Epoch: 1 a : an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development b : a memorable event or date
Finally, I have a chance to post something again!
This has been a very busy summer. We attended the Milwaukee Ballet 3-Week Summer Intensive, which was a great experience. I learned a lot, both ballet related and otherwise! I decided that, as much as I love ballet, I would never have the dedication to it to do it as a career. It was a rather painful decision, but I know it's the right one. Now I'm also so much freer to just enjoy ballet, without worries about not being the right size for a company, or the fact I'm a bit behind my peers as far as technical capability goes. I love performing, and I will just enjoy ballet and performing as much as I can in the next few years. I'm sure that opportunities that have not even occurred to me will come up.
I also finally decided why I do ballet, and that it is perfectly justifiable to spend so much time, money, and effort on it even though I don't plan to do it professionally. I love dancing and performing, other people love watching it, and by it I'm helping to make the world a more beautiful place. I think that certainly makes it worth it! I also gain all the personal benefits such as staying very much in shape, learning a beautiful art form, improving my musicality, gaining grace and good posture, and having something enjoyable to do.
Now I'd like to share a few experiences I had when we were in Milwaukee.
One day we decided to drive in to the city and go to the lake and then to Mass. Before leaving Brookfield we stopped by Panera Bread and got soup and sandwiches. It was a fairly dark day with a promise of rain, but we nonetheless stopped near the beach and ate on a bench near a very large group of very friendly seagulls who were most interested in our food. They crept up on us, eyeing our food with their beady eyes, and uttering alarming squawks. They were very cute.
When we had just a bit of food left, it began pouring rain. We quickly packed up our food and ran towards the car. I paused and threw bread to the gulls - it had scarcely left my hand and they were already in the air, crowding close to snatch it out of the air. Once two gulls caught the same piece and just pulled it in half!
We sat in the car while it rained - it was only a little after 5 pm and Mass wasn't until 6 pm, so we had a bit of time to kill before we had to go anywhere. It only rained for about 10 minutes, and when it stopped I asked if I could go down by the water. I'd really wanted to and had been quite disappointed when it began to rain before we had a chance. Mum said I could and that she would join us in a little while, so I started down towards the water.
My sister Bailey and I walked along the shore and picked up the smooth, white rocks - some round, others flat. The sky above us was a deep, dark azure; the lake teal broken with ripples of turquoise. I walked right into the water, flip-flops and all, and as the water splashed over my feet I could see the turquoise fade away from it.
As we walked towards the large rocks near the water, Bailey pointed out the rainbow arching clearly through the still-darkened sky. Each perfect end landed in the water, and a boat sailed beneath it - to Tir-na-nog, perhaps?
Behind us, the darkness in the sky was breaking, and white clouds separated themselves from their darker counterparts. Seagulls shrieked hungrily as they trotted busily among the rocks. The world felt sparkling and new and exciting - just walking along the shore seemed to me an exciting thing of epic proportions.
I reached the huge white rocks and began to climb on them, carefully throwing my weight and maintaining my balance. Climbing on rocks is an interesting sort of dance between you and gravity. It was not easy to do in flip-flops, a knee-length skirt, and holding a handful of rocks, but I finally reached a rock that directly overlooked the water. I sat down on it and looked into the distance, watching the water ripple under the sun that had just come out. I also looked down and watched the water lap up against the rocks.
Looking at it, I thought, "This is a perfect moment for a profound thought! But why is it that people feel so obligated to have profound thoughts every time they have a quiet moment? Sometimes it seems futile, like every idea has already been thought up. It's funny, someday each one of us will be gone and perhaps our profound thoughts with us, but Lake Michigan will still be here, washing up against the rocks." Perhaps not the most pleasant or enlightening of thoughts, so it's just as well that I took my own advice, stopped trying to think, and simply enjoyed the beauty and thanked God for it.
Bailey had also been climbing on the rocks, and she climbed down to a rock I hadn't even noticed (but I'm not surprised that she did), that was shaped like a couch. She immediately lay down on it, of course. Lying on her side, she held one hand as if she were holding scepter, as she whispered, "Poseidon!" That's an inside joke with us...don't even ask where it started or what its significance is, because I'm not sure!
Looking over to where our car was parked, I saw Mum and stood up and waved to her. She made her way across the beach and joined us. We noticed a young man walking slowly down the beach, obviously enjoying the day and place as much as we were. It's always so nice to see people like that. We had to show Mum the couch rock, and then she told us we had to get going so we wouldn't be late for Mass.
As we walked back towards the road, all the happiness I'd been feeling sprang up in me. I skipped and held my arms out, feeling the wind like a bird (it doesn't look or feel as crazy as it sounds - really!), and laughed out loud. The young man we'd noticed earlier heard me and turned, and we smiled at each other. It was one of those amazing moments when you look a stranger in the eyes and see a piece of their soul. You know you'll probably never see them again, but you've shared a moment where you knew beyond any doubt what the other was thinking.
As we drove to St Stan's, I jotted down in my notebook some of the sentences I just typed above. It was one of those beautiful days that you know is an epoch in your life. Things are never going to be quite the same after it, and its beauty will linger with you forever.
I went to confession when we reached St Stan's (after some difficulty trying to get the confessional open!), and then knelt in the quiet church. After being in the big city (another exciting and different experience! There is nothing quite like a big city...) the church truly seemed like a quiet oasis.
Not many people assembled for Mass - perhaps a dozen. As Mass began, a beautiful thing happened. Bells from churches all over the neighborhood began to ring. I love the sound of church bells, there's something indescribably beautiful about them. They bring God into our everyday lives.
Have you ever noticed that attending Mass or anything in a church other than your home church will often renew your faith and zeal? Perhaps it's because it becomes removed from your every day routine, the familiar surroundings of your church. You realize how beautiful your Faith really is as you notice different facets of it that are highlighted by a different church. Perhaps you notice a painting, a statue, a stained glass window, and it makes you think of something that usually isn't brought to mind by your own church. You also aren't distracted by recognizing people around you...despite all your efforts, it can be hard to avoid thinking about people you know when you see them. It can be easier to concentrate at an unfamiliar church where you don't know anyone.
All in all, it was a very nice Mass. After Mass we went and lit some candles. I knelt at the feet of the statue of Our Lady and prayed. I realized that my desire for holiness and union with God can be carried out in the world, and also that I did not need to worry so much about my life after high school. I'm planning to go to college, and after that, may God's Will be done! At this point in my life, I really have very little inkling of what that will turn out to be.
I thought of what my friend Sr Justina wrote to me, "If you entrust everything in this regard [vocation] to Jesus and Mary, you will be happy and things will be better than you can imagine ahead of time. Pray to Jesus that you will be open to whatever He calls you to, wherever that may be - both now and for the future - for in this is your happiness and your holiness, dear Ivy! One thing is sure, He always rewards those who seek Him and His will, so I know He will bless you." That is wonderful advice.
So yes, as we left the church I thought that this was one of those days where suddenly everything is just a little bit different. Never again would I look at things quite the same as I had before that day. I'll remember it as an epoch.