Sunday, December 29, 2013

The little hibiscus - audio version

(Note: this is not new content but an audio version of all four episodes involving the character, "the little hibiscus". It is admittedly rather long...37 minutes...but I enjoyed telling it as a full story. I hope that you might enjoy listening to it. You are welcome to share it with others.)

(I am trying a new host site for audio files. I hope it will be a little more user-friendly.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Love and Joy: Part Two

(Part One may be read by clicking here. If you would like to listen to all four episodes involving the little hibiscus, an audio version is available here.)

The little hibiscus labored long and hard in her blooming. The compassionate one regretted having to leave her alone in this state but it couldn't be helped. She had wrapped a large white towel around her friend’s pot to protect her from the chill, though they both knew that it did little good.

As she struggled, the little hibiscus wondered about her long and painful labor. It had seemed so easy to bring bud into blossom just a couple of months before. Could it be that the One who healed her was now punishing her for having turned away from Him?

When the compassionate one returned home, the beautiful red blossom was almost fully opened. The little hibiscus was spent from her effort and the two of them talked quietly that evening.

The compassionate one explained to her friend that the Holy One did not work that way. He did not punish, though sometimes He did correct. It was, however, never His desire to see any of His creatures suffer. Indeed, He had given the Way of Love to them because He knew that following it would ever bring them joy.

Suffering and toil, she explained, had come to her human kind years ago because they had turned from the Way, believing that they themselves could be gods and create a better way of their own. It ended up not being better, of course, and so suffering came to them – as will happen with any departure from Love.

Once accustomed to living their own way, the compassionate one noted, it was very hard to return to the Way of Love. Not only were there many desires and passions to distract them, oftentimes these passions masqueraded as Love so that the people did not even know the dangerous path they were on. They had even become so foolish as to believe that their way was the Way of Love.

The little hibiscus pondered all of this with deep concern and even some fear, wondering if this could happen to her or any of the other growing things. It seemed a fate too awful to bear and the telling of it had made her realize just how serious her own turning away had been.

Then there  arose many new questions in her mind. “You,” the little hibiscus said to her friend, “how did you come to know the Way, once your kind became so lost and broken? Was it terribly hard to come back? Have all returned to the Way of Love?”   

It was some time before the compassionate one responded.

"The One Who healed you," she began, searching for words to express this great mystery. "we call Him the Holy One - He did not really create the Way of Love."

She paused, again wondering how she could explain this properly to the little hibiscus who now looked at her in bewilderment.

"He did not create the Way because He is the Way," she continued, still feeling that she had not told it properly. "He is the Father of the Way," she went on, striving to articulate something she knew wordlessly in her heart.

"I do not understand," said the little hibiscus. "How can anyone be both the Way and the Father of the Way? How could He be His own Father?" 

"The Holy One," explained the compassionate one, "is not just a Being. He is Being itself. He does not just love - as I love you or you love me. He is Love within His very Being."

She paused, allowing these words to settle into the evening air.

"You asked how I came to know the Way," she began again. "I began to know the Way as many of my kind have. The Holy One longed for His foolish creatures to return to His Way - but He would not compel us. For to force us to come back would not be the Way of Love, would it?" 

The little hibiscus nodded her agreement, though she could not see where this was heading or what it could have to do with her blooming.

"What the Holy One did," the compassionate one explained, "...what He did was He came Himself into our world - as one of us - so that we could understand the Way on our small level, so that we could experience the Way of Love in His very living among us."

The little hibiscus was stunned. "You mean He became one of the tiny seeds in His own creation?" she asked incredulously. She could not imagine that One who was so great as to make the plants to grow and the sparrows to fly and the squirrels to romp and play would ever allow Himself to become so small.

"Yes!" exclaimed the compassionate one, "Yes, it is something like that. But He came as one of my kind so He came into our world as a baby. He was born into the world through one of us."

Again she paused, partly out of amazement at what she had just said. "And He helped us to understand what it meant to be love by telling us of the Love within Himself."

The little hibiscus listened with rapt attention, waiting patiently for her friend to go on.

"He knew that we had not lost all that He had implanted in us about the Way of Love. In the Love shared between fathers and mothers and sons and daughters, He knew that we still understood something of the Way, if only vaguely.

"Therefore, after He had grown into manhood in our world," the compassionate one continued, "He began talking about His Father in the heavens and how they were One. And He even said He wanted us to be in this Oneness with Them. He spoke of Spirit also and breathed this Spirit into us to help draw us into Their Oneness." 

She stopped again, knowing that her little friend was confused. "Remember when you and your brother and sister all lived together in one pot?" she asked.

The little hibiscus sighed wistfully. She had never loved any as she had loved them.

"As deep as that love was, it is not that - it is more," the compassionate one explained. "It is more like having three leaves all on one stem, or three petals all part of one flower. Each pours its love into the others and receives it back again so perfectly that their three-ness is made full in oneness."

Again she fell into silence as these words hung in the air.

"When the Holy One came, we saw Him as person, as Son. But in seeing Son, we also saw Father loving Son and Son loving Father, with Spirit pouring out love in and through Each. For the Way was never broken while He lived among us. Even though He was human, He did not turn away for an instant. And so for us, He is the Way. In Him, we are able to come back into the Way of Love."  

The compassionate one knew that she had not answered a most important part of her friend's question. And so she continued. "Those of my kind who stepped out of the Way...they did not glance away for just a moment as you did. 

"They built a world of wrong ways, teaching it to their children and their children's children. Even with the Son, Whom we call the Savior, our coming back has not been simple or easy. Most of us have not completely returned to the Way. I have not completely returned..."

The compassionate one looked now at her friend with tears in her eyes. "That is why you and I were given to walk with each other. You needed me to teach you - but I need you to teach me as well."

The little hibiscus thought deeply and, for the first time, understood the truth in this. She had never imagined that she could help the compassionate one for she had come to her in time of great weakness. It had not occurred to her that her friend might be weak too.

They sat for a while in companionable silence, pondering the Way they both longed for.

At last, the compassionate one broke the silence.

"Do you remember what I told you about the Solstice?" she asked the little hibiscus, without waiting for a reply. "It is no accident that we commemorate the Holy Birth just days after that turning in time.

"As your Beloved fights off the forces of darkness in the myths of earth and sun, when the Savior came among us, He fought off the Great Darkness, the Darkness that threatens to steal the hearts of all of the living."

The little hibiscus trembled as she absorbed this new information.

"However," the compassionate one explained, "unlike in the myths of old, the true Son does not have to fight the Dark One year after year. Indeed, He has already won that victory for all time."

The tiny plant sighed with relief. But she was shaken when she heard what the compassionate one said next.

"Each year, to celebrate the Holy Birth, some are chosen from among the plants and animals to announce His coming. For He did not come just once into our world but is ever coming in the outpouring of Love that He is.

"And you, my little one, you have been chosen, with the bloom you so labored for, to announce the feast of the Holy Birth."

"Me?" gasped the little hibiscus in astonishment. "Certainly it cannot be me! I turned away...I am not worthy..."

"And that, my friend," said the compassionate one with deep love in her heart, "is exactly why you were chosen.

"Come, it is time now..."

(Many blessings to all as we celebrate this feast of the Nativity, of the Holy Birth. May we find true joy as we walk together back into the Way of Love.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Love and Joy: Part One

(A story began during the Week of Love earlier this year - a story about a little hibiscus plant - click here to read. During the Week of Joy, the story continued - click here to read. Now, Love and Joy come together in a new story about the same little plant. The following is Part One of that story.)

The days had grown shorter and shorter. The little hibiscus was now settled into her pot but found that the nights and even the days resting before the window were often chilly and dark. She could still peek out into the back yard but the flowers no longer bloomed and she hardly ever saw her animal friends anymore either.

Some days it was so chilly that the compassionate one had to close the blinds to protect her and the other house plants from the cold. Those were especially difficult days for the little hibiscus. Not only did she miss watching the activities of the outside world; it frightened her to go a whole day without seeing even tiny glimpses of light shining forth from her Beloved.

Back during the warm summer days when she had been recuperating before this window, she had seen some like herself growing in the side garden. They were much taller than her and their blossoms were purple instead of red, but she knew from the shape of their leaves and blossoms that they were related.

If she was honest with herself (and she always tried to be), the little hibiscus had to admit that there had been times when she had been envious of those grand purple cousins of hers. O to live on the other side of the glass! To sway in the breeze and to feel her roots expand directly into the earth!

She had longed to experience bees' tiny feet digging into her pollen as they came to drink of her nectar. She could almost imagine the squirrels skipping over her roots and the sparrows chirping at her side. And to feel the Sun's love, warming her leaves during those long summer days...

Yes, she had been envious for a time. At first, she had been so grateful just to survive the awful spider mites that had taken her brother and sister from her. But when she became stronger, she had begun to question her life in the pot behind the window, wondering why she could not be free like the flowers she saw in the garden.

But now, now that the season called "winter" was approaching, the little hibiscus found herself re-thinking her earlier longings.

One day in late fall, when she looked over at the side garden, she was shocked to see that her tall cousins had been cut way back, now appearing to be but barren sticks poking out of the heaps of dead leaves at their roots.

Even more disturbing though was the coming of ice and snow. While they were beautiful to gaze upon from where her pot rested, she realized that her tropical roots would never have survived that. With this realization came a deeper understanding.

While lost in her fantasies of being like the others, she had forgotten the One whose wisdom had brought her to this window for her healing. She had turned her heart from Him - just for a moment it had seemed - and had begun envisioning how much more important she would be, how much grander her life would be if only...

She had not meant to turn away - but she had. And because of this, she felt a deep shame.

However, worse even than the shame was a cold fear that had developed deep inside of her. It was a terror so awful she could barely think it, much less say it aloud.

She longed to share her fear with the compassionate one. Her friend still came around regularly to check her progress or just to visit. However, the little hibiscus found herself withdrawing into herself, hoping her anxiety would go undetected.

But it was not to be.

One day the compassionate one stopped by and fingered her leaves gently, commenting, "I think you have another bud developing here! Look, where your old flower was...the place has closed up again and there seems to be a bit of swelling! How wonderful..."

The little hibiscus had noticed this too but said nothing.

At first the compassionate one had let it go, since she couldn't be sure. But soon it became undeniable. The little hibiscus was budding again.

"Why are you not more excited, my friend?" the compassionate one asked her, after making the rounds and giving her a drink. "This is a lovely bud you have here..."

"I'm...I'm afraid it may not open properly," the little hibiscus stammered in reply. "You know, because it's almost winter now," she added awkwardly in response to her friend's puzzled look.

"Oh dear..." The compassionate one immediately worried. "Have I kept the house too cool for you, my little friend? I'm so sorry..."

"No - no, it's not that," the little hibiscus replied hurriedly, feeling even more horrible that she had upset her friend. "Now I must tell her the truth", she thought to herself. "I cannot hide what I did any longer."

And so they talked. The little hibiscus confessed to her friend about her earlier turning, in her longing for the grand world on the other side of the glass, she had looked away from the One who had healed her. She had even started to imagine that her pot and her life inside the window were holding her back from the freedom and glory that were her due...

The compassionate one was understanding. She too had experienced times of turning away and knew the sorrow that came with them.

"But there is more," the little hibiscus blurted, unable to stop as it all poured out of her. "I am afraid that my Beloved is leaving me. That He is going away and will never return. I am afraid that because I turned away, He is withdrawing His light from me and I will not bloom."

The little hibiscus was so miserable that it was some time before she saw the gentle smile on the face of her friend.

"How can you smile?" she challenged the compassionate one with some hurt and irritation. "Surely you have noticed that He has been coming less and less each day! You cannot deny that His light and warmth are almost gone. Surely it is because of me. We will lose Him to another world - and it will be my fault because I turned away..."

The compassionate one gently stroked the little plant's leaves. "You really have been afraid, haven't you, dear one? You really didn't know."

On into the evening, the compassionate one explained to the little hibiscus about the winter solstice. She told stories about ancient peoples and their rituals, how they had imagined that the Sun was fighting for His survival just as they were fighting for theirs during the cold, dark months. And she explained how they would then rejoice when the times of light became longer again, feeling reassured that, for one more year, He had conquered the forces of darkness.

"It is a great privilege for you to be budding at this time of year, you know," the compassionate one commented into the soft night that had grown around them.

"It is?" The little hibiscus felt curiously humble now.

"It is." The compassionate one pronounced firmly. "Your bud will indeed blossom, though it may take longer and be more painful than when you opened this fall."

The little hibiscus pondered this news with even deeper humility.

"Not only have you been given the privilege of announcing the Solstice," the compassionate one continued, "though that in itself is a great honor. There is something more. However, I cannot tell you of it just yet. Soon you will be ready to understand."

The little hibiscus asked no more questions. And in the hours that followed she felt her opening begin...

(To be continued...)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The kingdom of heaven

Jesus struggled for words. How could He explain to them about the kingdom of heaven?

How could He give them a sense of its magnificence, the vastness of its embrace, the fullness of the Love it offers - but not make it seem like something so grand that it was beyond their reach?

How could He show them that the kingdom was not a new and difficult concept that they would have to study? That it was not some far away place, requiring a long and complicated journey that only the smartest and strongest could complete?

He longed for them to understand that, in the kingdom, they could live in Him and know the Father as He knew Him. He yearned to share with them the joy that came from the Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father; to share the comfort there was in the Spirit pouring forth from and between them in endless, self-emptying Love.

If only they could see that they were created for this Way of Love, that participating in it was their birthright! If only they could see this, then surely they would abandon their way of false self to join Him - to allow Him to be their Way...

He understood the allures of false self. He had been shown them all from the beginning. As hard, as impossible as it had seemed in those initial long, dark, hungry days, He had only had to say "yes" to the Father - a simple, humble act of obedience - and the fullness of Love which was the Way opened up within Him.

Perhaps if they could see that they too could start with just a little, tiny "yes"... if they planted that smallest of seeds in the soil of their hearts...surely then they would see would see the kingdom growing within them. And having glimpsed that, how could they ever want anything else again?

So He told them a story...

(click on the image below to enlarge it.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

It feels kind of lonely...

I find myself struggling to write this evening. I have been telling myself for a while now that it is time to begin again ("Always we begin again", as St. Benedict reminds) but I have been avoiding. It feels kind of lonely here at the blog and I haven't wanted to face that.

Since a special reader transitioned from this life to the next, as related in my Thanksgiving letter, I have felt a sense of loss. That, in itself, was to be expected. However, with any loss or grief, there are the expected feelings and then a whole host of unexpected feelings, sensations, experiences.

One of those for me has been related to my writing here. I find myself feeling disoriented, as though no longer sure of why or to whom I am writing. Even though this reader was ostensibly not my only reader, it feels as though I am writing into an emptiness, into an unknown space once full of eager anticipation, now vacant and still.

And, as I mentioned above, I have been trying to avoid facing the discomfort this brings. We humans are good at avoiding discomfort and I am no different. I may be able to embrace one aspect of my grief but then am haunted by another and try to hide from it.

We do not get to choose our pain. Trying to only slows the healing of the wound. And so I am here, struggling to write.

It is sort of ironic, I suppose, that I had proposed a time of healing from loss just a few weeks ago in an early November post. Naturally, I was thinking of writing on this topic to help others, not anticipating that I might be the one stunned and wandering aimlessly. This irony can be a good teacher, however, reminding me of the hollowness of words in the face of life's stark realities.

I fear that, in sharing these sensations, I might lead others to imagine that I am barely crawling through each day, pulled down by the weight of grief and sorrow. Let me assure you that this is not the case at all.

Although there certainly are moments of deep sadness, there is much more joy. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to walk someone to the very threshold of heaven... But even beyond that, I sense quite deeply that it is more of a beginning than an end.

It is as though God, for a moment, showed His face, that He made His reality more real to me. The gift of His loving embrace at the end of life appears so much clearer now. And His movement in and through my life seems virtually undeniable. Much grace has flowed from this experience, touching many more people than just me.

However, even when we hold this faith, it is our human nature to sorrow and rage about this death of ours. And this is as it should be, for the Holy One did not bring us to life only for us to be swallowed up by death.

There is something - or rather, Someone - much greater for Whom we were created. My heart knows this and that His Truth draws near. In my humanness, my eyes remain blind and my ears deaf in their sorrow; in my spirit, I ready myself for the approach of the true Life, the Life that does not die.

It is now a time of preparation for this advent, a time of cleansing and of change within. It is a pregnant waiting, anticipating new Birth with both fear and wonder. It is an invitation to walk the Way of Love more and more deeply.

This same invitation was given to a young woman centuries ago, the invitation to humbly let go of self in order to make room for the new Life to grow. She was confused and afraid and knew it would be painful.

But she said yes.

Come, let us each bring our own confusion and fear and pain. Let us walk together that we too may learn to say yes to the Way of Love...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving letter

(A number of years ago, I learned from my priest the beautiful practice of writing a letter on Thanksgiving Day to thank someone. Today, I write my letter here to one of my most faithful readers who passed away yesterday, leaving this life so as to enter the heart of God.)

My dear one,

I'm sure if you were here you would be protesting me writing a letter to thank you. You were always so humble and grateful to me for walking with you, for the time and words I shared with you. Toward the end, I think you began to truly understand that I was but an emissary for the living God who loved you immeasurably. And I'm sure that now you understand it more completely than I do.

I need to thank you, however, and probably should have thanked you long ago. You have taught me so much. From you, I have learned a great deal about suffering and fear and pain and doubt. But more importantly, I learned even more from you about courage and love and faith.

I can hear you protesting, even from heaven. You say that you learned from me, not I from you. You say that you were none of these things. But you were. And you bore witness in a way that I never could.

