Author Archives: Jo

About Jo

Woman, wife, Catholic, literature nerd, philosophy nerd, Southerner, writing about life or something like it.

goodbye to grandmother’s house

said goodbye to my grandmother’s house tonight

in the pouring rain, doors locked, lights off, curtains drawn so nary a peek inside

just me and the husband on the carport, and I didn’t even spend much time on the carport, really, just a place to pass through to get to the door to step inside and wipe your feet on the mat

and then turn the corner and you’re in the knotty pine kitchen and there’s grits or carrots or soup on the stove and crackers and dips on the counter and probably cookies somewhere if you poke around and the room is warm and the light is bright and the dishwasher is old as dirt and not ever plugged in

and the calendar is chock full with lines stretching the lengths of weeks for people’s trips, and scribbled doctor’s appointments, and everyone’s birthdays (which were there first, which baptized the calendar when it first heralded the new year coming)

and don’t forget the fridge, or really the magnet display, with everywhere they’ve been and then some

anyway then you step through the door and there on the left is the living room with its enormous fireplace flanked by enormous bookshelves filled with treasures new and old, let alone the other old books scattered across tables amidst knick knacks and my great-grandfather’s cadet picture, and there’s the table where the Christmas tree would be with its old pie plate ornament, and the moose, good Lord, where do you even start with the moose

and the lobster trap

and the carpet is new and blue but if you were to take all the books off the enormous bookshelves and move them you’d see where the new carpet ends and the old bluish-and-greenish carpet still rests under the bookshelves, because moving them should only happen in case of, well, death

and it was old and worn smooth

and look up past the hummingbird light pull to the ceiling with its bolts and washers from that time the pipes burst and they had to reinforce the plaster and, well, it worked

then down the hallway lined with baby photos and old silhouettes and on the left there’s the bedroom with its twin beds where my sisters and I would lie while Grandmother sat in the little old chair in between them and tell stories about the rabbits, whose names I remember and tell to my daughters, or the Great White Wooly Wugga-Wuggas whose names I have forgotten but whom I can still picture in my head, great fluffy things with soft brown faces, and she’d sing songs in a voice I didn’t know was off-key, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” (and they sang it wrong in England, and I put a footnote about it in my thesis) and then we’d go to sleep

in the room that had been my mother’s, with the door still littered with ribbons from football pep rallies and old Doonesbury comic strips and nametags from competitions and all sorts of things that were as familiar to me as the wood behind them before I could even read, whose meanings I discovered much later

and then the end of the hall, with the pink bathroom right in front of you and there’s the tub we washed in when we were little that didn’t have a shower attached and I used to wonder where the shower curtain was, with the clothesline strung over it for drying towels, and the vanity with lights over it installed twenty years after my mom spent half an hour squinting into the mirror trying to put on her makeup for prom

and on the left was the den, with Granddaddy’s perfect long chair that they gave away without asking any of us, and the pullout couch where we slept later on (and which spent six months in my garage before I finally found someone to haul it away to be donated, the blasted thing) that I saw again every time I watched the old Crit Role intro, and the rug in the middle, and sometimes Granddaddy’s step-er-cise thing with the pulleys that were so fun to pull, and we spent so many holidays piled up on that couch, watching TV after stuffing ourselves

oh and if you leaned over the arm of Granddaddy’s perfect long chair you could reach the bookshelf and I don’t ever remember asking permission to pluck Animal Babies from the shelf but I definitely did, plopping it open on my lap and  learning about okapi long before we even had any in our zoos (and I thought they were small because they lived with the pygmies, but they’re big, guys, they’re pretty big)

but sometimes you could only sit on the couch and read Reader’s Digest because Granddaddy was watching The Weather Channel

back when it only showed, you know, the weather

and then across the end of the hall was their room, where I napped once or twice, or occasionally set a baby down for a nap, stealing glimpses of my grandmother’s engagement photos, pretty much the only time you’d ever see a picture of her without her glasses

