Saturday, November 29, 2014

In Search of Love

Courtship Scene by Rudolf Alfred Hoeger
Given my age and current state in life, the topic of marriage, dating, etc. comes up quite often.  It's discussed at my place of work, with my family, with my friends, with strangers, and with new acquaintances.  Then, of course, there are all those blog posts, news articles, and e-mails about spouse-seeking young adults. There is so much being said about this topic that I am likely to repeat someone else's sentiments, but it's been coming up so often lately that I'd like to express my reflections on the subject.

I like to read old novels like "An Old Fashioned Girl," "Anne of Green Gables," "Pride and Prejudice."  My girl friends and I often share our delights over the sweet romantic scenes, the grand gestures, the noble heroes, etc. contained in such books as these.  We also occasionally find ourselves lamenting that we don't find such heroes and love stories in the modern era.

The reality is that the old model of courtship had plenty of it's own problems.  The pressure to marry was so great in the past the many people rushed into marriages with spouses who were hardly known to them, leaving them stuck in loveless marriages with the potential to be abusive, dysfunctional, and deeply broken. The mode of courtship often facilitated these types of marriages as it limited the types of topics that were permitted to be discussed and it ensured that there was always a third party present.  Still, one must admit that there was a certain clarity in the old mode of courtship.

While the notion of courtship was established and taught in society, there was a clear protocol of how to act.  If someone abused that protocol, there were societal sanctions enforced.

This is not a case to return to courtship of old.  Such a proposal is not feasible, nor beneficial, in my opinion.

Still the absence of a formal structure has caused some obvious problems that we as a society must find a way to overcome.

The societal pressure to marry has not gone away, it's only shifted or delayed.  This for numerous reasons, not necessarily all together or at the same time.  The three most common reasons, in my experience, are education, work, and age.  In the case of age, many people simply have no wish to marry as young.  They have the idea that if they wait, it will somehow better prepare them for marriage.  There is also the desire of people to "live while they're young." In the case of career and education, there is a sense that these things take precedence over marriage and starting a family.

These delays aside, the pressure remains.  Some might say that it is a biological urge to mate a procreate. Others might point to the spiritual and emotional need to love and be loved, for life.  Whether for these reasons or others, the pressure is real.

This pressure is compounded with a newer problem: the high divorce rate of our era.  This results in a great fear of making a commitment or, more specifically, making the wrong commitment.  No one wants to be tethered to the wrong partner for life, but a failed marriage is also less than ideal.  The desire to avoid either of these often breeds a fear of commitment.

In addition to these potential problems there is the the lack of structure in the modern souse-seeking process.

Some people prefer the "pick-up" method, wherein they approach a stranger at a bar, grocery store, church group, club, party, etc. and try to start up a conversation and arrange a first date or at the very least an exchange of contact information.

Others prefer an introduction through mutual friends or family.

Some prefer online dating.

Some prefer making friends with the intention of moving towards a romantic relationship.

Even after the initial meeting, the mode of pursuing a relationship varies greatly.

Some engage it was is commonly referred to as "talking," a concept loaded with so much more meaning than simply communicating.  Roughly speaking, it means talking, texting, and hanging out as a prelude to formally dating.  It is similar to a simple friendship, expect that it is pregnant with implications of being something more.

Other prefer the casual dating approach. In this approach they go on dates with the understanding these dates may or may not be repeated and that each person might be dating other people in the same manner.  Each date is treated as a more or less isolated event.

Others skip these methods and skip directly to an exclusive dating relationship.  This is a more formal way to date and its purpose is test the strength of the relationship and determine whether or not it will culminate in a marriage.

These are, of course, an oversimplification of the ways and methods one might use to seek out their future spouse, but that is precisely my point.  There is a broad spectrum of ways to get to know someone and pursue a romantic future with him or her.  The more possibilities that exist the more opportunity there is for confusion and miscommunication.

Add the aforementioned pressure to find a spouse and settle down, plus the fear of divorce and regretted commitment and this quickly becomes a fiasco.

I have lost count of the number of times I have listened to a friend troubling over uncertainty of where they stand in a relationship. "Are we just friends or does he/she like me?"  "Is he/she busy or am I getting the brush off?" "Are we exclusive or are we only together because he/she doesn't have any options?" "Can I ask where I stand or will that make him/her feel pressured?" "If I tell him/her how I feel, will it scare him/her away?" "Am I allowing myself to be used by talking to him/her so often without any indication of a relationship on the horizon?"  "Am I using him/her to fill an emotional void while waiting for something better to come along?"

