Near occasion of sin?

Ouch! Mary-T, a.k.a. “canon law Mary” – handed me a whammy last night. We were talking about our mutual frustration with a particular web site, when she said, “You know what? I’m just going to have to quit going on there. Whenever I talk to you or anyone else from the site, it’s ‘what’s going on with so-and-so…?'” and all we do is gossip. It really is a near occasion of sin for me!

And I feel so embarrassed, because she’s right. It’s a milieu that fosters gossip and criticism and fault-finding and – for me, the smug sense of how much smarter and more sensible I am that other women (and a lot of the men).

For instance: right now there is a thread in which a woman jokes about buying a couple of new coats for her new northern home (she’s from warmer climes, originally); the thread develops into a discussion of the “luxuries” considered “necessary indulgances” by the women – be it clothes, cosmetics, books, etc. –

– and I think, y’all are talking about spending more for a damn purse than I can bring home from either of my primary jobs in a month’s time!” and I feel self-satisfied that I have no such need for something as vain as a $600 purse to make me feel fabulous!

And in another thread, a woman announces that she sent a man a message which he didn’t respond to, so “it’s all over.” And without knowing a thing more than that, more than twenty-five women have jumped in that thread to commiserate with the woman about what a heel and a snake in the grass said man is for not responding to her message –

– and I think, how absolutely egotistical and even megalomaniacal it is that she should expect the world to revolve around her little two-sentence message. There are a dozen perfectly good reasons why the man didn’t respond to her message. Yet. If it’s who I think it is, I would add to the list of possibilities that the “relationship” being boasted of in the past couple of weeks is nothing more than a construct of her overfertile imagination. That means – there was nothing to BE OVER.

After all, when we say a relationship is OVER, it must first have existed. It must have had a beginning, a moment of engagement between the parties.

God preserve me from winding up like some of these people, who embarrass the daylights out of me with their folly.

Which is pride, sinful pride on my part, because I presume I’m superior to them.

I’ll talk it over with Father, tomorrow.

Whine alert

I have an ear infection. Pain. Low-grade fever. Sleepless nights x 2, now.

There is a truism floating around that women can endure any amount of pain and sickness and suffering and still muster on in the daily grind.

That truism is a LIE when it comes to me.

When I feel sick, I can’t imagine ever feeling well, ever again. I am miserable.

I want a hand to hold and a lap to lay my head in.

[/whine] – for the moment at least.

What’s in your library?

I’m nowhere NEAR done – maybe an optimistic guess is that I’ve got about 20% of my books entered so far? Still, this is FUN! Check out google Library – as soon as I can figure out how to enter it so my books alone show up, without the “add/delete” stuff for other people to tamper with, I’ll post my list.

I think…. it’s like this

A woman’s heart

A woman’s heart is a great mystery. We women don’t even understand it, ourselves. We love when it is wholly irrational to do so, and cannot when it would make so much sense. We come to see things we’d rather not see at all – because the heart is a scope into another person’s soul.

We can fight it, we can rage against it – it hardly matters. We will love despite ourselves, and suffer in the process.

I knew I was sunk when one day I suddenly realized, I want to iron his shirts. I don’t iron – unless it is absolutely necessary, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the completely irrational yearning to iron his shirts.

I learned to iron so that my father could have a nice shirt to wear to work. He had to wear uniform shirts, and my mother would take them from the washer and dryer and dump them on the picnic table in the basement (the very picnic table I now use as my desk). He’d come through, trying to get ready for work (he was a long-distance trucker), and he would say, “Do I have a clean shirt to wear?” and she’d look at him from underneath her eyebrows, usually over hte top of a book, and she’d snap, “If you want a shirt, you can iron it yourself!” and for a long time he did – and not any too well, either.

So I learned to iron his shirts, because I adored my daddy and it shamed and infuriated me that my mother, his wife, should despise him so.

I should have known not to marry Danny or Rusty – the thought of ironing their shirts was boring. But now I want to iron his shirts, and I see myself handling the fabric that he wears against his own skin, and it is an act of great service, and love and devotion to a man … whose shirts I will quite surely never iron.

Such is the complexity and the fickleness of a woman’s heart – it betrays not the men, but us, the ones whose heart it’s supposed to be.

being faithful

I have wallowed in my own sufferings, some severe and some miserably petty, for so long, it’s an amazing relief to be able to look around and not see some catastrophe about to crash in on my head.

However, in the past couple of weeks I’ve been in a position of learning of other people’s sufferings – illnesses, deaths, estrangements from friends, etc. –

I’m selfish. My little respite is so precioius to me, I don’t want it disturbed.

But it has to be. God’s children don’t get time off for good behavior, or prolonged relief from carrying the Cross.

I’m glad I remembered that tonight – It’s not so hard to carry on when you know it’s a Divine Appointment you’re keeping.

Giving it all to God

from Rumer Godden’s In this House of Brede (New York, Viking Press, 1969):
“And what did you give?” Philippa was serious again.”…I was like an orchard where the fruit is ripe, but some has fallen in windfalls, some been spoiled by wasps, some sold… or given away or wasted. The owner comes and gathers what is left and gives it to God. That’s what anyone does who gives up in the fullness of her life, leaves it for Him; but the one who comes at nineteen or twenty or even twenty-three…gives the whole orchard, blossom and fruit and all.”

Giving my life to God, to live wholly for His Kingdom, while relinquishing the old dream to love and to belove to someone in marriage, is – for me, it’s not yet satisfying.

On the one hand, the old dream does not die at once, but in inches. Loving someone now who does not love in me in at all the same way helps push me along a bit, I think; I never thought I would say, there is one man in all the world for me, but there it is, and so I am freer than ever before to look beyond marriage to living wholly consecrated to God. It is a bittersweet realization.

And on the other, there is this approaching fiftieth birthday and all the reflections of past decisions, and grief for bad choices and a sort of why couldn’t I have realized how much there is? before I made some of the crap-awful choices of past years. I’ve given away and wasted so much of the fruit of my life, when the Master would have kept it far safer for Himself than I was capable of doing.

Still, the Master wants the orchard of our lives whenever we have the capacity to give it all to Him. At this point of my life, I like to think the trees are laden with ripening fruit. Some varieties of apple are mid-summer, like the “horse apples” that my aunt and uncle had on their farm (that made the most wonderful fried apple pies!); some will ripen to be harvested later into the Fall.

Whatever fruit my life is preparing to bear, let it be for Him, and not for myself for a change.

It’s looking good –

I’ve sought counsel from several good people who have an idea of my fundamental capabilities – and I’ve got to tell you, my favorite response was with one friend whose response to my query, “do I have what it takes?” was

“Oh, hells yeah!”

That made me laugh. I needed to laugh.

So – I’ve talked via phone with Mary, I’ve got to call a couple of people in our dioceses for some feedback – but this coming week my major task is to apply to Franciscan University’s Distance Learning Program and get my application for a Stafford Loan in the works.

I realize, too, that in going this route I am closer to coming to terms with the likelihood that God is calling me to remain single for the Kingdom. It’s not at all what I would choose for myself, but at least I am coming closer to feeling called, not just condemned, to single life.