The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

27 April 2011

We never walk alone: prayer buddy reveal

I met wonderful new people this Lent through a prayer buddy project hosted at a blog I stumbled on through a friend (thank you Miss Bellum!).  It's a small world when you have good friends by your side.

I was given the opportunity to pray for Megan during Lent.  From her I learned a little about the heartache of infertility, which gave me new appreciation for what some of my friends are experiencing.  God gave women the special gift of suffering - mothers endure discomfort then pain during pregnancy and delivery, and on into the child's adult life. Ask any mother and they'll tell you it never really stops - a woman's heart can't help but love to the point of pain... and sometimes the pain comes from that love yearning for a child to give itself to.  Megan and her husband are now awaiting the birth of their first son - Praise God!

A blessed, happy and holy Easter to you, Megan, your husband and baby boy.  There is new life!

And, a special thank you to Lauren who has been praying for me as we wandered through the Lenten desert.  Thank you Lauren!  I've enjoyed reading about you since the 'Easter reveal'. 

16 April 2011

Lenten journeys

I'm reusing this piece I wrote for another blog, The Feminine Gift.

We're approaching Holy Week (where did the time go?) and I find myself reflecting on Lent: where I am at, what God has been doing with me, the state of my Lenten practices, and so on. A Lenten check-up of sorts.

Each Lent has it's own tenor, it's own flavour. Some years I feel God is calling me to a very sacrificial six weeks with almost monastic abstention from all but basic foods; some years it is strict avoidance of secular entertainments: novels, films, television, music; sometimes it is the challenge to greatly increase the time spent in prayer, more frequent attendance at Mass, making holy hours in Adoration, praying the Stations of the Cross.

My plan this year (please note the language I used: "my" plan) was to fast from all treats (oh, how I love chocolate!), go to daily Mass at least once during the week as well Adoration at least once... and several other 'add-ons' I came up with in the early days after Ash Wednesday. This was partly in response to the last two Lenten seasons - the first after my father's death - which were rather gentle compared to my previous experiences. The focus lately had been to 'be'... to be present to others, be present in the moment, allow others to be, and so on. There was little emphasis placed on fasting from goodies, beyond the meatless Friday rule. There were no spiritual gymnastics beyond my standard daily devotions.

I considered those two years to be God taking it easy on me, and I determined that the time had come to saddle-up once more and get back to serious Lenten business (that could also be read as 'busyness'). It seems there was a different Divine plan.

Without my being aware of what was happening, circumstances arose to prevent me from following through with my prescribed regimen. Each week I would tell myself, "It's ok, I can try again next week." Until I finally clued in and realized that God was leading me in a different direction, deepening a work He began months ago, tying in each of the three branches of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

His Lenten journey for me is less complex than my own was. There is less emphasis on checking off a to-do list. What I find interesting about these most recent Lenten seasons is that they have less of the appearance of sacrifice, while in fact there is greater sacrifice. There is seemingly less challenge, less effort, less work, and yet it requires more daily commitment from me.

I wonder if this is a common experience. Have any of you found that your preparation for Easter has become quieter, deeper, more about the 'being' than the 'doing'? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

May God bless us with the grace to stand at the Cross of Christ with Our Lady, and so share in her joy at the Resurrection.

12 April 2011

Of sleeping turkeys

Five came up to my room after supper last night, asking for bubbles.  That's the screen saver I use on my laptop: bubbles.  The float happily and bounce gently against each other around the screen, subtly changing colour.  He's fascinated by them. 

Up he climbed onto the stool with me, tucked between my legs and leaning back against me.  After a while he said, "I'm all done with them for now" and asked for something else.  I opened youtube, and asked for a piece of music I really like.  It's a man playing piano by himself on stage, just him in the spotlight, singing a beautiful song about God. He got really still and quiet, feeling heavier and heavier against me, head listing more and more to the side until I feared for his tender little neck.  By the end of the song I realized he was sound asleep, totally out of it.

What should I do?  If I called out for help, he might wake up but would that be a bad thing?  It was still somewhat early, but surely he couldn't sleep the whole night in my lap? My leg was cramping and I really wanted some water. Fortunately I had my cell phone within reach, so I called our landline, which was answered in the kitchen by Daddy Nut. His bed was made with fresh linens, and he was swooped out of my arms and laid so softly, so carefully in it, still wearing the clothes of the day for we didn't want to wake him.  After all that tip-toeing and stealth, it was as the door was about to close that he opened his eyes and perked right up again and spent the next hour in bed decidedly not sleeping.


10 April 2011


Daddy Nut was leaving the house to scout out power steering hose lines for BoB (the van) which was sitting, dead, in a parking lot across town.  Four saw him get ready to go, and cried out: "But, I haven't seen you guys get married!"

