April 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
“We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.” -Pope John Paul II
I wanted to share some words from the homily I heard on Good Friday and the one I heard at Easter mass this morning. They’re especially pertinent today as the wretchedness and sickness of the crucifixion is untwisted into the beauty and healing of the Resurrection.
Both are messages of Hope. But, isn’t that appropriate. Easter is about hope.
On Friday, Father John pointed out that Jesus was betrayed by a kiss. A symbol of love was twisted into a symbol of betrayal. When we venerate the cross as Catholics, we often kiss the cross as a symbol of our reverence and love. This kiss is an untwisting of what Judas twisted in his betrayal. And, at Communion, Jesus kisses us back.
Isn’t this beautiful? Not just in the everyday, “Jesus loves you” unoriginal way, but its a beautiful personalization of Jesus’s actions and our continuing love relationship with him.
Fr. John also reminded us that we should be a people of hope to those in despair. A people of light.
Today, the Deacon who gave the homily noted that Easter is nothing unless we remember the suffering to took to get there. The Easter message is one of hope.
He said that we need to embrace pain and suffering, but maintain hope. We have to die to ourselves, let ourselves suffer, and continue to be hopeful. This is what Easter is about. We must remember that there is a lesson and a beauty in pain, and by pushing it aside, or medicating it, without ever embracing it, we miss the lesson. This cycle of dying to self, of pain, and then rebirth to new life is meant to teach us hope, and this is exemplified in the Easter mystery.
So, do we embrace pain, but maintain hope? Do we let the pain be part of us, knowing that there is something to it, that new life awaits us? Or do we push it aside, medicate it, and learn nothing from our suffering?
I’m patiently, hopefully, waiting for new life this Easter.
Happy Easter to you and yours.
April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” ~Saint Therese of Lisieux
Its not a coincidence that I was having a bad week and, without a word from me or anyone who knew I was having a bad week, my friends pulled through. It was a blessing.
As my friend, Lauren pointed out when I related these events, “You were upset, you prayed, and God put you on everyone’s mind so they could take care of you.” Thanks, Lauren.
She’s right. This couldn’t have just been a series of coincidences. There were too many surprises and too many people involved.
It started at Wednesday night softball: Bad night. I was just having a down day. Stressed. A little lonely. Made my Lenten Confession and the flood gates opened as I sat in the Sanctuary at church and prayed. Then, the genius decision to let law students play sports without officials and argue over the rules themselves led to over 3 hours of my team arguing with other teams that happened to be made up of my friends. Anyway, I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it and was noticeably down.
Who came to help me out, but my Practice Court partner. He shows affection by teasing me and often pushes it too far (to the point that he’ll even text me later and apologize and point out that he only does it because he loves me and I can take it. Usually). Anyway, it was completely out of character to ask me what was wrong and the pry a little when I didn’t answer. I’m glad I did fill him in a little eventually. He didn’t tease me during the game…which is good because I wouldn’t have been able to take it.
Then my moot court partner came out of nowhere and gave me a hug. Precious.
RR invited me over to chat with him and his girlfriend and his roommate, Bill. It was a much needed talk and it felt good to spend time with them. RR’s girlfriend, Leah, even promised regular hugs. And, now, it never fails, if I see her in the hall at school, I get a hug.
The next day, I had lunch with Ben (my Costa Rican travel buddy) which never fails to cheer me up. And spent a little time with the Sunday family dinner boys. Although, none of them knew quite how down I had been at the game, or that I just couldn’t shake it. It was just good to spend time with them all.
That night we had a dinner for everyone on advocacy teams which meant just a little more time with my friends. Then we all went to the bar. There, my friend, Adam, one of the only people here who had ever become friends with Cody, pulled me aside at the bar to tell me who much he admired me and how he felt like I’d triumphed. Ok, he was a little drunk…those were his words and they were far too kind. Really. But, I so needed to hear them last week! He went on and on. All I could do was be grateful for this. I mean, I’ve always been friends with Adam, although not that close. So this was unexpected, unwarranted, and completely flattering.
