Friday, June 29, 2007
Yesterday I talked to the woman from Human Resources at the hospital, and she told me that the NC Board of Physical Therapy Examiners updates their website every morning at 1am. I have been checking that website since Wednesday, entering my last name to see whether I'm listed among the licensed physical therapists in the state. After the HR lady gave me that hint, I decided to stay close to the internet last night. I awoke around 2:30am, and switched on my computer as I stumbled to the restroom.
When I sat down in front of it five minutes later, I was so nervous to put my name in. I told myself that not everyone finds out in 3 days. If my name's not there, that doesn't necessarily mean that I failed.
...But my name was there! I passed the exam! I'm a licensed physical therapist in the state of North Carolina! And that means I start work on Monday!
In a few days, I will receive a letter from the Board that gives me my score. But to tell the truth, I don't care about the score. All I care about is that I got a score high enough to get my license.
I know that I had the help of many prayers both in the days before and on the day of the exam. I am grateful for all of them. Thank you so much. I really felt the grace of all those prayers; I could not have done it without your support.
Even though I won't be spending July 4th at an 18th floor balcony party in Crystal City overlooking the nation's capitol, my prayers have been answered.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
...with plenty of prayers behind me, I know! I am very grateful for all of them.
Now all I can do is my best.
This was a refreshing start to my day, after the daily readings: a beautiful tribute to Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei movement.
The first few quotations are particularly enlightening.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I'm sure there are misunderstandings and legalities that most cradle Catholics, especially, have had to face in their personal journey at one time or another. This past weekend, I was telling stories about going to Confession as a child, every Saturday afternoon.
I dreaded Saturday afternoons, but felt that this was the way I was going to grow in holiness. During the week as I remembered my sins, I would write them down in a pocket notebook--calling it my "sin list." That way, I would be sure not to forget anything when I arrived at Confession! The priest was a very holy man, but was even more scrupulous than I was, and did not make those encounters particularly easy for me. Every week, my penance was the same: a set of mysteries of the Rosary. It got to the point where I would go early and start the Rosary beforehand, just to save time later!
"Girls I know like you," Colin's dad told me, "are now Protestants."
He has a point. Because the Church contains the fullness of Truth, there is so much to cover; it cannot all be taught at once. The essentials are taught first, which is good. Children need the basics first. Different emphasis is made about different aspects at different stages of life. Understood. But I think that part of the problem that some cradle Catholics have is that no one taught them beyond the essentials. And it is necessary to obtain more depth.
Hence, Fr. Newman's observation that ex-Catholic Protestants say they left because they never "met Jesus."
I know that my parents' early emphasis of a personal relationship with Christ, through His mother, was a crucial aspect of my consistent participation in my Faith growing up. They encouraged me to nurture a personal prayer life. I was provided with instruction on how to start, and then how to develop that.
But of course this makes sense, if you think about it--if the sacraments do not translate into something personal that I can keep within me, then what's the point?
I remember a spiritually difficult time during my junior and senior years of college, when I was studying St. Thomas and learning more about the divine nature of God. The difficulty was not about belief in God, or in His Church. But it was then that I had the most trouble connecting the God of Creation with the God in my heart, and understanding that He was the same Being. Between Theology classes, when I would go to daily Mass, I would almost have to "put aside" my newfound knowledge of an unchanging, unaffected, About-Which-Nothing-Can-Be-Attributed eternal Being, for the loving, expressive, and personal God I met in prayer. It took me a while to really connect the two identities with one another. I still don't know if the full connection has been made.
But here is an article that reminds us how essential it is to really keep that connection intact. It is a short read: Fr. Paul Scalia shows how the gospel story of the woman who touched Jesus' cloak illustrates the difference between encountering God accidentally and encountering God on purpose, or with faith.
This is now the challenge of those who are beyond the crisis of whether to keep the Faith. Now the challenge is to keep the Faith alive. To remember, Sunday after Sunday, the gravity of what I am experiencing, the reality of what is going on. I know I, personally, have been guilty of receiving Communion "accidentally," or with casual complacency. Ironically, it is even more tempting to do so when I get into the habit of going to Mass daily, because the habit of it makes it harder to remember the awesome mystery of the Eucharist.
But this is the challenge: receive the sacraments with purpose and reverence, and then cultivate the life of Christ in me by meeting Him daily on a personal level.
And I suppose that the word for that these days is Evangelical Catholicism.
Monday, June 18, 2007
"You just have to buckle down and study, study, study this week," he told me--even reminding me on the way home in the car that it was a perfect time to do some of my reading!
And as he gave me a hug last night before I left his house to drive home, he added, "And no cooking. You've cooked for the past how many months; I am more than capable of cooking for a week. Just concentrate on passing that exam."
