On Mass Killings and Respecting Life

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I want to help build a culture of life.

My vocation, I believe, is to inspire and foster respect for human life, compassion for every human being, and recognition of everybody’s inherent, indissoluble dignity.  No matter how small or seemingly useless a person may be, each and every one of us is supposed to be here, each and every one of us is intrinsically sacred and beautiful in the eyes of the Creator Who brought us into existence.

Sometimes, though, my conviction in the core worth of every person gets tested.  On Sunday, October 1, 2017, celebrated on the Catholic Church calendar as Respect Life Sunday, a man perched in a high-rise in Las Vegas, Nevada fired upon a crowd of over 22,000 people, injuring nearly 500, and killing 58 before ending up dead himself.  This man had no history of mental illness, appears to have been a “normal guy”, was a wealthy, older man, and has no apparent ties whatsoever to any kind of terrorist group, foreign or domestic.  So… Why?  Why did he do it?  What was wrong with him?  Something must have been wrong with him… right?  I am asking these questions because I don’t have the answers….  Perhaps, there is no definitive answer. Continue reading

This Is My Body

Recently writing about my current medical issues and concerns, I’ve decided that perhaps it is true: a picture is worth a thousand words.  So, I’m sharing with all of you a picture of my body – an x-ray image of my torso.  Although the image was taken in order to look for pneumonia, you can see my spine in it and, so, the interesting twists and turns of my backbone and deformity of my ribs.  (Don’t say that I ever held back in bearing myself to you, letting you know me inside and out!)

scoliosis x-ray

Is it any wonder that surgery is not an option for me?

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.  On this great day, we are called to ponder the wondrous and generous Mystery and mercy of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist – as he perpetually gives himself wholly to us, body, blood, soul, and divinity.  We also call to mind the profound Mystery of the Incarnation itself.  God, The Creator and Master of the Universe, became a human being, one of us, with his own human body to live, suffer, and die.  This is the most sublime and awesome act of love and unity.

In contemplating Christ’s sacred body, I consider my own little one.  Consider yours, as well.  Each of us is a frail, lovely, odd little creature – known and loved by God.  Every hair on my head is counted, every cell embraced, every moment that this body of mine grows and breathes and ages is held as exquisitely precious to my Lord and my God.

Of what shall I be afraid?

Be at peace, little one, live your life in your blessed little body and be not afraid, your soul rejoices in your eternal home always, says my Savior God to me…

© 2017 Christina Chase

YouTube Channel – For Better or for Worse

YouTube cover, wheelchair, church, light and dark

Sometimes, I think that people make YouTube videos because they like the sound of their own voices.  But, I assure you, that’s not the case with me.  I seriously DISLIKE the sound of my own voice!  My voice is preferred through writing not speaking.  However, I believe that I should try to reach as  many people as I can and I know that there are some people who would rather watch a video than read a 1000 word essay.  So…

Last month (April) I made and published a short video reading a poem about myself and I called the post about it Brave.  I really did feel brave and, yes, a little foolish.  And, yet… I went and made another one!  This one is longer, longer than I intended, and I thought about redoing it to make it shorter and better.  But, then I thought that one of the advantages of speaking versus writing is that I don’t have to be so particular with my grammar, word choices, sentence structures, etc..  Therefore, I simply published it as is. Perhaps as a sign that video production is not for me, I accidentally published  the post with the video “What’s Wrong with Her” early, last Sunday, (with an odd predate of the 18th) instead of on Thursday, my usual posting day.

