Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Compilation of Poetry

By Cara E. Ruegg


Here is a compilation of poetry I've written over the years, some when I was in the convent and some after I left. 

The poem below I wrote for a University assignment in the convent. It was around this time that I was struggling to let go of the thought of a child of my own. I was trying desperately to cling to the idea of my spiritual children since, as we know, all women are called to be mothers even those in the convent. The one thing that really hurt me though was the thought that while they were my spiritual children, I was not really known to them as a mother, which, though wholly natural, did hurt me. The life of a Sister requires you supernaturalize your love and, of course, with God's help you certainly can, but it is at times a great struggle when you still have a weak, human nature. 

A mother of the world. I kneel. The rain drips down the glass.
A mother of the world. Unknown.  The children outside laugh.

“Sister,” Johnny says, as he opens the door,
Brown curls, brown eyes, an elfish grin,
“Will you teach us tomorrow? Will you teach us next year?”

The door slams shut. Another year begins. 

The chapel, cold, damp. Rain still falling fast. 

A mother of the world, I am. There one year, gone the next. 
My hands, folded in prayer. They are soft and young
But soon they will be old.
Lines will carve a thousand stories into my skin.

I will not have just one or two, not five, not six, not twelve
But thousands, thousands of little souls to call my own
But still unknown
Unknown to them. 

Little Johnny was sad one day. His brown eyes wouldn’t dare
To look up at me when I asked, 
“What’s wrong?”
But when we went outside
Into a day that was dry and warm
I threw him the ball,
I asked him to play. 
He smiled. 

A mother of the world. I pray
For everyone that has or will or does exist
I press them all to my small heart
The lonely, the happy, the good and the bad
The homeless, imprisoned, the innocent, the evil
They are mine
Because they are His.

My eyes burn. I am tired. 
Papers still sit on my desk
But I am lost in prayer
Before Him
With Him

Today, I got word
Little Johnny is sick
He can’t speak
He can’t stand
He’s dying. 

I am a mother of the world. But I am here.
Little Johnny is in bed. He is quiet. 
I storm heaven. I beg my Spouse
Save Him!

But all is quiet. There is nothing.
I am alone. 
I am not with him.

The little card he wrote me
Is there on the pew.
“Thank you, Sister, for your prayers.
I wrote the seminary yesterday.
They did say ‘yes’, just like you said.
I promise, Sister, when I’m a priest
My first Mass will be for you.”

A mother of the world. A mother of this boy
Grown up.
A mother of little Johnny, lying in bed
The covers wrapped around him.
He gasps. Those hands, not yet blessed,
No oil on them yet. 
No chance to say that Mass.
He’s dying.

“I care too much, I know.
This little boy is not my own
Not like he is his mother’s
Or father’s
Or Yours, 
Oh, but God, I care so much
Still.”

The wind blows through the windows.
Rain falls upon me like blood from the hyssop.
I breathe in. I breathe out.
My lungs feel tight and swollen. 

I am a mother of the world.
I carry them all on my heart
Theirs burdens are my burdens
I stretch out my hands
To take their crosses

It is heavy. So heavy. 
But I am their mother
And I love them

I love little Johnny
Lying in his bed
Who is no longer little,
No longer that boy 
I had to remind a million times
“Be quiet. Listen.”
No longer the little boy
With freckles dancing on his nose
Who used to smile at me
When I came near
To check his work.

I love little Johnny,
Grown up
With that cassock
Folded in his drawers,
Waiting for him to recover,
To button up those buttons
And fasten the white collar.

But he doesn’t know
I’m the other mother
Sitting in the chapel
Praying, praying, praying,
Begging that God who has stolen
Both our hearts.

He doesn’t know that I know
That he is ill, that he is dying. 
He doesn’t know that I remember
The last day of Grade Five

He was standing on the cobblestones
Rubbing eyes that would not dry.
“I’m fine,” he told his buddies,
when they laughed at this boy
who was always so tough,
laughing and goofing and never caring
it seemed.

“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.”
Muttered words. Heavy and hard.
“Nothing.”

“I don’t believe you.”
I knelt down,
Letting my habit touch
The hard stone
And hide it.

“I’ll miss you, Sister,
so much.”
Wet tears on red cheeks.
I wiped a single one and smiled.
“Do you think I’ll forget you?”
He shrugged.

“I’ll never forget you.”

A mother of the world. Remembering them all.
Caring, loving, gathering them into her arms,
And praying without their knowing.

“Dear God, 
In Your hands. In Your heart.
Your will be done, not mine, 
Not his, not his Mum’s or his Pa’s,
But Yours.”

