Monday, September 25, 2006

Fair and Merry, Boisterous and Strong

In his homily today, Father David referred to St. Francis' Caniticle of the Sun and his reference to Brother Fire. This in connection with lighting a lamp and where to put it. The translation he cited had St. Francis calling Brother Fire "fair and merry, boisterous and strong."

He emphasized the word boisterous, how much he liked that term.

There is something attractive about it, isn't there.

Well, attractive in the way that people think of the idyllic scene of monks in the hermitage, working in their garden and gathering herbs. In that scene, monks don't sweat, itch, stink, get dirty or hot. Or need to use the restroom.

Ok, there's something peaceful about the monk scene because we see monks as spiritual, peaceful people (and ourselves, by contrast, as NOT those things, I guess).

And maybe there is something attractive about boisterous when our lives are too tame, too sedate, not enough tussle and fun.

Mothers of five year old boys probably have their fill of boisterous. At least I feel I do.

But then I thought again of St. Francis and Brother Fire, and of Fr. David's contagious sense of attraction to all of the above.

And I thought of how many times I've heard of parents who were opposed to their son's priestly vocation, and of how I've always thought "I'd never do that. How could anyone do that?" Well, I thought, how good am I at embracing whatever gifts God gives my children?

I need to face it, God has created my son to be Brother Fire.

Where in society is being boisterous welcomed? Serious question, here. Maybe bars? Entertainers? Certainly not schools or "the workplace". How can I welcome Brother Fire without dousing him or ... (say it; it's so obvious) getting fried?

A while back on the UC list there was discussion of learning opportunities for kids with fire. I realized that my off the cuff idea was that a hands on lesson there would not be desirable. (Many people then told of their own fire experiments and demonstrations with their kids.) I guess I'm afraid of fire. Any sane person has some fear of fire. But I guess maybe it needs to be more the idea of respect and understanding. Understand the laws the govern how it grows and spreads, when there is danger and when it actually is quite safe.

Here's the hitch: I know I can go to the library and find a book about fire safety, physics and all that. Where is the book that will translate the analogy for my son?

bois‧ter‧ous [boi-ster-uhs, -struhs]
–adjective 1. rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous; unrestrained: the sound of boisterous laughter.
2. (of waves, weather, wind, etc.) rough and stormy

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Love Jesus

Today I had the pleasure of attending a Communion and Liberation gathering. Used to be that whenever I heard the word "liberation" in any theological context, my hackles went up. Funny. Irrational, though.

Anyway, this was a very welcomed development, to come upon this group. I got the email last night, about 24 hours ago, that this group was to start meeting this morning. It requires no reading in advance, and children are welcomed to come. And it offers intellectual discussion on spiritual topics. Sounded like a perfect match.

We read an article, and true to my introverted ways, I found throughout the day that I was formulating the thoughts I might have offered in discussion, had I had them that fast. Really, I think I was more pondering the discussion and the reading that did take place. Even though I like these group discussion things, seems I usually keep quiet during them.

The discussion moved to Islam vis a vis Christianity. I have not done a great deal of thinking about Islam, but I did today. I chewed over some things that were said by the women this morning. And I'll chew them over some more here.

First, someone pointed to St. Thomas, and his famous doubts. She said, that in the Islamic system, Thomas would not be free to doubt, to state his disbelief. Either Allah would have finished him off on the spot, or at least his fellow Apostles would have. God is absolute, you are not to question but submit. Tromp, tromp, tromp -- he's dead/gone. She pointed to the beauty of Jesus' response to Thomas: "put your finger here, put your hand here. Do not doubt, but believe." Such an attitude of mercy. But WHY? And here's the real point we discussed: because God respects our humanity. He created us as human beings because He likes us this way. It's His plan, and He honors it. He honors our reason, our intellect. He honors the fact that we are created for relationship!

Another woman pointed out how the trend to removing the phrase "God our Father" and replacing it with "God our Creator" falls into this same trap that Islam is stuck in: it destroys the Father/child relationship language which Jesus came to reveal. The whole point of the Incarnation is that Jesus comes to reveal the FATHER -- not "merely" the Creator (as if that were a "mere" thing). That God loves us this much, and this personally, to desire relationship with us.

