Monday, November 30, 2009

Breaking: A Play in 3 Acts

Act II
Setting: in the car
Characters: Michael, Danielle


M: Careful!

D: You careful! I know what I'm doing.

M: I'm not driving.

D: No, you certainly are not.

M: Sorry. Ice scares me.

D: It wasn't ice. It was the trolley track.

M: Right.

[silence]

M: I was thinking...

D [laughing]: I'm glad to hear it!

M [smiling]: You're an asshole.

D: Oh? Is that why you married me?

M: I married you because you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

D [mock scoffing]: "Were!" What am I now?

M: You are still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

D: Oh, come off it.

M [rolling eyes]: And why did you marry me, I should ask?

D: No, you shouldn't.

M: Excuse me?

D: It's nice to have secrets of one's own.

M: But you've told me before!

D: I've told you lots of things before. Besides, if I've told you before, why must you hear it again?

M [disgusted]: Forget it.

D [smiling]: If you must know, I married you...

M: Let me guess..."for the comfort?"

D: Oh, Michael. Yes!

M: And what is it about me, pray tell, that is so comforting?

D: Not you, Michael. Love.

M: You mean "conditional" love, don't you?

D: But of course!

M: So, let me get this straight. Unconditional love, in your opinion, is a farce?

D: I didn't say that. The love of a parent for her child...I think that's as close as it gets to unconditional love. Even that has its limits.

M [silence]: Danielle, do you even want to be a mother?

D: How dare you.

M: It's a fair question, I think.

D [laughing]: There you go again...thinking! Oh Michael, thank you.

M: For what?

D[leaning over to kiss him]: For not throwing me to the abyss...

[close]

Breaking: A Play in 3 Acts (Repost)

Act I
Setting: an urban coffee shop, February.
Characters: Michael, Danielle


M: The Joker is a real people person. Listen to this, "You see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?" What type of shit is that?

D [speaking without looking up from newspaper]: The self doesn't mean much when it can be recanted in a moment at the end of the barrel of a gun.

M: Or a knife.

D [sighs, bored]: Or a knife.

M [laughing]: So, if I really want to get to know you, I could...

D [looking up]: Are you sure you want to finish that sentence? You might not be "knowing" me for a while.

M [faux alarm, waving hands]: I take it back! I take it back!

D [smiling]: That's more like it.

M [settling back in chair]: Seriously, though. We haven't been through much together, when you think about all those people at Auschwitz, or in Rwanda, or...

D [abrupt laugh]: Yes?

M: I mean, you love me, right?

D [sighs]: True love is unconditional. Everything else is true comfort.

M [furrows brow]: I love you unconditionally.

D: Please! That mouth...

M: It's true.

D: You don't know the first thing...

M [tenderly]: Hey...I will always love you.

D: Oh! I'm touched. I will remember that the next time your mother asks why I'm not pregnant yet and I'm holding her by the ankles over the Hudson telling her "this is why!"

M [frowning]: Oh, you're full of it.

D: Yes. I'm full of it. I'll remember that when I'm holding you by the ankles over the Hudson. Then we'll talk about unconditional love. Or would you prefer waking up with some cold metal in your mouth?

M: I...

D: Or maybe your best friend, what's his name. Getting to know him. How about then? You do go away on business quite a lot these days...

M: When...

D [leaning forward]: No, Michael. Love is comfort. When we first met...you know the saying...you fell in love with your self. I was simply a mirror reflecting the dazzling image of your manhood in full swing. You, too, made me look quite good. We were perfect for each other!

M [laughing]: You admit it!

D: Then we got tired of looking at ourselves through each other. So we tried looking at each other, putting the mirror down. Needless to say, you were not the man I "fell"--that is, stumbled--in love with. No, you were something quite different.

M: How different?

D: I don't know how different. Just more real. It was very nauseating. But like motion sickness, you get used to it. I got used to it. Seeing the real you. Isn't that where love starts?

M: "Love begins when the eyes meet the soul and do not turn away."

D [laughing fitfully]: Oh! I could nail you to a wall. I can see where the Joker gets his motivation!

M: What do you mean?

D [rolling her eyes]: Let's be serious for a moment. You've heard the expression, "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?"

M: You're calling me weak?

D [sighs]: No. But think of our lives...yours, mine, the coffee boy behind the counter, the blond your eyes keep flitting to behind me....

M: Oh!

