The Power Within – Mother (Pt. 1)

So… it’s Mother’s Day.  Or it will be tomorrow.  I’m kind of on a deadline here as far as getting this post done in time, so I realize I’m probably sacrificing a lot of depth.  Ah well.  As I sit here, writing to try and get my thoughts flowing, I’m reaching for a structured spontaneity, which is quite possibly an oxymoron, depending on how you leap about.

For this post, it’s kind of more a tribute sort of thing, to be made annual, because that’s kind of the deal with such days.  The year comes and goes and suddenly, hey, whaddya know, it has been your regularly scheduled trip around the sun, welcome back to the same date, a year later though, obviously.  Unless you’re a time traveler, in which case,  I am sorry, so so sorry.  Get out of that time loop, mate, and live a little.

Anyway, moving past that little sidebar, the thing we have to remember of course is that our parents, both mother and father, are always around, no matter the day.  So I shan’t begrudge one day (which honestly seems a little too little for celebrating such a big part of my life) to them, right mates?  Let’s actually kick this off with talking about both of the greatest mothers in my life.  The first is Mary, Mother of God, our mother; the second, my own mother, or, as we call her, “Mom”.  Heh, couldn’t resist.

Firstly, Mary.  When I think of Mary, the first thing that usually comes to mind is this very calming gaze, that sort of cuts one to the heart.  The eyes have it, an understanding of my pains and struggles, they see it, and yet they love despite it all.  The second thing is a warm embrace, burying my face in the folds of blue, a powerful ocean sweeping me into a greater reality.  A reality that I am loved, that I have… family.  Ad Jesum Per Mariam.  That’s the thing that drives me onward.  That truth that Christ can be reached through His own Mother, my mother.

I have a sort of… odd thing I do.  Whenever I see a statue of Mary, I think of her, and I wave rather vigorously.  I like to believe that I speak with her rather often, and that she’s amused by my childlike antics.  Whenever I pass the statue at my church(es), the various artworks I see on occasion, and especially The Steps, Immaculata.  Every time we pass by on the bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, I’ll stare across the way, saying a simple “Hello, Mary!” in greeting.  My tradition, my own way of showing I’m thankful for her presence in my life.  Because I’ve had a lot of trying times in which I felt isolated, but in asking for her intercession, I found some new resolve to strive onward, to never give up, to never give in.  She is an inspiring figure, and I am honored to be under her protection.

In the same vein, my earthly mother offers a different protection.  Many the days where I came to her simply to talk and discuss the various areas in my life where troubles had arisen.  Everyone needs a confidante, and she’s one of my main go-tos.  Why go to my mother?  Well, as a commuting college kid, I have time at home outside of school.  I get to know my family a bit better, planted as I am.  Might sound awful, but it really helps to have that kind of separation sometimes.  Two worlds divided, the school and the home.  I didn’t write this to talk about school though, I wanted to… shed some light on my mother’s wonderful awesomeness.

She’s an early riser, not by choice, but because she prepares us men of the house food for both breakfast and packed lunch, and makes sure we’ve got enough to survive before heading back to sleep.  Her prayer life is inspiring, because she really dedicates herself to the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis, in between the madness that is keeping the house in order and the rest of the family happy.  As my father says, “Happy wife, happy life.”  Really, it’s her who is often holding us all together.  When we all have our issues, she’s always the one calling us back to prayer, back to God.

I rarely appreciate it in my darker moods, but I need to hear that.  I need to hear that there is a better way than the one I’ve chosen.  Someone to hold me to the mark, and yet support me in those times where I am wrestling.  That’s why she’s my confidante.  She shares her wisdom, doesn’t mind too much when I go on a bunch of threads related to girls in my life, and just all around always seems to have the right words to say to me, to get my head back in the game.

So of course my power comes from both of them.  It’s not a weakness to be close to one’s mother, it’s probably one of your greatest assets.  Through turmoil and triumph, through love and loss, through the violence unto victory, my mother gives me and all the rest of my family strength.  And so today, in light of all our mothers do, say at least a quick thank you, give them a hug, give them chocolates or something, I dunno.  It’s a chance to show our appreciation for their part in our lives.

-M

P.S.  Apologies for this not really having my usual head and heart in it, but it’s been a busy weekend 😛

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.

Chasing Perfection: A Brief Note

I’m going to make a bold claim, as an older brother ten years removed from my sibling, that it’s hard to relate to him.  Perhaps I have forgotten what it was like, being that age, and seeing the world in that different way, that mixed bag of extremes and simple, innocently testing fun.  Today, the reality was brought home that perhaps I still am very much like him after all.

See, it’s not often that I actually talk with my little brother, no, on the contrary, I half-heartedly listen at the best of times and ignore him at the worst.  There’s that to add to my list of faults.  I realize that interests change with time and age, yet if I could go back in time and look forward, I would be astounded at how little interest I now show in those little adventure books, in card games like Pokemon, or even in building with LEGOs.  Yeah, that last one is an actual problem.

So today (realize I began this the day of, but failed to see it through until now), after seeing him moping about on the couch for some odd reason (I assumed that he didn’t want to eat his lunch), I decided to talk to him to try and persuade him to get ready for an activity he had later.  As it turned out, he wasn’t sad for that reason at all.
No, what was causing distress was a picture he’d been drawing.  I believe the one in question was of a car, and he’d grown frustrated with a wheel’s roundness of all things.  Ah, if only the worst of my drawing problems was a lack of circular perfection!  He was beating himself up about it, burying his face in the pillows of our couch.  When I got to him at last, he was tearing up a bit, saying he’d never be as good as well… me.