I have the best boyfriend ever.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Plus, the United States Postal Service doesn't ship liquor, even for Father's Day.
"I guess you'll just have to deliver the scotch personally," I chirped to Colin, whilst he attempted to brainstorm about what ELSE he might POSSIBLY get for his Dad.
"Hey, wait a minute..." I continued. "Why don't we? Let's just go! We did it over Easter--let's leave on Friday after you get out of work, and come back Sunday evening! It'll be great!"
After some more convincing arguments about how practical this plan is, what a fantastic idea it is, and that I can study at his parents' house with same amount of rigor as in Chapel Hill, he agreed.
The plan was to surprise his dad, but we think that plan is already ruined:
"Come on up!" his mom [practically shouted, according to Colin] into the phone, with her signature exuberance. "But your father is sitting right here, and I think he can hear you," she laughed.
Personally, I believe he would have heard her, even if he was on the other side of the house! His hearing is incredible.
It will be a good time, surprise or no.
Now I've got to go out and find some Lagavulin!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Hmmm... What will be the possible explanations given, for why 21st century America didn't resist the conquest of radical Islamists?
Possibly... (depending who's teaching the history at that point)--
--Deep down in the hearts of all Americans was the knowledge that Islam was the answer to the grievous corruption rampant in their country.
Or take your pick of these...
--They had so much time for leisure, they were too stoned to know the seriousness of what was going on.
--Politicians were more concerned with looking like they cared about everyone else's opinions, that they didn't have time to think about the common good.
--No one wanted to take responsibility for being "prejudiced" against things they themselves don't believe.
--Alexis de Tocqueville predicted: in a democratic state, the minority voice eventually cries out louder than the majority voice, as the quest for equality off-balances itself.
--Catch phrases such as "open dialogue" and "freedom of religion" shut up anyone attempting to sound the warning calls.
--Denial is easier in a relativistic society, "If I don't interfere with them, they won't interfere with me."
God save us from ourselves.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Today is my 3rd or 4th attempt, and it's not working. Has anyone else experienced this problem?
God forbid I ever try to work from home: nothing will ever get done! There are just too many other distractions: dishes in the sink, clutter in my room, recipes that need to be found for dinner, meat that needs to be thawed, blogs that need to be checked ...things that are low priority--but are high demand--whenever I stay home.
I like to think it's my natural "nesting" tendencies (rather than my selfish "lazy" tendencies) that keep me from my primary mission right now. But that is highly improbable.
Whatever it is, I must cut it off and pluck it out, as it were (Mark 9:43-47), and focus on my present calling: pass my boards. pass my boards. pass my boards.
I'm leaving now....
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Tuesday June 26th at 12:30pm
The exam lasts about 5 hours, so if you pray for me at just about anytime that day, I will be in there. Don't worry, I will remind everyone when the time gets closer (probably even AS the time gets closer!!)
Please pray. I don't know that I'll ever "feel" ready for it. But God's taken me through this far, so I'm trusting that He'll help me finish it off now! I'm taking another practice test tomorrow....
S0 I'm off to study some more!
(thanks to Portia, for the cute cartoon idea)
Thursday, June 07, 2007
A Catholic boy raised in Ireland and Germany, whose father is an Army Ranger, whose mother still swims competitively, who is repulsed by the idea of tatoos and body piercings, who loves both nature--especially birds--and heart research, ...
...has been introducing me to reggae music. That's right. I was surprised at first. But apparently, back in the '60s, his Army Ranger dad went to James Brown concerts where he and his friends were the only white guys there. His dad really appreciates any music with soul and rhythm. And although Colin can't carry a tune, he also has a very keen sense of rhythm. His defense for reggae music is similar to my defense for country music--for the most part, the music carries a good message, is family-oriented, and isn't afraid to talk about God. I never realized this before I started listening to his music. And, of course, there are the exceptions to these rules--songs that end up making it big on the charts--just like in country or any other genre of music.
Of course, the huge theological difference between country and reggae is that "God" to the reggae singers is the Rastifarian "Jah"--who is not the same as the Christian God.
But while listening, I have come up with another difference between these two types of music:
Country music - takes the goodness of the family for granted, identifying with it and glorying in it through stories and love songs.
Reggae music - realizes the need for family and God, and so promotes that realization to convince listeners that they won't fill that need somewhere else.
As a result, there can be a lot of gang and slang -talk in reggae music. The target audience is different.
Never thought I'd be in that audience... but tonight, Colin is treating me to a reggae concert in Raleigh! He's even supplying the earplugs.
It's fun to dance to, anyway!