Over and over again we find ourselves troubled by uncertainty, hurt by a lack of clarity, and/or wracked with anxiety about how to proceed.

My question is, can we do better?

Many smart people have given a great deal of thought to this matter. A lot of them present a number of very good or at least appealing ideas as solutions.  But what good are these ideas if they are only adopted by a handful of individuals?

If I agree that I must demand certain behaviors and behave in a certain way, will that really be effective if the men of my acquaintance have no knowledge of this?  If a man decides to follow a specific protocol in pursuing a girl and she has different ideas, then will his resolutions be for naught?

So, what can we do?  How do we improve?  I really do think that something must be done, but I am at a loss as to what.  What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

IMustDecrease: Music: Entitlement, Possession, & The Gift

Check out my friend's blog!  James is an amazing musician and a great writer.

 IMustDecrease: Music: Entitlement, Possession, & The Gift: Music: Entitlement, Possession, & The Gift             Sunday’s Gospel in mass got me thinking a bit about music as...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Darkness Falling

Days were bleeding together like ink on a page in the rain. Details were fading for her who once remembered every detail. Now there were only feelings left. Pain. Loneliness. Emptiness. Abandonment. Sorrow. Longing. Desire. Fear. 

What could she do? Where could she turn?  Steeped with shadow, she was filled with shame, but more than that, those things which had led her to that point still lingered. Darkness had fallen.

One by one she had watched her dreams shatter like a delicate, crystal, tree ornament hitting a tile floor. So lovely and cherished before, now in sharp, dangerous pieces. She must let then go, but how can she? They were so treasured. Desperate to hold on, she clutches at them and they bite back at her, tearing her soft flesh. 

Poor blood-soaked dreams, now in shambles. Lost. 


Are none of her dreams safe? Will none of them come to fruition? Are they all empty promises?

And You, God? You who promise to give the desires of her heart, what will You do? 

But she resists You. You would heal her, but she is still clinging to broken dreams in her now torn flesh. She would not give them up. Like a wild animal in a painful snare, she blindly struggles against You. 

Please. No. Not these dreams. Please let me keep them. Please give them back to me, whole and beautiful as they once were. Without them, I will be forgotten and alone. I cannot bear it. Please. 

Without these, I will have nothing.  

You will have Me. 

I'm afraid. 

Do not be afraid. 

To remove the shards, will be painful, she knows, and she wants to pull away. She wants to run. 

Please. Let Me help you. You will die. 

I'm afraid. 

Trust me. 

I can't. 

She sobs. Even as the first shard is removed she stares after it with longing. That dream was precious. That dream was beautiful. 

Let it go now. 

How? I cannot forget what it was. What it could be. How do I stop holding on?

Trust me. 

It hurts, deep inside. I am so tired of this hurt. Help me. 

You must let go. Then you must let Me heal you. 

You. Will You tell my why these dreams had to be broken? 

I will give you something better.


When you are ready. 

How slow she is to heal. And even now, she looks for the shards to the lost dreams. If only she had been more careful with those dreams, would they then be hers to keep? Would they transform into beautiful reality?

Those were only illusions. What I will give you is real and beautiful beyond compare. 

But it is not easy to forget long treasured dreams. Even now she seeks to treasure their shards, cruel and treacherous. 

A dark voice whispers evil words within her. 

You will lose it all and be left all alone. This is your fate. Darkness. Loneliness. Emptiness. This is all that awaits you. 


Help me!

Come to Me!

My dreams...

She clutches once again at the stabbing fragments. 

Leave them. 

I'll have nothing. 

You shall have Me. I shall be with you. I shall protect you. Let me help you, precious one. Come to me. 

A gleam of light pierces through the darkness. A hand reaches down to save her.  [continued below]

Today, as if in answer to this post, this was read at Mass:

Romans 8:22-27
"We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ms. Carol's Crawfish and Corn Chowder

Crawfish corn Chowder
1lb crawfish tails
8oz cream cheese
1/2 cup green onions
2 cans of whole kernel corn
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 can cream of mushroom
2 tblsp of butter
16 oz half and half
1 cup sherry (or dry white wine)

Cooking Instructions:

Sautée green onions in butter. 
Turn to low add cream cheese. 

When soft, add corn, soups, crawfish, and seasoning. 

Add half and half and wine. 

Bon appétit!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


"Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song
Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can't tempt us
With their lies
And I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won't you try to come?
Come away with me and we'll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I'll never stop loving you
And I want to wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I'm safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me." ~ Nora Jones

"My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom." ~ Song of Songs 2:10-15

May your Lent be a time of repose, repentance, and renewal!