Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THE DAUGHTERS OF ST. PAUL



Wow, I am having a blast out here in Palm Springs getting to "know myself." For instance, my usual plaint, or one of them, is, Why can't people leave me alone? Why do people always have to be tugging at my sleeve? Out here, what with the solitude/silence/time away from home, I've segued into, Where is everybody? Nobody ever likes ME. There is just something wrong with me and there always has been, etc. etc.

Similar thoughts shoot off in every direction and though I've finagled a long phone "chat" with practically every friend, family member, and everyone I've ever met, I'm gonna come right out and admit I've started to be lonely for an actual face-to-face conversation. Don't get me wrong, I tracked down the alkies out here first day and have even socialized a bit, but they just want to talk about themselves, which is hard when all you want to do is talk about YOURself, plus are not available on demand, the way I like things, plus the wind has been blowing in a way that has set me ever so slightly on edge.

Thus--"Hi!" I waylaid a complete stranger with Missouri tags as he was getting into his car in the parking lot of Albertson's the other day.  "How's it goin," he replied warily, turning on the ignition. "Glad you asked," I said, wedging myself inside his door, "because I'm out here visiting? I've lived in L.A. since 1990 but I'm out here watching my friend Christine's house, she comes from Zermatt, Switzerland, but she's letting me use her house which is really pretty amazing anyone would let me use anything considering I was a giant drunk for many years, sober now though!, and I've had a lot of time to think--you know, aging, death--and all kinds of stuff has come up and what's happening, a LOT,  is I am really getting in touch with my narcissistic personality disorder." 

The next day I had to take my car in. The guy at Kelley's was explaining the estimate, droning on about oil pans and timing belts when suddenly I leaned in and laid my hand on his arm. "Say," I asked, "did your mother breast-feed you? Because mine DOESN'T REMEMBER, which to me is really emblematic of the way she was my whole life! She barely noticed anything, good or bad! My God, I've been simply starved for love since before forever!"

On top of it, at first I thought I was having all these "revelations" but after three weeks I'm realizing I had the exact same ones twenty years ago, ten years ago, AND five years ago.  The same stuff just cycles round again and again...which is not to say it's irrelevant or doesn't need working on, only that when I think NOW I've really gotten to the bottom of things; NOW I'm going to change EVERYTHING, now I'm finally going to GET WELL...probably not.

OUR LADY OF SOLITUDE
PALM SPRINGS, CA
All of which is a long-winded way of saying I had a couple of visitors Sunday and not a moment too soon. Yes indeedy, two delightful postulants from the Daughters of St. Paul, Theresa and Cheryl, made their way from L.A.--no small feat considering Sunday was the L.A. Marathon--out to my temporary abode. I cleaned the bathroom, put away my tottering piles of books, Swiffered, and reminded myself five hundred or so times not to swear.

And these two young gals (30 and 32) did my heart no end of good. They're based in St. Louis and have been in L.A. for a couple of weeks taking classes. "The Daughters of St. Paul are consecrated women who communicate Christ’s love to all people using all forms of media" and there were no flies on these two. Both of them had been web developers (they spoke lovingly of "code") in their former lives, and Cheryl was toting the one communal ipad (in a very smart red leather case purchased (I pried) at Big Lots).

They are postulants, i.e. undergoing a two-year initial discernment process, and we told each other our stories and I asked in particular how they had come to hear the call (neither of them had remotely thought of entering the convent before the call came), and over salmon and salad and basmati rice (thank you, Bill!), I saw all over again how alike we are, we humans. We all want to feel useful, we all want to make a difference, we all want to put our talents to work, we all want to know how to give and receive love, and we all feel we're falling short.

Such joy, such faith, such freshness, such energy, such youth--how good they were to make the trek on what I suspect was their one afternoon off. Theresa has a blog called Pursued by Truth--you might want to check it out. "We'll pray for you!," they said, taking their leave.

And let's pray for them, too.

GONE-BY RUSSIAN KALE I COULD NOT BEAR TO THROW OUT
SO PUT IN A VASE TO CONTEMPLATE FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS

11 comments:

  1. You are just so REFRESHING, Heather! I like you a lot :) I like your raw honesty. and someday, maybe, I'll even get to meet you.

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  2. This made me laugh, Heather. Perhaps what you are acquiring on your "retreat" is a new lightness of outlook! As long as one can laugh at oneself, than you know you'll be alright!
    Cheers,
    Dana

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  3. [Snicker] I have to giggle, because I can so see myself doing the same things.

