Thursday, May 29, 2014

Remembering Maya Angelou

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
It says, come, rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made, proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet know you still
Knew nothing.
The River sang and sings on.
                       ~ Maya Angelou,
On the Pulse of Morning

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 31 ~ Feast of the Visitation!

The Wise Woman’s Stone
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream.The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.  The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.  She did so without any hesitation.

The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune.  He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a full lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. I've been thinking,” he said.  “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

We gather to celebrate all that Mary had within her that enabled her to trust in Mystery, to walk in the holy darkness of questions, to ponder her experiences in the light of faith, to hope in God’s love amidst the joys and sorrows, losses and findings and the deaths and risings she encountered,  and to live with courage as she responded moment by moment to the challenges and surprises that resulted from her “Yes, let it be done” –

Most of what we know about Mary in Scripture comes from the Gospels of Luke and John. As a young Jewish girl, she grew into womanhood with an extraordinary faith.  Oftentimes she did not understand what God was asking of her, but she believed with all her heart that it could and would be done, and she acted accordingly. 

It was enough for her to be called to move within holy mystery and gently hold the tension of all that was being asked of her.  She did not seek answers, clarity or quick results- we are told that “she held all these things in her heart” and treasured them until their meaning was revealed a grace at a time!

Tissot ~ The Visitation
In our Gospel (Luke l: 39-56), Mary, a young pregnant woman went with haste about 70 miles south to the hills of Judea to visit her older pregnant cousin, Elizabeth who has lived the past six months no longer barren and with a quieted husband.  Mary remains there for at least 3 months to be of help and to share the joy of expectation that most mothers-to-be experience.  They embody God’s mercy while sharing their fears, finding courage through one another, expressing their hopes, and learning practical wisdom of body, mind and spirit together.

The mystery of the Incarnation is set in a familiar context – the friendship between pregnant women who await the birth of their children.  Luke summarizes for us the deep relationship between Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and is the first person to recognize Mary’s child, Jesus, as the long-awaited one.

Elizabeth’s loud cry is translated with the same words used to describe the loud cry of the Hebrews before the Ark of God’s presence when it was brought into their midst.  Mary is now the living Ark of God and the promise to God’s people has begun to be fulfilled in her.  

In response to Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary proclaims a song of liberation for all people; one in which ideals are reversed and the household of God will be peopled by the poor, the hungry, and the ones with no power.  Hers is the first proclamation of justice in the New Testament.  Her song is revolutionary – She speaks of a political revolution in which God has shown strength and brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.  

She speaks of a social revolution in which God has filled the hungry with good things; and she sings of an economic revolution, in which God has sent the rich away empty, and the poor are filled with good things.
Her message is so subversive that even in our time, it is written that “for a period during the 1980’s the Government of Guatemala banned its public recitation.”  Her song of courage invites us to identify the poor, the oppressed and marginalized of our day, to be in solidarity with them, and to dare to engage with God in the liberation of these people, believing, like Mary that this can be done so that we too can build up the kingdom with love and justice.

These women, who stand pregnant in an embrace of joy, laughter, and praise for God’s marvels, will give birth to children of the Magnificat. These children in turn will one day stand together and sing a new song that would be revolutionary as well.  John will sing his song of repentance and ring out the Good News that the Messiah is here.  Jesus, will sing his song of Beatitude that breaks through to the hearts of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized and beyond the strict laws of purification.

I close with a selection from Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley, 
Who reflects on this Gospel . . . .

“Affirmed, loved and comforted,
You stayed with Elizabeth,
Absorbing the experience and the wisdom
 of the older woman, 
deepening in your own resolve
to nurture, hold
and mother God.

Your journey has blessed ours, Mary.
Your Yes dares us
to believe in the impossible,
to embrace the unknown,
and to expect the breaking through of mystery
onto our bleak and level horizons.

The words you heard, Mary,
we will forever remember.
We will not be afraid,
for the life that you birthed
will not be extinguished
in our souls.

