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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random Search Terms

Every so often I take a gander at the search terms used to find my blog. Over time, I've noticed, without needing to check the actual statistics, the most popular posts.

Sometimes, the oddest terms are used to find the most popular of my posts, or those that are more obscure, and sometimes I just roll my eyes as I try to figure out what Google is doing to direct people to my blog. The results are both humorous and serious so I'll share a cross-section with you along with my responses:

Query:  Cow eye spiritual direction

Not sure where you're going with that, but if a spiritual director had cow eyes present (without being attached to a living cow) I'd get the heck out of her office!

My friends have informed me, however, that my blog is the #3 resource for those using that particular search term.

I'm proud to be your third-ranked expert, worldwide.

Query:  Remember your forefathers.

Serious request, landing on 5 Grains of Corn, written after an intense lecture by one of my grad professors and he was right, on every count. I've never looked at Thanksgiving the same way again.

Query:  Summa theologica abstinence meat contemplation

This one landed them on my post on Why Catholics Eat Fish on Fridays.  I gotta say, though, given that word combination, I love the Summa Theologia, I abstain from meat on Fridays and therefore find that the contemplation of tasty meat is one of my favorite hobbies.  Mmmmm.....steak...bacon....roasted pork...barbecued chicken..... mmmmmmm.....

Go away! Can't you tell I'm contemplating here? What? Isn't the grill big enough for you?  Huh? Huh?  HUH? WHA-AT?

Oh, sorry, got carried away.  *blush*


OK moving on now...

Query: How do you rinse sauerkraut?

Great question, and one of the most common hits to my blog.  I had that question once, too.  What I did was empty the bag (I was using Sweet Bavarian, as if "sweet" and "sauerkraut" aren't totally ironic terms when used in relation to one another), into a colander, took the sprayer and hosed that fermented, shredded hunk of rotted cabbage down to remove every trace of the vinegary ooze it was contained within.  Then, when I was satisfied, I added it to a bunch of other ingredients to ensure that rotten vegetable would never be tasted by anyone who hates it as much as I do.

Please don't ask me about lutefisk. I may be Swedish but it has been my great pleasure, thus far, to avoid that rotted gel formerly known as fish flesh and  if someone asked me how to rinse it I'd suggest using lighter fluid and a match then maybe a shallow grave somewhere in the northern woods.

Query: www.St Augustine's letters on Prayers to Lady

Well, that's unique. Possibly looking for St. Augustine's letters to Proba?

Try here, then scroll down to the Third Division. Is that what you're looking for?  Some excerpts in that letter came up in the readings of the Divine Office in the 29th week in Ordinary Time.

Query:  Why do some men devote their lives to cats?

Oddly enough, I've seen this question more than once and have NO IDEA why those asking that question are directed to my blog.

I have no idea why men devote their lives to cats, or even that any men anywhere would ever do such a thing.

I would therefore suggest that the person making the query pose it to the man they have in mind, in hopes he may explain his obsession addiction devotion   uh.... lifelong interest in the feline species.

Query:  Jesus, I trust in You. 

Yes, I do, too. Amen!

A Time to Live - a Time to Die

It is a season of death and today, the message and reminder came to roost.

We are watching the world around us wither away and die, and although this death is characterized by brilliant colors, even as those colors peak the sounds and sights and smells of life are changing, drying, withering, and disappearing, life ebbing away.

Tuesday morning I had to be to work earlier than usual so took my dog out to walk in the pitch-darkness of October's pre-dawn.  A huge storm was encroaching upon us, massive hurricane-like winds predicted, sustained over the next 36 hours or so. It was raining a little, and the wind was nearly still.

As we walked among the scattered wet leaves, as the rain fell upon us, as we made our way in the darkness, I took note of the stillness. I reflected upon the fact that I could not hear the birds chirping anymore; they had all fled. Weeks ago. Each day seemed to be more silent than the last.

The only sound other than the wind in the trees, was our footsteps, but even those were muffled in the wet darkness that encompassed us. I stopped to let my dog sniff at a particularly interesting tree (to her, anyway), sensing the approach of the monster storm, feeling the pressure, my hands aching, sometimes sending piercing pain up my arms, like nails at the base of my wrists.

A piercing pain suddenly shot through my ankle and I had to limp the block back home, through our silent and apparently-sleeping townhome complex.

I was reminded that every day, we are dying, too.

In the summer, even the mourning doves sing when a storm approaches, but even they are silent now, having fled the oncoming Minnesota winter.

The geese, usually so vocal during those early morning hours, remained mute, not daring to take to the skies. It was too dark to see them in the nearby field where they normally gathered, but I knew they were there, hunkering down, staying together.

Even the crows, those carrion eaters so ubiquitous especially in late summer through fall and winter, often aggressive in their presence had nary a caw to offer.

Ah, yes, the season of death makes its true advent. Ahead of the violence of the storm, all are silent, as if awaiting the judgment to come, taking the opportunity of the rapidly decreasing barometric pressure to be a sign to lay low and wait; which, for we humans, tends to call us to reflection and repentance.

We can learn a lot from the behavior of animals; from their presence and from their absence.

It's been very dark and dreary these last several days, and between yesterday and today, the midwest has been terribly battered by a massive storm doing massively bad things to people and property.

And in the midst of this terrible storm, a friend and volunteer of mine received his own earthly judgment.

Is it a time to live? Or a time to die? 

He came in to talk to me tonight, his demeanor grim, but...mundane. He's not an alarmist, but even in crisis has the patient air of someone who has been through everything. Something about his expression tonight, about the tone in his voice told me that his request to talk to me was of priority and could not wait. It didn't matter that five other people were waiting to speak with me regarding their also very important questions or comments or business. Or that several others came to wait in the crowd needing attention.

Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and although had given a commitment for his volunteer work, he wasn't sure if and when he could show up as scheduled. He wanted to be present as much as he could. We needed him and of course, he wanted to continue his life as much as his cancer treatments would allow. Everyone was praying for him, and when his cancer went into remission, we all rejoiced with him.

Recently, he revealed they thought his cancer had come back and they were, of course, "doing some tests". They weren't sure yet.

But tonight...tonight, he gave me the update, and he got the news only today:  9 weeks to 11 months left.

Not "left until the last chemo treatment" or "left until he gets to go on vacation", but...left.  As in the end of earthly life.

The cancer has spread to his brain, and now he's having seizures. They are minor ones limited to appendages, but they could manifest in any way. He had to talk about "A Plan", at the behest of his doctor, because he intended to continue in his service. I considered asking if he'd rather not, but of course, I know this man; he'd rather die in the traces for he was happy in his life of service and prayer. I did ask him what his plan was (in case he wanted an easy way to say he wanted to step down), but no, he is going to push through, and was going to talk to his class so that they would know what to do if he "went down".

The entire conversation was surreal, and although I knew other people were gathering, needing things, asking questions, it didn't matter. It was as if we were in a pocket of silence, and oddly, people didn't insist on intruding as they normally do. It's as if they somehow knew that this conversation was, quite literally, life and death.

I knew he would not have wanted tears, and by God's grace, they were kept at bay as I focused on the tasks at hand for his behalf.  As soon as he left the office, I fielded all the others who were there, and ran up and down the hallway, making decisions, taking care of business; all those things required of my job.

