Sunday, January 10, 2016

Algebra, Revelation, January, and Birds

Open up the heavens/we want to see you
Open up the floodgates/a mighty river
Flowing from your heart
Filling every part of our praise

It's January, post-Christmas, routine, a long stretch of routine, actually, in front of me. Decisions to be made. Grits to be cooked. House to be cleaned.

This morning at church, Rose sang those lyrics and I started thinking. It's a beautiful song. We do music right at our parish. I thought about it. We want to see you. I want to see God. It gets so dull, this quotidian life, and I get lost in the details.

But the details are where it's at. Right?

I believe there is a piece of the divine in every human person. Sometimes this is hard to see, and trust me on that, I'm a schoolteacher who sees slivers of adults often in their worst moments. But if I'm going to believe in a loving God, this is the next therefore statement I make. And because of this, I believe that everyone carries a piece of Truth with them. Sometimes Truth gets said to me in surprising ways. The past few weeks? The truth that keeps hitting me in overwhelming waves? Hey there Sally, you're not as incompetent/weak/dysfunctional/clueless as you keep thinking.

Like truly.

Like shut up thinking about it, girl.

Stability is harder now than ever before. Those of you who know me well know that I moved every 2 years on average growing up and it took me awhile to let that habit fall away and dig in deep in relationships and place. Stability has great rewards and interesting challenges and making a holy decision to stay put is often cozy and satisfying. It is also boring. Do I need a new vocation or just a vacation?

Or maybe just a tattoo.

"Mom you have to come look at the birds," Niles said, jumping up and down at the front door. Goldfinches and purple finches and white-throated Oh Sweet Canada sparrows, cardinals and dumb old mourning doves, all keeping warm at my feeder.

I went out with a friend on Friday night. We talked for 5 hours over too many Manhattans. I didn't hardly know her when I walked in the door and that is my favorite. I ENFJ'd all over her. Every "yeah me too" that ran through my brain reminded me that we never, or at least I never, grow out of that need to connect and hear myself reflected back to me.

Brooklyn, after mass, walked up to me--she sings in the choir--and asked me, "What's wrong, why are you sad?" Sometimes she reads my emotions; sometimes she guesses based on my resting bitch face. I shook my head. "Not sad. Just having a hard time with algebra."

Nobody asked me what that meant. Probably thought, well, there's mom, crazy math teacher again. Al-jabr is Arabic. It means the reunion of broken parts. The reunion of broken parts.

My parish has a feeling of moving from joy to duty. The changes are visual first and ritualistic second. And it's kind of breaking my heart.

And no amount of math is going to fix that.

But I'm going to keep trying.

A school mom said to me this week that I was her son's favorite teacher. And I thought about that, about my previous math teachers and how none of them were my favorite anything. I was glad to hear it, of course, because her son is one of my favorite students as well, but I was also sorry to hear it.

"Nobody's favorite teacher should be their math teacher," I explained with a laugh. "Literature, social studies, art. Not math."

Reunion of broken parts.

The cat watches the birds eating at my feeder. Then he bores of it and comes over to where I'm sitting. Curls up on my arm and licks my finger, just once.

We want to see you


  1. Ah. The Fraud Syndrome. Telling yourself you're incompetent, weak etc, when you very clearly are not. I know that syndrome well. So, I suspect, do most of us. But it, not us, is the fraud.

    You made me miss my pussycats.

    I think if anyone finds a favourite teacher, then they're lucky. I'm not sure I ever had one (I must blog about that). So having a favourite teacher, even (shock horror) a maths teacher, is a great thing. I remember too, a week long management course I attended almost twenty years ago. After lunch on the third or fourth day, the most dreaded time of the week to have to speak or listen (I'm sure), we had an accounting lecture. Good grief! The guy was brilliant. Apart from the course leader, he is the ONLY speaker of many courses I really remember. It's not the subject that matters, it's the teacher.

  2. I love reading you.