Friday, April 29, 2005

Then, and now.

When we got engaged, I imaginged it would be, "You and me against the world". I pictured dh and I, hand in hand climbing the hills and navigating the valleys of life, with the firm ground of the faith underneath us, and the tranquility of known love to guide our days. I saw children, and a family undeterred by the frantic pace of modern life. I saw love I could count on, knowlege that someone was there, keeping an eye out for me, I was anticipating a security in love that is bound by a covenant, and someone for whom I would willingly sacrafice. Someone who I knew would die for me, and I for him. I never pictured me questioning his love for me, thought we worked that all out during our engagement. I thought our marriage and family would be the source and summit of his life, under the all-covering umbrella of God's primacy for both of us. I guess this is unrealistic, or at least unconstant. I didn't expect to have to scrape and beg for assurance of my place in his life. I didn't expect that he would feel called to great and noble deeds apart from raising a large family.

During the "Theology of the Body" retreat he went on, he learned that men look outward, and have the desire to slay dragons. Women tend to gather the family, nurture and give. Every so often she has to reposition the man's gaze back to the family when his dragon slaying takes him away too much. Thus, a tension is always there. This is my struggle. I am not so gentle about turning his gaze my way. As a matter of fact, by the time I realize that we in the "repositioning" mode again, I am so hurt and angry, I use tools like guilt and recrimination, instead of a steady, gentle pressure. It's a pattern we have repeated for our entire marriage, and as more and more children are added to our family, I get more and more resentful of his dragon slaying.

I don't really know where to go from here. I go back and forth from hope for the future to despair, that it will always be a love unfulfilled for me. I want to be his treasure (second to God, of course). I don't want to have to keep reminding him of my presence. I want him to make his dragon slaying decisions after considering me and the family, not the other way around. Is that crazy??

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Johnny to the Rescue

The challenges of running my household have been having their way with me lately. A sure sign of this fact is the 5 CD's I purchased yesterday. Whenever I am on the edge, I buy music. This collection is just what this frazzled mom needed. Some were just classics - Bee Gee's 18 number one hits (Jive Talkin' is my FAV), ABBA Gold, and the Best of Bill Cosby. Still makes me laugh after listening to the skits since I was a toddler. I especially love "Noah". I bought a compliation of Allison Krause, who I always like.

But, the creme de la creme was American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash. This was released in 2002. This touched me deeply, in a way no music has in years.

I have always been a Johnny Cash fan, but this is way more profound that just being a fan. This music is sung by an old man approaching death, acknowledging such, and being real about that fact. His voice is a little shaky, his range, which never was great, has shrunk. But the music touches my soul. The Man Comes Around is about the Apocolypse, one thinks Johnny is thinking of his own "end of the world". Hurt is a song about fallen mankind, makes frequent refrences to the way of the Cross of Christ, and with the video, is positively sacramental. He sings a few country standards with profound meaning to a dying man: "Give My Love to Rose", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "I Hung My Head", "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Personal Jesus" (I had never heard of this song before, but apparently this is a "punk" type song originally.) The rest of the CD is "In My Life", "Sam Hall", "Danny Boy", "Desperado", "I'm So Lonely I Could Cry", "Tear Stained Letter",and "Streets of Loredo".

I appreciated so deeply the honest look back from a man who has had many ups and downs. I appreciated the honest look at state he was currently in when he recorded the CD. His voice wasn't "fixed". In the video, he is quite honest about the effects aging has had on him physically. But more than either of those reasons, I appreciated the honest look forward. He ends the CD with the song, "We'll Meet Again." I love the strong hope Johnny Cash exuded. He was humble in his music, and it seemed to me in his life. He admitted his faults, attempted to correct the path of his life, accepted redemption, and had terrific hope.

I went to a show of his during his last tour. It was like being in the room with a family member, gathering around the guitar, singing old favorites. He had no self-importance in his manner, and acted as if we were all among friends.

Because of this CD's rather stark portrayal of life at it's natural end, many of the daily annoyance that have really gotten me down lately evaporated. I am sure the little bumps in my current road will be the last thing on my mind when I am looking back over the rest of my life.

To quote "ABBA" Thank You for the Music

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Where I have been lately

We have been busier than usual lately, with the kiddo's choir, loan applying, and pope watching.

