Attachment School, lent and trust

Lots of thoughts bouncing round my brain as I contemplate the approach of Lent and the two wild boys rocketing around me on this rainy Sunday afternoon.  Forgive the rambling: I need to try to sort out the threads in my head on this blustery day.

It seems that my approach to raising these kids, all my kids, has become more and more a focus on attachment and connecting.  It is a much more holistic approach, in a way, than we used to do….although that seems like an odd thing to say. It’s not that I raised my first sons differently, or less, or with less love or “all in” approach (heavens no, I couldn’t possibly love them more or have done more than I did with what I had at the time)….but rather, that I knew less, was less confident in the worth and reach of the boundless love we had for them.  I/we felt we had to make sure that we filled them with….oh, as much as we could of everything. Every fact, experience, tidbit of knowing, doing, etc…it was rushing past us and could we possibly capture it all?

Now, it seems that the bigger, harder, more intensive thing to do is to fill them, any and all of our kids, with as much as we can of…us. By which I mean, connection.  Our time, our presence, our mindfulness, our ‘no matter whatness” of our love for them…at the same time as we gently nudge ahead and hold boundaries.  We encourage and console.  We trust and hope.  But maybe we don’t have to be doing the DOING of filling that kid-jar of self…rather we need to let them unfold a bit more.

And I think this whole-ness of approach to the parenting, now, is an older, fuller, more relaxed and  more encompassing way, in a way.  Even as it’s a looser, relaxed and trusting way.  And, school, for now, for these little boys, must also run these rails.  Because I believe that it is what will launch them best. It is actually a way of schooling that I can only call Attachment Homeschool.  Attachschool?  A blend of unschool, homeschool, living life, attachment parenting.  Loving no matter what, all in.   If they are allowed to relax into the who of themselves, and secure their attachment to the us of our family, then they have the most powerful launchpad that there is. They will have the toolbox to become who they will and are made to be.

There is a price to it. It is the dear cost of hope and trust.  It means spending effort to beat back the demons of fear and worry and fretting. Mine, of course. It means trusting in these kids, who they are all meant to become.  It means cracking open my rusty crusty soul and trusting in God himself who made them and brought them here, to us.

And so as we approach the desert of Lent, one of my most difficult Lenten exercises will be to trust in the learning of these boys.  To let them relax into themselves and me/us.  To LIVE our family life as fully and mindfully as I can.  To live this liturgical season as fully as I can, with the family and all the kids.  Not easy.  Sounds so.  But, so not.

Because for me to step out into the desert in faith and trust…well, it’s a desert for me for sure.  That’s where all my demons screech and thrash.  But, lent approaches.  I’m girding up.  I’ve got the crowbar out to break open the iron doors of my trust and control and let them step out of that musty box and into the fresher air of faithful hope.  This lent is a time to be still and listen and pray and watch the blooms that are found, even in the desert.  Some of those are the most beautiful; even so for the struggle of it all.


Three days.  I wish you a deeply blessed spare and rich Lent.   I’ll pray for you, if you would, please pray for me.

Feast of the Cross: the Triumph


Triumph? A cross, really…..?

 Dali, of course.

Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
Which always seems all counter-intuitive.  Like we Catholics and Christians have lost our collective minds.  Really? A cross? That horrible gory ghastly unspeakable death?  Or, that so common it’s lost it’s punch story of the crucifixion….yeah yeah yeah, I know I know.  Easy to kind of give a mental nod to it and move on, right?
Well, yeah……..except when it’s YOUR cross.
Because that’s what this is about: You.  Your cross too.
By which I mean, mine.
And then it all takes on QUITE a different tone doesn’t it?
Because these “crosses”…..doggone if they don’t HURT!
Like HELL!

Yeah, see, you get the idea.
Takes me a while and I still forget, but yeah.
That’s the idea.  Because you don’t get to Christ without the Cross.
But you don’t.
And really, you don’t even want to. No, really, think about it, you don’t…because it is in our suffering that we strip away the dross, the unimportant, and find the realest of real, the true.  It is in that process that we find what is most important about our lives, ourselves….and it is always the same truth: Love.  And that of course, is God.  God is love.  Done.

Why it takes the Cross to get that through our stubborn mulish heads I don’t know.  I guess because I am so stubborn.  Such a mule.  Such a slow slow learner.
So proud. So controlling.
All of that has to be kicked out of me, again and again before I can set it all down and give over….
so that I can let real love wash over me, the way it’s supposed to instead of the way I’d like to direct it…. to learn to actually LOVE, in action and deeds instead of only good intentions….to just do it {and yes, I”m still working on it, thanks for asking…sigh}.