Friday, I was still just moody. I mean, I even laughed at how I just couldn’t shake this mood. Still a little down and just frustrated with everything. I was driving to College Station to a surprise engagement/birthday party because one of my best friends was proposing to his girlfriend that evening and talking to Christa on the phone and just laughing about how weird and frustrating it was that I couldn’t shake it. Bless her for always listening to my neurosis. But, just a few minutes after I got off the phone with her, I got a text from one of the Sunday dinner boys that just said thank you for all that I do for them and that he thought I was really special. Really?! Out of nowhere. I almost cried just because it was the sweetest thing in the world (as a sidenote, to my knowledge, none of the Sunday dinner boys have found this blog so none of them had any clue that I wasn’t having the best week. RR and my practice court partner wouldn’t have said anything).
Anyway, just a few minutes later, another of the boys texted just to tell me that it felt weird not seeing me for a whole 24 hours for the first time in weeks and that we had to right this wrong by meeting up the next day. So nice!
And a few minutes after that, the last of the Sunday dinner boys just texted me some random song lyrics that are an inside joke. Random texts are the best even when they’re pointless. And no, the boys weren’t together.
I have the absolute best friends in the world. Hands down.
Then I got to have a nice long dinner with my sister and met up with some college friends who I hadn’t seen in ages at the engagement party. I tried to leave early, but they all convinced me to go out with them. And I’m glad I did. They’re amazing and just the kind of people you can’t help but feel happier and more joyful just being around. They’re just fun and uplifting. I was finally starting to shake my mood.
Saturday brought a birthday party for one of my professor’s sons (who I babysit), bar-b-que and a movie with RR, his girlfriend, my friend Bill and his fiance. Then mass and brunch on Sunday with my professor and his family followed by a guitar lesson with one of the Sunday dinner boys, then dinner and watching the baseball game (Go Rangers!). Another guy in the dinner crew cleaned the kitchen. I went to bed infinitely happier at the end of the weekend than I’d started it.
Monday, out of no where, I got a text from my Practice Court partner just checking on me, I got to go spin class with a new girl friend and then on a jog with another, who kindly informed me that she considered me one of her best friends here. I got to visit with the girl who lives downstairs for awhile and got a sweet email from my college suitemate and dear friend.
So what’s my point? I was gearing up for today. Its Cody’s birthday. He’d be 27 today. So I’ll be making a trip to Carino’s, his favorite restaurant. Its the only real tradition I’ve kept and I’m not quite ready to give up on it. His family will be going in Victoria, friends will be going in Houston, and my brother and sister will be going in College Station. Even though we’re in different cities, there is an element of solidarity in celebrating the same way. And really, I’d rather celebrate today than the day he died. I’d rather celebrate his great life! So I will.
And I can do it with a smile because the past week showed me that I have amazing friends here who I am incredibly grateful for. I mean, I realize this all the time, but sometimes, we need the reminder not to take them for granted. And sometimes we just need to know that people really do care.
This week also reminded me of how necessary it is to send the random text, or call, when a person is placed on my mind. Its not a coincidence that I’m thinking of them and some small, seemingly insignificant action by me might even help turn a bad day around for them.
Seriously, sometimes I just stand in awe of how amazing these people in my life are. I don’t deserve friends like this, but I need them greatly.
Somehow, God made sure all of these things happened to gear me up for today. To snap me out of my bad mood just in time. And I’m in a great mood (despite having to study for finals). I’m ready to joyfully celebrate.
April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God. Loneliness is not something from which we must flee but the place from where we can cry out to God, where God will find us and we can find God. Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us. Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others so that hope and love are reborn.” -Jean Vanier
Reminder: Being joyful doesn’t mean I can’t cry.
Being joyful, in fact, means its necessary to feel down, sad, depressed, lonely. But being joyful means I cherish these feelings as an intricate part of life. I can cherish these feelings along feeling happy, giddy, goofy. Going day to day without cherishing and utilizing a full range of feelings is like living in a world of black and white. It doesn’t mean the picture can’t be beautiful, but it doesn’t exude the additional beauty of shades of colors. Blues for sad times, yellow for happy. Green for contentment, Orange for restlessness.
