Monday, August 30, 2010

"Kingdom of Cod"

I need to go to bed, but hopefully I will have a lot more to say about the ENDOW group later.

For now I will just say that it's juvenile how much typos can amuse me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I did it. I managed to hike 100 miles before Labor Day.

Today's hike was in my backyard. (So, no pictures. They will eventually make their way to fb, though, so you can check it out if we're friends; and if we're not, but I "know" you, let me know and we can change that!:)) It was about 13 miles, with a 3000 foot change in elevation. It kicked my tush. As did the 6 hikers that were all at least 15 years older than me. Can we say humbling??

I have a LOT of great excuses. I haven't really hiked in two weeks. It was the wrong day of the month to hike. I've been eating the wrong things for a couple of weeks. Of course, 2 of those would be my fault. All I know is that when I started up the trail this morning, I thought, "Wow. I really don't want to do this right now." When the trail started to get difficult, I wondered where my legs were. You know how sometimes when you workout, you feel like you could conquer the world, and other times you feel bleh? I'm going for the latter on this one. My legs were just not in on the deal this time.

In the end, though I was the last one up, I did make it to the top. At first I thought coming back down wasn't as bad as it could be, but now that I'm home, I think it's worse than I thought! I have to go to the grocery store tonight, but I'm not sure I can make it down my stairs and then back up with the groceries. Holy cow, I hurt!

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow? Nothing. I can't wait!!

P.S. Dear new town that I live in,
Was that a track meet that I heard last night at the school? If it's fall, and there are lights on at the football stadium, it's FOOTBALL. Who has track meets in the fall? Cross country, yes. Track? Not so much. Did I move to a new state, or a new universe?

Quick poll: How many of you have track and field in the fall? Anyone?

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Which I Speak of Evolution and Creation. Again.

I am fascinated by reading Rachel Held Evans' blog. If you don't know her, she's a "Christian" that believes in evolution! Gasp!! (You can read more about her thoughts in this article.)

I respect her willingness to buck against a particular kind of Christian culture in her area, but it doesn't really resonate with me. I read it because I'm fascinated that it's such a huge deal for other people. I'm in a little bit of shock that this was a huge faith-shaking issue for her. I'm in a lot of shock that a lot of Christians are so willing to write her off as not being a "real" Christian because she believes in evolution. This is really a big deal for people? Really?

I was taught creationism in school, but I was also taught that there was nothing wrong with believing in evolution as long as you understand that God is ultimately behind it. Twisted, I know. Of course, with that kind of messed up teaching, is it surprising that I turned out with crazy thoughts about evolution? Here are my thoughts: Religiously and philosophically, I have no problem with evolution. Seems like God is all about long, drawn-out processes (think the process of conversion and overcoming patterns of sin). I could see Him creating through a long-drawn out process. Scientifically, I haven't done enough study to really have an opinion, other than the fact that I can't reconcile what I know about evolution (greater and greater order coming from chaos) and the second law of thermodynamics (everything moves toward greater and greater entropy-chaos-). Therefore, I am religiously okay with evolution, and scientifically I question it! (Okay, let me make it obvious in case you can't tell: this is tongue in cheek.)

I am frustrated with people reading the Bible for science, when it was never intended to be a science textbook. When reading about the Bible, it's much more about why the Creator created, not how. Therefore, I can say that I believe whole-heartedly that the Bible is completely true, and I don't think that it precludes me believing in evolution in the slightest.

On the other hand, don't tell me that science "disproves" religion or God. (Like this guy.) HA! Like there is a scientific measure out there that could measure the Immeasurable! Scientists are so caught by the idea of proving everything that they try to say that if it can't be measured or tested, it must not exist. Someone I read said that it's like if you look at a coat on a wall. You may not be able to see a hook holding it up, but you know that one must be there. It is not irrational to think that there is a hook when you can't see one. It's irrational to think there's nothing holding up the coat. When I look and see the order and mastery of creation, I see a Creator. To me, things like evolution and the Big Bang theory do not keep me from seeing God, they allow me to see a part of God's creative process.

I've probably said all this before, but the posts that came up today got me thinking about it again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

1) Progress toward my 100 miles of hiking has been a little slow the last couple of weeks, but still getting there. It is entirely possible that I will still make it to 100 before Labor Day, though there's a chance that I won't. Honestly, it doesn't really matter. If I make it, I'll still be hiking. If I don't make it, I'll still be hiking. It's all the same.

