Earth's crammed with heaven ~ and every common bush afire with God... E.B.B.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Luke 24:51

Just a couple of weeks ago, I stood in this place - the Chapel of the Ascension on the peak of the Mount of Olives - caught off guard with grief.
I'd always related the Ascension of Jesus to the Great Commission and the joy the disciples shared as they went out to spread the good news!
But as I entered this spare chapel and knelt at the stone I felt His going from them and their own loss profoundly.  This was their last time together, it was their goodbye.
Only later on reflection did I connect it with my own loss.  It was too visceral in the moment.  My saying goodbye to my Dad, knowing I would not see him again in this life.  It happened so fast.  We looked into each others eyes.  He spoke his last words to me and I to him.  We held on and had to let go.  He smiled that big grin of his at my tears.  There is a spare chapel in my heart that marks the place, hallowed too.  Sometimes I stand there, gazing at the heavens.  Caught off guard with grief... and gratitude.

Friday, July 17, 2015


I planned to keep a journal.  I thought I would write each day about the one thing that stood out, that shone brightest with beauty or insight, revealed most His face.  I thought I would write about the one thing each day. 
The thing with pilgrimage is that you do all the preparation, then (not unexpectedly) you have no idea the way it will lead you, the way God will lead you.  If you are lucky, you do know only this...God will lead you.
Decades ago under the good guidance of Fr Eugene LaVerdiere, I was encouraged to deepen my praying with the scriptures by not relating to one of the characters in the passage but by being myself in the passage.  Think of a common biblical story – the pilgrim disciples on the road to Emmaus - something like this painting by Josef von F├╝hrich, 1837 ...

then 'step into the picture' and let it unfold.
This is what I experienced on pilgrimage - I stepped in, entering the humanity of Christ, of God with us, in a new and deeply moving way.  Walking so closely at times I could feel the dust from his steps fall upon my own feet.  Terra Firma.  We stood together on the same stones, drank in with our eyes the same landscape, stepped into the same mud of the River Jordan.  There was a comingling, an incorporation that I had not experienced before, stirring a longing in me, an interior movement, a recognition.  Uncontrived and inexplicable, like love ripened in a long marriage.  As though I had been looking all my life at his feet, his cloak, watching his hand, accustom to his voice.  When I received communion in the cave at Bethlehem that first morning, it dawned upon me that I do not only receive Jesus by this wondrous sacrament, become the body of Christ, but in a very substantial way He receives me.  I was not going on pilgrimage, we were.   At Dominus Flevit (God’s tears) I wept with Him for all our resistances, on the way to Tiberius I laughed with Him in the sea spray of Galilee, on the Mount of Beatitudes I felt the winds of the spirit carry His words to me.  The same stones that absorbed his agony at the flagellation received my body and it's heartrending load. 
If there was a one thing, this is it.  It was not some shining moment among many, some singular point of clarity and conversion, a flash revelation of mercy and love; it took more than a moment.  It was the ongoing impact of each experience, each place, each word spoken grounding me and awakening my senses, eucharisteo, humbling and joyful, overwhelming at times and so very ordinary, extraordinarily human.  It is the sense that everything belongs, that the stones do sing, and it is the grace that has come home with me, small pilgrim that I am.  It is the keepsake in my soul.  Everything brings me to Jesus. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Calling Mom on my birthday

I called my mom on my birthday, asked her if she remembered just what she was doing 60 years ago today.  Oh we shared some good laughs, and that question opened a door of memory to her own youth.  You see, my mom was very young when she had me, a new teenage bride.  I was born early and very small.  It was a difficult time.  As she recounted the memory, her voice grew soft.  She was so green, she said, so young.  She had no idea.  She told me that when she finally held me she thought I was the most beautiful baby she'd ever seen. 
Of course, I was warmed by her words, savoring the moment, when she rolled on with this..."Once you had grown a bit and we knew everything was okay, that is when folks started telling me you had been the ugliest baby!"  Oh, it was hilarious - we were laughing so hard we both had tears running down our cheeks (I know this even though we are thousands of miles apart).  Ours is a special bond. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Apple Orchard

