Monday, June 23, 2008

The blessing of a new apartment

A post title with a double meaning! :)

I'm more or less moved in to our new place in Lakewood, and my muscles feel the effect of two days of hauling stuff up to the second story apartment. It's a pretty nice-looking two-bedroom with very roomy closets and two large balconies. There's lovely landscaping in the complex, two pools, and attentive and friendly staff in the rental office. I'm happy.

My new roommate is Mery, she who invited Diep and me to a weekend at Corpus Christi Monastery. She comes with a dowry of a fridge, plenty of dishes, a kitchen table and chairs, and various other items I won't have to buy for myself. Even better, she shares my preference for an uncluttered apartment and (relatively) simple lifestyle. After moving all our stuff in we've still got a fair bit of empty closet space. Furthermore, our decently large living room contains exactly one lamp and one rocking chair, and I might move the chair back to my room. We're minimalists. :) Okay, I may cave and buy a sofa and coffee table, if only so we can be hospitable to guests. We have no TV. Who needs it when EWTN can be streamed via Internet? :) It'll be a problem if we want to have friends over for Jane Austen DVDs-- is there such a thing as a big flat screen that does nothing but hook up to a DVD player?

Most of the moving was done on Saturday, and on Sunday we had ten guests over for the apartment blessing. It was a scramble to get the place presentable by that time (actually the final touch of picture-hanging took place after the guests had arrived), but we preferred to have our home blessed right away. Our friends brought extra chairs and lots and lots of good food. We had planned to feed them all dinner ourselves, especially by way of thanking the ones who helped with the move and even hauled the refrigerator up the stairs. But instead we had a feast and now Mery and I figure we'll eat free for a week on the leftovers. :)

We're only two blocks from St. Peter Chanel. :) :) :) One of the priests rode his bike over, wearing a cassock and hoping the sash wouldn't get caught in the chain. Seriously, I know such cool priests! Everyone brought their breviaries and we had Vespers first (that's Evening Prayer) and then Father prayed a blessing in English, followed by one in Latin (much to our delight), and sprinkled all the rooms with holy water. My room was as neat for the occasion as it will ever be. I haven't got a desk or dresser yet, and all the computer stuff is staying at my old place until I get Internet up.

After the blessing we chowed down, talked and talked, prayed Compline and talked some more. To my delight folks stayed pretty late, the last guests cleaning up our kitchen before they departed. That has to be the easiest party I've ever hosted; other people did all the work. I was thinking-- not for the first time!-- of how glad I am to know so many loving and fanatical Catholics who were willing to pop over on short notice and help to bless our place. Thank you, dear Lord, for all of them. :)

Next Saturday my cousin Greg is going to get married on top of Glacier Point in Yosemite, with a reception at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I'm leaving with my parents tomorrow to spend a few days there beforehand. I hadn't planned on leaving before Friday, since there's so, so much to do here-- getting the apartment set up, some other stuff I want to sort out, and eventually, you know, looking for an actual job-- but it's been some years since I've gone to Yosemite, and it's about my favorite place on earth, and life is short. Who knows if I will ever have an opportunity to go to Yosemite with family again? So, having moved everything, I'm now going to pack some of it back up and drop my life for a few days. Some hiking, some reading, some swimming in the pool with views of Yosemite Falls, some gourmet dining... I'm going to miss daily Mass, though, but apparently there's a 12-family parish called "Our Lady of the Snows" right in Yosemite Valley that at least has Mass on Sundays. Anyway, I love you all and I'll blog you later!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Didn't believe me about the cake?

As I recall, no one dared to eat his face.

This reminds me of the time--true story-- that my parents had company over on Easter and my mom ordered a cake for the occasion. She requested that the words "He is Risen!" be written on the cake. When she picked up the finished product, "He is Risen" was in tiny black letters and looked quite gloomy. It was only then that she remembered that it was a Jewish bakery. We'll never know if that had something to do with it, but anyway the cake was tasty!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The silence part of a silent retreat

Twelve women made an Ignatian retreat at a retreat house in Fullterton for eight days recently, and I was one of them. We prayed most of the day and were supposed to maintain silence. Each of us was to act as if she was on retreat by herself; we weren't to greet each other in hallways or anything. Some observations:

I still have no idea who was in the room next to mine, even though we shared the bathroom that connected our rooms.

People seem a little less friendly when they're not able to talk. I don't mean they actually were; I just mean that talking is a major social lubricant and when it's removed I perceive people as less friendly.

I didn't hear a single complaint all week, and whatever issues might have been whined about or just discussed ad naseum were never raised.

Except once. Writing a long ranty note and passing it to others in the chapel is NOT maintaining silence.

When you must communicate something, and it's sort of complicated, I think just quietly saying it is more in keeping with the spirit of silence than undertaking a long charades session.

A great advantage of the silence requirement was that I could read at the dinner table without being considered rude!

Every evening a group went walking around the neighboring praying the Rosary (not out loud, obviously). The silent camaraderie was nice.

Every day we made the responses at Mass, said Vespers in a group, and met with our spiritual directors, so I hardly even felt I was being silent at all.

When the retreat ended we gathered at the doorway of the house and introduced ourselves and began to get to know each other. What fun that was. :) There were a number of women who make the retreat every year. Four of the younger women were discerning religious vocations.

I had a really excellent retreat; I have a clearer idea of what God wants from me right now and that's just what I was hoping for. A flashing neon sign spelling out my vocation would also have been nice, but I wasn't expecting that. :) I miss being there now. It was wonderful to have all day to pray. It didn't feel like I was dropping real life to get away for a while; rather, it felt like I was finally really attending to my real life.

We talked after the retreat about how spoiled we are to have such opportunities available to us. The Apostolic Oblates provided the retreat house and our priests gave the spiritual direction. Without all those people who've given their lives completely to the service of God, our retreat would have been harder and a heck of a lot more expensive.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

f (L) = 1 / f (B)

I theorize that fun in my life is inversely proportional to fun on my blog. Which is to say the reason I haven't been blogging is that too much was going on, and that's the reason I won't be blogging at all for the next eight days, and heck, blogging will probably be very sparse for a while after that too. You might as well just forget the address of this place. :P

But first, O my family, friends, and strangers, here's a brief summary of what's been happening!

After Corpus Christi I went on a four-day Come and See retreat with Carmelite sisters in Alhambra. What a good time that was, in more ways than one. I really ought to blog it.

Then there was a gathering to go to which involved a cake that was decorated with this picture of the Pope. Now that's how you know it's a good party.

I had a job interview which came of posting my resume online, but I don't think the position will work out. (They don't know the source of the human placentas from which they'd want me to extract DNA, and I'd need to be sure none of them come from abortions-- did you know there's trafficking in baby body parts in this country? It's the bottom story.)

Then an indicator light in my car threatened me by turning on, so I bribed it $400 to turn off. (A skilled mechanic who did actual stuff to the engine was involved at some point.)

Then I had my last catechism class of the year. Dear fifth-graders of mine, you taught me to pray more fervently than before. For the inadequacy of my own attempts to instill knowledge and foster devotion in your little hearts caused me to beg all the more of God Himself to keep you in His arms as you grow and face all the stupid stuff this messed-up world will be pushing on you!

Then the thirtieth anniversary of the day of my birth approached (note how smoothly I avoid the phrase "30 years old") and I began to hear from various friends and family who all made much of me. If any of you are reading this, thank you so much for the calls/cards/movie/dinner/concert/tea/presents/Masses said for me. You made me feel loved, and I am blessed by each and every one of you who count me as a friend!

Early tomorrow (Monday) I begin an eight-day silent retreat based on the exercises of St. Ignatius, which I briefly blogged about once before. Here's a friend of mine blogging more extensively on last year's version of the same retreat. Mine will be just like this except that we'll do the Hours and Rosary by ourselves, the reason being that former retreatants found that meeting at set times to do those things interrupted their meditations just when they were getting good. I'm really looking forward to the retreat. Really really. I need a good long time with God.

When I get back I'll be moving into an apartment with a friend of mine. I'm glad this worked out for us, though I'll have to buy lots of stuff first. I've been renting rooms in others' houses, and now I'll need my own furniture.

Then I'll be off to Yosemite, one of my family's favorite places in the world, for a much-too-short trip. My cousin will be getting married on Glacier Point with a dinner the night before at the Wawona Hotel, and a reception after the wedding at the Ahwahnee Hotel. When we were younger, I used to envision doing that myself, and I discussed it with my sister and girl cousins, but it turns out it's one of my male cousins who's going to live the dream. He and his fiancee will be married by a great-uncle of ours who was a missionary doctor for many years and saw wild times in Cambodia. By "wild times" I mean he and my great-aunt built a hospital to serve the impoverished population, and then had to flee in the 1970's to escape the Khmer Rogue, and then returned after the massacre of a third of the population to find that their hospital had been used as a torture facility, and then got right back to work. I wish I knew these awesome relatives of mine better, but they live on the opposite coast so I rarely see them.

And that takes us almost to the end of June. Pray for me, dear reader, and may you have a wonderful month!