The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Cantique Noel!

Wish I could remember the rest of that in French. Alas, I can only remember my flub of "Va Allemagne"! Oy - the oddities of life.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Like most of our parties, it wound up being a progressive affair. Last night John came over, which was very nice, and then I gave out the book presents for Christmas Eve, which was super because...drumroll please...Going Postal by Terry Pratchett came in! Yaaaaaaaaaaay! Which means, naturally, that I finished reading between staying up until 2:30 last night and bonding with it after mass this morning (before the third installment of presents).

God was very gracious (again, as always? Aren't the words "God" and "gracious" in a sentence redundant to begin with?) and gave us many good gifts from friends and strangers. Let's see - noticeable among them is LOTR:ROTK, which all four-ish hours we watched after the final installment of presents (we did books last night, a few this morning pre-mass/post-breakfast and then the remainder post-mass, and then the remembered remainder - aka the presents I knew I'd forgotten to wrap and were, indeed, cleverly hidden by me downstairs where I couldn't find them among many other useless bags). I must admit, the extended edition vastly improves the movie. I found it unbearable in theatres, but this was back up to par. My only sadness was that I wanted the Faramir/Eowyn section to be fleshed out. But alas, it seems neither Jackson nor Tolkien can do romance in LOTR for beans. So I shall call me a silly girl and sigh in discontent.

I've quite a bit of a headache, thanks to odd sleeping hours and finishing off the last of this cold. Fortunately, said residual cold did not impede my lectoring at mass this morning. They did the readings for the mass at midnight, which was wonderful because the readings are definitely an improvement over the common ones for the day of. But all the same, as I was lectoring, and preparing to lector, and just after doing my small bit of the mass, I felt....

Oh, what good are feelings!?!?! This is a conundrum. I am not a Spock, nor was meant to be (am a teacher, one that will do, to progress a scene, speak a word or two - must memorize the actual poem rather than portions of) - and I know that emotions were given to us by God as part of the human experience and I am not set against them...only I get frustrated at them when they are so at odds with actuality. Or rather, when I can't quite discern how at odds or evens they are with the greater truth. Let me begin again at the beginning.

Last Sunday, I was a complete wreck. I couldn't really speak in the morning. So Jules, having by the grace of her guardian angel, woken up NOT for the 7:30 a.m. mass like she had intended, but indeed for the 11:30 a.m. mass which I was meant to lector at, agreed to lector in my place. I offered to take her next time - now knowing what it was - and discovered much to my surprise that it was today, at the 10:30 a.m. on Christmas.

Now to the emotions: surprise, excitement, pride, shame at said combination of emotions, concern lest Julie a) be sad at losing lectoring then or b) deny letting me lector then; and frustration that I couldn't really discern which concerned me more, and overriding guilt that I was forcing Jules to lector because I had a cold. All of that in no particular order. Except that overweening pride, with its pathetic cockatoo feathers strutted high upon its hat, minced ever at my side this week. Mostly it simply existed and sniffed and I forgot it entirely and went about my business of trying not to be sick and editing the heck out of Christmas Carol and/or going around and begging the city of Marlborough in general and God and teachers and administration in particular to intercede on behalf of King of Fools.

But then, alongside the cockatoo of pride slunk the morbid shadow of general meanness, and that brought along - to belabour this not merely extended but anguished metaphor - the stuffy clerk of helpless scruples. I am a mean person. I am proud, haughty, entirely selfish, lazy whilst being an OCD workaholic, arrogant - you name it. "I could accuse me of more sins that it were better my mother had not borne me." A regular Hamlet without the dashing iambs. Consequently, I'm sitting in mass, preparing to lector on Christmas Day - the day of God made manifest - and all I can think of is: I am such a mean person.

I believe. Of course I believe. I say "of course" not because of any merit of my own - Heavens truly do know that - but because for whatever reason it has pleased God to give me a bedrock of faith. Of trust. Of certainty. It's the sort of belief that is more like a skeleton than a fortress - it's baked into me - it can be fractured, I can weaken it, but chances are, it's not going anywhere. And I utterly don't deserve it. And I don't know how to pray. And I don't know how to believe - and yet that's foolish false humility, too, because I do know these things: but instrinsically, as it were, the same way a baby doesn't consider its anatomy but simply kicks and gurgles and pulls at shiny objects with fingers that have never been existentially scrutinized but work all the same.

And I read. I was fully unprepared. I said a Divine Mercy last night, and an Angelus, too, because I noticed it was midnight at the stroke of (or rather, that fact was divinely brought to my attention) but my heart wasn't AS in it as it ought to have been. I didn't spend a vigil night fasting and praying and being before the tabernacle. I didn't seek out a priest for confession before I lectored for mass. I didn't specially choose a white garment to wear for the occasion - for the honour. Rather I grumped at my family. And yet I read.

To what extent is simply the awareness that I am a class A jerk a holy thing? Or to what extent is it a case of the scruples? I know how one attains holiness - the saints point to it, and the prophets, and Christ Himself came to give us perfect example - but how does one maintain holiness? I get so frustrated at myself for becoming lazy in my prayer life - but I am more frustrated at my legal mind that tries to shy away from such thoughts lest I have to do something - and at the same time I feel so utterly, utterly helpless.

The consolation is this: I am utterly helpless. And I cannot form some complex mathematical diagram to pinpoint how close or far I am at any given point from Heaven. And the feeling, as good a spur and Dantesque goad, as it may be is simply no more than that: faith and works, NOT faith and feelings. No, Hamlet, the readiness is NOT all - the action is. And I am an ass and I am an ass and I am an ass - and that is not all right, but the acknowledgement of it is, and now the action to move away from that state must not only begin but continue. The Chinese are very right to say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Only one must make the overwhelming effort to continue on to the second and the third and so onward to the edge of time. The first step is simple. The remaining steps are hard. And it is so very, very easy to sit down.

After mass, John came up to me and told me how well I read - and that meant a lot. Particularly because I did not feel (that word again!) that I had done as well as I ought. But John is not one for empty compliments, and my prayer is that God used me, as stupid and unreliable as I am.

Who said flagellation wasn't still in vogue? Ah, that hermitage is looking better every day. But this is the greater task that I need to take - the erimetical life would be too simple - I need to learn to be. I was about to write "be human" - but, rather, I need to learn to be. To be still. To be with the great I Am. To be loved. I often don't know how to do that. Elijah on the mountaintop - Moses barefoot in the cave - my Savior in the garden of Gethsemene. Lord, teach me how to be. I think that may be the first step. You made me, Lord. You formed me. Now show me How. Amen.

Mood: Reflective
Music: Finding Neverland a la the ceilingboards that divide Julie's room from mine.
Thought: Regarde en haute.


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