October 28, 2009


I almost gave this movie a "DNR" (Do Not Recommend), but I stuck it out, and the ending was worth it.

"Motherhood," starring Uma Thurman as Eliza, a fortysomething aspiring writer living in trendy Brooklyn with her husband Avery (the balding Anthony Edwards, who gives a solid, convincing performance) and two small children, examines the modern (or timeless?) conflicting desires of, well, mothers with small children. I was eager to see what filmmaker Katherine Dieckmann would do with this conundrum. Whither feminism? New solutions? How would she avoid clich├ęs and tired depictions of tired Mommies? Any Theology of the Body?

"Motherhood" floundered from the start. Although throwing herself into the role of pleasantly-frazzled, borderline-ditzy Eliza, Uma—sporting a crazy-fountainlike-updo throughout--is just too classy and elegant to pull it off in my estimation. And don't expect any high drama here. Eliza is happily married and adores her adorable kiddos--check out the majorly gap-toothed Clara (Daisy Tahan): a face NOT only a mother could love. The relative familial harmony is a welcome relief from TV shows and movies about marital/parenting strife. A couple in love with each other and with their kids that act like they're in love? What a concept!

However, the film's tone is uneven (mostly a light comedy), scenes are in need of serious editing/shortening, and I never bought for one minute that Eliza was actually stressed, although the whole story is an episodic series of Eliza sweating the small stuff. There is a tedious (unfunny) obsession with the challenge of parking in Brooklyn. Eliza's interactions with friends and neighbors is affected, and the entire pace of "Motherhood" drags and often feels more like a play.

I'm sure many women will relate (or commiserate) with Eliza and find the movie amusing and even consoling: You are not alone! There is a great sisterhood of motherhood and we're all having a bad day together! The theme, question and thread throughout is: "What IS motherhood?" or rather, what does Eliza think motherhood is? She must answer this question for a Mommy blog contest she's entering—if she ever gets enough time to sit down and write.

So, when does "Motherhood" get good? When Eliza and her husband have a heart to heart, and he helps her get in touch with her truest beliefs about maternity. Eliza and hubby Avery are not on parallel tracks or living in their own pragmatically intersecting worlds. Eliza can only really define herself in relation to him and the kids and vice versa. Here's an important point for feminists: Men, husbands and fathers also define themselves in relationship to women (or should). When Eliza is envying Avery's seemingly easier life, he reminds her of all the sacrifices fatherhood requires of him, his own dashed dreams, and how they made their decisions TOGETHER to lead the life they're living.

Today's women are smart. They are grappling with the often unattainable dreams of "having it all," and the realities and requirements of motherhood. There's a new T-shirt that riffs of the 70's women's lib anthem: "I am Woman. I am strong. I am invincible. I can do anything. I am tired." Many women are unapologetically opting out of the workplace to be stay-at-home mothers, at least while their children are young. When Clara begs her Mom not to get a "real job," Eliza asks her why it's OK for Daddies but not Mommies. Her daughter answers: "Because Daddies just do some things, but Mommies do everything." (And Eliza had been wondering if her kids even noticed all she did for them!)

It's a serious concern that "Motherhood" raises: How DO women retain some time for themselves, maintain a personal creative outlet (that will make them better Moms) within "ridiculously tiny wedges of time"? You'll have to see the movie for suggestions! (Hint: kids have a lot to teach us.)

Theology of the Body is evident in the mutuality of Eliza and Avery's relationship. But "Motherhood" is nonplussed about how to deal with sex, so it goes with the present culture: sex is trivialized. BUT always with that "echo" and longing and intuition that maybe it does mean more than simply "wanking off."

The cinematic ending of "Motherhood" is not perfect, it's not spectacular, but it's "good enough," like many moms. The ending of "Motherhood" is bumpy and uneven and messy, and there are a few things I would like to redo in it, like motherhood. Ultimately, motherhood is not a career, it's a relationship. It's family.


--One of my close friends, a single mom, tells me: "Motherhood was NEVER meant to be done alone!"

