Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Love is an act of the will

Many of us have probably heard the rather counter-cultural statement that "Love is an act of the will" and not a feeling as our culture seems to hold fast to.

I've understood this point (or at least I thought I did) for quite some time, but I've also recently realized that there's a second part to this idea that I may have overlooked before: Accepting love is an act of the will.

When I look to Christ, especially on the Cross or in the Eucharist, I know that He is totally choosing to give himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, to me. But, what I often overlook is whether or not I am fully accepting his love.

I came upon this realization recently when I was thinking about a new relationship I'm in. Practically out of nowhere, this amazing man comes into my life and start treating me well and being incredibly kind to me. My initial reaction was, "Seriously, what gives? I don't deserve any of this. Why are you being so nice to me?"

Then I realized that this is very similar to how I relate to God. I've always struggled with seeing myself as worthy of God's love -- so much so that makes it damn near impossible for Him to get into my heart. I just figured, "OK, not worthy of your love? Well, I'll just get along fine by myself then." This, of course, is pride masked as humility, all wrapped up nicely in despair and self-loathing.

So now that I have a truly amazing man waiting patiently for me to let him into my heart, just a little bit at a time, I've realized that all along God has been doing the same thing on an infinitely deeper scale.

Of course I'm not worthy of His love. None of us are. But that's the whole point. God wants every bit of our broken and battered little hearts so that He can reshape them into a beautiful, new creation.

We're not pieces of dung covered in snow.

We are broken souls remade in the fire of His Sacred Heart, but only if we choose to let Him in.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life is transient

Sometimes we have our eyes locked on what's immediately in front of us for so long that we don't notice all the subtle changes that amount into a major turning point.  I've observed lately in my own life and those around me that small, seemingly inconsequential events have eventually lead to bigger, if not major, life changes.

And maybe that's for our own good that we can't always tell where the constant struggle is taking us.Would I have the faith to keep trudging along if I knew what one of those end points was? Probably not. For even if I knew God were leading me to something glorious, I would still try to take short cuts to get there sooner.

No matter how much we think life is the same day in and day out, God is actually using the routine to train us for the future. Sometimes we face pain and suffering, sometimes we are graced with joy and peace, but above all, He always leads us towards a future full of Hope.

Change, no matter how painful, is not to be avoided for the sake of comfort. Comfort is what keeps us the same. Think about it: Comfort is achieved by shifting and adapting, by trying to assimilate that which is causing us discomfort, but is never a catalyst for change.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A traveler and not a tourist

Please be a traveler and not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what is right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in. 
-Andrew Zimmern

As I sit enjoying my last few hours in Lima, I can't agree more with this quote. Not that I wouldn't consider myself a tourist (which I definitely am), but that the most amazing thing about our world is that we get to live in it. It's not a stagnant mausoleum meant to be passed through without touching. 

It's a messy, glorious slop of human life that is never repeated and can never be captured in a few still frames or blog entries.

We are meant to be travelers in this life, actively taking part in whatever comes and not shying away from the difficult, the awkward or uncomfortable.

A tourist would surely avoid such occurrences in a foreign country. Trying desperately to feel as much "at home" as possible, the tourist would stay only in the well-ranked hotels, visit each place dictated to them by the author of their guidebook, and only see what they planned on while ignoring everything else.

And isn't that just what I have been guilty of in life? Consulting my itinerary instead of God's, always searching for what is next instead of relishing in what I have before me and never taking the time to look up from my map long enough to realize that although I may have gotten lost, I've come to an even better destination?

My trip, which was spent doing mostly the same things I do back home in Denver (going to work, intending to get up and run but oversleeping instead, being somewhat awkward at social events), would probably be considered a failure according to most travel guides. But, nonetheless, I visited a place I never thought I would and met people I would have never known otherwise. And to me, that is the best kind of journey anyone could ask for.

I never made it to Machu Picchu, but I began to recognize some patterns in the otherwise chaotic and random Lima traffic.

I didn't take a million pictures, but I did memorize the routes to the park and coffee shop.

I still speak barely any Spanish, but I know some of the faces of people I passed daily on the streets.

