Friday, June 21, 2013

Fortnight 2.0

Today begins the second Fortnight for Freedom, which the bishops of the United States have called for to mark the threat to religious liberty in the United States. American Catholics are asked to make the next two weeks a “period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organization to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.” Pretty ominous stuff!

There's a powerful video posted at YouTube.  You'll have to follow the link to view it; the code to embed it is not available.

On the other hand, one page at the bishops’ web site tries to put a positive spin on the Fortnight, calling it a period “in celebration of the many rights we enjoy as American citizens and to patriotically pray for our nation.” The 14 suggestions given on that page all present a happy face to the Fortnight.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breaking the Silence

I have not posted anything in a while. I am not dead; I just haven’t had much to say. Life marches on, however, so my silence should not be interpreted to mean that nothing has been happening. I’ll take a moment now to remark upon a few things: my daughter, my son, my running, and my spiritual state.

My 17 year old daughter has been suffering from headaches. They’ve been bad enough for her to miss most of the last few weeks of school. She has been subjected to batteries of tests, of which we’ve learned only that she has cerebral vasculitis. That’s medical jargon for swollen blood vessels in the brain, and it’s a symptom rather than an underlying condition. All tests for conditions that might cause the vasculitis have yielded negative results. She doesn’t have a tumor or MS or any of the other usual suspects. She did get some relief from the steroids that were prescribed by the neurosurgeon, but those were never meant to be anything more than temporary. The only thing we know for sure is that the vasculitis was verified, so the headaches aren’t imaginary; she isn’t a hypochondriac or exhibiting some form of Munchaussen’s. Meanwhile, my daughter is having a miserable summer.

The eldest of my brood has completed high school. There were times during the last year when I wasn’t sure it would happen, but I’ve seen the diploma, so I know that it’s true. Now he’s determined to move to a New York college town at the end of July. The goal has always been to raise my children and send them out into the world to be productive citizens. With the first one apparently ready to leave the nest, under conditions of his own choosing, I have to entrust his future to Providence and pray that he finds his wings.

My running is falling apart. The pain in my heel increased throughout May, so I promised myself that I would take two weeks off from high-impact exercise after the Strawberry Festival 10K on June 2. It was a difficult two weeks. I have come to identify myself as a runner, and that part of my identity was stripped away from me. I tried to exercise on the elliptical machine at the YMCA, but it just wasn’t the same, and I found my motivation waning. My foot, however, seemed to be feeling better, so I was looking forward to the end of my running fast. Even without resuming my training, however, my heel started to hurt again on Sunday, and after I ran for the first time in two weeks on Monday, I hurt not only in my heel and ankle, but also on the inside of my right thigh. It makes me want to scream and weep in frustration.

Perhaps not unrelated is the sorrowful state of my spiritual life. My fervency is at a low ebb. Faith is so much easier when you don’t have to fight the tide of your own emotions. I remain convinced that truth is not dependent upon my happy response to it. At the same time, though, I know that the Good News should produce joy within the soul. I find myself slightly haunted by passages about salt that is fit only to be trampled (Matt 5:13) or a lukewarm church fit only to be spit out (Rev 3:16).

So there it is. I’m still alive, but my spirit is battered. God is almost certainly telling me something in the events of this life, but I’m not listening right now. Maybe I should start.