Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello Goodbye

The argiopes are here, big and bold, black and yellow. They tell me the time; Summer's goodbye. They stitch the season shut. You see, Laura heads back to school on Friday. And the kids start on Wednesday, the feast of the Transfiguration.

The girls might be going back to school with their mama. We've discussed whether to keep them out for homeschooling again or to send them back and we're leaning toward sending them back. I don't know whether it's the best decision, but it's there. We're still waiting to hear whether the youngest girl can get into kindergarten, and we've decided it's an all or nothing affair. If they can all get in, so be it. If they can't, they learn here at home. I've been emotional about the decision, for a slew of reasons. I'm worried about my oldest, who we pulled out because of how difficult a time she was having. I'm worried that she's not ready for heading back, or that a traditional school is not fit for her. I'm worried that I'm giving a good to them when I could be giving better. I'm worried about moving Sophie back and forth, even though she's very excited about the prospect.

I like being such a large part of their day. I like pushing them and teaching them and having conversations with them. I'll miss them. Maybe that's the entirety of my problem. That, and I don't want to make a bad decision.

If they go back, I'll be here with the boys. I'll have more time to give to them. I'll have more time to clean and to write. And at the end of December, we're expecting another baby. The new baby will certainly require some of my day.

It's been a difficult week, wrestling with the decision to send them to school and hoping it is the right one. For me it's harder than for Laura - she'll be getting to spend more time with them as they'll be driving to and from school with her (40 minutes each way) as well as hanging out in her classroom after the school day is over.

In light of all this life holds for them, it is not perhaps so paramount a decision. But it does have my mind and my heart in a tangle at the moment. I would appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Six Unspectacular Quirks

Fred, over at Deep Furrows, tagged me for this unassuming meme. (Sorry it took so long.) Here are the rules:

  1. Link the person(s) who tagged me
  2. Mention the rules on my blog
  3. Tell about six unspectacular quirks of mine
  4. Tag six fellow bloggers by linking them
  5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

Six of my unspectacular quirks:

  1. I refuse to watch a TV show or a movie if I've missed the first few minutes. I mean, would you start reading a novel on page 5? There's too much to miss within the first minutes. Right?
  2. Precision in time - wanting my watch to be exactly set. This shows my leaning toward being excessively fussy about certain things - something to do with my toilet training as a child. Apparently.
  3. Because of Number 2, in a manner of speaking, I am excessively fussy about being on time in general. Though it used to drive me to distraction far more than it does today. The older I get, the more children I collect, the more comfortable I become with more fuzziness, less fussiness, in my life. The world, it would seem, doesn't end when one arrives three minutes late. Who knew?
  4. I love Number 2 pencils. Throw in a quality eraser and sharpener from Staedtler and Daddy's in his happy place.
  5. When driving a stick, I occasionally will tap the bottom of the break pedal with the top of my right foot. It's a habit that began with a car whose rubber covering on the break pedal was always slipping off. I would tap it to slide it back up into place. After we sold the car, I forgot about the habit for years until the next time I owned a vehicle with a manual transmission - suddenly, I found the top of my foot automatically tapping the bottom of the break pedal. Weird.
  6. I hate using telephones. On the other hand, once a call is established, I enjoy the conversation.

Now I tag 6 others:

  1. Chad at Chad Is Not Enough
  2. Bill at The Hispanic Crusader
  3. Alison at Older than Jesus
  4. Sherry at Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom
  5. Dan at Theme and Variations

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On the Influence of Parents, Brain Floaters, and the Hilarity of Mis-Punctuation à la Jon Stewart

A few days back, my wife, Laura, asked my seven-year-old daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up. Anna said, "I want to be a teacher. And then when I lose my job I want to be an artist."

Evangelization, St. Francis of Assisi, Evolution and Contraception have been on my mind lately - a semi-unrelated list of subjects I've been thinking about. Aimee Milburn got me thinking about Evangelization, of course, and it's been popping here and there on my radar screen since.

I'm reading Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi and am continually floored by this saint who has always had such a phenomenal presence in my life, in my mind; I can't think of a moment in my life when I was not aware of him. It's hard to think of many who have made so great a contribution to my philosophy of life and faith, and who have been content to teach me of such things quietly from the margins.

I've been watching some videos and reading some books on evolution, and Christian thought about evolution. It's quite fascinating as I've never taken an in-depth look at evolution before in my life. (I think that's a shame, by the way. Not because evolution is all that, but because, rather than simply learning characterizations, I should have been educated, should have educated myself, about one of the most influential theories of the past millennium.) Recently I've watched a special titled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial about the debacle just a couple of short years ago in Pennsylvania about evolution and intelligent design in the public schools. And currently I'm working through a PBS series mysteriously titled Evolution. Along with those videos I've read or am reading Cardinal Schönborn's Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith, and Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo. I'm also reading an interesting book by a former Seventh-Day Adventist, now an agnostic, Ronald L. Numbers, titled The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design which attempts to trace the history of the young-earth-creationist movement. I'll let you know on how well I think he did if and when I make it through the book. I've owned Darwin's On the Origin of Species for some time and will also be taking a gander at it. Let me know of other materials you know of that would be worth my while.

