Saturday, December 11, 2010

Magic


Magic.

Being lost in your own world. With music. On a bus.
Going from home to home.
People surrounding you can't hear the strains of Wagner in your ears.
The dark of the night world is lit up by the starry streetlights and cars.
The straining of the violins breaks your heart.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent: Week I

Subtitle: How God's Really Good About Telling You What You Need To Hear When You Need To Hear It.



Today I walked into Mass feeling frustrated and disoriented. There's so much in my life that I'm not excelling at, that I want to happen now, events and situations that I want to occur instantly. My perpetual impatience was getting the better of me again. I went in, thinking: "How long, God? Why does everything in this life take forever?"

I was wrapped up in my own self-pitying interior monologue, when the priest started his homily with the sentence: "We are here to engage in subversive activity." I snapped out of my trance and paid rapt attention from then on-I was intrigued. What subversive activity were we engaging in exactly? His answer: Advent. Essentially, his homily was about the absence of Advent in our society. Our American society is in an obesity epidemic, yes, but the real epidemic, the root of all these problems, is the epidemic of perpetual adolescence. We have lost all sense of self-control, of self-denial, of delayed gratification. We have to have whatever we want and whenever we want it-a.k.a. NOW. We have an awful difficulty telling ourselves "no" or even "not now, later."

Clearly, he continued, a culture that has this attitude has no use for Advent. And a culture that lacks the foresight to look to the good in the future, even when the present is glum, lacks hope. When he said that, the sadness of our current cultural situation struck me. How awful and how true-our culture is a culture that lacks hope. We grasp onto whatever immediate pleasure we can because all too soon the moment will pass and we'll be left empty again. Human beings simply can't live without hope-it's human nature to always be able to look down to the end of the dark tunnel and see that light. Our culture has lost the light of hope-we're lost in the darkness of the tunnel. What an awful idea-a life void of hope.

As I listened to these words, I realized they were exactly what I needed to hear. My own outlook had been sadly lacking in hope, trust, or any sort of virtue besides adolescent impatience. God's timing is the best timing, and although it may be difficult for me to always follow, He knows best. Thus, my new Advent resolution is to join the subversives, and cultivate an Advent-like attitude of patience, trust, and hope. Engage in subversive activity: celebrate Advent!


Countdown to Christmas Day:
22 days

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflections on Pizza...

College=pizza.

There is nothing more attractive to a college student than free food. Being a cheapskate in search of free food is part of what it means to be a college student. When I was a senior in high school, I witnessed a friend of mine, who had recently become a college freshman, stuff five packs of Nutter Butters into his pant pockets. I was baffled by his uncharacteristic behavior, and I marveled at the sight. His reply: "Just you wait a year." A year later, I now sneak food out of the dining hall like a champion. It's indisputable and undeniable. College is filled with free food, and more specifically- pizza. Everywhere you turn there are events posters using the magic phrase "FREE PIZZA" to lure students to attend events.
"Come to hall council! FREE PIZZA!" "Come weave baskets with the multicultural club! FRE PIZZA!" "Come to a lecture by Professor Collons on the biological composition of stars! FREE PIZZA!"


But why pizza?

Theory 1:
Pizza is cheap. Thus, the establishment, wishing to provide free food for their students, provides endless amounts of pizza, because it costs next to nothing and is filling.
Theory 2:
College kids love pizza. Thus, groups cater to the tastes of their audiences and provide what they want-pizza.
Sub Theory A) College kids like pizza no better than any other food, but the ready supply of pizza available to them has conditioned them to love pizza.
Sub Theory B) College kids like pizza because it is essentially cheese and bread-two of the most mild, basic, universally-liked foods known to mankind.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Awesome Things

A single rose can be my garden... a single friend, my world.
~Leo Buscaglia

Small things are the awesome things. That's why I love this:


Because the small things are the things that make life scintillate with joy.

Things like:









It's the little things in life that make up the beauty. 
One of my favorite spots at Notre Dame is the single white rose bush on campus. There are red and pink roses all over campus, but only one white rose bush. 
It's a beautiful singularity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Questions and Answers

"Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."~Rainer Maria Rilke

So. Despite my best intentions, I didn't pen a line of a blog post in the past three months, because, (drumroll) I've begun my freshman year at university!! Transitioning from high school to college has been a highly rewarding, exponentially beautiful, and occasionally distressing journey. Thus, my days(and nights) have been consumed with study and homework (and Sporcle. And talking. And procrastinating. *guilty face*) College may be an overused, unsatisfactory excuse to neglect writing here for so long, but it conveniently segues into my topic.

I think one of the greatest sources of stress and soul-searching these past months has been the desire to live life to the fullest. Let me explain. Frosh-O weekend, (that's freshman orientation weekend in Notre Dame lingo), we were constantly encouraged to find our full potential and to take advantage of every opportunity. However, at the time, I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of possibilities and opportunities that had been opened up to me. I was afraid that I would miss wonderful opportunities, and I guess I assumed that meant that dire consequences would ensue. It seems like a silly fear now that I realize I have four years here to take advantage of every marvelous opportunity, but at the time, it was stressing me out.

