Monday, January 25, 2010

Side by Side

If you're hoping for a detailed summary of the March for Life excursion, please don't be too disappointed. Certainly, there are plenty of details I could share and anecdotes I could tell, but those are not what is on my mind. I do promise to post some pictures from the journey and event, just not in this particular post.

What is filling my head and heart for the time being is grateful amazement. The goodness of God, His generous heart, continues to catch me off guard. This trip to the March for Life reunited me with some traveling companions of my youth. The experience of partnering with them once more for a faith-based event brought about an eyes-wide-open perception of God's goodness toward me. My teenage years were filled with normal, average teenage experiences for the most part, but they were interwoven with the out of the ordinary as well. The out of the ordinary came in the form of numerous travels, retreats, conferences and gatherings with my fellow Catholic teenagers from the Diocese of Marquette, MI. While I've always known that these contributed a great deal to my formation, I have still managed to underestimate their effects.

For one reason or another, it hit me this past week how much I owe to the Lord for placing me amongst the people and providing for me the experiences of my youth. I grew up with my very own "cloud of witnesses" running with me on every side. What courage was gained from the relationships forged by faith! What might have been different if that faith hadn't been rooted, nurtured and solidified at such a young age! In the last week, as I was plopped into a scene so closely resembling my past, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the beauty of my friends.

Beauty.... The joy it effected thankfully had an outlet in the laughter and prayer we were continuously engaged in for the last five days. I ought to give those friends credit for that aspect of my life, too. Learning to laugh, to simply tumble about in humor and enjoyment of each other, came through this group of friends. Then to have these friendships not be merely a memory but a blessing that continues to braid itself into my life with all the other things I am caught up in as an adult, for that I am grateful, to say the least.

"My cup runneth over..." I kept thinking of the Kingdom of God parables that liken the kingdom to a buried treasure or a perfect pearl. Worth everything, priceless, abundant, beautiful; the kingdom of God includes the people in it.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I'm a pretty big Third Day fan. I've seen them in concert at least five times, own several albums, can sing along to many of their songs, etc., etc., etc. Even so, perhaps my favorite moment in their concerts is when they perform U2's "When Love Comes to Town." They rock that song. But you know who else rocks that song? U2. Yeah. Anyway, I was thinking about the March for Life coming up on Friday in our nation's captiol. What should pop into my brain but that classic rock & roll tune, "When Love Comes to Town."

When I explained where I was going this week, my 13 year old niece asked, "But why? What's the point of that?" What's the point of over 200,000 individuals of all ages, races and creeds marching through the streets of D.C. to the steps of the Supreme Court on the anniversary of that court's devastating decision in Roe vs. Wade legalizing the more than 49 million murders of unborn children? Does it accomplish anything? Well, I don't know if I can sum up what it accomplishes in the statistical, tangible terms people prefer because the reality is that the positive impact of any public display of pro-life principles is largely unseen. In hidden ways, God uses the willingness of people who make a stand and sacrifice for the culture of life. Can I count up the number of people who, once they witness the March for Life, realize that the number of pro-life Americans is not miniscule? Do I have any clue as to the men and women who might have chosen or encouraged abortion somewhere down the road if not for the seed of truth planted by the sight of the March? Do I have means of knowing if a congressman, a senator or a judge is given a boost of courage to stand their ground in favor of life in their realm of influence?

I don't have numbers or names or exact answers to the skeptical question raised by my niece. I wish I did. I only know that when the streets are flooded with prayerful objectors to the widely accepted culture of death that is plaguing America, it is a matter of Love coming to town. Do we ever have an excuse not to take up an opportunity to bring love to our communities? I hold no doubt that God, who is Love, works in hidden and mysterious ways to filter that love into the hearts of all who participate or witness the March for Life. I cannot speak for their responses to that outpouring of love. I can only hold myself responsible for whether or not I brought any love to town.

Third Day with the brilliant help of Dan Haseltine, Jon Foreman & Robert Randolph

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tossing My Coins

If I had a wishing well, I'd wish for three things:
1. Moody Publishing to publish Full of Days
2. A month of Saturdays to write The Mercy Hour
3. A Mr. Knightley to be "my Mr. Knightley"

I know, I know. Couldn't I be a tad less selfish in my wishes? Don't I want world peace and a cure for cancer and the unity of the Church? Yeah, of course I do. But I'm figuring that with a purely hypothetical wishing well, it's only hypothetical selfishness. So please, bear with me.

