Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shoes of the Fisherman

I came across this post on Amy Welborn the other day...

After many false starts, the doors finally opened to reveal the Pope. He came down the steps toward his car and, then, headed toward the barricades on the lawn. I was standing close, but as he approached, I lost sight of him. He had to walk between two large shrubs and he is not a tall man.
The shrubs were a type of evergreen, trimmed round, fresh spring green. My eyes fell to the bottom of the bush. I do not recall focusing on the noise. All seemed quiet and time seemed to stop. I felt like a child playing in my neighborhood; looking beneath the shrubs, as I often had. What was I looking for in particular back in my childhood? Nothing in particular, looking beneath the shrubs was an exercise in pure desire, an exercise in hope.
Then, in a moment, I was recalled to the present. Amidst the spring green shrub I made a find, rather something emerged. I saw bright red. It had always been exciting to spy a red bird in the garden, so bright. The shoes! The images deluged my mind: fire from a bush, the shoes of the fisherman, the bloodied feet of Christ, St. Peter’s bloodied feet. The Holy Father had greeted Catholic educators yesterday evening with Isaiah’s words quoted by St. Paul: “How beautiful are the footsteps of those who bring good news” (Rom 10:15-17). The Holy Father brings Good News, Christ is our Hope! This morning we found abundant joy in Christ with each other. May the words of Psalm 65 be a prayer answered as the Holy Father travels to New York:
You crown the year with your goodness.Abundance flows in your steps,In the pastures of the wilderness it flows.

Isn't that great? It's been a couple of weeks now since the Pope's visit and I am saddened by the fact that I've gotten used to his absence nearly as quickly as I got used to his presence. Even being all the way across the country, we were so connected to every move that he made. I have never had EWTN on so much in my life! It was such a great feeling to come into the room and say to Tim, "what's the Pope up to?" and actually get an answer. (Not that this is a frequent conversation that we have...)

I think we got to see a side of this Pope that we would not have witnessed otherwise. When he was elected, so many people were afraid of this stodgy theologian who was going to completely take over and take away all our freedoms as Catholics! When he was in charge of the CDF, he was the enforcer. The "Grand Inquisitor." How in the world could this "rottweiler" fill the shoes of the dynamic, loving actor-Pope who had endeared himself, in many ways, to the entire world for almost 30 years? What I don't think is that people really gave any credit to the first-hand stories of those who shared endearing accounts of chatting with Cardinal Ratzinger as he would walk through Saint Peter's Square, of those who had listened to him play the piano so beautifully, of those who knew the man rather than simply the name.

His visit to America gave us all the opportunity to meet the man. And what a spry little man he is! Though I have followed his pontificate, and even seen him in person, I'm still so used to associating the "Pope" with the bent and tired (yet still completely with-it and amazing) JPII. While this little Pope - he measures in at a mere 5'7" - is so close in age to his predecessor, he seems to stand taller and stronger than many of my own peers! When he was introduced he would hop out of his seat to greet the crowd and get on with his speech. He'd reach out those little arms and wave his piano fingers at the crowd. He'd SMILE. What a beautiful, joyful presence he portrayed to our country and, by extension, to the world. We are blessed to have him.

All that, AND he wears RED shoes!! I guess the proof is in the Prada.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