When I was a Protestant, I remember meditating on a few praise songs that were to or about Jesus. And I wondered to myself, why are we singing this to Jesus, and not the Father or not the Holy Spirit. I really didn't know. I just figured we could relate to Jesus since He was our Savior and the other part of the Trinity was just sort of nebulous. But saying "Oh How I Love Jesus" made some sense because He was a person, after all.

But how much do you/can you really love a person if you don't understand them or know them deeply? That's where I feel I was stuck as a Protestant. I just had this idea of a divinity that most of the time I called Jesus, although I knew there was a Trinity and it included God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, too.

It was only upon becoming a Catholic that I began to develop the faintest notion of Jesus as God's revelation of His own personal incarnate love. Then, of the Trinity as God as Life-Giver. As the One who relates. As the One who created us for Himself and to share His life. I may not talk much differently about the Trinity now than I did as a Protestant, but I have as it were a 3D view now rather than a flat picture.

(So the blog title -- can be either a shallow bumper sticker type saying, or the most profound reality.)

And I wonder -- it has been said that how the Church teaches what she believes might look quite a bit different if She had never been in the tussle with heresy. Seems every time the current wind of false doctrine comes along, God calls us to beef up our own understanding, our own practice, and to reach out to those caught in its error -- not only those practicing the heresy, but especially perhaps those Christians who swallow the same thinking without realizing it.

So, what about Islam. Of great offense to Islam is this notion of the Trinity. Of a God who desires relationship, who honors reciprocity, difference. Who deeply and profoundly respects the human person, including his reason and intellect, even to the point of respecting his right to refuse relationship with Him. Who has highly exalted a woman. Are there any ways in which I have swallowed "Islamic" thinking? Have I disrespected any human person in his inner being (like, perhaps some of the little human persons with whom I spend each day)? Am I focused on the value of relationship and do I count it higher than other goods/products? Do I praise God with every fiber of my being for the astounding miracle of the Incarnation and all that theologically flows from them -- the Sacraments, the Immaculate Conception, our own participation in grace?

We need to live and love these truths to their fullness to present to the world the God who Loves us, to draw the world to Him.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Second Verse, Same As The First

I'm up, it's late, and I should be in bed. Or at least (I think) it would be good if I were doing something more productive than tittling around on the computer. (At least I'm not playing Pac Xon anymore!)

So, I was reading some of my own Blog posts. I've been writing them as a sort of way to journal my thoughts, meditate on them a bit. And I realize I haven't progressed very much in my thoughts about authority equals service, and my desire to interact more patiently with my dear son.

Which reminds me, we have undertaken a new little project. We are going to our local cemetery every day, to stand at exactly the same spot and take a photo of the trees. The idea is to watch the subtle changes as we approach fall.

I really HOPE that there is a correlation here. Today we went, and the trees looked pretty much like they did yesterday. I suppose they'll look pretty much the same tomorrow as well. Maybe even for the whole week. Maybe even two or three weeks. But eventually, I know, the leaves will turn yellow, orange, brown, and start to fall. Eventually the branches will be bare. Eventually then they'll be full of snow.

So I hope it is just that I don't feel like my making much progress in virtue, my desire to be patient, understanding, long-suffering, and delighting in serving my family. Maybe virtue doesn't even grow as fast as leaves change (nor is it as inevitable!) Of course, it isn't too healthy to sit around analyzing one's virtue, in a navel-gazing sort of way. Examination of conscience and prayer, yes. Good and necessary. Probably something I should do more of.

At some moments I feel like I want to be able to say "Can I just not be the Mom today? Can I just go have playtime instead, and do only what I feel like doing?" That's not what I really want on any kind of permanent basis. But a break now and then...

I guess that's why I sit up tinkering at the computer when I should be sleeping. But is it really worth being tired in the morning?

OK, I'm talking to myself too much. Good night.