Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Mother's Sacrifice: A short story



A Mother's Sacrifice: A Short Story
By Cara Ruegg

Her hair was the color of wheat in the summer; her eyes the color of the gray Atlantic; pictures of yellow daffodils danced down her dress, as she gathered the blankets from the clotheslines, folded them, and set them gently on top of her twig-woven basket.

My shadow, which was previously hidden behind the blanket, now lengthened to the tips of her sandaled feet. Her eyes focused on the spot, and then looked up at me, standing there with my fingers fidgeting with the collar of my shirt.

“Oh, Thomas, I didn’t see you!” She waved me over, smiling. It was a smile that told memories – the same smile that greeted me after a long day at school, that said goodnight as I lay in bed, that comforted me after a fall.

I had to tell her. It would break her heart, I knew, to have her little boy, her only boy, leave her. She had always wanted me to do something noble – become a doctor or teacher, do something, anything that would make a difference, but there had always been limits to that request and, by my decision, I had just crossed those limits. 

“Ma, I have something I gotta say.”

Her gray eyes met mine; they were still soft and gentle, but there was also a hint of worry in them. She knew she wouldn’t like it, whatever it was. 

“What is it, Tom?”

“I’m…it…well…” The words stuck to my throat like glue. I wanted so much to say them, just get it over with, but seeing her eyes so intent on mine made it nearly impossible. I’m leaving you, Ma. I’m leaving you. 

“Cat got your tongue?” She playfully nudged me with the basket. “Come on, get it out, will ya? You know I lack patience.”

“I…well…I don’t know.”

“Tom, come on, you can tell me. I’ll understand.”

“I’m leaving.” The words hung in the air for a long time it seemed, replaying again and again in my jumbled mind. “I’m, uh, I’m going to the missions to be a priest in Africa.”

The basket dropped with a thud; it was the first thing to break the heavy silence between us.

“Africa? A priest?” She threw her head back in an attempt to keep back the tears that were already getting caught in her eyelashes.

I swallowed the stupid knot in my throat. It was too hard. I couldn’t do it. God couldn’t be asking such a sacrifice from us. It was just too much. I was all she had left in the world. Pa had died a long time ago. There was no one left to take care of her but me, and she needed me; I knew she needed me.

“Don’t cry.” I reached to touch her shoulder, but she dodged my grip, lowering herself to the dusty ground. I watched as she gathered the blankets and put them back into the basket with shaking hands. Once she had finished, I waited for her to rise, but she didn’t; she just stayed there, motionless, with the blankets sitting there, a now ruffled mess held down by her pale hands.

“Ma.” I crouched down next to her and leant my weight against her shoulder. “I won’t leave.” It seemed so easy to say it, to even want it. 

There was a long pause, a great span of unbearable silence, before she said to me, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.”

She took a deep breath before turning to me so that her forehead was against my own. “You need to go, Tom. I want you to go.”

I quickly stood, and turned, and ran my fingers through my hair, and looked up at the sun that temporarily blinded me. I breathed in. I breathed out. I tried not to focus on the stupid aching feeling inside of me. She was making a bigger sacrifice than I was, giving me her blessing, letting me go; now it was my turn to actually do what I told her I was going to. 

When I finally mustered the courage to turn around and look at her again, she was standing and smiling that beautiful, loving smile of hers. 

“I gave you my blessing. Don’t go be a coward now.” She patted my cheek, and then let the palm of her hand rest there for a while. “We aren’t really leaving each other, you know. We’re actually coming closer, joined always in His Sacred Heart.”  


It’s been a long time now since that farewell, but I can still see her face: wet cheeks and a smile, that same smile I imagine the Madonna had when she said farewell to her son as He sorrowfully trudged toward Calvary, the smile of a mother sacrificing her son for the glory of God. It’s that smile of hers that gets me through the unbearably hot nights, the rampant diseases, the lack of food, and the disappointment of lost converts. It is her smile that reminds me to smile in gratitude for the crosses God asks of me. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Through Thorns and to His Heart: A reflection on the Cross and Suffering

By Cara E. Ruegg

Beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus by Theophilia; you can view her artwork by clicking her name


I have come to realize in life that the only way to immerse yourself deep in the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to penetrate through those thorns that surround His wounded heart. You can’t get to His heart, you can’t immerse yourself therein without likewise taking up your cross, be it great or small, and following Him.

