Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tree of Life

Nothing heralds in the overture of the spring season of rebirth like the blossomings of a Bradford pear and a magnolia tree. Every year I observe the coloration of the world with these beautiful branches awash in delicate pinks and whites, and I feel a sense of hope and connection to God.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the creation reminds me of my Creator. I can imagine God dipping His paint brush first into a delightful pure white paint to tint the trees that were the day before brown and dreary. With the stroke of His majestic brush, He then draws on delicate flowerets that from afar look to be puffy popcorn balls. Then, perhaps, God smiles at His Bradford pear tree before moving on.

For the next special masterpiece of the magnolia tree, God keeps just enough of the pear-tree white on His brush to blend with the sweetest shade of pink. With broader strokes this time, He paints pretty petals that will burst into life with the sunrise. I don’t know if the Creator then takes time to admire this beautiful creation, but I certainly hope He does.

And then, sometimes too soon, it seems God must decide to dry the paint by blowing on it. Gentle winds --- and not so gentle winds waft through the air, transporting the pretty petals. With each breath of wind, the gorgeous blossoms of the trees become more sparse, as the once bare ground beneath the trees becomes carpeted with perfect petals of pink or white. As a child, the blossom’s short life-cycle used to sadden me.

But with the gift of age, I’ve come to understand that a short life seems lengthened by the beauty left behind. Like sweet blossoms fallen on the ground, the memory of the departed wonder clings to our hearts making that wonder never far from us, even when it’s time to enter a new season of our lives.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

One Mama, Obama, and Notre Dame

I sat down at my computer to try to put into words my thoughts on the controversy of President Obama being invited to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. Unfortunately, before I could even begin to process my thoughts, I heard language coming from my kitchen that was not the voice or character of any of my kids. The words spewing forth were derogatory, degrading, and profane. Upon investigating, I saw the source of the vile verbiage was not one I had given birth to, but one MTV had spawned. The show was one of those cable offerings that seem to be popular simply due to the number of times the participants, seeking their own fifteen minutes of fame, can squeeze in insulting conversation and gestures between being bleeped by the generous censures.
My turning off the television caused my thirteen-year-old, who was doing his homework in the kitchen, to lift his head and offer, “I was watching that.”
“I know,” I informed him, “and that’s the problem.”
“It’s just a show,” he attempted to reason. “Why can’t I watch it?”
“If I don’t allow you to talk in my house the way that guy was talking,” I explained, “why would I let some stranger from MTV talk like that in here?”
“But it’s not going to change me,” he tried to justify. “Just because I listen to it, doesn’t mean I am going to start talking like that.”
With four kids, this was an argument I had heard many times over the years. Whether pleading for a movie, video game, or song, each child would try to argue the same futile argument that their actions would not change just because of what they watched or listened to. They never won this argument, and my son wasn’t about to win this time either.
I took a deep breath and began an explanation I had given to his brother and sisters before. “It’s not about any lack of faith in you or how you might act if exposed to something I disagree with. But if something is completely against my beliefs and I welcome it into our home, I would be a hypocrite. You deserve better of me than that.”
And with the television turned off, I went back to my computer to pursue my original task of trying to explain my view on the most pro-abortion president being asked to give the commencement address to the graduates of the most visible Catholic university in America.
But then I realized, I just did.