Wednesday, October 31, 2012

significant key changes

"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?"
--C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

Recently, one of my friends has been letting her overweening nostalgia spill all over Facebook, as she comments on pictures, makes note of "this time last year"s, and has been both joyfully and melancholically mulling over the passage of time. Although we tease her, I admit that I do the same thing. I'm always making little notes in my mental calendar: this was the day last year when x happened; or it was over a year ago I was dealing with y; or z conversation only happened at the beginning of October, and look how fast the time has gone. 

Because October is my favorite month, I have very high hopes as we enter high autumn. The beginning of the month is absolutely radiant and beautifully incandescent. October is the months of wild windstorms, Indian Summers, and the strange and eerily magical transition from glorious fall weather to the chill and bitter wetness of November. 

Here are two things about October (and life) that never cease to amaze me:
the unexpectedness of the adventure
and the way that pain and joy connect together on this wonderful [albeit sometimes difficult] journey.

As I sat on one of my favorite God quad benches with my friend, feeding squirrels, I marveled at how unexpected and miraculous this particular moment was. As the squirrels climbed up on our shoes and on the bench next to us, the soft scratch of their little paws on my jeans filled me with joy.

Squirrels are little in-breakings of grace into each and every day. I always say (well, I never say this mantra out loud. This is one of those best-be-kept-to-oneself-mantras. Which is why I'm posting about it on my blog, I guess. Whoops.), the number one secret to being a happy person is to never be too busy to greet a squirrel.
It's true.

I was walking back to my dorm in a grey mood. My heart felt heavy, my mouth dry, and there was a dull throbbing pain all over me. I would have been crying, except 90% of my tears had been used up, and the other 10% had turned into snot and was stuffing up my sinuses. But in the middle of this giant wave of pain, I saw a little squirrel scamper out of the bushes by my dorm. So I took the Poptart out of my pocket (don't you keep Poptarts in your pocket?), and sat down and fed the little snooker.

He was a very bold young chap, and just skipped right up to me, grasped my hand with his two little paws, and took the pieces of Poptart right out of my hand. 

Although the sun was still hidden behind banks of gray clouds, my face was lit up with a smile for the first time that day.

October is like a backwards polaroid picture.

Polaroid pictures are created when the strange grey chemical-y photo paper is shaken up, and the color and the image emerge from it the murky grey. Life is about diving into the grey and shaking things up, shaking. Watching. Waiting. Seeing change happen right before your eyes. Watch as the grey fades away to reveal hues of happiness and joy swirled with hints of melancholy, all mixed all together

Although October begins with color and fades into the grey of November, really all the grey is this: the preparation for another picture to be made. 

As I channel my own little stream of nostalgia, I look back over all the key changes of October, and marvel at the unexpectedness of them all. The late night conversations with tears, and the late night stargazing with smiles and joy, the frolicking in leaves, the laughter with friends. The new jokes created, the new memories made, challenges overcome, adventures embarked on, new beauties discovered, new lessons learned.
The best birthday I could ever receive is simply the month of October.

But the second best gift was the birthday card from my dad.
I read it and re-read it and read it again. And my fingertips traced over the sparkly candles decorating the front of the card. 

One of the candles had the word faithfulness written on it.

I may not be many things, but I know with a conviction that runs through my heart and down to my very toes that I am the most faithful of humans. Once a creature worms their way into my heart: be it a squirrel, a brother, or a dear friend of the heart, I stay true to them with all the faithfulness I can muster.
This ability to hold on can often lead me to grasp too tightly. And when my fists are clenched so tightly around what I treasure, then all the anger and jealousy that has lain hidden in my soul rises up to the surface.
And I wondered how you can remain true to someone without keeping hold of the anger and he hurt that proves you love them, proves that you're not bailing out on them, proves you're in it for the long haul?

But the faithfulness that was written on my dad's card to me was a deeper sort of faithfulness. A faithfulness that can carry pain but in the midst of it find reasons to smile. That can rejoice, not despite of the pain or inspite of it, but within it and because of it and through it. A faithfulness that keeps company with joy, peace, patience, and gentleness rather than anger, bitterness and sadness. A faithfulness that allows sorrow to deepen the depth of the joy, but does not allow sorrow to stifle the joy.

There is no going back. There is only being made new. 
When looking back with joyful nostalgia on all the moments and memories that belonged to October, there's also a great sadness that arrives when the realization hits home that we can never go back to all of those particular happinesses.

 Once you shake the polaroid picture, you can't un-shake it. 
To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we're all barreling into the future at the horrifyingly swift rate of 60 minutes per hour. Sometimes I just want to rewind back to that perfect moment in the perfect spot; or to that moment of dancing for sheer child-like joy; or that untainted conversation, with no trace of bitterness, sadness or anger. But I guess you can't rewind life, or regress back to what you used to be. There is only further up and further in.

So here I stand: unafraid of the future. 
With a friendly little squirrel or two, one can find the warmth of joy even in the coldest Novembers.

She laughs with no fear of the future, for her hope is in Me.
--Proverbs 31:25

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

he will carry me home tonight we are invincible

Love is patient.
Love is kind
Love is not jealous.
Love is not irritable.

If there's one lesson I've learned this first half of the semester, it's that Divine Providence is overwhelmingly good. Providence is good in two senses: it's good at what it does. Details. Even the smallest details are so lovingly hand-painted. And, in the other sense, it's nature is intrinsically Goodness. All things that are from Divine Providence are good.

The thing about Goodness is that even when it doesn't look like niceness, it's still goodness.
I think immediately of the description of Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: "Of course He isn't safe. But He's good." It's rather perfect. There's nothing safe about the Christian religion. I mean, Jesus doesn't say: Come, Follow Me! Happiness and health in store! He promises us a cross. Ouch. What on earth is the point of the cross anyway?

Being capacitated. Life, love, suffering, etc. are all about being capacitated for divinity--which is just limitless, eternal, true love. Love--even simple, ordinary, very human love--is too much for our hearts to bear often. To birth an eternal love, we undergo such awful labor pains.
But none of these pains are wasted. 

For every moment we spend doubled over by the throbbing pain of heartache, we grow into a person who can burst with a heart on fire with love.

For each time that our eyes are blurred over with tears, our sight grows deeper more able to see our friends and family with the eyes of love.

For each hour that we spend laid flat sobbing on the floor, we are raised up on our tip toes, and our laughs deepen into sounds more joyful than Eucharist bells.

