SAINT OLGA

SAINT OLGA
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, SAINT OLGA, PATRON SAINT OF CONVERTS

Sunday, September 28, 2014

CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE VERSUS MONASTIC LIFE


Saint Thekla, Hermitess


There are a bunch of monastic wannabes parading around the internet claiming to be "hermits."  One of them calls herself "The Anchoress," yet she is married and lives with husband and children.  Another has done herself up in a nun's habit of sorts and has published a "rule of life," yet she also is married and living at home.  I do not pretend to know why these people are doing this, but one thing is obvious:  They aspire to some state of life for which they do not possess even the basic requirements.  It confuses the uninitiated and gives the wrong idea about monastic life in general.

If you are married, marriage is your vocation, and being the best wife and mother is your holy occupation.  You've chosen that life and it is up to you to throw yourself into it with all your heart and soul, for the sake of the Lord and the kingdom.  Your family will work together for the salvation of all, and it is beautiful.  There is no higher status elsewhere.

What is a monastic?  "Monastic" comes from the word "mono" or singular, alone.  Monastics have chosen to remain unmarried and unattached (or it has chosen them) so that their lives are given completely to the Lord in a singular way.  Monastic life is generally centered around prayer at regular intervals throughout the day.  Sometimes it is contemplative and sometimes not.

Saint Paula and her daughter Eustochium,
with Saint Jerome

Whereas today, "monastic life" is typically understood to be part of a recognized religious order, the early days of Christianity saw a number of independent people relocating to the desert, mostly the Scetes desert of Egypt, but also in Syria and Palestine, where they lived ascetic lives of prayer and penance.  Palladius of Galatia tells us that there were almost 3,000 women living in the desert as religious hermitesses or as a part of a loosely organized community of believers by the year 419-420


Hermit caves in Syria


These were Christianity's first monastics and I guarantee you that the desert fathers and desert mothers did not haul spouses and children out to the desert to live with them en famille, with the exception of desert mothers such as Saint Paula, whose daughter Eustochium, ALSO took up the religious life.  (Saint Paula had been widowed prior to this.)  The monastic life is a vocation of single people, not married ladies living with husband and children, with a job in town, Wednesday pizza night and family vacations to the beach every year.

Sometimes a particularly holy hermit would attract followers. Very quickly, the cenobitic life, a life lived in common, became the norm.  Monastics still do not marry, but they are "together, alone."  The hermit's cave became the monastic "cell."


Saint Theresa of Avila's cell


There are many different monastic orders in the United States.  If you have leanings toward a monastic life that is contemplative in nature, rather than try to live as a monastic or hermit on your own, I highly recommend that, if you meet the criteria,you go directly to a cloistered convent, do not pass go and do not collect $200.  Nuns who have LEFT the convents, thinking they can maintain their contemplative life and schedule "on the outside" routinely complain that keeping anything close to the convent's prayer schedule is nearly impossible.  There are torments, hassles and disagreeable people in some convents, perhaps in most convents, but the trial of living with these is worth the rewards.  Go to a cloistered convent and try it out.  Some of them will take older people.

The active orders are something else.  They live for God, but their focus is outward and is more service oriented.  There are teaching orders, nursing orders, all kinds of orders. I don't recommend these for the quiet contemplative who years for mystical union with God.  In another post, I will write about some of the contemplative orders, such as my favorites, "the pink nuns" who maintain continual adoration before the Divine Eucharist 24 hours a day.




The primary obstacle is often the HEALTH of a person.  If you do not have good health, then you are in my boat, and I will go on to discuss how to manage a monastic life at home in later posts.  Convent life is a very physical life, with lots of hard work.  There is plenty of manual labor to go around.  Also, you are never "off the clock," in that you are a nun 24/7 and it can be a strain for some. If you have PTSD, as I do, or depression or some other mental problem, it can be particularly difficult.  Religious orders usually insist that prospective members be physically and mentally healthy.

A simplified type of monastic life can be lived at home, though it is very difficult to maintain a rigorous schedule for most of us who are elderly and/or physically compromised.  But we are the ones who have the time and the circumstances to live a version of monastic life at home, however, and it is a shame to waste our golden years playing computer games, when we can grow closer to God in an intentional and intense way.  I intend to help us all explore that and to provide information that will be helpful.