Over the years, you shared with me some of the deepest pains I have ever heard come from the mouth of another person. I remember, years ago, when you first revealed them, you disappeared from my life for about 2-3 years because that first opening had been so very frightening.

But you came back. Little by little, you told me more, telling me things you had never told anyone before. You entrusted to me your deepest secrets, climbing over mountains of fear and shame.

If that is not courage, I do not know what is.

In the midst of relating the horrible abuses and abandonments of your childhood, you would often tell me that you were sure that there were millions of people who had had it much worse than you. I could not imagine who these poor souls were than could have had it "much worse". One day I asked you. You were thinking of all of the suffering people the world over who did not even have food to eat or roofs over their heads...

In addition to your profound emotional pain, you also suffered serious medical conditions that would scare most of us half to death. And then there was the physical pain, so severe at times that you could only lie in bed, trying to hang on until it eased up.

I know that there were many, many times when you wanted to give up, when you wanted simply to end your life to be free of all of this suffering. Yet for years you fought these demons of despair with the only weapon you had: love. You loved your family (and most undeservedly, me) so much that you endured your suffering so as not to hurt us by your suicide.

You chose the right weapon. And you won the battle. I am so proud of you.

And now, faith. On this one, I can really hear you protesting. You wanted faith, you wanted to believe in a loving God but...

All of us find it hard at times to believe in the One we cannot see or comprehend. But you had more reasons to question than most of us. How could a loving God have taken so many loved ones from you so early in life? How could a loving God have permitted the abuses you endured? Why didn't this loving God take away your pain when you begged Him to?

I could never really answer these questions for you, of course. But I kept writing about them. Did you know that you were the "little one" in the story of The broken wing? (Most especially in the recent sequel?) Of course, there were others, including myself, incorporated into the formation of that character but they were written for you.

These stories, I believe, were given to me by the Holy One Himself to help you - and others like you - with these questions. (By the way, we are all "like you" when it comes to these questions.)

Despite your struggles with faith, you hungered for it like no one else. Even during the times when you could not believe, you returned again and again to this blog to read about the God you didn't believe in. You began to tell me, "I want what you have," and you came to believe that I would help you find it.

I reminded you many times that it was not me but Him who would bring you to that place - but I understood too that perhaps it was in my unworthy self that you felt safest encountering Him.

You asked me to share books with you and you devoured them, everything from Anthony Bloom's Beginning to Pray to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Some of them you read 2-3 times before returning them to me. I started running out of things to recommend.

Two years ago, you shared with me a premonition that you would not live much longer. I took this seriously but didn't quite know what to do with it. We talked about it now and then and you didn't seem to feel that your life was going to end in suicide. But you knew you weren't going to be here much longer.

You didn't want to leave behind the ones you loved but it was as though what was coming was as inevitable as the sunrise.

Just in the last few weeks, you practically begged me for any spiritual reading I could recommend for you. I could not think of anything and was in the process of telling you that I'd think about it, when two titles popped into my head: Proof of Heaven, by Dr. Eban Alexander, and Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo. (They are both stories of near death experiences, the first related by a neurosurgeon, the second related by a father sharing his 4 year old son's experience.)

Two weeks later, you had read them both. And liked them. Did you know that you were making last minute preparations to go there yourself? I didn't - but I do now.

You indeed had faith. Perhaps not the kind of faith that has answers to all the questions or that can recite dogmas and doctrines. But you longed for God as truly as any saint.

You were always quick to tell me that you knew you were no saint. And that's true. None of us are saints - until God makes us so. And I believe now, at last, He has made you part of the Community of Eternal Love, bringing you back to Himself, back to your true Home. Please pray for us.

And, by the way, thank you.


(I was blessed to be talking on the phone with this lovely person when cardiac arrest occurred. At the time, it was a frightening experience because there was no warning and I could not tell what was happening. EMS arrived and, through emergency medical care, they were able to restart the body's heart for a time so that family could say goodbye. Then, mercifully, God took His loved one to Himself.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

wisdom, understanding and compassion

Some years ago, before I began my journey into private practice, my work as a psychologist was based in a large health care organization. As with many large companies, there were a multitude of statistics and measures rendered regarding how we were doing as individual employees and as a department.

One measure in particular, not well-loved by providers, resulted in our receiving scores based on the satisfaction ratings we received when our patients completed surveys about us. When our scores were lower than the organizational goal, there were long discussions about how to improve the scores. These discussions were seldom if ever pleasant.

As providers, we often complained about a number of features of the surveys that we felt made them poor measures of what we did. I was no different. I complained and pointed out the various measurement problems - some of which were probably quite valid.

However, I'm ashamed to admit that it was quite some time before I did the obvious. It was quite some time before I shifted my focus from the unfairness of the measure to taking an honest look at myself.

In my pride (the wrong kind of pride), I had not wanted to look at the possibility that perhaps those who complained about me were trying to communicate something that I needed to hear. Because I often received positive feedback, I came to expect it as my due - though I never would have admitted that to myself.

Thankfully, there is grace.

I might mention that grace does not always feel good. Sometimes for us to be shaken out of our complacency, our pride, our denial, we need to feel some discomfort. Or at least I need to.

And so it was then. Some discomfort settled upon me and it scared me. It scared me into realizing that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't as good as I thought. Not as good of a therapist as I thought. Not as good of a friend to my friends as I thought.

As I wrestled with this, a most unwelcome awareness came knocking. "Your patients do get better, don't they?" a kind listener had asked, assuming an affirmative response. But instead, I paused. I really wasn't sure. I wanted to blame "the system" for that, of course, for all of the roadblocks it laid in front of my efforts to provide good care, but...

Then, on the heels of the first, a second uninvited awareness arrived at my mental doorstep. I realized that rather often I didn't know what to say to my patients. Again, I wanted to blame the overwork, the lack of sufficient time and so on. Anything in order to not have to look at me.

But then something changed. I began to realize in a whole new way that I could not do what I was doing on my own. I had all of the education and experience one was supposed to have to be a good psychologist. And yet, I knew there was something more, something I was missing.

