Compassionate and Honest

Green Pastures/Megan Duncanson
Green Pastures/Megan Dun­can­son

I’ve remem­bered more from my first appoint­ment with Father Michael. I know some sub­jects car­ried over to the sec­ond and sub­se­quent appoint­ments. I sup­pose it real­ly doesn’t mat­ter- except from my per­spec­tive. That first appoint­ment was an intro­duc­tion to a stranger- a very holy man — who was full of sur­pris­es. One of the amus­ing things that hap­pened was that Father Michael kept try­ing to find out my age.Several times he men­tioned the year he grad­u­at­ed from high school and oth­er sig­nif­i­cant events of the ‘70s and asked me where I was when they occurred .  I final­ly real­ized that he want­ed to know my age, so I just told him. I don’t know why it was so impor­tant to him, but he seemed calmer once he knew.

Anoth­er dis­cus­sion was about my fam­i­ly, my eth­nic­i­ty, my sib­lings, my par­ents. I men­tioned that my dad had died in 1986. Father asked what my dad had died of and his age. I replied “He died of leukemia at six­ty-one”. Well, as soon as I said that Father said loud­ly and incred­u­lous­ly. “Six­ty-one? six­ty-one? Why, I’m fifty-nine myself!!!”  And as he spoke, he react­ed- he put both hands to his face, hold­ing them there for a sec­ond , then ran them up over his head a cou­ple of times. And he paced as he did this. He seemed tru­ly dis­tressed. And I was touched again by his vis­i­ble emo­tion. Then Father asked how long my dad had lived with the dis­ease. “Two months,” I replied, ” he died in remis­sion.” Again Father repeat­ed my words “Two months?????” and again he got very upset .

Now you know Father had mem­o­ry trou­bles; I’ve men­tioned that before. The scene above about my dad’s death was repeat­ed no less than four times in the two years I knew Father Michael. Each time, Father react­ed exact­ly the same way. It was like he took it per­son­al­ly, as though it were a mes­sage for him. It was this expe­ri­ence and sev­er­al oth­ers that bol­stered my belief that Father was intu­itive and ‘knew things’.

Before he was even diag­nosed with can­cer, Father would talk about things hav­ing to do with his death. Once I vis­it­ed him in the sac­risty and the first thing out of his mouth was that he had decid­ed that when he died, he was going to have Instant Lot­tery tick­ets spread all over the inside of his cas­ket. And then he said “but of course, I wouldn’t have them buried with me and waste them. I’d have them dis­trib­uted to all the mourn­ers before they closed the cas­ket”. I was amused, but said , “Father M, why on earth are you even think­ing about stuff like that??!!”  That time he answered that he’d been to quite a few wakes recent­ly where this had been done–and he liked the idea. He brought this up a sec­ond time also, freak­ing me out a lit­tle.

Back to the appointment.….Father talked about his fam­i­ly, his old­er broth­er, in par­tic­u­lar. Father was very proud of all his sib­lings. But there seemed to be a spe­cial bond between him and his old­er broth­er. I believe his old­er broth­er pro­tect­ed Father Michael as a child; he’d often spo­ken of being picked on. Father told of his brother’s edu­ca­tion, accom­plish­ments and wealth (yes, a lit­tle brag­ging). Then said “he is a won­der­ful, devout, pro­gres­sive Catholic”. Then a moment lat­er “and I am a pro­gres­sive priest”.

I kind of expect­ed that as I sur­mised it was part of the rea­son for Father Michael’s pop­u­lar­i­ty. But I am not pro­gres­sive, and I’d rather not label any­body or be labeled. When Father said this, he sound­ed so con­fid­ing and secre­tive, I imme­di­ate­ly want­ed to let him know that I thought dif­fer­ent­ly. So I asked to tell him a story.It was about the parish I’d belonged to before St Vin­cent. It was a pret­ty wild place. My two old­er kids went to CCD there. Two sis­ters and a dea­con pre­pared them for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and First Com­mu­nion. I attend­ed the par­ent edu­ca­tion meet­ings and in the ones for First Com­mu­nion, I was tak­en aback by the lack of under­stand­ing of the sacra­ment. Peo­ple talked about, bread, wine, sym­bols; no one seemed to have any kind of grasp of the Real Pres­ence. The two sis­ters said noth­ing to enlight­en or cor­rect any­one. Noth­ing. I was shak­en.

The sis­ter in charge of the Com­mu­nion cat­e­ch­esis began to preach at Mass on Sun­day. It was near­ly every Sun­day. She was quite gifted,an excel­lent preach­er, no deny­ing that. The parish was inte­grat­ed with many African-Amer­i­cans com­ing to Mass because their kids attend­ed the school. Sis­ter, also African-Amer­i­can, real­ly spoke to them and their lives. And her per­spec­tive was cer­tain­ly enrich­ing to the rest of us.But I real­ized she should not have been preach­ing and it both­ered me.This con­tin­ued for a year and then the sis­ter began to wear priest­ly vest­ments for Mass. I tried to ratio­nal­ize that one out; I couldn’t. My gut feel­ing was that sis­ter was try­ing to enhance her author­i­ty by wear­ing the vest­ments. And though there were peo­ple like me who would think “who are you kid­ding?”, there were oth­ers who would not be aware of the false­ness. I just thought it was wrong.

I con­tact­ed the Office of Divine Wor­ship to talk to some­one about it. (Father Michael near­ly had a con­nip­tion when I told him this. He sat there lis­ten­ing, but steam­ing.) I had to doc­u­ment my obser­vances by let­ter, so I did. I had to describe the vest­ments she wore. The priest in that office made sure I knew that a pas­tor could give per­mis­sion for some­one else to do the homi­ly. He didn’t know what to say when I said ” But Father, it’s near­ly every week!” Well, noth­ing hap­pened. I left the parish and found St Vincent’s-a calm place. About ten years lat­er, a con­ser­v­a­tive bish­op had the sis­ter reas­signed. She became head of her order-no sur­prise there!

I made the point to Father Michael that the sis­ter who was so dri­ven to preach was the same one who didn’t both­er to edu­cate at all in the First Com­mu­nion class­es. He got that, but was irri­tat­ed with me for my con­tact­ing the Arch­dio­cese. He yelled at me, so angry that I would ques­tion a Dominican’s preach­ing charism. I yelled back “No, she was NOT a Domini­can, Father Michael!”  He was also cha­grinned that I would not auto­mat­i­cal­ly and unques­tion­ing­ly sup­port anoth­er woman. Father M must have been exposed to a lot of real­ly testy fem­i­nists- that’s all I can fig­ure. He act­ed like he was com­plete­ly in their cor­ner, but I feel he was try­ing to show sen­si­tiv­i­ty.

Any­way, Father Michael under­stood me bet­ter after that. Part of me didn’t want to ever hear that he might be at odds with church teach­ing. But now I often won­der what inter­est­ing sce­nar­ios he might have been part of, being pro­gres­sive “and proud of it” and also open to “trump­ing the law”. Our appoint­ment end­ed pleas­ant­ly and we con­tin­ued to meet a few times more, before the can­cer.

Once, on the phone, with Father Louie near­by, Father Michael stat­ed that Louie was one of a select group who’d ever seen him get angry. I refreshed his mem­o­ry about the expe­ri­ence I’ve just relayed. He was sur­prised and then remem­bered.

Always the Shepherd

The Lost Sheep/Daniel Bonnell
The Lost Sheep/Daniel Bon­nell

Yes­ter­day I was look­ing at a video of a Domini­can event that took place in March, 2013. At the end of the video the cam­era panned the group of peo­ple in atten­dance. Then it focused on some Domini­can fri­ars stand­ing in the back of the room. And there he was, Father Michael, hold­ing court just like he used to do at St Vin­cent, hug­ging and kiss­ing up a storm. There was audio, too, and I could faint­ly hear Father’s voice. Gosh, it brought tears to my eyes to see, as real again, a  com­mon scene I have remem­bered and cher­ished. Sad to say, they were still tears of sad­ness, not joy. I watched the clip twice and and then decid­ed to just leave it alone. It’s not sur­pris­ing to me that these ‘lit­tle things’ still hold a very deep mean­ing. Lat­er I remem­bered that I had actu­al­ly called Father M that day, want­i­ng to know if he was ready to eat some pies after com­plet­ing his chemo. Well, he was out of state, he said, but he was anx­ious for pie upon his return to St Pius. It was exact­ly a year and a day before he died.

