Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the 5th Day of Christmas...

This morning I read about Simeon...
A good man
One who lived in prayerful expectancy
And the Holy Spirit was on him
Simeon took him [Jesus] into his arms and blessed God

So I am sitting the imaginative prayer of St. Ignatius,
feeling the weight of the Christ child in my arms, close and warm.
I am dumbfounded...
no words form...
just that weight and warmth
and the lump in my throat.
I am deeply sunk in the moment
when she pads out
"I was calling you"
and crawls into my lap,
heavy and warm
and I hold on
in silence
as long as I possibly can...

feeling the weight of the Christ child in my arms, close and warm.
I am dumbfounded...

Some Children see Him lily white,
the Baby Jesus born this night.
Some Children see Him lily white,
with tresses soft and fair.
Some Children see Him bronzed and brown,
the Lord of heav’n to earth some down;
Some Children see Him bronzed and brown,
with dark and heavy hair.

Some Children see Him almond eyed,
this Saviour whom we kneel beside,
Some Children see him almond eyed,
with skin of yellow hue.
Some Children see him dark as they,
sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray;
Some Children see Him dark as they,
and ah! They love Him too!

The Children in each different place
will see the Baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heav’nly grace,
and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing,
and with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the Infant King,
’tis love that’s born tonight!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I love these old vintage prints

For some reason I have always loved this - my swedish grandmother... the beauty of winter...
the mystery and wondrous possibility of Christmas! 

The goodness of St Nicholas

If we could but see how the world proclaims His glory!

child wonder
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed...
that manger was rough!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The great give-away

Let me not wrap,
keep Christmas.

Christmas kept is liable to mold.

Let me give Christmas away,
by exuberant armfuls.

Let me share,
live Christmas unpretentiously,
responsibly with overflowing hands,
tireless steps
and sparkling eyes.
(from an old copy of the Upper Room)

Sunday, November 27, 2011


One of our dear friends recently discovered he is in the late stages of cancers' merciless grip.  The news stunned us all – he who is so youthful, vigorous and full of life – his mischievous laugh resounding forever in our hearts…mention Chris and that sound echoes through everyone’s head with delight.  These men have been friends since grade school at St. Mary’s, adding one or two along the way, from high school and SEARCH weekends, and they have held on, through wild adventures and weddings, through kids and the daily pulls that eventually shape our lives in different directions.  Usually, it would be Bob as the master of planning; a ping pong gathering, a party, he’d remember a birthday or use anything as a cause to celebrate…this time he used cancer ---

“Does anyone recognize these fugitives?” his email read. And there it was, from days long gone – a shot of the boys gathered round a table, the easy fun so evident on their faces as they ham it up for the camera!

And so we gathered Saturday afternoon for a potluck…
Kevin and Kara hosted, in their wide open home so like their wide open hearts.  We brought appetizers and dessert, so arrived first.  We were standing in the kitchen when Mike and Linda arrived (we hadn’t seen him in ages)…my husband saw Mike peek his head in and thought, “There’s Mikes Dad!”, quickly realizing no…that’s Mike.  Needless to say, it was an eye-opening evening!
He and his son carried in the cooler as we laughed about the days we’d all lived together in a big house on the beach, Rog and I the only married couple, and all these guys.  Mike always had a cooler ready then, glad to spend an evening on the sand.

Joe and Cathy brought bread and oil, Joe loving bread as always, knowing our need to break bread together, the meaning lost to no one.  The hard swallow of eucharisteo  borne more easily in communion.
Bob (the self-designated Wine Swine) and Maura were welcomed with ready glasses and raucous laughter.  Chris and Michelle arrived with them.  Michelle with a huge salad, fresh and full of greens and fruit and nuts.  She always makes the best salads!

