Awake, My Soul

[Poncho just came in and singing, “Greeeen Giant, Yum!” which I am not even sure is their slogan, but whatever. Now he is jumping around going “In the face, in the face” about something. Brothers are so… I don’t know. Half annoying, and half awesome.]

Anyway… what was I going to talk about? Originally I was going to write about Easter, but I don’t much feel like it anymore. My brain dies on inspiration whenever it comes to writing about holidays, I think. I mean, I really like Easter, but it’s un-blog-ish. So I will take the related topic of joy and talk about that instead.

Because yesterday, oh my. It was 80-some degrees in the midafternoon, and never got below mid-70’s as far as I know. I transplanted strawberries from the front flowerbed into a nice pot, and then I got the great idea to go get some lemon balm. I’d found a patch of it growing right near my church. So I dashed across the street and went right up to the church, thinking no one would be there on a Tuesday afternoon. But there were hordes of cars there! So I kind of had a freak-out moment, and felt the Panopticon pressuring me, so I grabbed two plants in haste and ran out of there. I may have to go back because I don’t know if these hurriedly-grabbed plants are going to make it. We’ll see. Darn Panopticon. I felt like the whatever-director lady was going to randomly appear beside me and be like “YOU! PLANT STEALER!” I mean, I can’t even imagine trying to explain responsible foraging to her.
So. Then I went for a long walk to the library. To the library is not a long walk, but I went the long way home for reasons that I care not to admit. (“Blind puppy!” as Jane Eyre would say.) I found some pretty epic patches of purple dead nettle by the abandoned school. Actually, there is a ton of purple dead nettle everywhere around the neighborhood. Now whenever I see it, I laugh, because my herb book says it grows in “wasteland”.
I also found a feather, a flower to press, weird parsely-looking plants, and some blueish flowers growing wild in a field. I was going to transplant one and take it home before the field is cut and the flowers detstroyed. Maybe I’ll make a mini woodland garden, full of transplanted flowers/weeds/plants that I come across in the wild. After I identify them, of course.

I can’t believe I used to not like spring. Everyone makes it seem cheesy, but it’s really not. Usually people describe the flowers, or the tra-la-la stuff like cherry blossoms. And I mean, that stuff’s nice and all, but the real heart of spring is when you go outside and you take a deep breath and you feel like you’ve just awakened. 

I felt so alive yesterday. I felt like I could run and run and never stop. Then I went to bed and dreamed that every lawn was taken over by wildflowers.

OK, so I did end up talking about Easter. That’s how it felt, too, to be in the church as the light in the tomb came on and revealed it to be empty… 

~Pen

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Now we are Six(teen)

All right, Mom, your complaints have finally been heard. I’m writing something on here again. And, tagging your name under it.
Mom: “My name on your blog is getting very small. I check up on these things you know.”
(a few days later) “Look! You still haven’t posted anything! And my name just gets smaller and smaller every day….”

So, now, here I am. I guess several things have happened since you last heard from me, which is too bad, because I still feel I have brain-block over here. My mind keeps freezing up whenever I try to write anything, especially when I try to write about things that happened to me, even if they were entertaining. If I’ve already told the story then it loses its sparkle for me. But I’ll try.

First of all, my birthday. Shocking is all I have to say about it. I actually do feel older, which I almost never do, so that’s a nice change. I did 16 of my favorite things instead of a party and ate pie instead of cake and generally didn’t have the “normal” 16th birthday at all, which made it so much fun.

Well, in relation to the huge amount of snow we’re having….
Tuesday night, I went sledding with Dad, Dodge, and Poncho. It was the first time I’ve been sledding in AGES, maybe two years or something, and it was so fun!!! We went up and down the local sledding hill for about two hours. It was dark, and the moon was out… and it felt like being in a parallel world. The hill is right next to the road, but surrounded by a bit of the Metroparks, and the road is only visible from spaces in the trees. Standing at the top of the hill, there is orangey light from the streetlights and the gas station across the road, but then you fly down the hill and all you see is untouched snow stretching on toward the woods… And when you see the road it’s like some other world overlapping with yours, and you are invisible.
In less poetic terms, we played “missile” and Poncho even suggested we play “Santa Assassin”, but that did not sound fun to me because I don’t like crashing. I’m not afraid of hills, but I am afradi of knocking into someone, which almost happened a few times. Once Poncho and I almost crashed into some random brick thing but I saved us just in time.

Since that was so fun, the next day we played outside in the yard, and built a snow-wall, which was supposed to be a snow cave but then Dodge decided he didn’t feel like digging it out. Then we sledded down our front yard, which happens to be slightly inclined, and took turns pushing each other in the snow. I can’t wait for winter camp now!!