Saint Rose of Lima
A Third Order Dominican who lived at home
and served the poor


I will be researching avenues of emotional and spiritual support, such as third order possibilities, and I will report on that later.  I do know that individuals may be allowed to take some sort of personal vows, with the permission of the local bishop, but this may be reserved for perpetual virgins.  I will have to check my facts on that score and get back to you with that information as well.

In addition, I will be supplying lists of resources, blogs and books that are helpful to the contemplative life in general, so look for those in future blog posts.  I also plan to write some blog posts highlighting the lives of some of our saints who were mystics that gained great consolations from contemplative prayer or those who either lived at home, in hermitage, or as an independent third order monastic.  Anything that I feel will be helpful and supportive to contemplative life and to the independent monastic will be included.

Everyone can benefit from contemplative prayer.  The fact that you enjoy the mystical union that is the reward of such prayer does not mean you are a monastic, however, and I think that is where some of the pseudo-hermits have gone off the rails.  Contemplative prayer is a religious practice.  Monasticism is a religious vocation.  Often, the two will intersect, but they shouldn't be confused with one another.

The thing to remember, most of all, is that each person is born in the likeness and image of God and we are equally loved by the creator who made us, no matter what our vocation.  Remember, we are human BEINGS and not human DOINGS.  In the long run, it doesn't matter what vocation we choose, only that we turn it to God as much as possible and rely upon His guidance within our circumstances.

God bless you.  Please pray for me as I pray for you.

Silver Rose Parnell

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GIVE YOUR BEST



"Love the Lord your God with all your Heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as
yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these."


Imagine this scenario:  One of your friends has given you a gift.  It is wrapped in lovely paper and has a nice little card attached.  Then you open the package and see the contents.  It is a box of half-eaten grain out of which moths fly into the air.  This isn't a realistic, is it?  You would never give something like that to someone you love, yet the poor are given these kinds of presents every day.

Tattered, threadbare, stained and torn clothing, expired food, and other unusable objects are pushed at poor people, often with the expectation that the poor should be grateful for these "gifts," ostensibly because that is all they deserve or "beggars can't be choosers."

Jesus did not invent the phrase "beggars can't be choosers."  That was someone else.  What he said was that we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.  When we go to the market, we pick out the freshest food.  We don't deliberately try to find old food that has maggots crawling out of it.  When we shop for clothing, we examine the articles to make sure they are made properly and there are no holes in them.

If you are a poor contemplative living at home, you may have already experienced this.  I recommend distancing yourself from people who try to push garbage on you in the name of charity.  They are not doing it to help you.  They wish to feel better about themselves for some reason, or they lack charity of heart and want to give the appearance that they possess it.  Their offerings do not come from the heart of Jesus.

When Jesus fed the multitudes with bread and fish, there is no mention of maggots.  He gave the best.  Notice, when I say "the best," I am not saying the daintiest, the most expensive or the fanciest.  He gave fresh, wholesome and simple things. When he changed the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, he didn't turn it into sour or moldy wine.  It was good wine.

Likewise, if you have a ministry in which you care for the poor, be mindful of Jesus' prescription.  Love your neighbor as yourself, and don't give them garbage.  Give them the best you have.

I am always throwing out and giving away things.  We tend to accumulate THINGS in our culture, and it is a job to stay on top of it.  If I have something that is in great shape and needs no repairs, I will give it away to someone who is poorer than me.  My criteria is that, if it is good enough to sell (and someone would actually buy it), it is a worthy present for my needy neighbor or friend.  If not, I take it to the dumpster where it belongs.

Let us remember to give one another the best of ourselves and our possessions because we love one another as much as we love ourselves.

Silver Rose Parnell

Sunday, September 21, 2014

THE CONTEMPLATIVE, MANUAL LABOR, AND PRAYER PROJECTS

Baby blankets and hats being prepared for donation
to the Gabriel Project at Project Defending Life
in Albuquerque, New Mexico


I just wanted to dash off a quick note for my other contemplative sisters and brothers with regard to the type of work one decides to do in the way of ministry or of making an income.

