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11.21.2020

The same yesterday, today and forever

 


Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear; rather look upon them with strong hope that, as they arise, God, whose child you are, will deliver you from them. He has kept you safe thus far -- do you but hold fast to His dear hand and He will lead you safely through all things; where you cannot walk He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.  -St. Francis De Sales

 

10.10.2020

That Which Shall Not Be Named

 “He is sick and I think it’s c---d.”


These words out of my daughter’s mouth concerning her boyfriend sent our family on a strange and isolating path of fear, deception, deflection and fevers. The very day those dreaded words slipped out of her mouth, she also felt ill and I had a strange headache. I took a nap and when I woke up, I felt completely normal. Could it be I was one of the asymptomatic ones? Was this tiny, destructive, slithering bug falling off me wherever I went? Was it carried on the wind into the nose or mouth of an old lady with underlying conditions who would then die from it?


I agonized over this for days. Then my husband got a fever. A bad one. He stayed home from work and quarantined himself in our son’s room. No one was allowed in. He came out with a mask and opened doors and cupboards with napkins. He traced back his steps with antibacterial cleaner. He tested positive. So did the boyfriend.


Guilt settled in my chest, but so far no pain or shortness of breath. I was not as careful as my husband. I must have already had It, but did I? Were my kids exposed last winter like I was so sure they had been? I felt fine, but my throat was a little dry. I tried to convince myself it must be allergies.


So much time had passed, almost a week and I was still unsure if I was carrying It or not. I decided to go to an outdoor social gathering. I was careful. I carried hand sanitizer. I didn’t use the pen to sign in. 


“We may have been exposed to c---d. I just want to be careful,” I deflected.


As I made the social rounds, greeting people I hadn’t seen in months, I tried to talk so my breath was directed away from those I spoke to. At one point I laughed a little too hard. A gust of air escaped my mouth and I watched it land in the eye of my friend. I’ve checked on her every day since. So far, no symptoms, but she hasn’t seen her 80 year old mother in over a week out of the greatest precaution.


No, I didn’t wear a mask. Hardly anyone else did either (that whole mask thing...it’s exhausting). People seemed so desperate to be together. Many hugged each other. I refrained. I hoped no one noticed that I was directing my breath away from them as I talked. 


Twenty-four hours later, almost a week since the initial announcement from my daughter and my strange headache, my throat was still dry. My body seemed weak. That night my temperature rose to 99 degrees and then topped out at 100.1 degrees. 

It is so ironic to say I was relieved to have a fever. I curled up in my bed and let my body fight what only manifested as a mild cold. A day later, I was fine and free! Until my kids got it. I guess they didn’t have It last winter.




8.21.2020

Summer's End


For you are dust, And to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).

At the beginning of this summer I planted some pots of flowers for our entryway. The plants, fresh off the shelves of the nursery, were small, vibrant, and ready to grow. All they needed was dirt, water and sun.  I put those little plants in the dirt full of hope and expectation. And they grew with gusto. The petunias had to be dead-headed daily (almost hourly!). I knew if I clipped off the dead flowers, the plant would continue to produce more flowers, and it did. The pressure was on for me not to miss a day. These plants wanted to grow and produce so quickly, but they also wanted to go to seed. They wanted to die. Try as I might to keep them from going to seed, it was built into their genetics to do so. Now that summer is at its end, these plants are strung out. They aren’t blooming any more. They are dying. They want to drop their seeds into the earth and return to it. 

I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).


The other day the air was hot and still. The sky was dust, smoke and heaviness without even the smallest breeze to assure me of a future, of hope. It seemed as if everything was waiting to die. I felt suffocated. The plants, the air, the people, have taken all they can from this season. We’ve planned our plans, schemed our schemes, but now these plans and schemes are drying up at the base of the plant. We’ve pushed to the end.The leaves and flowers once vibrant and flourishing are no longer sustainable. The branches, once full of potential, grasp tightly to their carefully formed seeds, waiting for the right moment to drop them into the earth, then let the shriveled, tired leaves curl up and be done. It felt as if there is nothing more to be accomplished.


