Author Archives: Cherie

Go See Looper. Now. I’ll Wait.

I saw Looper this weekend, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the protagonist at different points in his timeline. I expected an action flick with a possible undercurrent of sci-fi (time travel is central to the premise)n and there was enough action to satisfy anyone’s appetite for destruction. What I did not expect was the significance of the film. I walked out of the theater with an appreciation for all I have in life and some food for thought regarding human nature. I’ve been processing it since Saturday night and decided it’s definitely something I’d like to discuss on this blog, but since the movie just came out, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. So go see it now, while I mull over the contents of my post. I promise, it’s worth your while.

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Taking good advice…

…is a great decision.

Painted this today on Juli’s advice from last night!

I’m going to make it in this job. I think I’ll have enough time/sanity to write an actual post about it this weekend, but tonight I believe that I can make it happen. That’s a small miracle in its own right.

sweet feminism

Just read an article about a particular brand of feminism that seeks to dissolve social gender roles completely, and the Catholic response to this position. I think about feminism and the relationship between the sexes often, but never had a very coherent philosophical position on it that I really owned. The article was good, nothing mind-blowing, but a comment ending with “no wonder men are becoming socially and biologically irrelevant” struck me as worthy of a reply. I wrote:

A strengths-based approach to the problems of our world is the only sane one. Thus, if we have two sexes with any meaningful difference between them, allowing men to become “socially and biologically irrelevant” involves overlooking 50% of our strengths. Building the Kingdom of God, or even a decent human civilization, requires the talents, virtues, and skills of every member.

The bitterness that exists between men and women is truly exhausting. I don’t have time for that. I unabashedly love men. I am deeply in love with a particular man, and in fact, there are millions of people in this country deeply in love with a member of the opposite sex. In this ridiculous war of the sexes, we’re constantly fraternizing with the enemy. Why not just call the whole blasted thing off?

Seriously though, men are great. So are women. That’s why God created both.

So there it is, my feminist manifesto. I don’t know which official feminist camp it fits best, but as my most polar opposite is the bitter feminist, I’ll just call it sweet feminism 🙂

Leprosy

I just moved to a new city in the NYC area and began work preparing my new charter school for our students, who arrive the last week of August. I’ll be busier than ever, but I hope to start posting more often, since I’ll have so much to reflect on and process. Meanwhile, here is an entry from an old prayer journal that turned up while I was unpacking my things. It’s a little dark, but honest.

                                              +AMDG+

September 2, 2009

Lord Jesus, Healer,

I just realized what lepers are. Physically, they are in need of healing, just as the crippled and the blind are.  But the physical or spiritual leper is rather harder to love than the blind. Leprosy is repulsive. It’s “eating you alive.” It is the horror-movie shock of seeing decay on a still-living person.

I am a leper. I’m not dead, but I’m starting to smell like it. My soul, my self-in-You is crumbling away, falling away at first in bits, but now it’s hard to tell if anything’s still safe. It must have been hard, as the Word who was present in the act of creating man, to see the leper’s body falling apart. How much harder is it, as the Creator of souls, to see the inner person decay?

We are all monsters. Horrible, disfigured, but we are salvageable by Your Grace.  Accept me, Lord, and heal me. Make me whole again and wholly yours. What You have done for us, no-one else would ever do (except in Your Love). You save not only those who never knew You before now, but also those who have loved You and betrayed You anyway. You love and help even the most leprous, zombified souls who are living dead. You are holy, selfless, and immeasurably good. Have mercy on us.

By the grace of Your Holy Cross, save us and have mercy.

Amen.

 

Yours in Christ,
❤ Cherie

Quick Change of Plans…

I’m sitting on the hood of my car outside a Firestone shop at the moment, finally writing a new post, waiting for my dad to pick us up. My mom is leaning on the hood of her car, making business calls. Why are we waiting for a third family member to bring a third car here? Because my mom’s car, the one we’re supposed to be picking up, won’t start. We were also dropping off my car for an oil change. It would start just fine, except that I already dropped my keys in the night deposit box. So here we sit until our night in shining Honda arrives. Isn’t that the way life goes?

