Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would point you to a very interesting podcast called Fetal Consequences.

Researchers at Tufts University have found that the "barrier" between a mother and her unborn child is not very secure.  During pregnancy fetal cells can pass through the placenta and into the mother's blood.  Once they do, these cells remain in the mother for decades.  These researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how those cells affect the mother.  Do they help her fight illness and heal?  Do the cause certain illnesses? As it turns out there is a plethora of variables that affect those questions. 

Regardless of the answers, I find it wonderful to think that whether a mother has lost her baby before birth, or had a child die, or even just had children grow up and move away to live their own lives, we can all take a little comfort in the fact that we are never fully apart from our children.  A little bit of them will always remain with us perhaps doing what children do best... helping us when we're low and need some sunshine and fighting us at other times.

I hope you listen to this podcast, enjoy your children, and enjoy your Mother's Day!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Some months ago, I heard a review on NPR for a then newly released movie entitled Melancholia by director Lars Von Trier (I must admit to never having heard of him until this movie, but from what I now know his films are generally dark and disturbing... anyway...).  Overall, the reviewer liked the movie, but I've also heard that it is so heavy, and perhaps slow, that many people don't finish it.  

DH & I had both heard the NPR review and were intrigued.  About a week ago, I found it on Netflix, and this weekend we watched it.  It is certainly not an Orthodox film.  Rather it is on the surface nihilistic, but I found it to be incredibly beautiful.  Here I'll have to admit that most movies I watch are "light watching" and I would never call them art.  This one is not in that category.  The scenery, cinematography, and music are all so beautiful, so powerful that when put together I can only call it an artistic masterpiece.  

The story follows two sisters (Part I: Justine played by Kirsten Dunst, Part II: Claire played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) in the days before the possible collision of the planet Melancholia with Earth.  Justine's severe depression (melancholia) and Claire's perfectionist personality create an abundance of dramatic tension in Part I as we trudge through Justine's awkward wedding reception.  However, I found that tension to be alleviated by several moments of comic relief (I won't swear those moments were intentional -- I may just have an odd sense of humor or be familiar enough with Justine's emotional state to find them funny).  As Part II progresses, the roles of the sisters reverse Claire who has taken care of Justine and arranged things begins to panic at the thought of the world ending.  Justine, on the other hand, finds a sense of calm and peace in the knowledge that the world will end.  While Claire hopes for disaster to be averted, Justine finds relief in its certainty. 

The story line offers an honest look at human nature.  As tables turn the facades we put on for the world are lifted, and we are shown our weaknesses, but also the strength we can find despite that weakness.  The final scene of destruction is poignant in the show of real love between Justine and Claire and towards Claire's young son.  This love gives Claire and her son strength in their fear.  It is for this that I would disagree with critics who call the film nihilistic.  Justine (and the director) may think the world is meaningless, evil, and deserves to be destroyed, but in the end we can find meaning in relationships and love.

I definitely recommend watching this film.  It is artistically amazing, and whether you end up liking it or not, it will leave you with plenty of food for reflection.  Having said that, there are at least two scenes (of nudity and sex) that would almost certainly offend some people, but after watching the entire film, I found them easy to overlook.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From a Boy to a Soldier

A year ago, my oldest nephew, who graduated high school at the top of his class, decided to quit college and enlist in the army.  When I heard the news, I thought, Is he stupid?  He was so smart.  Why would he want to join the army? He could do anything.  Well, I just found at least a part of the answer.  When his mom tried to convince him not to join, his response was "Mom, I just want to serve."

He's currently finishing up basic training.  I've largely been a slacker of an aunt, just watching from a distance... although I did have the girls make pictures for him to hang in his locker, and they wanted to include some of their Easter candy, which he probably wasn't allowed to keep...

Well, I'm probably still going to be a slacker if I'm honest, but now I'll be able to keep a little more in touch with what's going on in his and my sister's life.  She recently set up a blog to reflect on her experiences as an army mom.  I know she's really scared about the whole thing and trying to figure it all out and adjust.  I just read her first post, and I am so awed by her.  She has so much courage, strength, and grace.  I know she'll get through this period in their lives.  I suspect others will find her reflections to be beneficial, inspirational even.  So, I've added a link in my sidebar (her blog shares a title with this post).

We'll be praying for her, Matt, and all of their family.  A few years ago, our Sunday school children each took a weekday to pray for soldiers from our parish.  We aren't faithful in praying for the soldiers weekly anymore, but we do it from time to time.  Matt is giving us a good reminder to get back in the habit of praying for them and all soldiers.  If you know any soldiers, for whom you'd like us to pray each week, please send me their names, and I'll add them to our list.