Angel in the Sky

 

49350677087_2ba2ac4fd6_b

In the shadow of your wings I take refuge,
            till harm pass by…   ~  Psalm 57: 2

 

          A couple of times in past weeks, I have looked up at the skies only to see clouds formed of angels’ wings spread the breadth of it. Spread out so wide and so comfortingly that only very few could have missed the knowing of it. 

          Endure, endure, endure, hidden voices call out in a myriad ways, as the terrain bites deeper into the body, into the mind and into the spirit. As anguish over work rises unrelentingly, as the struggle to study deepens, still I find moments beckoning me to giggle and laugh, to love and to care. To each I run, for what is life without this golden sweetness? The tinkle of old chimes lazily stirred by breezes. The happy gurgles of laughing children at play. The clang and clatter of pots in the kitchen. The woodpecker’s staccato summons from within the trees. The way the winds seem to be passing secrets among them. Even in the deeps of strife, if we care to look up from life even for a bit, there will always be a reason to smile and to rejoice, to praise and to lift hands in thanksgiving.

          Endure, endure, endure, the beloved voices will me on.

          Above me waits the angel in quiet watch, wings spread in embrace.

          You’re almost there, he says.

 

Final Hours

sunrise-6771222_1280

          Last day of a rough and bittersweet year. Softened by the cold, silver year end rains, the day is quiet and still, save for stray northeastern gusts that come in fits and starts. It is a day that lends itself to thoughts and musings and ponderings, playing in starts and stops in the back of my mind, much like the winds of the day.

          I want this year to end – but only if the new year to come is cleansed of all that has made this present one so very bitter and painful. After all that the past months have yielded, excitement and anticipation for the year ahead finds no home within me.

          Nonetheless, strangely too, I know I am no longer who I was before. I can sense that I am not too afraid of the year to come, even if all the signs thus far are far from encouraging. Some kind of hope does live in on within.

          But it is not ordinary hope, seen and perceived tangibly. Instead, it is like a candle, hidden within me, its quiet flame lit by an unseen Hand, burning brighter with each turn of heart towards thankfulness and gratitude for the precious joys the angels have tucked into the days of this year. And I am so very grateful for these little parcels of joys gifted to me by heaven and by angels on earth, for they softened the blows endured from September onwards, those bitter yet necessary lessons that must accompany each life if life is to truly mean something. The memories of those deep comforts now lodge within me a deep certainty that even in the darkest squalls of life, God is always there.

         As this year edges to its final hours, once more I tuck my hands into God’s, watching and wondering, as the waters of the new year curl to the edges of the old shores.

Christmas of the Poor

hut-2308334_1280

         Some short weeks back, I had been so bogged down by my studies. It hurt me that after all these years fighting to keep my professional work out of Advent, it was now the stress and worry over my own studies that was encroaching upon this time of silence and watching. I was exhausted, I looked like a ghoul from severe lack of sleep and I could barely think of baking or cooking for Christmas. But thanks to the fervent prayers of my loved ones and dearest friends here, there were 2 miracles and I was freed from the worst of it. Overwhelmed by relief, I wanted more good to come out of this early Christmas gift of freedom. In this relief, a tiny memory tapped at my heart. It was about a Mexican legend I had read about 3 years before, about the miracle of poinsettias.

…a very poor child, Pepita, who wistfully longed to lay a gift at Baby Jesus’ crib at her church during Christmas Eve service. Some accounts say that it was her angel who then told her to pick some weeds from the roadside and present them to the Child King. When the little girl hesitated, the angel encouraged her, telling her that, Even the smallest gift from a heart that loves would make Jesus happy.

          In obedience, yet, still embarrassed, Pepita made a little bouquet of the weeds which she took into church later that night, shyly laying it at the bottom of the nativity scene.

          Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds no eye would heed burst into bright red flowers known today as poinsettias. It was a miracle seen by all present. The common and the ordinary was transformed into something of luminous beauty by pure, simple love. In that miracle, everyone at that time and over the centuries, saw the kiss of heaven on a little urchin’s gift from the heart that sought nothing but to love her Saviour.

