A Personal Relationship

Pic by Gage Skidmore.

We are about to have the dumbest conversation. You are going to laugh at me. I’m okay with this.

First, since perhaps 10 people read this blog, I will have to answer your question, which is “Why is there a picture of Chris Hemsworth on your blog? You’ve never mentioned Chris Hemsworth to me in conversation, you don’t follow comics, & you never watch superhero movies. This is literally the first time I have ever even seen you acknowledge that Chris Hemsworth exists.”

And you would be right, dear reader, if this was a picture of Chris Hemsworth. And…okay, technically, it is. But wait! There’s more!

On June 15, I awoke & wrote the following in my personal journal, which I will now share with you after some encouraging words from my spiritual director:

Dreamt I was at a dinner party with Simon Helberg, who was about to eat a chunk of poisoned chicken until Jesus walked in & took it before he could. I burst into tears because for some reason I was the only one who knew what was happening, that Christ was dying, died, but came back almost immediately. Nobody else knew what was going on.

He winked at me upon Returning, & after that, everyone was at peace, even the ones who didn’t know what was happening. I was still sobbing, so he took me over to a corner to talk.

I could have asked my Lord & my God anything at all in that moment, but first I started with “Are you okay?”

He laughed & put out his arms in front of him as if examining them, then twirled around. “Yup, right as rain!”

So my follow up question was, “Uh, Jesus?”

“Yes, Kellie?”

“Why do you look like Chris Hemsworth?”

He laughed. “Now now. I look like Thor.”

Note: Jesus was not costumed like Thor. He looked like Chris Hemsworth going to a casual California dinner party.

This was unhelpful. “Okay…why do you look like Thor?”

He made a face that wasn’t unkind, but seemed a little weary. “Well, my child, so many people here [he gestured, indicating the whole Earth] don’t know me anymore. They have no concept of God, or what concept they do have is scary.” He brightened. “But everybody knows Thor! He’s the only god some of them have even heard of!” He laughed.

“But Jesus,” I went on. “I don’t watch those movies or even like that whole genre. Like, I don’t read super hero comics.”

Jesus laughed. “That’s exactly my point! Even you know who Thor is. So there you go!”

This was supposed to satisfy me, so it did. I then woke up. And now every time I think of Jesus, I think of him looking like Chris Hemsworth, & smiling, & being my brother who is very supportive & sometimes laughs at me (not unkindly).

Jesus appears to all of us in a way that will make sense to us (or not, in my case, but I have a high tolerance for weird). Christ may come to you with the face of a beloved family member or favourite teacher or for you it may be Robert Downey Jr. How the hell should I know?

The Christ concept I had previously created in my head was a young Jewish…I guess realtor, but usually dressed like he was about to play racquetball. This is the Jesus I prayed to & spoke to, especially in the car. I will say it never quite rang true to me, though. I was very conscious that I had created a modern Christ, that he was someone I purposefully created to talk to, & that he himself never presented as an ’80s stereotype (replete with sweatbands).

This new version that came to me in a non-lucid dream is not anything I would have imagined, dreamed up, or picked. It sounds inauthentic, but upon encountering him, it is absolutely correct. Don’t ask me why that is…it makes no sense & it doesn’t have to.

Christ may appear to you as Ben Vereen or Danny Trejo or Phyllis Diller for all I know. It’s none of my business. But if you can have a 100% honest conversation with that image of Christ & be open to love unimaginable because of it, GO THERE. BE WITH THAT. Rest in that joy!

Maybe Jesus wants everyone to know that whatever happiness you get from watching Thor do things or thinking about Thor or whatever Thor means to you (& I 100% literally have no idea so don’t @ me) is what he wants with you. I don’t know. Jesus knows that I write, so maybe he wanted me to write about this. I was keeping it to myself pretty much, but here we are. Now all 10 of you know.

