It’s been six days…

It’s been six days since I wrote last. Where has the time gone? We’ve been venturing out during the weekends. Last weekend we made the 30 minute drive in 100 degree heat to my husband’s grandmother’s house. This is the house where he grew up (next door) and where he lived as a young adult. We lived there one week after marrying.

Stevinson2  His grandmother and grandfather were a stable, supportive loving presence in his life. His grandfather passed away the summer before we met. His grandmother now lives about two hours away. The house sits. So we went to visit.

The drive is sentimental: all those late nights after long dates, driving home in the dark, the memories of the places where we stopped, for him the memories from all his life.

Halloween Treats2
I sneaked in and decorated one year. He lived in an apartment built into his grandmother’s garage.

Halloween Treats5

We live near your parents so we see your places all the time, he told me. We don’t often get out to see his.

He feels that sadness as we visit the house. That sense that it isn’t the same, it never can be again. My grandmother sold her house several years ago. I experienced the same sadness. All those hours spent, step by step observing her collection of art and furniture from China (my grandmother is Chinese), while there was nothing “kid-like” to do, but we were visiting anyway. Those places have a power all their own and it’s awful to let them go.

But that was just last weekend. Prior to that, I have been investigating new opportunities for my career, unsure if where it will all take me. Not ready to make a move just yet, but investigating, with a sort of amazement at the newly emerging possibilities.

My sister visited from Kansas. Reunions are funny things. I have only one sibling and we do not see her often. It’s interesting to see how my children sense that something familiar about her. It’s the genetics. And they like her very much.

My work schedule has changed. In the program for which I work, we are placed in schools, and as the schools are not operating during the summer, if we choose to work we will be placed in other programs. I sought out the Marketing Director and lobbied for a spot. I get to spend the next two months writing (and doing some interviewing then writing) for 12 hours a week. This is an unlooked for dream I never realized I had.

Our daughter is now enrolled in Mother of Divine Grace, a classical education homeschooling program. I don’t know if we could be more excited. As I wrote before, everyone has to find their own fit, based on their beliefs about education and their needs as a family. After our first consultation, I think we’re found ours. It isn’t about religion, it’s about art and it’s about accessing the unique gifts of the developmental age. And when it comes down to it, it’s about family. Driving her to preschool from 8-11am caused an immense disruption in our flow. We’ll adjust, I told myself. Yet it was joyful to go back. I don’t mind continuing the way it is now.

That said, I’m very excited to enroll my daughter in Vacation Bible Camp for the first year.

This weekend is a parish festival at my parent’s parish which we’ve been attending more and more. In two weeks I hope we’ll make it to my aunt and uncle’s home near Santa Cruz.

So with everything going on, and the change in my work to lots of writing, I anticipate writing here less. I hope you’ll stay with me when I do post, and when I pick it up again more frequently.

I will soon have for you the plans for the Triple Bunk Bed put together by my husband, and my experience making over our bathroom vanity. I tell you, what impact!

Godspeed!

Reflections on Strange Gods, Chapter 4: The Idol of Prosperity

What follows are the excerpts that stood out to me and my reflections on Elizabeth Scalia’s book Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Every Day Life, Chapter 4: The Idol of the Idea. Click here to read my other reflections on Scalia’s book. There’s more to read than my reflection contains. I highly recommend you check out the book for yourself.

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“He was warning us that holding on to anything too tightly—our lives and the stuff in it—will prevent us from being able to open ourselves up to him.”

A young woman desired to emulate the poverty St. Francis. This balanced the love of things she admitted to having and was tempted to indulge. Desiring to be holy, I wondered if I should feel this way as well. As time went on, I knew I loved stuff. I did seek to eliminate clutter, to not own what I did not use. But each time we moved, I came to the same conclusion, I need this stuff; I have too much stuff. How I could I need it when other do with so much less? I felt guilty for my lack of detachment.

“Benedict said, instead of being a source of pride, it should be a source of humility, because it is better to need less. Every worldly, every thing you “need” is something else that can come between you and God.”

St. Benedict used examples of those who are unable to fast, as I have been through pregnancy and nursing, or those who need a nightlight to sleep, which would seem to some as a less obvious “need.” On a pilgrimage the young woman said she would travel like St. Francis, with a spirit of poverty. I decided I would do the same, in the spirit of poverty. My bag was twice the size of her’s! I thought to myself, to be truly poor, I will just use what I have; I won’t buy anything new or special for this trip. Hence the size of the bag. I shed some belongings as the journey went on.

Each time we move, I cannot believe the amount of stuff we own. But certain things I won’t get rid of because, anticipating future children, I would have to buy it again. We don’t have the funds for that. In my guilt of owning so much stuff, Elizabeth Scalia’s words and Benedict’s rules are comforting to me. I’m not wrong to want to need less, because it is better to need less. For years I told myself, I should need less. Now I understand that some people do, realistically need more. I don’t need my candle holders and all my trays, but I have needed a changing table because of back pain, a crib so baby can sleep in a quiet room, the millions of bibs because babies have little faucets just inside their heads that leak. I have needed the ridiculous amount of clothes because they span 50 pounds of weight that I put on and take off depending on whether or not I’m carrying someone inside me. That’s life. That’s a message I needed to hear.

And it turned out, I was not as bad as I thought. When we moved to a smaller home, it was not difficult to get rid of things. I saw that I am not as attached to things as I thought. I’m not trying to praise myself here, because my primary temptation is to condemn myself or be anxious, so these are important lessons for me. To see that I am a little closer than I thought to the way I think I ought to be, to the way I know it is good to be, detached.

But there is another area that could stand some growth.

Scalia writes this about Dorothy Day.

“Divesting herself of material things, she also rejected prestige, power, and office (Given her influence, her connections, and the high regard many held for her intelligence and energy, she could have had them.) She encouraged others to reject power and its trappings, too, because she knew them for the false gods of busy-bodiness and tyranny they were.”

I will ask myself, why do I want to step forward in my career? I love my job in a deeply, incredible way. I benefited from my education. We’re making payments on loans. We have all we need financially. Why do I want to advance? I know I want to be able to meet with clients for longer periods of time, and provide therapy for them, beyond the coping skill building and support I provide now. This is cause for my to examine myself. How much of it is for prestige or more money?

We can fall into worshiping a god of prosperity, setting up one’s retirement, make-a-buck, make-a-buck. On Sunday, the priest preached a message on prioritizing. Money can be replaced; possessions can be replaced, but time cannot be replaced. I looked at my husband as he held our baby. For us, for our state of life, for our financial status, our parental status, for the moment, I knew we were doing it right. We were answering the call as God has called us.