The Psalmist declares, "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy...and hast compassed me with gladness." (Pslam 29:12; Douay-Rheims... Psalm 30:11 for my Protestant friends! :-))
I awoke this morning, at a rather ungodly hour, to a heart full of joy. The sun was just beginning to rise, and my spirits with it. I held onto my Husband for several minutes before climbing out of bed to start a new load of laundry and to set water to boil for tea. Now I am sitting here at my square pup-style table, mug in hand, enjoying sips of the German Chocolate Cake blend in-between sentences. :-)
Yesterday, I got to speak with a dear friend, and that did a world of good. By my "friend," I mean my former counselor. She had told me, before I left, that I could always call her. Regretfully, I had cringed at the thought of presuming upon her friendship, so it was really only at the behest of my Husband that I finally reached out to her. We ended up speaking on the phone for an hour, and it was such a blessing! Why, oh why, I thought, had I put off such help? Silly, stubborn me.
We spent some time catching up. We talked about the death of my cousin, the loneliness and homesickness I have felt since moving, the amazing strides my mother had recently taken-- both with me and my brother's new family. She was amazed to hear of my mother's hug and her apology. The last time I had seen my mother, she had given me a genuine-- not the customarily bony or cold-- hug and had apologized for not having been the mother I had needed her to be, nor for having loved me in the way I had needed her to love me. My friend was also glad to hear that both she and my father had begun reaching out to my brother, his wife, and his step-children.
We talked about the sadness over seeing my cousin and her husband welcome their first-born child while my spouse and I have struggled since the beginning of our marriage. We touched on issues with a former friend, who is more like a second daughter to my mother. It saddens me that this gal-- in long span that I have known her-- has moved from being sweet and gentle to having a rough, condescending personality in general, but particularly against my brother and me (but never in front of my parents). It also irks me that my mother lived with this former friend for 2 years, during one of her separations from my father. I am not thrilled that she is now a confidant and intimate friend to my mother. In truth, it bothers me that my own mother is a better mother to this girl than she has ever been to me. Yet, that is neither here nor there. It simply is what it is.
In truth, my learned friend did not reveal any new or particularly surprising insights. She, rather, reinforced what I had already thought, but it did my heart good to hear it confirmed through her expertise. My friend reminded me that I have been through a lot in a short time, and since I do not handle change well, all of this was only normal. What a relief! She also made sure that I set a plan in motion for dealing with things. My friend asked about my spiritual life. She asked about my eating and sleeping habits. We spoke about the need for exercise and natural sunlight. Natural things. I liked that. A person is really a totality of body and soul, and the two will only be separated at death; but one can very much affect the other in the meantime. I confessed not having slept much or well in the past two months. I shared that I had been struggling to eat beyond one meal a day and a small snack or two. This was not to be borne. I was told, quite emphatically (to which I have to give a half-grin), what to do. It helped.
I think my favourite part was the horror in my friend's voice when I told her that I had pretty much given up coffee. She asked what that meant, and I replied: "I have one, maybe two cups of coffee a week." She asked how many I had been accustomed to previously. That answer was one or two a day. :-)
The last thing we had talked about regarded a spiritual retreat. I had begun to read a lot of books during my lonely, sleepless night vigils, but I confessed needing more than that. I need a break to regroup from all the life changes. Now, the only decision left is to where to go. The main options include a French Benedictine order, a Jesuit retreat house, or an order of hermit nuns. Really, I wish that I could hop a plane and go back to South America. That trip had been so full of grace! And, now that my Husband has finally permitted me to have back in my possession all of my personal documents-- my passport, driving permit, and bank card-- I very much could. ;-) Oh, if only! However, a few days in total silence in the middle of absolutely nowhere sound incredibly beautiful, too! We shall see. I do not really like the idea of being apart from my spouse.
My friend and I parted company with the following thought: Be gentle, gentle, gentle! Apparently, I am supposed to be gentle with myself. Hmmmm. Now, how do I do that, pray tell?! The image that comes to mind is of my 1 year-old niece, who likes to pat your cheek while saying, in her high pitched voice, "Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!" Then, she tends to give a hard "thunk" across your face. Yes, indeed, for me both the "gentles" and the "thunks" are needed. :-)
Well, what does the rest of this day look like? Coursework, housework, perhaps Sacramental Confession and spending time before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at a nearby shrine, getting coffee (which I was instructed not to forgo after all!) at a little shop around the corner, and, this evening, attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form at our parish. Soon, I will need to work on the baby quilt for my cousin's son. I also have a new order for the mantillas I make and sell. One of these days, I need to get out my DSLR camera and have fun capturing the uniqueness of the area in which we live. I haven't been creative in ever so long.
And, one of these days, I would like to go in to work with my Husband-- well, not to his job-- but to sit at the library or at the bookshop I had enjoyed during his formal interviews. I have already seen his cubical. He has the "LOVE" alphabet photography work I created for him in one corner. I am trying to find an appropriate picture frame for a photograph of us together, so that it might also grace his desk. The workspace needs to look cheery and remind him of home. That is my goal. I had been terribly worried that my Husband would not like his new job; that he would regret not having been a professor after all. He was born to be a teacher. After all, the man "teaches" the air for fun. Thankfully, though, he thoroughly loves his job. Apparently he gets paid handsomely to do what he used to do for fun in his spare time-- help others with their algorithms and statistical models. His boss is also hoping that my Husband will be the expert for a new "super computer" the university just purchased. Yes-- and this is said with all love, sincerity, and respect-- my Husband is a complete nerd. :-) (In contrast, the only way I did well in my mathematics courses back in my old schooldays was due to the fact that our teacher could be easily persuaded to debate Calvinism or to speak about sports instead of physics. Thank God! :-))
Well, before this turns into an epic like the Odyssey, I will stop typing and post it. I apologise, but I do not feel like editing today. You will just have to bear with me. :-)
Just one more thought: What I have learned is this-- life moves on. It has its ups and its downs. But it is a joy, a blessing, and our one-and-only life to live. Indeed, with the Psalmist, my soul echoes the adjoining verse (from the one above):
"To the end that my glory may sing to thee, and I may not regret: O Lord my God, I will give praise to thee for ever."
May God bless each and every one of you. Please know that I am aware of the struggles some of you who read this blog are currently facing, especially those of you who are nearest and dearest to my heart. (Ahem! You know who you are. :-)) Even in this time of extreme difficulty, it is my earnest prayer that your soul will be touched by grace and that you will be able to give continued praise to God. Know that you are not alone. Rest assured that you are in the thoughts and prayers of both my Husband and me. Your intentions will be remembered at every Holy Mass. Take comfort in the loving-kindness of our great God and in the communion of the Mystical Body of Christ. Do not fear. Be not anxious for anything. Have faith that all will be well, in time. And, if at all possible in your spare time, I would recommend to you "Practical Piety." It is one my new favourite works, and reading it made me think of you. :-)
With agape love,