Dec. 21, Feast of St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor. This remarkable Jesuit almost single-handedly re-evangelized Central Europe, founded dozens of colleges, revitalized Catholicism with his prodigious writings, and laid the groundwork for the Catholic Reformation north of the Alps. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925, he is patron of Germany, the Catholic press, and catechism writers. Also, east of St. Thomas the Apostle in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
I've got out of 7 Quick Takes lately, mostly because I'm really bad at them (ask an absentminded bookworm professor type to do anything "quick," I dare you!), but there are some days that I just have a lot of little things to say, and this is one of them. So, without further ado:
-- 1 --
I waffle between under- and over-exaggerating my struggles. What one day seems to be a true-to-life, honest examination of what's-happening seems on other days like a drama queen performance; what is judicial silence and determination of irrelevance on good days seems like prideful denial on bad ones.
I hope I didn't upset anyone too much by my "confessions" yesterday. It's hard to know how to say it. I've been put into place by dear ones who remind me to be a reverse Pharisee by denying need when need is real is not the Christian way. Especially if I'm not at the place spiritually where I really don't care about my own suffering (pray that I get better at that, won't you?). But it's all relative. When I see what others are going through--a mother of two under two who just found out this Christmastime that she has cancer; a dear friend whose husband is dying; a coworker who admits she has never felt happy in her entire life; a relative who spends Christmas alone because her only son died years ago--I realize my issues are drops in an ocean of suffering.
So somewhere between everything-is-fine and the-world-is-ending, there's me. I just wanted to share my thoughts as an exercise in reflection, in hopes it could help others the way it helped me. And you needn't worry: I've come to the conclusion about a year back that I would not be too proud to ask for help--but I would only ask for that help if it's truly needed.
-- 2 --
And how the Lord provides! I should have mentioned during the mild ranting that at the company Christmas party I got a gift card to Subway and a Christmas bonus; my EBT card was spontaneously renewed when I went to fill out the forms online this week; the Saint Vincent de Paul Society at my parish got wind of things and insisted on sending three bags of groceries home with me last weekend; my grandmother wrote a generous check for my Christmas present; and my folks, though out of work for two years and struggling themselves, are still in a place where they are able to and do provide anything I might need. The Squirt will have no lack of presents from Grandmama and Grandaddy, that's for sure!
My poverty over this Advent has truly been a spiritual one. But even in this, there is cause for rejoicing! For how can we merit God's graces if we don't first find the gaping lack of them?
-- 3 --
I have to say, too, that not having spare money during Advent is liberating, a gift in itself (which follows on the heels of what I concluded yesterday). Since I don't have the resources, I can't buy gifts. Since I don't have the time, I can't make them. Or if I do find myself with a little extra spending money, it's going to get spent on something that really wants to be given, and not just a it's-Christmas-and-it's-what-we-do-so-I-bought-you-something-even-though-I-wasn't-sure-it's-what-you-wanted. You know? It's a pure philosophy of gifting, in which gifting is better for the giver than the one who receives.
I might have to write more on that later.
-- 4 --
What I'm crocheting lately:
It's sweet, isn't it? Eventually--eventually as in when Christmas is over and I'm not rushed for time-and-money economical presents--I'm going to venture into learning how to make garments like baby hats and sweaters. My true dream, though? Doilies. Lace, delicate doilies, with iron hook crochets, like what Sarah makes. Love it.
-- 5 --
(The one my husband might not want to read!)
Speaking of clothing, learning how to sew has been on my radar for a while, at first as just a fun "what-if" hobby, then as a "cool people are doing it" scenario, and finally as a "I really want to make my own clothes someday" resolution. And I don't mean in the fashion-y sense, though it'd be fun to experiment and make things inspired by otherwise obsolete fashions or considered un-cool by today's standards. But also because things have been developing over the last two years in a direction of greater self-sufficiency and homemakery--or at least, my attraction to them has. And certain shifts in income and lifestyle seem to support a change in that direction.
I've always had an inexplicable attraction (one of many) to spinning; and as I've picked up my crochet hook again this past autumn, I've let my mind wander along the story of production. Even yarn from Walmart can rack up unnecessary expenses, if you're talking about really making things to supplement what you would ordinarily buy from a store. With the handsome spindle given to me by a friend, I can spin my own yarn. But I still have to buy the wool, and that's not something that's easily accessible either. So get a sheep, I say to myself--or at least a cat or a dog or something, and use their fur to make your own thread, to crochet your own things. But while we're at it, why not keep chickens, so we can have our own eggs, and maybe poultry. In fact, why not throw in a farm?
-- 6 --
I know it seems incompatible with the prim, preppily dress girl in these photos, but my interest in semi-self-sufficiency--via either farming, urban homesteading, or community gardening--has steadily grown. It started with an affection for rural life and peaked my interest as distributism when reading Chesterton. Now I've come to know, on varying degrees of intimacy, families and individuals who are learned in, striving toward, or who actively maintain this alternative lifestyle. The best part is that it's lock-in-key complimentary to the liturgical lifestyle we're already pursing.
In my internet wanderings, I've come upon a resource called the New Catholic Land Movement. There is a greater dignity in seeing the product you have created, rather than doing abstract work for a symbol of a symbol of wealth (checks are imaginary money, and money is just made out of paper, and that paper is supposed to symbolize the gold in the national vault--wha??); or earning your daily bread by just spreading around ideas and things, rather than creating them--or worse, using and destroying them. I see all these exceptional, lovingly and quality made items on Etsy that I actually covet, and I think, 'the only thing that keeps me from making those things myself is that I'm busy blundering doing unrelated things in order to make money so that I can eat and clothe myself and my family.' But wouldn't it just be simpler and more satisfying to remove that nonsense in the middle and just do something that has an immediate, practical, and good end--like planting seeds for food, or keeping sheep to spin thread, or building the things you need like furniture and shelter? A life like that wouldn't be devoid of luxury altogether, and I there's no question that there'd be a need for poets and painters, but the two types of vocations are much closer in their purpose than the modern world seems to imagine.
That's sort of the philosophy of distributism. I know the romance would melt away for me soon enough, with hard winters and dependence on the hand of God, but I've already had to train myself in doing without, especially this past month.
-- 7 --
Last but not least, Soul Gardening is hosting its inaugural incentive offer. Donate any amount to keep the grassroots ministry going and they will send a free copy of the award-winning "Eastern Bound" CD. If you haven't yet, sign up to receive this quiet little journal; it is truly a must-have for any mama, stay-at-home papa, homesteader, homeschooler, or person who feels the occasional loneliness of isolation and wants lifting up by the black-and-white printed spiritual communion of the Church on earth, Catholic or no. And oh my, the illustrations are so humbly breathtaking!
Join Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday!