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Archive for September, 2012

Praying with Facebook

Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of people.  It has the power to unite and to divide, to heal and to injure.  It sounds ridiculous, no doubt, to non-users, but its effect on my life has been profound.  But one of its most surprising and beneficial effects has been its impact on my prayer life.

I would like to be one of those people who gets up half an hour early to pray, who has a home shrine, who walks in labyrinths and attends adoration weekly.  I wish I could work up the energy to attend Mass more than once a week and find the time to go on a retreat.  Maybe some day I will be one of those people.

Still, one thing I do try to do, every single day, is pray for other people.  But you know how it kind of becomes a reflex to tell someone you will pray for them, and you say a prayer then, but later you more or less forget about it?  I always did that, and I felt bad about it.  As I said my nightly prayers I would find myself saying something like, “For all those people I said I would pray for.”  I know God can sort it all out, but I still felt guilty and thoughtless.

But the thing about Facebook is that you see daily the friend or acquaintance for whom you have promised to pray.  Not only has my circle of friends widened thanks to Facebook, so that I have more friends to pray for, and more of THEIR friends to pray for when they ask me to, but I see regular updates which remind me to keep that person’s intention in my prayers.  And I feel myself drawing closer in spirit to the people I am praying for.

After what we went through last year, I KNOW the power of prayer to lift people up.  But the benefits are not all on the receiver’s end.  I find myself feeling almost excited about saying my nightly prayers now, as I make an effort to go through and think about each person I have promised to pray for, and ask God for the special blessings each one needs.  If I fall asleep before I finish–it does happen–I don’t just feel guilty, I feel disappointed.  I never really thought of prayer as something to enjoy before, and now I do.

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Closet space.  Is there ever enough of it?  There were next to no closets in our Victorian house.  We purchased three armoires from Myrtle’s Mess for the closet-less bedrooms, and crammed them so full the doors would barely close. (John’s oak armoire is one of three pieces of furniture salvaged from the fire.)

So we were excited when we moved into what the kids call “the burnt down house” to distinguish it from “the old house” and “our first house.”  I had a walk-in (or at least “step-in”) closet and John appropriated the closet in the office for his clothes.  (Teddy still had to use the armoire, which is why it was in the basement and survived the flames.)

And we crammed those closets full.  Mine had clothes in several sizes, even some things that were twenty years old.  Some I hoped to wear again one day, some had purely sentimental value.  There were old pocketbooks, and scarves, and lots of shoes.   And of course I had a dresser crammed full of socks and underwear and t-shirts.  And an overflowing laundry basket with the clothes I wore most of the time, which never seemed to get put away.

It sounds strange to say that the timing of Grandma’s death was a blessing, but it was.  Not only did it probably save our lives, since we were all out of the house when it exploded into flames, but it meant that we all had several days’ worth of clothes with us (and our computers!).  The clothes I took to Baltimore (and I had tried to pack as light as possible) were all that I had.

It didn’t take long before our kids had more clothes than we new what to do with.  Family had already started buying things for Jake and Teddy before John and I and the little kids made it back to Knoxville.  Donations poured in from near and far on a daily basis.  Lorelei ended up with a wardrobe fit for a little princess.

John did not do badly either.  Thanks to my cousin Melissa, who works in a medical practice, he ended up with a closet full of doctors’ dress clothes (which are pretty much the same as attorneys’ dress clothes!).  She also gave took him on a shopping trip in Uncle Charlie‘s closet.  He did have to buy a couple of new suits, but he soon had more clothes than he started with.

I had a harder time.  Much of what was donated either did not fit or did not suit me.  And although I had some gift cards, beyond replacing absolute necessities I never seemed to make the time to shop.

When we went to look at houses, realtors would talk up the storage aspect and I would just laugh, because we had nothing left to store.  Our new house sports a walk-in closet so big you could hang out in it (and in fact sometimes I do read in there at night!).  Until my last trip to Walmart (when I added about three outfits) this is what my side of the closet looked like:

I have a dresser that actually has EMPTY DRAWERS.  I don’t own enough underwear to make it through the week.

Now this is not a pity-party or an attempt to solicit gift cards.  :-)  I had a Christmas gift card for several months before I finally went shopping.  The point is that I have been trying to sort out in my own head what I have learned in the past year, what it all means.  Because if something like that happens to you and you don’t at least get some wisdom from it, that would really suck, right?

So one thing I am learning is what THINGS (in the literal sense of the word) matter to me.  And clearly clothes don’t rank high on that list.  It’s probably no surprise to anyone to find out what does, what I already have more of than I can use, what I accumulate more of weekly.

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Standing outside the Fire

I’ve written this post in my head dozens of times, each one different.  It’s an anniversary, and I knew I should–that I wanted to, NEEDED to–commemorate it in some way.  But should I talk about what I’ve learned?  The good things it brought about? Just start off with “one year ago today”?  Reassure everyone (and myself) that everything is okay now?  Shoot for inspiring, or tragic?

Maybe my confusion stems from the fact that I haven’t fully processed it yet.  That there are days when I think–or even say–“I just can’t believe that happened to us.”  Not out of self-pity, but in honest disbelief because it seems unreal at times–almost magical.  Everything changed–everything GONE–in a few minutes’ time.  Maybe I haven’t been “standing outside the fire” long enough to know exactly what it all means–and maybe it’s going to take more than one anniversary post to sort it all out.

So let’s start with this:  one year ago today, I woke up in Baltimore, fully expecting that the next day, after the funeral, I would be returning here:

Not here:

But that’s what happened.

 

 

 

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