It is best to stick with what I call "manual labor," which doesn't have to mean you are out digging ditches.  As long as it is something that engages the body in rather routine tasks that do not involve much executive function of the brain, that will be suitable.

In the contemplative monasteries, they make candy and altar breads.  Some of them produce finely embroidered vestments.  I know one monastery that produces some awesome pumpkin bread.  Others make cheese and some even make wine.  Many grow a good deal of their own food.  We can take our example from the contemplative monasteries and convents and imitate their long-standing devotion to a simple life in which the hands are used for labor.

Something that occurs to me as being rather important is that most of these activities can be done in peace and silence.  I don't believe that a stock trader or a retail sales clerk would have an easy time of it, as far as developing a contemplative life.  Their jobs would pull them too far in another direction. Anyway, I am mostly speaking to the home-bound in my blog....the disabled and elderly who have the time and the quiet home life on which to capitalize.

Baby blankets and hats are one of my ministries.  The work is mostly repetitive, and with each stitch I can say a prayer for the welfare of the new baby being welcomed into the world.  Sometimes I listen to the rosary on EWTN and recite it along with Mother Angelica and her nuns.  Sometimes I wing it. I also paint, but I am having trouble getting back to that endeavor.

Anyway, if you choose a physical task like this, it is far easier to "pray unceasingly" than if you choose a more active ministry that requires interaction with other people or a lot of writing, research, typing, and that sort of thing.  The more involved you become with outside activities, the less you will be operating as a contemplative.  If you have a tendency toward loneliness and must be with people to feel alright, then the contemplative life is not for you.  We are communing with God at every opportunity we can snatch out of the jaws of time.

I don't mean to say that everyone should be a hermit. I do think we have to limit our interactions with the outside world and keep them within certain boundaries.  Each of you will have to decide what those are for yourself.

It is important to focus your prayer life also for, in addition to quietly spending time with the Lord in the practice of the presence of God and in strictly contemplative prayer, we are called to pray for the suffering world in many areas.  With so much going on in the world today, it is hard to know what to pray for.  It could be overwhelming.  I recommend having one primary prayer project that is a constant.  For me, it is the prayer that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will resolve their longstanding rift and become one with each other again.  My prayer life is dedicated to that rather large request.  Not only does this give me a focus, but it gives me a PURPOSE as well.  This is important.

People will ask you to pray for them, and there will be transitory requests with which you can pepper the stew, so to speak.  Don't lose sight of your mission, however.  It will help you to stay more easily on the path.

I would be interested in hearing how you construct your contemplative life.  Feel free to comment and let me know.  Perhaps others will be interested also.

God bless you,

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, September 19, 2014

GET BACK ON THE HAPPY HORSE





Every day when I wake up, I have to do my version of getting back on the horse.  The pains and disappointments of the previous day assault me and I have to throw them off and get back on the happy horse.  I grasp the wooden cross that lays on my chest while I sleep, and I remind myself of the promises of Jesus, the most excellent, happiest of news.  I smile and then I go to my shrine, cross myself and offer myself for the day, promising to do better, be better, incline myself better toward the Lord.  Then I turn on the altar lights and my day begins.  Directly after doing that this morning, I discovered a large, long piece of dog poop in my closet.

Even though I had walked that little dog at 6:00 in the morning, by the time I woke up at 10:00, he'd befouled my closet.  Clearly, the dog is not housebroken and, at 3 years old, it is doubtful I would be successful in training him.  If I lived in a house and had a doggie door, perhaps that would be the ticket, but I live in an apartment and I don't even have a fenced-in yard.  Anyway, he is the wrong dog for me.  I need a dog that will help me, not cause me extra anxiety.




After downing a strong mug of coffee, I took the little fellow back to the shelter.  I do my best not to dwell on the block of sadness at the bottom of my stomach.  Several people will be critical of my taking the pup back to the shelter.  They do not understand that the dog is not a pet for me.  It has a job.  It is a service animal.  Someone else WILL snatch him up.  Bringing him back was the right thing to do.

