Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dream House

I keep reading things in the media that emphasize how great it is for kids to have their own bedrooms. A home-improvement magazine will have an article on how 'the Webers remodeled their house and were able to squeeze in 4 bedrooms upstairs so each child could have his or her own room', or the newspaper will have an article on how a low-income family got their first home and 'little Alex is overjoyed at having his own room for the first time'.

Okay now, I never shared a room as a child, but I do remember becoming giddy over the prospect of Friday-night sleepovers, in part because there would be someone else sleeping in my room. Really--is it so bad for kids to share a room? What exactly are parents thinking their children will gain by having their own room? Better social skills? A willingness to share and compromise? Or maybe it's just that parents have something to gain by giving each child their own room. I googled some statistics and found that the average new house size in 1950 was 980 square feet. In 1970, 1,500 square feet, in 2004, 2,349. I also found an interesting quote in the same article "I always wanted a house big enough that my kids could be in their room screaming, and my wife could be in a room screaming, and I could be somewhere else and not hear any of them," he says. "And I think I have accomplished this with this house, because this house is so big that everyone has their own space."

Wow. So this guy is happy that his family is unhappy and he doesn't have to deal with it because everyone is shut away in their own space. I don't exactly know what to say to that. Sounds like a great sad life to me. So, people who shared rooms as a child or currently have kids sharing rooms, spill it. Am I missing something?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good things come in pairs

In case you're interested, I had an ultrasound today and we are having a boy! I think it's pretty cool that booga bear and the new baby will each have a just seems good for boys to have brothers. My husband pointed out that it should be interesting to watch them interact since neither of us grew up with a same-sex sibling, and I think he's right. So, now we get to decide if we still like any of the leftover names that we didn't end up naming booga bear with...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chasing a cat in the rain

I took booga bear outside to play in the rain on Sunday. I was sick and hadn't taken him outside much over the last few days, so I thought he deserved it. We put on our coats and I found our biggest umbrella and we headed out into the rain and fading daylight.

He stayed under the umbrella for awhile, and we walked very slowly around our apt. building as I tried to keep the umbrella over us without stepping on him. Eventually he ventured out a little and got his coat dripping wet, and then he saw our neighbor's cat and he took off like a shot at a speed that surprised me--this is a kid who very rarely runs. He ran down a steep embankment that he usually navigates very cautiously in pursuit of the cat. I ran after his little splashing feet, not wanting him to get completely soaked, and noticed that his too-long pant legs had wicked the rain nearly to his knees. The cat of course was too smart to wait around for us, but we had to look for her in all the likely places booga bear could think of.

All this was surprisingly enjoyable; it's fun to watch my son get so excited over something as simple as a cat in the rain. I've noticed since I became a parent that the little things in life take on an added luster when you get to watch your child navigate parts of the world that are new to them. Things like going to the zoo, or sharing a free cookie from the grocery store bakery, or reading Dr. Suess . It's hard to find another adult who will stand around and admire the rain with me, but booga bear always will, and it's nice to spend time with someone who genuinely looks forward to the small pleasure of life like rain and cats.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quotable Monday

"Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth."

-James 5:17 (RSV)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm not surprised

A few days ago I felt the baby move, really move, for the first time. I feel definite shifts and turns inside me a bloop-woop-doop below my belly button. What's ironic is that even though I can feel a baby growing inside me, I really can't imagine a baby growing inside me. Are there really fingers and toes and tiny ears, actual legs kicking, and, and...? It doesn't quite seem possible, although of course I know it's happening. It seems we humans have so little imagination when it comes to things we can't see with our eyes, so really, I'm not surprised so many women and men find it very easy to put their child to death with an abortion. Sure we've explored outer space, invented the internet, and I hear scientists are hard at work trying to create sperm from female bone marrow, but because of our lack of vision, when it comes to debating facts largely outside the realm of the physically tangible, anything can pass muster as a moral choice.

