Monday, July 18, 2005

Intermission (of an intermission)

Where have I been? Relaxing, eating, studying, exercising -- the usual, only less frantic. Summer classes start this Monday (25 July) so I am savoring the last few days OFF like a reptile savors salt licked from a rock.

A good change has been my announcement to my missionary teammates, via an attached letter in email, that I will be doing much less in terms of ministry (with Banner church) next year. Why is this good? Not because I dislike life at Banner; far from it. I have always felt welcome and, in fact, intrigued by life at Banner. Being Banner's servant and guest is and has been my privilege. I care for many people there, and know the feeling is mutual.

The change is good, first, because it was a radical step for me, normally a kowtowing Yes-Man, to be open, vulnerable, sincere and decisive about my commitments as a Catholic. The change is also good because it clears the ground for me now to be even more authentic about my gifts and vocation: writing, service at Providence University, language learning, good ol' fashioned daily devotional time with God, resting, etc.

I have yet to get much response from the people I told, but two people have asked to read a much longer letter explaining my "Catholic changes" in depth. (I'm considering editing and posting some of that letter cum liturgical manifesto here at FCA....)

Taiwan is mid-typhoon these days, which means bank and school holidays. Oh well, so I get to rest more. ;) (I recently submitted a short piece about "Why I Like Taichung" to a local magazine for a government essay contest. We'll see what happens! In any event, I'll post the piece here in due time.)

Dane and I have been trying to keep the apartment clean. For my part, I sweep, mop, scrub and de-trash. For his part, well -- he eats small pieces of garbage for me and licks up strange fluids that I miss -- all before I unwittingly let him kiss me like a carwash brush. Ah, man's best friend!

I got new glasses after 5 years. I went to the dentist after 2 years. I've set up a home phone number after a month without it. I have not yet regretted my decision to be without Internet at home. I'm reading much more, writing more letters, resting better and, paradoxically, using the Internet more effectively.

Let me also add, in this vein, that I think you should exploit -- or create -- the vacuum of a "less connected life." I've not been posting much at all here at FCA, partially because I've just been doing other stuff, partially because I'm getting longer, more polished essay-posts ready, but primarily because I want to signal to you, dear reader, that now is a time to decelerate. Relish the emptiness of summer (or, alas, if it cuts the other way, relish the rare empty moments in an otherwise overstuffed summer). Join me, so to speak, in solitude. Listen with me, as it were, to the silence.

As its summer, we're a but understaffed at my parish, so yesterday I was volunteered to welcome people to the Mass from the lectern, read the lectionary prefaces and pray the general intentions. Wow, I'm a functional Catholic layman, cool!

Let me also say how truly joyful I am to be Catholic. I confessed my sins (yes, again this week) to Fr. John and emerged knowing, not that I am perfect, but that God loves me; that God loves me enough in fact to send His Son to forgive my sins; loves me enough to create and sustain His Church just to meet me in that confessional, reaching out from the Cross, becuse He still loves me. The confessional is made from the wood of the Cross and it is my proof as a Catholic that the love of God in Christ at the Cross has not stopped one bit. I am so grateful to be found in the wings of His Church.

And, tho it may seem cheesy to you, I want to be honest that I am so grateful for you, dear reader. I don't know many of you and barely know most of you, but, by some mystical sort of intution and hope, I do love you. As I've said before, this blog is many things -- my palate, my catharsis, my soapbox -- but above all, I pray and announce, it is my arena for serving you. I write for you; don't be shy to let me know how I can serve you. It may take longer than you like, or even longer than I promise, but it is my intention to serve you with this blog and my replies as far as I am able.

Until next time!

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