“As I Was Saying . . .”
by Lois Donahue
Picking up from where I left off last month, I truly do believe there are times when most all of us need an emotional ‘change of pace’– at least a very brief shift to what I recently heard referred to as our‘ lighter emotions’. I know that isn’t such an easy thing to do right now when, for good reason, our thoughts and prayers certainly need to be primarily directed toward the seriousness of what we face today in our lives and in our world. However, the very fact that we are now besieged by a kind of traumatic reality, might signal our possible need to seek a ‘safety valve’. Coincidentally, just this morning I heard on the radio a health professional say how essential it is that we find time and ways for ‘stress-relief’ during this upcoming Holiday Season. In fact, I have a feeling that anticipation of a busy Christmas season ahead may well have caused my thoughts to veer toward our ‘lighter emotions’.
Think about it. The message of Christmas is indeed serious but the traditional music, both in rhythm and lyrics, certainly encourages us to ‘lighten up’. Here’s just two examples, one of which I mentioned in closing last month, — “JOY to the World” and “Tis the Season to be MERRY”.
Of course, ‘joyful merriment’ is not only as individually packaged as we are but even varies for each of us depending upon the circumstances under which it enters our life. Consequently, all I can offer you is a sample of how, during a time when I needed to shift my own emotional gears, and did – from ‘understandably serious’ to what may be well described as ‘distractingly ridiculous ‘. BUT IT WORKED I lifted my spirits by writing some rather nonsensical letters which took a lighthearted approach to things usually viewed more seriously.
Here’s one of them —
Dear St. Thomas Aquinas: I always knew that you were brilliant and saintly but I was delighted to learn that you were fat – (and please, if it was a glandular disorder or metabolism imbalance, don’t tell me. I need to believe that you simply overate.) I also need to know something else – the name of a Fat Female Saint, one to whom I can turn for help and encouragement. I have searched through biographical volumes and never once have I even seen as much as the word “lump” used to describe a she-saint. It’s truly depressing and I know – I just know that up there among all the gals that have made it, there must be at least one who left this world either in a Junior Plenty casket or was pleated, tucked and folded into a size Regular. I don’t care if she was hooked on Palestine pastries, medieval munchies or was a contemporary Chocoholic – I simply need a queen-size with a little influence.
In despair I had been holding out for the canonization of Pope John XXIII figuring that he might understand since he was both pudgy and 20th century, but truthfully I can’t imagine either of you roly-poly, holy men “pigging out” over the weekend just because you hoped to diet on Monday – or donating every full length mirror in the house (including the valuable antique in the solid oak frame) to the Harmonica-Lessons-For-Some-Deserving-Altar-Boy Garage Sale – or, for that matter, wearing a wig, dark glasses and carrying false identification when you went clothes shopping. I’m sure all of that would be as foreign to any man as pregnancy cravings. That’s why I need a woman – a specific woman, St. Thomas. Having a “to whom it may concern “ intercessor just doesn’t fill the bill. I made up my mind to that the last time a priest assured me from the pulpit that “there are countless saints in Heaven just like you.” I wanted to stand up and shout – NAME ONE! – Believe me, I pray for strength against temptation. I know the power of prayer but feel mine hasn’t been quite as effective since I’ve succumbed to the belief that I pray better after chocolate chip cookies and milk. (My fat female saint would understand that.)
And it’s not that I don’t admire and envy all those lovely saints that I’m sure are slinking around some Heavenly Model Agency but lets face it, they probably had ALL their will-power bases covered. Not me – I’m a tower of strength when it comes to long-shot betting, hangover weekends and compulsive shoplifting but one piece of apple pie alamode can topple my tower. My spirit is weak and my flesh is weaker.
Really, St. Thomas, I ‘m not bucking for Big League Sainthood (with a meditation span of about eight seconds, I know that I’m still Sand Lot material)…and I don’t expect to make the Saints’ Who’s Who via blood martyrdom (my threshold of pain being only slightly above hangnail.)
As for levitation – forget it – even if I were given such a possible indication of sainthood, I couldn’t possibly perform under pressure. (As sure as the champions of my cause were watching I’d stand there with lead feet and my beatification, literally, wouldn’t get off the ground.) I must admit that for a time I hoped I might be in the apprentice stage of bi-location since my body and my mind were so often in different places, but my doctor told me it was either vitamin deficiency or menopause. No, I’m just hoping to squeeze through the Pearly Gates with a little help from someone on the other side who remembers the false security of cherry covered cheesecake.
Now, please, don’t waste time searching for Saint Obese. I’ll be happy with anything close to a five-foot-five, 38-33-44 with tapioca thighs and flabby upper arms.
(If you don’t have any luck on your own, perhaps you could bring it up at the next Communion of Saints Board Meeting. I know she’s up there someplace – maybe under one of those marshmallow clouds.)
(So much for my obviously warped, and most likely not helpful, sense of ‘joyful merriment’ but I am confident you can come up with what works for you.) I’ll close with the sincere wish and prayer that all of us will experience, especially during this Christmas Season, the JOY that is so deeply rooted in our Catholic Faith.