The kiddos' spring concert was on Sunday. They are in a community choir, with 5 levels of choirs in the organization. We have 4 children involved, and they are all in different levels. The concert on Sunday was spectacular, and worth every day of driving to rehersals. I always forget how listening to the sweet voices of children makes me cry. I always forget to bring Kleenex, and end up wiping my eyes on my sleeve. The theme of the concert was "Hear the Children Sing", and here are some highlights. The 6 year olds sang, "Do re mi", and "I've Got Rythem", as well as a few others. The 8 year olds sang, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (*sniff, sniff* wish I had a kleenex). The 10 year olds sang "Any Dream Will Do", as well as "Art Thou Troubled" by Handel. This one really got to me, and I was wiping my eyes with my sleeve. Then the 12 year olds sang from "Carmen", and the boys sang "If I Were a Rich Man". Beautiful. Then the upper choir sang (none of my kids in that one yet), then the grand finale, from "Les Mis" - "Bring Him Home" and "The Barricade Song". There were 220 kids singing together for these. My sleeves were soaked.

This week the kids each sang with their respective choirs at various nursing homes, Tuesday, Wed, Thursday, rehersal Friday, performance tonight. Sometimes we wonder if all this running around is good for the family, but other times, when we hear the kids all singing together at home, just for the joy of it, we realize nothing good comes without a cost.

Other news is we were approved for our construction loan, and will close on Monday. Now we should get to break ground in the next few weeks. We are adding on 1200 sq. ft. of bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room - all the essentials. I also will have a private room off of my bedroom for quiet, mental health mommy time. I will also get to move the baby out of my room (by the time it is finished she will be 19 months old, so that should be fine). I will be quite busy before the ground breaking, as I have to transplant many of my gardens to keep them from getting run over. We will have to cut down 3 trees to do this addition, so we are going to be hauling a stacking alot of wood, as well. I am really contemplating reducing school to math only until all these outside chores are done, then finishing up the other subjects in June, when it will be too dangerous for the kids to be out there anyway.

And lastly, we have been stunned by the hateful responses to our new Holy Father in the MSM. WOW, I had no idea how polarized the church had become. We are so pleased with him, have been for decades, and are grateful beyond words for the Holy Spirit's care of the church. We feel a real closeness with Pope Benedict, as we have a son named Benedict, and chose his name for the same reasons the Pope chose his. Nothing makes you feel closer to somebody than sharing such an intimate part of your life like choosing a first-born child's name. I am sorry so many Catholics in America are so poorly catechised that they don't understand what power the pope possesses, and what powers he doesn't possess. Hopefully they will come to an understanding rather than either leaving their home, or actively working to destroy it. I must pray more, I absolutley must!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

God Grant Him Many Years!!!

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for answering our prayers so promptly, and completely. Please guide and protect your Vicar of Christ, and may You grant Pope Benedict XVI many years, in peace, health, and happiness.

News Flash

Last night Mary Poppins NOT, the exhausted and cranky mother of seven, reportedly was the recipient of 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep for the first time in almost a year. She woke up this morning simply because she was no longer tired. There was no crying, hungry baby, no alarm clock, no dog needing to go relieve herself, and not even exuberant mate-seeking birds. Just enough rest and EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP, UNINTERRUPTED. She is expecting great things out of this day, and is looking forward to going grocery shopping today at her full capacity. "I had totally forgotten how good it feels to get the correct amount of sleep," Poppins NOT said. "If I could get a few more of those I don't know what I could accomplish. Maybe tackle Mt. Laundry and run the Change of Season Drawer Changing Marathon. I feel terrific."

Poppins NOT resides in suburbia, in a rare but treasured 3 acre parcel of land. She has a few gardens, a large collection of children and books, and is currently working on finishing the school year with said children.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Typical, typical

OHHH the contradictions running through my head. Here's just a partial list.

1. Truly not ready for another baby as I am currently quite overwhelmed.
Really sad at the thought my current almost one year old could be "the last one"

2. Hating my current weight and shape
Having no motivation to do anything about it, let's just go make cookies

3. Longing for the time when my house will be orderly and quiet and I can have two consecutive thoughts.
Hating how quickly the years are flying by and my kiddos are growing up so fast.

4. Wanting more space in our home, especially bedrooms
Guilt for planning an addition that costs more than some people's homes.

Here's a perfect example of my day. I had finally thought of a few things to blog on and now baby is screaming at the top of her lungs and the decible level pushed every thought right out of my head. I'll have to sign off for now.

Friday, April 15, 2005

You Can't Get in the Way of Progress

I am finally recovering from the last three weeks of no routines. First was the 10 days of the flu, then the 4 days of preparation for the icon workshop (school schedule, car pool reschedule, meal planning and grocery shopping). Then the icon workshop, as well as housing 3 of the workshop participants. The icon was challenging, and the workshop was full, the instructor (my dh's uncle) couldn't help eveyone as much as they needed. So I helped many of the first time iconographers. I was there 13 hours a day sometimes. I also had to come home a few times a day to nurse the baby, and since I was gone most the day, she woke up frequently at night for "Mommy time". So, this week I have been doing laundry, correcting school work, and generally catching up around here.

