One Year of Blogging – and Still Thankful

We pass many life milestones through the years and, at each one, we tend to not only measure our progress, but also measure ourselves against them. Like me, now, with blogging: I look at the numbers after one year of writing here, on Divine Incarnate, and I feel like I don’t measure up, like I have fallen short. milestone

One year ago, on the feast of Christ the King, I made an act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and began this blog as a way of publicly recording my private reflections, thus consecrated. I chose to use WordPress because I saw that there was an active community of readers and fellow bloggers here. Yes, I wanted my blog to be read and I even had the ambition of gaining 50 followers within a year. Becoming more familiar with other people’s blogs, I saw that the number 50 was modest, and, so, I began hoping for 100. I’m very happy to have reached this modest goal – reaching the exact mark on my anniversary, no less! But, I’m still very much aware that some other bloggers at the one-year milestone have thousands of followers, many likes per post, and ongoing comments from committed readers. I, on the other hand, will rarely get more than four likes for a post and even just one comment. For these reasons, I do not consider myself a successful blogger. [1]

SLOGGING OR BLOGGING? photo credit: http://nourishingwords.net/2011/04/25/mud/

And, yet, I am so very grateful.

I am not sharing my lack of blogging success here because I want pity likes, pity comments, or pity follows. Please, no! I’ve never liked pity – it’s one of the reasons that, prior to this blog, I rarely shared my private life publicly. Rather, I share my feelings about blogging dissatisfaction because, as I mark this milestone, I want to write, not about being measurable and, therefore, pitiable – but about being grateful. And, whether I ever become a successful blogger or not, I am grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts, experiences, emotions, reflections – to share myself with a wider circle of human beings. For, God knows, “It is not good for man to be alone…”.[2] Rather, it is good for us to need each other, so that, in helping one another, we may better become who we are meant to be: human beings in relationships of communion and love.

I Am Thankful for…

I am thankful for the human beings in my life, especially my family. For I have always known that I am loved – and, sadly, not everyone in this world can say that. Too many people live and die without ever knowing that they are loved by another human being. Love is the richest treasure, the most powerful balm, the deepest joy, the greatest gift – the whole reason that there is life at all. And because I am so physically dependent on others, because I need so much help in my daily life, I know – through my parents’ daily care, through their generous, sacrificing gift of themselves to me – that I am wanted. I have never been in doubt that I am lovable, that I belong, that I am worthy of the wonder that is life, and that I, myself, am a wondrous good. (And isn’t that what we all want?) For this reason, any lack of measurable success in the world cannot reduce my sense of self-worth and joy. My soul will ever sing joyfully in gratitude.

The song of my soul is in my writing – and for the gift of writing, I am also ever grateful. I write. This doesn’t mean that I publish or that I sell. Since I was eight years old, I have seen myself as a writer. And since I was 12 years old, writing has been what I do. The act of writing is enmeshed in my being, my identity. When I could no longer physically write with my hand or type out words through the computer, I turned to the dictation system that I’m using now to process and express my thoughts, emotions, and experiences through words. I write. And I always will, even when I no longer have breath enough to speak out the words that are in my mind and in my heart. The words will always be there, my soul’s gift… from God and to God….

Why Blog?

Sharing what I write here, on this blog (I’ve never liked that word, by the way) my intention has been to be less shy, less isolated, less caught up in “writing for myself”. I’m not trying to sell books that I’ve authored, or invite others into partaking of a particular ministry, or write myself out of a destructive habit – all of which are very good, legitimate, and valuable reasons to write a blog. I simply want to be who I am everywhere.

For so much of my life, perfect strangers have come up to me and told me that I am an inspiration – simply because I look so physically devastated in my wheelchair and, yet, genuinely laugh and smile. There is a light inside of me, it seems, that shines out to others – and I don’t believe that I’m supposed to keep that light under a bushel basket. This does not mean that I believe that I am writing this blog for the benefit of others. No. I write because I have to, because that’s who I am – and I share these writings here and now with you, dear reader, because it is the full extension of who I am. The sun has to shine, the rain must fall, and the wind must blow – if they did not, they would not be what they are. Human beings must love – we have to freely give of ourselves to others someway, somehow, in order to be truly and fully human.

And so, whether my blogging is ever measured a success or not, you have read my words here and a human connection has been made, no matter how fleeting– and all is right with the world.

So, I thank you!