--In a sense, "Motherhood" deals with the opposite problem of "The Feminine Mystique's" ennui!

--The punk-y soundtrack ain't bad, but it's sometimes employed in a disjointed, mildly intrusive way.

--"Collins makes her strongest case, and showcases her finest writing, on the subject of what feminism has not been able to do. It is not easy to attentively raise your children while holding down a good and demanding job. Feminism did not remake the world of relationships. It did not change the fact that when Julia Roberts's adorable hooker was carried off by Richard Gere's handsome businessman at the end of "Pretty Woman," none of us would have preferred to watch him rest his silvery head against her lovely shoulder, snuggling, safe at last in her strong arms. Feminism did not resolve the conflicting desires for passion and domesticity, familiarity and romance." (Amy Bloom's review of new book: "When Everything Changed—The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present" by Gail Collins.)

--"I used to write fiercely lyrical prose, now it's mostly everyday stuff." –Eliza bemoaning her lack of time for writing. "It is more original to give life than to create." –JP2G, "The Irradiation of Fatherhood." "Art should be an affirmation of reality, not a denial of it." –Sr. Helena

--"I believe that women themselves, with their energy and strength, with their predominance, so to speak, with what I would call their 'spiritual power,' will know how to make their own space." –Pope Benedict XVI (re: the fact that, according to canon law, the power to take legally-binding decisions is limited to sacred orders)

--"When she has catered adequately for her home, then and only then can woman look outside it to enlarge her influence for doing good. By doing this, women, who constitute what is often erroneously termed 'the weaker sex' become the hidden, true creators of a nation's strength, prosperity and progress. 'Cherchez la femme—look for the woman' says the well-known French proverb. Would you understand any country aright? Then study its women, for no nation can rise higher than the daughters of Eve who are found within it." ---Blessed James Alberione, SSP, Christian feminist

--For men, women are the way to God. For women, men are the way to God.

--Clara's 6th birthday party: Women ARE memory, nostalgia, sentimentality. Women remember. "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:18-20

--Why do we (women especially) have such a hard time defining "the mission of women," "motherhood"? I have experienced this in Theology of the Body study groups, and suffer from this myself!

October 23, 2009



What is the alternative to an effective sexual redemption? If man remains bound by his lusts, is he even capable of loving with a pure heart? Marriage, in this view, comes to be seen and lived as a “legitimate outlet” for indulging our disordered desires and the celibate life comes to be seen and lived as a life of hopeless repression. And we end up “holding the form of religion” while “denying the power of it” (2 Tim 3:5)? “Ne evacuetur Crux!” – John Paul II exclaims, “Do not empty the Cross of its power!” (see 1 Cor 1:17). “This,” he said, “is the cry of the new evangelization.” For “if the cross of Christ is emptied of its power, man no longer has roots, he no longer has prospects: he is destroyed” (Orientale Lumen 3).

Mature Purity
The teaching of John Paul II is clear: liberation from concupiscence – or, more precisely, from the domination of concupiscence (John Paul II used both expressions) – is not only a possibility, it is a necessity if we are to live our lives “in the truth” and experience the divine plan for human love (see TOB 43:6, 47:5). Indeed, Christian sexual ethos “is always linked . . . with the liberation of the heart from concupiscence” (TOB 43:6). And this liberation is just as essential for consecrated celibates and single people as it is for married couples (see TOB 77:4).

It is precisely this liberation that allows us to discover what John Paul II called “mature purity.” In mature purity “man enjoys the fruits of victory over concupiscence” (TOB 58:7). This victory is gradual and certainly remains fragile here on earth, but it is nonetheless real. For those graced with its fruits, a whole new world opens up – another way of seeing, thinking, living, talking, loving, praying. But to those who cannot imagine freedom from concupiscence, such a way of seeing, living, talking, loving, and praying not only seems unusual – but improper, imprudent, dangerous, or even perverse.

