Ouch! Mary-T, a.k.a. "canon law Mary" - handed me a whammy last night. We were talking about our mutual frustration with a particular web site, when she said, "You know what? I'm just going to have to quit going on there. Whenever I talk to you or anyone else from the site, it's 'what's going on with so-and-so...?'" and all we do is gossip. It really is a near occasion of sin for me!"
And I feel so embarrassed, because she's right. It's a milieu that fosters gossip and criticism and fault-finding and - for me, the smug sense of how much smarter and more sensible I am that other women (and a lot of the men).
For instance: right now there is a thread in which a woman jokes about buying a couple of new coats for her new northern home (she's from warmer climes, originally); the thread develops into a discussion of the "luxuries" considered "necessary indulgances" by the women - be it clothes, cosmetics, books, etc. -
- and I think, y'all are talking about spending more for a damn purse than I can bring home from either of my primary jobs in a month's time!" and I feel self-satisfied that I have no such need for something as vain as a $600 purse to make me feel fabulous!
And in another thread, a woman announces that she sent a man a message which he didn't respond to, so "it's all over." And without knowing a thing more than that, more than twenty-five women have jumped in that thread to commiserate with the woman about what a heel and a snake in the grass said man is for not responding to her message -
- and I think, how absolutely egotistical and even megalomaniacal it is that she should expect the world to revolve around her little two-sentence message. There are a dozen perfectly good reasons why the man didn't respond to her message. Yet. If it's who I think it is, I would add to the list of possibilities that the "relationship" being boasted of in the past couple of weeks is nothing more than a construct of her overfertile imagination. That means - there was nothing to BE OVER.
After all, when we say a relationship is OVER, it must first have existed. It must have had a beginning, a moment of engagement between the parties.
God preserve me from winding up like some of these people, who embarrass the daylights out of me with their folly.
Which is pride, sinful pride on my part, because I presume I'm superior to them.
I'm nowhere NEAR done - maybe an optimistic guess is that I've got about 20% of my books entered so far? Still, this is FUN! Check out google Library - as soon as I can figure out how to enter it so my books alone show up, without the "add/delete" stuff for other people to tamper with, I'll post my list.
A woman's heart is a great mystery. We women don't even understand it, ourselves. We love when it is wholly irrational to do so, and cannot when it would make so much sense. We come to see things we'd rather not see at all - because the heart is a scope into another person's soul.
We can fight it, we can rage against it - it hardly matters. We will love despite ourselves, and suffer in the process.
I knew I was sunk when one day I suddenly realized, I want to iron his shirts. I don't iron - unless it is absolutely necessary, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the completely irrational yearning to iron his shirts.
I learned to iron so that my father could have a nice shirt to wear to work. He had to wear uniform shirts, and my mother would take them from the washer and dryer and dump them on the picnic table in the basement (the very picnic table I now use as my desk). He'd come through, trying to get ready for work (he was a long-distance trucker), and he would say, "Do I have a clean shirt to wear?" and she'd look at him from underneath her eyebrows, usually over hte top of a book, and she'd snap, "If you want a shirt, you can iron it yourself!" and for a long time he did - and not any too well, either.
So I learned to iron his shirts, because I adored my daddy and it shamed and infuriated me that my mother, his wife, should despise him so.
I should have known not to marry Danny or Rusty - the thought of ironing their shirts was boring. But now I want to iron his shirts, and I see myself handling the fabric that he wears against his own skin, and it is an act of great service, and love and devotion to a man ... whose shirts I will quite surely never iron.
Such is the complexity and the fickleness of a woman's heart - it betrays not the men, but us, the ones whose heart it's supposed to be.
from Rumer Godden's In this House of Brede (New York, Viking Press, 1969): "And what did you give?" Philippa was serious again."...I was like an orchard where the fruit is ripe, but some has fallen in windfalls, some been spoiled by wasps, some sold... or given away or wasted. The owner comes and gathers what is left and gives it to God. That's what anyone does who gives up in the fullness of her life, leaves it for Him; but the one who comes at nineteen or twenty or even twenty-three...gives the whole orchard, blossom and fruit and all."
Giving my life to God, to live wholly for His Kingdom, while relinquishing the old dream to love and to belove to someone in marriage, is - for me, it's not yet satisfying.
On the one hand, the old dream does not die at once, but in inches. Loving someone now who does not love in me in at all the same way helps push me along a bit, I think; I never thought I would say, there is one man in all the world for me, but there it is, and so I am freer than ever before to look beyond marriage to living wholly consecrated to God. It is a bittersweet realization.
