Abduction and the Mystery of Maternity

May 8, 2015

My body has been abducted.

Maybe it’s better to say my life has been abducted by a new life. I’ve spent a lot of time as an adult thinking about marriage and healthy families. I’ve spent probably a sliver of a fraction’s fraction (possible?) thinking about the actual part of becoming a family. However I’m reminded often that I need to be thinking about this, as I feel the swishing and knocking and twirling of what I fondly call the pterodactyl baby in my uterus. This creature controls what I eat, how much I can breathe, when I sleep (or not sleep), and truly, all the future plans and dreams I didn’t know I had until now.

In spiritual direction I’ve spent a lot of time with Fr. Josh discussing the complete surprise of disruption a baby that’s not even outside of my body has changed my life. Researchers say that “baby brain” isn’t real. I want to give the researchers a piece of my “baby brain”, but I’m not sure I could find it these days. I feel rather stunted intellectually and physically, as I adapt to a new kind of clumsiness in this body that I didn’t expect to feel so different. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Mary and seeking out Theotokos icons. My prayer life has changed…hours of contemplation has become an evasive thing of the past as I can barely remember to make my grocery list. I envy Mary, her ability to seem so resolute, taking on motherhood, THE motherhood of all mothers, as if she says she has accepted her calling. God’s desire on her life, to be born a female, was to birth and raise a child.



Seriously Mary, you just had a baby. How can you look so calm, fashionable, serene, and remember to wear lipstick at a time like this?

I’ve struggled with this greatly as I consider this shift in vocation, beyond more than work, as in a purpose and state of life. I love the work I do, being able to see clients early in the morning or later in the evening, having time to read, study, and learn. I enjoy the leisure of flexibility and naps and peeing without distraction. I like being able to get ready and leave the house in 10 minutes and can pop in and out stores quickly. I’m excited to see this new life, but I’m terrified and grieving a bit about the responsibility, and truly, the last bit of selfishness and control I am under the allusion of obtaining.

I’ve never really been keen on the standard rosary. Not because I disagree with the content, but there are so many beautiful prayers, already written or ready to be prayed from the heart that need to be said. It’s a “thing” in Catholic circles that gets to be a bit of a crutch I think, much like a devotional book one might read, that can become an idol or lead to Marian worship. I have come to appreciate it much more though now, especially as I see her as more of a contemporary, someone who like my mom, grandmothers, friends who are mothers have this shared understanding. Hail Mary, full of grace, pray for me.

In the Catholic Church, May is the Month of Mary. It’s fitting that of course Mother’s Day kicks things off. However the end of the month celebrates The Feast of the Visitation. While sitting with the Theotokos icon,  Fr. Josh encouraged me to check out the Visitation icon. Since finding out we are pregnant, whenever I am afraid, overwhelmed, or terrified of becoming a mother, I have prayed that like Hannah, Abraham, and Mary, I give this child, my life, body of my body and blood of my blood, to God.


In the mystery of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First of all, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then, she shared what she had received. Every time we receive Holy Communion, Jesusthe Word becomes flesh in our life – gift of God who is at one and the same time beautiful, kind, unique. Thus, the first Eucharist was such: Mary’s offering of her Son in her, in whom he had set up the first altar. Mary, the only one who could affirm with absolute confidence, “this is my body”, from that first moment offered her own body, her strength, all her being, to form the Body of Christ. -Mother Teresa


Love isn’t pretty…

January 1, 2014

I’ve had so many thoughts flying around in my brain this past week. It’s interesting being in this position- the one where I’ve counseled many couples preparing to begin life together. My mantra for true and lasting relationships is simple and impossible: serve humbly, suffer well, and love fully. When I stop to reflect on those things I realize the overwhelmingness of this statement.  The necessity for knowing/accepting oneself and then being able to confidently and securely keep that separate all the while joining it with another. The reflection of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the only way I can begin to comprehend (if that’s possible) how this union occurs.

Here’s an image that depicts this paradox: The Scutum Fidei – or Shield of the Trinity- which was established within the Athanasiun Creed in the 6th century. In the Center is God (Deus) and the external are the Father (Pater), the Son (Filius), and the Holy Spirit (S. Sanc or Spiritus Sancti).


I give you this chart and this history lesson because I think it’s a core element not only to those who profess to believe in the Christian faith, but because the ramifications and the presupposition that faith beliefs  and convictions are beyond human logic (that…or we are truly crazy). That’s not to say someone without faith beliefs cannot live those three statements I made earlier about marriage: serve humbly, suffer well, love fully. But if you are seeking a relationship, the sacrament and process of marriage as expressed in Christianity, then this reflection becomes not only a union of two, but a union of Three. And considering one of these Three is a deity, well, yes, that makes it rather impossible.

Bear with me as I change paths for a minute. These past several years my near constant companion has been molasses in my bones and gray cotton balls in my brain and the occasional meltdown of whatever is chemically/mentally unbalanced in my brain. I hate to use the “D” word but Depression has been my reluctant friend. It’s seeped into every aspect of my life without my encouragement and yet most days I’ve been able to “therapize” my self enough to make some semblance of peaceful coexistence. (Well, that and some meds :). I consider this in some way a blessing in that it allows me to see the world rather practically at times. I’m rarely taken to whimsy and giddyness and I’m too practical for my own good.