Why, we should ask ourselves, does such a cloud of negativity and suspicion seem to hover over the realm of sexuality? The distortions of sin are, of course, very real. But through the grace of redemption, can our sexuality not become in our practical, lived experience the realm of the sacramental and the holy? Can it not become the realm of a truly sacred conversation? “To the pure all things are pure,” St. Paul said (Titus 1:15). But to those bound by lust, even the pure seems impure. Oh, how tragic when we label as ugly that which is beautiful!

full text: http://bit.ly/23C15x

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October 22, 2009



So, Eat Like a Catholic, Already!"

October 27, Tuesday, 7—8PM
(light supper at 6:30)
Holy Name Cathedral Cafeteria
(corner of State and Superior—Chicago—free parking
at HNC parking lot)
All are welcome!

Enthusiasm for cooking shows, "slow food," locally grown food, vegetarianism and organic food is on the rise. But what does it all have to do with our Catholic Faith? Lots! The Judaeo-Christian tradition has always had much to say about "food and faith."

We are privileged to have Christine Gutleben with us from the Humane Society of the United States' "Animals and Religion" program to screen the 26-minute film: "Eating Mercifully." The HSUS promotes more humane farm animal legislation and encourages corporations to adopt higher farm animal welfare standards. We will learn how everyone can make a difference for farm animals by making simple changes that support more humane farming practices. Christine has been interviewed recently on Relevant Radio.
Sr. Helena Burns, fsp, from the Daughters of St. Paul / Pauline Books & Media will give an introduction from the Scriptures and Church teaching regarding our relationship to animals.

"Animals, too, are God's creatures and even if they do not have the same direct relation to God that man has, they are creatures of His will, creatures we must respect as companions in Creation." –Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger "God and the World," Ignatius Press, 2002

Christine Gutleben is Director of the Animals and Religion program of the Humane Society of the United States. She has an M.A. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where she studied theology and the interplay between food and faith, and a B.A. in religious studies from UC Davis. She has experience farming in the Central Valley of California, and developed an understanding of the mechanics of sustainable agriculture.

Sr. Helena Burns, fsp, is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation founded to communicate God's Word through the media. She is finishing her M.A. in Media Literacy Education, has a B.A. in theology and philosophy from St. John's University, NYC, and gives workshops on John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." She is the movie reviewer for "The Catholic New World," Chicago's Archdiocesan newspaper. She was going to be an ornithologist (birds) but God had other plans.

October 21, 2009



DVD: "Face the Darkness--Illuminate the Night"

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Women's Retreat

Saturday December 5 9:00—3:00

(doors open @ 8:30)

“Every Woman’s Journey”--answering “Who Am I?” for the feminine heart.

DIRECTOR: Katrina J. Zeno is co-Foundress of Women of the Third Millennium, author of “Every Woman’s Journey” and “God Reveals the Body,” and an international speaker on the genius of women, the Theology of the Body, marriage and the Eucharist, chastity, the single life and prayer. She is the co-host of a 13-part series on the Theology of the Body for EWTN. Born and raised in San Diego, Katrina earned her B.A. in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a single mother and dance instructor living in Arizona. Read more about Katrina at her website: http://www.wttm.org/

Pre-registration/Pre-payment required to hold your place.

Please call: 312-346-4228 Space is limited, so don't delay!

$35 (includes breakfast and lunch) DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 27

Sponsored by: Pauline Books & Media/Daughters of St. Paul

1600 W. Park Ave., Libertyville, IL www.Marytown.com

(Overnite accommos not part of retreat package, but can be arranged separately w/Marytown: call Chris at retreat house: 847-367-7800 x225 retreats@marytown.com)





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October 18, 2009


Some movies are events as well as movies. "Where the Wild Things Are" is one of those movies. The irresistibly-illustrated book (of the same title) has been a "kid's choice" favorite the world over since 1963.