The rain stopped its crying.
Sun shone through the window,
Touching my pale hands
That were not wet with my tears
And I knew. I knew.

He now knew in heaven. 


--------

The next poem is not directly related to me, more my thoughts on death and loss. I believe around this time my Morfa passed away. He had been suffering from alzheimer's. 


If I forget him
Will this pain cease?
If in my mind
His smile fades
And his laughter stops
Will my heart
Still remember
Will it still hurt?
If my fingers forget
Why they’re trembling
My eyes forget
Why they’re crying
And my feet forget
The grave beneath?
Will my heart
Stopping hurting
If the memories cease
And I no longer know
The name on the stone
Is my son’s?

-------

Sitting next to you
So close I can feel the warmth of your hands
I can feel the vibrations of you breathing
So close without touching

Do you miss me too?
Do you remember?

Right here, next to me
I could touch you
Hold your hand

But I forget the worlds
The lost memories that stand between us

They are there
These awful stonewalls
These taunting figures

Cracked glass
I peer into your image
I try to reach it 

I can’t.

My fingers bleed
Each time I try.

Please, don’t you remember?
Don’t you miss me too?

Sitting here beside you,
I pray for a smile,
A single glance

But I am dead to you
Buried beneath dirt
So far down my name has vanished.

You are right here
But you are not the same
You are not you

Am I me?

You cough, then look at me
Dead eyes meet mine
My face means nothing to you
You cannot recognize
The dimples, the freckles
The crooked nose

You cough; your gaze turns
And I sit here, facing the wall
Without you, beside you
So near and so far

------

This poem was written before leaving the convent. I was considering my students here.


Goodbye.
I cannot say it.
You should not know.
These words so bitter
Swallowed down a throat
That’s sore.

It’s a secret
My going
Hidden in the cracks
Can’t say it to anyone
Not even myself

The suitcase isn’t packed
Things lie in all the same places
Can I really do this?
This life I’ve known so long
What I left behind before
Is now foreign
These people that do not share my blood
I’ll miss them.

I watch you, sitting there
Freckles dancing on your nose
You do not think I’ll ever leave
You smile.

Goodbye
The words are silent
I cannot say them
You should not know

I’m supposed to disappear
Like I never was here
Another Sister to take my class
Dressed the same
Will you notice?

I take a breath
Listen to you talk
Telling me your little stories
Will you be mad if I keep silent?
Will it hurt more if I speak?

No one’s ever said goodbye
They’re just replaced
And nobody asks
Where they’ve gone

The students continue
As if nothing’s changed
This new Sister is nearly
Just the same

It seems a scandal to speak
To say ‘goodbye
I’m leaving
Don’t know where I’m going
Or if I’m making a mistake
Don’t know what I’m doing
If I’ll even really leave’

Goodbye 

Little one
I’ll miss you so much
You do not know
How much
And I can’t say
Can’t say a word
Can’t say
Goodbye

------

I put time on hold
But only in my little world
To go searching for God
See what He wills
Spoke farewell to loved ones
Packed up my old clothes
Got dressed as His bride
And lived this new life

Now, I sit and wonder
Was I wrong all along?
Were those who doubted
Really right
Can I give up it all?

But the world is not the same
Friends have married
People have changed
My world was on hold
But outside, everything has moved
Drifted and soared
Away.

And am I the same?
Will those friends I once laughed with
Will they still care?
Will I find their jokes funny
Their laughter so sweet?
Will their worldly air bore me
Now that I’ve spent so much time
Here?

I’ll have to start over
All over again
And I’m scared.


---

Ice cream and plastic cups
Sitting on your bed
And laughing

We were young
So very young
Too young to worry
About the world
What our futures held
It was so far away
Time could still wait then.

Can time wait now?
The clock keeps ticking
Numbers fly on by
Doesn’t seem so different
The world. Me. You.

But have we changed
Unnoticed?
Under our little noses
Are we really growing old?

Fingers race across the table
They dance and sway
And then they freeze

Are we wasting time
You and I
Staying young
As the world keeps moving?

I see no wrinkles on my face
No lines to tell a story
Don’t believe they’ll ever appear
You tell me do not worry.

The crossroads come closer
They stare at me with dark eyes
Can I stay in between them forever
Not choosing where my future lies?

Where will you go
And should I go there too?
What does God want
Can He be heard in the dark?

Hello?

You are not here with me
To help me decide
Long ago I left you
Far, far behind

Maybe you grew up
In the meantime
As I stayed young
And pretended time
Could not really move

Perhaps you have chosen
Your way
I would not know
You hardly write

I know it was my fault
I chose a road
You could not follow
Your health was poor
And mine was not
His bride to take
I thought I was.

But am I?

Before
A child of my own
I could give up
The excitement of something new
Something noble
Made me tread fearlessly on

But now I am here
And I wonder
Am I going the right way?

The path has become rugged
And I worry
I was never actually called

Stubborn as a mule
I kept going
Not turning around 
Even when the floods came
I said I could do this
I will do this
God is worth more than the pain
The sting of loneliness
The darkened clouds

But now I question
The other way
Have I been turning a deaf ear
To what He’s really been asking?

----

Some thoughts after leaving the convent, which show just some of my struggles.


I’ve left those cloistered walls
Those silent reveries
I’ve left the quick-lived laughter,
The calm simplicity

I’m in the world
The noise pulses through my fingers
Cars roar and music blasts
So many are talking, 
I can’t follow a line

The trees sway above me
Even here it is noisy
My thoughts are wandering
They cannot forget
All of the gossip
The silly conversations
Those stupid things
I would’ve found pointless
There.

I fall to my knees
I try to find silence
“Stop it, please stop it
Stupid little head.”

Dear God
In your presence
Amidst all this static
I kneel

My eyes have been staring
Too long at the computer
My feet have been walking
Too encircled to disappear.

Dear God
Can you still hear me
Am I still important
Even though I’ve left the habit
For this everyday outfit
Let my plain face be painted
Red lips and dark eyelashes

Do you still care
Even though I’ve gone back
To what I sacrificed before

Even though I let the plough fall
To the hard, dirt floor
And returned to that family
I had planned to leave forever?

I rest my forehead on your wounded feet
I dare not look up at your glowing face

Please, my dear God, please care
Please care as you care for your brides

I tried. 
Maybe not hard enough
Maybe not really
But I tried

I made the sacrifice for a bit
Maybe not long enough
Maybe not forever

It could be,
I failed
That I was meant
To carry on
To say ‘yes’
Instead of ‘no’

Oh, dear God, please
I beg of You
I want You
I need You

Please still care.

----
-----


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Picture Frames for Sale

So, my most current artsy project is decorating used picture frames. I'm selling them on etsy if you want to have a look: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CaraRueggPhotography?ref=profile_shopicon

I am thus far really enjoying it. There's nothing quite like being able to express yourself and beautify.


Let me know what you think of these designs and if you have any suggestions. I am struggling to keep the glue from making those "strings" when I pull away. If you have any suggestions on how to fix that, that would be amazing!

Have a wonderful week, lovely readers! :)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Root of Indecisiveness in Courtship

By Cara E. Ruegg


Artwork by lisima
It used to be that courtship was quick. He met her; he fell in love with her; he asked her to marry him; they got married. Now, he meets her; he nitpicks; he takes baby steps to this terrifying idea of commitment; he asks her to marry him and maybe they marry, maybe not. This is applicable to both men and women, to relationships in the secular world as well as to relationships in Catholic circles. Commitment has become a terrifying concept in the minds of many youth. Casual dating and testing out living together is a whole lot more common nowadays than it ever was before. 

Where is this fear stemming from? Is it the divorces that seem more and more prevalent? Broken families? The hollywood perception of love as infatuation versus an act of the will? The overwhelming fear of failure? The pressure caring for a family entails? Why is it that so many men and women alike struggle to commit?

It is not coincidence that when marriage is under attack on all fronts with all these perverse movements, the devil would try in a sly way to convince the youth to wait, just wait. Maybe she’s not the one. Oh, did you see how she nagged you then? Are you sure you can take that kind of stress? Suddenly these tiny details become enormous problems, these little disagreements become all-out wars. So you wait, you prolong the courtship unduly. You tell yourself that if you made just a little bit more money, if you were just a little bit more experienced then you’d be ready as if anybody is ever really ready for the huge responsibility of marriage, as if it were solely dependent on our strength alone. Courtship is a necessary occasion of sin, but it is still an occasion of sin. If you weren’t ready to marry, you should not have been dating. If you were ready to marry, why let these fears cripple you? Why prolong the occasion of sin? Isn’t that what the devil wants? If he cannot prevent a good Catholic marriage, he will at least try to get you to sin and tarnish your attempt at a good Catholic courtship that will likely shape your marriage since if self-restraint is lacking in the courtship, if disrespect is prevalent, what is the likelihood it’ll change when you are married? 

