That feeling of gut-dropping panic – and then its abeyance

I’ve always heard to “wait on the Lord.”  That those who do will run but not faint.  They will rise up on wings like eagles.  I never understood any of it.  But then I heard this story about how mother eagles teach their young to fly.  Eagles nest way up there in the mountains, on cliffs and crags.  You can’t just throw the babies over the edge and hope they learn on the way down.  Except, that is exactly what mother eagles do.

Then, something amazing happens.

No, the babies don’t magically fly on the first try.  Because, like everything in life, you can only learn by doing.  What does happen is even more cool:  the mothers catch them.  On their backs.  They fly up under their young and catch them.  Then they fly them back to the nest until the next series of flying lessons.  (I’m not crying – YOU’RE crying!)

In this scenario, we are the baby eagles.  Falling and terrified.  Because how is this possibly going to end well?  I’m dying.  Right now.  I’m falling and dying and no one cares.  My own mother pushed me out of the nest to fall to my death.

And then: a swoop and a save.  A gentle catch.  And I’m rising again, impossibly alive.

That’s what happened to me today.  I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been pretty suicidal these last few days.  I felt the ground rushing up to meet me.  Financial stress, loneliness, the divorce, living in a rental with lots of mold, not much mental bandwidth to focus on a larger purpose, not knowing what to do with my life or where to live or even if it’s all worth the effort.

Things have happened today to make me think that all these problems are conquerable.  As I was on my knees thanking God for His Providence, I realized that this is exactly what we are waiting on when we wait on the Lord:  his awesome Providence.  His swoop and catch.

It has been so tempting the last few days to rage and demand.  To try to force things to work.  My car is in the shop.  I’m low on groceries.  Low on funds (less than a dollar in the account yesterday evening with the electric bill due today).  The trash needs to be taken to the collection point.

I told my friend Quinn, “I need to take my trash out, but I don’t have my car!”  He said, “So just wait until you get your car back.”  As a person of action, I found this answer annoying.  I mean, I could call and impose on my neighbors, couldn’t I?  Shouldn’t I?  But I decided to wait.

And now today, I got an offer not only from the Honda dealer of  a loaner car, but also an offer from my mom of a ride to take me to the Honda dealer (which is over an hour away from me, two and half from her) to pick up said loaner car.

It’s not just that.  Plans for the future are taking shape and coalescing out of the swirling darkness of nothing that I thought was my future.  Ways of making them happen financially are kind of becoming clear, too.

I feel like God let me fall an exceptionally long way this time.  But I also feel like I had the most practice at learning to fly.  I mean, I can’t fly.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not over.  I may be on God’s back right now, hanging out, enjoying the ride, gaining a little altitude.  But I know I’ll be dropped – over and over and over.  And it’s going to suck each time.  The ground will rush up to meet me, and I will probably panic every freaking time until this life is over.  Except.  Maybe?  Maybe I won’t.

The Ugly Suffering of Christina the Astonishing

I just read an incredible article by Kristin Valdez Quade about Christina the Astonishing: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/christina-the-astonishing-1150-1224

I have bipolar depression and found Christina’s name in an internet search for patron saints of mental illness.  I’m not exactly sure why we call them patron saints “of” mental illness.  I’m not sure it even matters, and Christina is not a saint anyway.  Not really.  She was never canonized and I’m pretty sure her cause isn’t up for consideration by the Vatican.

She was more considered a holy woman.  She could smell the sin on people and tended to avoid them.  Aggressively.  She is not an easy person to get behind or to have fuzzy feelings for, which Quade’s New Yorker piece highlights well.

I’ve spent much of my time studying what makes the supernatural world tick, and how it interacts with this world.  Why exactly do people get possessed?  What does it look like?  Do we even recognize it when it happens?  More often, people suffer from demon “oppression,” and that is certainly not easy to recognize.

It occurred to me that Christina the Astonishing was oppressed or possessed by a demon or demons.  But the part that really intrigues me is that the story goes that when she died that first time, she was given the choice by God to come back to earth to offer up her earthly suffering for the souls in purgatory.  She took God up on that offer.