Come let us watch the sun go down
and walk in twilight through the orchard's green.
Does it not seem as if we had for long 
collected, saved and harbored within us
old memories? To find releases and seek new hopes, 
remembering half-forgotten joys,
mingled with darkness coming from within,
as we randomly voice our thoughts aloud
wandering beneath these harvest-laden trees
reminiscent of Durer woodcuts, 
branches which, bent under the fully ripened fruit,
wait patiently, trying to outlast, 
to serve another season's hundred days of toil,
straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
but succeeding, even though the burden
should at times seem almost past endurance.
Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!
Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~


Friday, May 8, 2015

Invisible Work

Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don't mean these poems only

but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, "It's hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,
and there's no one
to say what a good job you're doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache."
And I, (who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while, as the Chippewa poem says, 
I am being carried by great winds across the sky,)
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.
There are mothers for everything, 
and the sea is a mother too,

whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean a moment 
against the blue shoulder of the air. 
The work of my heart
is the work of the world's heart.
There is no other art.

~ Alison Luterman ~

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to be a Poet (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill— more of each
than you have— inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
~ Wendell Berry

Pope Francis:  Let us too become like poets of prayer: let us develop a taste for finding our own words, let us once again grasp those which teach us the Word of God.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So it ever may it ever be

'Three Little Birds' is Back

and it feels like a feels like this...

When my nineteen-year-old son turns on the kitchen tap
and leans down over the sink and tilts his head sideways
to drink directly from the stream of cool water,
I think of my older brother, now almost ten years gone,
who used to do the same thing at that age;
and when he lifts his head back up and, satisfied,
wipes the water dripping from his cheek
with his shirtsleeve, it’s the same casual gesture
my brother used to make; and I don’t tell him
to use a glass, the way our father told my brother,
because I like remembering my brother
when he was young, decades before anything
went wrong, and I like the way my son
becomes a little more my brother for a moment
through this small habit born of a simple need,
which, natural and unprompted, ties them together
across the bounds of death, and across time …
as if the clear stream flowed between two worlds
and entered this one through the kitchen faucet,
my son and brother drinking the same water.

"A Drink of Water" by Jeffrey Harrison

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Just read:

The ordinary and proper response to our world is to turn on the radio, open the newspaper, go to another movie, talk to more people, or to look impatiently for new attractions and distractions. To listen patiently to the voice of the Spirit in prayer is radical displacement which at first creates unusual discomfort. We are so accustomed to our impatient way of life that we do not expect much from the moment. Every attempt to ‘live it through’ or to ‘stay with it’ is so contrary to our usual habits that all our impulses rise up in protest. But when discipline keeps us faithful, we slowly begin to sense that something so deep, so mysterious, and so creative is happening here and now that we are drawn toward it – not by our impulses but by the Holy Spirit.                        ~ Henri Nouwen, Compassion

How God Talks to Me

Coffee in one hand
leaning in to share, listen:
How I talk to God.
“Momma, you’re special.”
Three-year-old touches my cheek.
How God talks to me.
While driving I make
lists: done, do, hope, love, hate, try.
How I talk to God.
Above the highway
hawk: high, alone, free, focused.
How God talks to me.
Rash, impetuous
chatter, followed by silence:
How I talk to God.
First, second, third, fourth
chance to hear, then another:
How God talks to me.
Fetal position
under flannel sheets, weeping
How I talk to God.
Moonlight on pillow
tending to my open wounds
How God talks to me.
Pulling from my heap
of words, the ones that mean yes:
How I talk to God.
Infinite connects
with finite, without words:
How God talks to me.
~ Kelly Belmonte

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

O Sapientia - a sonnet by Malcolm Guite

I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

Monday, December 29, 2014

It Could Be...

It could be as simple
as using a good paring knife
and singing, as you peel the apple

from top to bottom, then kissing
your grandson's nose as you drop
the unbroken peel on his head.