As far as interesting posts go, several ideas have flitted through the noggin, but none have stuck long enough for me to elaborate. Some other bloggers have spoken of an emotional exhaustion, both from the Terri Schiavo situation and the loss of our Holy Father. I do agree with this. Maybe that is why so many things seem sad to me now. The latest is the loss of so much farm land around our home. I went to the grocery store last weekend, and one of the venerable old farm houses was gone. The next day, all the old trees were cut down, and it looked like a natural disaster. Yesterday I went by, and the entire piece of land was covered over with dirt, and it looks as though nothing was ever there. This made me incredibly sad. Someone had lived there. There had to be a family history on that old farm, and probably more than one generation. Those trees were upwards of 200 years old. Gone. You know what will be there? A strip mall. YUCK. We live in what used to be farm country, and now it is full of boring houses with scrawny trees and lots of strip malls. How many Walgreen's does a city need?? We looked into moving farther out into the country, but decided the family time lost to commuting would not be worth it.

So anyway, in my emotionally exhausted state, I am mourning the loss of someone else's homestead, and trees that were saplings when this country began. Don't you think I would have enough on my mind with out all this?? Why do I care that someone's history has been erased?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Annunciation Icon is Finished!!

I will now show you a few other photos

Here are some pics of the latest icon as it was written.

The second photo is after I had already completed the background. I had begun with a blank solid board, prepared with gesso and linen and lots more gesso. Then I traced on the "cartoon" of the image. You can see the model I used sitting on the table next to the icon I am working on. I then painted in all the dark base colors. Then, as in creation, where the light was brough out of the darkness, I add in all the highlighting colors.

The gold background represents eternity, and occasionally parts of the image will be bursting out of the border. The border represents our reality. Therefore, icons are meant to break through our reality and introduce us personally to the eternal mysteries being shown in the icon. We are quite present at the Annunciation when we venerate a Holy Icon.

The red cloth at the top left signifies that the scene takes place indoors. It takes place in the Temple. The lily and vines represent new life, springing forth as the world is refreshed by the Divine Incarnation, and all of nature is renewed.

In iconography, there is a process where the images are pulled from the darkness into the light. That is why the faces of Gabriel and Mary are dark. In the first photo I had complelted Gabriel's outer robe and wings, but not his under robe, hair or face and hands.

In the third and fourth and photos I am in the process of working on Mary's robes. In this icon she is dressed in royal colors, signifying her status as Queen Mother. She is seated on a throne, with her feet on a foot stool, which signifies her virginity. Her womb area is highlighted with brighter color to show where The Messiah is.

In the sixth photo, I have finished her face and robe, but have not added the three stars on her robe to signify her virginity before the birth, during the birth and after the birth of Christ. I had also not put in the halo rings and completed the border, but had put the gold leaf on the halo's.

Finally, in the seventh photo, I was just about to varnish the icon. I finished the faces and hands, added the Holy Spirit (the large blue burst with a dove inside). This Sunday I will have it blessed, and it will then be an object of veneration in our home.

You may notice the odd appearance of the buildings - the angles seem funny and off. In iconography, there is used inverse perspective which is opposite from traditional Western art. Rather than having a vanishing point that pulls you into the picture, iconography's point is out in front of the icon, as if to come out to embrace the faithful. The icons are designed to pierce our hearts, and embrace us as we are in the presence of the holy people of our faith.

Last but not least, you may be able to see two lavendar roses in Mary's lap. This was added at the suggestion of my 9 yodd. I had told her I would be working on Mary's robes that day, and she thought I said "roses". So when she came to visit one day, she asked where Mary's roses where. She designed some roses and I added them in, one for my girls, and one for my boys. I love the idea of putting my kids on Mary's lap.

Thanks for taking the time to see what I love to do. I will try to add more about the theology of icons from time to time. Blessings!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Holy Windows into Heaven

Today I begin my 4th Icon Workshop. This week I will be writing the icon of the Annunciation. Today will will open with a prayer and a blessing of our hands. We will aske St. Gabriel and the Theotokos to bless our endeavors and allow us to write a beautiful icon. I will be giving periodic updates on my progress and spiritual reflection that I always receive while writing icons. Maybe if I can figure out the picture thing on blogs, I'll post a picture of it after it is written, named and blessed. There is a process of praying and fasting during the writing of icons, and I will try to make this as enriching of a spritiual experience as Our Good Lord will allow.