Anne Notations

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Family. Faith. Flowers.


Thoughts on Michael's new job in Connecticut

Despite being grateful for a second income, I'm still petulant about the enforced weeklong separations. One night early last week, I felt so adrift and lonely in our big queen bed by myself, I was near tears. Last night I had an obviously symbolic dream in which the kids and I kept losing sight of Michael at a big fair or festival... We'd spot him striding off into a field away from us and start yelling for him, but he wouldn't hear us; it was scary and frustrating.

The weekends are all the more vivid. Sometime between 7:30 and 9 pm on Fridays, I hear the crunch of gravel as Michael's car slides into the driveway, then his steps on the porch, and then he's in the door and home. We all shift gears instantly into "normal."

I give him a hard time when he says things like, "I need to take a few six-packs of this seltzer home [to Connecticut] with me on Sunday." Um, excuse me. Home??? I don't think so!

Thoughts during Mass today; Kevin and I were lectors

Holy Trinity Sunday. Mass is always an hour, at the least, and I am almost never bored. Sitting to one side of the altar sharpens my focus on every little part of the liturgy, every response and prayer.

I was startled this morning when Kevin nudged me during Fr. Hayman's homily and whispered, "See, that's what I was talking about - budget priorities!" Um what? Oh. Kevin had been reading the newspaper yesterday and was outraged that the neighboring city of Cranston is cutting things like special-ed teachers from its school budget but keeping expensive sports like hockey. Hockey, dear to Kevin's own heart. We had quite a discussion about it. "Mom, are you kidding? Why would I ever believe they should keep hockey instead of providing the best education for all students?!"

Anyway, I wasn't startled about being nudged; I was astonished that my teenaged son was following every word of Father's sermon about being stewards of all members of God's family, especially those in need. One of the many things I enjoy about going to Mass is seeing Kevin – our daydreamer, our academic underachiever, our intense debater and dissident, our wise guy – participate fully and willingly in the rituals of his faith. At 16 he has a well-considered personal theology and commitment, and one that he is happy to defend in discussions with his friends.

The other thing at Mass.... I sometimes look around at the carvings of saints and the large crucifix and the icon of the Blessed Mother and the tonsured priest in his robes, the whole nine yards of human-manufactured organized religion (and what religion is more organized than the RC Church?), and I think: What the heck? How did I, did we, get sucked into this? Are we really discussing seriously the corporeal manifestation of God (any god) on Earth in history? Can we actually be nodding our heads as Father speaks about a God who has a personal, familial relationship with each and every human being? I feel as if I have a foot in two worlds – the world of daily life, of skepticism and reason and clinical respect for sheer scientific knowledge; and that other world of mystery, the unknowable, the subjective, all framed with dogged ritual and honeycombed with exegesis.

It's too much to figure out, so I go back to the basics, to the simplest bottom line in my consideration of something unimaginably larger than our minds can encompass: the "why" question. I've said it before and I keep returning to it: Mankind has gotten pretty good at describing WHAT the universe is; it's making progress on HOW the whole thing works (I do love physicists); and there is beginning to be some consensus on WHEN it originated. But I get stuck on the "WHY" of it all – and don't even try heading me off with some scientific hoo-ha about "we don't need to know why". Listen, professor: I need to know why. At this time i my life, practicing (appreciate the aptness of that verb, please) a faith is my way of taking a run at the "why" of it all. Puny and comical, no doubt; but aren't most of our endeavors.

So, I recite the Creed and say the Our Father and sing the Lamb of God with all those good people facing me in the pews. I receive the body and blood of Christ (not literally, sacramentally! Father Randall insisted; I'm still trying to understand the fine distinction) and I kneel next to my fascinating, frustrating son; I watch the Indian-American alto in our choir kneel on the marble floor beside her chair, a black mantilla covering her hair, and am touched by her piety, her humility.

What are we all doing here in church on a beautiful June day? I can't speak for anyone but myself. I'm knocking on a door, hoping against hope that Someone is home.

Thoughts on gardening in June

Smell of warm dirt. Dear small snake in the back yard, looped over my hand. Blossoms on the sugar-snap pea vines morphing into tiny green pods.

Yellow rose buds on the breathless verge of opening. Astonishing blood-maroon irises with black buds. Moving perennials around in the gardens. Spending all the drizzly Friday morning potting plants for the patio and front porch as Caroline pottered around the yard in her rubber boots and raincoat, unfazed by the weather, fascinated by everything, chomping sprigs of garden parsley and thyme. Ornamental feathered grasses bowing with the wind. The first yellow daylily; the resurrection and multiplication of last year's Asian lilies.

Sunshine, tank tops, rubber flip-flops, Miracle Gro tomato food, a new makeshift bird bath. This is the month we live for.

8 Comments:

  • Do you know? Will you share? What is the name of that gorgeous iris? I am going to move my iris this fall, as the weeds/grass have taken over the beds - planted by my Grandmother about 95 years ago, so, well, was it to be expected? Would love to add such a delightful iris to our mix. Meanwhile, thank you for the beauty you share with your photos and words.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 08, 08:49:00 AM EDT  

  • Dear Anonymous: I wish I knew the name of that iris! It was in a mesh bag with the label ripped off. I found it in a bin of half-price bulbs at the local Job Lot store last November and stuck it in the ground just before the first snow. I had no idea what would come up. It was a thrilling surprise when those Gothic buds appeared this spring. I will try to find it on a bulb website.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Mon Jun 08, 10:56:00 AM EDT  

  • The iris is called Burgundy Bubbles, which seems a frivolous name for such a stately, serious flower. It is a tall bearded iris. Google the name to find online vendors.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Mon Jun 08, 03:34:00 PM EDT  

  • Thank you so much!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 08, 07:07:00 PM EDT  

  • Faith and reason are not antonyms; try not to see them and present them juxtaposed as such. There are some brilliant apologists out there who are worth reading; it's not all subjectivity and longing for mystery. I was drawn to the Faith initially and primarily by how much it engaged my intellect, and so are many others.

    By Blogger Karen, at Mon Jun 08, 10:27:00 PM EDT  

  • a lot to think about here. Need to process... Beautiful thoughts and snapshot of life in words.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Tue Jun 09, 12:53:00 AM EDT  

  • Thank you for this entry.

    By Blogger bozoette, at Wed Jun 10, 10:01:00 AM EDT  

  • I'm getting caught up on your blog, in reverse order :) How did I ever forget how beautifully you write?!
    Deirdre

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 17, 11:44:00 PM EDT  

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