And on the contraception front, there's a sardonic view of the prophetic truth of Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae in this month's First Things. I know speaking of contraception stirs up a whole mess, but this article is an interesting look back at a now-40-year-old document, and the consequences of our ignoring it. And it's shameful for those of us who are Catholics who have not been sturdy enough defenders of the faith in respect to our sexuality - not to stir the pot or anything.

Finally, I wanted to share this clip from the Daily Show from last night. The whole clip is quite funny, but what tickled me in particular was a piece near the middle of the clip where Stewart talks about Indymac's collapse and their offer of "water" to their customers, whose line rambles down the sidewalk. It's hilarious and serves as an important reminder to use punctuation properly, or at least more properly.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Did Not Come Kicking and Screaming

Among other books, I have been reading Crossing the Tiber by Stephen Ray. His book relates his journey into the Catholic Church from Evangelicalism. But it's less than that and more. The book is divided into thirds. The first third is his conversion story. The remaining two-thirds give a somewhat overwhelming portrait of Baptism and the Eucharist and the unified witness of Sacred Scripture, the early Fathers, and current Church teaching concerning these two sacraments. Their testimony is astounding.

Of course, my heart is torn when I read such books because of where I am and where my family is. But let me be forthright and say that I don't believe that my family is in sin being Protestant. I do believe that they're wrong. And (regardless of how little I'll be believed) that is not to say that I do believe that I'm right, by the way. However, I do believe that the Catholic Church is right. My becoming Catholic is not the reward of my intellectual labor, not even my doing. It was not an intellectual discovery on my part, not an intellectual decision with which I rigorously struggled through in study. I did not chew my nails down to the quick wrestling with Catholicism. Some have. No, my becoming Catholic was very much accidental, like falling in love. I was longing for it. When I willingly walked into my first Catholic parish in 25 years and breathed in the smell of the place, I was home. I knew it. Deep calling to deep. My study of the Catholic Church was not to see whether she was apostate, but to see whether she was orthodox. I wasn't researching for a way to keep me from her, but researching to find a way into her. At that point, I already knew I wanted to be Catholic, I just needed to be certain that to be so would not be faithless to Christ. Little did I know that it was Christ who called me. Little did I understand that Christ and the Church are the whole Christ. There is no separating Christ from his Church. He is the Head and we are His Body.

The Catholic Church is populated with imperfect people, and such have populated her throughout history. But she is perfect in her faith. There is wholeness here. And so we pray during our liturgy, "Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church."

Section 760 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church." God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the "convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things, and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world:

Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."

Recently I was listening to Aimee Milburn speak about evangelization and Catholicism. She speaks of how we need to respect others' faith and others' place and journey with and toward God - as Pope John Paul II said, to respect others' "spiritual timing and tempo." I've not respected this "timing and tempo" in others at various times. I probably will fail to do so in the future. And I apologize for my failings, my overstepping of this sacred boundary. I am sorry that I have made others feel as if I do not respect their faith, that I have made you feel as if I do not respect yours. Because I do respect your faith. Deeply. I know that you know and love God, that you are known and loved by Him. And yet my heart aches wanting you to discover this country I have unwittingly stumbled upon. This beautiful place.

But I am learning to be patient. I am learning to be quiet.

I scribble proudly on notepads while others breathe life onto canvas and carve human bodies from marble. Forgive my simple scribblings. If I am proud of them, it is only because they are all that I am capable of.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On Second Thought

Maybe we won't be going to the beach today. Will just lost his cookies again at 4:00 p.m. He doesn't have a fever - some kind of stomach bug, I guess. We'll be running him up to the pediatrician, whose office is a far sight better than any old sandy beach with salty breezes.


We're heading to the beach this afternoon. Somewhat fearfully, let me add. You see, last night Will began to throw up and vomited twice more this morning. As of 9:00 he's been vomit free. We fed him lunch and have been waiting to see if he's serious about this new endeavor of his. I've been feeling a little queasy stomached myself. So pray for us, if you would, for traveling mercies and no-vomit-in-the-truck mercies.

It'll probably be a short trip, but I hope to be able to spend at least a few mornings at the beach. Like a flapjack. I love the ocean. I'm hoping for beautiful days to soak in the glory of the ocean, and the glory of children.

Friday, Independence Day, is my 16th wedding anniversary. It's the Can-You-Bring-Me-Some-Toilet-Paper Anniversary, I think, or the Light-A-Match-While-You're-In-There Anniversary. I'm not sure which one it is now that I think about it. Anyway, Laura's a good woman, which is to say a good person, which is to say I'm a fortunate, fortunate man. (And how could I complain when she's the one who cleans up the vomit?) Thanks be to God for my wife, for our marriage. My life, I love you.