D: It's enough. Think of our lives like a chain. Each experience is a link. Our integrity as a chain...our ability to tie up and keep out and lock in...can be compromised by a single weak link. A link that bends under stress, when we are pushed to the edge of our "love." That link is us...you, me, everyone...our weakest self. When the link breaks...the "unconditional" chain is no more. Every link will snap...with enough force. That's what I think our marriage is sometimes, all marriage....a weight that increases with time, meant to strain links and test our integrity. Make us our true self...the weakest link. The man I married is not the same man before me. Who, then, do I go to bed with?

M: I'm still the same man.

D: Men change too, Michael, believe it or not. Everyone changes. You've heard we fully reincarnate every seven years. "There's not one molecule...not one...that is in you that was there when you were ten..."

M [scoffing]: Ah...

D: Can you deny it? If ten year old Daniel walked down the street, could I say, "Daniel, come to bed son." I would be arrested!

M: What about you at ten? You were...

D: I was bad, yes, a bad little girl with the good little boys. [Laughing] Have I changed much?

M [smiling]: Not much.

D: It is okay to be a broken chain. We are all broken. Some chains are like paperclips linked together, some are like titanium. But with enough force, any metal will bend and break. The thing is, can you admit we are not unconditional chains with unconditional love? Can you stop pretending we have more integrity that we really do? After all, you just haven't been pushed hard enough?

M: So I have integrity?

D: As much as anyone. That isn't saying much. You're certainly no martyr.

M: No?

D: Um, no. You and I both...we are no better than apostates that haven't been tested. Look at the Christ. Now there is a strong chain. Not one weak link. Unbreakable. Even nailed up there, he never betrayed...

M: That's a hell of a standard to set.

D [sitting back]: Well, you are the one who loves so "unconditionally." You should at least accept what comes with such a boast.

M: I do.

D: Michael, please. It's okay. I didn't marry you because you were real.

M [offended]: How should I take that?

D: However you like.

M: Why did you marry me, then?

D: Oh, Michael. For the comfort! Isn't that what conditional love is? "As long as you don't...x, y, z...I will always love you?

M: You're awful.

D [staring]: Yes, I am. I am...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of Love of Solitude and Silence

"As often as I have been among worldly company, I have left it with less fervor of spirit than I had when I came. The world passes away with all its concupiscence and deceitful pleasures. Your sensual appetite moves you to go abroad, but when the time is past, what do you bring home but remorse of conscience and disquiet of heart? It is often seen that after a joyful going forth a mournful returning follows, and that a glad eventide causes a mournful morning. So all earthly joy begins pleasantly, but at the end it gnaws and kills." --Thomas a Kempis

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of Inordinate Affections

"A man not mortified to himself is easily tempted and overcome by little and small temptations. And he who is weak in spirit and is yet somewhat carnal and inclined to worldly things can with difficulty withdraw himself from worldly desires; when he does withdraw himself from them, he often has great grief and heaviness of heart and rebels if any man resists him. And if he obtains what he desires, he is disquieted by remorse of conscience, for he has followed his passion which has not helped at all in winning the peace he desired."

--Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Success Story" for catholicmatch.com

What the hell...gives me something to write about;)


I joined the Catholic Church in college and have spent the last ten years discerning a call to religious life. In essence, I simply wanted to serve God with all my heart, strength, and soul, in whatever way that might look like. But I took to heart the words of St. Paul: "it is better for a man not to marry," and felt that it was the Lord's will that I serve Him as a celibate monk.


In December of 2008 I made a leap of faith and formally petitioned to join the contemplative Benedictines of Christ in the Desert Monastery in New Mexico. To my great disappointment, I was told by the Abbot (whom I had stayed in touch with since my initial visit in 1999) that I was not a suitable candidate due to my diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. It was a great blow to my idea of what God had in store for me, and I felt, in some way, that He did not want me working in His vineyard, and that as a person with a mental illness, I was "damaged goods." I just hoped that God was going to open another door somewhere else, since He seemed to have slammed this one in my face!

A priest in college told me to pray often for your future spouse (even if you don't know her yet), so I spent a lot of time in Adoration doing just that. I joined Catholic Match a few years ago in the hopes of keeping the door open to a relationship with a woman of faith, if this was what the Lord had in mind, while I discerned my vocation. I dated on and off during this time, and had a number of serious relationships, but none that felt "right." My faith does not fit into a neat little box, and this was something I felt hesitant about in my efforts to meet other Catholics. More than anything, I wanted to connect with someone who accepted me for who I was...a sinner in need of God's mercy, compassion, and friendship.