We chatted and munched a good long while, took a tour of the house (Kevin is an architect) while Kara prepared the main course, lovely salmon and couscous.
Then we sat down at table.  Six couples who’ve been long wed, wives brought together mostly by the friendships their husbands shared; and knit together through the years, grateful for such friendships in their lives and ours.  We feasted on a delicious meal and told stories that had us laughing and crying, whole table conversations with each one shouting in their bit of the story and quiet ‘one on ones’ as we lingered on.  I brought out the dessert – pies – and as I sat down next to Mike he shared how his mom had been the pie maker at a local restaurant when he was small; how he loved pies (real pies…good pies).  My mom had been a pie maker too; daily heading out to the Wagon Wheel.  The weave of life and grace in our life a common thread knotted there…

Bob made toasts (he is a most excellent wine swine) and we took a group shot for posterity.  We all ended up in the kitchen, having the quiet  conversation with Chris and Michelle that had brought us all there, sharing love and hope, the hard facts of life softened with tears and gratitude and faith strong enough to hold us all.
It took us hours more to say goodbye…

In the days following, each has sent out an email of thanks to the group.  I sat down to write ours, and thought of asking for Kara’s recipe – the meal had been so good, I thought I might serve it Christmas eve.  But I had watched her prepare it, simple enough, and slide it in the oven.  Then I realized…

The meal was not prepared in any special way for us…we were prepared in a special way for the meal.  Apart, we were stunned and troubled…together we relaxed and remembered… in good company with good stories and our good God to see us through.  Because of that we celebrated, and life was the feast!  Simcha!
To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything.
Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

Morning Prayer brings this line to me.
So here I am...
Looking hard into that situation...
Trying to find the love of God...
I want to say "there it is!"...
I want to see....
But I can only say "I believe it's there"...
Even though I cannot see it...
Even though...
I make up my answers...
Try to put God’s love into the places I’d expect it to be...
The proverbial square peg in a round hole...
Here I sit with the mystery...
God’s love...
Working in me...

Hours later I am in the shower and without warning His mercies rain down-
The love of God is first and always merciful.
My Thoughts in Solitude

They wash over me...
Mercy within Mercy within Mercy (TM said this too, doesn't every Christ follower)

Sometimes I struggle so hard against what isn't that I miss His mercies in what is...

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
                                                                  1Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GRATITUDE – May we all grow into it's grace

St. Francis passed on to us many prayers of praise. He went through his life
finding new things for which to praise God at every turn: the little things,
nature, the creatures, suffering, his brothers—
for whatever is happening, he praises God.
Francis is never trying to earn God's love; he is celebrating it!
He continually enjoys God's love in everything he sees and experiences.  
Mature prayer always breaks into gratitude and praise.
Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us,
choosing gratitude until we are grateful,
praising God until we ourselves are a constant act of praise.
Adapted from Richard Rohr; Radical Grace: Daily Meditations

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This photo of our grandson always prompts gratitude and a remember how securely love holds us...and to savor the many blessings of life with wild abandon and confident joy 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last week I was captivated by chickens.  We'd headed out to Bates Nut Farm for a bit of Fall, myself and a friend, with our 8 year old daughter and 3 year old godson along for a treat to see the animals.  Little did I know.  I have never seen nor imagined such beautiful diversity in a chicken coup.  I hope my dear friend got some photos I can add later so that you can see for yourself.  Such personality.  Though it was midday, a persistent rooster kept up his cock-a-doodle-doing the entire time.  Determined to put his talents to use I imagine.  Chickens covered with feathers from head to foot fluffed constantly to catch our eye.  The kids threw corn they found off the ground until they were digging them out of the mud, and we relented and bought a bag of feed to share.  It was so fun to watch them, forgetting the world...just feeding chickens that shook their fancy feathers and fought for each kernel, scattering about as if it was the last they'd ever see.  I so fully enjoyed the moment, and found myself accompanied by recollections of visits in days gone by when my older ones were small and we'd head out here for some adventure.  God is good, all the time, I know...but today I am thanking the good Lord for such easy happiness, pure grace.  Simcha!

“The earth is the only road that can lead us to heaven. There is no other. And the earth is not an idea, an argument, an abstraction, or a concept. It is not even a law. It is a thing, a gigantic thing, a great tangled swarming mass of things; it is a universe.
And because we must be led to God by things, they have therefore within them everything that is needed for the divine fulfillment of this task. It is, strictly speaking, their main role.
All around us, Providence has placed hosts of silent messengers who can lead us without effort by paths of love to the holy springs of peace.
Water, wood, fishes, the morning dew, the cock crowing at dawn, should all be able to inspire our prayer. Clothes and flowers, perfumes and pearls, the wind whistling past, the bread on the table, the jug, chair and roof… all these things have been sanctified, all these things have been loaded with blessings and divine inspiration by the Word.”

