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 -