I didn't simply want to be a good psychologist. A good psychologist can listen to people's problems, carry out the prescribed interventions, collect a paycheck and go home feeling content at a good day's work.

That simply was not enough. What I was listening to day after day was profound suffering. I listened with care - I had not become hardened or indifferent. But, by myself, I was helpless before it.

I came to realize that for true healing to come to my patients, I could not rely on me and expect anything much to happen.

It was not that I didn't know God then or that I had no faith. Quite to the contrary. But, blind as I was then, I can see now that there was simply too much me and not enough God in the equation.

I suspect that most people who knew me during that time would not have described me as proud or arrogant (though I might be surprised!). However, a truly effective vice is one that masquerades itself as virtue, drawing us from the Way of Love while we think we are still walking it.

What happened next in this time of awareness was simple yet profound. I began to pray every night to be blessed with "a Spirit of wisdom, understanding and compassion". I began praying with just a bit of awareness - but an awareness nonetheless - that I needed these gifts.

An odd thing happened. Or at least it seemed odd to me because I wasn't used to giving God more space to act within me.

I would reach the end of a first appointment with a patient and, as usual, realize that I needed to give them some feedback, idea or plan. And I would feel as blank as ever when I looked within to consider what I might say in the few remaining minutes that I had.

But I started speaking anyway. And here is the odd part: wise words started coming out of my mouth!

In saying this, I realize that I run the risk of giving the impression of having become proud or arrogant. But actually, I am convinced that it was the other way around. It was humbling and awe-inspiring to experience words being given to me for another - words and thoughts that I had no awareness of formulating. And yet, as I spoke them, they made complete sense to me - and to the patient as well.

I began to see God working through me - not because I was especially good, but because I had finally started to move out of His way.

(Another odd thing happened as well: my patients' satisfaction ratings of me went up. Way up. And I began seeing clearer signs that my patients were indeed getting better. Hmm...)

To this day, I continue that prayer every night. I do not remember exactly when I began it but it was certainly more than 10 years ago.

And I need to say it every bit as much now as I did then. I will never stop needing to say it - not because God would withhold His healing if I stopped - but because I, in my weakness, can so easily get in His way.

Hearing the words each night reminds me that I too need His healing - and always will. The moment that I think I don't, the moment I take His goodness and label it my own, I have stepped off the path of His way and onto my own...

It is a frightening thought. It is frightening to know my own weakness and to be so dependent on Another. Yet there could be no greater gift than this knowledge - for hidden within it truly is the Way of Love.

Please pray with me and for me:

"God, please grant me a Spirit of wisdom, understanding and compassion..."

(In this "Time of Healing", I hope to write more about each of these three words as well as some others. Please continue to join me on the path. Many blessings.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


( a little poem that was given to me this morning as I woke knew immediately that it belonged with this image that I received on my 11/3/13 journey in the woods...many blessings. I hope to write more soon.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Forgiveness is free

As is often the case, the words and image above seemingly came together of their own accord. I tried to change them more than once, thinking that "forgiveness is free" sounded rather banal. However, each time I replaced the words with something else, it simply didn't look or feel right.

And so my assignment is before me, to reflect on and make some sense of a phrase that I have discovered is far more enigmatic than it appeared at first glance.

Is forgiveness free? If I offer another forgiveness, does it truly cost me nothing? If I accept the forgiveness of another, is there never a price to pay?

And why this image?

Before I attempt any reflection on these questions, allow me to share a short but intriguing story.

After working for a few hours yesterday, I decided to take a short walk with my camera. The weather was seasonably chilly with a brisk wind and leaves were falling around me. I did not venture anyplace far or fancy this time. I walked two lots down from my house, noticing some of the beautiful colors still hanging onto the trees.

As I stood gazing upon the scene, I felt something slip into my left hand. This was a very odd sensation, given that I had not had my hand open or outstretched. I wasn't trying to catch any of the leaves falling around me nor was I grasping at anything.

I looked down into my hand and there was a thin, twisted taupe-colored leaf, nothing particularly special looking. I almost dropped it to the ground but thought twice.

I could not see any meaning or value to this little leaf but it is not every day that the heavens drop something into my hand. Perhaps I should hold onto it for a while, I thought.

I only walked around for a short while but I was very aware of this little leaf in my hand. It felt brittle and so I handled it with care, wondering why it had been given to me.

When I got back inside, I still puzzled. Perhaps I shall take a picture of it in my hand, I considered. I don't know why this seemed important but it did. So I changed the lens on my camera and walked back outdoors, in order to view it in natural light.

Somewhere in the process of this, I detected something I had not noticed before. The center of it was darker and a bit thicker than the edges. It was not a leaf but a seed pod! A seed had been cast out into the wind, to twirl its dance of chance and it had landed in my hand...

What could it possibly mean?

(I realize that the average reader may be thinking: "It probably means nothing. Why is she going on about this?")

Perhaps it caught my attention so for a couple of reasons.

One is that a seed is a very important thing. On a biological level, it holds within it the beginnings of life. Much of the life on this planet would cease were it not for seeds of some sort or another.

On a spiritual level, seeds are very important as well. When it comes to believing in and loving the Holy, it is often a seed that begins the process. Some little seed of wondering or longing implants itself in our hearts, perhaps remaining tenuous for months or even years before it germinates and grows.

This sacred seed also holds within it the beginnings of life. But in this case it is a Life that rescues us from the eternal death.

Hence, that this gift was a seed caught my attention once I recognized it for what it was. But perhaps what had intrigued me first and foremost was that it was totally free. I had not asked for it nor had I been looking for it. It was simply given.

As I reflect on this further, the thought occurs to me: if heaven could give me any gift, if it could freely drop into my hand the seed for any new growth, what would I most hope that it would be?

And I could think of nothing more important, nothing that I would long for more than forgiveness.

Back to the image above. In my lens-view, there are two leaves of the same type. However, they are on separate branches and look as though they have moved as far away from each other as possible. I know this is fanciful thinking on my part...but it also looks a little like the lower leaf is shielding itself behind some twigs.