Hmmm…  I just got word that JPII is being beatified on May 1st, apparently, which is cool. And yesterday I had an interesting conversation with Eliza and Bug about St. Dismas, and how if you think about it he’s actually the first-ever, most-guaranteed saint.

What else? Oh, yes.
The other night, Mom and I answered questionnaires about each other. The questions were made up by me, and here are the most interesting ones:
~How would the applicant respond should she learn that a comet is about to crash into the earth? (I said Mom would probably Google it, and Mom said I might not actually find out because I would be reading a book.)
~What is the applicant’s favorite historical era and what does this say about them? (I said Mom’s was Now, which says she likes modern conveniences, and she loves having access to tons of information. Mom said mine was the 1930’s, which says I’m resourceful and thrifty, which is true if I do say so myself. I also love the clothes they wore in the 30’s… hats! and the roller skates! Dresses made from chicken feed bags! It was awesome!)
~If the applicant were lost in the forest, how would she react? (Mom said I would sit on a log and read, and I said “why would Mom be in the forest anyway?”)

So, that was pretty much my week. I shall go now, and read, most likely.

Mom just came in… “What are you blogging about?”
Me: “You.”
Mom: “Yay! Now my name will be big again!”

There’s Nothing Wrong with Being “Wrong”

How come everybody has to be right all the time? Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with being supposedly wrong.

For example. Once upon a time I bought this thing that I thought was a skirt. I wore it a few times and realized it was actually probably meant to be one of those strapless shirts. Now, if someone had come up to me and told me it was a shirt, I would have probably asked them why it bothered them so much that  I was wearing it “wrong”. I’m the one who looks potentially stupid, not them. So why do they care?

It’s the same question I always have when I see atheists and religious people getting into it for no reason other than to prove each other wrong. First of all, good luck with that because no one changes due to the fact that you argued with them for an hour. It just makes them mad. As someone once said, you change hearts, not minds. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and all that. Ticking people off does not make them want to talk to you again, or find out more about what you’re saying. It makes them want to punch you in the mouth. 
Second of all, why does an atheist get annoyed because someone is religious?
I mean, I can see why religious people want to convert atheists; most religions are pretty clear that if you deny God, you’re going to get pretty crispy. (Although some of them are just trying to prove atheists wrong, which is wrong– did that make sense? What I mean is… well, see the Concluding Note at the end of this post for what I meant.) But why do atheists care that I believe in God? Uh, if there’s nothing beyond this life, then why do they care that I believe in something that doesn’t exist? Is it hurting them or me? Though I concede that it is a bit painful to watch someone doing something you think is stupid (why are you throwing that plastic bottle in the trash? Hello, recycling bin 5 feet away!! No, seriously, stop!!), at some point you have to let it go. As with the skirt/shirt incident, in their eyes I’m the one who looks stupid, not them. So why do they have to cnstantly tell me I’m wrong?
Especially if belief in God makes me happy. Comforts me through grief and trials. Makes me feel like someone will always love and care about me. Gives me someone to pour out my heart to.
 If it makes me think about my actions and their effect on others. If it makes me give things to the less fortunate. Do atheists have a bone to pick with, say, Mother Teresa? Her belief in God made her go out every day and pick up dying people from the filthy streets. Seriously, who can have a problem with “wrong” beliefs when it urges on such acts of love?

Of course, the same goes for us religious people. If we want to be that image of love we can’t go arguing with other people.  We’re never going to be an example of love if we tell people flat-out, “You’re wrong, you’re stupid, you’re gonna burn to a crisp when you die!!!” We have to be open to questions and answer them with clarity, kindness, and simplicity. We have to have a sort of “air” about us, like… You know when you see that person who is just so comfortable in their own skin, seems friendly, normal, but there’s still something special about them. Well, we have to be like that. Approachable. Being yourself. Loving. We have to be able to defend ourselves, yes, but we must not attack unprovoked.
We’re like Jedi!! Defend justice, but don’t antagonize people. Basically what I’m saying is, unless someone openly attacks, the claws (or lightsabers) don’t come out. And plus, when you’ve gotta fight, do it with class, please. Don’t be like Duku and make stuff fall on an old green guy’s head, or cut off people’s hands, or leave a trail of useless destruction. Do some cool flips, save the galaxy, and be done with it.

So my main point is: Look. I’m not bothering atheists and chasing them down and being all in-your-face. I don’t do that to other religions, either. You do your thing, I do mine, we be nice to each other and maybe gain something along the way. We respect each other’s dignity, don’t call people stupid. I do my best to remember to keep my head and radiate Crist’s love. We all take Mom’s famous advice: “Just know you’re right and move on.”

