Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carolina Grace

Yes, there is a moment or two after childbirth when you might think, "That was horrific," or something like that.  But it's funny how even just 24 hours later, you're thinking, "That was awesome!  I did that!  Let's do it again!"  Somehow your memory can soften all the edges, when you think of how much noise you made, and how much you cursed, and cried, and pounded the floor with your fist.  You just remember the mighty feat accomplished.  Looking at my little Carolina Grace softens the edges of everything.  She's named for my mom Carol.  Since she came into the world a week ago, I've gotten a new full-time job - besides my other two or three full-time jobs of mother, sometime housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, etc etc - of sitting in one place staring at her face.  Very important work, that.  And by the way, if you ever saw my other girls as babies, you've seen what I'm staring at - black hair like M's and her dark complexion and eyes, dimples like S and the wide cheeks and pointed chin straight out of a Maurice Sendak illustration:  Carolina Grace.

She's the most popular person in the family right now, by far.  And my heart is the fullest.  I have four children!  I have four children.  One night this week, I put her down for a minute in M's arms when I was tucking them all into bed, and I ran downstairs to get something - maybe J's paci or his "buppy" or a drink of water for S - and while I was down there, I said to Shep, "All four of my children are in the room together upstairs" and the thought of that delightful package of strange beings - four human persons not one of whom existed six years ago - made my heart contract with awe.  When there were three children up there, it felt like we were a family.  The fourth child feels like something we as a family are doing together that we're really excited together about.  I really can't imagine a more blessed time of life than the one we're in.  Of course, when you check back with me in about five weeks and I've had as many showers as weeks and I can't find one freaking thing or even put a sentence together because my brain is a lump of mush, my tone of voice might be less glowing.  But through the haze - o! sweet chaos of infancy - I still won't be able to deny that this crazy, full (full, full, full to overflowing - with all things), loud, jostling time is blessed, blessed, flash-in-the-pan, heart-wrenchingly, laughing-and-crying-at-the-same-time blessed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why I Am Becoming a Catholic

On May 19, I am going to participate for the first time in the sacrament of Reconciliation - Confession - and that evening, I am going to go forward, not with my arms crossed across my chest for a blessing, but with my open hands held out to receive Communion. I have a holy anticipation of this moment. I feel like I am engaged to be married again, anticipating my wedding day. I want to go shopping and take care to buy for that day a dress that I love.

Why am I becoming Catholic? Some of you who read this might think, Good! She's joining us! Some might worry that I'm being led astray from dependance on the free grace of God into "works salvation." Some might remember with loathing experiences they have had or impressions they have gained of what they see as a tyrannical, intolerant, overbearing organization. And of course some might not even care. (But then why are they reading this?)

I can't answer every objection people have to the Catholic church. Many of the common objections have certainly arisen in my own mind. But through reading I have done and through experiencing the Church for myself, they have each faded away and become inconsequential in light of the glory displayed there on that altar. It does not come with fireworks and spectacle. If you aren't looking for it, I don't think you'll even see it. But then suddenly when you are, when you do, there it is, right in plain sight, and it's always been there. I mean, He has always been there, in that homely little wafer and wine, His real presence. And I long to take him in. I hungrily and worshipfully anticipate that day.

At Mass, I feel I am leaning my exhausted head on my mother's breast. I have heard of the Church being our Holy Mother - in fact, that image is what first stirred in me to draw me toward her. I was  filled with a yearning to run into her arms.

To me, the Church is a pearl of great price, perhaps at times caked with the grime of history and hearsay, perhaps encrusted by up to even a mile of dirt. But under it, there it is still, shining and glowing, and I want it. A lot of the dirt, though, is, I think, an illusion. Someone once said that there are millions who hate what they think is the Catholic Church but not a hundred who hate what it actually is.  The only way to really know it is to "come inside."

That's what I'm going to do.