It is as though they are afraid to get too close to each other. "I'll keep my distance and watch you from here, thank you very much."

We cannot see in the image how they came to be so far apart. We don't know who started it or whose fault it is. Who needs to forgive and who needs to be forgiven is beyond calculation. We can only see a separateness which reminds of us of ourselves in our broken humanity.

Separateness from each other. Separateness from God.

To choose to remain separate is the eternal death. Not because God casts us into hell - but because apart from Him there can be no Life.

It is only through forgiveness that we can find our way back from this separateness, back into the Way of Love.

When we are made hurt or angry, by anything from the slight of a friend to an unfair boss to childhood abuse, we become lost in arguments of blame or hide behind barriers of self-protection.

When we have done wrong and know it, we may torment ourselves with guilt and shame - or we may deny and defend to avoid these unbearable emotions.

In any event, it is only through forgiveness that we can come back to Life again.

In the Way of Love, there is no distinction between forgiving and being forgiven. One cannot be without the other.

This is why the Christ taught us to pray, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". I do not think that He was issuing a threat, i.e. "you had better forgive or you will not be forgiven!"

Rather, I think, He was simply stating a fact. If I do not forgive, I will be unable to experience forgiveness in myself. If I do not accept the forgiveness offered to me, I myself will not know how to forgive. It may sound like a circular dilemma, too hard to understand, but it is not.

Forgiveness is free.

It begins as a seed. It has been freely dropped by the heavens into our hands, into our hearts. It may lie there for a long time, dormant, buried beneath our excuses and our fears. We may not know how to make it grow.

Its growth begins as a decision. I may not want to forgive. I may not know how. I may feel unworthy of forgiveness or not believe it possible.

But I decide - and then trust that the seed will grow within me. I choose the Way of love and forgiveness.

I could not have wanted it to be anything else...

(For those who expressed interest in learning more about Corrie ten Boom's experience of forgiveness, I have added an update to my past post which you can view by clicking here.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

how could I not?

it was not what i had planned -
truly it wasn't.

i left church on Sunday
overflowing with Eucharist
and was only going
to stop at a lake by the library 
for an image or two.

however, on the way to my car
a poem happened.
that was my first sign.
hastily i jotted it down
and changed into walking shoes.

enroute to the library i knew, 
i somehow missed the turn,
my car about-facing me
into the golden woods of autumn.

i was going to turn around,
really i was...
it would have been
the sensible thing to do.
i had bills to pay, 
groceries to buy..

but i looked in among the trees
and saw that God was there.
how could i not go in?

"i'll go in just a little,
just for a few minutes,"
i thought to myself.

but He beckoned further.

"just a bit more," i told myself.
but He drew me deeper.

it no longer mattered where i was.

deeper and deeper my heart into His,
each step a wordless prayer,
each image a vision of His glorious face.
how could i not enter and see?

and then i saw it...

down slippery slope of amber red,
 feet sinking to muddy depths -
a bubbling stream of new life,
spilling its love upon the rocks.

my fingers itched with cold,
 my stomach rumbled its hunger,
 i had no idea where i was -
and found it didn't matter.

never before had i felt less lost.

for i walked in His sacred house, 
 stood before His holy font -
and it was time to trust.
how could i not?

and so it happened...

(to Him be glory forever.)


Epilogue: God led me back to my car without incident, much to my wonderment. I cannot regret this experience - it was a gift beyond measure. But for the sake of those who are kind enough to care about me, I will take my cell phone with me next time :-).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Time of healing

(As I begin writing tonight, it is late on November 2, All Souls Day. Since I get an extra hour tonight when my clock falls back, I am indulging myself by spending it with you.)

As I was reflecting on the feast, the question arose in my mind: how often does a person go to a funeral and hear a eulogy where the deceased is remembered as a petty, selfish gossip? Or a dishonest, thieving scoundrel?

Not often, I imagine.

When people pass away, it is natural human tendency to remember the good things about them - the parts of them that we will miss. Often we overlook their faults, at least in the acute stage of grieving, so that even the drug dealer shot by the police is remembered for his ready smile or his kind heart.

And this is as it should be. Even those who travel the worst paths in life are children of God who had some good in them or brought a bit of happiness to someone's life.

Often too we grieve for the relationship we would like to have had with the deceased. The opportunity to have a closer relationship with that mother, father, sibling or friend is gone once the life ebbs from their body.

Or so it would seem.

After All Saints Day, I am glad there is day for the rest of us folks. And that is where All Souls Day comes in: a day of prayer and remembrance for the people who made some efforts at faith and goodness but stumbled a lot along the way before they died.

Most of the people we have loved fall into this category. Most of us will fall into it someday as well.

One might wonder why we should pray for the dead. Is it not over for them? Is some sort of begging or pleading on our part supposed to persuade God to let them into paradise despite their shortcomings?

Sadly, there have been periods in church history where such ideas were commonplace. The notion was that God had certain punishments prescribed for the person who dies in sin but that the living can pay off some of the debt by prayer, good works - or worse, paying money.

Such a forensic model of sin and salvation is sad, in my opinion, because it so completely misses the point. And in missing the point, people become lost from the Way.

Some will lose their direction because "paying off the debt" becomes more important than entering into relationship with God. Some may be lost because abuse of the spiritual "legal system" makes it appear to be just a scheme to make the church rich. Many more may be misled into thinking of God as a judge who exacts punishments instead of as a loving Father who longs to bring us home.

And the point is?

The true point is, I believe, that none of us are saved alone. We pray for the dead - as we pray for the living - because it draws us closer to each other and to God. In prayer for another, there is movement toward healing, there is a grace that makes whole what is broken.

The deaths of those we love may leave us with quite a variety of healing needs. We may need the healing of forgiveness. We may be challenged to forgive those who have died. Or we may ache for their forgiveness of us. We may need healing from damage inflicted on us by their sins. Or we may simply need healing from the sorrow that accompanies grievous loss.

Whatever our need, prayer with and for those who have died is the medicine our souls require in order to heal. As our prayer draws us closer to God, it simultaneously draws us closer to those who live on the other side, cleansing both them and us. We all become freer to know God in the fullness of His loving gifts.

