Month: August 2016

Last of August

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Appenine Mountains, Italy

 

          This last day of August here is a joyous gathering of wind souls, in a camaraderie understood best by the busy cloud vessels sailing the skies, and the sage welcomes adorning the trees. All morning, the breezes have been in a delightful tumbling, giddily greeting one wind~friend after another. From the dawn hours, they have been linking arms and dancing the merriness of spirit, as the soft, white sky-pouches race to partake of this sacred joy.

          For anyone tired or afraid of what September holds, they need only to rest their gaze against the cloud-laced skies of this last of August, and feel the love caresses of brethren winds that see far beyond the hollows and ridges of today.

         No matter what the ninth of the year keeps hidden in its bosom, in the cusp between old Augusts and September mists, I realize the sunlit winds of the morning have brushed a question against my heart: am I willing to let go of the old, and make way for the new? Am I willing to be born again?

          I’m not sure what I am being called to, but with a sudden ease, I fall into seeking the Holy Spirit. I allow it into my heart, unhindered.

          I’m putting out into the deep.

Tumbling Rosebuds

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          It’s one of those days here, when the sun hides like a sulking child behind clouds so low, the sky has all but disappeared. I’ve never liked such days, when the sun, and even the winds seem to scowl, dripping its discontent into my heart. It’s a day when I cannot feel the prayers I say. Every word out of me seems empty, withered and forced. I struggle to concentrate to mean the words.

          I’m tempted to cope with the dry rustling within by breaking from prayer, when I remember the Los Lobos’ song, How Far Is Heaven?, gifted to me by a commenter close to my heart. Thinking of the lyrics, I fleetingly sense spirits I cannot see, in pain, and asking for comfort.

          In a pearl drop moment, I decide to leave the day to work out its mood for I have work to do. I bring forth a soft, old rose I love but keep hidden within me, and hold it before God. I shakily thank Him for the rose and its wounding thorns. I don’t know why I do this, just that the time for it has come.

          Then, I ask my God what He wills of me.

          In a silver whisper comes Heaven’s answer, r5  Tumble rosebuds.

          And so I begin. Through the dry weave of daily mundanes. Not an offering of an entire Rose~wreath, but tumbling a rosebud of a Hail Mary, into every tear the angels bring.

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For the Broken

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          Yesterday, coming out of the dregs of difficult weeks, the sullenness of grey skies and a shuttering of morning winds didn’t bud optimism and cheer in me. I went to my prayers with a dogged determination but it was a struggle, especially when it came to praying for those who were hurting me.

          Then came the 1st Reading for the day – 2 Thes. 1: 1 – 5, 11 – 12, and a light scattered its hope within me.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters,
as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more,
and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.
Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God
regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions
and the afflictions you endure.

This is evidence of the just judgment of God,
so that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God
for which you are suffering.

We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

For the very first time, I felt the words were written for me and for every broken reed.

Troubling the Dark

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          A week back, I began to pray for the grace to love my crosses. I was fed up of fearing them, worrying over them, and twisting this way and that to get away from them. I figured that if I loved my crosses like the saints did theirs, it would make for a far simpler life, gentle the rough and painful.

          But I’m no saint. To love one’s cross is a love that is hard to swallow. And praying for the grace to love the cross is one thing; loving it when it actually comes is another. But anyway, last week,was all about praying for this grace. And hale and hearty, feeling strong inside, I went at it with a dedication.

          One day, my husband away in another city, the kids in bed, just past the witching hour, I said the Rosary for the day. Through each decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wove a tentative thanksgiving for the crosses in my life which helped me see the Face of my God. I asked for the grace to love my crosses sincerely. When I was done, I went in to prepare for bed.

          No sooner had I set the alarm for the next day when a thunderous crash smashed through my home. Shocked, I shot out of bed, shouting, What was that? What was that? It sounded like something huge and heavy had crashed down to the floor just outside my room. I turned on the light in my room and cautiously scanned the hallway and living room for the source of that terrible sound. None of the pictures on the walls had fallen. The altar hung as securely as ever. The house lay still and silent. The children slept on blissfully unaware of anything. I stood still at my bedroom door, in full alertness, yet, curiously, unafraid.

          Then, I saw it.

          Just in front of me, on the floor, a good 5 feet from where it hung, was our small, light, wooden Crucifix. Its place was a nail on the wall just beneath our altar outside my room. And just below this Crucifix, was a broad, sturdy, hardwood cabinet. If either the nail on the wall from which it hung or the hook on the Crucifix itself had broken, the Crucifix would have landed on the cabinet, or at the furthest, the floor close to the cabinet. But, no, it landed 5 feet away.

          It had hit the floor with a vehemence incongruous with its smallness and lightness.

          I was exceedingly calm. Yet, my skin on my right arm crawled and crawled upon seeing the Crucifix on the floor – a sensation I had only when I saw snakes.

          I took a deep breath and bent down to pick up the wooden Crucifix. I willed it to have a broken hook.

          It was fine, nothing wrong with it.

          I went to the wall to see if the nail had loosened. It hung firm and securely.

          A light fell into my heart like a shard of glass.

          I knew then with a certainty that the Crucifix had not fallen down. That terrifying noise had come with force. It had been smashed down by a force unseen. And it had been smashed down with hatred and anger.

          Someone hated the very Cross I wanted to love.

          I was alone with young ones, living an hour when it would be insane and heartless to call the priest and tell him what had happened. To get through the remaining hours of the dark night, I tried to convince myself that I had imagined it all. Maybe a super-big bug had knocked the Cross off its hook on the wall.

