Tuesday, June 29, 2010


To understand
A little of how a shaken love
May be sustained
The giant stillness
Of a willow
After a storm.

This morning it is more than peaceful
 But last night that great form
Was tossed and hit
By what seemed to me
A kind of cosmic hate,

An infernal desire
To harass and confuse,
Mangle and bewilder
Each leaf and limb
With every vicious

So that now I cannot grasp
The death of nightmare.
How it has passed away
Or changed to this
This clean peace
That seems so unshakable

A branch beyond my reach says "It is well
For me to feel
The transfiguring breath
Of evil
"Because yesterday
The roots by which I live
Lodged in apathetic clay.

"But for that fury
How should I be rid of the slow death?
How should I know
That what a storm can do
Is to terrify my roots
And make me new?"

~ Brendan Kennelly ~
(A Time for Voices)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The in-between times

Summer always seems to bring me to the brink of advent.
It is my slow down time and also my time to prepare the way for the new year.
I rest, I reflect, I pray. I love the Sabbath of summer.
And I am doing all this with a remarkable person.
She is a doctor, a lawyer, a philosopher, an architect and a poet.
She is an adventurer, an animal trainer and a visionary,
she is an artist, an acrobat and a singer.
I should mention here that she is a 6 year old at play --
dreaming her own dreams of who she is, and who she will be.

The beautiful fact is: when you are 6, anything is possible.
And that is gift enough for me to see.
In her promise and her possibility,
her hope and her anticipation, she offers me advent.
A season of expectation - and a time of preparation.
And this small child, a citizen of the world,
reminds me that with every breath, every moment, every day...
life is unfolding and I too am a work in progress.

Advent is the "now," and the "not yet." It is the waiting for something that will be.
The in-between time.
Advent is here in my waiting for the daughter to come home,
in my husbands hard work while waiting for the economy to improve,
in the construction zone of our home waiting for completion.
It is here in the waiting for the church to act,
for the spirit to move, for God to provide.

Everything, and everyone, waits.

As 6 year old waits (often impatiently) to see what life has in store, so do I.
I wait, like I pray at every mass, in joyful hope. My faith has taught me that;
shaped me in hope by the very routine naming of it in her constant liturgy.

And while I wait, there is work to be done, holy spirit shovel in hand.

God calls us to prepare the way.
But the geography is sometimes so much more complicated than I realize.
The rocky hills of my own expectations. And the flat stone wall of fear.
The slippery slope that brings me down again and again.
I think I know the path, and then as quickly I have no idea where I am going.

And so, the testimony of a 6 year old
calling out to me in the now of God's immediate presence.
Anything is possible!

And as Paul puts it:
I am confident of this, that the one who began this good work in you will continue to complete it.

That is the prayer on my lips this summer. A prayer of work, of hope, of waiting.
A prayer, really, of advent: a yearning for new life to become full, and to grow and
to become everything that it can knowing God-is-with-us.
And while I wait, I'll break out the shovel.
There are mountains to be moved. There is work to do.

And you,
what are you waiting for -
what do you hold
in the hands of your heart...

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
- Mary Oliver

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A stiff necked people

She was sleeping in a 6 year old heap of sheets and lambopotomus when she awoke
and in the untangling tweaked her neck.
For the entire day her head tipped to the left.
We stretched and iced and rubbed and rested.
Next morning brought some improvement but it didn't last.
By evening we were really encouraging her to try and move her head straight up
so it wouldn't prove more and more difficult.
She was adamant that she was already straight...
and that's when we sent her to the mirror.
Left her there in her self-examination.
Her conversion was swift.
I saw her eyes widen in true astonishment.
She turned and spoke these words
 that drew me to look at my own mirrored self.

"I just learned something...
you can think you're straight but still be a little crooked.
You have to take a good look at yourself to tell the difference."

May my own self-reflection open wide my eyes to such a ready education,
and make the crooked straight.
Amen my love, amen.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
                                                                                            Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Borrowed" from my son's blog - Happy Father's Day!

Since I was a teenager, my dad shared philosophy with me. Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Heidegger, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Teilhard de Chardin. These were the strange names that he talked about like distant relatives. Nothing made me happier than listening to his stories about the essence of acorns, the world of monads, the skeptic that watched the school girl walk home, or the husband and wife that lied to the Gestapo to protect the young family hiding in their basement. If there were two themes that dominated his stories they were morality and free will. His test of every philosophical system was whether it allowed for free will. Leibniz’s monads, he explained, so densely packed the world that they left no room for free will. The question of morality for my dad necessarily began with free will. If we weren’t free, then our choices meant nothing, and in my dad’s view, our choices meant everything.

When I think of my dad, I think of his hands and his smile. His choices are etched into his hands. I picture my dad stretching out his hands at the gates of heaven, and St. Peter bursting into happy tears at the stories written across those gruff, human paws. Come in, St. Peter says. Come in you maniac. And his smile. Uncertainty, anguish, and despair are words that philosophers use to describe the emotions that accompany a belief in free will. In a world in which man is truly free, his choices take on a greater responsibility. According to Sartre, “A man who commits himself, and who realizes that he is not only the individual that he chooses to be, but also a legislator choosing at the same time what humanity as a whole should be, cannot help but be aware of his own full and profound responsibility.” My dad’s answer to his own profound responsibility, to the dizziness of his freedom, is a smile. His smile portrays kindness, confidence, faith in the future, and an acknowledgment of the absurd. It’s a smile that gives us solace that such a man is a legislator for all of humanity.
from his blog 'Hillside Airstrip'

Monday, June 14, 2010

The three R's; Basic Skills for Life

I spent yesterday in Rainbow.
I sat with my husband and my daughter who is living at the dead-end
of what I have come to call Resurrection Road.
She is re-learning the basics, and it is something to watch.
And that is what I do...I watch her, not as an impartial or casual observer
but like a husband watches his wife give birth.
There is very little I can do to help in the progress toward this new life emerging,
but my being there is paramount and my engagement is total.
I see her practicing her breathing lessons.
Practicing as she groans out the words with her life;
Repentance, Redemption, Restoration, Renewal.

I am a witness on her behalf.
This is what I see.
She is Radiant in hope,
Refreshed in her own value, dignity, and strength
Re-created in the goodness and mercy of God
and Ready.
She is Reaching out for Relationship,
Rejuvenated in mind and body and spirit,
Eager to make Reparation and Right her ways.

And I pray my R's - the basics that see me through each day
walking with her on Resurrection Road, in trinitarian form.

Rely on God. Reach out. Reconcile.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened..Prayer of St Paul

I went today to see a friend, a young woman who in the process of losing her sight
has gained an amazing clarity of vision.

She was absolutely thrilled to show me her new home,
and as we delighted in the good turn of events in her life she led me to her balcony.

Look, she said.

Outside her balcony is a mature tree in full leaf, close enough to touch,
it’s color and light a brilliant backdrop that my eyes could drink in.
But oh, what she saw there plunged me into the deep waters,
no small cupful to satisfy a temporary thirst.

“God planted this tree for me in 1964 when these places were built.
He’s been there all along.”

  It was beautiful to see.

Blessed is the one who trusts
in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
She is like a tree planted
beside the waters
that stretches out its roots
to the stream:
It fears not the heat
when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought
it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
      ~Jeremiah 17:7

Monday, June 7, 2010

Companion of mine

I awoke in the night.
The clock’s blue glow casting everything into dark silhouettes.
Even the man in my bed-
I laughed the minute I thought it – like some strange surprise.
“There’s a man in my bed!”

But in the darkness I knew the shape of the head, those ears,
The way the sheet is tucked over his shoulder.
How he sleeps always on the edge of his pillow, never in the middle,
And the growling and whistling sounds he makes in his sleep.

His breathing, even at rest, so much faster than mine.
I have tried to catch his rhythm before but we are not the same.
Yes, I know this man.  I love this man.

We have been together some 40 odd years now (read that however you like)
This familiar stranger who is my companion in life.
Companion in mystery who breaks bread with me, keeps my company,
and rests me assured in the middle of the night.

"This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender."

~PBS Pete Seeger  The motto emblazoned on Pete Seeger's banjo

Friday, June 4, 2010


At 6 she has begun her first diary - and written all over it
Then she gives it to me to read...all but one page.
Her secret page.
I read that she likes dogs.
I read that she loves mommy and papa and see she has drawn us 3 there.
I read she likes ice cream and the names of her friends.
I thank her for sharing the pages with me
and tell her "I like her".
She goes back to her writing and drawing.
Time passes and she quietly returns.

"Here is my other page, mommy.  You can read it."
I take it like a small live bird, carefully & gently.
I read it.
"My mom and dad KISSED."
I kiss her then, and smile.
Thank her for sharing it with me.
"It's ok," she says, "we have BIG LOVE."

Morning Prayer

Jesus stood waiting for the woman's answer-
not looking past her, not laughing at her.
"Tell me what you need," he repeated, kindly,
"Come, what is it?"

"I don't need anything," she finally answered.
"I'm nothing but a ..."
She didn't know how to finish the sentence.
She hung her head.  "It's nothing."

"Ah, you need a name," he said.
"I'll give you one: You-Are-Mine."

Isaiah 43:1

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What do you think?

It happens most often in the car on the way to school,
a 3 minute ride ripe with the stuff of eternity,
casually laid before me by a child of God.

"Why don't some people want God in their hearts?"

"Were dandelions once lions? What made them change?"

"______ was mean to me yesterday; and right after religion!"

"Don't you wish there was nothing to do today?"

"When you are teaching about God, just
show them the butterfly and then they'll know."

"Life sure goes by fast."

"Sometimes I can hear God moving around in my heart."

Go ahead, answer her, if you dare. 
I remain the apprentice, and my daring is in the asking,
"What do you think?"

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  And no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:34

what would you do?

Don't eat the marshmallow yet

Think you'll enjoy this!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

For the Love of God

On the eve of my 55th birthday I laid my neck on the line.
It has not fallen into the basket yet, but the day is young.
I stood against a swelling tide, I stood for my faith.
So here’s the thing. I am catholic, and to this day thrill at what that means to me;
thrill at the rich heritage I have gained there, and the universal embrace
(Give me a heart as big as the universe ~ St. Frances Cabrini) it has required of me.
And I have a growing dis-ease with those that would reduce the meaning
of that immense reality – catholic –
to a meanly constricted model of rubrics and doctrines
as if they existed with any value at all
outside of their relationship with and service to all humanity.

Everything, everything that exists in the church
serves one purpose and one mission only;
to draw us all, all deeper into the truth of God’s love for us and all creation.
Christ- love incarnate. The scriptures are pretty clear…
The Love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:5
For God so loved the world that he sent his only son. John 3:16
Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Seek eagerly after love. 1 Corinthians 14:1
God is love and those who abide in love abide in god and god in them. 1 John 4:16
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13
A new commandment I give to you, love one another as I have loved you.
John 13:34

In Christ the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

Those who in their own righteousness fling church teaching like a weapon might do well to revisit the preface of her catechism before turning her plowshares into swords.
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.
1 Corinthians 13:8; CCC #25

The same is true of canon law, which upholds this foundational guide “when in doubt, to err on the side of mercy”. It is a dangerous thing to forget the demand of the gospels regarding God’s mercy. "Whatsoever you do to the least…you do to me!" Matthew 25:40

These teachings humble me.

What frustrates me about this 'crusade' of some of my fellow catholics is their presumption to speak as the authoritative voice of 'The Church' and quite readily dismiss and even condemn the sincerity and sound faith of the majority of good folks quietly living out their christian witness day to day.

What breaks my heart is a profoundly felt resistance to diminish, by our own choice of words, the very mission of Christ.

Words are powerful! So I am compelled to speak out as St. Paul said; Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we too believe and therefore speak.
2 Corinthians:4

So, to those quiet followers with wide embrace, I urge you on!
I stand with you as one who seeks to carefully and faithfully express
in my words and life the good news that is Christ for the life of the world.
May God's own spirit lead us all toward the greatest change;
the ever deepening conversion that turns us more fully to Christ,
and through Christ, to the whole world.
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known
in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
Jesus' prayer to God the Father in the gospel of John 17:20

May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts,
May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.
Ephesians 3:17