Categories
Books Ink Slingers Parenting Spiritual Growth Victoria K

“A Wrinkle in Time” Is Too Weird For Me (and that’s awesome)

So…spoilers.  You’ve been warned.

 

 

It’s too weird…

So I’m about to start teaching Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) to my 6th Grade Language Arts.  I had never read it as a child, much to the chagrin of many of my friends.  It was lost in the phase of reading a certain boy wizard’s story over and over and over again and just missed it.

Reading it as an adult (I guess I’m an adult…I make dinner and buy furniture now) I have to admit…it is downright strange.  It’s super weird.  There’s parts of it that didn’t really sit well in my stomach—random old women transform in centaurs, there’s a profoundly wise like toddler, they travel through tesseracts, they eat bread and jam at midnight (well…that’s actually just my daily reality).

And it’s hard to encounter this strangeness.  The author (L’Engle) spends almost no time making the weirdness palatable.  It’s hard for me to enter into this world, and sometimes I’m not sure if I want to.

 

…but it’s awesome.

I loved this quote from the book: “I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”

The book is filled with strangeness that I cannot even begin to understand.  And L’Engle doesn’t feel the need to explain it.  I love it, because it taps into the magic and awe that we find in faith.  We are overwhelmed by the “strange,” by the “weird,” by a whole manner of existence that we do not understand and will not understand until we meet the Father.

We don’t understand our faith.  We can begin to talk about it, but we will never fully, truly understand it.  We have to be comfortable with the strange.  We have to be comfortable with what is beyond us.

A Wrinkle in Time was too weird for me…but I need that.  I can’t let life be comfortable.  I need my sense of awe, wonder, appreciation for the “strangeness” of God.

 

Children aren’t allowed to be strange…

I want to bring this back to childhood. As a teacher, how these lessons apply to the kids reading them means a lot to me.

Sometimes I feel like with all of the phones, apps, and screens, our kids are being neatly packaged into tiny boxes of how to act and behave (and it usually involves a dull expression and eyes enthralled by the blue light).

Also, we’ve somehow decided that life works on a K-12 school schedule, perfect A’s, no-nonsense, filled to the brim with dance, soccer, violin, student council, honor society, college applications, the perfect college, the perfect High School photos, the perfect boyfriend, the picture-perfect Instagram life that really makes me scream in my mind.

There’s a perfect scene in A Wrinkle in Time that taps into this.   There’s a space neighborhood they travel to where all the children are bouncing the ball at the exact same pace, whose mothers call them inside at exactly the same time.  I just…how miserable.

…and that needs to stop.

I think we’ve forgotten just how beautifully strange childhood is.  Kids are weird.  Kids’ minds are beginning to make sense of the world.  Their brains are growing and wiring and re-wiring.  Nothing makes sense, and they use their imaginations and play to make sense of a strange world.

If our kids were allowed to have bold, free imaginations—just think of what the result would be!  I have so many students who aren’t willing to take risks in their papers, who ask me every step of the way, nervously, what’s right.

I leave this with a wonderful conversation between Meg (a teenage girl) and a mentor of hers:

“Meg, I give you your faults.”

“My faults!” Meg cried.

“Your faults.”

“But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!”

“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “However, I think you’ll find they’ll come in very handy on Camazotz.”

God designed each one of us exactly how He wanted to.  He gave us unique strengths and limitations so that we could do His Will in the world.  Our faults, our oddities, our strangeness, our humanity, is a beautiful gift that we should cherish.  How else can we learn this unless we let our kids be weird?

Categories
Domestic Church Fatherhood Ink Slingers Linda Motherhood Parenting Spiritual Growth Vocations

The Innocence of Childhood

Innocence of ChildhoodCan one recapture the innocence of childhood? Unfortunately not. But what a gift if we choose to recapture the path that leads us there.

The past several weekends, my husband and I have enjoyed a rare phenomenon in our lives – an empty house. With no ball games to attend or social functions for the kids, we’ve enjoyed some unexpected relaxation. It’s the first time in years that we’ve wandered through the yard just to take in its beauty, relax with a book, or (shhhh) take a nap! As we remarked about our new-found time, I couldn’t help but remember this once busy backyard filled with the sound of squealing children; days where barefoot dancing and unfiltered imagination were abundant. In Matthew 18, we hear Jesus remind us about having a childlike faith. For a moment, I close my eyes and imagine what that looks like.

