Monday, December 31, 2012

Proverbial Wisdom

The Gate of the Year

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied,
‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’   m. l. harkins

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chekhov and his wife, Olga “Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.” Anton Chekhov

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Three Little Birds

For those of you who visit here just to hear this sweet song...
here it is, on it's own, just for you...
Need to find a new gadget for playing tunes as the old one closed shop!
But not's Christmas!


Old friends meeting for lunch, we’ve shared our lives for decades now, weaving in and out of our days.  There have been broad gaps of time, yet whenever we come together time falls away.

We were laughing, shaking our heads, crying too as we shared these many days.
Ended up sharing memories.  They were tracing our years through the growing up of my family.

How they helped me sew Jessica’s dress for her first big school dance/date.  Hung the curtains in the kitchen of our new house together. They remembered Conor’s heartbreak when his cousins ruined his Lego creations during one Christmas at our house.   Recalled Katie’s young sense of injustice and humor when she’d come over after school and tell all.  Wondered at the miracle of Kyla, watching her grow into such a delightful and confident girl.  They have carried these along with me, and much more besides. 
We were all married young, and lasting love has been our common grace.  Shared laughs over our humble beginnings, tiny first homes and the things we did without so happily, young romance still fresh in our minds, wondering when all this gray arrived.

Yes, we’ve shared a good road.  We nod, and our banter falls silent.  I wonder what they were thinking.  I was suddenly lost in remembering…
He’d sold our car, taken his wife, grieving over child-loss, to spend the summer traveling Europe, and back home, no money in our pockets, we had only a bicycle and he rode me on the handlebars to morning mass.  I was so full of love, so proud to be loved by him for all the world to see, like the queen of an impetuous parade.  I felt my own beauty that day when we stopped there, in the back of St. Mary’s.  He kissed the palm of my hand even as I still felt the handlebars hard imprint on the back of my legs.  Just put his love right there, in the palm of my hand, quick as that.

We ordered dessert to share, and why not.  Held our spoons ready to dive in.  It was delicious. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

While We All Sup Sorrow with the Poor

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor.
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Oh Hard times, come again no more

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door.
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh! hard times, come again no more.
'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore,
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave -
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days have you lingered around my cabin door.
Oh Hard times, come again no more
Oh! Hard times

For the families and loved ones lost in the Newtown Tragedy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gaudete - Walking the Glad Road

9 year olds hear everything...
but where their fine-tuned ears will take them only the Lord knows.
Last night we were discussing our retirement while she did her homework. 
And as I pull into the parking lot at school this morning, she asks,
"So...when you retire, THEN will you be a nun???" 

It appears I am having a long novitiate!
But don't I know it!

Reminded me of years ago when Jessica introduced me at her high school on career day...She said it was hard to describe what I do...
"My mom, she said, is like a nun without a habit!"

Habit-Clothed, arrayed, invested, denoting a particular calling or rank.
From Latin habitus condition, character, from habēre to have, hold, and give.
Any regularly repeated behaviour that becomes intuitive, requiring little or no thought and is learned rather than innate.

The Feast of the Incarnation -Christmas- brings me back to the crib of Christ, and the poor manger of my own heart.  Yet in my poverty I find Him there and I am full of hope and yes, joy...that I can learn to be what I see, Christ...and learn to do what I know is true and so live the mystery of the Word become flesh. 

Christmas teaches me this habit is not gained by achievement or great spiritual works, but by the fleshy real experience of Love incarnate.  Practical theology!  Incarnation is not past-tense but continuation. Here my novitiate continues - to learn a life of love. What a glad road!

One day, God willing, I will retire, and hope that I wear a habit of grace in body, soul and spirit.
Then, perhaps, I will be a nun, which originally was nonna, an endearing term for an old woman!
Sounds like Grandma to me...Love it!!!