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  4. We want to be alone and at the same time we yearn for others! What's up with that? About The Daughters of St Paul- I'm a book nerd so I was pleased to discover Sister Julia Darrenkamp and her informative youtube videos all about books! If I wasn't me I would want to be a Daughter of St Paul! Thanks for your blog thoughts! I've read "Shirt of Flame" and your Poor Baby essay-loved them both!

    Peace,
    bren

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  5. Heather,
    I was laughing, once again! at your wide-open acknowledgement of your humanity and striving to be at peace with all the parts of you that make you, you. This was such a GREAT post, for more than one reason.

    1. Being, I could see myself in your post, chatting away and disclosing way too much stuff to strangers, no matter the little warning signal saying to the inhibiting part of my brain: DON'T DO THIS! T-M-I!!!" and yet it spills out anyway.

    2. Being, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Daughters of St. Paul for writing and publishing a wonderful book "I Learn About Jesus". My copy was published in 1983, written for ages 5-9 or somewhere around the K level. It covers Salvation History in such concrete terms, with colorful pictures for each of the pages depicting the lesson/Bible story with the reverse side a black and white photo of a child saying a prayer that makes literal sense of the lesson. I struggled for years trying to figure out how to prepare my son Pete for making his First Communion. It was with this wonderful little book that he was able to grasp the concepts of "it's all about JESUS!" and, that Jesus was wounded for US. (From him: "Jesus Boo-boo" and, "I sorry"). The language and and pictures were just right for him- very concrete and enough to help him generalize the concepts. I had looked high and low for some way to help teach him more about Jesus and our Catholic Faith, and how to prepare him for Communion. This still remains a favorite of ours, and I have such a warm spot for the women who wrote and published it.

    3. Being, I spent a wonderful hour at the Pauline Books & Media Store on East 52nd Street a few years ago during a trip to NYC. I was just wandering the neighborhood and couldn't believe my good fortune to stumble on not just a book store but one run by these wonderful women. Even better, they had a chapel in the back of the store!! I was able to spend some time just resting in there and so thankful and amazed to find Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the middle of the shops and restaurants and hotels. It was such a haven.

    So many nuggets from your wonderful post. So glad you're in Palm Springs and discovering all of this for us. Good Lent!

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  6. Hello Mary Beth et al: just for the record, I did not ACTUALLY say that stuff to the guy from Missouri and Kelley at Kelley's Motors, but I did THINK it...wait'll I tell about my recent shopping-at-the-mall experience!

    Yeah, apparently the Daughters of St. Paul attach a little chapel to all their bookstores--isn't that cool?

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  7. Cheryl and I had such a wonderful time, thanks for being such a beautiful person Heather.

    We felt like we made a stop in the middle of the mountains to chat with an old friend.

    Thanks for the prayers from you and your readers, we need them!

    Lots of love,

    Theresa

    p.s. I love that you ended this post with a withering picture of kale - nearly rotten vegetables as art - who would have guessed it would work?

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  8. Oh Theresa, so glad you (and I hope Cheryl) saw this. I loved having both of you so much! And isn't that kale gorgeous? I made a whole series of that one "bouquet"...the leaves have veins, like hands...

    Safe travels back to St. Louis and let's keep each other in prayer cause I, for one, need every prayer I can get...you and Cheryl will brighten your little corner wherever you go, and whichever direction you decide to take...

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  9. Carie, would love to meet you, and all my faithful, funny readers, some day...

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  10. Wow! This is exciting! It is such a blessing to get to know you! I hope you get to visit our bookcenter and chapel in Culver City sometime (even though Theresa and I don't live there).

    We are back in St. Louis - surprised that it's a lot warmer here actually.

    I can't stop thinking about the video that you showed us. Would you be able to email me the link to it?

    And yes, let's pray for each other. As our co-founder Ven. Mother Thecla Merlo would say... "See you in the tabernacle!" :)

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  11. Cheryl! I posted three Garvan vids (the one I showed you was edited down from them) the other day: http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/2012/03/garvan-byrne-child-sage.html. I, too, am haunted by him...
    And I was just thrilled to meet you and Theresa. I'm having a lovely time at the RECongress, partly, I'm sure, attributable to your collective prayers. Take good care and let's stay in touch...

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