However, that stage passed (hallelujah) but, more questions arise. What activities should I do? What clubs should I join? What service opportunities should I participate in? What shows should I do? What shows shouldn't I do? What classes should I take? Should I get coffee or tea? (answer: coffee) When should I go to Mass? What should I wear today? What should I do with my life? What does God want me to do?

That's a lot of questions. And I didn't have the answers.

Thankfully, God has put two amazing people in my life. One is Mother Teresa, the other is a friend/mentor/director/rolemodel who sent me the above Rainer Maria Rilke quote. That quote made me realize that God doesn't expect me to have all the answers. In fact, He doesn't need me to have all the answers. What He needs is for me to trust Him. If I had all the answers, then I'd never have to trust Him. And what fun would that be? No fun, that's what. Life would be insanely boring if we had all the answers to the million questions that we encounter. We just have to keep asking the questions and God will send us answers.

But what are we to do in the meantime? We can't just pray for answers and then sit back and wait for God to send them. We have to act. Move forward. Live. But what do you do when you don't know what you're supposed to be doing? The answer is simple. Love. Live each day focusing on others. Mother Teresa's writings are a constant inspiration and reminder of that. Her simple yet profound example of love and complete giving of herself is rousing-I feel like dashing off into the Great Unknown and single-handedly change the world. I may not know what I'm supposed to do after I graduate, what my vocation is, or what I should wear to the dance, but I do know that I can offer a prayer for someone I pass by, or hold open the door for someone, or help someone with their laundry, or bake them brownies when they're feeling blue or just smile. These simple acts of love are what life's all about. A life lived in love is a life lived in God. And God's got the answers. He is the answer.


"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"
Til We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th



May we always hold our the memory of our departed in our hearts. Eternal peace grant unto them, Lord.

And, in a special way, one soul who was born on this day, but never lived to see the September 11th attacks.


Happy Birthday, Dylan. Rest in peace.


In the midst of passing bravery
In the face of our own injury
It's the constant generosity of grace

Friend, I know your heart is raw
But love is still a worthy cause
(Love is Still a Worthy Cause, by Sara Groves)

Love Never Fails.

Monday, August 30, 2010

King of Anything

I have actual blog posts coming up...I promise...

But here's a song I discovered recently that strikes my fancy. Sara Bareilles is one amazing songstress. Like Love Song, it's got some angst and some bite to it, but the music itself is so cheery and bubbly. 
It's a girl-powered anthem, par excellance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Retrospective Introspection

Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. ~~Jane Austen


Right now college means one thing to me:

applications

which of course equal:

loads and loads of work.

Writing essays, I'm fine with. What was really starting to get to me was the never-ending checking boxes, filling out the SAME information over and over, squeezing words into limited spaces, number crunching, etc., etc., etc. in never ending succession!

*insert plaintive sigh here*

And furthermore, the endless and monolithic process known as "APPLYING TO COLLEGES" takes up lots of TIME.

*insert groan here*

Time that could be spent enjoying oneself, laughing and talking with friends, scrapbooking, journaling, going for a walk, or any other infinitely more enjoyable activity.

So. Those were my feelings up until about 5:00 today.



As I look over these words that I originally wrote here, I can't help but smile. I remember exactly what had happened the day I wrote them, the emotional state I was in, the frustration I was feeling, the heartbreak, the happiness, and the beauty that abounded.

Senior year.

There's absolutely nothing like it.

If you’ve already experienced it; look back on it and savor your memories.

And smile.

If you’re on the verge of it: get ready. You’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. I promise you you’ll be stressed out of your mind, you’ll get pushed to places you never knew you could go, and you’ll grow in unbelievable, incredible and beautiful ways. Oh, and you’ll have fun, and lots of it-even while filling out applications- as long as you make up your mind to enjoy the bumpy ride. It’s like a roller coaster-you can spend the whole ride worrying about flying off the tracks, and being scared out of your wits. Or else you can just let go, scream, laugh, put your hands in the air, and have fun on the Ride God’s put you on. Because there’s really no point in riding a roller coaster unless you’re willing to relinquish control.


So, on the way home from my show this afternoon, I stopped by my church's Eucharistic adoration chapel. It was lovely and peaceful, and I sat in front of Jesus, finishing up my calc homework. I've always found the adoration chapel is the best place to work through my problems. I now know that math problems can be worked out there as well.


Moral of the story: the Eucharist is indispensible, irreplaceable, and incandescently incredible. And so healing. The Eucharist is definitely what got me through Senior year. He’s the fix for every problem:

When you’ve got too much calculus homework-go to Adoration.
When you want a good cry-go to Adoration.
When you want to share good news with someone-go to Adoration.

I think you get my drift… :)

My favorite is when you don't really have anything to say to Jesus, but you just pop in to say hi real quick. Basking in the glorious warmth, joy, and love pulsating from Him, you just plop yourself in front of the Eucharist, and let go of your problems. It's lovely. Which is basically the reason I chose to go to Notre Dame-there’s a chapel in each dorm. Jesus lives in every dorm, folks. How wicked awesome is that?

Then, I got home, and I sat down at the computer and I got my first college application submitted! One down. Five to go. I can do this.


