30 (Forgiveness)

February 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

I wrote this on my blog last year for my birthday, and it’s all still so true:

“…for now, this is what I want to say, and it’s important, so pay attention: I’ve got the best friends in the entire world. I have sought and found the truth in faith, hope, and love. I’ve seen the sun rise over exotic shores and strange lands; I have realized my home is where my heart is. I’ve cried tears of joy at weddings and sobbed my guts out at a funeral.

I have learned that you can desire something with your heart and soul and the very weight of your bones and still lose it, and when you do, the loss of it will not kill you.

I’ve felt that peculiar ache that comes from yearning: I’ve felt it when I was outside in bitter cold winter air and heard the wild cries of Canadian geese flying far away above me, felt it when I rocked babies to sleep and wouldn’t put them down even though my arms were shaking, felt it in the living silence of Eucharistic Adoration as I knelt in the dim light before my God.

I’ve dreamed too small, drank too much, written midnight poetry, called my mom crying over boys, held my girlfriends as they cried, made dinner for the homeless, talked desperate people off terrible ledges, given money to gas-station strangers and car rides to meth addicts. I’ve looked for the beauty in commonplace scenes and discovered it in human souls. I’ve got hockey, hipster glasses, and a future in books and beautiful words.”

If I were to add anything further to this after another year, it would be about forgiveness, and the constancy of God’s mercy.  I have expended so much effort searching for the ability to forgive, never realizing it has been inside of me all along.  I have pursued it like a deer longing for water, thinking if I could only forgive, I could let go and live again.

But now I see more clearly than ever the paradox of love: we must die to truly live.

Forgiveness has often seemed to me to be a pearl just beyond my reach, a golden feeling I could not create within me.  But I needed to “put away childish things” – this search for a feeling, this elusive, darting emotion.  Forgiveness is already- always- within love, held by it, and strengthened with it.  If my love is a true sacrifice of self, then forgiveness follows from it in a way utterly natural.  To paraphrase Caryll Houselander: if you have hurt me, you have hurt Christ, who is within you.  I see the wound in Christ, in you, and I reach out to comfort that wound, because He is in me also, and wounded.  Therefore forgiving becomes not about me and my feelings, but about healing the wounds our sins have left on- in- the body of Christ.  This is letting go, or rather dying to my own self, my own need.  This is love, poured out like liquid gold refined in the fire of God’s grace.

Not I, but Christ who lives in me.

This is sometimes harder to apply to our own selves, whom we need to forgive just as often as we forgive others.  Every sin I commit wounds Christ within me, and my sincere contrition for them gives me the opportunity to say to Him, “Let me comfort you.”  I sometimes think of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, looking in agony at our sins and what He must suffer to expiate them.  How He must have longed to hear those words of comfort from us as He prayed.  My despair and anger wound the eternally loving heart of God, and after I realize this, I turn to Him inside me and repent.  But forgiveness of self is still necessary after the repentance, or else I run the risk of denying God’s utter goodness and mercy.  He forgives and we are cleansed, and our sin is made white as snow.  This must be acknowledged by me.  I cannot cling to my sorrow, wearing it like sackcloth and ashes.  We fall, we repent, we rise.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is especially necessary at times when I cannot forgive myself.  We call it “Confession”, a little nickname, but should not forget that a Reconciliation between ourselves and Christ occurs as well.  We are not merely depositing our sins in a darkened room; we speak- we run, we press ourselves- to the Heart of Christ through His servant the priest, and He in turn absolves us, washes us, revives us.  He heals the death of Himself in us.  The tomb- the darkened room- is empty.  He was dead but has risen.

We live the Resurrection of Christ within us every time we forgive.

If I could choose one thing to do better as I enter my thirties, it would be to spread the knowledge of the constancy of God’s mercy.  Pick your head up, my friend. Let your heart be glad.  The mercies of the Lord are renewed each morning, so great is His faithfulness.  You do not need to search for Him; He is already waiting for you.  Open wide the door; roll away the stone.  Forgive yourself.  We are all darkened tombs until we allow -for He will never force Himself- the life of Christ to shine through us.  We were dead but now we live.

Hey Happy Birthday

February 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Remember that time when I, in a move of unparalleled prescience, stated that I had the best friends in the entire world?  (Channing is rolling her eyes SOHARD right now at ‘prescience’, I can see it.)  Well, less than six hours after I made that statement here on my blog, my friends proved me right.

