Saturday, July 31, 2010

Walking the Tightrope

Sometimes it is easy...
having hope, walking by faith, trusting.
As it has been (remarkably so) this last week or two.
Counting everything grace, seeing miracles everywhere,
my world full of light and the load light as well.
Sunday was no exception.
I am feeling good - confident, and when I go to bed,
I drift off happy and grateful
to be at this place in the journey.
I sleep and I dream.

I am walking on a tightrope.

It is strong, thick rope, stretched between a faucet post and my front porch;
about 2 feet off the ground.
I am able to walk it with well-practiced assurance.
I know that if I fall, without a doubt
my foot will alight on solid ground.
I am smack in the middle when He says,
without any warning,
"Time to lift this thing higher"
and grabbing the rope lifts it well above His head.
I am suddenly thrust beyond my sure footing -
suspended now between a bending tree and the rooftop.
Nothing close for me to hold onto, solid ground looming far below.
I wobble, I am terrified, and I shout, "Don't let go of me!"
I have a sick feeling in my gut, I cannot breathe past the fear -
this is HIGH and I could get hurt.
I say it again,
with the urgency of Peter sinking outside the boat,
the man with the sick son no one can do anything for,
the woman dodging the crowd just to reach the hem of His cloak,
It's not a request - no manners on me at all.
I shout "Don't let go of me!"
My feet are curved and grasping for the strong cord
when I wake up.
In that moment I know
having hope, walking by faith, trusting
is like stepping out on that tightrope.
You have to have confidence in the rope!
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen...
~Hebrews 11:1
And that takes courage, not losing heart, Sacre Coeur.
I lay there in that thinly veiled place
and Iona's voices fill my mind

"Don't be afraid, My love is stronger,
my love is stronger than your fear.
Don't be afraid, my love is stronger
and I have promised, promised to be always near."

"She stepped onto the wire, and with the most intense pleasure,
 as she had always imagined it might be, she started to cross the sky."
~Mirette on the high wire

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wait for it...Wait for it...Wait for it

It was quite a weekend.
Full of peace and grace and
hushed halleluiahs deep within my soul.
A homecoming so full of promise, so wrapped in familial care,
it was extraordinary.
Commonplace actions that were uncommon for too many years -
the touch of a hand, a daughters' smile across the room,
easy laughter, trust.
A walk in the park.
We confidently embraced and took those first steps together.
My cup overflows, but that doesn't stop the outpouring.
Sunday brings more good news of New Life in this family
and my heart thrills.
Sunday evening as we sat together at mass
I swear I could feel the Holy Spirit elbowing me,
saying ,"see! SEE!"
Braggin' on God's work!

You cannot rush God's work.
As 7 year old loves to say,
"wait for it...wait for it...wait for it..."
until we are led,
with eyes veiled by our own hands,
to the place of mystery
and the moment arrives.
We drop our hands, look to see-
a colorful drawing,
a dozen kisses,
butterflies in the garden,
a tasty treat,
our bed made,
complete with stuffed animals to cozy in the night,
the shining faces of the ones you love.

Write it on your heart
that the ones you love
are Life's most precious gifts.
~Swedish Proverb

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On the eve of THE BIG DAY

I am trying to take a little rest, book in hand,
but truth be told there isn't much rest in my heart.
Tomorrow is a big day - THE BIG DAY.
My thoughts scatter and swirl,
my responsibilities weigh heavily on my shoulders.
Feeling the weight, I sigh my prayer,
 "Help me to carry all of this."
And then in a rush I see you suddenly and clearly,
small girl on the beach with BIG dreams-
looking adorably unusual;
set for the task in your goggles and swim cap,
carrying a rock too big, determined to take it home.
Your little face red under the strain,
 feet kicking up sand, girl on a mission!
Conor and Jessica laughing in disbelief at the sight of you.
 "Look at Katie!"
We turn to look,
and Dad rushes in and swoops up his baby girl, rock and all.
Giggles as you groan out the weight of it together.
We all run in and surround you,
so full of grace in the moment that I can feel it now, here.
You still held the rock but it no longer weighed you down
because someone held you.
Memories bright with the lightness of love.
That rock is likely still among the purple lobelias
that bloomed by our front door in Oceanside.

