" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Week Back

Well, the first week back to school was predictably crazy, but all in all it went fine. The student mentioned in previous posts who would kiss my picture while I was gone and ask for me? He's been having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the "new Faith". He still holds my picture and kisses it, but then will stand off to the side scrutinizing first the photograph, then me, then the photograph, then me... I believe he thinks I'm an impostor, and he's the only one who knows it. He pulls my headscarf off about 6 times a day, looks at my head with understated horror, then desperately tries to jam the headscarf back on my head again.

My energy seems to be okay this far. At the end of a day spent in a special education classroom, everyone is always tired, chemo or no. But I have noticed when I'm really tired that I do feel a weakness and unsteadiness in my limbs. But that doesn't hit until the very end of the school day when the kids are on their way out anyway. And my whole outlook feels very different this year, but that's another post in itself.
Love, Faith

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Different Beautiful

I was at a gallery in San Francisco the other day- a photographer had taken a series of photos at an indian reservation in Arizona. Arizona is known for beauty, but yet it's not a place I would've thought to go for a vacation, at least not before I saw these photos. Canyons and caverns and shafts of light in dark places and reflections on water- it was all very mysterious.

It struck me there that my life is something like this- strangely beautiful in a different kind of way. It is not the life I dreamed I would be living ten years ago, but there is something exciting about having a clear palatte to paint upon as well. At times I still feel the need to grieve that the plan for my life is looking so different than the lives of my friends around me, but that can be a thrill as well. Uncharted territory, you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back To Work

So I'm back to work- inservices and meetings this week, but students start tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the kids again. I have been informed by the aides that in my absence, the substitute teacher had to hide my photo because one of the students would take it off the wall and kiss it, and refuse to work with her. "No new teacher" he'd say, "circle time with Miss Faith". And the behaviorist said that in one observation session (about 1 1/2 hours) this student asked 19 times for "Miss Faith".

The aides handled everything beautifully during my 4 months away. The classroom is in order and the kids made good progress on their goals; so there's no doubt that I'm not indispensable. But it's still nice to be missed.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I told a priest in confession that I feel like a fraud sometimes because everyone assumes I suffered so horribly during chemotherapy. But the reality is I had very few side effects and did pretty well. So all these kind glances and deference from strangers feel sort of undeserved.

His response? He said to accept all their compassion because to feel true compassion for another person is good for their soul. And then he finished it off with "besides, you don't really know why they're feeling sorry for you... maybe they just feel bad for you because you have no eyelashes or eyebrows, did you ever think of that?"

Good point.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I have a very predictable morning routine. On Thursday everything was as usual; I went to mass at 9 am and said my usual prayer to St Joseph asking him to look after me as he did for his wife Mary. By 10 am I was on the road heading back to San Jose after spending a few days at my parents house. For the whole trip home down busy, 8 lane highway 280, the battery light was on very faintly, so faintly that when I was wearing sunglasses I couldn't see it. Other than that, the trip was uneventful.

Finally I arrived in San Jose and on Camden my car died. Not just stalled, it died completely- even the hazard lights wouldn't work. And it was stuck in park so I couldn't even put it into neutral (much to the irritation of the kindly, tattooed homeless man who offered to push my car to the side of the road; when I told him it was impossible, he went back to the intersection and, with much gesticulation and flailing of arms had a very heated exchange with his shopping cart, presumably about bad women drivers.)

The tow truck came and loaded my poor, dirty little pro- life car onto its back and carried her gently off to the repair shop. In the car on the way over the driver said that was a horrible spot to stall. But I knew there was a much worse place, highway 280 where I had been less than an hour previously. There I would've been stuck inside the car (instead of being able to escape and wait on the side of the road) in danger of being rear- ended by another car going 70 miles an hour.

Thank you, Saint Joseph. You're my hero.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Please Remember...

Debra, wife of blogger Anamchara (see link on the right) passed away on Saturday after 11 years of a brain tumor. Please remember her soul in your prayers, and also for Anamchara himself as he begins this new phase in his life.

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May her soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sacred Heart

When I was little I thought that the images of the Sacred Heart were strange, even a little creepy. You know the images I'm referring to- there are many forms, but always they depict Jesus with his heart exposed. Sometimes he's holding it in his hands, sometimes he's pulling back his robes to show the heart in his chest... the heart always has flames coming from the top and often is surrounded by a crown of thorns.

As an adult the significance was explained to me, and ever since then it has been one of the images that is able to move me to tears. At the time that Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, images, even crucifixes, often portrayed Jesus as a triumphant king in regal robes rather than as the suffering servant. This indicated the greater deficiency; that we did not understand the true nature of his love. When he appeared to St Margaret, he came to tell us that he loves us with a HUMAN heart; a heart like ours. And in his human heart he feels the grief of our rejection, the pain of being separated from those he loves, he feels our indifference and our ingratitude. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is, simply put, devotion to the love of God.

His love is so raw, so visceral, so vulnerable that a piece of himself, offered in deepest silence, is more to the point.

Friday, August 1, 2008

2 Disconnected Thoughts

Okay, okay; no more Poland posts. Thank you for reminiscing with me. If you want to read the rest, email me or post a comment.
1. Funny thing about my new medicine- it comes with a warning to take first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and to not go upside- down for 30 minutes. "This will present a serious cramping of my morning routine", I told her. Seriously, I don't think I've been upside- down in 8 years or so, and I threw up that time.

2. Just saw the movie Penelope (which was cute) which opened with a trailer for a new vampire movie. Why do they always portray vampires as so anemic looking? Don't they have a diet extraordinarily high in iron? Realistically they would have a healthy, robust complexion and good energy levels (none of this listless mooning about) but they would be slightly constipated.

Well. the American frat boy I mentioned in my last letter was NOT my roommate, thank goodness. My roommates are a guy from Quebec and 2 guys from Oxford, all of them appear to be in their mid- 20's and pretty nice. Don't worry, dad. I am not their type. The American with the baggy t shirts and pale legs isn't even a blip on their radar. Women here (as in all big cities in Europe) dress low- cut, skin- tight and high heels, all the time. Even for just a trip to the grocery store. I saw a woman carrying 1 baby and pushing another in a stroller wearing an extremely mini skirt and spike heels. Sheesh- if having 2 young children doesn't earn you the right to wear comfortable shoes, what does? I am really looking forward to the actual walk, hoping to meet some people with whom I would have more in common.

Just this morning I got into a debate with the guy who works at the hostel, a Polish guy in his mid- 20's who considers himself a Buddhist, atheist and a communist (and no, he doesn't acknowledge the impossibility of these things to co-exist logically). He says people who take care of other people do more damage than good because they upset the natural order. If we feed all the starving children in Africa, we will eventually all starve because there will not be enough food to go around. "Enough for everyone, or just enough for you?" I wanted to ask but didn't because, as he was overweight he might have taken it in the wrong way. But anyway the whole conversation was frustrating and irrational. I guess sometimes you've just gotta throw up your hands and blow these things off, but that is not my strong suit.

By the way, in regards to my last post Kasia pointed out that in Poland people are catechized not to receive communion unless they just went to confession.

I miss you guys- I wish I had some friends out here. I feel like an anomaly in this big city known for cheap vodka. The gatorade is good, though.

More later.