"WWTA" is a tight collaboration between author, Maurice Sendak, 81, and fiercely-original, indie-experimental director, Spike Jonze, 39. The result? Definitely not Disney, but while avoiding many Hollywood tropes, Jonze has made the movie accessible to kids and adults alike. Is it a kids' movie? Nope. Jonze is clear that this is a movie ABOUT children (specifically boyhood, in my opinion) not FOR children, although he definitely wants children to see it. There has been some completely unfounded concern that the PG-rated "WWTA" may be too scary for kids. Say what?! There is NOTHING scary in this movie. Like, at all. (And I'm a bigger chicken than most four year olds.) The munchkins in my theater were giggling.

For those unfamiliar with the plot (or would that be as fantastical as an island of nine-foot monsters?), Max (the gifted Max Records) is a "wild thing" of a boy who—irate about the usual childhood travails: feeling alone, powerless and set upon by everyone--runs away from home via sailboat (in his mind in the book, in "reality" in the movie), and winds up among large furry creatures who make him their king. From the get-go, these comically-named beasts (Carol, Ira, Judith, Terry, Bob, KW) are dangerously ambivalent towards Max. There is much talk of "eating." Max's vivid imagination gets him out of one fix after another. (Stories soothe savages.) But these monsters—fickle, petty and jealous as they are—demand truth from Max. The truth about himself he hasn't been willing to look at. They ask very direct questions and expect him to deliver on his promises. The golden-crowned Max is given free reign (literally) to make all his dreams come true. But dreams aren't that easy. Relationships are complicated, and "it's hard to be a family." The whole "king" thing made me think of Israel asking for a king (instead of having God as their sole king). Monarchy is hard on imperfect subjects AND fallible kings. Subjects demand that their kings make them "happy," and kings think they can.

Main man monster, Carol, (the moon-faced, striped-belly horned monster I remembered most from the book, voiced by James Gandolfini) is closest to Max. He bounces like a bumble (cf. the abominable snow monster in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), and has a major crush on KW, but she keeps her distance because of his unpredictable temper. Actually, it seems that Carol has the same unrealistic expectations about life that Max does, and that's why their relationship is quickly moribund. Details Max hasn't dealt with from his real life haunt him in his make-believe world: "You're out of control!"

The monsters' characters are well developed and their constant mumbling and commenting amongst themselves is a real delight of the movie. And they look exactly like the book's illustrations. The movie plot was creatively expanded from the book's meager ten sentences. Jonze (a skateboarder who may never have grown up himself) understands how children play, so, much of the movie is physical action: tromping through forests and deserts, snowball fights, dirt-clod fights, getting deliciously wet and dirty. The naturalness of the settings—real forests, real deserts, real oceans, harkens to pre-all-SPFX filmmaking, when the outdoor sun glinted in the camera and you felt you were breathing in the same air as the actors. Herculean efforts on the part of the filmmakers are required, but the payoff is worth it! Jonze's music video background is evident as the soundtrack meshes in a perfect complement to the action, without driving it or overpowering it.

"WWTA" is a great movie for kids to exercise their "moral imagination" with. What happens when Max makes and then breaks rules? Even in a game? Are there real consequences? How about when Max lies? Do "people" get hurt?

There is a non-PC honesty to "WWTA." Max barks, roars, howls and speed-runs with an unrestrained freedom seldom seen in today's tightly-orchestrated portrayals of kids. One of the best relationships in "WWTA" is between Max and his mom. She's not a stereotypical "too-busy-for-my-kids-working-single-Mom." Rather, Max selfishly wants her every minute. Like "Coraline," "WWTA" reminds us that "there's no place like home," but sometimes we're going to need to get away in order to appreciate that fact. (How about your local Cineplex?) Oh yeah, and it's great to be a kid.

--We all need a fantasy world to go to. For Christians, it's the realest dimension called "heaven."
--The very, very beginning of the movie will remind you of "Harold and the Purple Crayon."
--One of our sisters (born in 1963 like me) from Samoa had the book when she was little!
--There's been some great interviews with Sendak and Jonze in the media. Check out Newsweek's (one of the best).
--Max smiles a lot.
--Love the veiny noses on some of the monsters.
--Hilarious when Max's science teacher starts scaring students about global warming, pollution and the sun dying. What's the message here: things to be truly scared of? Or not?