Maybe in prayer tonight, ask Jesus to come hang out with you. See how he appears. He may be a movie Jesus or a Discovery channel Jesus, or he may be something totally unexpected. Most importantly, he doesn’t have to be the authentic human creation that walked this earth for 33 years over 2 milennia ago, because he’s infinite again. HE CAN BE LITERALLY ANY IMAGE THAT SPEAKS TO YOU. It’s okay!

For me, this above picture perfectly illustrates our relationship. He is always smiling because he’s usually on the verge of laughing at whatever I’ve said, but kindly, like you’d laugh at a child’s meandering story. He is always interested to hear what I feel & sometimes is just waiting for a chance to give me a hug. And he wants us all to come & live with him in light everlasting. Forever.

Go say hi. See what happens.

…and safe from all distress

This has been a crappy week, as was the week before it. I will not go into why, & I promise you don’t care. You don’t have to; it’s fine.

The reason I am writing about it, or rather around it, is not because it is still bothering me. It is not, though my body still bears the mild wounds of this past fortnight (bruises, celiac nonsense).

I am writing rather because what defines a crappy week for me has changed, & that’s miraculous.

It is cause for gratitude.

And it’s easily processed & handled.

This was not always the case. I am one of those people whose difficulties all came early in life. Meet any tough old broad, & that’s generally the case for her. She started as a terrified child, & her world was darkness. This is why all your problems seem trivial & ridiculous to her, & why she says things like “Put on your big girl panties, buttercup.” I imagine her name is Arlene, & she smokes Marlboro Reds & refinished her own kitchen & has a son that died in childbirth that she never talks about.

You think she’s mean, & you hate working with her. She’s a font of wisdom. Make any excuse to be with her.

I am not an Arlene, though I have my moments. Arlene is tougher than me. I prefer Arlenes to Karens in accounting, who always tell you they like your hair but whisper to all & sundry, “Doesn’t that girl have an iron?”

Bitch, I’ve pressed more palms than you have shirts. Nobody likes you, Karen. I’ll pray for you.

Anyhow.

When I was younger, “crappy week” was a euphemism. Now, a crappy week is really just actually a crappy week.

This is cause for celebration! My problems are no longer dark nights of the soul — vigils in terror. They’re just having to deal with dumb crap. It’s amazing.

“Wait, wait, hang on,” says you. “Don’t you write all the time now about giving things to Christ & love & prayer & how that’s all awesome?”

YES. Yes I do. And this is that! It may not seem like that. But it is!

Jesus never said that being part of the Kingdom of God was like…I don’t know…an all inclusive resort package. Don’t confuse Heaven with the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is right here. We’re it. We’re supposed to be making things as loving & awesome as we can here. That doesn’t mean we’re immune to all the other crap here.

During the Lord’s Prayer, as many of you know, the priest says the embolism, which to some of y’all may sound like a medical condition you desperately want to avoid. For the latter folk, this is generally how it goes…

“…and deliver us from evil.

[Priest] Deliver us, Lord, from every evil.

Graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of thy mercy, we may be always free from sin, & safe from all distress, as we await the Blessed hope and the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

[all] for the Kingdom, the power, & the glory are yours now & forever.”

That sounds like we expect God to just make us happy all the time, but that’s not true. An earlier translation of this prayer explicates the true sense of the word distress: “and safe from all anxiety.”

God’s job isn’t to protect us from the world any more than it’s your earthly father’s job to stand in front of you 24/7 just in case a train comes hurtling at you. That’s weird.

We collectively made a decision as humans to exercise free will (illustrated beautifully in the creation myth), & because of that we’ve chosen to live in the world rather than the figurative Garden. God’s like, “Okay, I love you, but y’all crazy.”

But we pray to God to give us our daily bread, forgive us, fortify us in temptation, & strengthen us spiritually so we can be in this world without tripping out about dumb crap.

This, too, shall pass. It really will. It may pass like a kidney stone. It may take decades, depending on how long it takes for you to stop standing on your own proverbial dick.

So I’ve had a crappy two weeks, & I’m exhausted & achy. But it will pass. And it will pass sooner than the early stuff. It will pass sooner than the dumb crap I got myself into trying to process the early stuff.

