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

What Is Love?

Love, heart, hands

What is love?  Well, that’s a question and a half, isn’t it?

“All you need is love.”

“Love is a battlefield.”

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

“What’s love got to do with it?”

(Insert a gazillion song titles here.)

“Love your neighbor.”

“God is love.”

No wonder there’s some confusion about love in our mainstream culture.  Love is one of the most overused English words – and one of the least used human qualities.  Far too many people in the world are not loved by others – and do not know that they are divinely and infinitely loved.  And, yet, those who have very little experience with real love still have an innate longing and need for it.

Our society offers romantic love as the highest form of love, leaving many disillusioned when they cannot find a partner with whom to live up to that ideal.  Yet, even this ideal that society offers falls short of the highest form of love.  What, then,  do we teach our children about love? Continue reading

What Is the Soul?

Hot-air balloon, sky, balloon, soul

We’ve past the midpoint of Lent!  This makes some people happy, but, I enjoy the Lenten season and am always reluctant to have it end so quickly.  Maybe you’re thinking that  a time of repentance spent in fasting, prayer, and almsgiving isn’t something to be enjoyed.  But, you’re wrong.  There is great joy in living a life that is freed from the chains of bad habits, addictions, and most of all, sin.

Sin is too often equated with pleasure in our world – and pleasure is too often equated with sin.  That is why some think that repentance and true Christian living is a boring and burdensome kind of life.  “If we stop sinning,” they think, “what happiness would we have?”  But, what they don’t understand is that the body and soul are equally essential in being human – and in being joyful.  For, we are creatures of flesh and spirit and we cannot ignore the well-being of one without damaging the well-being of the other.

God created us with material bodies and spiritual souls so that we could enjoy the goodness of His material Creation and also live forever in the bliss of His Eternity.  Religion, and, yes, Lent, can help us to find the right balance and live the fullness of being human – body and soul.

Here is a little explanation that I gave to my nephews when they were very young about the soul.  (They received a shorter version.)  If we can see ourselves as little children, then, perhaps, we can better understand the true joy of a life well and fully lived…. Continue reading

Who Is God?

Horizon, dawn, God

Lent is a good time to get back to basics, to the essentials.  (Actually, anytime is a good time for that.)  So, I’m sharing some words on the very basics of faith, starting with what comes first: God.  This explanation is something that I said (in shorter form) to my nephews when they were very young.  It is meant for a child – but, it is also good for me to read once in a while, when I need to be reminded that I am little.  And, I have to say, writing a book for the first time is certainly a humbling process!  I am being made aware, very acutely, of my limitations, of just how little I am in this great big world… but, also, how great God is…. Continue reading

My First Book! Well, Okay, Not yet…

manuscript, pages, writing

The first draft of my manuscript is complete.  (And, yes, calling it a manuscript does sound weird.  And technically, anyway, is it really a manuscript since I didn’t write it out by hand – manual + script?  But, I digress…)  I’m grateful to have been able to keep the first part of my 2018 Resolution!

Over the last 59 days, a wide spectrum of thoughts about my first book, and the whole process of writing it, have tumbled through my mind, causing me to feel differently about it on different days.  So far, these have been my most frequent opinions/feelings (in no particular order): ridiculous… brilliant… impossible… lame… okay…. Continue reading

Lasting Words: The Gospel

What good news would you share with the people who will mourn your death?

This is an important question to ask if you, like me, want to plan your own funeral ahead of time.  I have no idea when my last day on earth will be – but, I do know that there will be a last day here.  That’s why I decided to write the blog post, Preparing to Die in 5 Easy Steps.  In my recent posts, I have shared the Bible passages that I want read at my Funeral Mass: Old Testament reading, psalm, and epistle.  Now for the Gospel – the Good News.

And, yes, the reading (continue to the end) is about Heaven, about life after death – but… with a twist.  The twist is that this particular reading, taken from St. Matthew’s Gospel, helped me to finally understand that Christianity isn’t all about what happens after you’re dead.

Christianity’s focus is about how you live right here, right now.  It’s about whether or not you know Christ and have encountered Him in the flesh.  In Christianity, having a divine experience, having a living relationship with God, isn’t relegated to the afterlife.  Because God is here.  God is here among us – right now.  Do see him?  Are you even looking?

HomelessnessDo you care?