2) My last real hike was 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, we did not make the top (unavoidably detained by altitude; not me, though, so hopefully I'll be able to get up to some of the higher ones next year). However, even if you don't make it, you still have to enjoy what you can.

Something about that last picture makes me want to burst into song about the hills being alive.

3) The other day I went to the store with coupons. I don't normally buy candy, but when I do, there are certain kinds that I like. And if I have a coupon for M&M's, and Dove chocolates, and they happen to both be on sale, I will take advantage of that. In theory, they'll last a while. In theory. But moving on, when I got home, I found this in one bag with one other item. Makes me wonder if the bagger caught the irony...?

4) When I went back to the Midwest for that wonderful wedding that I went to, one of the things I missed the most about the West was the sky. I love the sky here.

5) Is it wrong that even though I don't have a groom or any prospects, I have a wedding photographer picked out if ever there's a need? What can I say? They're awesome. Yes, they are my friends, but I don't think that takes away from my objectivity. :)

6) High school football starts this week in a lot of places. You should hear the commotion around here! (There's a high school right across the street from me.) I knew that I would miss it a little, but I really thought that I would be more relieved about not worrying about broken bones and all that. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about having freedom on Friday nights, but I miss the kids and coaches and everyone more than I thought I would. I miss the action more than I thought I would! I'm really glad things worked out like they did, and that I am where I am. But there's a part of me that wants to be there, too. All I can say is, Go 'Cats!!

7) I am so excited to meet some new people this week! I have another hike with the hiking group Saturday (I think there will be a lot of ladybugs involved, but more on that later). They're all middle aged to older for the most part, but they let me come along, so it works for me. I may also help out as an RCIA sponsor at my new parish (though I still have to make it official that it's my new parish...) We'll see. I talked to Father B through email, so it sounds like that's a go. And I got signed up for the Endow group! But I was late, so hopefully that won't put me too far behind. Here I've been planning to do that all summer, but I didn't worry about it because it didn't start until fall. Uh, Sherlock? It's fall. Well, time for the start of fall activities anyway.

Hope you have a great weekend! For more Quick Takes, head over to Jen's!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Experience

I got an opportunity this weekend to help out with the Pike's Peak Marathon. It's been a while since I've gotten to help out with a sports event, so it sounded like it might be kind of fun. Plus, I was only there as a water/support person. I didn't have to do any kind of athletic training type stuff. They have emergency personnel for any of that kind of stuff. Not only that, but though I've heard lots of stuff about Pike's Peak, I hadn't actually been there yet. It was an experience, and it was fun. It was also more than what I had expected.

For example, I got an email that I would be helping at the Incline station. It did mention that there would be a few things that we might have to carry to the station, but that's all it said. From all I had been told, I knew we were going to be parking near the Incline, so I figured we must just be carrying things a little ways. Right. If two and a half miles is a little ways. Luckily, most of what we needed was already up there, so there wasn't too much to carry. My load was a little unbalanced, and we started on the trail in the dark, so I was glad to get to the end, but it wasn't too bad. Lucky for me (I thought) the worst of my load was from the big bags of Gatorade powder. I was relieved I wouldn't have to carry them back down. Well, if ignorance is bliss, then I'm the happiest person in the world!

Most of the way up to our station, there was an opening in the trail and I got to see part of the sunrise, and it was gorgeous! I was really wishing I had brought my camera. Then we got to set up our station, which was on a level-ish space of ground with a view of the Incline behind us (which is an evil-looking thing from an old cog railroad that people climb all the time, even though it's technically illegal). It was fun hanging out with some new people, and especially after the SAR (Search and Rescue) folks showed up. Seriously, police/EMT's/firefighters are some of the most fun people to hang out with, and they have the best stories. We were awful and making fun of some of the people that tried to climb the Incline, like the lady with the floral, flowy shirt, sun hat and those stupid rocker Sketchers. Her whole outfit was even accessorized! Come on, people! The Incline is not some walk in the park. The woman (who was a police officer for her "real job") snorted and said that she didn't even have accessories, beyond the fact that she had both a black and a brown holster, so she supposed she could accessorize with those.

