Thursday, March 24, 2016

holy, holy

I had big expectations for Lent this year. Visions of waking to pray and journal before the rest of the house stirred. Plans to forgo screens and social media. A desire to make it to both church and confession at least once a week.

So here's a confession for you: I haven't been to church since Ash Wednesday. 

The baby, who had been sleeping 6-8 hour stretches at night, started waking every hour again a few weeks ago, and my own sleep has been all over the place. It doesn't help that I've made a habit of staying up until midnight or later, butt planted firmly on the sofa in front of the glare of one screen or another.

Basically, I feel like a failure at Lent (and also, life). I have none of the markings of a "good Catholic" these days. But the more I consider what it means to be "good," the less I want it. I'd rather be uncomfortably Catholic, repentant in my own time and firmly entrusted to God's incomprehensible and inexhaustible mercy. 

That probably doesn't make me very Catholic at all. I don't know; you'd have to ask one of the "good" ones.

I have to remind myself that Catholics of every stripe are only human, including this one. I'd like to think I'm doing the best I can. Truth is, I give into sloth and pride and any other number of sins I can rationalize away as "not that bad" all too often, even though I know better.

This is where we get to the miracle of it all: I'm loved anyway. 

The stars never existed in order for us to earn them. I'm learning it can be a whole lot healthier to marvel instead of strive. This changes everything.

I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable being human, or Catholic. It's hard, and painful. I've spent a lifetime immersing myself in those aspects, only to neglect the fact that it can also be full of, well, joy

And isn't that kind of the point? Of the Resurrection, and therefore of the Christian narrative as a whole. It is the best plot twist ever.

So tonight I will wash feet: Those of my babies, and my own. I will break bread with the ones in front of me. I'll plan our Sunday brunch and fill Easter baskets and mail cards and take a long bath and say a thousand times: Thank you, and Wow, and Amen. 

I will believe in the "small-s" sacraments of the everyday. 

I will revel in the fact that I already know how the story ends, and that even on the days it's all I can do to climb out of bed and show up for my family (let alone show up to church), I am still loved beyond measure and wrapped in a mantle of stars.

And that right there? That's enough.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

to & from & me & you (toby)

In the midst of some pretty terrible tragedies, when suffering and fear took hold of the global stage once again, you arrived.

I am thrown for a second time by the magnitude of it all, this love made tangible. Is there anything more powerful than this?

Tobias Harold Joseph Kiger, born Sunday, November 15, at 2:40 AM

You kept us on our toes for over a week, but when it was finally time, you came fast and furious. Zero to 60 (or six to 10, if we're talking centimeters) in under two hours. Fifteen minutes of pushing, followed by what the midwife called a "textbook rotation," and then, somewhere in the space of my relief and disbelief: You. Tiny and perfect and dark haired and wailing. We'd waited 41 solid weeks, and yet it still felt so sudden. You cried and cried and kept right on crying. I guess you got it out of your system right then, though, because you've hardly made a peep since.

I'll admit, I was scared this time around. And it hurt. It hurt so much more than with Caleb, probably due to the quick progression. (As our midwife also said, "Faster doesn't necessarily mean easier.") I kept looking for an out, trying to find the off switch. It took everything I had to dig deep and keep faith during the brief moments of in-between. Yet somehow, we made it. You're here, I survived; there was no out to take. And despite what I may have claimed at the time, I'd do it again. Of course I would, and hopefully, eventually, I will. The ability to share my body with another human being, to be "home" for new life, is an honor and a gift.

I know so many people are walking around battered and weary right now. It feels counterintuitive and, frankly, a little bit subversive to look at the hurting world and choose to participate in this act of creation. To joyfully welcome new life in the face of pain and suffering. To choose hope and unabashed, full-throttle love. The newborn bubble offers one powerful forcefield. I look at you sleeping peacefully in my arms as your big brother gives you gentle, giddy kisses, and I think: This is it. This is all there is. At the same time, I am as aware as ever of our immense privilege.

We've been waiting for you, sweet Toby. May you always know how very loved and chosen you are. Or maybe it's you who chose us. Either way, I'm so very glad you're here, and so completely grateful.

There is nothing better than this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

monday's cup, no. 15

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Monday, September 21, 2015

monday's cup, no. 14

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” 
Rabindranath Tagore