          It dawned on me that unless I did something more with my days, I was going to arrive at Jesus’ Crib filled with my own needs and concerns, and yet be empty handed. So, I turned to God to ask Him what He wanted of me this Christmas. Slowly, I became aware of a tapping against my window,

Christmas of the Poor

          Honestly, after such a difficult year, all I wanted was a miraculous burst of huge good news come Christmas, and end to all the severe crosses we have borne so far. I wanted to rise above my exhaustion and frozen spirit and revel in last minute Christmas shopping, make up Christmas menus and think about Christmas trips and visits. Instead, it was 

Christmas of the Poor

laid down quietly and ever so gently, by the door of my heart.

          While I didn’t groan in disappointment, my spirits did droop. How long more, Lord? I asked. How long more must we endure? Is 14 years, and the last 4 months of sheer agony not enough for You? In answer, once again came the quiet,

Christmas of the Poor

          Thankfully, one of the blessings of being more grateful and thankful for everything in life is a heart that cannot lie upon the rug of whine for too long. I soon took myself in hand and joined the crowds of others long busy in trying to help other folks have a better Christmas.

          I figured I’d offer one Divine Mercy chaplet a day and the night’s family Rosary for a person in need. The first 2 came quickly enough, but after that, there seemed to be no specific name. So, on the 3rd day, I offered the chaplet for the Holy Souls of Purgatory. Then, came the 4th day but still no name. Do You not want me to pray, Lord? I asked, puzzled. In answer, the Angel opened my eyes. I learned of 2 people almost drowning in despair. And in a quick moment, I was moved to join the others already gathered there, to reach in and do what I could to help.

          And just like that, something shifted on the home front. Where I was once so tuckered out and listless, I found myself baking again. To the daily cooking and cleaning, a freshened vigour came. Even with my studies, I found myself calmly chipping away at the work that needed to get done.

          Today is a green and silver day, rendered by soft December rains. It is a day that lends itself to quiet thoughts and a listening heart. Into this velvet softness, a gentle hand tucks into my heart once more,

Christmas of the Poor

          We are all poor, whether we realise it or not. Even in our richness and perceived wealth, there will be fields of poverty somewhere in our lives. This we sometimes see, often not. But I think the angels take these poverties of ours and lay them by the doors of other hearts, even as they bring to us the poor of the world. 

          And when we sense the light rise upon our own hearts, it is because someone was moved by our poverty to share their light with us. It is because someone didn’t choose to look away or didn’t get too busy.

          It is because someone out there was poor enough to see our poverty, moved to share what little they had of their own light with us.

Come to Me, Eternal King

beach-2411283_1280

MAKER of all, eternal King,

who day and night about dost bring:

who weary mortals to relieve,

dost in their times the seasons give:

Now the shrill cock proclaims the day,

and calls the sun’s awakening ray,

the wandering pilgrim’ guiding light,

that marks the watches night by night.

Roused at the note, the morning star

heaven’s dusky veil uplifts afar:

night’s vagrant bands no longer roam,

but from their dark ways hie them home.

The encouraged sailor’s fears are o’er,

the foaming billows rage no more:

Lo! e’en the very Church’s Rock

melts at the crowing of the cock.

O let us then like men arise;

the cock rebukes our slumbering eyes,

bestirs who still in sleep would lie,

and shames who would their Lord deny.

New hope his clarion note awakes,

sickness the feeble frame forsakes,

the robber sheathes his lawless sword,

faith to fallen is restored.

Look in us, Jesu, when we fall,

and with Thy look our souls recall:

if Thou but look, our sins are gone,

and with due tears our pardon won.

Shed through our hearts Thy piercing ray,

our soul’s dull slumber drive away:

Thy Name be first on every tongue,

to Thee our earliest praises sung.

All laud to God the Father be;

all praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;

all glory, as is ever meet,

to God the Holy Paraclete. Amen.   St Ambrose of Milan

          Today is the feast of St Ambrose of Milan to whom the prayer/hymn above is attributed and to whom I owe so much. He first came into my heart 2 years ago, with the hymn, Maker of All, Eternal King, at a time when I could barely see or feel my way around life due to exhaustion. He came, cupped my face and lifted my eyes towards heaven. And there, I found the hope that was missing from my days.