For the most part, people did pretty well, considering that they were not only running 26.2 miles, but that they were running it up the side of a 14,000 foot mountain and back down. There were some people that were weaving pretty good when they came down, and there were lots of skinned knees, but they're either impressive or crazy. Not sure which. I started down the mountain a little early, but I still had to carry some stuff down to help out. Yeah, so much for not having to carry those puny bags of Gatorade! We had to take down all of the stuff from the station, including the stuff that had been left there from the other race the day before ("only" to the top of the mountain). I found myself walking down with a 30 gallon trash can on my back! I really wish I had a picture for you. It was duct taped to this impossible backboard thing that had horrible canvas straps. I spent the whole way down concerned I would be causing nerve damage (because my hands were going numb- I'll spare you the medical details).

Really, though, it was fun. And I got in 5 miles of hiking on a weekend I didn't think I would get any. Not only that, but I did something I clearly wouldn't have been able to do at the beginning of the summer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Assumption

Last Sunday, I had all kinds of great ideas about what I wanted to say about the Assumption. Then craziness happened, and it all left. I thought I might abandon the post completely, but in the end, I couldn't.

The priest's homily last Sunday started with the statement: "There is no biblical basis for the Assumption."

At one time, that would have had me squirming very uncomfortably in my seat. Last Sunday I smiled and agreed, not one whit disturbed by the proclamation. You see, I have never had a problem with the authority of the Church, built on the foundation of the apostles, with Jesus as the cornerstone, and the Holy Spirit leading it all. What I had a problem with was the Assumption. I've talked about all this before. It's not that I questioned that the pope had the authority to declare the doctrine of the Assumption. (Or is it dogma? That always confuses me.) It's not that he did it on his own; he did it based on history and after determining that 98% of the bishops felt this was a consistent belief in their diocese. He wasn't declaring something based on his own belief alone, but on the universal belief of the Church.

I also didn't have a real problem with the fact that this didn't all happen until the 1950's. It is not an addition to the deposit of faith, it is a gradually deepening understanding of it. There are many scientific discoveries that are dependent on earlier scientific discoveries. The process of discovering the fulness and depth of the what Christ has given us is much like that.

Of course, it would have made me much more at ease to have some comfortable proof texts, and had the doctrine proclaimed before the Reformation at least. It's easier when someone starts asking questions about what I believe and why.

The REAL problem with all of it is that I didn't want to defend it. It seemed rather irrelevant to me what happened to Mary's body. I didn't have a problem with believing it, only that it had to be a doctrine that we were all required to believe, and therefore explain to others. In what way does this advance my faith? Doesn't it just make more problems in ecumenical dialogue? What is the whole point of having a doctrine of the Assumption?

That is why I squirmed in my seat when it came to the Assumption. It seemed like a lot of fuss for no reason.

Now I see it differently. It is something that we believe because we hold Mary to be the Mother of God. It is a privilege that only she has received at this time (well, and maybe Elijah; not sure what the Church teaching on that is!). It does speak to the how she is special and different as the Mother of our Lord.

But it is relevant, because it is also a promise. Mary is now without sin, and without the stain of sin. She is so because of the grace of God, that same grace that is being extended to us. She is now body and soul in heaven. This is what we hope for, what we strive for. Mary being assumed body and soul into heaven, immaculate, radiating the glory of God, is a glimpse of what awaits us someday as well. She will always be set apart. She is the Mother of God. However, she is still more like us than she is like God. Who she is, is what God made her. Who she is, is an example of who we can become by the awesome grace of God.

The problems in defending the Assumption remain the same. But I no longer mind them, because I see the reason for asserting the belief. (I have always thought it was defensible; the difference is that I now have the desire to defend it.) As always, it is not only consistent with my other beliefs, but helps me to understand them more deeply. I was enthralled by the way the readings brought this out. Since this post is already long enough, I'll stop talking now, but I also enjoyed Alison's post on the subject. The readings are there as well, if you're interested.

The Ache

I woke up this morning to the Ache. It was there before I was fully awake. It was there in the semi-consciousness, in the quietness. It's the worst then, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. In the night, I can dream. In my dreams, I may not be alone. During the day I am not fully alone, and there are many distractions. But in those moments, I am alone, and the Ache cannot be denied. It will have its way.

