Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Longest Lent--Home

Lent began Feb. 26th and my reflection for that day is up on CatholicMom. It's strange to go back and read it again, but our pastor's advice is gold--begin the practice again. Who could've predicted the kind of Lent we're having? The sacrifices we didn't plan on making? The common enemy? Over and over, I learn that we are not in control. 

Our kids arrived with their friends that weekend, the same weekend I received my miraculous healing from the migraines. It was a wonderful spring break, full of laughter and games, food and conversations. Max turned 21 and Michael had a couple of beers brewed for him--an out stout and a hazy hoppy kind. All the older kids enjoyed sampling the birthday beer. Oh, these Scrambled Square puzzles are the hardest to solve. Joe managed to piece the cats. Can you tell what's wrong with the retriever puzzle? I've not been able to solve it--the closest I come is with one edge not matching, which means you have to start all over again. Anyway, it's a great brain-teaser. 

Michael set up the hydroponic garden again. We're enjoying our fresh greens and I see a stir-fry with that bok-choy in the very near future. I love how quickly the bean plant curled around the string we lowered. This kind of touch response is something we studied in my years at the Max Planck. It's fascinating. 

And our latest pets are honeybees, 10,000 of them! That's 3 lbs and it makes a good math problem for a kid to determine the weight of one honeybee :) Michael's been taking classes on beekeeping and is pretty comfortable with bees crawling all over his hands when he feeds them. I'm not so brave. It's been so interesting to watch them. They're settling in nicely, drinking sugar water, collecting pollen, making combs. The queen must be busy laying eggs. Sometimes Michael inadvertently brings a bee indoors but the cats are very good at finding it. Here they are having a little play-fight while I write. Cat-watching has to be the best.

I've been getting back into the writing groove and now that the kids are home from college, we all need to get into a good rhythm of work and play and prayers. I love praying these outdoor Stations of the Cross on Daniel Island, where the new St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church will be built. Check out the building progress. We are soooo blessed.

These are the books I've been reading. In these times when so many are suffering, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a must read. And I love having these beautiful Sunday Sermons from Fr. Leonard Goffine in book form. It's a little less intense than The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger, which Michael's been going through for a couple of years. Such lovely treasures in the Church, and so timely, since we cannot go to Mass. Again, my heart continues to be full at how privileged we've been to assist at Mass these past 11 years. Never again will I take it for granted. I pray you are well and I pray for God's peace upon your hearts. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Longest Lent--Consecration

I purchased this little Eastern orthodox icon to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph. I have it on the wall above the family computer and my eyes are often drawn there. What a treasure to have the smaller scenes around the Holy Family.  

I confess I've taken the ability to attend Mass for granted. I'm not a daily communicant--I'm too lazy to get up in the morning and get dressed. Usually, I'm petting the cats in bed while I read my Bible and scribble a few thoughts. But I like being able to go when I want, especially on special feast days. I miss praying together with my church family. I miss singing in the choir. I miss receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament--He is the Divine Physician and He comes to us in His Entirety. He heals our whole self--body, mind, soul. The sacraments have power, the priest's hands are set apart and holy to do the work of God. I've been very much troubled by our bishops forbidding public Mass or gathering for any other devotions, even outdoor ones, and also confessions and anointing of the sick. Isn't the soul more important than the body? Isn't the Mass more important than being able to go to the grocery store? The worst is not knowing how long this is going to last. Truly, I feel this loss most acutely and despite the numerous online resources, including Mass on EWTN, which I've been tuning in to for many years, it's just not the same. Oh, how I feel in solidarity with all the persecuted Christians throughout the ages. When I first heard of the closures, on St. Patrick's Day, I cried. And I find myself crying more and more. It's a grief I cannot explain. And then to watch Pope Francis in a desolate St. Peter's square for a special urbi et orbi blessing. Sad and beautiful.     

On the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19), I was able to go to our lovely little church to make my consecration. At first, I worried that there might be too many people for all the cars parked but they were beach-goers! The church was empty and it was so peaceful to sit with our hidden Jesus. I couldn't help but reflect on the hidden life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Nazareth, the holy conversations they must've had, what a perfect family! I was able to pray the Stations by walking around. And finally, a prayer composed during the time of the plague to St. Roch. Note the dog and the biscuit :) I prayed for you all too. May God bless you and protect you from all dangers, may He draw you ever closer to Himself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Longest Lent--Reading

I don't even know where to begin after taking such a long hiatus from the blog. All is well after a very difficult couple of months--headaches mainly. But it's also been a period of many graces and miracles so I am thankful. Of course, all is not well with the world, so I'm praying for all who are sick, suffering, dying, their caregivers, families, our leaders, our priests. I thought I'd share what I often neglect--ebooks. I loved all of these books and hope you find some gems for yourself. 

Enid Blyton: the Biography by Barbara Stoney is such a wonderful and detailed biography of my favorite author when I was a child. I had no idea that critics didn't think her books were literary enough. The pox on them. Sorry. No one remembers the names of the critics but children are still enjoying her stories. I didn't realize how prolific she was but her writing process is enviable. She just sat and typed out what was in her head and it came out clean. Wow! This happens only very rarely to me.

Beckoning by Claudia Cangilla McAdam has the cast of characters from Awakening back in Jerusalem starting Good Friday. This time Ronnie's best friend Tabby is the one who tells her story. She's the daughter of the Centurion who pierces the side of Christ. I loved this so much, the healing, the miracle, and Tabitha's conversion. Wonderful writing, twisty plot, happy ending.  

The Bargain by Vanessa Riley. I don't read much romance anymore but when I did (in my late teens) there were no characters like me. It didn't stop my imagination but how refreshing to see brown girls getting the boy! 

A Robot Named Clunk by Simon Haynes. Again, I don't read much sci-fi anymore but many moons ago, I started writing the great American novel using Simon Haynes' yWriter. It was a help in organizing my jumbled thoughts. I no longer use it but when I joined Writer Sanctum (a wonderful board for self-publishing) I saw Simon there. He's always as ever helpful and so I got his robot book. Fast-paced and funny, I really enjoyed it. He has lots of interesting books. I hope you'll check them out. He's another like Enid, who just sits down and types out his story. He makes all his own covers too. 

Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith. I've already talked about how if you purchase one writing book, you should consider Writing into the Dark. I loved it so much for giving me back what I thought I was losing, my voice, I had to check out his Sacred Cows--it is a great title, no?--and it will debunk many of the myths that are making the rounds in the publishing industry. I should know, I've been part for it for nearly 20 years. This book gave me the confidence to trust my voice and vision and to bring it to fruition. Thank you, Dean! 

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower was such a wise and gentle book guiding me to lose my many fears regarding this writing life. It was like having a good friend hold my hand through the tough times.  

Some People are Dead: Part Essay, Part Memoir, Parts Unknown by James Scott Bell is exactly that. I've always enjoyed reading obituaries but this was so much more, a reflection not only on people's lives but on society. I enjoyed this book very much, especially since I read it while I was in bed sick, contemplating death, and because he made me laugh with stories from his own life. I enjoy getting to know other writers, especially writers I admire. Mr. Bell is not only a terrific writer and storyteller, but a wonderful teacher.  

Snowmallows by Carol Ann Soisson was such a delight. It has everything I enjoy in MG fiction--active kids, good families, heart, humor, fantastic plot twists, along with science and faith. Wow! What a wonderful debut! I look forward to reading more stories from Carol Soisson! Well done!!! And because it's so pretty--I wanted to have a bigger picture of the cover!  

Happy reading and writing, my friends. What books have you enjoyed recently? Please do share in the comments.