Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


Leave a comment

Finding God in the Happiness

Spring_Alex_B_Daff5

As Lent rolls around again – and with it, the first-year anniversary of my Rite of Election – I find it apt to reflect on spiritual health. Now, in terms of the other levels of health one can have, I have been pretty physically healthy over the last few months (praise God!), my mental health and anxiety has been mostly stable, and emotionally I have hardly in my life been as happy as I am at the moment, in spite of the stress of work.

But have I been spiritually healthy?

First instinct – be that my disparaging mind or the voice of God – says no, loudly and clearly. I am a sinner and sometimes I am not as humbled or penitent of the fact. I can count the sins I commit every day, and sometimes my sincerity is lacking when I ask Him for forgiveness. I try to pray to some extent every day and to read a page of the Catechism every day, but I fail often as more than weekly, and sometimes through my own mind, saying I can’t be bothered.

These thoughts of forfeiting God’s attention for living in the moment have haunted the Christian throughout time. Wherever there has been Christianity, there has been the Devil in the temptation, sometimes of Sloth – and sometimes of giving us a happiness that we think we do not need the Lord by our side.

You see, it is so easy to forget God when one is having a good time. I don’t mean the act of going out and, for instance, indulging ourselves on substances and activities (though the stoic may argue that we offend God with our pleasurable sin), but in the emotional resonance of having a good time: being happy.

When we’re happy, one may argue, we have no need of petitionary prayer. We have nothing for which to ask God. Why pray when all one would be saying to God is thank you and praise you?

Well, that exactly. For starters, God appreciates it when we acknowledge that He is behind the source of our happinesses – He is happy that we, His children, are happy, and He will always be happy when we thank Him for even the small joys. God is worthy of our praise, regardless of how we are feeling in the transitive moment.

Too, there are always things for which to pray to God. It is easy to slip into the mindset that we can only pray to God when we need something, but actually God’s creation may be suffering elsewhere. It is always worthwhile to extend prayers to God for the needs of others, be they friends, family, the old lady who lives down the street – or those on the other side of the world suffering famine and tragic loss. We will always need to pray for our souls and others’. In the same vein, the human will always be the imperfect sinner, so it is best to pray for forgiveness even if one does not know what sin exactly has committed today.

However, I understand that this is easier said than done. I have been trying to say grace before my main meal every day, but I’ve found my memory so lost in the day’s activities and the people I have seen to remember to say grace.

How can we find, or remember to talk to, God in those giddy-positive and happy moments in our lives? How, my question is, can we stay spiritually healthy and aware when we are living in the moment and enjoying it?

It is the little things, I think. Little moments of quiet one can seize when companions have left or popped into the next room. That little thank you prayer to God after a moment of success. I find that statues and tokens in the house help me remember to think of God as I bustle around my busy life.

Because even the simple act of giving Him thought – acknowledging that He is the Master of all life and time – is a start towards keeping Him in mind in whatever we may do.

With every day that I consider my spiritual health and that I may have strayed from God’s plan for me, I am in the mere act replenishing my spiritual health. With this in mind, I am thankful for Lent, thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice, and thankful that God knows exactly what the plan for my life is. I believe that the happiness I feel is a gift from God, rather than a Devil’s temptation, and so I try to keep my mind turned Heavenward for His sake.


Leave a comment

7 Quick Takes: I’ve Been Absent, But That’s the End of Term…

Wow, it seems these days that I’m so busy I forget even to blog. It’s not that it’s not important to me – and not that I don’t have ideas – the issue is simply one of time or lack thereof. Which is why 7 Quick Takes Friday is so rewarding. I do apologise for any shortnesses, though. Hosted by Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727

~1~

So, what’s been going on in my life that I’m so busy, eh?

Essays, my friends. Essays and lab reports. I finished the latter and started writing the former today. I have two full weeks left of terms, so I must be on my guard and sharp to complete everything I need to.

~2~

Whilst I (once again – sorry!) neglected/forgot to post a Quick Takes last week, I did have somewhat of a post detailing my travels on Wed, and, for the thousand photographs I could spill here, I’ll stick to one.

Rules for etiquette...

