Carpe Diem Y’all by Michele Bernard

Writer, Texan, Semi-interested Sports Fan

Happy Birthday to You/Happy Anniversary to Me

birthday_candles_215.gif There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

On this day in 1993, I had a baby. 

The thing is, I didn’t know I was sick.  I was pregnant.  Way pregnant.  And what way pregnant woman do you know that doesn’t have swollen ankles and difficulty breathing?

It’s a miracle I lived through that day. 

This morning as I look across the Happy Birthday breakfast table at my fifteen year old son, I get a little teary.  I’m so thankful for the miracle that he is, for the joy he brings to the table, not to mention the miracle that allows me to be here to bear witness to this remarkable young man’s life. 

The words of the birthday prayers found in the back of the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer come to me as I watch my son scarf down french toast as only a teenaged boy can do.  For him I thought of this prayer:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be. Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

And for the 15th Anniversary of the Day I Survived, I thought of this one:

“O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servant as she begins another year. Grant that she may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen her trust in your goodness all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ”   

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Episcopalians, Family, Heart, Inspiration, Inspirational, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, PPCM, Winter | 2 Comments

Happy 2008 Y’all

donanobispacem0.jpgGratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. – John Milton

Happy New Year.  The tree is down.  Decoration filled boxes line the fitness room like ghosts of Christmas past standing sentinel around the treadmill where the spirit of New Year’s Resolution #1 invites me to join her.  I look past my sprained, taped ankle and wave.  See you in a few days

Tree-Related Injury aside, it’s good to be back at work after observing the twelve day Christmas holiday.  I experience the same epiphany each year:  Twelve days isn’t such a long time, yet it seems so when I observe Christmas as a season rather than a day. 

Maybe it seemed like a long time because I crammed so much rest, play, concerts, events, music, church, travel, dinners,  parties, food, wine and company into twelve days.  

Or maybe it’s because stores are decorated for Valentine’s Day by the 2nd day of Christmas.  By the 4th day of Christmas I saw a St. Patrick’s Day display, by the 7th day of Christmas, bathing suit clad mannequins. 

Or maybe it seemed like a long time because when I looked past the red decorations on the tree inside I saw the yellow ribbon tied around the tree outside.

Twelve days isn’t such a long time, but sometimes, it seems so.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

January 7, 2008 Posted by | Army Mom, Christmas, Epiphany, Episcopalians, Family, Michele's Musings, Peace, Winter | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday

13474hsq6rxjc4r.jpgTo my oldest son.  I’m not nearly old enough to have a twenty-four year old.  When did THAT happen?  So son, this is for you:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be.  Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” BCP pg 830

 Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.  ~George Santayana, “War Shrines,” Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies, 1922

May 1, 2007 Posted by | Army Mom, Best Lines, Carpe Diem Quotes, Episcopalians, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | Leave a comment

Footwashing

pedi.jpg  Glancing at the ceiling, I’m sure Jesus is looking down, shaking his head in defeat, as he recognizes that on this particular Maundy Thursday, I’ve obviously missed the point.  Again.  As I fiddle with buttons activating massage chair rollers, feel them travel up my spine, and dip my feet into the aromatic footbath in preparation for a pedicure and foot massage, I’m sure he’s correct.  Again.  Which begs me to ask :  What more can he expect from one who’s patron saint is Peter? 

  “Color?” the nail technician asks as she girds up her loins and sits before me. 

“No thank you,” I reply, “Clear please.”

She smiles in understanding as she gently lifts and swaddles my foot in toasty oil-infused towels.

The telephone rings.  My nail tech’s grand-daughter answers it.  I see she is concerned.

“What do you mean I have an English as second language issue?” she asks.  I wonder the same as I listen to her crystal clear pronunciations.  She concludes her conversation and hangs up.

Turning to me she asks, “Nails?”

“Yes please,” I reply.  Sunday is Easter. 

She is deep in thought as she files my nails.  Brows knit together, she works in silence.  At my feet, her grandmother does the same as she scrubs winter rough skin from my heels.

In the silence, I think about the church service I will miss this night.  Again.  I remember past footwashing services particularly the one with the homily reminding us that Jesus asks us to do more than one thing.  Remember him through the breaking of bread AND follow his example in behavior with one another. We Episcopalians always remember to eat, yet we sometimes forget to wash our neighbors’ feet.  And God forbid we allow anyone besides a nail tech to touch ours.

I notice a tear form in the corner of the grand-daughter’s eye. 

“Are you alright?” I ask.

“My English professor gave me a C minus on an essay.  She says I have English as second language issues.”  She stops her work and looks at me.  “I’ve been in this country since I was six years old.  Our primary language is English.  I speak English , I think in English, I even dream in English.  I struggle to speak Vietnamese,” she says as she gestures toward her grandmother massaging lotion into my calves.  “How can I have an English as second language issue?  I think my english teacher makes assumptions based on my looks,” she concludes.

“Do you have the paper?” I ask, “I’ll be happy to take a look at it if you like.”

I find it difficult to read the essay.  Not so much from the writing itself, and not even because of the difficult position I sit in, right arm stretched across my body to reach the grand-daughter to my left, or for the jarring vibrations caused by the grandmother as she pounds my calves with tiny fists.  I find it difficult to read for the bright blue circles and cross-outs and long cryptic notes and suggestions written on, over and beside the grand-daughter’s work.  The word “desecrate” comes to mind as I try my best to read through the professor’s grafitti.

