Little Book Update

With gratitude for the support that I have received, I give this brief update on my little book.

Child holding book

When does a child become an adult?  Is it at age 16, 18, or maybe 21?  Or is this stage completed by accomplishing a milestone of some kind?  Or a series of milestones?

When does a manuscript become a book?  Ah, that’s the question!  Is it when the first draft is completed?  No.  Oh, no.  Is it when the manuscript is ready for beta readers and editors?  Nope, that’s just the first draft of the final draft.

And that’s where my little book is right now.  As I am the author of a book and not the parent of a child, I think of it as a book, even though it has not yet become a book, while a parent may think of an adult as a child long after childhood has ended.  Both author and parent are future-looking and future-hoping, but a child will grow up naturally, of its own accord, causing a parent to be wistful about childhood.  An author, on the other hand, must make that manuscript become a book and is not so sentimental about the beginning phases.

At least… I don’t think I will have a sense of bittersweet when my manuscript officially becomes a book.  Will I?

But, I really shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself.  God willing, I will be able to complete this journey.  (Prayers have been, and still are, much appreciated.)  There will be a lot of work to do when my test readers get back to me with their reports.  And then, even more work to do, I’m sure, with the editor in July (once I actually choose from among several editors who are assessing the manuscript) before I eventually get to the final draft of the final draft of my book – which will, I guess, be simply called “my book,” objectively and officially.

Well… maybe not objectively and officially “my book” until it is published out into the world.  (Although drafts and manuscript are but stages of a book, as childhood and adulthood are but stages of a person.)

That publication, my dear readers, will be a blog update for another time.  God willing!

Thank you for all of the many bugs!  Making a public commitment to write a book has truly helped to make the book a reality.  Now that I am safely out of the fragile neonatal stage, others are getting to see the manuscript as the book that I already knew growing deep inside of me.  God is good!  And I am most grateful for this opportunity to give witness to the fearsome wonder of divinely loved life.

© 2018 Christina Chase


Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

May

The month of May… A time to remember, reflect, and honor…

Divine. Incarnate.

In the month of May, we honor motherhood – and the dead of war.

All over the earth, mothers watch their sons go off to war every day. The baby she once cradled in her arms, lovingly, tenderly keeping him from all of the world’s harms – a soldier now, battle ready, double-edged sword in hand. Hundreds… Thousands… Millions of boys become men ground up by the machinery of war; the blood of beloved sons spilled out, saturating field and forest or mingling with the salty tears of fathomless seas. What gain can be had by so great a cost? What treasure could entice a woman to offer as potential sacrifice a child whom she has raised and loved?

On battlefields and disputed fronts, in gunfights, bombings, and hand-to-hand combat, the cries and gory wounds of war march on… for country! And more deeply… for faraway home… for brothers in…

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May I Call Myself A Cripple?

At the beginning of this month, I submitted an article to an online site for the first time – an article that was very quickly rejected.  The story was for themighty.com and I knew that I was running the risk of rejection because of its language, a bit politically incorrect, maybe even harsh to some.  It wasn’t meant to be harsh, however, just honest.  Perhaps, I didn’t make myself clear enough – or perhaps they were just rejecting everything this month.  Since I’m not afraid to be controversial in my own blog,  I’m sharing the story with you…

Christina Chase, girl in wheelchair

I remember the first (and only) time that someone called me a cripple to my face.  It was an early summer evening in front of my great-aunt’s house, when I was about seven or eight years old.  I was alone, sitting in my manual wheelchair on the sidewalk, probably waiting for my sister as I was too weak to propel the chair myself, and a boy was walking along the same sidewalk in the opposite direction.  When he saw me, he looked at my skinny body in my little wheelchair and said, “You’re a cripple.”

And I laughed at him.

I would like to say that I laughed bravely in the face of bullying… but, that wouldn’t be a true description of my laughter or of the situation itself. Continue reading

Ascending

Mother, mother and child, ocean, light

What does it mean to ascend?  To move upward; to rise through the air; to succeed to (as in ascending a throne).  On the day of this posting, we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into Heaven.  After the Resurrection, he was taken up from the sight of the disciples, he even rose through the air.  And he ascended his heavenly throne.  In celebrating this great Feast Day, I would also like to include two other definitions of the word: to rise up from a lower degree; to go back in time through your family’s genealogical succession.  (Don’t worry, this won’t take long.  Don’t trust me?  Then here’s a quick preview: kindness and mothers.)

Fr. Finnigan shared a bit of a poem during his homily at Mass today – the priest, in his mid-to-late eighties, often reads to us wonderful quotes and clips from theologians, saints, and poets.  This particular one he found in a book by Father Frederick William Faber, who lived in England during the 19th century.  The writer of the poem itself is anonymous, but it fit beautifully with Fr. Faber’s work, in a book called, Kindness.  The poem also fit with Fr. Finnigan’s homily on loving one another – for, isn’t that what kindness is?  The words started my mind thinking about the power of love and how it is so powerful that it can be conveyed through the smallest things… Continue reading

Autobiographical Page

I’ve been toying with what to write on my “official website”  (sorry, that still sounds pretentious) concerning my bio page.  The homepage is an “About” written in the third person (yes, that was very weird to write) but, I’ve decided to include a little something more “in her own words”  – yes, in the first person.

Below is something that I came up with – and I really want to know what you think…

 

Life with a disability isn’t anyone’s ideal.

But, it’s life without love that’s a tragedy.

Because of my genetic disease (infantile spinal muscular atrophy) I have experience of particular suffering, often acute suffering, as I lack the gifts of physical health, strength, and abilities. Because of my amazing and self-giving parents, however – as well as my doting sister, close childhood friend, big extended family, brother-in-law, nephews, and even generous strangers – I have always known that I am a loved individual. Best of all, though I didn’t always know it, I have come to understand that I am eternally loved by my Creator, that I have been infinitely and intimately loved into being by God.

Yes, I am gorgeously rich in love.

And that’s the story of my life. For, this love has shaped me, saved me from error, and sent me on my path – on the good, true, and terribly beautiful path created just for me.

Not the bio that you were expecting, I’m sure. Most people, when writing about themselves, would probably list their accomplishments, in the form of college degrees, work experiences, spouse, homeownership, or children. I have none of these usual things. And, yet, I have listed what is most important in my life, I have listed the greatest blessings and experiences that I have been given, by declaring one accomplishment – which is not really an accomplishment at all, but, rather, an unmerited gift: I know that I am loved.

Dear reader, my prayer is that, no matter how worldly-great or worldly-small you may be, you will also receive the greatest and best that human life has to offer: the experienced knowledge of unconditional love, which is divine.

© 2018 Christina Chase

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

velizar-ivanov-502066-unsplash

The Mystery of Suffering

You know you’ve asked this question before.  Many have.  And I am asking it now, but – well… I’d first like to start with a little thought on the wording of this question.  Do “bad things” exist?

To quote GK Chesterton as he paraphrased Saint Thomas Aquinas: “There are no bad things.  There are only bad uses of things.”  That is to say that God doesn’t create things that are bad or evil.  God looked upon all that He created and saw that it was good.  We human beings, however, often use the things that God has created quite poorly.  The very first human beings did this when they consumed something that wasn’t meant for their consumption.  And, yes, because of that freely chosen break from Divine Will, that Original Sin, we have suffered a separation from God and live in a fallen world.  There is evil in the world – but the evil isn’t a thing.  A mutated gene is a thing.  A tumor is a thing.  And, if these are things, and there are no evil or bad “things,” then are mutated genes or cancerous tumors “bad”?  Sacred Scripture tells us, “We know that God makes everything work for good for those who love God….”[1]

If we truly love God, then we trust God.  And if we trust God, then we are able to allow God to make things – even our great difficulties and sorrows – work out for our good.  We might not be able to see what that good is, especially in the midst of our tribulations.  We are, after all, limited, too small to see the big picture that is God’s Masterpiece.  But, loving God and trusting God, we believe in God’s promises.  We hope in what we cannot yet see.

That’s the first thought that I leave you to ponder.  In the pondering, think of how we can make our own natural sufferings worse. Continue reading

Beyond Grasping

Scrambling to finish the second draft of the final revision of my book (hopefully, the final) so, I’m resharing a poem for this week’s post. This is one of the few poems that I have written easily – which, of course, makes me doubt that it’s good. As I would love to make changes to improve it, please make suggestions in the comments. Thank you!

Divine. Incarnate.

Fireworks

What sparks jump
between two lovers,
what intimate whispers
and erotic juices flow
from flesh to flesh,
when hand is holding hand?

It is merely possession,
some may say,
a claim of property;
a way of seizing and keeping
what is rightfully owned
when hand is holding hand.

But, there is a magic
beyond grasping,
a mysterious link
that is only made visible,
tangible and speakable
when hand is holding hand.

Lovers and leaders
know the truth,
that there is giving
in the taking of another’s hand,
a transmittable substance
of love, wisdom and concern,
that guides the wandering home,
and makes single lives complete;
that emanates the faith of promises,
and opens the door
with every new acquaintance.

If you hold a hand,
and look not into the person’s eyes
and care not to see
God’s own reflection there,
then you know not the miracle,
the blessed, human miracle,

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The Awakening

A Winter’s worth of snow is melting away,

for nothing living and new can Spring

from frozen soil. The white crystal kingdom

is becoming the watery realm of liquid rivulets and streams.

Everywhere beneath the sky is the slow, relentless

drip,

drip,

drip

of conversion,

while the sky itself

is breathing briskly with blue and white and winged things.

 

The living Earth is warming, waking,

in the light of the ever rising Sun;

the dormant things of snow and ice are dissipating

and, as they flow, are expiating anything dead they left behind.