I was in a lot of pain today and downed two pain pills at once.  They barely made a dent in my pain level.  Some days are just like that.  The pain pills just don't work.  I settled into my crochet project; a baby blanket for the Gabriel Project at Project Defending Life, stopping now and then to load the washer and dryer, cleaning all the fabrics and pillows on which the dog had slept.  The cat was thrilled, and he flung himself across the freshly washed quilt that I arranged over the pink couch.

While I crochet, I say prayers for the baby that is going to use that blanket; prayers for a good life, a loving family, and a relationship with Jesus.  I ask the Lord to be kind to the little one.  While I am doing the laundry or eating my lunch, however, I am coming to grips with the very real possibility that I may never be able to get a service animal.  I have to adjust my expectations.  So MANY things are outside the realm of possibility for a poor person!  I am so tired of the dwindling collection of available options of my life, but I must get over it and resign myself to the reality of the situation.  It is important to me to learn to gracefully accept the will of God, and not to do so with bitterness or sour feeling.  Plenty of people in the world are in far worse shape.  Get back on the happy horse!





I enjoy the beauty of the baby blanket growing between my fingers and I thank the Lord for the skill and the ability.  My carpal tunnel kicks in now and then, and I have to stop for a while, but it doesn't matter.  I am not on a schedule and I can't get fired.

I feel the absence of the dog's energy in the house, and I deliberately displace the empty feeling with the satisfaction of creating a beautiful blanket.  Back on the happy horse.

Silver Rose Parnell

Thursday, September 18, 2014

THE HURRIEDER I GO, THE BEHINDER I GET

"SKIPPER"



Yesterday was stressful.  I had to let go of a toxic neighbor I had been helping for the last couple of years.  Some sort of mental illness makes this person hostile and aggressive, but oblivious to the effect of that behavior on other people.  After being exposed to it once too often this week, I had to put my foot down.  The whole episode was highly anxiety producing, especially since I was informed that my exertions on their behalf were not valued.  It can be frustrating when you try to minister to someone who doesn't notice the effort you are expending.  I wonder: if they don't notice the effort, do they actually receive the help you mean to give?

Last night, little Skipper slipped out of his collar and ran right into traffic on the main drag on which this apartment building sits.  Thanks be to God, he didn't get hit and then he ran back and circled around to the back door of my apartment.  I need to get him a proper harness.  I am thinking red plaid would be cute.  It will have to wait a couple weeks for the disability check.  (More about Skipper later.)

Last night, I heard from another friend that she had discussed getting a service dog for me with someone at the New Mexico service dog organization located in Santa Fe, about an hour and a half drive from me. They charge $6,150.00 for the dog and $75 for the application fee.  It generally takes about a year to a year and a half to get a trained animal.  There is no discount for low income clients.

It would cost me more than 4 months income to pay for a service dog myself.  Obviously, this is not going to happen.

Well meaning friends have lots of suggestions about who to call to try and wrangle a free dog or free training or both...or maybe a "deal" of some sort.  This is one of the reasons why my days are so full.  I spend a lot of time begging, searching, wrangling, researching: vainly trying to get my needs met.

I also need one of those scooters and a lift for my car, but Medicare will only pay for it if the doctor verifies that I need one for use IN my home.  Who can afford so much living space that they have room for one of those massive things?  Anyway, the scooters and car lifts are also thousands of dollars, evidently.

People often do not understand that being disabled is much more expensive than being able-bodied. The able-bodied do not need service dogs, scooters, housekeepers, cleaning ladies, delivery fees, medical equipment, special food, over-the-counter medicines, blah, blah, blah.

So, it doesn't look like I will get a proper service dog.  I do have a very small terrier I recently adopted in a fit of "oh, isn't he the most adorable thing you have ever SEEN?"  (See his picture, above.)  He is completely wrong as a service dog, and my doctor has suggested that I trade him in for something more appropriate, like a large standard poodle or Portuguese water dog.

My veterinarian has recommended that a standard poodle will best serve my needs, and that I should get one as a puppy so that it can be trained young.  I have researched that avenue also.  Poodle puppies range from $1,200 to $3,000.  Can you believe it?

I have asthma and bad allergies, so I need a dog that is hypoallergenic.  According to the AKC, there are not a lot of dogs that qualify.