Hurricanes and typhoons come during different seasons of the year. Sometimes they rage on the coastline and sometimes they rage in our hearts.
But, with the wide-eyed wonder and firm belief in the magic of the cosmos, we wander child-like through the storm, with our crosses as our signs and hopeful guideposts. 

Love never fails.

Monday, October 29, 2012

even if the skies gets rough

The sky is a gift to those who look up.

I looked out my window Friday and saw a sunset.
It was a striking little point of light in the middle of the misty evening that had settled in.
The sky that morning had been red. Usually sunrises are so pink and tender. The sky that morning was red and raw. But it ended with something golden.

My love affair with the sky is as limitless as heavens. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the  clouds speed by on a fast wind, or nothing more awe-inspiring than a vast blue sky, pristine and clear. You can just lose yourself in the largeness.
Or the coziness of a purple-pink sunrise peeping over the edge of the horizon.

I love it when the sky is covered with a field of light, fluffy clouds, and looks a melancholy shade of periwinkle.
I love it when it looks grey and menacing, signaling that a giant storm is on it's way. I love it when it's radiant and clear, where you think you can see right through the air to the other side of the sky.

What's beautiful about the sky is that it's a manifestation of the temporal. A quick glance at the sky is enough to let you know roughly the time of day. Time is painted into the sky, but, at the same time, the sky is an ever-present reminder of the eternal. We are drawn up into the limitlessness of the sky.

Some people are privately connected. Even if it isn't always acknowledged, and instead often forgotten. Now and then the memories come back, but time passes and those moments are frozen in time, waiting for us to marvel at them again. And we will. Someday.
---From this lovely lady.

We are all looking at the same sky. And that's a very caim-y thought indeed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

do you have any faith in me at all?

I have come to believe and am convinced that the Hero of the Some Nights song cycle is Bartimeus. Bar-timeus, the blind beggar of today's Gospel. 

 A name is an insight into a person's soul. That's why all our names have meanings: Anastasia means Resurrection, Mara is bitter, Renée means born again. 
Poor Bartimaeus, his name means nothing: it just means son of Timaeus, and Mark tells us that he's the son of Timaeus in the same breath that he gives us his name. So we don't know anything about Bartimaeus through his name. And neither does Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus could sing along with the nameless hero of Some Nights: "Who am I?" Both heros are seeking an identity. 
And both of them find it when they decide to make the leap of faith to stand for something. 

When Bartimaeus casts aside his cloak, he literally stands up and sheds his protective covering, standing before Christ, completely vulnerable. The Hero of Some Nights's journey parallels Bartimaeus' struggle to stand up. Our Some Nights Hero sings that he is "waiting for a catastrophe to change him to whatever it is he is changing into." He's waiting for something to jolt him out of his blind dark night and reveal to him who he is. He, like Bartimaeus is blind and alone. And nameless. But then in that "have you listened to me lately? I've been going crazy" he realizes that the catastrophe is taking place inside of him. His own weakness and uncertainty is the catastrophe. There are two different meanings for the word catastrophe. One of them is the way that we usually think of it: a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin. Our hero is waiting for something gigantic to shock him out of this dark night. 

But here's the second meaning of catastrophe: the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy. Catastrophe can mean the denouement: the climax, the sticking-point. The point where you can't waffle back and forth, you have to choose where you stand. You have encountered something big, and you have to decide what to do about it. 

 Some Nights--the original song--is about the battle for faith. But in order to engage in that battle, we have to confront ourselves. The Intro is the battle that takes place prior to the battle for faith: which is the battle for identity. We have to confront ourselves. 
And that's something so many people are, like the Some Nights hero, so afraid to do. It's much easier to let ourselves slide away in the world of tea parties and twitter. Or maybe in relationships. 

Sometimes, in getting to know other people, we can forget to know ourselves. If you always have a woman/martyr in your bed, you will never encounter that terrifying silence of the night. You will stilfe the sound of your bones crying out: who am I? Perhaps the woman/martyr is a distraction from the battle. 
But she's a distraction because she's the ultimate end of the battle. 
Once the war is over, the soldier has to have someone to come home to. We have to confront ourselves and grow to know ourselves, because we are fundamentally oriented towards the other. We are longing, yearning, running to give ourselves away. 

Because it feels so right, because giving ourself to another is what we're called to, it stops us from wondering who we are. Because we've lighted on a truth about our selves: we were made for others, we can so easily skip the step of learning our true selves. 
 First, we must find ourselves to give ourselves away. 

 In story-telling, there are three parts: the build-up, the denouement and the resolution. It's in that crucial ground between the denouement and the resolution where you fight the battle of belief, where you decide who you are and what you stand for. Christ asks Bartimaeus: "why did you stand up? What did you stand for? What do you want me to do?" 
Those questions are the refrain that pounds throughout the Some Nights Intro and Song: what do I want? What do I stand for? And at the root of it: what is my name? Who am I? 

You are the one who decides how the drama will end. When you face something like the arrival of Christ, what will you do? 

 Will the hero hang back in the suffocating crowd of tea parties and twitter, will the hero push him away, will the hero keep the insanity you see in yourself from reaching out to the Someone who will save us. Will the bitterness keep the Hero from looking upward? 
Or will the Some Nights Hero cast aside his cloak and engage in Christ's question: "What do you want me to do for you? Why am I standing and what do I stand for?" 

 We're never going to answer that question sitting blind at the edge of the road. We have to leap up, cast off our protective cloak, admit our blindness and weakness our ignorance and our bitterness, and engage in the battle. Admit to the Christ: I am blind. And I want to see.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

cast out all fear; put out in the deep

I'm pretty damn independent.
I may never make it to the White House, but you can be sure that I'll be First Lady in whatever home I end up living.
I like to be the alpha dog, large and in charge. One of my personal favorite stories that my mother tells from my younger days is the day she turned around from vacuuming and saw me sitting on my younger brother (I was two-ish, he was an infant. I assume I was simply teaching him our family's hierarchy of order. Since then, he's grown taller and much less squish-able, but I flatter myself into thinking that my gesture so long-ago established the law of the pack deep within his impressionable heart).
All that being said, dependency is a bit of a struggle for me.
And when I say "a bit of a struggle" I mean something more along the lines of "a gigantic struggle constantly churning within the depths of my soul. #casual."
Point being, dependency=a struggle. The idea that love leaves us, not liberated from our fellow man, but more and more in his debt, is sort of not my favorite idea.