Walk this way

Why do we love and admire kingdom people like Mary and Joseph, and then not imitate their faith journeys, their courage, their non-reassurance by the religious system? These were two laypeople who totally trusted their inner experience of God and who followed it to Bethlehem and beyond. Mary and Joseph walked in courage and blind faith that their own experience was true—with no one to reassure them they were right. Their only safety net was God’s love and mercy, a safety net they must have tried out many times, or else they would never have been able to fall into it so gracefully.
Adapted from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, pp. 66-68

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Putting up the tree, baby Jesus is nestled in the branches first - in the 'heart' of it all, the tree evergreen like God's faithfulness...the wood of the tree which formed a manger...a boat...the cross. And so we surround and adorn with lights for the Light of the World, with happy memories framed in glitter and paste celebrating the blessings we have so enjoyed. St Nicholas' abound - reminding us to be generous to the poor, to serve God with joy. Angels are scattered about, with Kyla's latest rendition on top, to proclaim the good news! There are stars to guide and hearts to follow the way of Love incarnate. Pearls are draped that remind us of the pearl of great price. I find so much reflection there this year...Come to me Jesus, be born more deeply in the poor manger of my heart...


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oireachtas...or Love is like a little boat upon the Sea

A sea of Irish, (yes, here, everyone is Irish no matter where they came from) musicians fill the air with a celtic beat, and there's dancing everywhere; the ballrooms, yes, but also the halls and the stairs, the bathroom and the line at Starbucks, even the elevator, so they had to post this:
It's a rolling sea, waves of wigs toss and bounce, coaches counting out the steps; confident commanders guiding us all, moms bent; pinning and tieing, whisper their assurances, secure the decks...dads stand like masts; strong and steady, catching the changing winds with broad sails.  Friends and family on deck too, waiting, watching. 
There's an arm around each one...then, as if some silent signal blows, they leave the shelter of those who love them, (I see the arms still stretched out as they go, hovering momentarily to wish them well).  Off they go, their sea legs sure, to dance! 
All eyes turn to watch. Hard shoes thunder across the stage...ghillies lift them on an unseen wind, and we, the travelers on this rare ship, watch in amazement, hold our breath, until they return from the other side back to our arms.  It's quite a scene, played over and over morning til night.  It's a pericope of family life, albeit in high drama! 
I overheard one who said it well.  Picture this; a teenage boy, dressed in his dancing best, all glitter and shine, with his Da behind him, hands on his shoulders.  Country Irish, with a heavy brogue, his Da says, "Now remember lad, whatever happens in there, you're still me Jack... you'll always be me Jack."  
Yes...I cried... And thanked the Lord for such traveling companions. 

Every time you leave home
another road takes you
into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
will startle a little at your entry
Old places that know you well
will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit...

When you travel,
a new silence
Goes with you.
And if you listen,
you will hear
what your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing.

Make sure, before you go,
to take the time to bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast,
so that the compass of your soul
might direct you towards
the territories of spirit
Where you will discover
more of your hidden life;
and the urgencies
that deserve to claim you...

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed
and live your time away to it's fullest;
Return home, more enriched, and free
to balance the gift of days which call you.

John O'Donahue Benedictus

The holy land is everywhere. - Black Elk

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meeting the Light Completely

Even the long-beloved
was once
an unrecognized stranger.

Just so,
the chipped lip
of a blue-glazed cup,
blown field
of a yellow curtain,
might also,
flooding and falling,
ruin your heart.

A table painted with roses.
An empty clothesline.

Each time,
the found world surprises—
that is its nature.

And then
what is said by all lovers:
"What fools we were, not to have seen."
 Jane Hirshfield from October Palace

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Woman, your faith has made you well

A young girl whose face shines with an interior light, moves quietly among us all weekend, and with a grace-filled humility raises her voice to sing at Mass on Sunday...does she know the song Sacred Silence...yes...she wrote it; and then Jenny Pixler sings our meditation and we open ever wider to God's grace through her gift.

A woman whose heart has been broken in sorrow and anger turns loss into light and hate into healing, though the way is anything but easy.

A woman of age and grace, tiny and mighty, affirms the feminine perspective so needed, nods her smiling approval, leads the way for us all.

A woman who was wife, is now widow; and with all her strength her arms are wide stretched as her heart is held in prayer, tears streaming her ache for yes.

What about betrayal, she asks. 

What can I do to cultivate this love, she speaks with a voice hesitant and low. 

How do you trust like this, she whispers, coming from behind as I walk toward the open road.

She talks to me over a meal, sharing her concerns about one she loves.

We sing together We n' de ya ho and I who cannot sing find my voice.

She carries a camera, a woman of vision, and helps others to see.