Mary and Elizabeth/ Vietnam 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Chicken Eagle

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked.
"That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth-- we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

From Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality
by Anthony de Mello

A Seeker's Prayer!

A Prayer from Anselm of Canterbury

O my God teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you…
You are my God and you are my All and I have never seen you.

You have made me and remade me, you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess, still I do not know you…I have not yet done that for which I was made….

Teach me to seek you…I cannot seek you unless you teach me or find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you – Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Memorial Day - Let us do as much as we can!!

“Prisoner at the bar,” said the judge, “I find you guilty on twenty-three counts. I therefore sentence you to a total of one hundred and seventy-five years.” The prisoner was an old man. He burst into tears. The judge’s facial expression softened. “I did not mean to be harsh,” he said. “I know the sentence I have imposed is a very severe one. You don’t really have to serve the whole of it.” The prisoner’s eyes brightened with hope. “That’s right,” said the judge. “Just do as much as you can!”

No doubt, we are all called to “do as much as we can” in our little corner of the world to be peacemakers. I recall a phone call I received some years ago from a woman who went daily to church for liturgy with her neighbors, friends, and others from the surrounding towns. She told me that she was calling because she was very concerned about the way the people at liturgy were treating her. She went on to tell me that at the “sign of peace” when everyone reaches out with the gesture of a handshake or even a hug, she has decided not to reach out and she does not want to receive the handshake of peace. She continued her story with the details of how people approach her in her bench and extend their hand and she turns away from them. She explained that after liturgy, people even had the audacity to follow her to her car in the parking lot and offer her a handshake of peace. Again, she spoke of how she hurried to enter her car, roll up the windows, and lock the doors – not wanting to share this sign of peace with anyone. Her question to me was, “ Aren't they wrong? How can I get them to leave me alone?”

As I listened I prayed for insight as to how to proceed. After she was finished describing her concern, I then spoke. I told her that the liturgy is not a private experience. We gather as a people of God – praying together in song – listening to the Word, breaking the bread and sharing the cup. It is a ritual of communion and union! Then I said that the handshake of peace is meant to be a sign of our willingness to live in harmony and right-relationship with each other and to let it be a prayer sent across the world for peace throughout the universe! She hung up on me!! I just did as much as I could to have her consider a conversion to being a peacemaker or “peace-hand-shaker.”

This weekend, we observe Memorial Day. Three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868, it was established as Decoration Day – a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. The proclamation by Gen. John Logan’s orders reads thus: “We are organized for the purpose, among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion. What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe?”

Let us observe this Memorial Day by doing as much as we can - remembering our power and capacity to gather as peacemakers; to strengthen our spirits and vision; to decorate our hearts with the flowers of nonviolence. It is a day of gathering with those who mourn at monuments, graves, and memorials. A day of gathering with those who stand in confusion, anger, shame, guilt, and vulnerability. A day of gathering to remember sacrifices and great losses. A day of gathering to remember ones still held captive throughout the world, or suffering mental anguish from the trauma of terrorism and the ravages of war. It is a day of gathering with those who stand with pride for courage demonstrated and for freedoms won.

Finally, let us do as much as we can to pray, assist, give comfort, express understanding and support to all those who have chosen to reach out in peace, and to those willing to make sacrifices through service to their country – and may we cherish tenderly the memory of our heroic deceased women and men.

“Suffering arises from the simple circumstances of life itself. Sometimes human suffering is dramatic and horrifying. More often it is ordinary, humble, and quiet. But neither way is it ‘God’s Will.’ The divine presence doesn't intend us to suffer, but is instead WITH us in all the experiences of life, in both suffering and joy. And that presence is always inviting us toward greater freedom and love.” (Gerald G. May, M.D.)

Hidden in the Clay!

Clay Balls  
Author Unknown  
 A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man so he took the bag out of the cave with him. 

As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone.

Excited the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure.

He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he just threw it away.

