The Blessed Hat

I have a cheap black stockingcap for winter that I bought this year.

It’s black with “BLESSED,” written in white block letters.

This hat keeps me humble AND warm.

There are so many gross, aggressive and disrespectful t-shirts and clothing out there… I like wearing something simple and positive. I like identifying myself as someone who is basically grateful.

The best part is how strangers smile at me when I wear it. I smile more. Sometimes they comment.

And it reminds me there’s always something I can count in my life as a blessing.

This little hat breaks up the monotony of winter, and brings warmth to me in the kindness of others.

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Family of One

Today I took a picture for my new parish, to be included in the directory of families.

Officially, I am a family of one.

I put together an outfit in which I felt elegant, in two of my favorite colors: maroon and black.

Simple and conservative. I did my best with my make-up, kept it neutral.

I chose from photo packages for the first time solo. I watched the photographer go into sales mode.

I chose only one picture. I didn’t want any re-touching or Christmas themes. I don’t need to be flawless. I was proud of not getting sucked into that, and deciding on an economical package. Part of it is budgeting and the other is I’m just not as vain as I used to be! I don’t need that many pictures of myself. I figured I’d give some wallets to my parents and a few other close friends/family. I chose one 8 x 10 for myself.

Why not? This is me at 34. Families record their lives– and I’m my own family. I count!

It feels good to declare myself as single. Independent.

On my way out, one of the women asked if I was headed back to work? I was pleased I looked professional– that was the idea! As they say, dress for the job you want. I should wear this on an interview, it seems good luck!

Two days ago, the priest from my previous parish called to tell me that I’m missed at Mass. He wanted to check on me, see where I’ve been! And also, the family I brought Holy Communion to misses me. Today I returned his call and thanked him, explaining that I’ve since moved to a new parish. That I enjoyed my service to that family but resigned formally from duties before moving on.

He said he hopes I’ve found my “home” and that I’m always welcome back. That was heart-warming to hear.

I’m moving forward in small but sure steps. I feel decisive and confident.

Proud to be a family of one.

After Mass: On Religion, Love, and the Gift of Faith

During Mass today, I realized what it’s about. Why I go.

Why we put up with all the idiosyncrasies of religion– the demands, the divisiveness.

We do it to be part of something bigger than ourselves. To share our lives in the midst of chaos and find a still point.

We do it to admit, “I need help. I can’t do do this alone.”

Admitting we need help is the hardest thing for most humans to do. We want to be self-reliant, we want to be okay, no matter what.

I love my church, because during peace, people walk around with open arms. They shake your hand, look you in the eye, smile.

My parents are local, and I enjoy seeing them. However, I don’t have siblings, and my family lives out of state. So I do feel lonely at times.

But in this church, I get hugs, just like I do with my family. And although there are still a lot of things I’m figuring out about my life, this church makes me feel anchored. Singing songs of praise makes me feel anchored. We spend the week busy, scrambling to get things done– we deserve to rest and just be thankful for what God has given us! To stand with others and testify that yes, we’re glad to be standing here, together. The services in my church usually run two hours– and I love that! At other churches, they are usually only 45 minutes to an hour, and everyone usually rushes right out after Holy Communion, and barely talks at all if they do stay. People in this church linger. A few times a month, they head into the parish hall for coffee. There’s no rush, they want to meet you, get to know you.

That makes me feel so happy. It’s just a simple church– and that’s why I like it. It’s not high-falutin’, it’s not about artifice.

It’s just about love, service, and appreciation.

Knowing that a family is depending on me to bring them Holy Communion anchors me.

I know that I can’t live my life alone, and that I’m never alone.

I’m learning that God is more than Bible verses and dogma. It’s more than prayer and Confession.

God is truly very basic.

God is a secure feeling of love.

God is a warmth in your heart that says, “Go ahead, you don’t have to be scared. I’m with you.”