As much as I talk about feeling the full spectrum of emotions, I’m often guilty of stuffing some down.
My best friend, Christa pointed this out to me yesterday. God bless Christa and her ability to call me out on my b.s. and make me admit to myself the things I so greatly try to push aside.
I called her a little upset yesterday. I had had a down afternoon, I went to church and sometimes, just sitting in the sanctuary and talking to God can do that to me. But, I’d also realized Cody’s birthday was just one week away. Particular days aren’t really a big deal to me, and I’m not much of a birthday person, so I couldn’t exactly figure out what was bothering me.
So, I went to my softball games hoping it would get better. It didn’t. They really shouldn’t let law students play softball (or any sport) without an official. Perhaps now that I’m the 3L Class President, I should try to change that : )
Anyway, we argued from the beginning about the rules and whatnot and it went on for three hours. We even played some of my best friends and I could feel the tension. I got teary-eyed. I DO NOT cry in front of people. Its like a rule. I really only have in front of a couple of people (aside from the week Cody died which I discount) and Christa is one. So I called her.
I told her I couldn’t figure out what my deal was. And, in true soul-mate fashion, she said, “I do. Wanna know.”
Duh. Of course I did!
She said, “You never admit that you’re lonely. Not even to yourself. But, you are. That’s ok. Its ok to feel that. You don’t have people there that you can talk to, you miss having your person. And then you ignore these feelings so when they come up, you explode.”
Did I mention that my best friend is a genius? She is.
I’m petrified to admit that I’m lonely because I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. There are plenty of single people. There are plenty of people who have been through worse. My life isn’t bad! Its wonderful, actually. Yeah, I have reasons to feel sad, but I’m grateful for those. But, the key is, I have to feel them!
But, sometimes I’m scared to. I need to be in a safe place. Alone. In church maybe. I don’t want sympathy or pity. Even though I want to be able to talk about Cody freely. I know, its confusing. I’m confusing. I admit it.
Honestly, I get scared to admit that I’m lonely because I don’t want to search for a relationship. Ew. I don’t want to be “that girl.” The girl that settles for anyone. The girl that just can’t be alone. Although, its been over a year and a half, so I think I’ve well-proven that I can be alone.
But, Christa was right. Its ok to admit that. I need to feel that. Sit with it. Write about it. Let it be. She also pointed out that its probably time for me to open up to someone here in Law School. Part of me stuffing everything in is that some people just don’t know about my past. Part of it is my desire to be treated like any other 25-year-old law student (notice: I didn’t say normal…we’re not).
Enter my friend, RR. RR’s brother passed away about a month after Cody did. We’ve both talked about our losses a little, but not too in depth. RR started dating an amazing girl awhile back so he has a person, a great caring, loving person, and to be a little honest, I’m a little jealous that he has a person to talk to, be open with. We haven’t talked much about our losses in a long time, but I’ve always known that if there was anyone here I could openly talk to, it was him. He could tell I was a little down at the softball game yesterday. I had made some excellent Tiramisu Tart the other day and I was going over to take he and his girlfriend leftover, so he said we should chat when I got there. Christa encouraged me to go talk to him. She knows there is only so much she can do from an hour and a half away.
Once I got there, we talked easily. I admitted that I’m petrified of Practice Court starting in the fall. Its the most intense time of my law school (we’re weird and make the 3L year the hardest. More like hazing. Oh, the love) and when I had decided to come here, I knew that it would be fine, because Cody would be here to take care of me. Dole out hugs. Tell me that I was good enough after a day of verbal abuse from a professor. I’m scared of going through that without him. Without a person who cares waiting for me at the end of the day.
I admitted that I miss having someone I told everything to. I miss having a person whose shoulder I could actually cry on. I miss my person. (FYI…”person”?? Weird word).
