Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Can't Seem to Help Myself

I can be fully engaged in reading an article in a magazine and when someone comes into the office, I have to look up to see who has entered. I can be engrossed in reading the meditation for the day, sitting in the Chapel even, and when a kneeler goes down, I have to take a peek at who has joined me. I can be talking on the phone and as two people in the same room begin talking, I strain to try to hear both conversations. I have never really thought much about my curiosity or rather my nosiness until I read a meditation in the Magnificat magazine this month on Curbing Curiosity. Now, I can't seem to get it off my mind. Here's a little of what St. Bernard of Clairvaux has to say on the topic: "The first step of pride is curiosity. How does it show itself? Now you begin to notice that wherever you are, standing, walking or sitting, your eyes are wandering, your glance darts right and left, your ears are cocked. Some change has taken place in you, every movement shows it... My friend, if you gave yourself the attention you ought, I do not think you would have much time to look after others... Are the eyes never to be raised at all? Yes, but only for two reasons: to look for help and to help others." Whoa! What! And so, I've been trying but I have to say that it seems impossible not to lift my eyes and turn my head and listen to the murmurs. At first, I thought I would have no problem because I don't always pay much attention to gossip mainly due to the fact that I do not know who others are talking about anyway. But, not to lift or turn my head in curiosity. It's tough. I'll tell ya. Ya need to try this and as you do, or don't as the case will be, think about why you want to know who has entered, who has joined you and why, or who others are talking about or to. I personally, can't seem to help myself but I'm willing to keep trying. It really makes me stop and thing, maybe, just maybe, St. Bernard knows exactly what he's talking about and that's why we look to the words and wisdom of the saints. Just for today, just try to concentrate on raising our eyes only to look for help or to help others! I guess this is what my parents have been trying to tell me my entire life when they've said, "You take care of Julie and let everyone else take care of themselves."

Evidently, We All Have One

This is a re-post and I truly hate to do it but I do love this story and it fits on this Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

My mother shared with me one day that if you say the prayer to the Guardian Angel 5 times before you go to sleep, your protector's name would come to you the next day, somehow, plain and clear. So, that night before I lay my head on my pillow, I prayed. Around 2 a.m., I sat up in bed and the name Ferrell came into my head very clearly and that was all. I lay my head down and the alarm woke me up at 5 a.m., my mom picked me up at 6 a.m. and we drove to the airport to fly to Chicago to buy for Christmas. In the plane, I told my mom about my middle of the night experience and she simply confirmed, "Well, he's it." "He's what?" "Ferrell's your Guardian Angel. Now you can call him by name when you pray to him." Being a doubting one, I needed more proof and told her that if one of the new angels in the Roman showroom was named Ferrell, I'd be convinced. My mom couldn't believe I was making it so difficult.

We arrived in Chicago and were driven to the showroom where our representative was waiting to work with us. After buying for Christmas, we ate lunch and continued through the huge showroom, meticulously looking at each item. As we were about to end the day, we walked to the front to look at the new Seraphim angels and I said to mom, "Now if one of these new angel's name is Ferrell, then I'll believe." Our rep shuffled up behind us and asked why were were talking about the name Ferrell. I told him it was a long story and I'd share later. "I just asked because that's my middle name, Ferrell. It was my mother's maiden name and I don't hear it much. My full name is Jack Ferrell Carmody." I whipped my disbelieving head around to my mother who was wearing that goofy smile and just said, "Okay. Okay. I believe."

"Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Canned, Frozen or Made from Scratch

Yesterday I received this picture from my oldest daughter who is living with #2 daughter. The caption read, "This is what Sarah snuck into the basket at the grocery!! Hahaha." It really got me thinking about how these children are raised in the same house with the same parents and yet, they seem to turn out completely different from one another. Well, not completely. But while one can be adamant about putting together a real meal, the other can be satisfied with a simple can of Spaghettios. As I looked closely at the cans, I did see the word ORIGINAL on each can and I do agree with that...they are, each and every one, original. I definitely can agree that some are my children are all about made from scratch. Each and every aspect has to be fresh and new, seasoned well and cooked to perfection. Then, there's frozen. Doesn't care about much. Needs time to defrost slowly and would prefer not to be nuked to be brought back to room temperature. Once they come around they are seasoned just as well as if they started out fresh. Last, there's canned. Ready to go. Easy going and with or without the meatballs, prepared very well. Does the job even though has not taken as long to prepare. I believe this is pretty much the way God's made His children. Each and every one of us a little different in flavor and taste. Although we may move at a different pace, we each have our talents and our contributions to this life. We add our own spices. We may even seem bland to others in comparison but we are all a part of one big happy family whether canned, frozen or made from scratch. And mostly, we are all originals.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday

Yesterday was my mother's birthday and as much as I wanted to post about it yesterday, I didn't. So, I say, "Better late than never."
If I had to sum up my mother in one word, I think it would be the word "relationships". Seems my mom is all about relationships and has been since as far back as I can remember and even before that. Jean, mom, Nona, Mimi, Mrs. Dortch or Aunt Jean was the oldest of 3 children, always saying she had much to do with the raising of her younger brothers Joe and Billy Drennan. From the start her life was filled with family. Her mother and aunts gathered in the kitchen all day discussing and preparing meals, mending socks and crocheting. Her father was known for bringing home others who may need a place to stay or a meal or just people to talk to and it seemed an uncle or grandparents or someone always lived in their house (not uncommon during the depression). Her memories of the past are always told with love and laughter and are filled with she or her family's relationships to or with others. I remember visiting Uncle Joe and Aunt Nina and Uncle George and Buster and Audry and so on and so on. My point here is that I have learned this from my 51 years with this chic...relationships matter. Our relationship with God and with our spouses and our children and our co-workers and our siblings and extended family and our teachers and our church and school community and our friends both past and present really matters. All the other stuff is just that...stuff. How we relate to one another and deal with each other builds up the Kingdom of God.
So, on this day after my mom's birthday, let us all think about our relationships. She'll tell ya...first and foremost build that relationship with God and all other relationships and even the other stuff will fall right into place. Trust my mom. She knows. She's come a long way baby and just as is this message, building or mending relationships is better late than never.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Middle Aging

I used to have two brains, one for work and one for home, and for a short time I had even a little extra for my passion, writing. However, since my over 50 birthday, there have been quite a few changes in my life. I've always enjoyed 10 minute power naps right before dinner, you know, the ones where your children ask you things the entire time your eyes are closed and swear later that you said they could spend the weekend at a friend's house or have a party and you were only out a few minutes but at the same time when you get up you feel like you've slept for an hour. Now, I need a 20 to 30 minute nap every afternoon. Somewhere between 3:30 and 5:30 I have suddenly started to have brain drain and my eyelids just can't seem to stay in the open position. Next, there's the weight issue. I have never been one to really watch what I eat so to speak but since that birthday, I have put on 15 lbs and no matter what I do, I can't seem to shake them. I know, I know, my metabolism has changed but when the heck is it gonna change back? People tell me just to walk a little each day but after 4 flights of stairs all day at work all I want to do is... yep, take a nap. To make matters a little more in my face, I still have 9, 11 and 13 year old children so I will be in grade school for a bit longer and hanging around those younger moms does not make me feel any better about myself. But, and there is a but, I have to be truthful about the fact that I am a lot less stressed about life. I have learned with the older three that it will all be okay. The kids will be fine even if I forget to pick them up from practice and the doctor will not go crazy if I happen to miss an appointment and even though a customer may get impatient, it's not the end of the world if their order does not get in on time. Life is too short to worry about all the little things that go on in this world. I say, take another vitamin or a nap and move along helping this world to be a better place for those who are to come. I do find myself spending more time in the Chapel and stopping by my parents' house just to chat. Thank goodness they are both on my street as well as my work and grade school. So, keep in mind, if I forget your name or leave a child at your house for days or look like I might fall asleep while you're talking or seem a little wide in the mid-section, be gentle with me, I'm middle aging.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Magazine

As I've mentioned before, I have started using the Magnificat for my morning readings and meditations which include the Mass and evening prayer. I absolutely love it but I have to admit that when I jumped on facebook and saw the post for our Bookstore with the quote from our new daily magazine, Give Us This Day by Liturgical Press, I was deeply moved and am tempted to use both meditations each day. I love that my daughter posted this:

‎"It really should come as no surprise that when we celebrate the birth of Mary we find ourselves contemplating the birth of the Son. Here again Mary, the mother of Jesus, becomes our model for discipleship. A question to ponder on this feast of Mary's birth: When people look at me, as when they look at Mary, do they see Jesus?"

