Saturday, October 18, 2014

a few things which may be Nothing but which feel like Something

Last week I had a dream about pink roses. I didn't think much about it, probably something like, "Huh, roses, weird." Mostly I forget my dreams. But this stuck.

Then, a few days ago, Trader Joe's had just gotten a big shipment of beautiful flowers delivered. (I know this not because I watched them unpack the boxes, but because I am at Trader Joe's far too frequently, and two days prior the flower section had been measly pickins.) 

"Huh, roses," I thought. "Weird." But the days have been so gloomy and grey lately, and the roses were so fresh and pink and only five dollars. So even though they aren't very fall-like, and even though I have never purchased roses, let alone pink ones, before... I bought some. 

When Andy got home the first thing he noticed was the vase of pink roses on the counter. "Oh, you bought flowers, huh?" Buying flowers is not out of character for me, but, as I said, buying roses is, so Andy's expression was questioning. 

"Yeah, well, I had a dream about them last week, and then, well, there they were, so um, I dunno... I had to get some."

Andy shrugs. "OK, cool."

I decided to go Google "pink roses" and get to the bottom of this.

. . .

For the first few months of my pregnancy with Caleb, I believed he was a girl. In fact, I told people I'd never trust my intuition again if the baby in my belly turned out to be a boy (uh, oops?). But then, shortly before our 20 week ultrasound, I had a dream that I gave birth to a boy, and we named him Caleb. It was so real and very powerful. I looked up the meaning of Caleb: Faithful and wholehearted. The Observer in the Old Testament.

And I knew. This name had never once crossed my mind before, but somehow, I knew (the way you know about a good melon). This was our child, and this was his name. And it suits him.

All this is to say: Every once in a while, I take my dreams seriously. Maybe five or so times, my dreams have been powerful enough to warrant deep investigation. For whatever reason, the roses had a similar hold on me.

Here's what I found: Nothing.

At least, not at first. I gave up and called my mom. Not too far into the conversation, I brought up the flowers. 

"The only connection I can think of," I said, "is Grandma Miller." My mom's mom, who loved roses. She agreed, a sweet sentiment, and we hung up shortly thereafter.

And then I had one of the biggest DUH moments of my life thus far. My grandma loved St. Thérèse.  St. Thérèse, THE LITTLE FLOWER. Who is often depicted holding (can you see where this is going?) ROSES, kinda like here.

Oy and vey.

Every day this month, my mantra has been a question: "What would love do?" 

Here's how it works:

  • Baby wakes up 15 minutes into nap. What would love do?
  • Andy complains about the state of the mess building up at home. What would love do?
  • "Faithful Catholics" are working themselves into a tizzy and throwing barbs at Pope Francis (who is kind of my hero and is one of the main reasons I started attending Mass again). What would love do?
  • Bill O'Reilly claims white privilege doesn't exist because he fails to understand the definition of this term. What would love do?

It's a very helpful mantra, in that it unclenches my heart, even if just a tiny bit, every time I ask it. Thérèse and her Little Way have been hard at work in my mind and spirit.

The Little Flower as a young child, found here
I've said in the past that if I'm feeling animosity towards anyone, all I need to do is picture that person as a small child. Not that I harbor any ill will towards St. T., but I do love looking at this sweet face. Oh, Babies! I love you all.

So, back to the Googling. This time, I try "pink roses Saint Thérèse" and HOLY MOLY. Connections to Jupiter and back. I was dumbfounded. Here's what stuck out:

  • We share a birthday (January 2nd), and while I've taken stats classes and done The Birthday Problem, I've never actually met anyone else with this birthday
  • Her National Shrine in the U.S. is less than a half hour drive from my house.
  • Countless stories of "roses from Thérèse" (even as a cradle Catholic, I had no idea this was a "thing")
  • An article on G.K. Chesterton and St. Thérèse as "soul twins," or spiritual brother and sister.

A few weeks ago, I read a reflection on faith and God that referred to our human, worldy existence as "the back of the tapestry". God/Heaven/Beyond-the-Veil is like the top of a gorgeous silk carpet; what we get in our day-to-day is the big ol' mess on the underside. In "following the roses", I feel like I'm finding the threads that connect me to the beauty on the other side. And those threads, they all knot together somewhere. 

This is what makes that last bullet point up there especially significant. The article I'm referring to was about a talk given at Mundelein Seminary, which is also not far from my house and features a statue of The Little Flower in its garden. I know this because when I posted on her feast day, I included a quote from Fr. Robert Barron. I pulled this quote from a video of him speaking on Thérèse, and in the video they show the statue. (As a recent revert, up until two weeks ago I had no idea who Fr. Barron was--he wasn't part of my awareness, even peripherally. But apparently his ministry is kind of a big deal.)

Now for the Chesterton bit (and I know this is all pretty long-winded, but! This is a good bit). Over the last month, I've had a growing fascination with G.K. (to the point of: "Andy, how do you feel about the name 'Gilbert' for a boy?") and have wondered WHY ON EARTH this clearly brilliant human being hadn't once made an appearance in my high school English classes, or any other classes, for that matter. The more I read, the more I wanted to know. 

Photo of G.K. Chesterton via The American Chesterton Society

I stumbled across the website for the Chesterton society and discovered they have branches around the world that meet to discuss the man and his works. On the off-chance that there'd be one near me (maybe in the city?), I typed in my ZIP code. And DO YOU KNOW WHAT I FOUND?!?

The oldest consecutively meeting branch of the G.K. Chesterton Society in North America meets at a bookstore TWO BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE.

It's crazy, I know. I feel crazy. But...


The skeptic in me won't shut up. There's probably some reasonable, logical, pseudo-psychological, scientific explanation. It may all be statistically probable, total coincidence.


I prefer the alternative. The idea that it just might maybe possibly be The Holy Spirit in action, the convergence of threads from The Other Side of the Tapestry, working themselves into my life as I finally, finally begin to figure out that there is one thing, and one thing alone, that can fill the God-shaped space in my heart. Fill it so full that it's right up to bursting, and then some.

So, for the time being:

I dwell in possibility / A fairer House than Prose.

(^^At least those English classes taught me something.)

Not very typical of my blog, but this meme made me laugh. Found via.