The Ache is also my prayer. I can't put that prayer into words. Words can't express it. That Ache is emptiness, and my prayer is that someday, somehow it will be filled. In that is my comfort, because I know that prayer is heard, and it is precious to the One that hears it, the One that feels it with me.

And I am not alone.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thinking About Sin

What are your thoughts?

Does God hate sin so much because it reveals who we really are?

Or does He hate it because it distorts who we really are?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm Going to Bed Soon

I came home from work today and immediately changed into my pj's. I made myself eat. Now it's 8:30, and I think I'll write a quick blog post and go to bed.

It was a FANTASTIC weekend. I left early Friday morning for the airport and home. Back to the Midwest for the wedding of an awesome friend. To my surprise, it didn't quite feel like coming home. I mean, it did, but it also didn't quite fit anymore. That was really a good surprise. I'm getting even more settled here than I realized. But seeing family and friends was really, really great. Playing with friends' small children was SO much fun. Who knew that jumping straight in the air could make a 1-year-old fall over laughing? Also, in the middle of the vows, it was really funny to me when the three-year-old told me (in a nice, sedate whisper) "Roar. That's a lion." Always wanted to know what a lion says, and what better timing? And, really, is there anything better than a small child sitting semi-still in your lap?

It was so great to hang out at the reception with a huge table of people that I don't get to see often enough. Great to talk to people that understand my aversion to dancing at receptions. Well, I don't really know if they understand it, but they accept me anyway. Great to collect a bunch of hugs to tide me over until I can get home again.

Sunday it was nice to go to church with my family, followed by a nice big Sunday meal. Including fudge pie, made by my dad. His crust is always really amazing, and the pie was still slightly warm, and perfect with a little ice cream on top. Then we played cards, which included a discussion (as always) of who's "biggest behind" (in last place).

It's really a weekend that you couldn't ruin. The fact that I couldn't hike this weekend did make me a little sad (I have an addiction. There. I said it.) The fact that my bank left me a message saying that they had to cancel my credit card while I was traveling and send me a new one was a little concerning, but fine. (I like my credit card for emergencies while traveling, but I survived.) Even the adventure that was last night and today was okay. Which is to say that my plane got cancelled, so I had to spend the night in a little motel and get up at 4:15, so I could make the airport shuttle by 5. Despite not making it back to my state until 7 am, I still made it to work by 10:30. Now, there is a time zone change in there that I'm trying to ignore. Because then I would have to say that I got up at 3:15 this morning. Hmm, no wonder I'm tired and I have a headache and feel a little fuzzy with the whole thinking thing.

So worth it.

P.S. When my brain was working, I had all sorts of thoughts about the Assumption. They kinda got stuck in the sludge that is currently my brain, but I hope to be able to recover them after a lot of sleep, and then maybe I can add to some of the other posts that I have seen. (I'm pretty sure that those other posts were quite good as well, at least what I could make sense of. They were well-written; my brain just doesn't do comprehension today... How do some people survive on small amounts of sleep? I'm non-functional!)

P.P.S. My apologies if this post doesn't make tons of sense. I'd proofread, but that's feeling pointless.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Because I'm Insufferable

My sister sent me a text today, telling me it was more still 104 at almost 7:30 at night where she was.

So I had to inform her that we had temperatures down into the 60's (due to a thunderstorm) in the afternoon, but that by the time I left work it was a perfect upper 70's and low humidity.

I'm helpful like that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What I'm Looking For

In a man, you see. I was just asked this today. What is it that I'm looking for in a man. I thought that seemed like a valid question that deserved an answer. So I thought about it, and the answer is....

Heck if I know.

Certainly there are things that have to be in place. He'd better treat me respectfully. God better be more than a concept in his life. He's going to have to be okay with me being Catholic.

Beyond that, I have no idea.

I've gone on a couple of dates recently with a guy who meets all of the above characteristics plus some. He's really a quality guy. And I'm not attracted to him at all.

It's not right, I tell you. Guys seem to be rather few and far between in my world. If I find a quality guy, it seems somehow wrong to say that I'm not interested. I don't even really know why I'm not interested, but I'm not. Of course, when I bring this up to my sister, somehow trying to logic myself into liking him better, her response was, "I can see it now. Your wedding day, and someone asks why you're marrying him. You answer, 'Well, he loves me, he's a good guy, and I can tolerate him well enough.'"