They threw me a surprise birthday party!!!!  I love birthdays, and parties, and people gathering to eat and drink and compliment me, so this was basically the best thing they could’ve done.  29 was a birthday I was not looking forward to celebrating, and now when I look back, I’ll have this touching, sweet, kind memory of how they all came together to be there for me.

Poor Channing.  Girl deserves a medal after putting up with my attempts to plan my own party.  In my defense, I am a planning type of person!  And even though she told me repeatedly to let her handle inviting people and etc., I didn’t want to make her do all the work for what I assumed was a simple birthday dinner.  I’m sorry, Channing!!!! *humble apologies, so many humble apologies*

My roommates get a medal too, while we’re handing them out, for keeping my always-early personality a few minutes behind.  As we came into the casino, we were about 10 minutes late and I was power-walking, and Jill and Erica had to slow me down so everyone could get into place.  When I walked in, the first people I saw were my brother and sister, and I had a split second of total confusion before everyone yelled surprise.  I couldn’t stop smiling all night long. And I led everyone in grace before the meal!

I think the reason this party touched me so much is because people took time out of their busy schedules to come and be there for me.  We’re all busy, and we all don’t have a lot of extra money, and we’ve all got so many different things going on in our lives, and my friends came, and brought me presents, and cake, and made me feel so loved and special.  Thanks, guys.  I love you all!

Here’s a few pictures from the party:

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29

February 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

I was going to write a blog post about turning twenty-nine today.  About becoming a stronger, tougher person over the last year, and how proud I am to know that I am not weak, not a coward… about how much it hurt to have my first birthday since age 22 that I didn’t wake up to a 12:01 AM happy birthday/inside joke/sweet nickname text from Danny and how much it frustrates and, yes, embarrasses me that it still (STILL) hurts me…  I might still write that post. I’m not sure. It depends on how much I need to just write the emotions out of me.

But for now, this is what I want to say, and it’s important, so pay attention: I’ve got the best friends in the entire world. I have sought and found the truth in faith, hope, and love. I’ve seen the sun rise over exotic shores and strange lands; I have realized my home is where my heart is.  I’ve cried tears of joy at weddings and sobbed my guts out at a funeral.

I have learned that you can desire something with your heart and soul and the very weight of your bones and still lose it, and when you do, the loss of it will not kill you.

I’ve felt that peculiar ache that comes from yearning: I’ve felt it when I was outside in bitter cold winter air and heard the wild cries of Canadian geese flying far away above me, felt it when I rocked babies to sleep and wouldn’t put them down even though my arms were shaking, felt it in the living silence of Eucharistic Adoration as I knelt in the dim light before my God.  I’ve dreamed too small, drank too much, written midnight poetry, called my mom crying over boys, held my girlfriends as they cried, made dinner for the homeless, talked desperate people off terrible ledges, given money to gas-station strangers and car rides to meth addicts.  I’ve looked for the beauty in commonplace scenes and discovered it in human souls.  I’ve got hockey, hipster glasses, and a future in books and beautiful words.

Listen: I’m 29.  I’m eating a slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing for lunch.  And I’m not going to gain an ounce from it.

Happy 19th Birthday, Cathy

December 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe you’re almost 20 years old, and starting a new life out there in Michigan.  I was ten when you were born, and it seems like just yesterday you were that cuddly little baby girl, sunny-haired and sunny tempered, and now you’re a beautiful young woman.   You’ve always had a maturity beyond your years, and I admire that so much in you.  When Jul & Daniel asked you to be baby Ceci’s honorary godmother, you didn’t even hesitate, because you knew what an honor it was.  So often in our culture, life is demeaned- seen as a choice or a commodity- but you recognized the value of Cecilia’s life, brief as it was, in and of itself.  Keep doing that, Cathy.  Keep knowing that the best foundation in life is looking upon others as simply who they are, not what they can do, and you’ll have the keys to a beautiful future.  Continue to hold Jesus as the first Person of your heart; start writing down your Adoration thoughts in those Taylor Swift notebooks!  Keep on doing what you do best: being sweet, and funny, and always smiling, and bring others joy by your own.  You have a strong personality, and a firm sense of right and wrong.  Hold on to that, but be patient with people who don’t have your strength or convictions.  Never underestimate the power of kindness; don’t confuse humor with mockery.  Stay faithful and know that sorrow is necessary for a full life, and that strength comes most from picking yourself back up.  Remember that forgiveness is the mightiest sword.  I don’t need to be a fortune-teller to see your future: it’s full of hope, it takes delight in the Lord, it is a light shining in darkness.

Happy nineteenth birthday, Cathy!

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