Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bloom Where You're Planted

At 8:30 this morning my dear husband peeked into the bedroom (yes, I was still in bed...he is Mr. Incredible!).

"You've got to see this!"

We moved about 2 weeks ago and are loving our new home and all that came with it, including an enormous corn field in our back yard that has yet to be develped. In addition to providing a spectacle of tractors and other farm equipment that makes young boys' eyes grow wide, the field doubles as a perfect landing pad for hot air balloons.

While I had been snoozing, the boys and Mr. Incredible has already seen one hot air balloon land in the field a mile away. Now one was headed for our field! I grabbed a camera and we ran outside, all 4 of us in pajamas, Dash in puffy Thomas the Train slippers. What a sight!

Fortunately for the moment, we have no neighbors.

Dash and I started across the field while Mr. Incredible lagged behind with our newly minted biped tripping over the recent sprouts of foliage. Dash and I raced towards the balloon, which was deceptively far away. Soon, this pregnant, pajama clad mom was carrying a 40-pound toddler racing toward the balloon we didn't want to get away. Fortunately, "we made it to the biggest balloon ever!" Dash was even allowed to touch it and handed the ballooners the straps to pack up their balloon.

5 years ago, I never anticipated living in Texas. I never suspected I would be married and thankful for several children. I knew exactly one person when I moved here, Mr. Incredible, my fiance at the time. Most, if not all, of the builders of this blog probably would not have predicted their whereabouts nor their family status just a few years ago.

When I moved here I was very lonely and needed true friends with whom I could talk about hopes, joys, doubts, struggles. I desparately missed my college friends. Thankfully, there was a slew of weddings, baptisms, etc. over the next few years that meant semi-annual gatherings.

But in between we had the miracle of the internet. Hundreds, probably thousands of emails, individually and as a group ensured that support, encouragment, and, occasionally, a good kick-in-the-pants, was never far away. We have joked about picking a location and all moving there to raise our families together. However, this is not what God has called us to do.

We are to bloom precisely where we are planted at this moment. As we begin this Lent, the builders of this blog are planted all across the country in a variety of situations, some welcoming new babies, others battling nausea. We have so many moments to take advantage of our unique situations. We can turn them into joy for our families or we can roll over and go back to sleep. As we live our lives, regardless of our current sitution, I pray we can just get out of bed and go chase a hot air balloon.

And, as Mr. Incredible and Jack-Jack, after realizing just how far Dash and I had trekked in our pursuit of the ballooon, pulled up beside us in our car to spare us the 10 minute walk home, we can always be assured that the assistance and encouragement of both our Heavenly Father and our friends is there to pick us up just when we need it.


sixandthecity said...

Thanks for this uplifting message! We have lived in four different communities in just seven years of marriage, and each time I find it so hard to begin again, but I believe that we are scattered all around for a purpose and I hope that we do a good job of spreading God's love wherever we may be!

Juris Mater said...

Texas Mommy, the phrase "bloom where you're planted" always makes me think about what you described--the urge to "circle the wagons" but the greater call to go our separate ways.

Lately, the same phrase continues to come up in discussions of which parish to attend. You Texans don't have the luxury of 5 parishes within a 3 mile radius of your house, but in the Northeast, we do.

Parish A: One of the parishes very near us is excellent. Holy Spirit-filled, faithful to the Church's teachings in its parish life and community, offering varieties of Latin Masses and actual hymns (as opposed to drippy ballads about "the journey we're on"), plenty of larger Catholic families in the parish. You get my drift. We're not hardcore Latinists, we just value an appropriately reverent Mass.

Parish B: Our parish-proper (geographically), on the other hand, is not bad and not great. It's not offensive or unorthodox, but it's not alive either. There IS weekly adoration, weekly confession (for which we are truly thankful), and Mass is not usually irreverent. Most families are in jeans and would maybe rather be at home watching TV. It's fine. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. And we've decided we should go there regularly, except we excuse ourselves once a month when they have the guitar folk band Mass and go to Parish A.

We'd like to go to Parish A all the time, but we believe we should bloom where we're planted.

Do you have thoughts on this? Do you bloom where you're planted, even though piety is somewhat lacking and the kids may not be getting the best possible example?

B-Mama said...

Texas Mommy--we also had a hot-air balloon land in our backyard when I was a youngin' living in NM! It was such a great story to tell folks as I got older (even though I was barely 18mos. when it happened!) Tell the boys they have a whopper of a story for future generations!

Juris Mater--GG and I have also often struggled with the idea of "blooming where we're planted" in regards to our parish choice. We've always decided that while we're at a stage in our lives where we have so little to give (in grad school with little ones), we will attend the parish that nurtures our family the most. GG and I have a great desire to be FED now more than ever... and we need the encouragement from a strong parish.

When the time comes and we settle down in a town and parish (very soon!), we'll consider blooming in a less-than-stellar church. A key distinction, though, is the issue of whether it is the church or the people who are wishy-washy. I would be much more inclined to bloom in a solid parish with a solid priest and wishy-washy fellow parishioners. The reverse would be ludicrous for any family! :)

As I write all of this, though, I laugh because we will most likely drive past two parishes on our way to our chosen parish next year as we "bloom" permanently. Forget what a wrote above!! I am indeed a hypocrite. :)

Kat said...

I love this conversation about "blooming where you're planted" with regards to picking a parish for your family.

As we were preparing for marriage with our wonderful college priest, Father Tom, we asked his opinion on how to find a parish, and he encouraged us to attend our geographic parish. We were blessed that our geographic parish in Boston had (and still has) an incredible pastor with a wonderful faith community, so it wasn't difficult at all for us to "bloom"! There weren't many young families, but we became close to a number of the older parishioners and felt so encouraged and loved by them! Our geographic parish in Chicago has also been great, but we haven't had as much time to give of ourselves as we did in Boston, so we haven't connected as deeply. But again, we have been blessed!

Both ET and I agree that in choosing a parish, our most important criteria is to feel that the pastor has the utmost reverence for the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and that he is in full accord with the teachings of the Church. It isn't as important to us that the homily or music are outstanding - although it is a bonus if they are - in the end, they're just icing on the cake. Neither of us would feel comfortable in a parish where it was clear that the pastor was not in communion with the teachings of the Church - we wouldn't be able to focus on the Mass, and we would be worried that our children were being taught something that was in conflict with the truth. So, I suppose if our geographic parish was one of these, we would seriously consider looking elsewhere, mostly to protect our children.

sixandthecity said...

We are taking a bit of an eclectic approach to this. For the first time ever, we are attending our geographic parish. It is a very strong community, and has been an important way to meet people in our town. I go to confession at a different parish which offers a time for a priest of Opus Dei to use their confessional, and my children will prepare for the sacraments through still another parish.

Our most significant financial support goes to our old parish in the city, the pastor there is just outstanding with regard to his respect for the eucharist and his orthodoxy, so we are glad to continue to support him even though we cannot be there each week.

Our parish is very close to our home, but I have known people who have gone further for mass on Sundays with the whole family and gone to the closest church for weekday mass, just a few minutes in the morning can make a big difference, and I have found that priests are really at their best in the smaller, more simple context of daily mass.

Different things are important to different people, music, community, homilies, social justice activities, heritage, convenient mass times, these might all be good reasons for attending a parish other than the one nearest to your home.

We are blessed to have choices and, even more important, blessed to have the frequent access to the sacraments that others around the world do not have. In New York state, lots of parishes are closing or being consolidated because of population changes and priest shortages, so we may not always have so much choice.

Thank God for those who built the churches, many of whom were poor immigrants whose giving did not come from surplus but from sacrifice, thank God for the priests who serve these churches and the lay people who administrate the programs, thank God for the Eucharist, God Himself truly present for us in the Mass!

Texas Mommy said...

In the land of Texas mega-churches, our options are fairly limited and spread out. With over 17,000 people at our current new parish, it is hard to get connected, but there aren't smaller options around here. Most churches here have an American priest and a missionary priest from India or Mexico. Two priests for ~20K people. It reminds me we need to be praying hard for them.

The orthodoxy of the priests is the biggest issue for us. Since the preferred instrument at mass in Texas is the guitar, I am less than thrilled with the music, but, as Kat mentioned, that's just icing on the cake. I do know some people who drive an hour to attend a very traditional mass, but I am happy to receive the sacraments with my family closer to home. I think we all have much to contribute to whatever parish we are in, even if it is making the old men in the back pew smile at 6 kids!

I am, however, very wary of religious ed programs through the churches here. They are so big that it is impossible to monitor all the classes and teachers. It is amazing that so many parents volunteer their time to teach, but, with such varying backgrounds and types of formation, it is kind of scary. I am reminded of Bets' RCIA teacher's thoughts about contraception. Unless I teach religious ed, I will try to get dispensation to do homeschool religious ed.

A Simple Sinner said...

Dad took me to see the Goodyear Blimp teathered in a field outside of town once as a wee lad.

Ever since then, no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, if I see a blimp, I have to stop and just watch it float by. An aspiration of my early childhood was to one day have my own blimp.

I am still working on that.