We don't need it to know this; we have His word
I have made you and I will carry you.--God (Papa)
Isaiah 46:4

Today we will welcome you home; and He will carry us all.

(Thanks to H for sharing; which prompted this recollection)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Our daughter is starting over - literally. Not picking up where she left off.
This Saturday is a big day! A beginning.
And to help her we put out word of her need for everything.
Within a matter of days; everything had been given,
by friends and friends of friends, by family and by God!
It was amazing; an avalanche of goodness, of kindness;
years of shared prayer
rising now to stand tall and stretching to see farther down the road.
Prodigals all.
Where once there was an empty space, now there is the comfort of home -
each and every thing given by one who has hoped and prayed and paved the way,
by one who continues to do so, encompassing her within the invisible bonds of love.

I am so touched by the generosity of these folks,
by their own moved hearts and personal response.
I live in and for that kind of christianity -
that kind of faith with a human touch that hopes and perseveres,
that grows into itself each day at God's own promptings.
I needed that today, even more than the new vacuum cleaner,
to clear up the mess that is scattered about me,
to bring peace to the chaos.
Unpacking so many dishtowels...all reminding me of my true mantle;
with those towels so durable and only improved with use;
tossed casually over the shoulder,
ready to soak up the mess of sickness,
dry the spilled tears,
make it possible to handle the scalding pot.
I am not made for the battlefields of sophistry
but for the solid weight of our family table,
a dish towel and a home built by and for love.
Soon we will gather 'round that table;
hold hands, speak grace
thanking God for everything.

And, for everything, Thank you.

These many beautiful days cannot be lived again,
but they are compounded in my own flesh and spirit
and I take them in full measure toward whatever lies ahead.
Daniel Berrigan SJ

P.S.  Maybe she is in some way 'picking up where she left off' so long ago,
Though she is not the same and neither are we,
May she carry the memory of beautiful days past into the newness of today.
May they be a hope and a help along the way.  Amen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Beautiful Anomaly

I read a story about a recently discovered underground cave
called Snowy River in New Mexico. One 'caver'/researcher
called the cave a “beautiful anomaly” and a national treasure.
An anomaly is something
unusual, or in other words,
My delight in a word
as holy spirit prompt
immediately brought
to mind the anomaly of me -
and you too my friends;
 the "peculiar treasures"
of God (Exodus 19:5).

And how the treasure of us is so often hidden in an underground cave.
When I think of treasure I think immediately of great value and beauty...
and when I think hidden underground I want to dig it up!

Ok a little stream of consciousness here.
Part of my work is in bereavement and specifically funeral planning.
I have walked with more folks than most in those mysterious days;
joined them in their underground cave of grief and loss, of memory, regret,
love's agonies...oh it is a deep cave.
I sit in it's quiet darkness and listen to their stories;
 hear of the peculiar treasure of each person
who has just passed from this life, slipped through their hands into eternal life.
And those treasures revealed by the most intimate of families and friends
are most often not the bold and beautiful things we say to compliment another,
but the beautiful anomaly's that endear them to us all.
They speak tenderly of quirks, compassionately of crosses borne,
conspiratorially of some hilarious habits, and so on.
All of them peculiar treasures.

Yet I also know in the daily routine of life, when we trick ourselves
into believing that the edge of that mysterious journey is far from us,
we work hard to keep these very things buried underground,
to keep others (and even ourselves) away from them.

They may be places of conversion, wounds crying out for the great physician.
But when the dark cave is filled with LIGHT
they are surprisingly just as often cause for great joy!
Like Beuchner writes in one of my favorite old books
Peculiar Treasures when he tells the story
of how Sarah and Abraham laugh
when the angel tells the old couple that Sarah is going to have a baby.
Sarah laughs so hard she has to go in the tent so as to not insult the angel.
Buechner says they are not laughing
at the impossibility of the message the angel carries.

 "The reason they laughed was that it suddenly dawned on them that the wildest dreams they'd ever had hadn't been half wild enough."