It felt good to admit these things. We had a beer, joked, talked about life in general and it felt good to say these things to myself and someone else. In fact, I feel lighter today having admitted them. Like a burden has been lifted. Its a few less people to put a face on for. A few more people who know the real me. RR told me that sometimes, feeling just a little sorry for ourselves and admitting these things is like the tail end of the grieving process.
I agree to needing to admit the feelings, but I still adamantly refuse to pity myself. For me, I’d rather celebrate that I have the opportunity to feel the full spectrum of emotions. I’m going to admit my true feelings. Feeling alone doesn’t mean that I feel sorry for myself because I’m alone, it just means that I am lonely. That’s it. Nothing more. And that’s ok!
Cherish these feelings. They leave room for growth, change. And when I’m not feeling lonely, I notice that too. In fact, its even better because I know the contrast.
The loneliness is a beautiful feeling. Bear with me. One day, I’ll be in love again. I’ll be with my family, close friends, Christa and notice how that loneliness is filled. When (if) I’m ever in a relationship again, it’ll be better for what I went through to get to it; for the fighting involved on the road along the way.
So I’ll celebrate all of my feelings, all of my emotions. They make me complete. They make me human. They make me better.
April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
I just found this and I had to share. I opened up my journal to write a few things down and this fell out. Coincidence? Probably not. Think what you will about God, faith, religion, spirituality. Its the fact that these things find me when I’m not looking that reassures me of God’s truth. Enjoy.
“Everyone long to give themselves completely to someone. To have a deep soul relationship with another. To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But God to a Christian says: “No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me, with having an intensely personal and unique relation with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, will you be capable of the perfect relationship that I have planned for you.
You will never be united with another until you are united with Me, exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want to to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan exiting. One that you cannot imagine. I want to have the best. Please allow me to give it to you.
You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things; Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I AM; Keep listening and learning the things I tell you. You just wait. Do not be anxious, do not worry, do not look at the things you want; you just keep looking off and the way up to Me or you will miss what I want to show you.
The one I have for you is ready (I am working even at this moment to have you both ready at the same time), until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life that I have prepared for you, you will not be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me, and this is the Perfect Love.
And dear one, I want you to have this most beautiful love. I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely, the everlasting union of beauty, perfectness, and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
I am God. Believe and be satisfied.”
Nothing could’ve whispered so perfectly to my heart tonight. So believe or not, just let me feel satisfied that I was blessed with this comfort.
And I know that reaching that path to feeling satisfied with Him is something I’ll never accomplish on this earth. But, believe me, I want to try.
Isn’t this saying exactly what I said earlier? Patiently hoping.
November 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
How often to we step back and take a look at our lives from the outside? I’d say, for most of us, probably not often. But when we do, we’re able to find so much more to be thankful for than when you’re totally emersed in your normal day. For example, its easy for me to take my family for granted. But, when I look at my family through the eyes of a distant observer, I see one of the most loving, open, faithful, hysterical, witty groups of people I’ve ever laid eyes on. Then I realize that countless people have nothing close to this. I have a mom who calls everyday, a sister I text constantly, a dad who just randomly calls to tell me that he remembers the best hug he ever got and it was from me, and a brother who once buried my dog for me after she got hit by a car just so that I wouldn’t have to see her dead. Seriously, how could I ever take this for granted?!
I think I also often take for granted the little ways God works day to day. The other day, on my drive home, I was thinking about this. I had decided that I really wanted to spend my 3 and a half-4 hour drive thinking, praying and singing some pretty awesome Christian tunes. I thought it sounded like a productive way to spend my time in the car, which I usually use to make phone calls and catch up with friends. I just decided I’d be catching up with a different friend this time. I started the drive by praying/singing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, then just drove and thought and put my iPod on the Genius mix Christian Rock (by the way, I love those Genius mixes…they’re, well, genius!). Along the way, I started thinking about a woman I used to work with when I aided at the high school with the “New Leaf” kids.
