Draft: Laura’s Theory of Dating and Kissing

Terribly raw, this theory – very much in process. But I was in a discussion in which one of the participants was sort of gushing about kissing (er, making out, in the old 70s vernacular) her boyfriend –

and I was kind of surprised how much the conversation embarrassed me and left me feeling uneasy. Surprised??? Honeychile, I have had a secret affinity with Ado Annie from Oklahoma! for years – I’m jist a girl who cain’t say ‘no’ –

But being Catholic changes the way a gal looks at things, more even than turning 50. After all, turning the half-century corner didn’t do a darn thing to my libido – my inner vixen is still alive and well, thank you very much. And I can get downright drunk on kissing.

No – a Catholic who has even a passing acquaintance with John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is awakened to an idea more glorious than anything the world and popular mores can conceive. Such a promise makes it highly desirable to sacrifice the temporarily and superficially thrilling as an investment toward the achieving of the idea’s Realization.

So –

What I have decided upon in certainty is this: (1) A Kiss ought to mean something, not just be a mindless and cheap form of entertainment. (2) Hand-holding and cheek kisses are sweet, wholly-neglected demonstrations of affection that need to be rediscovered and practiced more liberally.

(3) The experience of intimacy of lips on lips is so profound that it should never be cheapened into recreational snogging.

Our grandparents were from a generation that associated kissing with engagement. I’m not sure I want to go that long before being kissed, but by and large I approve of the concept – See #3, above.

Right now, I’m thinking that it would be blissfully sweet, should He Whom My Soul Loves and I discover we love one another, to seal our understanding with a kiss – and maybe exchange a chaste kiss good-night at the end of a date, after that. But I’m not sure that is exclusive enough.

What do you think? Influence me with your opinions!

Big bold new post on one of the websites I visit:


Turn my stomach, why don’tcha?

Look. I hate! “Hallmark Holidays,” those commercially-driven occasions built up for the sole purpose of selling specialized goods – and making those of us left out of the game feeling lower than dirt.

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day… I used to tell my daughters that every day is Mother’s Day for me. With a good man who loved me, whom I loved, every day would be Valentine’s Day –

We don’t need these stupid commercial “holidays” to compensate for neglect of 364 other days during the year – or to remind the rest of us what we don’t have.

I wish life were as simple as knitting – as easily repaired, as easily ripped-out and started over.

I’ve been teaching myself to knit since early November, and I enjoy it – but my early scarves were ripped out several times and started over until I got the knack of it. They were all in a simple garter stitch (all-knit). A “fun fur” scarf can be measured in terms of a few hours; a real scarf, 6″-8″ wide, in days. It took a couple of weeks to work up the wide shoulder throw –

I just ripped out a skein and a half of work, representing more than two weeks’ work, on an afghan. It’s my first effort at stockinette stitch – alternating rows of knit and purl. Purl isn’t as hard as I thought it would be –

but it’s a big project – I cast off 250 stitches on size 9 circular needle – and somewhere in there I dropped a few stitches, and got distracted and went backwards instead of forward and just generally made a MESS. So I ripped it all out and later this evening I will sit and carefully cast on another 250 stitches and start over… for the fourth time.

If only life were so simple. Yes, it’s a nuisance to rip out a skein and a half of yarn and to anticipate my fourth start with 250 stitches to cast on (my least favorite part of a project, so far); but I can start over, and the final project will not reveal my beginner ineptness, my careless mistakes… at least, not nearly so flagrantly as my earlier efforts. When I am done (in five years, at this rate!) I will have an afghan that can drape across the back of my couch and any visitor to my home can admire.

But life – there is no unravelling life mistakes or re-knitting a bad row. We have to go on, knitting and purling, adding what we hope will be good fixes (but even fixing is an advanced skill) and, no matter what we do, a careful eye will always be able to pick out the flaws in our work. There will be no perfect, unflawed life tapestry – we can only hope and pray that our mistakes will be blended in with growing skill and a lot of love and faith, and so give depth and contrast to the whole. I hope my good stitches, in future efforts, will make up for the dropped ones, the mis-counted ones – even though the good work can’t un-do the bad.

Not Valid

Dear Ms. Lowder:

It is my pleasure to inform you that we have received a decision from our Appeal Court which upholds the decision in your favor given by this Tribunal that your marriage… was NOT VALID under the law of the Catholic Church….

The Second Instance decision is signed and dated January 16, 2008 – exactly twenty years to the day after he and I separated.

The mercies of God are immense.

I won’t be going back to the restaurant where the old crowd had taken to going after rehearsals.

Actually, it’s a gay bar. No, it’s not a seedy place, the prices are quite reasonable, the food is terrific, and the sanitation grade is quite high.

I mentioned my intention to one of the men in our circle, not a Catholic, but active in his own church, and his response was, “Yeah, the cigarette smoke was really bad in there tonight.”

I couldn’t explain to him, because we are operating out of such different paradigms, that the cigarette smoke was the least of my worries (singers always worry about smoke) –

It was the spiritual climate of the place.

I had to get up and walk around a bit to find the waitress, which gave me a look at the establishment’s clientele: young adults, mostly – the men downplaying their masculinity with unisex attire, or sporting long hair and think pointy goatees that looked as if they might have been theatrical makeup on such think, immature faces. A couple of them, I had to glance to see whether they had Adams Apples – the women demonstrably ill at ease with their womanhood, hiding it behind oversized, shapeless clothes, bad haircuts and a defiant lack of makeup –

All looked haunted, troubled. There was among them none of the animation that characterized our own group. Even those I saw laugh lacked real animation; their laughter did not reach their eyes.