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
So here we go:
“For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”
1. I don't read the news. Nor do I listen to it on the radio. Nor do I watch it on television, except for rare occasions when I happen to be waiting at Firestone for an oil change or something. How do I know what's going on, you ask? Well, I don't, generally speaking. Until other people tell me. Or until I read / hear mention of something and decide to go look it up.
2. I sleep anywhere, and deeply. The funniest place I've fallen asleep was on a jeepney. And it's a good thing I sleep deeply, because according to Colin, the thunderstorm that startled me out of sleep once or twice last night was so close, that he reported hearing the electricity "return to the sky" with a crackle after every flash. He also said that the thunder and lightning occurred simultaneously--at least at his house. I would have freaked out if I had been awake for that!
3. I just bought a secondhand 10-speed bike for $40; it is very old, but it's blue and rides smoothly and I'm determined not to let it get stolen like my awesome $300 Trek hybrid did a few months ago.
4. I have 4 sisters, but I also have about 6 other girlfriends in my life whom I think of and turn to as sisters. And they're all over the country--soon to be all over the world. I believe these sister and sister-like relationships have contributed to my spiritual growth, my sense of well-being, and my understanding of what real romance is.
5. I am a physical therapist. Wait. Did I just say that? I am a physical therapist.
I know you all know that one by now, but I like saying it. Pretty awesome.
6. I'd rather be in the mountains than at the beach. Yep--give me a hiking trail, a scrambling mound, an alpine lake, or a ski slope any day. This has much to do with not liking sand sticking to me, as well as the feeling of adrenalin-inducing terror immediately prior to cresting the monster-waves. I enjoy the beach, but I enjoy the mountains more.
7. I enjoy experimenting with different kinds of sun tea. My latest favorite is Twinings Herbal Revive. I noticed it on the shelf at the store because the box is purple. But the tea itself has black currants, ginseng, and Tahitian vanilla. It's a yummy cold tea!
8. Counted cross-stitch is one of my favorite creative hobbies that I cannot wait to return to when I settle into my job!
And to tag...
Hmmm... I don't think I KNOW 8 people to tag for this one....
The meme stops here.
My current sublet, my next living situation, including my soon-to-be-roommate, my bed, my bike, ...heck, even my boyfriend!
Recently I've become more aware of how much time I spend online:
~reading my sisters' blogs (and usually at least one of their links!)
~browsing sales (we'll need furniture in our new place, for one)
~finding all sorts of information, whether it be where the nearest Goodwill donation center is, or whether a mosquito-catcher..."actually, it's called a Crane Fly, and it doesn't eat mosquitoes, or even bite," Colin says ...ahem, whether it eats mosquitoes or bites (yes, I need to read it myself!), or what kind of government Guyana has.
I must say that the internet is to me what cable television is to many of my friends. I would have a very difficult time giving it up.
And yet, I don't think that I would really miss that much, objectively speaking.
So I'm starting to make an effort to cut back. And the first step I've taken is to leave my computer at home. It may sound funny, but my computer has tended to travel with me--a habit enforced by continuous schoolwork over the past three years. Recently, though, I find studying for my boards much more productive without the internet at my fingertips.
There is something impersonal about the internet. It's like a protective--or even a defensive--screen that doesn't allow full personal disclosure. A mask is automatically in place unless there's already an intimacy or understanding between people. Interestingly, because of this mask, people feel freer to say things online that they may not say in person. They can be less socially reserved because they don't feel as intimidated by a screen as they might by an actual human face or voice. The danger of this, of course, is that people make up fantastic images of themselves to portray to the world, and become addicted to the expression of that image. Just take a look at MySpace and the lives that people live through those pages. It's enough to make you wonder whether they live on the same planet as the rest of us. (You don't really have to look there--it might not be the best use of your time, actually).
Colin and I both felt the presence of this "mask" when we first made contact last year, and we were both impatient to remove it to see whether there was something real that existed between us. We did our best to peel it away through our emails, letters, and phone calls, but ultimately, the emails we exchanged after knowing one another personally automatically had more meaning than previous exchanges. Although the internet gave us the opportunity to find one another, we both saw it as an early stepping stone to move beyond as soon as possible.
Now I am going to say that this mask, the mask that can encourage false confidence and tempt people to personal fiction, can also facilitate good things--like the rekindling of friendships.
Last night, I re-connected with an old friend who happened to be online when I was. This girl is someone I met through college, even though she didn't attend my college. She was a friend of a friend, who I somehow became close to in the course of one night when she stayed in my dorm room during a visit to see him. Ironically, he and I don't keep in touch--and she doesn't keep in touch with him, either! But over the years, she and I have connected and re-connected and have been able to pick up talking at any time. The funny thing is, I recently scanned through my phone contacts and saw her number, paused, and then continued through without calling. It's been so long--what would I say--it'd be weird to call out of the blue--this may not even be her number anymore--but I'm not going to erase it--
Last night we caught up via instant messenger, to some extent, but we also resolved that we would talk soon on the phone. Online communication gave us an easy avenue for getting back in touch with one another.