First of all, I stumbled into this job. I was substitute teaching, but one day, I got assigned to a class at the high school. This was a class of boys who had all done their time at the reform school, but somehow, they’d gotten second chances and did all of their school work from this one classroom in the high school. There were about 4 teachers and one aid in this room to tutor these boys. One had a social phobia, two were emotionally disturbed (I still don’t know what that means), and one had a laundry list of disabilities. In my one day there, the teachers had decided that one of the emotionally disturbed boys responded well to me, he had gotten in trouble at the high school the next day and sent back to the reform school, so they asked me to go with him and be his aid. Lets just say, it didn’t work out (that’s a longer story for a longer post). But, then the aid for the boy with the laundry list of problems needed back surgery so they asked me to be his aid. By the end of the semester, I was taking this kid out to dinner with Cody and another teacher, the boy who it didn’t work out at the reform school with had times when he’d ask me for advice and the kid with the social phobia went to class so long as I would walk him there. I can’t say I did it. It was really the other teachers who had put in so much time and effort, lots of prayer, and gentle nudges. Anything that happened in that classroom was a result of much more than a “coincidence” that I walked in that day. Something bigger was at play.
Along the way, I grew close to this amazing Catholic woman who worked in the class with me. About 6 months ago, I ran into her in College Station and she asked me about Cody. I informed her that he’d died and she hugged me, cried and asked questions. She gave me her card and asked me to call. I never did. A couple of months later, she called me, but I was working and forgot to call back. So, as I was thinking about her on the drive, I realized that would be a perfect time to call her and catch up. I broke my own rule about not calling anyone on the road and I’m so thankful that I did.
Immediately, she informed me that I was on her “adult children” prayer list because she said I’d always be like one of her children. I needed to hear that that day. She continued to fill me in on the boys and remind me that I might have had some part in their successes (one is even in college on a basketball scholarship!). She also told me that she knew that I’d be fine as soon as I told her about Cody. She’s a very very spiritual woman, very charismatic and said that she could always just tell that I radiated my faith. WOW. After all that time of me feeling like I’d been failing (and I had been…her words don’t change that), she was assuring me of God’s infinate mercy and forgiveness and love. I told her I’d felt like I just hadn’t been devoting the time to that relationship that I should have been and she said “Kelsi, don’t kid yourself. I heard once, on a retreat, that sometimes we’re so consumed with grief and healing that all our attention needs to be turned on that. God knows that. He knows what he gave you to deal with. You didn’t sideline him. You can’t help but make him your center.” Seriously woman?!?! Did she just receive a letter telling her to tell me everything I’d been needing to here. She went on to say “If God can forgive St. Augustine and so many saints talk about their dark dark places, then you know he’s already forgiven you.”
So why was this woman on my mind, on this particular day?? Why did I call her?? I don’t think it was a coincidence. I think I called her because God knew she could tell me what I needed to hear.
Just like I don’t think it was a coincidence that I ran into one of my best friend’s girlfriends on the one year anniversary that his brother had died last week. She said “oh my goodness..I’m so glad I ran into you! What do I do?!” She was in tears and just needed to know that her presence would be enough. I ran into her because God knew I could tell her what she needed to hear.
So, when I step outside my life a little, I see not only these wonderful things to be thankful for, but coincedences that really aren’t. Stepping outside and looking in lets us see the intricate web of occurances and how we’ve been able to affect others live and they have been able to affect ours. Step outside and see what you can see.
November 22, 2010 § Leave a comment
So I guess I’ve been posting alot lately, but get over it. No one is making you read. : )
A few weeks ago, I was in the midst of finals chaos and met my friend for mass on Sunday night. Afterward, we were talking about how important it was to keep the really important things prominent throughout law school, even though it can be easy to let law school consume you. We’ve both decided to refuse to let that happen. Anyway, she asked me what I did to stay focused and calm during finals. I responded, “Really, I just pray…a lot.” I told her that I have a few novenas that I begin and pray throughout finals. I know I’m far from the smartest person here, but I ask for help from the only one who can really give it.