-Father Anthony Oelrich (from today's "Reflection" in "Give Us This Day" Sept. 2011)

Morning at the Motherhouse

Got a call yesterday from a sweet young Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia who asked if I could help her find a crucifix for the wall behind the desk in the Motherhouse infirmary. She thought maybe she could even take some samples and test them on the wall to see which would suit the space better. I had no problem with any of that. She then proceeded to offer that I may even come see the space for myself and help her with the decision. (Ohhh those sisters!) I told her that I really needed to come visit my 8th grade teacher anyway so I could come out if she got it all authorized by Mother. She returned the call in an instant and all was set for me to go this morning. Well, let's not waste any time!
I can not express how grateful I am to Sr. Anne Francis for getting me over their to visit and to talk. First, I grabbed a crucifix we had at the store even though I knew it would be too small but thought it would help us with coloring. Come to find out that the infirmary is named for St. Martin de Porres (Lima, Peru) and the crucifix that I happened to grab was..... yes, made in and imported from Peru. It was perfect all the way around. Second, I had an amazing visit with my 8th grade teacher, Sr. Diane, for quite a while before she was taken to a small birthday party for Our Blessed Mother with cake and ice cream. I think she was a bit disappointed that the ice cream would be vanilla and not chocolate. Goodness gracious I gave that poor sister a fit in 8th grade and she still loves me unconditionally. God Bless her! And lastly, on the way out, I was able to duck into their beautiful chapel and they were having Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Could it get any better? And, all because this young sister suggested I spend a little time on my only day off helping her and visiting with an old friend. Again, may I just say, I am grateful for her and these God-incidences in my life.
Today, on her birthday, may Our Lady hold us all in Her mantle and bring us closer to Her Son.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Croquet

Before Mass started yesterday, an old friend came in the opposite side of our pew to speak to my parents. I smiled and put my hand up to say hello and she responded then sat down next to my mom and spoke for a few minutes to she and my dad. Seeing her reminded me of all the wonderful times we had together as kids. There were six of them who matched up almost perfectly with our oldest six. Her younger sister and I were practically inseparable until we went to different high schools. But the thing I remember most about Kathy was her passion for winning especially during a simple, friendly (haha) game of croquet. You know, croquet is one of those games that takes a little time to set up properly but she didn't seem to mind as long as we would play for several days in a row, or until the grass had to be cut. We all had our favorite colors we wanted but Maureen and I often had to settle after the older ones had their pick. Then, it was game on and there was no mercy. For some reason, I feared Kathy the most. If she was anywhere close to another ball, she would make the hit and send that sucker for a buggy ride every time even if the choice of 2 strokes could give her a better advantage. She loved clearing the field of all the possible other challengers. Today, I know she is still a fierce competitor. I know she runs marathons and I've seen pictures of her participating in the Ironman Triathlon. I believe she has her pilot's license and she coaches amazing cross country teams and she's brilliant. Who knew the possibilities that a simple game from our youth could pass on and be used in our adult lives? Healthy competition, rules to follow, toughness, intelligence, perseverance. During our youth, we looked up to these older siblings. We watched and we paid attention and we followed. We were fortunate and when I saw my old neighbor at Mass, I remembered instantly all the good that has been handed down.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Each year our grade school chooses a theme for the year that helps to connect the events and the classrooms with the faculty, the students and the parents. This year's theme is, "Who do you say that I am?" That wonderful question Jesus puts to Peter and Peter responds to properly, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." We witness in this response that Jesus is not only human but also Divine. We understand that He is so much more than just a prophet or a teacher or a leader or a follower.

During the parent-teacher night last night and last Thursday night and the Wednesday night the week before that (yes, 3 weeks in a row), I began thinking about who I am and who my children are to others and how people identify us. Many, many times throughout every year I have people stop me in the grocery store or at a ball game and say, "Oh. St. Mary's Bookstore. Right?" I am often stopped at school or at a party and asked, "Now you're Beth's mom, or Sarah's or Will's or Margaret's or Nicholas' or Julia's. Right?" In church or in a restaurant, "Aren't you Bill and Jean's daughter?" At work, "Allen's wife? or Donna's sister? or Ted's aunt?" All answers are correct. I am one of the faces of the bookstore and I am a mother and a daughter and a wife and a sister and an aunt. I am an author and a reader and a talker and a listener. I am a daughter of Christ, the Son of the living God.

Today, as the disciples are called to be "fishers of men", we are reminded that we too are called to bring others closer to Christ, the Son of the living God. As we encounter others, may we think today about how they identify us and who we need to be to them. What is our connection and how can we be so much more? Who do others say that we are?