It could be checking the herbs
in the outdoor pots, noticing
the basil needs water.

It could be wrapping yourself
in a prayer shawl, fingering your beads,
studying the Bible -- all the better

to empty the space, prepare the ground
for the silence which offers answers
to questions which never cease.

It could be putting on your hat,
your boots and your gloves
and shoveling Mrs. Cohen's walkway

before you drive her to the doctor.
You wish she would talk less,
but you tuck your impatience

into the pocket of your coat,
and it escapes only once.
It could be as simple as blessing

the newspaper as you open it,
praying for the spoiled and lost ones
on all corners of the earth.

It could be as simple as knowing
that prayer is also love-in-action
or even hate in non-action,

that there is only one you
in the entire universe,
that your spark-raising cannot be done
by anyone else, not even by God.
~~Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


So many memories of Christmas Eve...Roger proposed to me right before midnight mass 40 years ago, and then we went in to St Mary's where love incarnate took on new meaning for us both, so eager to center our life on the Way of Christ...and I am remembering years later when Jessica, Conor and Kate surprised us with their own tender and humorous telling of the birth of Jesus that so blessed us as parents...and tonight Kyla will read the Prophet Isaiah, ending with the line "The love of our God will make this happen" and I am again and still learning this Way of Christ...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith
in stubborn hope
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

– Jan Richardson

Lessons in Light

So, it's been a rough six months (you may have noticed I have been mostly absent from these pages) with losses and heartache of all kinds that could only be held, accompanied.  We have clung to one another and to God, walked, as trusting as we could, helping each other over the rough spots, and carried our hope bundled with a bit of thread...
Now it is Christmas.  My favorite feast - my season of hope.
He surprised us with lights to welcome us home, the whole place a joyful welcome sign.
A week later it was our turn.
We wanted to surprise him with the tree, lit in the window.
But when I plugged it in, only half the branches lit.
In my heart I sighed "not this, not this year" and left the room for a Christmas box thinking we'd have to leave the tree and wait for his help.
As I returned Kyla, in child wonder, exclaimed "Mom, the lights are all on!"
My first thought was to the heavens - Thank you,
When she said to me "Sometimes the Light just moves a little slow!"
Now it is Christmas.  My favorite feast - my season of hope.

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

Only after I'd written this did I realize 
it is Santa Lucia - the Feast of Lights!  I remember our girls wearing a crown of candles on their head with a mix of delight and terror!  
May you all be crowned with Light.  

Monday, November 24, 2014


This, my morning prayer poem 
(It will accompany me for some time, I suspect)

by Marie Howe

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does–

and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as toward a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,

as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — 

and swam in what shone at me,
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.

Friday, October 31, 2014

On the eve of All Saints

This just read from St. Clare
The journey of prayer is the discovery of God at the center of our lives. We pray not to acquire a relationship with God as if acquiring something that did not previously exist. Rather, we pray to disclose the image of God in which we are created, the God within us, that is, the one in whom we are created and in whom lies the seed of our identity. We pray so as to discover what we already have—“the incomparable treasure hidden in the field of the world and of the human heart.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between. Diane Ackerman

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Gorgeous Thing

I do not know what gorgeous thing
       the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
       beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
       whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
       that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
       in the world that is without
questions that can't and probably
       never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
       with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.
   ~Mary Oliver

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jesus [Go to your inner room]

I draw prayer round me like a dark protective wall, withdraw inside it as one might into a convent cell and then step outside again, calmer and stronger and more collected again.
        Etty Hillesum An Interrupted Life

Here’s what I want you to do:  Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
       Matthew 6:6 The Message

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our walls of division do not rise all the way to heaven. ~St. Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

And here is his morning prayer:

O Lord, grant that I may meet the coming day in peace. 
Help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. 
In each hour of the day reveal your will to me. 
Bless my dealings with all who surround me. 
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. 
In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. 
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. 
Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. 
Direct my will. Teach me to pray. Pray within me.
Most Holy God, I pray and beseech you, give me a pure heart, a way of speaking that befits the faith I profess. Grant me uprightness of purpose, powers of reasoning unhindered by passions, conduct that becomes those who fear you, and perfect knowledge of your commandments. 
May I enjoy health in body and in spirit.
Grant me a life of peace, genuine faith and living hope, sincere charity and bountiful generosity, patience that knows no bounds and the light of Your truth to proclaim Your goodness to me, that for ever and in all things placing my trust only in You, I may abound in every good work, and that in Christ Your gifts may increase in every soul.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful. ~Amy Bloom

I love our coming together in the evenings...sharing our days events, the moments, things that touched us or distracted us; the people and things that occupy our hearts and minds in the days work.
Yesterday I was in the throes of secretly orchestrating a surprise party and went over to see how VBS set-up was going.  One of the VBS decorations was a life-sized cutout of a camel, and it looked just like one I have a photo of from the holy land.  Excited that I will soon be on pilgrimage there, I snapped a and the camel, for a bit of fun.
We pulled off the surprise too, a bridal shower to honor our sweetheart of a youth minister.  It was a wonderful gathering and so much joy was shared.  Her delight was on grand display, and she shared the moment so graciously with us all.  At the end, with her fiance there, we prayed a blessing over the couple.  All arms extended over them, heads bowed in prayer.  It is forever imprinted in my heart, and theirs too, I am sure.
As I shared these things with Roger, I showed him the photos of the party, and then appeared my camel shot!  He smiled and remarked how photogenic I am.  Told me I was beautiful.  I denied it, as I am so often critical of my own pictures and prefer to be the one snapping away great pics of others!  It is easy for me to see the beauty in others, in fact I am captivated by it.
But this morning I woke to this quote, my daily prayer prompt via email:

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful. 

Sometimes it just hits home, you know.  And I am feeling bountifully grateful for those dearest of loves in my life who encourage me, and see the beauty Love has planted in this imperfectly perfect child of God.
well, not quite life-sized, but a lot of fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Pope Francis: “I ask for you (dads) the grace to be ever closer to your children, allow them to grow, but be close, close! They need you, your presence, your closeness, your love.”

Happy Father's Day to our sweet son, aka Pa-a, as his son calls him; my Dad and super fun grandpa, and my hubby - the best there is! May God our Father bless you in His love! And thank you each and all for blessing us with your fatherly care and loving ways!  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

See how The Lord takes care of me.

Waiting at the DMV and thinking of James Joyce describing the Church. Here comes everybody. DMV is a good image and a fun glimpse into the imagination of god in the body of Christ. Smiling grateful prayers...and then this;
The seat empties next to me and I hear someone pointing it out to another with clear directions.  A tall young man fumbles through and sits down, apologizing for the hand on my knee. A brief conversation follows until my number is called and off I go, reluctantly.  
I had just been talking with a young man blinded intentionally by his mother so he would not see the atrocities of his homeland, the horrors that were committed against his own family. Soft spoken, reflective and with an easy wide smile. He is getting his ID and is nervous how he looks. I told him he is handsome and he grinned "see how The Lord takes care of me". Useless to even try and hold back my tears when I am sitting here next to Jesus. See how The Lord takes care of me.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Poetic Rendering of The First Principle and Foundation Of Ignatius Loyola

Love made me -
Love sustains me -
Love leads me forth.

For this I sing praise,
bow low, and put
my life at the disposal of

Every tree - every
single star in the sky
points back toward
the Beloved.

May nothing pull me
away from Love - no
small wish of mine
next to the immensity
of the Beloved.

With the Beloved
may I shine.