I want to focus on the pos­i­tive. So I’ve decid­ed that I will share some ear­ly mem­o­ries of Father Michael-before his can­cer diag­no­sis. I know that I have men­tioned that I came back to my parish to dis­cuss some spir­i­tu­al issues with a priest. It was not a mat­ter of con­fes­sion; there was more to it. After a long delay, I approached Father M and he was very wel­com­ing. First I emailed Father, then I vis­it­ed him in the sac­risty, then set up an appoint­ment. This is about my first appoint­ment.

I made the appoint­ment about a week before and was a lit­tle ner­vous, yet felt I had found the right per­son. I was so impressed with Father Michael, I thought “I just know he’s going to talk about the grace of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”. I was sure he would sug­gest that to me. I thought if I made my con­fes­sion to Father Michael, I’d be so emo­tion­al­ly spent that I wouldn’t be able to talk about all the oth­er stuff. So that morning,after Mass at St Vin­cent, I went to a close-by parish for Con­fes­sion. I knew the priests were avail­able right after Mass. So fun­ny, because I think I felt like I had to cleanse my soul before I dared face the very holy Father Michael. And yes, he did bring up Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that day!

Well, I was on time for the appoint­ment, Father Michael was a few min­utes late. I knew he had been with a promi­nent mem­ber of our parish who had passed away. The recep­tion­ist had been on the phone “get­ting the word out”. When Father arrived, we went into his office and sat down. Even though I had eat­en, my stom­ach had been rum­bling away-prob­a­bly nerves. I decid­ed to just be open about it and apol­o­gize for the noise ahead of time. Well, Father M laughed and said “Oh you don’t know about me and my stom­ach issues. Girl, you and I will just sit here and gur­gle at each oth­er!” So that broke the awk­ward­ness for me! Father Michael then start­ed to give me a his­to­ry of his stom­ach issues,the cur­rent ones (which many ladies of the parish knew well-and dis­cussed freely) . He then told of the bleed­ing ulcer he had in Den­ver. He was Domini­can Novice Mas­ter at the time. He said the doc­tors had told him he had “24 hours to live”. He claimed he told them “Good, no dra­ma, don’t wor­ry about noti­fy­ing my fam­i­ly”. He nev­er said how long it took him to recu­per­ate or if his fam­i­ly were ever noti­fied. I asked what he thought caused the ulcer and he said “I kind of let every­thing get away from me”. I didn’t feel com­fort­able ask­ing him to elab­o­rate, though now I wish I had. In lat­er con­ver­sa­tions, he did say that when­ev­er his stom­ach would give him trou­ble, he’d just stop eating,sometimes for a few days. He talked about pos­si­bly hav­ing lac­tose intol­er­ance, irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome and mul­ti­ple bow­el obstruc­tions. Father M was very frank about this stuff- though he nev­er men­tioned a doctor’s diag­no­sis. And– he also allud­ed to some regret about not being stricter as a Novice Master-“when I hear how some of them are now.”

