Having now watched two birth videos I can safely say that by the end the mommies and daddies on the screen were not the only people crying when they got to hold their babies for the first time.
The emotional whiplash from “oh gosh she looks so tired oh labor’s still happening oh she’s so exhausted this looks exhausting this is going to be so exhausting” to “what the are they showing us the baby crowning oh that’s gross that’s so oh no oh NO OH NO I DON’T WANT TO BE WATCHING THIS HAPPENING OH NO” to “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAW LOOK AT THE BABY IT’S OVER THEY’RE ALL TOGETHER EVERYONE’S OKAY I’M SO HAPPY FOR EVERYONE” is intense though. Probably these videos should come with a warning for pregnant women. Unless they’re trying to help us practice for the actual emotional whiplash on its way.
We’ve found our parish, our lovely on-post chapel, and I will fully admit that one of the things drawing us to it is one of the chaplains (there are three–three!–though one is currently deployed but will probably be coming back in a month or so), as he is an excellent homilist and I do so love a good homily.
So of course his homily today (the readings for your benefit) made, among others, the very real and salient point that Catholic liturgy is not centered around how it makes us feel or how we want it to make us feel or on ticking off a list of things that seem cool or relevant–it is ultimately centered around Christ, in the Eucharist, and our need to commune with him in order to receive the grace necessary to make it through this life. In today’s Gospel, he pointed out, everyone goes to Peter’s house because that’s where Jesus is, and there, Jesus heals. And so we go to Mass, even when we are feeling like Job, because God wants us to keep talking to Him and to keep coming so that He may work his healing in us, even if we are having difficulty seeing it.
He compared it to going to school, where you might like recess but not the actual learning portions, or to being in the Army, where there is always something to complain about, despite the positive notes. But he also pointed out that these are all things we do in community, that we have classmates and spouses and battle buddies to uplift and support us (to be Paul in his second reading, as we are called to preach the Gospel to each other)–and then, this being a military chapel, he reminded us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, that we are under attack and need the support of our battle buddies, the communication from our commander, and that also we need to be aware that the little it may feel like we’re accomplishing is part of the much bigger, longer fight that we will eventually win–though that victory, like Job’s reward, doesn’t come until the end, until we’ve passed through all the trials. And the Church is the Body of which we are all members, the army to which we all belong, and those rules and rituals she provides for us come from Him Who is her Head. And so we come to a Mass which was given to us on Christ’s terms, not perhaps the ones we would like for him to maybe set forth because they’d be easier or more accessible or entertaining or immediately emotionally gratifying.
Categories: army life, theology
Tags: army life, catholicism, church militant, Eucharist, love, masculinity, soldiers, spiritual warfare, the Mass, vocation
I have an hour and a half left in the day and it has recently come to my attention that I need to write a blog post on a very serious topic, but this week has been a tired week (I am very bad at letting myself rest when I think I should be awake) and so here is another roundup of things I read this week that I think you will like.
POSTS ABOUT BABY/FAMILY-RELATED THINGS
It’s probably not something I’m going to have to worry about, but here’s five reasons not to visit a new mom in the hospital.
Instead of reading various child-raising books, try a more anthropological approach.
I almost always enjoy the posts over at Like Mother, Like Daughter, and Auntie Leila’s advice to the embarrassed mother of a four-year-old is no different. (The comment she mentions about daycare in Europe is I believe this one, though all the comments are good.)
POSTS ABOUT RELIGION AND CULTURE
A brief but excellent reflection on keeping American Sniper in perspective.
An absolutely fabulous reflection on the reception of the Eucharist and how we ought to perceive it (i.e., as none of our business). (I recommend that entire blog.)
A friend of mine wrote a beautiful and true post about the impact books can have on our lives. (Disclaimer: I am the friend in Alabama, and I also mourn the friend we lost.) (A post for another day.) (And actually, a post on that series is already in the works. But it is full of spoilers, so please–just go pick up The Thief and start from there.)
FINALLY, POSTS TO MAKE YOU LAUGH
In case you missed it, AFRICOM general killed in freak wildebeest stampede.
An embarrassing poop story from someone else’s preggo land.
Have a good weekend!
Part of “being military,” or at least being part of a marriage whose employment rests on transience, is learning to settle yourself in a new place as quickly as possible. You get a good head for how to adapt your furniture to your new rooms so that you can start unpacking right away; you have a couple of boxes of those little trinkets that are yours, and you set them up and hang up a few pictures so that the walls are a little more your house and instead of new house. You spend hours digging through boxes labeled “kitchen” and cram as much into the dishwasher at one time as you can so that you can have real plates to eat off, even if the dining room table is still covered in, say, your liquor collection. (We really need to find a place for those, come to think of it.) You make yourself go to the non-mandatory welcome events and pick up all the brochures and calendars (and free swag at the information fairs) and write the more interesting opportunities down on the calendar in an effort to remind you to make the effort to get out and start getting involved.
And, for us at least, you try to find a church.
It has been not quite a month since my last post, but oh, what a month. It’s funny to think I started this blog off posting about moving things and people, as we’ve just undergone another move in which I tried to be more relaxed about my things and have been rewarded by having some of them go missing. As for people, well, we made good good-byes of it, I think, but my personal tally of people I needed to say goodbye to was…generously, seven or eight. Which is strange, because so much happened while we were at our last post, and yet very little of it happened at that post.
I was going to do a post explaining the difference between officers and enlisted soldiers, but it got bogged down in details and acronyms and so it’s on the shelf for another day.
Today I am going to talk about something else: The Walk.
Now, I don’t know how it’s perceived within the military. I highly suspect that once it’s learned it’s not even noticed. And its existence makes sense, and I understand why it happens, but it does not make it any less annoying.
All soldiers walk the same.
I mean obviously they do, they train to march in formation, part of being in formation is being exactly like everyone else, but they do it OUTSIDE formation as well. And it’s a very specific walk: the steps are probably whatever length the person’s legs require in order to match the person they learned to march next to (a problem you probably also see among marching band alum); the arms swing in a not-quite-natural rhythm at a not-quite-natural distance from the body. The hands are half-curled and the arms have a somewhat gorilla-esque curve to them. The shoulders…we won’t say swagger, but noticeably shift from side to side. It’s not a march, but it’s a learned step, and if your soldier is wearing a uniform, they’re walking this way.
And honestly it’s really only vexing when they’re in uniform when they do it, mostly because I cannot count the number of times I’ve been sitting in the car waiting for my husband to emerge from the building only to be confronted with a wave of round-abouts-six-feet-tall men in uniform Walking towards me…no…wait that one’s hair might be too short…no the hair’s okay, are those his sunglasses? wait he’s coming this way he’s coming…no they’re all going…towards their cars because their cars are not my car because they are NOT MY HUSBAND HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN EVEN BE IN THAT BUILDING YOU SAID YOU’D BE DONE TEN MINUTES AGO.
The rest of this post could be a reflection on uniformity and diversity in the Army, but I spent twenty minutes in ninety-five-degree heat waiting for my husband this afternoon (which I’d rather do than deal with the hassle of affording a second car) and the heat has sapped my strength, mental and physical. Besides, we’ve barely even talked about what the Army is! Who the Army is! It’s far too soon to be reflecting.
So for now, I leave you with the fact: all soldiers walk the same.
Back from a Memorial Day holiday, I was going to make a different post about the military, but then I realized I hadn’t made this one, which is a bit more foundational.
One of my aims with this blog is to discuss military life, mostly because as has been observed the military really only makes up about 1% of the United States population (a percentage that increases when you include family members, but still isn’t that great) and because until three and a half years ago I was part of the 99%. My great-grandfather was a West Point graduate who served in the Army Air Corps until he was medically discharged, and his son, my closest experience of the military, was drafted during the Korean War and ended up serving on the front lines as part of a mechanized artillery unit in the 3rd Infantry Division. (My grandpa on the other side was also in the Army for three years, but he spent it Stateside as an instructor.) Granddaddy’s relationship with the military is thus, I think, understandably complex, and mine was mostly nonexistent.