A great story cannot be great without a climax arising from or after a trial. The prince and princess who meet, fall in love, and marry would not win our hearts if the prince did not have to first slay the dragon or the princess overcome a family crisis. You can’t take an elevator up Mount Everest and then claim you’ve climbed the mountain. You can’t practice humility without a humiliating circumstance befalling you. You can’t love without sacrificing yourself.

Joy is made so much greater after suffering is experienced. The prisoner who comes out of his prison cell and gets to breathe the fresh scent of pine cones and grass likely appreciates it much more than the person who has never gone without. The girl who worked several jobs to pay for her education will likely walk up that stage to receive her diploma with much greater pride than the one whose parents paid for every cent.

No matter how naturally appreciative we are, we will undoubtedly be tempted to take things for granted, things that others are praying to have. Instead of shunning our crosses, whether they are those everyday tiny disappointments like being rained on or getting yelled at or running late for work, or if they’re those great crosses of losing a loved one or suffering an incurable disease or dealing with severe depression, we need to reflect on where these trials should be taking us and that isn’t toward self-pity and negativity and bitterness, that is inside the Sacred Heart of a loving God who suffered for us greater than we ever could for Him.


Love makes all burdens light.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Women, Do not Settle for Less than Your Knight: A Letter

Dear Women,

You deserve to be sought and pursued and treasured. You deserve a man who sees how blessed he is to have you and who reminds himself every day, especially on the hard days, why you are so special, why you deserve so much of his love, how you are beautiful and talented, how you get him to smile, how he can confide in you better than even some of his best blokes.

You deserve to be loved and made to feel like you are loved. You deserve to be loved even on days when you’re broken, not just on the days that you make him happy or the days you’re in a good mood. You deserve a man who will sacrifice everything to make sure you are okay, who will never leave you alone, who will check up on you later in the day multiple times if he by chance has to work and cannot be by your side.

Women, do not settle for less than your dreams. Do not settle for men who do not recognize your worth or will not act. You deserve to be pursued by a knight; you do not need to settle for a man who doesn’t want to fight for you, who’d rather it be easy. You want a man who will work for you and run through fire for you and not count the scars.

You deserve a man who respects you, who will treat you like a queen, who will protect you not only from his own sinful inclinations, but even from those around you. A real man will not let even his friends get away with belittling you or making you feel at all uncomfortable. The man you want will shield you from danger, will take you out of tempting situations, will suggest you stop watching a movie or show which he perceives harmful to your virtue.

A real man will pray with and for you. He will prove to be that sturdy pillar of Faith, which is an essential foundation to a good Catholic home. He will help you be a better woman, by gently (keyword: gently), pointing out things you need to work on in such a manner you will not feel discouraged and in such a manner you will, rather, feel encouraged to strive for even higher.

Together, in the fire of God’s love, you two are meant to be shaped into the image of Christ.   

Sincerely,
Your friend, Cara



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dressing Modestly

Modesty is important to me. It is not that I'm ashamed in any way of my figure; in fact, it is the complete opposite that incites me to properly clothe it. It is not just for any man to lust after. It is meant for that special man who is meant to be my husband. It is a gift from God, and I am not going to toss pearls to swine.

Now, that being said, I do not want to dress in a sack of potatoes or anything. I want to dress like any girl wants to dress. I want to look pretty, while at the same time being modest. It is so hard when you go to the store and basically everything is in some way immodest or when models give us women the impression that pretty is sleeveless tops and mini skirts. 

Modesty is kindness. You hear people say that it doesn't matter how you dress, but really it does. It is charity to dress modestly. As a woman, you are elevating that young man's heart and his eyes. He is drawn more to your face, to you as a person when you dress in a way that demands respect. He isn't as distracted by your figure. Not that you can hide your figure completely and not to say that somebody who really wants to sin won't, but at least you make it easier for those men who are actually striving to be gentlemen. 

