Thought Into Existence – The 100th

Here’s the second of previously started writings that I never got around to posting. This, I believe, came from early September of last year.  Why did I choose this one?  It’s a fair question.  I think it’s rather significant, and there’s a lot that goes into thoughts.  This of course becomes personal, and possibly egotistical, but ah, perhaps it’s time you met more of who I am.  As I’ve reached this kind of milestone, I think it’s due time for some memories and that oh so fun and lovely thing known as nostalgia.  With that, I begin.

~

“We’ve stumbled upon something.  Because God is unceasingly thinking about us, we continue to exist.”  Approximately what my best friend said, though with less of her finesse or characteristic speech patterns.  It’s highly likely that I just did both an injustice.

A while back, we were discussing superpowers, of all things, and the idea of being able to think someone to you.  However long you’re focused and thinking about them, they remain present, and it’s only when they leave your mind that they return to wherever they were.  Naturally, this power is something that should have a number of caveats, like some amount of control as to when it works, otherwise you might have dozens or even hundreds of people popping into existence next to you for the briefest of instances.
Though of course, my mind would definitely turn its attention to such individuals, and well, there goes my peace and quiet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about… people… a lot.  I guess it’s just in our human nature, to have others on our minds.  My time at work is devoted to focus on people.  There’s that connection that every interaction needs to have, and it’s truly a life skill to have, being able to touch people with the most basic of things.

Well, what more basic and heartfelt way is there than a prayer for them? That’s often what happens at work. Whenever there’s a lull in the number of incoming guests and while I’m maybe cleaning or restocking something, I might ask that my mind be focused on who it needs to.

An odd feeling, instinctual in nature, was what struck me.  It was at 5pm today, and I had no idea what caused it.  There I was, having an immensely enjoyable time at work, when suddenly I felt it internally, like a shiver that lacked the icy surroundings.  It’s hard to be sure, but I knew in that moment that something wrong had happened somewhere.
I couldn’t be sure if someone I knew had been affected, and so I did the only thing I could: asked God to help… someone out there.

*The physicality of my power is of course, limited – but by the universality of the Church, I can go quite far indeed. This is perhaps part of the beauty of faith, that we can believe and hope in goodness, even if we might never see the results of that which we hold to.

It’s like… Legacy. You don’t get to see what remains in the aftermath of your leaving, in your wake. Lots of people are concerned with what sort of mark they’re leaving, what lives on beyond them.  I can only hope that I make a good impact, whether physical or spiritual.  I want to bring my loved ones home with me.  I don’t want to lose them.  That’s the mark I wish for, the mark of those I surround myself with, living evermore.

~

When I started writing this blog roughly four years ago, I never thought that I would end up where I am today.  If I try to think back and remember what I was concerned about at the time, it was probably the next fun Scouting activity I would attend, or perhaps the upcoming youth group meeting with 1×1 at Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or maybe not looking dumb in front of some girl I was trying to impress.

Back then, I was more girl crazy than in recent times – shocker, I know – and I do apologize to anyone who has seen me in such a state, at any stage of my young life.  In conjunction with that, I was a more violent, more boisterous, and more brash character, things which I must again apologize for, as they are traits not yet vanished from who I am.
Still, there were positives.  I was a more avid reader, a person who was keen on drawing and making art in various media forms; someone who was not easily distracted or dissuaded from any goal, no matter how preposterous.  I loved really getting outside and breathing life in; not taking the heavens down to me in my confinement, but instead shooting upward to place myself among them like the many skyward sparks from the fire that I built with my own two hands.

Over the years, with each piece of media absorbed, I began to take on different characteristics of the people I saw, both fictional and not.  I believe I’m a very “feely” person, a very empathetic fellow, and oftentimes, being that sort of character can get me into good and bad mindsets.  In time, I took on the fun childishness of the Doctor, the witty cynicism of Fish, the imagination of Rose, the determination of Will, the rage and guilt of Batman and Daredevil, the force of Kestin and Edict, and the foolish hope of… oh, that might actually be mine.

The point is, I’ve changed, and more than I could have expected.  When I began, all those years ago, I never expected that leaving Scouting would push me onward to new adventures in Trail Life and Saint Gertrude.  The funny thing is, when I worked at Camp Friedlander, during staff week, we took a trip to St. Gertrude’s for an early Sunday Mass, which was one of my first experiences with the church.  And again, St. Gertrude’s returned when my older sister was leading me and my peers through the Ad Altare Dei religious emblem program, when we went there for vespers with the brothers.  Again, a third time, when my family was exploring different parishes, it almost became our home parish.  Almost.  And I think there was a very good reason for it not being so.

The reason?  If we had taken to Saint Gertrude, everything that is now, College Kenosis, my membership in the UC Society of Saint Paul, my role as an Altar Server at Annunciation, all of that would be nonexistent.  Perhaps even Eagle Eye would have been lost.  I can look back on those moments now and understand why things went a certain way, I see where the Spirit led me on this long road.
Thus, with the present hardships I’m facing, I can hope for the day that I get to look back on those and say: “Yes, this led me to the great here and now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been a part of many great communities:  Tang Soo Do, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sacred Heart of Jesus Homeschool Group, Kali, St. Max, The RPG Group, Trail Life, St. Gertrude, my year’s P&G Resident Scholar Program family, Chick-Fil-A, The SSP, Eagle Eye and my fellow Eaglets, the CState Crew, and others that I’ve forgotten.