Pierre Charles
The Prayer of All Things


I am sitting in my car at the stoplight at Dove Street.  I am smiling because I am at Dove Street and the stoplight is lined with them, pigeon doves.   While I wait I count 19 and the evidence of their frequenting that post is apparent.  I am waiting while a small little lady crosses the street right under the pole and even as the thought enters my mind she turns and looks about in astonishment...yes, they nailed her!  I found myself cracking up while some more kindly and practical passerby handed her some tissues.  All I could hear was the echo of days gone by..."wait for it...wait for it...wait for it!"  Just as the tinge of guilt tried it's thieving ways the light changed, and I caught a final glimpse of her as I drove on, laughing full-hearted from the sidewalk as she looked up and saw the lightpost full and ready for their next target!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hospitality; the relationship between guest and host; generous and friendly treatment, a disposition of equals

8 year old finally gets her birthday party in the park (we had been overcome by events as they say), and when we arrive the first girls - triplets- are there and come running, shouting her name in joyful unison.  She responds by running in their direction, matching their shouts with her own voice calling to them, each by name. 
Arms wide, they collide in a happy chaos of giggles and girlish thrills.
It's such a sweet greeting I snap away some photos and know this is one for my pocket heart.  Husband and I set up the party while they play and blow up balloons.  We are just about finished when the other girls start to come. 
Each time one arrives the whole scene is replayed, just for them.  Loud exclamations of delight, their names fill the air as they are greeted with wild embrace, jumping girls with flying hair giggle and hold on to one another, pulling the newest one along into whatever activity they were doing; making ready room for all. 
The late party-goer, who is also the newest member of their class, is greeted with equal enthusiasm, her name shouted all the more (there are more girls to squeel the delight of her being there) and soon enfolded, given everything she'd missed as they divide up their own treats to welcome her.  Soon I cannot see her in the tangle of ribbons and wrapping paper, heads together as they share in the happiness of the moment, a pile of girls on a blanket spread under a tree at the park. 
I am soaking it in, when across the way we hear another group break out in singing Happy's another party and the girl they are singing to is 86 today.

"You have found it in your heart to welcome me! When I saw your face, it was as the face of God smiling on me. Please accept the gifts I have brought for you. God has been good to me and I have more than enough."  Genesis 33:10

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sacred Heart

"Change is God's way of teaching us new things..."
As I begin my new work at Sacred Heart, so many 'little things' have pointed me afresh to the heart of God ... most obviously (God knows with me I am slow to catch subtlety) that little Ignatian group we started and living the 19th annotation in common, to VBS when I was Mon Frere Chef Pierre and spontaneously used Sacre Coeur to affirm the love of Jesus in the children, to prayers laid upon the outstretched arms of a hollowed out Christ carved from driftwood that has always been to me the Sacred Heart, to the realization as I see photos of how often I touch by habit my own heart or the heart of the one I am embracing...

To leave the place that has become my family these 19 years brought with it a grief ripe with gratitude that I would be so knit into this community that it was hard to say goodbye.  St. Therese taught me in her people to "stop and smell the roses", to rely on the constancy of God's grace, and be thankful.

Where I felt the uprooting tug and tear in leaving where the Lord had long left me to grow strong, I now can sense the eagerness of my own roots sinking into the rich soil of this new planting by God's hand, this garden of grace.  I have been surprised by peace, by a deeper openness to trust in the heart of God, confident in God's abiding presence.  As my phone chimes it's prompt for the examen (1:15pm, works better after lunch for me, before I dig into the afternoon tasks) I find myself only grateful; that God is with me, and in this moment, that I know it. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hand in Hand

I recently spent a week at my moms. 8 year old and I flew to Colorado to see her and my brother.  I needed to SEE them; having nearly lost them both 6 months ago, mom in December and my brother in January.  Thanks be to God they are both doing well at the moment, and we spent the week together in her little "just the right size" house where she can literally hold onto something for support everywhere she goes.  I was holding on to her.  We didn't do much...we sat together and held hands.  We put together jigsaw puzzles, both our hands reaching to put the pieces together.  My hands more and more becoming hers, and 8 year olds hands so young and fresh and eager to contribute.  We felt so accomplished when we'd complete one.  My mom has collected a lot of old puzzles and often times we found, only at the end, that a few pieces were missing.  Somehow that touched me deeply.  Those missing pieces have stuck with me; how we could imagine the whole scene, yet how difficult it was to not be able to put all the pieces together.  There was a small set I fell in love with, and half way through asked to take them home so I could frame them and hang them in my new kitchen...only to discover they were incomplete.  I was so disappointed, and mom, disappointed for me, said quietly as if to herself "I just don't know how pieces get lost".  I hear her soft voice speaking those words in my own heart to the puzzle of my life and the lost pieces I cannot put together and it has become a prayer of surrender and a consolation. 

