Monday, February 22, 2010

Prayer #102: The Best Waylaid Plans

My laptop is in the shop with at best a broken fan and at worst a fried motherboard. Expect light postings until it's back in the pink of health. Also expect a prayer based on what not having your third arm computer makes you ponder ...

P.S. How awesome would it be if our electronics came back from repair with a hospital gown, ID bracelet, and a Band-Aid sticker, a la American Girl?

Prayer #102: The Best Waylaid Plans

The saved chocolate that melts in your pocket

The wrong turn from the outdated map

The late train shuttle in a chilly morning

The conversation that sounded better when you rewrote it in your head

The leftovers gone bad in an empty fridge

The battery, dead, a forgotten switch

The black ice patch on a thawing sidewalk

The tiny umbrella that can't protect your backpack from winter rain

Become instead

An experimental dessert

An impromptu adventure

A chance to stretch your legs

A surprising revelation

An excuse to order pizza

A prompt to write a letter

A little rest on the ground

A spur to get home

Which says to me

That maybe

this was always

and exactly

Your plan.


Amen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Prayer #101: Snow Down

Today's prayer inspired by 4 snow days, 2 blizzards, 1 trip to Vermont, and a tweet from my go-to Twitter Buddhist -- all in 11 days.

Prayer #101: Snow Down

You shellacked the roads with ice. You tossed snow like monochrome confetti. You poured slush and mush and incompetent plowing in my path, but still ... still I would not slow down.

You begged me to listen to the flakes falling. You nudged me to bask in the winter sun when it finally broke through my bedroom window. You pushed me to curl up, and rest, and contemplate, but still ... still I would not slow down.

You put my friends in front of me and said, "Spend time with them." You gave me mountains and trails to romp on in the sharp winter air. You sat me in cozy parlors with a good book in my lap and public radio playing and someone else cooking dinner.

Then -- only then -- did I start to slow down. Yet then -- even then -- I didn't stop completely.

Instead, I telegraphed the same unspoken response to You: "Don't force the issue. I'll stop when I damn well please."

Your tireless, emphatic reply: "But stopping will please you more."

So I gave in. I stopped. I looked around. I inhaled. And exhaled. And I can say with great confidence ... sometimes I hate it when You're right.

Amen, and thanks for the break.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Word on the street: Tickets for the Indians

The scene: Kitchen table at my cousin's house. I'm talking with her sons Aidan (7) and Caleb (5) about the band they've formed with their cousins.

Me: So who all is in the band?

Aidan: Well, I play guitar and Noah is the lead singer and Ethan plays the keyboard --

Caleb: And I play drums!

Aidan: Caleb, be quiet! (turns to me) Caleb plays drums. And Madison sings backup. And she's our manager.

Me: That's so cool. What kind of music do you play?

Aidan: Classic rock.

Caleb: And heavy metal.

Me: Wow, eclectic. Are you going to have a concert?

Aidan: Yeah! In Madison and Noah's backyard. Near the barn.

Me: So I bet you're practicing a lot right now, huh?

Aidan: Nah. We're just going to sell tickets.

Me: There's confidence for you. Who are you selling tickets to?

Aidan: Um, well, our families. And all the neighbors who live across the street.

Caleb: And the Indians.

Me: The Indians?

Caleb: Yep.

Me: I didn't know there was a significant Native American population still present in Pennsylvania. Where do they live?

Aidan: In the woods.

Caleb: And the desert.

Me: There's a desert in Pennsylvania? And where, pray tell, might that be?

Aidan: Sorta near New York City.

End scene.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Prayer #100: Cento

Photo by jude_hill

I always thought cento was just a numeric prefix or a canned tomato brand. Turns out that cento in poet circles means something else entirely -- patchwork poetry.

The concept is simple: You write a new poem comprised entirely of lines from other sources. You can pull from one poet or several. You can be serious, clever, ironic, or obsequious. In any event, the theft is sanctioned -- plagiarism, with flair!

So, in honor of my 100th prayer here on Italian Mother Syndrome, I'd like to pay homage to some of the prayers and pray-ers -- of all shapes, styles, and backgrounds -- that inspire me to focus inward and upward.

And for all of you who read and pray and question with me ... can't wait to write the next 100 with you.

Prayer #100: Cento

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. [1]

[For] all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. [2]

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. [3]

[This is] not idolatry, but identity,
for love and God are one
when love longs to be Forever. [4]

[And] a story without love is not worth telling. [5]

Amen.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Who's counting? A note on anniversaries

Photo by Stebaneze

I was at a party on Saturday night with Fella and his med school classmates ("Gubernaculum's my favorite word, too!") when someone asked me, "So how long have you guys been dating?"

"Ummm ... erm ... well, it depends," I replied.

"Depends?" she said.

"Yeah, I mean -- hang on." I turned to Fella. "How long have we been dating anyway?"

His eyes gleamed with the light of love that only a woman acting like a man can engender.

"See, that's why I like you," he said. "You're not even counting!"

Ah, Fella, if you only knew. You see, the real root of my question was about when to start counting. Was it from when we realized we liked one another after President's Day? When we got on the same page about it over 4th of July? What about our first visit on Labor Day? Or when we said we were 'official' during Columbus Day?*

* Yes, clearly we have a federal holiday fetish. Lord knows what Memorial Day will bring.

The truth is, Fella, I'm not the woman you think I am. I really like marking time. And while I'm not a 'monthiversary' addict, I do consider myself a year/five-year/decade kind of girl.

Why the annual love? In part, I follow anniversaries keep the greeting card industry copywriters in business (c'mon, you know we need those jobs right now). I also like an excuse for gifts, flowers, parties, or surprise European vacations where appropriate.

But I mark milestones mainly because they're a socially sanctioned form of navel-gazing, much like blogging or karaoke. They compress all your major victories, minor frustrations, and regular chores into one convenient timeframe, and push all the trends you missed (or chose to ignore) to the surface.

For example:

* Today marks my second year in DC. (You can read about the first year here.) Not much has changed -- oh, except for one of my roommates, a new job, that boy, and a renewed sense of purpose in my chosen life path.

* Today also marks my parents' 31st wedding anniversary. (You can read my dad waxing sentimental on their 30th here.) That journey has been nothing BUT change, with two kids, 3 states, 9 houses, and countless date nights to attest for it.

* Soon I will write Prayer #100. (Read the prayer series to date here.) What started out of frustration with young adult ministry has morphed into a personal mission to explore my own faith and help others think it through too. A good example of ending up where you thought you might be in unexpected ways.

So, who knows what will happen on Feb. 3, 2011? (I haven't hung my pictures from last year, by the way.) I imagine I'll still be writing, and still observing federal holidays, and still marking time in my own way -- just to see how it keeps unfolding.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Prayer #99: Love Bugs

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

--{1 Corinthians 13: 1-13}

Prayer #99: Love Bugs

My love is impatient. My love is frustrated. My love doesn't want to be kind or understanding or polite.

My love wants its way. Which probably means I don't have love -- I just have agita.

So if my love isn't even formed ... then what? Maybe I first have to imagine and envision and act it -- even if I don't fully feel it -- to summon the gift into a solid state.

Maybe I do already have some love, though, and it's just young -- a neophyte emotion looking for a crack in the sidewalk to reach the sun where it won't scrape the ragged edges and retreat with a whimper.

Or maybe my love is here, fully formed, leaning against the door jamb with hands folded, an expectant look on its face, patiently waiting for my angry torment to subside so it can start on the real work of fixing things.

God, help me find peace in my partial knowing. Bear with me in my child-like ways. And teach me that love is patient, love is kind, and love can be -- will be -- me.

Amen.