Self-Talk

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We’re reading this book on Community at Carmel.  It’s by this man from the 1960s who made a community serving disabled people.  He’s not a priest.  Nor a saint.

I found myself rolling my eyes during that hour of discussion.  And I didn’t say much.

I caught up on my reading while everyone talked.

Community-love.  Community-patience.  What’s this?  Childhood wounds? And forgiveness?

I tell your Dad, in a moment, I figured out that whole section.  God.  :)

The idea is that we all have childhood wounds.  Things, situations, people types that make us feel fearful, inadequate, uncomfortable.  I know about this because as the last kid and Chronicler of the Perez-ii, I understand childhood wounds.

I know my childhood wounds.

I was left alone a lot.  No one came by to see me a lot.  I know I was probably forgotten a lot.  This probably explains my low-threshold for taking risks in relationships.

I know that childhood wound is there, and I’ve noticed, the closer I’ve gotten to God these past several years, the more it has receded.  The closer I’ve gotten to Jesus, I more bouyant and ethereal and loving I become.  Like him.

But every now and then, I’m thrust into a familiar situation my old self recognizes.  In those moments, I forget having put on the new man and I revert to the same stories of my immature youth:  suspicion, conspirial, untrusting.  Scared.

So, Community Guy talks about this.  And then he remind us that OTHER people suffer from childhood wounds, too.  Get it?  They’re hurting, they’re bummed, and, very possibly, they’re rutted into a way of life or thinking they may not know they’re stuck in.  Poor people.

Community Guy says we have to forgive ourselves.

Yes, because I keep doing the same thing.  Yeah, that’s right — I got childhood wounds!

Really, I know this about myself.  Self-knowledge, remember?

How curious it is that I’ll find myself in a group of people for an extended period of time and suddenly, I’ll have a premonition about our exact birth-order had we been born to the same family:  I am always the younger sister.

And the younger sister pouts.  And thinks these older siblings are full of themselves and airs and whatevs.

Yeah.  Not nice.

So, this situation at work.

I knew what I was walking into this time during our 6th grade meeting.  I thought, childhood wounds.  And you know what?  It calmed that critical part of myself.  I shut myself up.

And when I got back to my room, I had minutes before the next period, and I wrote this down:

IMG_7274

I’ve learned something about Writer’s Notebooks (WNBs).  When you write something, you’re telling yourself something. You tend to remember what you’ve told yourself.  How else do people develop self-defeating, destructive behavior?

It says:

Work-Things to Remember

An on-going list.

Community

– I have wounds.  Other people have wounds.

– I will be like Jesus, loving and encouraging!

Successes

– Shut up.  Sometimes people just don’t want to hear it.

– No matter what inflections you use, people may just not feel it.

– It doesn’t mean they hate you.  Refer to Community.  #1.

I sure have a lot to learn.  Sometimes I’m really haughty and full of myself.  Who knew?

Love you guys.

originally posted in Little Good Things – Build His Kingdom (littlecarpenters.wordpress.com)

What Our Posts Really Are Supposed to Look Like

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I can’t believe I just typed out 1400 words.

Well.  I knew I had it in me, somewhere.

I hope y’all aren’t thinking, man — that’s what we’re gonna be doing here?  1400 words?

No.

The idea is to create a safe space to encourage one another while it is still today.

Because today is hell.  Really.  It’s mean and rotten and I don’t like it.  But I love us, I love God, I love people.

I need refreshment.  What better place to do it than create the expectation that there exists a place for me, you, us where I can safely unload the God-thoughts I’ve had during the day.  What better place to know there is such a place.  Gee — therefore, I will think!

Build it and they will come.  With their God-thoughts.

It’s time we share them.

originally posted in Little Good Things – Build His Kingdom (littlecarpenters.wordpress.com)

First Post – Por Que?

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Hey, kids and Dad.

That feels so nice.

I’m just typing up this quick note so I can always remember why I wanted us to start doing this.

When I stayed home this past Wednesday and Thursday (Nov 11, 12), I remembered all the time I spent waiting for you to come home.  Lauren came, but only for a little while.. and you, Vince, maybe you would have come, but didn’t.

TWICE I caught myself looking at the little family picture in our bedroom — the one we took when we were parishioners at St. William’s — and I was moved.  Not because you all were growed and I wish y’all were little.  Tears came to my eyes because I knew that me waiting for Dad and Little Kids to show up from school was all a temporary thing.  I would never be a Stay-at-Home Mom for them.  I always thought that when all the kids made it to elementary school, then that was it — I would stay home forever getting ready for your return.

For me, that meant the opportunity to prepare spiritually and corporally.  Dad will tell you — because I’m sure he feels this way, too — I’ve always felt like I was kinda thrown into life before I knew what was going on.  I think it’s been like that for me all — or most — of my adult life.  I’ve never felt I’ve “arrived.”