They all had or currently have their turn in forming me, and the people I have met have been guides, friends, and companions all.  I’ve lost a lot of them over the years.  Some faded from memory, some through my own fault, some with a heartfelt farewell, and some with a promise of renewal in some future day.

My legacy, my very heart, has been in my friends and family.  That’s why I think of them often, why they still exist to me in all the greatness that I knew them as.  They have been and always will be my spirit, and my strength is in them, no matter how much they change and vanish into their own futures, their own separate paths, and no matter how weak I myself become.

The weight of life is heavy, and it is painful to carry alone, we all know this.  As I’ve changed, feeling a strange vulnerability that I hardly experienced in younger years, as my eyes were opened to this world I live in, others were my guardians, and they saw me through the most desperate of times.

That’s who I am.  I am many, yet one.  I am the amalgamation of my experiences, I am the countless lives I have dreamed, but most importantly, I am the son of the Most High.
I am… Migi.

To everyone in my life, thanks for being part of my journey.

Ever The Addict – Takes 2 and 3

I like to think I’m not a total cynic, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t prone to viewing the world in such negative terms quite often.  Well, here I am, on two sides of a gap in worldview at once.

See, when I started this post, it was just kind a flood of all these thoughts I’d been having for a while.  Next thing I know, I’m going to a talk from a consecrated woman, and things start to get answered; some of the anger I experienced in the first half of this post, is now lessened, and now I know I’m being heard.  I’ll get to that though.  Just a warning, this’ll be an extra, extra long post in light of the fact that a lot has happened recently to cause this surge.  Plus, she suggested writing about the high and low points of life, so here’s mine.  Maybe I’ll include a TL;DR note.  Maybe.

~1: Storm~

Raw writing has never been my strength.  There’s a certain outpouring of unchecked passion thrust into it that blurs the meaning and detracts from the piece as a whole.  I’ve learned that with papers, I’ve learned that with speeches, I’ve learned that with people.  Or perhaps I haven’t.

You might call me a fool, and you’d be right of course, I never really learn.  I have this… infuriating habit of making resolutions to change things, and then… well, there it goes.  I said as much regarding coffee in the last post, but there’s always a deeper issue.  Perhaps I’m just going with the flow, not quite present.  I think that perhaps I am too stuck in my ways for a number of reasons.  An unfortunate repetition and lack of attentiveness, my environment, and my own mental blocks.

I love writing, watching my thoughts materialize on the page, the feeling of seeing me outside myself.  Perhaps that’s egotistical of me, I’m not sure.  It’s said that when we love others, we’re able to recognize that they are another “me”.  As we desire happiness, peace, safety, and security for ourselves, loving them requires wanting the best for them as well.  Why am I talking about love in a post about being addicted?  They stand opposed.  Love is free where addiction binds.  The latter warps something intrinsic, and makes the visible light fade.

My mind isn’t what it was when I was younger.  I felt like I was sharper then, more quick witted, ready with a punchline, a thought of considerable depth, or a brandished blade, all at the drop of a hat.  My prayer felt more sincere, and the work in my life became more apparent.  Now, that seems to be more concerned with staleness than anything, but I suppose it is an addiction.

I hate feeling, yet I also despise the idea of being apathetic.  I love to experience new things, but I hate the journey.  I am a contradiction in many terms, yet have some high ideals that I am sure.

Who am I?  I am the addict.  “Good men don’t need rules; today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”  Sometimes I wonder whether I truly believe that, but I suppose it makes sense.

Good men don’t need rules per say because they have already internalized them.  The words are as simple affirmations to what they already live.  I don’t live by the rules that free me.  Another form of contradiction, it seems, but then Eagle Eye knowledge jumps to the fore, to aid me in time of struggle.  As the river needs the banks to avoid stagnancy, so rules become the guiding force.  Then as they direct the flow, as they are internalized, true power rises forth, spilling toward their destination, an unstoppable tide.

Have I reached stagnancy, in my addiction to “feeling good”?  Yes, I think so, unfortunately.  A part of me gets frustrated when I don’t feel anything in church.  I feel a surge of powerlessness when I walk out of that confessional, and I don’t feel a “something” in my soul.  In the past, I used to exit feeling somehow lighter than when I walked in.  Now… well… I just am.

I suppose that quote is rather truer than I’d like: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”  How relevant, how unbelievably discouraging to hear.  Because I can’t take myself lightly.  But I crave it terribly, that feeling.  Not emotional, I don’t think.  Just a clarity.  A sharpened sense, where I am aware that I am fully attuned upon receiving Communion.

And yet I know the reasons.  I’ve heard it before, probably said it once, and I’ll say it again.  God doesn’t want us to be addicted to Him, or addicted to the feelings He grants us.  That is not freedom, and no matter how much I might want to just have it easy and just sink into that feeling, that thing that makes it easy to just drop into that plane of reality normally unseen, I can’t.

My heart of hearts knows that if I can’t choose it freely, then I never actually wanted it to begin with.  Addiction is born of curiosity, not of any desire to possess the thing that one eventually becomes addicted to.  I know what addiction is, because three years ago, I was trapped in another kind, just as powerful, if not more.  From that, I know that freeing oneself from addiction is beyond me, myself, and I.  The lone wolf cannot hunt and survive on its own.

Nor can it create itself to aid.  There I go, sounding rather like I have a multiple personality disorder all over again.  I even had names for each of them, you know.  There was a real warrior type, taking my brightest aspects, then there was the assassin, everything dark and hated about me, stuck in one form.  I started a book.  It didn’t end well.
Those are my ghosts, the fantasy that I reject today, but I see where my younger self was coming from.  Coping with the tug of things is difficult, and that was my response then.  Now, it’s me.  I’m not going to invent more of me to fight my problems.  It doesn’t work.

So now you see where the dark danger comes into play, don’t you?  You get addicted to the idea of isolation, keen to hide yourself and everything that you are from what you see as prying eyes.  You bury yourself deep, and all the while, this stagnancy of spirit, this addiction to feeling plays against you.  I don’t like needing people.  Thing is, I’m still young, and I appear to have a foolhardy heart still.

You see where I am, I’m sure.  I seek escape in a dangerous way, tied to “feeling better”.  My transformation becomes external, rather than internal.  The surface you see changes to suit the newness of it all, but within, there lies a barely contained… something.

I feel it sometimes, boiling to the surface, blood pumping fast, eyes becoming steely, heart like it’s about to burst, a pain in the sides of my head, my breathing barely controlled.
It never gets far, as I slow down everything about me, shutting my eyes, sealing it as one does a vault, only it’s my mind.  A palace of madness.  And I have fears that one day it will be the thing that hurts not only me, but someone close to me.  A tenuous hold in the future shattered like glass.  A million pieces that cut.

Father Nathan was right.  I have been filled by the world, and I need another emptying.  I need Eagle Eye, or something just as life-changing.  Something more than just a week.  I need to change, radically.  I have to go, outside the bounds.  My land isn’t doing me any favors.  Nostalgia has a habit of killing things, and this isn’t my home anymore.

Maybe I’ve something gone undiagnosed, I don’t know.  Food related issues, possibly?  I know a favorite book character of mine struggled with that herself, but she at least had an innocent head on her shoulders.  Anger issues?  It would explain a lot.  Depression issues?  Maybe.  Also would explain.

I’m looking for a cure, which is problematic.  I don’t need some bloody doctor, I need other guidance.  I haven’t had the heart or the time to take on a spiritual director, but I feel as if that’s going to be the turning point.  Yet I second guess myself.  What if I don’t find one, and I’m just left with the same nagging sense of frustration?

I’m an agitated fellow, a real butterfly in the mind.  It’s leaping and flying all over the place, unable to stick to one solid path.  Still stuck in those dreams of my own concoction, torturing myself with the “what if I fail?” scenarios, or the “what if I can’t reach that?”, or better yet, “what if I can’t escape?”

A longing to leave.

Yet I can’t.  I have to sort things out here, before I go.  Just because one runs from something doesn’t mean they can avoid carrying it forward into everything that they do next.  And in my discernment of priesthood, I can’t be like this.  I cannot be a priest controlled by emotion.  Heck, I can’t be a father, I can’t be a good anything if I don’t get a handle on this.

 

~Nearing The Wall~

Raw.  Unchecked.  Me.  If you got through that, I applaud you.  Sort of.  Now you see where I stand.  Of course, maybe it’s good this way.  I make no pretense about what sort of person I am.  I might not say everything about me, but that’s probably deeper than I’d normally care to go.  Welcome to my world.  Still, I promised another part to this, didn’t I?

 

~2: The Eye~

When I talk about my own goodness, it’s usually not in relation to actually being good as a whole, it’s about my being good at doing… things.  I believe it’s alright to doubt that, doubt in my abilities.

My danger comes from this perfectionism that I’ve talked about before.  See, I place a lot of value on my capabilities.  Drawing a sketch “correctly”; being able to lift weights with the proper form, and okay, some decent amount of burden to them; being able to do the moves in any dance correctly; being able to put the right words in papers, etc.   I despise anything that I perceive as a weakness in those areas, and I find that when I “fail” per say, in those small areas, I begin to doubt myself on a much larger scale.

It’s like… like messing up a math problem.  You write out the numbers, plugging them into an equation, and miss one (this is something I actually did on a test), which inevitably throws the entire rest of it out of whack.  Worse still is if it’s one of the first calculations you make.  Thing is, life isn’t a math problem.  No amount of calculation and planning on my part is going to help the unplottable, and I’m certainly not going to be able to “plan out” perfection.

For a long time now, I’ve been plagued with this doubt that I’m a good man – goodness being in its truest sense.  It’s just the way it is, and I expect a way that the devil is going to attack me for a long time.  Just because I write something in a mad fit of passion doesn’t mean that thought just came to me then.  It might have been lurking in the shadows for some time.  Voices in my head, nagging at me.  I don’t get a moment’s silence.

