Saturday, February 6, 2016

Paul Miki and Companions


Today, I'm teaching parents whose children are receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.  I'm giving the parents the history of the sacrament.

This morning, I opened my prayer book to find out that today is the feast of Paul Miki and Companions.  I can use this feast in explaining the history of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In early Christianity, the sacrament was public because Christianity was just beginning to develop.  Christianity was outlawed.  When it was discovered that you were Christian you were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed in various horrendous ways.  Many denied that they were Christians.  That's apostasy.

Afterwards, these traitors tried to go to church.  What nerve, huh?  Of course, their brothers and sisters could see that they needed to be accepted back, so the deniers of Christ had to apologize to the community.  This is how the first confessions were done--publically.  The community decided on the penance.  Once the penance was fulfilled, the bishop came to give absolution.

I am afraid that I'd be a coward and deny Jesus.  I'd need the grace of God to not be afraid and be strong enough to declare that I am a child of Christ.

Then this morning, I read about Paul Miki and twenty-five companions who were martyred in Japan.  Not only were they not afraid, they were happy about it.  They rejoiced.  They sang Te Deum!

May God bless them! They rejoiced because they were dying for God.  They were hung on crosses, much like Jesus. They died with God's praises on their lips.

I think God for such brave Christians.  Their story is so moving that for the next couple of centuries Japanese Christians kept the faith underground.  The blood of martyrs watered the faith of Christ.

Let us pray for Christians who are persecuted throughout the world.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Indifference

from my bedroom window

There's a blizzard outside.  I love bad weather, only because it gives me an excuse to stay home and read.  This morning, after my prayers, reading the Globe (Yay, delivery is getting to be regular!), I read the message of his Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the XLIX World Day of Peace.  I only read paragraphs One and Two, but that's enough to get the theme.  The theme is something I know but had never thought about--indifference.

I know and so does everybody else, that human beings are the most human when we help each other.  In other words, we feel compassion for them and are moved to do something, for them.  Nowadays, the pope points out, the world seems to be callous.  People seem to be indifferent to the plight of others.  (Think of those who want to build walls to keep people out.)  (Refuse to welcome refugees.)

I see it more and more, do you?

This is the intro to the rest of the message.  That's as far as I got.  After all, I have homework to do.  I'm reading Unpacking the Boxes by Donald Hall, for my writing group.  The Street Lawyer by John Grisham, for St. Mary's Book Club.  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown for Argonauta.  The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by Pope Francis for my Lay Dominican Chapter.

And silly children think snow days are just for them.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Interpretation of My Dream


This morning's post was about my dream.  I told the chaplain about it and she explained some of it to me.  She has taken a few courses in dream interpretation.  Most important is to know that dreams are ALWAYS about yourself.  I dreamt about someone else, but the dream is about myself.  The important items in the dream--we think are:

shrinking to disappearing
the head
the envelope kept for safe keeping
the EMT's

And what I felt during and after the dream. The shrinking shocked me.  The head appalled me.  I felt good about keeping her safe locked up in the envelope and felt relief when the EMT's came.  After the dream I was frightened that we (RCIA team) would get into trouble.  I was also very sad that the chaplain had died and we had nothing to prove that she had ever lived.  There was no body.

The last emotion I felt (being sad because there was no body) I think is what the dream is all about.  Hubby and I, and friends, have been discussing end of life issues.  Also, whether we want to be cremated or what.

In fact, someone told me a story just yesterday that her friend unexpectedly died and was cremated,  Her husband is keeping her ashes in an urn.  The urn sits on the table where he eats, so that he eats with her, like they always did.

The dream is about something that was on my mind.  That's all.

Dreaming

MEK Drawing

Dreams don't usually affect me.  However, last night I had one that woke me up and won't leave me.  It frightens me and I don't know why.  It isn't about me.  Here's the dream.