Concluding Note: Arguing for the sake of proving each other wrong is mean and against the faith, if you’re religious, and against good manners regardless. And my being “wrong” isn’t hurting you, so get off my case.
Cause I actually might have a lightsaber. (Ooh, a purple one! Can I please have the purple one?)

Love,
Pen

PS, the internet’s back!! Hurrah for technology!!!

Sorry, Nature, but you’re not getting a mother’s day card from me.

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of “The Earth is our mother” stuff, so I just wanted to clear things up. I do not consider Nature my mother. I’m not trying to be anti-green, or argue about animals and plants; it’s just about the earth and nature itself, and I don’t consider it my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I see the analogy: we are fed by the fruits of the earth, we can’t live anywhere else, it gives water and shelter and basically takes care of us.

But… That doesn’t make it our mother. Because there is one thing that a mother does that Nature, or the Earth, does not. And that is: a mother loves.

Sure, the things on the earth, and the things in nature can love, but the earth itself is just a ball suspended in space. A ball suspended in the perfect place in space, supplied with everything we need, but the earth itself does not love. The dirt doesn’t say, “Hey, I’m going to be really fertile so everyone can grow stuff”. Nature does provide, but not out of love. 

But there is a mother that we all share, a mother for all humanity. The Blessed Mother. She provides for us, and out of love. She prays for us, watches over us, sets for us a great example. In honor of May, the month when we especially honor Mary, and in honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday….

~Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.~ 

To my mom here on earth, and the Blessed Mother in heaven, Happy Mother’s Day. <3

-Pen

fall on your knees

You know, for sentimental value, The Little Drummer Boy is my favorite Christmas song. But as for the older carols… I think “O Holy Night” is my favorite. It perfectly embodies all the emotions that I personally feel around Christmastime. The joy, the mystery, the hope, even the kind of bittersweet-ness. There is something bittersweet, but… well, maybe that’s not the right word. Do you know what I mean? Maybe. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

I’ve been sitting here for maybe almost an hour trying to express what I was thinking in the car today while listening to that song but I just can’t. It’s hard to explain. But that song! That’s why I love it. It expressed those things for me. I can sing it and think, ‘I’m singing exactly the emotions I feel, even if I can’t explain them in words to other people, these are they.’ When the song says “Fall on your knees”, it’s like I want to. I always get this mental image of like, the hour of the birth of Christ striking, and then suddenly people everywhere just falling on their knees wherever they are. Streetcorners, snowbanks, homes, everywhere. I wish we could do that for real. I wish Christians/Catholics were more like that. We never do anything cool like that, though.

Naw. We’re too lame to do that. And I’m as much a coward and a lame-o as everyone else, as much as I hate to be– I still am.

But still…. sometime soon, listen to that part of the song. The soaring notes, the expressive words. Maybe something will come to you, as it did to me, and maybe my wish can come true and together we can fall on our knees.

Senior Citizen

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh you guys!

Seriously? Really? Did I just enter my first year of Senior Girl Scouts?
Sheesh. I am getting old. (And yet I incessantly stand on my head… do you think, at my age, it is right?) OK, I’m laughing now… how do I always manage to make some kind of Lewis Carroll joke in like every other blog post/personal essay that I write, while still knowing that no one will get it? That’s why my friends need to read the same books I do. (That means YOU, Bug! Ahem, remember? The Thief Lord?) And watch the movies. Becuase somehow there is always the perfect setup for a very clever joke referencing some book or movie or poem that I know very well, and when I make the joke I am the only one laughing becuase no one else knows what I am talking about. And if they don’t know me that well and are not used to such seemingly random outbursts, they may be prone to walking away quickly to escape the crazy person.

Anyway, the ceremony was pretty good. Val came dressed like a rapper. She wore her dad’s jeans (so they hung way down low. Sagging, isn’t that what the young people say these days?) and his work boots, and oversize T-shirt, a sideways ballcap, and she also had giant bling (a paper chain with sparkles drawn on.) Her rap that she did at the end of the ceremony was a riot. It included lyrics like, “We’re selling cookies, yo; look at us scrapin in alla dis dough!” Then we had someone do a Kanye impersonation and be like, “Hey, I’mma let you finish, but my boy Usher is the best rapper in the world. The best in the world!” Then Val was all, “Oh no you didn’t!” Also, Mel got a little obsessed with what she called “Senior Land”, which was basically the other side of the bridge/path (moving up a level is called bridging) and so she HAD to make a big neon orange sign that said “Welcome to Senior Land.” Then she heard that our next field trip would be an afternoon tea, and she got VERY excited. She’s kind of obsessed with that now. :D

