I have always been drawn to beauty, as bees are called to nectar and deserts thirst for rain. When I was an atheist, I found delight in the beauty of the natural world – which I would never have called God’s Creation, but only Earth or universe. As a believing Christian, I now experience the beauty of the created world in a more personal and exquisitely intimate way, with true joy, as profound gift and Mystery.
Our Creator does not create with rigid rationing, but, rather, with generosity and full exuberance: 1000 seeds to bear one fruit tree, 1 million spermatozoa to bear one human being, 1 billion rocky planets to bear one earth…
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
Last week, I wrote about my reasons for wanting to prepare for death in a way that honors life, because death is an essential part of life as we know it. This week, I present my personal preparation in five easy steps. (I’m being a bit facetious with the word “easy”, needless to say.)
Things to Do before Dying
1.) Be Reconciled.
To some, this may mean a paying off of debts. But, to whom do we owe more than to the One who has given us everything? All that I have and all that I am is impossible without God. My very life is a divine gift. Have I been grateful? Having been created in love, have I been as loving as I was created to be? Do I take the time to be mindful of God’s presence, and of God’s presents, seeing how I deserve nothing and, yet, how God mercifully forgives and blesses?
The womb that cannot bear new life
is, instead, bearing pain.
Seemingly meaningless and devoid of promise,
for the hard grip – twisted deformed rocks –
makes it unrecognized as gift…
The fruit of love conceived
in union with the Pierced Heart
shedding blood, suffering,
giving of oneself for the other…
The womb that cannot carry
feels the weight of souls.
© 2017 Christina Chase
Trust is not something that I’m very good at. I like to be in control, feeling that I can manage the outcome to my liking. But, of course, I can’t always do that. Some things are out of my hands – almost everything is out of my hands.
When I first became a Christian, I was actually glad that I didn’t control everything. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for everything that happened in my life and the lives of my loved ones. I can’t say that it was a relief to know that everything is in God’s hands – that actually scared me quite a bit. But, if anyone is going to be in control, it should surely be the Creator and Master of the Universe – the One who knows best.
During my recent health odyssey, my problem with trust was made clear again. I prayed for recovery, for the end of new illnesses – but I also worried every time a new illness appeared. Legitimate concern is not a bad thing at all, for I do need to think about my body and make good decisions on taking care of it. But, worry – well, there is no room (and really no need) for worry in the life of a person of faith. And I worried a lot.
Sometimes, a song, poem, book, movie, or TV show can challenge our faith and inspire us to a better and closer relationship with God. I discovered the song below during my health odyssey (which is not quite over yet) and it cut to my heart. It is a challenge for me in my struggles – and a good inspiration to trust…
“Jesus, I Trust in You…”
© 2017 Christina Chase
Now, breathe out…
“His body is letting him down.”
We say this about a person who is getting old or becoming sick with an incurable disease. Why? Isn’t the end of life death? Are we not all born to die? We know that death is inevitable – so why do we treat it like it’s not? Why do we act like our bodies are supposed to remain young and healthy forever – and then, when they begin to age or weaken through illness, why do we act as though we have been betrayed? Betrayed by whom?
Nobody is promised endless youth and health. Nobody is promised a life that won’t end with physical death. Nobody.
It’s like we’re all delusional, in a way. Some say that religious people suffer from wishful thinking – but, it seems to me that almost everyone in mainstream culture is suffering from that. In my experience, religious people know that suffering happens. Death is coming. Catholics are certainly reminded of this quite often, invited every day to contemplate the suffering and death of Christ, uniting our sufferings with his, gazing upon the crucifix. And every year, when the Lenten season begins, we (and other Christians) have ashes put on our foreheads and are told “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Suffering happens. Death will come. Not even God Incarnate lived a human life without it. Continue reading
A few words about joy. Well, okay, more than a few…
I used to think that Catholicism was very dour, celebrating solemnities (solemn celebrations?) bemoaning sin and life in this world. This was a false picture of the Catholic Church, however. Sadly, I’m not the only one who has had this misconception of Catholicism – probably millions do right now. The error, I think, comes partly from human attempts to depict the Mysterious Majesty of God and the profound honor, respect, awe, and even submission, due to God. When contemplating the Immaculate Conception of Mary, for example, we don’t do so with silly giddiness or casual interest. We must do so with solemn reverence and humble, awestruck gratitude – so, also with joy.
One problem, it seems to me, is that it’s hard to find an ancient image of Mary smiling. (If you know of one, please share!) Smiles probably didn’t mean the same thing then as they do now. But, let us remember that the Bible does speak clearly of joy. Mary herself cries out to Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Mary rejoices. And so should we.
I do like this modern (1873) Greek icon of the Most Holy Mother of God…
Today we observe the “Solemnity” of the Immaculate Conception (celebrating the Mystery of Mary being conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of Original Sin, so that she may truly be The New Eve). And Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) is being celebrated this weekend. So, truly, it’s a fitting time to reflect upon the importance of joy in our lives of faith. With the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, must also come the gift of joy – for how can we not be joyful when we believe that we are made to know, to love, and to serve God in this life and to be happy with God forever? With this faith and hope we are free to love – and in the true freedom of loving others and knowing that we are intimately and infinitely love there is true and lasting joy. Continue reading