Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sacramental Day



I'm almost too high to write right now (plus I'm drinking my in-all-ways-bad mocha). Rojo was just Baptized and received his First Holy Communion. I wish all of you reading this blog could have been there, and thankfully, many, many of you were.

Rojo started his march towards receiving these Sacraments this winter, and enjoyed the process tremendously. Loved the other kids in his class. Loved the sponsors (fellow eighth grade students, many of them), loved the teachers, loved the teacher assistants, loved it up one side and down another. "I will miss RCIA," he said. I think he'd like to go every other Thursday from 3:30 to 5:00 for the rest of his life (and don't think for a minute that my wheels aren't already turning how I can make that dream a reality in some way).

Of course I worried. Worried that he would not put the host in his mouth for the First Communion (with the entire church looking on). Worried that he'd freak out at the cup. Worried that although we were assured by the priest (repeatedly) that he would only "sprinkle" him and not "dunk" him, that somehow he'd get too wet and/or worry about being too wet, and again, freak out. Worried that our non-Catholic family would be uncomfortable being in front of the whole church as Rojo received his First Communion, and knew it would break his heart if they weren't there, yet worried about their comfort level, too. Worried for months. Sent 1,000 e-mails. Got consoled 1,000 times. "It'll all work out," was told over and over.

"I will take the host, but I will not drink the wine," Rojo told me repeatedly. "I am fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds do not drink wine." How was I supposed to argue with that? Nonetheless, when it dawned on me he was the ONLY one receiving First Holy Communion today and all eyes would be on him, I wanted him to take the cup. Razzle Dazzle saved the day, "Hey, Rojo, just fake it. Take the cup up to your mouth, but don't take a sip!" Brilliant. Then I sent up a prayer that the person "assigned" to hold the cup would be our principal, who totally gets him (and "it").

And of course, all the worry was in vain. Not only did he NOT freak out in the least, he pretty much rocked it. Fair to say there wasn't a dry eye in the place when after we, his parents and his godparents and the priest anointed him with oil, he gave a big ear-to-ear grin and flashed us with the thumbs up sign.

It only went up from there. Father took Rojo's success very seriously and thought of details I could not have thought of. "I will have Razzle Dazzle and Rosie join him in the font. I will have them help me baptize him. I will do 'In the name of the Father,' then they will do the Son and Holy Spirit." Rojo's truest and bluest (and that is saying something because every single member of his class would have been happy to take on that role and would have been super special, too), climbed in that font, and shared in the blessing. Shared in the sprinkling. Shared in the holiness. When it was over Father helped him up out of the font and he stood on the ledge, facing out at the congregation. The music leader began to sing and play his guitar and Rojo raised both his arms (high), moving them all over as if conducting. Pure joy was on his face. When the music ended Rojo shouted (yes, shouted), "AMEN!" There was laughter. There was applause. There were tears and I'm afraid some ugly crying, too, and that was just from ME.

Later Razzle Dazzle said to me, "That was the closest I've ever gotten to crying tears of joy."

Then there were all the other things I should have thought about and totally didn't. Not to worry. Kathleen thought of asking someone to come and take pictures. Two brilliant photographers came and captured the whole thing. And of course, the principal came up to me right before the Mass and asked, "Did you assign anyone special to be Eucharistic Ministers?"

"I was hoping you would be," I said, then I told her about Plan Fake. She made the necessary arrangements and there she was. "Amen," Rojo said, clear as a bell when he received the host from Father. Then he moved over to the principal and did a great fake, after which, also clear as a bell he said, "Did I fake it?"

The eighth grade moms took it upon themselves to plan a little reception afterwards in the classroom. I didn't lift a finger. I just showed up and got to bask in the glory.

STM, Razzle Dazzle, Rosie, Rojo, godparents and I processed out with Father, very emotional looking around the church at all the people that love my boy. Not just like him. Not just put up with him. Not just being nice. LOVE him. Kathleen turned to one mom after we were out and said, "What did you think?"