© 2014 Christina Chase


[1] photo credit http://nourishingwords.net/2011/04/25/mud/

[2] Genesis 2:18 Douay-Rheims translation

The Charity Case Tries Charity

Integrity, I have heard it said, is the quality of a person whose actions correspond to his or her beliefs.  So, I, who believe in Christian love and charity, ask myself as night comes on: “Was Christ integral to what I said and did today?”  How do I know I’m not just preaching for other people to see, just another Pharisee, a hypocrite…?

I’m going to look over the last couple of days to see what I have done, starting from the day I wrote my most recent Bible Burst (For As the Body) which motivated me to think on my works.  Presenting in list fashion will be most efficient.  But, I warn you, the list of works is pathetic.  If my sister is sick, I can’t go to her house and make her supper.  If a child falls to the ground in front of me, I can’t pick him up and carry him to his mother.  If I see anyone in physical need or peril, I can’t lift a finger to help.  Literally.  The muscles of my legs, torso, arms – and, yes, most of my fingers – are too weak for me to even move them.  I’m the one who needs supper to be made for her – and fed to her.  I’m the one who needs to be carried.  But, that is absolutely, positively, utterly and completely no excuse for me not to be charitable.  This little list could be so much longer if I had integrity… but, here it is:

I woke up Wednesday morning and would have liked to have gotten out of bed, but waited 20 minutes before waking my parents for assistance – they needed the sleep.

I stayed on the bedpan an extra five minutes without saying that I was ready so as not to interrupt my parents who had become involved in doing something else.

On Thursday, I wrote a short email to a disabled woman, whom I’ve befriended online and who is mostly homebound, sending her a couple of pictures.  (That felt like an act of charity.)  And, through Facebook, I sent one sentence to my former home health aide who moved away in order to let her know that I’m thinking about her and to tell her that she’s awesome, because I know she needs to hear it.  (That felt like an act of friendship.)

Also on Thursday, I gave one of my current home health aides a Snickers bar for her birthday, along with a pretty birthday card that quoted Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  She is not a religious young woman (kind of a fallen away Catholic) and her very secular life is full of difficulties and hardships.  I did not intend the card for evangelization but, rather, as actual comfort, inspiration and hope.  All I said when I gave it to her was, “Well, with all you’ve been through this year and with your plans for this coming one….”  That was it.  And I was even uncomfortable with that.

Lastly, I’ve been trying, for several days, to figure out how to forgive someone that I have called my friend and who has always boldly called herself my friend – but who has lately been unreliable, disappointing, and just….  Argh.  I don’t know.  Her life is a mess, it’s no wonder she screwed up and let me down.  But, it still hurt… and I still have to forgive her, not just say that I do.

This is a sad little list.  It’s not even pathetic in a good way, just paltry.  It seems like most of the so-called acts of charity that I can think of are merely attempts at being less of a charity case myself.  I’m always the needy one.  I don’t think that delaying my needs for a few minutes really counts toward “works”.  I also prayed for others, praying the rosary (something that I try to do every day, so it often feels like a chore) but I can’t say that my heart was in it.  The Divine Mercy chaplet that I prayed for the people of embattled Africa was a little more heartfelt.  And I can’t even think of anything I’ve done today, except offer my day to God – whatever that means, for I’m often very unsure.  Heavy sigh.  But… as I think about it more… I did what I did as a Christian – I only did most of the things on this list because my faith prompted me, like an inner stirring of the Holy Spirit.  Before I was a Christian, I was much more selfish than I am now.

I know there is nothing that I need to do to prove my love to God, for God knows what’s really in my heart – but, perhaps that’s why I’m so concerned…?  I say that there is nothing that I must, or really can, do to prove my love, and, yet, Jesus asked Peter, after the Resurrection, whether or not he loved him.  Peter had to declare three times (corresponding with the three times that he denied even knowing Jesus) that he did love Jesus, saying, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”  And after each declaration of love, Jesus told Peter to do something.  Kind of like, “You love me?  Then do this.”  So, our love for Christ requires action.  We have to do something about it – it’s that kind of love.  It’s not the warm and fuzzy, content-to-sit-on-your-couch-and-bask-in-the-glow kind of love.  I think this particular passage of Scripture is stating that to love Christ is to serve Christ.  The two are inseparable.  For God’s love is action.  And we are meant to love one another as God loves us – with action.

I think it’s important to remember, though, that doing good works, performing acts of charity, is not anything that we do for God.  These are not gifts that we give to God.  These are simply necessary actions inherent in being loving people.  That’s who we are created to be.  When I fall short of who I truly am by not being an actively loving person, I am not in error because I broke a rule and made God angry with me.  I’m in error because I’m not really me.  Maybe it’s more like God is sadly disappointed with me when I don’t live up to my full potential, when I don’t love as I was created to love – kind of like the way I feel about my friend.  The difference is that, I think, for God, forgiveness is not an act of forgiveness, like it will be for me, mere human that I am.  Forgiveness, for God, is being.  – – Oh, I am so not God…

… as it should be.

