Category Archives: Holidays and other fun times

Not such a blah month after all

January always feels like a month I’m going to hate.  You know; the holiday fun is over, the decorations are put away, the neighborhood is no longer alive with white and colored lights that make even a trip back from the store feel festive.

But somehow, I don’t hate January.  More and more, I like it.

I like the blank-page-ness of the new year.  Even if I don’t stick to my resolutions, they refocus me and remind me of my priorities.

I like the fact that even in California, it’s still cool enough to enjoy a fire in the fireplace (when it’s not a Spare the Air day, of course) and to wear my fuzzy socks on weekend mornings.  Cozy = good.

I love how January seems to have more space than December has, space to let new plans be born and take root.  In December, every weekend is always full of holiday things; January isn’t.  That’s a good thing.

And I love how I go out in my garden, the garden I’ve neglected since at least Thanksgiving, and find things.  I find green shoots poking through the soil, places where I planted tulips and daffodils months before.  I even find flowers — like these pink hyacinths that are, astonishingly, already blooming.

What else will grow in our lives this year?

I don’t know. But it’s always exciting to find out.

The body of a woman

Like the majority of American women out there, I’ve got a few body issues.  It’s not like I wander around in a state of constant physical self-loathing, and there are plenty of things I really like about the way I look, but there are also a few key things I’m not wild about, particularly as middle age sets in.  I’m not going to name them here because I don’t want to dignify them that way; see, on a rational level I KNOW this is all very dumb, and most of the time I can just laugh at my insecurities and move on.

Then, other times, I can’t.

The sad thing is that this is not unique to me.  Take a look at this article and you’ll see that women all over the world struggle to feel good about their bodies (though not as many in South Africa as in the other nations in the study. What’s their secret?).

Anyhow, I say all of this because as I sat at the vigil Mass last night for the Feast of the Assumption — the day when we celebrate how Mary was assumed into heaven — it occurred to me that there was something about this feast day that I had never noticed before.

I realized that it was a feast day where we celebrate a woman’s body.

And I like that.  Even more: I need that.

I need the reminder that a woman’s body is worthy of respect and honor.

I need a chance to think about how my own body, this house for my soul, is something that does great things.  It walks and talks and touches and sees and smells and tastes and hears, processes that are amazing marvels when you really stop to think about them.

I need to honor the fact that this body has known pleasure and has known pain. It has needed surgery and medication and yet it keeps on ticking.  It engages with creation every day in ways I usually take for granted, even though I shouldn’t.

I want to honor the fact that this body has held four little lives inside it.   I mourn the two who were lost before they could be born, and yet I am forever grateful for the two who grew to term, two boys who happened to be sitting on either side of me during Mass as these thoughts washed over me.

I need to think about how my body holds a record of my forty-four years on this earth.  It’s there in the wrinkles, the gray hair, the random scars.  They all tell a story; my story.  I wouldn’t change that story for anything.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to think all of this during Mass.  I had gone because it was a Holy Day of Obligation, and I’m that kind of girl.  I didn’t expect to be sitting in the pew suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude that my faith has a day where we honor the body of a woman who was well past middle age.

But it does.  I love that it does.

And maybe this day is an invitation to me — and to you too, sister — to do the same.

The beauty below the surface

This coming Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  As Mary feast days go, this one has a special place in my heart.

For one thing, I’ve a bit of an affinity for France. And, unlike most Marian apparition sites, I’ve actually visited Lourdes. In a very indirect and surprising way, that visit changed my life.  It was in Lourdes that the first little inkling of a “new Mary” entered my mind.  Thanks to Lourdes, I could start to see her as more than just the glacially perfect woman in the statues.  I started to see her as a woman who actually lived.

The Lourdes story is about Mary putting herself in the middle of the rock and grit, and finding what’s beautiful there.  I love how Mary appeared to the little shepherdess, a person no one ever thought was holy or special enough to have such a visitor.  Mary’s coming revealed that there was more to Bernadette than anyone suspected, including Bernadette herself.  Mary’s coming also tapped into the latent faith of the people of Lourdes, just as Bernadette tapped into the healing waters of the spring.   In a way, one could say that the Lourdes story is really about venturing below the surface, finding the beautiful depths that exist  there,  and harnessing them for good.

And that’s a lesson that never grows old.


This is a rerun of a post from 2010.  (I guess I’ve been blogging for a long time, haven’t I?)

WAY more than three wise men


My family subscribes to the theory that you can never have too many nativity scenes.   The nesting dolls, the little Peruvian one, the set carved out of wood from the Holy Land: they’re all on display this time of year.


If you have to have a surplus of something, this isn’t a bad thing to have, is it?




A mother’s touch

Detail from Song of the Angels by William Adolphe Bouguereau

Detail from Song of the Angels by William Adolphe Bouguereau

“I don’t know why God chose to enter the world as an infant; there are many possible reasons, I’m sure.  But I like to think that maybe it’s because God, too, wanted to feel the warmth of a mother’s touch.” 

— from Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses

A blessed Mother’s Day to all.