Later, I was thinking about my finals novenas and realized something peculiar. I never pray to “do well on my finals.” I feel like its petty and my ultimate goal is just to let God take charge and make sure that I get the grades that get me through and get me a job and be able to fulfill whatever I’m called to do (I wouldn’t fight a law school or college law professor job…just throwing that one out there). What I do pray for, and have ever since I began law school, is wisdom and a closer relationship with God. Wisdom is much more important than simple intelligence. Wisdom is like a heightened common sense; the ability to know right from wrong, to give and accept guidance, to be let on God’s plan and made useful. Smarts might get me good grades, but wisdom will make me a better person.
I realized that I think I’ve become wiser, or at least more receptive to wisdom. Its a path, a long and rugged journey, but I’ve been set on a path of wisdom nonetheless. I think I’ve been able to surround myself with people who are able to bestow their wisdom upon me when I’m open and listening. But, its not the way I would have wanted. Any wisdom I’ve gained has come from my life experiences, learning about pain first hand, and being so open with it that people tell me about their lives so I learn from them as well. It is such a special blessing and something I greatly cherish. But, I’d be an fool to say that I wanted to receive the gift through the suffering and pain that I’ve experience on my own and watched consume those around me.
Honestly, though, I do cherish it. I’ve loved learning, growing as a person and learning about others. I pray that I can be a light of hope and joy. I pray that if I’ve received any wisdom, that I’ll be able to share it with others. Had I been careful about what I prayed for, would I have been given the same gift in a different way? I don’t think so. What I’m left with is the supreme gratitude that my prayer for wisdom is being answered ever so slowly, even though it might not have been the path I would have preferred.
November 22, 2010 § 1 Comment
Who have I become? What am I? This is somewhat of an embarrassing post, but I’m nothing if not forthright and honest. I don’t want to be fake and people might learn from my experiences if I only have the guts to share them.
I’ve always desired to center my life on God. Never in an obnoxious, “I like to rub it in your face and slam it down your throat” kind of way, but in a way that simply radiates from within me. My faith has always been an the key of who I am. But, lately, I feel like I’ve pushed God to the sidelines. I talk to him, I pray, I love deeply, but I’m not the person I want to be. Far from it.
I know I’ve said it before, but I feel like I went through a bit of a “crazy” period after Cody died. I didn’t question everything I ever believed, but I didn’t feel like immersing myself in it, for whatever reason. The night Cody died, I made Father David put my Chaplet of Divine Mercy CD in so we could pray on the way home. We prayed the rosary together. I asked that my suffering be offered up to get Cody out of Purgatory and into Heaven. As soon as I asked that, I asked that God let it hurt. If I was going to suffer for Cody, I wanted to take all I could get. I didn’t want Cody to have any of it. I begged for the pain. I prayed constantly, even though I was angry with God. I went sat in Adoration. And then, I just faded.
I began searching for affirmation in the wrong places. I was so desperately scared that no one would ever be interested again that sought love in the wrong places. And I convinced myself that I was genuinely looking for someone special. In reality, I think I was just looking for a false love. It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that I retained any purity. If I hadn’t had the relationship with Christ that I had before Cody died, I don’t know what I would have done. But, every time I was in a position that could have become compromising, God gave me strength, whispered to my soul, and reminded me of who I wanted to be, even if I didn’t want to listen and later shoved him aside again. I went to confession, began praying, picked myself up and tried again. I hate admitting this. I don’t want to be the girl I’ve been. I know there are being reading this thinking that I’m crazy, that my bad isn’t nearly as bad as the rest of the world’s bad, but I don’t want to be relative to the rest of the world. I want to be fully the person God called me to be. No less.
Lately, I’ve been looking back as some of my “crazy” moments. There are a few that I’m ashamed of. There could have been so many more and I’m so thankful that the God I know is forgiving. He encourages me to try again and not give in and give up. The other day, I was having a little chat with God while I was running and all of the sudden I got the sense that God wanted to court me, to pursue me, to love me, to be my person. My best friend, my lover. All of it.