And on the other, there is this approaching fiftieth birthday and all the reflections of past decisions, and grief for bad choices and a sort of why couldn't I have realized how much there is? before I made some of the crap-awful choices of past years. I've given away and wasted so much of the fruit of my life, when the Master would have kept it far safer for Himself than I was capable of doing.
Still, the Master wants the orchard of our lives whenever we have the capacity to give it all to Him. At this point of my life, I like to think the trees are laden with ripening fruit. Some varieties of apple are mid-summer, like the "horse apples" that my aunt and uncle had on their farm (that made the most wonderful fried apple pies!); some will ripen to be harvested later into the Fall.
Whatever fruit my life is preparing to bear, let it be for Him, and not for myself for a change.
I've sought counsel from several good people who have an idea of my fundamental capabilities - and I've got to tell you, my favorite response was with one friend whose response to my query, "do I have what it takes?" was
"Oh, hells yeah!"
That made me laugh. I needed to laugh.
So - I've talked via phone with Mary, I've got to call a couple of people in our dioceses for some feedback - but this coming week my major task is to apply to Franciscan University's Distance Learning Program and get my application for a Stafford Loan in the works.
I realize, too, that in going this route I am closer to coming to terms with the likelihood that God is calling me to remain single for the Kingdom. It's not at all what I would choose for myself, but at least I am coming closer to feeling called, not just condemned, to single life.
Dear Catalinni had the wonderful habit of celebrating an entire Birthday Season - making the rounds to varied scattered family members during her birthday month and letting them fete her in grand style.
I just caught myself announcing my birthday, coming up October 28 - I'll turn 50 at 8:16 p.m., exactly, if you wish to know.
I've taken a page out of Catalinni's book - Let the Celebrations Begin! Laissez les Bontemps Roulez!
I mean, this is not a professional ambition common to little Protestant girls.
"So, tell me, young lady - what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"I have always had an intense yearning to study canon law" is not the answer we give.
So - I have a friend from a website, known affectionately as "canon law Mary" because she is named Mary and she is, yes indeedy! a student of the canon law licentiate program at the prestigious St Paul University in Ottawa.
Mary has decided that her first mission in this, her final semester of canon law study, is to persuade me to succeed her as brilliant laywoman scholar at her soon to be alma mater.
Whoa. Wow. Sensory overload, here.
It'll take at least five years. The licentiate program is a 3-year course of study, but I'll have to have some courses in theology and philosophy, 2 years' worth, before I can begin canon law studies. I can obtain those courses through distance learning at several good universities, including Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
But that will mean graduating at age 55 or thereabouts... which will still allow me to look forward to some twenty years' service in exchange for my efforts - and, if I'm lucky, the ability to pay off the exorbitant student loans I'll have to take out to go to Ottawa (which is about half the cost of North America's only other canon law licentiate program, Catholic University in Washington, DC)
I'm going to look into it. Had a good soul-searching chat with a friend who is a solid academician this morning, and have contacted a priest friend for counsel.
I've never been a particularly domesticated woman. From the time I was a little girl, wanting to play house, I've been criticized and discouraged and even actively ridiculed - first by my mother, who wasn't capable of rising above the criticism she'd grown up hearing, then by my ex-husband (gay men are invariably more domesticated than most women, anyway)
Compound this little deficiency in my nature by the fact that I fell and ripped a hamstring a couple months ago - sitting, standing (we dubbed it this week-end, un-sitting), climbing steps... ranging somewhere from very uncomfortable to downright agonizing!
My house was a nightmare -
Enter friends: Stephanie. Mary. Emily.
Stephanie lives in Indiana, we talk on the phone a lot. She sort of jump-started the domestication gene long-dormant in my pathetic psyche. She also sent me the most gorgeous teacup, a graceful elegant thing of such feminine lines and proportions that I can hardly take my eyes off it. The cup was part of her grandmother's collection. Mary lives in Texas. She recently sent me a set of dishes - red, Churchill dishes, again far more elegant than anything I've ever dreamed of choosing for myself. Emily lives down the road in Charlotte. She gave me warm hospitality when I sang at the Eucharistic Congress last week, and I was so delighted with her little house, she offered to come help me with mine.
She came on Saturday. She was a busy worker bee, helping shift furniture, vacuuming in the odd corners I currently can't reach, pulling odd pieces from hiding places and setting them in a place of prominence. She set me to sewing curtains (the machine broke, my curtains are being hand-sewn) and ordered me about with meal-making while she did a regular "House Invaders" job for me.
I LOVE my house now! One more room to finish on my own, and it will become a "formal" dining room - Photos coming eventually, okay?
Greetings to the folks who are checking out the blog from Angela Messenger's - I need to respond to Angela's recent gift to me - a blog award! but it will have to be tomorrow. I took Tylenol PM and the "PM" is kicking in like crazy.