Happy Easter!


May your day be blessed and full of renewal, warmth, and the acceptance of new growth and progress in your lives and the lives of those around you.

Sonnet VII by John Donne

At the round earth’s imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go ;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dea[r]th, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you, whose eyes
Shall behold God, and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space ;
For, if above all these my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,
When we are there.   Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent, for that’s as good
As if Thou hadst seal’d my pardon with Thy blood.

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Lent 2014: Reflection


It’s always interesting to make resolutions for yourself in the hope of making yourself just a little bit better this year than last year. I always find that my Lenten resolutions end up being better for me in the long-run. Whereas with New Years I have until December to deny what I’ve failed at, or celebrate what I’ve achieved, Lent is a solid, straightforward forty days. I think it also helps to see all those constant reminders that I’m not the only one on this journey. Instead of New Years, which lives on in every radio commercial for the first two weeks of January, I’ve got constant support moments from the beginning of Ash Wednesday to the silence of Holy Saturday. It can be as sacred as Mass every Sunday and as silly and consequential as the advertisements for fish specials every Friday. Either way, I am always reminded to be grateful for my faith during this time, especially the communal rituals that are constantly giving me the support and guided reflection that I need to make myself in to the woman God made me to be.

So how did I do this Lenten season? For starters, I’m really glad that I wrote my Lenten resolves down. I find it becomes so easy over the Lenten season to simply forget or reason away the things that I wanted to achieve or wanted to try. I wanted to make sure that I was more accountable than normal, and that has definitely helped.

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As for the resolutions themselves:

1) I resolved to make time to memorize the Guardian Angel prayer and prayers of St. Rose of Lima. That ended up being a massive failure. I prayed them every morning, that’s for sure, but I didn’t get any bit of either of them memorized. I didn’t spend enough time clearing my mind first before my prayer- which in and of itself has been an illuminating experience in that I’ve realized that I’ve been doing my morning prayers in a low gear. I hope that in this burgeoning Easter season I will be more mindful of working on that.

2) Continuously forgot to add a chaplet to St. Rose on Fridays, but was pretty adamant with my continuing to pray a rosary each Sunday.  I feel like this is due to my closer relationship to Momma Mary than St. Rose. During the Easter season I will take a trip down to my parish library and perhaps check out anything I can find on the life of St. Rose to help me relate more to her and forge a better relationship between us.

3) I resolved to wear a chapel veil to mass every Sunday. That was a total success. After the initial weirdness, which was entirely born out of my own ego, I was able to swallow my pride and focus more on the Mass and the people I was supposed to be in communion with than what I looked like or how my own prayer life was going. I was actually able to say hello to strangers at Mass first, invite families to sit next to me during the Mass, and enthusiastically offer the sign of peace to people I didn’t know. I think the most interesting and surprising thing that came from me wearing the chapel veil was this inexplicable feeling that I was somehow protected from many of the fears and ticks that keep me from enjoying and participating in the mass as fully as possible. I think I stumbled across a new, highly effective coping mechanism. As a result, I am getting a second, longer veil and have committed to wearing the veil every Lent and Advent season. I was also able to connect with the generations of Catholic women in my family who wore the veil before me, which was a humbling experience that was practically swollen with love.

So, all in all I would say that this Lent has been a fruitful one. Like with all attempts to make myself a better person, it’s been a struggle and I’m sure not at the point that I want to be yet. But I do have a better idea of what I need to work on now and where I want to go with it next.

Feel free to let me know in the comments how your own Lenten journey was this year.

And now, without further ado:

He is Risen, Hallelujah! Happy Easter, everybody. I hope you all have a wonderful day full of peace, love and joy!

Happy Easter!


Easter Communion

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast: 
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips, 
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu’s; you whom the East 
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships, 
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased, 

God shall o’er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent: 
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

Drunk Dialing the Divine


 

As promised, here is an audio-reading of ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’. I realize that the captions get wonky at two spots, and I will eventually get around to going back and fixing those. For now, however, enjoy this accompaniment to my first collection release, which is available still for $2.49 in electronic format!

Pomp and Fanfare: It’s Launch Day!


 

 

Drunk Dialing the Divine is now available from eLectio publishing! Go to electiopublishing.com to pick up your copy for less than $3 ($2.49 to be exact) in ePub, HTML or PDF formats!

 

 

How would you respond when a friend drunk-dials you to make a prayer request? What do you say when you are furious with God, but aren’t willing to part with Him? How do you vent your frustrations to your Creator? When is it okay to be angry with God?

Drunk Dialing the Divine is an attempt to capture a glimmer of the darker side of the emotional struggle of the deeply faithful. Though each poem begins in a negative space, they resist both the angry and the naively optimistic ending–instead finding a ray of hope in  the maxim “Things are because God is.”

Release Date: Monday, November 12th!


Good news, everyone! We now have a release date for Drunk Dialing the Divine– Monday, November 12th. The e-book will be available first from the eLectio publishing website, and then made available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The book will be $2.49, and will be available as an e-pub file (for readers), an HTML file (to be read right in your browser) or as a PDF (my favorite kind).

 

The blurb on the website for the collection:

How would you respond when a friend drunk-dials you to make a prayer request? What do you say when you are furious with God, but aren’t willing to part with Him? How do you vent your frustrations to your Creator? When is it okay to be angry with God?

    Drunk Dialing the Divine is an attempt to capture a glimmer of the darker side of the emotional struggle of the deeply faithful. Though each poem begins in a negative space, they resist both the angry and the naively optimistic ending–instead finding a ray of hope in  the maxim “Things are because God is.”

Speed Demons!