Now that I think about it, I doubt I’ll ever feel that way.  Maybe that’s God’s way.  What if He won’t allow it?  What if He prefers to actually have this “unsettled” feeling of virtual vertigo as I roam through life, just so I can know that I can only rest in Him?  Is this what’s happening to all of us?

So, yeah — my expectation:  the time would come when y’all would be in school and I would be be able to play “catch up” — and get my body, mind, soul and life together.  Yeah.  Then I got a job.  The rest went to hell.

Eeeegsh.  What an ugly house.  Mess, mess, disgust, fatigue, more fatigue and worse and worser and worsest mess.  Nasty.

So, one day, I’m about to trip into a nap triggered by a pseudo-migrane — because I hadn’t had coffee all day — because I was fluish and feverish like that guy from Bourne Identity and The Cool Lady With the Cool House — and I look up when I’m about to shut my eyes … and I see you guys.  And just like that, like flipping a switch, I cry.

My children.  My little children who once all surrounded me,  a teeny baby on up to a little young man.  In the picture.  Just not with me.

Then I thought of Beatrice, Paul and Audry, and how I know they’re still still waiting for me and Dad.  They’re waiting.. they just don’t know it.

We’d been slaves to the idea of being slaves to what we’re slaves to:  stuff.  The idea was overwhelming, I think.  Had been for years — we’d been cut off from what we planned and, suddenly, there was no time.  The mess stayed.  We’d come home and visit.

“Hey, mess, how ya doing?”

“Miserable.”

“Why?”

“Because my existence hasn’t made you succumb into a corner and commit suicide.  I will, though.  You just wait.”

“… whatev.  See you when I get back from work.  Make sure you get outta my way, though.  I plan on hitting the sofa hard.  You and you,  Papers.  Back under the sofa and into cabinets with ya’!”

I mentally wrestled with Mess.  Meanwhile, the kids suffered.  We know the kids suffered.  God doesn’t give us self-knowledge for nothing.  This is a grace — I will embrace this, this knowing part about me:  I am a slob.

Thankfully, that’s not all I’ve learned through the grace of self-knowledge.  I learned amid Mess, whenever he decided to rear his head, you guys had an okay childhood with Mama home and Dada coming home after a long day.  Sweet Family Reunions got started in that epoch (maybe that’s why we love reuniting so much!).  I learned that even though I could never ever quite get rid of Mess, Daddy and I weren’t doing such a bad job raising you guys.  You had your games, climbing, tea parties, little events, parks, little trips, your little childhood.  You were okay.

I mean, it’s like sin, right?  We can’t wait to be perfect to be parents — when we had you guys, we didn’t have time to think about those things.  We dove right in with Faith.  We knew this.  Toward the end of my staying home, we understood this.  Then work happened.

Evil, World-work.  Money-grubby, competitive, think only of ME, even when you think you’ve escaped my periphery-Work. I’m Not Don’t With You-Work.  When I Tell You!!-Work.  When *I* Please, Not You, Slaaaaave!-Work.  Worry about me again!  Stress for me again!!  Veronica WHO????  Momma WHO?????  HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Old!!  Alone!!  Done For!!!!!

Oy.

So, come that Thursday, at 11:20a when I was trying to put that migraine to bed, there began a trickle.

Then came another the next day when it was time for me to root through my [Mess] drawer, when your beautiful faces greeted mine as I looked up in frustration in not finding underwear for my bath.

Then came another Friday after school when I heard about Paris, the secular city of love.  Duality.  There’s something going in the spiritual, Veronica.  Pay attention to it.  Death by demons doesn’t just occurring in real life.

Then came another trickle when I couldn’t reach either one of you ..my touchstones.

Then came another when Dora, the founder of our Secular Carmelites said,

“pray to St. Michael and tell him you need him now, to come now!”

and another when God said

“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people;” (Daniel 12:1)

Is he here now?  To help me now?

And another when God again said,

“Be vigilant and all time and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man. ” (Mark 13:24-32).

I needed to choose.

For years, I saw and ignored what was in front of me.  I saw my Mess and ignored it.  I saw Jesus and ignored Him.  My house wasn’t ready.  My house wasn’t ready.

For my children, nor my God.

Last night, I stayed up until 1a sweeping my house.

Woke up at 4:45 to take care of the job, left right at 3:30p to bring my children home to enjoy their home, each other, and love.  Wash clothes, go to Church school.  Do things other than the couch.

