Toddlers are sponges; soaking up anything and everything- up right down to my coffee this morning...oops. (Starbucks, you're welcome for the early brand conversion.)
So, I shouldn't have been surprised the other day, when I picked up Cal from hanging out with my aunt, and was told that he was offering the entire patio Holy Communion (Frosted Mini-wheat style). "Body of Christ... Body of Christ." Body of Christ with more than 47g of whole grains per serving.
We have never played Mass, nor have we talked about receiving the Eucharist outside of Mass in any great detail. Cal simply heard it, learned it, and applied it...to mini-wheats. Good man.
Begin the other night, as my young zealot and I were playing outside with a friend's dog. Cal bent down, pulled up a few blades of grass, and offered Puppy Colby a little macrobiotic "Body of Christ." Gweneth would have been so proud.
Now, I am not qualified to critique one's ability to transubstantiate- but my kid must have given that dog some dang good "Body of Christ," because after Colby's horticultural communion, he was a changed puppy. He took one bite, and was, well, inspired.
As I looked up from my picnic-table seat, giggling at the preceding doggy liturgy, I realized that my son was under the very forceful control of a very. excited. dog. Yes, dear Colby tried to have his neutered way with my innocent 20-month-old-wannabe-cleric. All the while, Cal was now screaming, "Booodddyyy of Chhhrrriiisttt, Boooodddyyyyy of Chhhrrisssttt, puuupppy!!" Seventy times seven- he's an inspiration.
Luckily, I was able to swiftly extricate the young minister-to-man's-best-friend, and he walked away slightly disheveled, but seemingly unscathed.
Who knows what sort of issues this will drum up in his mid-thirties...nothing a little Starbucks and some "Body of Christ" can't cure, I'm sure.
This picture was taken the day we found out we were pregnant with Cal. We were on our way down to Colorado Springs- and it was right after I had told my husband that with all the headaches and nausea I was experiencing, I probably had a brain tumor (neurotic, much?). So, we did what any normal tumor-fearing couple would do, we pulled off the highway, marched into the local Safeway, and took a pregnancy test in the women's bathroom (E waited outside). Needless to say, it was positive- we were a little shocked, but very excited.
Yesterday, in talking with some girlfriends, we took up the idea of infertility and how it relates to God's plan. I have spent weeks mulling this over in prayer (and on long car rides) and have come to the conclusion: I sure don't get it. How can beautiful, faithful, and holy couples struggle with conceiving when so many people seem to just pop babies out like it ain't no thang? In the words of Adam Sandler's Cajun Man, "Confusiooonnnn."
The conversation was a tad ironic, as E and I have been trying to add to the brood, Lanier. Which in essence, should be easy, right...and even a bit fun? I mean, it worked the first time, without even trying...but it seems like ease is in the eye of the beholder and we are still in the try, try, again phase.
Yet, I am ever-reminded, every time I look at this perfect face...
...that I am SOOOO blessed. Beyond blessed, and if he is my greatest (and only) blessing of offspring from our Lord then I would be truly happy and content. And I would be...I am. But, hey, we did great work. Shouldn't we grace the world with more Laniers?
In our struggle and in the struggle of so many others, I am reminded of the faith so many patriarchal biblical figures who waited years, decades, for the blessing of children. Why? Because kids were it. The most sought after blessing of all the blessings....the Tickle-Me-Elmo of the B.C. era. It was a big deal, your line, the whole familial lineage rested on their shoulders. Well, until Jesus.
And enter: Jesus. Supreme evidence that God had and has a plan...it may take years upon years, centuries of mistakes and missteps, but His is a rockin' good plan- for us.
When we have asked couples about their infertility, they have all noted how significantly it has strengthened their marriages- how they would not be where they are today within their faiths and lives without it. Profound? Yeah...and it stinks of God. His plan...His plan...