We baked banana bread together that last morning.  Moms hands busy mixing, an act of love pure and simple, while my hands mashed the fruit, glad to help, glad to stand by her side at the kitchen counter, glad for this ordinary grace.  I took it out of the oven according to the recipe.  It jiggled a bit in the middle, but the toothpick came out clean, twice for good measure and the color was perfect, the edges free and nutty brown.  But when I tried to turn it out of the pan it fell, ruined and raw in the middle.  Trying to rescue it we put it back in the oven, but it was a disaster.  Mom was kind as always, laughed and assured me baking is just different up here so high, things take a little longer than you think.  We'd both seen the jiggle, but didn't pay attention to it.  You just have to trust what you know , she told me, and patted my hand.
We drove to my brother's and spent the night so I could catch an early flight home.  We laughed a lot, cried a bit and held hands while we could.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Can you hand me that tape measure?

No one, not even the poets, has been able to measure how much the human heart can hold.
                                                               ~Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F. Scott)

Pedro Ribadaneira, one of the first Jesuits, describes Ignatius:

“We frequently saw him taking the occasion of little things to lift his mind to God, who even in the smallest things is great. From seeing a plant, foliage, a leaf, a flower, any kind of fruit; from the consideration of a little worm or any other animal, he raised himself above the heavens and penetrated the deepest thoughts, and from each little thing he drew doctrine and the most profitable counsels for the spiritual life.
“And he desired that all in the Society accustom themselves always to find the presence of God in everything and that they learn to raise their hearts not only in private prayer, but also in all of their occupations, carrying them out and offering them in such a way that they would feel no less devotion in action than in meditation. And he used to say that this method of prayer is very profitable for all and especially for those who are much engaged in exterior things of the divine service.”  Jim Manney -

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just call me grandma


So almost 8 and I stop by for a frozen yogurt treat and meet an old friend from church who is there with his grandson.  We're chatting away when his grandson looks at me wide-eyed and says in hushed awe...
"YOU are CHEF PIERRE!"  Well, my badly pronounced french flowed forth to his delight and we laughed all the way home!  My best moment, seeing my own at my side, beeming at the good of it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I was not myself
no, this last week I was something else altogether
namely chef Pierre mon frère

I was shapely –
in a round, pillowy sort of way,
unconcerned with how my weight was settling!
This was perfect for welcoming hugs from all,
for playful pokes and ready arm rests.
This also made me quite photogenic!

I was a man -
and some of the children never knew otherwise
(perhaps it was my mustache)
one boy in particular comes to mind,
who told me I was a very nice man
the nicest he had ever met -
and he sat by me
and then he leaned on my shoulder
while all the children were singing and dancing
he held my hand and shared his thoughts
and I thought of a father’s strong comfort
and how words are often over-rated.

I was French -
though decidedly with international training
as my French accent often slipped into Spanish or Italian;
no one minded that my French was ‘bad’ (that’s an understatement)
but only delighted that I tried, which in turn
helped my French to improve each day!
When I led the prayer one day
all the children prayed in the same
French accent, imitating me.
Now there’s a little food for thought in that, eh?

I was generous-
Every day I brought pastries and chocolates,
baguettes and culinary pleasures to share.
My arms were never empty
my pockets held countless surprises to give to others always something,
I named the treasures in the people around me
with an easy hand on their chin,
a direct look into the eye
that told them they were seen, with gratitude.

I was extravagant-
bigger than life
The mundane was tres magnifique
and joy was found everywhere
but most especially in the people all around me.
Little one’s were mon petit chou chou
and any good deed showed le sacré coeur de Jesus
My arms were never folded.
My hands were only in my pockets to pull out a treat or a
silly thing to bring a smile and Voilà!

I was playful-
I took the pokes with cheerful anticipation
I posed and danced, I joked and laughed.
We shouted a hundred times, to their mischievous delight – oui oui!
Yes, Yes. It’ joy resounding in my ears still.