You see this repeatedly in society, from people who decide the world would be better off without the hope of God and religion, to people who would prefer the universal embrace of homosexuality, to people who trust there is no pain in abortion so great it could negate its usefulness. Lack of vision, lack of imagination--human beings can be terrible at understanding consequences when they are not completely obvious. If we don't experience a smiting by God, we all have the capability to believe that an evil act isn't really very evil, or is even good. I believe that were many people to just take a few small steps towards what I will term 'the mystical', or the realm of things that go unseen with physical sight, the world would be startled at the reality of God.

I'd like to hope this burden of not knowing what is right in the face of the unknown falls mostly on the shoulders of secular, and particularly non-Christian, persons rather than Christians. Christians have a perfect moral law passed on to us by God through the Jews and Christ himself, and it was exemplified without a flaw in the person of Jesus. No other religion in the world can claim that its founder was a perfect leader, because no other religion in the world has God as its founder. And that's why we need him so, because only God has ordered the universe. Only his laws work. We can't evade him by coming up with our own individual moral codes-- they fail since they are not based on reality, which would be what God set up when he created the earth. Without Christ, we are all so lost in the quagmire of figuring out morality, and we are bound to call evil good.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Quotable Monday

"It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward"

-Baltasar Gracian 1601-1658, writer, Jesuit priest

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Reverence misunderstood

I've heard people describe Catholic Mass as extremely boring, as in 'how can you sit through all that recitation every week? Wouldn't you rather go to a service that is 'alive'? Now that I am Catholic I realize that God is mightily present at every Mass, and that is enough for me, but I can understand the sentiment because it used to be mine. Not when it came to considering Mass, but more traditional Protestant services were not appealing to me for the same reasons. I think the reason for this was that I misunderstood the place of reverence in a worship service.

I grew up in a Protestant denomination that tended to emphasize reverence. As a child and teenager, this all too often translated to me as old-fashioned and dull. When I left home for college, I eventually chose to attend contemporary services that had a non-denominational feel. I wanted my church to encourage energy in my relationship to God, and I wanted it to feel relevant to my life. But there was one contemporary service I went to that became too much for me. A few weeks ago, Aimee Milburn posted an interesting piece on visiting a friend's evangelical church service, and I left a comment describing the service I went to. "I sometimes attended a young adult Baptist service in college that was all about jumping up and down praising God as loud as possible, and I HATED it. It hadn't started out like that, which is why I kept going, but the whole tempo of the service felt like GO!GO!GO! I remember telling people that I didn't like it anymore because there was no room in the service to pray and be humble before God, it was so incredibly unbalanced, but yet it was a very popular service."

Although I was glad to stop attending this service, I still preferred casual, contemporary worship services for the next couple years. It wasn't until I began considering Catholicism that traditional style was once again forced on me, and it was much more traditional than anything I had experienced before. But from the beginning of going to Mass, I knew there was something there that was not dispensed in the same dosage at my own Protestant church. That something? I quickly figured out that it was reverence. Shortly after I started attending, a friend asked me how I liked Mass and I responded that I felt I couldn't walk into Mass and slouch in the pews like I did at my church because there was a sense of God's holiness there. I noticed that the sanctuary was quiet beforehand and people prayed upon entering the sanctuary, unlike my church where everyone socialized in the sanctuary beforehand, often pushing up the start time of the service by 15 minutes or so. Frankly, I preferred the quiet.

When I found how reverent Mass was, I was fascinated with my immediate attraction to it. It had an air of the sacred about it, and even though I wasn't partaking of the Eucharist I loved listening to the priest walk us through the last supper and Christ's death and resurrection, and I loved watching everyone go forward to receive the Eucharist. I realize now that I was unsatisfied with the traditional 'reverent' style I grew up with not because reverence itself is boring, but because there wasn't much to be truly reverent about at church. God was there, but we received him by osmosis through the whole package of the service and not directly in the Eucharist like in Mass. Jesus in the flesh inspires reverence, but when the focus of a service is the sermon, it's hard for me to walk away feeling like I met with God. I think this is why today's emerging Protestant churches really try to ramp up the spiritual impact of a service by providing a worshipful, uplifting time of singing, which is the segment of the service usually labeled as worship...people are wanting something more out of church than a good sermon. As a Catholic now, I don't miss these types of services either because they are ultimately lacking in the substance I'm looking for every week, Jesus in the Eucharist.