As if I hadn't just heard the most devastating news, knowing the friend we were losing, wondering how we would handle this, help him and respond to the grief of all those who will be touched by this. Wondering who to tell, who not to tell.

Having to remain silent about this news, even with other volunteers, until my co-workers knew, and my superior was busy in another part of the building.

I had to be silent about this terrible, devastating news of terminal cancer of a man who only recently lost his brother to the same disease.

After I had handled all the "fires", I went into my office and sent out prayer requests, blinking back tears. There was no time for tears; there was work to be done. It didn't matter that people would sympathize and want to pray for the man; it wasn't the time. Among the living, work must be done on behalf of the living, and right now, my friend is still living. He's tough; he would not want to see sorrow, but hope.

He doesn't want pity, but prayers for God's will for him.

If nothing else, he needs time to truly come to terms with the news of his terminal status, and even with that, find a place for hope that maybe it is not yet so; he is not ready to leave for eternity.

But yes, it's hard, and this evening was a hard evening. I was thankful for the "busy-ness" of it for it kept me from being able to reflect upon my own sorrow by redirecting me to the needs of others in that moment. It allowed me to retain a professional demeanor so that I could respond to some other very serious needs without being emotional about any of them.  I could smile and joke and pretend to be normal, having received a blow that was anything BUT normal.

I don't know what's going to happen. It's possible that his cancer will again go into remission. That IS possible and his doctor is doing all he can and my friend is holding on to this hope even in the face of the honesty he may not be with us in this earthly pilgrimage for much longer.

As devastating as this news is, I so love that he is determined to not let anything change. He is continuing to live his life as he is able and I am humbled at the humility he is exhibiting as he passes through this dark valley. I am humbled by his family, through their prayer for him in Eucharistic Adoration.  I am humbled by his own faithful witness in the face of this news and, truth be told, it was his own strength and no-nonsense attitude that  kept my own emotions at bay tonight.

Before he left, I gave him a hug and promised prayers, not just from me, but from all those I know.

Please pray for him. I can't tell you his name or where he is or anything that identifies him, but know he is a faithful Catholic, a dedicated father and grandfather, a retired teacher, a volunteer, friend to more souls than one can count, a mourner, a cheerleader (if more along the lines of a drill sergeant), a man of deep prayer, a man of deep faith who knows that death doesn't erase dignity, but only carries it to a higher place; one that is eternal.

Right now, he is embracing his time to live, if only to prepare for his time to die.

God's will be done.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sacrifice of Vocation: Family

This last summer, during my retreat in Wisconsin, as I knelt praying at 6 a.m.or so, I pondered the sacrifices required of any Vocation.

I thought of the priests I know who, like it or not, are offering Mass at 6:30 a.m. or earlier, or even in the evening on Sundays, 9 or 10:00 pm if they are assigned to a college campus.  Their preferences matter not; they have laid their lives down for Christ, and it is He whom they serve, according to the needs of the Mystical Body, no matter how inconvenient.

I knelt there that early morning, preferring to be snoozing, pondering the reality of the married life.

Yes; I was pondering married life and the sacrifices required of any couple.

I thought of those who were single women, who left behind or dispensed with what they had or combined their property with that of their beloved. I thought of those men I knew who sold or gave away their property in order to receive that of their beloved, and together, make their home.

I meditated deeply upon those families that combine their resources. Fundamental to my meditation was, actually, my mother's expressed position that those who marry our relatives become members (are absorbed into) our family. She did not reference any relative as "removed" as in the terms "a cousin once-removed" or "twice-removed".  Those were mere legal terms; they did not express the reality of our family.

I could recall many times my mother deflected me away from legal definitions in order to help me understand that marriage bound one family to another, helping me to see that the fruit of the various marriages were my own relatives, those bound in the Sacrament truly became my own cousins or aunts or uncles. If they were related in any way, they were family and should be received as family and acknowledged as family.

This reality came home to me in a special way after my parents divorced when I was a child. Family on Mom's side always asked after Dad and his family. Family on Dad's side never acknowledged the fact we had other relatives.

That said a lot. A lot.

I pondered, this summer, deeply, the effects of a decision to end my solitude

I considered that for so long I have been an "old maid", so accepted in our culture, unnatural in God 's own order.

I'm tired of being alone. I'm tired of being an anomaly, of being the "old maid" in a culture so PC it can't call a spade a spade for fear of being sued by the ACLU.

A man and a woman, when they are married, make some very serious changes to their lives.

I know that, as a woman, if I married, my life would change. I would embrace a different schedule, adopt traditions belonging to another family and make those traditions my own. I'd make sacrifices and my life, as I know it, would be no more. Period.

My definition of "freedom" would change, for I would give up my life for love, I would forsake my belongings for love, and I would look to a future with my beloved, rendering mere "stuff" unimportant.

In this regard, entering religious life is no different than marriage.

When I enter, I enter, as in marriage, with all that I am and all that I am not.

I will take on another family, and that family, in turn, will absorb me and mine into it. We will become bound together.  Life will not be the same. Whether I am married or whether I enter religious life it is the same; I cannot continue as I am, as a single woman.

I look forward to and welcome the change. Yes, it is a struggle as I look around my house and realize my attachments, but I know my attachments make my sacrifice greater, for if I didn't care, or rendered it all as "nothing" then I would ultimately go to Our Lord empty-handed, my offering meaningless.

Yes; I want to give everything to Him, for Him, through Him.

I want to enter my new family as a contributing member, knowing that any vows I take bonds my blood-family more closely to Our Lord, for, if my family's premise hold's true, they do not lose me, but only absorb another family.

If Jesus is my spouse, what does that mean, according to Mom's philosophy?

What family would not want to claim Jesus as a member?

I pray Mom lives long enough to see my final profession if it be God's will. I pray my brother not feel abandoned as he sees his sister enter "the cloister".

Yet...I haven't even begun....nothing is formal, I have no entrance date.

Just faith, hope, and love. Nothing more, nothing less.

That is the sacrifice of a Vocation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blogging Quotes of the Day

Man is least himself when he comments in his own name. Give him a blog and a pseudonym, and he will tell you the truth. 
~ inspired by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Blogging is turning one's worst moments into utter hilarity without a microphone and MC to cue the crowd.

~ loosely inspired by J.P. Donleavy - the rest is my observation.

I blog to discover what I  know.
~ Flannery O'Connor

There is no excuse for anyone to write a blog for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift. It is the nature of blogging not to be good for much unless it is good in itself.
— Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Intercession of Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ

I've written before of the good Father Ciszek and his cause for canonization. I've written about how I became aware of him after praying to the Unknown Saints, asking for any of them to reveal themselves.

Fr. Ciszek did. No, he is not canonized, but that week a friend introduced me to his book, "He Leadeth Me", and his subsequent book, "With God in Russia."  Oh, yes, indeed, the good Father was praying for me and I found much need to call upon his mechanical expertise in my years as a miserable and under trained claims investigator/adjuster.

This morning, on my way to work, his "Prayer of Surrender" kept coming to mind; certain portions of it stood out and his biggest adage, which is often set forth in the Liturgy of the Hours:  "Surrender to God and He will do everything for you."

Even though I didn't understand the random prayers, I prayed them sincerely, for I love them and they have guided me through some very serious trials.