So, if you have money, you complain about the prices, but you pay it and you get your needs met.  Problem solved.  You might haggle, but you don't have to beg.

I am very tired of begging.  I am exhausted from the effort and the stress.  There comes a point when trying to get one's needs met does not appear to be worth the stress and exertion.  I wonder if this is why so many veterans with PTSD are homeless, on the streets?  At some point, you just give up trying.

Fortunately, I have a place to live and a comforting spiritual foundation.  I'm not on the street, so I am ahead of the game.  I have gotten used to going without a lot of things.  This is just another one.  Time to move on to something more satisfying than begging.  I started another baby blanket for charity tonight, and it is very pretty.

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, September 5, 2014

BLESS THIS MESS



I keep this little box of doo-dads next to my recliner, where I do all my crochet projects and where I occasionally trim my nails (or the cat's nails!)  Inside the box, along with circular knitting hooks, nail trimmers, a row counter, and crochet hooks, is a pair of scissors that my son gave me, and every time I have to trim a piece of crochet, I use these scissors.  They're very sharp and fit perfectly in the decorative box.  Every time I use them, I think of my son and say a little prayer for him.





I last saw Jason in the Spring of 2013.  He and his daughter came to visit me, driving across the desert from Las Vegas, Nevada.  He was supposed to have arranged for dialysis here in Albuquerque, and I don't know if he actually did it.  He had talked about feeling that he didn't need it if he had a session right before he left.  He wasn't overly cautious about taking care of his health, which is what killed him, ultimately.

We had a really nice time for the first few days.  I enjoyed showing them around Old Town, which is very near my house.  We ate at various restaurants, which was a real treat for me, since I never do that.  Jason took a lot of pictures.  It was wonderful to have him here. A couple days before they were to leave, he ran out of money.  He had received some money in back pay from Social Security, but he had spent most of it on some guns he had planned to sell at the gun show when he returned to Vegas. It is ironic that my son was involved in selling guns when I am so anti-gun, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I made no comment.

My apartment is small.  I had only a few days' notice they were coming, it was the end of the month, and I had very little food in the house and no money.  In other words, the status quo.  My granddaughter was only interested in playing games on her dad's phone.  The trip exhausted him, and he kept falling asleep in the chair.  He was very ill.

One day, when I wasn't looking, he grabbed a special pair of sewing scissors from my desk and bent them by using them as if they were a screwdriver,  I got upset because they were given to me by a special friend.  He got testy and a little rude.  I had to straighten him out.  He apologized and later bought me that pair of scissors pictured above.  At first, I was disappointed, because they were completely different than the pair he had ruined, but I just thanked him, knowing that he was stressed and sick and I could always buy another pair that suited me better.  Later, I realized the scissors he gave me were perfect for my crochet projects.

I felt bad about our little spat.  When they were leaving, I hugged my son for the last time and told him I was sorry that the visit wasn't perfect.  He was very sweet and gave me a good hug.  I will never forget what he said.  "Next time I see you, it will be better."

A few months later, he drove himself to the hospital.  He had pneumonia.  Very quickly, it turned into a variety of issues.  He had an infection around his heart.  It went from bad to worse.  Soon, he was gone.

Jason's birthday is coming up in a few days, and in another 3 months, the first year anniversary of his death.  I have been thinking about him a lot, and especially his last words to me, "Next time I see you, it will be better."  From your lips to God's ears, my boy.  From your lips to God's ears.

Silver Rose Parnell

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DRIVING MISS RUBY


I have a great friend in my apartment complex.  She's only a few years older than I am, but she's a little more banged up.  She was in a terrific hot air balloon crash about 10 years ago and they put her back together with metal rods, chewing gum, and band aids.  Recently, she has had to give up driving, and I try to invite her to accompany me every time I go shopping because she is generally stranded.  She's also not eating properly, has never learned to cook, really, and needs some help with her nutrition.