Have you ever seen a little bunny or a kitten or puppy get themselves into something they can’t get out of? And the more they struggle, the more they hurt themselves? Or like that fat German rat? Screaming & screaming while the guy saved him?

That’s one of the best analogies I’ve witnessed for God & ourselves…ever. “I HATE YOU! GET AWAY FROM ME! GET THAT THING OFF ME! PUT ME DOWN oh hey I’m free, thanks.”

And then sometimes the silly creature goes & does the same damned thing again.

I mean. Is that not us?

The other glorious thing is that I had pockets of comfort & joy during the crappy two weeks, which is a novel concept for me. Most of them came at church, with my friends lovingly laughing at my foibles & giving me opportunities to help them in meaningful ways, so I didn’t feel totally ridiculous. Mastery, even of a small thing, reinforces our connection to God.

If you don’t believe me, get up right now & wipe down a counter top. Don’t try to win a fight with your cat; I just tried that, & even with soft paws, he bested me.

My sparring partner is fluffy, yet brutal. Look at this black belt of reflexes:

Anyhow. Be the bunny. Let Him lift you out. Then your crappy weeks will really just be silly, crappy weeks. Forgettable. Funny, even, like a month later. Or to the Arlenes now.

For Those Who Persecute You

There is probably nothing in the universe that will calm & change your heart faster than praying for people who make you insane with rage.

It’s also a fantastic way to alienate & annoy the sort of people (nearly every human on Earth) who feel entitled to their rage.

I haven’t written here in a while. I was keeping a private journal, then stopped, writing nothing at all, which is an odd thing for a writer to do, let alone an economically disastrous thing. But as is the case with me when I suddenly stop doing something, I was exercising a spiritual practice.

I am vexingly given a great deal of these by my priest, whom I grudgingly admit is always right. I had been reading Story of a Soul, which many of you (okay, 5 out of my 7 readers) know to be the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. It is delightful, and, as another priest in my parish says, “So beautiful. Also, such drama.”

Therese is a little French girl, & therefore slightly over the top.

But it is really quite spectacular, & essential reading for anyone whose vocation is love, no matter what they are doing with their lives.

So I’m reading this lovely book & having a somewhat spirited conversation with priest & teenaged goddaughter when he whips out a hardbound copy of Imitation of Christ and exhorts me to read that first. After all, it’s the source material for St. Therese’s entire existence.

“Fine,” I say, & take it.

It takes me a while to get through. It was written during a time when it was incredibly useful to tell people they were going to Hell. We don’t really do that anymore; we spend more time telling folks how easy it is to get into Heaven, since Jesus died for us (also love the Lord your God with all your heart & all your soul, etc). But back then, people used to randomly stab each other, gut cats for medicinal purposes, and literally believe that red haired women were brides of Satan (imagine such a thing!). Yes, people do that now, but they were much worse back then.

Everybody loves to talk about how awful the world is now but have you seen history?! The entire story of man’s day to day life shows a progressive trend upwards toward love. We are actually doing much better. We really are. Since Christ’s death & resurrection, people have been gradually becoming less awful on the whole.

Day to day life is less brutal. Complain all you want about a barista getting your Starbucks order wrong. It’s a hell of lot less stressful than having a marauding band from a neighbouring city-state murder your whole family. Sadly, that still happens in some parts of the world. But it still happens less. Marauding a neighbouring city-state & murdering whole families is pretty much frowned upon by all people at this point in human history.

Wow, that was divergent. Anyhow, it took me a minute to get through Imitation of Christ. I didn’t rip through it like I was ripping through Story of a Soul. It needs more thinking. It’s basically a collection of 4 smaller books (the third one seemingly interminable at times) telling you that you are a piece of crap, the cause of all your own problems, & that you need to do better.

And it’s right. At this point in my adult life, isn’t every problem I have my own damned fault? Didn’t I create every situation I’m in? Didn’t I allow someone to treat me that way, didn’t speak up soon enough to prevent something, neglected to do something I should’ve done days ago?