Ms. Jackie, the speaker,  said something rather vital about those.  Satan has the title, “The Accuser”, which makes perfect sense, considering one of the voices in my head is constantly accusing me of my faults.  When I say accusing me, it’s constantly reminding me of how I’ve failed, even over things I thought long past.  Not only that, but the voice likes to point out how I can’t rise above such depths.

That’s key.  “Guilt can be a good thing.  The soul’s call to action.”  However, guilt that is constantly berating and putting us down is not from God.  God’s voice recognizes the fault, but it also encourages us to move forward, to rise.  How do we combat the other?  We literally send it away.  “Go to Hell where you belong.”  Just writing out those words already has my blood pumping, it’s kind of funny.
Remember that difference:  God lifts us up, like a hand clasp between brothers, pulling us to our feet.  The devil sees our failure, and stands over us, telling us we’ll never make it back to the surface.

I could go on to talk about the main personas the devil takes on, but I think there’s one in particular that was important for me to know.

“The secretive one”, in the context of a relationship.  Let’s say you had a friend who was dating someone who didn’t want anyone to know that there was a relationship present: Not family, not friends, no one.  That would be quite fishy wouldn’t it?  I hope you’d tell them to get out of that.  It’s quite unhealthy and dangerous.

Still, same thing here in essentials.  You’re faced with a situation, attached, in the thick of it, and here comes the voice.  It’s telling you that you don’t need anyone, trusting others is a weakness, and you need to hide what’s happening.

It’s a lie.  A lie that I myself keep believing.  Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I recognize and ignore that inner plea for help too often.  I like to shut myself in, because I tell myself I’ve gotten tired.  Tired of the struggle.  Tired of trusting, and feeling like I’ve been let down too many times.  I like to say that it’s just a weakness, needing others.  But we do, however much I might despise it at times, we do.  I won’t make it far otherwise.  I suppose it all comes under that desire to know and be known, doesn’t it?

And while there’s pain, I suppose it makes the best parts of relationships really stand out, doesn’t it?  I wish I could accept the pain for what it is, and use it to act, like I do sometimes with anger.  I channel it, I push myself further than I thought I could, I use it to better myself.  Pain on the psychological and emotional level is another battle entirely, and I’m not quite sure how to combat it yet.

So on the subject of whether I’m a good man or not, the question that keeps filtering through everything I think and write, can I just say that I don’t know?
Well, then that would be a lie, I suppose.  Listen very carefully to this next part, as it pertains not just to me, but you as well:  God made us good, and that will not change.

Say it three times, making it personal, believing it.  The consecrated woman said it to us, letting the words wash over us like cleansing water, as energy for the soul.  I can’t say I’m totally convinced myself, but I have hope that my heart will soon catch up with head, overcoming that disparity.

I’ve been so afraid for a long time of my actions, where I’m going, how I’m going to get there.  I suppose that’s what’s really holding me back from asking for a Director, as well as visiting with those at the seminary I hope to attend in the near future:  Fear, and attachments here still.  Do I settle said attachments before I go, or just leave, and hope that the environmental shift will have a much needed, profound effect on me?  It’s not apparent yet.

However, the last thing she left us with was one message, the most needed message for me, the one that she knows was given to her by God to pass on to us.  It was this: “I trust you.

Yeah we’re unworthy, sure we think we’re pretty unlovable when we fail, yes I oftentimes think I’m failing Him by my choice of path, and yes, I’m definitely afraid of that trust being placed in me, but He did.  He does.  He loves us as we are, and He believes in us.

And that is enough reason to stand tall – or as tall as you can when you’re as short as I am – and live on.  He saved me from getting killed or seriously injured in a wreck for a reason; saved me from a lot of stupid decisions I could have made in a lot of different areas, and will again in future, because I have a purpose.

My work isn’t done, and if I still believe in what He put in my heart at Eagle Eye and Abide, then my path is one of greatness.  I would be a fool to set that aside.

So here I am, off on another Eagle Eye adventure, ‘ere the sun rises.  I’m sticking with it, my life, because it’s what I’ve been given.  Do the same, because He made you good.  And that will never change.

-M

Heart Unbound

Closure.  That’s the word.
As hard as some things are, it’s always more difficult without closure.

If one reaches an end and receives closure, it’s quite the gift.  Some would rather do without it, but in many cases in life,  I think it’s worth it.  It’s the lightening of the heart from a weight you never really realized was there to begin with.  That’s what the gift affords you.

I’ve lived nearly two decades, and I’ve made many mistakes, some of which I will forever wonder about, but just this once, I’m not left without a clear finish line.  A clean break on the path, as it were; another marker to reference and be sure of as the next move is made.

Oh, there is or was pain involved, most of which I made myself, but it is outweighed somehow.

How?

Here’s the thing:  I’m not someone who thinks of happenings relating to one’s life as coincidences;  I take it as the Spirit reaching out to me.  Well, as far as noticing the signs, I believe it’s the Father pointing them out and teaching me; when I actually move and take action, I reckon it’s the Spirit working.