          Today, I sought him once more, in the relentlessly drying gullies of my life. While my work has become manageable, my studies have formed a storm of shouts. What was once so interesting and life-giving has become very stressful in recent weeks due to a course I have to take where I am not being given sufficient support by the distracted and rather disorganised lecturer. From not knowing anything, I am forced to practically tutor myself through the course in order to complete assignments. It’s the last thing I wanted, this being Advent especially. I am mourning the days which are too passing quickly, taking with them all the quiet time which Advent brings to me each year. No matter how hard I try, I can do little to hold my hand out and slow the passing of time.

          Into this disquiet I have come, yet in a strange way, I am holding Jesus’ Hand even more tightly. More than ever, I feel I am truly walking on water, somehow making it from hour to hour, despite the churn of waters below me.

          Still, I would exchange it all in a heartbeat for the stillness which would allow me to rest my head against Jesus’ Heart.

I can hardly express my joy at seeing the increase of devotion to the Sacred Heart of my Saviour. I seem to live for that alone. Sometimes such an ardent desire to make It reign in all hearts is kindled within me that there is nothing I would not do and suffer to bring this about.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          So, even this is willed, I realise, and it resigns me to these severe days. This is why I have to endure what I am enduring, this is where it all goes, into the Heart of my Eternal King.

          As the day rises and sets once more, I turn my eyes toward heaven,

Maker of all, Eternal King,

To Thee my work and life I give;

All is Yours, Eternal King, all is Yours

Come and rest in me.

Keep Going

sailing-4490241_1920

          Sometimes God chooses to speak to us in the softest of breaths.

          A few days ago, just to be sure I was living in His will, I asked to hear His voice. Life has been progressing at a gentle pace, led forth by an invisible light, even if some important things are yet unresolved. The bubbles of joy that accompanied me some weeks back have gone to their slumber, leaving within me a quiet and a sort of peace. Well and good, but I missed the bubbles and I wished they would come back. It was in this calm that I asked God to speak to me, to direct my path.

          His answer came unexpectedly, as always. This time through a passing glance at a title of a book by Austin Kleon, Keep Going. Brenda from A Beautiful Life had mentioned the book in her post. And just like that, from days of a heart curled in on itself, I felt the gentlest of arrows pierce me.

Keep Going

          That I keep my eyes on Him, not on the water I am treading, not even on the mountains and hills ahead. That I continue to work as I am doing now, focused and diligently, yet at a pace that has gentled.

Keep Going

          Two soft words, and then, the little window closed.

          And the watery meadows spread out around me once more.

Walk On Water

water-6706894_1920

          Skipping happily to my day at home this quiet November morn, I heard from within me the strains of a new song, Wherever You Lead by Kristene DiMarco. Leaning in, I tried to make out the words, seeking what God had willed for me. But the words, the lyrics, slipped out of my seeking reach.

          I was not in the least troubled. This morning, stopping by my altar, I had told Jesus I wished to offer up my days as a prayer of thanksgiving and also as a prayer for the Holy Souls, for this is November, when Catholics pray in a deeper way for those who have departed. I have three days off work. Linking up to the weekend, I have five glorious days and I am determined to live them right, in joy and thanksgiving, and may anything of worth from my days be gifted to my precious friends, the Holy Souls of Purgatory. How great their love for me has been and still is, this tender generosity of spirit of these saints-in-waiting. How many times they have warned me of danger, saved me from the rising creek. How many times, when the roads have been so dark, they have sung God’s leading to me, and with their voices in my ear, I have made my way from pain to joy.

          Everything of my November for them, I vowed.

          And then I busied myself with happy things. A small plot in my garden had been dug up and was now waiting for some new occupants. The original pot of dearly treasured Egyptian Starflowers which I had bought during one happy visit to the garden centre earlier in the year needed a new home. An attempt at a transplant some months before had initially disappointed me; I felt the new plant-babies didn’t take to their new dwellings and that I would soon lose them. Two other new plants I was trying out then, the Blue China and the Everlastings, had failed. Against the anguished backdrop of all that was going on in our lives, I had felt the sting of those garden failures deeply.