I’m now back to reading St. Therese, & she says pretty much the same things as Imitation (hell, she quotes it all the way through), but in this breathless girly style that speaks to the child inside me that still aches for love.

And of course the only way to receive love is to give it abundantly, even when it is spurned, misused, ignored, or trampled. Give love abundantly anyway. If you cannot find a thing, be a thing.

Love, actual burning love like Therese goes on & on about, does weird things. It inspires random weeping in front of an icon of Mary holding the infant Jesus. It inflames inconsolable sobbing during a particular beautiful piece of music. It leads you to merrily injure yourself in ten different little ways helping out someone who will never know what you did, whom you’re not even sure you like. And you will do it gleefully.

Love also helps you pray for people who, let’s face it, totally suck. People who hurt you, who hurt themselves, who hurt others. People whom you would rather punch. People who probably deserve a good punch.

Pray. For. Them.

And don’t do this thing we all want to do, which is, “Dear God, please make So&So stop being a prick. May they burn in Hell for all eternity if they don’t stop.”

No. When Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies, he means like he did upon the cross. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These people were in the process of killing him & he prayed for them.

Notice he didn’t invite them up for tea & bickies. But he did pray for them.

You can pray for someone you know you can’t even be around again. You can pray for someone you hate but never met (I don’t understand how people do that, but apparently some of y’all hate people you have never & will never meet). You can pray for internet trolls. You can pray for abusive parents (only if you are ready & feel safe to do so). You don’t have to hang out with these people. Just pray.

You don’t even have to ask forgiveness for them. You can just say, “Heavenly Father, I pray for So&So.” You don’t even have to use the words “help” or “be with”. Any time you want to punch someone, pray for them.

If they make you cry, pray for them.

If they boggle the mind, pray for them.

You may never see them change. What will change is your heart. Your mind. Your sense of peace. Your ability to live fully. Usually. You’re still a person. You’re still going to hate everything from time to time. Take a second & pray.

You know what else changes? Sadly, some people get annoyed with you if you start doing this. Even if you don’t tell them. It’s like when you quit drinking or eating fried Snickers. The people who still drink & eat fried Snickers see you over there not drinking & eating fried Snickers & they feel oddly betrayed. You haven’t told them even once that they need to quit, too, but they are judging you. For being healthier & less judgy. I don’t know what to tell you. That happens.

When you pray for others, your desire to participate in addictive outrage & the constant turmoil of public discussion diminishes. Imitation spends a lot of time on shunning the advice & thoughts of people, & it is not wrong to do so, because every human on Earth is a flawed creature who could be telling you something while suffering a hormone imbalance or hunger or maybe they’re a manipulative jerk. Who knows? Hell, don’t listen to me. I’m getting over a migraine & I’m loopy. I’m just telling you a thing I’ve been doing.

You may want to try it, too. Whatever. It’s all in scripture.

Adoration Part Two

As I mentioned last week, Father Michael’s been putting out a monstrance for Adoration these last couple of weeks of Advent. My last experience was pretty emotional & very intense.

Tonight’s was also, but in a very different way.

This time I went having heard much less bad news, which didn’t mean I was necessarily having a good day. I had a weird day. But it wasn’t an awful day.

I went in a cheerful mood. I was happy to be ending my day in this manner, knowing that everyone else was busy with a vestry meeting, & I’d selfishly have Christ all to myself again.

I knelt for a bit, & in my head I sang the little chant Father Vladimir taught us:

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Speak what is true.

I did that for a good long while with a smile on my face, then just said “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And then I was quiet in my mind.

Here is where some of you will think I am crazy.

I perceived Mary sitting on the pew next to me. I knew she wasn’t actually there there, but she was there. She looked so young & yet spoke with such an aged, wise voice, in a slow, deliberate way, like English was her second language, but she was very good at it if she took her time. She glanced up at the monstrance subtly. “You can sit back,” she said gently. “You’re in pain.”

So I did.

