This month…this year…has been a trying time for many of us us. And we at Sick Pilgrim are well-acquainted with shadows and loss.
Yet, we are not a people of despair. Sick Pilgrim knows the reality of struggling against the dark – and we are not afraid to tackle despair, loneliness, brokenness, anger. We do so because these are realities of life too often brushed under the rug.
But we are people of hope. Sometimes we need a nudge to remind ourselves; sometimes we are in danger of being enveloped by the darkness and forgetting that awesome reality.
“We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.” -Pope Saint John Paul II
So here it is, our monthly post on the small joys of the Sick Pilgrim community. This post is as much for us as it is for our readers. It might even give you an idea for how you can bring a small joy to someone else this Advent.
The season of Advent is here, bringing an invitation to enter into a deeper prayer-life. God knows I could use more structure or something. I am pretty awful as a pray-er. So with this new Church year, I hope that the candles and the general solemnity of this season push me towards greater piety. It helps that we’re praying together every day this Advent on the Sick Pilgrim community page. Community members are taking turns leading prayer from the Divine Office via Facebook live nightly at 10 pm ET. Send up a flare if you want to join us. (email firstname.lastname@example.org, or just search for Sick Pilgrim community on Facebook.)
I made Siri British. Allow me this low-brow sense of pleasure. Advent is the season of fictional characters – Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, Christians angry at Starbucks cups, and, for me, Siri. On my phone settings, I changed its (her?) voice to “British-female.” I now have a snappy British personal assistant. This is probably the best thing I’ve ever done with my phone.
What has been a source of small joy for some other sick pilgrims?
Marybeth Chuey Bishop lives in Annapolis with her husband and 5 kids. She can regularly be found walking or wearing her kraken socks to the library, where she checks out more books than she has time to read.
My husband’s sense of humor. I appreciate that it is as sick as my own, and we are able to travel through some pretty murky and gator-infested waters together, laughing all the way. I snapped this post-Thanksgiving pic after he removed my last Halloween decoration, and he titled it “Enjoy Your Meal. You’ll Die Eventually.”
The fall in Maryland is more extended than in my native Michigan. I’ve always felt like the burst of ridiculous color and the crisp air is God’s way of filling me up to get through a long, drab winter. It seems like the particularly beautiful and lengthy autumn this year is His way of preparing me for a fight–“Wake up and eat,” if you will. So I’m feasting in preparation.
(Honorable mention- cheese. Melted, in chunks, soft, hard, toasted. Cheese for sure.)
Jonás Pérez has a couple of vowels in his name with accents over them, which makes it very difficult to type. He, his wife, and his two kids live in Fort Worth, Texas. Check out his book Finibus, a narrative poem describing God’s judgment of all creation.
Bruce Springsteen’s new book, Born to Run. He dedicates an entire chapter to the Church and how it has influenced his music. A quote: “I desperately want to fit in but the world I have created with the unwarranted freedom from my grandparents has turned me into an unintentional rebel, an outcast weirdo misfit sissy boy. I am alienating, alienated and socially homeless.” [A Sick Pilgrim hero!] Bruce’s Catholicism is embedded in many of his songs. Check out this video with lyrics and an article on the Catholic imagination present in Bruce’s music and lyrics:
What Dreams May Come. Robin Williams plays a doctor, married with two kids. Both kids die in a car accident. Four years later he dies in a car accident and goes to heaven (Summerland.) Subsequently, his wife commits suicide and is in a hell-realm. He goes to this hell-realm with a guide to find her. The movie visuals remind me of the illustrated Divine Comedy. I discovered this book and movie by reading up on the meaning to the song lyrics “Last Exit for the Lost” by the Fields of the Nephilim, an English gothic rock band named after the Biblical giants/angels/sons of God described in Genesis 6:1-4 and Numbers 13:25-33. I don’t like all of their music but this song is haunting and (ironically?) inspires me to get back on track. It relates to the movie because the singer plays the role of the guide into hell, similar to Virgil in the Divine Comedy. He advises the Robin Williams character so he doesn’t get trapped in the hell realm. In a weird way, it is (for me anyway) a song to listen to before making an examination of conscience. Video of a good live performance here:
Shana Hutchings wishes she had a manatee for a pet. She would dress it in a yellow bikini, keep it in the bathtub, and name it Ethyl. She has thought about this a lot.
Scotcharoos. For those of you not from the Midwest, they are kind of like Rice Krispie Treats but made with peanut butter, butterscotch and topped with melted chocolate. We buy some of our food from a local co-op and I recently discovered that they sell these decadent treats so when I go and buy my produce, I stock up on my own private stash of goodness. When the time is right (usually when my kiddos are at school), I take out a couple and enjoy the sweetness.
Songs for Christmas Singalong by Sufjan Stevens. I realize I am probably a decade behind, but I saw this set at the library recently and brought it home. I fell in love with the variety of traditional and modern songs (including Advent selections!), the melancholy tone and the hilarious stories in the liner notes. It is perfect to listen to while I enjoy my Scotcharoos.
Theresa Marier Weller is a theatre educator in the Detroit area. She is totally down to sing any Ave Maria you want at your wedding or funeral for a cool $75.
The Hamilton Mixtape. Lin-Manuel Miranda has been releasing a track or two a week for this past month, and each has been an inspiring collaboration of diverse and multi-generational artists. This piece of art, both wholly new and bound up in over two hundred years of history, is giving me hope that as we find new means of expressing what America looks like through different lenses, we will as a nation find pathways to empathy and common ground on which to build.
Cynthia Schrage is currently care-giving for her elderly parents. She is staying afloat by reading one paragraph at a time in a great book and knitting.
My awesome daughter (who cooks). Spending time with my daughter, who is literally the best person in the entire world. Because of Thanksgiving, she had a couple days off extra and we went to two different movies. We also enjoyed other quality time eating, both a dinner she and her beau prepared, and at my brother’s house for turkey day. Having some delicious food into which I put zero prep and cleanup and which cost me NOTHING.
Thanks to all sick pilgrims who contributed to this post, a sampling of our awesome Sick Pilgrim community.
Do you feel like an outcast most of the time? Are you Catholic or Catholic-friendly and want to join our ragtag troupe? Does Sick Pilgrim speak your language? Search for the Facebook group “Sick Pilgrim community” or email email@example.com and say “Hey Pest, I wanna join you bums.” Looking forward to it.