I’ve had a lot of those “quick change of plans” moments lately. In June, I started a job in Philadelphia  teaching science at an alternative-to-juvy shelter. As I finished my first day of training, I got a call from an out-of-state charter school I’d interviewed with the week prior. I didn’t go back for the second day of training (I did call them and explain, though). In the month since, I found an apartment, interviewed for a summer job, took the math teaching test, and spent three weeks as an RA supervising a dozen adolescent girls in a college dorm. A wonderful summer, to be sure, but all very last-minute. I’ve got this week to prepare to officially move out of my parents’ house, next week to relax and catch up with the family on our annual Wildwood shore trip, and then I’m moving to start my new job near NYC. Somewhere in there, I’m turning 25. Luckily, there’s no time for me to have a quarter-life crisis (or was I supposed to do that at 20?).

Being very busy and the “qcop” phenomenon both have the tendency to disrupt my spiritual life when it’s going well. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t praying or reflecting much before this madness started, so that wasn’t really a concern. Instead, the chaos has helped me see more clearly that my plans are meaningless without God. He knows what I need better than I do, He knows who I am better than I do, and He certainly knows what the future holds better than I do. I wasn’t trying to discern God’s path for me as all of this unfolded, but in God’s great mercy, His plan for us will always pick up from wherever we land in our wanderings. When the prodigal son realized his folly, God’s plan for him began right in the pig’s pen. As I start to ask for direction in the midst of this crazy summer, it calms my heart to know that He will find me here, that He has always known I would end up right in this moment and seeks my love and trust now as much as ever. I have to keep faith; the world around us is ever-changing, but the love of God endures.
I have a feeling I’ll be writing often about change, saying goodbye, and bringing God with us into new chapters of our lives in the coming weeks. Some of the chaos is resolved for now, and I’m at peace with the fact that some things can’t really be planned, but there is a potential problem with my roommate’s ability to rent with me that’s really worrying me. If you could say a prayer that we end up in the lovely, safe apartment we picked out or that God’s will be done, I really appreciate it. Hope you’re all having a great summer!

Pace e Bene,
Cherie

I Am.

Updated 6/1

I found a notepad while packing my room that contained an attempt to put to words a story that I’ve hardly even spoken of to anyone. The story cuts off abruptly in my notes; what was written, I posted the other day. Here is the completed tale…

 

When I was around fifteen, I “found God.” I don’t remember the date, can’t even pin down the year, but then, chronos time never meant much to me. “Chronos,” as described to me not long after the night in question by a retreat leader, is earthly time- the time associated with clocks, schedules, etc. “Kairos” (another Greek word) connotes “God’s time” in several senses, from “the appointed time” of Biblical events to the way an eternal being, outside the heady flow of chronos, views time. This kairos view of time, to me, brings to light a way that the ubiquitous art of storytelling is in the Image of God- our tales, like His, turn on opportune times rather than the turning of the Earth. 

As for finding God, it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds. The casual observer, or my sister (who was probably asleep in the bunk above mine), would have noticed nothing much. If I had been crying, I might have stopped, and shortly thereafter, I fell asleep. But you, gentle reader, deserve a bit more understanding of it than our hypothetical observer. As I mentioned, I was in bed and probably crying. This was usual for me in the middle of the night. I had been agnosticating for something like a year and had concurrently been suffering what I can only call depression. (Hindsight not being as 20-20 as the saying suggests, I cannot diagnose my high-school self based on college coursework.) Another night of necessary but nonexistent sleep was being spent in tortuous twines of thought about the seemingly necessary but nonexistent God and wishes for death. Finally, my mind cried out “Are You there?” to the horribly silent One…

I didn’t hear an answer aloud, nor in my mind. God was not revealed to me in a blare of trumpets, a burning bush, or a gentle breeze. I felt something, the gentlest pressure within my chest, and in that I discerned a quiet affirmation.  I was not alone. The wordless message was simple – “I Am.”
That night, for the first time, I understood the power of that holy name. It’s the answer to every question at the center of the human heart- “Is there something more out there?”, “What’s my purpose?”, ” What is true, what is beautiful, what is precious?”, we ask. If we are able to listen, there comes but one answer… “I Am.”

I’m restless tonight, for reasons I’ll discuss soon. But within that restlessness, I can feel that gentle, reassuring pressure reaching from eternity, through a decade-old experience, into my heart tonight. “Why aren’t I the one who knows my fate?” I wonder. Then comes, I imagine with a divine chuckle, the timeless reply… “I Am.”

My story (part 1)

I found a notepad while packing today that contained an attempt to put to words a story that I’ve hardly even spoken of to anyone. The story cuts off abruptly in my notes; what is written so far, I’ve reproduced here. I’ll finish it soon.