She answered, "That that's what it's all about."

Amen.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gainfully Employed


Both of my kids, count 'em, two out of two, have summer jobs! Woohoo actually started hers Wednesday - a part time job that she'll do after school and on weekends, then this summer, and hopefully on into next school year. It's right up her alley and she got the job 100% on her own accord! Not enough can be made of this. Money - a powerful motivator! Turns out that no, the $16/month I give her isn't quite doing it!

Today I took Rojo to visit a preschool in our neighborhood. The woman runs it out of her home, just blocks from ours. And get this: she is a retired special ed teacher. You know why, right? Because there are no accidents. That's why. She and I had been talking about this possibility for almost a year, and today he "auditioned," so to speak, and got the "job." It's still a job when the mom pays the employer to pay the kid, right?

Rojo is high as a kite - has his calculator out and is figuring out how many total hours he'll work this summer, if he works approximately 20 hours (ALLELUIA!!!) a week. "Mom, I will read to the kids, and I will play with them, and I will make sure they stay safe, and I'll help them with their snacks, and I will teach them expressions."

"Don't teach them sassy expressions, okay?"

"Mom, of course I am not going to teach them sassy expressions. They are three, four and five. That is my best area. Those are the ages I'm really good with. Of course I will not teach them to be sassy. I will just have this job for five years until I move to Anaheim and have my five kids. This job will really help me get ready for having my five kids."

He's already looking through the house deciding what might be fun to donate to the preschool: his old Little Tykes basketball hoop he hasn't played with for years, but I'm too attached to to give away, books, puzzles, etc. For this cause I'm happy to bring the stuff by the truckload!

For the first time in years I am not dreading summer. It's going to be fine. It's going to be, actually, really great.


* Photo from http://topnews.net.nz

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wouldn't Miss it For the World


There is a boy in Rojo's class we will call J. The J stands for his name, it stands for joy, and it stands for the Jesus he portrayed in a living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Neither kid of mine had school that day, and we had a busy day planned full of check, checking things to do, including getting Woohoo a prom dress, taking Rojo to visit a preschool in which I am hoping to get him involved, etc., etc., etc.

Found out that my boy J. was Jesus and that changed the whole game plan. I wouldn't miss that for the world, I thought, soon as I heard about it. We did go, and it was worth it all, because nobody portrays an enlightened being more than this boy, pretty much because he is an enlightened being.

On Saturday night when STM and I entered the church for our big night, WHO was the very first greeter standing at the door, smiling from ear-to-ear, wearing the brightest and most handsome Easter shirt and tie you ever did see? Yes. J. "Oh, J.," I said, "I am SO glad you are here tonight!"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," he said to me. And I believe that to be true. I also believe the night would not have been quite so special had my boy J. not been there with his beam on.

This morning I will leave the house early and have the privilege of watching him present his 8th grade Independent Learning Project: ballroom dancing, whereupon I will try not to ugly cry as he beams some more, while dancing beautifully with his lovely partner.

Some people think J. has special needs.

Some people think J. is one of the few people on the planet that gets it.

I'm one of the latter. I will be there this morning, J. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Three Jewels



Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, had something to do with my becoming Catholic.  In his book, Living Buddha, Living Christ (which I highly recommend to every human on the planet), he spoke of the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha (awakened or enlightened one)  the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (community of practitioners). While talking about practicing mindful living he says, "The best way to practice is with a Shanga: the collective energy of mindfulness deepens the practice. The presence of the Sangha is a protection and an empowerment, and this presence sustains us during the rest of the week as well." Regardless of any religious orientation of one form or another, to be most helpful, a person needs to have all three: an enlightened master, the teachings of that/those masters, and then a community in which to practice the teachings of the enlightened master.

