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

Blogger Recognition Award

paparazzi with glamorous woman

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”

5 Steps to Letting God Love You

Apparently, it’s common blogging knowledge that people like lists. Who knew? Bloggers are suggested to write posts like “Top 10 Famous…” or “5 Easy Ways to…”. Personally, I’m not much of a fan of a step-by-step approach to spirituality – but I can’t help but like the convenience of a how-to checklist. So, here’s mine, a kind of companion to last week’s post:

5 Steps to Letting God Love You

1.) Be open and honest. This may seem like two steps, but it’s really only one. If you really want to let God love you, so that you may become the person that you were created to be, then you must look up from the closed in darkness of your little life to honestly assess all around you. And within you. Being truthful is the most important step to letting God fully into your life, because God is Truth. Know the truth is that you are not in this life alone. There are people all around you in a great big world created by the Infinite/Eternal One. Be brave enough to open your little eyes and your little ears to truly see and hear.

2.) Be not afraid of your limitations. You are small, weak, and imperfect. This is a true fact that your open honesty should be able to perceive. There are some things that you simply cannot do. For example, I cannot walk. And there are some things in your life that you simply cannot change, like the mistakes of your past, the wrongs that have been done to you, etc.. Too many self-help guides to happiness want you to live “without limitations”. But there are some limits that are truly and inexorably LIMITS. There is no shame in this. Every person has limitations! Just being human comes with its own set. So, know yourself, and accept the fact that there are some things that you simply can’t change. It’s okay. This is part of humility. When you bravely acknowledge your littleness, you open yourself up to the greatness of God.

3.) Desire forgiveness. Since you can’t go back in time and undo the mistakes of your past, you need to accept them and forgive. Mistakes that others have made that impacted you also need to be accepted and those in error forgiven. Sins, too, must be honestly acknowledged. Be not afraid! Rather, repent of all of those times that you chose to be unloving, that you chose to close yourself off from God’s love, and ask God to forgive you. Desiring His forgiveness, you will certainly receive – then, forgive yourself. Knowing that God desires to forgive all, forgive those who have sinned against you. Without this step, there will be no love in your heart.

4.) Trust. Each step that you take requires bravery – know that God is right beside you, holding on to you. Trust that God’s love is the answer to every problem, the healing balm for every wound, the inspiration for, and safeguard of, every practical action that you need to take in order to become a fulfilled human being. Trust that the difficult, unchangeable things that come into your life can never, ever take you away from the goodness and joy of God’s love – unless you let them. Don’t let them. Instead, let go of your desire for control and let God take over. Let God love… forgive… heal… lead… through you. You are never alone!

5.) Be generous. Receiving God’s forgiveness, receiving God’s love, you must share it with others! True love can never be bottled up and kept to yourself, or it will become stagnant and poisonous. Rather, true love must flow. God is infinitely pouring His Divine love into you. When you are honestly and mercifully open enough to receive that love, then you will naturally and joyfully overflow with it, giving God’s love to all that you meet. This doesn’t simply mean that you will tell other people “God loves you.” Being generous requires much more than words. Give your whole self away and do not be afraid! You can never run out of true love. So, choose to generously love your fellow human beings – family and friends, neighbors and strangers, even the people that you don’t like very much. Be truthful and know that every person that you encounter is beloved by God, intimately and infinitely. Treat every person that way. Honor every person’s sanctity and eternal beauty – eternal beauty that is seen clearly by God if not by you.
clipart angry-smiley-01

Putting It into Practice

Let God love that irritating person through you. How, you may ask? Following the steps, like this:

+ Accept the truth that this person is sacred and eternally loved by God.

+ Note, not only the person’s shortcomings, but also, most importantly, your own.

+ Forgive that person for not understanding, for being angry, slow, lazy, ignorant, mean, impatient – for you know perfectly well that there will be many times when you will need someone to forgive you.

+ Now, trust that this situation is completely seen and known by God and that it is good for you, that it is a moment full of God’s flowing love – if you are open to it.

+ Smile and be generous with the love and wisdom that God has given to you, accepting, empathizing, forgiving, and believing in the goodness of the irritating person, being generous with your time, talents, efforts, goodness, and your unshakable joy from God….
clipart relieved-face

When this works out the way you want it to, be grateful. When this doesn’t work out the way you want it to, be grateful. God’s love is in this situation, no matter what. And you know that this is true because God made it happen – and, by the grace of God, you let it happen. You chose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit – you chose to let God love.

There. Now for me to live it …

© 2016 Christina Chase


You may also like:

 Who God Loves More  (last week’s post)

Mercy Is Joy or It Is Nothing

 Righteous Not Riotous

The Heavy Laden One

 Obedience Is Nothing without Love

 

2015 in Review: Who Knew?

I swear, the years go by faster the older that I get. It was Christmas only last week, and it seems like Christmas of 2014 wasn’t that much longer before. That was the Christmas that we all found out about my aunt’s cancer, angiosarcoma. She thought that she had rosacea on the end of her nose – and it turned out to be a rare and aggressive sickness that threatened her life. Surgeons had to remove her nose! And then she went through the long, gruesome surgeries to reconstruct a new nose from the skin on her forehead… months of facial deformity… and then the nearly torturous radiation through the summer… It was very good to see her this Christmas. Her new nose is still taking shape, three more surgeries to go, but she is healthy, cancer free, and in her usual good spirits – she’s alive!

