Archive for June, 2011

I Can Take a Hint–When It’s Applied with a Sledgehammer

It’s funny how you make up your mind to do something, get sidetracked, and then put it aside until years–or decades–later.  Recently, a life-changing decision I had made early in my adult life, then shelved, has come back to the forefront;  this time I am determined to see it through.  The Good Lord has made it clear that it is high time I follow through and join the Catholic Church.

I’m not posting this to seek acceptance or debate/debunk any tenet of any religion with anyone.  My announcement is probably going to shock people who thought they knew me well because this is something I, like Mary, kept and pondered in my heart.  This is my own personal journey, and I know in my heart of hearts it is the right and proper thing to do for me and my relationship with God.  I’m just here, as with every other (albeit too-rare) blog post, to tell my Tale.  I don’t tell y’all when I have issues with your own churches (if I do); please respect my decision.  If you can’t abide it, just ignore this post.

If you’re still here, either you’re interested to know what motivated me after more decades (and I don’t mean the rosary kind) than I care to admit, or you have a near-morbid case of boredom.  In any event, here’s my story.  As a child, I was raised in the United Methodist church.  I liked going to church–that is, I liked the services.  All the kids my age went to school with me and we couldn’t stand each other, so that was a minus.  But I digress.  As I grew up and became more spiritually aware, I realized that the shift the Methodist church had taken in the 70’s was so unBiblical that I could no longer abide going there.  Of particular affront to me was the appointing of women not only to the pastorate, but to be bishops as well–a direct rejection of Scripture.  Just before I entered the Air Force, I told my parents I wanted to join the Catholic Church–a decision they supported. (There is a branch of my family who is Catholic; I even have an uncle who recently retired as a Monsignor).

Before I could enter RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults–the “101” class, as it were) though, I met the man I would eventually marry.  By the time he was a teenager, he had rejected the Catholic upbringing of his childhood, and he sternly forbade me to pursue my interest in Catholicism.  We never could agree on a church; it was one of many bones of contention throughout the 24 interminable years of that failed marriage.

Fast forward to March of this year.  I met and began dating the most amazing man.  Butch calls himself  a “sweet, innocent Catholic boy.”  Half is Gospel truth, half is with tongue firmly in cheek.  You decide which is which.  His faith gave me reason to reassess my own.  It wasn’t until last week, though, that I was prodded to finally quit dilly-dallying and act.

You see, Butch became ill.  As in, too sick to do anything.  He needed medical care, stat, and it was the one thing he wasn’t getting due to the morass of his health care system.  You see, it just wasn’t convenient for his doctor to see him, and the system wouldn’t let him seek other options.  Bastages.  So Butch got sicker.  I was doing everything I could for him, but the one thing that really gets to me is to see people I care about suffering.  At work one day, I went to lunch and received a text that told me just how much Butch was suffering.  I was in tears of frustration at his suffering, my inability to help, and the indifference of his doctor.  With no other action left, I began to pray.  Thinking of Butch’s faith, I prayed the Rosary, which I had learned all those years ago.  I got halfway through when my lunch break ended and I had to return to my desk.

When I got back, there was an email from Butch awaiting.  His doctor had found an opening for him that afternoon!  I took it as a sign that this is what God wanted me to do.  I mentioned it to the lady who occupies the other half of my office and who is also Catholic.  She was surprised to hear my story, she though I was Catholic all along!  Still, she informed me that her parish church (near where I work) announced that RCIA classes would be starting soon.  I’ve got her looking into class times there; I also spoke with the parish near my home.  Depending on several factors, I’ll be attending one of them.

This time, nothing (and no one) is getting in my way.  The Lord is merciful and infinite in patience.  For that, I am thankful.

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot

In yesterday’s news was yet another arrest of a teacher for sexual misconduct with a student.  This time, it was the sponsor of the DECA program in a section of Austin known for its affluence and athletics.  Quite frankly, I really don’t care that the student was 18 and technically an adult.  Neither does the state, because until the boy (and I DO mean boy) graduates, it’s still a 2nd degree felony, regardless of age.  If this tryst had happened only 3 1/2 weeks later, after graduation, there’d be no story.  It still would have been reprehensible, but not illegal.

I make no secret of the fact that I used to teach.  I also make no secret that a 6-figure salary wouldn’t get me back in a classroom.  Asinine demands of the academics in the ivory towers and hamstrings from having to teach test-taking instead of rational thought have driven out many of the best and brightest from the teaching profession.  I personally know scores of dedicated, brilliant teachers who want permanent jobs, but can’t get work because of petty politics.

But scumbags like Christina McCann get in and stay in long enough to damage not only individual lives but whole communities.  It is a failure of society as a whole and this entire “end justifies the means” mentality.

When I was very young, I watched my dad hard at work in the little house that used to stand outside gate 2 at Sanford Stadium.  It was Dad’s job during the 2nd half of University of Georgia football games to count the money collected at the ticket windows, secure it, and take it under police escort to the Athletic Department before the game ended and traffic choked for the next several hours.

Ticket sales at that time were a cash-only operation, and the large table in that tiny room was literally covered in tills that overflowed with greenbacks.  Dad quickly but methodically sorted the bills, counted them, and bound them in the appropriate sleeve, and put them in the cloth moneybags provided by the bank.

My little eyes, not even in the double-digits when it came to age, widened in fascination at the sight of more cash than I had ever before seen, and rarely seen since.  In my youthful ignorance, I asked my dad what seemed to me to be a reasonable question.  “Daddy, are you ever tempted by all this money?”

My father stopped counting, put down the stack of bills he was working on, looked me straight in the eye, and said lovingly but very firmly, “The day I’m tempted will be the day I quit.”

When Dad did quit a quarter of a century later, it was the lure of his grandchildren, not money, that pulled him away.

Too bad for the entire teaching profession that Christina McCann and her ilk never got that kind of schooling.


June 2011
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