Thursday, July 28, 2005

Adventures in Darkness

We had quite a night on Tuesday.

11:15pm Annie and I head to our attic rooms in our not-ACed house.

12:15am I pack up a sheet, pillows, my cell phone (alarm), and head down to the living room for the 5 degree difference.
12:16am return upstairs to unplug little fan and bring it with me.
12:17am return upstairs to retrieve big fan and bring it with me.
12:18am settle on the floor of the living room in between the 2 fans.

12:20 am, yelp at the sudden presence of another. Annie laughs and says she didn't know I was down here too. We both attempt to fall asleep.

2:45am I wake up to, "Omigosh I'm gonna die!"
What happened?
The power went off!
Aha. So that's why there's an eerie silence, betraying that our fans, our only source of comfort and solace, and evaporation, are indeed off. Okaaaay...
2:48am Relocate once again to the entryway downstairs. Home to 2 bikes, a keg that still hasn't been returned from the JPII Ball (see May 2005!), and our mail.
2:50am Joined by Bayou, "It's so dang hot!" She sits near the top of the stairs. I'm near the bottom. Annie rolls out a sleeping bag and lays on the floor. We review our options:
We could go outside on the porch.
There's a guy out there waiting for the bus, and we're not wearing much.
We could go sit in my car and turn on the AC, but I don't have much gas.
I don't really trust the neighborhood to do that.
What's open 24 hours?
But we'd have to just stand around.
Isn't there a diner in college park?
We could wake Theresa and ask to sleep on her floor (w/AC).
We could go to A's sister's or my friend's.
3:30am Let's pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
3:34am Yep, the power is back on.
Thanks Jesus! Thanks Sr. Faustina! Why didn't we think of that sooner?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

You too? I thought I was the only one!

Isn't that how C.S. Lewis describes friendship being born? That moment when you realize that you are not alone in some love, fear, or quirk.

So much happens in one day, and you have a million thoughts running through your mind. And you want to share them with someone. You want them to matter to someone, and not only that, but you want to see what someone else thinks about them. They build up as the day goes by, then as the week goes by, then as a month goes by. Then maybe you get together with a friend you haven't seen for a while. And they say, "so, what's been going on?" and you have nothing. Because where on earth could you start? And looking back, all those thoughts don't seem to add up to anything significant. And suddenly, you think you're a boring person because you just can't think of anything to talk about.

I didn't realize that other people feel that way! Maybe even everyone! But it makes sense. I think that's one of the things that makes marriage so attractive... someone will care about all those little things! They want to know them, they want you to share them... and because you would be together so much, you will actually be able to do that.

At WorkCamp, Steve would call his wife every 5 minutes. We thought it was strange, but cute. Now I totally get it. He and his wife realize that especially when he's out of town, they have to be in frequent contact somehow. Because otherwise, he'd come home, and too much would have happened, and suddenly there's a whole week that they don't share. It's not all earth-shattering news. In fact, none of it really is. When we told him that Ben & Jerry's gives money to Planned Parenthood, he stopped and said, "I'll be right back, I have to tell that to my wife!" and ran out of the deli to have a 2 minute conversation about ice cream and what kind they'll get from now on. And I loved that! Because that affirms to her that he's always thinking about her, and that he wants her to know everything he's doing even if they can't be together. If that wasn't their habitus, there's no way he'd remember after a week at WorkCamp to tell her about Ben & Jerry's.

The longer you go without talking to someone, the harder it is to "catch up" and yet with true friends, you still pick up as if you'd never left off. Maybe the key is to just continue knowing them, not being concerned to know everything else.

That's probably one of the reasons I've been thinking more about an old friend. It always goes in cycles, when you realize a friendship should end... But I miss the way that we would call each other over something stupid, and we know it's insignificant but we still want the other person to know it. Since I've never dated, this friend was the closest thing to it, and that's why it was so confused in my heart. That's the way I would be with someone I was getting that close to. And if I was seeing someone (as he was, frequently), I would be calling them, not him, to tell them these things. Hm. Ok as usual I started with one train of thought and jumped a bit. But that's all from me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

For the record

I live with 3 of the coolest girls in the world.

Yesterday, we were all in the same room (for more than 2 minutes) for the first time all summer! Splendid, splendid I tell you. Good conversation, even on such frightening topics as marital infidelity and the story of Alive! or cutting off your own arm. Riiiiight. Then three of us went off to Adams Morgan, to Tryst and caught up even more. I'm such an old lady that waking up this morning was quite difficult after being up til 1!

  • The guy who stopped, reached down, and touched my flip-flop for no apparent reason.
  • Amy asking for Splenda and getting a strange look only to realize later that it was sitting right on the table next to her.
  • Annie breaking out the Bible while trying to conceal what it is.
  • Annie proceeding to read, loudly, about Sodom & Gomorrah when the guy who just sat down behind her probably has strong reactions to that, while Amy and I are laughing because she has no idea.
  • Barbara, and the gals showing how awesome they are.


