Tuesday, March 29, 2011

His hand in mine...

I could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed. Rocking back and forth, my little man in my lap, in the chair that used to sway him into deep slumber. We were quiet, stationary. The way it was not too long ago. The way it was until he was able to experience the world on his own two feet (or two hands, two knees, as his mode of transportation is still, shall we say, a choice that depends on whether or not he has footwear that has good traction)

My, how times have changed. Now, just keeping an eye on him is difficult, let alone keeping him in one place. So, tonight, he waited as I slowly pushed our plush green rocker back and forth...back and forth...while he silently and patiently allowed me to hold him. I recognized quickly, this was a gift.

Every few seconds his eyes looked up to greet mine, as if they were checking in, making sure I was still locked in. When am I not? It is amazing that nearly 14 months ago I had dreamed of these little eyes, his precocious grin, his button nose...but I had no concept of who my son would be. And now I know, and he is my everything.

In a class today, a friend shared this thought: Mary's Fiat...she did not say, "What is Your Will, Lord? Let me know, and I will go do it." No, she said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me, according to thy word."

Done...done unto me. That's it? That's it.

Calan is, in my very humble and completely unbiased opinion, perfect. I could not have dreamed up a more perfect child. Yet, that is just it. I didn't...He did. It was done, unto me. And the rest, well, it's history.

I need to constantly remind myself that God does... unto us. He requires little, really. Our love and our trust...like children. It all makes such sense.

As we sat and swayed, a little hand was raised, open palm. An invitation. My hand slowly encapsulated the nearly 14-month-old fingers it met. And there we sat, his hand resting in mine, purely loving, purely trusting. I took a deep breath. Be it done unto me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

She is my Bill Simmons

My husband, periodically, okay hourly, reads me some sort of uproariously funny quip or anecdote from Bill Simmon's blog, Twitter, latest article, etc. This sports journalistic obsession equates to a serious and reputably, large, man crush. About which, I am fine...really. To love another sports writer is to see the face of God, right?  I may not be as intrinsically amusing as his sports writer hero, but I can hold my own when stepping up to the humor plate. It may not always be a home-run, but I'd like to think I have a fairly high batting average.

That said, as much as I enjoy these daily weekly hourly privies into Bill Simmon's mind, I have long awaited my own piece of internet writing genius, the likes of which I can forward to him and say, "Seriously? Did you read My Bill Simmons' latest? I cried." I have longed to hear the sound of my laughter reverberating from my laptop corner of our L-shaped couch, my husband's inquisitive eyes glancing my way as if to say, "What's so funny?" Ahhhh...I reply. Just something My Bill Simmons wrote...he/she's too much.

Yes, I have longed for a writer whose contents not only relate to my passions (as reading some chestnut of current sporting satire that only those who live and breathe sports would understand, is not at the top of my "Things That Make My World Go Round List" list). Yet, I don't only want to relate to content, but dammit, I want to laugh. I want to find a writer that not only informs my conscience, but does so... irreverently? Now, this may seem like a tall order, and I recognize that. But, nothing is impossible with God...and He totally took my plight to heart (as I am sure He wasn't too locked into other crises or disasters. Yes, He willed me to discover my very own Bill Simmons). Well, perhaps, a more pertinent descriptor: God helps those who help themselves. And help myself I did. To seconds.

Hello....Simcha Fischer: She is My Bill Simmons. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. I may just be one of the later additions to the Simcha family, but gosh, I am so glad I invited myself. Seriously, read it...and share with me a quiet laugh and your own husband's inquisitive glance.

Simcha contributes to Inside Catholic and Faith & Family Live!, and blogs at I Have to Sit Down.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


"We all suffer for each other, and gain by each other's suffering; for man never stands alone here, though he will stand alone hereafter; but here is he is a social being, and goes forward to his long home as one of a large company."
~Cardinal Newman
It's Lent...and this season humbles me all too well. Every year I am amazed by the holy sacrifice I see occurring in the world, be it known or unknown.

By nature, I am a selfish being. Tried and true...a sinner. So, how is it then that my Lord serves and blesses me so well? How is it then that I awaken to sheer joy? Awaken to such plentiful blessings...how is it then that the bomb hasn't dropped?

Currently, I am sitting next to Calan as he sits in his highchair. And as the snot runs downs his nose, and the broccoli "drops" from his tray to the floor, tray to the floor, seriously? Again? Tray to the floor....as much as it makes me smile, I find myself in a state of frustration...just a bit.

I am waiting for my husband, as he patiently rakes all the sticks and prickly things that winter has left in our backyard, so that they cannot attack little hands. He will soon join us back inside, to help clean broccoli off floors and wipe stuffy noses. He serves.