I went to the birthday party of someone I didn't even know (or speak the same language as) and actually danced.

I rode in multiple taxis, one bus and discovered I am braver and more capable than I realized.

I took a risk a met up with someone I barely knew (and had next to nothing in common with) for coffee.

I was called “mi hermana” by the little girl whose room I was borrowing for two weeks.

I consistently embarrassed myself by using the few phrases I thought I knew in the wrong context and learned that a smile can speak more than perfect dialect and vocabulary.

And, above all else, I realized this world is a hell of a lot bigger than I'd ever imagined and I've only just seen a fraction. 

For whatever reason, I have a place in it right now, and that is a gift from God. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Upon further reflection, as usual

Quite possibly one of the most awkward, but refreshing, dates I have been on in a while (OK, I don't date a lot [read: at all] so let's call it ever, just to be fair).

I met up with an acquaintance I'd met at a friend of a friend's birthday party in Lima last week. Our first encounter was him trying to teach me how to dance and saying that I needed to move my hips more.

Except, he didn't know what the word was and even though I told him, he kept pronouncing it "tips."

So, Miguel spends the evening telling me I needed to move my "tips" more for Latin dancing and I tried my best to comply, but mostly I just stared at his feet and tried to match his steps.

Later on, he pulled me over in front of his friend with a camera, so thankfully the whole disaster was documented for posterity:
Nice shoes, hombre.
Before I left, he called me over by gesturing with his hands in a way that usually means, "Shoo! Go away!" But, he kept saying, "Come, come!" So I walked over to see that his friend has already uploaded the pictures to his laptop and Miguel wanted to show me because he was "so happy that I have pictures of you now!"


Despite my better judgement, I told him my actual name so he could find me on facebook and, lo and behold, I had a friend request from the guy who kept telling me I needed to move my "tips" more and was so happy to have pictures of me.

I met up with him for coffee (in broad daylight and after telling Ursula a million times where I was going and exactly when I would be back) and it turns out most of the phrases from our facebook messages that I took to be awkward were so mainly because of the language barrier.

We got to talking and he asked me whether or not I had a boyfriend. When I told him no, he asked why not, which I took to be a cheesy pick-up line, so I laughed at him.

But, he insisted that he honestly wanted to know why not.

I resisted every urge to roll my eyes and appear as the superior sex and then began my well-worn (but slightly politer, for purposes of international relations) tirade against single men in general, but found that the more I tried to explain their issues, I was faced with a blatant avoidance of my problems.

I tried to explain how men just don't know what they want and never take the initiative in relationships. Fair enough, but do I even know exactly what I want? And when have I ever gone out of my way to actually invest in a relationship (to an appropriate extent, of course) with a man for interests other than romance?

At one moment, he asked me point blank to tell him something about myself and I just came up with nothing and changed the subject. Sure, that could be chalked up to prudence, but, more likely was a result of fear. (Perhaps this point will require a separate post later).

Then, I went on to realize that even now, when someone was asking me to tell him about myself, I was avoiding talking about, duh, myself. I realized that even though I want to be known, I have a very hard time letting anyone in for fear of you name it (rejection, judgement, misunderstanding, pain, all around awkwardness in general) to the point that I will only let anyone in once they have proven they are absolutely-without-a-doubt-totally-100%-trustworthy to me.

So, Miguel, to answer your question honestly, I am not seeing anyone somewhat because of outside circumstances (travel for work, just haven't met the right guy), but mostly because I have operated from a position of mistrust of others for most of my life and am still trying to break out of it (and probably always will be).

Furthermore, I have an extremely difficult time being vulnerable (I should probably note that "vulnerable" for phlegmatic melancholic introverts like me is probably the same thing as daily interactions for extroverts ... or so I imagine) with anyone save a few close friends and family members (and now apparently anyone reading this blog ... double yikes) which makes it, in turn, difficult for others to open up to me in a way that goes beyond surface level.

So, thanks for the cup of coffee and self-revelation.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Otro dirección!

Here's a few highlights of Peru so far:

I narrowly escaped an international crisis this morning when I failed to understand what Ursula's daughter wanted for breakfast.