Before I saw all these… promptings… I felt overwhelmed, filled with a storm of anger thoroughly unwarranted by the situation.  My mind was more of a mess of emotion, fueled by a sort of buried madness.  Anyone else’s brains ever start to go into overdrive, becoming a blur, at which point hardly any coherent thought comes through?  That’s where I was, often.  I’d lost my sense of focus, and it became apparent throughout the days as I tried to work on a number of projects.

~

Maybe it was an experience at Mass… no, it was.  I remember it.  The first sign.

Father’s homily was quite the kick in the face, but it didn’t start there.  That Sunday, I felt more attentive to praying the Mass than I had in quite a while.  Reminds me of a quote from St. Irenaeus, actually (though there is some debate on whether he said it exactly or not).

“The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” and that’s what I felt.  As if all my senses, hampered by worry – not just over this one failure on my part, but also a number of matters related to my schoolwork – were kicked up several notches and suddenly unburdened.  I was able to see and pay attention to everything, but not be distracted by it (which is how I normally am at Mass, unfortunately).  This time, I felt right at home, truly in communion.
So when it came time for the homily, a time when I tend to zone out because of how hard it is to hear Father from the altar (shh, don’t tell, I do try), I was so there.  Amazing how God speaks if you actually listen to/for His word *coughs*.

Father’s homily spoke of finding three things, well, finding two things and doing the last for both of them:
-A companion
-A teacher
-Giving them a break

For this, I’ll focus on the things that really hit me in relation to what was happening, which were the first and last items on that list (the second – I’m pretty sure – is a push to continue my hunt for spiritual direction).
I’d heard it before, but he made note of the fact that John the Baptist sent his disciples to Christ.  Good companions lead one another on a journey of growth, with Heaven as the high goal.  Further still, he noted how Christ gives us specific companions, and… because they were given to us by Him… we shouldn’t easily turn our backs on them.
In a finishing blow, Father turned to the subject of expectations of others, how they won’t always meet ours, and sweet glory, how we’ll never meet theirs, so for Heaven’s sake… Don’t.  Give up.  Based on that.

Now, I must confess, I ignored this push for a bit, and as another day or so passed, well… it was St. Mother Teresa’s turn to smack me across the face, as I scrolled the endless Instagram feed:
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person…”
Because that’s what I’d been waiting for.  Initiative from someone else, anyone else, so I wouldn’t have to move on my own.  Did I mention I’m a prideful person?  It was pride that was keeping me back from admitting my failure, unwilling to admit that I remained restless in guilt.  And so… in response to that, God made me see the caption underneath the St. Teresa photo, from Mother Angelica: “… start looking into your own life and attacking your pride in all of its many forms.”

So that’s two mothers smacking me upside the head.  A trinity of smacks to the cranium, if we add Father’s words.

~

Suffice it to say, I did what I felt was right, this time with surety that I don’t normally have.  And when it turned out the way it did, when it was over, I ran.  Not away, but to.
I ended up in adoration, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.  The chapel was mercifully empty, and there I stood before the tabernacle.

Those moments will forever remain locked within me, like a calm fire; not deadly or destructive in its ways, but comforting and warm.  It was my turn to make a promise.

And so with clarity, and to quote Venerable Fulton Sheen, I say: “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

There, I admit it.  I have a heart, and it’s broken.  Don’t look at me all funny, I’m not made of stone.  However, the gaps are closing, and faster than I expected, to be honest.  Because right there, in the immediate aftermath, I can look back on what took place and see why God drew me back one last time: to right the wrongs, to fix what I had brought to ruin.  To leave this artwork at peace with it and move on.  Because it isn’t terrible, it isn’t faulty, it is… a beautiful ending.  And oftentimes, you’ll find that the most beautiful endings are the ones that cause the greatest pain.

So I’m beginning.  I am… me.  I do have an idea about where to go, placed in me during what I now consider another era altogether.  Who by?  The voice, the whisper that follows me beyond the bounds, guiding me forward.

Am I a good man?  Let’s find out.

-M

Shatterpoint (An Analogy)

Hello, 2017, you’re an odd kettle of fish.

Perhaps it’s time to come back down off of that ethereal plane of a new year high and reconsider things.  I’m trying to break out of a bad habit… again.

The habit in question is… wait for it… you’d never believe me if you knew me in the past… oh… 6 months or so… video games.  Dun dun dun.  Oh, the horror!  So, as you can probably tell, it’s severely hampered my writing abilities in this mind-numbing fashion that brings out all the animalistic instincts I normally try to dissociate myself from.  Did I use that word correctly?  Oh well.

My point is… I need to get back to this.  I need to retune my skills like one attempts to tune an instrument (which I’m terrible at, ask any of my siblings).  And what else to bring me back to writing but a sobering, earthly subject?

I confess, I used a particular video game as an escape route, *cough* Shadow of Mordor *cough* thinking it quite cathartic in venting streams of anger that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Am I an angry fellow?  I like to think I keep myself rather even tempered, but I’ve been prone to odd outbursts lately, and here’s where things actually start.  In the spirit of years’ resolutions, we’ll take the examples of goals for this, seeing as that’s basically what I had.

I had several goals this past semester, this past year, these past days, to reach a point regarding a matter rather… important to me.  So, in pursuit of that goal or that point that I saw as success, I kept hacking away at this wall of things that stood in the way of reaching that place.  As it turned out, well… the wall was much more solid than I imagined, and what had been envisioned as success rapidly turned into a nightmarish attempt to reach the other side.

I was left angry and bitter at my failure, and as such, sought an outlet.  Several outlets, actually.  And after each outlet, I thought I saw a glimmer of the far side of the wall, perhaps closer again than in truth.  I started once more at the wall, again and again, until at last, I saw that my efforts were fruitless in the extreme.  So… I tried to leave the wall.

Did I succeed?  I’m not quite sure just yet.  The heart is an odd thing, and memory another.  To cherish the latter has often led to a great distress in the former, at least in my case, but still I do it.

Why do I tell you this?  Well, indulge a young fellow, but I put this out here because I’m hoping I’m wrong, in a way.  If what I speak of seems unclear, garbed in analogy as it is, I do apologize.  My emotions hamper what I say more effectively than the shouts of a thousand men.

There is a point where one’s emotion must bow to reason.  When one has tried over and over to reach something that perhaps (I say perhaps, as one has yet to see) is not beneficial to the soul, to the ultimate goal of reaching Heaven; when one has experienced a greater negative outcome than positive by that continued attempt… perhaps it is time to conclude that the hope was in fact flawed.

Hope is not flawed, hoping in something in which one should not however, is.  I have tried, time and again to reach what I saw as the greater good, per a promise I made.  I met the wall.  Efforts met with the blank silence that comes from futility.  Oh, there may have been a few sparks as I battered at it, but no true persevering light.  Of course, there is the possibility that I went about it the wrong way.  I am a swordsman, so let’s take that analogy.

The approach I took by the way of the sword left no truly visible mark on that impenetrable wall; indeed, it only led to the blade growing duller with every attempt, and at last, that blade which I thought would hold forever shattered.

Maybe I used the wrong tool, maybe the wall was never mine to break through, but I think that I ask the questions of myself too late.  I lost, in those terms, and hopefully I’ve won in others (heh, see below).

 

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My personal seal I made, which I realized too late was a bit stubby.  But I succeeded-ish!

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Took me a good five attempts to get that right.  First I did it reverse, then it was too shallow, then it wasn’t showing up so clearly in terms of width (the picture doesn’t show the final product, unfortunately), then  it was too shallow again, then finally I found the right look.

 

The lesson I hope to take from it, for everything must be learned from, is to know when to change course.  Steer the car another direction as it were.  This road I’ve walked or driven might have been good and right at one point, but… maybe it’s not the case anymore.

We all have to face things like that at some point in our lives.  It’s kind of a downer, but it’s true.  The thing is, we must pray that we have the grace to know when to live with the consequences… and move forward (bit of Flash there for ya) from what we once thought was right for us.  That’s not to say it won’t ever be in the future… but at the moment… let it pass, into the west (them LoTR feels).

And also:

“Things end… that’s all.  Everything ends, and it’s always sad.  But everything begins again too… and that’s always happy.  Be happy.” – The Doctor

-M

Focus! – Abide Pt. 4

Songs can make or break you.

There I was, feeling rather stunned after everything I’d heard in the Used talk.  Processing would come in time, and only with help from my small group.  We took to the shelter of one of the campus buildings to discuss the three workshops, pulling couches and chairs together around a communal footrest before diving into the talks.

As that time came to a close, we had dinner and some free time before evening session quickly followed.  In truth, our free time dragged on in my head, but I’m a restless fellow, so –
Praise through song followed!  Raising our voices to the heavens with everything that we could muster was just one small part of our giving glory to God.  

Our keynote talk was on Communio and the Incarnate Son, or the connection between God and men.  In brief, by virtue of being Christian, we share in the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation, for it is we the Church who exist as the Body of Christ.  Our reception of the Eucharist holds a key difference to normal food; instead of transforming it and making it part of us (you are what you eat), the Eucharist, being Christ’s Divine Body, transforms us into Him.  We who already are the Body of Christ, continue to be purified and made more perfect by this wondrous gift.

Now, here was the big thing about tonight, perhaps one of the most profound experiences that I have had on any retreat: Father Michael, during Mass, had us pause and reflect on what it truly meant to receive Christ’s Body.  To ponder the depths and all that that reception was and implied.  It’s easy to get caught up in the words and actions, but do we really hear and see them?
Time and time again, the priest elevates the Host saying: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
And time after time we repeat the words:  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  Do we mean them, or have they become a monotonous cry?  It’s easy to recite what we’ve learned, but to truly mean it is another matter entirely.  That’s why we had to be sure of what we were heading for.

So Father had us line the sanctuary steps, and, when we were truly prepared, only then would we step forward and kneel to receive the Creator of the Universe.  The Creator, powerful and oh so terrifying in His might, with strength to shatter existence… and yet… kind and merciful in His ways.  Was it easy?  Of course not.  Trying to understand Who was coming to me?  The One whom no words could ever hope to adequately describe?  No… I think not.  Yet He did.

Adoration followed Mass immediately, and as we mounted the steps, moving closer and closer to the monstrance, I waited for something just as profound, if not more so, to happen again.  Nothing.  Or so I thought.  Looking back on it, I was too focused on the big signs, the kind that shout at you with the force of a trumpet.  Maybe I was hoping Abide would be the time (because I’ve only ever experienced a powerful movement in me once or twice), but it wasn’t meant to be like that.  Nothing so dramatic as uncontrollable laughter, or resting in the spirit, or tears of joy… no charismatic experience for me.  No, I had something else, and in my honest opinion on par with all those.  My mind was clear.  Not that I completely understood everything, not that kind of clear, but it was just… free… free to consider possibility.  Dream in His presence.

The unity I experienced there, the calm contentment that came with my thoughts of family and friends, some long gone to me… the openness of this old heart of mine.  I knew His working in me, listening.  So I did what one might with an old friend who you just might be catching up with after a long, long absence.  I poured out my thoughts, prayers, worries, hopes, dreams… all to Him.  Some unconsciously flowing, others… well, my mind jumps around.  If we love one another… God abides in us and His love is perfected in us… In us, changing us… and here’s the odd part.  It connected quite uniquely to something that happened that same night… something that hurt.

The instance in question occurred during the Abide coffee house, which took place after small groups.  Many people sang for us that night, and it was brilliant, I loved every second of it, but the ending song struck me.  My best friend was singing a duet with another of my friends… a song of friendship of all things.  It was For Good, from Wicked.
Now me, if I’m zoned out, I tend to listen to the beat of songs more than the actual words being said; it spares me a lot of grief in the short run, especially when it comes to songs with subtle curses or just depressing lyrics in general.

Here however, I didn’t have the luxury of zoning out.  I was transfixed, spellbound even.  This friend of mine, by the way, is not just any friend, not to me.  No, she’s… quite something else that I haven’t worked out yet.  I heard the words, coupled together with the beautiful notes, and… well… I guess I kinda cracked.  In the hearts, if you’re a Time Lord, or right in the feels, as the kids say.  I’ve always had a number of concerns about people leaving for college, something which I most definitely did not get over last year, and they both dulled and sharpened here, in certain aspects.  Got me quite choked up, I’ll admit.  I think the lyrics that did it were: “I do believe I have been changed for the better…” and “Because I knew you…”

Knew.  That word alone might have done it, because it’s true.  Once people go out there, off to college, there will be changes to who they are.  You don’t quite get the same person back, depressing as it is to say.  I’ve had too much experience with my other out of state college friends to be optimistic, losing touch with them as they age past me.  Outgrow this daft old fellow.  I don’t mean to be disheartening, but… there it is.  Honest to goodness, my two cents and a bit more.

~ We all change, when you think about it.  We’re all different people, all through our lives ~

And yet… being changed for the better.  Ever having a part of yourself in the other and vice versa. That’s not only true of friends, but of God in us, transforming us by His work through us, until the day when we can claim: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  Those words – both of the song and Scripture – gave hope, despite the pain that they brought with them.  A good pain.  A pain that I could only hope to channel into authenticity.  True authenticity in my actions, ordered towards the one certain connection between me and my friend(s), no matter how our paths and lives diverge… Sainthood.

TBC – M

By Our Surroundings – Steubenville Main Campus 2 Pt. 2

Saturday’s morning was still ongoing as the men’s session finished with a different yet absolutely perfect way of ending or starting, depending on how you look at it.
Sean Forrest had us band together as brothers, inviting the Holy Spirit as we prayed in circles that we formed, our hands on each others’ shoulders.   Intimidating?  You bet it was.  Our unity however, was what gave us the strength to continue onward.  As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens fellow man.
I was tempted to jump up and kind of cheer when he mentioned that verse, because I love that.  There is so much truth in those words.  We tend to form based on who we surround ourselves with, and so that united prayer was a rare moment of true strength in the face of every negative influence seen back home.

At this point, it was lunchtime, and I made my way towards partaking of a quick meal so I’d be in time for the Senior Workshop.  I was still munching on an apple as I sat down next to Annie, Liam, and a few other of my Saint Gertrude friends in the… room near the aerobics room.  It was upstairs, that’s all I remember.  Have you ever tried quietly eating an apple?  It’s… not quite successful.  What made it funny was that a person in the row ahead of me was also munching an apple.  We locked gazes as we both noticed the (not so silent) crunchy eating noises emanating from the other’s direction, then we started laughing.  Apples: scaring doctors and making people meet.

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The talk was focused on life after high school, something I’m positive many of the gathered – myself included – were unsure of.  The point: we needed a battle strategy for remaining true to our faith as Catholics through college and beyond.
We have two rather different mindsets we experience at certain ages:  Passionate and Rational; the former being from about 18 to 25, and the latter being all the years beyond.
In our passionate stage, we tend to be more… formative or susceptible to strong feeling, especially if we are bombarded by it constantly.  These feelings may not be very deep, but they can affect us greatly if we are not careful.
As mimetic creatures, always imitating what we are exposed to, whether aware of it or not, we needed a good community, among other things.
So, three things to look for in college, especially for those who had yet to choose:
– A good curriculum that speaks the truth
– [Solid] Catholic Professors who teach what is good, right, and just.
– Fellow students who help us form correctly, Catholic or not, though obviously the former is helpful in keeping one accountable to the faith.