“How long has it been since you’ve attended an English class?” I ask.

“Fifteen years,” she replies, “I liked money too much when I was younger.  I didn’t want to go to college.  Now that my children are older, I realize I need a degree so I can be honest when I teach them that a college degree is important.”

“I see no English as second language issues in this paper,” I say, “I see haven’t-taken-an-English-class-in-fifteen-years issues.  Common issues with easy fixes.  I write everyday and I still experience issues.  Every writer I know does.”

“When I’m through, do you mind showing me how I can make this better?” she asks.

“My pleasure,” I respond.

The grandmother looks up.  Smiling she points to my toes.  She’s embellished my clear polish with tiny hand-painted flowers.  My face hurts I’m smiling so big.  This small gesture both honors and humbles me.

The grand-daughter and I move to a workstation in the back of the salon.  I lose track of time as I interpret and explain what I see and teach her how to watch for these issues the next time she sits down to write.

As I leave the salon I look up.  Again.  And thank God that I didn’t miss Maundy Thursday services after all.  Carpe Diem y’all, Michele

Copyright © 2007 Michele Bernard

 612px-giotto_-_scrovegni_-_-30-_-_washing_of_feet.jpgIJohn 13:14-17 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

April 7, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Episcopalians, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings, Writerly Stuff, Writing | 3 Comments

Cascarones y Labrynths: My journey into Holy Week

egg-deco.jpg

 Yesterday I made my first cascarone, a confetti filled egg, traditionally smashed over a loved one’s head for good luck.   “Right, ” says my inner-cynic.  You know some kid made that up on the fly to justify smashing it over his little brother’s head.  Cascerones  symbolize the resurrection, the empty shell represents the empty tomb.  Nevertheless, I can’t wait to smash one over a loved one’s head.  Seems like a great way to release a little post-Lenten stress.

I just read an article about cascarones.  It ended with a cautionary note warning revelers to refrain from rubbing the cascarones into the recipient’s scalp, as egg shells are sharp and can cause injury.  Note to self:  research post-Easter emergency room visits in southwest communities.

 labyrinth_chartres_orig_600pix1.gif

Labrynths:  I am a fan of the labrynth.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I’m a kinesthetic, experiential learner, and I love the insights regarding the life journey I receive when contemplating labrynths.  It’s really NOT a maze,  as long as you keep moving you will reach your destination, you will not get lost.  Where you are on the path is exactly where you need to be in order to get where you’re going. 

I’ve had the great honor of leading several labrynth retreats for young people.  I’ve created opportunity for others to experience labrynth journeys.  I’ve witnessed over and over again what a powerful experience it can be.  But until yesterday, I’d never simply walked the labrynth as a participant.  I’m still processing the experience.

Unlike the retreats I’ve facilitated with only two or three people walking at any given time, this labrynth was open to several walkers at once.  And instead of Taize playing softly in the background, the tunes were a mixed cd of jazz guitar and early 70’s R&B.  I was moved each time I found myself walking in pace, with companions on each side, only to turn and realize my walking companions were peeling off in different directions, scattering us out to walk the next section alone.  I was moved each time I passed my son, me walking one direction, he another.  I was moved each time I stopped to allow someone going out to pass me by as I moved closer to the center. 

Wishing you insights and blessings along your journey.  Carpe diem y’all, Michele

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Episcopalians, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings | 4 Comments

Looking for Loopholes: Thoughts on my Lenten Discipline

One day later, I’m already looking for loopholes.  Man it’s going to be a long 39 days and counting.  The thing is, even though I used to teach this stuff, I’m still a little fuzzy with the distinction between discipline and punishment.  The word discipline literally means to teach, while the word punishment means something entirely different.  Yeah, well, tell my inner-child that.  The one sitting in the corner with boo-boo lips because she’s not supposed to doctor her de-caffeinated coffee with anything sweet.  This morning, the self-talk sounds a little like this:

“If I give up all sweets, does that really include Splenda?”

“If I give up chocolate, that means I can’t eat M&M’s while watching baseball tonight.  So how am I supposed to watch baseball?” 

“If I give up complaining, God, perish the thought!”

I received an email from a friend sharing an Ash Wednesday reading from the sermon of Lancelot Andrews which was preached before King James I on Ash Wednesday, 1619:  “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the Lord, your God.”  (Joel2:12-13).           

So it’s not about the Splenda?           

 Guess I need to learn a little more about it.  Carpe Diem ya’ll, Michele

February 22, 2007 Posted by | Episcopalians, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings | 5 Comments

This Little Light of Mine

So there I was, surrounded by indians….

Have you ever had one of those days when you just get off on the wrong foot, and can’t seem to get back in sync with the rest of the world frantically dancing circles around you? Before long, you make the decision that it’s obvious:  you’re just flat incapable of dancing.

So today has been one of those days.  Then I randomly ran across this quote a few minutes ago.  It reminds me of one of my favorite prayers, one I found in a daily meditation book several years ago:  “Dear Lord, Why’d you do that? Oh. Thank you.  Amen”

……then I remembered my light sabre, hidden under the bushel……

 Here’s the quote, enjoy.  Carpe Diem Ya’ll, Michele:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.   Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”   Nelson Mandela

September 30, 2006 Posted by | Best Lines, Episcopalians, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings | 1 Comment