I'm teaching my RCIA class and the chaplain walks in.  She trips and falls.  We all immediately rush over to her.  She's unconscious but her entire body is twittering.  It's moving here and there, like a roomba vacuum cleaner.  It skitters across the floor and when it bumps into something it turns and continues.  There's another thing.  It's shrinking--very fast.  Of course, someone has called 911.  When we see her heading under something like our little refrigerator or a bookcase, we all rush over to it to block her from skittering under and getting stuck.  But eventually, she jitters her way into a big manilla envelope.  We don't think much about it except maybe--Good!  We can easily get her out when we want and meanwhile she's safe.  Finally, the EMT's come and we shake everything out of the envelope.  It just so happens that the envelope was full of paper dolls and some are torn apart.  We can't find her except for her head.  And we know that it's her because the head is still jittering.  In fact, it's the only thing jittering.  All her other parts are mixed in with the paper dolls.  So we shove everything, including the jittering head, back into the envelope, fasten it, and hand it to the EMT's.  "Here you guys figure it out."

I wake up.

What haunts me is that every piece of her is gone.  It's like she never existed.

What does it all mean?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

First Draft


Poetry consumed my thoughts all day, yesterday.  In the evening, I reread the instructor's poem.  I am taking a workshop in Prose Poetry Memoir Writing.  In the syllabus, when I read the instructor's example, I thought, "this kind of poetry is just like one run-on sentence."  I didn't think much of it.

 Now, listen up.

Last night, I read the story she distributed to the class.  Guess what?  It's a great short story.  I liked it a lot.  Then I looked up her prose memoir poem.  It's the very same!  So with that in mind, I took one of my poems that I recollected from my childhood and turned it into a memoir.  In other words, I expanded my emotions.  I wove a story around the feeling.

Here's the original story:

Cemetery Ice Capades

Dodging gravestones at winter's dusk
My labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I raced through the silence of the dead,
Leaving clouds of rasping vapor.

Being chased by serrated points,
My figure skates beat sharply
Against my back, like a jockey
Whipping his mount, to the finish.

Dee, Sue, Marilyn, and all,
Girlfriends in freestyle synchro.
Toured jubilantly across
Pete's Bog.  It went on far too long.

The sun slipped behind the trees.
Leaving me alone, skates balanced
Over my shoulder, whipping me faster,
down the cemetery hill to home.

Help me Grandma, Help me Grandpa!
Ask the Lord to protect me.
With labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I dodged gravestones at winter's dusk.

In keying this original poem, I see elements in it that I wished I had put in the following prose poem memoir.  I probably will add them.  Today is my usual writer's group.  I'll offer up these two versions and see what my critics say.  But for the moment, here's what I scribbled, last night.

                                                   Cemetery Ice Capades

Being chased by the serrated points, my figure skates beat sharply against my back,
like a jockey whipping his mount toward the finish line. My friends and I were skating
on the bog, behind cemetery hill. We were having such a grand time that the slipping
sun sliding behind the trees on the horizon, went unnoticed. Well, it was noticed, but
we were too hesitant to end our fun.  Figure skates have too many grommets to
loosen, especially with frozen fingers tugging at knots.  Various "goodbyes" were
called out. Then suddenly, I was alone. Alone--at dusk--in a cemetery--with silent
graves--loud silence!  I tied my skates together.  Tossed them, balanced over my
shoulder and took off running.  I dodged gravestones racing towards home, at the
bottom of cemetery hill.The skates whipped me to run faster. My feet never touched
the ground.  I flew over frozen puddles and little snow mounds.  I didn't look right,
or left, or down, or around.  Tears dripped out of my eyes and froze on my cheeks.
My breathing pounded in my ears as my heart beat out a prayer. I raced through paths
till I broke out free of the dangerous neighborhood, and slid down the hill where I
was home safe.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Narrative Prose Memoir Poetry

Casco Bay

You'll be suffering through my experimenting with writing my memoir in prose poetry.  For now, I'm just reading.  Here's the first stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's My Lost Youth.  It's not in prose form but it is a memoir in poetry.  Nice imagery.

My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Often I think of the beautiful town
That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
And my youth comes back to me.
    And a verse of a Lapland song
    Is haunting my memory still
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

Longfellow is writing about Portland ME.  I'm making a list of my own memories that I want to write about.

And I keep catching myself smiling.

Lataste Holy Door of Mercy

Lataste chapel
The beginning of the Jubilee Year is always solemnly marked by the opening of a Holy Door by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. However, for this Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis also wanted a Door of Mercy in each diocese so that everyone throughout the world may be able to celebrate the Jubilee.