This afternoon, I came across an article about Fr. Ciszek's cause for canonization, and sent it on to a few friends who know of him and also found great value in his spirituality, trials, and testimony.

Then, this evening, I went to leave work and sure enough, my car would not start. Two different co-workers using two different sets of jumper cables worked with me to start my car. The battery wouldn't hold a charge.As usual, I assumed the worst: alternator. Starter. All of it, all at once. And never mind the fact I'm overdue for a transmission flush and about due for an oil change. Oh, and one of the NEW brakes is grinding again.

Don't get me started.

After the last jump attempt failed, I walked around my car, knowing it would remain there until it was towed. I don't have the money. I have a credit card which, although I'm nowhere near the max, is high enough and I can barely pay it each month. (In fact, I have 2 cards that have attained the "barely-being-paid" status thanks to car problems, grad books over 3 years, and other random things my meager paycheck doesn't cover).

Facing this problem, I just sighed.  "Lord, Thy will be done."

I did all I could, my co-workers did all they could. I was grateful for their efforts, and grateful to have a ride home. God could do what He wanted with my car....I was bereft.


I left work and called the tow driver from my pre-paid cell to give him the info. He couldn't get it until morning. Fine. I preferred an evening pickup, but it was what it was.

Tonight a friend called me and said he thinks he can fix my car. After some discussion, we realized that perhaps there was an applicable warranty, perhaps it is the battery and not the much more expensive alternator, and perhaps this situation isn't so bad as I thought.

Tomorrow morning I will be making some calls, but until then, I am praying to Fr. Walter Ciszek for his mechanical intercession, once again, and suspect he has been praying for this very issue for some time now.

Surrender to God, indeed. He knows how much we can take, and how much our finances can take.

Please pray for me, and pray for the canonization of Fr. Ciszek, who does his work behind the scenes and apparently, in the engines of cars owned by paupers like me.

Lord Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment. I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace. I surrender myself to your Father's will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.
Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:
to thoughts of charity for those who need my love
to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care, and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help.
As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need.
May I find my healing in this giving.
May I always accept God's will.
May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of sacrifice and suffering.
May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you.
As I seek to surrender to the Father's will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.

With Ecclesiastical Approval

adapted from the spiritual teachings of Rev. Walter J. Ciszek, SJ.

The Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League, Inc.,
231 North Jardin Street
Shenandoah, PA 17976
(570) 462-2270

Official Organization for the Promotion of the Cause of Canonization of REV. WALTER J. CISZEK, S.J.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Life is Between the Triumph and the Fall

Some people have horses in their blood. I'm not one of them. I wasn't born into a "horse" family, nor, at any time in my life, has it been among God's design to bring me by adoption, or by blood, if it were, into such a destiny. Instead, He placed horses in my soul.

This morning, I called my boss to request a vacation day, and my request was granted. On the spur of the moment, I decided to go, alone, to the movie Secretariat, and only a few hours later found myself alone (quite literally) in a huge, darkened theater, watching a matinee showing, enjoying the life of one of the greatest horses ever to place a hoof on earthly soil.

Even knowing the story, knowing Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, I still laughed and cried and rejoiced at the triumph and the simplicity of one of God's greatest creatures. (I've given nothing away about the movie; the history of the horse is only the vehicle that carries, as Paul Harvey would have said, "the rest of the story.")

Then, this evening, Netflix, on my pauper's account (the single-disk version), Ruffian was delivered to my mailbox. I have to chuckle at Providence here, for until a few days ago, another movie and another TV series was in line far ahead of this movie. I changed it on a whim.

So it was, today, that I came to realize that I was born between the triumph of Secretariat and the fall of Ruffian, during what may have been one of the greatest periods in the history of American horseracing.

I'm thrilled to have been conceived, born, and weaned during such a time, simply to be able to claim my heart was perhaps already beating in symphony with those of two of the greatest racehorses ever to grace American soil, bar none.

Ah, but do I wax too poetic? I cannot help it; as I said, I have horses in my soul and believe they were placed there by God himself, for He continues to communicate with me through these incredible works of art, these paragons of beauty of His own creation.

I've written before of one of my earliest childhood memories:  Mom holding me up so I could see what was passing by our house:  two horses, two riders. I asked what those creatures were, and Mom explained, carefully, that they were very beautiful animals called "horses".  I exclaimed, "Oh...I LOVE horses!"

I meant what I said, down to my soul, to my heart and to my intellect and will.  Oh, yes, in spite of the fact Mom told me many times as I grew up, upon viewing my many drawings of horses and my many requests for ownership, that I would "outgrow it."

It's the only thing Mom was ever wrong about:  I never stopped loving horses.  That love has matured, but it has never left me, and in fact, was a vehicle to my conversion.

This afternoon, I came home from the movie and spent some time reading, then decided to take a brief nap. As I drifted off, thinking of horses, I thought of Brandy, the Shetland pony owned by a family in my neighborhood.

(As an aside: is it called a "neigh-borhood" as opposed to "the hood" when there are horses in it and not just gangstas?)

Grazing Contemplation

Perhaps it wasn't just fishing that introduced me to contemplation. Perhaps it was horses as well.

I remember the first time I rode Brandy, and I recall, vividly, even though I was only 8, being bucked off. She didn't like the way I rode her very bumpy (to me, the unschooled sack of potatoes on her back) trot, and decided to be rid of me. She succeeded the second I realized she was bucking. I could paint you a photograph of her  hind legs stretched out above me, the image from the impact as I struck the ground, before I rolled away in survival-mode.  I still remember Laura, the girl who was leading Brandy, getting her under control, her mouth a perfect "O" as she turned towards me, shocked, a mere teenager, unsure of what to do, her blonde bob refusing to move itself being in the same state of shock.

I stood up, shaking, assuring her I was fine, but it was years before I rode again - I mean rode.

Still, through Brandy, I also learned forgiveness. I so loved horses that I could not stay away from her, the horse (pony!) who had broken my heart by introducing me to fear.

I decided I needed to really make friends with her and so I visited her often. She seemed so lonely. She was not kept in a paddock like other horses, and the one shelter/paddock she did have was a junkyard. It may have been a shelter, but the neighbor kept all sorts of rusting tools and implements there, and there wasn't a shred of green in that fenced-in piece of hell on earth. For that reason, they kept her tethered with a chain around her neck, and attached on the other end either to a spike in the ground or a tree on the slope across the gravel "road".

That's usually where I found her.

I remember, shortly after she bucked me off, finding her wound by her chain tether around the tree. She let me approach and even nickered at me, clearly recognizing her demise. She kept trying to reach her head to the ground to search for grass, but she was held fast. I took her by the chain and led her, unwinding her from the tree. After awhile she became anxious and started to run. I  ran away, diving to the side as she did so, thinking she was after me, angry with me.  But no...she was only happy to be free!  (It took me years to realize that, sadly. But one best learns about horses by being with them.)

I remembered from Laura's instruction how to leap onto Brandy's back, but because Mom had aways taught me to ask permission to access someone's property, I started asking the neighbor (in spite of my intense shyness - my love of horses, and Brandy was enough to overcome it) if I could visit her and sit on her back while she grazed. The neighbor stood there in his dirty wife-beater, holding his can of beer, and grunted his approval. He didn't care what or when I did it, as long as I didn't let her loose.