Fast forward to this past spring and the realization that I wanted to seek out a mate, but didn’t have time for dating around much less the energy to put on a dazzling smile and act all energetic and what not. I have been content in singleness for quite some time. I value my naps and cat lady tendencies. I don’t want to have to shave my legs unless I want to. And mostly I enjoy being selfish and I’m a bit afraid. Let’s be really honest- I don’t want to let someone know EVERY detail about my life because then I’m no longer in full control. I have to account for my actions to someone else. And maybe they’ll get mad at me because it’s not what they want or I’ll hurt their feelings. Or maybe even I’ll become bitter, cold, and unloveable because I’m unable to budge from my own notion of right or wrong.

I’m also sad about the change of no longer being the single working girl. There’s been a sort of personal pride in struggling to make it on my own. And truly my single lady friends are some of the most dedicated, hardworking, and phenomenal women I know. I had pride about being one of them. And now I struggle with feeling like I didn’t quite make that goal as a single woman- to prove to myself and the world that I don’t need a man to survive and be happy. This in itself is ridiculous but it’s how I feel. When you send out holiday cards with photos of you and your spouse it kind of makes me barf inside. Sure it’s a pretty picture and I will hang it up on my fridge. BUT single ladies don’t {usually…kudos to the exceptions!} send out cards at the holidays with their cats/dogs/latest knitted scarf. It’s a reminder that our society still emphasizes that you’re lacking something if you’re alone…

So here’s really the crux of pulling this all together the best I can with only a cup of coffee and not much sleep the past week…and I’ve forgotten to take my meds most days (oops, guess I should take those so Nathan doesn’t think I’m a frigid stone of a fiance.

Love isn’t pretty or easy. Or beautiful except the kind that takes fragments of broken glass and turns them into a mosaic. I’m fully expecting marriage to be hard and due to my line of work I see that all too clearly more often than not. I’m already grieving the luxury of crashing at my friend Amanda’s place whenever I like and staying out to the wee hours of the morning (or 11pm…that’s late for me). I’m worried about if I’ll be judged for buying another pair of shoes. I’m worried that I won’t be as strong and that the characteristics of living and struggling as a single woman will fade away and I’ll become reliant on him– this interloper on the continuum of the inane through most intimate areas of my life.

I recognize why they call marriage in the Catholic Church a vocation. Singleness too is a vocation. And both are HIGHLY valued. I appreciate that a great deal and perhaps it makes me feel less like I’m abandoning ship and more like I’m jumping to another one that’s just as potentially as incomprehensible and destructive if left to my own devices.

The little girl in me who watched too many Disney movies is excited. The therapist in me sees a checklist of strengths and weaknesses, goals, and treatment plans. The single girl in me is angry at myself for succumbing to this supposed weakness while having a tinge of jealously. The skeptic in me wonders how in the world someone else could love me when there are days I’m not even sure I really know or can love myself. I’m going to leave you with a picture of a heart, because I don’t like warm fuzzies, and a popular quote from my favorite German philosopher.


…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet


Litany of Humility

July 13, 2013



   From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the desire of being honoured, deliver me, Jesus.

   From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

   From the desire of comfort and ease, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.

   From the fear of being lonely, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of being hurt, deliver me, Jesus. 
   From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Jesus.

   That others may be loved more than I, 
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
   That others may be chosen and I set aside, 
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
   That others may be praised and I unnoticed, 
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. 
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strengthen me with your Spirit. 
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me your ways.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, 
help me put my self importance aside 
to learn the kind of cooperation with others 
that makes possible the presence of your Abba’s household.

Adapted from a prayer by Rafael, Cardinal Merry Del Val,  from the prayer book, For Jesuits (1963)

***Original version here. 


January 27, 2013



The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; 

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


-Psalm 19 (ESV)


A Season of Obedience and Humility

January 16, 2012

The texts from yesterday’s service honed in so much on these themes that keep pressing inward. I have been wrestling with these heavily for almost a year. When will I ever learn? My controlling nature wants so terribly to see clearly, to have a little checklist of understanding and details. But Christ, in His gentle ways, is just waiting for me to trust, blindly and without hesitation. My pride is often too thick to see the irony, grasping onto things I believe I can “control” while only being made to look even more the fool. When will I give in and remove the walls to see it’s not about myself- my own happiness and fickle desires- and instead is about Him- loving Him and loving those He has called me to serve? May I become Your hands and feet.

The collect for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all out dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations— these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit– immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously– no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner– no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, you neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory  (<– the text in pdf form- a good short but heavy read.)



Henri on Solitude

September 17, 2011

“Somewhere we know that without a lonely place

our lives are in danger.

Somewhere we know that without silence

words lose their meaning,

that without listening

speaking no longer heals,

that without distance

closeness cannot cure.

Somewhere we know that with a lonely place

our actions quickly become empty gestures.

The careful balance between silence and words,

withdrawal and involvement,

distance and closeness,

solitude and community

forms the basis of the Christian life

and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention.

Let us therefore look somewhat closer,

first at our life in action,

and then at our life in solitude.”

-from Henri Nouwen’s Out of Solitude



On Being: Real

September 9, 2011

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

-Thomas Merton


The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t b e ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

-excerpt from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams