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January 1, 2013

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
~Maya Angelou

It has been a challenging month. Mary has been sick for most of it. It started with a bout of croup that left her breathless and in the hospital. That was over a month ago. She hasn’t been able fully recover from it – her fatigue has been constant and she has been hit with several more viruses on succession. Today she is running a fever, something that puts me on edge, watching for seizures and signs of regression.

The excitement and joy of Christmas has brought its own set of annual unique challenges for my children. And we finally, for the very first time, felt like we really figured it out this year. We really found the balance, and changed the expectations. We have never had extended family at Christmas, primarily because of the distance that separates us. While we miss the excitement of family gatherings, it really is a blessing for our little crew. It keeps Christmas quiet, and removes many of the added social pressures that would normally accompany this holiday. We let the kids take two days to open their gifts. We avoided any formal procedures. Mary walked out of the living room with a scrap of wrapping paper and was quite content to stay ot of the fray, coming back every ten minutes or so to gather more paper. She was smiling much of the day. What a contrast to last year when she had completely shut down on us. We all really had a wonderful time. It was peaceful, joyous, and somehow cathartic.

As an added bonus, I feel that I am (finally) reaching the point with myself where I can relax about what other people are thinking about our little family or my parenting skill. Or at least I was, until recent events in the news seemed to have changed the conversation. I have tried to stay away from blogging because the emotions – so many of them- were just so raw. In the midst of all of the hatred that has been directed at the autism community, the priest at my son’s school informed my eight year old autistic son that he was sinning because our family doesn’t go to church every week. My fear and anger boiled over. I wrote a letter attempting to explain our situation to the priest – the unique challenges that sitting still in a crowded church present to our family and others like us, but never sent it. After thinking about it, I decided that it would not be wise to draw attention to my son’s diagnosis and those of his sisters in this political climate.

I was suddenly paralyzed by the fear and the hate. I wanted to wrap my babies up and run somewhere with them – to somehow protect them. I never told them. We drove through Newtown, CT to get to my parents’ home just the other day. They have no idea. How could I even begin?

Fear had taken hold.

Then, almost as quickly, a strange sense of peace somewhat replaced it. My faith is in God, but not necessarily in the Church. I find comfort in the routine of the Church and of Mass, but it is in God that I find my home. As I retreat into the deepest sanctuary of my family, there is suddenly no need for me to explain myself to strangers – and especially to judgmental priests. The Church and its judgements have caused me considerable grief over the years. I won’t go into the many hurtful judgements I have had levied against myself or my friends over the years, but finally I can feel that I am free from it. As I sat in prayer over all of it, I felt released from it. I realized with complete clarity what I have really known for much of my life. Men have written and enforced the rules of the Church, in many respects in the best ways that they knew how. But God has written His rules in our hearts. And this Advent season has brought that into intimate focus.

I hope that someday you will see my little family, seated together in a Church pew, celebrating Mass together. But for right now, that is not where Home is for us. Home should be is a safe place where there is no judgement and no explanation. Home should be an easy place, a comforting and comfortable place. Home is where we can be just ourselves – the very best and the very worst of ourselves, and still feel safe… And still feel welcomed….And still feel loved.

And then this morning, I found my way back to that beautiful place, once again.

Lying in bed with a feverish Mary, she reached up her little hand and let me stroke her palm gently with my finger, the snow covered silhouettes of trees swaying gracefully and silently in the window just beyond our hands.

It was just for a minute or two, but it was one of those moments that could seem so common, but is so rare in its purity and beauty. It was that silent connection between two souls when you know that there is more – that there are angels there with you. Silently, watching in the room, and suddenly that small space is filled with so much of this quiet love.

This peace.

And that is when it is so clear, that THIS is my church. This is where I find God. This moment, this space between my finger and her palm. That is my gift, and there are no words that any priest could utter or beauty and ritual that any cathedral could display that could come closer to expressing God’s glory than this. And I could live in that moment for eternity, safe from judgement, wrapped in love.

In a person’s lifetime there may be not more than half a dozen occasions that he can look back to in the certain knowledge that right then, at that moment, there was room for nothing but happiness in his heart.”
― Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Belles on Their Toes

I wish each of you a blessed New Year.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2013 2:49 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes. First, i will be praying for Mary and her recovery. What a difficult time.

    I know how you feel. I have been unable to express the thousands of thoughts I’ve had as well. I don’t know if the truly ignorant would ever change by anything someone else said or wrote. They have to change from within and I cannot force that upon anyone which makes me reexamine my “quest” as a writer.

    I found, years ago, that God exists within my heart wherever I am. It seems you have found the same. Thank you for sharing this. It is an inspiring and beautiful piece of writing. xoxo

    • January 3, 2013 1:29 am

      Thanks. My thoughts have been so disjointed and overwhelming lately, I’m not sure if I’m even making sense anymore, so thank you! It really is such a blessing to be able find some peace in the midst of the chaos. Happy New Year to you. Xoxo.

  2. Life&Ink permalink
    January 2, 2013 1:24 pm

    Please give Mary a big hug from her friend Charlotte! 🙂

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