It was carte-blanch access to her, and yes, I took advantage. Mom always knew (I think) when I went to visit Brandy.  (Mom was insistent on safety around animals and insistent that she "know" an animal I was around!)

I recall long summer afternoons, either walking or riding my bike along the part-paved part-gravel road of our country neighborhood, approaching Brandy who often took little notice of my presence. I always asked her if she minded if I just "sat along". She didn't, so unless she was obviously agitated (which she was, some days), I leapt aboard and spend the hours daydreaming. Sometimes she would walk a bit, according to what her tether would allow, and my heart leapt at the movement.  In those hours I spoke with Brandy, I spoke with God and...I was fully myself. In all that I was, I was me. Alone, in solitude and maybe...contemplation.

I didn't need anyone or anything else. There was no one there to demand anything of me, there was no one there to ridicule me, there was no one there to laugh at me. It was me and the horse and God. Perhaps it was there that I really learned to pray.  I remember thanking God over and over again, for horses, even if they be at rest in the field. So was I.

As a child I was always a loner. Some of that had to do with the lack of children in our neighborhood. Certainly I had some wonderful friends, but I learned early on never to depend on their presence in order to have fun. I always loved reading, and silence, and nature. If Mom kicked me out of the house and told me to go play outside, I had many places to go...the woods across the road, the yard, riding my bike in our country neighborhood, or maybe visiting Brandy, my favorite pastime.  I was never lonely, and if I felt lonely, I went to Brandy, for I thought she might be lonely, too. Her "family " never seemed to pay attention to her, and she was often without the food and water she needed.  More than once I provided for those things, out of what I knew:  immediately fresh-cut grass and gallons of water from our sink.

Ah, Brandy, who in her passive grazing, taught me so much about forgiveness, compassion, contemplation, and action.  

This afternoon, as I drifted off, I felt myself once again astride that stout little bay as she grazed the bare crabgrass on that shadeless Illinois hill....ah, yes...I forgave her, time and time again for having thrown me that one time. I'm sure it must have been my own damn fault. After all, I'd never ridden a trot before and bounced like a sack of potatoes. She was meant for better things.

God has often used horses to reconnect with me. Of course, it is never He who has needed the reconnection, but me. I have needed the grounding, the foundation.  I have found, in looking at the pattern of my life, how God has used horses to bring me back to "center". Fr. Barron, of Mundeleine Seminary, speaks in his video "Three Paths to Holiness" of "finding the center".

Some find it in the rose-window of a Cathedral, and yes, I see it and find it there, too, and of course, in Jesus in the Blessed  Sacrament, exposed in the Monstrance or held aloft at Mass.  Yes, indeed, there is My Lord and Savior.

But I also find Him, in lesser form, which connects me in perhaps a lesser way to Him, through horses. Through their movement, through nature, through the solitude inherent in an afternoon ride.

While I tolerate commercial trail rides, I prefer the silence and solitude of riding alone or with someone who also prefers the resonance of passing hooves, the dappled shadows of an autumn day, the calls of random birds, and the rhythmic movement of one of the glories of creation in full stride.

It was this that reconnected me with God, years ago now, and it was this that reminded me of my mortality.

Divine Providence

Who can foresee God's Providence? Doesn't He always provide for what we need?

Until a few days ago, "Ruffian" was not on my docket. Other things were. But I came across it and decided to   place it at the top of my queue in Netflix.  A few days ago, I proclaimed I would be in  to work as usual on Monday and able to handle a particular thing (nothing of importance).

This morning I woke up, felt just fine, but...needed a day off. I was tired of all the events of the past weeks, the irregular schedule involving late nights, early mornings, and irregular days off. I don't do well with an irregular schedule; I am a regimented person who needs, to function properly, a regular schedule. I haven't had one in over 3 years. But some weeks are worse than others, and this morning, I couldn't take any more: I needed time.

I called in to my boss, asked for the day, and she gave it to me. I don't know if I've ever been so thankful.

It was with this setting that I went to see Secretariat, and then, this evening, watched Ruffian.

Those who are not horse enthusiasts might miss the connection, so I will lay it out:   Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973.  Ruffian's first race was May 22, 1974 (as a two-year-old).  I was born just short of a month later. As I squalled in my mother's arms, some of the greatest horse racing drama in history was playing out, and some of the greatest horses in history lived, translating their heartbeats to hoof-beats, and in that time, I was introduced to their species.

I only wish I could have seen them. I am happy to have lived when they lived. I think, had I not been born a human, I would have instead lived as a Thoroughbred.

Yes, horses are in my soul, and may God will that it ever be so.

Do you give the horse his might?  
Do you clothe his neck with strength? 
Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible.
He paws in the valley, and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear, and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword.
Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear and the javeline. 
With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; 
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
When the trumpet sounds, he says 
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and
the shouting

  ~ Job 39: 19-25


*** *** ***

* The photos of Secretariat and Ruffian were taken from stock footage in their races at Belmont - in Secretariat's case, his winning run in the Belmont Stakes.

* The last pic is my own, a pastel on paper, "The Challenger" from 8th Grade. I may make a more complete picture possible at another date. It just seems to match the scripture and versus of Job.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mice are Evil

I went out to a friend's home last night, and when I came home, I saw that one of the traps had sprung. It is on that keeps the kill "hidden" but as it is really only effective for adult mice I checked, and sure enough, the capture was alive.

For that reason, I emptied the trap into a plastic bag, thinking to re-use the trap after I had killed what it had caught. Because...tossing it away still alive just seemed to be too cruel.

I got over that sentiment very quickly. I put it in a bag, opened the trap, sure enough saw the baby mouse crawl out and I got a large object with which to it it. I failed. I used the end of the broom that had been so effective with the sticky-trap mice, but unfortunately, the glue from those traps was still on the death-implement. As I raised it, it, it opened the bag and the mouse found the escape route  and nearly ran over my foot.

I of course screeched loudly enough to cause the dead in the nearby cemetery to rise.  They were completely bored with the mouse problem, though, and returned to their rest.

I, however, experienced a huge jolt of adrenaline and resolved that all of those mice were going to die in very short order.

The one I had struck seemed quite dazed and confused, though, and ran to take cover by my garbage cans...and then to another location. I know I wounded him, perhaps mortally. But now I had no way of capturing him and offering a merciful death.


I put the poison back out again, and positioned those bait stations near where I knew the mice were still running. The Tomcat snap-type traps are too sensitive to place where the others had had success, but I was out of those and just threw the last one away. After all the mice feces that came into contact with it, I decided it was best to contain the mouse-disease that comes with their droppings and spend the money for more of those. They may be more expensive, but they so far have been the only trap to actually work (other than the sticky traps which only caught 2 but also caught leaves and other random stuff that rendered them sticky but useless and doesn't kill the critters).

Then this afternoon I had an attack of conscience and picked up the bait traps (the poison), living in holy terror that a poisoned mouse will wander into the neighbor's garage, be eaten by a cat, and then poison the cat, and therefore make an entire family sad and grief-stricken.

I can't do that to people.

So I picked the poison up. Again.

So far, as of 11:30 pm Saturday night)  still no more captures. Like it or not, I will have to purchase more traps tomorrow, of the type I can place in the mouse-path without them springing just by being set down.  Or by the vibration of the garage door.


A priest who reads my blog observed this series is much like a metaphor for spiritual combat, and indeed, I agree with that. Although right now I'm not meditating on it too much because it's giving me the heebie-jeebies every time I think of that little mouse escaping and cowering, dazed and confused....and disease-ridden, maybe sneaking into my house to die and, if it ingested poison, to kill my dog if she eats it out of curiosity....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Has the Cirque du Mousie moved on?

I doubt it.

On Tuesday, I left work early to stop at Fleet Farm and buy poison (yes, I gave in) and more traps, including a "mouse attractant".

I set them out the moment I got home, even though the 2 remaining sticky traps were still empty. I had a couple of pet-resistant bait stations which I placed along the baseboards. I told one of my neighbors (whom I know have a cat) that I had put poison out, so FYI, and explained what it was (as in..not pellets). They seemed disinterested and remain so.

As I cooked dinner, my doorbell rang.

I answered it, and there stood the little neighbor boy who lives in the townhome with the garage that seems to be the "mouse source".  He excitedly told me that their cat caught a mouse and that they could let their cat into my garage. I told him that I had just put poison out and didn't want to risk his cat getting into it. He asked a few confusing things I had a hard time understanding. He asked to "see it".  No, honey, it's nasty stuff. I told him I had caught 4 mice; he wanted to see them.  No, honey, they carry diseases and I threw them away. He wanted to see the traps.  No, honey, let's leave them alone.

Finally, as he seemed so persistent, trying to figure out what he was REALLY asking, I inquired, "Do you need traps?"


"OK, hold on a minute, I have some extra!"

I gave him a few cheap wooden  traps that I had purchased in order to have extras - the one-time use wooden ones.  I told him that his mom or dad could put peanut butter on it to attract the mice. He told me, with a big smile, that cheese is better. I told him cheese is good, too, but I've had a lot of luck with peanut butter.  As he ran off, still beaming, he said, "I'm going to have a lot of luck with cheese!"

I returned to the kitchen. Two minutes later, the doorbell rang again. I answered the door, and there stood his mother, holding the package of traps. (This is the first time I've seen the woman so I'm glad to have met her finally!).  She handed them over, explained they are fine, and also that her son is autistic and had a hard time communicating.

I learned they have 3 cats, he told her of the poison I put out and she, of course concerned, wanted to come speak with me and offer to let her cats run around my garage and maybe find the nest.

I explained that I believed the mice were coming from her garage, but running throughout our 4 linked garages so of course I didn't know where the nest was.

We had a wonderful conversation, actually. Both of her sons are autistic, and as we spoke, the youngest of the two romped around in the yard with my dog. She was thrilled, of course and said that the play time was tiring her son out!

But, well, anyway....

As of today, none of my new traps have been triggered. I did pick up the bait stations and put them away; I don't believe any of the mice found either of them before I did so. They're still in the garage, but on top of something I don't believe the mice will easily find, and back in their packaging. If the cats are going after the mice, well...I prefer their very natural intervention! This lady has 3 natural-born hunters who LOVE to hunt!

An article on a local news source today said that the mouse population is up in MN, and more people than ever before are out purchasing traps and the like.

I'd like to be positive here and think maybe the mice are gone, I know of 5 mice caught. 3 were babies, one was a mother, the other half-grown.  The cats may have caught more and perhaps decided to hoard them versus offering them as "gifts" to their human families.  (That's the down side of using cats to control mice in an urban setting - they might just eat the entire thing and leave no evidence of the catch!).

I don't think the mice are gone. They are smart creatures and perhaps have simply found my garage to be an unwelcoming habitat, so perhaps they are avoiding it or have shifted their pathway through it.  I have set traps in alternative locations in hopes that if that's where they are, they will stop to have a lick at the black goopy "mouse attractant" and lose their heads and reproductive abilities in the process.

In the meantime, while I deal with this problem, I have resolved not to watch any mousie movies such as "The Littles" or the movie about the mouse family that is moving to "the lee of the stone". (What is that classic called?????).   I don't need an attack of conscience right now. Especially considering the out-of-control mouse population due to a longer breeding season this year.


I don't want to kill any creatures, especially if I can't grill them in a nice marinade.

Mice are useless kills although there is one benefit; at least, as long as we work to control their population, maybe we won't die from the Black Plague.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is This The End?

My neighbor came home at some point this afternoon, so I went into the garage to check the traps.

Sure enough, one of them was knocked onto the floor, and I think it fell upon my entrance into the garage. I distinctly saw movement in that area. It's also possible that it was another mouse.

I opened the garage door for better light and got the garage broom to turn over the upside-down glue trap.

Yup. There was the mouse, little grey thing with his little naked tail.

He was blinking at me in fear.

Yes, I felt bad. And because I felt bad, I took the broom and quickly put an end to things. I do not want the little creatures to suffer.

The scary thing is this: this mouse was NOT the one I saw last night and this morning. That one was bigger and darker-colored. This one I got today? This is just a baby, about 12 days old. Old enough, in mouse-years, to reproduce copiously.

I set the next trap in place.

And yes, I believe this problem came from my new neighbors, God bless them. They probably had no idea they were housing an entire family in their stuff.

Recently I read a story about mice in a monastery, and they had a continual battle with the mice; it never ended. In the story, there was some kind of symbolism; the mice represented the Holy Souls in Purgatory. So they began praying especially for those Holy Souls, especially when dealing with the mice.

And the mouse problem mysteriously went away.

I read this story recently, and on a blog, I think. Does it sound familiar to anyone?  Anyone have a source? If so, please link below.

I'd rather pray for Holy Souls than have to brain another cute lil' mouse who would be much happier in a field, anyway.

UPDATE 5 PM:   I found another mouse on the trap. DEFINITELY a baby, much smaller than the previous mouse. We have an infestation.

I'm going to contact the person who owns the unit next to me. She is a friend and I'm not sure the renter next door cares. But the rest of us do, and I'm sure the town-home owner would care.

The traps continue to be set


I called the homeowner, and while she wasn't thrilled with the news, she was happy to know about it up front.

She said that she had "a mouse" once, years ago. But of course, finding successive mice within hours of each other does indeed point to an infestation as opposed to a random occurrence

Yes, the traps continue to be set.

Prayers to St. Martin de Porras ascend.

The Saga of the Mouse continues...

Oh, yes, already there is news.

This morning I went to Home Depot and studied options for mouse traps.

Poison?  No - can save that for a last resort.

Snap traps?  No - they scare me because I'm a klutz and I need my fingers (for things like typing and painting!)

Found a trap that has a little "bait door", put peanut butter on it, it looks kinda like an igloo with a little entrance and everything. And as I found out, it is VERY sensitive. I set it down in my garage, started to push it into a little hidey-hole behind a table, and it snapped! Darn dry leaves!

Of course, when that happened, I screeched like a little girl.

I reset it, got the broom to clean out the area a little, then put the trap in place. Went inside to get the glue traps and when I returned, that darn thing was running along the garage wall, jumped up on a little metal plate near the door and scampered into the large gap in the wall between my garage and the one next door.

My dog was RIGHT!  Good dog!

As much as my skin was crawling, I was THRILLED to confirm the mouse's path.

Traps are now set: two disposable kill-em-quick (I think) traps, and 4 glue traps with little bits of cheese on them to entice the mouse.

I really wish the dang thing had just stayed outside. I'm hoping it just came in to explore and that it hasn't been here long. I'm really hoping it just goes away. But more likely it's breeding and in a couple weeks its progeny will be breeding...and breeding...and so on.'s going away now.  Buh-bye!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cirque du Mousie

I wonder if we're at the beginning of another epic saga at Adoro's house, something akin to the Saga of the Breadcrust from a few years ago? (hint: I linked only to where that particular Saga began...not where it ended...)

As you know well, Epic Sagas at my house always involve critters, even when they seem to involve things.

This evening I had to work late, and as I arrived home, as usual I hit the remote to open the garage door. The door dutifully opened as I dutifully turned at a right angle so as to prepare to enter the one-car space. Being that it's fall, there are always leaves scuttering about due to the entrance of near air into the garage space, but tonight one of the "leaves" caught my eye.

It wasn't rolling about randomly, but seemed to have purpose...and legs...and a tail....

Oh my!

I watched it run about in a panic, then finally shoot between a card table and the garage wall. I got out of my car and approached the area. The tiny black mouse started to leave it's refuge, recognized my human presence and the awful bright lights of my car and immediately dove back for cover.

Ugh. A mouse!

It's not even COLD out! It's still in the 70's and after 9pm! In October!

I live in a town home and wondered from whence this little intruder had come. In scanning my garage for garbage or anything that might look like a "tasty goody", I saw nothing, then wondered if the neighbors on either side had something to attract the thing. After all, our garages are adjoining. Cigarette smoke passes through my garage as if forced by a high-powered fan; clearly, mice can travel just as easily and often, and as mysteriously as smoke.

Because of an experience in the past involving my car and mice (when I was in Mexico for a semester a mouse made a nest of soybeans and other field material and blew out my engine. The car was never right from that point on. And I had mouse-nest material blowing through my car vents for the next few years, until I could get another car and finally trash that one.), I parked my car outside tonight. Besides, I didn't want the thing deciding to inspect my foot when I stepped out of the car!

>>>>> Enter irrational fear here. <<<<

Not that I'm afraid of mice; in principle, I'm really not. They're cute...but those are the mice bred to be pets. (I actually WANT a properly-bred pet mouse!) This one, though is a wild mouse and it isn't invited or welcome anywhere other than outside.

I came inside, disturbed, hoping the mouse has not breached the interior walls of my home. The thought is disturbing.  Having lived in a mouse-infested place for awhile, knowing what it's like to hear them scratching through the walls at night, let's just say I don't ever want to live in such a hovel ever again.

Mice multiply at an alarming rate, they carry fleas and disease, they eat through things that can be quite costly.

Where did this guy come from, though? I've lived here for 6 years now, and this is the FIRST mouse I've seen! How long has he been there?

I hate to say it, but I suspect my new neighbor. He hasn't lived there long, keeps to himself, and his garage is FULL of all sorts of stuff. He can't get his car in there at all and I'm not sure how he even walks through it! It's a perfect mouse-habitat, especially if that stuff was in storage before his moving here (which I suspect but won't go into detail as to why that is my suspicion.).

OK, doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that I have a new uninvited guest. And he is most definitely NOT staying! There are no vacancies available for him! (The neighbor is fine; he can stay. But his suspected infestation is NOT part of his lease, I guarantee it!)

Tomorrow I plan to head to a find something to send Mr. Mousie to the big Cirque du Mousie in the sky. And maybe the rest of his family would prefer to go with him...?

The neighbor on my other side has a she [the CAT!] a mouser? I must inquire about that, and if so, let her [the cat!] go to work while keeping my dog well contained in the house.  Natural means are, after all, the best!

Speaking of the dog.....she's a born hunter, being a German Shepherd and all!

Acting on a hunch, I brought my dog into my car-less garage and ordered her to "Find the mouse! Where's the mouse!?"

And wouldn't you know it, but that dog put her nose down, made a beeline for where I'd last seen that little bugger, looked at me, put her nose back down and made a beeline to the other side of the garage, and given her intensity, I almost expected to hear a mousie-squeak!

Instead she continued to sniff intensely, ran her nose up the wall in that corner, then back down to the corner, focusing her "investigation".

One does not need to be an expert to realize that my dog, indeed, has found the scent and the mouse himself, perhaps.

That tells me where to put the trap. 

Sadly, though, it confirms what I believe: that the mouse came from my new neighbor, and that tells me there are likely more. I will have to be very aggressive in my initial breach of their nest to ensure they do not continue to reproduce.

Yes, I love animals, and this very evening I gave a short talk on Stewardship of Creation, part of Catholic Social Teaching.

We have to recall that good stewardship involves controlling animal infestations. The mouse population in the world is not in danger, and in fact, given the harm they do, I have no qualms about killing them. No, I am not going to use a "humane trap."  I am going to wipe out the mouse family. I'm sorry if you're offended by my position but it is not contrary to Catholic teaching in any way shape, or form. I reserve the right to defend my home from vermin in the way I see fit, and according to all applicable laws, religious and secular.

Had the mouse not breached my own property, he and his progeny would be safe. If I lived on a farm, maybe they'd be relocated, maybe not.  I don't know: I live in the city and in the city, mice are just plain dangerous and destructive.

But this mouse is NOT going to infest my home with its filth. Nor is it going to spread to my other neighbor. We live in very close quarters here, and something like this could all too easily get out of control.

The Mouse Stops Here. 

(To be Continued.....)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Unworthy Servant

More and more, I've been struggling not to become disheartened by the state of the Church. Or, rather, by the state of souls that make up the Church.

Those who form their image of the Catholic Church only from their online activities see a great deal of hope, and indeed, there is! However, the active, joyful, and even sometimes contentious drama of the online "St. Blog's Parish" doesn't even come CLOSE to comparing to the dynamics of the average real-life Catholic Church right down the road from you.

I say this with a very heavy heart. So often, for example, I will ask groups of people, or individuals about this or that very popular and well-known Catholic devotion. I receive in return, blank stares. Parents come up to me to complain that they pay for the Church to raise their children in the Faith and become very offended at being informed that the Church has always held that parents are the primary educators of their children and the Church, or rather, those hired (and hopefully qualified) to teach are there to AID them, not take over and turn their children into little Stepford Catholics.

Faith is learned in the home; it is reinforced and elevated through Mass and through religious education so that it may be better lived out every moment of every day. 

When I first began in parish work, I was quite the little idealist.

Well, I think it's time to admit that my last shred of idealism has been completely demolished. Quite honestly, I'm surprised it lasted this long.

I used to love public speaking and when I began in my parish job, I went to work with enthusiasm, anticipating (quite idiotically and naively, actually) that those members of the parish who came to mandatory meetings might actually want to be there and look forward to learning more about their faith. (HA!)

Certainly, there are some who do fit that description, but there are far more who are there but don't really care, and others who are quite openly hostile and disrespectful, not just of the presenter, but of others who are also present.

I now dread each and every time I have to get up in front of a group of adults and teach. It doesn't get easier to deal with hostility and juvenile behavior of adults. Quite honestly, I would rather present to a group of angry, hormone-unbalanced middle schoolers than a group of adults with even one of  whom has taken on the persona of her own hostile teenage self. (And you know, it's never the guys who are openly hostile in a parish: it's the women.)

