the brushing together of souls

For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there I am among them
~Matthew 18:20~

These past few weeks of my life will be scribbled into the book of history as Ye Olde Tempestuous Times.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say they bordered on the dismay of the Dark Ages, but in some of my weaker, self-pitying moments I probably would have said so.

Because every now and then I get dramatic.

But not often.  

I SWEAR.

I won’t go into the intimate details of said Big Issues, because for purposes of the events that unfolded today, they’re quite irrelevant to my story.  I humbly believe there’s not a soul alive that doesn’t, at least once in their life, shake clenched fists heavenward and with overwhelming fear and frustration holler to the Lord, ‘Is life ever going to be normal?’ 

Through the years, I’ve come to understand normal is just a word with an infinite array of possibilities.  Sometimes I could just kick myself in the backside every time I act utterly and completely surprised when Trouble comes a’callin’.

IT’S JUST LIFE.

However. It appears, even after repeated visits with Mr. Trouble, I haven’t quite grasped the concept that he’s comin’ … and when he leaves, rest assured at some point … he’s a comin’ back.

OH. YOU AGAIN?  DRATS.

So.

After not having attended Church for the past few weeks, coupled with the Edict from Said Church about attendance envelopes and the underlying tone of We’re Watching You … blah blah blah … I went to Mass alone today.  On a side note, I abhor the guilt the Church heaps upon it’s parishioners. But. I give them credit.

IT WORKS.

Anyway.

Because of the Memorial Day Holiday, Church was relatively empty this morning.  I settle myself into a barren row and shortly before the Mass begins a woman about my age and the size of a Barbie doll sits down next to me and gives me a weary smile.  

We get through all the Catholic Rituals without any real interaction.  Then.  In the Catholic Church when we get to the recitation of the Lord’s prayer, it is customary to hold up your arms and lift up your palms.  Today, this woman reached over and took my hand firmly in hers.  And, of course, after the past Bad Weeks, it made me weepy, this stranger holding my hand tightly in hers while we’re giving praise to God.

WHEW.  BIG STUFF.

When it gets to the Kneeling Time After Communion, I kinda lose it.  Sometimes, especially if I haven’t been to Church in a few weeks, that part of the service can be very overwhelming to me.  The only way I can describe it is that there’s an immense sense of release, of just letting it all go.  Of being in His presence and the simple knowledge that He knows Mr. Trouble has knocked on my door again.  

So the tears are running down my cheeks and I’m praying, and all the while I’m thinking, ‘Good grief, do I have Kleenex in my purse? 

OHMYGAWD I HOPE NO ONE IS LOOKING AT ME.

The priest finishes, we kick up our kneelers and sit back in our seats.  And then, this Woman With the Weary Smile, wordlessly pats my leg reassuringly.  I fish a Kleenex out of my purse, scrub at my face and lean over to the woman, ‘I’m sorry, it’s just been a trying few weeks,’ I manage a mascara-less smile in her direction.  She nods and whispers, ‘Oooh I hear you.  For me too.  It’s been a bad few weeks for me too.’

YOU TOO?

Walking out of Church with her after service she tells me her story.  And, Lord, would you believe it’s the EXACT SAME TROUBLE AS MINE.

ALMOST TO THE INTH DETAIL.

And I exhaled. 

I’ve never seen this woman before.  I rarely go to Mass alone where I would have had the opportunity for this interaction.  The Church was wide open, yet she sat next to me. 

AND WE HAD THE EXACT SAME TROUBLES.

GOD MOMENT.

When we parted, two strangers sharing a common burden, we hugged and wished each other a better week.  And when we pulled apart, we laughed a little and she said, ‘I feel better already. I don’t feel so alone.’

Sometimes, that’s all we need to feel. 

Post Scriptum:  To the dear souls who have held my hand through time and space and listened to my incessant whining and attempts to puzzle things out, I thank you with my very being.  The sharing of your stories and selves makes me realize I am richly blessed.  Sometimes when I’m asking God to show His presence to me, He shows up in the form of incredible friends.

