Kneeling

Most of my readership is devoutly Catholic, so kneeling in church is normal for y’all. It is, however, not for a lot of Christians, and it can make me a bit self-conscious to be the only one kneeling on occasion.

When I came to faith as a teenager, it was normal in my church, so I honestly didn’t think anything of it. Then, I spent time in a bunch of ELCA and AALC parishes where anything remotely Catholic was weird. (This is not a denomination-wide thing, at least in the ELCA. It’s a matter of congregational culture.) When I was pregnant with Daniel and afterward, I did a lot of sitting due to fatigue and sometimes back pain, so I got out of the habit of kneeling.

In 2014, I went back to the Episcopal Church and it was put on my heart to kneel for the confession of sin. My parish at the time had the choir leading music from the back and we were in chairs, not pews, and our chairs did not give us a place to kneel in front. I would self-consciously take a knee in the style of Colin Kaepernick or I would walk to one of the chairs in the back and kneel there. My self-conscious feelings changed when I was helping with contemporary worship one month when one of the guitarists and his wife also went to one of the chairs in the back and knelt with me.

Another thing that impacted me during this time was watching the fathers of young kids in the congregation (some of whom were my age) go to the kneelers in front of the bank of candles and kneel there with their kids. I’m normally a people watcher, and I will admit that it warmed my heart to see this, especially as I could tell it was having an effect on the kids. It definitely lowered my feelings of self-consciousness.

At my current parish, the people I sit with normally are totally used to it and are totally fine when I tell them that I’m about to drop the kneeler. They’re so used to it, in fact, that they put it down for me. 🙂 I find that it is actually really helpful for my faith to have different prayer positions, and I am really happy to be part of a church who is completely respectful of me doing what works best for me.

Ash Wednesday

It is Ash Wednesday today, so I thought I would start my Lent off by sharing T.S. Eliot’s words on the subject. (Source)

I

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

II

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.

III

At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitful face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs’s fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.

IV

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary’s colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and in knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

V

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

VI

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Lent 2020

This Lent, I am not giving up my blog. In fact, I’ll be doing the opposite this year and blogging daily on something faith-related, even if it is just posting something like a poem or a song or something I have written in the past that might still be relevant.

I will also be going pesco-lacto vegetarian for Lent (meatless except for fish) and I am adding kneeling prayer twice a day to my prayer habit.

7 Quick Takes: Things I Will *NOT* Give Up For Lent Edition

7 Quick Takes

Lent starts for those of us in the West next Wednesday at midnight. Here are some things that I will *NOT* give up for Lent this year.

— 1 —

Coffee. My Lenten discipline should be penitential for *ME*, not everyone around me. It’s also a safety risk for those who have to interact with me.

— 2 —

YouTube. I need entertainment, OK?

— 3 —

Yarn. Let’s not deprive me of one of my stress releases, y’all.

— 4 —

My iPod. Again, let’s not make me get rid of one of my stress releases. Singing along to it in traffic keeps me from inflicting my road rage on others.

— 5 —

Sleep. I do this enough already!

— 6 —

Swearing. I’d be broke within the first day of having a swear jar for Lent. (I’m pretty sure my students would have a pool going as to which hour this was going to go down.)

— 7 —

Pens. I have a little bit of a pen addiction…

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Long Time, No Write Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Just a head’s up that there may/may not be Amazon affiliate links in this post because I am an Amazon affiliate.

Good news regarding the kid. We saw Daniel’s actual G-I specialist instead of just her PA this week for the first time in 18 months, and she was giddy to see him with actual weight on him. Kiddo was 59.96 lbs at weigh-in (we’re going to say 60 lbs because 0.04 lbs is basically the difference of a cup of milk), and he is now 4’7.5″ tall. I’m 5’1″, so kiddo needs to knock it off with getting taller!

— 2 —

Cleanse this weekend. His G-I specialist did feel a bowel blockage, so we “get” to do a cleanse this weekend in the form of senna and lots of Miralax dissolved into apple juice. I’m giddy… NOT.

— 3 —

A song I have had in my head lately. I’m working on my church’s Lenten devotional book and the name is “Agape”, so the following has been stuck in my head.

— 4 —

Update on the perimenopausal dysphoria. I saw my doctor about it a little over 2 weeks ago, and she put me (the girl who can’t get pregnant except involving an angel and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit along with miraculously regrowing three organs) on birth control because she had never had a patient go into menopause this early and the thing she’d give me for the dysphoria is already a medication I take. It seems to be helping… when I’m not hitting grief wells inside of me because of my writing subjects for the Lenten devotional book and my students aren’t triggering PTSD-related panic attacks. (Yeah, that day was a freaking joy. My therapist had never seen me cry before my appointment that next day.)

— 5 —

Slacker mom Valentines. Are your kids in school for the first time and having to do Valentines for their class? Here’s the slacker mom way: address labels + a template from Avery.Com + appropriate fruit snacks = Valentines for everyone in 10-15 minutes. You’re welcome.

Slacker mom Valentines

— 6 —

Early morning panther selfies. Now that I’m usually up early and praying, I tend to acquire a needy panther who thinks it should be a “stay home and snuggle your panther” day. (He got one today because my morning student canceled.) This leads to some interesting selfies where my eyes aren’t fully open yet.

Early morning panther selfies.

— 7 —

Gifts from my grandfather. My grandpa sends me rainbows from heaven when I really need to know everything will be OK. This week has been no exception.

Rainbows from my grandpa.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

A Bit Quiet Here

I’m dealing with perimenopausal dysphoria that is wreaking havoc with my depression and anxiety. Additionally, my laptop is at the Geek Squad service center getting fixed, so any writing or blogging that is happening is either on my breaks at work, on my e-reader, or on my phone. I’ve got a bunch of devotional writing to do these days, so I will probably be really quiet for a while longer.

New Password for Posts

I’m feeling a desire to talk about some things in passworded posts, but my life has changed enough that I am not fully comfortable using the old password. Thus, passworded posts from here on out will have a new password. If you want it, get in touch with me and I’ll make a decision on whether you get it or not. This is not in order to create some kind of exclusive club, but it is rather to make sure that only those I trust with the information can have it.