Corona Days, Part 2

Oddly, restrictions in my state are still being lifted, despite a rising number of deaths from COVID-19. I suspect that even if the restrictions were not being lifted, or if different ones were being put into place, people would not stand for it. They are getting bored. Upon hearing about the George Floyd shooting and subsequent madness that broke out all over the United States, I first thought that people are so thoroughly frustrated, angry, and bored. People do not like being told what to do for so long. Authority is difficult to follow when it is so hard to tell truth from lies.

The news is getting even more painful to read than it normally is; I hate seeing the COVID-19 death toll blazing across the top of the screen every day. Now I hate seeing all the pictures from the protests (violent and nonviolent) everywhere. To top it all off, my local news station ran a story this past weekend about how more than 10,000 cats and dogs will be euthanized throughout the state’s animal shelters if no one adopts them. Ah, the guilt.

Sadly, the library is not yet open (at least in my county). However, materials can now be requested online, which I don’t enjoy doing as much as browsing through the shelves and picking up books at random. My son also enjoyed looking at (i.e., trying to chew on) the board books in the toddler section, but now I’m stuck reading Little Blue Truck over and over. (I know it by heart!) On the bright side, I have plenty of reading material at home (current read: a biography of the Kennedy men; a look into the past is always nice when the present and future are scary).

In our diocese, the Sunday obligation is still suspended. Some parishes have many more restrictions than others, which brings confusion into an already stressful situation. The lifeblood of Catholics is the Eucharist. We need this spiritual food for survival, especially when the battle we will have to fight in the coming days is largely a spiritual one. Even so, there is a need to protect the vulnerable. Mass is being celebrated online, outside, or even inside, but people are allowed in only every other pew, with a host (no pun intended) of other restrictions. I suppose we are all doing the best we can to balance the need for spiritual sustenance with physical safety. I just wish Mass would be back to normal. I would take Mass over the library. 🙂

So in the midst of all this madness, I hope you are staying safe and sane. Take breaks from the media. If you can, adopt a dog or cat. Write something by hand instead of typing it (I’ve been doing this almost nightly, and it’s refreshing). Show someone you love them (from a safe distance!). Escape into a good novel. Pray, pray, pray.

At Year End

If I had to pretend 2019 was a piece of writing and give it a title, I would call it “The Battle with Selfishness” or “The Struggle to Sacrifice.” The prevailing event that occurred was the birth of my son in early January, so naturally, my life turned upside down.

All the poets and writers and anyone who has ever had a child were not kidding when they said that upon becoming a parent, one’s entire perspective on life changes. For me, the key word was perspective. My actions did not change much, but I got the overwhelming sense that I needed to be changing my actions in accord with this new perspective of parenthood.

So much of what I do on a daily basis is selfish. So much of it is useless and destructive, not in an overt way like alcoholism or drug use, but in a softer way. I was playing on the floor with my son one night, and my phone vibrated from inside my purse where I promptly forgot about it upon walking in the door and seeing my son’s drooly grin.

I ignored the phone, but in the back of my mind was a nagging feeling that I ought to check it, even though it was likely only a text from a family member and not urgent. This nagging feeling occurs all the time when I’m doing something worthwhile or unselfish. The nagging feeling says that I need to surf the Internet on my phone, sit down and read a book, go on the computer and write something, or just be alone and away from people.

Sometimes the nagging feeling becomes a roar, and it is extremely hard to ignore it. I don’t know if that is the sound of my old pre-married life coming back to haunt me because there are certain parts of it I find hard to let go of, like unfettered alone time. When I try to make myself remember that I was not as happy in those days, the roaring quiets and the nagging goes away for a time. But it inevitably returns, mostly when the phone vibrates or when I start to get tired (damn that noonday demon!).

Honestly, I’m happiest when I’m with others, although it does not appear that way. Being around others is hard because I have to control my selfish impulses, but it is infinitely better than doing things alone. It is better to serve others than to serve oneself, as painful as it is to be around others at times.

So my resolutions for 2020 are related to being more “other centered.” I will die one day, and I doubt I will be remembered for how many blog posts, journal entries, and fiction pieces I wrote, how many books I read, or how many government documents I edited. I don’t think God is going to judge me on the basis of those things either. My vocation is to be a mother and a wife. That is the way I am supposed to bring light into the world and lead others to God. Everything else in my life should be in service to that vocation, which was chosen by God to bring glory to him, so my resolutions have also been chosen for my vocation.

All this is to say that I didn’t set a writing goal. I’m going to keep posting THE ARCHIVES until all 365 chapters are up. I’m sure the constant urge to write will spur me to post the occasional blog entry here and there, but it’s not going to be a priority. The world is a strange place and becoming stranger by the day. The best way to prevent it from having too much of a hold on me is to renounce it, little by little, and do what I can for God.

The Name of Jesus

My son is starting to say words (actually, to be realistic, babblings that sound a lot like words). There is the usual “mama” and “dada,” but I’m not totally sure he associates those words with the concepts yet. He will reliably say “cup” when he plays with his cups and “car” when he sees a car or looks at a book with cars in it (or trucks; at this point, they are the same to him).

My husband got him to say “Jesus” by putting pictures of Jesus all over the apartment and handing him holy cards (laminated, so they are indestructible!). One of the pictures of Jesus is in the bathroom, so when I’m done changing my son, I make sure he sees Jesus before he leaves the room. Now it’s a habit, so he will swing around and say hi to Jesus.

This is not to brag about my son (who am I kidding, of course it is!) but to say that all this repetition of the name of Jesus got me thinking about the name itself and what it should mean. Often, we use it as a swear word when we should be giving honor to the name. I pay more attention to the name now. This past Sunday, I was trying to be super focused on the times when the name would be said in the readings or the homily. It isn’t said a lot. Instead, we use Christ or Emmanuel or the Son of God or any number of other titles. I might have heard “Jesus” once or twice. Would we benefit more from hearing the name spoken in a positive way? I think so. It is a nice reminder.

…at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth…

Philippians 2:10, NABRE