Blessed Imperfection

confirmationTonight we celebrated our daughter’s confirmation — an event that, until fairly recently, I wasn’t sure would take place. The small details — who would be the sponsor, when we didn’t know many people at this parish was near the top of the list — were overwhelming, not to mention the thought that the bishop would actually be looking at her. It was all too much.

But we found the perfect dress, and we pierced her ears, and we worked on her workbook, and her brother agreed to be her sponsor … and somehow, miracle of miracles, it all came together. She chose Mary, wanting the Blessed Mother herself to be her friend for life. What’s not to love about that?

There were still a few blips. At the last minute her best friend couldn’t come, and her favorite sitter didn’t remember, and all our family lives far away. And so it was just me and Craig sitting in the pew, beaming proudly as our kids walked up the aisle. And just as we got to the front of the line where we were going to have our picture taken with the bishop, we were told that he had taken his last family picture – only confirmandi and sponsors. I’ll admit, it stung a little. But as we watched the picture snap, and Sarah’s eyes lit up, I realized these little bits of imperfection really don’t matter that much. The point is, those confirmation graces could start flowing in earnest.

A bit later, a friend of mine and I were talking about our “bucket list,” and when I said I always wanted to walk the Camino, she heartily agreed. That is, until I told her that I’d do it on a moped, if necessary. “Oh, no!” she was horrified. “Do it right, or not at all!”

I had to chuckle. If I’ve learned nothing else as a parent, it’s that life is filled with blessed imperfections. That if you wait for everything to be perfect, you miss it. Sometimes, in fact, the blessedness is IN the tiny, little flaws that wear away the patina of perfection. It’s what we remember, what we celebrate.

Because in our hearts, we know we are imperfect, too.

Happy Confirmation, dear Mary. We love you!


Confirmation Countdown: Week 1 — Have You Decided?

Holy FamilyNow, a lot of DREs will tell you this isn’t the ideal, but I sneaked into Masses at Holy Family, an old mission-style parish in South Pasadena, for six months before I thought about joining the Church. I made an appointment with the DRE, who was surprised that I had been receiving the Eucharist all this time, and gently told me that I should wait until I was Catholic to do this. Reluctantly, I agreed.

She gave me a sponsor, who quit three weeks later (I guess I asked too many questions). So she decided this little lamb needed a shepherd with a firmer hand, and took me on herself. She invited me for breakfast after Mass, invited me to spend time with her family (something I sorely needed at that time in my life, as I was feeling rather disenfranchised), and answered all my many, many questions. Sometimes we didn’t agree, based on what I had been reading about Church teaching. But she gave me a place to learn and grow, and be part of a community. Dawn Ponnet at Holy Family Parish was in a very real sense my spiritual mother.

At the Easter Vigil, I stood outside the church with my beautiful white dress and red-and-gold sash and lit candle that she had made for me, and I thought about the journey I had undertaken. No one in my family was present — they lived far away, and none of them agreed with what I was doing. My college friends were also uncomfortable with this choice, and stayed away. Two co-workers had shown up to celebrate with me. I found myself singing a song I had learned in Sunday school:

I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus,  no turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.

I haven’t stopped following. Haven’t stopped learning. And if you’re reading this, I hope you will follow him, too. Let’s take up this journey together!

Confirmation Countdown: A 10-Week Reflection

catholic-crossIn many parishes, Confirmation preparation is a one or even two-year process: weekly classes, service hours and projects, retreats and other special events. So when the DRE at my parish asked me if I’d take the RCIA teen class, and prepare five students (four high-school girls and my son) in nine weeks, I thought it was the perfect Lenten challenge.

Oh, and did I mention that we’re moving during Holy Week? So classes have to be completed the week before Easter? (The DRE will take them on the retreat during the week.) Ash Wednesday doesn’t start until March 4 this year, but our Lenten journey can’t wait … Time to get started!

In this class, I will have a set of twins, their cousin, and a best friend of one of the girls. None of them had received any formal religious preparation up to now … but each of them expressed a beautiful wish to want to be a part of the faith, as their grandparents had been. So they all want to BE there, which is going to make all the difference.

Yesterday was our first class. They received a Bible, a YouCat, a composition book, and a copy of the learning plan. The plan explained what we would be covering in class each week, and gave them a series of daily Bible readings. Each day they will read the story in the outline and write a paragraph or so in their journals about it. I’ll be doing the same here, breaking briefly for “Book Whisperer,” favorite spiritual classics, and “Fun Fridays,” which will feature some of my favorite shrines and churches here in the U.S.

Please pray for my students: Christopher and Emily and Mason and Sarah and … (rats. I’ll have to get back to you on the last one. God bless them all). And please pray for me, too!