Author's reflections:
It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person by God.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way God sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.

May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Secret of Happiness . . .

Two Drops of Oil

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, he listened attentively to the reason for the boy's visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours' time.

"However, I want to ask you a favor," he added, handing the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. "While you walk, carry this spoon and don't let the oil spill."

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

"So," asked the sage, "did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?"

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

"So, go back and see the wonders of my world," said the wise man. "You can't trust a man if you don't know his house."

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

"But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?" asked the sage. Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

"Well, that is the only advice I have to give you," said the sage of sages. "The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon." Story by Paulo Coelho

A Graduation Story ~ "Paid in Full"

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound book, with the young man’s name embossed in gold.
Angry, he rose his voice to his father and said “with all your money, you give me a used book?” and stormed out of the house.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.
Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped book, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the book and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined.

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the book. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL. 
Author Unknown, Source Unknown

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Raining in the Spring!

A Rainy Day Psalm

I greet, you, Pilgrim Rain, mystic, ancient traveler,
visiting me today, washing over our land, soaking the earth
enriching I, nourishing growth with greening gifts of life.
But you are only passing by, briefly streaming past my door
on your pilgrimage to the sea.

You are a pilgrim who blesses all you touch;
O gentle yet powerful pilgrim, stone-carver and sand-maker,
what hidden gift you have for me? . . .

“But I, by my downpour descending from the sky
and flowing past your door, have altered your life today:
your outdoor plans now rearranged, your neat agendas put on hold.
Learn of me how little you control in your life; yet, by
changing your present plans, I offer you entrance to a timeless reality,
a chance to listen and be present to the One who is always beyond.”

Thank you, Pilgrim Rain: it’s a small but beautiful gift
to be reminded of the reality of life.
Soon the fireball of my day-star sun will pierce with long
yellow fingers your mobile home of gray clouds,
and the wind will push them onward to send you
on your restless way again.

Thank you for your holy pilgrim’s gift:
may I live like you, always on the move,
my home the endless journey, sacred-sea-bound.
May I live like you, falling and rising;
nourishing always, till I ascend, once and for all.
(Ed Hays/Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A "Selfie" and God!

knocks at my door
seeking a home for his son:
Rent is cheap, I say.
I don’t want to rent. I want to buy, says God.
I’m not sure I want to sell,
but you might come in to look around.
I think I will, says God.
I might let you have a room or two.
I like it, says God.  I’ll take the two. You might
decide to give me more someday. I can wait, says God.
I’d like to give you more but it’s a bit difficult.  I need some space for me.
I know, says God, but I’ll wait. I like what I see.
Hmm, maybe I can let you have another room.
I really don’t need that much.
Thanks, says God.  I’ll take it.  I like what I see.

I’d like to give you the whole house but I’m not sure . . .
Think on it, says God.  I wouldn't put you out.  
Your home would be mine                                         
and my son would live in it. 
You’d have more space than you’d ever had before.
I don’t understand at all.
I know says God, but I can’t tell you about that.   
You have to discover it for yourself. 
That can only happen if you let him have the whole house.
A bit risky, I say.
Yes, says God, but try me.
I’m not sure  . . .  I’ll let you know.
I can wait, says God. I like what I see.
Margaret Halaska, osf

Thursday, May 8, 2014

This 'n That!

The Cleaning Lady
Joanne C. Jones
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'Hello'."
I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

In Sunday School, they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week, his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, ‘Johnny what is the matter?'Little Johnny responded, ‘I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife.'

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, 'Ryan, you be Jesus.'

During the wedding rehearsal, the groom approached the pastor with an unusual offer.
"Look, I'll give you $100 if you'll change the wedding vows. When you get to me and the part where I'm to promise to 'love, honor and obey' and 'forsaking all others, be faithful to her forever,' I'd appreciate it if you'd just leave that part out." He passed the minister a $100 bill and walked away satisfied.