By this point, I’d already chosen a college close to home, so I did listen, but took more careful note of the first and last, with the understanding that most teachers I will have will be secular, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
I know they will leave impressions on me however, and it is for this reason that I need that guiding force found in the teachings of the Church (e.g. the Catechism) to keep me firmly planted.  Going back to what I learned from Eagle Eye, those teachings as well as the good sense that my parents provide (imperfect as they may be at times, God bless them) will serve to make me that flowing river, or that tomato plant that is ever directed upward, reaching for the sky.  I will take what I can, and appropriate those truths.
And yet, as Chris said, that preparation is never finished… it’s our lifetime’s journey in growth.  A growth for all things living.  Just our human nature.

Those were the main points of the talk, the rest was about personal stewardship and also taking care to avoid debt if possible (which also falls under stewardship I realize).  It wouldn’t be worth it, and while God can make good out of bad, I doubt debt is something He’d require of us in order to reach our truest vocations.  Just a good thing for me personally to keep in mind when I consider my path.

Part of me wants to keep writing the next bit, but I realize that such a long post might lead to utter confusion, so in the interest of keeping things simple, consider this the second of… maybe five!

TBC – M

Old Habits Die Hard

High school is over!

It’s off to new adventures.  The summer, the excitement, the thrill of the warm air as it rushes past.  The light of a new moment, another journey.

I could go on, but I’m sure most people know the feeling, so I won’t bother rehashing it here.

College as a HS senior was an interesting undertaking, I will say that.  Professional Practices was – surprisingly – a favorite class of mine, and I enjoyed it immensely.  The same was true for Drawing and even Interpersonal Communication at some points.
It’s surprising how quickly it all went.
Now I can actually begin.  This is it.

I’m still me of course, constantly looking at what could be, and not really liking the fact that a lot will have to change if I’m going to survive.
It’s hard!  Change is hard.  Probably why I haven’t touched this blog in ages.  It was a relatively new experiment for me, and then all sorts of other things started to become the priority.

I started working and became a “contributing member of/to society” (as my friend likes to say), I’ve been constantly preparing for the summer and several retreats I’m going on; trying to get classes scheduled despite hiccups with adviser appointments and final transcripts; trying to keep in touch with the friends who will be leaving or I haven’t seen in a while, and trying not to be lazy and sit on my computer all day (I’m working on breaking the cycle… after I finish writing*).

Even that odd story I was trying my hand at has lain untouched for a good 5 months or more.  Maybe.  I might have last written in February actually.  The point is…

Time is… extremely fragile.  Fleeting.  Momentous.  Slowly turning.  I could go on for a bit.

High school was an 4 odd years; quick to go, with oddness, awkwardness, and yeah okay, the occasional great moment.

I’ve been gifted with great friends who I’ll probably rarely see, been through some adventures of the dancing type, the biking type, the camping type, the ceremony type, the working type, and just the ordinary… type.  Clickity clackity, there go my keys.

What can I possibly say at the end of such a thing?

I have been and still am grateful for that time that I’ve had to continue in growth, and as with any large turning point, it’s now back to the drawing board.

It’s like a new year’s resolution, but not really.  Brains be filled with balderdash.

Goal setting is the term I’ll use.  I need to be… realistic.  Write it out.  Keep it in view, otherwise I’ll forget, and there it goes!
Good grief, I just need a sticky note that constantly (and automatically) changes positions in my room so I don’t get used to its placement and inevitably forget it.
Someone get on inventing that.  I might pay for it.  Maybe.

Right, here goes!

  • Work on this blog (redesign, write posts, get with the program)
  • Edit and take pictures and constantly work on building up a photo album to look back on in the future
  • Journal more about momentous moments in life
  • Write my book (and hopefully finish it before the end of August, because good heavens I’ve been dragging it out)
  • Make time to read good books!  I haven’t finished a heavy book in a long while…
  • Draw (charcoal, pencil, pen)
  • Get more active by biking around or taking a stab (heh, it’s funny because I totally have a training knife) at the punching bag.  Maybe even do pushups on a regular basis again.  That way next time there’s a hike, I’m not the slowest man alive.
  • Write letters to people, because it’s the only heartfelt way I can probably keep in contact without being that guy who just shoots a random text now and then… ah sadness.
  • Keep my area of study (i.e. my room) clean.
  • Learn more swing dance moves so that I’m not a one note person thingamajigger.
  • Listen to and discover music other than Hamilton (although to be honest, despite the language it has that I disapprove of, it’s pretty addicting).
  • STOP WATCHING RANDOM VIDEO GAME PLAYTHROUGHS AND SCROLLING THROUGH FACEBOOK ALL THE TIME.  HEAVENS KNOWS THAT’S MY LIFE I’M USING THERE (pardon my rant at myself).

Well, there you have it folks, my madness on display.  Not like that was never the case, but sweet glory…

Consider me returned.  In a way.  Don’t think it’s too permanent.  Still getting back into the swing of things.

-M

*Blah writer’s block, but…