Maybe it's just me, but I propose that the internet and its mask can be used to casually reconnect in order to revive meaningful friendships.
And trust me, I'm not against connecting online in order to begin meaningful relationships, either! God can work through any medium.
There just has to be an awareness of the mask, both the mask that shields my face and the mask that shields the face on the other side.
Monday, June 04, 2007
It was so good to spend some down time with them. The last time I saw them was the week before graduation, at work. So this was great. They encouraged me in my study efforts for the boards, which was helpful.
Sunday was going to be a full day off(!) for both Colin and me; so I planned out plenty of things for us to go do outside--from visiting the city flowerbed gardens to renting canoe at the marina to swimming at the lake.
And, of course, the best-laid plans of mice and men....
We both got up late yesterday. It probably had a lot to do with
1. Colin getting to bed late after coming back from a conference in Virginia
2. Me not used to getting up with my alarm these days, and even if I had awakened,
3. Colin's phone is temporarily disconnected, due to an "auto-pay" disfunction, so I couldn't have called him to wake him up.
4. It was dark outside, even at 10am, because
5. It was raining cats and dogs all night, and still drizzling most of the day.
I suppose some extra sleep isn't the worst way to spend some of your designated "day of rest." But that meant we did not make the hour-long drive to go to this parish we finally found (I just registered last week). Instead, we went locally ...then went out to breakfast ...then went to Dick's and bought me a tennis racket ...then went to collect treasures at Home Depot ...then went back to Colin's house where:
There was much rejoicing, as this plant was on sale, and it also happens to attract tree frogs, which are some of Colin's favorite creatures (besides geckos and skinks and salamanders and birds and snakes and moths and spiders and ferrets and dogs and cats and hippopotamuses...)
It's only about 5:30pm here! We're not used to it getting dark until around 8:30pm or so. It was a funny day....
Hurray! One down! And you can sort-of see the butterfly bush in front of Colin's left knee that I am going to inherit, since he says it will be happier at my place with more sun... :)
To finish off our Day of Rest, we ordered some Hawaiian pizza, drank some Colorado-brewed beer, and watched Dream Girls.
Today I'm taking my car to the Saturn dealership, since it collected water in the backseat and trunk during the rainstorm. This is not the first time it's happened in the trunk, but it IS the first time it happened in the backseat. I read online that Saturns with sunroofs tend to have this problem. I hope to get it fixed in order to prepare it for the wet climate of North Carolina. The season of humidity has only begun--and I don't need a moldy car!
Wish me luck, 'cause then it's back to the grindstone...!
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
Over Easter, Colin and I went back to St. Patrick's Church in D.C. where we first met over Thanksgiving.
It was neat to be there with him again, remembering that day to each other from our individual perspectives, and appreciating the beauty of the church again, this time completely at ease in each others' company.
I remember that Friday in November, standing next to him at Mass, marveling at the likelihood that I would look back someday and smile at how unfamiliar and shy I felt with him right then.
Funny how little time it took....
Just to illustrate the point, I would've never allowed myself to look this the first day I met him!
Recently, I have become more in tune with the need to pray for these men. The parish priest here in Chapel Hill consistently concludes Confession with, "And please pray for this sinner, too."
While visiting Colin's parents in D.C. over Easter, the priest who heard my confession there on Holy Saturday specifically asked for prayers. And I was again reminded by an email that my spiritual father in Connecticut sent yesterday. We have been phoning and emailing back and forth, and I had recently sent him an extensive email citing all the possible ways that we could coordinate his visit to Charlotte in July with Colin and my work schedules. I had then ended my message with a promise of prayers and an eagerness to see him. His reply was one line, and its simplicity struck me:
"Many thanks, [Sephora], especially for the prayers. God will provide."(emphasis mine)
Colin and I have recently added this simple prayer to our evening prayers--although this is from a tiny pocket-sized prayer book, and I believe it is an abridged version of a more extensive prayer. It is just one of many possible prayers, but it is a reminder of what a gift our priests are, and how much they depend on our spiritual support for their strength.
O Jesus, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests; for your unfaithful and tepid priests; for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for your tempted priests; for your lonely and desolate priests; for your young priests; for your dying priests; for the souls of your priests in purgatory. But above all, I commend to you the priests dearest to me, the priest who baptized me, the priests who have absolved me from my sins, the priests at whose Masses I have assisted and who have offered me your Body and Blood in Holy Communion, the priests who have taught and instructed me or helped and encouraged me, and the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.
O Jesus, keep them all close to your Heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.