She said, “I knelt by his cradle when he was a baby. And I fell to my knees when he died on that cross.” She said it so carefully and lovingly. I burst into tears.

She spent a good long time telling me some things that might not make any sense to you, but they made perfect sense to me. She said to love him as she loved him, because he is both her son and her God. She knew it was strange.

She said that he never didn’t love me, even when I denied him. You want to talk about a Jewish mother guilt trip. But she didn’t mean for me to feel bad. She just wanted me to know. I felt bad because I felt guilty.

And then Christ was there. I mean, he’s always there, but he was part of this conversation. “Hey, you were a child,” he said, & for some reason Mary sounds like she’s from Israel, but Jesus sounds like he’s from Yonkers. There is nothing I can do about that; he always sounds like a 30-something rabbi from Yonkers to me.

I was basically sobbing at this point. “You were a child & you were in so much pain.”

“He cried with you,” she said. “He cried for you.”

So basically I’ve completely lost it alone in this dark church & Jesus is walking me through some stuff I feel like crap about & he’s explaining where he was during all that & helping me love & understand difficult people. He’s also forgiving me for not getting things at the time.

He & Mary are also consoling me on some difficult people & things now. And telling me that no, it’s not fair but if anyone can handle it, I can.

But where I completely surrendered to the conversation & cried like a child was when he very plainly said to me, “I love you so much. Hey, I love you. You have no idea.” And Mary said it too & I just kind of crumpled on the kneeler & sobbed like a child.

Which of course is when Father walked in & had to lock up the church. But his timing was impeccable; if he’d come in a couple minutes earlier, I would’ve missed all that.

I’m not telling you this because it’s a special experience just for me. It’s a message for you, too. Jesus loves you. You have no idea how much. You can’t possibly comprehend it. I can’t.

Also I get the impression Mary feels a little sorry for men, because they have a hard time being vulnerable. And sometimes they are mean about it. That was really good mom advice. Jesus was basically like, “Ya know, she’s not wrong.”

So that’s the story of my near hour with Jesus & his mom. She thinks of the church as her daughter-in-law. Isn’t that sweet?

I am going to see if other parishes have weekly or daily adoration, because there is nothing like it & I want to go again. I don’t know if it’ll be the same as St. Nicholas — a dark, cold church lit only by a few candles with lingering Sunday scents I know & love — but I want to try.

Adoration

No one has known more suffering than Christ. I know that now. I know it.

He suffered on the cross & he suffers now. Every time we wound one another, be it something as heinous as murder or simple as indifference, he aches with sorrow.

This hit me during adoration this evening. It hit me long enough to sob for an hour in front of a monstrance. It hit me long enough to sob in the car on the way home, though I did manage to hold it together long enough to buy my stupid sensitive skin soap.

Now that 87% of you think I’m crazy, let me explain what adoration is. Actually, let Brother Jim explain it. This is a lovely piece of writing Father had me email to everyone in the church (yes, someone has entrusted me with yet another database).

Father then announced at Mass this Sunday that during Advent, we’d have adoration on Tuesday evenings. I spent a blessed hour alone in the church, Christ all to myself, kneeling in the front pew.

It occurred to me after maybe 2 minutes of gazing at the Host that I would need tissues, which we apparently don’t have in the sanctuary. I wandered into the sacristy & snagged a couple. I came back, began to pray for Christ to speak to me, & was besieged with inconsolable sorrow.

Every hideous news story I’d read that day hit me with a furious sadness I was incapable of feeling while scrolling my FB feed. A 9-year-old girl who hung herself, a pregnant teenager stabbed to death by her boyfriend. Starving children. The homeless who visit our very parish hall 3 times a week. The unbearable fear & isolation & loneliness of these souls pierces Christ as surely as any spear.

There were visions of friends who are dead, one who killed herself & another who ODed. A friend’s niece who died stupidly, horribly, unnecessarily. My friend’s beautiful brother who recently passed. All walking strong & joyfully with Jesus now, but his own sorrow for them was so much.