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making a spectacle of myself

bless you, Reggie, and your outrageous specs

About 2-1/2 years ago, I realized with a panicky sense of alarm, that I could no longer see anything clearly beyond say oooh thirty feet. 

Give or take a yard.  Or three. 

VERY DISCONCERTING.

Since my natural inclination in all matters tends to err on the side of Something Terrible is Happening and the fact I have never truly accepted the fact I’m now officially Middle Age … 

MIDDLE AGE.

I’m sorry.  I’m working on the whole inappropriate shrieking thing. Didn’t mean to frighten you.

Anyway.

My lack of distance vision was really very bothersome.  So much so that I put off going to the optometrist for another six months thinking maybe it was just a phase.  Like acne.  Or puberty.  Some silly chapter in the Ball of Fun We Call Life wherein you suffer for a bit, then blossom into something better than before.

Officially, as most intelligent people will tell you, vision generally doesn’t fall into that category.

When I finally went to the optometrist it was somewhat vexing when he ceremoniously confirmed that I, indeed, have less than perfect vision and that as you get older, your eyes … blah blah blah …

Okaaaaaay, Dr. Thirty-Something With the Perfect Teeth and Sans Spectacles I don’t need yer stinkin’ medical schtick.

JUST GIVE ME MY GLASSES.

He then added to my torment by ordering up another test, a computer-generated evaluation that showed me exactly what was going on with my eyes. 

Ooooh.  Aaaahh.

LISTEN, I WOULD JUST LIKE TO GO PICK OUT MY GLASSES PLEASE.

Okay. I have to admit that when I saw the topographical image of the surface of my eyes on the screen, I was completely mesmerized.  Really?  Wellll, hellllloooo eyeballs. Aren’t you guys just the neatest little body parts?

He proceeded to take his shiny metal pointer and touched the computer screen showing me the area where my left eye has two patches of ‘little hills’ that contribute to my vision distortion.  He then smiled and advised me I’d be (and I quote) ‘a perfect candidate for lasik surgery’.  He said the procedure is a simple process wherein they do the equivalent of ‘sanding’ down the hill back to flatlands again.

Ya know … for a moment there …

But.  Well no.  I told him if I was authorizing the ‘sanding down’ of anything on my body it would be my backside or thighs and I quite think that was out of his realm of expertise.

GLASSES, SIR.  JUST GIVE ME MY GLASSES.

And.  While I’m sure in this day and age, lasik surgery is about as routine as finding a Starbucks in Seattle, with my rather dubious luck, I just know I would be one of the estimated 12% of the population who, after the surgery, sees light halos or their eyeballs fall out into their soup. 

After the question of lasik surgery was put to rest, he exited stage right and a technician came in to set me up for a simple chart reading.  When I was done, she scribbled something down on my chart, stood, gave me a little wink and chuckled.  ‘Let me know which way you’re driving home so I’m not in front of you.’

Oooh.  Hardee har har.

I’ll bet she moonlights as a clown.

Long story short, I’ve now been attired with glasses for driving and distance for about two years now. 

ISOHATETHEM.  PASSIONATELY.

I really tried to get used to them.  I did.  However, facing facts, I am not the type of person who looks good in glasses. Any style.  I am constantly misplacing them.  The glare-proofing on the lenses is scratched and chipped.  The damn frame bends into queer and un-fixable contortions when you leave them on your car seat and accidently sit on them. You would think for $384 you’d enjoy them a bit more.

I don’t.

Therefore, May 27th will go down in history as a
Very Big and Happy Day for Yours Truly.

Contacts could save my life.

the short season of youth

 Childhood is a short season  ~Helen Hayes~

A few days ago while driving my ten-year old son to school we stumbled upon the topic of The Unfolding of Life.  I don’t know if it was the tasty little chocolate-glazed Timbits that brought out his philosophical nature that morning, but goodness gracious he seemed so … so … serious as he bemoaned the unfairness of Life as a Fourth Grader and gosh-oh-golly how fantastic the universe will be when he’s An Adult.  Due to the wisdom of many *cough* years of hindsight, I cajoled him that while he doesn’t quite understand it all now, he will most assuredly recall his youth in a very fond, if not somewhat wistful, manner. 