As we enter this month of November, let us begin a "time of healing", walking together with each other and those who have passed into God's care.

Allow me to share some words that Scripture offered me today - and then an image received while walking with my camera.

On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food.
On this mountain He will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
He will destroy Death forever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
He will take away His people's shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that He has saved us.

(Isaiah 25: 6-9)

(God willing, I plan to write more on related themes through the month of November. Please check back or enter your e-mail address for notification of new posts. Many blessings...)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Feast of All the Saints

"I want to be a saint!"

I was standing in an elevator with a bishop when I made this announcement almost 40 years ago.

"I think you would make a very good saint," the bishop responded, though he had never met me before this moment. Was he just being polite? How was he supposed to respond to this odd young woman, bedecked in her sweatshirt and patched blue jeans, making such a declaration to him?
I smile when I remember that woman, my younger self. She was so enthusiastic and full of longing to share God with the world.

It seemed, at the time, that being in college was like the opening of doors into a life where I could choose who I was to be and how I was going to live.

I wanted to be a saint because God's love and healing could then flow to others through me for all eternity. I saw that this was what the saints did for me - and I wanted to join that club. What could bring me greater joy?

Looking back on this moment with older eyes, it now seems so pretentious, so naive.

Does one become a saint just by wishing it, proclaiming it? Am I so special that generations of people over the centuries will know of me to ask for my prayers?

The answer to both questions: hardly.

At that young age, I knew nothing of the hardships of life. I had no idea how hard it could be to remain faithful when afflicted in body or mind. Even now, my understanding is limited in that my own afflictions have been relatively few.

I knew that I was in love with God but I had no way of knowing how many detours there would be on the path of staying in love. I was familiar with the detour of doubt but had no perspective to see how even my wish was part of a much more dangerous detour: ego (aka the wrong sort of pride).

While reading a delightful book on Russian Orthodox monasticism recently, I came upon a powerful reminder of what the path of Love really entails:

"...a monk must have no powerful desire for anything except God. There are no exceptions. It doesn't matter what that desire might be, whether for higher rank, or more knowledge, or better health, or for some material thing, or even to become an elder, or to obtain spiritual gifts. Everything will come of itself, if such be God's will." (from Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov).

While we may all be heaving a sigh of relief now that we are not Orthodox monks (!), we are not really "off the hook" all that much. Very few if any of us will be the sort of saint that is recognized by canonization, a formal declaration of the church. However, we are all summoned to be "everyday saints", no matter how ordinary or limited our lives may be.

To be an "everyday saint" is to take my own little corner of being and allow it to be filled with God. And to be "filled" with God means that there is not room for much else - certainly not things that I want for myself - only God and whatever unexpected gifts He brings.

I cannot even bring my desire for sainthood there. Only the desire for God.

Thus, even if it is my destiny to die in obscurity, a shriveled up old woman with dementia lying in a nursing home bed, remembered by no one, that is all right. As long as God fills that little corner of space that is me, my desire is fulfilled.

(Though I would be unaware of much, I can only hope that whoever had the unfortunate task of taking care of my body at that point might detect a little brightness there because of the One who dwelt within.)

It is easy to write these words - but a far different thing to live them. I did not know that when I was an enthusiastic young college student. But I know it now.

I am so far from that Way now that I might despair - if there were no grace and no community of saints to carry me with their prayers into the safety of their fold.

It is this that I celebrate today - the "communion of saints" - the eternal community of both the canonized and the everyday saints who dwell in the presence of God and want nothing more than for you and me to join them.

...I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, 
“Who are these wearing white robes, 
and where did they come from?”
I said to him,  “My lord, you are the one who knows.” 
He said to me, “These are the ones 
who have survived the time of great distress.

(Revelation 7:  9, 14)

            St. Francis of Assisi

      St. Clare of Assisi

    St. Catherine of Genoa

    St. Elizabeth of Hungary

st therese of the child jesus photo: St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face StThereseofLisieux-1.jpg
   St. Therese of the Child Jesus

                 St. Teresa of Avila

     St. John of the Cross

   St. Mary Magdalene

   St. Maximilian Kolbe

  St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Charles Lwanga & companions

St. Paul Miki & companions (26 martyrs of Japan)

  Oscar Romero (not yet canonized)              

(These are only a few of the many, many saints who are part of the eternal community. Most will never be formally named by the church - but they still love us and pray for us.)

Friday, October 25, 2013


This evening, as I sat down to reflect on the Scripture for the day, these were the words that greeted me:

I know of nothing good living in me - living, that is, in my unspiritual self - for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me.

In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand. In my inmost self I dearly love God's Law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7: 18-25)

I suspect that most of us can relate to this passage. We want to do good. We plan to do what is right but often find ourselves not carrying out these intentions nearly so well as we had hoped. It is rather consoling that St. Paul wrote this about himself. If one of the greatest of the apostles felt this way, perhaps there is hope for someone like me. 

What I am about to write next, however, is much harder for most of us to relate to.

Many years ago, a man I knew mailed these very words to me, painstakingly copied in his own hand. He was writing to me from prison - where he was incarcerated for molesting little girls. 

The crime of which he was accused and convicted is considered among the most heinous in our society. To prey upon the innocence of children seems unforgivable to most of us and many of us might label such a man "a monster". 

Yet here he was writing words that any one of us might have written, "instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want." And I believe that he meant those words quite sincerely.

For him to copy this passage from the Bible was a great deal more work than it would have been for most of us. He was unable to read and write. He had to look at every letter of every word, one by one, and copy its shape. I suspect it took him hours.

The tragic childhoods he most likely contributed to only reflected the one he himself had lived. He was an abused child in an adult body, a severely damaged human being who could not be permitted to live freely in society.

And yet he was a person, created in the image and likeness of God. It was not his desire to hurt children nor was it his desire to offend God. And yet undoubtedly his behavior did both.