So, here I am, on my regular posting day, with this little introduction to my YouTube channel.  My plan is to make and post a video every month or so, weather permitting.  🙂 They will mostly be about my disability and disease and, hopefully, under five minutes in length.  I still do feel both brave and foolish doing this, but, here I am…  On this Feast of the Ascension, reminded that Christ is always with us, I hope that I am doing God’s will…

© 2017 Christina Chase

A Word of Encouragement

Sometimes, I seriously wonder if I’m doing the right thing.  Writing my life story, blogging, trying to build a social media “platform” – is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?  I don’t know how much time I have left, after all…

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What we are called to do in life, I believe, is to live well.  But, this doesn’t mean the advertisers’ version of living well: fine dining, cruises, laughing with healthy looking friends, and so glamorously on.  To live well means to LOVE.  Therefore, my intellect and worldly accomplishments (whether big or puny) are not what matter most.  The loftiest thoughts and most eloquent words in the world don’t amount to anything truly worthwhile, certainly nothing eternal, unless they come from a heart of real love.  It’s like that famous Bible quote from St. Paul, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”[1]

I know that I do love.  Always have I been filled with a love of life.  My commitment is to, with the gifts that I have been given, love God with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love the people in my life – and perfect strangers – as God loves me, through Christ Jesus[2].  I will be, and am, tested in this love every day, and sometimes I fare worse than others.  But, I am devoted to persevering.  Though I may fall, Lord, may I rise…

Hearing the following words, also from St. Paul, gave me a nice little kick where I needed it recently – for,we all need direction in our lives, encouragement, and community.  (The Bible, I’m learning more and more, is great for that.)

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.  For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.  But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy: 4 (emphasis added.)

Thanks, Paul.  I needed that.  🙂

More words from the Saint next month – words that made the old pagan in me very happy.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo credit: “Communication” © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:1

[2] Luke 10:27

What’s Wrong with Her?

While in a mall or some kind of store, I have often seen, out of the corner of my eye, a young child staring at me in my wheelchair.  Sometimes, I can hear the little voice innocently ask the question to Mom or Dad, “What’s wrong with her?”

Out of the mouths of babes….  Usually, the parent responds with an embarrassed kind of hushed whisper, encouraging the child not to say things like that.  But, why not?  There is certainly nothing wrong with a child who is filled with wonder and curiosity – in fact, witnessing such innocent perplexity, sometimes amazement, and the pure desire to know is exquisitely beautiful to me.  There is no masterpiece created by any artist in the world that is more inspiring and powerful than that little boy, that little girl, with the intently looking eyes and the head cocked, pondering.  A child, I may add, that trusts the guarding adult to know and to teach well.

Of course, the adult usually doesn’t know what to say.  Sometimes, there will be a simple, patient response and I carry on as if I never heard.  It’s when the parent is embarrassed and shushing that I try be there for the child.  If I am near enough and I don’t have to turn in order to have the child in my sight, I have sometimes given answer myself. “I can’t walk because my legs are too weak, they’re not strong enough.  My body is just made this way,” I say gently, with a little smirk, sharing the weirdness of it with the child, and then a smile to show that is not such a terrible thing. Continue reading

“Who Are You?” Mentor and Memoir

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Who are you?

This is a question that my mentor, Mr. John D Meehan, asked me in one of a handful of face-to-face conversations that we had.  And when he posed it to me, different answers went through my mind.  All that I could really think of responding with, however, was, “me” – and that with a question mark at the end of it.  I chose not to give an answer out loud, just sat there thinking and waiting for him to continue.  I knew that he would.  He mentioned each of the ways that had flipped through my thoughts, the ways by which most people answered the question: professional identity, national identity, religious affiliation, familial or social association, maybe even a hobby.

But, Mr. Meehan said, none of these go to the heart of your true identity, to who you are.

He said that the truth of who we are is in relationship with Christ, then gave the example of Mary Magdalene.  She didn’t recognize Christ Resurrected, but as soon as he spoke her name, she knew him.  In this, Mr. Meehan was inviting me to find the answer of who I am.  Having been a teacher, I think that he could have spelled it out a bit more plainly to me.  If he had, maybe he would’ve said something like “you are a child of God”… but, then again, perhaps he knew that that answer would not have penetrated into my mind and heart because I had heard it too many times before.  Or, perhaps, he didn’t like that answer either, for the same connotative reasons that would have made me smirk.  I’ll never know now, because, last week, Mr. Meehan died. Continue reading

Brave

I feel very brave posting this.  Three and a half years of blogging here and I have been careful not to show pictures of myself straight on.  In fact, you’ll only find two.  Yet, here I am sharing a video of myself.