And, I realized I've been letting my laziness get in my way. There were some points over the past week I was debating whether college was really worth it or not. In reality, though, I was just bogged down in the mire of applications, and also, scared of leaving home, friends, and family. Then, I realized how absolutely stupid I was being. Because, I AM excited for college-I know it'll be awesome. Anything that is awesome won't come without hard work; and I hate to admit it, but hard work is an acquired taste for me. I have to teach myself to enjoy it.



Oh boy. I'm going to have to work harder this fall than I ever have before. But I'm so excited for it. I'm so ready to take on the challenge, and as Hamlet would say: the readiness is all. I'm so glad that I found the courage to choose to leave home back in May. Now, I'm realizing that life at home is going to continue without me. It's not as if your friends and family magically put their life on "pause" while you're gone-they continue on with their lives. Without you. Not gonna lie, my friends, that thought often saddens me. But then I recall my life's not going being paused either; it’s barreling on full-speed ahead. As C.S. Lewis would say: we’re all travelling into the future at the rate of sixty seconds per minute, whether we would wish it or no. Peace comes when we cease to resist that fact; we lift our hands in the air and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the Ride.

There are certain parts of ourselves that we want to choke out of existence: the parts of us that snap sassy retorts to our parents, or groan instead of grin when asked to clear the table. There are other facets of our selves that we cultivate and nourish. I'm so excited to nourish the artist within me, to push myself, to explore, to tell stories, to drink in the joy of performing, the joy of art. I love it. And I can't wait to cultivate the scholar in me. The scholar who thirsts for knowledge. The student who relishes the victory of completing a laborious assignment. The student who grows in appreciation of her art. The student who thirsts for God and hungers for Truth.

Thankfully, we stopped at my Grandma’s house on our way down to Notre Dame. There’s a painting hanging up in my grandma’s house. I noticed that simple little drawing for the first time; and hidden in that picture I found the words Psalm 37:4. So, I looked up the verse in the Bible, and this is what I found:

Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart's desire.

And it’s definitely what I needed to here. Often, College overwhelms me with the limitless opportunities that lie before me. What passions of mine do I pursue? How do I make sure no hidden talent or facet of my person go unexplored? How do I become Balanced and Well-Rounded? The answer is simple.
Go to adoration.
Pursue God.
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you, and all that jazz.
I love God-He’s awesome sauce. For many reasons, of course, but one of the happiest being that He sends us the answers when we least expect it.
Have a beautiful autumn/first semester, everyone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

one fish, two fish

Some things are just plain old awesome.

For example:

The feeling of the outdoors right before a storm.
The feeling of the outdoors right after a storm.
Swinging.
The feel of mud between your toes.
Finding the last item of clothing in your size (SCORE).
Finding something you were desperately searching for.
Sunbeams shining through the clouds.
Listening to The Man Who Can't Be Moved on endless repeat.
Staying up ridiculously late for no reason whatsoever.

For more awesome things, check out this wicked awesome blog.

We discovered the book: The Book of Awesome Things while we were browsing through an incredibly quaint and fantastic used book shop on Saturday morning.


Author's aside:
It has come to our attention that these Catholic Pickup Lines are also fantastic beyond all reasoning. 


Some personal favorites:

"Confess here often?"

"What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?

"Dinner. My Place. Tomorrow. Don't argue; it's a feast of obligation."


Don't argue. It's a feast of obligation.
Throw in a few saucy winks, and a good wing man, and you'll have all the Catholic Lads or Lassies flocking to you like bees to honey. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Curious Insanity







Some of my friends support me in my Avatar addiction. Others scoff.



Actually, most of them scoff.


So, let me introduce you to this other guilty pleasure of mine. One, I think, that few of my friends can rightly and in good conscience encourage my attachment to.

It is:

*drum roll, please*


When Curiosity Met Insanity.









Do you hear that sound?






That is the sound of my heart melting. I can't help it. I love that webcomic to pieces. (Yes, I just said webcomic. It happened. You can start scoffing right about now...)

What makes this webcomic (Okay, okay! Enough with the scoffs already...) so appealing?
I'll break it down for you:





A) Alice in Wonderland is a weird and bizarre fable, no argument there, but yet it's fascinated and/or repelled us for a century and a half or so. There's obviously something Lewis Carroll got right. (I wouldn't venture to guess what it was, but something...) WCMI is based on this enduring and popular tale. And Alice is an utterly endearing character-even when she's annoying, she's still charming, because she's completely unpretentious.






B)If you're a Disney fan, you'll enjoy how the authoresses expand and delve into some favorite characters. Peter Pan and Belle are the two most delightful supporting characters. Peter's boyish charm make him a fitting suitor for Alice's hand and heart, and the perfect rival for Reggie (The Mad Hatter). Although I couldn't have imagined Alice and Belle really gelling, Belle seems to fit in perfectly as a kindred spirit for Alice. Ultimately, the two protagonists, Alice and Reggie, are deliciously written-oh my stars and garters are they well-written! The whole comic has an absolutely scrumptious manner to it that defies all verbal description. The sarcasm, quaintness, and colloquial style make my heart feel super happy. And, the romantic banter is giggle-inducing, witty and utterly adorable.