October 13, 2009


Many pro-life people have the wrong idea about sidewalk counselors. Many think they are "screaming and waving pictures of aborted fetuses" in the women's faces. (Those types show up at other types of pro-life rallies and would have no success "counseling" women.)

The reason sidewalk counselors are being persecuted is because they are effective. (Bad for Planned Parenthood's business. Remember, PP is making $$$, the counselors are not.) I know some of these counselors. They are young professionals. They have told me that the information the women freely take from them (abortion alternatives) is often ripped out of the woman's hand as she enters the clinic. (So much for choice. So much for informed choice.) The counselors are offering women more information (regarding the life-altering choice they are about to make) AND are offering ongoing help should they change their minds.

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October 12, 2009



CM- 21, one son and expecting a baby girl in November

  • Sidewalk counselors listened to her story and encouraged her to keep her baby. We have since referred her to obtain help from numerous organizations, including charities and government. She is an enthusiastic mother and is looking forward to the day she can welcome her daughter into her home.

GB – 30, two children, expecting twins

  • Planned Parenthood did an ultrasound on her prior to her scheduled abortion and learned that she was pregnant with twins. Good business people as they are, they sent the boyfriend out to get more money since aborting twins costs more. When he came outside, we counseled him about adoption options and abortion-related mental issues. He went in and got her out of there. She is now formulating an adoption plan for her unborn babies.

MW – 18, one child, now expecting a baby

  • After having just gotten "over the hump" with the early challenges raising her first child, she was looking forward to going back to school. When she found out she was pregnant, she initially concluded that getting educated and bringing her baby to term were mutually exclusive goals. We counseled her about child care options and obtaining her GED. She chose life for her baby and sat for the GED exam a few weeks ago.

According to the Tribune article, the sidewalk counselors at Division & LaSalle are "vicious."

Do we look "vicious" to you??

David, 31

Sales/MBA Student

Nora, 31

Attorney/Mother of 2

Shannon, 28

Nursing School/Collegiate Athlete

Julie, 34


U of I grad

October 8, 2009


Calls have been flooding into Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's office urging him to veto the Bubble Zone ordinance passed yesterday, but we've got to keep the pressure on. Several people e-mailed me last night to say they couldn't get through on the Mayor's line. It turns out they shut down the automated system overnight, but it's back on now. You need to call between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time in order to register your vote. Here are the instructions again:

1. CALL the mayor's office at 312-744-3300.
2. PRESS 1 to connect to the Bubble Zone poll.
3. Then PRESS 2 to vote NO on the Bubble Zone.

Even if you don't live in Chicago or even if you already voted, you can still call to voice your opposition to this pernicious ordinance. EVEN THE ACLU IS AGAINST THIS INFRINGEMENT ON FREE SPEECH! This is our last chance to stop the Bubble Zone without the burden and expense of a court battle. If Mayor Daley doesn't veto it, sidewalk counselors in Chicago will be stripped of their FirstAmendment rights to reach out to abortion-bound women. And then Planned Parenthood will move to muzzle pro-lifers with similar Bubble Zones in one city or town after another. So let's pull together to stop the Chicago Bubble Zone. Yours for Life,-- Eric
P.S. Get the full story on yesterday's protest and watch the video of the press conference on the steps of Chicago's City Hall here: http://prolifeaction.org/#video Eric Scheidler Executive Director Pro-Life Action League Tel: 630-896-1200 Facebook: http://prolifeaction.org/facebook..Pro-Life Action League6160 N Cicero Ave, Ste 600Chicago, IL 60646, USATo unsubscribe or change subscriber options visit:http://www.aweber.com/z/r/?rOwMrCzMtCysjBzsbOwctEa0rKxMLMwcnA==

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October 5, 2009


Me (out of step), Sr. Nancy, Sr. Kim, Sr. Bernadette
(2008 Christmas Concert Tour)

6 p.m.--It was a dark and stormy night. No, it wasn't. I'd like to start off thus dramatically, but, hey, I'm talking about a night in Los Angeles where it's never dark or stormy. They say New York is the "city that never sleeps," but judging from the lights and freeways in L.A. at 3 a.m., the distinction really should go to Tinseltown. And of course, it never even rains from April to October.

