Friday, November 30, 2007

Tonight was our Parish' first annual advent wreath making workshop. We went -we were kind of obligated, since the Cajun Princess put it all together in the first place-and had a great time! Loads of fun, got to talk to people I haven't seen much lately, promised to play poker soon, help cook turkey for the KofC Christmas party, and for the first time so far this year, the Christmas feeling was alive. Not that its been dead in me mind you, but until tonight , it's felt a little hollow, know what I mean? It's the crass commercialism that did it, nothing more. But the togetherness in Aquinas hall tonight was fantastic, and went a long way in instilling a very positive vibe into my Christmas experience this year! I swear, our Womens group has done more to revitalize our parish than any other group, and they deserve a great deal of the applause for all thier efforts.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Fog

Blanketed Silence

Thousands of tiny kisses

cold on my face

Winter Haiku 2007

So I found this waaaaaaay nifty site, called "Winter Haiku 2007;A community of Haiku poets recording and sharing their experiences of Winter 2007 in Haiku, Tanka, Haiga, Haibun and Senyru." You sign up, post your poems and pictures (if you have any) and they get posted to the site. Its pretty nifty and has some excellent work in it. I wholeheartedly endorse this project and would urge you to check it out! Im going to cross post things I write for them over here as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary!!!


7 wonderful years for the Cajun Princess and I!

Saturday, November 24, 2007



Oradour-Sur-Glane

We slumber now,
lying in spidered embrace,
cradled in leafy shadow,
ash and oak.

Broken lovers,
blanketed in rust
and fields
gone feral sweet
with the heady scent of
lavender,
anise,
cordite,
and petrol.

We are pinioned here
by memories of cold pitted stone,
our hollow waiting eyes
as empty now as our names.

~Steve.M~
© 10/17/2007



An Interesting Idea........

So as I am muddling my way thru the 23 pounds of ads that seem to come with the weekend paper once Thanksgiving comes around, I found an article about a Canadian website called "Buy Nothing For Christmas". I will admit, I have not read all of the information on their website, but it seems to me that their intention is of a noble nature. Who among us hasn't rolled their eyes at the ads on TV? "OPEN FRIDAY MORNING, THE 23RD AT FIVE A.M FOR YOUR SHOPPING CONVENIENCE!!" Come on!! Five A.M.?!? FIVE A.M.?!? Who in their right mind is going shopping at five am? It's gotten to the point where I loathe Christmas shopping altogether, and cant even abide going to the grocery store during the season. Is it just me, or does it all seem to have gone terribly, terribly awry? We cant say "Merry Christmas!" anymore, it has to be "Happy Holidays". Have we forgotten what the true nature of the holiday is? Or are we that complacent as a society that we'll bow our heads in submission to a few people who jump up and down and complain about the Christ in Christmas?

So there I am, with this whole circus of thoughts in my head this morning, drinking coffee, eating a breakfast bar, and wondering if my turkey stock is going to taste as good as it smells (I found a butt kicking recipe for Asian turkey soup with rice noodles off of Recipe Zaar if anyone wants it).
and lo and behold, this article presented itself to me. I already feel the burden of the commecial purchasing season, it hangs over our heads like a raincloud, doesnt it? I absolutely love the Christmas season, but I hate the commercial purchasing season (I think its important to make that disticntion between the celebration and the corruption that has leeched onto it).

I'm still going to buy presents for my family, theres no escaping that, but I am going to make a concious effort to make this season a little bit better, to do more good, to help more, to try and live the message, the true message. Anyway, I wasnt wanting to lecture or preach, just thought I'd send this y'alls way.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Helping others....


So I'm at work the other day, and we are printing one of a myriad of forms for behavioral health, and my eyes keep going to the same part on the form. It says:

"CHECK THE PROBLEM AREAS THE PATIENT FREQUENTLY EXPERIENCES"
.

I read down the lines of listed problems; heavy drinking, suicidal thoughts, self destructive behavior, etc, etc.Standard, run-of-the-mill questions for Behavioral healthcare forms. But the very last line, the very last part of the question posed, is:

"
HELPING OTHERS, BUT FORGETTING OWN NEEDS"

Now, I've been thinking about this line for a few days, and I'm sure there is a logical explanation for this, that it is simply a failure in my
own semantics, but it struck me as funny, because it is the truth. It is a problem area for a lot of us, but only because we -as a society- dont forget our own needs, and we dont help others as much as we know we ought to. How many of us made plans to get up this morning and go shopping at 5:00 AM? Probably noone who reads this, thats for sure, but how many of us know people at work that, come Monday, will tell us how much shopping they did over the weekend? How many of us will in turn, be able to say "I didnt go shoping, I helped feed the homeless", or something along those lines? Not me, thats for sure, but I want to change that, I want to be able to do those things that need to be done. At the risk of offending you dear reader, to hell with holiday shopping and early morning sales, and gimmicks to get me to buy! I want nothing to do with it! Nothing at all! It's not so much a withdrawal from society as it is an immersion into society that I desire. It's too late for me to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving, but it's not too late for me to start caring, and acting like the person I should be, the person i know I am, deep down inside.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


A Thanksgiving Prayer

Samuel F. Pugh


"O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen."

It was a particularly good day for my family; Me and my wife, (home together at the same time for once) my two sons, my Mom & Dad, Mother-in-law,Father-in-law, and two good family friends sat down for Thanksgiving, and we simply enjoyed life. I think it was by far the best thanksgiving I can remember in quite a while. the only drama today was my 6yo stepping in a fire ant colony in the front yard and geting his foot chewed up a bit (nothern friends, thats yet another thing you should give thanks for, no fire ants!). But seriously, the day was wonderful.


Its amazing how trivial we can make life, how we will take things for granted, and yet here we are, on one day out of the year, acknowledging the things were glad for. I have been at ends with my parents for quite some time now, the better part of 20 years or so in fact. But today was so warm and loving of a day, we adults sat around the dining room table drinking our coffee and wine, nibbling at just one more piece of pecan pie, just talking, acting like a family should. No arguements, no "one upping" no nasty or snide remarks, just.......love.

How easily we forget them the other 364 (or so) days of the year, how quickly our opinions change. Why do we do it? why can we not feel this loving, this charitable every day of the year? If we did, what wonders we could accomplish! How benevolent and grand our lives, our country could be!?!

"Were we only to correspond to God's graces continually being showered down on every one of us, we would be able to pass from being great sinners one day tobeing great saint the next"
~Ven. Solanus Casey~

Monday, November 19, 2007

AUTUMN DAYBREAK
Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know -- for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor --
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Answer to my prayers....


With all my problems weighing me down, I walked out of my office today, and they fell away like leaves falling from the trees. When I went into work this morning, it was warm and raining. But this evenings setting sun finds me in the presence of a strong, cold wind and silver lined clouds mottling the sun into long rays. It was the perfect Autumn afternoon, and I soon forgot about my worries as I stood in the midst of a perfect afternoon...........Thank you Lord.

Ode to Autumn

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1,2,3,4,5..........


I hold my breath and count to ten. I slip the earbuds to my MP3 player on and press play. It seems like 30 seconds is an eternity while I wait for Lisa Gerard starts singing, so I can drown out the drama that unfolds before me. Almost mercifully, her voice booms out and for the next three hours I will listen to my personal selections over and over again.....


This is how my mornings at work start on an almost daily basis; with a woman with a Napoleon complex screaming at the rest of the staff about how stupid they are. she berates everyone for being inept, continually tells us how we know absolutely nothing about our jobs (depsite the fact that she never worked in a print shop before October of last year), and tells us on an almost daily basis about how horrible and loud her upstairs neighbors are.....For the past year-YEAR- this has been my work enviroment...... Is she my Boss you may ask? Is she in charge? No, but she seems to think she is. The only reasons she doesn't yell at me are because I keep my MP3 player on and because she yelled at me once, and I let her know -in no uncertain terms- that I wasn't afraid of her. But, I felt guilty and apologized later in the day to her. Nevertheless, she leaves me alone, but the other five guys I work with endure her insults and rants over and over (including our supervisor and our manager), without the aid of audio deterrents. It's really disheartening, and she makes a relatively laid back and easy job a grueling task. I loathe-actually loathe- the days when I get there before my colleagues and it is just she and I in the office. I have endured her complaints and insults for over a year now, and my only escape is my MP3 player.

