The Mooney School of Snowcraft and Blizzardry

How’s that for a ridiculous title? Linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter to talk about the ton of snow that got dropped on us on Monday, more than from the historic blizzard that wasn’t last week.

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The morning started off rather pleasant and beautiful with friendly flurries just enough for some good cozy snow peeping. Here’s the church across the street.

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But then the snow started picking up during Christopher’s afternoon nap, which was very exciting and a guaranteed snow day for the co-op where both Chris and I teach classes. Chris was in one of his own classes when it really started coming down and he had to walk home from class in this. Look at that umbrella lady struggling against the wind! What is this arctic tundra in which we live??

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I didn’t know we moved to Hoth.

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Christopher and I were all snuggled up inside when Chris sent me this missive:

I thought we were going to have to thaw him out with the boiling water or throw it on the stairs to make a path or something because I’m from Southern California, what is a weather? Maybe that’s how these things work. But no, it was for hot chocolate, the perfect accompaniment for blizzards  and freezing rain alike.

He made it home! Very snowy, but safely. He briefly (very, very briefly, grandparents) took Christopher out to see the carnage and wave hello to the man dealing with his car in front of our house.

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We sat on our couch, sipped hot chocolate and watched the snow and Return of the King, which even held Christopher’s attention after breaking our “no screens for babies because I’ve heard too much about The Shallows rule.

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On Tuesday, I dug out the pick up truck we are borrowing from my in-laws so I could go to the grocery store. I was very proud of myself for doing something everyone else in Connecticut thinks is a normal part of life. In the midddle of my celebratory drive to Stop and Shop I discovered my neck was massively stiff and the next thing I knew, it was physically, not just figuratively, painful to deal with a mid-grocery store hangry (hungry and angry – it’s a thing) Christopher meltdown. I’ve been laid up since.

You win, Winter. You win.

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What I’m Reading Wednesday

Linking up with Jessica for What I’m Reading Wednesday!

Usually, I like to stick with one book, power through, and move on to the next but I find myself having started three books at the same time. I think it helps that I’ve got a novel, a theology book, and a collection of letters so the genres are varied enough.

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Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers

I’m a sucker for stories about aristocratic dilettantes – I know, such a wide array of books fit that description, right? – so I’m surprised it took me so long to read the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. I’m on the third one now and I am just delighted by them. They’re engaging and easy to read so I like flying through them before bed since I’m trying to kick the “fall asleep to that episode of The Office you’ve seen literally 23 times” habit. I mean, I though this part was particularly funny and it’s from a chapter entitled “A Use for Spinsters,” which is hilarious all on its own:

“Miss Climpson,” said Lord Peter, “is a manifestation of the wasteful way in which this country is run. Look at electricity. Look at water power. Look at the tides. Look at the sun. Millions of units of power being given off into space every minute. Thousands of old maids, simply bursting with useful energy, forced by our stupid social system into hydros and hotels and communities and hostels and posts as companions, where their magnificent gossip-powers and units of inquisitiveness are allowed to dissipate themselves or even become harmful to the community, while the ratepayers’ money is spent on getting work for which these women are providentially fitted, inefficiently carried out by ill-equipped policemen like you.

I also love Parker, the straight man, and the fact that he’s not a complete dolt like his character can be in a lot of detective novels.

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Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942 by Edith Stein

I try to start my day with some spiritual reading, a habit long ingrained from daily “quiet time” in college, which I achieve with spotty success. I decided to get this from the Divinity School library (ah, the joys of the student spouse Yale ID) after asking a friend from our parish who has a particular devotion to St. Teresa Benedicta what to start with of Edith Stein’s. She recommended her letters, which were somewhat difficult to get into. They start with her correspondence pre-conversion when she was studying phenomenology so a lot of her early letters were about her studies, but as I get farther along, I’m starting to get more of a sense of her personality and her instrumental role in many other women’s conversions.

I’m also trying to understand what it means to have a friendship with a particular saint. St. Monica was my confirmation saint and I ask for her intercession frequently, especially for help with our little Adeodatus since she knows sons pretty well, but I still feel like I don’t quite get having a devotion beyond the very intellectual “I have read your books / about you in books” sense. #FormerProtestantProblems, I suppose. I realize now why starting with Edith Stein’s letters is a good move; it gives me some inkling of who she was as a whole person, not just her ideas. I welcome any suggestions on this front.

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After You Believe by N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope was instrumental in convincing me of a sacramental view of reality and my friend read this one recently so I thought I’d also give it a shot. He also came to the Div school in November and my husband and his friend got to drive him to and from the airport which was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Christopher and I got to meet him too.

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He’s pontificating at the head of the table. So awesome.

Anyway, that’s my first What I’m Reading Wednesday. I love, love, love friends on Goodreads so please add me over there!

Mystics from cheeses and other daily miracles

I cashed in a birthday gift from Chris – one of eight intervals of baby-less half hours – recently and sat at Starbucks with my free birthday Peppermint Mocha to read Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal. It was delightful and moving and now I want to initiate her cause for canonization.

I related deeply to her desire for holiness, not out of fear of Hell but with a desire to love virtue. The theme throughout her short prayers was a fear of mediocrity, both in her writing and in her spiritual life. “I don’t want to be doomed to mediocrity in my feeling for Christ,” she writes. “I want to feel. I want to love. Take me, dear Lord, and set me in the direction I am to go.” I loved this part from one of the final entries in her journal:

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“What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God can do that – make mystics out of cheeses. But why should he do it for an ingrate slothful & dirty creature like me.”

“Make me a mystic, immediately.” Oh, how I resonate with that desire.

“Lord, make me a saint/better mother/more loving wife/stop watching The Bachelor immediately and preferably without any inordinate effort on my part.”

When I get frustrated with my lack of holiness, I tend to make huge spiritual resolutions and disappoint myself when I do not attain them. But recently I’ve realized it is usually because I neglect the small yeses to grace that come with daily faithfulness. And Blythe’s post about the heroic minute really encouraged with me as I continue to muddle through the sloth and selfishness that hold me back from being a better homemaker and a better Christian. The path to holiness is not about big life-changing encounters – although, those do happen and are very real – but choices as normal as choosing a reaction of love instead of frustration with the baby when I find he has pulled all the books off the shelf again or choosing to put the phone down and bring the laundry to the basement.

I’m slowly realizing grace is not an esoteric theological concept but a minute-by-minute both supernatural and earthy – incarnational, really – reality. Participating in the sacraments have made this very real to me and has made holiness actually seem possible through Christ’s gift of Himself. Though I still groan with creation waiting for all things to be made new, failure no longer seems inevitable. It is incredibly freeing. We have oodles of small opportunities for a heroic minute during the day that help us leave the life of cheddar and move closer to St. Teresa of Avila territory. But hey, even St. Teresa thought there were seven mansions to move through in our interior castle.

A word of encouragement to my fellow cheeses desiring to become mystics (immediately) from another Teresa:
“God leads each of us on an individual way; one reaches the goal more easily and more quickly than another. We can do very little ourselves, compared to what is done to us. But that little bit we must do. Primarily, this consists before all else of persevering in prayer to find the right way, and of following without resistance the attraction of grace when we feel it. Whoever acts in this way and perseveres patiently will not be able to say that his efforts were in vain. But one may not set a deadline for the Lord.” (Edith Stein in a letter to a struggling student before she became St. Teresa Benedicta)