Enter the hero:
Jean Valjean.

Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread, and then spent 20 years on a chain gang (ah, the inestimable judicial system of 18th century France, amiright?) After Valjean earns his freedom, the Bishop Myriel gives Valjean shelter overnight. In return for the Bishop's generosity, Valjean steals silver candlesticks from him, and is inevitably caught by the police. The Bishop, however, saves Valjean, and asserts that he granted the candlesticks to Valjean as a gift. This completely unearned mercy and love is the final catalyst Valjean needs to reform his life.
Valjean then spreads this love and mercy to others; he shows mercy to Fantine, and promises to care for her daughter Cosette. Throughout the rest of the play is Valjean continues to extend unearned love to the people he encounters, most remarkably towards the borderline-insane, revenge-obsessed police-inspector Javert. Eventually, Valjean saves Javert's life [spoiler alert. whoops.]: the man who has been relentlessly hunting him for years. Let me repeat: Valjean saves the life of the man who would kill him in a second. That is truly love.

By undergoing a season of his life where he had to depend radically on the love of others, Valjean was enabled to radically give the love he had received. That's an essential part of love that balances out the equation. And the constant on both sides of the equation is grace. Without grace, Valjean could not accept love. Without the grace to accept the love of the Bishop, He would have continued on his own, as a fugitive on the run. Without grace, he could have just hungrily sought and clung to the love of others, consuming it greedily, without giving it away.

Valjean's acceptance of the Bishops act of love was an act of dependence. But that dependence led to freedom. And only when we are freed are we able to love freely. Independence, I'm realizing, may begin with dependence. Independence without dependence may lead to blindness.
But love seeks Light, seeks Truth.
Love rejects the dim vision in a mirror and seeks to behold the beloved face-to-face.
 Because, ultimately, love is seeing the face of God.

Friday, October 26, 2012

sedaqah [tze-‘da-ka]

The only place in a large dorm one can be alone without fear of interruption is the shower.
I love the shower.
Cold showers are more refreshing than sleep. On a hot summer day, they are more rejuvenating than iced coffee.
Warm showers are like comfort in liquid form. They are more reassuring and calmtenting (new word. You heard it here first.) than a fuzzy fleece blanket.

And being alone is the only place to duke it out with God. In the shower, it's just you, God, the water and the pain, confusion, hurt, anger, or [insert appropriate distressing feeling here].

This particular Friday night, since I'm now an adult and have incredibly rational and appropriate emotional reactions to everything, I beat my fists on the impervious tiles. 
I never realize how tiny my hands are until I roll them up into little clenched stones of anger. Those puny little fists are so incapable of making any difference on a cold tiled wall.

I didn't realize my fists were still clenched, until I felt the stream of shower water moving over them. And then I felt a little stream of water fall out of my own eyes as well.
And then I remembered an image, and along with the image were the words:

find love. give it all away.

And then I unclenched my hands, and did this instead:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Be God's

Several Fridays ago, we had a Vision reunion, and it was one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened. We sang the anthem of the summer, Be God's, and I looked around at the faces of friends I had done Vision with, friends I hadn't participate in Vision with, and older Vision alum I had just met. 

I felt the air shimmer with that sparkle of beautiful otherworldly love and joy.
It was a birthday kind of joy.
And as I sat in one of my favorite chapels on campus, and watched the colored light shine through the stained glass windows and hit the white walls, and plunked out notes on the piano. Only music can really capture that sort of birthday joy.
I thought of all the people whose lives are those colored glass that the light shines through.

For you created me and shaped me, Gave me life within my mother’s womb. 

There is nowhere on earth I can escape you: Even the darkness is radiant in your sight

with love everlasting you besiege me
And I thought of the song again. Each week, as we sent the high school students on their way, we would sing the song Danielle Rose composed for Vision ten years ago. “Be God’s Love," we sang, "where the world is hopeless, be God’s hope, be God’s rock, be God’s smile,” encouraging them and our fellow mentors to be Christ for others.
But that anthem, is an even deeper call to allow ourselves to be God’s child completely. A call for each of us to recognize how completely we are God’s.
I am God's love. His beloved.
 If there was only one reason for God to smile—it would be you. If there was only one person God had to love, it would be you. If God was depending on only one person to heal the world, it would be you, in your own particular way, however small. All God needs of me is my emptiness and lowliness, which is supes convenient, because that's what I have to offer.
And that was my birthday gift to God.
For the wonder of who I am, I praise you/ Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

on a Wednesday in a cafe

I don't have a good head for measurements. I really don't.
I have no visual-spatial reference chart sitting in my head, the mental scale-rule that some people can instinctually draw from is missing in me.
Okay, to be fair, I might be able to imagine what a yard looks like. But three yards, a meter, or (saints preserve us), a millimeter?
Nope. Nada. Nothing. Drawing a blank.
(That doesn't stop me from giving joyfully egregiously wrong distance estimates. I will gladly tell you the distance between the two walls of this classroom is 48 feet, that the glass tumbler I'm drinking water out of is half a millimeter thick, and that my backyard is 50 square acres. All those numbers just sound right.)

One thing I am good at is knowing people: knowing how people talk, act, and think.

I can hear what words ring true in the mouth of a character, and what lines of speech are stilted and forced, put there by their author, as opposed to rising out of the character's own soul.

I can see what sort of nervous ticks differentiate a boy who's head over heels in the nervous first-blush of love, and a boy who's so stifled by discomfort he can't keep still.

If you watch a girl who enters a room and then decides where to sit, you can tell if she's sitting next to her best friend, the only person she knows in the room, or the boy on whom she has a crush.

I don't know much about numbers, but I know people. And I know words.

You can describe the physical sunset with numbers, but the effect the sunset works on your heart and soul is numerically indescribable. But you can attempt to describe it with words.

You can describe how old a human being's physical body is with numbers. But a human's soul can't be tied down or described by any single age. I know what little two-year-old boy looks like, sounds like, smiles like, and acts like. But I couldn't describe a soul as two. It simply wouldn't apply.

Numbers, like the rest of the physical world, are very beautiful, and show-off the elegance and stylish grace of creation.
But numbers are, by their nature, units of limitation and division; and unity is the supernatural order of the world. There is something stifling about living in a world where one eternal moment is divided into twenty-four hour days, sixty minutes each hour, sixty seconds each minute.