I imagine the serenity of a sleeping newborn filled with trust as it settles down to the smell and feel of their parent or the big smile that appears when their awakened eyes finally come into focus with them. The complete abandonment the child shows reminds me of the absolute abandonment God asks of us in response to His depth of love for us. When my daughter was about three years old, I caught her speaking softly as we drove in the car. When I asked her who she was talking to she said “the angels”. My response was what you might imagine – “Oh, ok honey, that’s nice. Say hi for me!” The truth is, I believe that as children we are all born with this innocent trust, this profound humility. After all, weren’t they the first gifts given to Adam and Eve?

There is magic in watching that kind of abandonment in a child. The glee in jumping on the bed, pouncing in a puddle, and dancing in the rain. A place where curiosity exceeds fear and exploring leads to answers. The innocence of childhood is unhindered, authentic. This innocence is still of the heavenly realm. But, to live in the earthly realm, we are introduced to its earthly ways. The battle of love and hate begin and they wage war over every soul. As parents, we do everything in our power to protect this innocence and mourn the day evil disrupts it in the form of distrust, hatred, prejudice, etc.

As individuals, we may not remember the day or time our own innocence was lost. For many of us, it’s a slow fade. Those little moments when our confidence is shattered by an unkind word, or we are laughed at when sharing something from our heart. It leaves our world of trust and safety a bit bruised and our inner walls of protection develop. One day we realize we’re seeking God instead of conversing with Him. We lose that sense of abandonment and we begin our life’s journey in search for it once again.

This deep-rooted desire for meaning and purpose we often look for, leaves us with a void throughout our life. We are all called to seek God to fill that void with His love, but for some, that void is filled with earthly possessions,  and sadly for others, its filled with drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. Years ago, I remember reading in a book called To Heaven and Back, by Mary C. Neal, that the soul is timeless and comes to earth in order to learn something new or otherwise attain spiritual growth. With that understanding, it would seem that we could never recapture the innocence of childhood because we are brought here to learn more – to be more. Is it, perhaps, in the learning that we slip away from our connection with the Divine?

To stop and see the world through the eyes of a child is to recapture the sense of awe in the ordinary. The delight in seeing their fascination with the color of a bug, or the exhilaration of chasing a firefly. There is such happiness in their freedom to simply stop and spin around with joy. Who wouldn’t want to recapture that?! It’s the difference between finding happiness and seeking joy. Joy is the happiness that only God can instill in one’s soul; a trusted sense of wisdom – of knowing. Something that assures us that although this moment is fleeting, God’s love isn’t. Happiness is based on what’s happening around us where joy is based on what’s happening within us.

So although we may not be able to recapture childhood innocence, we can recapture, with the grace of God, the joy He intended with the right attitude for the experiences of our lives

Happiness is smiling when the sun is out. Joy is dancing in the downpour.

Categories
Alessandra Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Novenas Testimonials

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Your Mercy Saved Me


I have a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Being that this is His month, I wanted to share a little story of my childhood.

Growing up, my mom had this image of the Sacred Heart in our living room. This is the image I would look at day in and day out. This was HUGE by the way it measured about 5 feet x 3 feet, think a big poster. I experienced many sad moments in my childhood: the loss of my father, sexual abuse by my step father (I’ve shared in Broken Childhood, Healed by Christ), my mother’s alcoholism due to the first two, and much more. But this image always gave me hope, even when we didn’t go to Mass, even when my mom fell away from the Church.

One time when we were moving for what felt like the 1 billionth time, she wanted to change the frame it was in because it was heavy and she and I were moving our entire apartment alone with my little sisters (I was 12 then). She messed it up and sprayed the image itself in silver. She cried and cried so much! I told her that it didn’t matter, it was beautiful anyway. Once we moved she never put it back up on the wall. Mind you this move was to get away from the abusive man that had hurt all three little girls and in the process my poor mother. My uncle saw it in a corner and thought it was trash so he was going to throw it away but then thought to keep the frame for another picture. So he starts pulling the picture off and guess what?