~ Christine Rodgers

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.
Nkosi Johnson (1989-2001)
Zulu boy known for raising AIDS awareness

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thank you, Miss Gladd

When I was in 1st grade, I had Scarlet Fever...this back in the day when it was deadly serious.  First a stay in hospital in isolation, them home but still quarantined for some time. 
By the time I was permitted to return to school, I was still frail and was not able to play at recess.  Instead, I was benched.  Each day I sat, my back to the wall, and watched the children play, feeling blue that I could not join them.
My teacher was a wonderful woman, Miss Gladd, who lived up to her name.  After a couple days sitting there, feeling forgotten with nothing but my disappointment keeping my company, she came and sat beside me.  She'd brought a small piece of string.  She asked for my hand, and tied the piece of string to my finger, as she told me it's purpose.  She said to me, "This is to remind you that God has you on this bench for a reason"  and explained it was up to me to figure out what that reason was. 
I was stumped as I daily sat there pondering her words.  Then, and I remember this so well, my friend Susan came over and sat with me.  We were both just sitting there with our backs against the stucco wall, eyes on the playground, and she began to tell me about a sorrowful thing that was happening in her family.  She talked and I listened.  I don't remember saying anything to her at all.  And I don't recall what she shared specifically (God has gifted me in that way).  What I do remember is Miss Gladd coming to sit by me second recess, and telling me she'd seen that I'd maybe figured out a bit of why I am here.  I felt the grace of God, before I ever could have named it as such.  I do know in that moment there aroused in me a longing that stirs in me still, my first memorable inclination toward God.
On Fat Tuesday I came across a thin ring, made to look like a knot around your finger.  With that ring, this experience, long forgotten, came back to me in a rush as clear as the blue sky above.  I am wearing it for Lent, a reminder to remember that God has me 'on this bench' for a reason. 
I have learned since my childhood the wisdom of that first principle shared earlier for Ash Wednesday...everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.


I ask for the grace of an intimate knowledge of God's presence in my life and an awareness of my own response.

While not typically thought of as a prayer, the first principle and foundation of the spiritual exercises contains much that is worth reflecting on as I enter my Lenten retreat 'in the midst of the world'.

God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life
to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God's deepening his life in me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent's Invitation

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.

John O'Donohue

Monday, February 24, 2014

There is a voice that stirs my longing, it is Christ

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

- Rainer Maria Rilke from: Book of Hours, I 59

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sacred Memory

The other day Kyla and I were working together to organize her room. We rediscovered a bag of stuffed animals etc. we'd put away and among the items was a baby doll she carried everywhere when she was toddling around. It was fun to share with her this happy reminder of precious days passed.

Later we moved her little shrine to her bedside table.


A holy card fell out, St. Kateri Tekawitha.

It has a relic, (a bit of red cloth) and Kyla commented that it was strange to think a piece of someone's clothing was sacred. I was surprised by my emotion as I shared with her that this bit of cloth was like her doll, which is 'just a doll' but also more, simply because it was hers, and is full of meaning and memory for us. She teared up too, 'getting it'. Happy grateful tears, a really good hug and yes, a sacred moment.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Roger wrote me this in 1971, true to his word and heart on his sleeve. What a joyous life we share, no matter what life has brought or may one day bring, to be in it together, my life's greatest blessing! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

"Nothing is Lost" by Noel Coward

Friday, January 10, 2014

"What the Heart Cannot Forget"

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

~ by Joyce Sutphen, Coming Back to the Body

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pope Francis' Top Ten Things To Do in 2014

1. Don't gossip. Guard the dignity of all.
2. Take only what you need.  Don't waste food.
3. Make time for others. Make your time well spent.
4. Choose the 'more humble' purchase. Give to the more just cause.
5. Meet the poor 'in the flesh.' Go out and serve Christ.
6. Stop judging others. Start in love and kind-ness.
7. Befriend those who disagree. Find your common ground.
8. Make commitments. Keep them.
9. Make it a habit to 'ask the Lord.' Listen and He will help you.
10. Be happy. Live in the Joy of the gospel.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


