Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ready, Set, Spring!

Ready for Spring (by Annette L. Sherwood, 2013)

I stand here watching
waiting, listening
in early Spring
I see the tiny bud
shooting up from
the tip of the branch
in anticipation, I remain still

I take in the cold air,
watching a few snowflakes fall by,
even feeling some of them
melt on my cheek
I breathe in this Holy moment

I did not plant the seed,
nor spend effort to encourage
original years of growth
No, that was not my work
only yours, Dear
I stand here with you now,
holding your hand,
awaiting Spring
We’ve made it through
another harsh spell,
cold, windy, bare
facing together a New Season,
we stand in a patch of wet snow
as it melts at our feet

Here I am, to Rejoice with you
as we experience New Growth
little buds are formed,
the flowering has already begun
together or apart, we delight
and share this moment
knowing New Life,
fresh perspective, and green leaves
are arriving,
even as the last storm is passing…

Spring starts blossoming now

The winter of our hearts will
begin to fade into cold
distant memories

Joy begins sprouting
with our eyes,
in our smiles,
as it softens our hearts,
leading us to laughter

Hope enters,
which we know
will bud,
into the flower,
and then the seed,
gently dropping to feed the birds

The passing order of this Season
feels like it is rooting us on
toward New Life

Before long,
these cold days will pass away
into warm ones with
mild breezes
Easter Blessings
carrying a new promise for Life

In Gratitude,
I bear witness
to Your Beautiful Spring
and Celebrate!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Seasons of Lessons . . .

Lessons on Life

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up. If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.

Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Don't judge life by one difficult season.
Persevere through the difficult patches
and better times are sure to come some time or later   
Author Unknown

Holy Waiting Time . . .

You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait for the right time
in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So, thank you . . . for waiting time.

You keep us looking.
You, the God of all space,
Want us to look in the right and wrong places
for signs of hope,
For people who are hopeless,
For visions of a better world
that will appear among the disappointments
of the world we know.
So, thank you . . . for the looking time.

You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is Love,
Want us to be like you –
To love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;
To love without jealousy or design or threat,
And most difficult of all, to love ourselves.
So, thank you . . . for loving time.

And in all this you keep us,
Through hard questions with no easy answers;
Through falling where we hoped to succeed
and making an impact when we felt useless;
Through the patience and the dreams
and the love of others;
And through Jesus Christ and his Spirit, you keep us.

(By Lisa Terneus of the Iona Community in Scotland)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"People of the Cloud" . . . Second Sunday of Lent

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. Scott Peck

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. Pema Chodron 

Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, and they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human existence.                Anthony de Mello    

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus has taken his BFF’s  up the high mountain. It was believed that on mountains there one could go when seeking a special relationship with God.  Here on this mountain, Jesus stands with two prophets, Moses, “the liberator” and Elijah, “the troubler of Israel.”  On this holy mountain, Jesus bursts forth into a presence that overwhelmed the disciples.  Jesus turned into a radiant laser-like beam of energy!

The voice within the cloud directs the disciples to listen to God’s Beloved – “not just here on the mountain top – but on the plains of challenge and within the valleys where the people of God experience hunger, injustice, poverty and exploitation at the hands of the powers that be.”

The Transfiguration is a moment of glory commissioning us all and empowering us to live in the presence of God and to see the radiance of that presence in all the events of our lives: the people, the cosmos, and in ourselves.  Initially, the disciples were overcome by sleep, yet with this “explosion” of divine energy, they were awake . . . wide-eyed awake!

By our Baptism, we are all called to be “people of the cloud.”  We are invited to listen, and to be wide-eyed awake to express something of God through our lives. Through us, God wants to say something to this world.  Our task is to radiate the image of God and let it shine through us by our compassion, our healing, our understanding, and our willingness to be transformed.  It is said, that the purpose of life is not to be happy.  The purpose of life is to matter, to have it make a difference that you lived at all.  Our Baptism is the gift in which we choose to live out our purpose and it is the purpose of every human being to give God glory simply by being who we are with all our potential.

In an ancient story, it is told of an old pilgrim who was making his way to the Himalayan Mountains in the bitter cold of winter when it began to rain.  An innkeeper said to him, “How will you ever get there in this kind of weather, my good man?” The old man answered cheerfully, “My heart got there first, so it’s easy for the rest of me to follow.”

So let us be open to the graces of these readings:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Mountain Story . . .

Story: The Land of the Mighty Mountain

There was once a country famed far and wide for its holy mountain.  People from all over the world had heard about the holy mountain, but the strange thing was, the people who actually lived in that country had a habit of walking around with their eyes always focused on the ground.  They never lifted their heads. And if you asked them what they were doing, they would tell you: ‘We are searching for the holy mountain, of course. Why don’t you join us in the search? This is where you must look.’

And so they lived their lives, restless, moving round in circles, walking up and down the many lanes and alleyways of their country, poring over their maps and arguing with each other about where, exactly, the holy mountain was to be found.

Meanwhile, the holy mountain soared to the skies, waiting patiently for the people to discover its beauty and its power, and saddened to watch them picking their way through the world and never stopping to look up.