The next day during the wedding ceremony, the time came for the bride and groom to exchange their vows. The pastor looked the young man in the eye and said, "Will you promise to prostrate yourself before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life, and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?"

The groom gulped, looked around, and said in a tiny voice, "Yes." He then leaned toward the pastor and hissed, "I thought we had a deal."

The pastor put the $100 bill into the groom's hand and whispered back, "She made me a much better offer."

This 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to her interest in health food, and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi.

As they 'oohed and aahed' the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. 'It's free,' Peter replied, 'this is Heaven. 'Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth. The old man asked, 'what are the green fees?'. Peter's reply, 'This is heaven, you play for free.' Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisine's of the world laid out.

'How much to eat?' asked the old man. ‘Don’t you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!' Peter replied with some exasperation. 'Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?' the old man asked timidly. Peter lectured, 'That's the best can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven.'

With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, 'This is all your fault. If it weren't for your bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!'

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shepherding Sunday!

The banquet hall was filled. To speak for the occasion, a renowned orator had been brought in. After a wonderful meal, he mesmerized the crowd with his voice as he recited poetry and famous selections of speeches.

Near the end of the program, he asked if anyone had a favorite selection that they would like for him to recite. From the back of the room, an old man stood up and kindly asked if he would mind reciting the 23rd Psalm. The speaker said that he would be glad to do it if, when he was finished, the old man would recite it as well. The old gentleman nodded his head and sat back down.

In a beautifully trained voice that resonated throughout the great room, the speaker began, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” When he was finished, there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

He then looked at the old man and said, “Alright sir, it is your turn now.”

In a trembling voice that was cracked by time, the old man began to recite, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” It is said that when he was finished, there was no applause, but neither was there a dry eye in the building.

After the event, someone asked the famous speaker what he thought produced the different responses in the crowd. The speaker paused, thought for a moment and said, “I know the 23rd Psalm, but that man knows the shepherd. That makes all the difference.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Mother's Sorrowful Mystery!

Liturgy by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

All the way to Elizabeth
and in the months afterward,
she wove him, pondering,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

Beneath the watching eyes
 of donkey, ox, and sheep,
she rocked him, crooning,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

In the moonless desert flight
and the Egypt days of his growing,
she nourished him, singing,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

In the search for her young lost boy
and the foreboding day of his leaving,
she let him go, knowing,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

Under the blood-smeared cross,
She rocked his mangled bones,
re-membering him, moaning,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

When darkness, stones, and tomb
bloomed to Easter morning,
She ran to him, shouting,
‘This is my body, my blood!’

M-m-m Mother's Day!

The Secret Recipe (In honor of Mother’s Day – U.S.A)
Previously posted: May 2013

When God created mothers, it was well into overtime on the sixth day. An angel dropped by and commented, ‘God, you are taking your time over this creature!’

God replied, ‘You should see the special requirements in the specification! She has to be easy to maintain, but not made of plastic or have any artificial components. She has one hundred and sixty movable parts, and nerves of steel, with a lap big enough for ten children to sit on it at once, but she herself has to be able to fit into a kiddies’ chair. She has to have a back that can carry everything that is loaded onto it. She has to be able to mend everything, from a grazed knee to a broken heart. And she’s supposed to have six pairs of hands’

The angel shook her head. ‘Six pairs of hands? No way!’ ‘The hands are easy,’ God said. ‘But I’m still working on the three pairs of eyes that she needs.’ ‘Is this the standard model?’ the angel asked.

God nodded: ‘Oh, yes. One pair to look through closed doors, while she asks, “What are you doing?” even though she already knows the answer. A second pair at the back of her head, to see what she’s not meant to see, but needs to know about. And, of course, the pair at the front that can look at her child, let him know that he is misbehaving and had better change his ways, while at the same time letting him see how much she loves and understands him.’

‘I think you should go to bed now, God, and get some sleep,’ said the angel. ‘I can’t do that,’ said God. ‘I’m almost there. I have nearly created a being who heals herself when she’s ill, who can delight thirty children with one little birthday cake, who can persuade a three-year-old to use his feet to walk and not to kick.’

