Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Childhood memories, a meme:
  1. Winter! Especially the Blizzard of '77 during which my father was stranded in Rochester, NY for two weeks until he followed a plow home and my mother boiled pots of melted snow on the gas stove to keep the house warm because the electricity was out.

    How my father would bundle up, even in more normal winters, using a scarf my mother knitted, to plow the snow from the driveway.

  2. Summer! Especially all the tennis we played.

    Those long, exploratory bike rides, especially to Hamlin Beach.

    Those rare visits to my dad's brothers in Newfane for block parties. The even rarer long walk through the vacant lot to my aunt's neighbor's pool, seemingly abandoned. The murky, cold water, the overgrown weeds around the chain-link fence, the feeling that we were trespassing, a sense of the deserted. Fourth of July at the family friend's farm, the smell of the barn, pig roast, wagon rides, fireworks in the distance and softball games.

    The ability to predict my mother's whereabouts at any time of her workday as a letter carrier in our small town and riding my bike to ask her for whatever was on my mind. I was sure she had the best job for a mom, better than a school teacher.

    Not being able to wait for school to be out so that I could spent time studying what I wanted to study, referencing my parents' paltry library, the decent public library in town and the larger one in the county seat. When home life stunk, the library was my sanctuary.

  3. My newest brother, the youngest, coming home from the hospital after five days on my fifth birthday and Mother's Day.

  4. My husband's valedictorian speech at high school graduation.

  5. Flipping off my high school cross country coach when he teased about not having any water on a long run. And his little red car! And all those hills we ran!

  6. My father's restaurant and his bankruptcy. And his rotten luck as a rate clerk for the trucking industry. He took me to an office in Buffalo when he cleaned out his desk. A secretary put me on her lap and had me type my first name using the home row on her electric typewriter. I realized then my first name is all on the left hand. I remember how my dad used a calculator, collected bicentennial quarters - I wonder who has his collection now?

  7. The moment I realized that my older sister was growing up and would soon be leaving home and how much our lives would change as a family. Including getting our room to myself! Painting it and wallpapering it.

  8. Playing around in my friend's building, the town's former middle school, in the summer before it was renovated into senior housing. Including, but not limited to, sunbathing on the roof.

  9. Working graveyard shift summers during college at the town's only 24 hr. convenience store. After getting off third shift, riding my bike six miles to the YMCA to lift weights and swim and riding home again, in order to be in shape for Fall cross country at school.

    The night a kid asked to write me an I.O.U. for gas. And the night a guy asked me to unlock the beer cooler after hours. I wisely said no to both requests and called the police in the second instance.

    My friend who lived across the street coming home from her job at McDonald's and giving me whatever "expired" food she's managed to take away.

    Staying awake for about 30 hours after pulling a double shift (2nd and 3rd) then day-tripping to Sherkston Beach in Ontario with friends. It's been built up some since, I guess. I feel asleep on the beach, briefly, then worked third shift so sunburned I could barely stand. My stovepipe pants stuck to my swollen, blistered legs.

  10. 1978-1982: Three Mile Island, Love Canal, JPII's election, Lennon's assassination, the royal wedding. Getting cable TV. Playing Atari. Jeff's TI-99 and Commodore 64 home computers.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jeff took all the kids to the movies late this afternoon - as Ella calls it, the "fee-ater" - so I had a few hours to myself.

He suggested I exercise so I did. And even though there was plenty to do around the house, what with summer camp starting tomorrow for the boys, I ducked out and went down to Howell for their annual tent revival. I've never been and I picked a good year to go as it's their last one ever.

I checked out the book table. Mostly the typical titles: Navarre commentaries, Benedict's encyclicals1, missals and prayer books. A thin paperback caught my eye, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Catholic from Harvest House. There wasn't really anyone manning the table but I wanted to ask whether the bookseller had mixed up his boxes, confusing his target audiences. I could imagine some venues where such a book would be appropriate. I had enough money to buy the inexpensive book but I decided against it. There was also an anti-Mormon pamphlet there.

I went under the tent and got a very good seat near the front. Some people had saved a couple of rows ahead of me but most people filled the back pews folding chairs. Right on time, five people mounted the stairs to the platform and led the audience in a rosary. I had prayed one on the car ride over but dug my beads out of my purse and went along. I was distracted by people's arrival, sometimes large groups of people. "Holy Rollers," I thought to myself. Yes, some looked the part.

One lady sat near and joined in the prayer without beads. I'd read somewhere that it doesn't "count" unless you have the beads.2 At the conclusion, the leader led us in prayers for the Holy Father's intentions in order to "get the indulgence," but we weren't in a church, so the plenary indulgence was not available anyway.

A band called "Our Refuge" passed out song sheets and performed a few numbers. They said they were from St. Francis Cathedral in the Diocese of Metuchen. There was considerable feedback in their audio but tolerable. I knew two of the songs they played. There were others that I would have liked to hear. One was by Kristyn Getty. The audience was very charismatic, waving hands in the air, swaying, yelling "Amen" and "Alleluia." At one point, a lady seated behind me pulled a tambourine from her pocketbook and began rattling it. Some came very prepared.

In due time, the speaker was introduced. He came to the platform carrying a thick Bible with four multi-colored ribbons. I wondered which Bible but it seemed to be for show because I didn't see him open it. True, I wasn't able to stay for his entire talk. His presentation didn't really seem to be going anywhere. I was disappointed that he couldn't cut to the chase.

I walked out without being noticed and went over to the Catholic Radio table to say hello. Both of the people staffing the table were deeply engaged in conversations so I moved on without having the opportunity to verbalize my support. I returned to the book table with the intention of buying Rhodes's anti-Catholic pamphlet but it was gone. Either someone bought it or the bookseller realized his mistake. The anti-Mormon booklet was still there; a lady was reading from it to her male companion, laughing.

1 which are free online

2 Then, what about this Kindle rosary?
Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

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Friday, June 24, 2011

I bought a pair of swim gloves last week because I'm no good at keeping my fingers together. Even if I could, I wouldn't get the same amount of resistance that these gloves provide. I've used the gloves three times so far for, at most, a third of my time in the pool, and I feel stronger already. So I'm really excited!

I notice other swimmers wearing two suits during their workouts. The idea of more laundry strongly repels me. But since I finally received the new suits I ordered for myself for Mother's Day, wearing a worn out suit on top of a new one might be better than throwing the old ones away. The old suits are see-through in spots, thanks to careless laundering practices (i.e., the dryer). So they can't be worn alone.

I also bought flippers. Some other swimmers use flippers for part of their workout. I haven't used mine because they seem so awkward. But I'm planning to bring them with me tomorrow because I found a net bag to carry them in.
We met last night to cover the second lesson in the Little Rock Scripture Study on Acts of the Apostles. The deacon stood in for the pastoral associate. That made little difference since he was just returning from a business trip and had prepared the wrong week's lesson.

I also was returning from vacationing out of town but had managed to read the text and commentary before leaving. I crammed the week's worth of questions into an hour. They were easy questions. Much less work than the Matthew study. The text covered chapters 3 to 5, including that curious story about Ananias and Sapphira.

Several questions include in parentheses references to other books of the Bible in order to answer fully. So, a personal application of the story of Peter and John healing the cripple (3:4-6) asks in what ways are we to help those in need. The references point to Genesis 18, Matthew 10:41 and Romans 12:13-18 but I didn't have to look them up. I knew that Genesis 18 is about hospitality, Matthew 10:41 is about giving a cup of cold water and Romans 12 is about how to get along with people in community.

Can the question be answered without looking up the references? Of course. Everybody knows about helping those in need. But the lengths that the Bible recommends might be just beyond what comes naturally. And so, we won't know how much is called for (and how much grace is needed) unless we reference the recommended texts. It's a Bible study.

One of the questions directed an analysis of Isaiah 53 from the perspective of fulfillment in Jesus' passion. Nobody else had a Bible with them, so I opened mine (cheaper editions elsewhere) and read the verses that resonated. I just assumed everyone was familiar with the passage but maybe it's only familiar from stations. Our deacon said Isaiah originally wrote it for a contemporary king but it also applies to Jesus. I hadn't heard that before and initially thought he was rather thinking of earlier Isaian chapters (7 and 9). But then I came up with a possible royal candidate and asked him whether it was Hezekiah. He didn't know. But I've since searched and found some support.

An aspect of Peter's preaching in the early chapters of Acts that I find interesting is the technique the commentary calls "pesher." It's only since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that we've fully understood this Jewish method of interpretation. It involves plugging specific, contemporary names into general, ancient prophecies. So, in chapter 4, Peter quotes Ps. 2:1-2 before the Sanhedrin and explains that Herod and Pontius Pilate stand in for the "kings of the earth" and "rulers."