          But I refused to give up. I kept on watering and feeding the starflowers, coaxing them to fight to live on. In some ways, I think I saw our fates as intertwined; if they died, I did too. If they lived, so would I. For long weeks, it seemed a lost cause. Then, in a sudden turn of tides, the Egyptian Starflowers rallied back. Somehow, hope had reached their roots. With each passing week, they began to grow stronger and soon lushly flourished with grace, health and utter beauty. Every day, I visited them. The flowers would happily cluster together and gaze up at me, as if willing me to believe in miracles. That anything was possible.

          Today, it was time to build yet another home, a bigger home, for the starblooms. Then, I had some reading and writing to get done for the course I had enrolled in. Joy rose in delicious curls within me.

          Soon, into the quiet of that peace, God’s word gently slipped in. It was clear and precise.

Walk on water

          Everything stilled within me. Walk on water. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Do what seems impossible.

          Courage has never been an arrow in my quiver. I am easily scared and I am afraid of so many things. If I am ever emboldened, it is only by virtue of love; only love for someone can propel me forwards and out into the storm and into the darkness.

Walk on water

          What impossibility is God calling me to? Still battered and bleeding from the violence and abuse only dark hearts know how to inflict, all I wanted now was to curl up away from the eyes of the world. I wanted us, my family and I, to become unseen and unknown, to slip past human knowing invisibly, for to be seen was to ask to be hurt and harmed. Let down by family, by friends and even by Church authorities, the illumination of October has been shocking and brutal. It seems as if those who claim to love do not even know what it truly means and entails.

          Drained and exhausted, all I wanted was for us to be left alone. Yes, to remain in the cave of God’s holy mountain but beyond that, freed from even His call. Instead, last week, He sent His Word,

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Prepare

         I saw the word appear 4 times. I was alert. 4 was the sign of the times. First of Covid-19 and the pandemic; and now, the vaccines and the vaccine passports. What do I prepare for? How do I prepare? I had asked Him back in return. By His heart to wait, I then sent my angel, charging him to not return till God gives the word.

          My angel returned presently, bearing the reply,

Forgive

          So, in obedience, from my mind, I said the words, I forgive. Not from my heart, for so wounded was it that I felt no real forgiveness could be summoned from it. I forgive, I said mechanically, over and over, that old week of October.

          And then, a strange vine was laid upon my heart. I release you from my debt. It was an odd turn of phrase, unfamiliar, nothing I had ever prayed before. Nevertheless, I bound it to my own prayer.

I forgive you. From my debt, I release you.

          Name after name, person after person, I called to mind. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you.

          Nothing changed in my heart and I wondered what good was such a prayer prayed from a heart hardened by hurt and sorrow. But something within me remained undefeated. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you. Slowly, veiled by mists, my heart turned. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you. Slowly, softly at first, the prayer took gentle root in my heart. Then, it began to come forth with a new vigour.

          Just like my starflowers. And then, each time I prayed the prayer, it yielded with nary a trace of reluctance.

          Now, today, 4 days since joy began to unfurl anew in my heart comes the new call,

Walk on water

          Do the impossible.

A Father’s Prayer

autumn-2183489_1920

          There are days in my life when, like anyone else’s, everything stills. Further back in the week, there were a couple of such days when the breezes stirred not and no birds brought their song close to us. There was no unease within me at this odd quietening, though; there’s a time for everything, I figured, even for winds and birdsong.

          Today, things are a little different. The softest of breezes gently finger the windchimes hanging right outside our living room, and birds come by to chatter before winging off. And yet, a deep stillness permeates the air unlit by sunshine. This watchful stillness stretches its presence into my heart, rendering to silence the many voices there.

          But from that silence floats up a single prayer,

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

         I can’t help but smile a little. A few short days ago, I was reminded of a little story about my spiritual father, St. Padre Pio. Two young girls had gone to his friary to attend Mass. Spending the night there before Mass the next day, they had heard about St. Pio’s advice to people to send their guardian angels to him with their prayers. Wanting to put it to the test, the girls spent the night sending their guardian angels to St. Pio with various prayer requests. The next day, when they went to St. Pio to seek his blessings, he grumbled good naturedly, telling them he had been kept up all night by their angels.