The angel walked slowly around the prototype Mother. ‘It’s too soft,’ she said. ‘But tough,’ God retorted. ‘You wouldn't believe the wear and tear this Mother will tolerate.’
‘Can she think?’ asked the angel. ‘Not only think, but reach wise judgments and essential compromises,’ said God. ‘And she can do more than that. She can forget!’
Finally, the angel ran her finger across the model’s cheek. ‘There’s a leak,’ she said. ‘I warned you that you were trying to get too much into her.’

‘That’s not a leak,’ said God. ‘That’s a tear.’ ‘What’s that for?’ asked the angel. ‘It flows whenever she feels joy or grief, disappointment or pride, pain or loneliness, or the depths of love.’

‘You’re a genius,’ said the angel. God looked again at this work of art, with pleasure and pride. ‘The tear,’ God said, ‘is her overflow valve.’ (Source Unknown)

If I Had My Life to Live Over’ by Erma Bombeck
(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer)
Previously posted: May 2012

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day
because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s.” More “I’m sorry’s.”
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it and never give it back.
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)

A Mother's Day Reflection

A Child's Bill Of Rights, 
by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown 

My son came home from school one day,
with a silly grin on his face,
He thought he was smarter than me, his mom,
and he could put me in my place. 

Guess what I learned in Civics Two,
that's taught by Mr. Wright,
It's about the laws of the land, today,
its called the Children's Bill of Rights. 

That I don't have to clean my room,
I don't even have to cut my hair,
Nobody can tell me what I can eat,
or choose the clothes I wear. 

Freedom of speech is my constitutional guarantee,
and its my choice of what I read, or what I watch on T.V.
I have the freedom of religion, and regardless to what you say,
I don't have to ask your God for help---I don't have to pray. 

I can wear an earring in my ear,
and if I want to--I can pierce my nose,
It's my choice if I so desire,
to tattoo Satan's numbers--across my toes. 

Hey, if ever again you try to spank me,
I will charge you with the crime,
and I can back up all my charges,
With the marks on my behind. 

Don't ever touch my body again,
this body of mine is for me to use,
And not for your hugs and kisses and stuff,
that's just another form of child abuse. 

And stop trying to fill my head with morals,
like your mama did to you,
Things like that is called mind control,
And that's illegal too! 

Mom, I have these children's rights,
you can't do a thing to me,
I can call the children's services,
better known as C. S. D. 

My very first impression was,
to toss this boy right out the door,
But here was a chance to teach him a lesson,
for once and for ever more. 

I took my time and mulled it over,
but something like this I couldn't let go,
This kid of mine didn't realize,
that he was messing with a pro! 

The next day we went shopping,
very much to his dismay,
I didn't buy him 501s
or shirts designed by Nike. 

I had called and talked to the C. S. D.,
they said that they didn't really care,
If I bought him Volume shoes,
or a pair of Nike Airs. 

I canceled his appointment with DMV,
so he could test his driving skills,
I'd probably be dead by now for sure,
If only looks could kill! 

By-the-way, I don't have time to stop and eat,
or pick up stuff for you to munch,
I think you should follow C. S. D.'s advice,
And make yourself a big sack lunch. 

So, you say what? That you're not hungry,
that you can wait until dinner time?
Well, I am fixing liver and onions,
Cause that a favorite dish of mine. 

Can we stop to get a movie,
so you can watch on the VCR?
Gosh no! I sold what was your T.V.,
And bought four new tires for my car. 

I also rented out your room,
sorry, you really don't need a bed,
All I really have to do for you,
Is put a roof over your head. 

As long as I have to buy your clothes,
and the food that you must eat,
The money I gave you for an allowance,
Is going to buy me something neat. 

No more eating after we shop,
no more joking along the way,
Son, I too have Bill of Rights
That goes into effect today. 

