"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: So Much Joy!

It's been a busy and wonderful week since returning from our trip to Ohio, focusing on ramping up the blog with a clearer and more professional template and lovely new coordinating headshot courtesy of thrifted clothes, gifted from Mom pearls, advice from keen stylist (for others) Katie and photography as always by DearSpouse. God is so good, and my morning prayer and evening examen times have been consistently full of joy and gratitude even on the busiest and most tiring days. As a loving Parent and Creator I know that our happiness brings God joy too so am intertwining the post wtih a beautiful new to me dramatization of the forgotten Mother God story in Luke 15 between the Good Shepherd and Loving Father/Prodigal Son. The full series is here and my hymn celebrating all three faces of God's amazing rescuing love is here.

1.Homeschooling breakthroughs on the drive down and back included finishing Pride and Prejudice and starting Wuthering Heights--a great compare/contrast analysis of 19th century British women writers, plus it's fun for me to have one I hardly remember after the one I practically know by heart. We also realized her anime fanfiction reading-and-writing fueled passion for Japan and Japanese. We called DearSpouse to get directions to the larger and better stocked Barnes and Noble as we drove through Toledo and chose some great materials Katie is already working with in the car (Living Language is excellent and affordable and what I am using for French) while looking forward to studying formally at the state university near my fellowship Benedictine school next year.

She is uber excited about, God willing, earning a homestay study trip the summer after that (we will be thrilled if she can find a way to earn some actual money, besides saving her gifts, cause the sweat equity extra chores we always do for camps is crucial for character building but means the cash still comes from us!) She was quite grateful I let her drop her second term of Spanish at the community college--we discussed the sunk cost fallacy and its relationship to discernment--which will allow time to excel at precalculus there as well as perform major catch up on the online chemistry class that has eight weeks left after taking a distant second place to the procrastinated World History finish-up! It's getting harder but she still prefers the no research paper feature, which was her Waterloo, so will take second term in the fall with Calc and Japanese and finish up World History in the spring when math, if all goes well, will be over with as much as I got done including college.

2. Posted some wonderful pictures of the trip including the Catholic Women's Conference in Columbus where I walked right by Jen Fulwiler, and before/brunette and after/blonde images of the homeschool maiden. Her BFF's mom is a gifted amateur stylist and I am clueless so she saves the hair work for her whenever possible. It also features pictures of my beautiful new infinity veil, which is lavender with butterlies and phrases like "embrace your truth" and "unleash your joy!" It's unusual for a feminist Catholic to (sometimes) veil for mass, confession, or my own office. But I find it very meaningful and especially love the sense of unity with my ancestors as well as my traditional sisters, and those of other faiths, today. So I was moved by this lovely reflection by Sofia Ali-Khan, a Muslimah lawyer who found wearing hijab full time healing for a season and still does so as we do: to set apart sacred time and space.

It baffles me, the politics of hijab today: the designation of it as anti-feminist, as regressive, as a collusion with backwards extremism. Because what is the legacy of feminism if not the conviction that this body and this spirit are mine to steward? And what better example of backwards extremism than demonizing a woman, or worse still, physically assaulting a woman, because she wears a scarf on her head instead of around her neck? I find the designation of hijab as a symbol of the degree of one’s devotion equally confusing. How could anyone possibly presume to know another’s heart by what they wear on their head? Hijab is not any of these, but neither is it just a bit of cloth. It is an essential part of the spiritual practice of many millions of women in many millions of ways; it was an essential part of my own. Now it’s not. And perhaps someday it will be again, if the spirit moves me.

3. Life is excitingly busy with the preparation for both this fall's fellowship and the application materials for the more demanding one the following year, and will continue to be once I get there. The app's not due till October but I promised to get all my stuff to one of my recommenders, a very busy and renowned scholar, by the end of this semester so she has enough time to fit it in. So I am working on improving my organization with a combination of Getting Things Done approach (DS got and read it for work as required but passed it on pretty fast) and some cool sticky note organizing tips from Auntie Leila and Jen Hewett, who inspired her.

4. Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans has birthed her first child and published this beautiful reflection on nursing as prayer, especially night office. I remember when by grad school best friend and I both had newborn daughters and wistfully discussed the much easier Trappist schedule with fewer, shorter, and reliably scheduled night wakings!

5. Eve Tushnet just gave a talk at DearSpouse's alma mater which I wish had happened last year when we were living there! She writes insightfully of the idolatry of marriage in church as well as society, which I find personally healing, and bravely advocates for more options for community and intimacy for LGBTQ+ people which are fully in accord with traditional Christian values and practices.