It’s an oddly vicious cycle of comparison.  To compare to those we see as great is a balance, and I’m sure most would agree.  We tend to be partially inspired, and more often than not, discouraged!  Especially when we perceive a gap in what we have versus what they have.  So when I sat down next to him to tell him how I wasn’t the greatest by any stretch of the imagination, I could truly understand where he was coming from for once.  It was one of those situations where nothing is lost in translation, and one aspect that – unfortunately in certain senses – is not lost as we grow.

We lose heart when we realize that we either have a long way to go to reach what we perceive as great (which, by the way, might change to passable in our eyes when we actually get there), or simply think the task impossible.  One of those times where the word “never” comes to mind.

Is perfection subjective?  I don’t think so.  The word for that is perhaps the ideal.  What to us is the ideal, the standard by which we measure success?  I’m sure we can all think of answers to that.  The ideal picture of life… the life I can pretty much guarantee we won’t ever have.
Perfection on the other hand, is – I believe – objective, but there are many roads to that singular goal.  One only has to take the Saints.  So many unique travels, yet they came to that perfection which is holiness.  Unity with Christ.  Oh, to only truly long for such a thing.

However, to make the most and best of time on earth, I have some word of advice, and honestly, a bit of self-motivation at this point.

Don’t get lost in chasing an image.  Have an ideal, have a goal, sure, but don’t forget your own unique abilities.  While you may find a whole number of similarities between yourself and someone else, don’t try to become their carbon copy.  I know that’s easier said than done, but all we can do is our best, right?

It’s like my old gaffer said… no I’m just kidding, this awesomely hilarious priest said something similar is all.  To paraphrase for universality’s sake: “We are not called to be Saint Therese, or Saint Padre Pio, or Saint Josemaria Escriva, or – you get my point.
We are called to be Saint _____.”  So put your name there, sign that line (for those with longer names, I am so sorry that it’s a tiny line), make the commitment to strive for it.  It is beyond imperfect ideals, beyond the standards set by this flawed world.

I don’t say that to push you to sacrifice the pursuit of good and beautiful skills such as art, writing, leadership, a career, and all that.  No, not at all.  All I mean is that… there is more to our destinies than that.

So to return once more to the picture of my younger brother in distress over his artwork, we all have to start somewhere, right?  Should I have told him that this question of “can I ever be good enough?” would never leave him?  Did I perhaps give him false hope by encouraging him to move forward, and just draw and draw, over and over?  Should I have taught him that he would have to do the same with every step of his life’s journey?
Because you see it now, don’t you?  Life is the canvas, and we’re all artists.  And maybe we have some idea of where the line will fall, maybe we already have an idea of what we want to draw out… but we can never be sure until it’s truly on the page.

– M

P.S.  My bad, I did say it would be “brief” in the title.

The Mental Shakes – Eagle Eye Teen Summer Institute Pt. 9

And here was the day I felt it. Some would classify the feeling as anger or frustration, chaotic and unceasing in nature.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Despite being here now, that first point I highlighted when I began writing these posts remains fixed. I don’t wish to move past and forget, both the good and the bad.  I’m not proud of it, but it was a necessary step to – at the very least – start to free myself of some deep-seated things brewing under the surface.  As I said earlier, I had been exhausted from the sheer amount of hiking we’d done. My body was in this weakened state, which surprisingly only made my spirit rise up to the surface, challenging me.

We returned from the nursing home, me in a mentally weary state from the interactions I’d had that were both painful and joyful at the same time. After a brief period of rest, and our To The Heights session, we all trooped over to the front of Our Lady of Consolation for the traditional picture for that year’s group.  I’ll be honest, it was highly amusing to wave to every passing car, all… 75 of us.  I know I saw several people taking pictures as they passed.
Finally, adoration took place, and that’s where it started.

For the longest time, I’d had this perfect image of a family in my head, marriage being one endgame that I was always shooting for. Recently, that image started to feel… off. There were new images rising in my head, especially during Mass or in Adoration, and even more so at the Consecration of the Body and Blood. A call to priesthood. To partake in that role and serve the Kingdom of God.  A deeper tug than I’d expected, more powerful in nature than any I’d experienced in the past.
And so, with these competing realities in my mind, there began the frustrations as I tried to take control of my future, because you know, I’m a control freak. As I stared up at the Blessed Sacrament from where I was kneeling, shouts began to bubble up inside me.

“What do you want from me?” and “What is my path?”  I remember those words ringing out loud and clear in my mind. I wanted to yell them into the stillness, make them heard for everyone, but even as they started to mount on my lips, I reined in the strange feeling of what was almost fury. Any chance of resting peacefully with the Lord was effectively dead that night. In tandem with those fears experienced during the visit, here was yet another point that I could not hope to control.
Did I win the struggle by figuring it out? Spoiler alert: No, at least not in the traditional sense. More to be explained in a later post.

I left that adoration hour in this restless state, and even though I genuinely enjoyed dinner and the entertainment of several arm wrestling matches, there was still that tight feeling inside.  Campfire followed, and rain only dampened my mood further, although it was highly amusing to see the BLTs do their skit.  After our procession to Our Lady, the feeling again intensified, and instead of doing my normal good nights to everyone, I found myself outwardly silent for a change, and perhaps even surly in nature toward those who tried to interact with me. If I offended any Eaglets that night, I do apologize.
In an impulsive move that startled even me, I wrote my name on a slip of paper asking to meet with Brother Philip, and dropped it in the basket that the Chaperones used to arrange meetings between teens and any specified religious. I needed help.

I hit the showers, not inclined to talk much to any of the others, though I did force myself to be civil where I needed to, before finally falling back in bed and staring at the ceiling, my thoughts churning about.  In a surprising contrast, I peacefully drifted off to sleep after some minutes, my body pulling me down into slumber. Then again, I was exhausted, both mentally and physically.

End Thursday. Both now and then, funnily enough.

TBC – M