Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Where. were. you?

Three words. A simple question, and yet somehow we all know what it means. We all know it points to something important. Where were you?

My step-mom and aunt recall that their parents forgot to feed them dinner the night Kennedy was assassinated.  My mother recalled to me watching the news of MLK on television.  And I remember sitting on the red-floral couch with my mother at my grandparents house on the Cape, watching Princess Di's funeral on the old grainy tv with my mom.  It was our last trip, the last time we were down Cape before Mom died herself.   Where were you?

It is the question we ask ourselves whenever we refer to something terrible.  As soon as the tales of a terrible incident are begun, so do the memories of where we ourselves were in that moment.  And no other tragedy stands out more for people my age, than 9/11.  Where were you?  Where were you on 9/11?  Where were you when 9/11 happened?  It becomes a moment and not a whole day.  

I was in history class.  My little mini-World History class with a half-dozen people that met in the room right next to the front stairwell.   Mr. Conro came over the intercom.  Announced we had been attacked and that our nation was at war.  He declared war before the President did.   We were told we couldn't watch any news until last period.  Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle. Instantly and silently my head filled with petitions to St. Michael.  Just that summer I'd learned that if you're in a bad situation pray the prayer of St. Michael. A really bad situation pray it again.   The situation would get better we were told at camp, he promised us.  It would always get better. I went for the full novena.  The prayer repeated in my head nine times.  Things got worse. 

The school was filled with scared people.  They told us  the attacks had happened but wouldn't let us watch the news.  The told us the attacks were in NY but wouldn't let us use phones to contact loved ones there.  They told us the plane left from Logan but wouldn't let the person whose best friend was scheduled for a flight from Boston to the West Coast check on her friend.  They gave us enough information to scare us, but not the time to find the information that would comfort us.   Where were you?

Walking up toward Circle Drive and the Connolly's house, I still had no real idea exactly what was happening.  And there was Mrs. C, sitting on her bed.  Paralyzed in terror. Drawn to the television set like a magnet.  Repulsed but nonetheless unable to turn away.  It was the first real news.  She didn't leave it on for too long after we got home.  Pretty sure it turned off around the time my sister got there, after all she was only ten.  Ten.  That's a young age to see your world change, and yet it is how old she was when the Towers fell.  And the age I was when my mom died.  At ten you're in a world of half-innocence.  A world where you half understand and are half confused.  A world where details stick to you, as you work hard to comprehend them. 

It was a Tuesday.  An UNlisted day.  And that's where my day ended.  A table of high school students at Republican offices.  Not off in some separate conference room.  We were out in the middle of the offices, and people were around us working on copying machines.  The newspaper was preparing for an evening edition.  It was the first time I'd seen that.  I thought evening editions were something of the past.   They seemed foreign without the words "Evening Post" and a Norman Rockwell painting to grace the cover.  But that's where I was.   Where were you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Building My House Once

"Don't build your house on a sandy land
Don't build it too near the shore
Oh it might be kind of nice 
But you'll have to built it twice.
You'll have to build your house once more."  

I'm sure there are other readers out there, who heard this song as a child.  Whether you heard it in a relative's car like me, at a children's event at your church, or belted it out around the house, I'm guessing if you're anything like me, it's starting to have a new meaning now that it didn't back then.  As a young college-grad in my 20s, I am just starting to "build my house," both literally and symbolically.  Now is the time to make sure our houses are built on solid ground.  To make sure our homes, and our lives, are routed in the Lord.

As mentioned in the previous entry, this is a bit of a challenge for me, but a challenge I am facing head on!  As I've heard, "God comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable."  Well, I've been comfortable and now God is disturbing me! He is telling me to look for more.  Telling me that it is time to take the next big leap.  The uncomfortable one.  The scary one.  He is reminding me of the people who don't live with the same comforts as I enjoy.  He is inviting me into His presence, into His fellowship.

In his autobiography "My Life On The Rock," Jeff Cavins describes the period during which he was leaving the Catholic Church in the following way:

In a funny way, none of my problems with the Catholic Church were doctrinal or theological at this stage.  It was all experiental. 
His words could be a summary of my current feelings.  I have no problems with the doctrine or theology of the Church.  In fact quite the opposite.  I agree with the doctrine and theology.  I have loved my opportunities to study and teach theology.  I have found the readings of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body beautiful and inspired.  I have turned to the Catechism as means of answering questions.  I have allowed Saints to become my confidantes.  I have anxiously put off the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then beamed with joy as I left the Confessional.  But sometimes the experiences are lacking - the lack of fellowship in a Church, the lack of continuity in parishioners, the seeming nonexistence of anyone else below 30 in the pews.  Fellowship is not the reason for Church, it cannot be the Bread with nourishes our life.  But sometimes I want some condiments.  Sometimes I want a human friend with whom I can share my struggles.  Not someone to replace my relationship with Christ, but someone to help strengthen it.  Someone to point me in the right direction.  I want to experience Christ in community.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Journey on a Solitary Path

I've been a bad blogger.  Completely neglecting this blog, and I'm sorry to report similarly neglecting my spiritual journey.  I am aiming to rekindle both in the coming months.  To blog regularly, to turn my blog into real writing instead of useless self-blabber like this.  I am also aiming to rekindle my spiritual life, to find myself ignited.  This is certainly a challenge.  I am conflicted at the moment between the Church whose teaching I believe in, and the Fellowship I crave to sustain my spiritual life.  I know I believe in the tenets of my Faith, I know that I could not abandon the Eucharist for a Church where sacraments are only symbols.  I also know that "faith without works is dead," and that I truly need the fellowship and support of fellow believers to help me put the faith and the works together right now.  I am walking the path alone right now, but I'm hoping to soon find some friends to share the path.