In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5).


Christ has conquered death. He moves ahead with purpose. His white garments flow from the wind he creates with his own advancement. He does not stop for death, he has already passed it by. He likened the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed and yeast. The seed is small, but once it becomes a tree, life bursts out of its branches, new leaves, birds, and butterflies. Yeast sprinkled into dough causes the dough to expand, spread and feed many. Christ also demonstrated that life that bursts forth in many of his miracles. With the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, all were fed and yet so much was left over. Fish and bread spilled out of the baskets. When Peter put the net out into the deep, it was so full it almost made his boat sink. Life cannot be kept in a container. It slips out the sides like fish in a boat.

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

The life of this world is a beautiful mess and it continues forward, like Christ. We too must move ever forward. Although we are at the end of this season, Christ, the master harvester, has prepared for this moment. He tilled the soil, planted the seeds, watered and tended his plants and He is already gathering his harvest. He has already moved beyond the death and the stillness. Our eyes should be watching him, our ears listening. We cannot let our focus rest too long on what is dying. Look up. Look beyond this moment into eternity. Love is on the move.

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:11).






5.03.2020

Ants and candles

Original artwork by...me!


Hello readers! Are you still there?  I'm glad you are!

I just wanted to let you know that I have still been posting YouTube videos. I plan to complete the St. Joseph Baltimore First Communion Catechism and then re-evaluate if I want to continue teaching this way. It's kinda fun actually, and doesn't take a whole lot of time. However, I did not anticipate the quarantine and having all my kids home again so soon. Plus, the volunteer job I have did not slow down. It was at its most intense at exactly the same time we all had to shelter in place. So, my plan for once a week turned into once a month.

Here's a link to my channel if you're interested: Holly's YouTube Channel

I also thought you may be interested in a few thoughts I had jotted down and didn't complete a while back. I've added a bit more to it just now.

Covid-19

A few minutes have opened up, so I've decided to sit down to add my thoughts on the corona quarantine. Unlike many others it seems, my life actually got much, much busier after the threat of the virus hit. The most intense work of my volunteer job as the enrollment coordinator for my kids' school was not phased since I coordinate it all from home on a laptop anyway. The lottery went on as scheduled, as did re-enrollment. So, while others had a little more time to enroll their children in the charter school, I was furiously working behind the scenes. All the extra work would have been fine if I did not have to also coordinate home school online as well. By the second week of the stay-at-home order, I was so sick of technology!

In my mind, as I ping ponged from task to task (almost all of which involved technology), I continued to recall an ant pile I had encountered as a child. The ant pile crawled with red and black ants and I, with a child's curiosity, wanted to see what happened when the ant hill was destroyed, so I kicked it over.

What I saw then reminded me of what I was observing in my fellow humans (and myself too). It was as if our ant hill had been kicked over and we were all frantically running around to build it back up again. Everyone was breathless as they zoomed back and forth to Walmart to check for more toilet paper. Adam walked in with armloads of macaroni and cheese, Ramon noodles, hand sanitizer (he called it liquid gold) and paper towels. It was crazy.

Things have settled down a bit now, but at that frantic time I recalled something I had read about St. Francis.
A traveling pilgrim saw Saint Francis working in his garden, hoeing a row of beans. The traveler, a spiritual seeker, asked the saint, “What would you be doing right now if you knew this was the last day of your earthly life?”  Saint Francis replied, “I would continue hoeing this row of beans.” And he proceeded to do just that.
Whenever I feel that breathless, oh-no-the-ant-nest-just-got-kicked-over feeling, I say to myself, "ok, back to hoeing my beans." Which basically means do my duty. Go through my normal routines and take care of my family.

It was also during those first crazy corona days that I drew the masterpiece above. Notice the darkness around the candle says corona. A friend saw my picture and she gave me the following quote.

"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."

Shine on.