So my question is this; how can I continue to show charity to a person like this? I mean, she very obviously has some sort of problem to be so mad all the time, but when does it become necessary for you to draw a line? I am trying to live my life by the rules of St. Francis; I want nothing more in this world to become a Secular Franciscan, but this woman! This woman brings out the worst in me, I find myself muttering curses under my breath, talking with co-workers when she leaves the room about whatever it is that has ired her on that particular day, I find myself not being particularly charitable, and it pains me......
I am reminded (actually, I just read it) of something Solanus casey once said: " If our love of God is genuine, then we would quite naturally love our neighbors as ourselves". So with this in mind, I slip my headset back on and wait for the calms in my day when I can breath easy. but still, what am I to do?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Little bit more about me.......
It occurs to me (thank you Warren and Lisa, sometimes I am oblivious to the obvious!) that perhaps I haven't been extremely forthcoming with information about where I am in my journey of faith. Got a minute or two? This is kind of a long story!
I was raised Methodist, but it wasn't something that my family did on a weekly basis. Once confirmation was over, we all kind of fell out of it as a family, and I wandered away from God and church. As I grew up and became painfully aware of my surroundings, society, etc, I became aware of a preacher and his wife that had a pretty big ministry about 15 minutes away from where I lived. their names were Jim and Tammy Baker......Yep, I lived about 20 minutes from the gates of PTL. I saw their extravagances firsthand, and it made me mad. Everyone in Charlotte knew that they were crooked, and it was kind of an accepted thing, they became a sort of tourist landmark. But for me, it was unacceptable, they stole from people that were oblivious to their deceit. I saw it, my friends saw it, and it made all of us madder than you-know-what. I should point out at this time that I was also a punk rocker, so a general antipathy towards society was already in place. But PTL drove a wedge between me and the Lord, and deepened a gap that had started when my family and I stopped going to church.


Jump ahead 15 years to the Autumn of 2000; as Lisa and I started our journey towards marriage, we started going to church with her Mom and Dad. Her family is Catholic, and she wanted to be married in the Church her family attended. She told me I didn't have to become Catholic, but she definitely wanted us to have some sort of faith base in our blossoming family. All it took was one time at Mass, and I knew, I knew that this, this was where I had belonged all along. I felt it in my heart. I had already decided
-unbeknownst to Lisa- that I wanted to go thru RCIA, and so I signed up. During my journey thru RCIA, I made it a point to attend Mass at every Catholic church in our area, just to make sure I was where I should be. the church I came back to time and time again, was her parents, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Franciscan run parish.


Now, while I went thru RCIA, it came clear to me that I actually had been given "signs", so to speak. Maybe they were of my own making, perhaps they were divine direction, but I all of a sudden started putting together moments in my life that had gently guided me to where I was at that point. I could recall teaching myself the Hail Mary 16 years earlier. I had no reason to know it, but there I was, reciting it whenever I felt scared, anxious or concerned about something. I recited it when I drove past wrecks, or when ambulances raced by, hoping that it helped whoever was in need. I had no Faith basis for doing this, it just seemed ........"right". I even started to go to Mass a few times, but at the last minute left, thinking I was not fit to be in the church. I was ashamed of how I looked, that I was essentially homeless, and that surely I would be chased out. Even when getting my dog tags, when asked what religion I was, I for some reason said I was Catholic, despite the fact that I had been raised Methodist.


All this came rushing back to me as I stood before my RCIA class, trying to explain why I thought I wanted to be Catholic. It all came back (this & a few facts that I've left out for the sake of brevity), and I realized at that precise moment, I was still the good kid I had deep down always been, that all the rotten things that had happened to me, all this......."peripheral" stuff, was of my own making, because I had lost faith in God,not the other way around. It was a very profound moment, and it hit me with the weight and ferocity of a runaway freight train.