Going shopping with her is a scream because she wanders off and spends an inordinate amount of time reading all the labels and "pricing" things she is not going to buy that day.  She often cannot find things that are right on the shelf in front of her.  It takes forever.  I am always losing her.  The other day I lost her at a new Walmart.  I forgot to bring my cell phone, so we couldn't call one another to coordinate our locations in the store.  FINALLY, when I met up with her, I had a shopping cart full of things, I was ready to check out, and she had 4 items...but she needed one more.  I checked out and waited half an hour for her to appear again.

Today we went to Sprouts market for vegetables, and it was a circus.  She was revved up and chattering like a magpie while I, accustomed to proceeding in a leisurely, quiet fashion, was not in the mood.  I yelled at her at one point and had to apologize, at which point she told me that it was such a treat to get outside the apartment that she just gets EXCITED.  She was enjoying the fun trip.  Well, then I felt really crappy.  I had gotten mad at her expression of happiness.  Sigh.

The young girls at the produce department laughed at the two old biddies behind their hands.  I tried to explain to Ruby the fruits and vegetables needed to make a nutritious juice drink using my Jack La Lanne juicer.

Ruby is so scattered she went off on a tangent, taking two produce workers away from their jobs to ask them if the apples were on sale, after I told her they were not.  Then she asked if there was a senior discount.  They were very patient with her.  Meanwhile, I stood there, mortified, holding a bag of carefully selected apples, waiting for her to stop fiddling around.  She stood there, yammering to the produce workers, as if engaging them would make a discount appear out of nowhere.  Finally, she stopped talking.  They politely waited.  She stood there.  They looked at me.  Hysterical.  I dragged her away.  She argued about the number of apples I had chosen.  Everything is like pulling teeth....from a magpie.

Dismayed at the rising cost of food, even in this market that used to be very affordable, I grew anxious about whether or not I would have enough money to purchase the staples I needed: garlic, onions, ginger, leafy veggies, yellow veggies, tofu, mushrooms...and something else I had forgotten.  I wondered if I would have enough money for food for the rest of the month.  Ruby wandered off to buy a birthday card for her granddaughter, while I continued to toil in the vegetable department.  My PTSD kicked in and I lost my concentration.  It was so clear in my mind what I needed to get BEFORE I walked into the store, but the increasingly crowded store had made my mind turn to mush on high alert, if you can picture that.  I had to collect myself.

After I took a tour of the store and found her, we got to the checkout line, and she didn't have quite enough to pay for her portion, so she gave me what money she had and put aside a selection of items to pay for with her debit card, on which she had $14.  The bill was something like $23, however, because she had misread the price of the birthday card she selected which was more than $7!  This happens to us all the time.  Money is so tight on Social Security income that, when we miscalculate our purchases, we often have to pay from two different methods: a little cash, the remainder from a bank account with the debit card.  Sometimes we have to return an item and have it deducted from the bill.  Sometimes when she gets the bill, I have to lend her money.  Sometimes she lends me money.  It does get embarrassing, at times, but today we presented such an entertaining production that the stock clerks and the cashier just smiled at us and endured our bickering and fumbling with extremely good nature.

When we got back to the apartment complex, I drove her as close to her apartment as possible, and she went in and got her little shopping cart, then loaded her stuff into that.  I went home and unloaded all of my veggies from my trunk into my kitchen.  Ruby came BACK over to my house, and I made a lovely dinner of bagel, cream cheese, tomato and onion.  This has become a monthly routine, when I do my major shopping trip.  Ruby commented that we had had a really fun day, and I felt badly again that I had gotten so irritable with her.  Chronic, unremitting pain makes me grumpy.  I could have taken a pain pill, but then I would not have been able to drive.  Catch 22.

Most of all, I get disappointed in myself that the God consciousness that is so effortless while alone in my apartment just EVAPORATES when I get stressed and I am bungling my way through errands or other business exchanges.

She went home.  I drank a cup of tea, rather HALF a cup of tea, and promptly fell asleep in my recliner despite my cat's efforts to wake me by stomping his 16-pound royal furriness all over me.  It is odd to realize that just one shopping trip can now completely wipe me out and keep me aching for days afterwards.  I've been disabled for 10 years and I still can't get used to it.  It is almost as if I do not believe it, even though I know better than anyone that it is true.  I keep trying to do as much as I did when I was 30, and then I'm surprised when it doesn't work out.  I pictured a completely different life.