God is the absolute confirmation that all you are, and all you haven’t been– is enough, because you’re doing the best you can.

And mostly, God is feeling so overwhelmed with that truth that all you want to do is share it with others.

And not by conversion– but by acceptance. By example. By trusting.

Be kind. Forgive. Help, with no expectations or conditions.

I feel God with me today. It’s an incredible lightness, to help us float through the storm.

We don’t need to know where we’re going or why– only that we’re on the right path.

Blueberry Pie and Faith

I rent movies, all the time. I go to Family Video, and get a few– some Raisinets.

Almost always, a love story. Comedies.

I just watched a new one– “My Blueberry Nights.”

It’s one of my favorites– a quiet film. About people, and what makes them human. Their losses, addictions, and moving on. About taking risks, trusting, and healing. About the power of ordinary people, working regular jobs.

The main character is Elizabeth, played by Norah Jones. She ends up visiting a NYC coffee shop run by Jeremy, (Jude Law) on a brokenhearted night. She calls to find out of if her boyfriend is there– to learn that he shared pork chops with someone else. She drops off a set of keys, with instructions that Jeremy deliver them to the jerk if he stops in. She begins a ritual of stopping by to check if the keys have been picked up– they haven’t.

Then, Elizabeth begins stopping by just to chat with Jeremy. They don’t flirt. They hardly even laugh. Just two people, sharing time together, in a raw state.

He listens, and one night tells her about the guaranteed blueberry pie that’s left over at the end of the night– untouched.¬†¬†Jeremy faithfully makes this blueberry pie. When she asks what’s wrong with it, his answer is perfect.

Jeremy: “There’s nothing wrong with the blueberry pie. It’s just people make other choices. You can’t blame the blueberry pie. It’s just, no one wants it.”

“I want a piece,” Elizabeth volunteers.

With that simple conversation, their relationship is cemented. From acquaintances, to friends, with an act of nurturing from Jeremy. And she becomes the one customer who chooses the blueberry pie– because no one wants it. She then begins stopping in for the pie itself– and we suspect, the company of Jeremy. The simple routine of blueberry pie with ice cream feeds Elizabeth, and Jeremy falls for her.

Haven’t we all felt like that blueberry pie? What a beautiful metaphor.

I love that idea. That we don’t need to be any different, or better– than we are. We just haven’t yet met the person who likes the blueberry pie. Even better, I like that Elizabeth is the only person in the movie who chooses the blueberry pie. Who would think the idea of soul mates could be expressed in such a simple way? One flavor of pie, meant for one person. It’s also reassuring that Elizabeth never asks to try another flavor. The blueberry is for her– and it’s all she needs.

Then one day, Elizabeth gets drunk. After another evening in the cafe, she leaves town without saying goodbye. She writes Jeremy post cards, but never a return address. He tries to find her– by phone calls, post cards. She works various jobs in a diner, a bar, a casino– serving people, and saving up for a car. She listens to her customers, the way Jeremy listened to her. She doesn’t make judgments, doesn’t say much. She serves everyone equally, and makes a gambler friend. She bets high, and wins.

Elizabeth ends up back in NYC– and at Jeremy’s coffee shop. She’s recovered her broken heart, bought a car, and become whole.

Their reunion isn’t dramatic– just two friends, not surprised– and happy. Though it was unspoken, they both have been waiting for each other. And we know that the time is right for Elizabeth and Jeremy– that they now will share more than blueberry pie.

Lately, I’ve been in a quiet mood. I have’t called or made plans with many people– preferring quietude. I feel like just doing simple things, and creating small routines. I’m listening more, talking less.

I feel good. I haven’t been posting much. I’m just writing more quietly, to myself.

Like blueberry pie, this phase of being quiet is calming– a simple routine. Usually after seeing a movie I enjoy, I’ll look it up on imdb.com, and Rotten Tomatoes. Read the trivia, quotes, and movie reviews.

But today, I just want to write what I think– and quietly share it.