Monday, September 27, 2010

Faith is Precious

So this weekend I had an Ah-Ha Moment. If you aren't familiar with my terminology, I suggest you read the post that I put the link up for.

My Ah-Ha! moment came during Communion, only now I'm pretty sure it had been building up throughout Mass on Saturday. You see, it wasn't the "ordinary" Mass that I usually know, where the music is Mass of Creation style and everything is in English.

This Saturday, Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim came to Knoxville to meet with Bishop Stika and to celebrate a Chaldean Mass for the many Chaldean Catholics in the area. I was very interested in going, but I was also hesitant. For some reason, I had this idea that it was a members-only type deal. Luckily my friend let me know that it wasn't and, "absolutely you should come. Mass starts at 12."

I braved horrific game day traffic and almost getting boxed in at a gas station on campus to make the 5ish mile drive to the cathedral. That was an ordeal. I mean really, what business thinks it's okay to let people PARK in front of gas pumps for the duration of the game? Yes, you do make money from people who pay to park there, but don't you lose more money from patrons like me who actually need to get gas? Just a thought...jerks. And to think, I might not have had my ah-ha moment if I got stuck at the gas station! Sorry, rant over.

I got to the cathedral 20 minutes early, so I enjoyed a bit of silent prayer alone in the pew. Then out came the bishops, a priest who came with Bishop Ibrahim, and one other guy. Mass was for the most part, entirely in Arabic. And I absolutely loved it. It was due to many reasons. One part may be because I was excited to finally hear Arabic, because other than a few songs from movies with Arabic vocals, I've never heard it otherwise. I like the way it sounds, especially sung. This Mass had a lot of singing! Another part results from my love of sometimes just not understanding anything that's being said. Weird, I know. When you're immersed in another language, it's very humbling and for some reason it makes things clearer and more beautiful for me. You know what it feels like to be on the other end of the spectrum, which is not being able to understand what people are saying to you.

I think though, ultimately, that the reason I enjoyed Chaldean Mass so much is that I learned something so essential for living. During his brief English summation of his homily, Bishop Ibrahim said that "faith is precious." In reference to many Iraqi immigrants, it is often the only thing they may have with them when arriving to a new place. It's true for all immigrants really.

I kept chewing on that phrase, "faith is precious." I never really thought of faith being precious before. I always considered it something to have, something that I needed but even then it still felt like I didn't actually, physically need it.

When it came time for Communion, I kept soaking in the whole experience of revelation and excitement of something different. When I kneeled, folded my hands, and then closed my eyes to pray, it finally hit me. Tears welled up at the wonderful realization that yes, the only thing that I truly have is faith. The only thing that I truly need is faith. Everything else is just material, and it won't be with me forever. Those things won't sustain me the way God can.

If nothing else, I have faith. And I feel blessed knowing that. I will always have God and a Savior who won't forsake me even when I fail and the Eucharist and a community where no matter what language we speak or what country we are from, we love Jesus all the same.

I prayed often and will continue to pray for more Ah-Ha Moments. I'm not a very patient person, God and everyone else knows that. I'm just beyond happy that I finally had one. There's nothing quite like that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

I came home from Mass to find this as the reflection for the day. How cool is God, I mean, really? It totally fits with my Ah-Ha Moment lesson.

"May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith." -Ephesians 3:17

"Bear Christ in heart, mind, and will. Bear Him in your mind by His teaching. Bear Him in your will by your observance of the Law. Bear Him in your heart by the Holy Eucharist." -Pope Pius XII

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thankful for the End!

I am very thankful for the end of this week. I just checked my calendar, and assuming that nothing changes, I will not have a week like the one I just had (you know, filled with exams) until finals week. That's a given though.

In spite of the hellish awakening to my most likely poor performance on my paleobiology exam, I feel pretty good about this week. It was hard because I needed to study but I also didn't want to! There was just so much material for all 3 exams. Now I can focus more on my chemistry exam on Thursday, which looks like it will be tons of fun.

There were a few missed opportunities for some things, but I have a feeling they will be presented again. And hopefully, I will take notice of and act on those opportunities. This week I was able to watch some of my favorite TV show premieres and still see my friends and study. I know I should have done more studying, but I can't change the past!

For the rest of today and this weekend, I plan on chilling. I do have work, homework and domestic, to accomplish. Like doing laundry...which I haven't done in almost 2 weeks. And grocery shopping. College kids got to eat. I might try to slip in some blogging too.

I'm just so excited that I am done with 3 exams!
And seeing my best friend Katie Ann (whom I haven't seen much of even though we live a block away)!
And running into people I know!
And for an awesome, thoughtful sister who was able to get my favorite local artist's autograph!
And for the weekend!
And for barn chores and hanging out with horses!
And for a clean room! Like legit clean, not just things put away...but dusted, Cloroxed, and vacuumed.

I'm excited for many more things, but I'm directing my excitement to a foreseeable nap.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blegh #2

I've just decided that any time I feel like whining or ranting, the chance of the post being called "Blegh" increases exponentially.

Still not enough time to write legitimate, serious things. But I am going to tell you that my paleobiology exam totally bombed.

Mostly because I just forgot how to read today. I emailed my professor and explicitly stated that I WAS NOT looking for pity points, only that I wanted to explain to him that I do in fact know the difference between vicarience biogeography and dispersalist biogeography. When I read "...explain vicarience biogeography...", I honestly read "...explain dispersalist biogeography..."

My test grade won't reflect that, but when the moment of realization hit, it was too late for me to turn around and fix it. I was already out of the building.

I feel like a loser! So to honor my pathetic attempt at pity gathering (not pity points, just pity), I decided to write this just so I could share one of my favorite songs with you. It happens to be called "Loser" but singing it makes me feel better about my paleobiology exam. This song by Beck makes no sense whatsoever, but that's why I like it.