No one anticipates becoming disabled.  That's the thing.  You get injured in a hot air balloon crash, like Ruby, or you gradually start to get sick, struggle to stay employed, stay above water.  You swim and swim until you have to get out of the water or you will drown.  You do not have a choice about it.  When I finally went on disability, I had been sick for about 10 years, and my finances were completely depleted.  One of my old friends, on learning that my disability benefits had been approved, asked me, "If you can't afford to live on the monthly income, why did you retire?"   Retire? Ridiculous question.

The able-bodied just don't get it, but Ruby and other disabled people DO know what it is like to desperately try to maintain one's independence and the illusion of normalcy.  Both of us dressed to the nines today, with lipstick, jewelry and everything.  You'd never know that she was down to her last $14 and I was down to my last $80, even though I just got paid.

This is one reason why I am grateful for people like Ruby in my life.  We're in the same boat and we can laugh about our circumstances.  We're both religious, so we can also forgive one another our idiosyncracies and see the humor in them.  Best of all, we are each grateful for the blessings we retain, the things that really matter that have nothing to do with how much money one has or how much physical health.

What we have in common, aside from our artistic natures, disability, pain and poverty, is Jesus, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Silver Rose Parnell




Monday, September 1, 2014

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING

Baby hat made to give away


People think I have a lot of time on my hands because I am disabled and stuck at home.  It would be nice if I had hours of leisure time that I could spend sitting in front of my altar, but that just isn't the reality of my life.

It takes me three or four times as long to do anything as my able-bodied friends because of mobility challenges and chronic pain issues. What I find myself doing is praying and contemplating during my household chores.  The happy news about chores is that they do not occupy much mental space, leaving my mind free to practice the presence of God or recite favorite prayers like the Jesus prayer, the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary."

The joy of my life is making baby blankets and baby hats to give away to poor mothers.  I have to take frequent breaks while attending to my household chores because of my back and leg issues.  At that time, I take up my crochet or my knitting and continue work on whatever project I have going at that time.  Most of my fiber projects are fairly repetitious, so I can also pray while I crochet.  I pray for the happy life of whatever baby is going to be cuddled in that blanket.  I also pray for his whole family and especially that his parents stay together in a healthy, happy union.


Blanket and hat that I finished today

After all this practice on the blankets, I began to get creative, and some of them were turning out really nice.  I considered selling them at the local store that sells items made by local "artisans" but when I learned how little the other crochet artists were charging, I realized that this was not a good option.  The blanket, above, took me more than 30 hours to make.  How could I sell it for $20?  Golly, if I am going to give it away, I should give it to a poor child.  Consequently, none of the blankets will be made available for sale.  I'll just make whatever I can with whatever yarn comes my way, trusting in the Lord that He will provide the raw materials.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1Thesalonians 5:16-18

I highly recommend finding a ministry you can do at home during those moments when you have to rest or when you are having a particularly difficult "pain day," like me, and you are relegated to the recliner chair for the day.  If you would like to join me in my baby blanket ministry, please let me know at silvercottage@hotmail.com and we can work on a project together.  Winter is coming, and not only do the new babies need blankets, but homeless men and women needs hats and scarves for the frigid Albuquerque winters.  Believe it or not, it gets down into the single digits here!  Mittens and gloves are also much appreciated.  I have not learned how to make those yet, but if you can do it, that would be wonderful.

Alternately, you could opt to donate some yarn to the ministry.  I have a few discounted yarns on my birthday wish list, and Amazon.com has my mailing address.  See the links to the right.

Most of all, though, I pray that, if you do not already have a ministry that lends itself to continuous prayer, then find something or learn something you can do that will make a difference in the lives of the poor.  We don't have to do big things.  Hey, it takes me a week to make a crib-size blanket, but it is a labor of love AND a holy relic, each stitch representing a prayer for the baby that uses it!

If you home bound and you already have a ministry, write me and tell me about it and we will post it as a comment.  It will encourage other people and also perhaps give them ideas about something THEY could be doing to improve the lives of poor people.

In the meantime, pray for me as I pray for you.

God bless you.

Silver Rose Parnell