It was VBS week; and fruitful beyond our wildest dreams.
I miss Chef Pierre, mon frère;
He is my Brother
(and husband said Chef Pierre looked just like my brother!)
He is the embodiment of Christ’s lessons we were learning this week


My almost 8 year old was in on the whole thing
and together with Papa we had more fun creating me together
than I ever could have had alone.
A lot of others had a hand in creating me too;
some who daily refined me
and others who never saw the fruit of their labors
but never-the-less contributed to my becoming.

No, I was not myself this week
and I may never be myself again...
or perhaps I was more myself than I could have known
without the help of mon frère
and I am grateful that we are creating me together...
Oui! Oui!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring Nests


"...look with your eyes and hear with your ears
and pay attention to everything I am going to show you,
for that is why you have been brought here. ~Ezekiel 40:4

Finding your happy place

We were at Disneyland for my birthday celebration - 3 days of fun with just the 3 of us and at the end of the last day as we boarded the shuttle back to the hotel and sunk with satisfied exhaustion down on the seat, a young father with a toddler in his arms climbed the stairs and came to sit behind us.  As soon as they got on board his little one started with incredible vigor and enthusiasm to ask "We going to Grandmas house now?", "We going to Grandmas house now?", over and over while his dad kept saying (in that weary end of a day spent surrounded by a gazillion toddlers all a bundle of imaginative expectation and fear as they encounter Mickey, Buzz and Snow White voice) now...we just finished Disneyland.
I was so touched by his joy, that after having spent his day and his energy in 'the happiest place on earth' he could rally such unbridled eagerness for 'Grandma's house'.  And I found myself praying, with a hand over my heart... "Make me a Grandma like that!", "Make me a Grandma like that!" 
I hope somehow that Daddy let Grandma know how she topped them all for being 'the happiest place on earth!'

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Come Walk with me along Christ's Way

One of my greatest joys in ministry
is that of companioning others on their spiritual journey. 
Over some 35 plus years now I have been blessed
to see firsthand the myriad ways
that the Holy Spirit works in peoples lives
to make God's love known, personally and powerfully. 
Today I received this from a young man
who shared the journey with us this year. 
God's touch is so individual,
God's grace so expansive and generous.  
This moved me to tears and deep gratitude...
I offer it to you in the same spirit it was given to me. 
Be sure to pause my soundtrack first at the bottom of the page...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In the mountains this weekend I looked up to the stars...

Back home I stumbled upon this film; it is amazing.  Watch it and then go out and look up to your own piece of the sky... see the heavens looking down upon you and feel her cloaking you in beauty....

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

“Though my soul may set in darkness, It will rise in perfect light, I have loved the stars too fondly To be fearful of the night”

Sarah Williams

Monday, April 25, 2011

Every Day

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

–Mary Oliver

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lucas Grey

Here he is – just fresh among us!
Born a little after 10pm April 9th
by cesarean - 9 lbs 3 oz
As you can see he is beautiful!
Very rough on his poor mother
but she is ok, thanks be to God.
She definitely sacrificed for his sake!
I’ll let them tell the story,
but for bravery above
and beyond the call of duty
she gets the gold medal!
As our son put it,
it was the worst day
and the best day of his life!
7 year old was SO excited to be there
she said, as she fell asleep
on the way home
waaay past her bedtime,
she wasn’t sure it was worth
spending all that time
until she saw him
and he was SO CUTE!
She is quite smitten!
We got to watch his whole little examination,
how he quieted as soon as his Daddy took his little hand
(actually he has very big hands and feet –
like a puppy his Dad says!)
first diaper, the works...
what a precious moment seeing my son meet his son. Wow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hats off!

Fr Dan came and spoke to our children about his life in Kenya,
about the missions and how they changed his life; shared why he became a priest
and showed us photos of his home and family,
of  the church and school that the Holy Childhood Association built
so the children could see what their little Lenten boxes are doing. 
It was a great afternoon, with the children
throwing their arms up into the air with questions
or shouting their answers. 
Fr Dan's enthusiasm and eager faith was catching. 
He taught the children a blessing song in swahili
and we clapped and sang back
what I am sure was a horrible rendition
but you would never know it by the wide smile on his face.
Someone asked if mass was different there and he told us oh yes! 
Here, you are so very holy -
and he folded his hands and bowed his head! 
Then he told us of how the children in Kenya
dance the priest down the aisle to start mass. 
How they play drums and clap and sing. 
How every action of the mass is another opportunity to dance and sing -
the gloria, the gifts, the gospel, the prayers! 
He said mass there is very long -
with all the singing and dancing, a couple of hours!
One of the kids asked him, "why do you sing and dance so much then?" 
And he said
 "We have not yet forgotten the joy of our salvation!" 
There's that winning smile again! 
And after mass they go out and sit under a tree
and talk about everything
while the children kick a soccer ball.
We have not yet forgotten the joy of our salvation! 

The holy spirit loves to come down like that - at the drop of a hat -
and it landed on my head and there it sits. 

His words gave voice to something deep within me.
The immediacy of God's grace
The urgency of God's love
The consonance of God's joy.
Night and day his words have danced on my head...
and there is that
I take off the hat,
twirl it in my hands,
place it on again, this way and that,
take a look at myself again.
We have not yet forgotten the joy of our salvation!
Is yet inevitable?  Is it like everything else,
the common miracles that I trod upon with heavy foot;
blind or weary, calloused or distracted by daily cares? 
Is the mystery of God's love too much for us? 
The indiscriminate beauty that leaves us awestruck too overwhelming.
We surely cannot contain it, fathom its depths. 
Like the wood of the cross on Good Friday -
the church shows us just one arm, then another,
Behold the Wood of the Cross
and then finally it is revealed; it's mystery too much to take in all at once. 
Like the Bread of Life,
no one meal satisfies,
we hunger again,
and so I find myself  "hats off" to my savior,
Hats off to the creator of this wonderful world!
Hats off to say thanks!
Hats off to ask a blessing...
Hats off, tossed into the blue sky above,
feasting and dancing, clapping and singing the joy of our salvation! 
Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!  Happy Happy Everything!

Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A cup of water to the thirsty ~Mark 9:41

Yesterday was World Water Day...and I dare say for most of us here it came and went unregarded.  That would have included me, but for God's provision.  You see, I happened to 'stumble upon' our Fr. Dan Nganga sharing this recent video from his home diocese in Kenya, as he was planning a talk with our teens this weekend during their 30 hour famine.  As he explained it, water is a difficult issue there.  It is very important where the wells are dug, as some are 'willing to share' and others are protective to the point of warring over water.  Watching this, one can understand their desperation.  Take a few minutes to watch this brief film.  If nothing else, it will make you grateful for our ease of life, truly.  I hope it will also move you to compassion; a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. 
Fish on up chocolate...seriously?  Isn't the gospel call of Lent (and all our days) about turning our desire to God's own heart, then living that life of Love for the sake of the world? 

                        Turn off playlist at bottom of page to hear this

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Forward

Lent means Springtime...What will you plant?


I love Springtime, and the smell of wet earth as I turn it over and plant my little bits of hopefulness. 
Small violets are blooming now, yellow buds brighten the tomatoe vine, and the tiniest shoots are just breaking through.  I plucked the new lettuce bright green and purple and remembered France.  My garden is a happy chaos, not organized traditionally but flowers and vegetables growing side by side, sharing space in such a way that I have to sift through flowers to pick the lettuce.  I am not so much a gardener as I am a child playing and wanting it all.  Common gardening wisdom tells me that won't work, my garden will not flourish, but it does...just enough wild blooms, just enough green vegetables, a few carrots with their earthy crunch to satisfy this hungry soul and the ones who join me at table. It is just like tending my soul.  No neat rows, life spilling over into life, all of it here.  It's daily surprise makes me happy.  What more could I possibly ask? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The life entrusted to us

A friend of mine snapped this a couple of weeks ago at a family gathering to welcome our soon to arrive grandson!  As usual, my husband was full of hilarity and when it was time to snap the family photo he clowned with our 'baby boy'.  The image has stuck with me through these days providing much food for thought.  After the initial chuckle (I was busy posing and hadn't seen what was going on just out of my sight - the proverbial rabbit ears)  what immediately came to mind was John 3:30
"He must increase, I must decrease"
Isn't it such a part of the pattern of parenting, growing them into the man or woman they will become, our role in one sense decreasing as theirs takes off.  Yes, we have become less, and gladly so, to watch them shine is our delight.  I can recall certain times of intentional stepping back, so that one of our children could soak in all the graced goodness of a given moment...watching them as they stood tall and took it in.
And now it is Lent and those words take on another meaning, another pattern recognized...yes, the scripture tells us that we must decrease and Christ increase...yet with ashes fresh upon me, I also see the Father, bending down in delight wherever He sees Christ rise up tall in humankind...and shine!  May this lent be a season of growth that delights the Father with the life of the Son lived in us. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

