Saturday, July 30, 2005

When Jesus Calls

When I went to Nashville, Lori and I got to know each other much better. She works in the health care industry, and she's great at what she does. We had this conversation about Terri Shiavo, and while I won't disclose what she said, I got a very different perspective about suffering from her.

Next, I became friends with Drs. Dan and Jane. They have a real passion for dealing with the dying poor, and from them I've learned about the vocation of suffering, and how to give compassion in the most dire of consequences.

In Denver I met Carla. She's an unmercenary healer. Carla is a very compassionate person. I got very ill in Denver, and she took care of me. She had a talk about healing ministries, and I asked her about something Ken and I argue about a lot.

Ken never wants to be in a position where he is completely unable to care for himself. Basically, he wants no heroic measures taken to save his life. No ventilator, no feeding tube. I always took issue with the feeding tube, but he was adamant, so I told him to write his wishes down, and that they would be honored because they were legally documented. He wants me to make the decision should I survive him documented or not. I told him I couldn't kill him.

I asked Carla about this after she taught, and she said that in most cases it is the survivor that has trouble letting go. Then she said something I haven't been able to stop thinking about. She said, "When Jesus bids me "come," I want to go the first time He calls."

One of my favorite prayers is the Anima Christi:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Separated from Thee let me never be.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me.
And close to Thee bid me.
That with Thy saints I may be
Praising Thee, forever and ever. Amen
Isn't it lovely? At the hour of my death, call me. And close to Thee bid me. I think one translation I have says, "At the hour of death, bid me "come". Come closer. Come to Me.

I hope this isn't one of those weird premonitions. I know people write stuff like this before they die unexpectedly, and I did have a really bad asthma attack that made me wonder. We are always close to death. It hovers ever in the shadows, a blink away. One wrong turn on the freeway. One bad moment in the wrong place. One misfire of the heart, and we could find ourselves "Home".

So, all day my heart called to Him today, "Master, bid me "come". And all day I felt the Holy Spirit pull me toward the presence of God. I did not die, and don't know when I will (thank God!) but I want to go to Jesus. I want my heart to cry out to him, because I never want to be satisfied with not feeling His touch, hearing His voice, being His beloved. Of course, this prayer isn't just about physical death. It's about that strange paradox of dying so that you can live. It's about being soaked with the Holy Spirit,

I've changed so much. It wasn't long ago that I missed church so much that my soul ached. Now, I can't get enough of the Divine Liturgy. Jesus is there. I want to become nothing so that His soul will sanctify me. I want to to lay prostrate before Him with His body to save me, and I want to drink of His blood and find myself drunk with Love.

Have a taste of Him with me.
Mair, the raga

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Love Song to Jesus

There are times when I don't come here simply because I don't have anything to say. I get caught up in busyness. Work. Family. Writing. In these times my relationship with God gets stuck in my head, and I find myself thinking about God, more than being with Him. It is in times like this that my soul grows lonely for the Beloved. I miss him, and grieve the loss of the intimacy we share.

It is then that I have to get back to the basics. He loves me. I love Him. Prayer restores:

Hymn of the Virgin

O tender beloved One who enfolds us,
guard us in our purity.
Sorrow is ours, for we were born
out of the dust of Adam's fall.
And it is a trial for us to resist
the apple's temptation.
Make us your upright people,
O Christ the Savior.

We deeply long to follow you,
but the way is hard for your
unhappy people
to honorably be like you,
O unblemished and guiltless King
of Angels.

Yet we trust in you
to seek the precious pearl in the dust.
We call to you as our Bridegroom,
Comforter
and Savior on the cross.

Like a bride united with you in
your blood,
we chose you alone as our spouse
O Son of God.
O Beautiful One, filled with joy and
precious fragrance,
we groan to you in our lamentable exile.
When shall we see you in this world--
you, who dwell in our soul?
In our hearts we embrace you,
as if we had you here.