I had been thinking these things over last weekend and when I went to Mass on Sunday, I thought God is here. Not very profound, but that one little thought deeply impacted how I experienced Mass. I always think of Mass as a time to meet with God, but this time the Lord's presence really hit me. I thought about how being in the presence of God should affect me, and it seemed obvious that it should order all my actions in Mass. Now was not the time to let my mind wander and mentally make the weeks' grocery list. I looked over at the tabernacle and saw the red candle burning and thought wow. The LORD is HERE. I couldn't help but close my eyes and soak in this knowledge and when I did, I felt a change come over me. Suddenly I felt heavier on the pew, confident I would have no trouble sitting there forever. I was aware of a sweet sensation surrounding me that's hard to explain, but it felt sort of like breathing in honey...without the wild coughing and suffocation that would entail in real life. I was overwhelmed with how good it was to be there sitting with Jesus.

Amy left a beautiful comment to her post (the one I linked to above) describing her experience of going from evangelical style worship to Mass that I can identify with, and I thought I would end this post with it:

For me, moving from Evangelical to Catholic worship (and I've been blessed with good-quality Catholic liturgy), it is like going from a big, fun swimming pool with slides and floats and everything to the beautiful, deep blue sea. I did scuba diving years ago, and when diving, one learns to relax, breathe and move slowly and deeply, to conserve oxygen, and ascend slowly, to prevent nitrogen build up and the bends. Nothing is ever hurried and rushed, and one feels almost as if one is moving in slow motion.

Good liturgy is like that for me, moving slowly, diving deeply, ascending gradually, breathing fully and deeply all the while. And what beauties of deeps and reefs and life you see along the way.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Losing Libby

Today was my due date for our baby that we lost in miscarriage last summer. I didn't expect to be sad today, but I am sad today. Yesterday I didn't feel gloomy in anticipation of today, and I'm pregnant again and looking forward to another baby's birth, but today I am feeling the loss anew. We were able to bury our baby, whom we felt was a daughter, in a Catholic cemetery and the same flood of emotion has happened to me when we have visited the grave. I am fine, I am good, but when I kneel down over the spot that holds our tiny baby's body, I become undone. I didn't want to get a plot and bury our baby but my husband insisted, and he was right. It's good to have a place to go and mourn, to remember. It makes what has happened not feel like a bad dream. Her life was short but it mattered, and it has changed me. I've read that many women carry cells for years from each baby they have been pregnant with, so literally, pieces of her are etched into my being. Even if I don't have her cells in my body, I will always carry the memories of what it felt like to see the positive pregnancy test, to say the name Libby out loud for the first time and know it would be our daughter's name, and what it felt like to find out she had gone from this life. And I will always carry the hope that someday, baby girl, someday we'll meet in heaven.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Jen's story

Jen at Et Tu? has a fabulous post How I became pro-life, that I couldn't help but posting two excerpts from, but in my humble opinion, you really should read the whole thing...

"Because it was an inherent part of my worldview that everyone except people with "hang-ups" eventually has sex and sex is, under normal circumstances, only about the relationship between the two people involved, I got lured into one of the oldest, biggest, most tempting lies in human history: to dehumanize the enemy. Babies had become the enemy because of their tendencies to pop up and ruin everything; and just as societies are tempted to dehumanize the fellow human beings who are on the other side of the lines in wartime, so had I, and we as a society, dehumanized the enemy of sex."

"The way I'd always seen it, the standard position was that babies were a horrible burden, except for a couple times in life when everything is perfect enough that a couple might temporarily see new life as a good thing; the Catholic view is that the standard position is that babies are a blessing and a good thing, and while it's fine to attempt to avoid pregnancy for serious reasons, if we go so far as to adopt a "contraceptive mentality," feeling entitled to the pleasure of sex while loathing (and perhaps trying to forget all about) its life-giving properties, we not only disrespect this most sacred of acts, but we begin to see new life as the enemy."