Her brother (dressed as un policia, of course) got some cereal and yogurt and apparently she wanted some too. Simple enough, right? Well, not in my case. It was this liquid-y, drinkable yogurt, so I thought she wanted a glass of it to drink.

No, no she did not.

I poured a cup of yogurt for her which set off screams heard all throughout the house, after which my co-worker came down and had to repair my failed attempts at international diplomacy by giving her a bowl and cereal. I ran away upstairs to google more Spanish phrases besides, "No comprendo! Lo siento!"

The other night I went to Mass alone and took a cab home, which is a little difficult with my inability to verbally communicate. Ursula had written out directions I should give the cab driver, which I did. Halfway through the ride, I thought I saw the park that was right next to her house, but instead of turning right, we continued straight and went in (what I thought was) the exact opposite direction of Ursula's casa.

"Senor, mi casa es otro direction."

"No, no senorita. Lince, si?"

"Uhh, si ... pero, mi casa es otro dirección."

Then he went on to explain that I was an idiot for thinking I knew the way better than he did. Well, not really, but that's what I imagined.

A few more minutes of driving in what I thought was the wrong direction and I began to enter mini panic mode. What if he drops me off at the wrong place and I have to wander the streets of Lima alone and beg for food? Now I'm going to get taken and sent to a commune in the Andes! OK, quick, think of all the self-defense moves you know ... How will I survive on cuy alone?

At which point, we pulled up to Ursula's house.

"Oh, gracias, senor ... lo siento ..."

"De nada, you're just a stupid tourist with no understanding of any of the local culture, language or customs. I forgive you."

Actually, I think it was something about there being lots of traffic and it was night, but that's what I would have said. Thankfully, Peruvians are much more gracious and understanding than I am.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

¿Cómo se dice ... ?

Right now I am in beautiful Lima, Peru and feel even more culture shock than when I was in India, if that's possible. Probably because I am not traveling with a group of white people and need to have everything translated for me because I am a stupid American who chose to study useless French in school instead of practical Spanish.

Here's a quick recap so far:

On the plane over, I sat next to some aging Canadian hippies who were headed to Cuzco to get some energy from the Sacred Valley.

I am staying with my coworker Ursula and her family, which is her husband, her 2 kids and their nanny. Also, sometimes Ursula's mother comes over. She no habla anglais, so we get along well just by using hand gestures and smiling.

The second night I was here we had an earthquake drill which means you have to go stand out on a concrete slab across the street next to the car cage. A car cage is an iron cage with spikes all around it that you lock your car in at night. Yes. A car cage.

Today we had chifa (Peruvian Chinese food) for lunch as an office. This basically consisted of me sitting at a big conference table with 14 Peruvians, 4 of whom spoke English, trying to at least act like I knew what was going on. As far as I could tell, they were talking about a popular television show called Yo Sey and a former president who was a functioning alcoholic.

Every time they would all laugh, I would ask my coworker what was said and he would explain it, resulting in me laughing all by myself at some cultural reference I didn't understand, but knew I had to laugh at because he had taken great pains to explain it to me.

After lunch I received an email from one of my coworkers that said, "You are the girl that is in the office now!" I used Google Translate to tell her, "Sí, soy la chica de la oficina!" and then asked her if she is the one who wears glasses. It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Later that evening, Ursula and I drove to her mother's house to pick up the kids, the nanny and her mom. She drives a tiny Toyota, but luckily Peruvians are very small. So, as we are leaving, Ursula gives Jose Miguel his airplane that my boss, Alejandro, brought him from America. It is at that moment when we realize that I have forgotten the stuffed puppy that he brought for Maria Louisa. I realized this because all we could hear from the back seat is "Mi perrito! Mi perrito! Mi perrrrritoooooo!" for the next 20 minutes while weaving in and out of Lima traffic. Ursuala kept apologizing to me even though I was the one who abandoned the perrito.

Lima traffic might actually be more terrifying than Mumbai traffic because there is more room on the roads resulting in higher speeds and harder breaking.

We stopped at the market to pick up some fruit on the way home. Jose Miguel and I followed Ursula to the fruit stand where I would point to an item and ask him, "Como se llama en anglais?" and he would tell me as best he could. Then he would just point to a piece and say, "Oler!" which Urusula had to tell me meant, "Smell this!" I had my nose to an avocado when an hombre muy guapo walked up and stared at me. Excelente.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

India calling

I wish I had been better about blogging while in, or immediately upon returning from, India. Already the most of the memories have faded and only the ones that are documented with photos have been firmly implanted in my mind.

I wanted to be able to take every person I know on my journey, to be able to recall every single detail: every smell, every smile or stare from people in the slum, every heart racing car ride through the major cities. But I also know that there is no way I can put into words what I saw and felt because I have no context in which to place it.

I went to India, a land that, as one woman on the trip said, "was just a place on the map before." Seeing that land alone would have overwhelmed even the most seasoned traveler, I am convinced. But on top of that, I also saw a part that many would consider rude to talk about in polite Indian society; the slums, the Dalits, the poverty that was so extreme, yet so much a part of the country, that it wove in and out of even the most wealthy neighborhoods in a way that could not go unnoticed unless it were intentionally ignored.

How do I categorize this trip in my life? I have nothing else to compare it with. As my 10 days there drew to a close, I convinced myself that my journey would be a starting point, a foundation on which to build my life. Somehow, I thought, I would get back to India and make a difference. Either as a journalist or a missionary or a teacher, but the more days that wedge themselves between then and now, the less that thought seems like it could be a tangible reality.

I promised myself that I would make people care about what is happening over there. People who could, in turn, also make a difference. But now, I find it hard to even care myself. In a country that is so addicted to comfort, I am sadly, very content continuing on in my life as it was before India.

I can see friends and family, and even myself, growing tired of talking about India. And for that I feel like a failure. I have not been able to fully describe what I saw in order to get people to care. I am even beginning to doubt myself about what I saw. Is there really an entire group of people who are treated as garbage because of they fall outside of the caste system? How could it be that a country that is growing so rapidly in business and commerce could still hold on to such archaic ideas?

And then I find myself questioning how I, as a foreigner, could be qualified to pass such a judgement. Didn't I only spend 10 days there? How can I be informed enough about their culture to even be able to make such an observation? How do I know I wasn't just listening to the rants of some pseudo-political/religious NGO leaders?

But then I am faced with the images of the young men on the street corner who had a look that I had never seen on anyone's face before. They must have been close to my age, but they already looked as if they were facing death. Their lives had no value. Or the little girls who clung to my fingers in the slums, who I had to peel off my hands and place back with their parents before I could leave left. Or the old man who gratefully accepted the small piece of fruit from me as if it were a precious jewel.

This is desperation, this is hunger, this is heartbreak. And while I know that it exists in every shape and form in every corner of the globe, I saw how it takes exists in India. Now that I have seen that, I have a responsibility to God and those people that I may never see again to do something about it.

I just need to figure out exactly what that means.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A simple gesture

Let me tell you about (one of) my favorite experiences from India.

The first night in Hyderabad, I was determined to be bold and courageous. Obviously, that meant hiring a car from the hotel to take me to Mass at the local cathedral the next morning.


Would've been more impressive than the other Honda I rode in.
I walked down to the front desk (why would I call down? I was in freaking India!) and asked  the concierge if it were possible to have a car take me to Mass at a church I looked up while in the U.S. 

"Not a problem, ma'am," said the head-bobbling concierge.

"Really? Uh, so, does this place exist? I've never even been in India until tonight," I said, convinced that my request would be as difficult to pull off as a covert military campaign.

"Yes. Not a problem, ma'am. You want a car to take you to the church in the morning?"

"Yes ... But, is this church here? Does this address even make sense?" I said, looking at the words, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Gun Foundry, Hyderabad. (What the heck kind of address is Gun Foundry?)

"Yes, ma'am. If you need anything else, my name is Daniel," he said smiling and side bobbling his head.

I went back up to my room feeling empowered, but also quite intimidated at the task at hand (ie: getting into a car the next morning to go to church).

