Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tumblrin'

I recently discovered Tumblr, and I'm in love.  I'm posting with alarming frequency.  Mostly, I link to and quote things, maybe providing some commentary, and sometimes I post my own photos.

This site is not going away (though it remains pathetically anemic in content), because who knows when I'll feel the need to post a three page rant?

http://thanksandyes.tumblr.com/

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Breakfast with Friends


Dallas, Texas
March 14, 2010

It's just grapes, but I love the light (and the people I was eating with).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cave of the Nativity


My desk at Guadalupe Regional Middle School, Brownsville, Texas
March 26, 2010

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alamo Tree

Let me be clear: this is a tree near the Alamo in San Antonio, not a tree of the alamo variety.  Alamo is Spanish for cottonwood, but I've no idea what sort of tree this is.

April 2010

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thanks a lot, Dorothy "Ruined My" Day!

A friend posted a Dorothy Day quote a few weeks ago that snagged my attention and troubled me (in a good way): “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” If you have even the vaguest interest in the Infinite Creator or a passing inclination to get to know Him better, Dorothy’s assertion is at least annoying. There are plenty of people in the world I don’t love very much (no really – plenty), and if Dorothy is right, they are totally ruining my run for sainthood.

Feeling vividly connected to God and ardently in love and drawn nearer to him is pretty easy in the comfort of my pew, or in the still and expectant silence of a winter morning. Heck, even in the middle of a festive gathering of friends I get notions of the infinite and loving (more or less, depending on just what breed of festiveness we’re talking about). But when that one guy who gets on my nerves comes around? Whatever. You’re killing my pious buzz, dude. And that sneaky, catty girl who makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up is definitely exempt from my Thomas-Merton-at-the-intersection-of-the-universe moment.

To add a splash of irony to this hardy stew of hypocrisy, there are others who have been true sources of sadness and sorrow for me, people toward whom frustration and bitterness would be understandable (though still unjustifiable). Thanks to years of literature, movies, and televised professional help, though, I am far more inclined to make the effort (effort, mind you, does not equal success) to extend them reconciliation and mercy from my righteous judgment than I am that obnoxious woman who’s always – never mind.

I believe in respecting people for all that they are. That means both recognizing their shortcomings (contrary to popular belief, we do in fact all have them) and acknowledging their gifts. And yet, faced with a person who irritates me about as much as a pebble in my shoe, I almost invariably linger over the first part, taking my sweet time about getting to the second. In some cases, I have brought procrastination of affirmation to levels most bored teenagers could never hope to attain. And what business have I, who claim to love God and be seeking His will, withholding from any soul the kindness and love that have been poured on me with such gratuitous generosity?

God makes Himself glaringly visible in my life in innumerable ways. One is that, during Mass, even when my mind wanders as far from the Sacrament as Dorothy (not Day) from Kansas, there will come a sharp, sticking thought. Of, say, one such irritating person, perhaps, and then I cannot look at the cross and consider the Body of Christ, the mercy flowing from Christ’s wounds, without knowing that what was done for me was done for all. In the comfort of my pew, I’m suddenly confronted with both my own failings and how loved my personal irritators are.

Of course, there’s no arguing with God when He points that out, and I’m left with just one, unsavory course of action: love these people.

Ugh. Crap.

With deference to Dorothy Day, I hope that the paradoxical reality may be that my love for God and my desire to love Him more are what enable me to love anybody at all; that the two may build each other. I trust it is so. And… fine. I will make every effort to love these brothers and sisters. If I have to.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We Will Run the Race: On the Immensity and Necessity of Education and the Faithfulness of Christ

We're doing a half-day retreat with a few schools' worth of teachers next week.  I wrote this to process my own thoughts on the reading we chose for the theme as I started working on the program.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
2 Timothy 4: 1-8 
Teachers are responsible for the formation of minds and spirits; for the futures of entire generations of children.  They don’t get periods of time where they can lapse. The game doesn't end when the kids leave their classrooms in June, they go on to the next teacher, and the sixth grade teacher needs to be able to count on the fifth grade teacher, who needs to count on the fourth, and so on.  It's a paradoxical profession: the work itself is done solo, but each teacher feels deeply the repercussions of their colleagues’ work, for good or ill. The short and long view must exist simultaneously.

When the kids walk into a classroom, their new teacher might be able to ride the momentum from their previous teachers, or might have miles and miles of ground to make up. In either case, the job is the same: get them ready for the next step.

The objective is to get the students where they need to be. Full stop. As the saying goes, it’s that simple and it’s that hard. It’s hard because a legion of outside -- family, neighborhoods, economic status, friends, previous teachers, motivation, learning difficulties, resources, time, and on and on – cohere and expand each other to make the task seems practically impossible. It’s simple because not one of those things ultimately changes the objective. Both as a profession and a vocation, teaching obligates its practitioners to strive towards the goal, no matter what. All this because nothing, outside of the family, is more important.

So it’s critical – absolutely, utterly critical – that teachers stick to their guns and teach, no matter what; that they run the race and preserve; that they keep the faith in their students’ abilities and in God’s unwavering presence in their ministry; that they perform the work of the evangelist by permitting the Holy Spirit to work in and through them.

In every moment of this immense task, there is unlimited possibility.  If the bottom line is that teachers have to teach, no matter what, and if it is so critical, then there can be no doubt that God is intimately and thoroughly involved in the ministry of education. There can be no doubt that He will give those who take up this vocation what they need, so long as we are willing to really take it up. Whatever we hold back diminishes the results, but the returns are exponentially greater than what we give up if we pour ourselves out -- if we run the race.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Blog? Ish? Maybe?

This infinitesimal corner of the internet sprang forth almost exactly four years ago when I was observing full-time in a high school classroom before beginning my run as a student teacher.  As a college senior, my purpose for blogging was obvious: talk about whatever I darn well pleased whenever I wanted.  A few months later my move into the convent with my beloved sisters provided both endless material and a clear purpose: the fist-year-teacher-living-with-nuns-in-Texas niche is very narrow, and while I didn't even manage to corner that market, it was easy to find things to say.

Writing with an audience and a purpose clearly in mind is such an awesome experience.  I love every minute of it.  And somehow, my readership grew and expanded beyond my family.  Trust me, four years ago my expectation of having anything resembling a "readership" was exactly zilch.

Over the past year or so, most posts have been apologies for the long break since the one before.  While being quite aware of the lameness of that, I haven't done much about resolving the causes, and since I know there are in fact people out there who read this, it seems right to offer some explanation.  The bottom line is that my identity as a writer has changed, and I've yet to figure out how that translates to this space.  What started as a college-student-turned-volunteer's reflections, as a matter of fact, is not that any more and can't be.

So, if only for my mother's sake, I'm going to take some time to figure out where I'm going with this and give it another go.  And even though I'm pretty sure my inactivity has chased off my meager readership, I'd be honored if whoever of you are left would stick with me while I reinvent my blogger self.

And, of course, a merry 8th day of Christmas and a joyful new year to you all!