C)The illustrations are the last word in epic. So amazing. And it's an adorable love story.





Here's the first installment-it's a sweet story, but there is some innuendo, and Reginald's history sounds veers on the sketchy side. So use discretion whilst reading; 'discretion' meaning: don't read it aloud to your 5-year-old siblings. Thus, consider thyself duly warned.



Caution: Contents of When Curiosity Met Insanity contain extreme cuteness. Paroxysms of cute may occur.

Can't Be Moved

This is absolutely beautiful.

Portia and I discussed the various ideals and ideas that this song represents and illustrates. I seriously considered trying to type them out into this post, but then I thought better of it. I realized the song is powerful enough to speak for itself.

So...

Watch it.

Be moved.




Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Father's Day




Sunday was Father's Day. And we didn't post anything on this blog about it. (guilty look) Come to think of it, we didn't post anything about Mother's Day, either...(double guilty look)

The Monday after Father's Day, I was sitting in the dark of church (tangent: there's nothing like sitting in a dark church; peace and serenity envelop you, and you can't help but think, in the words of Julian of Norwich that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" end tangent). On a whim, I picked up a letter my dad wrote to me for my eighteenth birthday, that serves as my bookmark in the birthday gift he gave me. The beautiful thing about a beauty is that you always discover new beauties within that beauty each time you encounter said beauty. That's how I felt as I read my father's writing. My dad's wisdom and intelligence were evident to me when I first read the letter on my birthday. But, sitting in the calm of God's house, I was struck by the all the love that the letter contained. And all the love that the writer had for me. A father's love is something I don't understand as easily as a mother's love. (That's probably something to do with my gender...) But it's a mystery that fascinates me. The strength, the quiet power, and the depth of a father's love astounds me.

"For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away." (Song of Songs, 8:6-7)

One of Lizzie Bennett's many admirable points (oh-ho-ho, you thought you were going to escape this post without a Jane Austen reference? Think again, my friend.)is her rock solid relationship with her father. Mr. Bennett loves Lizzie to pieces, and he supports her in her endeavors to be a proper young lady in a house full of twittery young flibberty-gibbets. Mr. Bennett has passed onto Lizzie his sense and intelligence. And he's her protector. He's totally got her back. Look at the way he backs her up on her refusal of Mr. Collins, because he has her ultimate happiness in mind.


Fathers are one of those absolutely wicked awesome gifts we majorly do not deserve, but because God's a really nice guy (understatement), He gives them to us anyway. There's something incredibly beautiful, mysterious, and awe-inspiring about the realtionship between a father and a daughter. At the Femininity Summit Prelim. Meeting, we discussed father-daughter relationships, and we agreed that the greatest gift our fathers have given us is the knowledge that we matter to them. Knowing that your father sees you as his beautiful young lady is balm for the soul.



Happy Father's Day, Dad!




Monday, June 28, 2010

Picnic Poetry



Penned by the Good Catholic Homeskillets (alias: GCH)




There's something to be said


for sunsets in the park


for pumpkin streusal muffins


for dancing hand-in-hand


for paroxysms of cute


for whipped cream and Oreos


for mocking the avant-garde


for picnicking in the park


for watching pigeons fly


for laughing with best friends


for people-watching in random places


for wearing pretty skirts


for nuns who wear pink habits! (Holler. Love them.)


for the Basilica on the horizon


for skirts on a sunny day


for talking random nothingness


for ripples


for Italian soda


for people who sing/talk to themselves


for ducks on the water


for plump squirrels


for babies with big hair


....feeling the breeze on your legs.


There's something to be said




for the limitless sky


for cat-tails


for being a woman


...and for peanut butter


for living life


for calling people/anmials/inanimate objects: "sweetie"


for wee voices


for long hair blowing in the breeze


for knowing how to count




for little brothers


for kung-fu fighting


for secrets, mysteries, and illuminating the truth


for cottonwoods rusling the in the wind


for dreaming


for learning from mistakes.


There's something to be said


for trees over londs*


for sculptures which you are not allowed to climb on (but you do anyway *mischievous smirk*)


for coaxing wild animals


for summer adventures with dangerous women.




Happiness is in the small things- in living life moment-by-moment, and by finding delight in each little blessing that comes your way. Because those small things are really big things. Each moment, we're given a choice; a very simple choice: to choose God or to choose ourself. But that's a huge choice. That's the original choice that our first parents were given. And they botched it.

The more we choose God- the more we hand ourselves over to Him- we grow ever closer to being the person He intended us to be. But the oftener we choose ourselves, the smaller our spirits will shrink. The questions of a small spirit are: "What's in it for me?" & "What can I get out of it?" Those questions cut us off from all the joy God has to offer us. Because if you approach a sunset with the question: "What's in this sunset for me?" you'll miss the whole point of that sunset. You don't get anything from a waterfall, sunlight piercing through the clouds, listening to birdsong, or climbing trees-you climb trees for the sake of climbing trees. Because the tree is there-and it's beautiful- and, praise the Lord, you have limbs, which means you can climb that tree, so why not?


