Freezing in my Underwear

25 Jan

I tend to be most inclined to put words on the page when I have an overarching theme or an overriding lesson that I have learned and want to express. I haven’t written yet in this new year because I’ve felt that these moments have been lacking. I’ve had no sudden bursts of inspiration, no life-altering moments, no uncovered mysteries. This has been, in that sense, the most ordinary  of times.

But Emily Browning once wrote that earth is crammed with heaven, and hasn’t my blend of the Jesuit and Franciscan traditions taught me that the ordinary is crammed with the extraordinary? Maybe it takes, then, some quiet reflection, or setting up shop in the back of Crazy Mocha café with a Moroccan mint tea, to really see the little extra inside this ordinary time.

Earlier this month we ventured to Salsbury, PA for a Winter Retreat. The retreat was a strange one for me—a traveling to the depth of emotions and back again, all in enough time to film a murder mystery (yes, I’m serious). Not to mention polar plunging in my underwear into 30 degree water. The unfeasible mix of depth topped with whimsy left me a bit numb to emotion (and the water left me a bit numb to my toes), and I left the farmhouse of Salsbury desiring to forego my consistent analysis of life for the joy of simply living it, no strings attached.

(Editor’s note: It was on this retreat, I must add, when the whole way I think about cats changed, and I realize that they don’t all suck.)

Last weekend I went home for the night to celebrate the upcoming birth of my longest friend’s baby boy. I drove in with one of her friends that I had never met, and left early the next morning after coffee with my parents to kick it back to PA for brunch with the Pitt Pals. Her apparent glee as she pondered the child inside her caused me to ponder the mystery of love, and how one can love so deeply a face she has yet to see.

Monday was MLK Day and we had the day off service, but it became a day of service when we became Habitat volunteers for the day and painted the upper rooms of a Church. It is rare, I think, to quite tangibly see the fruits of your labor, and it was a nice treat to see what a few hours of hard work and a little paint on your hands could do to make people’s lives better.

Other than these three stand-outs, the month of January consisted of waking up and going to service. When I try to find the little extra in the ordinary of these days, my thoughts drift to my supervisor, my community, and the sky. Karen has a heart that is larger than life, my community’s spirit never ceases to amaze me, and there’s just something about these Pennsylvania skies that leave me speechless. Or maybe they’re the same skies I’ve always been under, I’m just making a point of looking up.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. No all-inclusive themes, no neatly wrapped package with a bow on top, and no point, really. But maybe, sometimes, that’s okay. Maybe it’s okay to just drop everything and pet a cat, or to give up pondering life’s mysteries and film a murder mystery instead.  Last night we watched the film The Way, where Emilio Estevez, wise old sage that he is, stated that you don’t choose a life, you live a life. And if Gordon Bombay says it, it must be true. So here’s to leaving the confines of the brain and diving into my life, even if the water is a little cold.

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One Response to “Freezing in my Underwear”

  1. sabikc January 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Martha–you can WRITE!!! Loved it.

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