I was really praying about this yesterday, and after a speaking engagement, afterwards as well. I returned home from work last night so disheartened and frustrated I sincerely considered turning in my resignation and casting it all to the wind.

Thankfully, although I do sometimes consider such crazy things, I don't tend to act upon them knowing that, quite honestly, it is pondering out of emotion and not out of reason, and certainly not making a decision from prayer!

To prayer I went, and, there, I was immediately chastised back to my senses. 

In the Adoration chapel, when considering my change of heart with regard to the joy I no longer find in teaching adults, I  once again had to consider the nature of what I am doing. When I taught RCIA, I was teaching a group of people who wanted to be there. Even if they weren't sure about wanting to become Catholic, they had a sincere interest in learning. Their entire outlook was one of good will, and even on points of disagreement, they asked questions and looked for clarification.

Then, upon working in a parish, I learned very quickly that although there are many people of good will and a charitable outlook, there are all too many who simply don't care. They are not open to receiving the message of the Gospel, they don't know or care to know why the Sacraments are important, and the response they send, loud and clear is, "This is not my affair; I'm paying others to do this, don't bother me by talking about Jesus."

And there, in that contemplation of reality, is where Jesus "spoke" to me, reminding me of His own experience of speaking to the crowds. How many times have I read, or heard proclaimed from the pulpit, the fact that crowds tried to stone Jesus, that they rejected Him, heckled Him, walked away, and returned only to beat Him to a pulp and crucify Him?

"Why should YOU be any different?"  He asked me.

Why, indeed.

Have I not professed to love Jesus with all my heart and soul, and profess to desire to follow Him?  Have I not written on this very blog, over and over again, that following Him is a sacrifice and in order to do so, we must join our own bloody footprints with His? Are we not called to unite our sufferings with His....especially when we are participating in His work on earth?

Before I went to bed last night I read more of "The Imitation of Mary", and it was as if these chapters were exactly meant for me as I passed through that darkness of near-despair last night.

"If you carry your cross impatiently, you only make it heavier, and add evil to evil. 
The way of the cross is the way to heaven....unhappy are those Christians who turn to their own ruin what is intended for their salvation! They are like the thief at Christ's side on Calvary who blasphemed.
We often implore heaven to free us of our crosses, but we do not know what we are asking (cf. Mt20,22), for these crosses are a copious source of merit for us.
Where will you find greater fruits of holiness and surpassing virtue than in the shadow of the cross on Calvary?

Oh, yes, that was meant for me to read last night. But there was more:

What a joy to be judged worthy of sharing Jesus' sufferings in a special degree!
A disciple is perfect when he becomes like his teacher (cf. Lk6,40). Jesus, our teacher, whose perfections we must try to imitate, endured the greatest tribulations.
There are few perfect souls that have not been through some hard test.
In practicing the virtues which involve suffering we show God a more generous love than we do in the active virtues. 
My God, great wrongs, imprisonments, or long cruel illnesses need not always be the lot of Your saints, but You have at least prepared other crosses for them which may not seem so terrible but which serve to make them die to themselves.

I wish I could reproduce these pages for you, for each and every word struck me like a sword to the core of my soul, chastising me for my unfaithfulness, reminding me of the cross I had willingly accepted, and yet, desiring to cast away upon deciding a bit arbitrarily it was just too heavy these days.

What I realized most profoundly, though, was this:  Jesus went to the Cross for each and every soul, personally. We all go to Him for mercy and forgiveness, we all sin, doing violence to Him in choosing to rupture our relationship with Him in favor of some shiny bauble here on earth, or even worse, out of our own self-love.

In my rebellion last night, essentially what I did when I complained to Our Lord, was to tell him, "These souls aren't worth it. They are not worth my discomfort. I am not willing to bleed for them."

And that's when, interiorly, I looked upon the Cross, and understood what I was doing. By turning away from those I have been called to serve at this time in my life, I am turning away from Christ Himself, I am rejecting all the mercy I have received from Him, and I am refusing to show His own mercy and Divine Charity to others.

I am ashamed. Deeply, deeply ashamed.

So it is that this unworthy servant will return to work, carry this cross, and remember that all I suffer, all we who work in parishes suffer, is a direct participation in the Sacrifice at Calvary.

Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Police, Justice, Saints

Have you ever been stopped by the Police?

The most common encounter with the Police, for most people, is either because something bad happened to them, such as a burglary or car accident or some other thing, or, perhaps, a traffic stop, better known as “being pulled over."

Has this ever happened to you?

How did you react?

Did you curse or maybe even go so far as to swear (take the Lord’s name in vain)? Did you break into a sweat, feel your blood pressure increase, hear your own heart beating in your ears without benefit of a stethoscope? (As an aside…did you identify any heart problems in that experience?)

Most importantly, did you harbor resentment against the cop who had the audacity to stop you?

Think about it, and after reading this post, think about it even harder.

Last Sunday when heading back to Minnesota from my short hiatus in Wisconsin, I was driving happily along the freeway, enjoying the fall colors, creeping past a few cars, always mindful of my speed, especially since Wisconsin and Minnesota do not have reciprocity.

Then I happened to see, in a flash, the blue car with the white stripe sitting in the median.

Whenever I see a squad car, I check my speedometer and usually see I am fine. That day, I saw that I was doing something around 80 in a 65.


I hit the brakes immediately; only an arrogant idiot continues in his bad behavior as he encounters an authority figure. Looking into the air and whistling, for some reason, just doesn't seem to be effective while driving.

I watched in the rear-view mirror as the dreaded Wisconsin State Patrol car pulled out of its spot and accelerated, knowing darn well that it was because I was the idiot that cop was after.

Carefully, when I could, even though I hadn’t yet seen the lights, I moved into the right lane, and, still watching, saw immediately when that terrible Car of Judgment changed into my lane, following me. I knew what that cop was doing in preparation for the stop and I knew that it was over.

When I saw the lights come on, I was happy to see that we were approaching a rest stop, and although it had not been my plan to rest there, I took the exit and pulled over, thinking about the safety of the State Trooper who was stopping me.

My idiocy and inattention to my speed had put that cop in danger; I was glad for the opportunity to minimize it as much as possible while still stopping obediently without causing that unknown cop any additional stress.

Traffic stops are stressful enough.

I know; I’ve been there. I HATED freeway stops. In my department we walked up on the passenger side where we could, but all too often, the offender, in doing what he was taught, pulled up tight against the median or sound barrier in order to be out of traffic. That meant that I, as the Offending Police Officer, had to hang my authoritative rear end out into 65 mph freeway traffic, and God (as well as all cops know), drivers are oddly attracted to light.

Traffic stops are what kill most cops, y’all. It’s not Hollywood’s version of shootouts or cop show’s depiction of dangerous people who are stopped. Simply put, it is average people doing stupid things that force the police by necessity to be placed in a dangerous position that leads them into being killed.

Think about that and think about it hard the next time you complain you are stopped.

If that cop stops you and is hit by someone else, it’s YOUR FAULT. Period. Deal with it.

Were it not for your own breakage of the law, that cop would not have been standing there talking to you about the dumb thing you did to cause him or her to be standing there. And therefore, he or she would not be present in that location to be taken out by a drunk, or a driver even less inattentive than you, etc.

I’m sorry, I’ve been digressing. We were talking about ME weren't we?