O powerful Lion, you tore open the
heavens
and descended into the lap of the Virgin.
As conquerer of death you gave
to us life in the Golden City.
Let us nowlove there and
in you, our beloved Spouse.
You have seized us from the grip of
the Devil,
who led our first parents astray

"Song" Nr. 40
Hildegard of Bingen

Sometimes, a girl just has to sing her Lover a love song.
Ah, now that feels better.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Freak Out Part Two

It's been a big week. Lots of good things are happening to me, things that I could only dream of. I can't tell you the details right now. Things have a way of falling apart so until it's all settled I won't give details, but I will say that it looks like I've got a three book deal, and this blesses me more than you can possibly know.

Anyway, here I am, at the verge of having my dream fulfilled. My agent (sweet teddy bear) is thrilled for me, and he's so much fun. He's made this whole process a great experience, and if it does fall apart, I've got his strong arms to catch me, and I know I'll be alright.

All that to say, I'm in the middle of freak out number two. I don't really know what to do with success. Should I get a real website? What will I call it? What will I call myself????? I can't even decide what my name is most days, and now I have to think about covers and dot coms.

Lord, have mercy.

But most of all, I struggle with simply knowing and doing God's will. Is this God's will? I think so, but still I'm inclined to take it to God in prayer.

I went to Art Fair today with Nia and Aziza. Art Fair is a HUGE event here in Ann Arbor. We were perusing the non-profit organizations fair that's part of the annual event, and saw a table from a local Catholic church. We stopped, and the girls got rosary beads, and a man who was minding the table asked if the children would like a prayer book. Of course! They are my children, and you all know how I feel about prayer books. So, the kind man gave us a lovely paryer book for children by Lois Rock called, "Everyday Prayers for Children". I was sitting here, feeling a little overwhelmed, and I picked up this prayer book and turned right to a prayer by Julian of Norwich. I love her.

The prayer is:

Lord, you know what I want.
If you think it right, may I have it.
If you do not think it right,
good Lord, do not be displeased that I asked,
for I don't want anything that you don't want.


Ain't that the truth.

So, all this book stuff I offer to God, not wanting anything that he doesn't want. Isn't prayer just the best cure for a freak out.

Anyway, I have a question for you. Some people are suggesting that I write a Ragamuffin Diva book. Nonfiction--the series I wrote about is fiction. Is there something here that really touched your heart? Could you tell me what it was? And, would you actually buy a Ragamuffin Diva book?

I sure do appreciate your help.

I love you,
the unworthy Mair (hey, you pronounce that like MIRE or My- Ur)
Oh yeah, since Mary outed me, the website for the agency is www.alivecom.com. Click on the "authors" and there I'll be, smiling, and trying to figure out how the heck I ended up there with all those good Christian people.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mama

Today is my mama's birthday.

I have two mamas. One birthed me and the other raised me, but both love me, and so as far as mamas go I have been blessed.

It is the "raised me" mama's birthday today.

I miss her. I went to her because my mama was sick having just had my brother Paul. Paul and I are 10 months apart. My "birthed me" mama was indebted to my "raised me" mama, and when it was time for me to go back home, she wouldn't give me back, and my "birthed me" mama didn't know quite how to fight for me. She had 8 of us by then, and everyone said I was better off where I was.

I went to my "raised me" mama with a "birthed me" mama shaped hole in my heart. I grieved my mama. I ached for her, and when I was big enough to walk I did so with my head down and my shoulders rounded like I wanted to be a little round ball of a girl that just bounces away. It makes me sad to think of it. And my shoulders are still rounded today.

But my "raised me" mother was good to me. I became her baby, and she treated me like I was her own. I grew up with as much love as she was capable of giving. Sometimes, folks go to thinking that they didn't get this or that when they were a child, but I got as much as she had to offer. I've learned that's pretty much how people work. You are blessed if you get as much love as it is possible for someone to give. Getting older has taught me that can be enough. It has to be really, or you'll live your life wishing for something you will never, every get back.

Let me tell you about her. Her mother was part African, part Cherokee, and part Jewish. Her father was part African and part European. She had that kind of beauty that makes it difficult to know exactly what ethnicity she was. Her hair was a fine, sable mane with a bit of a wave toward the ends, and her skin was buttermilk and cornbread golden. I use to love to comb her hair. She sit and let me do it until my attentions turned elsewhere. She was very kind.

