Week 26 Baby Bump

It's week 26 now! I am exercising regulrarly and eating very healthy. Overall I have a lot of energy. Still I am ready to have the baby now. I should probably just try to forget about being pregnant and enjoy the moment. There is something wonderful about expecting, but at the same time it is so easy to get sucked in to the expectation that time seems to creep by yet go unenjoyed. Life is busy and we have so much planned in the coming months it is not a good thing to be so fixed on a date 14 weeks from now. I have birthdays and Advent and Christmas to enjoy. We also have our anniversary, New Years Day, Epiphany, Candlemas, and the feast of St. Valentine. Hopefully I will not still be pregnant for the feast of St. Patrick! But given that I should have a brand new baby by then, I should prepare things beforehand. I am thinking I will prepare some crafts for the children to do while I am with the baby or having the baby or whatever. They can decorate for St. Patrick's day and maybe my mom can prepare an Irish meal. 

Allegory of the Walking Dead

In order to write this post I must admit something that may raise a few eyebrows...I watch the series The Walking Dead. There I said it. Yes, it is grotesque. Yes I watch a good portion on mute because I cannot stand the gargling zombie sounds. Yes I look away or even read blog posts during particularly bloody scenes (which is 3/4 of the show). And YES it irritates me to no end that these loud and clumsy zombies are always sneaking up on everyone...come on people, these are not exactly stealth ninjas you're dealing with here. But there is something I really like about the show. It helps me reflect on the current state of humanity. And if I am being 100% honest, the story just kind of sucked me in.

Recently, while watching the show, it occurred to me that the world that is depicted in The Walking Dead is not so different from the real world, at least in an allegorical sense.  I do not think a zombie apocalypse is coming, but in a certain sense I think the zombie apocalypse is now.

In the show society has collapsed. People are isolated and community is very rare.  The un-dead roam about the world seeking human flesh and converting the living into horrible ungodly eating machines. The people who survive are unsure of whether they should show mercy and maintain a sense of humanity or treat everyone as an enemy and give up on compassion and civility. Cannibalism among the living has cropped up as resources are scarce and people have become desensitized to the horror. There is widespread distrust and a near complete loss of hope.   

Is it just me? Can you see the allegory? As we approach Thanksgiving and the infamous Black Friday we have a perfect illustration of what I am talking about. Go ahead and watch it on mute it is mostly just gurgling and screaming. 

This is what we encounter more and more these days. Perhaps not always stampedes. But the spirit is the same. Black Friday is simply when we see it en masse. The zombie virus? Sin. Sure it has always been around. But by and large society has ignored its existence and we are suffering the consequences. With so much of the world cutting itself off from the grace of God they walk around as undead, little more than consuming machines. There is little care for one's neighbor. In general the people that are still holding on to some notion of decency have a sense of distrust and an every-man-for-himself-mentality is creeping into their hearts.  In the show the zombies pursue human flesh no matter the consequences. They do not reason, they do not love. So too today people pursue their own pleasure regardless of the damage they cause to themselves or others (see clip above). I was on the phone with someone the other day about a medical bill that had been missed by my insurance. The man was rude and talked to me without compassion or care. I tried to remain calm and collected but I was simply shocked at his inability to see me as a person with a real problem that he had the power to help me with. It was that conversation that inspired me to write this post.  

Now I know you are probably thinking this does not seem an appropriate post for a blog called Our Merry Little Way. And you are right, it isn't really merry or bright to say we are living a zombie apocalypse. It is cynical and kind of a bummer. And my allegory has plenty of holes. Thankfully one of those holes is that our current zombie apocalypse is very different in an important aspect and that makes things a little less bleak: the un-dead we encounter can be healed and the antidote is readily available in the sacraments.

*UPDATE: I am not sure I can continue watching the show. I really have enjoyed it but it seems that the longer it goes on the more grotesque it is going to get. I realize they need to keep viewers interested but the character drama that made the show so interesting to me before is getting thin and the show is more and more about the gore (which has never been lacking). We will see if this next season can provide some redemption. For any zombie show fans out there I thought Z Nation was kind of a fun one. It is a bit more low-budget but it has a comedic element that I thought was refreshing. Season 1 is online but I am not sure they are continuing with a season 2 so watch at your own risk because season 1 gives absolutely no closure.

Martinmas Celebration

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Martin. I love Martinmas! It is like a Catholic Thanksgiving and a pre-advent carnivale all wrapped into one. For our family it is the first day of winter and it comes just before the beginning of the penitential season of Advent. I know, I know, winter technically starts on December 21st. But not in our house. For us it is the feast of St. Martin. After this day we start thinking about advent and preparations for Christmas and winter decorations start to make their way out of boxes. Our advent wreath is made after Martinmas as well (if we don't already have one made from last year).

In our house we typically do several things each feast of St. Martin.

1. A Gift of Warmth: If the children are in need of something for winter I do my very best to get it for them on the feast of St. Martin. Usually it is just a new pair of mittens or a scarf tied up with a simple bow and a little note about St. Martin. If we find ourselves with too many coats this is the day we donate them. This year we officially launched the St. Martin Coat Drive where we will be collecting Coats from family, friends, and neighbors to donate to the poor. Here in Oregon it does get quite cold and I see so many homeless without much more than a jean jacket. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through a winter like that. I have also considered just buying a few coats or sweaters at Goodwill or at a Catholic thrift store and handing them out to the people that beg on the street corners. I have not been organized enough to do it this year, but it would be a fun tradition to start on this day!

2.  Lanterns & a Song: The children make lanterns each year and we sing the traditional St. Martin song from Germany (translated of course). The version linked above is missing the final verse which is roughly translated:

St. Martin lies down quietly to rest,
In a dream the Lord appears.
He says:  Thank you, horseman,
for what you did to me. 

You can see the music and most of the lyrics here.  

We have never had the pleasure of celebrating with other families but that would certainly add to the fun. A bonfire and treats for the children are traditional on St. Martins Day as well. Because the days are getting darker now the lanterns add some wonderful cheeriness to the day and the song is very catchy.   

The lanterns are usually made of paper mache or jars. We have not made ours yet this year and we will be spending the afternoon doing just that if I can get this blog post up. Symbols associated with St. Martin such as the goose (traditionally eaten on this feast) and a sword and cloak make good decorations for the lanterns. 

Wondering why the goose is a symbol of St. Martin? Apparently when the townspeople were calling for St. Martin to be made bishop he was hiding hoping to avoid the honor but a goose gave away his location. 

3. A Celebratory Meal: In keeping with the traditions of our medieval Catholic ancestors we have a celebratory harvest meal. While we are no longer medieval, and we are hardly farmers, I think it is important to connect with the traditions of the past and also to remember how God provides for us through the seasons. If we were medieval Catholics living in Europe, the harvest would be in and preparations for winter would be made. So a meal in celebration and thanksgiving is quite apropos. Since we do also celebrate the American Thanksgiving with family and a big turkey dinner it is a little too costly and time consuming to do a second large feast in one month.  I have made serious attempts at transferring the traditional Thanksgiving day to the feast of St. Martin for my family but I have yet to succeed. Generally we simply choose a hearty meal we all enjoy like beef stew and crusty bread with a dessert like apple pie and then we take time to read about St. Martin at the dinner table and to reflect on how all that we have comes from God and through his loving providence.

Halloween 2014

The Dragon St. George Fought

St. George

St. Margaret

St. Cecilia

Calavera Catrina

Calavera Catrina