Okay, fine. That's a rather extreme example, but clearly merely the fact that he's a nice guy isn't going to cut it. I've tried to give it some time, but he's starting to get some feelings, and I'm stuck on zero feelings, so I don't want to lead him on.

Which leads me right back to what is it, exactly, that I'm looking for.




Yep. Still clueless.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chasm Lake: The Bad and the Ugly

I love hiking, but it's not all pretty waterfalls and sweeping mountain vistas. Today I'm sharing the other side of hiking with you.

When I start a hike, I'm usually feeling energized and ready to go. Chasm Lake was no exception. In fact, for the first half to 2/3's of the hike, I was feeling really good. As the hike went on, and I started to get to higher elevations (around 11,000 feet above sea level), I could tell it was slowing me down. No problem, just take my time. When I got near the top of the trail, after hiking for 3 or more hours, there was a sight that popped the last little bit of bubbly energy that might have still existed.


The Bad

See the little hikers at the bottom starting to wend their way up? Yeah. Let's just say it wasn't pretty when I went up. It was even less pretty when I came down.

Then there's the fact that you go on these long hikes, and you go early in the morning, and you have to drink plenty to stay hydrated. See where I'm going with this? Trying to find a place to do your business far enough off a trail to be hidden is tricky. Trying to find a spot when you're above the tree line on a busy trail? Good luck! Now for me, though I try not to take it to unhealthy levels, I'd rather try to hold it than try to use the great outdoors as my toilet. In fact, I'd not only rather wait for the trailhead outhouse, I'd rather wait for civilization and running water. However, I find myself less fastidious as time goes on (or more desperate?) Therefore, I was actually sort of grateful that this was such a busy trail and that there were some accommodations.

I said "sort of".

The Ugly

It took me a second to realize there was no roof. That felt a little weird, but I was hoping ventilation would at least be better. The really weird part was that when I was standing up, my head was over the top.

Hello all you fellow hikers! Don't mind me. I'm just over here in a disgustingly dirty, smelly box, taking care of business.

You know how I know I've been hiking too long? As gross as it was, I barely cared.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chasm Lake: The Good

I decided that I needed an extra special hike this week, so I went to Chasm Lake. I've been there a couple of times before, and it never disappoints. There is a large portion of this hike that is above the tree line. I love the tundra. In the short summer, it is a place of impossibly small flowers and huge mosquitos. The camera cannot capture how tiny and delicate the flowers are any more than it can convey how large the peaks are. It is a world that is simultaneously too small and too large to adequately photograph.

I almost hate putting the pictures up. They don't do it justice. It's a place that should be experienced. The peace... The tranquility... The shouts and sounds of falling rock dislodged by the mountain climbers... Okay, that did disturb me whenever I heard that. The good news is that the shouts had more of a warning tone of voice rather than a panicked sound like something was really wrong.

I will put the pictures up, want to or not. There were some good ones of the columbines; they're not really the small flowers like some, but they're gorgeous and I love them, so you'll continue to see batches of those. As to the pictures, I'll just try to give them to you as I saw them along the hike.

That's the good. This hike also has a bad and an ugly, which I'll have to share as well, but I'll save that for a different post.

I'm now up to 75 miles, so should be on target for 100 before Labor Day, depending on how August goes.
You want to know something? I really think that the only reason that I was really struggling with last week was not because it was a rough week. Quite the opposite! It was a great week, and it only lacked someone to share it with. Good food, good friends, good hiking, and maybe best of all, 5 days of Mass in a row! There is something about Mass that makes me able to appreciate all the rest so much more. I can't really explain it. It just is.

As to the single thing. The struggles are not the only part of being single, though they are a significant part. The pain of it is not all bad. I don't know how to explain it. It isn't as if I enjoy feeling it. Like everything in life, it comes and goes and sometimes are more intense than others. I'm never excited when it's extra strong, but neither is it the worst thing ever. It can become so strong that it is almost a physical feeling. There is weight to it. It is almost tangible. It hurts. Yet, somehow, there's something precious about it. Something beautiful. Something good.

I have no idea how to describe it any better than that. It might make sense to someone reading it if they've ever experienced anything like it. If not, we could always blame it on the lack of oxygen out here...

Thanks so much for the words of encouragement! You know who you are. It does help.