Angela Messenger often reports on what I do over here; now it’s my great pleasure to applaud her reflections on pride, at her own blog. Thanks, AM, dear!
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.
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.
Dear Catalinni had the wonderful habit of celebrating an entire Birthday Season – making the rounds to varied scattered family members during her birthday month and letting them fete her in grand style.
I just caught myself announcing my birthday, coming up October 28 – I’ll turn 50 at 8:16 p.m., exactly, if you wish to know.
I’ve taken a page out of Catalinni’s book – Let the Celebrations Begin!
Laissez les Bontemps Roulez!
as a canon lawyer?
I mean, this is not a professional ambition common to little Protestant girls.
“So, tell me, young lady – what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I have always had an intense yearning to study canon law” is not the answer we give.
So – I have a friend from a website, known affectionately as “canon law Mary” because she is named Mary and she is, yes indeedy! a student of the canon law licentiate program at the prestigious St Paul University in Ottawa.
Mary has decided that her first mission in this, her final semester of canon law study, is to persuade me to succeed her as brilliant laywoman scholar at her soon to be alma mater.
Whoa. Wow. Sensory overload, here.
It’ll take at least five years. The licentiate program is a 3-year course of study, but I’ll have to have some courses in theology and philosophy, 2 years’ worth, before I can begin canon law studies. I can obtain those courses through distance learning at several good universities, including Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
But that will mean graduating at age 55 or thereabouts… which will still allow me to look forward to some twenty years’ service in exchange for my efforts – and, if I’m lucky, the ability to pay off the exorbitant student loans I’ll have to take out to go to Ottawa (which is about half the cost of North America’s only other canon law licentiate program, Catholic University in Washington, DC)
I’m going to look into it. Had a good soul-searching chat with a friend who is a solid academician this morning, and have contacted a priest friend for counsel.
Y’all pray for me. Y’hear?
I’ve never been a particularly domesticated woman. From the time I was a little girl, wanting to play house, I’ve been criticized and discouraged and even actively ridiculed – first by my mother, who wasn’t capable of rising above the criticism she’d grown up hearing, then by my ex-husband (gay men are invariably more domesticated than most women, anyway)
Compound this little deficiency in my nature by the fact that I fell and ripped a hamstring a couple months ago – sitting, standing (we dubbed it this week-end, un-sitting), climbing steps… ranging somewhere from very uncomfortable to downright agonizing!
My house was a nightmare –
Enter friends: Stephanie. Mary. Emily.
Stephanie lives in Indiana, we talk on the phone a lot. She sort of jump-started the domestication gene long-dormant in my pathetic psyche. She also sent me the most gorgeous teacup, a graceful elegant thing of such feminine lines and proportions that I can hardly take my eyes off it. The cup was part of her grandmother’s collection.
Mary lives in Texas. She recently sent me a set of dishes – red, Churchill dishes, again far more elegant than anything I’ve ever dreamed of choosing for myself.
Emily lives down the road in Charlotte. She gave me warm hospitality when I sang at the Eucharistic Congress last week, and I was so delighted with her little house, she offered to come help me with mine.
She came on Saturday. She was a busy worker bee, helping shift furniture, vacuuming in the odd corners I currently can’t reach, pulling odd pieces from hiding places and setting them in a place of prominence. She set me to sewing curtains (the machine broke, my curtains are being hand-sewn) and ordered me about with meal-making while she did a regular “House Invaders” job for me.
I LOVE my house now! One more room to finish on my own, and it will become a “formal” dining room –
Photos coming eventually, okay?