She took in stray animals and people, and she gave everybody the same portion of her care. She was a rock, and when she got Alzheimers Disease 14 years ago, we mourned her so, even though she sat among us in a chair watching television, and asking if she can go home.

She died about 4 years ago around halloween, after the October chill left dead leaves in it's wake and we all lamented the dying of the day. And I was so mad at you, for everything I thought you should have given me to make me as strong as you were. But, I'm not mad anymore. I've learned Mama, that some things you just can't teach.

I hope you are home, Mama. I hope the arms of Jesus are holding you and that you have your mind back. I hope you get to sing Michael Jackson's songs off the Thriller album, and I hope they have books, especially Poe. I hope you have a nice reclining chair, and a cat to sit on your lap. I think of you when I am selfish and self-absorbed. You are in my daughter Aziza's face. Pinto beans, fried chicken and cornbread always invoke your memory, and I can still smell the oil of olay you spead over your face at night.

I miss you. Pray for me. Ask our Lord to make me half of the woman that you were.

Love,
Your ladybug.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Prodigal Blogger Returns

I'm back.

I've been away on a freak out. What is a freak out, you ask? A freak out is what happens when you see your picture on the website of a very large Christian literary agency. Your "author photo", and a bio. I'm right above D. James Kennedy. Hence, the freak out.

It's weird. I hope no one looks at that site and thinks I'm a "Christian Personality." I am a Christian as a matter of grace. I have a personality, and that was just dumb luck. But I don't think I'm a "Christian Personality".

Vikki sent me an e-mail asking for a bio, and then I really freaked out. What in the world do I have to say? So far, what they have up there is "Claudia calls herself the ragamuffin diva. She says she is an unworthy servant, loved by God and amazed by grace." Frankly, I thought that just about summed me up.

I could have mentioned other places that I've been published, but really, they weren't very impressive. I could have said I have a degree, but the truth is, I work in a group home in a job that doesn't use any of the skills I spent a lot of money to get. I'm a classic underachiever, and my own worst enemy to boot. I mean, a few months ago I told Ken I was going to Tattoo School. He didn't dignify that with an answer.

I've been thinking, "What do you want me to do?" in the general direction of God. You'd think that at 40 I would not have to ask that. I should have had my own house, be rooted and comfortable in a career, drive a decent car, and blah, blah, blah. But no. Here I am. Just beginning to bud as a writer. No car. No house. Raggedy clothes because the little money I have usually goes to a book I love, instead of a shirt, pants, or a decent pair of shoes. I see the frustration in my childen because they don't have what many of their friends have. Every Christmas I feel like a dismal, wretched failure.

But in all of this there is God.

I was coming home the other day, and I realized, "I don't know where I am." I was in my own neighborhood, lost and disoriented. We moved here in November, when the cold drives me inward and I curl up in a little ball and hope to survive another dark, cold season. We didn't get out much. Spring came and went too fast, and now it's July, and I've worked and I've traveled, and did almost no writing. I did so little seeing that one day, I looked up and didn't know the way home, or even where home is.

But in all of this, there is God.

Tonight I took a walk. Between the neighborhood street there is a bridge. You cross the highway on it, and it was wild, looking down at cars speeding to their destinations. Beyond the bridge was a park, but ZZ was tired, and she's little, and I didn't want to push her.

Fireflies lit, and extinguished their lights, and lit again. July heat clung to my body like a summer lover's embrace. All around me, the voices of children, and the clack of their flip flops, and the sight of their thin, brown or caramel colored legs. I had everything money couldn't buy in those moments. Enough health to still be walking, air in the lungs to breathe freely, the love of family, and awareness of God in it all.

Suddenly the anxiety I've felt about the remote possibility that I may actually get to be what I've longed to be since I was a child faded.

It's good to know you, God. It's good to be your friend.

Sorry, I've been away so long dear readers. I'll try to do better.

In love and grace,
Mair