My first movie experience

I stumbled upon this clip and realized that Bambi was the first movie I ever saw.  Or at least the first that I recall with clarity.  I loved Thumper, who was my instant favorite and I knew the lessons his mother taught, just like my own!  I remember 'flower' and being delighted that a stinky skunk would have such a sweet name. Saw a kindness there that touched me even then with the power of a word to change everything.  And I remember the horror that such bad things could happen and how much it frightened me.  This memory brought another, of my mom holding me secure even as I watched in the kind of confused terror unique to childhood.  We both cried at that movie.  Bambi was my first clear realization that I needed someone to count on that was BIG - BIG ENOUGH, someone GOD-SIZED!  I remember lying in my bed and  praying earnestly for the first time that such things as men with guns and fire would not come to our house.  Today as I watched this clip, I was moved to pray again to that BIG-ENOUGH GOD for all those children whose nightmares are real.  And I found myself all the day long "saying something nice".  Thanks mom.

(Be sure to pause the music at the bottom of the page before starting the video clip)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Sweetest Thing

My mom called me last night with the news that my brother is in hospital,
with pneumonia.  He is getting the care he needs
and all is expected to be well soon, thanks be to God. 
My mother was so struck by the surprise of her little boy in this situation,
she was dumbfounded.
How can Eddie be in hospital?
I remember him in diapers!  We laughed...I told her I remember that too.
He is my 'baby brother' and her 'baby boy'.
It's not right, she said.  She's the one whose health is a mess. 
And she's not old enough to have a son in hospital with pneumonia,
or a daughter old enough to get the senior discount at the ARC store!
(She had come with us thrift shopping in November -
in part to make sure we would get the senior discount -
and was rather stunned when I 'qualified' on my own.)
What ensued was a tender conversation full of childhood memories -
me teaching him to read, and everytime I'd read
'Oh, Oh, Oh,' he'd say 'No, No, No!'
laughing and sharing the goodness of the man he has become. 
After I hung up I called my Dad. 
My brother & his family had been in Missouri
to celebrate my Dad's birthday with him when he took ill.
I had missed the date and Dad kindly presumed I must have been
out of town when he didn't get a call...
'maybe in the desert', he said.
I admitted to the desert of my mind which gave us both a good laugh.
My Dad filled me in on the details and then, more quietly,
asked to no one in particular, "How can Eddie be in hospital?"
I told him Mom had said the same. 
My brother had been stoic - insisting he'd get better, just give it time.
We laughed at his stubbornness and wondered aloud
where on earth he got that personality trait!  Ha!
He asked about the kids, glad for good news all around,
said he hoped he'd see 7 year old again soon, they grow up so fast.
Memories poured out here too
as we shared how funny/odd it is to get older 'on the outside'
and still feel so much ourselves 'on the inside'
full of the life & thoughts & humor we've known since our youth.
Can't judge a book by its cover!
I have a clear image of my Dad out in the driveway
eternally washing and waxing his car, bent over the side
rag in hand, young and strong,
wearing shorts in the sunshine.
I remember his guitar playing and making up silly songs
in the afternoon under the carport
and softball games in the field by our house
with the car radio turned up, playing tunes he'd sing aloud
'Let me tell you 'bout the birds and the bees
and the flowers and the trees, and the moon up above,
and a thing called love!"
while Mom hit all the homeruns!
'Hey , hey, good lookin'
what ya got cookin'?
How's about cookin' something up with me?'
He said the first picture that comes to mind when he thinks of me
is a little girl, 5,6,7...and every time someone came near me
with a camera, how I'd pose. 
He said it was the cutest thing he has ever seen in his life,
and he laughed.  Then I had stopped doing it, getting older.
Told me he's always missed that.  It was the sweetest thing...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oh mama

7 year old sings and I listen.  She sings her heart...sings it to my heart.
Last weekend, she sang this...accompanied by 31 year old(est) daughter.

My heart thrilled at their lovely duet, with their joyous melody,
regaled with laughter & poise,
playfully performed in funny hats and rock-star sunglasses.
7 year old wrote down the lyrics so they could practice
and this paper lying on our kitchen table all week gave me pause.