The next morning I came downstairs, and was greeted by none other than Daniel himself, smiling brightly and saying, "Good morning, ma'am! Praise the Lord!"

I should have guessed that an Indian named Daniel probably wasn't Hindu.

Indians are badass multi-tskers.
He showed me to the car and I got in, still uneasy about going off by myself the first day I was in a totally foreign country. Fortunately, I was in good hands with Ramen the driver, who turned around to talk to me and show me pictures of his family about 6 times during our 10 minute drive. Did I mention this was while he was weaving in and out of traffic, trying to avoid commuters on motorcycles and attempting to not run over pedestrians?
Ramen lives in Hyderabad with his wife and two girls, but made trips back to his village to build a bell tower for his church, "so everyone will know when Mass is." He said he wanted to be able to finish building a lighted cross in time for Christmas.

"If I can get that finished," he said, "I will be so happy."

While still wondering what exactly a "lighted cross" meant, we pulled into a large side street filled with at least 60 people walking to work at a large IT building just down the way. I was amazed at the trash that filled the gutters and the women who bent over it sweeping it out of the street (definitely Dalits). I was worried that maybe I was entering an "unsafe" part of town, especially with all the stares I was getting from people outside the car.

We pulled up to the cathedral, which was surrounded by a concrete wall topped with shards glass. I asked Ramen to stay since I'd only take about half an hour and because I didn't want to get stranded at a cathedral that was surrounded by a concrete wall topped with shards of glass.

Walking into the church, I realized that I got the time wrong and was about 15 minutes late. And about a foot taller than everyone else. I also noticed that most of the statues were surrounded by what looked like LED Christmas lights and realized what Ramen meant by a "lighted cross."

Ramen, was this your doing?
After Mass, many people stayed behind to pray and kiss the various statues that inhabited the church. It wasn't for show, but seemed like a very simple gesture acknowledging that that person was in Heaven praying for us, and they were thankful for it.

Walking back to the car, I saw an old man who looked about 70, but was probably younger than that, sitting cross-legged at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the church. We made eye contact, but I didn't have any food for him and had been told that it was unwise to give out money. All I could think to do was give him the kiss of peace the way the people and Mass had done. So, I pressed my hands together and touched them to my forehead while bowing, indicating that I acknowledged his presence. He smiled and returned the gesture, and I continued on my way back to my comfortable hotel. I couldn't shake the thought of "What if that were my grandfather sitting in the street in ragged clothing, reduced to begging for his livelihood?"

Ramen strikes again!
I got back to my hotel and wished I could have done more, so I prayed and wept for him.

That evening, I went down to the lobby to ask my new bff Daniel if he could arrange a car to take me to Mass again. Inspired by the warm greeting he gave me that morning, I practically yelled across the lobby as soon as I saw him, "Daniel! I prayed for you and your family at Mass today!"

He looked a little sheepish in front of his co-workers and I realized maybe that wasn't the best thing to yell at someone who worked lived in a country that was 80% Hindu.

The next morning, I was determined to help the man I saw in a more tangible way so I stuck a banana in my purse. However, when we pulled up to the cathedral no one was sitting at the bottom of the steps.

A simple, genuine faith.
That day I arrived in time to pray the Penitential Rite with everyone else and was floored by the words, "I ask the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God."

Here I was, in a totally foreign country, praying the prayers that I had known since childhood with total strangers and yet, we had all be praying for each other for as long as we were all Catholic! If that's not a fruit of the Universal Church, I don't know what is.

As I left Mass, I saw a man sitting at the bottom of the steps who was different than the one I'd seen the day before. He was about the same age and just as skinny, but his bright white hair stood out against his skin in a way that actually reminded me of my Grandad who passed away a few years ago.

I crouched down and handed him the banana, hoping that he wouldn't be offended that I was giving him food instead of money. His eyes brightened as he took it and clasped my hands, touching them to his forehead.

All I could think was, I hope we get to spend Eternity together.

He was so happy to have some food and I was so grateful to have been so accepted by him.