There's something to be said for living life as a seeker of Beauty and Joy, for choosing God in each moment instead of self (easier said than done, right?). And, by choosing God, opening yourself up to the beauty He's poured into each moment.



(Disclaimer: All these thoughts are the product of recent conversations with wonderful and intelligent friends. Major kudos go to them.)
*Lond (lah' nd): Eng., noun: a mix between a pond and a lake.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

hold, or cut bowstrings

Wonder what A Midsummer Night's Dream is all about?
The cast of Midsummer explains the plot most lucidly and eloquently in this trailer!


(NB: I have about 5 other posts started--all unrelated to Midsummer, I promise! But our director has charged us with the task to be as obnoxious and pushy marketers as we can in these next couple of weeks. So, in my defense I'm simply being an obedient actor and bugging you peeps as well as I am able.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

forgeries of faerïe

*drumroll*

Here is a teaser trailer for the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that I've been rehearsing for! They "premiered" it for us tonight at rehearsal, and then asked us to send it out to everyone we knew. Actually, they asked us to post it on our Facebook pages, but since I've sworn off of Facebook until I finish all my schoolwork.

I've decided to share it with ya'll!

(Lucky you!)
(it looks prettier full-screen, so for optimal viewing satisfaction, we recommend full-screen)

The drum circle you see in the trailer is how we begin and end the show. It's wild, adrenaline-filled, and absolutely magical.
And now you see for what I've been sacrificing pie night.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Commencement

The best way to begin any story is to say:



"So, I was at Target today..."



Everyone knows that any story that begins with the words:



"So, I was at Target today..."



is going to be a ridiculously awesome story. Or, at least, your audience will be fooled into thinking that it's a ridiculously awesome story, because they are still not over the ridiculous awesomeness of your opening sentence:







"So, I was at Target today..."





That, my dear friends, is called strategy. More specifically, it's called good strategy. I most ardently urge you to employ it as ubiquitously as possible.





So.



I was at Target today.



My little brother and I were shopping for birthday cards, graduation cards, and water guns. That's right, water guns. Gotta love going shopping with the seven-year-old midget child.





So, I'm browsing through all the numerous graduation cards: college graduation cards, bad humor graduation cards, graduation cards with the Obamas on them, sappy graduation cards, kindergarten graduation cards, and graduation cards of penguins wearing mortarboards (<<mais pour quoi?>> as our French brethren would say...)...Then, my little brother asked me:

"Why don't they have graduations going into highschool?"

Putting away the graduation card with the cute duckling on it, I responded: "Pardon?"

He explained, "They have graduations going into college, but not going into highschool." And I said, "No, no, dear, graduation is at the end. It's at the end of highschool, and then the end of college."



Then, as our conversation turned to other matters, I let the matter rest. But, then I realized that it's not called "commencement" for nothing. When I was younger, the word commencement always confused me, because I knew there was that-thing-that-happened-at-the-end-of-high-school, called commencement, so I always assumed that commencement meant "the ending." But it means beginning.





Commencement is a time of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of new adventures.

Commencement celebrates the adventures you've already had, your accomplishments and achievements, but it also invites you into a new world, full of new lessons, journeys and a new stage in life. And that, my friends, is something to celebrate.



Mark Twain (an author whose writings I thoroughly detest [sorry, Mark, dear]), has an absolutely beautiful quote: "To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with." I've been waxing nostalgic the entire weekend, as I've collected photos for photo boards, hugged friends, smiled, laughed and reminisced. And I've been thinking often about the girls who write this blog. And I'm so thankful for them. For their friendships. Because all the tears, giggles, hugs, pie nights, and beautiful experiences would mean nothing without the people we share those adventures with.





The world beyond commencement is a brave new world. But I know we can face it as long as we have our awesome-sauce friends by our sides.







Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wonderfully Made


One very comforting thought I've had recently is that God loves the idea of each person. Loves it so much He had to create us.

There's a very special bond between the creator and the created, because when you make a work of art, you pour yourself into it. And there's a certain mark- a trademark, if you will- on your designs, because they take on a bit of your personality. Your creations smack of you-ishness. Take, for example, the different authoresses of this blog. I don't even have to look at the bottom of the post to know who penned the entry. Each of us have our own distinct voice, vocabulary and writing style. It's quite beautiful if you stop to think about it.

So stop.


Think about it.


Now continue reading.


Now, sometimes we'll create a piece of art that doesn't come out quite as we hoped. It's imperfect. Flawed. We wish it would be better-more like the ideal we envisioned in our heads. God, however, only creates perfect works of art. God's idea of, say, Catherine, is perfect. It's a masterpiece-a work of art that shows off, as no other work of His can, some particular aspect of Himself. He formed the idea of her-of Catherine, with her own Catherine-ish qualities and quirks, her idiosyncracies and beauties. He thought of them all; He laughed with joy; and He fell in love. He fell in love so much that He had to create her. That's truly mind-boggling. God loves us so much that He creates us. I don't even understand how that works.