I cannot say that we would have tried for Cal as soon as he arrived or that we would have been as open to life had God not just dropped him in-utero- surprise! Cal was God's Divine Plan to better me, us, through His blessings...and now, as I long for morning sickness (seriously!?), I know that God's hand is in this too. It just has to be, because it seems like God has His Divine hands in a little bit of everything.
With a title like The Ides of March one can't help but think of this:
Ah, yes, a little Shakespeare never hurt anyone...well, unless your name is Julius Ceasar.
In the movie (spoiler alert), one of the characters chooses to abort a pregnancy which results in her own suicide. Granted, there are other forces in play here, but in essence, death begets death. Fitting, in keeping with the Shakespearean theme.
Yet, I was shaken not so much by the death portrayed within the movie, but by the impetus. We all remember Mark Anthony addressing the crowds post Caesar's fatal demise with his famed, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me you ears..." A speech designed to sway the crowds' allegiance and convince them that no wrong hath been committed in the Senate that ill-fated day. So too, do we see several instances of these persuasions within The Ides of March, and as in all good fictional portrayals, truth is deeply laced within the fabric of the plot.
In light of that truth, I cannot help but draw the comparison to what is currently taking place in our own "senate"- where our own leaders are proclaiming to us, "Friends, citizens, Americans...the gift of "preventative" healthcare for women is here for all." It is infuriating.
It is not the mandatory coverage of abortive contraceptives or abortions themselves that infuriates me (although this, in and of itself, is blatantly wrong). It is the universal mandating that such procedures need to be covered by inherently opposed institutions, namely, Catholic and other pro-life organizations. This is egregious and in direct contrast with the basic tenants of this country.
Archbishop Charles Chaput says it best,
“Freedom of religion cannot coexist with freedom from religion. Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy. It doesn’t serve real tolerance or pluralism. What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance—a religion without God.”
In other words, we fight not for who is dogmatically correct, but for unadulterated religious freedom in the public square; so that all men and women will be able to exercise their professed faiths without fear of legislation that will mandate their engaging in something that goes against the very core of their belief systems. All this lest we not create a new dominating belief system- "state-sponsored intolerance."
I understand that this proposed legislation has established provisions that allow certain religious exemptions, but they are far narrower than alleged, and exclude any organization that serves those outside of the faith. For instance, thousands of Catholic hospitals are going to be mandated to offer abortive and sterilization services because they serve more than just the Catholic population. These are the same institutions founded on universal healthcare so that ALL people, regardless of their belief system, would have access to quality health intervention. Or, Catholic Charities, serving hundreds of thousands of our country's most "in-need," regardless of their religious affiliation, who will now be forced to wrestle with providing their employees with healthcare where premiums are partly funding sterilization, contraceptives, and abortion?
It is simply not right...
Let's look at it another way-- let's say the government mandates meals at their new super-posh restaurant aptly named, Offending the First (specializing in pulled pork, pork tenderloin, and baby back ribs). Let's also say that around 23.9% of the population keeps a strict Kosher diet. That means nearly 24% percent of Americans would be mandated to partake in something that goes against everything in which they believe. Do they have to order pork? No- they can certainly get a salad, BUT they do have to immerse themselves in an extremely offensive environment, coupled with the not-so-insignificant fact that they would be required to pay for other people to partake in something inherently against what they believe to be truth. Would the public not be up in arms??
Again, Archbishop Charles Chaput,“[Americans] were founded as a religious people, but with public institutions that avoid religious tests. American public life depends for its life on Jews and Protestants and Latter Day Saints and Catholics and all religious believers vigorously advancing their convictions in public debate. We need to do that peacefully and respectfully, but we need to do it -- without evasions or apologies or alibis. Otherwise we’re stealing the most precious things we have – our religious faith and our moral character – from the struggle for the common good. And the God who loves us will nonetheless hold us accountable for that cowardice.”
Regardless of your stance on sterilization, contraception, or abortion, we all need to recognize that this is a horrendous manipulation of our First Amendment rights. We need to take a stand... it's certainly a slippery slope.