Today, I felt a wonderfully light peace.  I gave my students thoughtful things to do (which were brilliant considering the mess we’re in as a department!), I let go of things that didn’t matter, I worked on getting rid of ideas that could be harmful and didn’t matter and when I realized I felt “lighter,” I reasoned that whatever demon had been bothering me to sloth wasn’t around.

I’m sure about this.

Now I tell your Dad, if we leave something out, I want us to ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ because it will pile up.”

Mess can come back.

The pile will become bigger and Mess will re-appear and distract us again from children, family, life, love and God.

I don’t want the little demon coming back.  I am sure he lurks, though, waiting to bring his 7 horrible, evil demonic friends with him.

Cleanliness is certainly next to godliness.

I don’t think about what I’ve done, as a Mom, wife and friend, how I’ve deprived my loved ones because I worried (and did nothing) over Mess for these past several years. Because to do so would be the same as holding a picture of sin in my hand and pinning it onto a mirror to look at everyday — to remember what a horrible, faithless person I am, to do this to my children,  my husband, my God, to me and my peace.  To never forget it.

No.  God is merciful.  And for me to be merciful to my loved ones, I have to move on.  And forgive myself.  So I can keep my eye bright and lightsome so that I can continue seeing.

Because today, God said to me,

What wilt thou that I should do to thee?

And I (the blind man) said to him:

Rabboni that I may see.”  (St. Mark 10:51, Luke 18:35-43)

My favoritest line ever.

He knows it’s my favorites line.  I know He’s answering my prayer, because Saturday, I heard Him also say,

‘Because she keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her…’   Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?

That I may see.  That I may always, always see.

Out in the World

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Something happened today — I was offering an opinion someone’s view of the world  and my husband made the commented that I’m probably feeling this way because I haven’t written anything spiritually.

I know what he was getting at.

We had the same exchange years ago when a similar situation occurred — about the same person.  That discussion launched my persuit of the holy and we both ended up being Secular Carmelites.  I don’t feel that sort of fervor now, possibly because I feel as though I’ve already settled on my found path.  This time around, I feel different.

I don’t have the urgency of yesterday.  I don’t know if this is right — right now.  I have to explore this.  But I am reminded that I was interested in writing about my secular life while I taught in a public school.

I’m a Secular Carmelite.  And like many Christians who are discerning their pathway to holier living, we’re faced with.. well, you know, the world.  There’s stuff we encounter that makes us all think twice. Then we do things out there, and later in the day, we end up coming home feelin like hippocrites.

I’m a little bit beyond this.  Last year was my second year back teaching.  The first year was absolute torture, because during that first year, my husband and I were First Year-First Promise Clothed members of a Secular Carmelite group.  We were new to articulating Carmelite thought in how it applied to the world.  We were catechized Catholics, married nearly 20 years, versed in the saints, including the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa and St. Therese, but this was soulful knowledge as it applied to everything outside of work:  our marriage, our children, our church, our home, our upbringing, our friendships.  Once we joined Carmel, we understood we were to live out there, bring Christ to the world out there.  After being home for 15 years to raise the children, this was a very difficult transition.

I taught with complete control over my classroom.  I’m a certified 6-12 English educator, and while I loved my kids and can remember the names of all of them 2 years later, I know I commanded the room, relying a little bit on their fear of me.  I had the look:  I’m a professional educator, in the middle of raising 5 kids, my eldest is in college and they’re as straight as arrows.. don’t mess with me, kids.  It was horrible.  Having little ones nervously look you in the eye as they try to explain their needs because of some pseudo-fearful persona I’d adopted to maintain control of a public school classroom.  It didn’t feel holy.  Why did I leave God at home?

This sentiment dogged me all year that first year.  Second year, by the grace of God, all that ended.  I vowed not to be some person kids were ever afraid of, I would never raise my voice or offer a hard stare that could easily be interpreted by a child as anything other than love.  I was myself.  It was a much better year.

Now, we’re entering year 3.  I am now a 1st Promise Secular Carmelite, having taken the name Veronica de Jesus, and the discussion that began earlier this evening has led me to think about some goals I would like to puruse here on my little on-and-off again WordPress blog.  I want to live the Carmelite life, more deeply, more authentically, everyday, at home and at work.*  Maintaining this blog will offer me that opportunity to reflect and see how I’m doing.

That’s my first goal.

I think I’ll leave it there for now.

I can’t tell you how often I’ll write, but it will be often, because off the ‘net, I’ve been writing for several months now, keeping a Writer’s Notebook for my personal use, my curriculum and my work as a writing teacher.  I’ve also begun my memoir.  I’ve outgrown the fear of writing.

So.. I’ll see you around!

In God’s grace, love and peace, Veronica de Jesus

*for next time:  what does that look like?  am I going to talk about God at work?  convert people?

originally posted in carmeliteintheworld.wordpress.com