|My Dad would have loved running a train down this scene. I still miss him.
It's at this time of year that I look back and realize wow! It has been eight years since we came into the Catholic Church. We started in 2005, in September no less. From that point on, there was really no going back. And what a ride it's been. I feel at ease within the Catholic tradition, as it answers the gnawing problems I always had as a Protestant. Especially that problem that is behind so many clergy who become Catholic: exactly where does the Bible say it is the sole authority, at least without an outside authority interpreting it that way? Logical loop there.
Still, it's also been eight years of utter, living hell. I mean, really. Nothing has gone right. We've lost tens of thousands of dollars, virtually all we had saved. My Dad has passed, my Mom has moved in with us. My brother in law has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer after having lost all of his wealth due to a business partner swindling him, leaving my sister to hold together her life on a thread. That doesn't count the problems with her son. And on my Wife's said, her sister's marriage fell apart, she's struggling to get by.
We've had auto accidents, broken appliances, household problems, trees crashing in windstorms (though not hurting anything). My wife and I both got jobs after we left ministry (she was also a minister in some ways, being a teacher in a Christian school none to friendly to Catholicism, hence her lost job). I left that job to work for a Catholic apostolate, which I wish I hadn't. I then was let go on the eve of the economic collapse due to funding (I learned non-profits are a good gauge for predicting impending economic troubles); also due to our inability to relocate. After getting by, having to help watch my Dad as Alzheimer's ravaged his mind, I finally took a new turn in life, that of insurance sales. I had done sales in my life and wasn't bad. It would take a few years they said, but my wife had a solid job and with a little extra, we could at least get by.
Then she lost her job. We lost benefits, another round of savings, and I had to take a steady, albeit low paying, job just to have some income. And one that has a schedule none-too accommodating to the needs of a family. Were it not for my angel of a supervisor, I don't know how we'd manage. That's where I am now. My wife is trying to find some income, even part time. Work at home would be best. But anything. My Mom and Sister have both had several significant health problems hit this year, and of course we had a warning shot fired over our heads with my oldest boy and his health scare this summer.
That's been our Catholic existence. I've been shut out of the diocese, unable to find any employment in a ministry capacity - even as a janitor. My services as a former protestant minster not being a big deal in most parts. And truth be told, I don't know that this doesn't extend to more of the Church now than simply our neck of the woods. So ministry days are a thing of the past. Truth be told, it's been so long, most of my skills I had have begun to deteriorate.
|Complements of Google Maps; the orchard was the first
field trip I took in the fall when I was in Kindergarten
And in it all, we try, try very hard to do two things. First, keep food on the table and what roof is left over our heads. And two, keep our kids from associating becoming Catholic as that moment when our life went to hell in a hand basket. To that end, we do plenty of things with the boys whenever possible. We play games, go when we can to where it's free. We take them to parks and find things locally that are little to nothing. The Columbus Museum of Art, no threat to the Guggenheim, still has free admission on Sundays. And we managed to get dirt cheap tickets for the Nutcracker again (bought those months ago).
And of course fall. Even if we can't get the big fall festivities and feasts we used to, we still manage some Cider and some pumpkin pie for a round of Castle Ghosts of Ireland. On a thread about the economic woes of our time, a commenter mentioned dwindling Social Security and retirement plans. He wondered what it must be like for people who don't even make 25.00/hour! I'd like to tell him. Oh, was a time when my overall compensation package was around there, and my wife's job was a very good paying job as well.
But those years seem so long ago. Clothes are now threadbare. Jackets torn. Shoes worn. We have food to eat, and we're good enough shoppers to make it look better than it is. No real end in sight. Heading toward 50 is a tough time to learn a new career, especially in this economy. Having two in the marriage needing to do the same thing is almost impossible to imagine without a wealthy benefactor stepping in and footing the bill. We keep praying that at some point God is going to open that door we hear so much about and finally bring things around. If not through material comforts, at least in pointing us in the direction we need to go.
In the meantime, we're going to lift a glass of cider, and if not rejoice in a harvest that fizzled, we'll reminisce about the olden days. We'll remember old times and trips. We'll remember when the boys were young and all the fun and remind ourselves that we have another young one coming around the corner who has every right to have as many wonderful memories and fun ghost trips as his brothers. Will things turn around? Will something come our way? We don't know. I'm not a soothsayer. But we can do what we can do, and not much more. As I tell our boys, control what you can control, because there will be plenty in life you can't.
So with that, and autumn's timely arrival, we'll hopefully have much cheer. After all, in the wider scope of history, many have suffered far more in a day than we have in a thousand days. We have healthy boys who are pretty darn good when the dust settles, and my Mom living with us and a good marriage. If you think of worth in those terms, that's not bad at all. It's almost worth lifting a tankard of cider and drinking a toast to what God, in the overall scheme of things, has actually given us.
|The State Park of my hometown. Maybe we'll go back there with the boys this year.
For old times' sake