I thought of a friend who is going through a tremendously painful, scary medical mystery, his lack of faith, & even pure hatred of God.

I spoke to him. “Is this you all the time? How do we end your suffering? What can I do to end all the suffering? You control the universe! How do we console you?”

I had the sense that all human rage & hatred is only suffering & pain, expressed in sin.

I didn’t get any answers today. All I knew is that after a little while, I stopped crying, & I looked at my watch. I had been there an hour. I figured Father probably wanted to lock up the church & go home. I got to blow out the candles surrounding the monstrance. That felt like a reward.

Sometime during this hour, I also thought of Mary, giving birth to this glorious child who was destined to suffer & die for us. That also made me sob. That never doesn’t make me sob.

On the way home, Garmana’s version of “Virga ac diadema” shuffled up. It was written by Hildegard von Bingen. These are the words in English:

O branch and diadem in royal purple clad,

who like a shield stand in your cloister strong.

You burst forth blooming but with buds quite different

than Adam’s progeny—th’ entire human race.

Hail, o hail! For from your womb came forth another life,

that had been stripped by Adam from his sons.

O bloom, you did not spring from dew

nor from the drops of rain,

nor has the windy air flown over you; but radiance divine

has brought you forth upon that noblest bough.

O branch, your blossoming God had foreseen

within the first day of his own creation.

And by his Word he made of you a golden matrix,

O Virgin, worthy of our praise.

O, how great in power is that side of man,

from which God brought the form of woman forth,

a mirror made

of all his ornament, and an embrace

of all his own creation.

The heavens’ symphony resounds, in wonder stands

all earth, O Mary, worthy of our praise,

for God has loved you more than all.

O cry and weep! How deep the woe!

What sorrow seeped with guilt

in womanhood because the serpent hissed his wicked plan!

That woman, whom God made to be the mother of the world,

had pricked her womb

with wounds of ignorance—the full inheritance of grief

she offered to her offspring.

But from your womb, O dawn, has come the sun anew;

the guilt of Eve he’s washed away

and through you offered humankind a blessing

even greater than the harm that Eve bestowed.

O Lady Savior, who has offered to the human race

a new and brighter light: together join the members of your Son

into the heavens’ harmony.

Like, seriously. That happened. Of course, I burst into tears again.

I don’t really know what to do with this information except to try super hard to never cause anyone sorrow, ever. I mean I already have a No Sorrow policy, & I try to make as many people happy as I can, & alleviate pain as often as possible. But it must not be enough.

I don’t know what to do.

What the Black

Every moment of your life was in preparation for this moment

no matter if right now you are kissing the cat’s belly or

honking at that asshat in the Lexus going 15 in a 25 or

staring up at a face that has suddenly become spooked and

now you are laughing at yourself because you

are actually the scary girl still and

you’ve encountered normal and

somehow charmed it (again)

but this time it’s different and

you’re not afraid of it but

it’s afraid of you

(& it’s not really like that, but that’s how it feels for a sec)

& you have long since ceased to be “goth” but

most of your clothes are black &

you picked up Latin on purpose (& also Glocks & also liturgy but everything else was a happy accident)

the only choices after that are Holy Orders or

whatever the hell is happening here

Either sounds like good fun.

The Distinct Advantage of a Crappy Childhood

I had an epiphany today talking to a good friend about what adults fear & how we learn those fears. I suppose the greatest adult fear, for single people (divorced or otherwise) is being hurt again.

There is nothing pleasant about an adult break up. Whether you were married five years or living together ten, enough of your life & identity are entwined with another person that the act of separating actually destroys some part of you. Even if it’s just a change of address & no assets or custody need to be split, you are not breaking up to be fancy free & joyful. You are rebuilding.

The house has crumbled (sometimes because both of you were crappy builders, sometimes because one of you took a wrecking ball to a load bearing wall, sometimes because you got the black mould), & it has to come down.

Some people immediately move into a tiny house or a mobile home. “Only room for me & my dog/cat in here! I’m good!” they say, meeting their friends for dinner out, but never inviting anyone in, never making room for another. “I like my space,” they say, in the tiniest space they could cram their broken heart into.

