Posts tagged ‘Germany’

November 3, 2010

Vokuhila

Our little boy was born with lots of dark hair, some of the softest stuff I’ve ever laid fingers on.  Thank goodness it wasn’t too cold in the hospital (or in our somewhat tropical apartment), because once I took that hospital cap off him for the first time, I couldn’t stop stroking his sweet little head.

 

Every time we introduced him to family and friends in those first weeks, I’d encourage them to stroke his head, too.  Feeling those silky locks layered over brand new baby skin, my goodness!  How could you not believe that children are a miracle and trust that all of creation is meant to be good and glorify God!

 

By about week four, however, things started to change.  One evening after coming home from work, John pointed out that our precious son was balding.  No, I said, that can’t be true.  My incredulity was not a result of any sort of rose-colored mommy glasses.  I recognized that Jacob had a serious case of baby acne that had taken over his face and was starting to encroach on his neck and even his ears.

 

As we looked back at photos from a week prior and then two weeks prior, there was the proof.  Our baby was indeed losing his hair.  His case of cradle cap had broadened to include baby acne, hair loss, and a scaly dry scalp that makes him look like he has the worst case of dandruff I’ve ever seen (although the pediatrician assures us this is all normal).  Poor little guy.  I theorize that he’s trying to get all the physically awkward aspects of adolescence and middle age out of the way now.  Here’s hoping it works, and he never has to experience any of these again.

 

What’s funnier is that the hair that’s falling out is concentrated on the parts of his scalp that touch the sheet or blanket when he’s lying down and looking around.  So while most of the hair in the front is gone, now he’s also developed a ring of baldness around the rest of his head—kind of like the reverse of a monk’s cut.

 

As his sweet, soft newborn hair falls out in this silly pattern, his big-boy baby hair is already starting to grow in.  In the front of his scalp there is a very, very short crop of hair coming in.  So far it seems to be a bit lighter in color than the last set, but only time will tell.  It’s still so short that it looks like an overzealous buzz cut, like someone used an almost negative setting on the razor.  But while this hair is very short, the hair in the back is still rather long, which means . . .

 

. . . that’s right.  You wouldn’t call it so by looking at him, but in the strictest sense of the word, our baby has a mullet.  Or as the Germans say, a vokuhila—short in the front: vorne kurz and long in the back: hinten lang.  Here’s to the little guy embracing his roots (pun absolutely intended).

May 23, 2010

Pentecost

Today is one of my favorite days on the liturgical calendar:  Pentecost.  It’s the day the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles, to stay with them as a presence of God, just as Jesus promised before he ascended into Heaven (Acts 2: 1-11). The Spirit comes to them in the form of flames above their heads, and once the Spirit is within them, they can speak all different languages.  Thus, the Gospel can be proclaimed throughout the world.

See the tongues of fire?

I have always loved this story, but it was only when I was studying in Germany that I started to understand why.

In high school, speaking another language seemed like an almost insurmountable task, and I wasn’t sure I had a real motivation to do it.  When I was finally speaking German with other kids in college, I realized that I loved what this new language was teaching me about how people express themselves and about how another culture thinks.

There were a couple of places I wanted to visit while I was in Germany, one of which was Köln.  I’d been there for World Youth Day in 2005, and couldn’t wait to get back and spend more time in the beautiful cathedral.  It happened that the weekend I visited was that of Pentecost, so I had the bonus opportunity to celebrate the feast in the Kölner Dom.

Wow, right?

Wow, right?

I was figuring out some other things about my upcoming senior year that weekend, and in that cathedral and at that Mass, a couple of things started to come together.  I realized how my interest in World War II and the Holocaust, my back-burner interest in writing, and my love of music had led me to study German.  I also started to realize how studying that language was informing the way I thought about so much else.  And at the same time, it was becoming clearer that I needed to work with words and literature, however the future held that for me.

Beautiful!

I’ve explained before how that semester abroad taught me a lot about who I am and what I would do both now and in the future. It’s a blessing to have those moments when we see how the seemingly random things in our lives line up in a very neat way and point an arrow to where we need to go next.

In my faith, I recognize this sort of divine inspiration as an act of the Holy Spirit. It’s a feeling like, “Haven’t I known this all along, and how could I possibly do anything else?”  In the past few weeks, I’ve had a similar feeling of what’s next for me.  I’m not sure how I’ll get there, but I have a new faith in what I believe is ahead. Our little Peanut is certainly a part of that, and I’m finally feeling that writing is a part of it, too.

I’m not sure what form these things will take, but I know with a firm but gentle conviction that as St. Therese of Lisieux says, I am exactly where I am meant to be.

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