This experience was so consistent with the observations I have made of my ex-husband since he came “out” – the secondary issues of homosexuality have not been publicly explored or discussed – I’ve never heard them admitted.

I have come away from this restaurant more convinced than ever, by empirical, personal demonstrations, of the truly disordered nature of homosexuality and its destructive effects on individuals and on society.

St. Michael, pray for us!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl

Twenty-eight years ago – can I possibly be old enough to have a 28-year old daughter? – very shortly after midnight, I gave birth to the answer of so many prayers and longings. Christian Joy – and her name was more fitting than her father or I could have possibly have anticipated during those waiting months of my pregnancy. She was exquisitely beautiful with dark and brilliant eyes and an intense gaze, even in the moments immediately after her birth when she was wrapped in the hideous green hospital blankets and placed into her father’s arms because I was violently trembling from head to foot after the effort of pushing her into the world. The bonding connection between them was electric, visible. I was never able to share it.

She grew up sweet, intense – We took her to church the Sunday after her birth on Tuesday morning, and as Ruth began the opening notes on a full-bodied organ prelude, her eyes flew open with, we thought, alarm – but it wasn’t alarm, she seemed to be taking in the very vibrations of the notes, she seemed even in her neonatal limitations to take pure joy in the sounds. She early demonstrated a sweet and lilting voice and a passionate love for music which has never been usurped – she is currently majoring in music, in fact.

In the third grade she was diagnosed with a learning difficulty, and she applied herself to overcoming it with quiet diligence.

When she was four years old, we hosted a Backyard Bible Club in our home, and the children made little cloth books to help them remember the essentials of the Gospel. She was sitting in my lap one evening, she wanted me to help her remember the order of the story so she could tell her grandparents, who were coming to visit the next day. We went through the story a couple of times, she was really very good at telling it –

On impulse, I said, “Some day, Christy, you will want to give your heart to Jesus, too, just like it talks about in the little book story you’ve learned.” Her little face, always so expressive, told me everything. “You want to do it now?” and she nodded. And there in my lap, she made a simple, direct offering of herself to God.

May God honor that offering, and my dedication of her and her sister from the womb, to His service, His glory, and bring her to the Fullness of His Kingdom and the Joy of His service. May her life become a living epistle, bringing many to the Kingdom.

Life begins at 50 –

The Tribunal’s Declaration of Nullity, received a little over a month ago, has had a wholly unexpected effect on my spirit, on the way I see myself and my own life; it is as if Mother Church, speaking through Her tribunal, has declared not only the attempted marriage null, but also the scorn, ridicule and contempt experienced for those years, which has followed me as a foul oppression even twenty years after we separated (January 16, 1988).

All of life is sweeter, and I feel liberated – and the difference is being seen, and responded to, by my local friends.

I’ll be starting Graduate Studies from Franciscan University soon – within the next week or two, I think –

So much to look forward to – ! So much to be grateful for, to rejoice in!

and here is another poem from Joseph Pearce’s Flowers of Heaven

Vox Ultima Crucis

Tarry no longer; toward thine heritage
Hast on thy way, and be of right good cheer.
Go each day onward on thy pilgrimage;
Think how short time thou has abiden here.
Thy place is bygged above the stars clear,
Noon earhly palace wrought in so stately wise.
Come on, my friend, my brother most entere!
For thee I offered my blood in sacrifice.

(John Lydgate (ca. 1370-1450)

A different sort of epiphany

According to the dictionary, an epiphany is not only a manifestation (from whence we get the word “Epiphany” for this Feast of the Three Kings) but it is also an unexpected revelation. I had two of those today – one a joy, the other humiliating.

The first came as I sat, knitting and pondering this new spirit I’ve been experiencing in recent weeks. It is hard to describe, but suddenly I have felt as if I have awakened from a very bad dream to find that life is sweet and full of promise, and that I am lovely and lovable, worthy of all beauty and goodness –

and I realized today that, in declaring the nullity of my marriage to my first husband (I will for the moment refrain from sarcastic nicknames), Mother Church has in a very real way nullified the abuse I endured for those years. The power of the sarcasm and contempt, the sneers and neglects, the “Don’t touch me! You know that bothers me!” – all the occurrences of “I’m busy” (watching tv?) “don’t bother me – no, I don’t want to … (talk, go for a walk, sit together on the couch, hold hands, whatever) – all the manifestations of utter, contemptuous misogyny that I was convinced were personal, deserved, due to my own unworthiness —–

evaporated in the warmth of the words – “we decree the publication of the sentence declaring the nullity of the marriage….”

I didn’t realize how deeply I had absorbed Dan’s loathing, until now.

And that leads to other ponderings about the power of men – but that will be fodder for another post, another day –

The humiliating epiphany is the realization that I selfishly, thoughtlessly, desperately clung to my men friends while going through this process – a truly uncomfortable attachment for them, I realize now – drawing on their strength and dignity and approval and affection and their very being to cling like a life preserver when I thought I would drown in the misery of reliving the marriage, while working on the questionnaires. I think they have understood, though, and have forgiven me – and I pray God bless them abundantly in recompense for their generosity of goodwill toward me during those bleak, agonizing (are there enough adjectives in the dictionary?) horrid months.

and that leads to other ponderings… etc. (wink)

On the Feast of the Epiphany –

I can’t help thinking of this glorious poem, by Christina Rossetti:

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
may have gathered there
cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air;
but his mother only,
in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved
with a kiss.

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him
give my heart.

Words: Christina Rossetti, 1872