I am laughing a lot these days in the spirit of Sarah & Abraham as I catch a glimpse
of the immensity of the underground cave and the beautiful anomalies
 that are part of the story God is writing and we are living out, peculiar treasures all.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"The first thing that a person finds in life and the last to which he holds out his hand, and the most precious that he possess, even if he does not realize it, is family life."
- Blessed Adolph Kolping

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Those lovely Iris blooms my grandmother loved

I planted irises in my yard because I love them.  But I love them because my Grandma Effie loved them. One summer when we lived in Indiana ( I was in 5th grade) my brother and I went to her house regularly as our parents worked.  It was the most magical of summers for me.  She gave us coffee for breakfast which she let us pour into our saucers to cool before sipping.  I remember the creamy sweetness and her smile at our devious secret.   We made sticky bread together and helped her wring the laundry with the hand wringer in the basement.  We picked blueberries, and wouldn't you know I have a meager bush in my yard.  We napped on the porch and watched the thunderstorms rain on one half of the street while the sun shone on the other side.  Watched my one-armed uncle Dickie (who lost his arm to polio as a child and spent ages in an iron lung) - so mysterious, laugh out loud in wicked delight.  My grandmother had long hair which surprised me the day I first saw it down...sat on her bed and unbraided it while we talked of her youth, being a nurse.  She let me brush her hair and to this day I can smell her room, see the late afternoon sunlight as it bathed us in its warm light, and feel how special I felt in that moment - priveledged, grown-up.  There was a photograph of her in her nurses cap on her dresser and I thought she was beautiful and so full of life.  When she smiled she had those twinkling eyes that grace the faces of kind souls.  My Uncle Danny has those eyes, and so does my own mom, though hers appear brighter and more mischievious after a margarita (which delights me to no end)!

These blues make you anything but

Good Morning Glory!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


It happened at mass - we were kneeling before communion.
It had been a graced time - this mass, as 7 year old was less wiggle worm
and more singing her heart out to Jesus, affectionate with us.
So we are kneeling and I am thanking the lord even as I am repenting
some bitterness I have held onto saying the words so woven
 into my fabric of being
"Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall ...'s the word?"
And my world stopped.
I remember in an instant our firstborn asking the question
at St. Mary's during morning mass.
Took me a while to get it - oh the word, like a secret
 that could only be whispered in sacred passageways - the word...
I was the young mom then, new and eager in all things.
The word is yes, God says yes to heal us and
his word makes it happen - god keeps his promises.
For days she was so excited about keeping promises,
 excited that if she asked
and God said Yes then God would do it!
She liked a God who made promises and kept them.
A couple of years later and we are kneeling in Mary Star of the Sea.
Our son is preparing for his first communion -
so excited he plays at saying mass with necco wafers -
when he leans over to me and with hushed conspiratorial tones
asks, mom, mom, what's the word?
He is looking for the password - the way to get it to happen,
the magical secret that gets God on your side.
It means when God made you he made you to be happy and holy -
he wants you to be happy and holy.
If you ask him, he will do it, forgive you, make you whole,
make you happy.
Neccos to his sisters in the backyard for weeks following
include a command from him- say the word! say the word!
His sisters don't get it but he keeps insisting.
They kneel and wait for Neccos.
That makes them happy.
I ponder the hunger we all have for that word.
More years pass, a new house and a new parish -
kneeling at Holy Trinity and our youngest (at the time)
asks her Dad.
I smile, off the hook.
But he turns to me - c'mon, mom what's the word?
I'm the teacher, so out it comes
It's a bible story - the centurion (Matt 8:8)
who said those words and Jesus healed his servant.
It means if we have faith and ask Jesus for help,
he will help and heal us.
"Can he fix my ears", she asked?
Yes, he gave us Dr Jackson to do that.
Twenty-one years later here we are,
kneeling at mass in St. Therese and history repeats itself...
"mommy... mommy...what's the word?"
She loves secret words, whispered, companions in mystery.
But living the mystery changes us
so I do not give her an answer -
I ask...what do you think?
"I'm not sure," she says.
"Is it just one word or a whole sentence?"
You pick, I say, waiting.
"I think its just a word...
Yes, Amen.
I am sure you are right.
Amen.  Alleluia.

Let it be so.