Priorities (Poem)

Just a bit of fun this time around!


What is this “no time to read” you speak of?
My problem is different:
no time for anything else.
Dishes pile up in the sink,
in the hamper the dirty laundry expands and expands,
my carpet is growing fur.
But I have no time for these–
there are books to be read:
books and books,
e-books and tree books,
and more where those came from.
No time to read?
A fascinating concept.
You must tell me more when I have a moment–
but first,
let me finish this chapter.



Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

MATTHEW 16:13-20


Frankly, I struggled a bit to find any deeper meaning in the readings this week. I mean, on the surface, they’re pretty cut and dried: God appoints who he wishes to appoint, and, as St. Paul says in the second reading. “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” Hey, Peter, you’re in charge.

In the end, I got caught up in seeing things from Peter’s perspective. On a personal level, I can identify with him a bit here because I feel like I’m in a time of transition: making some adjustments, working a little to find who and what and where I’m meant to be. And I wonder what Peter felt in the midst of some of these GIANT CHANGES God was working in his life. He had a stable life at one point, a familiar place, a job he knew and understood. In a short period of time, he answered a call and left all that behind. He is given an entirely new name. Although we aren’t told all of his thoughts, I can imagine it must have frequently been both humbling and terrifying.

He was a simple fisherman. There were so many disciples who were, on the surface, much better prepared to lead a Church that would sweep the world: educated men, men with important families, important positions. Can you imagine what people would say today if you decided to assemble an international organization, and out of the blue you stuck some small town fisherman at the head? It boggles the mind. I feel for him.

And yet, he managed it. God gave him the wisdom he needed, the knowledge, the people to support him. He found his faith, and in the end, he found the strength to die for that faith.

It gives little old me hope.

On the Shore (Poem)

Since I’m in a slightly reckless mood this week, I’ve decided to do more sharing of my poetry on this blog, possibly the start of a weekly feature. Some of my poems are lighthearted and silly, some are a little dark. This one, written a few summers back, falls somewhere in the middle: appreciating and being touched by the joy seen in others’ lives, while still feeling a bit wistful about it. We’re only human, after all.


I stand on the shore in my solitary state
and across the water watch them:
distant figures on the far shore,
figures of mirth and peace.
The distance obscures,
but in my mind’s eye I see them as clear
as if I was in their happy company.
An old man, silver hair glinting,
stands, rough elbows bent,
feet in the sand,
in the dark sand at water’s edge
where a blonde child in red
builds towers to the sky:
beautiful misshapen castles
lumpy, bumpy, dripped mud and shell,
bringing beauty to ugliness
as only a child can.
She raises innocent eyes to smile at him;
two generations removed,
she is his own,
his future, his love made new.

I watch,
and am blessed in watching,
though I hurt:
for what have I been spared
that I am left lonely,
left outside the lives of others
touching corners only,
a circling satellite
adrift in the night sky?
Times there are when I wonder if,
should I be taken, now or time far off,
will there be any to mourn?
What mark have I left, and who
would mark my passing?
My going would be
like the drop of a pebble in these waters,
ripples observed, but scarce noted
before the calm waters smooth over again.

There are no castles on the shore for me,
no child of tomorrow.
Though perhaps it matters not in the vast world that is to come,
in this world, for this I grieve.

Thorn #1

In the year after Mom died I gained somewhere between twenty and thirty pounds. I don’t even know exactly how much–I didn’t have a scale through most of that time, and that’s maybe just as well. I’m sure it didn’t help that I lost my job that same year, and for much of the winter I pretty much lived off cheap cuts of meat and a bag of potatoes someone gave me, with occasional splurges on chocolate and ice cream because I was depressed and grieving and when I’m down, I crave chocolate and ice cream.

All my adult life I’ve pretty much always been a few pounds over where I’d like to be–a little pudgy. But I was definitely beyond a little pudgy right then.

What really brought it home for me was this: hanging out with friends and co-workers we may say things like “I’d really like to wear x, but I’m just too fat.” And friends say, “Oh, you are not.” And let’s face it: we all fish for those sort of “You aren’t that broken” compliments.

But all of a sudden, if I talked about wanting to get in better shape, people wouldn’t argue with me or reassure me. Most would avert their eyes, or talk about how a friend of theirs lost weight, without actually quite coming out and saying “Yeah, you really need to do the same.” They might not baldly state, “Wow, you’re fat!” (well, most didn’t), but they wouldn’t tell me I was OK, either. The silence spoke volumes.

Changing gears for a moment: I like to write stories. I always have, not just as a little kid when everyone is fascinated by tale telling, not just in grade school and high school when it was required, but doggedly, here and there, always. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being the next Elizabeth Enright or Edward Eager or Eleanor Estes. Later, I had other writing idols, but there’s never been a time when I didn’t want to spin stories.

But I really don’t entirely know what I’m doing, and don’t know if I really have what it takes to make it *worth* doing.

That last is likely the bigger problem.

I’m not sure it’s even possible to be a success as a writer/artist if you a) lack confidence and the ability to self-promote, b) have no champion to make up for a) (some friends and family members have parents and/or spouses who support and critique, and I envy them that tremendously), and c) don’t get much in the way of positive feedback and constructive criticism.

Not to be morbid, but I have this vision of dying eventually, and having people go through my stuff, astounded to discover how much I’ve written over the years. Will they say, “Look! She really was pretty good. Too bad she never really put her work out there.” (Which would be sad.)

Or will it be more like, “Look, yet another notebook full of crap. Where did you set that garbage can? Man, she wasted a lot of time.” (Which would be far sadder.)

I don’t know how one goes about getting an honest answer about abilities/capabilities, either, at least not without being able to go to a quality college-level writing school–something which isn’t feasible since I’m not a young kid and have no expendable income. I do post things from time to time or share with friends, but most of the time, I feel like I get a response similar to friends’ responses in my fat days. No one wants to be so impolite as to say, “You know, I gotta be honest: you obviously try hard, but really…you’re kinda lame and untalented.”  I don’t get a lot of feedback, one way or the other. As in my previous example, that silence likely speaks volumes.

Earlier this year, I asked friends and family about getting into copy-editing and proofreading, and I’ve continued to study a bit on that. It would get me more into working with words and I do think it’s something I’d enjoy, but only if it was my primary job. As is, I have a job already, and I have little free time–my work day and commute pretty much account for ten hours of my day. When I get home in the evening, I want to write. As much as I like prettying up writing for people at work, I think I’d get more and more frustrated if it took up my mornings and evenings as well.

I’ve been praying for some sign that trying to write stories isn’t just a completely selfish self-indulgence, that I might actually get somewhere with it, that it’s worthy of effort. If the answer is that I lack the intelligence and creativity to really “make it,” I guess I at least want to know. If the answer is that I need the right person(s) to guide me toward doing something meaningful with writing, I’d like to know that, too.

I don’t know what exactly to hope for.


When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.

Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
MATTHEW 14:13-21


My own brief thoughts from today’s Gospel/homily: the disciples were told to feed the crowds themselves. They knew they didn’t have enough, that what Jesus asked of them was crazy by normal standards, but they had faith and brought him what little they did have. He did the rest. Yes, he could have created food out of nothing, but he chose to use human beings–with all their shortcomings–as his instruments.

Yes, what we’re called to may seem crazy. It may seem like way more than we can handle. We may want to give up, or we may wish God would just take care of everything without any effort on our part, without being transformed through his grace working through us. Instead, we need to bring our meager offerings to him–our small talents, our feeble strength, our few resources–and let him take them farther than we dream possible.