Not that I don't like Time. I love Time. I love seasons, years, and months and delight in their beauty.
But time is temporal.
The two-year-old next to me in this church pew will out-live Father Time. This little boy's soul is already older than the first-born of creation.
That's what we call poetry. And it escapes the understanding of the most elegant equation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

burgundy heart-shaped medallion

Despite what they say, the mirror has only one face. And if you hate that face you see in the mirror, well, then, you're sort of screwed.


I was at senior prom, and I walked into the girl's bathroom. It was very softly lit. The floor and ceiling sparkled with very dark tile, that had little flecks of mica embedded in them. That bathroom looked like a little nook carved out of the night sky. I walked in, my dark blue dress mirrored the starry sky of the bathroom. Everything sparkled, the very air was iridescent. 
I looked into the mirror, and I gasped.
There was a girl in the mirror looking back at me, and she was beautiful.
And that girl was me.
It was shocking.
That was the first time I remember looking in the mirror and being surprised. I was surprised that how beautiful I felt matched exactly how beautiful I looked. Or that how beautiful I looked matched how beautiful I felt. An intersection of the two. There was so much Joy in that little starry bathroom. I was so happy to be beautiful. 
Or was I beautiful because I was happy.
It didn't matter. I looked at the mirror and smiled at myself. And blushed at the audacity of doing so. 
I saw a girl with long cinnamon curls and sparkling eyes smiling back at me.
Her cheeks were flushed from dancing, and her entire body was reverberating with excitement.
The two girls: one in the mirror, one in the flesh, smiled at each other, basking in the radiance of their own beauty. 

No other girl in the world mattered, because in that moment she was the brightest constellation in a sea of stars.

Monday, October 22, 2012

imprecise half-worlds

If your life was demanded of you, how extraordinary would it be?

Anyone who has earned a reputation for piety by prayer, deep breathing exercises twice daily, and one or two acceptable good works has gained this much for his trouble, that few people bring him any extraordinary problem. It is possible for such a man to go into a flat spin when faced with some trouble that does not come within a familiar category.
--Muriel Spark, The Comforters

There are some lecturers who have the unfortunate power to make an incredibly interesting subject completely boring. Not because the subject they're lecturing on is so dull, but because their presentation of the material fails to do the subject justice. The pedestrian lecture almost effaces the mystery and intrigue of a subject yet to be learned.

Our lives are something transcendent and glorious. The beauty of being a human is indisputable; we are creatures that house the marriage of natural and supernatural. We were made for more than to get lost in the half-worlds of tea parties, Twitter, and tax returns. 

The grind of daily life can seem quite ordinary, nothing like the high ideals we hope to achieve. The ambiguities of our human society and of the physical universe can make it difficult to see God always and everywhere.
--Rev. Thomas E. Hosinski, C.S.C.

Because we live our daily lives in the Shadowlands, it can become so dangerously easy to let the supernatural within us grow too integrated with the natural. Prayer, meant to be a daily shock out of our complacency, becomes something like exercise: a performance we engage in daily as part of our Healthy Regimen. Like those dull professors, we are too adept at turning the mysterious and fantastical stuff our lives are made of into something pedantic and pedestrian. 

The ordinary cannot understand the extraordinary. 
But the extraordinary demands that all things ordinary become new.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

this is the start

Part VI.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Socialist. 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- 
 Because I was not a Jew. 

Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak for me.
--Martin Niemöller

The final event of the day yesterday was our visit to the Holocaust Memorial museum.
I originally allotted an hour and a half for us to travel through the museum. I spent close to three hours there, and I could have spent more.
As soon as we entered, I was swamped by the awe and the sadness that enveloped the exhibit. It was an absolutely mesmerizing and haunting exhibit. One that I will never forget.


And then, today, we returned. Never have I had a happier road-trip. Filled with music, and scary clouds, driving through fog, hills of autumn trees, and lots and lots of conversation (all this brought to you by coffee).

After a hectic hour or two of running around sorting vans, people and luggage, I finally settled down in my favorite coffee shop for peaceful hours of conversation.
We sat by the fireplace, cozy and warm as the October rain fell down outside.
After long talks and recaps of the different weeks we encountered, I walked to my dorm, struck by the similarities and differences between this year and last.
There were so many similarities between this year's fall break and last.
The circular nature of a year is overwhelming: you can revisit the same places or perform the same rituals, but there's always something slightly different. Something new and something deeper.
But the beautiful thing about rituals is that they tell you how to proceed in each situation,
So I knew exactly what to do with the rest of my evening:
cuddle in my magically heat-producing Disney Princess blanket, eat chocolate, and watch The Holiday.
It's fall break tradition. yo I'm not gonna not.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

no one told me I was going to find you

Part V.

There's nothing so cozy as finding a home away from home.

Yesterday, we all apparently woke up on the sassy side of the bed. We were loving and sassing as soon as we rolled out into the kitchen and bleary-eyed, poured ourselves our morning bowls of cereal.
As I looked around at the incredible students surrounding me, I was overwhelmed by a wave of gratitude for them and admiration of them. They have forged a community out of nothing, and created a home for themselves in the little church basement where we're staying. 

The sense of community forming felt so palpably similar to the feeling of home that pervaded the air last Friday as I sat in the Lewis Hall chapel, playing music and talking with fellow Visionaries. As we sang the anthem of the summer: Be God's, I looked around with joy at all my companions. All of us were caught up in the joy of the song, the joy of the moment, and the joy of each other. As we sang this song together, memories of the summer were floating through all our minds: memories of singing this song each week, of sharing a stage, looking up at the shining faces of 300 highschoolers and feeling our faces mirror their shine, of looking around at our fellow mentors, who showed us so concretely how to be God's smile, be God's rock, or be God's light. Moments like that are home in the truest sense.

Later that day, my friend Scott and I met up with friends of ours who were touring through town. On our way down there, we discussed the importance of rest in forming our little Gospel of Life community. Despite the frantic level of activity, we've tried to find rest during the day, and allow our group to become a community. And it's sort of incredible to watch two girls who can disagree with each other so passionately sit next to each other on a couch and joke and tease like friends always do. It's phenomenal and, in fact, sort of miraculous.