Rules for etiquette…

~3~

I think I might be getting a cold, but I’m getting through with honey, Lemsip, and camomile tea. Oddly enough – compared the other times colds have hit me, and those are many – my bad synapses haven’t much affected my singing. I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m using my diaphragm, lungs, and soft palate to better and more lovely extent. One day, I’d love to learn the Bel Canto way properly, but, again, it’s something for which I have no time.

~4~

I am really getting into the swing of saying grace before mealtimes. In a crowded university hall, I haven’t yet the strength to say a full prayer to myself, but I can at least cross myself and remember that it’s God who has put me in this place at this time. Twice a week I have meals with fellow Christians, which is so helpful in ideas for the words to say, too. I’m not giving anything up for Lent, but I’m finding my cravings for meat have been less on days where abstinence is not necessitated.

~5~

I have been so blessed lately, with the friends and the life choices I’ve been given. It’s easy to get lost in ‘real life’ and forget the One who has created and allowed us to look after His world, so this is my little praise to God today. I hope to blog about that later in the week, but for now I’ll just nod and smile.

~6~

In terms of the writerly side of life, I have actually had the gears in my mind whirring this week. I’m managed to get some editing in – I finished the rewrite I was doing, and sent those pages off to two Betas, and now I’m playing the adjective elimination game, one page at a time.

~7~

Patience and Milo face danger as a mechanical beast* rounds on their hiding place. I’ve been jotting down notes for The Mallard: Cosmic Train short story for the last couple of weeks, but, with the little time I have, I’ve not met them in running script yet. Writing in first person from Patience’s view (I have yet to decide if I want to see from Milo’s perspective, too) is interesting – unusual for my fantasy genres – but I think it’s working. Patience is a kindly maid, but she’s intelligent enough to question the so-called facts and orders when necessary.

Indeed: the clanking of a metal-adapted beast as it trailed its elongated limbs from the rear carriage. The strained grinding of the internal gear-cores, choking under their own weight and the oil I’d watched the creature guzzle, stumbled closer. Our hiding spot. With a nose no doubt amplified with certain measures of pewter and fibreglass curling from its orifices, the beast drew out a sniff and its scraping spilled again into their room.

*I have yet to decide what animal I want here, so this is deliberately rather vague for the moment!


Leave a comment

7 Quick Takes about Poeming, Photoshooting, and Bipartite Discussions

Ah, Friday. I remember you from last week. That had been so long and so paltry a time ago. Now, of course, it’s time for this week’s 7 Quick Takes, hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

#1. It’s funny how time changes, isn’t it? This time last year, I was practically petrified of everything and would never have asked a lecturer for source materials or tips. Today, I struck up a conversation with my Philosophy of Mind lecturer about the psychological problem of hemispatial neglect, which I am currently looking at in my Neuroscience module. Whilst I expected the bipartite degree to overlap, I never expected it to so directly.

#2. Speaking of which, you might have heard that the new term started. Eep. Expect my creativity productivity to decrease. I’ve already gained an essay, and next week is the start of Mini Project number two. It’s only a matter of months now before I start my final year project. Alas, the problems of university!

#3. Sometimes life gets the better of people, though, and one of my friends had to cancel her 21st party planned for tomorrow because she can’t make it up to Reading. Sadly, I’ve not seen her since she deferred her academic year for medical reasons, and, whilst I know she’s been recovering well, it’s still disheartening that I’m not going to be able to celebrate her birthday with her. Pray for her.

#4. In Chamber Choir, we’ve started the ambitious project of the Frank Martin Mass for double choir. I’m in the second choir (as a Soprano, of course), which gives me some of my lowest notes. Bizarrely, I can actually reach that low in my chest voice, but, boy, it’s not comfortable. Nevertheless, the sung Mass work is beautiful and ghostly. A piece of Heaven, one might say. If you want a nosy at the sound, YouTube has some good recordings (though, the whole piece is 27 minutes):

#5. I’ve been doing another over-elaborate photoshoot today with Lady Chronaire, as she gained a proper corset (yes, there are such things as fake corsets) with shiny shiny buttons today, and I spent a good time editing the rubbish auto quality of my laptop camera into photos that bore a little steampunk mystery to them.