Drawn to both Buddhism and Catholicism for years, the fact of the matter remained, I had a built-in community for one, and not for the other. Not only did I have a built-in community, I already had one foot firmly planted in it for a dozen years, and so many of the men and women I've chosen to journey with in this lifetime are part of that community. They are the friends I want to grow old with. They were already my Sangha, my faith community, but I had not embraced what was right in front of me all the time.

As I progressed through the process and more and more people learned I'd (finally) decided to join, the welcoming, the celebrating and the love. was really overwhelming. Had any of these people (or priest) put the screws to us, we would have run in the other direction, but their patient, gentle, we-can-go-either-way-with-you approach worked for STM and me.

In the end (and in the beginning, as it is with endings and beginnings), it was what Mary was calling me to do. Someone pivotal introduced me to Mary several years ago, and She's been calling me towards her in this direction ever since. I don't believe she calls people to be Catholic, necessarily, but I totally believe she calls people toward the Light, and for me, She is present and alive in this church, and that totally works for me in a very big way.

Chose Mary for my confirmation name and as the priest (liberally) anointed me with chrism oil that was perfumed and out-of-this-world, he blessed me by that name. That was a moment that I will never forget.  Kathleen was my sponsor (she was so my sponsor long before I named her my sponsor, but that pretty much goes without saying). After being anointed and welcomed into the faith, we turned and hugged. Our new Mary necklaces made for each of us by another Mary-loving holy person, touching gently, neck to neck. Kathleen, a woman that epitomizes a blessed mother, embracing me into her faith of 49 years, one that she never for one second tried to talk me into joining, but by her steadfast example, showed me the way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection



Happy Easter!

Thank you for coming back! Thank you for waiting for me! Thank you for telling me you missed me, I missed you, too!

Really enjoyed my break. It was time. It was helpful. Learned a few things about myself, my blogging habits, things I want to keep about those habits and things I need to switch up. Thought a lot about comments, those that I receive and those that I leave. Have decided, for now at least, to disable comments and not leave comments. I want to read for the pure pleasure of reading. I want to write for the pure pleasure of writing. I will probably miss your comments way more than is healthy, which is kind of the whole point.

Lots of things have happened in the last 40+ days, and I'm excited to share them all with you. Here's a little Top 10 list to whet your appetites:

TOP 10 NEW THINGS SINCE THE LAST TIME I "SAW" YOU:

10.  I have rediscovered the joys of a Starbucks mocha, and am going to have to go through a whole detox/withdrawal process because I do not need the fat/calories/dairy/sugar/caffeine/expense.

9. Woohoo has her driver's license! She's a really good driver and having another driver in the family is big and wonderful!

8. Worked on my book. Still needs work. Better than it was. Know the problems, not sure how or if I want to fix them. Okay with not knowing. Okay with working on it through the ambivalence. Like seeing my own process right before my eyes, and realizing that yes, I've "moved" from where I was when I started writing it, and I could go on writing/revising it forever, but at some point that particular story is as done as it's going to be, although my reflection and response to that story will forever evolve.

7. Went to a memorial service for an almost-eight-year-old little girl. Heartbreaking. Church was full of parents hugging their children - you could just see how precious and fragile they realized life is.

6. Visited a college with Woohoo and decided that yes, college really is just as good as I remember it and yes, I would go back in a heartbeat, and yes, I am jealous, and yes, she will be ready, and yes, we will be ready, too, and yes, it will be weird, and yes, it will be good.

5. Rojo is having a growth spurt and has discovered the joy of naps! Need I say more?

4. Rojo is being baptized this week and receiving his first communion!

3. Rojo's two truest and bluest friends are sponsoring him and are going to actively partake in the process!

2. STM and I are now full Catholics, as of last night at the Easter Vigil. Took us forever, but once we decided, we were excited and committed. Right move for us at the right time. Loved the process. Loved the other people we met and by whom we were educated.

1. Not enough has been made of the various "stones" being rolled away - wherever and whatever they are.

Amen.



* Photo from http://www.gnmagazine.org