Monday, June 27, 2011

The "Whoa's!" of Technology...

There are things in life we just take for granted these days...to the capacity that it's reducing my critical thinking skills.

Get this: I actually locked my niece in the car today.  Well, I thought I did.  After an awesome ice cream cone and run around in the play area at Chik-Fil-A, we went out the car.  She was holding my keys (with the remote that has the lock/unlock and "panic" buttons on them) and I had the key to my ignition in my hand.  I put my niece in the car seat, shut the door, was walking around my car when...CLICK...Lydie Bug, in all her cuteness, pressed the LOCK button on the remote, locking herself in.

I was FREAKING OUT!  It was a hot day, my cell phone was locked in the car too (along with my niece)...all the windows are up, she's going to be dying of heat in there.  Real, true, panic rose up inside of me.  Do I motion to a one-year-old how to push the (much smaller and less appealing than the one she just pushed) UNLOCK button??  How do I leave her out there while I go inside to ask to use the phone?  WHO do I call?  How do I even know their number??

In my anxiety, I started pacing and flipping my ignition key around my finger...MY IGNITION KEY.  Despite my popular practices, that DOES still open all of the doors to my car.  So, I open it, "rescue" my niece and drive out of the Chik-fil-A parking lot, CRYING because I got so scared and LAUGHING because that was the most ridiculous situation I've been in for a long while.  Thank God I didn't call AAA!!!

So, after about three minutes of real stress, we are all okay and the niece is peacefully now sleeping in her air-conditioned home on a nice comfy bed.

My first car had manual locks, roll-down windows, no cruise control, etc.  I didn't have a remote opener for the first eight years of being a legal driver!  Remembering THIS would have been helpful this afternoon....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"That Thing I'm A Part Of..." My Tribute to Communion and Liberation

How many friends do you have that can tell you what life is really about, try to live it themselves, AND actually know what they're talking about?  My parents, first and foremost, are my guides.  Their wisdom and values that they transmitted to us are ones that I keep discovering daily.  I was so fortunate to be part of a family who truly unconditionally loves but also doesn't let you slack to be something lesser than your true self.

When I left my family and went to college, I was given another set of wonderful people who continued to teach me what life was all about.  It all started with Julia, a girl in my psychology class, who invited me to answer phones for this telephone marathon thing.  So, here I am, my first weekend in college in a brand new city, volunteering for an organization I can't remember with a girl I hardly knew.

Throughout my freshman year, my friendship with Julia grew and I realized that I was being hit by someone extraordinary.  Julia was cool--she liked line dancing, country music, playing games, watching movies, telling jokes--but she also had a huge Catholic faith.  Until that point, I had never recognized anyone in my life who integrated their faith life with real life so well.  I started going to her all the time with questions about why Catholic believed what they believed (even though I had been in Catholic schools for the past 7 years, it didn't interest me until I met Julia.)

Then, a life changing event entered.  She invited me to this meeting called "CL" where a group of people got together, read a book, and discussed it for an hour on Monday nights.  I politely declined, but I saw her go to this meeting every week.  It didn't matter what else was going on, she made this "CL" thing a priority.

After about a semester of observing this, I decided to go along with another girl from my dorm.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was probably expecting something really WOW.  Turns out, I hated the meeting.  The book was hard.  The leader was kind of scary and I walked out thinking I would never return.  But Mandy, the girl from my dorm and still a great friend, challenged my thinking saying, "But Julia goes every week.  Maybe we should try it just once more."  Events evolved and beautiful friendships were formed by a simply weekly commitment that I stuck with!  I'm not even sure how it all happened....

Fast forward 8 years.  Julia is now "Sr. Gemma" taking her vows with the Little Sisters of the Poor on July 16th in Queens, New York.  If you know me at all, you know how this "CL Thing"--Communion and Liberation, a movement in the Catholic Church--pretty much dominates my life and has made it SO INTERESTING. 
I've been able to see Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, New York City and Milan, Italy all due to CL events--vacations, meetings, cultural events, etc.  I've traveled ridiculous distances for weddings and could probably tell you someone I know in almost every state. 

I started going to daily Mass because I had friends who did.  (Just to show you my growth, I missed Mass two days in a row last week, and was so sad.  When did that attachment happen?)  The guys I've dated?  Yep, they've come from CL, too.  And despite the heartache that's inevitable, are all wonderful men.

For eight years, I've been going to weekly meetings where we discuss texts from the founder of Communion and Liberation, Fr. Giussani, and also the president of the Movement since he has passed, Fr. Carron.  For circumstances beyond my control, I found myself leading the small communities I'm a part of and had the privilege of meeting and befriending so many interesting people who I never would have picked as friends on my own.
I'm promised to the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation which is a commitment of daily prayer, tithing and attending an annual spiritual retreat led by the leaders of Communion and Liberation.  In short, the charism (a gift of the Holy Spirit that has been verified by Pope John Paul II that exists in CL) is intrinsic to the way I live my life now.

But, Erica, aren't you living in a bubble??  It scares people when one is so committed to something.  In my lesser moments, it scandalizes me.  I think it's a downfall of society these days.  We are expected to be skeptics.  But, when something brings you immense life and joy and opens you up to a "self" you never knew, why WOULDN'T you commit to it?  And, how can I be in a bubble with such diversity in my life experiences?

Through the eyes of how Fr. Giussani saw the relevance of the Catholic faith--a Christ's presence--in relation to all of life, I've found myself truly changed.  I'm a better daughter to my parents who gave and continue to give so much.  I'm a better teacher, loving my students because they ARE, not because of what they achieve.  I stay with my friends from high school because I love seeing them mature into adulthood--I'm not just stuck reminiscing on the past.  I give everything I can to my community at St.. John's Church because it was God's direct answer to a begging at a time in my life when I felt so so alone. 

Classical music has a new spin, movies, books, hiking, poetry, my PRAYER LIFE, looking at the stars--life ILLUMINATES under Christ's light and for my life the instrument shinging that light (a flashlight, or spotlight, if you will) is Communion and Liberation.

My prayer for all of humanity is that everyone can find something rooted in the truth of Christ so much that they illuminate under it's Light.  It doesn't have to be Communion and Liberation of course, although you are all invited to everything all the time.  All human beings long for truth, belonging, and a path on which to walk where they are certain they are taken care of.  So, don't just sit there.  Precious life is passing and you might be missing a lot of it!  Ask God for the grace to be given people who point out the fullness and beauty of life to you.  It will change everything!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Summer of Stability

I must have missed the memo about having a major life change this summer.  There seems to be more people in my life than I can count moving away from Indianapolis to start new jobs (important people, not just mere "chat, have fun and forget-about-them-friends...). My sister started her "grown-up" life in Findlay, Ohio. Two of my best friends from high school are skipping to Michigan for a better job opportunity.  My dear friend, now DR. DAVE, is moving to Nashville to start his residency program.  The list goes on and on.

And in the meantime, I just signed a contract stating I would stay in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis schools for another seven years working on my masters and paying off that loan by "serving" the Catholic schools here.

Serving?? I'm tempted to think of this like a ball and chain!

The Benedictine Sisters here (and probably everywhere, although I haven't researched that) take, along with other vows, a vow of stability.  When I first heard that in high school, I thought that was kind of posh--a little too easy.  Staying where you've always lived?  I mean, come on!

But here I am, living in the same place I've lived my whole life (minus those four years in Evansville) and I'm finding that the challenge is embracing the fact that others are leaving YOU, not that you are leaving them.  That transition of moving to a new place and finding your people and your places is a struggle for anyone.  And the transition is also a struggle for the people who stay in the same place!

A wise man once said to me in college, "The truest friends are those who pack your bags for you even if they don't know why you are leaving."  I've had enough life experiences to know that distance and even the amount of time spent together doesn't determine a friendship.  "Friendship" is simply loving someone enough to want all of their happiness--in whatever path they choose!

One of the most beautiful memories I have from a trip to Haiti two years ago was a moment where we were playing Euchre, and, right there, in the middle of the hand, one guy so genuinely says to the other, "Joe, I hope you get everything you want out of life."  We all laughed, of course, at how random that was but....What a beautiful expression of a true friendship that does not possess anything for itself!

I'm getting my practice this summer of how to truly affirm another's path and trusting the beauty of the present moments!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Proud to be a Rebel

I had the good fortune yesterday of witnessing one of my high school classmates, Dustin Boehm, be ordained into the Catholic priesthood!  As a graduate of Roncalli, we always talk about "Rebel Pride" and I can't think of a reason to be more proud when someone embraces a way of life that is counter-cultural, a sacrifice in some ways, yet with grace and humility as Dustin did.

It was a great day, filled with the Holy Spirit and a true sign that life's meaning and happiness comes from Someone else!  

In a homily given during Dustin's first Mass, a priest from St. Meinrad (I forget his name now) said that, in Dustin's years of formation, he learned what it meant to be a man.  A man who loves.  A man of prayer.  A man of God. 

Isn't this what our education is all about?  Becoming the TRUEST men and women we were created to be?  Dustin thanked so many of his friends, family, priests and parishes that had helped form him through the years and he was dead on--we aren't finding our way alone!  It's only through great witnesses of the faith and unconditional love that we can have the courage to live life in the way Christ asks of us!

It's only the beginning to see what becomes of this man--now Fr. Dustin Boehm.  I hope I am blessed to see all the lives he will touch through his selfless giving of his life through the priesthood.  May we all pray that Christ be close to Fr. Dustin in prayer and give him a deeper joy than he ever thought possible!