Wednesday, August 27, 2014

These are my children

As I awake this morning, I am lying in bed and checking the world news. In doing so, I come across a picture of some displaced children sleeping on a blanket with pillows. They are wearing clothes that seem familiar. Two girls and a boy. They remind me of my children when they were younger. In fact, I have to restrain myself from thinking that they are my children. My children are safe at home with me. And yet, there they are, a picture of my children from not so long ago. These are my children. These are our children.

Sometimes I get the feeling that it is all too easy to dismiss what happens to other people in terms of "being thankful for what we have." While it is a good thing to be grateful for goodness in our lives, it is a blessed thing to feel sorrow for those who are suffering. Being a mother amps up the capacity to do this about a million percent. Anytime I see a picture like this, it beckons me to pray in such a way that I imagine God's loving arms embracing these children in fatherly protection. I see our Blessed Mother comforting the mother of James Foley in empathetic sorrow.

God, please heal our world. Grant us peace. Give us justice.

Monday, August 25, 2014


From time to time over the past few years, my children have checked my blog. "Mom, when are you going to update your blog?" I thought it was cute how they still checked it, and I wondered about the fascination they had with reading it. I guess it became an opportunity to see their mother's words instead of just hearing them all the time. And perhaps I don't have the time during the day to phrase things exactly as I would in print. Writing is an exercise in slowing down thought, in being precise, in comtemplating. I have learned to cherish this process.

It reminds me of the technique used in Marriage and Engaged Encounter. As part of our marriage preparation, my husband and I were required to attend an Engaged Encounter weekend through our diocese. The format was similar to other youth retreats we had experienced, with one major difference. There was A LOT of writing involved, so much that people came out of their rooms shaking out the cramps from their hands. For some, the pain of writing cramps became indicative of a cramp of thought, an underdeveloped mental muscle having to bear the weight of the weekend's work. Tension aged the faces of couples who had not considered some of the deeper questions we had to confront. Much of their frustration, I'm certain, stemmed from the realization of marriage and what it was requiring from all of us, but I suspect that their inability to deal with these emotions directly realted to the fact that none of us had aquired the tools for reflection and transmission.

I love remembering these experiences because they now help guide me in instructing my children. I have been a full-time teacher for the past two years, and I think (at best) a part-time mother. Just recently, my husband was able to switch his employment, enabling me to stay at home with our children. After a nine-year hiatus, we will begin home schooling again next week. Much of their practical education will center around this lost art, the process of thinking and expressing. I thank God for this opportunity to reconnect with my children. Our world needs thoughtfulness, kindness, and eloquence. It needs self-sacrifice, dedication, and faith. In teaching our children in our home, we retreat from the world to find our place in the world. I'm thankful to have learned this lesson.