AlexB_LadySChronaire_Explore2 AlexB_LadySChronaire_goggles

#6. Editing again this week. I’m making great progress with my January batch of writerly things, whilst also trying to hang out more with other writers on Twitter, Absolute Write, and their own blogs. I did, however, write a spontaneous poem in my own little way to combat the hail I encountered on my way home.

#7.

The day was crisp and low and kind of nice –
I took the scenic road,
Along the lake and
Where the mallards squawk.
Cold breeze engulfed my hands,
And only just numbed fingertips.
I wondered, purposed, beside the trees,
Whilst an ash-grey sky from invisible volcano smoked;
Before long, the plink and plonk
Of slow raindrops
Coated phone and face—
No, it was far too cold for rain.
Hailstones rebelled until
Safety I sought.
Yet, in that unsteady pace,
In that tumultuous sky,
I made my way home.

It’s kind of a love poem in its own little way: an apology for lamenting at the weather, but also one that cares for the nature around me. I had one of those wonderment moments where I just wanted to spend more time with God’s Creation. Not having the time, however, I simply took a different route back.

Don’t forget to catch up with everyone else! I’ll see you next week.


Leave a comment

Quick Takes Friday About A Week of Thankfulness

Didn’t post last week after having to rush about, but now I find myself with so much to say. One of the things I’ve always found difficult about being a Christian is including God in my everyday life, in everything I do.

And then there are weeks, like this gone week, where I wake up and remember how blessed He has made me in life, even if have to put my all into trusting Him.

A lovely way to start quick takes Friday, eh? Even if the dusk has turned almost to night outside my bedroom window.

7_quick_takes_sm1

~1~

What’s new this week? Well, what isn’t new! I have been so thankful to God this week for the ‘break’ I’ve had to do some much needed catching up. Reading Uni had its ‘enhancement’ week this week, and whilst the Philosophy department took a break from lectures, seminars and tutes, the school of Psychology had planned a Big Science project for us, compulsory. So much for a break, eh? *grin*

~2~

The Lord blessed my good friend, Lillian Woodall and I with similar friendships this week, and a further amusing mirroring in our daily lives. I rather miss her company and her critical eye (and encouragement!) on my work, but our internet conversations keep us merry.

~3~

I wrote two essays in less than four days from pretty much nothing and I read a great load of extra reading in my spare time. I thank God for the mornings, Starbucks winter lattes and that he gives me the inspiration to a) know what I’m going to say, and b) enjoy arguing my points.

~4~

I seem to have made myself a position in the university mass service choir, aptly in the church in which I was confirmed: lead soprano (because I have the loudest female voice and can sight-read to fairly able pitch!). I rather like being on the other side of the table (or, church, as it were in their cross-shaped), though it cuts into my usual dinner time. Oh well. Give and take.

~5~

Nevertheless, most of my bouncy bouncy optimism has returned. I thank God for the music that peps me up, the sport I play and the health I feel.

~6~

The weather has been turbulent in a cold way. My room being behind a tree, my light goes on a half 3 nowadays, but I’ve also been forced *gasp* to wrap up, coat, scarp, jumpers.

No wonder I prefer summer, xD.

P1020157

~7~

On the other hand, I had to sacrifice writing and editing. My count for thus week is near nothing:

Maybe it was time to give up on ever sharing his life, or that his warm fingers would envelope her cold ones, or a soothing hand would find her knee in an absent-minded caress. She’d never relied on romance films for her heart, but now the concept alone of Laurie-and-Jess (and thank goodness their names failed the shipping tests of ‘CAnais’) kept her wanting and kept her wishing. But it was one element of her life, and if Laurie was happy to shift her into that ‘friendzone’ the internet blathered about, Jess would live with that.

Right?

I wonder if Jess has the same genetic peculiarity that I have of constantly cold extremities. Typing this, I’m currently wearing fingerless-gloves indoors because my hands are uncomfortably chilly.


Leave a comment

We All Have Our Own Journeys

Today’s gospel, the parable of the generous vineyard owner (Matthew 20: 1-16), is a message sure to ring true with a lot of people. How often have we been stuck in a dead-end job whilst those on par with us rise to greater things? How often have we received a lower grade from a teacher than a friend with almost the same answer? How often are we surrounded by couples and babies whilst we linger alone?

