It’s Not My Place to Question

I didn’t know today would be our last

Or that I’d have to say goodbye to you so fast

I’m so numb, I can’t feel anymore

Prayin’ you’d just walk back through that door

And tell me that I was only dreamin’

You’re not really gone as long as I believe.

“Jealous of the Angels” by Jenn Bostic is a song on my list that I play on loop every so often as a cathartic way of breathing out the emotions in my heart. It is a song of loss, particularly from death, but I’ve found it relatable in another way.

My mom had always told us when we were homeschooled that our sisters would always be our best friends. I was never sure I believed that all the way, but it was written as a thick leaf in my book of life as Michaeline, my younger sister nearest in age, became my confidante, my guide, my champion, and my fellow conspirator. And then she was gone. And I could not understand why the one girl I actually looked up to and trusted with all my heart was taken away.

My heart numbed when half of it broke off and ran away after her as she entered the Carmelite cloister. That was two years ago, and it hasn’t gotten easier. Maybe I don’t sit in the quiet darkness of my room and sob my heart out nearly as often as I did the first six months when I missed sharing everything with my sister so much. Maybe now I can see my sister for an hour or two three times a year and enjoy those moments no matter how hard I take it afterwards. But deep down, my heart has become very vulnerable to loss.

In the couple ensuing years, I seem to have a knack for forming deep bonds with the most amazing souls who are then suddenly asked to put out into the deep again and journey far away. Usually they happen to be the dear friends that I clicked with immediately and deeply in vulnerability, caring, laughter, spirituality, nurturing, and the other more goofy things that good friends can do together. Every time it’s the ones I look up to. Every time it opens my heart up again a little more at the throbbing incision inflicted when I gave up my first best friend.

And once more this week this is the point I stand at. Another sweetheart is leaving. The loss is for everyone at school because this particular girl is widely thought of as the kindest, purest person at our small university. In a special way, however, it brings out a deeper hurt in me. Of all last fall’s incoming class, she was the one that I completely bonded with within the first week on our kitchen floor, and from there we only grew closer in an older/little sister bond that had the familiar sweetness of the one with Michaeline. I love and esteem this friend so much. In her I find a comfort and a call to be a better version of myself while she also looks up to me and finds the good things I don’t know about myself. Together we have a treasure. I know that we’ll be visiting each other and keeping in touch, but there’s still a hurt in the separation. That’s when I think of the second verse of Jenn Bostic’s song:

“You always made my troubles feel so small

And you were always there to catch me when I’d fall

In a world where heroes come and go

Well, God just took the only one I know

So I’ll hold you as close as I can

Longing for the day, when I see your face again

But until then…”

Somewhere in the communion of saints and the Church Militant, the ties of our souls are working together for a deeper purpose than chance meetings and fleeting bonds.

I said it never gets easier to not question in the pain. The heart passes through a link of seasons though, and in those seasons I go through different moments of realizing the pain as new ways of growing in a different relationship with the dear, little souls I’ve lost.

“It’s not my place to question, only God knows why…” Sometimes I do ask why we formed such a deep bond. Why yet again a true friendship is taking new directions away from the dynamic of living near each other and into the more spiritual and emotional aspect of long-distance. Why all these moments?

A realization I shared a couple weeks ago with another close friend still here at school comes back to hearten me. These bonds, experiences, and friendships are not like rocks we carry for a bit and then tumble down the trail of life as useless; they are like rocks we build houses or roads with. They are foundations for what comes next, and we will often come back to them in new light or revisit these old haunts throughout life—when we are meant to.

And in that realization, I know that the dear, little, gone souls who have a piece of my heart forever with them are not truly lost. We won’t have a physically close proximity together anymore, but in our bond friendship finds new ways of union and different methods of keeping in touch. The threads that tie us together from so far away were fastened for a reason that only God knows. Their love “lives on inside of me” and I can’t help but “hold on tight.”

Amidst the bittersweetness of the love and loss, hope says that the interweaving of our lives is not over yet. But in the meantime I’ve learned it is okay to find relief and solace in the tears of a strengthening vulnerability to the pain.

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La La Land: The Artist’s Struggle

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La La Land—last week spur of the moment with a couple friends I saw Hollywood’s newest musical film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. We laughed and then cried. From a filmmaker’s standpoint, La La Land sports phenomenal art direction, acting, color, costume, and choreography design in my opinion. It’s 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9/10 on IMDb seems to agree. Continue reading “La La Land: The Artist’s Struggle”

What is Womanhood?

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A couple weeks ago in group discussion, a bunch of us girls broached the question: “How do you describe authentic womanhood to someone in a way that doesn’t use religion as the context?”

It’s a valid question for a posse of young adults in a culture where the average girl is seeking the truth but is not open yet to hearing it in terms of “God-creating-it-that-way” or “this-part-of-the-Faith-shows-us-that.” Continue reading “What is Womanhood?”