That evening, I looked for something to bring him, but all I had in my room were apples and I knew he wouldn't be able to eat that with the shape his teeth were in, so I grabbed a bottle of water.

He wasn't there when I went in to Mass and I worried that maybe something had happened to him.

I felt a surge of joy as I saw him at the bottom of the stairs waving to me. Not only was he there, he recognized me!

I handed him the bottle of water and he laughed a little, then touched his lips and made a chewing motion. I held my hands open and shook (not bobbled) my head to show him that was all I had. He graciously accepted it, even though I could tell he was probably more hungry than thirsty.

We left for Bangalore that afternoon, but I wonder if he came back the next day to see me. I know that he will probably die soon, as the life expectancy in India is about 63 years old.

I am privileged to have met him.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reality check

My trip to India has totally, for lack of a better term, screwed me up. As I've been processing for a few days, I've been faced not only with the scope of this issue, but also with my own inadequacy in covering it.

Let's face it, this issue has been ingrained in an ancient culture for centuries and I have been a writer for barely six months. To top it off, I am a total foreigner and was totally unaware of most of the issue until about a week and a half ago.

Who am I, a privileged white girl from the American suburbs, to try to tackle such a monumental issue that has shaped an entire people for thousands of years?

As I was transcribing an interview from the trip, I began crying over my keyboard because phrases like "modern day slavery" and "240 million people" were no longer abstractions, but faces and souls.

To make matters worse, I looked up the stories that one of the people on the trip, a senior international correspondent for a major Christian network, completed while over there and was faced with the total lack of skill and experience that I am bringing to this issue.

I felt ashamed by my enthusiasm that I had immediately upon returning to the States because it vastly outweighs my skill in covering such stories. Now, simply because I spent 8 days in a country and have a wristband that reads "Free the Dalit" I am some sort of crusader for the downtrodden and oppressed? What exactly can my minuscule efforts do to change that? And what about all the other people in the world who face oppression and persecution?

Even still, with all my insecurities out on the table, I'm thinking of a conversation I had with a fellow journalist during our last night in Mumbai.

He's in a similar situation as me, only having 1 year experience as a writer. We decided that yes, we are both intensely unequipped to cover such stories, especially compared to those on our trip who have 20 years or more of experience. But, at the same time, we have seen something that the majority of the world has not and we must bring attention to it, even if it's not in the most eloquent or concise way. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Free the Dalit

So why, you may wonder, did I even go over to India in the first place?

Anyone remotely familiar with Mother Teresa's work is probably aware of the caste system in Hinduism and India. Basically, it's the organization of different groups of people in India. Hindu teaching holds that people come from different parts of a primordial being to make up one body. The main castes, or varnas, are the Brahmins (priests and teachers born from the mouth), Kshatriya (rulers and soldiers born from the arms), Vaisyas (merchants and traders born from the thighs) and Shudras (laborers born from the feet). Each varna is further divided within itself, forming a sub-caste system within a system. 

After all that comes the Untouchables (or the Dalits, as they have begun to call themselves in recent years), who are considered too defiled to even make up a part of the caste system. There are an estimated 250 million Dalits in India. 

They are out-castes in the truest sense of the word.

Despite their status of being "untouchable," Dalit women are often victims to human trafficking. Because they have no skills and no rights, they are made to be prostitutes, often times at a very young age. An estimated 25-100 million people are involved in human trafficking in India, estimates vary so much because many cases are unreported making it difficult to determine just how many are involved.

Within the last 50 years, a movement among the Untouchables has began to organize to eradicate the subjugation of their people. They have begun to call themselves the Dalits (the crushed, or oppressed).

One particular group that is leading the way in this movement is the Dalit Freedom Network who seek to prevent child trafficking through education.

Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif. put the trip together to bring awareness to the situation in India and the work they've been doing to prevent children from falling victim to the system through education. We toured the schools and slums and met the leaders of the Dalit Freedom Network in India. All I can say now is that what these people are doing in revolutionary. It truly is undermining an entire social and religious structure that has been in place for thousands of years. Pray for them all, they need it.