What does my life speak to those dearest ones whose lives are on such intimate terms with mine?
What is it I want my children to see...
It is all here in her song, and I am grateful for its affirmations, read between the lines. 

Be a mama (metaphorically)
  • Give and receive. Nurture life. Love with generosity and sacrifice, knowing they  (whomever God has given you to hold) are a part of you always.
  • Cooperate creatively in shaping the world, from the world in your heart & head to the world that gifts itself to you.
Get your hands dirty
  • Kneel down. Plant something. Watch it grow, tend it, learn its lessons as each season comes.  Realize how much and how little you can do. Be humble, from humus; stay grounded.
Accept and honor your beauty
  • Smile. Enjoy the gift of life God has given you. Be you.
Tell those you love that you do
  • Touch them, speak love, take the time.  Let them know they are your ‘favorite thing’.
Be kind
  • Honor the fragility and tenderness of the human heart. Honor God’s life in your soul, which is also in everyone.
Be helpful
  • Lend a hand. Leave space in your life to reach out a hand.  Accept help too, let others help you.
Fall in love
  • Stay in love. Choose your mate carefully, and then with wild abandon and full commitment give them the gift of yourself. They will be, as the original Hebrew translation in Genesis says of that first marriage, your ezar kenegdo, or a strength opposite you, a power facing you, a rescue that looks you in the face.  They will know you, love you and help you become fully & gloriously & maddeningly yourself.
  • Let words fail you. Allow yourself to be amazed.  Witness to wonder. Let life astonish you. It will make you grateful, which makes all the rest possible.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I spent a brief time away last weekend at Old Mission San Luis Rey.  The old pavers are worn and uneven, the very substance of the place minding you to watch your step.   It was good to walk again those grounds, recall the many encounters there of grace and light that somehow were hovering among her arches when I arrived under a blanket of stars; everything, everything urging me to hear in her resonant silence the beckoning voice of God.

The Kiss

I stand by the bed where the young woman lies, her face post-operative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed.

The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and altogether they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.

Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?

The young woman speaks. 'Will my mouth always be like this?' She asks.
'Yes,' I say, 'it will. It is because the nerve was cut.'
She nods and is silent.

But the young man smiles. 'I like it,' he says. 'It is kind of cute.'

All at once I know who he is. I understand, and lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close, I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

(I do not know where I first heard this - I had scribbled it on a torn piece of paper and tucked it away - to find it today, tumbling out of a book.  I had to kneel down to retrieve it, and when I saw what it was, could not rise, my whole self reacting, recognizing God had just dropped in, as casually as a drifting piece of paper falls to the ground where we stand, just like that!)

Friday, January 14, 2011


I have been asked to share on trust with a group of moms from my parish. 
I have pondered and prayed and prepared. 
I keep mumbling to myself that TRUST is a lesson I am learning
more than I know how to teach. 
Learning to trust God who is Good - all the time - as we say.
I have learned my lessons on a long hard road of trust,
and today I can see how Gods own hand has held me.  
I have a simple prayer when I see like this...
see God present in my blessings and my need,
when Gods love is tangible, recognizable, enlightening. 
It is simply "Hide this in my heart Lord." 
I retreat there for recollection,
and review the long list of graces to encourage this sometimes weary heart. 
I am here in the dark, the morning light just breaking in -
light from the window on my shoulder as I sit, coffee in hand, praying in its comfort. 
And I am overcome with Gods goodness. 
How profoundly God has been (and is) present,
especially when the circumstances have seemed to insist on Gods absence.
I have glimpsed the hidden work of God, grace in a soul,
the slow transformation that cannot be forced, the unfolding in Gods time. 
In my own lived experience, as my fear and worry,
my sorrow and confusion have grasped the hand of hope,
have insisted in faith on the promises of God hidden from my eyes,
I have come to trust.  God has smiled on me! 
I keep crying, overcome with good-ness, with Gods fidelity and mercy. 
My spirit rejoicing in God, my savior! 
Back to the preparations at hand, I see the title for my talk today -
taken from Mother Teresa
"I know God won't give me more than I can handle...
I just wish He didn't trust me so much!" 
My instinct is to duck and cover, but then I laugh out loud.
Ok Lord, I'm yours.  Again.