Monday, August 23, 2010

OBX 2010

The whole group at Outer Banks
I'm a little shocked at myself for how badly I've neglected this blog. I had so many ideas for posts and NO time. I was going to write about judgment (as a Christian concept and social phenomenon), about my tumultuous relationship with technological devices, and about my summer reading. All this has passed, although if my diminished readership cries out to hear about one topic or another, i may be cajoled into supplying.

So now, I will give a quick update then hopefully upload more photos of the recent Elliott/Brand plus beach vacation to the stereotypical destination for Northern Virginians: the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Currently, I have finished making a big decision! Consider this a public announcement: I am moving out of the Campus Division household in Dinkytown to an apartment in St. Paul on Carroll Avenue. I'm thrilled to be living with two Christian friends who are also in the People of Praise and who also go to the University of Minnesota- Cara dal Pra and Rachel Miller. We are in the process of furnishing our newly carpeted 820 sq ft apartment as well as painting several rooms. I am flying up to Minnesota on Sept. 2 and we begin classes on Tuesday Sept. 7. That's the plan, Stan.

The beach was idyllic. In addition to the 13 Brands/Elliotts, Steffen and Maria Pawlosky, Billy and Bethy Brophy, Katherine Baldwin and the Kress family (all friends from NoVa) made appearances. With such a large group, we got to play sand soccer, beach volleyball, mafia, cards and other big games. We buried one person up to his neck in sand and made a mermaid out of him. I got in a lot of reading (finished The Problem of Pain, by CS Lewis), participated in a Casino tournament (skill-less card game. i'm a champ.), drank salt-water, cooked hamburgers, saw The Other Guys (funny but crass), went mini-golfing, went sailing, took walks on the beach with my girls, watched the sunrise with my Mom, and tanned myself brown. I thank God for relative peace in our very full beach house and many opportunities for everyone to serve one another through doing dishes, running errands and carrying things up and down the stairs.
Rose, Kathryn and Jane prepare to SAIL!

Jane, Kristin and Kathryn (on the only cloudy day)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Well- on Saturday I went to my first wedding this year and probably not the last. Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Rebecca Flynn and Patrick Rooney have tied the knot.  There were white roses and orchids, toasts and Indian dancing, linguini pasta and lots of kids running around. The bride's dress did NOT fall off and whenever we tapped our crystal, they dutifully kissed- and relished it. The wedding itself was very traditional and well done- the priest who witnessed the marriage really knew them well and was able to give a very personal homily. *Note- In the Catholic church, the priest witnesses the marriage but the couple administer the sacrament to one another.

I was seated at Table 11 with a lot of former Trinity students and old friends. After a lovely cocktail hour and dinner, there was cake cutting and Becca danced to What a Wonderful World with her father. They literally walked off into the sunset with all of us blowing bubbles and happy sighs their way.

God really used some of my friends to bring them together. Michael Rooney (younger brother of the groom), and John Mysliewiec (of the family that Rebecca lived in Christian household with) shared about how they orchestrated the seating of Becca and Patrick next to each other at a baseball game. They did not share about how we all mercylessly left Rebecca voicemails with messages like "PATRICK!" or "Can I sing at yours and Patrick's wedding" after about their first two dates. Needless to say- we told you so Becca. Here are some photos of the festivities.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seek and you shall find...

Many people take journeys- and for a variety of purposes. Muslims make the holy journey to Mecca, called hajj, to fulfill a call set forth in the Quran. The disenfranchised English journeyed to another continent to find a home where they could exercise the liberties they were being deprived. Traveling to a place of devotion and embarking on a journey to find something new, something better...both are pilgrimages.

My grandmother has an addictive personality. She'd tell you so herself. She's a proud and longstanding member of a number of 12 step groups to prove it. I say this to emphasize that when my grandmother has a way figured out to do something- she sticks with it. One thing she has figured out pretty well is how to bring a very important prayer intention to God. A convert to Catholicism, she believes in the power of persistent prayer, especially for the big ticket items. She has journeyed symbolically through years of intercession for her children, her husband, and other special people. But she has also made physical journeys- pilgrimages- to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.

I made a pilgrimage there with her this past Thursday, and its efficacy made sense for the first time. A pilgrimage with my grandmother is not rushed. We decided to "rely on the Holy Spirit" to get to the Shrine, since my grandmother can't read the street signs as well as she used to.  As cars swerved out of her way, she road the middle of lane line and I felt perfectly safe knowing that God has always blessed her trust in him. We arrived, and went our separate ways initially. The Shrine has many small chapels and she always visits the two dedicated to Our Lady of Guadaloop (she never pronounces the "e") and Our Lady, Queen of Perpetual Help.  With her help, I had chosen two different chapels myself, in order to bring two rather daunting prayer requests before Jesus, through the intercession of his mother, Mary. I headed off to Our Lady, Queen of Peace and Mary, Queen of All Hearts.