A young woman, tempted to keep her face toward shadow, hidden, turns to let the light touch her face and walks straighter and taller into her life.

They hold hands, twirl and jive, all smiles on the dancefloor, the freedom of movement and music moving them.

She cannot imagine Christ, comes up blank, feels her desire stronger than her experience.  Her yearning to see makes others ache for such want.

Two women sit in a corner, laughing, tears streaming down their faces at the good of it...later I see them, walking hand in hand, Martha and Mary, sisters in faith.

I see her standing tall in the treehouse (built by my husband and son years ago), looking out at the expanse, and wonder what her thoughts are standing there, when I see her bow her head down, lean on the rail, and I pray.

A woman walks up to read Gods word, shoes off, her quiet walk known by me, her life intent, that God be glorified.

She runs, literally, to reconciliation; last but not least...for the least is the greatest in the kingdom of God.

Women carrying their loves and losses, children and husbands, hurt and hope in their hearts.  Carrying them to Galilee, to the mountain top.  They never travel alone.

Hands reach out to help, console, create, hold tight, share strength and consolation, snap and clap and fold together in prayer...

All of us, daring in our newly recognized communion, to reach out and open wide the door to faith together.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let My Love Open the Door to Your Heart

 In the liner notes of Townshend's Gold (Remaster) CD, he refers to this song as "Jesus sings."
  Pause the playlist at bottom right to enjoy this song!
I spent the weekend up in the mountains with a group of women,
daughters all, willing to stand together, in a place set apart
to let the love of Christ open the door to our hearts.

With the Church's call in Porta Fidei, we were nudged
to contemplate what that door was like for each of us at this particular time in our lives...

Was the call interior, to receive Christ's love more deeply in our own personhood?

Was it a threshold call to trust in that in-between place with our eyes fixed on Him?

Was it a beckoning forth, to set out on pilgimage, to follow in faith where Love leads?

Like those old keys that would work in just about any door, we considered a way of opening, entry, passage. 

K Know the Word
Oh not to memorize chapter and verse to cite impressively but to know the sweeping story of God's love, the heart of God revealed in sacred story and living know Christ the Word, even as I am known.  As in the biblical sense to 'know man' , so to know Christ, fleshy and real, with authentic intimacy and love beyond know that Word in the prayer of the heart, to be so knit together in love that the story of scripture and the life of faith is experienced as an immersion in the living loving truth of longer just God's story, but my story lived out daily in acceptance, faith and humility (humus: of the earth, to deeply receive the life God gives and then, grounded in Him, to offer it back fully and free)

E Live Eucharist
Eucharisteo - To truly receive Christ, body soul and divinity with open hands; swallow it; believe. TRUST. Bread of Life broken in the One Life laid down in love for us all and for our salvation.  To Live Christ, indwelling, through the gift of that sacred meal we share, but also through His spirit now in us; Real Presence.  Test yourselves daily to see if you are living by faith...perhaps you yourselves do not realize that Christ Jesus is in you- St Paul to the Corinthians.  In our Blessing.  In our Brokenness.  In our Sharing.  Be the Body of Christ His Word and our Faith tells us we are.  Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice of praise.  And be ThankfulFor All I Thank Him; embody the gift and joy which is at the heart of all (greek charis/chara) we have been given.

Y  Be You
Be the child of God that is your true identity, uniquely you, in this time and place.  Be a saint on The Way, a blessed one whom God has gifted to the world.  Be honest with yourself, TRUST to let God in to your truest self (whom God already knows for God alone sees the heart) You know...the one who gets angry and giggles in those inappropriate moments, who likes to dance but is too shy to do it, who holds love and fear tightly in her hands.  Fall in love and follow Christ because of love, live your YES in the middle of mystery.  Be wholly holy: whole, sound, happy, dedicated to religious use; coming from and going toward God.  That makes everything along the way (aka YOUR LIFE) ripe with the possibility of encounter, healing, joy, gratitude, love, mercy, hope, salvation. 

Faith isn't something you put on, like your Sunday best, but rather a living Sabbath, the daily habit of grace; to worship (at it's simplest - to give worth, value, trust to something) in the extraordinary ordinary moments we call life, God; Who is Love. 