What if our images of love included a community of disciples, who became family to those who lost their families or gave up their chance at a socially-sanctioned family for the sake of the Gospel? What if we understood the desire for devoted, lifelong, intimate same-sex love as a good thing–a longing the Church has historically honored in the form of friendship? What if we offered all of our kids, gay straight and whatever Tumblr is doing these days, a future of communities of love–including the Catholic Worker and other intentional communities; godparenthood, which binds the godparents and the parents together as co-laborers; friendships as deep as that of St Gregory of Nazianzus and St Basil the Great, and as practical as the shared households and obligations depicted in Alan Bray‘s work? There are so many paths open to us. Whether we perceive a specific calling to celibacy and create a celibate partnership through a shared prayer life, or whether we start out in your basic gay couple and end up as Dunstan Thompson and Philip Trower; whether the language of friendship speaks to us more or the equally-Scriptural language of brothers and sisters in Christ–there are so many more forms of love than the ones we’ve been trained to see.

6. I have been pulling up, polishing, and adding art to some Scripture reflections from past blogs. Favorites include creative midrashes on Mary and Cleopas at Emmaus and Hannah as well as my take on Luke's and John's famous Samaritans.

7. I continue to find so much joy in transforming my body and spirit with exercise as well as tasty and (mostly) healthy and lower on the food chain eating. Today's lunch of leftover rosemary and olive oil roasted sweet potatoes, red pepper, and butternut squash was hardly penitential, like tonight's replay of the homemade Tillamook extra sharp mac and cheese. I rotate kickboxing, swimming, and racquetball with DearSpouse. We just play for serve because his r-ball skills so far outstrip mine despite my stronger level of general fitness at the moment. I also get in some with bonus walks--hopefully to increase as the weather improves--around the neighborhood with a stop at church to pay a visit or up and down the lakeshore with my homeschooling-support SIL. The knee PT told her observing student today I was "very athletic"--definitely a first in my experience! And Master B. who is excellence-focused and very sparing with praise had me demonstrate a simple move *and* gave me my first "awesome" for losing two percent body fat.

For more Quick Takes visit Kelly!


  1. A dear friend of mine who is a former Benedictine nun commented on my sharing of Rachel's piece that she has always known that moms keep the hours better than most!

    If I were Catholic, I would probably veil for worship. I have a number of friends who do and find it helpful spiritually. I agree -- it is totally about creating sacred space and not about putting something on women.

  2. Veils are tricky because there is a strong history of enforcing them on women which continues in some places--absolutely in Tridentine mass communities which require it, totally against present church discipline, and by attitude in the mouths of some advocates though most, especially the women, are very respectful and say it's their choice but don't attack other women who don't. That is why some of my feminist friends find it triggery--especially those who grew up being forced to wear it before the council. So I get that, though I get equally pissed with the few who mock the veil and don't get they are mocking their sisters unfairly too. I wear it selectively myself--thought I would at the big mass at the Catholic Women's Conference and found it was so hurtful to have all the male priests imported to preach and preside (though there were some lovely and comforting girl acolytes) that I yanked it down! I could still enjoy it on the lovely young woman next to me esp. cause her mom was casually dressed and bareheaded so clearly their family is about freedom and mutual respect. And I chose to wear it later for confession (which is both sacred space creating and makes me giggle a bit remembering Cher's confession in Moonlighting!) and the killer gorgeous adoration. I have happy memories of my grandma's mantilla when really young and dressing up with my mom's after she left the church, but it took some time to choose it for myself for sometimes use because of the not so positive history.

    There is a similar dynamic for Muslimahs, and much harsher--veils are forced for mosque attendance, where there is second class seating as well, and a lot of people in the community harshly judge non-hijabis--while of course Islamaphobes judge hijabis pretty badly and sometimes dangerously too. That is why I love the piece I linked--she is so balanced, shares her personal journey of when it helps her and doesn't, and reminds us that we shouldn't judge women on either side. And why though I really enjoyed my two hijab for a day experiments I will no longer take part at the recent request of the feminist Muslimahs who say that it adds to the unfair pressure on them from inside their community.

  3. Clarification: I don't think all Trid masses require it, not sure of the ratio, but some do and that is wrong when the Vatican doesn't--just as is their forbidding female acolytes (and maybe even lectors--not sure) in dioceses where the bishop allows it.