don't know for what. Perhaps they understand that there is much worth waiting for. Perhaps they're just waiting for a tasty photographer to come along.

And nobody expects me to pet and get cuddly with their big cat. I don't have to get close enough to them to find out if they make my eyes water and itch. Nobody calls a lion fluffy and thinks that I should adore the cutsie way he catches mice (and men).

My friend definitely gave me one of the most interesting and unusual gifts I got this year. She gave me a snow leopard. Yes, my own personal snow leopard. Its out there somewhere, though she doesn't expect me to feed or pet it. I never have to take it to the groomer's either, which would be quite an expense, no doubt. I don't have to board it (yikes) or changes its litter box (double yikes). But I have my own real snow leopard.

Snow leopards are from Asia, like my favorite three year old. Maybe my snow leopard is also three years old.

My snow leopard comes with a little stuffed snow leopard. An exquisitely soft stuffed animal. It just so happened that the stuffed variety was liberated (in an environmentally conscious way that inovlved opening the bag and saving it for next Christmas because I'm too environmentally conscious (actually, the word is cheap) to throw nice bags away and buy new) from its gift bag right after a Disney stuffed animal, Po, the Kung-Fu Panda. My three year old Asian prince in exile loves Kung Fu Panda... now he had the hero, but who was the hero to fight? Well, it just so happens that the bad guy in the movie is a rather elegant snow leopard. A little brown hand shot out, and my stuffed snow leopard became Tai-Lung, Little guy's new cuddly buddy. (He does love it, too, though he's already had a good tussle between "Tai Lung" and Po. Tai-Lung won that round and "Guished" (Squished) Po by sitting on him.) Since she's one of his godmothers, I don't think my friend would mind that he claimed my gift.

But I stil have my real snow leopard. I do not have yet another random thing that I don't need. I am not depressed (random useless stuff depresses me). And whenever I want, I can borrow Tai-Lung for a very un-Kung-Fu-bad-guy-like squeeze. And out there somewhere is my real snow leopard, who I think I shall call Fluffy.

Merry Christmas.
And thanks, Ann.

25 December 2008

Christmas!!! (moved)


Today I learned that there is nothing (absolutely nothing) better than working alongside my eleven year old son to serve lunch to the needy on Christmas Day. Christmas, for once, was really Christmas. A big thank you to the good folks at the Church of the Atonement, in Carnegie PA for giving us the chance to have fun and make a little bit of a difference for Christ's sake.
There he is... my salad boy.

21 December 2008

O Holy Night (moved)

I am psyched about Christmas this year. I don't really know what makes this year different from every other year, but I'm getting a big kick out of lighting each successive Advent candle. I guess it is in part due to the fact that my kids are excited... all three of them, though the eldest plays it sort of cool. I know they're excited about presents, they're kids. But I think there's more magic in their excitement than there is for things like birthdays, it can't just be about presents.

I'm excited because we're helping serve lunch to those in need or alone for the holiday in a nearby town. We'll get up, have stockings, go to Mass, serve lunch, come home and have the afternoon for presents and fun and perhaps our own family Christmas meal. What an opporunity this is for us, as a family, to be able to serve Christmas dinner! What an opportunity for my kids to delay the presents for a couple of hours and give instead. Isn't that what Christmas is about, incarnation and incarnational ministry?

I think it's hard for people to see, but it's true, ministries to those in need are even more a ministry to those who have and are willing to give. Some folks in Carnegie might take away a good feeling and a belly full of food, but my family will benefit more, my kids will be given the chance to learn a lesson that lasts a lifetime. What a cool thing.

I hear a lot of people make the excuse that "I have kids at home" as an excuse not to serve in things like this on Christmas Day. But that's all backwards. Having kids and family is the best reason I know to come on down and serve lunch. Anyone want to join us? We'll be at Atonement in Carnegie from 10 am until about 1 pm. Come on down!