Let Your Life Sing

For Jenny...For Us All

I have great faith in all things not yet spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one yet has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, may I be forgiven,
but what I need to say is this:
may what I do flow from me like a river,
without anger, without timidness,
no forcing and no holding back.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing You as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Ranier Maria Rilke

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Prayer Among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

  John Daniel

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wrong Turn

I took a wrong turn the other day.
A mistake, but it led me to the shop where I found
the very thing I'd been searching for.

With my brother I opened a packet
of old letters from my mother and saw a side of her
that sweetened what had been deeply sour.

Later that day the radio sang a song from
a time when I was discovering love,
and folded me into itself again.

"Wrong Turn" by Luci Shaw, from What the Light Was Like

Friday, August 31, 2012

How joyful to be together...37 years now

“How joyful to be when we first were joined in our little house by the river long ago, except that now we know each other, as we did not then; and now instead of two stories fumbling to meet, we belong to one story that the two, joining, made. And now we touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves...”
― Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting our eyes fixed

Today my daughter-in-law is having lasik surgery, getting her eyes fixed.  My son had this done last year to his great delight.  And my husband too, back when the technology was brand new!
When I first met my husband in high school he wore thick glasses, and had done so since childhood. Those thick glasses would steam up when he played tennis or lingered too long in a kiss.  I thought that adorable.  For our Jr Prom he took me to the Bali Hai and after dinner we sat on the harbor looking at the city lights across the water.  He took off his glasses, staring at that horizon, and told me he wished I could see how beautifully the light blended together. 
Decades later, he no longer needs those glasses, his vision perfected.  I, on the other hand, can no longer hold the book far enough away to read it, and have eye glasses scattered everywhere.  I think of this as God's mercy, that as I age I cannot see clearly my own reflection, but rather see myself in a softened glow.  Ignorance is bliss!  But it is an ironic twist that my husband saw me in soft-focus all those years in my youthfulness and now, in my old age, he sees me clearly! 
They have encouraged me to get my eyes fixed too, but I do not go willingly 'under the knife'.  The rarest consequences always seem to find me there.  My vision will have to be fixed in other ways. 

Monet Refuses the Operation

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers...
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water,
lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
...Doctor, if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller ~

When Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?",  the blind man looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:24-25

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Remember to Forget

My mother-in-law is forgetting things.  Yet her memory is also amazing.  She can recount the smallest detail of life when she was a youngster in Chicago, a war bride, a mom gone back to college, a secretary at the Pentagon.  Catch her on a good day and she can easily quote Merton or toss out a gaelic endearment/insult.  Last time we chatted she had me in stitches.  Today she was recalling truckloads of misery.  Wallowing in it.  Lord knows we all have our days. 
I commiserate with my husband and tell him I have been newly inspired.  Since it seems inevitable that we all begin to forget things, I am choosing now what I will forget.  I am throwing out all the small and mean and miserable things.  Too many words!  Why let them take up space!  I want to remember the avalanche of grace and goodness I've known.  I'll keep enough of the tears to remind me of how much love I've known, but no crying over spilled milk.  Yes, I am going to remember to forget.  Dodge the arrows that weren't meant for me, sweep up the broken bits from that fall.  I'll put up snapshots of my sweetest memories.  My tongue will remember ice cream on a summers day and how to say I am sorry.  My hands will hold tenderly to affection and let slip away what must on any given day. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Forgetting to Remember

Forget: To treat with thoughtless inattention. To fail to become aware. To leave behind unintentionally. To not recollect. Disregard. To lose oneself.

Sometimes I can go for hours forgetting to remember.  Wilson barks outside the front porch. Kyla laughs at Papa’s silly joke, rubs his nose with hers.  I lose track of time and then it’s a mad dash of a mad woman and the scrambled mess I leave behind tells the tale straight.

We pile out to dance class and when Kyla climbs in after, I can see that she is barely holding herself together, and when I ask her what's wrong, she chokes out, "They forgot what I know.  It was like I had to start all over again." Oh I know, daughter of mine, I know.   I am newly amazed at how God knit us together from such circumstance.  We hold hands.   Back home, we cuddle cozy on the couch and share some clementines.  She smiles. Roger smiles too at the sight while she begs him to join us, pleeeease.  This girl simply loves to sit tight together.