There was a second intact image underneath it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For us it was a miracle and gave us the strength we needed to move forward and away from the life we had lived for so long that was so far from God. I knelt before this image begging God to help my mom and her alcoholism MANY MANY times. I screamed at Him many times too, in those moment where I felt so alone and helpless. He pulled me/us through though. Many years later, when I was 25, my mom stopped drinking completely, not even socially. She had dry moments but that wasn’t enough. She went through a retreat and at the end of it there was a Mass and then followed testimonies of Faith. She stood up and told this story and then publicly apologized to me and thanked me for my Faith in Him, which is what helped her she said.

I have an incredible devotion to the Sacred Heart, can you see why?

But God’s amazing mercy didn’t stop there. When I met my husband, Peter, (on what used to be SaintRaphael.org and now CatholicMatch.com) he had this image as his profile picture for some time. It was a photo of the one that hung in his living room! The same exact one! It was what made me curious about him and got us chatting. His screen name was “SacredHeart1220”! In our bedroom we have a smaller but exact same image. My screen name was “LittleFlower1220”. Notice the 1220 that are similar? We have the same birthday, Dec. 20th. For me, there is no such thing as coincidence! Maybe God-incidences? See, I had just prayed a 30 Day Novena to the Holy Ghost and in it I wrote 30 things that I wanted my future husband to be like. I am not lying when I tell you he had all 30 things. It was just amazing, I giggle each time I remember…I met him on day 30!

Sometimes, it is hard to realize this but

God is always with us, even when men and the world, and the Devil want to hurt us. Cling to Him through the storm and in the end He will reward you!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

 

Categories
Alessandra Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Reversion Sacraments Testimonials

Broken Childhood Healed by Christ

 

Rushing to my pew, quietly and quickly, I tried to go unnoticed. A shy college student, I had no one to really go to Mass with me – well, not as often as I wanted to go, which was daily. Pulling the kneeler down, I felt my knees hit the leather chocolate brown cushion, folded my hands in prayer and closed my eyes in adoration. Just a few minutes later, I heard little feet scuffling the tile floor of the center aisle; I didn’t have to open my eyes because I knew it was the Sanchez mother and her nine little ones. In admiration, as I heard the last set of feet pass my pew, I opened my eyes to catch a glimpse of this lovely family which stood out like a sore thumb at our parish of over 500 families because of the size of theirs. It took two vehicles to get to Mass for them at the time, but you could count on them to be there almost on a daily basis. Their father was the Deacon at our parish, a sweet quiet man always quick to offer a smile and who also was a doctor. Teresa, their three year old, would look around the church and have a staring contest with the beautiful images of Mary and the saints frequently until her eyes met mine and we would share a quick smile and a little wave. Though their family was a little bigger than the Martin’s, they reminded me so much of what Saint Therese of Lisieux’s family must have been like while she was growing up. I admired this family and frequently thought to myself, “oh how I wish one day I too could have a family like that, but that probably won’t ever happen.”

Quickly negative thoughts would enter my mind as I closed my eyes again because I was still so very broken. I couldn’t understand why I was so broken at the time. I wanted to blame everyone else; after all, it was easier that way. It wasn’t my fault I lost my father to war and that he chose the military as his profession. It wasn’t my fault that my mother became a widow at twenty-five with three young girls ages five, three, and one and an immigrant to the United States of America. It wasn’t my fault she had to work two and three jobs at a time just to keep the water running and electricity on while my grandmother raised us. It wasn’t my fault she got involved with a man that was a child-molester and targeted all three of us as well as one of my cousins. It wasn’t my fault she became an alcoholic. It wasn’t my fault that uncles and male cousins thought I was “a pretty little girl” like my step-father. It wasn’t my fault we had to move around so much growing up – sometimes even going to two or three different schools in one year. It wasn’t my fault that we ended up in an apartment building in a not-so-great section of South Florida where gangs were popular. It wasn’t my fault I thought sleeping with my boyfriends from a very young age was the proper way to show affection; after all, wasn’t that the way I was taught by the only man in my life, my step-father? These thoughts ran through my head almost daily and I used them to continue to justify my actions even when God was showing me His love and mercy. After all, he had used one of these boyfriends to “bring me back home” and back to Church. That didn’t stop my broken nature though. I prayed and worked at a Church as a Youth Minister because I loved my Faith and my God but I didn’t really realize that my personal life was a wreck! So looking at what this beautiful family had, a lovely marriage, lots of little children, a happy Catholic life, that wasn’t for me. It would never happen, “stop dreaming”, I would tell myself frequently.