Wish #1... Can I rant for a moment as a completely inexperienced author? Okay. Why hasn't a decision been made by Moody Publishing? Does it seriously take more than 9 months for the editor to reach my manuscript in that pile on his desk? More than 9 months to give me a smiling nod of the head or a frowning shake of the head? I am tired of opening my mailbox each day with baited breath only to find another shopping flyer, electric bill or magazine issue. I am tired of checking my email 57 times a day because I keep believing that one of those times I will see a new message from the editor at Moody. Because I don't have an agent, I really haven't sent Full of Days to all that many publishers. The lack of an agent equals a lack of options. The confidence I have in that book means I am willing to seek an agent if all else fails. However, the lack of response from Moody means I am not yet to the point of all else failing. Occasionally I'll slip into the start of a daydream of the reading that letter or clicking on that email, then I stop myself, afraid to imagine it all as it seems to me that imagining a much hoped for event decreases the chances of it becoming reality. Please, Mr. Editor, please read that manuscript that you apparently have neglected for the better part of a year.

Wish #2... A month of Saturdays for writing the second novel: doesn't it sound heavenly? No? Maybe it's just me. Quite randomly last weekend, I grabbed my copy of the chapters I have written and brought them to the gym with me. Yes, to the gym. Time on the treadmill or elliptical is normally time to peruse a good magazine and rest my brain. This particular morning though, it was time to reread the chapters. I have set aside this novel in the last several months for the sake of RCIA, a rather time-, heart- and mind-consuming ministry. Sadly, I was beginning to forget the story. Not the general gist of the story but the details I had plotted out in my mind and the twists and turns and developments I anticipated in my imagination. So I read my chapters. And I fell in love. I am in love with this story. Perhaps the time away from it has proven the old adage because I am undoubtedly fonder of the story now than when I last worked on it. This, quite naturally, causes me to wish for the time to write it well. I keep telling myself that time will come but I'm not always the most convincing person.

Wish #3... Maybe I shouldn't even get started on this one. Considering that Persuasion is my favorite novel (tied with I Capture the Castle - seriously ladies, read that book!) and Pride & Prejudice is a close second, it is funny that the hero of Emma is to blame for so much disappointed yet unshakable expectation.

Yes, if I only had a wishing well, who knows how different life would be. Of course now I just have Sinatra's "Three Coins in the Fountain" in my head.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Her True Country

"I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same." (C S Lewis)

This is the post I never wanted to write. Having written these posts: Please? and Joy Has Come, I knew I'd committed to writing the necessary follow up. What that follow up would be was known only to God. He has carried out His will. Amy died on Friday night, January 1st after slipping into a coma for a brief time.

I hadn't seen Amy since June but from the bits shared with me by others, it was easy to piece together an image of her last weeks here. It is an image of faith and constancy that has repeatedly brought me to tears, challenging me to believe there truly is nothing that can, of its own force, separate us from the love and joy of Christ. As her brain was finishing its work on this earth, Amy's mind was caught up in anticipation of eternal life. Her ability to communicate was dwindling, yet she repeatedly took up the topic of her Lord. She spoke of Him, she spoke to Him. She worshipped Him. She prayed to Him. She witnessed His miraculous presence in the Eucharist. I have a feeling that when she couldn't communicate much else, Amy still managed to communicate her joy to her family. She looked forward to her true country, her home prepared tenderly for her by the Lord.

There are some beauties that overwhelm. They are almost painful to endure for you know that you are seeing beauty in its truest form and you cannot hold onto it. You cannot grip it and restrain it. This beauty must be released, trusted to continue on to thence from which it came. You must go on with the image of it ingrained in your heart's memory; the experience of it drawing you toward more beauty wherever it can be found and making you willing to sacrifice anything that would mar its presence in yourself.

For numerous people, God provided this glimpse of beauty, a beauty shaped and molded for heaven, in Amy. I was able to hold in the tears until Mass this morning. As I worshipped there, knowing that my own meager devotion was joined with the perfect songs and prayers of the saints in heaven, the awareness that the beauty of heaven had, in a way, increased while the beauty of this earth had, in the same way, lessened could not be avoided.

I wanted to thank all of you who prayed for Amy and ask you to continue to pray for her husband, Todd and her family, Frank and Nancy, Michelle, Angie and Mike.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.