6 p.m.--It was a bright and peaceful night. Several visiting nuns and my residential self decided to go rollerblading on Venice Beach. We parked on a side street, split up in pairs according to speed and agility, and agreed to meet back at the van at 9 p.m. I teamed up with Sr. Bernadette, an inline skating neophyte (while I'm probably the equivalent of a brown belt). I felt sorry for her because no one wanted to be held back by her wobbly forays into the wild world of Venice Beach sports. Sr. Bernadette is actually a magnificent Irish step dancer, but wheels do change everything. I coped with her lagging problem by steaming out ahead and then elipsing back to join her.

A great time was had by all. The sun began to set right on cue at 9 p.m., and
Sr. Bernadette and I headed back to the Astro. We had covered quite a bit of boardwalk and couldn't remember exactly where we had parked on the parallel side street.
Sr. Bernadette was tired, so I offered to skate north while she waited at a streetlight for me. If the van wasn't there, it must be south. I skated several blocks north and then doubled back. As I sailed by Bernie under the streetlight I shouted: "It's this way!" The last words I heard from her were: "IN THE STREET??!!!" Obviously, she did not want her aura grazed by automobiles on the narrow thoroughfare (but those sidewalks were so goshdarn bumpy!) I sped ahead, assuming she was somewhere behind me, having her teeth rattled silly by the "surf's up!" wavy slabs of concrete that passed for sidewalk. After a few blocks I halted and spun around. No Bernadette. Hmm. She probably went back to the beach where the skating was easy, I figured.

I pumped on a few more blocks, looking down the roads perpendicular to the boardwalk. No trace. I reached the van. All the other nuns were sitting on the curb, skates off.
"Have you seen Sr. Bernadette?" Shrugs.
"You lost her?"
"Well, no. She left me."
We waited till 9:30. All census-accounted-for persons had left the Venice vicinity, and the denizens of the night had appeared. I was getting nervous.
"Maybe we'd better look for her."
"Does she even know the convent phone number or address?"
"Does she have any money or anything on her?"
"Just the clothes on her back and the transportation on her feet."
We paired off again. Two began cruising in the van, two skated the streets, two stayed where the van had been, and I took off for the boardwalk after calling home and learning Sr. B. hadn't phoned. Needless to say, my imagination was racing. Petite Sr. Bernadette has beautiful blonde hair, perfect teeth, and no street smarts. What if she had been abducted (and all that goes with that)? What if she was lost and was about to be abducted? Even though she's a big girl now and a former SoCal (Torrance) native, she was a visitor and I was her partner and that made me somehow responsible. I kept seeing images of her parents in front of me, and I kept trying to explain to them what happened, recounting her last words: "IN THE STREET??!!" That's all they would have to hold
on to.
--"Well, Mr. and Mrs. Reis, whatever happened, it happened within three blocks of where I left her."
--"I was trying to do her a favor--she was tired."
--"Everything will be all right--she can handle herself (yeah, right)."

