The Punishment of SysiphusI always feel like I’m not trying hard enough.

Right now, I’m sitting here at the mall, in the Barnes & Noble, and there’s a man who is accomplishing a lot of business on the phone behind me. There are people who are ordering drinks and taking their seats, computers at the ready. There are people looking at books and taking notes. They all seem to have a purpose and I don’t. They are busy. They look like they are gettin’ shit done. And I’m not. Not really.

This is a problem.

I am constantly comparing my life to other people—people who manage to get a lot of things done, seemingly in spite of a thousand interruptions. Mommy bloggers with several littles, people who have demanding employment, people with disabilities and they all have these fabulous blogs and something to say, on a regular basis. They make appearances at conferences, they give lectures, they are known.

But that is not me. I am striving, but it’s never enough. It’s never quite what I was hoping for. It’s falling short, not making the grade, losing the race. I was always the last one picked. It gets me down.

I’ve largely given up reading, afraid of what I’ll find that reminds me that others are so much more. Better writers, better mothers, better Catholics, better people.

Thinner, smarter, richer, wiser, holier. Especially the last one. There’s a lot of, “Oh My God, I will never be holy enough,” in my prayer life.

God reminds me that I’m already enough. I don’t have to strive for more. I am loved.

I am loved.

I am loved.

You are loved.

He picks up my hands from where they lie like a dead animal in my lap. He holds my hands in his and his hands are warm and alive and he looks at me and says, “I love you. You are already enough.”

I am already enough.

I am already enough.

You are already enough.

I am loved. You are loved. We are loved.

*****

XXXI
By that one hair
You have observed fluttering on my neck,
And on my neck regarded,
You were captivated;
And wounded by one of my eyes.

Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle

Since Thou hast so loved me as to give me Thine only Son to be my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine; to Thee I offer them with joy, beseeching Thee to see me only as in the Face of Jesus and in His Heart burning with Love.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, “Oblation to Merciful Love

…God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

and

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brook over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

The Bible, 1 John 4:8b-10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

*****

Image Credit: The Punishment of Sisyphus by Titian

Just peeking up.

 

Today is chilly and overcast and that feels like my life right now.

Maybe that’s like your life, too.

Trees are leafing, tulips blooming, baby birds are hatching. It’s supposed to be spring, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s not winter, but it’s not spring. It’s… blergh.

Every magazine cover hints at New Possibilities! Fresh Opportunities!

But I feel stuck in the Miasma of Mediocrity. Not leafing, blooming, or hatching.

But it’s coming. I know it. The whisper of hope says, “Behold! I am making all things new.”

The shoots are just under the surface. The eggs are being laid. The buds are tight, but not dead.

Late bloomer!

*****

Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250I’m having coffee with Holley today! Stop on by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Photo credit: Author’s private collection.]

Of Course I Can 1I can’t even.

That’s been my mantra the past few weeks and it’s not a good one.

While I didn’t make it a formal New Year’s Resolution, I did decide to quit saying FML (or fuck my life, if you want the whole thing). I got to thinking that it wasn’t a productive, life enhancing thing to say. It wasn’t even really acknowledging any truth. It was just a random phrase from pop culture that I glommed onto, and it was becoming such a negative that it was bringing me down.

So what did I do? I glommed onto another phrase instead.

I really started noticing it a couple of weeks ago, when I would wake up in the morning, realize what was on my plate for the day, and think, “I can’t even…” Then, I would get up and power my way through all the things I had to do, but instead of feeling like I had accomplished anything, it just began to seem more and more overwhelming. Because I can’t even. Clearly, I could, and did. Over and over again.

I’ve noticed that the words I say to myself have a lot of power of me. Far more power than the words other people say to me. So, I’m reprogramming my brain to think I can, rather than I can’t.

This isn’t some kind of positive thinking nonsense. I’m certainly not going to say I can lift fifty pounds, when I can’t (at least not safely). I’m not saying I can run a marathon without training. I’m just saying I can get through the day. I certainly can. I get through every day, and have since the day I was born. The only day I really “can’t even,” will be the day I die. But today is not that day.

So this phrase has to go sit out on the curb, and guess what? It’s trash day.

20160304_113926There is an endless sighing, a swift intake of breath, a slow exhalation, a single beat of my heart…

Watching you, I whisper your name. Gaze upon your beauty, engulfed by the flame of your desire. Long for you, feeling your love radiate… I do not, cannot, dare not look away. I cannot approach on my own, but you have drawn me ever nearer. Your wordless look has captured me, enraptured me.

Moments apart from the ordinary, a part of the ordinary, depart from the ordinary. The spaces between my heartbeats lengthen and shorten, little spaces, lingering sighs. I feel the hair on the back of my neck, falling from pins, and I am falling from sins.

Cleaner now, purified, I rise, through no effort of my own, I almost drift off the ground. I laugh.

The spell is broken.