It’s easy to feel cheated when someone puts in less effort and receives the goal you’ve worked so hard for, and to say ‘it’s not fair’ when things don’t go our way.

This is especially true in the world of art, or, in my case, the world of literature and writing. Whilst I love reading stories of authors who’ve snagged an agent or a book deal, twinges of envy attack me as I read of another’s success.

Some authors are lucky enough to get both in short time after submitting. Understand this isn’t the norm – but when these stories crop up, it’s hard not to notice the level of success the particular author has had, compared to your supposed lack of achievements.

Too, every author has their own style, and it’s easy to criticise their style and berate them for being so successful with it. Remember how subjective reading (and life) is. And there’s probably a lot more to their success story (including previous losses) than they care to share publically.

But think of this, and take from today’s parable the simple idea: they’ve made their journey, and perhaps it’s not the route that would have suited you. Some authors have to go through self-publishing before they can attract the attention of an agent/publisher; others are ready to let certain books go, whereas you might have a confidence in an unusual book regardless of its place in the market.

In the end, you must judge yourself only by your own levels and not by how other people, whose circumstances can never mirror yours (and circumstance and luck/timing plays a major part in art careers), not thinking of what others are getting, but looking on your own pay as a worthy prize. In terms of writing, this means trying to stay away from comparing yourself with another, ‘successful’ (whatever that word may mean for you) writer, and respecting what you have already done on your own journey to ‘success’. Though many people say this, it’s worth reiterating: if your goal is to finish a book and you do so, that is worth celebrating. It’s a step many writers do not make. If you gain a new goal whilst writing to publish said manuscript, good for you to have such a goal. However, do not disregard how far you have already come; whilst ambition is commendable, it is never equal to achievement of the present.

Try not to fall into the camp of thinking ‘it’s not fair’. When someone’s journey may look as if it were lighter than yours, it may have been full of pitfalls you cannot see. Everyone is unique and their experiences reflect from how they’ve lived their life so far. Everyone has their own journey to take and we must trust that the Lord will guide us there in His own time, not what we think is the best time.

Roll on Palm Sunday...I need a new cross.

 


3 Comments

Happy Solemnity of Peter and Paul

In the Catholic Church calendar, today celebrates the Saints Peter and Paul, martyrs and evangelists of the faith. These two men are great role models of following God’s call even if it means stepping away from what one has come to know. It should be no surprise, then, that their feast is one I know well. On their day is when I have given my faith the greatest of overviews.

I realise I don’t share much of the hymns to which I listen, but YouTube is pale in comparison with witnessing the melodies first-hand and singing them. However, today’s psalm and gospel acclamation lyrics are too beautiful not to share, even in part:

From all my terrors, the Lord set me free. I will trust the Lord at all times, His praise always on my lips. In the Lord, my soul shall make its boast; the humble shall hear and be glad.

They’re very give-all lyrics. One must trust that God has set the right path for one to follow, even if the road ahead is not clear of issues and obstructions. Peter and Paul knew this well – and they eventually died rather than renouncing their faith. That’s amazing.

This year’s feast is particularly poignant for me, as it’s my first as a full Catholic consuming the host, since being confirmed at Pentecost after my conversion. We’ve come far, but we’ve still got a lifetime ahead to trust where understanding must fail.

Featured Image -- 2666


Leave a comment

The Art of letting go

Alexandrina Brant:

We all know that letting go is a painful, cold-hearted kick to the gut. Here, Loretta Andrews considers letting go and God. The first few paragraphs especially rung true for me.

Originally posted on Loretta Andrews:

Is God a nice God?

Is ‘letting go’ a brave act of surrender or merely giving up?

They say the hardest choice you’ll ever face is whether to walk away or try harder, but what if someone else gives up before you.  Do you let them walk away? Or do we grab hold of their leg shamelessly losing all self-respect and let them drag us a long as they try to get away from us? Do we even have a choice?

I’m pretty sure there is an art to letting go.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have it! In fact I’m certain I’m absolutely rubbish at it!  It says a lot about me I guess.  I am fiercely loyal.  Ask any of my friends, they know full well and from experience, you mess with one of them I’d personally rip the face of the perpetrator if they wanted me to…

View original 991 more words

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 489 other followers