Of course, running a life pretending to be a good Catholic wasn’t working out. My hidden nature, the outcome of child sexual abuse would soon catch up to me. Soon after my graduation from the university I found out I was expecting a baby, the father didn’t want me to keep “it” and I decided I would raise the baby alone. This lasted about three weeks and his father, a man that had serious problems with commitment, decided we should go ahead and get married. We did, when I was five months pregnant; we had a big Church wedding, I bought the dress that concealed the baby bump and it was a beautiful day! That is, until reality hit. This man too was broken, but a different kind of broken – his childhood also tarred with abuse physical and alcohol. After four years of being the victim and trying to raise a child in this environment, I went to see my spiritual director and after failed attempts to save the “marriage,” I filed for a civil divorce and began my annulment process. Oh those were 2.5 years that felt like a century, between the pain of reliving my life for the application and realizing the vast signs and errors in both our ways {we really were two broken people that had no business being in a relationship to start with}.

During this time was when my life changed completely. I went on retreats often and to Confession frequently and since I couldn’t receive Communion, I went back to Adoration for hours on thinking and analyzing my life, realizing that really none of that was my fault, after all I was a child. But I had to make drastic changes in my life; I was now a mother and needed to work hard to raise a Godly young man. There I was again, my knees on that kneeler begging God to save me, “one more time!” Shortly after all this and living a now chaste single life with a child of three years old, I began a Novena to the Holy Ghost. In my heart of hearts I still dreamed of a family like the Deacon’s and his lovely wife, but I never thought that would happen; yet, God listens to our hearts. Since I was such the “Doubting Thomas,” I asked God for a specific kind of man {I even made a list, and among these were silly little things like being ambidextrous like my dad, a tall man, a man of a stronger Faith than mine}.

On the last day of the Novena, I met Peter (my now husband), and of all places, on what is now CatholicMatch.com. If I told you the details of my list and how precisely the description of Peter fit that list, you’d think I was crazy, lying or both. Peter had just finished discerning a vocation to the priesthood with the Fraternity of Saint Peter (an order of apostolic life which only offer the Mass in Latin}; he was a convert and knew so much about our beautiful Faith that ten years later I’m still amazed of how much he knows {versus me, the cradle Catholic who knows so little} and how perfect God’s plan in our lives is. This November it will be ten years since we met, courted, and later married in the Traditional Latin Mass.

Today my life mirrors that of the Sanchez Family more than any other family I’ve met; it amazes me that I never told anyone this nor did I ever ask for it, but the Lord listened to my heart. He heard that I needed His healing; my brokenness needed Him so much and through prayer and the Sacraments, here I am today, a better Catholic. I’m trying my very best to live a life of grace, a life of devotion and prayer as wife to the perfect man (for me) and mother to five little blessings.

Daily, I struggle with my sinful nature partnered with the sad memories of my broken childhood. I can now look back and accept what happened because it made me who I am today, and it also helps me look at my present and future with hope – true hope in Him. My wonderful husband who is so wise constantly reminds me by telling me this: “In your spiritual life, you are never standing still. You are either moving forward or falling back.” I strive to always be moving forward, much more than I did before I was healed by Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I cannot do it; it is impossible. It’s not an easy road, not a perfect one either, but it’s a grace-filled one full of the love and forgiveness and healing power of God. So my sisters, yes, there is hope and a beautiful life, even when life fed you a broken childhood! Pray for me so that the Lord gives me strength to continue to heal and thirst for Him ever more.