I bladed my thighs skinny up and down at least two miles of ever-more abandoned pathway. What if she got turned around and headed to Malibu? The same "interesting" people watched me go back and forth. I had to keep my cool--they couldn't know anything was wrong. I couldn't look like I was looking for someone, and I certainly couldn't describe Sr. Bernadette to them and ask them if they'd seen her. I couldn't make them think I was lost!
10 p.m.--The God Squad regrouped. We called home. Nothing. Suddenly, the nose of a black-and-white car tilted around the corner (the way only creeping police cars pitch from side to side. Good shocks, I guess). A sight for sore eyes! I flailed them down atop my worn eight wheels--black leggings, safety pads, oversized Our Lady of Guadalupe T-shirt and all. I was quite rattled at this point, but had the presence of mind to make a long story short by using policespeak.
"We're looking for a 26-year-old, white Caucasian male!" I spluttered.
"I mean female! Blonde, rollerblades, green T-shirt!"
"Name?" asked one of the vallium-calm cops that looked like he had just graduated from high school.
"Sis--, um, Bernadette Reis (didn’t want to blow our cover). She's from the East Coast and she's really naive! She's been missing for over an hour now!"
"We'd love to help you," (hearty nods from his partner) "but there's a disturbance in Hollywood, and all units have been called over there."
"So what am I supposed to do??"
"Weeeellllll...," (if police wore suspenders, he'd have had his thumbs under them) "we could take a spin around the block for you" (more hearty nods).
"Oh thank you--anything would help."
"And if she doesn't turn up, you can fill out a Missing Persons Report at the station on
Culver and Centinela" (reassuring smile).
My stomach did a triple somersault. (Or to use an in-line skating metaphor: My stomach did a Japan Air and landed fakie).
Thankfully, Officers Skip and Biff did more than one revolution. They joined our cruise nuns for a good fifteen minutes. I continued speed skating Venice Beach.
10:30 p.m.--Another phone call home: same results. Mother Superior was now fit to be tied. My feet were numb stumps, but I sallied forth one more time. I found myself about two miles away from our field headquarters, and I just couldn't glide another inch to get back. Once again, the black-and-white nose leaned around the corner toward me.
I flagged them down.
"Could I possibly get a ride?"
"Hop in."
I decimated the styrofoam cups on the floor of the back seat with my smoking rubber tires. Evidently the disturbance in Hollywood (probably a crowded premiere) could wait, because the squad car was going 3 mph down the boardwalk (I know because I looked). I could have crawled on my hands and knees faster. Then the squad car began making stops as Skip and Biff chatted up their favorite homeless beachfolk friends. My heart was going 103 mph in grief and panic. I was just ready to get out of the cruiser and skate the rest of the way when the nuns showed up, all in the van now. Sr. Nancy shook her head at me. I transferred vehicles."Good luck!" grinned Officers S & B.
11 p.m.--We cruised in silence. Suddenly, under a streetlight--actually, the same streetlight I had left Sr. Bernadette under--a blonde mane toussled a few times. Yup, she hadn't moved a wit. She had removed her skates and sat on the curb--never intending to follow me south. She was blocked by a mailbox, so we never saw her. Her understanding was that I was getting the van and would come pick her up. An attitude my mother would describe as: "Peel me a grape." A tsunami of relief washed over me, and the image of Mama and Papa Reis--now contented--faded to black. I slid the van door open.
Sr. Bernadette flashed a perfect smile: "Hi!" She was a placid as Skip and Biff.
"Where were you??!!" I feigned anger for the sake of the livid search party.
"Right here! Where were you is the question!" Bernadette heaved her well-rested carcass next to me on the seat. No one in the van would look at either one of us. We headed back to the ranch. I positioned my bare feet in Bernadette's face.
"Kiss my blisters."
The two of us laughed to hilarity, but contrary to the song: Laugh and the world does not laugh with you. Our stone-faced fellow passengers were gritting their teeth in unison. To this day, it's a touchy issue with them. Soreheads! So we lost a few hours and shortened our lives with worry! All's well that ends well. It was an adventure. Venice Beach after dark.

Evidently Sr. Bernadette has a charism of invisibility. Not a month later, her parents (the real ones, not the phantoms) were unable to find her in plain view at an airport and had to resort to airport security to locate her.

The weird, wasted time we spend spinning our wheels (literally) are those scraps of life that are "in betweens," "interims" that defy categorization. They are completely unproductive, absurd and are best dealt with by giggling. When God's divine economy is revealed in heaven, we will understand what the heck they really were. Until then, how do I spell RELIEF?

© Sr. Helena Burns, fsp

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