Not to piggyback on that last post or anything, but I just got word from my editor, Jesse, this morning that the release date for Drunk Dialing the Divine is being moved up! Which means that the world will soon be exposed to my poetry in little over a week (can you tell I’m an optimistic person?).

While this is extremely exciting, this is also becoming a tad stressful. Things that we had until the end of the month to do initial we now have around-ish seven days. Is it a bit daunting? You bet it is. Can we do it? Heck yes we can. With my can-do attitude and Jesse’s genius you bet this book release is going to be nothing less than sweet and miraculous!

So prepare for a ‘cover reveal’ post as soon as that puppy gets settled on. Normally, I’d have a bit more of a drum-roll set up for this but I’m not complaining! Also, I will be putting together a video reading of ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’ (the poem, not the full collection), to be released at the same time as the e-book online.

I hope I’ll still be worthy of all of your support by the end of this! My thanks goes out to all of the people who have been following my blog since my first publication, to all of the journals and editors who have taken a chance on my art, and the biggest thanks to eLectio publishing and the eLectio family- as well as my flesh-and-blood family, without whom there would be no words for me to write.

Why Do I Write: About God


I haven’t done one of these in awhile, so I figured it was about time that I got back on track with this series of posts…

[Trigger warning: Sensitive topics]

One of the most prevalent things that I write about is God. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. There’s a reason why my first really cohesive collection is Drunk Dialing the Divine– it’s not that I don’t write anything but Catholic-Christian poetry, it’s just that I write these kinds of poems in a very frank way, and also in a very forceful way. They aren’t the most pious of poems, in the conventional sense (with titles like ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’, ‘God is a Nutter’, ‘Unusual Penance’, what would you really expect?), but they are rather profound. And though they seem irreverent at first blush, they most obviously aren’t- these poems readily get published through Christian journals such as Time of Singing, GLOW, devozine and Radix, as well as being distributed through parishes, through such publications as the More Informed,  or religious schools in the literary magazine of Regis University, the Apogee- my poetry has even been taught in local high school youth groups. (I’m doing a reading for a group in an Englewood church on Friday).

So here’s a little background on where this aggressively devotional poetry comes from:

I was raised Catholic, in a Catholic family, made up of Germans and Irish people who probably have no idea what not being Catholic even looks like. I was a cantor for my Sunday mass regularly since eighth grade (though I had cantored my own First Communion), and went to CCD classes. I went to every retreat offered from middle school to high school, volunteered as a middle school mentor for awhile, was apart of the CORE team at my high school, led retreats and gave testimonials, and went on two mission trips with my youth group (once to Juarez, Mexico, and another time to Kakamega, Kenya). I chose to go to a Jesuit university, where I am now double-majoring in Religious Studies and English, and work as a Sacristan at the masses. My relationship with the Church as always been pretty solid. I love the rituals. I love the rhythm of it. I love the community aspect of it. While I don’t always agree with specific parts of Catholic dogma, I at least appreciate the thought that goes in to all of the different parts of it. I love how intellectual the Church is, and has been, throughout the ages. I love how it isn’t individualistic, and focuses on the Church as a whole first.

What I have had problems with, numerous times, is God. You know how some people wish they could have God without the Church? I’ve often found myself thinking the other way around. Why couldn’t we have this amazing organization, community, ritual and togetherness without the messiness of a personal deity?

This comes from a place of personal anger, of course. I was born with autism, which was much more crippling when I was younger than it now that I have my coping mechanisms. I was born with people blaming my mother, whom I love, for being a bad mother because of the way I was born. I was born listening to people use people like me as their reason not to believe in God. To this day, I still wake up every morning angry as all get out about being born in such a way that I cannot avoid hurting the people I love or myself just by trying to be myself.

I’ve also had a bunch of horrible crap happen to me. I’ve been molested, raped, verbally and physically abused- my best friend died when I was eight- I grew up in an area that, while affluent, had a very high suicide rate- and I have had someone try to suffocate me to death with a pillow for not wanting to kiss them.

I’ve listened to my friends tell me about the horrible things that happened to them- drug addiction, incest, being beaten, parents/ siblings being killed in front of them, abortion,  etc.- and found myself even angrier that there was so much sickness in this world that it made me seem like I was a lucky person.

And you know what? No ‘This is God’s plan’ or ‘It will all work out somehow’ seemed to make that better. You can’t tell me that horrible stuff like the things I’ve been through, like the things that the people I love have been through, are the machinations of the loving God that was talked about in the homily every week. I almost couldn’t handle it.

But the thing is- my love for the Church wouldn’t let me let go of my love for God. The practices of my faith basically tricked me into letting God into my heart- despite all of my anger and plans to renounce Him- and let Him persist for Love of me.

So where does poetry come in?

I’m not perfect. And I’m not going to tell you that my faith story is ended and resolved. Or that it’s happy right now. Or that it’s mostly happy. Because, at most, that would probably be a half-truth. Read my poetry, and you’re probably going to understand that about three lines in. My religious poetry is not some explanation of revelation or theology that I’ve solidified- it’s my own relationship with God that I’m trying to really work out.

The only solid thing I’ve got to go on is ‘Things are Because God is’.

And I share these with you because I’m not preaching- I’m trying to have a discussion. I want people to read these poems and go ‘I’ve thought that before’ or ‘you’re so far off’ and have a conversation about it. There’s not enough conversation, especially in the arts, with the Church. We need more. And I’m just a start.

 

Edit: I realize that this sounds a bit downer, I did end up going on a tad of a rant there. I do assure you that I am completely in love with God, whatever our differences may be, and that I in no way condone not returning God’s love.  Though I am largely angry, I am also largely content- I’m kind of like the Hulk in the way that I manage my anger about existence. You can be angry and happy at the same time. I promise.