Yeah. Me. The Offender.

I pulled over, finding that my cousin’s instruction on my cop-status-even-after-leaving-law-enforcement still remains: once a cop, always a cop. While I greatly cared about my own problem of, well, quite honestly, either paying for a ticket I couldn’t afford on the spot, or going to jail if I couldn’t or didn’t have the proper information, it was more important to me that the officer who was stopping me not be killed in doing so.

Yeah, my cousin (God rest his soul) was right. That training in stopping and being stopped really changes those who experience it. His observation, as I have now learned, goes far deeper than mere training; it goes all the way to deep respect and a true desire for the good of the other, if we are to become philosophical about this.

I also have to say that, even further, when you’ve broken the law, you know it, and you KNOW when what is happening to you is Justice.

As I waited for that Officer to approach my window, I thought hard about Justice. I knew I was caught breaking the law. It didn’t matter that I had not intended to hit such a speed. The fact was that I had not realized I was going so fast, and only that Squad had made me look, at that moment, at my speedometer. Yes, this traffic stop was objectively Just: I was breaking Wisconsin Law, and I was going to pay for it.

I watched to see how the officer would approach. She was coming up on the right (shoulder) so I closed my left window (to block traffic noise), opening the right one, my driver’s license already in hand.

She bent down and said to me, “You know I got you speeding.”


I was resigned to my fate already, wondering how I was going to pay this fine without going to jail.

I handed her my license and realized I was an idiot for not also having my insurance out, for which she had to ask. As I dug through my purse pocket, I found old insurance cards and began to panic. Was it even POSSIBLE that I did not put my current insurance in my purse??

I’d CITED people for having no insurance for that very failure!

As I, in growing panic, went through thing after thing in that pocket, my hands beginning to shake, I envisioned my car being towed in one direction while I, in handcuffs, went in another to await court the next day.

My friends, speaking as a former cop, even the most strict of MN cops did not recognize WI cops for being merciful. I’m sure they had the same opinion of us, all because of reciprocity laws.

The law is what it is. We were servants of that was the Trooper at my window.

Thankfully I found my insurance card and handed it over. Then she asked me for Registration.

For those who don’t know, in Minnesota, this is sent to you by the State when it is time to purchase your tabs. There is something that is noted as a “cab card”, and that is your Registration. To be safe, when you purchase your Tabs, take everything the State sends you and keep it in your glove box to prove your Registration. Anyone can see your Tabs  on your plate, but the Registration has a bit more info and is easier for a cop to see if they have to stop you when you do something dumb.

I knew mine was in my glove box…somewhere. I told her verbally where it was, knowing what it is like to stand outside that window. She gave me permission to open my glove box, and I let her get a good view before I reached into it.

I also had to tell her that I was removing my seat belt in order to better access the contents. (I did NOT need a seat-belt ticket added on to what I was certain to be paying!). She told me that was fine.

Great. I paged through a whole bunch of crap I didn’t even realize was in my glove box and couldn’t find the document. My hands were shaking, I had already said to myself, “I was IN law enforcement…I know better than this…!” (I think she heard this although I meant only to be berating myself! *embarrassing*!)

Finally she said, “That’s fine. Does your car come back to you?”

“Yes. I am the only owner, everything is current.”

I’ll never forget what she said next: “I’m only going to write you a warning today. Stay in your car and I’ll be back."

I sat back, amazed.

I am the first person I know of from Minnesota who has EVER been let go with a warning from the Wisconsin State Patrol.

She would have been well-justified in writing me a ticket, which she told me when she came back, started at $200.

I don’t know why she let me go. Had I been stopping me, I am not at all sure that I would have been so merciful. 80 in a 65 ISN'T small potatoes! That’s speeding in any state, no matter what the law. ONE mph over the limit is an objective breakage of the law.

I was over by about 15 mph.

She handed me the Warning, my license and insurance, reminded me to keep it to 65, and told me to be safe. I told her the same.

As I drove off, I pulled out my rosary and I prayed it in both thanksgiving for this great mercy, and I prayed it for the Trooper in both reparation and for her safety.

I screwed up, she caught me, and because of my actions, I put her in danger.

Don’t comment below and say that by being a Trooper she takes that risk; that’s quite obvious and actually is a really stupid comment. She doesn't go into business to ask YOU to put her in danger!

The fact is this: you and I, when we break the law, whether frivolously by mistake or intentionally out of arrogance, we both put the officer who is bound to do his or her job, in serious danger.

Danger that would not exist for them were it not for our personal actions.

If you are one of those who were ever stopped for a traffic or other offense,  how did you react?

Were you arrogant? Angry? Did you wonder why they weren't stopping "REAL CRIMINALS"?

If you have broken the law, i.e., committed a crime, it means you are a criminal!Suck it up and admit it, and if you are truly a good citizen, realize that your own actions have placed another human being in danger.

If that cop died while stopping you, you’d live with that for the rest of your life.

So don’t let it happen. Ever.

If you don’t want to watch your speed for your own sake, even if you think it’s nothing to pay a ticket here and there, then think about the cop who might die just to inform you that you’re doing something stupid and should probably slow down before you kill someone.

I don’t personally know the cop who stopped me, and even if she had written me a ticket and made me pay on the spot or, had I not had documentation I legally must carry, had taken me to jail, this post would not change. (Well, it might be more interesting if she had arrested me and taken me to jail...)

But I still want to apologize to her for putting her in danger, and for that matter, the county Deputy who stopped me a few years ago when I missed a 40 mph sign in a speed trap. He was in even MORE danger because, after all, the roads were slippery and he didn’t have the buffer zone of being on an exit ramp.

I don’t know why the WI State Trooper let me go, but I do know this: I want her action to bear fruit. I want to remind people, in the name of the Wisconsin State Patrol, to keep an eye on your speed, not just for yourselves, but because of all the police officers who are willing to put themselves at risk so that others might not be killed by your stupid actions.

I took the lesson and hope it remains with me. As a cop I made traffic stops I intended to be “educative” to the driver.I am grateful to be the one receiving the education and know full well that should I breech the law again, I will not be granted another mercy.

Pray for the Police, every day. Pray for their safety, for their families who wait for them to come home at the end of their shift. Then thank God for them, for were it not for our law enforcement officers, we’d all be living in chaos.

When I was sworn in, my Mom gave me a medal, which she’d had blessed, of St. Michael the Archangel.(I don’t have it anymore as after I left, I gave it to another aspiring police officer. I also used to pray Psalm 190 every day before I went to work.

September 29 was the Feast of the Archangels, October 1st is the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Patron of Missionaries, and October 2nd is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. If Police Officers, everwhere, don’t fit into those categories (including missionary) I don’t know who does!

Please offer your prayers for those men and women who live among you, those you view with dread in your rearview mirror, and those you call 911 for when you are in need of help. Asd the intercession, for them, of the Archangels, of St. Therese, and of the Guardian Angels, for their own protection and for their ability and vocation (small “v”) to protect

And please, in your charity, pray especially for MN State Trooper, Officer Ted Foss, who was killed in a traffic stop. He was the husband of a friend and professional reference and the reason we, by law if not by common sense,  pull into the opposite lane in MN if we see a squad car responding to an incident on the side of the road, be it traffic stop or accident or mere assistance to someone in need of help.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.