I read a footnote in the LRCSB to answer someone's question about Acts 3:21 - an apocalyptic designation of the messianic age, fitting in with the christology of Acts 3:20 that associates the messiahship of Jesus with his future coming. Another participant asked where, in Jesus' own words, he said he was coming again. I read Matthew 24:3ff.

From the video, I learned that Luke is building a legal case in the early chapters of his Acts. He is showing his side as being righteous and the other side as being criminal. He is showing by the healing miracles in Jesus' name that Jesus is not dead but still alive. I immediately developed an even greater appreciation of Luke's careful presentation.

I had seen a friend from Jim's study there last Friday morning after mass but didn't see her again this morning. I didn't actually have time to hang out after mass so maybe she eventually arrived. Another friend from his study said she also planned to attend on Friday mornings but I didn't see her either.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

My post this week:

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Monday, June 06, 2011

A friend is in the hospital. I was strongly encouraged to visit her by a mutual friend who would be out of town. She had me cover for her, it seems. I don't mind. How often do I get to visit friends in the hospital?

The hospital is located near a state university that I didn't attend. Not even socially. Years ago, I took Timmy to the nearby medical offices because he was (and still is) underweight. Even so, I can't admit to being familiar with the area. It was twilight and as I turned onto Livingston, I saw the plain white cross of the hospital above the low-rise city buildings. I drove to the main entrance hoping to ask the valet where I could park. There was no one out except an alabaster statue of St. Peter. I recognized him by the keys in his right hand.

Turning back onto the street, I saw a statue of Fátima.1 I really felt at home but quickly thought about my Reformed friend in the facility.

As I entered the parking garage, I was greeting with a CASH ONLY sign. I handed over my credit card but the gatekeeper refused it. I told her why I was there and gave her all I had, ten quarters. She took my name and raised the gate. I must have that kind of face. I was prepared to show ID at the security gate and received a hall pass. I found my friend's room which was full of immediate family. It was as if they were having a quiet evening at home but, I was expected, so I didn't feel as if I was intruding. The eldest daughter stayed with us while the rest went home.

I saw the flowers that I had ordered through the hospital gift shop. They looked just like the image on the website. I saw a small, thin crucifix on the wall, rather high up. Maybe intentionally out of reach. Perhaps out of sight unless one is looking for it. The room was nicely appointed with wood trim. Not large but private. As the shift was just changing, the new nurse came in, introduced herself and looked my friend over. Then she excused herself saying she had many other patients to see but call her if needed. On the weekends, I know, hospital staff leave you alone.

There's a room on the wing devoted to quiet meditation. My friend walked me down to see it. She calls it the "Zen room." The sign on the wall said "Healing Room." Chairs line all four walls and in the center is a pergola without slats along the top. Between the four upright posts of the structure are live, green, leafy plants and a pile of large, assorted river stones. On the far wall is a shiny mosaic of a tree. The soft sound of a local radio station could be heard over the PA. My friend said she heard morning prayers said over the PA once but didn't tell me the nature of those prayers.2 That is, whether they sounded Christian. But the room sticks in her craw. She associates pergolas, plants and rocks with Zen Buddhism; I associate them with the outdoors. Not altogether in bad taste for patients cooped up.

She said a hospital chaplain had visited a couple of times but she turned her away:
She was a nun.
When I was in the hospital with my first child, I had disclosed my religion on the pre-registration forms, rather proudly, as I remember. Sort of thinking the information would be necessary in the event of my death, actually. Then, early on my first morning there, a woman came with holy communion. I wasn't in the right frame of mind so I thanked her but sent her away. She came back the next morning and I asked her not to come back. On subsequent pre-registrations, I omitted details about my religion. Yes, if I were in the hospital for serious reasons, I'd think differently.

We returned to her room and her daughter left. She had her text when she reached the car and text again when she got home. I never gave personal safety there a second thought, actually. I had brought my Kindle with a FREE edition of the ESV Bible (thanks, Ellen) on it and wanted to read a couple of passages I'd heard on Ascension Thursday in church. I like reading aloud and she tolerated it. Days earlier I had asked her to pray for me in return for all the prayers I was making for her. And her prayers were answered very soundly. Which poses the problem of why, if God so clearly hears and answers her prayers, she is sick in the hospital and not actively doing her ministry at home and in church.

1 Three children. I reflexively thought Fátima, then second-guessed myself and thought Lourdes. But three children is Fátima. Three secrets, three children.
2 Whether they were Divine Office or whether she would even recognize them as such.