I don’t think he was terribly convinced.  Stupid kids.  Dumb, stupid …  Oh.  Sorry.

Sigh.

As I look back to my 10-year old self, unlike the material things we shower upon our own cherubs, I can’t honestly recall more than a handful of toys that we
1. had or 2. even wanted.  Nor have I ever felt the lack of having had them. 

If memory serves me well, I had a  Barbie, replete with a two-story townhouse and convertible. 

I had Janet and Spunky dolls, although I do have to interject that Spunky was a very scary little creature with red-frizzled hair, freckles, and Mrs. Beasley-type spectacles, and a little blue plastic pool with a spring-loaded orange diving board where they could lounge or swim, as the mood hit them, in their stiff, plastic way. 

I had a hot pink bike, white plastic woven basket with flowers strapped to the handlebars. 

And.  Well.  I’m sure there were other things, but what I remember most fondly about my childhood were the simple things.  Not toys.  Not gadgets.  Not the latest fashion.

The intangible things are what I recall most, that come to me in the camera-eye snippets of an Ordinary Life.  

I remember … playing outside in every kind of weather.  We had no air conditioning as I was growing up, therefore, inside the house was nearly as sweltering as the outdoors in the summer.  And if it got intolerably hot, we walked four blocks to the community pool, paid 50 cents and spent the afternoon paddling around.  In the winter, we donned two pairs of jeans and went down to the park with our sleds.  Snow pants for children were unheard of in my day, although I do have to admit they’re a rather clever invention I would have enjoyed thoroughly then.  Do you know how hard it is to peel off two wet, stiff pairs of jeans when you can’t feel your hands? 

I remember … thunderstorms that brewed on humid, sticky summer evenings.  On those nights, we’d align our beds near the screened bedroom window, prop our pillow onto the sill and lay there quietly in the dark, watching the distant lightning, waiting for the cool rain. Today, with the convenience of air conditioning … to wit I will go on the record saying I loves me my air conditioner … I think we miss the effects of nature, the changes, the smells and sounds when we’re locked up in an air-tight house.  I think there’s something to be said for feeling like one is part of a Bigger Scheme of the Universe.

I remember … walking to and from school every day, regardless of the weather. I often tell my son (who has to be driven the 6 miles daily) that I most fondly remember that time in the morning after eating breakfast, when you marched off the porch, met up with your friends, and walked the few blocks to school.  It was a time to breathe in fresh air and move before you were plunked into your hard wooden desk and forced to sit quietly all day. 

I remember … going to the library.  Often.  To this day, there is nothing that stirs up more vivid sentiment for me than smelling old books.  When the librarian isn’t watching, of course.  I am not a freak. I swear.  I don’t know if it’s the stillness of a bookstore or library, the vastly immense knowledge the bookshelves hold, or the peace I feel there that I love the most.  Or maybe it’s just the Whole Enchilada.

Speaking of enchiladas …

I remember … the meager times we ever had fast food.  I will admit I can be a Very Bad Mom and take my children to Taco Bell more often than a Good Parent should.  As a child, however, I remember fast food was a treat … a reward for doing something special, maybe for something as simple as not acting like a wild banshee in the grocery store.  Not that I would have ever done that.  Yes, contrary to what my mother might tell you.  And fast food was never served in buckets.  A serving of fries was a wee little envelope.  A burger tucked nicely into a 10-year old’s paw and didn’t require a crane, 13 napkins, and a warning from the Surgeon General.

Ah yes.  If only my little one could spend one solitary day as an adult.  Just one day shouldering the responsibilities of a family, a job, laundry, housework, paying the bills, planning, organizing and carrying out Life in General.  Did y’all notice I didn’t say cooking?  I cannot tell a lie and pretend like I do said task. 

Anyway.

I think 24 hours of being An Adult might sober the child right up.  I know that in recollect, I wish my mom would’ve knocked the stuffing out of me every time I said ‘I can’t wait until I grow up!’.  Because quite frankly?  I feel like knocking the stuffing right out of myself.