And it’s that. In the doing, where we find the love, even as we might be carrying the cross.  Then too is when we see the triumph, yeah, even the exaltation and joy of that very cross, so despised before.  We see it’s beauty.  Because it transformed…..everything.  It transformed suffering. It transformed ugly, and pain, and horror, and fear, and weeping, and exhaustion.  It took it all and flipped it inside out….into our very reason for shouting and clapping for joy, for hugging with grateful tears, for that catch in our chest when we know that it’s ok, not even ok, but oh so unspeakably good.
Because it is love.  It is our suffering, which is our giving to the last drop of ourselves that we go the cross, Christ’s cross, and only then do we get to really learn what it means to really love, in the way that is real.
Love that word.
Today’s the day to remember it.


“We adore you Oh Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.”


{full disclosure: I’m reposting this from years past because today I am going to this conference, with this dear friend and it’s a busy day}

Further Up, Further In

So, it’s just past the half year mark for my son at the Novitiate.  So people ask me all the time, “How is he?  How’s it going?”  And…I don’t have a perfect answer for that.  So I say, “He’s good.  Please keep praying for him.

That seems to sum it up, really.  He’s good. He sounds like himself when we talk.  That alone is such a big deal!  He still has the essence of ‘him’ and doesn’t sound or talk differently when we chat on the phone.  Stupid, I know, to think he might.  But, ya worry.  Ok, I worry.  I worried. Past tense now.

This year is such a huge year of change for him; a radical year of leaving behind and choosing other…that I guess deep down part of me worried that I’d lose the essence of him somehow too.  But, I have seen and heard that it is not so.  In fact, of course, it is much the opposite.  He is becoming  MORE him.  That is the really radical beautiful part of this choice….by growing closer to God, we become more ourselves, our truest selves.  By him living this life, intentionally and fully without reserve, he too is growing closer to God and thus becoming more and more himself.  It’s kind of like a warp speed growing out and growing in all at the same time.  Rather Narnian. “Further up, further in!” as the children were called into the Aslan’s country; and the land became bigger and more beautiful the further  and the higher in they went.  So too, it seems, novice life, Dominican life.

Not that Novice life is all easy.  It’s rigorous. It’s spiritual bootcamp, as I’ve noted many times before.  And, now, of course it’s February <Shudder>.  February is a tough month no matter where  you are, I think.  It is/was the dreaded month in the homeschool calendar.  It’s the  housebound gray cold dull month where everyone gets on each other’s last nerve.  Ok, well, it is here at any rate.  I can only imagine that it must be that way for the novices too.  I’m guessing.  But, still.  Thankfully, it’s the shortest month in the year.

Spring approaches.  But first, lent.  And this is where the real crux of the novice year (I think) lies.  The novices have completely settled into their life.  They have new clothes, habits.  They have new religious names: my son, now  Brother Peter Joseph.  They  have new jobs and learn new skills, they have classes, they study, the do work outside the parish in the community.  They know each other very well, are becoming a sort of family.

But lent is upon us and I have been told that this lent is the one lent they will get the opportunity to really, FULLY, live the liturgical season of lent.  I have been told its the most beautiful lent they will ever have (due to really mindfully living it, daily) but also the most rigorous and with the most spiritual growth.   This lent, this growth, will help lay the foundation these novices need if they are to go on and live the call to Dominican life.  If my son is called to this, I want him to have that foundation to stand on.  Thus, this next forty days will be an intense growth period for these young men.  It will be rigorous, challenging; filled with hard and beautiful both.   So, I will ask for your prayers for my son, for all these novices.  They will need them.

So, how is it going? It’s going well.  It’s a struggle, it’s a joy.  It’s funny and hard and happy and peaceful and difficult.  It’s a year of living prayer; of learning to live prayer.  Please, keep them in yours.  They are halfway through.  Further up and further in….

Now, they will be spending much much time in prayer over this lent, of course.  But this video shows the Irish Dominicans, having a bit of fun.  These Dominicans, globally, they have such laughter and fun, even with their deep prayer life – it just  makes me grin.  And it’s totally in sync with that whole ‘further up, further in” thing……

Triple Love


Detail of "Holy Trinity" by El Greco, of course

It’s the Feast of the Holy Trinity!

Which means it’s another day of mystery, with a capital M.  This mystery is one of the biggies, of course.  Uber Catholic to boot {we Catholics love a good mystery!}.  One that really, we are not truly meant to fully figure out – because as soon as you think you have; you’ve probably fallen into presumption (with a capital P) and are not on target to boot.

So, here’s what we do know, ok, let’s be more precise, what I think about this day: it’s a feast of love, really.  How’s that? Well, God the Father so loved everything, but even more so,us, that he gave us his Son, and the love between those two was so immeasurably great that it begat it’s own third “person”: the Holy Spirit.  Thus those three began the “begatting” that we read in the Old Testament (pages and pages of it, right?) and that, when we are doing it right, here on earth, begets us each other.

The Trinity was and is (and ever will be) the prime, premier, example of how to love – well and truly.  And that right there, is enough mystery for my little brain for, um, the rest of  my life.  Which is really, of course, part of it’s charm.  Mind blowing charm and goodness.  Something to celebrate. And that’s why it’s a feast day: was then, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity!







Falling Fire

It’s the Feast of Pentecost!