So after the stom­ach dis­cus­sion Father asked me about myself. He was so care­ful in how he asked about edu­ca­tion. It was clear to me that he was leery of offend­ing some­one (espe­cial­ly a woman) by assum­ing her lev­el of edu­ca­tion was low­er than she had achieved. I’ll bet he’d made that faux pas a few times! The cau­tion was actu­al­ly very charm­ing. But I only have a B.A. from Loy­ola-so he had noth­ing to fear. That’s pret­ty aver­age. Then Father asked more ques­tions about pos­si­bly stress­ful sit­u­a­tions in my life. I rec­og­nized all the queries as being pret­ty stan­dard about death, divorce, mov­ing, job, abuse, addic­tion. Father was very gen­tle and kind and ten­ta­tive in his ques­tion­ing. I think he just assumed I was hav­ing mar­i­tal prob­lems. He men­tioned annul­ments and remar­riage a few times. Well, my issue was none of these, but it took me three or four appoint­ments before I felt com­fort­able telling him. I didn’t want to be dis­cour­te­ous and shut down all his kind effort, so I went along with it.

Of course we talked about oth­er things, most notably fam­i­ly, Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and the Eucharist. But most inter­est­ing­ly, Father Michael gave me a lit­tle lec­ture on the pow­er of the sense of touch. He explained that when he was a fresh­man at Dal­housie Uni­ver­si­ty, he and his old­er broth­er had attend­ed a sem­i­nar or lec­ture by a very famous sci­en­tist. The lec­ture was all about the sense of touch and how impor­tant and mean­ing­ful it was. I found myself think­ing “I am a wife and moth­er of three, why is he telling me this? If noth­ing else, I am ful­ly aware of how impor­tant this is for bond­ing moth­er and baby.” Well, Father talked for over ten min­utes on this sub­ject. I was fas­ci­nat­ed at his great emo­tion in relay­ing his thoughts with such con­vic­tion. Father end­ed his talk telling me of the new wid­ow he had just left. He described poignant­ly how she had stroked her dead husband’s arm over and over. And he showed me just how she did this. He choked up and teared up as he described his awe being in the pres­ence of such a great love.Quite an unex­pect­ed turn in our talk, but as I grew to know Father bet­ter, I learned that using touch was a hall­mark of Father Michael’s being.

Then we spoke of the Eucharist. I’ve writ­ten about this awhile back. For some rea­son Father Michael was impressed by my words that day. I still wish I could remem­ber what I’d said. In any case, Father M start­ed talk­ing about the way peo­ple received the Eucharist , peo­ple who would just grab IT from him, those who approached dis­re­spect­ful­ly, those who would receive and just walk out the door. He lament­ed that poor cat­e­ch­esis  had result­ed in peo­ple ‘who didn’t have a clue’. He was tru­ly sad about this. Then Father shared the expe­ri­ence of cel­e­brat­ing Mass in Cana­da with those very close to him. He quick­ly gave a run­down of those who were no longer prac­tic­ing Catholics and those extend­ed fam­i­ly who belonged to dif­fer­ent denom­i­na­tions. With big tears rolling down his cheeks, he said “I feel so bad about their receiv­ing Com­mu­nion, but I don’t know what to say.” Wow, was I sur­prised about that!!!!  After all he was a priest-and a good and holy one- who wouldn’t lis­ten to him?  I was con­cerned and empa­thet­ic, see­ing again this great emo­tion show so quick­ly. I said “Father Michael, I can under­stand that you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feel­ings or start a war, but maybe one of your broth­ers could explain this in a non-hurt­ful way”. Father just shook his head, he felt tru­ly help­less about the sit­u­a­tion. Father was unique in open­ly show­ing his vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and I was priv­i­leged to see this in sig­nif­i­cant mat­ters of faith. When he vis­it­ed Cana­da, I prayed that he might have peace about this.

In my ear­li­est posts, I’ve writ­ten about oth­er aspects of this meet­ing. I won’t repeat them here.The meet­ing end­ed most pleas­ant­ly. And I felt that God had giv­en me a great gift in lead­ing me to Father Michael. It is so nice to rem­i­nisce. So much was so mean­ing­ful.

Made To Shine


More thoughts from my ill­ness hia­tus are com­ing back to me. I did a lot of inter­net read­ing while sick; couldn’t do much else! I have sev­er­al favorite blogs I tapped into reg­u­lar­ly.

One of these blogs is “One Mad Mom”, writ­ten by a Cal­i­for­nia home school­ing mom, who whole­heart­ed­ly sup­ports embat­tled Arch­bish­op Cordileone, of San Fran­cis­co. She’s just excel­lent. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed her posts “Meet the Laity” and “Doing the Pas­toral Thing”.

Here’s a quote from that blog that I real­ly like; it is from Arch­bish­op Cordileone’s speech to sem­i­nar­i­ans:

This is being pas­toral: encoun­ter­ing the oth­er, estab­lish­ing a rela­tion­ship with them, being lov­ing­ly present to them. A priest can­not pos­si­bly hope to help his peo­ple grow in holi­ness if he is not present to them. His lov­ing, pas­toral pres­ence to them at those most crit­i­cal moments of life – the loss of a loved one, the birth of a child, mar­riage, times of cri­sis – all of this pre­pares the ground for him to, when nec­es­sary, chal­lenge them for their own ongo­ing con­ver­sion. So make no mis­take: tru­ly doing the “pas­toral thing” will always be hard­er, it will always place demands on you, some­times incon­ve­nient and uncom­fort­able demands; it will require you to work hard.

The Arch­bish­op then goes on to con­trast ide­o­logue and lazy priests with those being tru­ly pas­toral. Lots of food for thought, espe­cial­ly for Catholics who would nev­er ques­tion the behav­ior or moti­va­tion of their priests. I com­mend ‘One Mad Mom’ for spot­light­ing these things.

Speak­ing of behav­ior of priests: one ‘rock star’ priest is one too many, in my opin­ion. A local com­mu­ni­ty is hav­ing to deal with the after­math of ‘an error in judg­ment’ by their very pop­u­lar priest. I am aware of a sim­i­lar, but as yet unpub­li­cized sit­u­a­tion in anoth­er neigh­bor­ing dio­cese. Law­suits all over the place. These sad sit­u­a­tions brought back to my mind some thoughts of Father Hun­wicke in late 2014. (his blog is Father Hunwicke’s Mutu­al Enrich­ment) Father wrote a post on celiba­cy in Decem­ber. I think he makes some excel­lent points, par­tic­u­lar­ly about extreme extro­verts in the priest­hood:

Since the 1960s, there has been much talk about mer­cy, and for­give­ness, and sim­i­lar very splen­did things. It has been an era in which we have been urged not to be too pre­oc­cu­pied with sin, par­tic­u­lar­ly sex­u­al sin. A Catholic priest with much pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­tence in this area has explained to me that one psy­cho­log­i­cal rea­son for the bit­ter hatred of the Extra­or­di­nary Form among senior cler­gy of a cer­tain age has been that they asso­ciate it with a cru­el, rigid, sin-obsessed sex-proc­cu­pied form of Catholi­cism upon which they look back with fear and detes­ta­tion. So: ‘mer­ci­ful’ bish­ops were dis­in­clined to ‘ruin’ a priest for ‘just one lapse’, or even two or three. Or four. After all, as we have been informed over and over again, sex­u­al sins are not the only sorts of sins; spir­i­tu­al sins such as Pride, and sins against Social Jus­tice, are far more dis­pleas­ing in the sight of God than mere laps­es from Chasti­ty. Our Oz friends could look into the prob­lem of ‘lib­er­al’ bish­ops as well.
My own, again anec­do­tal, expe­ri­ence has inclined me to think that ‘charis­mat­ic’ lead­ers, admired by the media and sur­round­ed by ador­ing groupies, can be pecu­liar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to sex­u­al temp­ta­tion. J F Kennedy, Mar­tin Luther King, and, with­in the Church, bish­op Eamonn Casey … and Fr Macial Maciel … and Fr Lelio Can­ti­ni … spring to mind; and one bish­op of my acquain­tance in the Church of Eng­land was anoth­er. He was held in such tremen­dous­ly high regard, not least in the very high­est reach­es of the British Estab­lish­ment, that after acknowl­edg­ing his guilt, accept­ing a police warn­ing, and resign­ing his dio­cese, he imme­di­ate­ly start­ed spread­ing it around that he was com­plete­ly inno­cent, but had plead­ed guilty to save the Church the embar­rass­ment of a pub­lic tri­al. This claim was accept­ed by peo­ple unwill­ing to face up to the fact that they had been gullible dupes. So plau­si­ble was he that his one-time dioce­san supe­ri­or, when he came lat­er to write his own auto­bi­og­ra­phy, round­ly assert­ed the total inno­cence of his fel­low-bish­op and put the entire episode down to a Wicked Plot. I think psy­cho­me­t­ric experts should exam­ine with even more than their usu­al acu­ity can­di­dates for ordi­na­tion who are at the extreme ‘extro­vert’ end of the spec­trum. Oz could look into this side of things as well.