Why?  Right now, I’m really not sure!  A video of me reciting one of my poems with no makeup and no video touchup software?  (That would have to be some pretty awesome touchup software…)

But… there is something to be said about showing your wounds…

Being a Christian isn’t about standing on a soapbox yelling out quotes from Scripture or pointing at people “in sin” and warning them that they better change their ways.  Christianity is about Christ – and Christ is about love.  Christ is love incarnate.  So, if I want to share Christ with others, then I must not only love them in my heart and my actions, but also share with them my love – which includes my suffering.

When St. Thomas doubted the Resurrection, Christ came before him and showed him his wounds, let him put his fingers right into them.  We all have wounds.  We all have sufferings.  And we shouldn’t be afraid of them or even ashamed of them.  I am not proud of my defective gene (you won’t see me in any kind of SMA pride parade or whatever) but I am not ashamed to have a defective gene – or to even call part of me defective.  For that is the truth.

By sharing the truth of who I am – all of me – I hope that you may come to better know my love and, through that love, to know Christ.  God doesn’t make junk.  Everybody is sacred – every body is sacred.  And, sometimes, it is through our wounds that the glory of who we are is made known.

Now, remember mercy…

© 2017 Christina Chase

3 Years Blogging: Remembering the Reason

Christmas is coming soon.  Yes, I said it.  And much as we are asked to remember “The Reason for the Season”, I am celebrating the upcoming 3-year anniversary of this blog by remembering the reason why I started this thing in the first place… Continue reading

Blogger Recognition Award

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Caiaimages/Sam Edwards/Getty images

A famous actress is asked about her hopes of winning the Oscar for which she is a nominee.  She replies, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”  And we smirk.

But, why be cynical?  There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions, of actresses in the world and only about 10 of them are considered every year for the Academy Award.  This nominated actress has received, then, a rare privilege.  A group of her peers has singled out her work, recognizing her talent, skill, and heart.

And that is an honor.

In the blogosphere, we don’t have anything as grand and golden as an Oscar.  Continue reading

Made by Fools like Me

April is the month in which I was birthed into the world. It is also, I found out this year, National Poetry Writing Month. And I, much to my disbelief, entered a poetry contest for #NaPoWriMo through Local Gems Poetry Press. 30 poems on a theme in 30 days, the winner gets his or her “chapbook” published – I’m actually pretty excited. Not because I’m confident that I’ll win, but because I’m being forced to be productive and to compile and edit a manuscript by a deadline. I hate deadlines. But… they are exactly what a procrastinator needs – what I need. And, if I don’t win the contest, I will self publish the poetry as an e-book. I wrote it, so hold me to it! It’s time to take a bigger risk than blogging.

So, since I’m busy trying to write poetry that’s at least halfway good, I’m sharing some of my favorite poetry, which is truly good, for this week’s post. The first poem is one that you probably know and the second will probably remind you of someone that you know. Number three is, I think, my very first favorite poem from middle school days and the last bit of verse that I’m sharing says just about everything to me in just a few lines. Without further ado, I defer to the true poets:

Trees

by

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

 

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

 

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

 

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

 

“Still to be neat, still to be dressed”

by

Ben Johnson

Still to be neat, still to be dressed,

As you were going to a feast;

Still to be powdered, still perfumed;

Lady, it is to be presumed,

Though art’s hid causes are not found,

All is not sweet, all is not sound.

 

Give me a look, give me a face,

That makes simplicity a grace;

Robes loosely flowing, hair as free;

Such sweet neglect more taketh me

Than all th’adulteries of art.

They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.

 

There Will Come Soft Rains

by

Sara Teasdale

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

 

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

 

Robins will wear their feathery fire

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

 

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

 

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly;

 

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

 

from Auguries of Innocence

by

William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

 


Featured Image: Me, at eight years old, dressed up as an old-fashioned girl and pretending to write with a “quill”