Christina Chase

For As the Body

My weekly writing project (blogged at Bible Bursts) inspired a new category for Divine Incarnate, “works”. This is the Scripture passage, which was randomly selected for me at Bibledice.com, that is compelling me to closely examine the actions of my day and share them with unabashed candor.

Bible Bursts

Show me the money.

James 2:14, 26

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

There’s a song from the movie musical My Fair Lady that I love, Audrey Hepburn singing to the man who would woo her, “Don’t speak of stars shining above, if you’re in love, show me.  Don’t say your heart’s filled with desire, if you’re on fire, show me.”  She didn’t want him to just tell her pleasing things.  She didn’t want mere words.  She wanted action.

In my relationship with God, who alone is worthy of all love, all honor, all glory, I extol praises and profess my belief in Christ Jesus, His Only Begotten Son, my Lord and the Lord of all.  I keep a…

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Written Not with Ink

I am meant to be an epistle, written not with ink, but with the Spirit in the fleshly table of my heart… (From my other blog where I have a piece of Scripture randomly selected for me and then write and edit for one hour.  Because of the suddenness of the source and the time limit, this post, like most of them, is a bit rambling and mostly unedited.)

Written Not with Ink.

The Word of My Heart

Consecrated to the Heart of the Incarnate Word, I reflect upon the lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Advent (see link below) desiring to prepare the way of the Lord in my own heart…

Everyone knows that words have power – we can either encourage or discourage people by what we say.  But, what is the power behind the voice of the universe?  What is the power of the Divine Word?

In the Scripture passages chosen by the Catholic Church for the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the psalmist proclaim that the ruthless are struck down “with the rod of his mouth” and the wicked are slayed “with the breath of his lips”.  Lest these sayings make me think that God’s voice is harsh, destroying the ruthless and the wicked with His words, it’s good to remember what the true power of God’s Word is.  For – “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  (Matthew 4:4.)  God’s words are life-giving.  God’s Word is Life Itself.  The biblical unfolding of Creation has God speak the whole universe into existence – “God said: Let there be light, and there was light.”  God called everything forth into being through the divine Word “and found it very good.”  (Genesis 1:3, 31.)  In this way, God speaks every human being into existence.  And every person who is fully alive, in true, divinely intended life, has his or her being in the Word of God – which is true life.  When I strive to be who God created me to be, then I am neither ruthless nor wicked.  I am not struck down, laid low or shriveled up on hearing God’s words.  Instead, if I have true life within me, I am nourished and sustained by them.

Christ is the Word of God made flesh – “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.…  And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  (John 1:1-3, 14.)  In preparing the way for the coming of Christ, we hear St. John the Baptist say of him, “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  Sometimes, can make Christ sound punishing to me– unless I understand that he is the divine Word Incarnate.  As such, he is the touchstone for true life.  Held up to Christ, my heart is revealed.  God does not destroy, but I can destroy myself by the life I choose to live.  Am I the wheat that receives and gives life or am I just on the surface, like the chaff?  If I delight myself in self-centeredness, then I have turned in on myself and away from God’s life-giving Word.  I will wallow in the surface of things, living a selfish life that will only end in death – and thus bring about my own destruction.  If, however, I have generously loved God and neighbor, seeking the light of goodness and truth, giving of myself to others, then I am nourished by God’s Word and sustained in life that, like love, never ends.

Christmas is coming soon, when we celebrate the birth of Christ into the world.  May we “with one voice glorify… the God of encouragement”.  In Christ, the fullness of divinity is pleased to dwell – all goodness, all wisdom, all strength, filled with the spirit of counsel and reverence.  The Divine Incarnation is the greatest gift given to us, because God’s Word made flesh shows us how to be as God created us to be, how to live life fully – by loving and giving selflessly.

So I ask myself, How am I living my life?  Have I prepared the way for the Word of God in my heart?  Do I seek first the Kingdom?  Do I let Christ show me the way?

Practical question: When was the last time I read from the Bible – that is, the word of God?  It’s easy enough to be distracted today by the world with its shiny and brassy things.  But, how can I ever hope to enter into the ways of selfless love, the ways of truly good things, if I don’t bother to know God’s Word?  If I don’t like what Sacred Scripture tells me, if I feel myself shriveling as I listen or read – then am I as God created me to be?  God hears my secret voice speaking.  God knows what’s in my heart… Do I?

Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120813.cfm