God wants our love. And, (as I feel like we've discussed before on this blog, and as many greater minds have been discussing since time began,) love is a choice. We have to make the choice to love God, or else our "love" is nothing worth. He can't program it into out hearts that we love Him. Love cannot be forced or coerced, it is a gift.

"If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised." Song of Songs 8:7

God's love has breathed us into existence. Our love simply gives ourselves back to Him, since we really belong to Him anyways. The Creator who loves us so infinitely and indesciribably simply wants our love in return. But here's the catch: we've made the horrendous, disastrous, catastrophic, mistake of choosing not to love Him. How absolutely tragic. We only exist because of love, yet we constantly turn our back on Love himself. Imagine how desperate He would be to win our love, to woo us back to Himself.

I opened to my beloved;
but my beloved left; and had gone away.
My heart went out when he spoke.
I looked for him, but I didn’t find him.
I called him, but he didn’t answer.
The watchmen who go about the city found me.
They beat me.
They bruised me.
The keepers of the walls took my cloak away from me.
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
that you tell him that I am faint with love.

And the Word became flesh, and lived and died for us. Because He loved the idea of each person so infinitely that He would stop at nothing to save us. He came up with of the idea of His mother Mary, of Pontius Pilate, of each Roman soldier who scourged Him, of Judas, of everyone of us sinners-of you and me. He thought of us. Every single person who put Christ to death was a precious being that He had thought of, and loved so much that He wanted to create them. We were His idea, and He loved us so much He gave up His life for us.

I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go,


The moral of the story: God loves you. We hear it so often, but we don't listen to these words. God loves you. He likes you-He wanted to make you! He's not like: "Well, since I'm forced to make someone, I might as well throw together a Becca." He fell in love with each of us so much that He wanted nothing more than to bring us to life, so that we might share in His life. Everything God makes is infinitely and incandescently beautiful, including us. We are a masterpieces, made by the Master Artist.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love.
Behold, you are beautiful.


God loves you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20th, 1999



Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. My dear friend and columbinus cast-mate called me late last night, after having spent the whole day holding back tears, and then finally being overwhelmed by them. She kept saying: "Why am I feeling like this? Why can't I let this go?"



There are so many people whose lives have been completely changed by the events that took place this day. And I feel disrespecful, in a way, saying that my own life has been changed by this day as well. I haven't lost a child, a friend, or a sibling. I haven't lived through blood-spattered halls and the sounds of gunshots, jeers, moans and screams. The pain all those people felt is something almost sacred, that I can't presume to even begin to understand or fathom. Their grief is something I can never feel.



But, without a doubt, Columbine has changed my life. columbinus was a show that changed me. I've been immersed in this story for over three months, and closing the show felt like coming up out of the water for a giant, refreshing breath of air. I was able to let go of the burden of the story; yet there's no way I can let go of the story itself. And I shouldn't.



There was one rehearsal, towards the beginning to the process, which was really difficult for me, and I broke down afterwards. We hadn't even started dealing with the Act II Columbine story, but I had just finished reading Columbine, by Dave Cullen (one of the reporters who covered the shootings), and I was so weighed down by the story. After rehearsal, I spent a good hour and a half talking with our awesome director and stage manager, and trying to find words to describe the feelings of grief that overwhelmed me. Then, on my way home, I stopped by the adoration chapel, and kneeling in the back, I looked up at the Eucharist. I realized I was sitting in front of the one person who had never let that story go; and He was still feeling the pain, the sorrow and the grief as acutely as He did that very day. As much as I was grieving for those 15 people, and as much as I loved them; He loved them infinitely more, and was grieving for what took place on April 20th. I realized that I could share all that sorrow with Him; He understood perfectly what I was feeling.
As a Littleton parent said: "There's no such thing as closure; they're our kids and we don't want to put them behind us." We don't always have to carry the burden of the story, but we can never let it go. Every single person deserves to have their story told-and never forgotten. It's the least we can do to try to right the wrong that was done to them.




There's a beauty and an awe in knowing there's a whole communion of people whose lives have also been touched by these events-who wake up on April 20th, knowing why this day is different from all other days. And now I'm a part of that connection.
We ARE Columbine.



We began columbinus in winter. We ended it in spring. Winter sometimes seems as though it will go on forever-we forget what it feels like to walk outside without freezing to death; feels like when the sun shines and the birds sing. By March, we begin to wonder if we'll ever see the spring. But spring always comes. Winter cannot last forever. Spring always comes.
That's the hope.





"We die many times and experience many forms of grief; but love...it never fails. "



"There are no words to convey how sorry we are for the pain that has been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and its aftermath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a thing could happen.
[...] We envision a time when circumstances will allow us to join with those who share our desire to understand. In the meantime, we again express our profound condolences to those whose lives have been so tragically altered. We look forward to a day when all of our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance."
~The Klebold family -- 4-15-2000



"Ever since that day we've been obsessed with moving on or getting back...so we've gone to gun control, the music, computer games, the school, the police, the parents...looking for someone to blame. But we always find ourselves back where we started asking the same question...
Why?"




I did that whole open-up-the-Bible-to-any-random-page-and-read-the-first-verse-you see-thing today, and received this little gift from God:


But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.


