Cats, Catholics, and Catharsis

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I decided that a bit of an update was in order, after letting the cat out of the bag in the previous post. (Which brings me to this random and off-topic question: Where did that expression ever come from? I’m imagining some guy back in the olden days with a cat in a big potato sack, slung over his shoulder, and the bag is pulsating and flinging around wildly. Then he finally lets it out and it jumps on his face, leaving huge scratch marks…but at least he let the cat out of the bag!) That previous blog entry was very cathartic for me. It was something that needed to be said, and for some reason its sometimes easier to tell a random stranger (or the endless void of the Internet) about your deepest, darkest secrets than a trusted friend. Why? I don’t know. But when something needs to be said, it finds a way out. And thus, it found my way onto my blog in the form of an outrageously long post.

Since then, things have been a lot better. They’ve still been a bit up-and-down. I am still struggling to get back into the swing of things, but I am at least going to church once more and trying to remember to pick up and read my Bible on a regular basis. (On a side note, I didn’t make it to church last week, but that was because of the 50 cm of snow that formed a mountain range over all the sidewalks and roads. I fully intended to go, but when I looked out the window and none of the streets or sidewalks had been plowed, I decided to stay home and have my own church service here. Listening to Hillsong United and reading my Bible made an acceptable substitute.) The days are getting longer, and the temperature is somewhat rising to decent, March temperatures. In the same way, things with me are looking up. It’s hard to get back into a habit of daily Bible reading after not picking it up for almost three months, but I’m making the effort. And that, in my books, is a good start.

So what else is going on in the life of Jeff? Well, not too much. I’m still in the city of Ottawa, working at Health Canada. It’s not too bad here, except for the exorbitant amounts of snow. Sometimes being here gets a bit lonely, just because I only know a select few people. I mean, I work with ten or fifteen people, but they’re all at a different stage of life than I am – I think the youngest one is in their thirties. They’re nice people, but not exactly the kind of people I’d hang out with outside of work. Then, I know my landlady and the two girls I live with. They are also nice people, and I occasionally hang out with Dara and Julia. We’ve gone out to eat the odd time or out to the grocery store together. Then, as mentioned in my previous post, there is Katie. She is a friend of a friend of mine, whom I met a couple times before coming here. She’s invited me out to CCO, the Catholic version of Campus for Christ, and on some weeks, that’s the highlight of my week. It’s not the most amazing thing ever, but it’s something to do, and I’ve gotten to know the other people that attend it so that I actually have more friends here than I can count on one hand. That’s always nice. I don’t like being a loser. It’s not so fun.

But other than my limited social life, I don’t do much. Mostly, I watch a lot of movies. Lots and lots. I stocked up on movies before I came just because I was planning to not know many people here. And I’m glad I did, because it gives me something to do most nights. By the time I’m done here, I should be well on my way to being a movie critic – although that’s not what I wanted to do anyways. I’ve also spent a lot of time researching and discussing “Catholic stuff.” Since the majority of my friends here are Catholic, and since a lot of my friends from back at St. Jerome’s are Catholic as well, I figured I need to learn about it. Katie and I have had many discussions about the differences between Catholics and Protestants – of course, it’s a lot harder for me to represent “Protestants,” since that word includes such a variety of beliefs under hundreds of denominations. I’m sure there must be a denomination for every possible combination of beliefs possible. But at least I can type in “Catholicism” into Google and find out exactly what they believe. That’s something I admire about the Catholic church, actually, is their solidarity of opinion. Of course, I know that’s because they believe that the Catholic church has God-given authority, and therefore what the church says is ultimate truth – that cuts down on a lot of division – but I still wish that the Protestant denominations could be more that way. Even within the Catholic church, as unified as it may be, it still leaves room for differences in opinion on matters. So why can’t the Protestant denominations just suck it up and get along? Ahh well.

I suppose my time here has been very educational. I have learned much about the Catholic faith, and finally experienced a Catholic mass first-hand. It was in some ways different than what I expected, but in a lot of ways very similar to what I thought it would be. One thing I will say about the Catholics – they sure know how to decorate their churches! If I had the chance, I would have wanted to hang around after the service until most of the people had left and then just admired the intricate engravings, statues, and emblems. Since they love their symbols, every one of them has meaning and significance. I’ve certainly developed a greater appreciation for Catholicism and Catholics, although I still disagree with their theology.

Another way I could describe my time here would be “introspective.” I’ve had a lot of time to think about myself and my life. That’s sometimes a scary thing to do, and often I try to avoid it. But like it or not, it’s an important thing to do, and I’ve certainly had ample time to do it. Currently, I now have the chance to examine what the heck happened with me these past few months, and how to stop it or deal with it if it comes up again. I’ve been informed that depression seems to run in my family, and so it’s not surprising that it has happened to me, both in the past and just recently. I just really wish I had my Psychopathology textbook up here with me – it has a section on depression, and it would be helpful to read about it. But, I suppose that will have to wait until I go home. Which will be happening in nine days! I am pretty excited to be going home for Easter. I’ve already bought my train ticket, and although it’ll be a short stay at home, I’m looking forward to it. It should be a welcome vacation from having nothing to do, as I can have plenty of stuff to do with my family, including getting annoyed with them all over again. Sheesh. Never thought I’d be looking forward to getting annoyed. But I suppose having family stuff to do is better than having no stuff to do at all.

Anyways, this whole post has had no point whatsoever. To finish it off, I’d like to just cut and paste a song that has just recently taken on new meaning for me. It was a good song before, but I’ve gained more appreciation for it. It’s by Relient K, and it’s called In Like a Lion (Always Winter):

It’s always nice to look out the window
And see those very first few flakes of snow
And later on we can go outside
And create the impression of an angel that just fell from the sky

When February rolls around I’ll roll my eyes
Turn a cold shoulder to these even colder skies
And by the fire my heart, it heaves a sigh
For the green grass waiting on the other side

It’s always winter but never Christmas
It seems this curse just can’t be lifted
Yet in the midst of all this ice and snow
Our hearts stay warm cause they are filled with hope

It’d be so nice to look out the window
And see the leaves on the trees begin to show
The birds would congregate and sing
A song of birth a song of newer things

The wind would calm and the sun would shine
I’d go outside and I’d squint my eyes
But for now I will simply just withdraw
Sit here and wait for this world to thaw

And everything it changed overnight
This dying world, You brought it back to life
And deep inside I felt things
Shifting, everything was melting
Away, oh away
And You gave us the most beautiful of days

Cause when it’s always winter but never Christmas
Sometimes it feels like You’re not with us
But deep inside our hearts we know
That You are here, and we will not lose hope

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