What's the matter, why are you crying?
What are you doing down on your knees?
Why are you asking God to help you,
Instead of C. S. D.? 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

World Day of Prayer for Vocations ~ May 11, 2014

World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Sunday, May 11, 2014

“A theology of vocation begins with the God who calls. What does God have in mind for me? What does God want for me? What is the dream of God for my life? To speak of vocation as a call from God implies that there is in God some intentionality, some orientation or direction, some purpose or plan that invites me in and moves me forward. To speak of vocation is to see that the most important thing about me is my existence within this wider plan of God.” (Edward P. Hahnenberg, Awakening Vocation, A Theology of Christian Call)
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“I believe everyone has a calling and that it is our individual responsibility to seek it out. That means introspection, self-criticism, objective self-evaluation, and having the courage to follow whatever that direction may be. The lucky ones may end up exactly where we are meant to be. But I think that there is a broader call that exists for us too. It is this: wherever we may find ourselves, we have a call to make a difference, to create a positive impact on others, to make the world (our little corner of it) somehow better.  . . . No matter what one’s occupation or circumstances. Where the two ‘callings’ meet, and feed each other, true inspiration and magic can occur.” (Steve Sheppard of Foldcraft)
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Walking Trees 
By Sister Jean Hinderer, CSA

In the gospel of Mark (8:22-27), there is a story of how people from a village brought a blind man to Jesus for healing. The story unfolds with Jesus taking the blind man by the hand and leading him beyond the village. “He put spit on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and asked, ‘Do you see anything?’” The man responded that he saw people, but they looked like trees walking. So Jesus had to lay his hands on the man’s eyes once again and the man recovered his sight with 20/20 vision! 

This is a great story of how we come through the process of discernment. The spirit often invites us to leave our comfort zones so that in our discomfort we can be freed from our illusions and our grasping of certainty to notice how we feel within, so that we can learn to trust God’s grace and light. In this “hand-holding experience,” we step aside from the “village of the familiar,” letting go of voices, attitudes, ways of living and knowing, and walk with trust with the God of Mystery.

 Much like the man in the story, we are never alone. God is present with us as we encounter new events, circumstances, relationships, and experiences that are part of our search for what God desires of us. Discernment is a process that cannot be forced. There is no “drive-thru” for discernment; there is no app for quick and easy answers; and there are no flashing lights with bells and whistles pointing to the right path! Often we find clarity and peace a little at a time – we get “blurry-clear” insights and begin to notice more and more God’s purpose for us with each step on our journey. We are invited to notice signs in our everyday lives that God seems to put in our path to point to the way that will give us peace and joy. This movement is often slow, so as to allow God to gently take us by the hand and to touch our hearts again and again, so that our seeing becomes a vision of how we are being called to a new way of being and becoming. 

From: April 2012 Volume 1, Issue 6 of Stream-Lines

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Prayer for Discernment

Gracious God, You have called me to life and gifted me in many ways.  Strengthen me to respond to Your call and help me to become all that You desire of me. Inspire me to choose the way of life that will make a difference in the lives of others and enkindle in my heart the desire to make the world a better place. Let Your light shine in the depths of my being that I may know Your dream for my life. Above all, generous God, I ask for peace of mind and heart as I seek the path to find my life’s meaning and purpose. Amen. 


Picture courtesy of Jean H., OSU

In the aeons of time
there came a moment
when God said: "NOW!"

Light sprang from darkness,
order from chaos,
and where there was no life before
life teemed.
God saw that it was - GOOD!

So every once in a while
God does it again
God's "NOW" breaks planets open,
bursts stars apart,
shifts the continental plates,
moves mountains and valleys,
melts the ice-caps,
sends forth a Sun.

It is incredibly disturbing -
adjusting, adapting,
stroking the fires of passion
for God's endless possibilities,
But a Word keeps calling:
"LIFE!" Be in it with me,
any moment, every moment,
alert for God's "NOW!"

Raphael Consedine PBVM