In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,


and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,



their hope is full of immortality.
(Wisdom 3:1-5)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Art

Or, What We Do To Chide the Hasty-Footed Time






Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
G. K. Chesterton









Abstract Art: A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.
Albert Camus






Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
Thomas Merton




Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Pablo Picasso



Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
Andre Gide





Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
Gilbert K. Chesterton






Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.
Ralph Waldo Emerson








Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Morality & Cocktails




A Thoughtful Thinking-Through of the Thoroughly Enjoyable "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
by Portia & Desdemona


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day follows the trials and triumphs of Miss Guinevere Pettigrew on her day spent as a companion to Delicia LaFosse, a struggling actress. Miss Pettigrew is a prim middle-aged woman, the daughter of a clergyman, who is the quintessential strait-laced turn-of-the-century woman. Delicia, on the other hand, is living the life of a young starlet trying to make her way to stage stardom-using any and every means available. In contrast to Miss Pettigrew, Delicia's morals reside decidedly in the "non-existent" category. Although Delicia's silly little runnings about are portrayed with tongue-in-cheek and a little wink, they are, to be candid, decidedly immoral. She's giving herself away in order to get ahead in the world. And the justifications she uses are basically "well, everybody's doing it." Miss Pettigrew doesn't approve at all, she remonstrates Delicia, telling her: "Love is not a game."

The many faces of Delicia.

The fact is, Delicia herself knows that what she's doing is wrong. She simply doesn't have the moral muscle to change herself. As Mitch Albom writes in Tuesdays With Morrie, "The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it." (42) - Morrie Delicia on her own does not have that strength. But, with the helpful influence of Miss Pettigrew, she finds the moral backbone she lacks.

And, on the flipside, Miss Pettigrew needs Delicia. Miss Pettigrew is told to "loosen up" on several occasions. Miss Pettigrew is a strong, moral woman. But a woman who has confused moral strength with severity. Delicia has confused freedom and joy with doing whatever the heck she wants. Miss Pettigrew is lacking love and warmth; Delicia is lacking love and strength. But, by the end of the day, Miss Pettigrew and Delicia has forged a friendship which has allowed these women to share their love, warmth, and strength.

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things." (43) --Morrie (Tuesdays With Morrie)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lessons from The Verge


"I've seen the future and it is slang."--Fanny, On the Verge

Recently, I read a thoroughly excellent play entitled "On the Verge." (see picture). Basic premise: three Victorian explorer women set out to explore "Terra Incognita," and end up travelling into the future. Highly recommended. It made me realize how many fantastic, delicious words ther are in the English language. There's a whole treasure trove of words out there just begging to be used!

Resolution #1: Polish up vocabulary.

In contrast, the show I just finished working on, columbinus, had a different sort of vocabulary. It was gritty and realistic and very rough, which was perfectly fitting for the show. The constant barrage of dirty words made me realize how pointless foul language is. Its only point is to shock and seek attention. But after you've been bombarded with those words thousands of times, they loose their power. But words like: incandescent, sunset, creamy, cerulean, ebullient, effervescent, melifluous, snowfall, sparkle, celestial, vibrant, beauty, quintessence, and love will always radiate beauty and meaning. That's what language is supposed to be.


Also, I was surprised by how much I identified with the character Mary (there are three main characters-Fanny, Mary, and Alexandra). Throughout the play, I never felt like I had a good sense of who Mary was, until the end. Half-way through the play, the women settle down in the 1950's. But Mary wants to travel on, she wants to find more and more adventures---"I have such a yearning for the future! It is boundless!" I love that spirit of adventure-it reminds me of that Chesterton quote: "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered, an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

Resolution #2: Look on life as an adventure.


Finally, one of the big debates that exists in the play is whether or not the women should wear trousers. (Trousers! Shocked gasp.) Alexandra is all for it, Fanny is dead set against it, and Mary says: "The civilizing mission of Woman is to reduce the amount of masculinity in the world. Not add to it by wearing trousers." I would argue with Mary that we're not supposed to reduce the amount of masculinity, per se, but rather counter it with an equal amount of femininity. These three women are strong, gracious, and playful. Despite their idiosyncratic flaws, they're all admirable literary characters.

Resolution #3: Be a part of "On the Verge" someday, somehow, somwhere.

Monday, February 22, 2010

But the Flesh is Weak

I found this wonderful video through Modestia:



And here's the website.

This is such an awesome reminder that we don't need to be "perfect" or anorexic or covered in hairspray, airbrushed makeup and WD-40 to be beautiful.

I was talking with a friend recently about beauty. Everyone has a unique beauty all their own.
God is an infinite source of Beauty, and He's poured His beauty into creation. Obviously, because creation is finite, it cannot possibly contain all His Beauty, but God's beauty manifests itself in each created thing-from the smallest flower to the tallest mountain. And, in an even more particular way, in us. God has an infinite amount of beauty, and He's given each of us our own particular way of sharing in His beauty. Each of us manifests the beauty of God in a singular way that no one else in this world possibly could. God has so much beauty to pour out into the world, how could He possibly create something or someone that lacks beauty?

It simply isn't possible.