Chivalrous men seem to be a dying breed, replaced by cowards or worse: men that do not act like men at all and instead of protecting woman and child, tarnish them. But let us focus on the cowards, since even good men can fall into this category. Because of this lack of chivalry, women suddenly feel the overwhelming burden of taking upon themselves the man’s role, just as they had to during the World Wars. It should be the man assuring the woman that they can make it in marriage, that whatever crosses come, they can handle it with God’s grace. Now, it’s the opposite. Now it’s the woman telling the man how to be a man, tiptoeing around issues because she’s afraid to offend. Some of these men are genuinely certain they are making the prudent decision in holding things off and bringing up again and again, “what if…we need to be prepared for what if”. The devil loves to disrupt our peace. He loves to make us afraid. It takes an act of heroism to commit to marry someone, to promise them “for better or for worse”, not knowing what the worse may be. But that’s just it, we cannot know. Maybe we would do better to wait for that big promotion before marriage, but maybe it’ll never come; maybe, even if it does come, halfway through the marriage, we’ll lose our job altogether. 

Money or lack thereof is actually quite insignificant when it comes down to it. If the man is hardworking and budgets well or is at least willing to learn to budget well, then there’s not much to worry about. It is a worldly mindset to focus too much on providing a comfortable living for one’s family. Feeding them, providing health of mind and body is certainly important, but not as important as raising them as good Catholics. It seems that even amongst Catholics, the financial side of it takes precedence over the spiritual realm, which is probably why there is such a fear to begin with. We are relying too much on ourselves when the spiritual realm is out of the picture, so no wonder we are so afraid. Without God at the center of our marriage, how can we be expected to succeed? Of course it’s too much then. But, as soon as we recognize that God will be at the center of our marriage if we just let Him, the fears suddenly seem very petty.

Saint Joseph and Our Lady were by no means financially well-off and yet they were to have the biggest responsibility of all: providing and caring for a God-child. But Our Lady didn’t tell the angel she’d think about it. She said, “Fiat”. Where is our fiat? Where is our “for better or worse” according to God’s holy will?


Of course, rushing into something is not the way to do things either. Virtue falls in moderation. A pretty girl will not necessarily make a pretty wife. You cannot love what you do not know. But, as common as rash decisions are in marriage, they do not seem half as common as the inability to commit. Both are problematic and both should be avoided. This being said, we need to set our eyes on the example of the holy family. According to the world’s standards, Our Lady probably should never have taken upon herself the responsibility she did. It would’ve probably seemed imprudent for her to just make that decision in one hit, judging by her poor status and her young age. Why are we, as Catholics, allowing the world’s standards to penetrate us so deeply? We shouldn’t be taking caution to such an extreme; we should be heroic; we should say our fiat to God’s will even if the known or unknown crosses it entails are scary. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

I Thirst


“I thirst” (John 19:28) 
An article by Cara Ruegg

image by kevron2001



Our Lord thirst. He thirst physically and He thirst for souls, for our souls, yours, mine, for those souls you might dislike or even hate. He thirst for us. 

There are so many different types of thirsts. One of the most relatable is a thirst for what we desire. We thirst for love, a family. We have this ideal picture in our head of how we want our life to be. We thirst for money and fame. We misidentify our thirsts and go after things that give no satisfaction and may even be sinful. We don’t realize the only water that will quench our burning throats is God. It is not a child for the barren; a spouse for the lonely; a job for the homeless. It is God. He is the only love, the only companion, the only purpose that will fully satisfy us. These finite things we go after we go after only because they reflect in some way God. We see God in the kindness and attentions we might receive from a loved one; we see God in the satisfaction of a duty well done. Nature was perceived so beautiful by saints such as Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux not simply because of the variable colors of the flowers, but because its beauty reminded them of God. 

We need to stop going after these finite things as if they were our end, because if we don’t cease chasing the speckled dots of sunlight when it is really the sun that we should be after, the warmth that we gain will be temporary and ultimately unsatisfactory. God is our end. These specks of light are meant to turn our attention to the sun in the sky, to Him. He thirst for us, He loves us with a love that is infinite. A child, a spouse, a friend can never give us that love we desire since they are only finite, imperfect, limited beings. God alone can love us with a limitless love, can give us a purpose, a peace that will be true and lasting. 

Today, Good Friday, let us turn our gaze upon the wounded, bleeding Christ that thirst for us and let us, in turn, thirst for Him. 


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 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.




---


Some direct inspirations for what was written:

Marlan Rico Lee's famous quote:

“Be grateful for the things and people you have in your life. Things you take for granted someone else is praying for”