Thursday, 25 February 2010

Domestic Monastery

I borrowed this from my friend Laurie's blog. Good stuff if you have a minute to read. And, I have a friend who suggested a Ron Rolheiser book to me years ago. I started it, and decided I wasn't smart enough to read his stuff. I think I'll try again ;)
The Domestic Monastery

Written by: Ron Rolheiser OMI January 7, 2001

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half-century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara desert. Alone, with only the Blessed Sacrament for company milking a goat for his food, and translating the bible into the local Bedouin language, he prayed for long hours by himself. Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization: His mother, who for more than thirty years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.

Carretto, though, was careful to draw the right lesson from this. What this taught was not that there was anything wrong with what he had been doing in living as a hermit. The lesson was rather that there was something wonderfully right about what his mother had been doing all these years as she lived the interrupted life amidst the noise and incessant demands of small children. He had been in a monastery, but so had she.

What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's.

Our home and our duties can, just like a monastery, teach us those things. John of the Cross once described the inner essence of monasticism in these words: "But they, O my God and my life, will see and experience your mild touch, who withdraw from the world and become mild, bringing the mild into harmony with the mild, thus enabling themselves to experience and enjoy you." What John suggests here is that two elements make for a monastery: withdrawal from the world and bringing oneself into harmony with the mild.

Although he was speaking about the vocation of monastic monks and nuns, who physically withdraw from the world, the principle is equally valid for those of us who cannot go off to monasteries and become monks and nuns. Certain vocations offer the same kind of opportunity for contemplation. They too provide a desert for reflection.

For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of power and social importance. And she feels it. Moreover her sustained contact with young children (the mildest of the mild) gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild, that is, to attune herself to the powerlessness rather than to the powerful.

Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time for that task and time isn't your time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.

Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while raising children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time. The rest of us experience the monastic bell each morning when our alarm clock rings and we get out of bed and ready ourselves for the day, not because we want to, but because it's time.

The principles of monasticism are time-tested, saint-sanctioned, and altogether-trustworthy. But there are different kinds of monasteries, different ways of putting ourselves into harmony with the mild, and different kinds of monastic bells. Response to duty can monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Home Sweet Home!

We got it! After a very long weekend, and even longer day today, we found out we got the house! We move in tomorrow. And thanks to my sweet sister, and precious son's help, you could eat dinner off my baseboards, and bathe in my toilets!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Patience and Trust

So if you would've asked me on Friday what I was doing this weekend, I would've told you I was moving into my dream house (seen above). However, not happening yet. Here's the story for those of you who don't know.

We went to close on Friday at 3:30, check in hand, pen ready to sign. Well the closing attorney told us that when the builder bought the land, he was to pay the neighborhood a marketing fee. Builder went under, never paid fee. So then the current owner bought the house from the bank. He went to sign the papers to sell the house to us and saw this fee on the papers. He said he wouldn't sign, because it wasn't his responsibility to pay, it was the builder's. And no, the fee is not small enough for us to pay it, just to get into the house. So needless to say, we couldn't close without his signature. Story to be continued. We didn't get out of there until 6:00, with no resolution. Hoping it all works out tomorrow, but may not.

So what did I end up doing this weekend? Canceling movers, fridge and furniture delivery, PODS pick-up, etc. Good times. BUT, I got to enjoy this BEAUTIFUL weather with my family. The sunshine gave us all a boost.

We were saying our family prayers the other night, and Tadd prayed for patience. Right when it came out of his mouth, I said, "NO! Don't pray for patience! God will give you opportunities to practice it!" Needless to say, we have been given that opportunity.

The good thing is, we both totally trust that God's will is going to be done in all of this, and we have turned it over to Him. So if he doesn't want us to have this house, we will know.

So we wait, and trust.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ashes to Ashes...

and dust to dust. We hope you burn your britches when you jam with us (clap, clap), jam with us.

Ok, sorry for the cheer. I couldn't resist. This post is not about cheerleading, but about Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent, or the 40 days before Easter. Looking forward to Lent. The older my kids get, and start to understand, the more I look forward to it. There are so many teaching opportunities.

Just a few things I wanted to share about today (mainly so I don't forget these things in the future).
1) While at mass this morning, we were waiting in line for ashes. Hadley saw some people sitting in the pews who had already received theirs. She asked me what they were. I said, "They are ashes, and you are about to get some!" She said, "Ok Mama, I want pink ones!" So cute, she is such a girly girl. Only she would ask for pink ashes!
2) When I was about to drop Alex off at school after mass, he said, "Mom, are my ashes still there?" I told him they were, but a little faded, and asked him if he wanted them gone. He said, no, he wanted them there all day. I don't know about you other Catholic girls, but I was never proud of my ashes as a kid. In fact I think I always thought seriously about cutting bangs every winter to cover them up. No really, I think it was because I grew up going to Christian (but not Catholic) schools, and had very few Catholic friends. Not an excuse! Alex is in the same boat, and loves his ashes. Love that kid.
3) A man behind me in the grocery store said to me, "Enlighten me." I said, "Pardon me?" He said, "Enlighten me. What's on your forehead?" REALLY? I thought everyone knew about Ash Wednesday, even if you aren't Catholic. So I explained.
4) I told you my family gave up sweets for Lent. Well, Alex's teacher decided to share a cookies and cream (Alex's fav) candy bar with the whole class. He declined. He said it was so hard, and he almost cried. He even said another little girl in his class gave up sweets for Lent and she took a piece of candy. Like I said about teaching opportunities...this was one. I think he is learning about true sacrifice. He also said someone had steak for lunch...he had PB& meat on Ash Wednesday. So proud of my little guy.