When we finally met up with our friends, just seeing the familiar faces of friends from back at school was a comforting bit of Notre Dame in the middle of the big city. We walked around and saw the sights and laughed together. Later that day, as we  watched their concert at a small high school, I was so overwhelmed by the sense of home I felt by just standing up and singing the Alma Mater or the fight song with fellow students by my side, and alumni surrounding us.

One of the highlights of the day, and the most homey-home we discovered yesterday was dinner at my friend Tess's precious house. We invaded her kitchen and then she and we all cooked up dinner together really quickly. Moments of hospitality like that warm my soul.
But what melted me completely was when Tess pulled out a carton of pumpkin ice cream out of the freezer especially for me. That was too good to be real. 
It made me sparkle with happy contentment.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the end I wanna be standing

Part IV.


* Key to success, my friends? Fake-it-til-you-make it. Step one: dress for success. (Now I'm just breaking out all my favorite cliché buzzwords) So I'm stepping out this week in all high-heel boots.  Because when you wear high heels you clip-clop down a hallway or a street in a manner that signals to the entire world: I am important. I don't have time for nonsense. Please move out of my way. The sound of high-heels is naturally intimidating. Power-walking across a crosswalk with six seconds left until the red light feels more adventurous when wearing high heels.
Also, when you're just this side of twenty-one and scared witless of leading a group of peers around D.C., wearing high-heels helps you feel (at least exteriorly) like you're large and in-charge.

*Most Chilling Moment of the Day award goes to the casual line that the lady leading our information session at the Death Penalty Info Center dropped at the beginning of our meeting: We asked how many executions had taken place so far this year. "31. Oh, actually 32, there was one last night."
I felt my stomach drop, and even though we were crowded into a warm little office, my skin felt cold. Nonchalant death. It was shudder-inducing

*There were two women today who are emblazoned in my mind: Elizabeth the put-upon office intern. Elizabeth was beckoned into the meeting every few minutes to take phone calls, or make copies of pamphlets for us we didn't want. Dear Elizabeth. She was never unhappy, never looked upset or discontent. She just trudged around the office with a bright blue dress and cute wedge heels, with perfect but lifeless short blonde hair, and a wan smile on her face. I think she was aware that this position was beneath her. I liked Elizabeth. She's getting a play written about her. And Karina as well. Oh Karina. 
Karina was the head honcho of that meeting. She reminded me distinctly of Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire. If there were ever a Tennessee Williams heroine incarnate, it was Karina. She was the most fascinating woman, delicate, nervous, fragile, sharp. And she had the most mesmerizing mannerisms: the borderline theatrical way she gesticulated, the fragile, apologetic way she clasped her hands together, and the characteristic nervous tic she had of stroking her mouth with her long red nails were all heartbreakingly endearing.

*Georgetown Cupcake last night was the best thing that had ever happened to me (culinarily speaking) since the Nutella cannoli in Roma. Despite my overweening love of cupcakes, and my previous explorations into the microcosm of DC's cupcake world, I had never been to Georgetown Cupcake. I approaching the mecca of the cupcake universe with fear and trembling. I glimpsed salted caramel cupcakes on the display shelf amid the myriad other varieties. 
Not even a glimmer of interior indecision over which to order. 
That salted caramel cupcake was going to be mine. 
I took one bite, and I nearly cried. 
The cake was rich and moist. The icing was smooth and creamy. The caramel and salt blended so wickedly perfectly. I shoved the cupcake into my friend's hand, telling him to share in the joy of the cupcake. When my mono-ridden friend ate a bite (conscientiously taking a bite last, to avoid giving us all mono. So considerate.) she said: "this isn't real." 
It wasn't. 
That sort of gustatory experience is a something you have to share: it's so transcendent that you want to have to bring others into the experience, to share in the otherworldly experience of joy.

*I fell asleep during the presidential debate. I think that was the right choice, especially since I already voted (holla at your absentee ballot). My dear Fr. Andrew likes to talk about the eternal significance of moments. My catnap will have much more eternal significance in my life than Romney and Obama going head-to-head and toe-to-toe.
And that's how Renée does politics.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

unexpected what you did to my heart

Part III.

Yesterday, I fell in love not only with D.C. all over again, but with this particular trip all over again. (The catchphrase that's become a refrain punctuating each conversation of our trip is kind of actually a lie. You don't only GOLife once. I'm here for a second shot at this gig.)
And yesterday, I remembered why I was here again. I fell in love with this city so completely all over again.
Only in my hometown do I have the same feeling walking down the streets: the feeling that not only do you own these streets, these buildings that you pass, but that they own you. You know them in a way you know a dear friend: an intangible something makes them infinitely dearer than even the most beautiful block of New York City. And, in some strange way, they know you as well. There's a part of me I didn't even realize was dormant until I had steeped myself in the D.C. air for a bit.
But then I felt myself come alive again.

But it started yesterday morning with an early morning trek to an adorable, perfect little coffee shop. 
Coffee shops must have two things to register as adorable and perfect:
1) Large windows and good window seating
2) Luscious pastries sitting in the cases.
This shop had both. And we sat in the window seating, sipping the rich, nutty coffee.
We did a wee bit of reading (to feel justified in visiting the coffe shop, and in order to pacify the productive part of our soul [that's the fourth part that Plato forgot to include] that demands that we produce homework. 
But then we got to the real reason coffe shops exist: conversation, and the rest of our time was spent in life chats and girl talk.
It was refreshing and revitalizing. There's nothing like a break for stepping back and taking inventory of where you are so far in your year. And so those who you spend your breaks with become doubly important. They're the ones you can share discoveries with, hash out relationship drama, work out problems, and talk through the journey of the semester thus far. It's utterly delightful.

We walked around the National Mall this afternoon, and visited all the monuments. The sky was a chiseled bank of clouds. They looked like marble sculptures, and mirrored the magnificent marble memorials all around us. We watched the sun set over the Potomac from behind the Lincoln Memorial. Fun fact: I had no idea you could walk around the Lincoln Memorial. And I had no idea that the view from  behind the Lincoln Memorial was that incredible. And I thought to myself as we sat there: this is not real life.
And then an October rainstorm came. And we opened our umbrellas and covered ourselves with jackets and scarves and forged out into the rain on our walk home.
As I watched the city lights glisten off the rain-soaked bricks of the sidewalk, I fell in love with D.C. all over again.

