Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Send me! Pleeeeaaase send me! Now! (On Life Callings)

I'm the first to call out, "Here am I, Lord, send me!" But it's usually while getting sprayed in the face with pee during a half-awake diaper change, or hearing, "NO!" followed by toddler shrieking for the hundredth time a day. And somedays, I wouldn't mind the Lord sending me just about anywhere, as long as it's anywhere else.

My wiggly, fussy toddler decided to be snuggly and quiet during the homily on Sunday, so I guess I really needed to hear it. Deacon Duffin brought up the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, called to be a missionary, even from before he was born, and St. Paul, called to be an apostle, even though he had spent a good portion of his adult life trying to kill the new Jesus cult. And then Deacon Duffin asked about the callings in our own lives.

For me, responding to Jesus' call is more like getting myself out of bed to make breakfast for my hungry, adorable goblin children, than checking airline prices to the Saharan mission field.

Some days are more exciting than others.
In the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, I've wondered if he misheard God's voice. Surely God would want him to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, unafraid to fill the public spotlight with an image that even to the end, even in suffering, life is beautiful, a voice to counter the message that if we're old or less capable, our lives lessen in value.

I heard speculation that his proud Germanic heritage wouldn't allow him to showcase the intimate face of suffering and the inevitable trials of old age. But then I read The Anchoress' thoughts, and realized that our beloved pope is following the same path as the one before him: offering his life for the world, on the public stage, as it's been for the last eight years, or behind closed doors, as it will be now.

How beautiful, as Pope Benedict himself once expressed to a journalist, there are as many ways to God as there are people. The international mission field isn't God's be-all/end-all highest calling for every person. And as Pope Benedict chooses a life of prayer over his public missionary life as the Servant of the servants of God (favorite papal title), he demonstrates even the papacy isn't the be-all/end-all greatest calling for holy Catholics.

Whether ”cloistered” in a home with needy kids, ”cloistered” in an office with needy co-workers, ”cloistered” at a university with needy professors, or cloistered in a monastery for the sake of a needy Church, we listen for our God callings, to be who and what and where we're called to be, to spend our lives meeting the needs around us.

”Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

Our Unofficial Family Protocol

1. There's no need to apologize for kids being kids. "I'm sorry my kids cried impatiently while they were tied down next to candy they weren't allowed to touch while waiting in line at the one checkout for people buying more than a 6-pack,” never needs to be said.

2. Only laugh at someone's toothpaste rolling style, disgust for stickers, Lysol obsession, etc., if they laugh first.

Stickers. Gross.
3. Say "yes" to as many requests as possible.

"YES, you may keep that, but you have to carry it home."
4. The person who folds the laundry gets credit for the entire load, regardless of who started it or moved it to the dryer. 

5. The weight of a person's opinion about how a task gets done is directly proportional to both the frequency and recency of that person's completion of the task in question.

6. How to begin those conversations when you feel like the other person is 100% wrong, and the only thing you did wrong was not tell them sooner how wrong they are: ”When you _________, I feel ________, I need [for you to] _________.”

7. The dog probably shouldn't outdo one's excitement when a significant other gets home from work. Unless the dog is a lab puppy or chihuahua.

8. A rotating chore chart isn't always the best solution. There's nothing wrong with specialization of labor, as long as the same person isn't specialized in all the labor.
9. If one person's home with the kids, their job is to keep the kids alive. Cooking, cleaning, and washing are all extras.

If, by chance, some laundry gets done on the side, more power to you.
10. #9 is non-negotiable. 

11. If one person is home with the kids, no matter how crappy the other person's day is, or how crappy their job is, or how crappy their boss is, the person home with the kids had a harder day.

Yesterday we only read this book 18 times. Today, let's make it 27!
12. A question that never gets asked of a kid younger than five: "Do you feel like taking a nap?" Because whether or not they feel like taking a nap is irrelevant.
"Nooooo!! I don't need a nap!" Obviously.
13. If there's not a way for kids to participate, just do it during nap time, after bedtime, in ten years, or not at all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dual Enrollment (On the School of Mary)

I didn't realize until I entered the working world that different universities offer different educations.

All I'd ever absorbed -- surely by ignoring many good sources probably informing me otherwise -- was that you get a good job by going to college. It didn't matter which college, or even what you studied. Just. Go. To. College.

I realized at Freshman Orientation, toured around campus in "small" groups of 40, that this feeling of traveling in a herd was my new normal. But I didn't realize it doesn't have to be that way.

In hindsight, I can see that I began attending another school while enrolled at university, and perhaps it was my preoccupation with these other lessons that made my academic degree plan feel more like a side job and less like the reason I moved to Denton, TX.

I changed majors with the seasons of each year, drifting from Archaeology to Dance to Organizational Communication to Dance to Rhetorical Studies to Psychology to Counseling to Dance to Communication Studies (finally ending up with Communication Studies, emphasis in Performance Studies, minor in Dance).

All the while, I found myself distracted and captivated by other, less formal classes, in a sanctuary of old couches and cobwebbed windows. I experienced the peace of silence, how to sincerely ask someone to forgive you, who I am in solitude, why I can be an introvert and still enjoy game nights, and that my deepest, wordless prayers float effortlessly to heaven on the words of the liturgy.

What surprises me today -- besides the fact that my university department advisors let my flaky self return to their offices so many times -- is that they never knew my name. They could pull up my transcript on a computer and delineate on their flow chart where I was on the progression of their major, but they didn't ask where I had come from, or where I was going, or what I was doing. I didn't hear about internships, informational interviews, networking, 10-year plans...

Yet in my unofficial studies in a creaking, seemingly forgotten chapel, my teacher knew my name. She opened a door that countless travellers before me have stepped through. Pope John Paul II called this the School of Mary, where we learn to follow Christ in the footsteps of a mortal so consecrated to the Immortal that He chose to incarnate within her.

Am I an idolator that I call her mother, that I rest at her feet to learn of her Son? That I want to be close to her, because I find such solace in the same arms that cradled our Lord to sleep? She who spent more time with Him than anyone, who pondered his wonder decades before a first miracle, whose own heart was pierced in sorrow, as Simeon said it would be, and who stood with the early Church at Pentecost, though she'd already received the Holy Spirit 33 years earlier.

Jesus taught me to call her Mother.

I rest on Jesus, as his beloved disciple, I hear of Jesus' resurrection, as his beloved disciple, I witness Jesus' resurrected body, as his beloved disciple, I trust in my future, as his beloved disciple, and I receive the gift of his mother, as his beloved disciple.

She continues to teach me many lessons and to bring me, always, to the heart of her Son.