Though my faith as a Catholic is a central part of my life, and though it inevitably works its way into my musings on this blog because it shapes the way I understand and navigate the world, I generally and rather fastidiously try to avoid anything too religious here. When I do mention God, I feel I need to caveat by saying “or whatever you believe in.” I’ve written about this elsewhere, but my general ethos in life is “do no harm” and so I strive to be very careful with my language. (I fail at this routinely, but I do make a strenuous effort.)
My Magpie tribe has had all kinds of reactions to the erstwhile presence and absence of religion on the blog: some want me to share more about my faith and have asked for posts on the topic. Others have thanked me for not barreling too hard into Bible verses; they feel more comfortable and welcome here without them. Still others (well, to be fair, one other — the howling wolves and all, right?) have posited that I occasionally come off as “holier than thou” — a critique that makes my face burn and my stomach drop, as I have been audience to members of that tribe and they are insufferable.
And so I vacillate between a scrupulous avoidance of the topic and a shrugging “well, hey — this is me! This is part of me! So I’m going to share what I want to share and hope it doesn’t upset too many people.” (Hello, novena.)
Generally, though, I use the Landon Litmus. Mr. Magpie was not raised within a specific religious tradition and though he is courtly enough to go to Church with me when I ask him to and though he bows his head at grace before dinner every night and though he supports my intention to raise the children as Catholics, there is a difficult-to-articulate-but-easy-to-see line that I intuitively know not to cross when it comes to incorporating religion into our conversations at home. It’s not that he would stare at me in discomfort or dissuade me from expressing myself or my faith, but — there is simply a level of discourse that feels a bridge too far for us as a family. For example, I would never interrupt a vent session to suggest we pray together, though I will often later pray about it myself. I would never say a Hail Mary audibly, though I am often repeating it silently to myself when I am facing a particularly challenging moment of parenthood. Etc. It’s the Landon Litmus: would I do or say this thing at home? If not, it shouldn’t find its way onto the blog.
I hope this has prevented me from turning too many readers away and I certainly hope to avoid the “holier than thou” impression because I make just as many mistakes as the next gal, with or without religion involved.
But so —
All of this to say —
I hope I will not alienate you, kind readers, by sharing a Bible verse today because, well, when I wrote about literary fragments that see me through difficult times, I suppressed a handful of potently important Biblical ones. I felt something like guilt settle across my shoulders the following few days: why hadn’t I shared them? To seem “cooler” in some way? To avoid ruffling some feathers? To…?
So I’m sharing it here today.
From the Gospel of Matthew:
“Focus on me, not the storm.”
I repeated this simple command about four trillion times in the days and hours leading up to micro’s birth, when three different nurses attempted to get the IV into my arm and I thought I was going to pass out, while the doctors attempted to give me my spinal (cringe: there was a “training” anaesthesiologist who administered the medicine to me, and at one point I heard the supervising doctor say: “OK, just take it out and try again” — AHHHH!!! WHAT!!! I was sweating bullets and fighting tears!), and then, of course, during the actual c-section. I remember staring at the blue sheet separating me from the imminent birth of my son, my body shaking, tears streaming down my face, telling myself to breathe, and repeating those words:
“Focus on me, not the storm.”
Even if the peace it offered was evanescent, the calm that would briefly flood through my body as I’d bend my thoughts away from the fracas surrounding me, unhooking myself from the intensity of the moment, was life-giving. It saw me through some extraordinarily bumpy moments. It was emotional lidocaine mixed with something like adrenaline: six words motoring me through one of the most intense hours of my life, minute by minute, breath by breath.
I am so grateful for their companionship. I hung onto every letter of those words hungrily. I needed them.
And though I hope this isn’t the case today, maybe one of you does, too?
+This post on an important family prayer has elicited a ton of (warm, effusive) reactions from you, and gave me the confidence to share the above.
+Do I need this little floral box bag?! (On sale!)
+Just ordered this pretty dress. I can’t get enough of this midi linen floral look.
+We made good use of this booster seat, which can “grow” with the little one since the insert can be removed. I kind of like it in that “cashmere” color. Minimalist Kanye West chic?
+Micro came down with the saddest old man cough (ugh, second child problems; mini didn’t have a cold until she was maybe eight or nine months old? and micro has already had a bad one at two months of age) and though I swore I’d never use the NoseFrida, my pediatrician suggested it and — well — it works really well. So never say never. (Add this to the long running list of things I said I’d never do as a mom.) A friend prompted me to also buy the brand’s nail clippers, which she described as “life changing.” (This is hardcore mom talk, people — you know you’re in the weeds when you and your friend are texting about nail clippers and she says: “I’m so so excited for you to try them.” HAHA! What is this. Who are we.)
+Can I concoct a reason to wear this va-va-voom dress?