Number One Nephew has begun his first job, delivering newspapers in our neighbourhood. He's been gearing up to this moment for a while now, planning what he would do with his earnings (having come to an agreement with mom and dad that he could spend half if he saved half) Yesterday, his first batch of papers was dropped off.  Mom counted and sorted them, stuffing them with fliers and so on.  One's job was to load them into his wagon and walk his route.  Mom cautioned him to stack them carefully or they would topple over.  Which of course they did.  He grew frustrated with how arduous it was - putting newspapers in the wagon.  In the way of adults, mom and dad told him basically that it was work, and what did he expect? His plaintive reply: I didn't think it would be this hard!

When Four and Five play together, this is how they narrate sound effects and actions:
"axe axe axe" 
"firefighter firefighter firefighter"
"motorcycle motorcycle motorcycle"
It's very simple actually; anyone can do this: no matter what it is you're playing with, merely repeat its name three times.  "Zebra zebra zebra." "Metro Man, Metro Man, Metro Man".... you get the idea.

We've been on a West Wing kick of late, watching season by season on dvd.  Pop always called President Bartlet 'The real president' and over time we began to call the show "The real president'. The little boys, Four and Five refer to it as 'The president' They enjoy this political drama; they know the characters by name, and love the music. During one episode, Four asked, "Why is Josh being so mean to Donna?" Mama Nut explained that Josh wasn't being mean, he was just upset. "Josh isn't being mean to Donna, Five. He's just upset." he told his little brother.  "Yeah, Josh is just upset." agreed Five.

We stopped by to visit our old neighbour after a walk this afternoon. She loved watching the boys play, and misses them since we moved eight houses away.  The boys (Four and Five) have really gotten over their shyness of strangers, making small talk with anyone within earshot. They're rather free with what they will share as well, evidenced by Five telling Miss Anne: "I did two poops!"

The 'two poops' has to do with toilet training.  He's been told that if he can figure it all out, he can take swimming lessons like the big boys, who have all turned out to be fishes, and Five wants to be just like them.  Three, who was a tad reluctant at the start, has really knuckled down, giving it his all. He was recently advanced a level (from guppy to sea otter, or whatever the swim-grades are called these days) which means that he has to swim eight lengths of the pool instead of six. At first he went a little pale, but he took a big breath, squared his shoulders, and just went for it. He went for it with such determination and single-minded focus that he was mowing other swimmers down as they swam their laps - some of them he rammed more than once, causing heads to bob up from the water in confusion as they tried to figure out what happened to them, while Three manfully back-stroked his way, lap after lap.

08 April 2011

The eyes have it

Isn't it funny (in a sad sort of way) how self-centered we are?  I should speak for myself I suppose - don't you find it funny (in a sad sort of way) how self-centered I am?  I blather on and on about myself, what I've done, what's been done to me, how my nephews are the cutest and smartest little people you'll ever come across (because they're my nephews, of course), my insightful ideas about all things and so on. You get the idea. 

The strength of my self-interest was made clear to me yesterday during a visit to an eye doctor.  I've been squidgy about eyeballs since I was a very small person. I had eye surgeries and many eye appointments with much poking and prodding.  Eyes may be the window to the soul, but they are a window I'd rather not have too up close and personal, thank you very much.  I get tense during eye exams when you're asked to voluntarily put your face into a medieval torture device like contraption while various instruments approach your eyes, expelling puffs of air, or beaming bright lights.  I once pushed an eye doctor away with enough force to roll his chair back when he got too close and I panicked.  I don't like scenes in movies where someone's eyes are taped open, or crime dramas on tv that show close ups of eyeballs, or pamphlets about eye health that show too much detail.  I'd even prefer advertisements for contact lenses and mascara not feature the eye too prominently. This squeamishness is limited to the eye, for I'm fascinated by heart surgery, the brain, trauma treatment, and so on. 

This is going somewhere, bear with me.

When I called to make the appointment, it was explained to me that they would like to take pictures of the back of my eye, at an additional cost of $45. The pictures can reveal such things as retinal tearing (my toes curl just typing the words), diabetes, heart disease, and other unpleasant things.  Instead of being eager to make use of this simple diagnostic procedure, I was fretting about the money, but more so about a machine getting right up next to my eye, and a photograph of its insides flashing up on a screen that I may be expected to look at.  I explained somewhat nervously about pushing the last doctor who got too close, the panic attacks, and did I really have to do it?  Let's try it and see, they said. Breathe in, breathe out, I told myself.

Well, some of the test were predictably uncomfortable, and having the pictures taken was no treat, but my goodness, I have a nice looking inner eye! It looks like a piece of modern art, representing the vastness of inner space... or something like that. It was rather disconcerting to see the inside of myself like that, and it may take a while before I can apply mascara again without imagining the optic nerve peeking back at me like a wee camera behind my pupil.

What I discovered is that my eyeballs are fascinating; it's all the other ones that are icky.