It's been quiet here online,
though raucous enough in my life through advent’s waiting
the loss of my husband’s sister, my friend, who was also mother and daughter-loss
the rough road of one of our own who is trying with all she’s got to change her life
preparing for my moms visit (a rare and difficult thing for her to do, given her health, but she is vigorous in spirit)
hope and ache, loss and gain all tossed into December’s mulled offerings
and then comes the feast
Incarnation...God with skin, love enfleshed
I feel it in the happy chaos of child-Angels plucking feathers from their wings and robe-clad Shepherds making haste to greet the Christ child in the manger at Christmas Mass
Feel it as Lucas wraps his arms around my neck and I can still feel him so
As Conor kisses my forehead and I am so small beside him with his arm wrapped around me, Merry Christmas mom
And Leslie speaks her thanks and I feel her breath carry tenderness to my ear, her smile, delight to my eyes
When Kate calls, anxious about many things while I hear her own babies in the background, and though apart, a grown child’s need and a mother’s reassurance bridge the gap
And Jessica catches me in the pantry, after taking the girls on 'the best day ever!', confiding her renewed perspective; later we linger while the house sleeps and I am grateful for this closeness
Watching Henry laughing at the glad welcome he receives, the family embrace is everywhere
With my Mom close by, watching me in the kitchen, later bragging about her girl, we sit and I hold her crooked hand
Catching Roger’s eyes across the room, conspiracy of grace, again and again he sees, every petal reads ‘he loves me’
With Kyla and her scooting close, childhoods joys
The door swings wide, again and again as family arrives.
We join hands to pray, feast on food and wine
there are quiet chats in corners, the grandmothers commiserate
while games & laughter drift in on the air
We gather crowded close to open our gifts
All advent I heard the whisper and as I sit back and watch, I hear it again under the playful exchange...
I am not coming...I am here

Friday, November 8, 2013

For Sharon

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.
    Excerpt from Tagore's The gardener 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. Diane Ackerman

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart - St. Benedict

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!
When someone deeply listens to you
your bare feet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.
-John Fox


Tuesday, September 10, 2013


The commonplace miracle:
that so many common miracles take place.

The usual miracles:
invisible dogs barking
in the dead of night.

One of many miracles:
a small and airy cloud
is able to upstage the massive moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder is reflected in the water
and is reversed from left to right
and grows from crown to root
and never hits bottom
though the water isn't deep.

A run-of-the-mill miracle:
winds mild to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

A miracle in the first place:
cows will be cows.

Next but not least:
just this cherry orchard
from just this cherry pit.

A miracle minus top hat and tails:
fluttering white doves.

A miracle (what else can you call it):
the sun rose today at three fourteen a.m.
and will set tonight at one past eight.

A miracle that's lost on us:
the hand actually has fewer than six fingers
but still it's got more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the inescapable earth.

An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:
the unthinkable
can be thought.

~ Wislawa Szymborska ~

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Praying for family (Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria)

I gathered prayers all week, rising early to offer my holy hour of prayer and fasting as the people of the world unite today for peace, though in truth the prayer for peace has been companioning me through these days. Why wait...
My own heart overwhelmed with the immensity of need, I found myself placing the need constantly before the Lord, only held out my hands and offered one word - Syria - to the Father's heart.
This morning, though, I read through those gathered prayers.  I prayed them slowly and with full intention in early morning darkness. I thought of all the others who were joining me in prayer unseen this morning...some in the comforts of their homes, some in churches, but also in shelters and on streets, in temples and especially those living in the midst of the terror we are praying to end.  When I got to the last, a litany of Mary of Nazareth, my heart broke wide open.  The myth of separation was again torn apart... those written prayers did their work, words I never would have thought of on my own pointed the way and I did follow. 
The power of prayer is not just to change circumstances...the very act of praying changes us!  May the example of Mary's humanity and the full humanity of her Son Jesus bring us all home to the oh so very human FAMILY of GOD...

Friday, September 6, 2013

God bless Fr Sheahan. Gifted with 2 loaves of gorgeous homemade Irish bread he kindly shared. Perfect ending to the day and saved a bit for morning too!  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rest in Peace Seamus Heaney. So often your poetry did 'catch [my] heart off guard and blow it open'!


And some time make the time to drive out west...
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open

Seamus Heaney