How you dress reflects the interior. If you dress in a way that is sleazy or even messy, you give the impression that you have little worth or are lazy. Neither may be true, but it doesn't stop people from even indirectly judging you as such, and thus attracts the wrong relationships. 

A woman plays a vital role in society. Her ability to influence even the hardest of hearts is remarkable. A good woman ought to uplift and inspire. Dressing modestly is just one little way she can do this.

Below are some pictures of me wearing eshakti designed clothes. Eshakti allows me to customize my outfits so as better to be able to convey my self-worth, while still allowing me to be fashionable. I highly recommend them.






Another modest clothing store I like, though it can be slightly expensive, is Dainty Jewells. They feature some really classy dresses. I bought swimwear from them this summer. The dress fell a lot further down on short me than it did the model, and I was worried it would be problematic swimming that way, but so far I've yet to drown. There's netting underneath which I think prevents the dress from sticking so much and possibly makes it safer to wear. I've swum with it in the pool and ocean and I'm still alive. You can find the dress here: http://daintyjewells.com/paisley-swim-dress/



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is Racism Really Prevalent in America and How Should We Respond?

Is racism really dominant in America? For the most part, no. In fact, according to many polls, America is listed as the least racist country. Does it exist? Yes.

Interestingly enough, in a poll done by Ramussen Reports, "Among black Americans, 31% think most blacks are racist, while 24% consider most whites racist and 15% view most Hispanics that way." (2013, Lifestyle, n.p) In a poll done to exploit the most racist countries in the world, America was not listed. (n.a, 2016, n.p). Of course, we cannot turn our eyes from the issue; we can't say it doesn't exist, when it still does. Bullying exists and always will. People are judged all of the time on their appearance, whether they are fat, skinny, pretty, or ugly. Now, how do we address the situation. Well, in my opinion, what we should do is teach our children that somebody's skin color, hair color, eye color, or weight means nothing in itself; it is the soul that matters, and we should not be mean or judgmental only based on somebody's outward appearance, something they cannot change which does not define them.

If we stop bullying people because of what they look like, then the world is a happier place not just for blacks but people who are not "pretty" enough or "thin" enough compared to the models on the magazines. We need to look at the core and address that issue, not just help the blacks, for instance, but ignore the other races that have less of an issue; we need to teach kids that what someone looks like doesn't matter period and not focus purely on "race" so to speak. I don't' see how teaching that is counterproductive toward racism since it would seem to me that that would help much more than going on about how us privileged whites don't get it, because it's not like we haven't suffered some form of bullying based on our looks which can be compared to a racist attack in so far as it's emotionally damaging and more or less not too different except "racism" is toward a group and there's a form of "power" involved from the race that is formed up of more individuals (Irving, 2016, n.p), but, still, our race is human and to pinpoint that there are more whites in the government doesn't mean anything necessarily since it wasn't (we would hope) the color of their skin that got them there but their qualifications and probably who they knew. Also, to make whites feel like they don't understand and don't get it and don't suffer is not going to help because we all suffer and it's empathy that pushes the other to react, not a finger pointing at them. It is better to say, "didn't it hurt your feelings when Molly made fun of your curly hair? Well, so-and-so is made fun of because of their skin..." that works much better than "You don't know what it's like to be so-and-so because you're privileged and have never suffered any form of racism." That is only going to make whoever you're speaking to get defensive or offended since you know nothing of their life and you are seemingly making an assumption (that they're privileged) based on their skin color, something they have no control over and, for all you know, maybe, individually, they are the furthest from being privileged.

This all being said, we should reflect on the positive, that as the years progress, racism becomes less and less of an issue and America with its immense diversity is comparatively probably one of the least racist countries since, when your neighbor is black/asian/Spanish, and you have formed a relationship of some kind with them, it is much harder to see skin color as anything more than an exterior appearance that does not make a person who they are.



Found in an article written by Kyle Becker here



Links to sites mentioned: 


http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/july_2013/more_americans_view_blacks_as_racist_than_whites_hispanics

2016. n.a. Website found at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/lifestyle/116644/the-most-racist-countries-in-the-world/

Irving. 2016. http://www.debbyirving.com/qa/are-prejudice-bigotryand-racism-the-same-thing/