and then when it’s time to go we’d go to the den and kiss Granddaddy’s whiskers and then troop back down the hall to the kitchen and there’d always always be peanut butter crackers to be pressed into our hands to be eaten on the long car ride home

winding along the twisty two-lane road with the trees reaching out overhead, the side of the mountain falling away to our left, and then suddenly the lights of the city spread out twinkling before us between the branches of the trees, mostly yellow but here white or red or green, the valley at our feet wending its way towards the river

and tonight as I drove down that misty foggy mountain road I fumbled with my CDs because sometimes music has to say what our hearts are too full to mention

and along the way to the track I wanted I hit upon this one, in all its perfection

and just this week on Christmas Day as my granddaddy left my house I said, “see you later, alligator”

and without missing a beat he said, “after ‘while, crocodile”

as he always did when we left their house, the two of them standing there waving until we’d gone around the block, out of sight

(and I haven’t even touched on the yard, with its one dogwood so perfect for perching in, with its tangles and thickets and acorns and silence)

but they weren’t there when I left tonight, and that is, after all, why I was leaving it

for the last time

it’s not the same and it hasn’t been the same and all the same I cried my way to the base of the mountain while Mumford and Sons said what I could not.

we’ll all be together again, some day, God willing (it’s not his will we have to worry about; it’s our own)

and they’ll all go out to meet her when she comes

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merry christmas to one and all: a story

a guest post by my friend Terri, originally posted on her Facebook page on Christmas Day, 2019, and shared here for the sake of posterity (and people wanting to share the story with their friends).  Original grammar preserved.  I have had the privilege of reading Terri’s works for many years, but this is definitely one of her finest.  Enjoy.


we went to christmas eve service last night, right? methodist high church, very fancy, very formal, lots of candles and people in suits and altar boys/girls in white and black (we’re baptist but we cross the war fronts for christmas eve bc my dad loves formal services for fancy occasions and also they have a candlelight singing of silent night every year)

so

the minister is finishing up his christmas eve sermon. very nice, very traditional. lots of light-in-the-darkness metaphors, lots of folksy Stories with Morals about how neon & advertisements scream at us all the time these days and we have to learn to be quiet, about getting lost in the woods at night and finding a cabin with a lantern, how scared the shepherds must have been, etc. just as you’d expect from the deep south.

he’s wrapping up. there’s like maybe half a minute left in his sermon. “our charge is to go out and be that light to the rest of the world,” he says.

he pauses for breath.

and in that moment of silence, a sudden, melodic, mechanical, vaguely childlike voice, accompanied by cheerful tinny drums, trumpets a refrain:

“baBY SHARK DOO DOODOO, DOO DOO DOODOO, BABY SHARK DOO DOODOO, DOO DOO DOODOO, BABY SHARK”

the verse finishes abruptly. the world waits, stunned, breathless. the minister stares into the middle distance. the whole earth could not have held a place of more concentrated anticipation the night baby jesus was born.

“momMA SHARK DOO DOODOO, DOO DOO DOODOO, MOMMA SHARK, DOO DOODOO, DOO DOO DOODOO–”

we the congregation come to a collective realization: this is not a ringtone. this is not a phone, not a tablet. this is not something that can be silenced. this is a child’s toy awoken from the depths of hell itself and it is here to blare the baby shark song at maximum volume into every hallowed recess of this venerable cathedralic sanctuary, and it will not stop until every last vestige of the nativity story is drowned in cement shoes beneath its marine geneology.

the minister closes his eyes, candlelit and serene in the face of his soul’s greatest challenge. the song grows abruptly muffled, as if shoved under a thigh, and maybe a thick winter coat or two, and a fruitcake-thick layer of mortification.

the song does not end. it refuses to end. no simple leg, nor shepherd, nor host of angels can stand against the glorious might of the baby shark song.

“let us pray,” says the minister. there is a rustle of bowing heads and a shared awareness that every speck of attention in the entire sanctuary is zeroed in on the left bank of pews, three-quarters of the way to the front, center-left of the aisle.

the minister prays, smoothly and quickly and without much time in between each microphoned phrase. but he is a mortal sinful man and must take a mortal sinful breath eventually, and in the little space between his last prayer and the word “amen,” there is a small, sweet silence.

into that silence the toy sings, gently, of papa shark. its doo-doos hang glittering and endless in the air, like hoarfrost.

we close our eyes in prayer. amen.

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Books Read (and Movies Watched) in 2019

I wasn’t always the best about updating last year’s list, but I’m glad I kept it.  I didn’t include movies but I’m also not convinced I watched any new-to-me movies last year (we certainly didn’t step foot in a movie theatre).  Having our main show also be the equivalent of watching 2-3 movies a week doesn’t help either, whoops.  So here’s to hoping that changes a bit.

Alternatively, here’s hoping my children learn to sleep better.  Ha.

same key as last year: underlined is a reread; * means recommended

Books
[Auto]Biography
*So Anyway… by John Cleese (entertaining, insightful, just fun)
*Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (SO GOOD. devastating, but told with such humor)

Fiction
The Flame of Telbyrin by Br. Benedict Dyar (good ideas and story but oh man someone get this guy an editor and a book designer)
*Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah)
*Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller (look I just love a good solid now-Legacy Star Wars book okay)
*Beauty by Robin McKinley (a library discard win for me; the ending’s still a bit rushed, but gosh, I love her writing)
*The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette) (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH SO GOOD)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (not as good as Six of Crows)
Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman (a bit shallow and just…abrupt)
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel (cute)
*Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH one of those books that only gets better the older you get)
*Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (HOW DOES SHE DO IT.  HOW.)
*A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (surprisingly stressful this time around)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (what a scrambled wasted mess of a book that could’ve been something REALLY INTERESTING
[I feel like I’m forgetting something here I really need to get better at keeping up with this]
*The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip (took me a bit to warm up to it but I didn’t want it to end)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (don’t ask me how I’d never read it before, I don’t know, but I enjoyed it)
Anne of Avonlea
 by ditto (ditto)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (been a long time and I never finished the trilogy but it is still so good)
[and then I read a bunch of books in August so bear with me]
The Southern Sisters Mysteries by Anne George
Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam something

Cookbooks
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara Walker*

Spirituality
The Everyday Apostle: Commonsense Ways to Draw Others to Christ by Fr. Edward F. Garesché (not bad, though very 1910s-y)
Catherine of Siena by…somebody Italian I’ll look it up (just a brief but thorough biography)
The Community of the Beloved Disciple* by Raymond Brown (awesome look at historical Johannine community working backwards from the proffered texts)
Enter St. Anthony by…somebody (ADORABLE BIOGRAPHY OF ADORABLENESS)

Movies
Jan 1:  Black Panther*
April25/6:  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before*

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NOVENA FOR FAMILIES DURING THE HOLIDAYS

This novena was originally written for a group of predominantly married Catholic women, and so its focus is distinctly feminine, which I at least consider a bonus. Each day has a focus on one area that tends to come up during the holidays; if a day doesn’t apply to you, feel free to substitute another intention (“siblings” for “in-laws” or “children,” e.g.).  I’ve listed the individual days’ intentions first, and if you scroll to the end you’ll find the prayers to be said every day.

We’ll be relying on the intercession of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Jeanne de Chantal, St. Monica, and St. Rita, all women who experienced various family difficulties throughout their lives be it with in-laws, their own parents, their children, their husbands—really, all of the above, and I encourage you to read up on them. Meditating on their wisdom, we’ll recite the Litany of Humility with the aim of decreasing ourselves so Christ may increase in us, so that no matter what obstacles or hurtfulness we encounter, we may radiate love while resting secure in God’s love for us. Thank you for praying with me!


DAY 1: FOR OUR IMMEDIATE FAMILIES

Meditations from the saints:
“We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“Cordial love of the neighbor does not consist in feelings. This love flows not from a heart of flesh but from the heart of our will.”
St. Jeanne de Chantal

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for our immediate families, those in which we were raised and those we are raising ourselves, your domestic Church, where we first live out Your calling and experience your love, whence we bring your Gospel to the world. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 2: FOR OUR PARENTS

Meditations from the saints:
“I then, O my Praise and my Life, Thou God of my heart, putting aside for a little her good deeds, for which I joyfully give thanks to You, do now beseech You for the sins of my mother. …and inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire Your servants my brethren, Your sons my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that so many of them as shall read these confessions may at Your altar remember Monica, Your handmaid, together with Patricius, her sometime husband, by whose flesh You introduced me into this life, in what manner I know not. May they with pious affection be mindful of my parents in this transitory light.”
St. Augustine

“Our God loves us; this is our comfort.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for our parents, who gave us life and those who raised us, who are called to be models of Christ and His Church for us their children; we give thanks for those who received the grace to live out their vocations, and beg pardon for those who turned away. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 3: FOR OUR IN-LAWS

Meditations from the saints:
“Her mother-in-law, also, being at first prejudiced against her by the whisperings of evil-disposed servants, she so conquered by submission, persevering in it with patience and meekness, that she voluntarily disclosed to her son the tongues of the meddling servants, whereby the domestic peace between herself and her daughter-in-law had been agitated, begging him to punish them for it. …And…they lived together with a wonderful sweetness of mutual good-will.”
St. Augustine

“Must you continue to be your own cross? No matter which way God leads you, you change everything into bitterness by constantly brooding over everything. For the love of God, replace all this self-scrutiny with a pure and simple glance at God’s goodness.”
St. Jeanne de Chantal

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for our in-laws, who through God’s blessing gave us the great gift of our spouses, whom we are called to love as our own parents; we give thanks for those who love us as their own, and pray for an end to strife with those who do not. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 4: FOR OUR CHILDREN

Meditations from the saints:
“Let us be sure that we understand what an honor it is for us to spend time in prayer, as much time as we wish, as intimately as we wish. The man who wins an hour-long audience from his prince, considers himself lucky. And our God, before whom the kings of the earth are less than a spark in the full blaze of the sun, and less than a little worm in the presence of the highest angels — this great God, nevertheless, is eager to hear us no matter what hour of the day or night we turn to Him.”

“Give them books and conferences treating of the virtues, and tell them that they must set about practising them. Later on they can talk about high things for by the exercise of true and solid virtue light comes from Him who is the Master of the humble, and whose delight it is to be with souls that are simple and innocent.”
St. Jeanne de Chantal

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for our children, gifts from God whom we are called to shepherd from infancy to independence, that they may always be faithful to Him; and we pray especially for those adult children who have left the Church, that their mothers’ intercession may open their hearts to the grace to return. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 5: FOR OUR FAMILY MEMBERS WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY

Meditations from the saints:
“The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to Him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to Him.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord’s altar, wherever you be.”
St. Monica

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for our family members who have finished their life’s journey on this earth, whose absence leaves a void filled with many emotions and tender hearts; we [remember them especially during this month of All Souls] and pray fervently that they may be admitted into your kingdom, and that those they have left behind may know the consolation of Christian hope in God’s mercy. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 6: FOR PRESERVATION FROM GOSSIP

Meditations from the saints:
“The love of talk distracts all the powers of our soul from God, and fills them with earthly objects and impressions, like a vessel of water that cannot be settled while you are continually stirring the earthly particles from the bottom.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“When she had heard on both sides most bitter things, such as swelling and undigested discord is wont to give vent to, when the crudities of enmities are breathed out in bitter speeches to a present friend against an absent enemy, she would disclose nothing about the one unto the other, save what might avail to their reconcilement.”
St. Augustine

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for preservation from gossip, from the sort of talk that seeks to spread jealousy, discord, strife, and enmity; we pray that we may avoid the near occasion of sin and, if unavoidably subjected to such conversations, that we may guard our hearts and tongues and instead speak Christ to all. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 7: FOR PRESERVATION FROM MISUNDERSTANDING

Meditations from the saints:
“How sweet, the presence of Jesus to the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace, and balm to every wound.“

“And in every disappointment, great or small, let your heart fly directly to your dear Savior, throwing yourself in those arms for refuge against every pain and sorrow. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for preservation from misunderstanding, from the unnecessary hardships that arise from the failure to speak clearly or to listen well; we pray for clarity, charity, and generosity in our dealings with others, that instead of retreating into bitterness we all may strive for reconciliation and progress towards our common goals. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 8: FOR PRESERVATION FROM PRIDE

Meditations from the saints:
“Cut to the center, tear up every root, let it bleed, let it suffer anything, everything, only fit it for Thyself. Place only Thy love there, and let humility keep sentinel.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“Love God above all things.”
St. Rita

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for preservation from pride; we pray that we may humble ourselves before God’s guidance and will, that we may have the wisdom to discern when to stand firm not on our own judgment but in Christ’s, and when to patiently and joyfully bear our sufferings from the shelter of His wounds, always with the meekest gratitude that He might choose to use us as instruments of His love. [Add any other intentions here.]


DAY 9: FOR PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE

Meditations from the saints:
“Suffering borne in the will quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God.”
St. Jeanne de Chantal

“Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be
resolute, and bear and suffer as our blessed forerunners did. Which of them gained heaven without a struggle?”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today we pray for patience and perseverance, that having so prepared ourselves for the holidays we may succeed in bearing Christ’s love in every encounter with every person we meet; we pray that we may have the patience to run well and finish the race, doing all things through Christ who strengthens us so that at the end of our labors, we and our loved ones may rest together in His peace. [Add any other intentions here.]


EACH DAY

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.
Saint Jeanne de Chantal, pray for us.
Saint Monica, pray for us.
Saint Rita, pray for us.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled…
From the desire of being honored…
From the desire of being praised…
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted…
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Father God, we come before You today with hearts stressed and burdened by the demands of the season and the strife within our families. As we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms of You, our most loving Father in Heaven, help us to truly leave to You the care of ourselves and our families so that we may be free to desire to please You and serve You well in all we can.

Lord Jesus, as we bring ourselves before You, help us to accept Your yoke and learn from You Who are meek and humble of heart. As we humble ourselves before You, we beg You to sanctify us, reign in us, transform us to Yourself, live in us, and let us live in You; so that all whom we encounter, especially within our own families, may know Your love and peace.

Holy Spirit, Who comes to the aid of our weakness and intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray as we ought, pour out Your grace upon us and our families. By Baptism we have been bound together as children of God, joint heirs with Christ; through You, may we experience that same unity in our earthly families and Your peace in our hearts. May we use Your gifts to bring forth Your fruits so that through us, Your love may renew the face of the earth.

Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

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Books Read in 2018

to be updated as the year progresses

underlined is a reread; * means recommended

FICTION
Children’s
*The Cat Who Wanted to Be a Man, Lloyd Alexander

YA
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray or whatever, I don’t even care, only about a quarter of the book was actually gripping and then she managed to ruin it
Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo, (5/5/18) eeeeeeeh we’ll see if the series gets better
Siege and Storm, ditto (5/?/18), an improvement but the beginning was very weak and the whole series would be better if MWT wrote it
Ruin and Rising, ditto (5/30/18), definitely improved and I think makes reading the previous two worth it though still not 100% satisfying (to me, but I am weird)
Six of Crows, ditto, (9/6ish/18), SO MUCH BETTER OH MY GOODNESS

Classics
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

NON-FICTION
Biography
*My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
Two Gardeners, Elizabeth Lawrence and Katharine S. White, ed. Emily Wilson
Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father’s Culinary Adventures, Rae Katherine Eighmey (SO MANY COMMA SPLICES)

Spirituality
Into the Deep, Dan Burke (the business PD version of Lectio Divina)
*Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II
Embracing Edith Stein, Anne Costa
A Simple Path, Mother Teresa (9/23/18)
*Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa + an editor (so good y’all)
Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, Enrico M…something (IT TOOK ME OVER A YEAR BUT I DID IT, Y’ALL)

Gardening? Outdoors?
*A Southern Garden, Elizabeth Lawrence (would like to own)

Cookbooks
Radically Simple, Rozanne Gold (definitely interested in several of the veggie sides)
What Should I Bring?, Elizabeth Heiskell (it literally has a recipe that she describes as “impossible to transport” if that gives you any indication of quality)

as I edit this at the end of the year, I think to myself, I should read more books next year.  Here’s hoping!

of course this list doesn’t include Too Many Picture Books to Count, but I will of course shout out the Hat trilogy by Jon Klassen for making me laugh and then breaking my heart all in one go

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Good Friday

This is my third Good Friday at this duty station.

This year I spent on the couch with my husband, watching the EWTN broadcast of the Celebration of Our Lord’s Passion from the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The stream cut out in the middle of the intercessions, which coincidentally was at 3 PM, so we went ahead and prayed today’s Divine Mercy Novena. The broadcast was beautifully full of silence, and so even if we couldn’t be there or at our own little church here, at least we were able to fill our living room with prayerful sounds.
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Imagining the Trump Supporter

A friend of mine emailed me about my last post, saying that she simply DOES NOT UNDERSTAND TRUMP SUPPORTERS. Another friend of mine recently mentioned somewhere that he was shocked to discover that racism actually exists within the Republican party. And I’ve read several articles about Trump’s popularity, ranging from “people are angry” to “people feel disenfranchised” to “people feel like they lost the culture war and want someone who will fight for them,” and all those things are true. And there are probably several more articles out there that already say what I’m about to say (this Atlantic piece is a good outline), but all the same, I thought I’d put out a few details. In this approach I am not attempting in any way to condone any of the opinions or viewpoints that I theorize the average Trump supporter holds; but I am attempting to present them with relatively little commentary on their merits or lack thereof.

Side note: Sunday afternoon, Trump held a rally in my home state, and one of our senators became the first sitting senator to endorse him. I heard about it during the hourly NPR news update, and for the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be from Alabama.

Let me be clear: I’m from Alabama. I know, okay? I’ve lived in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, driven through much of the rest of the country, and spent a fair amount of time on the East Coast. If I stopped to count I think I know someone from almost every state in the Union. I’m descended from the sister of a Confederate general and there are absolutely slaveholders in my ancestry. My hometown, though the first to integrate its school system (peacefully, no less), is still under a desegregation order. [Side rant about all the schools in the rest of the country that have never been under a desegregation order but are no less segregated.] We keep electing Roy Moore to be Chief Justice of our State Supreme Court, even after he was kicked off. I get it. There’s a lot to be embarrassed about.

Embarrassed. But it’s my home, and I love it, and I want the best for it. It’s part of why I always planned to move back, no matter how far away I went. I’m a strong believer in the value of getting out and in the power of going home. I’m an eternal optimist.

But when I heard Senator Sessions giving his endorsement, for a moment, my spirits were absolutely, totally crushed.

Side note the second: Trump is performing well, but his competitors are still in the fight. Not every person who fits into one or more of the categories I’m about to describe is a Trump supporter. (This means, of course, that Cruz and Rubio possibly also have racists voting for them, ironically enough.) Not every Trump supporter fits into all of the following categories.

So who are these people, and why are they supporting Trump?
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Independent

Part of my “get on top of life” resolution has included trying to keep at least a token sense of being up-to-date with the world’s news. This of course has coincided with the primary season (aka, when all the campaigning actually starts to matter). I’ve been ignoring most of the campaigning itself–I’ll almost certainly be voting third party, and I have better things to do with my time than listen to adults hurl invectives at each other and make vague promises in the meantime–but now that votes are starting to roll in I’ve been reading a lot of analysis about why things are happening the way they are, and how they might get better or worse as time goes on. And being me, I’ve had some thoughts. I don’t know how coherent I’m going to be able to make them, but it’s worth a shot.

Some background reading:

On the potential progressions of the Republican nomination battle.
Why evangelicals are voting for Trump, i.e.
How Wag the Dog ruined me.

I went looking for the genesis of other thoughts of mine, but those have mostly taken place in non-public Facebook threads.

So.
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I was thinking…about temptation

One of my Lenten goals is to be more mindful of my time usage, and part of that is to be more aware of what I’m trying to accomplish each day while simultaneously not beating myself up if life gets in the way of it. (“Life” in this instance being things like “the baby refused to sleep outside my arms,” not “and then Facebook kept being interesting.”) (Though since I do conduct a great deal of socialization via Facebook, I’m not cutting it out completely. But I AM trying to be more mindful, and keep up with my correspondence. Anyway.)

Since I’m usually lucky enough to get a good solid afternoon nap out of the baby (who is TEN MONTHS OLD your pardon is begged), I thought I would try devoting one afternoon nap a week to posting on the blog again. So here we go, with some baby steps, based on this past Sunday’s Gospel reading.

A quick recap: the reading, Luke 4:1-13, is at the bottom of this page. I’ll copy the parts I specifically want to address here:

(vs. 1-2) Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.

Last fall my CWOC group read the first half of Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which is a lovely mix of scholarship, travelogue, and spiritual reflection focusing on grounding the Gospel–and thus, the human Jesus himself–in the physical reality of the Holy Land. It’s given me new tools for considering Christ as well as a better understanding of and perspective on the stories contained within as well as, I have to say, deepening my affection for Jesus as a person. I mean, obviously he’s a person, and a Person, and as a Christian I am striving to love Him while also being infinitely (or finitely, I suppose) aware of my inadequacies and ignorance in that department. And obviously, Ignatian meditation is all about putting yourself in the Gospel scene, so it’s not like this is anything new. But I find myself better able to picture walking alongside Jesus–a guy, a friend, someone who laughed at jokes and liked washing the dirt off his feet at the end of a long day of walking–and with it has come an affection for his human frailties, which he experienced as clearly as I experience my own.

(Perfectly, of course, and with less complaining.)
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I was thinking…about Mary

I’ve been writing (almost) every day for about a month now, so I feel like I (sort of) have a routine, and so it’s time to revisit this blog thing. With an “I was thinking…” post, because baby steps.

  • Last night in his homily our priest took pains to point out that the Immaculate Conception isn’t directly tied to Mary’s Perpetual Virginity–that is to say, if God had willed she not be a virgin but that she live out that part of her marital vows with Joseph, she still would have been doing her will and still would have been sinless. Sex in its proper context is not a sin. Tension in the congregation of the “there are kids out here, Father” variety aside, I thought it was a beautiful and well-made point.
  • I was praying a decade of the Rosary last week, I think to keep myself awake while nursing, and I realized something that made me laugh. Every Ave starts with “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” right? But Scripture tells us “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”

    I mean obviously, now up in heaven, she knows perfectly well what sort of greeting it was, and the songs of the angels are a comfort rather than a fright. But I still imagine a gentle sort of ironic smile on her face as we petition her using words that once scared her out of her wits. It’s natural to us to say these things to her; when she first heard them, they were remarkable, and new, and terrifying.

  • I think I felt closer to the Christmas story last year, when I was pregnant, than I do this year, chasing after an almost-eight-month-old. But then I was thinking about Christ on the cross, and how the Eucharist is Christ crucified, and how the flesh we eat was once soft little baby skin stretched over tiny little baby bones and chubby little baby fat. I pray I never have to experience Mary’s grief, but it makes her all the more incredible that she endured it.

I had another thought, but I’ve slept since then. Happy Advent, all.

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