  • Does it posit a sort of arbitrariness into the Divine plan to say that with regards to marriage, there may not be this "soulmate" you were created to marry, except when you think about it from the end? Meaning, in light of the fact that Amy marries Duston, it makes sense to say that this union was in the mind of God from the beginning. But does that mean that He willed it from the beginning, or just that it was from the beginning? I'm still not explaining this well. Let's see... basically the question is, can one choose the "wrong" vocation or the "wrong" person to marry? I guess we have to say yes, but how does that work in terms of the divine will?
  • Why would God allow something to happen to you that seems to confirm all of your fears, which you know are not of Him?

Part answer:

The poverty of finitude... that's what all of these kinds of questions seem to come down to. If we were all infinite we could be united to everyone else and not have to choose in this way. And there's no way we can understand everything that's happening from the eternal perspective because it's just so far beyond us- although we have to try. And you can't look at it from the outside, but from the inside, the lived experience where Christ is continually being made present.

Ok I feel like this post is all jumbled and just a bunch of thoughts thrown together, but it is what it is. Perhaps theology on tap tonight will give me even more food for thought!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Three vs. Four

Last Sunday, my roommate Amy and I volunteered to help our other roommate Annie take her four nieces to mass. She has been mom to the four girls for the last week and a half while their parents are away.

Three women over 22 against four girls ranging from 8 to 2.
We lost.
I always had sympathy for parents with misbehaving children in church. I could feel their anxiety and concern about the distraction, and usually gave them a nice smile. In fact, whenever there are kids doing something that might bother someone, and the parent tries to apologize to me, I always laugh and say that I love it. I always come close to saying "I understand" before I realize that I, single gal that I am, do not fully understand at all. But I get it. Empathy is one of those traits that has been forced on me by my mother, I think, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
After Sunday though, I have a whole new appreciation for parents with small children. I watched other well-behaved children in the church and wondered what the parents did to get them that way. Bribes? Punishments? Food? Books? We would have tried anything. I'm sure that much has to do with personality but there must be something you can do.
The 2 y/o has a favorite word: No. Whenever you tried to get her to be quiet or do anything, out it came. NOoooOOO! NO AMY NO! Meanwhile she would squeal or chatter or make noise in some other way. The 4 y/o wanted to be held, so Annie was occupied, and we were afraid of the terror the child might experience if one of us picked her up and hauled her outside when she doesn't know us. (terror for the child, deafness for the rest of us) The 8 y/o was sulky, with hurt feelings from something or other, and did not want to sit with us. So we were quite the spectacle in the back of the church. I didn't hear a word of the mass- except to catch the part of the Gospel where Jesus said "I praise you Father, for what you have hidden from the wise, you have revealed to the childlike" which made me smile a lot, and wonder what in the world He revealed to these little monsters.
Lots of thoughts.
1.) Get your concentrated praying in while you can! Silence is hard to come by later.
2.) You are providing the people around you with the chance to grow in patience, understanding, and charity. But at a certain point it is perhaps better to head outside with the disobedient one so as to not push the people in front of you past the breaking point.
3.) Being on time would probably have helped a lot... maybe even sitting closer to the front?
4.) Parents have to have sooo much energy.
5.) It's just so tempting to pop in a movie or let them do whatever they want. So tempting. How do you consistently maintain control? Are you ever in control? What is this discipline thing? How does it work? How do you do it?
That was only 4 girls. God bless all parents, especially those with more than 2 kids!
"If they outnumber you, it's bad news." ~my dad

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Part 4: The poor

I thought much of Mother Teresa last week, for obvious reasons. The kids were going out to do service, to make the residents' homes more comfortable and functional and safe. They were seeing a way of life quite different from their upper middle class world where the hardwood floors glisten and ice comes from a lever on the fridge. They saw hard-working people who are struggling to make ends meet and care for their families. Even though they may have done a ton for the residents, it is the young people themselves who benefit the most.

Mother Teresa talked of how much we can learn from the poor. In one crew, the resident offered them a bunch of fruit, and one of the kids talked about how much that meant. "She doesn't even have that for herself, and she's giving it to us." I stopped by one crew just as their resident was preparing lunch for them- meat, peppers, zucchini, rice- the works. She fed those 10 people as her own family. Some residents tried to get in and help with the work; Some spent the whole day with the crew just talking with them. One kid said, "What our resident doesn't have is time, and she gave us so much of that talking with us." These are those giving the widow's mite. We are the rich, giving but a week of our time. They are the poor, giving all that they have. I might add to this post later, as I came home with a lot to chew on about poverty. How are you called to live poverty if you are in the world, or have a family? Do not give out of your excess, Mother Teresa said, give out of your need. What does that look like for me? Much to ponder.

Part 3: Music

Say what you will about praise and worship. It can be cheesy. It can be quite Protestant. It can be theologically suspect. It can be just bad music. But man, can it be powerful.

The music was a big part of my experience as a kid at WorkCamp. I had sung in the junior choir at my parish and had always loved to sing, so this praise & worship thing was novel and exciting to me. You mean, you can sing to God, and dance and clap at the same time? HUH? You can close your eyes and sing softly something that has lyrics you never knew you needed to say? There's more to church music than "eagles' wings" and "here I am, Lord"? Whoa. Say no more, I was hooked. Now that I'm "more mature" I think that Latin, chant, and old standards like "Come Holy Ghost" are awesome, but that was a long time coming. As a teen, they were just plain boring. There was nothing inspiring to me in them, I didn't know Latin (still don't really), and the words didn't seem to come from the heart. The God in that music seemed far away.