I'm almost done with this exam filled week. One more to go. But then I have one next week!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thy Will Be Done

When I have the time to tell you the entire story, I will. For now though, I hope that this will suffice:

"Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven." -Matthew 6:10

"We must carry out the Will of God rather than our own. This is what we pledge to do in the "Our Father," which we recite every day. What a travesty it would be if after praying that God's Will be done we should carry out that Will halfheartedly and only because we are obliged to do so!" -St. Cyprian of Carthage

God has our interests at heart. We may not realize it at first. In fact, it could take forever for us to realize that what we are doing may not be what we really need to be doing. God has something better in mind for me, and I just couldn't see. After going through some difficulties, I finally saw the light and the error of my ways.

What I had in mind for many years was upturned in a matter of 1/4 of a semester. I'm glad I finally got hit over the head, figuratively (and literally, but that was my doing...stupid lofted beds).

Enjoy the weekend. I hope that UT beats Florida!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Study! Study! Study!

I have been hiding in my dorm room for a while now, and I will still be under a rock until next Wednesday. I have 4 exams coming up, starting this Friday and ending with the 4th one next Wednesday. I have my 5th exam (chemistry) on September 30th, but I get a short break of just regular class days before that one. Last year I never had all of my classes' exams in the same week-ish. This semester my professors just all thought that the 6th week of classes was an excellent time for our first exams, I guess. Jerks.

I have all of these, what I think anyway, fun ideas/things to post about, but I just don't really have too much time to write them down. And I just received a few more responsibilities, but those will be over within this week too.

This is what my test is over Friday. My paleobiology fossils exam consists of being able to identify 25 fossils/critters from the following notes. I never thought my handwriting could be so small, but I didn't want to type them up, and I like professor's organization better than my crappy notes.

Now do you see why I'm bordering on insanity. Also, if you don't make at least a 70 on it, you have to retake it until you do. The fact that students have taken this multiple times makes me oh so excited about taking it. If you never pass the exam, you basically fail the entire class. Or was it just lab? No se. The only other memorization I have left is to finish memorizing a sheet of Native American tribes and their original geographical know, before the white man forced them off their lands.

I also am faced with the decision, if given the opportunity, on whether or not I should go to the UT vs. Florida game this Saturday. It's the biggest team rivalry that I've ever grown up with. Now that I'm a student at UT, I should probably go to the game, but I have an awful lot of studying to do! Decisions, decisions. I'm sure I would enjoy myself, even though the possibility of our football team getting slaughtered by the Gators is very likely. I had the wonderful chance to go to the UT vs. Oregon game and watch it from the sidelines last Saturday. I got to see the media/sports reporting/journalism side of football, and that is almost exciting as the actual football game.

So there's my sort of pointless post of the week. If I'm being honest with you all, I was just looking for an excuse to show off my paleo fossils notes.

Now I'm going to do something responsible. Like lunch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Middle Ground

Two nights over the past few weeks, I basically cried myself to sleep. I didn't have bad days at all, in fact they were pretty awesome days.

So why the sudden sadness? What did I cry about? My dog, Duke. Right before I went to bed, something I read or had seen or thought of triggered the sadness surrounding his untimely passing. Last night it just happened to be a little blurb in a magazine about a woman who was suddenly faced with the decision of having to put her cat down. Earlier that day I also found out that one of the ladies from Horse Haven had to put Kip down, who was a rescue. I remember when he came to HHT, and I remember being pleasantly surprised when he came back for a visit, all beautiful and alive with an energy I had never seen before. Now he's gone, so very sudden.

The memories of finding out that Duke had a virtually inoperable tumor, the weekend we selfishly kept him alive, and the visit to the emergency vet's office to put him to sleep. All of those just kept flashing in my mind. I couldn't stop them.

When I was able to think of happier times, like laying on the couch with him sprawled at my feet or sleeping on my legs, or just sitting outside with him, scratching his belly. Even those bright moments weren't enough. Because I immediately began to ache to hug him and hear him snort and bark.

One thing I realized is that my homecoming isn't the same as it was last year. When I came home and the boys were outside, I could always count on Duke for a signature Duke howl, yawn, and tail wagging. Rocky and Charlie both have their own way of greeting me when I pull up in the driveway or walk up the stairs, but it just isn't the same as Duke. It doesn't mean the same thing. And I miss that terribly. Fiercely.

I was mad at myself and my memories last night. For a split second, I wanted to forget them all, good and bad. I quickly banished that thought, because I would never ever trade the time that I had with Duke just so I wouldn't be sad anymore. I just want to know why for some reason, I wasn't able to think of happy Duke times without crying. I've been able to do that for the most part, not be sad I mean, about the happy times.

I know that grief comes in waves, most often unexpectedly. This morning, walking back from class in the rain, I realized that there is a point that I am trying to reach. I think it's the middle ground between the good and the bad memories. It's finding a balance between the times to cry and the times to smile and laugh, maybe even both at the same time.

One of my favorite songs, "Rain" by Jon Heintz, has a more than beautiful way of summing up loss, grieving, and life in the same breath. To me at least. This verse in particular, I think, speaks volumes.

Well, we're given these moments
We're given this time
And we do what we must just, just to get by
Just to stay high and dry
And as sure as these blue skies, well they're gonna turn grey
You've given your angels all of your days
Oh but you can't stay
Duke gave us all of his days. I know that no one gets to stay, but it sure would be nice. Life would be easier. That's not the point of living though, is it? If life was easy, I don't know how much I would learn.

For now though, I'm happy knowing Duke is safe and with God. I both can and can't wait for the time when I get to be greeted by him when I arrive home.