Because, right now, God is living in your neighborhood, lonely, sick, and suffering.  God is hoping that you will, as my grandmother might say, “shiv a git” and drop in, even just to say hi.  Right now, God is holed up in the corner of a filthy room, having not eaten for two days, her mother strung out and wasted on heroine, waiting for you to knock on the door, to call protective services, or to become a foster parent – to do something.

What are you doing?  What am I doing?

Some people think that disabled people like me need religion as a crutch and a comfort.  But, even though I seem to be one of the needy ones, I am also called to give – not just to receive.  Christianity, in reality, is more of a challenge than a comfort.  In fact, if you are comfortable in the living of your Christian faith, then you’re probably not doing it right.

I’m not doing it right, I confess.

We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

But, the good news is that we have one.

And our Savior isn’t far away on some candy sugar mountain waiting for us after death so that he can pat us on the head and say, “That’s okay, you didn’t have to listen to me.  You didn’t have to look for me on earth or go out of your way to care.”  Nope.  That’s not how it’s going to play out.  At the end of days, our Savior is going to tell us one of two things.

Either: “I remember you!  Thank you for being there for me.  Thank you for sacrificing and being brave enough to comfort me, to take care of me.”

Or: “Who are you again?  I don’t remember you.  I’ve never seen you before.  Where were you when I needed someone?”

Homelessness, poverty, Boston

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Lasting Words: The Epistle

If I wrote a letter to those who were grieving my death, what would I write?  This is one of the questions that I asked myself last year in my post, Preparing to Die in 5 Easy Steps.  I also made a commitment to choose the Bible readings that I would like read at my Funeral Mass.  These two efforts find communion in the words of St. Paul – one of the Scripture passages that I choose for when my loved ones say goodbye to me, whenever that may be.

As I am busy writing my book, God willing, I share this reading with you, dear reader.  (I will be checking the comments, so please keep up the bothering and encouraging so that I can stay on track!)

The words that follow are definitely those of St. Paul.  My letter to my loved ones will be different.  But, there is a tenderness in what St. Paul has to say to the Philippians that touches my heart and, I hope, will touch the heart of those who will hear it at my funeral, whenever that may be.  The way that he combines his expressions of affection and his joyful encouragement toward unity and kindness with the jaw-dropping reality of the Mystery of the Incarnation fills me with delight – this is Christianity.  A call to love, humility, compassion, and generosity, to union with divinity – through Christ, who is God… humble, compassionate, generous… love itself.

Wonder of wonders…

Rose, hands, Christian, help, Elderly

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Lasting Words: Psalm 139

What Sacred Scripture do you want read at your funeral?

Continuing with the divinely inspired words that I want to share with those who will grieve my death, whenever that will be, (for more, click here) I turn to my favorite Psalm.  God knows that I strayed from Him in my life, seeking truth where truth was not – yet, God was everywhere that I looked and I could not see Him.  God was with me – and Mysteriously, in me – all along, and I denied Him.  I tried, as some ancient sages have written, to run from my feet….

Thankfully, God is merciful!

road, country road, searching, wheelchair, journey, path, disability

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Lasting Words: The Book of Wisdom

Sacred Scripture on Beauty and Truth….

For the first reading at my funeral (read more about that HERE) I would like these words from The Book of Wisdom proclaimed.  This is God divinely understanding primitive beginnings of finding Him – understanding my own primitive ignorance, when I did not believe in Him and, yet, sought the truth through science alone.  I have always wanted the truth and been drawn to Beauty, loving the beauty of the natural world, even in my ignorance of God.  God was speaking to me – and I recognized Him not.  God is merciful.  (It is clear to me now how Saint Augustine was inspired to write what he wrote on the Beautiful One.)

When my body is in attendance at my last Mass, I want all people in attendance to be filled with the same desire of truth that filled me in my earthly life – and to receive Wisdom from God, as I mercifully did while I still breathed within God’s beautiful Creation of the natural world.  Let us  have mercy on those who still do not know the fullness of reality, that they may come to know God and the fullness of who they are as God’s beloved creatures!

(In case  you’re wondering, yes, I am working on my book – although this is prescheduled,  I trust in God’s mercy that progress is being made.  I will be checking on the comments, so please bug me! 🙂 )

Fire, coastline, nature, Book of Wisdom

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