Friday, March 2, 2012

Marathon Time!

This weekend, I'm running the Napa Valley Marathon. This is my third full marathon. The marathon week butterflies have started and I'm beginning to panic a little. Have I trained adequately? Am I getting enough sleep this week? (The answer to that one is a definitive, no. Thanks, dogs, for vomiting all over the bedroom floor at 5:20 am today. 'Preciate that!) Am I hydrated?

I came across this at Mile Posts, with a Bible verse for each mile. I wish I'd found it sooner so I would have had time to memorize the verse for each mile. Instead, I'm just going to commit a couple of them to memory for when the going gets tough. And it will get tough. Mile 23 will suck, this I can guarantee.

I know it sounds trite, but the marathon is a life-changing event. You've got 26(.2) miles to confront and battle every fear, hesitation, laziness, weakness, and inadequacy you'e got. There are miles moments of agony, when you are certain you can never, ever finish this race and start contemplating how you could get out of it without actually running the rest.

This race, I'm committing to controlling my emotions, staying focused, running my own race, and seeing the beautiful. It's Napa Valley, after all. Every time I want to walk, or quit, or cry, I will drink in the gorgeous landscape that I have the privilege of running over and through.

My goals:
1. Finish under 5 hours (I know- I'm slow. Get over it.)
2. Finish strong, but with nothing left in the tank when I cross that line.
3. To see the beauty around me, in the runners and the vineyards and the hills.
4. To make the pain and suffering fruitful. (So many people in my life are in a bad place right now, for many different reasons. I don't know how to help any of them. So let me just offer my own struggles for them.)

And when I'm done, I'll be celebrating with a nice glass of Cakebread.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Someone save me from Facebook is like a train wreck I can't tear my eyes away from. I wonder why I don't ditch it- other than my incapacitating fear that I'll have no idea what is going on in the world.

With all the sensational news in the last couple of weeks (Komen and Planned Parenthood, the HHS mandate, etc.), there's been an excessive amount of political posturing on Facebook. I know people say things on the internet they'd never say to your face. I also know my response to things people say on the internet is totally immoderate. I think it's the way that the internet, and specifically Facebook, distances you from the actual person. I know good and well which of my friends support Planned Parenthood, or think that Catholic institutions ought to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives and sterilizations. But in the real world, these people are my friends. They're real people whose company I enjoy, who I have fun with. But on Facebook, when someone posts something that you disagree with or offends you, they become the enemy, at least on an emotional level.

Then there's the people whose opinions on these topics I might come closer to agreeing with, but their inability to communicate in a way that reflects intelligence and careful consideration drives me insane. Note: Misspellings and excessive use of exclamation points do not convince the world of the truth of your point.

Oh Facebook. I love you, I hate you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Angelus Domini

I remember seeing a print of Millet's "The Angelus" as a tween somewhere, and being intrigued by it. I wasn't sure what it was I liked about the painting, I just knew I liked it. Somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade later, I learned the Angelus Domini prayer, frequently referred to as "the Angelus" for short. Something like a decade after first learning the prayer, it's become my favorite prayer. And my appreciation for Millet's painting has grown as I understand not only what it depicts, but more and more, what it means to pray the Angelus.

There's long been a monastic tradition of praying the "tres orationes"- at 6 am, noon and 6 pm. When the bells sound, the monks cease their labor and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The laity however, do not dwell in the monastery and often cannot stop their work for extended periods of prayer. But the Angelus takes only a few short minutes to pray, making it possible for the laity to pray in union with the cloistered.

Three Hail Marys in honor of the Incarnation- interspersed with verses that meditate on this greatest of gifts- God became man.

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

And the Word was made flesh,
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Let me recommit myself once again, to pray the Angelus three times a day, devoting these hours to the deliberate recollection of God's gift to man, and prayer that I might be made worthy of this gift. Perhaps this painting was for me, all those years ago, a stella leading me to the King.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Word of the Year- Stella

Like I mentioned here, the feast of the Epiphany really called to me this year. Something about it drew me, invited me to meditate on it and try to incorporate it's spirituality- the spirituality of the manifestation of God in the world- into my daily life.

That Sunday at Mass, our pastor was preaching about the journey of the Magi to Bethlehem. In speaking about the star that led the wise men to Jesus, he noted that midway through their journey, the star disappeared, only to reappear later. But the Magi never retreated, never abandoned their search for the King, even in the darkness that enveloped them at the disappearance of the star. Fr. Frank encouraged us to identify the stars in our own life- the burning signs that point us to our King. They will sometimes disappear, he acknowledged. But they are not gone, simply invisible.

This year, my word will be star. Well, actually, it'll be the Latin for star- stella. Mostly because I am a dork who likes Latin.

Stella- seeing the stars in my life, seeing the places and ways God is leading me to Him, and following them, even through the darkest nights, to the crib of the King.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Errand & The Epiphany

So much of my life is spent working my way through the interminable to-do list. Groceries, cleaning, making appointments, filing papers, etc. etc. etc. I long for the day when I scratch the last item off my to-do list and sit down to enjoy a book and a hot bath with nothing- absolutely nothing- hanging over my head, nagging me to complete it. I know though, that this day is not coming. The second I finished cleaning my house, the dogs would leave more hair on the floor for me to vacuum, or as soon as I filed every last piece of paper and returned every phone call, some household item would die or get broken and I'd be off to the store to replace it.

Work, both the paid kind and the keep-my-personal-life-in-order-so-I-can-function kind, isn't simply a tax on the 24 hours in the day, to be paid as quickly as possible so I can get down to my "real life." It is my real life. The hours I'm at school teaching 7 year-olds to subtract, or at the grocery store, or preparing dinner for my husband, or bathing the dogs- this is my real life. The week we spent in St. Lucia for our honeymoon, laying on the beach? Amazing, wonderful, beautiful. Not my real life.

But what I'm realizing more and more everyday, it is in this work that beauty and truth and love are revealing themselves to me. This journey called life, this Earthly pilgrimage, is a street I'm walking down and on this street there are errands to be completed, but there are also epiphanies to behold. Epiphany- the manifestation of God. The magic of this life is the intermingling of the errand and the epiphany. I'm silently counting to 10 before answering a second grader who is asking where the pencil sharpener is (even though it's been in the same place since August), and being struck by God's patience with my own refusal to listen and learn. I'm scooping the cat's litter box, trying not to gag, and learning what it means to love my husband (and his 18 year-old cat).

The Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the infant Christ to the gentile Magi, called to me particularly this year, and I'm still meditating on it. The Magi found God in a manger, a feed trough. Where am I finding Him?

"The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany." ~Rebecca Solnit