 

When I was around fifteen, I “found God.” I don’t remember the date, can’t even pin down the year, but then, chronos time never meant much to me. “Chronos,” as described to me not long after the night in question by a retreat leader, is earthly time- the time associated with clocks, schedules, etc. “Kairos” (another Greek word) connotes “God’s time” in several senses, from “the appointed time” of Biblical events to the way an eternal being, outside the heady flow of chronos, views time. This kairos view of time, to me, brings to light a way that the ubiquitous art of storytelling is in the Image of God- our tales, like His, turn on opportune times rather than the turning of the Earth. 

As for finding God, it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds. The casual observer, or my sister (who was probably asleep in the bunk above mine), would have noticed nothing much. If I had been crying, I might have stopped, and shortly thereafter, I fell asleep. But you, gentle reader, deserve a bit more understanding of it than our hypothetical observer. As I mentioned, I was in bed and probably crying. This was usual for me in the middle of the night. I had been agnosticating for something like a year and had concurrently been suffering what I can only call depression. (Hindsight not being as 20-20 as the saying suggests, I cannot diagnose my high-school self based on college coursework.) Another night of necessary but nonexistent sleep was being spent in tortuous twines of thought about the seemingly necessary but nonexistent God and wishes for death. Finally, my mind cried out “Are You there?” to the horribly silent One and my…

“Best. Lake. Ever.”

It’s commencement week at our alma mater.  That means that the choir and band members, who perform at various commencement events this weekend, spend the week hanging out on campus and at the school’s retreat house on the lake, goofing off between rehearsals. The lake house is one of my favorite places. I’ve spent group retreats here surrounded in heartfelt chatter and inspirational music, and I’ve spent a five-day  Ignatian retreat wrapped in a cloak of silence here. Both left significant impressions on me. However, the annual music department lake house takeover ( we just call it “the lake”) is one of my most persistent memories of this lovely place. Nerf wars tearing up and down these hallowed halls, lazy afternoons sitting on the dock or splashing around in the lake, late-night card games and indecent versions of Bananagrams… these form a different kind of retreat for me. The acceptance of and enthusiasm for odd interests, odd wardrobe, and odd humor found at “the lake” feels like fresh air and childhood. We speak freely. We sing to ourselves while we walk around. We build friendships first and learn names later. The juvenile activities that spark our interest while we’re here stem not just from nostalgia and refusal to grow up (though those are present), but also from a childlike faith in the human nature of at least these people. It’s a way to detox from all the anxiety about plans, performance, and presentation that pervades college and post-college life.

I wrote the first half of this post late last night in the Lake Room, the heart of the retreat house. Up late again tonight, I’m finishing it from my bedroom at my family home over 100 miles away. Here, not the college town where I laid my head the past fourteen semesters, will be my home again as of June.
I will miss the motley crowd of professors, cafeteria workers, classmates, musicians, and friends that populated my days in that college town. I will miss being six blocks from Mister and eating at least one meal together each day.  I’ll especially miss the retreat house and all it’s come to symbolize for me. Like all the best things in life, it’s deeply important yet impossible to take quite seriously. God bless that lovely lake, the lake house and all its inhabitants through the years, and our dear alma mater.

The Hunger Games

I’m sure some of you have adored these books since they first appeared, but I’m a recent convert. The movie, I thought, was awesome. It got me curious about the books. I eased into the first book in bits and pieces, deciding I liked the first-person narrative in Katniss’s clean, clipped tones. I liked the richness of details that didn’t make the film version, like her rudimentary friendship with Madge. Eventually, I picked up the pace of my reading as the minor differences from the movie accumulated into an emotional experience beyond what the movie held for me, the pages washing past until the end of the first book. Monday night, Mister and I got the second book, and I was through it by the end of Tuesday. Good suspense at points, but the characters really did it for me. I cared about them, had to know what they’d endure next. At 12:30am today, I brought home the third book. It left my hands twice – once for me to write down my thoughts on Chapter 1 (I had this crazy idea I’d do so every few chapters, but I got to engrossed to do it again) and a second time to switch my ceiling light for a bedside lamp when I realized I wasn’t stopping any time soon. I finished around 6:30. I’ve always been a lover of books, but I’ve never read a full novel in one dose. If I had to describe the trilogy in one word, I’d call it compelling. If you haven’t read it, I suggest it wholeheartedly. Don’t read past this point if you haven’t completed the books – you don’t want to ruin a story this well-made. (Caution: spoilers may turn up in the comments as well)

Read the rest of this entry

Validation

I found the cure for rainy day syndrome! It’s totally worth 15 minutes of your day to be in an infectious good mood 🙂

HT: Mark Shea