India Debriefing

Where do I even begin? I just spent 8 days in the most beautiful, dirty, crowded, poverty-stricken, engaging place I've ever seen and I loved it. I wish I had known more about the country before going in, but even still, there is no way to know India without seeing, touching, tasting, hearing and feeling it.

Before going over, I was expecting to say that India attacks all your senses. Because of what I've heard about the pollution, crowds and traffic, I thought that there was just so much going on that there would be no way for me to process it all. While that is certainly true, I think a better way of putting it would be that India engages all your senses (and emotions, for that matter). There is so much going on that there's no way to experience it all in just a few days. What I saw was just the surface of a country teeming with life (and sorrow, joy, love and hatred). India took a piece of my heart when I first stepped out of the airport in Hyderabad and would not give it back when I boarded the plane in Mumbai.

I pray that I will be able to return soon and spend more time there for work (CNA definitely needs an India office ... obviously the rookie white girl would be the best person to make that happen) or for marriage (I am now convinced that I will marry an Indian man ... more to come on that later).

So, these next few posts will serve as an overflow of what won't make it into my news stories. Hopefully this little bit of information will help you fall in love with this beautiful country that so desperately needs our help.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

All the single ladies

Ok, ok. I know I said I'd be better about keeping current with this blog (wait, I didn't say that? Well, I thought it and that's basically the same thing to me -- just ask anyone who tries to text me). Anywho, I'm using the excuse that I just moved into a new house (read: duplex with a massive basement and even massiver garage) and have not set up internet yet.

However, I do have a few thoughts that I believe are worthy of your perusal.

I am not ok with being single.

There, I said it. Now, before you go rolling your eyes and thinking that I'm trying to turn this blog into a listing for CatholicMatch.com, let me explain.

Singlehood is not my vocation. Yes yes, I know that there are beautiful consecrated virgins, but I'm talking about this whole phase of perpetual adolescence that our generation seems to be obsessed with, well, perpetuating.

This revelation was brought on by a conversation with a friend of mine who mentioned that she had a friend who made a similar statement and I realized, hey, me too!

Don't get me wrong. I love getting to stay up drinking and talking with friends, being able to make last minute plans without having to consult anyone, spending my money on clothes I don't really need, going to the gym whenever I feel like it and not having to check with anyone when my boss asks me if I want to go to India.

But, I wonder, is this helping me become a better version of my self?

Maybe a physically stronger fitter, more stylish, better-traveled and more worldly version, yes. But a more selfless, patient, loyal, compassionate, humble, loving and nurturing version? Meh, not so much.

Enter, Marriage: otherwise known as the Gauntlet of Self-Sacrifice or the Marathon of Humility and Patience. Every single day is a challenge to die to yourself in ways you never even thought possible.

Now, I realize that I can also be more aware of the sacrifices God is calling me to make already. Don't cuss out that driver for cutting you off, try to be more pleasant and courteous to co-workers, accept humiliation and misjudging happily, etc. But, dang girl, there ain't nothing like hanging out with my little nephews for a few hours to give me a dose of the kind of holy stamina that is required to be a mother and wife.

Does this mean that I am going to go off on a Husband Hunt and will fling myself at the first male I see with a Miraculous medal hanging around his neck?

No. (But I might walk by a couple times to check if he has a wedding ring on, at least.)

What it does mean is that we single folks need to remember that this stage of arrested development is not our vocation. You don't see men who know they are called to be priests just hang around churches hoping they'll somehow miraculously be turned into a priest. Women who are called to be sisters or nuns don't just hang around convents until a habit mysteriously appears on their heads.

They study, prepare, and pray to transform their lives to be made ready for their calling of a life of devotion to the Church.

I don't know exactly what this kind of preparation would look like for a single person, but marriage prep is not confined to the engagement period or even in dating.

Everyday we can choose to become more like the spouse we'd like to one day marry instead of just accepting singlehood as our destined lot in life.

I'm going to be honest folks, I have no prospects, but instead of going all Charlotte Lucas on a dude, I can have hope that the right man will come along eventually if we're both seeking God's will.

 And in the meantime, we can try and be even cooler people for the one we've yet to meet.