After our meeting in the afternoon (more on that anon), I was like a firecracker. I was walking and talking through the city at full speed, gesticulating wildly, and barely letting my poor, patient conversation partners get a word in edgewise. I had missed that part of Renée. The part of Renée that lets a rant about the societal injustice that abortion perpetrates against women burst out of her on a first date, because she just doesn't know how to not.
I've learned a valuable lesson over the past year: I've learned how to not let myself get carried away by passion.
My next lesson is to learn which passions I can allow to carry me away with them.
I'll gladly sign up for that adventure any day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

life is an [inner city] road

Part II.

I went on a run in the morning.
By myself. In D.C. (Don't tell my Mom.)
But I was safe because I had a key and a cellphone.
As soon as I took off, my heartbeat soared and exhilaration instead of blood was pumping through my veins.
Heart beat:
Hello, D.C. I'm back.
I ran past a tall, blond man who was also running. The Aryan, I called him.
And I ran past a Vietnamese woman power-walking in a red jacket.
And I knew I was in the right place.
I turned around and ran past the woman again.
Sometimes I sing when I run. My lungs don't like it, but my heart does.
I haven't stopped singing since I woke up this morning.
I ran past the Soho Tea and Coffee, I ran past the uniform Starbucks, I ran past vFalafel. 
vFalafel must be like plain old Falafel. But more victorious.
or vibrant.
or vicious, maybe
or vivacious.
I ran past the friendly hotel concierge:
good job, good job.
I ran around the circle,
and I passed a man in a track suit going to yoga and a man in a power suit going to work.
I saw the sunrise in the sky.
The sky was medium blue, underscored by bright pink clouds.
It was so bizarre, and a little too much like a Lisa Frank coloring, but it was still beautiful.
I ran past the Colombian embassy.
A mansion with a wrought-iron gate.
Heart beat: within each house, behind each gate is a whole world that's hidden from most of us.
I ran past another embassy, whose sign was in a language I didn't know.
It was the Estonian embassy.
I don't know Estonian.
I stopped at the statue of Ghandi. He was walking, like I was running.
As I stopped to stretch my legs, I read what was inscribed:
Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.
I ran to the grassy hill in front of the church.
And I climbed the cherry tree there. It looked like no one had ever climbed it.
Climbing trees is nice everywhere, but it's even better in D.C.
A tree is an instant retreat in a city.
Heart beat: Nada te turbe.
I stretched my leg against a brick wall, and felt the angry muscle that wound it's way up the back of my leg like a viper grow relaxed and appeased.
Moisture was everywhere. In the air. In my hair. On my skin.
Shake off moisture.
Breathe in the morning air.
Begin day in D.C.
My city.
Solo Dios basta.
Keep singing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On a Crazy Adventure

Part I.

If you are one of the few (aka my mom) who has been a reader since last fall break, you will remember that I trekked out to Washington D.C. with an ND group, and wrote extensively about the experience.
It was incredible, life-changing, and many of the stories from the immersion still stick with me to this day. I remember some of the stories of the trip like they were yesterday.

This fall, I'm on the same trip. But it's a completely different adventure. We took vans, not the train. I'm a leader, not a follower. And I'm the only hippie in a group of brilliant people, which means I'm desperately missing my Gypsy Mermaid companion.)

It started early this morning with bagels and coffee and greasy hair. The coffee disappeared all too quickly, and the greasy hair increased incrementally as the day progressed. But despite the lack of a shower, starting on a journey before the sun has even started his daily trek is sort of exhilarating. And there's nothing like the exhilaration of caffeine hitting your system and getting a palpable burst of energy. That could just be the placebo effect, but boy do I love it. 

Also, I drove a mini-van that 
A) was permeated with a heavenly new-car smell. It smelled of new beginnings and fresh adventures.
B) was aesthetically pleasing to look at/be in. I was concerned about this. Because it's much easier to have greasy hair and feel like a half-drowned water rat when you're surrounded by comfort and beauty. My cozy little rental van made me feel significantly more put together. And any vestiges of put-togetherness were highly welcomed this morning.
C) made me feel like a mom. Which is a good thing. As we journeyed closer and closer to D.C., all my dreams of being First Lady returned to me, and I grew more and more maternal by the second (until I started to fall asleep at the wheel [hey Mom] and was made to nap for the rest of the journey. Oh the indignity.)

 The journey itself was beautiful. There was sassing, there was laughing, and there was sharing of stories and souls. The landscape we were adventuring through was a sea of fall color and hills of beauty. With Mumford & Sons playing in the background, it was the perfect fall road-trip experience.

We stopped to visit one of our participant's families, who took us to lunch at an adorably kitschy wings restaurant. As I talked with his father, I found myself drawn into a conversation about the importance of Eucharist and sharing meals together, and family and travel. I also learned the difference between civil engineers and architects. Architects are the dreamers and civil engineers are the schemers. Together they create incredible structures.

I'm an architect, I think. 
So I'm taking my dreams and my wonder with me as we encounter the ideas of the civil engineers and schemers.
So here I go. Again.

*[You Only Gospel of Life Once]

Thursday, October 11, 2012

pumpkin ice cream for our marys & marthas

This post has sat here in my drafts folder and in my heart, just stewing and simmering but never coming quite to a full boil. It was only today I realized what it was missing. 
It was missing my other half.

If you've ever tasted pumpkin ice cream, you understand how exquisitely bizarre it is. 
Pumpkin ice cream is the product of a brilliant juxtaposition.
Juxtapositions are the unique creations of our senses of order and proper placement. Pumpkin is not a flavor our sense expect to find in ice cream. Pumpkin taste belongs in toasty warm pumpkin pie (I'm so ready for Thanksgiving right now).
Order exists so that the startling beauty of juxtaposition can burst forth, and juxtaposition exists to allow us to see a beauty of each individual element. Each has a unique beauty which can only be brought out through setting it next to an unrelated element. 

