As He’s Brushing My Teeth

As my father was brushing my teeth one night, I started thinking about what this very act does to him… or for him.

Toothbrush

When my motorneuron disease weakened me to the point where I couldn’t brush my own teeth anymore, I found the ordeal of having someone else move a brush in and out of my mouth, well… an ordeal.  And it hasn’t been a picnic for my dad, either.  My mother seriously dislikes the job, as I know that I would, too.  That’s okay, she does other things very well.  Anyway, this empathetic kind of thing that requires concentration, patience, and precision is better suited for my dad’s skill set.  But, I know that my father does not like, or should I say, particularly enjoy, this chore.  It’s a chore.

On this particular night, the burden that is my daily care was weighing heavily upon me.  It’s easy to feel a little guilty when you have to depend so much on other people.  And I was thinking that my father would be better off if he didn’t have to do this chore, night after night with little variation and very rare respites, better off if he didn’t have to do it then, at that moment.  Of course, he would rather that I be able to do it for myself – for my sake – but, because I can’t, he says that he is glad to do it for me.  He says this about all of the many, many, many things that he does for me day in and day out.

Yes, of course he feels that way.  He’s a good dad.  He’s a good man.  But – for his sake – I was thinking that someone else should be doing this, someone who hires herself out as a home health aide, for example, like the ones that take on some of my daily care for a few hours, four days a week.  Trying to get more help has proven very difficult.  But, if I was able to arrange some kind of full-time care from professionals, then my father would have a little more of what he deserves – a normal, ordinary way of living.

That night, however, as my dad was brushing my teeth, I began to wonder… (and it could’ve been my self-conscious trying to assuage my sense of guilt or it could’ve been a little inspiration of wisdom – or a combination of both.)  Maybe there’s something in life that he’s gaining through this chore…? 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

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

Scripture Quotes from the Heart

I’ve been trying to find a biblical quote to put on the wall of my bedroom.  In researching passages (focusing on the heart) I decided to share a few here with some reflections.  (This idea is inspired, in part, by my friend’s “Scription” at DonnaMaria.org.)

Heart, windowpane, cross

From Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

What do you treasure?

Would do you hold most dear?

For me, my treasure is my family.  According to this Scripture quote, therefore, I think that means that my heart, the core of who I am, is with my family.  My identity and my very being is intertwined with loving them and being loved by them in our interactions, our relationships.  If what I treasured was wealth or fame, then I would be caught up in money, possessions, and other people’s opinions, linking up my identity with them.  And I can see how that wouldn’t be good.  Either way, however… I see that I would be treasuring finite things. Continue reading

The Newlyweds

Every story has a beginning.  This is a picture of mine:

parents on their way

Just Married, © 2017 DivineIncarnate.com, All Rights Reserved

My parents, just married, about to head off for their honeymoon and the rest of their lives…

My mother, young, and stylish as always, sits herself in the car, looking up at my father, her sad eyes lit with joy and a sparkling kind of expectation.  My father, looking like a younger, milder Clark Gable, holds the door for her, taking a last gaze at friends in the distance, standing relaxed, proud, and self-assured.  The picture is almost perfect –  except for the dark clouds ahead of them.

This is a picture of my beginning: a relationship of love and hope, full of plans, heading off into what is really the unknown.  Neither of them knew that they were carriers of a debilitating disease, that their future life would consist of taking care of their youngest child as a child for over 40 years.  Inclement weather ahead.

The dark clouds are there, no doubt – but, so is the love and commitment.  The vows that they made that day before God created a marriage, and, through that marriage, I came to be.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, the promises they made to each other have carried them through many storms – carrying me with them.

Mother’s Day is around the corner and Father’s Day won’t be far behind.  Next week, my parents will be celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary.  And, so, it is with much respect, appreciation, and gratitude that I look upon this snapshot of my beginning.  For, I was created in a bond of love and joy, that no dark clouds can overcome.  Thank you, Mom and Dad!

© 2017 Christina Chase

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

Expire

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

Gratitude

If you are not a grateful person, then you will never be great.

If you do not appreciate the people in your life, then you cannot receive their amazing value – only their cost.

If you do not say “Thank you” when you didn’t get what you wanted, but, rather, what you needed, then you won’t know true joy if you do get what you want.

Giving thanks is easy when you are surrounded by a delicious feast and a happy family.  But, how easy is it to be thankful if you are sadly without home, without family, or without feasting?  The awesome, powerful thanksgiving that transcends the 4th Thursday of November is experienced by those who do not lack gratitude even when life is hard.  For these are the people who recognize life itself as an eternal gift.crucifix-2-flash

The life of your soul is not a gift that was thoughtlessly or cheaply purchased.

It is given by the Giver with pure love…

Live your Thank You by loving – and let your unconditional loving be your joy.  May God help me as I strive to fully live with gratitude…

 

For more of my posts on Thanksgiving and giving thanks, please click and read

One Year of Blogging – and Still Thankful

Giving Thanks (While Gazing upon the Crucifix)

Giving Thanks – Eucharist

© 2016 Christina Chase

Morning Prayer

I’m not alone in believing that we need prayer now, more than ever. Why? Perhaps, because ordinary people aren’t praying as much. People like you. And me.

It’s not like I believe that we get whatever we pray for – far from it. (And don’t I know it.) Sometimes, the greatest blessings come from “unanswered” prayers. (So, if you don’t get Continue reading