After the ceremony, we zipped over to where Bethesda was having their Immaculate Conception get-together. Mass was already over but I got to eat some stuff and I also got a Confirmation present from the DHF’s mom, which Eliza had wrapped so nicely that I almost didn’t want to open it. Glad I did, though, because inside the wrapping were two books, one with a saint for every day and cause along with very cool art, and another was a bunch of Pope Benedict’s talks to the youth. I already started reading that one, and I like it a lot. When I’m reading, I automatically imagine him standing by a river on a sunny day, wearing red robes with the pope hat on. I kind of forget that he’s old. When he was first elected after JP2, I didn’t know if I was going to like him very much (Amanda didn’t either– she’s not a big fan of the name Benedict) but now I really do. :) I think it’s good that he’s continuing to talk to and engage the youth of the world, and to keep the World Youth Days, and that he made a trip to America. 

Well, I’m off to do some more school before my ASL teacher comes. 

From Senior Land, 
Pen

Ash Wednesday

It’s Ash Wednesday! And now I’m of the age where I’m obliged to fast, and of course Brother MC (brother the middle child. I’m the oldest.) is eating snacks right by me. And I wasn’t even hungry until he started eating them… Well, anyways, we’re holding our own prayer service here and burning our old palms from Palm Sunday because there’s no masses at a good time today. I wanted to go to the 8:45 one at my parish, but we didn’t cuz my mom had work. And then we wanted to go tot he noon mass at the nearby church, but of course there wasn’t one. But this should be cool, kind of like the Catholics who were practicing in secret. Except we’re not going to get killed for it. Thankfully. Maybe I’ll play my flute to this really pretty song called ‘Ashes’ that’s a hymn for Ash Wednesday. Well, at least I think it’s pretty.  ‘We rise again from ashes, from the good we’ve failed to do, we rise again from ashes and create our world anew… if all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true, and offering of ashes, and offering to You.’  I love that part, the ‘if all our world is ashes’, I don’t know why. I sang that with the Music Ministry when i was still going to regular school, becuase it was a Catholic school, so we did have one. We also always liked singing the harmony part to the ‘ask and it shall be given to you’ song, which I sadly can’t think of the name of right now. The teacher who ran the Music Ministry is now my Confirmation sponsor, and it’s kind of funny becuase I still call her ‘Miss’ even though she said i don’t have to. It’s like, second nature. Anyhoo…..                                                                                                          For Lent I’m going to try and wake up early (which means going to bed by 11:30, ick) and pray before meals. I pray every night before bed, but still I seem to never pray before meals. It’s sad. So I’m going to start, even if we’re at a restaurant (which is kind of a weird prospect, not exactly scary or embarassing, just odd, becuase I’ve personally never seen anyone pray at a restaurant– have you? Do you? If so, any tips?) So yeah. This should be a pretty interesting Lenten season, possibly difficult, but my goal is to make myself aware of my faith at all times, not to sort of stick it in the backseat every now and then. I want to feel like you could look at me and just tell (even though that probably isn’t realistic, I mean, really, I probabaly look atheist unless you see my medal, which is rather depressing, to think that I possibly look atheist. Not today though, becuase I’m wearing a cross necklace, a pretty white cross that was made in Bethlehem.). I don’t want to be the kind of Catholic who takes the easy way and sort of adds religion to a long list of everything else and it gets lost in the mix.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What was really cool (and what possibly first inspired these ‘deep’ thoughts in me) was last Saturday night, I slept over a friend’s house and then we went to church on Sunday, where she was asked to help out. So I and another friend said we’d help, too, and then three other people from our grade (and my former class) showed up to help, too. We took up a whole pew, and then we just came out and helped and went to Communion and I was feeling like, ‘look! Look at us! We’re the future and we’re here and we care and we’re all together!’ It was mostly the together feeling that took over and made me feel good. I’d like to say that i felt the same way at the Confirmation retreat the next night, but unfortunately that was not the case (although we did meet a new PSR friend).  So anyways, this is my Lent, and on Day one I woke up late. It’s gonna be a long haul, but I’m gonna make it and gosh darnit on Easter morning I’m sleeping till noon! Tee-hee. No, I’m hoping that some of it will rub off and maybe I’ll wke up somehwat earlier even after Lent is over.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So anways, have a great Ash Wednesday, and if you’re giving up/doing something for Lent like I am, I just want you to know I’m pulling for you… we’re all in this together. :)  *

*This little saying is from one of my favorite TV shows… and it so truly does express my feelings. Keep your stick on the ice!  ;P   

P.S. purple is the Lenten color, so that’s why I made this post purple!