Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

An Even Holier Week

Last week may have been “Holy Week,” but this week—the Octave of Easter—is perhaps even holier.  It struck me only midway through the week that this time deserves some reflection, as well.

I love the incredible depth of the liturgical calendar.  The transition from Lent to Easter is one of the greatest examples.  Easter isn’t just a day; it’s eight days, which extend into a whole season—a season ten days longer than Lent!  I love that after the sacrifices, the focus on penance, and the daily reminders of our need for God’s mercy and grace, we have a celebration that just goes on and on.

In this hemisphere, at least, it’s a time when spring has finally come, the sun is shining (except when it’s raining), and for the first few weeks, at least, it seems like everyone is wearing her favorite dress.  It’s a time we are reminded of the victory, reminded of love, reminded that there is so much good in life.

While I love the symbols and the Scripture that define this season, prayer has been tough this past week.  Coming out on the other side of an intense season, with the opportunity to just relax, watch The Biggest Loser (which continues to inspire me, but more on that later), and eat dessert in the middle of the week, has thrown me off kilter, and it got me thinking.

Is joy more difficult to appreciate than suffering?

How many movies, books, and songs are there about trying to appreciate the good things in life?  Why can it be so difficult to enjoy the things we think we want for ourselves, for our families, when we have them?  Why are we (or why am I, at least) always thinking about the next thing?  The next day’s schedule, the next chore to complete, the next meal to cook?  Sure, part of it is our fast-paced society, but I think part of it is human nature, too.  We are so easily distracted, so easily pulled in myriad directions, that we struggle to focus on the here and now.  To be “present,” as it were.

I’m reminded of a quote from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  (If you haven’t read this, go find a copy and get going.  Like, now.  It’s a play, too, which I hear is phenomenal.  Read the book, then buy tickets.  Okay, tangent over.)  Here it is:

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”

The present is the moment in which we can experience love, grace, life in all its fullness, whether we are formally praying, in conversation with another person, or simply being silent and still.

For me, the start of this Eastertide is as much a time of reflection and renewal as Lent was.  There is still much work to be done, yet now I am reminded that the promise is fulfilled.  And after forty days of keeping this word out of the liturgy, I can again call out, “Alleluia!”

April 28, 2011

A House or a Home?

Sometimes I find myself looking forward to the day some time in the future when our family will have a house to call our home.

Apartment living in the city is suiting us just fine for now.  We have plenty of room for three people (although it is incredible how much baby “stuff” we’ve accrued over the last year).  I love walking everywhere and using public transportation when going by foot isn’t an option.  We have easy access to museums, botanical gardens, and parks, all of which I’ve been able to patronize since I’ve been at home.

But still there are some things I long for.  I’d love to not have to pay for each load of laundry, or worry about getting to the machine to switch loads when a cycle finishes.  I also think I’d lose fewer baby socks if I were the only one using a set of machines.  For a time, Jacob had an incredibly mismatched pair of socks that he only wore to bed, because I was afraid people would judge my mothering if he wore them out.  At the same time, I like being able to do three loads at once, and get a whole week or two’s worth done in a couple of hours.

Another thing I long for is a cat.  John and I have agreed that we’ll wait until we have a house to get one, but I’ve already named him/her:  Gutenberg.  Like, for the guy who invented the printing press.  We’ll call him/her “Gut” or “Gut Cat” or, in German, “Gute Katze.”  I can’t wait.

One thing I haven’t had to wait for is an herb garden.  I wanted to set up one in our first apartment, but we didn’t have a window with enough light and a large enough sill.  Now, however, we have the perfect spot.

I may have to take my allergy medicine a little more regularly, with plants inside, but it’s totally worth it.  Let’s just hope Jacob doesn’t think so, too.

April 27, 2011

Dear Jacob VII

Dear Jacob,

You are maturing in leaps and bounds these days!  When people ask what is new with you, I have a whole litany that often surprises them.  You sit up, you crawl, you’re eating solids, you have teeth.  And then once people see these things in action—even after I’ve elaborated on them—they are still awed.  It all happens so quickly, they say.  I can’t believe that we’re already at seven months and starting to hone in on celebrating your first year.

At the same time, though, you are still little.  You are just staring to be able to get to a sitting position on your own.  Your crawl is still like the motion of an inchworm.  I can count the number of solid foods you eat on one hand.  And I can only really see your teeth (all one and a half of them) when you laugh; otherwise, your tongue takes up all the rest of the space in your mouth.  I wonder if it will stay that way when you have more chompers to get in the way.  Only time will tell.

You are growing up quickly, yes, but not too quickly.  I am beyond grateful that I get to spend each day with you, that I get to watch these new milestones happen for you.  I am so proud of you, and I fall more in love with you every day, little man.  You are just so much fun.

What’s wonderful about visiting with friends and family that we see only every couple of weeks is that they are even more astute about some of the more gradual changes in you.  For example, I don’t notice that you have more and more hair each day, but all of a sudden, your scalp is starting to disappear under those brown locks.  Because I spend so much time with you, I don’t realize that you turn your head when you hear my voice, more than you do when you hear other, less familiar voices.  It takes being with other people to see you have a smile that you keep just for me, and another one just for your dad.  And your grandpa has studied your YouTube videos to see that you keep your eyes on me when I’m talking to you, and more often than not, you seem to follow my instructions.  How old are you, anyway?!

Even for your grandparents, who have raised a combined eight kids, your achievements are new, special, and absolutely incredible because they are yours.  It is wonderful to see how much you are capable of, and to watch who you are show more and more.

Jacob, you are loved.  You are so very, very loved, and I hope you always know that.  You are a happy, sweet, and fun-loving little boy.  You are very relaxed and chill until you decide you want to be somewhere, see something, or touch something (with your mouth), and then you are incredibly determined.  I think this bodes well for your future, this agreeable disposition combined with an unshakable resolve to accomplish what is important to you.  It reminds me of another guy I know (your dad!), which is a very good thing.

Being your mom made my Easter extra special this year.  Being your mom makes every day extra special!  You surprise me, you wow me, and you make me want to be a better person.

I love you, little Jacob man.  I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me today!

All my love,

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