She did suffer in her life.  But it was an ugly suffering.  She usually attacked the people who tried to help her, throwing their food offerings back at them, yelling their sins at them.  Demons can cause some nasty suffering.  It’s pretty characteristic, in fact.  They are mean and cause their victims to last out at the people around them.  Kind of like Christina did.

The Catholic Church has the idea of redemptive suffering.  That your suffering can be offered up to help others.  I’m fascinated by the idea that this suffering could possibly be demonic in nature.

What about you, gentle readers?  Have you ever suffered something that had a demonic edge to it?  If you’re Catholic, did you offer your suffering up as a sacrifice?  The answer to both of those questions for me is “yes.”

 

Relaunch into The Inbetween

 

I’m relaunching this blog.  I’m relaunching myself.  I don’t live in Kansas anymore.  My little dog doesn’t either.

No, now I live out in “the cut” in western North Carolina.  I’ve never lived outside a city before.  It’s good though because I’ve always taken comfort in nature, and it’s oozing all over the place here.  I kind of feel like Yoda on Dagobah.  I live on a small lake.  A rivulet runs along the edge of the property into the lake.  AND I have a sink hole up near the road.  Except it may be a vernal pool, because I don’t remember it being there in the winter.  But if it’s a vernal pool, it has incredible staying power as we are on the declining side of summer and the pool is still kind of damp.

I’m betwixt and between right now.  I always have been, so that is really saying something.  I don’t know where this blog is going.  I don’t know where I’m going.  I mean, I’m getting a divorce.  But since I’m Catholic, what does that even mean?  Again, I don’t know.

Hey Jori, it’s Me, God

I always worry that I have an addictive personality.  Alcoholism runs in my biological and adoptive families, so I have a legit reason to worry.  Not to mention, I went through a serious drinking streak in college.

Anyway, the other day I was doing Evening Prayer, which is said around the time of sunset (getting earlier and earlier!), and I started craving brandy.  I mean, really craving it.  I have a big bottle of brandy with plenty left in it, and I suddenly stopped saying my prayers and was mentally going through my refrigerator and cabinets looking for something to which to add the brandy.  (Man, just talking about it now is making my mouth water.)

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(This is not a picture of MY brandy bottle, needless to say.  My brandy is cheap and run of the mill.  This picture is merely to make you wish you had some brandy right now, so you can understand where I’m coming from.)

I said to myself:  “Maybe I could add it to some tea and lemon, make a hot toddy.”  “Do we have any eggnog left?”  “What other holiday drinks are made with brandy?  Time to pull out the Bittman!”  (“The Bittman” is how my friends reference the cookbook “How To Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman.  They are academicians and complete nerds.)

But then I kind of backtracked and began to wonder if my whole quest for brandy drinks was good and proper.  I mean, it was only 4:30 pm. after all.  Plus, what if I do have an addictive personality and this leads me down a path to a binge?  Moreover, here I am doing Evening Prayer, and I’m thinking about brandy instead of thinking about God??

You see, I was raised Protestant, but converted to Catholicism in 2008.  And growing up in the South, I was surrounded by Baptists, even though I happened to be Methodist.  The Baptist prohibition against drinking sunk in kind of deep.  So even though I do drink alcohol, I feel guilty and conflicted when I do.

Not knowing what to do, I turned to God for an answer.  I sent out a silent plea for a response and waited.

Silence in my soul.  No response.

I sighed and decided that I should just finish Evening Prayer and decide later about the whole brandy thing.  So I found the last sentence I had read, and moved on.  The very next sentence said this:

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The Very. Next. Sentence.

It is from I Peter 5:8, and the whole thing goes like this: “Stay sober and alert.  Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

It was so striking that it put a bit of fear in me.  So I’ve purposed to stay sober and keep alert.  Not that I was a really big drinker before.  Sure I had that little incident when the Royals were winning, but now I’m on the straight and narrow!

I probably won’t be a teetotaler in the future; I don’t think that alcohol is evil.  But I do think my days of drinking to excess are officially over.