The Hidden Powers of Merlin

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“All of my friends in our group are so smart, and I’m not.”

“You are an artist!”

“But no one can see that,” she pointed out matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does,” I said. “That is your Gift.”

My friend was on the couch and I was washing dishes when our conversation about grades, report cards, and scholarships evolved into that exchange. I plopped on the table to dangle my legs and continued, “It matters because—”

Because I’ve been wrestling with the same experiences myself the past few weeks. The frequent realization of being the friend who starts others out on their journeys and then steps back to freely let them fly, or who steps into someone’s life for a period of time when they need it most and then shifts again to the background as paths race on.

Or the idea of certain film roles—script supervising, storyboard artist, craft services, scoring, production assistant, assistant director—that every film professional knows are obviously not as glamorous or professionally appealing as directing or writing or acting or even as mentionable as producing. Roles that even though they are hidden are indispensable.

That hiddenness, I’ve realized, is the catch. Continue reading “The Hidden Powers of Merlin”

Wearing A Claddagh Ring

When I visited Ireland this past Easter break, I stopped at a souvenir shop in Dublin and picked out a Claddagh ring. Usually I don’t buy souvenirs or gifts for myself—I like to give them. This time, however, I did.

Wearing a claddagh ring is a very beautiful tradition. The heart stands for love, the giving hands for friendship, and the crown for loyalty. Worn on the right hand ring finger with the heart facing out is a sign that the wearer is unclaimed. Worn on the right hand ring finger with the heart facing in means that the wearer is in a relationship (dating, etc.). When the ring is switched to the left hand and worn with the heart facing out, that means the wearer is engaged. The ring on the left hand with the heart facing in means the wearer is married.

But I didn’t start wearing a claddagh to show my relationship status. Continue reading “Wearing A Claddagh Ring”

Stitching the Standard

 

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Stitching the Standard by Edmund Blair Leighton

This is one of my top favorite paintings. The lady of the castle perches on the battlements finishing the standard that her knight husband’s squire will bear before him into battle. She is a woman skilled in the accomplishments of needlework, personal presentment, raising children, handing on the Faith, and keeping hearth for her people. But up here on the castle wall, she also commands view of the surrounding countryside. Should a messenger arrive at the fief she will be there to greet him. Should an enemy mass she will help her husband prepare the garrison and command the defenses. Should the town be struck by fire or pestilence she will rise up and assist them. Should a mob break out she will go down to address them. Should capture or another woe befall her husband’s troops she is versed enough in regional politics and customs to negotiate the best outcome for his safe return. And that is exactly what she must be prepared to do. She is the lady of her lord, the queen of their lands, the heart of their castle. As the keeper of her knight’s heart, she is also his most able partner. Because of her upbringing and her presence at his side, when he rides away to war, he will have no qualms about leaving her in charge of their kingdom. No matter how large or small their holdings, he knows she is prepared with the skill and insight of a wise ruler to lead after his own heart until he returns. And when he returns she will sit at his side with valuable contributions while he rules.

Regardless of what dark legends say about the Middle Ages, the truth about Medieval Europe is that the majority of women were raised with just such an ideal in mind. Peasant wives worked alongside their husbands on their fiefs. Craftswomen had their own guilds same as the craftsmen. Of course, the peasant women did not haul stones from the fields; they helped plant them. Of course, the craftswomen did not quarry stone and mold windows for cathedrals and palaces like the men; they made beautiful pottery and jewelry and woven tapestries and embroidered cloths for the cathedrals and palaces instead. Just as there were valets, pages, and squires to aid the stewards, there were also maids and ladies-in-waiting and cooks. Each had a crucial place in the medieval round of life. As for the ladies, princesses, and queens…

Continue reading “Stitching the Standard”

Knight In Shining Armor: Man or Myth?

The Knight in Shining Armor. It’s a rather big issue today in our culture of fairy tale heroes, hot actors, and saintly lovers. Many girls have a specific Wish List for their future Prince Charming—perhaps tall, dark haired, with a dimple in his left cheek. Or cute, humorous, manly, and with a winning grin. Or all of that put together. You name your type. Catholic girls want all that and the strong-in-his-Faith, morally upright, chaste man.

(So, guys, if you can’t be all that then go home, be depressed, and eat chocolate…Oh, wait, you don’t eat chocolate when you’re down, do you? I forget, that’s usually a girl thing.)

I’m sure many guys feel that way though; I’ve heard many of them complain about the “I deserve somebody perfect” attitude that creeps in everywhere with the ladies.
Recently I asked one of my guy friends, “So what do you think about the whole knight in shining armor idea?”

Continue reading “Knight In Shining Armor: Man or Myth?”