Makoto Fujimura, "January Hour - Pentecost"

I love this feast, not only for the terrific art through the centuries, the storytelling and imagery of it all….but for the entire concept of it.  It’s truly one of the mysteries in life and yet, it’s one we get to walk through often as well.

What? Sound a bit crazy?  Maybe…but I know and I bet you do too that you have had times when you were able to say something to a friend or family or someone that was totally the perfect thing to say, and you had NO idea you were going to say it.  And right after those words slipped out, you kind of marveled at them.  Did you really say that? Well…yeah.  Wow.  Good job and um, it wasn’t you.  Right? I know that very thing has happened to me.  Many more times than once.  And used to be, I’d kind of sit there and think, “Wow, how clever am I and who’da thunk it“…..until it dawned on me (like a beam whacked across my forehead) that um, it wasn’t me after all.  No way.  Now, I know better.  It’s NOT me.  It’s the Holy Spirit and when it happens, I’ve basically just finally shut up long enough to give Him an edge, an opening.  Really, I should do it more often.  I know, I know.

I get to feel it in my parenting too.  Not often enough of course cause I’m typically way too busy getting in the way with  my controlling ideas.  But, when I’ve been able to slow down and step aside, either through sheer exhaustion or sheer empty brain cells, then I’ve gotten the gift of seeing someone, something else at work.  And I marvel.  Because then sometimes if I quietly let that fire fall on me and through my arms I can bring my kids into the warm embrace of it – and we love and heal and grow.  At least for a moment or two before I start slapping it out with my own schedule and commands and ideas; back to the buzz.  But those moments, ah, they are gold.  They really do kinda glow.

And that’s why I love this Feast. It reminds us that we can walk through falling fire. It doesn’t burn.  It’s a little bit of magic in our world, but better.  Because it’s grace.

Below is the song that I wake with, every feast of Pentecost.  It’s my tune for the day.

08 Let The Fire Fall

Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Girl Feast: the Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation!

I saw this in the Uffizi, one of my fav's

That means that today we celebrate and remember when Mary went to her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with the soon to be born John the Baptist. I love this image, I love this whole concept.  It’s one of my favorite mysteries of the rosary….and I’ve wondered why it speaks to me so.  But I think, really, it’s that whole connection thing, once again.

The connections that we make, especially we women, are so important.  They mean everything, in a way.  It took me a long time to get there, way past the awkward high school years and the striving driven, boyfriend focused, college years.  But as I’ve grown older and into the woman I am now in middle age and hopefully was meant to be (mostly), I have grown also into some of the richest relationships: friendships with women.  My girl friends are such a support; even the virtual ones through email, phones, and blogging…the support gained and given through these friendships with other women give me such strength.  They have pulled me out of deepest indigo blues, they have encouraged me forward in burnout and despair, they have brainstormed with me in mom dilemmas, they have brightened days with a good laugh.  They have called me out from my selfishness, they have told me when the swimsuit is just too tired and for pity’s sake go buy a new one.  They have listened to me vent and cry and rage and brag; saved my marriage a few times and my child’s backside as well.  They are generous, genious, kind, caring, prayerful gals…..and I hope and pray I have returned the favor more than once and can continue to.  In person, blog, email or phone, it all counts.

I think that is why I love this feast so.  Mary did it first.  She found out she was with child, and in her first trimester she journeyed to her cousin.  Now, we all know what that first trimester is like: such exhaustion, illness, hunger, sleepy fatigue. And Mary set out on a long journey to be with her dear friend, her cousin.  She didn’t get to hop in her comfy BMW, she had to walk or use the donkey.  I would’a griped about traveling in my comfy Honda (oh, right I think I did, way back when I was in first trimester’s.  oops).  But she went.  She went to help, not to get her own comfort, but to help.  Because Elizabeth was older and was in the end (third trimester?) of her pregnancy.  We all know what that’s like too: exhausted, feeling big as a whale, swollen, uncomfortable, maybe a tad irritable, just…done.  So, Mary went to help.  And they embraced when they met, like friends/family who miss each other do.  And Elizabeth blurted out “Who am I that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  She didn’t say, “Mary! Wow, what a surprise, what are you doing here?” and start fretting about if she had enough kefir or whatever to add to lunch or if the house was clean.  No, she instantly felt the baby flip around and she had those words out, I suspect, before she even really understood them, fully.  That’s how it works, I think. It’s all grace.  This feast is all about the grace and we see it in that painting, up there, one of my favorites.

Our friendships, the support we women give each other is unlike anything else.  And it is all grace. It really is, when it’s good.  We can  undermine each other like nobody’s business if we choose.  But when we choose to give, it’s like nothing else….except, like Mary..and Elizabeth.  And that, just that, is why I love this feast day.  It’s a feast about connections and grace and giving.  It’s a girl feast.  Because we rock and we do this better than anyone; when we open ourselves to this grace. Mary and Elizabeth did, so long ago.  They show us the way, even now.