          Remembering that story, I decided to do the same. There were a few very important things I needed help with. So, I sent them with my guardian angel, telling him to take my prayers to St. Pio, all through the day, every day, until I received my answer. And then, I tucked in a final entreaty: that I be given the prayer I am to pray, given all that I am asking for.

          This morning, with the sun busy with his own thoughts, in that soft stillness, that tiny vine of an old prayer stole into my heart.

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

          Although I didn’t seek it, nevertheless, as the prayer uncurled itself, I felt a name written on my heart. Padre Pio. Although I had forgotten what I had prayed for, clearly my spiritual father hadn’t.

          As I remembered my beloved St. Pio and quietly said the prayer, the sun pierced through the fleeces to place upon us his benediction.

Let Go

sea-1716114_1280

God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Thus, we do not fear, though earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
Though its waters rage and foam
and mountains totter at its surging.
Streams of the river gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High
God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;
God will help it at break of day.
Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,
he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come and see the works of the LORD,
who has done fearsome deeds on earth;
Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,
breaks the bow, splinters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire;
“Be still and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
exalted on the earth.”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.    Psalm 46

          Last night, deeply troubled again, I sought the voice of my God. I told Him my family and I had sealed our hearts to this Calvary which He has asked of us. But since the path is hard and rutted, and we are often frightened and exhausted, we needed to hear His voice. And not just metaphorically.

         I asked God to lay His voice directly inside my ears. Then, the waters still in a churn within me, I fell into troubled sleep.

          This morning, the second I opened my eyes, I heard a single line from a Jeremy Riddle song play gently in my ears,

Be still and know I am the Lord

          Returning to the source of that line, Psalm 46, I recalled anew how many times God had given me hope through the verse God will help it at the break of dawn (Psalm 46:6). Each and every time, at breaking point, He reached out and showed me a new path, and fed me for the journey.

          I am tired, Lord, I whisper. Tired of fighting, tired of being frightened. Tired of the endless days of nights.

          Psalm 46 tells me to continue trusting – but today, I just cannot. I do not mistrust God –  I am still holding on to the Cross – but in a way I cannot explain, I am also so very tired and worn out. The secret, inner bubbling of joy I felt a few days back is gone. In its place, a cache of grit and sand and tears.

          Idly, I seek out the lyrics to the Jeremy Riddle song. And there I see the line,

And let go, let go of your worries

          As my heart took in the words, I remembered something else. 22 years ago, on a severely dark night, I gave up hope on life and begged God to take me. That night, Jesus appeared to meAnd He told me,

Let go, relax

Let go, relax

Let go, relax

          They were simple words – and certainly not what I thought I’d hear directly from Jesus. But as it turned out, they were exactly what I needed 22 years ago. And in a little weave of a way, they were brought back to me today, 22 years later, this still Sunday morn where the happy winds of past days no longer dance and hardly a note of birdsong is to be heard.

Let go, relax

          I knew what Jesus was telling me. Given the hard days here, worries and fears had accumulated, as they would, naturally, causing a churning within me. My worries and fears were standing between me and the stillness I sought and which God wanted for me as well. Jesus now wanted me to let go of my burdens to Him so that nothing remained between Him and me.

Let go, relax

          And so I begin.

Touching the Sunrise

Spiritual Formation and Inner Healing

AnaStpaul

Breathing Catholic

chopkins2x3

Life, love, photos, poetry, prayer,and personal musings: a bit of everything

The Assisi Project

A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit | Founded in 2007

beautiful thorns

Going Towards the Light

rabbitpatchdiarycom

comfort and joy from my home to yours

where the carol birds sing

stories of faith, family and love

Reflections from an Open Window

Linda Raha's Writing Corner

Muddling Through My Middle Age

Definitely older, possibly wiser....

Peaceful Heart, Open Mind

Going Towards the Light

The Breadbox Letters

Going Towards the Light

Commonplace Grace

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

The Invisible Scar

raising awareness of emotional child abuse and offering hope for adult survivors

%d bloggers like this: