I am overweeningly papa-proud of my son Isaiah, who took 4th place in the central Wyoming 7th-grade math competition.
The kicker: Isaiah isn’t in the 7th grade. He’s in the 6th grade, but he placed above thirty or forty other kids anyway.
The kicker to the kicker: He didn’t practice at all. He just walked in cold and did it. In his jeans.
The kicker to the kicker to the kicker: His parents don’t work with him on math. We bought Teaching Textbooks and he just does it, without ever asking for help. He thinks math is just FUN.
I wish I could claim that all my kids are geniuses or that we have discovered the secret to home schooling in math. But the reality is just that Isaiah is a pretty cool kid. He makes math look easy.
On Valentine’s Day, we fed the kids early and sent them off to watch a movie while we shared a special dinner and talked. OK, so we got a few words in edgewise here and there around baby Matthew’s escalating demands for food, but it was still Valentine’s Day and we were only shouting over one small voice.
We’ve always talked a lot. That’s how we got married: we would stand outside Jacinta’s dormitory until curfew, just talking and talking, and I remember thinking to myself one night as we stood by the fence, “Gee, I could just do this forever.” We got married so there would be no curfew and no reason to stop talking.
Sheldon Vanauken describes how a married couple can suffer “creeping separation” if they don’t share enough of life. It takes shared experience, and shared thoughts about shared experience, to knit two souls together: Continue reading “Talking our way to love”
My life these past few days has been consumed by accreditation. Tomorrow, by midnight Central Time, our college has to submit its latest accreditation documentation, and the whole effort has been entrusted to me.
Our regional accreditor has a slick new online system for submitting documents. (Actually, you have to submit one document using one method of formatting, another document using a different formatting approach, and a third set is submitted still another way via the online portal—but I digress.) The online portal is easy to understand, easy to coordinate with lots of people, and all-around geeky and slick. When it works.
When it breaks down two days before your deadline on a weekend so no one answers the telephones, then it’s not so slick. Continue reading “Accreditation and confidence”
By chance, a senior at WCC saw me in the office hallway yesterday and hailed me down. Would I be able to tell him anything about the book of Hosea?
A good teacher never just answers the question, but asks more questions to find out what was behind the question. As it turned out, this student was inspired by my recent lecture, by the earlier lecture by Tim Gray, and by a chance exchange with another professor—inspired, he said, to read the Bible as addressed personally to him. In other words, he had begun to practice lectio divina. Continue reading “Funny things happen when you try lectio divina”
Yesterday I had to take my daughter out of CCD class to bring her to Mass for Ash Wednesday. Tina, at six years old, is no fan of the sacred liturgy: she dozed through most of it, and I had to wake her up for the reception of ashes. But she had made it clear that leaving her in CCD where she wouldn’t get the ashes would be a ba-a-a-ad idea, and as she walked back to the pew with a smudge on her forehead she just lit up.
My theory: She never gets to receive communion, so getting something along with everyone else makes her feel big. Continue reading “The Ash Wednesday Riddle”
My favorite organizational tool this year is the one that almost made me rich.
Mulling over the ongoing problems with my tickler file, it hit me one day: why not have some way of sending myself an e-mail that will arrive at a certain time in the future? You wouldn’t need a program or an app, just an e-mail address that acts like a well-timed boomerang. Use it right out of your current e-mail thingy.
Yesterday after Mass, a parishioner commented that he could hear me singing during the liturgy. I’ve gotten that comment a lot over the years, always as a compliment—of course, if anyone is annoyed by my loud voice then they’re not likely to say anything. But I always sing with gusto, whether I like the music or not, for four reasons:
1. Someone has to. I look around the church, and most people aren’t even holding hymnals, much less trying to sing. It’s awkward. Plus, a few times I have been stopped by people who say they are able to carry the tune and sing along because they can follow my voice. Continue reading “Four reasons I sing at Mass”
The night before last, Matthew got the dreaded Cortisol Dump. According to the books, babies have a natural window within which they need to go to bed, and if they don’t then their system drops a half-pint of stimulant into their bloodstream—no doubt a survival mechanism left over from an era when infants killed off their parents at an early age and ruled the earth.
We saw it coming a long way off. Matthew didn’t sleep well the night before that, which meant that his morning nap came too early, which meant that his afternoon nap came too early, which meant that he took an early evening nap, which meant that he stayed awake through the Magic Window and got the Dump. (I imagine the sound was like when Pac-Man eats an energy pill.)
The downside was that I was tired all yesterday and marked almost nothing off of my to-do list. The upside was that I played games with Matthew all alone until after eleven o’clock, and I was privileged to see exactly where he is: Continue reading “Buckets, beads, and the Imago Dei”
Last Tuesday, I gave a lecture to the Wyoming Catholic College community about “the Christian dignity of story.” In the Q&A session, a young man asked my opinion about the difference between fantasy and science fiction: after all, they both make up not only plots and characters but even universes, so they seem to operate at a similar level of abstraction from reality.
At the time, I had to confess that I didn’t have an answer. But later, with some help from Joseph Susanka, I reached a point of clarity worth sharing. Continue reading “The difference between fantasy and science fiction”
Last night a friend from college days died suddenly. I didn’t know Matt well, but he married my wife’s former roommate, who was a good friend, and I was always grateful to Matt for being so good to Sharon. We got Christmas cards from them every year. I kept up with Matt via Facebook.
Last November, Matt posted this on Facebook:
Ok, so I’m going through a rough day. (nothing major, I’m not dying or anything.) But it occurs to me that we have to consider our place in the world sometimes. It’s been my pleasure to know some wonderful men and women, and it occurs to me that we live as long as God plans us to. Some young, some old, but all to their cause. There really is only one sin, “Non Serviam” … “I will not serve”. On the feast of Bl. Miguel Pro I offer and ask you to say a prayer that echoes his last words, “Viva Cristo Rey”:
Dear Lord, let me be your poor servant. Grant me the wisdom to understand Your will, and the health and strength to carry it out. Allow me the grace to serve you as my Eternal King and show witness to the world of your sacrifice. I know that I am an imperfect vessel, and while I may try at times to bargain with you, I trust you and will always keep Your words in my heart, ‘Satan, get behind me’.
Continue reading “But the only way is death”