“I’ve already moved on!” says another, whose life becomes a veritable motel…many rooms, nothing permanent. Shameful breakfasts. Always with people but perpetually alone.

Then there’s me. I don’t know what I am. I have zero aversion to being in love again, I know what it is when I see it, & I have no desire to force it. I’ve always been like that. I could easily be hurt again & I know that. But I don’t care. The worst thing that will ever happen to me already has. I therefore willingly wait for & then allow what will come. It’s like being homeless & in no particular rush to find a home. Would I like a home? Of course! Do I want to get locked into a 30 year mortgage I can’t afford with someone who can’t love every key part of me? No. Not at all.

I guess you’d call me a renter.

And it’s not just me. One of the most fearless children I know is a foster kid. I won’t get into the details, but this little one’s life would make you burst into tears. And this child is the friendliest, most outgoing child on the planet, always making sure other kids feel welcome, always putting herself out there to make friends, never afraid of rejection despite her life’s experience.

The truth is, she’s probably horrified by the idea of rejection, but plows on anyhow.

Why?

Why not?

True, the consequences of childhood heartache are not the same as adult heartache. Divorce leaves financial & emotional scars children can’t conceive of. But children’s brains are actually shaped by trauma, & their lives are often directed by trauma for years, sometimes decades after. It’s not always pretty.

But somehow, those kids always try hardest to show love (unless they’re the ones that go super dark, which would be an entirely other post & unrelated to today’s conversation).

I then had a bit of a revelation that I shared with my friend. “I have an advantage I never realized.”

“You do? What’s that?”

“I’ve had longer to heal from my pain. People with idyllic childhoods & youths — they get hurt later & it’s raw for a long time.”

“Yeah, it’s true.”

“But people who were hurt as kids…we have a lot more time to work on it & learn what we need to learn from it.”

“I guess that’s one way of looking at it.”

“You know I’m going to forget this epiphany, right?”

“No, you won’t.”

“Eh, maybe not now that I’ve told you. I usually have these in the shower, then forget them. I’ve probably had this same epiphany 40 times already.”

And now I’m sharing it with all 8 of you that read this blog regularly. Some of you may even comment “Isn’t childhood trauma resilience more like numbing & flattened affect?”

Bitches, have you seen my affect? It ain’t flat. That shit is alive & in colour. It’ll take you to Flavortown, have you meet the mayor & buy you a souvenir foam rubber hand.

Flattened affect my arse. Get out of here with that jive.

But I have another advantage, one that will not make sense to all of you, & that’s okay. It is legit my relationship with Christ, my kvetching to Mary, my ongoing dialogue with God in a language that uses virtually no words & is as crystal clear as light.

Sometimes you can’t see light because it’s so…light, but every now & then — wow.

To live in concert with the Holy Spirit is to pretty much always default to joy, or if not joy, then contentment. I will not lie & tell you people that I am always bloody happy. I am not. I actually took a moment & prayed today for some relief from something, & you know what happened? I ended up carrying a rubbish bin full of water to a random stranger on the street not ten minutes later. WHAT WAS THAT EVEN ABOUT & HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

I don’t know, but the rest of the day was wonderful after that. Basically the Holy Spirit is weird.

And God has a sense of humour. “Oh, you’re feeling a little put out? Well, Sunshine, here’s a guy who needs a rubbish bin filled with water.”

Did I tell you about the time the Bishop of El Salvador needed a ride to a Dodger game? And back? So I couldn’t swear in a car in LA rush hour traffic for TWO HOURS?

The Holy Spirit, y’all.

Let’s just all agree right now, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, atheist, whatever — right now that there are Things and Machinations of incomprehensible beauty & the one thing we can agree on is that they will occur whether we think we are ready for them or not.

Our job is to respond with grace.

What is fear keeping you from enjoying? Who is anger stopping you from loving?

I also wrote this, which is specifically geared toward people who have Survived.