15 March 2018

We Meet Again, My Feathered Friends

These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two

These lines of poetry, by Emily Dickinson, have accompanied me on my city strolls this past week. Mornings are greeted by light chirping; afternoons are swelled with twitterpated wrens and sparrows and thrushes. They are brave little birds, facing the nor'easters of March with long songs and rapid calls that hearken the coming of spring. The snow and incessant cold will not muddle their voices. While their chirpity chirps and sweet sweet sweets and tweeps demand one to look forward to the new seasons of warmth with anticipation, they also arouse a certain nostalgia, for the warm days and beautiful birds of the past.

08 March 2018

This is the Sound of Clarity

Sometimes the voice of God is so simple.

I have spent so much time thinking and worrying about vocation, whether I am called to the religious life. I have spent endless moments in front of the monstrance wondering if the contemplative life is the life for me; if sitting, and pondering, and living in the mystery of spiritual bridehood is enough. Just this morning, I stared at the priest's vestments, asking myself, could clothes like that be meant for me, too? The call to be a contemplative has weighed on me greatly, which many would say is already a bad sign. God does not communicate through weight and anxiety, they say, but through peace. Yeah yeah yeah, but then why do I keep thinking about it? What am I missing? How do I hear him? When is the message clear? Where is peace? That same priest this morning spoke about hearing and responding to the voice of God, and I thought to myself, have I ever heard that voice? Would I recognize it if I heard it? After months and months of back and forth, and misinterpreted messages, I felt that I wouldn't. But then, just a few hours later, I did.

02 March 2018

The Treat You Can't Deny Yo Self

The first time someone told me to "treat yo self," I was studying abroad. A new friend and I were out somewhere, doing something and she looked at me and quoted that delightful episode of Parks and Recreation. Understandably, it became the tagline for the semester - leagues better than YOLO, which was absolutely also used quite a bit. There we were, in London for three months of our lives, an experience we would never have again. What better time and place to treat yo'self?

The phrase didn't stop with London, even though it took me three more years to watch Parks and Rec and not just quote it like the poser I am. Now, in Philadelphia, I use it probably too often. There's always a new bar or restaurant to try, or new exhibit to see. There's often a long day of work, a bad school group, a night out with friends, or visitors in town to use as an excuse. I work several different jobs. I balance a very complicated calendar. Sometimes my brain gets tired. Sometimes I need a treat.

14 February 2018

Reflections on the Road: Two Birds, One Super Bowl

I drove over 225 miles round trip Super Bowl weekend to visit friends in Baltimore. I-95, I-695, York Road, MLK Jr Highway, I-395, and city streets in between; through neighborhoods like Rosebank, Federal Hill, Inner Harbor, and Mount Vernon. I drove by M&T Bank Stadium twice, unintentionally, misdirected by my co-pilot. At night, well-lit and deserted, the stadium is particularly impressive.

Just twenty-four hours later, I was home in Philadelphia watching a football game happening in a different stadium. By the end of the night, I had officially changed from a Ravens fan to an Eagles fan. While I don't pay attention to football - I've never even attended a game - I've hosted playoffs and Super Bowl parties; I've worn purple and claimed Baltimore pride. Yet, not until this Super Bowl, rooting for the Eagles on the road to victory, have I felt stressed about football, or even really, truly enjoyed watching football. I felt invested, which surprised me. For the first time, I felt more like a Philadelphian than a Marylander, and that scared me.

30 January 2018

Live a Life More Ordinary

Oh, Ordinary Time! My favorite liturgical season, full of memories, truly the most wonderful time of the year!

Said no one ever.

While we count down to Christmas, fast through Lent, proclaim Alleluia, He is risen! for fifty days of Easter, we often pass through Ordinary Time without care, without notice, losing track of what week we are even in. (We're in week four, by the way.) Ordinary Time does not celebrate big, shiny, theologically profound, earth-shattering events. No incarnation. No death on a cross. No resurrection. While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines Ordinary Time with great enthusiasm, as the time of conversion... time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ, the title applied to this season doesn't quite translate that excitement and profundity. However, the problem is not that the Church picked the wrong word, but that we have distorted its meaning.

25 January 2018

Wake Up and Smell Your Arm Skin

Well friends, I did my homework this week. I paid attention and noticed things about myself. Do I love myself more now? I'm not sure, but I can honestly say I haven't quoted The Crown in the mirror once, which I think is a good start. I even threw in one extra observation. Since I was the one assigning the homework, I thought I should go the extra mile. You're welcome. So without further ado - cue bubble baths, Enya, and all that other self-care kind of stuff -

Things I Noticed about Myself:

19 January 2018

Permission to Notice

I have spent more time in front of the bathroom mirror quoting and imitating movies and television shows than I should publicly admit. I can do Mr. Knightley's confession of love from the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma by heart. I've mastered pouring water from a pitcher in just the same way Galadriel does in The Fellowship of the Ring. I can do a masterful rendition of Jack Black lambasting "the man" in School of Rock. 
My latest imitation obsession? Claire Foy in The Crown.