(Volume IV for Me)
The kids have been taking piano lessons at the same St. Paul studio for three years now. Because we go during the off hours, (i.e. at the crack of dawn), we are often the only ones there and get to have our run of the place. Oh, once in awhile there will be another homeschooling mother or a rare toddler music class or two. (And how Angela covets those toddler music classes! Sorry, Angela. I am not about to fork over $80.00 so you can listen to Saint Saën’s Carnival of Animals and wave a silk scarf about the room.)
Normally, though, we’re all alone.
This past year it’s been different. There’s another dad there, with a great big family like ours. Being the nosy type, I observed the occasional Seton workbook and assumed that they were Catholic, but for some reason we’ve passed like ships in the night—or in this case, dinghies at daybreak—and haven’t spoken. He does his Suzuki violin thing with his kids and I do my sit-there-like-a-slug-while-the-piano-teacher-does-all-the-work with mine.
Not so last week.
They were on their way out when I noticed he was reading In Conversation with God. That was all that the obnoxious extrovert in me needed. “I just have to say,” they all looked over at me, “That’s one of my very favorite prayer books.”
As such the ice was finally broken. He asked my name and told me his name was Paul. We exchanged the usual Catholic formalities—What church do you go to? Oh, I know that priest—when I thought to ask him his last name.
He told me and at that moment, had I been a cartoon character, there would have been a great big exclamation point over my head.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Dr. S.!” I said. “I go to your clinic!”
And I do. He is not my doctor but it’s a small practice and I have even seen him once or twice when my primary doctor wasn’t available.
Out of context, though? I hadn’t a clue that it was he.
And of course, (being an obnoxious extrovert) , I had to tell this story to my doctor when I went for my 24-week check-up yesterday. I launched into a full-scale verbal reenactment as I slid onto the table and she got out her Doppler fetal monitor…
…and I was still talking when I noticed her wrapping up the cord on the monitor and putting it away.
I closed my mouth. And then opened it again. “You heard the heartbeat? Already?” (This is the sad fate of a talk talk talker. We often miss out on the good stuff.)
Well, thank goodness my doctor has long since learned to put up with me. She unwrapped the monitor, and we began again.
I heard my baby’s heartbeat yesterday. For once in my life, do I need to say more than that?
I am reading a book that’s very interesting and very challenging. My Life With the Saints caught my eye during my holy hour, and I found it so engaging that I brought it home. (I really have to stop doing this. Please don’t tell my priest.) Authored by Father James Martin, SJ, My Life with the Saints is an extremely well written account of the effect that certain saints have had on Father Martin’s life. It’s a great read—an edifying read—and I love his biographical takes on some of my own personal favorites such as St. Thérèse, St. Peter, and St. Ignatius. (Father Martin’s a Jesuit. He’d better include St. Ignatius!)
What I’m struggling with is his inclusion of people who aren’t…saints yet. By that, I mean that they’re not canonized, and here’s where my strong traditional roots start to show. I am interested in learning about the lives of Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day—I would even say very interested—but I don’t know that they belong in this grouping.
Father Martin would disagree, of course, and I am trying to push past all the labels that come into my mind against my will when he says things like, “Many of my friends who are gay men and women…” and “During the course of writing this book, I was asked by my superiors not to write about certain topics that are still too controversial in the church.”
As I’ve said, it’s been a struggle. I am hoping that I will grow from it.
Moving on to a different kind of challenge, let’s talk about the dead zone under my daughter’s bed. How in the world, I want to know, did there come to be a junkyard of detritus under Angela’s bed? Who plays under there?! One night, feeling utterly and justifiably fed up with all the chaos, my husband crawled under her bed and began piece-by-piece pushing the clutter out.
Angela was delighted, and promptly began a conversation with my husband’s feet.
“Well, hello, Mr. Feet!” she chattered amicably. “How are you today?”
Here she tickled his feet playfully.
“Angela,” my husband’s voice was muffled but not amused. “Do you want a spanking?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Feet,” came the response, “But you can’t spank.”
“You can kick though!”
Having learned from that last episode, John decided to have Angela clean under her own darn bed. (Because, evidently, in addition to being a dead zone, the space under her bed is also magnetized. It. Just. Attracts. The. Clutter.
And so the other night under the bed she went. What follows is her monologue. (Warning: explicit language.)
“Here’s a pencil.” Out came the pencil.
“And another pencil.”
“And some crap.”
“And some more crap.”
Let me be the first to say: this kid is nothing if not her father’s daughter.
Finally, in keeping with my 7 Takes tradition of posting a completely irrelevant photo from the past, here’s one of me and my beloved Father Lafitte.
On the back of the photo is the caption I’d written, “Father Lafitte and his big French smile; Margaret and her post-retreat humility.”
My mom didn’t give a hoot about my humility. On the contrary, she was more annoyed that my father didn’t wait for me to look up to take the photo. (In those days, you only took one photo.)
To see all of today’s Quick Takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.
Oh, and have a Happy Friday!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
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