In February of 2009 I met Debbie on Catholic Match. Initially I declined her invitation to meet because I was seeing someone else, but when that didn't work out I emailed her back the day before my subscription was about to expire to see if she would want to get together for a friendly cup of coffee. I borrowed my dad's car (I was living in Philadelphia at the time and didn't have one) and drove down to Wilmington to meet her. I am very sensitive to a person's energy, and when we met I immediately felt comfortable in Debbie's presence. She was kind and calm and radiated goodness. We spent the night in the coffee shop sharing our conversion stories, and just getting to know one another.

We continued to write and talk on the phone, and I bought a car so I could see her on a regular basis. We went for walks and discussed the implications my illness might have for our relationship. I felt so humbled and honored that Debbie saw all of me, not just the good parts, and accepted them lovingly. As time progressed and things got more serious, I began to reflect more on the Creation story, how Adam longed for a "suitable partner" to go through life with. The more time I spent with Debbie, the more I realized I had found that suitable partner--"bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." She felt the same way, and we are now looking forward to serving God together as husband and wife when we celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in July 2010. We know it will not be an easy road, but we have faith that God will give us what we need to have a successful marriage.

We are both grateful for Catholic Match and the opportunity to have met through what seems to be a quality website where the Lord can work His mysterious, awesome ways!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Letter to Regina Terrae

Read your post today, and wasn't able to comment so figured I would write in the hopes that you are reading.

Sounds like where I was last year when I was "driven out into the desert" of unconscious promptings and urgings, quit the job, moved out of the nice apartment, and lived in a bus. I can't say it was an especially enjoyful experience living in the bus, but dammit I had a good time doing it. I felt very alive. You are at a time of rebirth.

I liked what you said about security being for STUFF. Of course it is different when you have a family, I imagine, but since I didn't at the time (and still don't, yet), I wasn't really thinking of that. All I was thinking of was how to best serve God, and what he was calling me to do, whatever crazy thing that was, Noah-style; Abraham-style.

I don't really watch the news or television, or read the papers, because I don't know who to trust these days. Is the world really such an awful place, a place that you would not want to raise children in? I get anxious everytime I read about some natural catastrophe or Swine flu or terrorist attacks. So I just don't read about it.

I am finding that God really did help me in my unforeseen circumstances get a low-paying job and enjoying doing it. That last part was on me. I figure I am serving him even while mopping floors and making lattes.

I do not need nor want a lot of stuff. Medical bills and things like that are of concern. But God tells us not to worry. Think about it...in your situation, what can you really do but drop the house and move out of town? Maybe God is calling you out of it, like he was calling me out of my last job which I was miserable at. I don't think we're meant to be happy, but to be faithful. Our lives might not turn out the way we anticipated them (I always thought I would be a monk by now in the desert, look at me now).

The biggest thing I am struggling with is that "God will provide." I remember when I moved into my last apartment, a small studio, I didn't have any furniture and I was walking by and I saw this beautiful dresser out to trash just down the street, I had Debbie help me load it in her car (it fit!) and it was exactly what I needed. When I moved back to Doylestown, I needed a low-stress job, and I found one, one which I don't need to drive to and can get there and back in less than ten minutes, and one in which I work with good people. It's even kind of fun. But there have been lots and lots of people coming in wanting to apply. Why me? I will say it is providence.

I really really on the Exodus story in times like this...the Israelites called out of slavery and then imssing their fleshpots while wandering in the god-forsaken desert so long. Do you know the first night I moved into the bus and was officially homeless, surrounded by all my "stuff," I cried and cried and it rained and rained. I thought "how could I have done something so foolish!" I followed my heart. And it was foolish. That's what Christians are. Playing it safe never got anyone very far.

I don't have any financial advice for you except keep your expenses and expectations low, and accept whatever it is Providence hands out. Other than that I will be praying for you. You are beginning to lose the romantic notions of the wandering mendicant....it is nothing to be aspired to from the world's standpoint, and it is even a stretch for us really to want a life of no security. If God really exists...well, I guess he will catch you in his arms. You might suffer, die even, but just stay faithful. That's more pleasing than any accomplishment you can offer up.

Rob