Pumpkin ice cream should never cease to be surprising and slightly upsetting. Pumpkin ice cream should never cease to startle us with its bold eschewing of order and rich embrace of juxtaposition. There's an artistry in pumpkin ice cream. A delicate combination
It's the artistry of the sisters Martha and Mary. It's the artistry of friendship.
Any friendship at it's finest, is in a way a mirroring of Mary and Martha. When one is calm, the other busy, when one is caught up in the tasks of the world, the other is sitting at the feet of Christ in place of the other. My best friend is in Spain right now, and there's a part of me that, in the absence of her beauty, without the juxtaposition of her vibrant spirit, is impoverished.
When I run around like a crazy person, she is the one to calm me down. And in those rare moments her unflappable spirit is in distress, I have found myself filled with unexpected calm and equanimity. If you were to draw my portrait it wouldn't be complete without including those like Neesie who have wormed their way into my heart in so unique a manner.
Without the juxtaposition of the fountain of Mary's love and devotion, our Martha-ish activity leaves us wilted. And without the Marthas of the world, dinner never gets made. Mary and Martha are meant to be understood together.
The other night, my friend took me to the best spot on campus.
Maybe not my favorite, or the prettiest, or the most perfect spot, but the best spot.
It's a very Mary-ish spot. You can see right into the heart of Notre Dame: you see only the best things.
And it's so refreshing to only see the best things. To be a Mary for a day, and sit at the foot of the Teacher and just allow yourself to be caught up in rapt adoration of the One Thing. As we sat looking at the Grotto, the basilica, and golden Mama Mary all lit up, shining brightly against the dark background of the night sky,  I almost said: "this doesn't feel quite real." False. That sight was ten times more Real than the paper-pushing and number-crunching that goes on in Main building, or the frustrating advisors or drunk Alumni bros that populate campus.
That spot is a glimpse into Reality; it's that glimpse, that light which can lead you through the murky daily grind of campus and keep you from getting lost in the Shadowlands.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

brittle-tongued and barren

Melancholy has set in. This is either because I can't decipher the driver's license renewal application form (cue a call to mom), or because it's a rainy day outside, and I noticed recently that my moods have been scarily in sync with the weather recently (emotions on feelings on emotions).
Another thing I noticed yesterday that a ring that usually sits on my right hand went missing.
If there's one thing I absolutely hate, it's losing things.
When things go missing, that's when my needy little heart shows. I get all tense and high-strung. The stress of not knowing where something I love has gone overwhelms me like a series of tsunamis. I'm a rather possessive person. And losing something strikes me right there at my jealous core.

Autumn is good for me. Because it is such a delicate, transitory season. There are a few weeks, or just days even, where autumn is in full, glorious swing. Every single leaf calls my name, each leaf's beauty shouting out for me to look at it, notice it, and love it. I want to hold onto each one. The back of my calendar is filled with a mini-forest of leaves that I've collected. I have only to open up my schedule and I have a little bit of autumn in my hands. The smell of autumn leaves is the best. But even as I hold the little ruby red leaf in my hands and savor its smell, I can feel how brittle the leaf is. 
It's not mine to hold onto.

My usual reaction to this would be to never take another leaf. 
To just leave it on the ground and admire its beauty from afar. I get just as much enjoyment out of seeing the leaf in its natural setting, happily sitting on the ground, surrounded by its fellow brilliant-hued little leaf friends. I can pick up the leaf, marvel at it, perhaps take a picture of it, and then set it down and leave it behind. 
I can just stifle the part of me that just wants to grab the little leaf and take it home with me and press it in the back of my calendar. Because that part of me that loves to hold onto things can so easily turn into the part of me that loves to selfishly cling to things; things like autumn leaves, which are, in their essence things designed to float away and fall away. It terrifies me how powerful the clinging part of my heart is. The seasons teach us that good-byes are a natural and ubiquitous part of living. And good-byes are much easier if there's nothing you have to let go of when you say good-bye. If you just leave all the leaves on the ground and never take any of them for keeps, then parting is not such a bitter sorrow.

Yet I still have my collection of leaves in the back of my calendar. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

sparrows that dive-bomb

"Ya know, life is beautiful and stress is ugly. Therefore, stress isn't life, so ignoring is perfectly reasonable. In fact, logically responsible"

Someone once asked me to explain what a pumpkin-pie moment is. It's a very good question, because pumpkin-pie moments are somewhat mysterious and difficult to explain, because they're just something that you recognize when it's happening, and savor it.

Some things are like that. So few things allow themselves to be captured in words. Most of our lives evade being tied down into perfect descriptions. 

Like the feeling of taking a shower after a morning of sweat and grime and yucky dirtiness. The feeling of being completely clean from the top of your head down to your toenails. I don't think the word clean fully captures the insane pleasure that comes from being washed free of all the dirt of the day.

Like the feeling of a Saturday morning. Saturday morning feels unlike any other morning. It feels happy and cozy--like a warm sweater--and very much like a pancake: breakfast-y and home-y. 
It feels something like this:

Like the feeling of finding something that you thought was irretrievably lost. Relief doesn't even begin to cover that: it's a mixture of relief and joy, and the sense of a burden being completely thrown off one's heart.

Like the feeling of staying up so late that you see the sunrise. The dawn feels so different from the wrong side of sleep.

Like the feeling of receiving love when it's unexpected. Love that takes you by surprise and sneaks up on you, bringing with it an unexpected joy that recolors the world. When love that you could never have predicted or calculated into your life finds you, you have arrived at the threshold of human experience where you must check your words at the door. There are sacred places where we must doff the shoes that protect our feet and the thick cloud of words which we wrap around our spirits. In places of indescribable beauty, we can only walk bare-foot and bare-tongued.
That is a pumpkin-pie moment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

they're just grey lanterns

Today I went on a pilgrimage to the place you baptized your feet.
And I saw a plastic bag in the stream.
Filth clogging water always stirs a river god's wrath,
So I removed the bag, freeing the water,
as when we unchained the water from the shakles of the Beruna bridge.
I took a rock.
I held it in my hand
and for a second I let it be mine.
With all my might, I threw it out into the deep,
and watched the ripples spread across the pond.
As a tear rolled down my cheek, I remembered:
I can only throw the stone.
I cannot control how far the ripples go.
Climbing down farther than we ever had,
I found myself perched on the edge of a noisy cateract.
Water poured over the table of rock,
Wastefully and wildly, with all the carefree wantoness of nature.
It was there, like Eustace, I tore off my dragon's skin.
For a third time I turned to go.
The grey October air hung like an enchantment over the bridge.
For a third time I sighed.
And on that sigh was hung a trinity of unspoken words.
Finally, I made my spiritual communion for a third time,
for a eucharist whose taste was bittersweet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

a thousand little merfs

The title is the sound that my heart is making as I watch Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck share a glass of wine outside a little Roman café. I would also be saying it out loud, but I can't. 
Because it's quad nap time. 
The four of us are never here at the same time. But now we are. And it's purely magic, almost as magical as watching Gregory and Audrey waltz on a dock next to the Tiber.