As the afternoon shadows lengthen Kyla sings songs, sorting what she might do for the talent show that is months away.  I only have to ask twice for the colored pencils to be picked up off the living room floor.   The phone rings, "Can Kyla play?" and she's bouncing out the door, arms full of dolls, heading down the street to the neighbors house.

My husband comes in like Atlas, but smiling.  He is a man whose smile comes easy.  I have been loved by him for as long as I can remember and my throat catches at the sight of him.  I show him the iris that bloomed today.  I remember.  Fix his dinner plate and he thanks me.  There’s that smile.  We share a glass of wine, talk about our day, continue the long conversation we've been having; discerning decisions that lay before us, discover peace under it all.   
When did I begin to forget again?  Ephphetha, Jesus said to the one who could not hear, Be opened!

I remember Kyla saying after breakfast, her head cocked near the window, "Shhhh.... if you listen, you can hear the birds......"   I remember the sight of them, conspiring over their cereal bowls.  And later, the two of us girls singing out “I want to be a saint so bad…I want to see my face on a holy card” and our glad laughing at the good of it!  And why not. 

Remember: To become aware of something forgotten again. To be mindful. To keep in mind as worthy of consideration or recognition. To show gratitude, as with a gift. To use the power of memory. To mention favorably, as in a prayer or friendship.

In the morning, I leave my heart open on the windowsill by the sink.   Shhhh…if you listen…

The very real presence of God is right here.    

I hear Him in the running water as I rinse the dishes from last night, my ears anointed in the quick explosion of flame as I light the stove, in the thunder of heartbeat held good morning close, and the quiet quake of creaking floorboards as I breeze by to put in a load of laundry. 

I quiet.  Mary Oliver’s good question becomes the whisper of God

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Ephphetha, I whisper…be opened.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cada Cabesa es un Mundo

what does she think as she walks along the sea?
I watch her wander off and wonder what she’ll be.
does she search for seashells
-we’d collected quite a few-
is she content in this moment
or wishing for something to do.

to be alone together, the grace of solitude
to have ones world held in love
and room for it to bloom
cada cabesa es un mundo
(in each head, a whole world)

 what does she think as she walks along the sea?
sun in her face, walking on water.
Lord if I know, I think to myself
as she turns, smiles at me,
beautiful daughter.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summertime...and the Living is Easy




Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. ~ Mary Oliver

Friday, August 10, 2012

Everything in its time

Glimpse by Hilary Painter

'Cause maybe there's another plan, One I still can't see
A little surprise, like your love in my life
Funny how time changes how we see...
Corrine May Lyric


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remembering To Be Kind Because We Are Living

We were at home, just the two of us, mother and child.
She is speaking to me from the other room,
(yelling actually) rudely, snappy
and I know this calls for parenting
but instead what I give her is tit for tat,
taking my turn at speaking
(yelling actually) rudely to her, snappy right back at ya.
And then, suddenly I see myself, looking back at me!
Parenting has so much to teach me and it is relentless in its lessons!
Thank the Lord, my change of heart is swift as I recognize
the error of my ways and with tears and hugs we console one another
and make amends, see where we went wrong and love wins out again.

The next morning we are in the car heading for surf camp and she starts
telling me about a friends surf camp
that was just for kids who’d lost a parent to cancer.
She thought that wasn’t as good as regular camp that’s just fun,
because her friend is always having to remember her mom dying,
and then she said “Her mom was a lot more than just a person who died…
She was a clown!  Isn’t that better to remember?!”
Later in the conversation she tells me about an assignment they had at school.
She can’t recall if it was for reconciliation or the stations of the cross
but each of them had to write a reflection statement
and she remembers exactly what a boy in her class wrote to Jesus,
“When you were living, we treated you badly,
but when you died we laid you down kindly.”
“It’s true, isn’t it,’ she added,
‘we should be kindly to the living, and not just when they die!”
“That’s what we did yesterday, huh?
Remembered to be kind because we are living.”

And she reached over then and took my hand.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Repairer of Fences - Isaiah 58:12

I am alone in the dark, and I am thinking
what darkness would be mine if I could see
the ruin I wrought in every place I wandered
and if I could not be
aware of One who follows after me.