P.S. Nobody forced him to give things up. HE chooses what to do.

Monday, 15 February 2010

How Krispy Kreme Saved Me

Problem #1: Hadley, in new preschool. New teacher tells me on Monday that there will be a Valentine Party on Wednesday, and to bring valentines for the class. (I know what you are thinking..."Genius, it's that time of year. You should be prepared." In my defense, the month of February is crazy for us...3 birthdays 1 anniversary, and now closing on a new Valentines isn't at the top of my list.)

Problem #1 Solved: Pick up one dozen donuts from KK, get 12 free valentines with coupons for 1 free donut on each. Done.

Problem #2: I ate 1/2 of the box of the donuts I bought to get the free valentines.

Problem #2 not solved yet. Donuts went straight to my arse.

Problem #3: Alex has a male teacher. He told us about the Valentine Party on Thursday the day before the party. Asked us to bring something, God love him.

Problem #3 solved: Picked up another dozen donuts (the cute heart shaped kind seen below), got 12 free valentines. Also, used the 2 leftover valentines to get me and Hadley a snack. That one went to my gut.

Problem #4: I walk in the class with a dozen donuts and valentines (no, I didn't eat these), and Alex is embarrassed that I brought Valentines. Apparently, 4th grade boys are too cool for this. I almost walked out the door with the valentines and got myself 12 free donuts with the coupons, but the kids talked me out of it.

Problem #4 almost solved by me yelling at my son (in front of the whole class) how he is ungrateful, and he needed to get over himself and quit trying to be so cool because one other boy didn't bring valentines. Changed my mind, and decided to let my sister get this year's Mom of the year plaque.

Moral of the story. My family is giving up sweets for Lent. I'm obviously addicted, and it will be the hardest thing in the world for me to sacrifice. Pray for us! I Heart Krispy Kreme (pun intended)!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Olympic Time Baby!

I love them! Tadd and I so look forward to the Olympics! We watch them constantly when they are on, and even sit through the entire opening and closing ceremonies. My favorite part of the Olympics are the stories you hear about the athletes (of course...this is how the media draws women into sports...they pull at our heartstrings!). Anyhoo, I always look forward to seeing what the US Team wears at the opening ceremony. Ralph Lauren has been the designer for the last few Olympics, and my reviews are mixed about his designs. Here are a few pics. What do you think? Do the outfits represent America? I do recommend going to the NBC site to see some closer pics if you can't make a judgement by my pics.

Here's what I think. From the waist up, I think they are ok. I like the Abercrombie type moose hats, and the puffy jackets. Very "Colorado Ski Resort Chic." However, underneath are these bulky cable-knit off-white sweaters...just ok. I'm not a fan of cable-knit, and definitely not a fan of off-white sweater w/ white pants. And the white pants are baseball looking pants. Not a fan. The boots didn't excite me either. Oh, and the socks were off-white like the sweater. Scary. In Mr. Lauren's defense, how hard must it be to design something like this? I mean, all the things to consider: 1) It must be for both sexes 2) It's got to be warm and comfortable 3) It's got to be as American as Apple Pie and hot dogs (but healthier than that since these are athletes people).

Anyway, I know I'm rambling, but would love to hear your opinion. And more importantly, I would love to hear if I'm the only psycho that is waiting with baited breathe to see what the US Olympic team is wearing.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Patron Saint of Flat Tires

This past Thursday, my friend Stacy's daughter, Riley was receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. She asked me to be her sponsor, so I drove to Louisville on Wednesday night to be with them for a few days. We had such a great time. I just took Eli, and my sweet hubby took care of the other two kids.

Anyway, Stacy and her family live right in the middle of downtown. She literally only gets in her car once a week to go to Wal-Mart and Costco. They walk everywhere, from church to yoga class to dinner out.

So on Thursday, Stacy and I were walking to Mass and lunch, and she stopped and picked up three pieces of rusty metal that resembled bent nails, and she said "Perfect!" Puzzled, I asked why she just picked them up. She laughed and said that when on walks or runs with her husband, she always picks up nails or anything that could give you a flat tire. So her husband calls her "Stacy, the Patron Saint of Flat Tires." And that is the kind of person she is. She is so kind and giving and always thinking of others.

Ya'll, these are the kind of people I'm surrounded by. The Lord has blessed me so richly with friends who I strive to be more like (because they are so much like Christ). And when I think I don't have room in my heart for another friend, he sends me more. I love my friends, and the uniqueness they bring to my life.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Who is she kidding?

Not me. You still have a mullet Kate. Still business in the front, and party in the back...just a longer party. Does this crack anybody else up? I mean, every time I see a picture of this hair, I laugh...see? Laughing now.