Crown and Bough

Sunday, 30 April 2017


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017."

Roan: ready for school.

Afon: on a family outing, on a cold (but sunny!) day in April!

Roan's speech is coming along slowly, but it is coming.  He had his first week of "school," each day eager to leave on the bike with daddy and coming home happy.  I know he wants socialization with other the children, the kind he tries to get (and fails) from his brother.  I am confident that he will blossom in the social environment.

Last night, he said, "more cheese, Mama."  He's repeating words on command (most of the time).

Afon's been calmer and more contented lately, which is a huge relief.  Easter holiday was a challenge, keeping him occupied and entertained and also keeping our house from collapsing.  He spent a lot of days in Bangor.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


The Christian virtue hospitality has been on my mind lately.  With our little circle of friends growing, we've been pleased to welcome more people into our untidy chaos.  Roan's godfather comes in the evenings after work and stays well past bedtime, speaking of holy fools, Welsh folk tales, sacred icons, and his summer trip to Russia.  Social workers are in and out of the flat every week, some of whom have become important allies in our struggle to raise a child with autism.  Various individuals from our parish drop in from time to time, and they are always welcome.  The Jehovah's Witnesses long ago ceased to be traveling salesmen (or women, as it were); their visits are looked forward to from week to week, especially by little grubby-handed people looking for presents and sweets and attention.

A young man joined us for roasted lamb and potatoes on Easter Monday, and though he is not a Christian, I like to think we pulled him into our tiny, imperfect reflection of the divine domesticity -- as one playfully pulls a reluctant swimmer into the cold, fresh water on a hot summer's day.

Visitors are as much a part of the culture in our home as the family and furniture and--if I say so myself-- are met with warm attention, if not the height of creature comforts.  It is invaluable for me to step back and survey my home with the eyes of an outsider.  Perspective shows me that things aren't as hopeless and bedraggled as I imagine them to be.  That if I were a visitor here, I would see beautiful laughing children, good conversation, and an invitation to sit and rest away from the cares of the world, without fear of judgement or rejection.

After a visitor leaves, I am tired, but I am grateful for that little window into our life.  Like all virtues, hospitality works harder in transforming those who give it than those who receive.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Holy Week

It's Holy Thursday.   I'm standing in the kitchen with my bullet journal open and no idea what to do.   But there is a lot to do.  So much, in fact, before Easter, and the dent I've put in that to-do list isn't worth calling the insurance company over.  I'm already stressed, anxious about my ultimate failure, slow and inevitable like a melting glacier.  Can I please just skip ahead to the Alleluia, wake up on a sunny Paschal morning with the dishes sparkling in the drying rack and the outfits laid out clean and crisp to put on for Mass?  I'm not ready.  I'm not prepared.  I don't even know where to begin.

So maybe today, I'll just ignore the to-do list.  I mean, do things if I feel so moved, but channel my energy into being present, even imperfectly so, even if I fall asleep.  On just waiting and watching and praying in the Garden.  All I have to bring is me.  All I have to do is be.

I think I can do that.  I think it'll be okay.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Winter Is Dead

Said the daffadowndilly of A.A. Milne's poem.  It's such a funny and poignant way to say "spring is here."  It's not a mere inversion, though.  It carries a note of finality, of triumph.  It is an apt illustration for the Resurrection.  "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Corinthians 15:26)  Winter's not just gone.  It is slain.

That's the mounting feeling during these last weeks of Lent.  Holy Week will put a halt to it, and in the midst of spring will settle silence and sadness.  But the mourning is necessary for the inevitable joy.

I've been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses again.  This is good for me because of the intellectual stimulation and the motivation to study the Bible.  At home, we are implementing a schedule to bring order to our days and our household.  With the inevitability of the schedule comes good habits: remembering to consecrate my day to God, remembering to say prayers before bed, and any snatches of time I can find throughout the day to remember He is near.

Meal planning and preparation is at an all-time high.  Even on todays like today, when we are ill with colds, there is a satisfaction in proclaiming, "Take-out for dinner!"

Tonight our parish will have a Reconciliation service that I want to attend.  Winter is dead, and I will slough off my sins like dead skin in the Sacrament, the way the earth sloughs off winter.


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017."

Afon:  he was promised ice cream after his haircut so is in a good mood.  He did very well for the lady cutting his hair.  Which is probably thanks to the ice cream....

Roan:  being silly before Mass to get the giggles out, with cream on his mouth.