Can God's forgiveness be granted even to someone like this? Should God's forgiveness extend to a person who does such things? If I were one of his victims, could I forgive him?

These questions drive us deep into the heart of great mystery. The mystery of  forgiveness, what it is, what it means. The mystery of God's love for his broken people. The mystery of Jesus' teaching that, in our prayers, we should ask to be forgiven as we forgive others...

On a human level, forgiveness is often defined as a cessation of anger or resentment toward another. In psychological terms, it is often regarded as a process - but also a conscious decision. If I want to hold onto my anger, most assuredly I will not let it go. If I want to renounce it, I begin the process.

It also interesting to note that, on that same human level, there is research evidence that people who forgive tend to be happier and physically healthier. (And this research was done with people who had some pretty big things to forgive, such as murder of family members in political violence.)

And yet, forgiving is so hard for us to do.

It may not be quite as hard for me to forgive the people I love. It may not be so hard to forgive offenses that I could imagine myself doing in a moment of weakness...But what about those other ones? The acts so horrible that I could never, ever imagine doing that to another human being...

And this is where the forgiveness of God enters in. Not just that God forgives me - but that, if I accept that forgiveness, truly embrace it, I become empowered to forgive on a level transcending my own very limited goodness.

It is here, in this place, that we truly meet God and begin to understand.

I myself have never faced a challenge anywhere close to this and therefore it would seem false for me to try to explain. But I can share with you someone who has.

Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, were imprisoned during World War II at the Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women. Their crime? Concealing Jews in their home in Holland. Betsie died in the camp. Corrie survived - and went on to preach to people around the world about God's forgiveness.

In the short video that follows, she tells of a meeting of a man following one of her talks in Germany. Listen with me:

(Excerpt from Corrie ten Boom's autobiography, The Hiding Place):

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. ...

And that's when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister's frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. ...

"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard in there." No, he did not remember me. "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, ..." his hand came out, ... "will you forgive me?"

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." ...

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling."

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

"I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"

For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week of Light: Day 7

It is with a heart full of gratitude that I approach my blog tonight to wrap up the Week of Light and the project of the 7 holy pauses. I have learned and grown so much.

Those who have been reading regularly may recall that in July, as an act of contrition for having neglected my blog for over a month, I made a commitment to post every day for a week on one of 7 words: hope, peace, grace, mercy, love, joy and light. Then I invited readers to share any art, poetry, photos, etc. on these topics and promised to post them two weeks later.

When I found that I had very few contributions by early August, I decided that I would post the ones submitted and make up the difference myself - 7 days straight for each of the holy pauses.

It seemed almost an impossible challenge to lay upon myself. Where would I get the time? How would I think of enough to write about - that would add up to 49 posts - more than twice the number I had done in any previous year?

I did not have the answers to these questions. And that is perhaps one of the most important lessons I have learned. I did not need to have the answers. What I needed to do was make a commitment based on faith and then live it out one day at a time.

The faith that fueled my leap into this frenzy of blogging certainly wasn't faith in myself. As I have commented on and off throughout, I have most often not had any idea what I was going to write and sometimes sat down feeling too exhausted to write anything.

A second important lesson learned was that often this was a good thing. When I was feeling empty and depleted, I was best able to recognize my dependence on God. If I thought for a moment that I was full of good ideas or poetry or art, I would not feel such a need to turn to Him. And that would have been a great loss - surely for me and likely for you as well.

Turning to God to help me blog - it sounds so silly - as though the Creator of the universe would be concerned about what I posted on the Internet! And yet, time after time, it has been made clear to me that I was not alone in this endeavor, that the holy One used my keystrokes to express His love for you and me.

If that should sound grandiose, please know that my intent is quite the opposite: I feel very humbled by this entire process. A friend commented to me today about some of the late hours at which I posted. I found that often I couldn't stop until I was finished.

(And it wasn't just me being compulsive about my commitment to get it done on the same day, though I don't deny that factor!).

When I was writing The Broken Wing, part 2, for example, I needed to find out how the story was going to end. How was this painful question of God allowing the little one to suffer going to be resolved? I truly didn't know. But I kept typing until the resolution made itself known.

There have been many times when I have been stuck in the middle of a post, not knowing where it was going, and paused to ask God for help. And help always came. That does not mean, of course, that I think that everything posted here is brilliant and divinely inspired. Certainly not!

It does means that I have learned more profoundly how much I need and want to turn to God for help in all that I do. There is much greater hope, peace, love and joy in my life when I rely on His grace and mercy, bringing my confusions and dilemmas into His light.

I am not sure that I ever explained why I have referred to these words as "holy pauses". If I have forgotten, perhaps you have as well. I first heard the phrase from Christine at Abbey of the Arts. While it more than I can explain here, I learned through a number of online retreats with her the importance of "pausing" to remember the holy in the midst of our busy days.

The Catholic church accepts the exhortation to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), with seven pauses for prayer each day. Most people outside of religious life do not have the time to incorporate all of these prayers as they are written in the Divine Office. However, we can all "pause" for a minute or two 7 times a day to remember God - and these words became the themes of my pausing.

So...let us pause once more with the Light. I would like to share with you a poem and an image.

I wrote the poem earlier this year as part of an online class through the Abbey. We were offered the first line of a famous poem to use as the beginning our own poem. Thus, the first line of the following poem was first penned by William Carlos Williams.

(I am offering the option for you to listen to my poem if you prefer that to reading it - or do both. Just click on the little arrow and it will play.)

so much depends upon
me – or so i had imagined –
until one day, i was no more.

it is hard to say just how it happened.
it was a gentle, loving sort of thing
hardly noticed for all its power –

much like morning dew
imperceptibly drawn into
sun’s warming rays

or like summer’s long shadows
sinking with setting sun
into peaceful darkness.

once gone, all the longings,
needs and rages of old
seemed but a bit of dust.

it was, in the end,
only the Light that mattered –
glory upon glory to Him.


Many blessings...I will be taking a bit of a break but plan to be back posting about something or other before too long. Remember that you can sign up for e-mail notification (upper left corner) if you would like to know when I have posted.