I sit here staring at a blank screen telling myself I have nothing to share. We all know that’s a lie. I know that’s a huge lie. I always have something to share with you. I wanted to share my reflections on the final week of Advent, not from a scriptural perspective; I leave that to others who are better at it than I am. I am in a “feeling” sort of mood and it is this I would like to share with you, even if my heart tells me not to – because it’s a little scary and mostly because it’s personal. Let’s start here:
I saw a meme on Facebook this week – here it is:
I am going to be brutally honest with you, and feel free to get “all in a tizzy” as my friend Theresa says. I sent this meme to my friend, S, with just this sentence in the body of the message
Go home Holy Spirit, you’re drunk. I can say this to you, right?
She said I could say that to her, of course. But, can I say that to you? Yes. You, reading this, right now? Can I be that frank with my imperfect feelings? I always want to be. I can’t be a perfect Catholic who reads the Liturgy of the Hours every day, or pray the rosary perfectly. In fact,
most times sometimes I mess up and mix the Nicene Creed with the Apostles Creed and create the “whatever I can remember Creed”) I can’t get to the Daily Examen, well, daily and I don’t get to confession nearly as often as I should. Sometimes, my prayer is nothing more than a mention of your name. I never want to lose you amongst all of the balls I have juggling in the air. Because, to me, that would be worse, you know, the forgetting.
I am reading a few books at the moment and it’s The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright from Loyola Press that’s got me all raw, in a good way. The more I read, the more words are placed on my feelings; feelings and reflections that I have and can acknowledge as perfectly valid arrows in my quiver of writing arsenal.
Don’t write anything you don’t believe [my emphasis]. Voice your doubts as well as your faith. Remind the other doubters out there that they are in good company and that doubting is not an unpardonable sin – that, in fact, doubting is a critical aspect of believing. (p. 47)
Back to my meme: Immediately after sending it to S, I felt guilty for even thinking it. I don’t believe I should reach out to my family again. I just don’t. I can honestly say that I have been there, done that, have the t-shirt, and not only am I a client, I am also the president. That’s not what the struggle was for me, the struggle was being face to face with what I felt toward the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Disobedience.
I take that seriously. You know that. Alas, I am not perfect – and that is a very real, very honest example.
I would also like to share with you another snapshot that I took on my phone from the Magnificat Advent Companion given to me by Tiffany.
Can you read that? I’m being honest, this is what I texted her – no cropping. It’s about small towns where people “watch” each other, especially the stranger.
Allow me to highlight:
In this shrinking world, each day the stranger and the marginalized are treated with suspicion, resentment and contempt.
For the most part, I have said nothing. I say that because I have made veiled attempts (good pun, Cristina) at getting my feelings across for no other reason than because it’s cathartic for me. Should I say nothing, it will dampen me.
The Veiling Project was wonderful, mostly. I met great people from all over the world, virtually. I was able to share in a wonderful journey with other women who were discerning, who had been veiling for years and still others who only started this Advent. However:
I have looked away, and kept silence,
I have said nothing, holding myself in;
but now, I cry out as a woman in labor,
gasping and panting.
and that’s from today’s Morning Prayer. There was a sense of separation between the “real Catholics” and anyone else in the group, created for this project. I didn’t feel comfortable with that, so I left quietly, first, and without a word.
What does that even mean? Real Catholic? Aren’t we all on a path? Catholic or not? Isn’t that deeply personal and also humbling? Aren’t you blessed to know that person on their path? And even doubly blessed that they are sharing this intimate part of themselves with you? Shouldn’t that, above all else, claim the respect it’s due as one pilgrim to another?
I am a Roman Catholic…
Here’s what one of my very first followers (super humbling by the way because he’s sort of a genius) wrote about himself because I saw myself in his words:
Today, I am a proud Roman Catholic. I try to eschew labels as I consider them divisive. Hence, you will not hear me say that I am a (fill-in-the-blank) traditional, progressive, orthodox, liberal, conservative Catholic. I believe that Catholicism is universal, and demands a way of life that is inclusive (both/and, not either/or). [my emphasis] If others were to label me, I would likely be accused of being too conservative for “liberal” Catholics and too liberal for “conservative” Catholics.
Thanks William. Sounds like what I wrote here – you know, about my not fitting in. This is why I will never, ever, label, assume, blame, ostracize, marginalize, spew hatred, or otherwise put a face on my faith that is anything other than accepting. Period. Why? Because Jesus accepts me. Because Mary looks for me. Because the Holy Spirit is with me (whether I disobey or not) and because God is my Father. You think I want to get to heaven one day and have God say:
Amen: I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
No thank you! Allow me to quote once more from Vinita Hampton Wright:
It’s so easy to affix labels to people or ideas or systems, and its easy because a label halts any further thinking on the matter. If I call you an idiot, I don’t have to understand what you’re saying. Discussion and thought have ended. The more authentic path is to withhold labels and listen to what’s being said and wrestle with it intelligently. There may be strong emotion in this process, but the emotion does not obliterate thought and interaction. [my emphasis]
I know from deep personal experience that I may be the only bible anyone reads. I adhere to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t think it says anywhere that if you’re not Roman Catholic we can’t hang out. It certainly doesn’t say that if I don’t veil, I am not reverent. It doesn’t say that if I make a decision quietly, and break no Commandment it shouldn’t respected.
It doesn’t say that I am anything other than a Daughter of the Almighty God – and – a sinner.
So before you throw stones, before you’re all up in my eye, take the plank out of yours, please.
There it is, my last reflection this Advent – and it’s not pretty. It’s not peace and joy. Nor is it even presents and commercialized holidays. It’s just me, and by now, I hope you’ve come to a better understanding of what that is.
That’s all she wrote. See you in 2014! Have a very, very blessed Christmas. I will be going to Midnight mass with my stepdaughter visiting us for the week, mass again Christmas Day, cooking and entertaining friends and family. I will also be praying for you (even if it’s just mentioning your name before the altar) wearing my red veil!
P.S. If Vinita ever visits, thank you. You really got “me” out of me with your written shoehorn (aka book!)
P.P.S. Linking up with Tiffany this week…head over!