The past few weekends, I have been busily trying to finish a very large project that will culminate my graduate schooling...it's make or break. And my husband, every free weekend day, has served our family by letting me go and work: 10, 12, 14 hours...while Calan cries, and coughs, and wipes his little nose on the third shirt he has donned in that day. While broccoli gets dropped on floors, and leaves need raking,  he does it alone. Without my help. All to let me, perfect me. He has endured my cranky quips and jabs, and has talked me off more than one or two stressful ledges. 

Now, this is not extraordinary, in fact, I am sure that the thought has arisen, "Well yeah, you need to work...he should watch the baby...you need to go do that." It's true, and I would agree. This is all part of the grand marital deal, and he signed the contract. So, it is not so much his actions that inspire, but his intent. His service is out of love, not of obligation. This is what blows me away...

I am the first to admit that I often, very often, act out of obligation. And this is not a terrible thing...but is something, I know, could be purified. As said, I am a selfish being, and my service does not always serve others as well as it could. I am often focused on myself, and then, others. 

However, Lent, in all its penitential glory, reminds me consistently of Christ, crucified. Service that goes beyond, far beyond, oneself. Focusing solely upon the other. True service, Holy Sacrifice.
My call.

And it is with a Lenten lens that I view my husband. A tangible manifestation of God's Grace. It is through his humble service that I am reminded to look to the cross. Reminded that holiness comes from service, not obligation. It is through his heart, his gift of self- to me, to Cal -that I can truly prefect me. I am humbled. And grateful. 

So, it is Lent...and I am blessed. Blessed by the suffering of one to benefit us all, teaching service and surrender.  Blessed by the suffering of One to benefit us all, crying out "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mission: Impossible

I am not your typical Type A. Yes, I have a specific way I like to do things, and yes, I believe that I can do these things better myself (rather than outsource). But perfection is not something I need all the time. In fact, rarely. Perfection is only a necessity for me when it hinges on one thing...others.

I have found this realization to be seriously problematic as one: perfection does not exist. Can't be reached. Impossible. And two: perfection directed outwards is not a healthy pursuit.

There is an Egyptian proverb that says a beautiful thing is never perfect. Hmmm.

This past week we had an influx of visitors from 'The District.' It was wonderful to have so much life and energy swirling around our wild home. The joy they brought to us was simply immeasurable.

However, in preparing for this East Coast visit, I became a tornado. Full-on F5. crazy...whirling about our house...leaving many victims in my wake. My goal, perfection. The house needed to be spotless, the rooms welcoming, the meals planned, and everything executed with extraordinary precision. This desire was pure in origin, as I truly did want to serve our guests in the best way possible, yet, in execution, it became the likes of my Brita faucet filter, red light blinking, telling me my water may be over-calcified. Impure.

The need to make things perfect, to display perfection, overtook my intention of service. And therein lies the difference between entertaining and hospitality. A subtlety that I have not even thought to discern.

Entertaining seeks to display all that we have, our creativity, our beauty, and our abilities. But, in essence, it becomes the "me show." (Yes, I did sew those curtains by hand, and of course that truffle bisque with a white-wine reduction is my own recipe. Oh, that old thing? I had the cashmere flown in from Pakistan and wove each section in my heart and with my loom... all while holding five jobs, not sleeping, and training for the Iron Man.) Yes, entertaining can become somewhat beastly...although, if I really did all of the above I cannot say that I wouldn't have it tattooed on my a**.

In contrast, hospitality seeks to take every blessing that we have been given by our Maker, and share it with our brothers and sisters. It seeks not perfection, but people. It seeks not admiration, but relationship. Hospitality is a welcome gift...for those who choose to welcome it.

So, as my tornado raged, so too did my God. Lovingly, He gazed upon my violent whirling and recognized that I was only blowing smoke.

In my efforts to have the sheets perfectly cleaned and ready-to-be-slept-in, He made them not fit the air mattress they had fit for a year. Entertaining fail. In my attempts to have every meal planned to perfection (including wine pairings), He allowed a late-lunch to turn into a lack of hunger, followed by a panic as the left-overs were not going to feed the masses. Entertaining fail. In my desire to have all our activities planned, He discarded my schedule, so much so that one whole day was spent losing all the pre-planned meals in the toilet, oh yeah, and following Cal with a bucket and a towel to catch his meals, too. Entertaining FAIL. Yet, as a benevolent and gracious God, it was never more than I could handle...humbling, inexact, angering, yes. But never too much.

And in my most humbling of entertaining "triumphs," as I laid on the bathroom floor with Cal crawling on me, demanding, "Maamama MORE! Mamama UP!" I decided to surrender. For this was God's day, God's week, God's plan...and I, am simply a player. I should have recognized that submitting my "plans" to His refining may just lead to less of me and more of Him. Which lends itself to a much better party.
And with that, I open my heart and my home to the hospitality of our God and remember:

"When hospitality becomes an art, it loses its very soul."
~Max Beerbohm

***Thank you to our wonderful guests, who not only filled our home with an abundance of love and laughter, but taught me more about opening our doors than I could have ever imagined.