When we sang, "Lord, draw me nearer than before... take the blindness from my eyes, all my arrogance and pride..." Jesus was suddenly right there, seeing me, hearing me. These words expressed something I was not mature enough to know-- I was full of pride and selfishness. At the time, I don't think I could even connect it. I don't think I went to confession and said "pride"- but it was there in the way that song and others spoke to me. "Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord," we sang. "Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Your Face" "You are the only one I need and I bow all of me at Your feet." Simple words, simple melodies, easy to make harmonies, what more could you ask for?

Steve kept doing the songs "Yes, Lord" and "Awesome God" complete with hand motions. I was so sick of them by the end of the week- I am totally over the hand motion stage. But I watched the crowd and on Saturday there were only a few kids who didn't participate in it. So while I might be unimpressed with those songs, the fact that it got these kids fired up makes me happy. The way one of the girls said that she had sung out loud for the first time, and one of the guys said that he felt God's presence there during adoration with music, and he thinks he knows what God wants him to do with his life. Chills! I got chills! So that's my two cents about praise and worship. I think it being paired with adoration is a beautiful and powerful thing. I'm so thankful for it in its ability to touch hearts and bring them deeper. My friend's fiance is studying classical guitar. What he's really interested in is liturgical music. If chant is the music of the liturgy, how can we make it work. How can we incorporate music more into the liturgy, almost like a film score. It makes such a difference. My friend had been to an Easter Vigil where the (8) readings were complimented by a single flute in the background. She said it helped you so much to picture what was going on and enter into it. I'm sure a lot of people think that sounds terrible but I love it. I think there's so much to that.

"Faith becoming music is part of the process of the word becoming flesh…When the word becomes music, there is involved on the one hand perceptible illustration, incarnation or taking on flesh, attraction of pre-rational powers, a drawing upon the hidden resonance of creation, a discovery of the song which lies at the basis of all things. And so this becoming music is itself the very turning point in the movement: it involves not only the word becoming flesh, but simultaneously the flesh becoming spirit."
-Pope Benedict XVI

Part 2: Behind the Scenes

The great part about being 16 at workcamp is that you can and do take many things for granted.

There are 100 water coolers outside so that you can pick up 2 for your worksite.
There is coffee and hot water ready when you wake up at 6:30am.
There are people serving you breakfast and dinner.
You pick up a bag with your crew number on it, filled with the correct number of lunches, including the special cheese sandwiches.
The classrooms are emptied of their desks when you arrive, so that you can set up sleeping space.
The program space is all set up, complete with professional lighting and sound, a little bar for coffee, bleacher seats with carpet squares, and little tables that roll in and out with game boards on them. (wait a minute, we didn't have any of that when I was 16!!)

You get the idea. Now, having been on the other side, I can see what a huge undertaking this week was. We had lots of adults there the whole time to help out, and lots more that came for a day or two, helping with set-up, take-down, or security.

The program space was crazy and cool. The stage was only a foot high, then there was a corner of bleachers, made using scaffolding and stage boards. The real bleachers of the gym housed the "crows nest" where all the technology hung out (and some of the adult men slept up there). The lights and sound came from a professional company, and we had 2 people who do this in college to run them. There was high scaffolding to put up all around it so that we could make it half the size of the gym, and hang up 16-foot curtains. There was a large screen to put words or videos up, a huge cross to hang in the center, and banners of workcamp. Putting the space together left me sore for the next 2 or 3 days. I could hardly get out of my bed (on the floor) I don't know if it's just because I'm out of shape- quite possible- or if it was the heavy lifting, climbing, and constant running around which did not stop in the next couple days.

Boy scouts came to take out all the desks in the school- careful to write down how many were in each room. One man made the bar out of wood and in the process got a splinter which required an orthopaedic surgeon to remove. Two guys got up every morning before wake up to fill the water and drive to the store to get 100 bags of ice. I set up the coffee the night before so that the overnight security guy could plug it in around 5am. Another couple people got up before everyone so that they could pick out a song or something witty to say to wake up the workcampers and give announcements. We sorted the lunches at night or in the afternoon while the crews were out at site. Some of us went out every day to different worksites in the attempt to get every single person's face up on the big screen. We had meetings to discuss how each night should go-- bring them up, take them down, give a talk, get them back up and energetic, give them something to think and pray about before they go to their rooms. Figure out where to do confessions and how to make the space sacred when it's a hallway of a public high school. Start the slurpee machine at 10:30 am so it's ready at 6:30pm. Put together the videos, slide shows, and clips that will be used in talks. Be attentive to kids or adults who seem overwhelmed (I stunk at that, but we had some awesome adults who served the other adults constrantly) Do all this with a positive attitude and smile, and remember Who it's for.

Thank you, Lord, for all the people who did these things for me 7 years ago! For those who did not get any recognition for their service, and were taken for granted. Bless them now, to show the gratitude I did not know to have then!