So, my journey as a Roman Catholic had started. I knew that from my jou
rneys to other local churches that I liked the Capuchin friars best. Their down to earth simplicity appealed to me; I remember Fr. Martins teachings from RCIA, and one instance in particular. He asked us what we would do if approached by a man asking for money. Quite a few people said they would walk the other way, and one guy said he'd tell the guy to get a job. Fr. Martin said that we should give him money without question. the one fellow asked why we should give money to a bum who was probably just scamming us, and Fr. Martin replied that what the man did with the money was not important, but what was really important was the act of charity. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and I have never forgotten that moment.

So I started to read up on St. Francis. I perused thru a few websites, and then tackled "The Little Flowers", and that did it for me. During this time, I came across a flier for my local Fraternity and made contact with them. I went to a few meetings, and at the time, it was very hard for me to commit to the meetings. My wife's work schedule means that I have to take care of my children when our meetings occur, so I have not been able to fully commit as of yet, but I read the books they work from, and have tried to keep some sort regimen towards becoming a Secular Franciscan.

Tired of me talking yet?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Well, soccer season is finally over, and the temperature has finally gotten down to an acceptable level, so I think it's safe to say Fall is finally here! I'll take the boys downtown this Saturday for the Veterans day parade, and then I hope to go out on saturdays with them for little hikes in local parks. Our recent trip to Pisgah National forest has me in mind of camping, being more outdoorsy, more physical as it were. I dont know why I feel like I havent done anything, I've been coaching 5-6 year old soccer for the past 3 months, but I want to feel more removed from the typical situation, you know? I dont want to sit at home and watch TV, I want to get out and do stuff outside. I dont want my boys to grow up any faster than they already are, but I cant wait until they want to go camping, stuff like that.

With all that in mind, I think I'm going to plant a fall herb garden this weekend or next. I found some information from the University of Florida website on Fall herbs (because veryone knows how notoriously cold those Fall can be in Florida), and it just sounds like the kind of thing I need to do.

Actually, this is a much better link, in case your interested.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reading; is there anything I enjoy more? Well, maybe a few things, but reading is definately in my top five things. I am trying to keep a balance in what I read these days. I am woefully addicted to WWII history, but my dear sweet Cajun princess thinks this is getting to the core of my depression, that all that gore and suffering cant be good for me to read all the time. So, I'm also reading two religious themed books, and I'm also reading "The Kite Runner"...What was that about depression again? Anyway, I took the test below, thought I'd post it.
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back to my roots.....


Hello all, I'm back.....At least, I think I am. Just in case anyone was wondering, I had so much going on in my life, so many things that, actually, I was trying to ignore, that my old Blog became a chore. So I abandoned it and became not only disenchanted with my paltry excuse for a blog, but also with my faith -albeit only for a short time- as my families problems got worse.See, my mother has cancer, and is going thru chemotherapy, and instead of dealing with it, I found things to be mad at, and unfortunately, my faith suffered because of my denial.



There were a myriad of minor problems as well; work wasn't going well at all. On top of working with a Bi-polar woman whose favorite sport is to berate and nag our production supervisor constantly (I mean from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM nonstop) it seemed like no matter what I did, I always messed things up. Despite 18 hour work days, production fell behind, I was demoted, and I really didnt feel as if I belonged.I had to stop my EMT training (something I had really wanted to do) for the sake of my job, and then all the thing I had enjoyed more than anything as a 3rd degree member of Knights of Columbus -Christmas card sales- was taken from me without any notice or thanks for the effort I'd put into it for the past few years. The only thing that wasn't going bad was my relationship with my wife and kids, though it was strained from time to time, mostly due to money.

Anyway, all these things simply added to my disgruntled attitude, and unfortunately, my faith suffered. I stopped reciting the rosary daily, stopped going to Mass if it looked like I was going to be even 3 minutes late, stopped tithing, I just................................................stopped.

But here I am, a year later, and things are looking up again. Money isnt any different, I still have to deal with the psychotic secretary, and I actually coach soccer now (how nuts am I?), so I have even less time than I did then, but things got soooo depressing, that I pleaded with God. I gave myself up again, and I feel like I did 7 years ago when I went thru the final stages of RCIA.


So, I figured that as long as I'm trying to come back, I might as well get back in the practice of writing a blog. It always did seem to help.