I have three small groups of friends. These are close friends, dear to my heart, but ask any one of them what faith means, and their answers will be distinctly different.
The first group sees miracles, God’s hand, in everyday things. He reveals Himself in a hibiscus flower grown into the shape of the cross. Shadows on ancient stone floors become faces of the dead. They get shivers or a deep sense of peace. It is a comforting and heartening belief.
Another group sees rules: fasting on Holy Days, confession before communion. They go to church every week, some of them every day, and urge their children to set examples, to express dismay if their friends stray. They believe this is their duty.
The third group of friends have either lost their faith or are drifting in that direction. They are disillusioned with organized religion and perhaps this is why their beliefs are fluid. They see each situation as unique: what’s wrong in one case may be right in another. They have accepted their children’s decision to live with a significant other because love and commitment are their bottom line. They believe in live and let live. Continue reading
Two people in love broke up today. I’ve watched their relationship deepen through years of friendship and work, holidays and travel, pain and holding on when life hurts. They never argue. They get each other’s humor. They want the same things: family, children, a future together.
But there are separate careers ahead of them and years apart, and suddenly love doesn’t seem like enough. Rational heads have prevailed. Long-distance relationships never work. The decision is a no-brainer.
That’s the difference between our children’s generation and ours. My husband and I made a lot of mistakes, but there was one crucial decision we got right. We fell in love and made that relationship the thrust of our life. We still went for our dreams. Jobs were important, and family and friends, but our relationship? That was our keystone and we put no one and nothing before it.
Breaking up was not in our vocabulary.
It’s much harder today because our children set such high standards for themselves. Both must have careers, and neither must compromise, and it can’t be just any career, they must find and follow their passion.
Passion. They fling that word into the air like it is nothing, like it is ordinary, like it can be ascribed to a job and owned by common people. Continue reading
Two a.m. A full moon casts a bright ribbon over the Gulf, sand sinks under my feet as the waves wash away, and everything shimmers in a cool shade of blue. We’re here to see the sea turtles hatch, to learn lessons from these tiny leaps of faith and their struggle to reach the sea.
There are predators about, ghost crabs that eat baby turtles. Our children are horrified. They chase the mean crabs all over the shore, looking a bit like crabs themselves as they scurry, bent-over and snapping their kitchen tongs. They are amazingly agile and their mission is pure. The crabs don’t stand a chance.
We come to a nest. It’s just a small slump in the sand, but underneath lie hundreds of little miracles biding their time. We look for movement, find none, and stroll on.
Eight nests later we have a plastic pitcher full of crabs, but we haven’t seen a single turtle. The children break for the water. The waves are dreamy; they glide onto shore with the genteel rustle of taffeta skirts. Our children splash right in.
Immediately they stop as one and gawk at the water. Splash again, swing their hands and knees, gawk some more. I scoop up a ball of water and toss it into the air; it falls, bouncing into pieces against my hands. Neon green sparks shoot like fireworks. Bioluminescence, Jim explains. Tiny sea creatures emitting light.
Turning for home, I take Jim’s hand and feel another spark of nature, one that hasn’t faded, not in thirty years. The world is full of miracles. Continue reading