To read more about this part of 2015, click on these popular posts:

Perspective

Deformity and Disfigurement

Joy and gratitude for life extended to my father this Christmas. For this entire year, he has been living and working, lifting me (60 pounds), mowing lawns, washing windows, carrying caskets in his part-time work with a funeral home – all with seven clogged arteries, most of them at 95 and 90 percent blocked!  Who knew?  He never had a heart attack, only felt tired, and sometimes, not often, short of breath or a little heavy chested. My mother and I were shocked when he called us to tell us that he wasn’t going to need stents or angioplasty – he was going to need open-heart surgery. The fear, anxiety, dread, sorrow, and the anger at myself for relying so heavily on my parents will not soon be forgotten.

To read more about it, check out these posts:

Pauses

God Is Good

Hearts in Their Hands

My own health, thankfully, has been very good this year, and I have been busier than I think I’ve ever been. I somehow volunteered to be the webmaster for my parish’s new website and also to launch and administrate a Facebook page for good old Saint Jean’s. Thinking about it, I don’t believe that I am hip and cultured enough, or educated and religious enough, to be in charge of these things. Who’d a thunk it? If you’re curious, you can see what I’ve been up to here:

CatholicSuncook.org

Facebook.com/SJBSuncook

Unfortunately, my writing has been second to my volunteer work – and I know it shouldn’t be. I don’t believe that God created me to post funny memes, even if they are religiously themed. I am a writer. God wants me to write. Although evangelization is certainly possible through social media, I CANNOT neglect my writing. Yes, Christina, say it – my craft, my gift. Own it, Christina. YOU ARE A WRITER! My other blog and website that have taken a backseat are:

Biblebursts.com

ChaseChristina.com

God is good. And there have been moments in the year when I’ve been able to truly reflect upon life, to ponder in my heart, and to write. These are some of the posts of 2015 that have been popular, the kinds of things that I want to write more often in 2016. If you click and read them, please enjoy! And may God bless you with a healthy, happy, and possibly weird and wonderful new year!

Can I Get an Amen? Probably Not from Me

Waiting to Awaken

The Essence of the Ascension – Weird and Wonderful

What Is Holy Communion? How I’d like to Break It down to My Little Ones

© 2015  Christina Chase

 

The Sacred Heart of Reality

 

The Treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Here is a re-presentation of an earlier post for June:

Catholic imagery can be beautiful… and also a bit terrifying. Gruesome even. The picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I use in the header of my blog is a classic example: a red, pulpy, bleeding heart, gashed, burning on fire at the top, encircled with a barbed-wire-like crown of thorns. Its blood is dripping down to a smaller heart below that is blooming with flowers and fruit. The inscription reads: The Treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is, of course, highly symbolic – but also rather startling and seemingly disconnected from what we see and know in “real” life. It begs the question – What are we supposed to do with an image like this?

I am consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I am not consecrated to an image of a fleshy, bloody organ. I am consecrated to Christ, to the fullness of reality – which is terribly beautiful, after all. I have committed myself to more than the material, more than the reducible – I have committed myself to life in its entirety, the physical and the spiritual. I refuse to be one of the surface people, fearfully hiding my power and vulnerability behind a fig leaf, and deceiving myself into thinking that only my five natural senses can detect the fullness of reality. I want to be like Christ. To be like Christ is to be most fully human, to be fully alive as we are created to be. Exploring the Mysteries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to explore his inner life, the core of who he is – and that is the exploration of the Mysteries of truth, of what is really real. All I’ve ever wanted is the truth.

But, why, then, some may ask, do I not write of the Sacred Heart in all of my posts?

I started this blog when I began my consecrated devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in hopes of more deeply exploring the Mysteries of Christ’s heart – and of my own. This doesn’t mean that every post is going to be directly about my act of consecration, or Jesus, or even Catholicism. But, I do believe that every post that I write is about the Sacred Heart. Not always explicitly, but always. For, to put it as simply and plainly (though also, I understand, as complexly and mysteriously) as possible, Christ is Truth Incarnate. And his Sacred Heart is the heart of truth, the heart of reality. As long as I tell no lies and make no conceit in this blog, striving for the honesty of life and of my mind and soul – then here is Christ. I press my ear to the heart of the universe and listen…

To put it another way:

Christ Jesus presents and embodies the reason for and meaning of reality – because Christ Jesus is the reason for and meaning of reality: God loves Creation into existence, creating human beings with the capacity to naturally and supernaturally receive divine love and to transmit, to share, this love, agape, with others. This interplay of God’s love for humankind and humankind’s loving response to God is perfect in Jesus Christ. For he is fully divine and fully human. This interplay is his interior life, the core of his being – his heart. Therefore, to delve into the Mysteries of being, of life, to delve into the Mysteries of the Divine and the human, to delve into the Mysteries of love, suffering, and joy, is to delve into the Sacred Heart of Jesus – whether we use that term and imagery or not. For Christ is Universal. Every human quest on earth for beauty, justice, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, or peace is a quest for Christ. In every religion, and in no religion, whether spiritually intending or not, I believe that all honest quests for truth and love are seeking what is found in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And it is the Holy Spirit that inspires, guides, and guards such seeking.

The Catholic Church offers the month of June for special consideration of the Sacred Heart. Therefore,  let us consider this  image of The Treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the image, we can see that God’s love pours forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus to bring our hearts into full flower and fruition. May it serve to remind me, not only of God’s love, but also of the human dimension of that love – and of my own responsibility. Divine incarnate.

Prayer:

– Lord, God, you so love us that you have become one of us, opening your heart for us in all ways. Help me open my heart to you so that you can transform me into a rich garden of blossoming, yielding fruitfulness of body and soul in all my thoughts, words, and actions – all for you, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!

 unpublished work © 2015 Christina Chase