Whom do I love, O God, when I love Thee?
The great Undoer who has torn apart
the walls I built against a human heart,
the Mender who has sewn together the hedges
through which I broke when I went seeking ill,
the Love who follows and forgives me still.

Fumbler and fool that I am, with things around me
of fragile make like souls, how I am blessed
and to hear behind me footsteps of a Savior!
I sing to the east; I sing to the west:
God is my repairer of fences, turning my paths into rest.

Jessica Powers (Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit) 1905-1988

Monday, July 30, 2012

Standing on God's Word

This is no mental exercise in believing but a physical reality.  For some things there are no words, no explanations.  For some things there is only the need to trust.  To take off our shoes, feel the 'hidden ground of love' on which we stand.  Spoke a bit on this during retreat and someone snapped this photo of me.  A little photoshop fun and viola!  Like a snapshot that elicits memories of days gone by, it brought to mind and heart gratitude for the journey that has been and a prompt to remember God's own companionship in my life for whatever lies ahead.  Thanks for the memory!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

“… that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love …” Colossians 2:2

After the retreat I carried in the Jesus woodcarving whose hollowed out shape draws me to his Sacred Heart. Good folks had laid their burdens down upon his shoulders with bits of twine.  I left him standing in my prayer corner.  Coming from the kitchen, I saw Kyla sitting by the window, her back to me, facing him, quiet. I asked her what she was doing.  She sat still, turned and in a hushed tender voice told me,
"I'm braiding their prayers together in love".

After sharing this on retreat, it's here by popular request!

you can pause music playlist at bottom right


Monday, July 23, 2012

The 23rd Psalm

  The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing that I want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Probably one of the most well known and beloved of the psalms, it was only recently that I saw how this song of blessing reveals the shift that makes all the difference, the turning that transforms. 
Do you see it?  At first, David speaks about God, third person, academic, an idea, however personal the thought.  But then midway, we see a change, he speaks face to face, intimately. 
"You are with me."  The movement is interior. 
There is now personhood, relationship, recognition. 
And that changes everything

Monday, July 16, 2012


Today is the birthday of St. Clare of Assisi, born in 1194. When I was first drawn to catholicism, I saw the film Brother Son, Sister Moon and fell in love with Francis and Clare. When I was baptized I chose Francis as my namesake and imagined myself not unlike Clare. Like her, I was drawn as a teenager to the young Francis of Assisi preaching the good news, living in simplicity, peace and harmony with all creatures. At 18, Clare knew her calling as a joyful privilege that enabled her to live the way of Jesus. To this day, joy and simplicity is still the magnet of God’s love for me; the ‘Infallible Sign of God’s Presence’. I am thankful today for her life, for the spirit-prompt in the midst of this crazy world. And I am grateful for this film so full of beauty and unabashed sentimentality which gave me a feeling and an image of a person touched by God, driven by faith and love that spoke to my young heart...
In what seems to me an ironic twist, Pope Pius XII in 1958 designated St. Clare as the patron saint of television. (Now I understand that look on so many of the saintly portraits!  It's an ancient expression of "Are you kidding me?!")  Why television?  Well, when she became bedridden near the end of her life, it's said that she was able to see and hear the Mass while by all appearances she simply stared at a wall of her room. Even in sickness, she could still ‘taste and see’ the goodness of the Lord.
I am in the midst of preparations for a retreat I am giving this weekend entitled Trust in the Journey and I have been considering both the outward journey of life and the inward journey. Clare’s feast coming today begged the question of me – when I am staring at a wall, what plays in my head? For the moment, it is the scene in the grain field, breaking the bread, the prayer of St. Francis. 
And for a moments levity, a few saintly portraits that have mastered that aforementioned look...
Clare of Assisi

Francis of Assisi

See what I mean? I'd know that look anywhere! 
Now can you imagine yourself a saint?!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Desert Get-away

Desert View

Every morning these two birds perched on the kitchen window
amidst the many more whose irrepressable joy celebrated the start of each new day

Desert Determination-what thirst can do

If our own rocky periods shown


The world is his

Meadow grasses

Weathered well

Father/daughter Cairn

Nature artists leave their mark

In each layer, beauty

Sunset from the aerial tram

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not all right, then it is not yet the end. (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

Love this quote!