Green spears will pierce the softened ground

and, soon, the crocus chalices are found

among the fading remnants of the shroud.

Where once the bare outlines of black and white

were all that slept within the hush,

there now will come the tender blush,

the violet flush, the yellow rush of blossoms

raised as from the tomb.

crocus in snow

Loose tendrils of azalea hair,

the fruitful blooms of apple, pear,

yawning, stretching open wide,

the ferns and flowers everywhere…

Oh wait beneath the weight of secret rest

and see the coming of the Morning Fair,

to which the universe and all attest,

the time perpetual and rare,

The Loving Heart at nature’s breast,

Who put the will to thrive in there –

Oh Beauty, ever ancient, ever new!

© 2018 Christina Chase


“O, Beauty ever ancient, ever new” – Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book X, Chapter 27

Happy Birthday to Me

baby, crib, Christina Chase

Tomorrow is my birthday.  (Thank you for the kind thoughts!  Yes, of course I can hear what’s in your head, silly.)  This year, my birthday brings good news and bad news.

The Bad News:

I am unable to make my self-imposed deadline for my book.  As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I had resolved to get my first manuscript into the hands of an editor by my birthday.  Well, that’s not going to happen.  (Okay, I know, that’s really not that terrible. But, I’m disappointed and a little scared that I will keep missing deadlines.)

I was able to make the first deadline of my resolution, completing the first draft of the manuscript by March 1.  But… well, perhaps I shouldn’t say that I am unable to make the other deadline – it’s more that I am unwilling.  What I mean is that the first draft was of a book that I didn’t really like.  In my opinion (which matters, since it is my book) it had major flaws.  These flaws required an extensive revision, which included the writing of several new reflection chapters.

The needed revision wasn’t so extensive that it needed, say, 40 days and 40 nights of rain to cause a biblical sized flood to wash away the horrors and start afresh.  Nope.  Just another six weeks or so of work.  My new deadline for sending the manuscript to an editor is my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary (mid-May.)  Or traditional Memorial Day at the absolute latest!  (To this date I must stay firm – please help me by bugging me, dear reader!)

The Good News:

The good news is that it’s my birthday tomorrow.  Every birthday is good news!  I am sublimely grateful to be celebrating another year, especially after what I went through medically last year.  But, I’m always grateful.  Frankly, due to the grim prognosis of my disease given to my parents on my second birthday, every year since I was 18 has felt like a bonus prize.  For, every time April 6 comes around, I wonder if it will be the last birthday that I will get to celebrate.  This wonder isn’t as morbid as it sounds, for it doesn’t fill me with gloom or anxiety.  Rather, it is truly a wonder – a gladness and a delighted surprise that I am still here.  Oh, all of the beauties of spring that I will again be able to witness dripping, stretching, and bursting open all around me!

An essential part of this good news is that I know that I am loved.  My amazing parents are still with me, able to give of themselves to me as they have done for decades, showing me and everyone who knows them the wondrous truth, beauty, and power of self-sacrificing love.  And all with a great sense of humor and enjoyment of life!  My big sister, too, is in my life, a cherished gift in herself, having also brought to the family the gift of her good and loving husband and their two bright and beautiful sons, who, themselves, are endless gifts of wonder and joy.

And, most thankfully, I know that I am infinitely and intimately loved by my Creator.  No matter what.  Always and forever.

Life is good.  I am happy that I was conceived and born into the world!  And that’s what I’ll be celebrating tomorrow: the gift of life and all that God has given me.  Yes, all.  I willingly take the bitter with the sweet for the chance to be able to live in God’s terribly beautiful Creation and participate, in every little way, in Creation’s awe-filled praise of the Divine.

It is good to be here.

Spring, Apple blossoms, cherry blossoms

© 2018 Christina Chase


1st photo, me in my crib, reaching for my photographer father

2nd photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

Our Sufferings He Endured: a Meditation

(Once, I prayed these words when I received Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament – and my teeth pierced into the Body of Christ…. )

For my salvation, Lord, this is what you will… Mystery of Mysteries…The unfathomable wonder of your love…

Oh, my Lord and my God…

Crown-of-Thorns

The circle of thorns,

the only crown that we deigned to give you in our wickedness,

pierced into your temples – and you hallowed us.

Three_Nails_1

 The iron spikes, with which we nailed you to

the only throne that we deigned to give you in our worldliness,

pierced through and bound your limbs – and you set us free.

pierced-by-lance

The lance,

the only honor that we deigned to give you in our waywardness,

pierced open your heart – and you saved us.

 

Hold us within your Sacred Heart, Christ Jesus!

Pour forth your mercy upon us, O Lord, and help us, by your grace,

to fall upon penitent knees

and humbly lift our begging bowls to you, so that you may fill them…

Fill our hearts to overflowing with yourself-giving love, Lord!

And, in the overflowing,

may we truly love one another as you love us.

Amen.

© 2018 Christina Chase