"You may not think you're beautiful enough, but Someone does. And that Someone made sunsets."---A Wise Woman I Have the Privilege of Knowing

This is a lovely article I was sent this past week. It's from a blog called "To Write Love on Her Arms," and here's a little sneak preview:

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness week, we wanted to share a beautiful story written by a former TWLOHA intern, Stephanie Koszalka. Please read it and enjoy remembering that your life and your story are powerful. No self-determined imperfection can change that.

Dear Body,

I’ve always let some imperfection or another stand in the way of me seeing what you truly are, that you are beautiful. You are a divine creation housing the most valuable thing known to the universe, my soul. I’m beginning to realize that a person’s soul has the capacity to radiate light that transcends all the characteristics that I have been conditioned to believe are flaws.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pan's Labyrinth

by Desi & Portia



"What happens when make-believe believes it's real?"


"You're getting older, and you'll see that life isn't like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you'll learn that, even if it hurts... Ofelia! Magic does not exist. Not for you, me or anyone else."

Or does it?

That is the question posed by Pan's Labyrinth. The film, by Guillermo del Toro, is a mystifying, captivating and beautiful work of art.

The narrator tells us at the beginning of the film:

A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine. One day, eluding her keepers, the Princess escaped. Once outside, the brightness blinded her and erased every trace of the past from her memory. She forgot who she was and where she came from. Her body suffered cold, sickness, and pain. Eventually, she died. However, her father, the King, always knew that the Princess' soul would return, perhaps in another body, in another place, at another time. And he would wait for her, until he drew his last breath, until the world stopped turning...

We then meet Ofelia. The poor young girl's being dragged along with her pregnant mother to live with her stepfather, a captain in the Facist army. Ofelia does not actively hate her stepfather, she does not act maliciously towards him, but she refuses to call him papa. Her mother pleads with her, "It's just a word, Ofelia, just a word." but Ofelia knows it is not. There is a man who is her father, and she is his beloved princess. This man is not him. In her innocent youth, Ofelia refuses to tell such a blatant lie.

When Ofelia and her mother reach their new home, an outpost in the wooded mountains, Ofelia immediately discovers a labyrinth in the woods. And from there on out, Ofelia is swept up into other worldly adventures. And we ask ourselves: are they real or imaginary?


Is Ofelia a princess?

Are her adventures real or our they a product of her own imagination?

The movie is brilliant, yet brutal. While it is definitely a fantasy, no one could accuse it of being an escapist fantasy. The parallell worlds of the spiritual/mythological world that Ofelia ventures into, and the harshly real world of the Spanish rebellion are both cut-throat, dangerous places. Ofelia is the only person that we know is good. She is a protagonist that we cling to, because there's no one else to cling to.

For young children (and yes, even adults on occasion), imaginary worlds and make-believe are a definite escape from their problems-they're a release. If the faun is a product of Ofelia's imagination, he is a far from comforting one. While he appears to be a father-figure, a guardian to this princess lost in a cruel, foreign world, there's always a doubt in our hearts: Do we trust him? What makes Ofelia an extraordianry heroine is her innocence and her trust. She never doubts that what the faun tells her to do is for her own good. She trusts. I don't know if you can read it, but the poster above has a tagline at the bottom, which reads: "Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine" Ofelia's innocence is her only weapon to combat the evil and cruelty around her.

"I've had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest and the earth. I am... I am a faun."

An interesting component in the film is the labyrinth. While "labyrinth" and "maze" are often used as synonyms, they mean and imply vastly different ideas. A maze is a human puzzle, as it were. You try to get from one end of the maze to the other-you are presented with choices: you can either choose to go to your left or to your right. One of these choices will lead you further on the right path, the other will lead you to a dead end.

But in a labyrinth, you only have one path. It leads you to the center, and then out again. You have no idea where you are going; you simply have to trust that you will make it to the middle, through the middle and then out again. That trust is a huge component of the film. Ofelia trusts the faun, she believes that she will get through this dark time in her life, and reach the kingdom she is destined for.

But can we really trust anyone?

And yet, what happens to us when we trust no one. We turn into a Captain Vidal. If we close ourself off from humanity, distrusting all our fellow men, we cease to become human. Ofelia battles bizzare and frightening monsters in her imaginary land. But the real monster is the man she refuses to call father; and she defeats him, though it costs her a terrible price.

Whether the labyrinth, the faun, and the magical world that Ofelia finds is real or not, it doesn't matter. Ofelia wins. She has the power of an innocent, which is unfathomable to those twisted and soured by their own hardened hearts. The blood she spills has the power to open the portal-she joins her mother and father, and spends an eternity by their sides. What more has she ever wanted?

"In darkness, there can be light. In misery, there can be beauty. In death, there can be life...."
G.K. Chesterton writes that "there are some who cannot see a simple truth without calling it a paradox." Paradoxes are beautiful, because they are the Truth. How can God be both God and Man? Yet He is. How can there be Life in Death? How can some something be both Real and yet Not-Real?
Yet they are. Paradoxes are the fabric of our universe-and they are beautiful. The Truth is inscrutably and piercingly simple, and yet it is a beautiful, unfathomable mystery.