This Lent has a very clear theme for me: WAITING. After five long years of setbacks and hard work, my agent has begun to shop the book to publishers, and I’m waiting to see what happens. I’m waiting for this baby to be born so that I can stop feeling terrible all the time. I’m waiting for tax season to be over so that Joe can return to something resembling a normal life. We, as a Church, are waiting to see who the next Pope will be. There’s nothing I can do to speed up any of these processes or control their outcomes. All I can do is…wait.
Did I mention that I’m terrible at waiting? I’m exploring the option of being put into a medically induced coma until early April.
I was delighted to be introduced to the term “Suckuary” in one of Lee’s recent posts. Though she used the term to refer to February, what’s beautiful about it is that it could refer to January or February. In fact, I’ve come to think of Suckuary as one interminable 59-day month at the beginning of the year that consists of nothing but endless toil and suffering. All that is to say: HAPPY MARCH!
“‘Endless toil and suffering, ‘ Jen? You’re being a bit dramatic, don’t you think?” someone just thought. To which I respond with two words: carpet beetles.
Last Saturday Joe was up at the office, and I was sitting on the couch doing this important — okay, no need to lie, I was just sitting on the couch. Anyway, I looked over to see a tiny beetle about the size of the head of a pin on the couch. Then another one. Then another one. I counted five in all. I emailed Joe a picture of the bugs, and he thought they were just brown lady bugs. Who knows why so many would be in our house? Kind of cute, really.
Upon Googling it further I discovered that they were not, in fact, lady bugs. They were carpet beetles. More concerningly, all of the websites I found said, “If you’re not a big huge slob who lives in squalor, it should be fine” (paraphrasing). Basically, as long as you don’t have bits of fetid food rotting in fabric throughout your house, you won’t have an infestation.
It’s hard to describe the impact that this revelation had on my husband’s psyche. He has a bit of a neat freak streak in him, and the thought of beetle larvae feeding happily on decaying months-old Pop Tart crumbs ground into the fibers of our carpet just about did him in. Minutes after he got home he had the couch and the living room chair turned upside down, and eventually discovered bucketfuls of crumbs that had accumulated in the hidden area underneath the seat bases over years and years. When he recalled that he too had seen a few of the beetles crawling around him when he was on the couch the other day, and realized that he’d been sitting on a piece of furniture so filled with rotting food that it had become infested with scavenging insects, I was pretty sure he was going to pass out. (I, however, was able to take it in stride, as I am a veteran of the rat couch.)
Anyway, I don’t think he’s stopped cleaning since then. I’ve started to worry that he’s going to pawn our minivan, hand all the money over to the new housekeepers and say, “Just keep coming every day until this runs out! And then let me know, because we have one more car.”
One notable bright spot of the past few weeks is that I discovered a great new book: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre. I’d been having a hard time finding a good spiritual book to read during Lent: it felt like there was some specific topic I needed to delve into, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. When I came across this book, I knew this was it. I know little about the beliefs and history of the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived, and that has always been a barrier to my having a full understanding of him as a person. Similarly, it’s hard to properly appreciate the Last Supper and the sacrament it instituted if you don’t understand the thousands of years of history that led up to that moment. I’ve been devouring this book; almost every page is like a paint brush stroke that adds color and vividness to my mental image of Christ. I think I’m going to read Dr. Taylor Marshall’s The Crucified Rabbi next, since I can’t seem to get enough of this topic.
Here’s an interesting question for fellow parents: How often do you smile at your kids? I mean really smile: a broad, genuine, eye-crinkling expression of happiness.
I’m sure that’s a bad rhetorical question, because your answer is probably, “Umm, all the time. I smiled at my children through the whole hour of morning prayer, all during the craft where we re-created the Colossus of Rhodes with gumdrops and toothpicks, and while I was putting the last sprig of parsley on the organic souffle I made for lunch. Heck, I’m smiling at my kids right now!” So I guess I should cut to the point and say that I recently asked myself how often I smile at my kids, and I realized that the answer is: not very often.
It’s not that I walk around scowling all the time; I guess it’s just that when I’m relaxed and comfortable, I don’t go out of my way to move my facial muscles. I think I do okay about having a pleasant enough expression and using a kind tone of voice (except when I’m shrieking “OH MY GOSH WHY CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS IN THIS HOUSE?!?!?!” like I did this morning when yet another necklace was discovered and destroyed), but I realized that it’s startlingly seldom that a true, genuine smile crosses my face when I’m interacting with the kids. Working on that had made a nice little Lenten project for me.
My sweet dad (whom you met in the first episode of Minor Revisions) has been kind enough to play chauffeur to many of the kids activities over the past few weeks. What’s funny is that it means that he often spends more time up at our church than I do. He took this sunset shot the other day, which is one of the most beautiful pictures of our church that I’ve seen:
Sede vacante. The Chair of Peter sits empty. I can’t even begin to put my feelings in writing because I’m still overwhelmed by it all, but suffice it to say that I am so proud of the (former) Pope for following what had to be a difficult call. Here are some beautiful pictures from the big day (via Marc Cardaronella), and can you believe this astounding shot that Jenny got? Yesterday marked the end of an era, and it’s an era I’ll always remember fondly.
And now, back to waiting.
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