In one part of the country, there was a large lake, with water as smooth as glass. The mountain was reflected in this lake, and many of the people of that country would gather around the lake, point to the reflection and claim that they had discovered the mountain.  Some of them jumped into the lake and were drowned. Others thought that the mountain had an evil influence, and turned away from the lake. Others decided that, after all, there was no such thing as a holy mountain.

Then one day, amid all the hustle and bustle of the people’s desperate search for the mountain, one of them fell over, and was almost trampled to death by the milling feet all around him. He lay there, flat on his back, thinking that his end must surely be close, when to his amazement; he looked up and saw the holy mountain towering serenely above him. He tried to tell everyone what he had seen, but no one believed him, so he set off alone to seek out the path that would lead him to the mountain.

It was a hard journey, for the path was sometimes steep and perilous, and he kept losing sight of his goal. Many times he fell in his journeying, and every time he fell, he would see, once more, the mountain he was searching for, and be encouraged to keep on walking.  And as he walked, he noticed that the only other people on the path to the mountain were disabled or sick, or were carrying some great load that had made them topple over in their need.  He realized that only those who had fallen were ever able to see the mountain, and only those who knew the full meaning of the word ‘down’ could ever look up. (Source Unknown)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Prayer of releasing and affirming . . .

Come, Holy Spirit ~
Replace the tension within me with a holy relaxation,
Replace the turbulence within me with a sacred calm,
Replace the anxiety within me with a quiet confidence,
Replace the fear within me with a strong faith,
Replace the bitterness within me with the sweetness of grace,
Replace the darkness within me with a gentle light,
Replace the coldness within me with a loving warmth,
Replace the night within me with Your day,
Replace the winter within me with Your spring,
Straighten my crookedness, fill my emptiness,
Dull the edge of my pride, sharpen the edge of my humility,
Light the fires of my love, quench within me the flames of envy,
Let me see myself as You see me, that I may see You

as You have promised ~
And be fortunate according to Your word, “Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.”                          


The gift of interruptions . . .

Turning Points
Time turns
taking us
where we would
not choose to go.
we pass a point
we will never pass again.
Turning points interrupt us . . .
there must be some mistake!
Looking back we see them
for what they are:
bittersweet raw reality
breakthrough to beatitude
bedrock that gives us courage
to give ourselves away.
The less we struggle with turning points
the greater the strength
to return and turn again.

Author unknown


Friday, February 16, 2018

Remembering Parkland . . .

"And it was night." John 13:30
At one time I heard that in a particular culture a person could die twice.
He explained that first in their natural death, and secondly, when their name is forgotten.I have posted a link that lists the names and faces of the victims of Parkland, FL.

Please remember them and their families and friends at this time of great sorrow.
Photo by Doris Klein, CSA

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Parkland, FL . . .a way of the cross . . .

(Stations with Mary)

The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross.

My Son was forced to carry the cross on which he would be nailed, ridiculed and executed. We must pause here to remember what it represents. For this journey, he takes up the weight of all of our crosses, all of our senseless suffering, and the weight of all of the sin in the world – past, present and future. Each step he took cut deeply into his already battered shoulders. I couldn’t believe he could manage even a few steps.

We can look back now and remember that this is all for us. Each of us can say it was “for me.” As we imagine each step he takes, we can pause now to say “thank you,” in our own words, deep in our hearts.

A Morning of Mourning . . .

. . .Before Pope Francis invoked upon all involved divine blessings of peace and strength, he expressed his hope “that such senseless acts of violence may cease.”
Here is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s telegram:
The Most Reverend Thomas Gerard Wenski
Archbishop of Miami

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Assuring all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness, he prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve. With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease, Pope Francis invokes upon all of you the divine blessings of peace and strength.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Olympics of Lent . . .

Super combined downhill, giant slalom, moguls, slope style, aerials, half pipe ski cross, and Super G.  These are just a few of the ski events of the Olympics that start at the top – of a mountain or hill or ski jump – and it is once a person sets out through the gate at the beginning of the race – it’s all downhill from there! We know that accomplishing a near perfect performance takes years of practice learning the mechanics, maneuvers, skills, timing, and techniques of the sport to become a champion!! 

Each competitor desires to be a champion, and oftentimes, past or present sports stars are the ones they emulate!  But according to the analysts – you need to begin at a young age to develop your potential with passion so as to reach for your purpose and goal. It is in striving for that special moment in which they become aware that they have “crossed over” onto their path of “inner knowing” of who they are - that their motivation, courage, and drive emanates and urges them on.

In our Scriptures during Lent, we have the writings of Matthew, Mark, and John presenting Jesus’ unfolding story leading up to the events in Jerusalem. His purpose as Beloved is very clear!  It is in the hearing and pondering of these writings, that we are invited to become clearer in our search for purpose, and to renew our commitment to the call of what it means to be disciple
(learner) . . . going the extra mile, being light and salt, forgiving, and living as a person of peace.  This, like the Olympic athletes, takes skill, training, practice, and coaching. 

A good objective mentor, a spiritual guide, or a loving friend can be a great coach as we discern our purpose and passion, and as we strive to live out the call of the Be-attitudes.  Paraphrasing author Dawna Markova, there comes a time in which we no longer need to search for purpose; we discover that we become it.   This truly can be a spiritual “Olympic feat”! 