T-3 Weeks

So. Three weeks from tomorrow, baby number two will be entering the scene. Baby BOY number two. Jacob. And about four days later there will be another man living in my house. A tiny one, but another man just the same.
I'm so curious to meet this little person. This little personality. In what ways will he be like his brother? In what ways will they differ? I remember writing in Christopher's journal when I first found out that I was pregnant again, and just praising God for the fact that our prayers had been answered. With the first pregnancy, my prayers had been for me. I wanted a baby. I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to get our life started. And then, not long after he was born, when we started talking about another baby....well, the prayer was different. It was still self-motivated prayer. Still something I wanted (come on, when are our prayers of petition NOT motivated out of some level of selfish desire?) but the object of my desire was different. I wanted another baby for Christopher. I wanted a playmate for him. A sibling for him. A companion who would walk with him through the whole of his life. And I wrote that in his journal. That now, even though this baby was still a long 9 months off, he was now connected to this person in a way he'll be connected to no other. They will be siblings. And, at least until they are grown and married (and hopefully still then) that bond will be not only strong and everlasting, but the strongest bond he will ever have.
And then we found out we were having a boy. Even better than I had imagined! BROTHERS! Just what I wanted....for him. For them.
God is so good. You know, I look at my Christopher and in my prayers for him try to offer him completely to our Lord's will and service. It is not my job or even my privilege to choose for him the path that his life will take. But it IS my job to prepare him for the path that God has for him and to pray that he will always be open and willing to walking down that path. When I look at his handsome little face, it is easy to let my mind wander to the future. In my wanderings I can see him falling in love, getting married, and experiencing all of this for himself with his own family. He will make a wonderful husband - already demonstrating the sensitivity and tenderness that will be so important in that relationship. But I can also see an alternate path for him. One that also requires sensitivity and tenderness. One that requires a mind and heart for all things spiritual and holy. One that he demonstrates in practice as he bows his head with his hands in prayer at Mass on Sundays, or makes the Sign of the Cross across his chest with vigor while we're saying grace. Just two weeks ago, while Tim and I were attending daily Mass, Christopher held a plastic cup in his left hand, a plastic screwdriver in his right, and walked up and down the main aisle of the last three-or-so pews and pretended to sprinkle Holy Water on all of the people....just as we've been witnessing the Priest do on Sundays throughout the Easter Season.
He was able to point out the Pope to me in a magazine without my ever having pointed him out before.
Is there something going on here? Some kind of spiritual connection that he already has with our Lord? Some kind of ingrained faith and love for our Faith that has been gifted to him from above? I know that sounds lofty - but is it really that out of reach? People say that children are more deeply connected to the spiritual than adults. Maybe they're right?
My point is, that while I'm sitting here in a room that is a COMPLETE disaster area on its way to become another nursery....while I'm bogged down in all the details of welcoming the physical presence of another human being into my home....what I'm most excited about, and most heavily burdened with, is the welcoming of another human person into my life. Another soul to shepherd and guide. To raise and offer to God to do with what He wills.
What a tremendous responsibility. What a humbling task. What an incredible privilege.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Movie Night. Cancelled.

Movie night is not something that we get all that often around here. It's month nine of the pregnancy and between that and all the stress and drama of what has become our daily life over the last month, we're both usually dragging ourselves into bed after we've dropped The Boy off in the crib. So tonight, when MW said, "let's watch a movie" and I actually had the energy to do so, I was thrilled.

So we put The Boy down. We got the downstairs cleaned and ready for the day tomorrow. Then the phone rang. This first call was a mercy, actually, as MW got to talk while I actually used the time for good (finishing my chores) rather than evil (laying down and ignoring the chores.) The phone call ended just as I was finishing up and I was reaching for the remote when it rang again. This call will last at least an hour. But MW, who is so much more generous and patient than I, is talking and listening like the good guy that he is. Perhaps this, too, is a mercy. Now I actually have a moment to sit down and start up this blog. For the time being.

I've been putting a lot of thought lately into adding a second child to the mix. The fact that #2 will be arriving in less than a month has forced the issue, really. People keep asking me if I'm nervous or worried or wondering how I could love a second as much as I love the first. I feel like they think I'm naive when I respond with "no" and "no" and "no."

Maybe my confidence comes from my experience teaching. After that first year of totally falling in love with the kids, I became extremely nervous when getting ready to greet my second class. How could they compare? Would I adore them as I had my first class? Would we have as much fun? Would they like me as much as my first class did? Teacher friends of mine assured me that I would witness this miracle of watching my heart grow to encompass this new group without losing any connection with the first, and at the same time I'd be amazed that my love for the firsts would not fade in the least. And you know what? They were right. Probably within the first five minutes of that first day of class, I got it. I loved them. Immediately. I found this to be amazing.

With that experience behind me, times five, I've learned many things about what being a parent means when it comes to loving kids. It was the closest thing to parental love that I had ever experienced until I actually became one for real. Now I have one son. Prior to his birth (and in many ways still) I had about 800 kids. No, I can't remember all of their names. But I can remember the blessing they were in my life. I can feel how much I, LOVE....them.

So this is why I'm not so nervous about adding #2 to the gang. Sure I'm anxious about the transition time. But when it comes to LOVING him as much? No way! The thing is, when I was pregnant with The Boy, I didn't know anything about him. I didn't know what he looked like. I didn't know his personality. I didn't know what his laugh sounded like. I didn't know what he'd look like running around naked with my sunglasses on his face, as I found him this morning... But I loved him. And as I find myself preparing for number two, I feel that in a way I'm even more excited. All of the unknowns remain the same, except for the fact that now I KNOW just how deeply this little person will touch my heart. Just how deeply he'll change my life.

For that I am grateful. And blessed. So incredibly blessed.