Our time is through until I next respond to your call.

tarot__the_star_by_bluefooted-d7bcfw3The lumpy couch and too-thin blanket may be no match for my ardor, for it still threatens, as embers do, to burst forth into a concupiscent conflagration at the slightest whispering breath from your lips. The pin-prick of light shines from within me, across the distance like some unnamed star, continually on progress through the skies. Here. There. Now within your orbit, now winking out of your sight, out of your mind. World that I were a sun and not a moon. Then you’d see me daily. Were you a man of water, I might affect you more forcefully, but your feet are firmly mired down, clay-bound. And so I lie here, starlight in my breast, twinkling unseen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*****

Image credit: Tarot: The Star

Last week, I had what was maybe one of the best dreams I’ve ever had. I can’t tell you how empowering and affirming it was.

*****

I was walking along a lovely country lane in early spring companionably arm in arm with Joan of Arc. We met up with other groups of young women, and Joan would always ask them, “Have you met my sister, Cynthia?” They were all very happy to meet me, and we all continued walking together along the lane.

We all chatted and spoke of the lovely weather and the birds singing, when Joan gave a shout. “Look! Here she comes!” We all parted, and dropped to our knees in the mud along the edges of the road.

Edward_Burne-Jones_The_Golden_StairsThen, surrounded by a variety of lissome children and young people, came the Blessed Virgin. The whole procession of them looking like something from a pre-Raphaelite painting, perhaps by Burne-Jones. All the garments were beautifully draped, and of a subdued color. Our Lady bore a dish in her hands, almost like a 13×9 cake pan. As we all gazed in rapt adoration, Joan whispered to me, “See? She is bringing a casserole to the poor.”

After all passed by, and silence returned, we rose from our knees, but, like it happens in dreams, no one was the least bit dirty or even wearied by the kneeling.

Then, the scene shifted. We were all sitting in what appeared to be a monastery dining room. Almost like the cafeteria of a senior citizens home, or a college lunch hall. Nothing imposing, very mundane. Young girls dressed in white were bringing our plates and I was surprised to see it was the very same casserole that Mary had been bringing to the poor.

As I expressed my surprise, Joan matter-of-factly said, “What? Did you think you were too good for it? Eat!”

*****

I woke, realizing that I needed as much mercy and grace as anyone, if not more. It was a very humbling thought, but in a good way.

The more I think about this dream and what it means for me, the more pleasant it becomes.

*****

Illustration Credit: The Golden Stairs, Edwin Burne-Jones

AWIB-ISAW: The Well at Kom Ombo A deep well at the Ptolemaic temple at Kom Ombo, which functioned as a nilometer. The well is also thought to have been used in the ritual worship of the crocodile. by Iris Fernandez (2009) copyright: 2009 Iris Fernandez (used with permission) photographed place: Omboi (Kom Ombo) [http://pleiades.stoa.org/places/606346] Published by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World as part of the Ancient World Image Bank (AWIB). Further information: [http://www.nyu.edu/isaw/awib.htm].

Photo credit: Flickr

Advent is hitting me hard this year. God is calling me deeper.

There’s a hymn entitled “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” but for me, there’s a deepness. I’m through with the shallow stuff.

God is giving me many graces now, and I do not deserve them. Perhaps it is God’s way of redeeming the years that the locusts of depression devoured. I don’t know. I can only say, with a heart filled with love overflowing, “Thank you.” I am easily overcome by tears these days, but they are happy tears, tears that well up in thanksgiving and joy. I am consumed by hearing the sounds of the everyday world around me and lifting everything to the One Who is the Source of All Joy.

There are few words to describe my feelings. It’s not an ecstasy, by any means, though I am delighted. It is certainly a consolation to feel such.

Why now? Who cares? Not I. I am only grateful.

Okay, I think I’ve really latched on to something here.

It always surprises me when I discover something that is so absolutely, face-palmingly obvious that I simply cannot believe that I didn’t realize it sooner. Yet, it routinely happens.

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I had been hemming and hawing about going out of town to an event that seemed a complete no-brainer in terms of potential fun. It was clearly a case of my brain falling into the trap of what I have come to recognize as something psychiatrists everywhere will eventually label “Stupid-Depressed-Brain-Nonsense-Thinking.” (Yes, APA, I’m looking at you. You’re welcome.) Symptoms of this include:

  • Staying in bed for a ridiculous number of hours each day.
  • Refusing to make up my mind about something.
  • Beginning to wallow in my own indecision.
  • Using this indecision to further justify staying in bed.

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I really don’t know what caused me to have such a eureka!!! moment, but I just remember thinking, “You know, I just need to decide to go. Or not. Then, events will fall into place. I can just start here, by making a decision.” As long as my brain continued to ruminate on the events following the decision, I was virtually paralyzed. I can’t even explain it. It was all about outcomes, and potential feelings, and what might happen. Of course, none of these things were actually real, or had actually happened, and OMG, they might even NOT HAPPEN AT ALL. Somehow, in the throes of my SDBNT (Stupid-Depressed-Brain-Nonsense-Thinking), the potentiality of anything was beyond me. I was literally undone by my own brain.

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Anyway, once I made up my mind (“I’m going, and let the chips fall where they may.”), I was immediately filled with more energy and happiness.

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Or maybe that was just the caffeine kicking in.

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Who knows?