We met after in the Crypt church in the lower level and quietly prayed until the organ started playing, filling the space with profound chords.  The Blessed Sacrament was exposed in a gold monstrance, surrounded by the mandatory ten candles or more, and we began to sing Tantum Ergo. After the blessing, or Benediction, given by the priest, a noon mass began.  After I received the body and blood of Christ, under the form of bread and wine, I felt a genuine and simple peace come to rest in my body. Then, I felt an upwelling of love- and faith, and hope.  In that moment- I felt assured that God had heard my prayers and knew exactly what was needed in the situations I had described to him.

My grandmother treated me to lunch- but first, she offered to buy me whatever I wanted from the gift shop as a memento of our pilgrimage and God's response. After much consideration, I chose a whitish translucent stone cross about a foot tall.  Jesus body emerges in the front, but behind him God the Father holds him up, with the Holy Spirit above his head, in the form of a dove. It moves me greatly to pray to God before this Trinitarian image. I've never seen anything like it.

A pilgrimage is a journey in search of something new, something better. Seek- and you shall find.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Fine Show

My younger siblings attend middle school/high school at Trinity at Meadowview, a private, Christian school in Falls Church, VA. I am a huge fan of the education there- and the culture that goes with it. Trinity School was founded by the People of Praise, an ecumenical community, and is devoted to the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness. The rigorous curriculum emphasizes the classics (the reading list includes the Iliad through Dostoevsky) but also very advanced math and science (physics, calculus, group theory).  Students learn to think clearly and articulate their ideas intelligently. It is remarkable! This year the girl's soccer team at this school of fewer than 200 students managed to fight their way to the state championship, earning second place.

I was able to attend Trinity's Fine Arts Night this year.  This is an evening in which the school shows off its choirs, invites professional singers to perform original student compositions, has poetry recitations and displays student artwork. The concert this year was impressive not only for the quality of the creative work but also for its brevity.  I loved looking over the Senior's self portraits in pencil sketch- most of them were immediately recognizable and some were strikingly accurate. I encourage anyone whose curiosity has been piqued to check out the Trinity website:

Old Town with Old friends

Old Town Alexandria is one of the most pleasant and fun outing opportunities that the greater Washington D.C. area offers. If you've never been, it is accessible by metro or car, although street parking can be difficult to find. The main attractions are cute shops, ice cream parlors, quaint and well kept houses, and a lovely waterfront.  There are boat tours and an old torpedo factory right by the water that has been converted into an inside artisan market of sorts. Often, musicians come in the evenings to play music for loose change; I think we get the better end of the deal.

About a week ago, it was my old friend Bethy's birthday. We have photos of ourselves lying on the same mat as infants, staring at each other as toddlers, sitting at each others birthday party tables as children, on field trips in middle school...all the way on up to cutting our graduation cake at the end of high school. And no, we did not feed it to each other. Bethy is one of Old Town's biggest fans, so to celebrate she invited myself and two other close friends to spend an evening there.

We walked around, got take out pizza and brought it to the dock. On the way, we passed a man playing classical music on water glasses! He had a table set up with probably fifty or sixty cups and was very adept at using a flat part of his thumb to create gorgeous harmony. After the free concert and the pizza, we got ice cream and took goofy photos (and a couple good ones).

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Premise

The word "summer" means different things at different life stages. When I was 5, it meant blowing bubbles, running around my front yard and playing in our plastic baby pool in the front yard. When I was ten, it meant roller blading to my best friend's house at 6 a.m. and waking up her Dad. When I was fifteen, it meant sleepovers, baking experiments and working long and arduous hours at the snack bar of our neighborhood swimming pool. Now, as a junior in college, while I should probably be interning at a prestigious firm or using money from a research grant to gather important data, I am sitting in my living room blogging. Summer at this point means making the money I need to have an unpaid internship this Fall reporting at the Pioneer Press in Minnesota. In other words, summer means nannying.

The fact is, my nannying position won't be starting for another week- so I will have had three weeks to kill, read, visit with my family, play pick-up soccer, or whatever else I choose to do with my time. So far the time has disappeared very quickly without so much as leaving a note on the fridge. I'm optimistic that even once the job starts, I will have an interesting enough life to share with the online community. I'm going to back-blog now and post about a couple of highlights from the past couple of weeks.