Enter the Wilderness of Belonging!

Beloved Is Where We Begin

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:


From: Circle of Grace, Wanton Gospeller Press, Orlando, FL, 2015 
©Jan Richardson.
Photo by sjh

A Mardi Gras Prayer to prepare for our Lenten journey!

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.  

Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.
We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.  

Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.  

As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for 
generous service to others.  

We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight 
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lent . . .A movable feast . . .

At one time in my life, (in the other century to be exact), I was in a ministry in which I was on a team of talented, highly educated, hard-working, creative, and visionary people. All was great in relationships, purpose, goals, systems, etc. We had a few “speed bumps” now and then in which we had to “wrestle” with what was going to keep us moving forward for the sake of the people we served. We truly believed in empowerment and unlocking the potential of those we served, and how they, too, could encourage that in others as well.

Then, one day, the “keepers of the system" decided to reconfigure structures, goals, philosophies, programs, and outcomes.  No matter how many committees were designed, or meetings were scheduled, it became evident that “what was” was gone – it was no more. Our team had to make personal decisions as to how we would move forward. Conform or take leave? Regretfully, some of us discerned leaving all together. So I moved on to a Sabbatical program for three months – to catch my breath, to rest my spirit, and possibly gain insight as to where I was being invited to stretch beyond my “comfort zone.” 

Upon my return to the Midwest after my Sabbatical, I attended a liturgy on Ash Wednesday.  When the Presider began the Gospel reflection, I almost fell out of my bench. You see, he began his reflection with this question: “What in your life has turned into ashes?”  Yikes, it felt like a tsunami washed through my soul!  I knew what he was asking!  He further reflected on how a bishop in a near-by State had been so loved by his people, and was a great leader in his diocese, was recently picked up by the local police for drunk driving.  They found his car in a ditch.  He was asleep, smelled of alcohol,  and slumped over the wheel.  Sorry to say, that pieces of his life had turned into ashes.  

At the end of the Gospel reflection, the Presider concluded with another question: “What in your life is God asking you to turn into ashes?” I knew this answer deep in my soul as well.Truly, Ash Wednesday is a movable feast. It comes at different “seasons” of our lives, and at different times of the year other than the predicted introduction to the Lenten liturgical season.  Reflecting back, I realize that I would not be writing this blog if God had not invited me to learn about the gift of ashes in my life.  Have a blessed Lent!!
(previously posted)

 So let us ponder this week as we approach the season of Lent . . .
What in your life has turned into ashes?
What in your life is God asking of you to turn into ashes?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

At what cost? . . .

There was a small boy who when walking down the street one day found a bright copper penny. He was so excited that he found money and it didn’t cost him anything. This experience led him to spend the rest of his days walking with his head down, eyes wide open, looking for treasure.

During his lifetime he found 296 pennies, 48 nickels, 19 dimes, 16 quarters, 2 half dollars and one crinkled dollar bill. For a total of $13.96.

He got money for nothing. Except that he missed the breathless beauty of 31,369 sunsets, the colorful splendor of 157 rainbows, the fiery beauty of hundreds of maples nipped by autumn’s frost. He never saw white clouds drifting across blue skies, shifting into various wondrous formations. Birds flying, sun shining, and the smiles of a thousand passing people are not a part of his memory. (Author unknown)

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Courage to be Myself . . .

I have the courage to . . .
Embrace my strengths ~
Get excited about life ~
Enjoy giving
and receiving love ~ Face and transform
my fears ~ Ask for help and support
when I need it ~
Spring free of the Superwoman Trap~
Trust myself ~ Make my own decisions
and choices ~ Befriend myself ~

unfinished business ~
Realize that I have
emotional and practical rights ~
Talk as nicely to myself
as I do to my plants ~ Communicate
lovingly with understanding as my goal ~
Honor my own needs ~
Give myself credit for my accomplishments ~
Love the little girl within me ~
Overcome my addiction to approval ~
Grant myself permission to play ~
Quit being a Responsibility Sponge ~

Feel all of my feelings and act on them
appropriately ~ Nurture others because
I want to, not because I have to ~
Choose what is right for me ~ Insist on being
paid fairly for what I do ~
Set limits and boundaries and stick by them ~
Say “yes” only when I really mean it ~
Have realistic expectations ~ Take risks and
accept change ~ Grow through challenges ~
Be totally honest with myself ~
Correct erroneous beliefs and assumptions ~
Respect my vulnerabilities ~
Heal old and current wounds ~
Savor the mystery of Spirit ~
Wave good-bye to guilt ~ Plant “flower,”
not “weed” thoughts in my mind ~

Treat myself with respect and teach others
to do the same ~
Fill my cup first, then nourish
others from the overflow ~
Own my own excellence ~
Plan for the future but live
in the present ~
Value my
intuition and wisdom ~
Know that I am lovable ~
Celebrate the differences between
women and men ~ Develop healthy,
supportive relationships ~
Make forgiveness a priority ~
Accept myself just as I am now ~

(Author Unknown)