Honoring the Survivors

At the 4th of July Parade yesterday this lovely lady was among the Veterans being honored;  survivors of war.  Her smile captivated me, and I imagined her a nurse, full of capability and compassion.  I know, she could have been anything, but that's where my imagination went straight away. (My grandmother was a nurse).  I wanted to hear her story, her answer to surviving, her joy so triumphant, so evident in the moment.  She was somehow familiar, like a distant relative whom others see in me, whom I could not recognize myself.  And then they pull out an old photograph and ahhh, there I am!


Stay near to me and I'll stay near to you —
As near as you are dear to me will do,
Near as the rainbow to the rain,
The west wind to the windowpane,
As fire to the hearth, as dawn to dew.

Stay true to me and I'll stay true to you —
As true as you are new to me will do,
New as the rainbow in the spray,
Utterly new in every way,
New in the way that what you say is true.

Stay near to me, stay true to me. I'll stay
As near, as true to you as heart could pray.
Heart never hoped that one might be
Half of the things you are to me —
The dawn, the fire, the rainbow and the day

"Hinterhof" by James Fenton, from Yellow Tulips: Poems 1986-2011

Saturday, June 30, 2012


here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)  e.e. cummings
There are moments when my personhood is all motherhood...when I feel the weight or the expanse, the glad grace or the grappling of those I carry in my heart.  Once,  when the path was particularly rough, I shared my mother-worry with a good friend,  a wise priest whose heart is huge.  I didn't know what else I could do and I was keenly aware of my helplessness in the situation.  He gave me a gift that day, some 14 years ago, standing in the rectory kitchen.  Offered so casually, as if stating the obvious, he suggested simply that when I receive the eucharist, God's life in me,  I could intentionally receive for my child[ren] also because we are one...  Just as God entrusts God's life in me, so I was called to entrust and given a way to do so!
It was such a specific, practical illustration of the mystical body of Christ.   I know there are other names for it but for me it is God in all things - holding all things - and the reverse...all things in God.  As Paul wrote  (Acts 17:28) "He is not far from any of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being."  Separation is the myth.  Surely we are distinct, but we cannot forget our belonging, even if we sometimes try. 
As the Irish say, 'If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.'  Strong shoes bring you comfort (strength, hope, consolation) on a stony path.  The old spirituals sing of traveling shoes.  
Sometimes I pick up stones I find on the way, lay them on the shelf, a wall, place them in the garden beds.  There is a befriending between us.  They are beautiful, substantial; and I am grateful for their deep secret. 
I walk over to mass.  The children sing out their glad songs of faith.  It's the end of vacation bible school and our youngest is all in - arms flying in movements, belting out praise; hands folded with conviction as she kneels in the pew to pray; reaching for mine to be connected in this place.  Msgr. says the words slowly, invites the children to listen, just now, in stillness, because God is here, as real as each one of us, in this place, in our hearts, in this bread.  All those children, for a moment, hush. 
I rise to my feet, walk the path to communion.   I take and eat, walk on.  My shoes and I re-souled.
Christ whispers the poets word to me as I chew the dry bread, soak it in the swallow of sharp wine.   
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If you want to grow spiritually

31 Days with Saint Ignatius
31 days with saint ignatius

What are you doing this summer?  Dedicate July to a little reflection each day and see where Love might lead you...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything
that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting -
a wayside sacrament.
Welcome it in every fair face,
in every fair sky, in every fair flower,
and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
R W Emerson
Perhaps this is why I am so compelled to see,
to not miss the things that daily 'bless my soul'.
It is often, in the evening when i review my day,
that I can rest my eyes upon them and simply savor.
It is often after the encounter, in these little visits of memory
to collect the wayside sacraments of God's presence,
that I find myself spilling over with gratitude.
But there are also moments when it is impossible
to let slip to the wayside the grace we see and recognize.
Yesterday my husband and I stole away to see a movie
-The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
There is a scene in the garden
when a single crane takes flight.
It is somehow forever etched in my memory for its beauty;
it literally took my breath away and I was sorry to see it vanish.
I sat there and realized I had put my hand to my lips.
You know that gesture...
when we gasp awestruck, dumbfounded, so common and human.
I wonder if it is when we realize
that God is as near to us as our breath,
if it is connection beyond imagining.
If it is a way to hold on, if only for a moment, to life.
Life to the full.