As I returned from a day of bouncing from place-to-place, I arrived back home to the beautiful sight of Roman Holiday playing and my three beautiful roommates settling into napping positions. Maybe because the day was so very London-like in weather, I remembered that next semester I wouldn't have the luxury of returning at the end of the day to the cozy little corner of a room I get to call home. 
Last night, as I sat hugging my dear rommie, I was overwhelmed by a wave of thankfulness. One of those moments of realizing how fortunate I am to have shared pillow talks and quad nap times and two and a half years of college with her.

My room is always a sanctuary. A place where, like yesterday, I can retreat from the harum-scarum doings of the outside world and curl up in a ball on the floor, and let all my books flow all over the desk, and let myself be still for a moment while I lie on the floor and watch Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck say good-bye to each other forever in the most tragically beautiful manner. Our quad was filled with a happy wave of silence and stillness. That's the sort of stillness I enjoy. When my body and spirit are both at rest, neither of them itching to be somewhere else or counting the minutes until I can dart out of my rolly-meeting-chair and run out into the wet autumn day with the honeycrisp apple the size of my head I found, and look up at the sky and say: God, I'm so happy.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

awaiting the advent

This day was autumn:

I went on a run one afternoon, as the sun was sparkling on the scarlet trees. I shook off the disappointment and disarray of schoolwork and the self-pitying pangs of procrastination.
As I ran past the lake, I saw a man on a boat in the middle of the lake. A comet of jealous desire shot through my heart and set me ablaze with yearning. If there was one place in the world I could be, it would be on that boat in the middle of that lake. As I ran, I watched the man on the boat and envied his peace and his solitude in his little water-bound hermitage in the middle of that lake. Nothing was able to touch him there in the middle of the glassy water. He had somehow escaped from everyday life and got to sit under the clear blue sky floating across a clear blue lake, surrounded by a forest fire of autumn leaves.

This day was fall:

I went on a run one morning, before the sun had even started to peak above the horizon. The gloom was pervasive, and the dampness soaked through everything: the swamped grass, the dead leaves falling from the trees, even the streetlights shining through the mist were harbingers of murkiness. The world was wrapped in a blanket of cloudy grey skies and leaves swirling in the wind. The whole day, the sky was on the verge of raining, but not quite there. As I sat in the cozy room, reading of aristocrats and artists, dilettantes and debutantes, the grey world hung suspended outside. It was a day of very little movement, but lots of wind. I envied friends who were out in the world, shopping and people-watching and lunching with Interesting People and geting to participate in the motion of the world. 
I was stuck, bogged down by the task-at-hand. But my task was to follow Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder through their lives and watch as their story unfolded. I was commanded to meet these Interesting People and fall in love with them. And so I didn't mind too much, but soaked in the aroma of pumpkin muffins and fresh coffee, and continued to read. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

angels who guard and keep

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

If you look up the word "delightful" in the dictionary, the number one entry will be: Winnie-the-Pooh, proper noun; adorable, slightly anthropomorphic, honey-loving teddy bear. 
I grew up on Winnie-the-Pooh Disney videos. 
Winnie-the-Pooh Disney videos are somewhat delightful. They capture the honeyed innocence and charm of the idyllic world of the Hundred Acre Woods. But the world they capture somehow fails to capture the sweetness the sweet, sad, beautiful world of Winnie-the-Pooh and his compatriots.

Like Thérèse of Lisieux, Winnie-the-Pooh espouses such deep sentiments with disarming and slightly alarming simplicity. Both are perhaps some sort of guardian angel for the wisdom of innocence. 
There is something so delicate and sweet about Winnie-the-Pooh, looking into his world is a glimpse into the secret world of childhood. There's something indescribable --yet very tangible--that happens: the moment when you leave childhood and become adulthood. And then you're on the outside. Even if small children are playing right in front of your feet, they're a world away from you. What Milne does so beautifully in his work is allow us a glimpse back into this world: a world we were once citizens of, but have been forced to move onward and upward. Life is about moving further up and further in or dying of stagnation. But those glimpses back into the eternal springtime of childhood are beautiful.

 "I was walking along looking for somebody, and then suddenly I wasn't anymore.”
--A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The antithesis of Christopher Robin is perhaps, Peter Pan. Peter Pan's rallying cry of never growing up is so foreign to the sweet world of Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh don't pretend they will never be forced to separate, that they won't taste the piquant spice of life's bittersweet partings. But they have a simple, steadfast faith in a love they don't have to know how to spell, they just share.

But it isn't easy,' said Pooh. 'Because Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.” 
--A.A. Milne, House at Pooh Corner

Monday, October 1, 2012

baby squirrels and sparkling lakes

"Let us love, for our hearts are made for nothing else."
--St. Thérèse of Lisieux

As our family sat in the bright autumn sun, and my little siblings started running like banshees around the playground, I rested my head on my mother's lap and felt twenty years slipping away to two. 
As my mother stroked my hair, I felt tears fall out of my eyes and onto her lap.
I was home.
Our souls are all ages at the same time--the wise never forget how to be a child.
I think that's called eternity.
October is the best month.
In October, everything is charged with an electric energy that makes you want to dance across the still-green-though-dying grass and jump into piles and piles of crunchy brown and scarlet leaves. You have to be on your toes, otherwise you'll miss the slight incremental changes that take us from the magical realm of late summer to the grey November early-winter. October is the month of autumn. September still belongs to the waning summer, and November is the month of grey skies, washing all the colors of October away in preparation for the immaculate December snow.

October is the month of flame and fire, when the trees finally yell at the world to notice them. If you've forgotten about trees all summer, you'll have to notice them in October. They send down little reminders of their presence, that we can't help but notice because they catch our eyes with their vibrance, or they crunch under our feet, or land on our shoulders. Fall leaves blanket the world with beauty-- their beauty that shines forth only in October. Their change begins in September, and ends in November, but high autumn belongs only to October.

October is the month of sweets--of Halloween candy, and pumpkin pies and cookies and glorious pumpkin treats, of apple orchards and apple cider, of hot cocoa and campfires. October is the month of chill winds in cornfields, bright moons, dark skies, and an invasion of the magical into the ordinary. October is the month of new beginnings, making new friends, finding new homes, seeking new adventures. October is the happiest of all the months.

October: synonyms: autumn, perfection, Joy, beauty, and transcendent happiness.