Father Hun­wicke is so eru­dite and so fun­ny. And his Latin ref­er­ences bowl me over and chal­lenge me, as I have only stud­ied Latin for two years. He nev­er ‘dumbs it down’; he is respect­ful to his read­ers. I appre­ci­ate his wise and frank words.

And then there was a post on the Per­son­al­ist Project’s web­site titled “Over­com­ing Cler­i­cal­ism”. I will only quote a small por­tion address­ing cler­i­cal­ism, which I have edit­ed. Katie van Schai­jik wrote:

Hom­i­lies that seem addressed to a con­gre­ga­tion of fourth graders. The priest is the teacher; we are the chil­dren. He tells a cutesy anec­dote or two, then gives us lit­tle expla­na­tions and instruc­tions designed to make the faith acces­si­ble for begin­ners. Noth­ing in the tone or con­tent express­es a due aware­ness of the fact that the church is like­ly full of mature Catholics, many of whom are high­ly edu­cat­ed in their faith—some more edu­cat­ed than the priests (and dea­cons). They don’t need instruc­tion, but preach­ing of the kind Pope Fran­cis calls for in the Gospel of Joy.

.….….….…. Some lay Catholics need instruc­tion. But nobody needs patron­iz­ing; no adults should be addressed as if they’re chil­dren. And all Catholics, regard­less of our lev­el of matu­ri­ty and knowl­edge need good preach­ing. Good preach­ing, like the Scrip­tures it’s about, should be “shal­low enough for an ant to wade in and deep enough for an ele­phant to swim in.”

One of the prob­lems we’re deal­ing with, though, is that an alarm­ing num­ber of priests come across as seri­ous cas­es of arrest­ed devel­op­ment. They don’t seem to have matured prop­er­ly as human beings. I hope the Arch­bish­op will find a way to address this prob­lem at the sem­i­nary and beyond. Among my sug­ges­tions would be to encour­age much more inter­ac­tion between priests and laity on the lev­el of true friend­ship.

I iden­ti­fied with hear­ing a fourth grade lev­el homi­ly. It’s not always the case in my parish, but it hap­pens enough. And I don’t know about the arrest­ed devel­op­ment being ram­pant. I’m not a psy­chol­o­gist. But I can def­i­nite­ly see the point of inter­ac­tion between priests and laity on a lev­el of true friend­ship. In my expe­ri­ence, this is where many priests will go through the motions, and say all the right things, but nev­er tru­ly let down their guard. They are friend-ly , but not a friend. The priest shares his pres­ence, but not his true self.

For­ma­tors talk about attract­ing well-round­ed, intel­li­gent, high­ly edu­cat­ed men to the priest­hood. Some­how when I read their assess­ments of their newest can­di­dates, they sound more like snob­bish brags anx­ious to cul­ti­vate and adver­tise an ‘intel­lec­tu­al’ machis­mo. I get the feel­ing that that aspect is most impor­tant, rather than nur­tur­ing and inspir­ing virtue in these men.  But what do I know? These days an awful lot of peo­ple abide by the adage “If it works, don’t fix it”. Maybe that’s the case here, but I have to wonder—is it real­ly work­ing?

So thought I’d share the thoughts that have been on my mind this last month. I swear I dreamed of these things over and over when I was sick! They just stayed with me. But I am glad I was com­pelled to do the read­ing. And there is so much more, I’ll save it for anoth­er time.

Devil in the Dryer ?

9-1Gone for over a month-and I come back with such silli­ness. That’s fine, I need a break from the seri­ous stuff !

In a way , this is still a seri­ous mat­ter. My niece, who has MS, is about to become a moth­er. The baby, a lit­tle boy, is due to arrive on July 11. There was a baby show­er in ear­ly April. I had cro­cheted a beau­ti­ful mul­ti­col­ored afghan in fluffy yarn for the baby. The after­noon before the show­er, as is my cus­tom, I decid­ed to wash and dry the afghan. I have a dog and a cat and I just think it is cour­te­ous to wash the gift item, so it will be free of ani­mal hair. Also, fab­ric soft­en­er lends a nice scent.

Now I’ve done many, many baby blan­kets with this fluffy yarn, washed them with no prob­lem. The yarn label states “machine wash­able and dryable”. But that evening in April, I removed the afghan from the dry­er and was stunned. First, it had stretched to about one and a half times its cor­rect size. As a result of this, all the stitch­es were loose and stringy-look­ing. Then the beau­ti­ful col­ors had lost their inten­si­ty because they were so spread apart. It looked dingy. The yarn, which nor­mal­ly is nub­by and irreg­u­lar in a cozy way, turned wispy and ragged. I was so upset!

Luck­i­ly, I had stopped at a local shop and picked up a few lit­tle extras for the baby ear­li­er that day. Those became my main gift at the show­er. I wrote a note to my niece explain­ing what had hap­pened. And I said anoth­er afghan would be forth­com­ing.

I real­ly want­ed to do the same pat­tern, but decid­ed I should choose a dif­fer­ent one- but using the same nor­mal­ly love­ly yarn. I had to order some more yarn. A week lat­er it arrived and I was anx­ious to get start­ed.  But then I became very ill and my arms ached so much, I was not able to do a darn thing! After three weeks, I felt bet­ter  and I final­ly was able to start the blan­ket. I com­plet­ed it in three days; I was very pleased with how it turned out.

So again, I decid­ed to wash the blan­ket. I actu­al­ly prayed as I placed it in my wash­er on the “del­i­cate” cycle with luke­warm water. I left out the fab­ric soft­en­er. Lat­er I held my breath as I removed the blan­ket from the wash­er. It looked just fine! I was so hap­py. I put it in the dry­er with a big fluffy tow­el to help pre­vent any pilling. And I added a fab­ric soft­en­er sheet.…..and I think that was my mis­take.

Twen­ty min­utes lat­er, I pulled out anoth­er rag­gy, beat-up afghan. My heart sank. I was beside myself. I could have cried, but I also was angry. It had to have been either the fab­ric soft­en­er sheet or the dry­er itself. As I said ear­li­er, I’ve washed this yarn before — with­out a prob­lem. I’ve used fab­ric soft­en­er every time. So, maybe it was just the dryer.….I am tempt­ed to call it the demon­ic dry­er. Found the per­fect pic­ture to illus­trate this-haha. I’d show you pic­tures of the two hideous afghans, but I think most peo­ple would have a hard time believ­ing they were ever pret­ty.

So now I have start­ed again. Same yarn,different pat­tern. I’ve actu­al­ly chuck­led see­ing reviews of the yarn stat­ing “wash­es and dries like a dream”. More like a night­mare!!! I find the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fac­ing the same dry­er expe­ri­ence scary. But maybe the third time will be the charm. And hey, it’s a Mys­ti­cal num­ber!   My niece is wait­ing, prob­a­bly think­ing she will get noth­ing from me. I am so irked that my lack of a gift comes across as dis­cour­tesy, when real­ly it has been com­plete­ly demor­al­iz­ing for me. Plus there is the fact of all the work involved, going down the drain. Yes, it is work I love to do , but work nonethe­less!

Say a prayer for me!

Patience gains all things”- Tere­sa de Ávi­la