          In an immediate response to that reasoning,  my skin crawled again. This time, I couldn’t delude myself into believing that I had imagined it, or that there was an insect that it could be blamed on. The crawling sensation on my skin was proof that the Crucifix on the floor was the work of the serpent.

          Why had it come into my home? Where had I gone wrong? I searched my heart for answers as I moved through each room in the house, sprinkling holy water as I prayed a prayer brought to me two years ago in a warning dream of evil, Blood of Christ, wash through my home. It was then that I recalled my prayer earlier, at each decade of the Rosary. My prayer to love my crosses seemed to only be brave words from a cowardly soul, yet, it had hit darkness and lit a black rage there, its fury making it grab and smash the very Cross I had prayed to love.

          In that moment of illumination, I realized that every humble and sincere prayer troubles the dark waters, but the prayer to willingly suffer for Christ goes further. It unlocks an unseen gate, unleashing a violent tempest of malevolence. I believe it is the prayer the dark hates the most. And that was the prayer I prayed in all my weakness. The journey of years had brought me to that point. I have taken a step willed and lit by heaven’s Light. But it’s not a step the dark ever wanted me to take.

          To suffer for my Christ is to suffer the brutality of the dark. Yet, cowardly and lame as I am, I will not turn back, for I sense heaven lies ahead.

          Just past the steaming dark swells that churn between the now and the Coming.

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The Illumination Gifts

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                Wanting to glorify Mother Mary on the Feast of the Assumption today,  I sought to mark the day in gold for her, because nothing less would do. Remembering her love for Roses, I offered one, its Mysteries mine ~ A Mother Gives Glory:

The Annunciation,

The Visitation,

The Birth of Jesus,

The Wedding Feast at Cana,

The Assumption.

          On the first four, I traced Her life and Her deeds, following Her as She placed Her will in the heart of God. Against the jubilant chorus of sun~morning winds, I learned anew Mary’s Yes. Simple. In the moment. Humble. Pure. Perfect.

          When I came to the final decade of my Assumption Rosary, I tipped over my heart and emptied it. I wanted nothing of myself in the final reflection, but to be filled with the Perfume of the Queen. As the winds sang and wove their goldspun dance through the leaves and boughs, tickling the old, weathered wind chimes into giggles, I waited expectantly for Mother to come before me, in word or vision, as she once had. 

          Slowly, gently, as the mirth of the day touched the ends of the cloud dusted skies, I sensed my emptied heart being expanded with a presence. I peered eagerly into the pearlstream of diamonds brimming into my spirit, wondering what treasure My Mother had for me.

          The winds dipped into a hushed sweep.

          Then deep within me, stirred memories of long ago-s.

          I felt the caresses of old years gone by, heard the lilting gaiety of innocent babes born to us, blessing our weary hearts with a joy never imagined. I touched the wraiths of love and fun and tender cherishing, born from the old days when to love was to hug and tickle, to caress and kiss. I remembered the joys we once had with the children, sun~tumbled days of simple happiness, when the shadows knew not where to find us, because our love for the little ones was the second sun in the sky, leaving no space for the slightest grey.

          Bit by little bit, my heart filled with these aged memories where cherishing came before anything else.

           On this day of Her Triumph, looking out of the window of my heart for Mother Mary to come to me in a burst of golden glory, She came instead to turn my heart to where my true gold was. She came to me, bringing me the illumination gifts: my own children. From the Heart that Knows to the heart that is seeking, She asked that I learn to rest from work and care when the need had passed. She pressed that I perfume this day, and all days, once more, with the incense of tenderly cherishing the children, as they once were cherished.

          As She once appeared to me arrayed in the Gold of Ophir, with children in Her arms and around her, She came once more today to teach me my path of Illumination lay in treasuring my gold ~ my children – as much as it did in working and caring for their needs.

          Like Martha, I too must learn to leave work and cares in their place, and seek the better part, for to rest in the joy of my children is to glorify my God who gifted me them.

Wolf~Sheep

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41Then He will say to those on His left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.”  44 Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to Your help?”

45 Then He will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.”  ~ Matthew 25 : 41 – 45

          It is far easier to seek and save the ones who are visibly maimed, wounded….their eyes and stance beseeching us to rescue them from their pain.

          Unfortunately, the sheep we are called save through our love and mercy do not always look like they are in need of saving. Too often, they seem well-fed, very secure, and downright bent on making our lives a misery.

          After a wounding some days back, I have been careful to give the snare of expressing my hurt to others, as wide a berth as possible. I hurt very much that day that I had willfully cast aside the Cross in favour of human comfort. I vowed to never step into that fog again.

          And I didn’t yesterday when the sheep chose to be difficult. I held my tongue. I chose to comfort others affected by these recalcitrant and insensitive types. I thought I did pretty well.

           I felt smug.

          And then, I walked right back into the fog at the edge of the cliff.

          While I managed to absorb the stings of yesterday, and not give them the airing I craved, it was a full tournament inside my head and heart. I steamed and stewed and plotted and schemed. My prayers were about me telling God what needed to be done, the amount of pain they needed, the kind of pain that was best, and just where to strike.

          Oh, and all interspersed with prayers of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, of course. All for the sheep’s own good. That they see the light.

          I returned home to an unusually quiet evening of winds that roamed the tree paths in a muted dirge. It felt as if the leaves were holding their breath. I was not in a turmoil. Yet, there was some disquiet within that was hard to dislodge. When the birdcalls of a waning sunset began to rise, a Hand rested on my soul and firmly turned it to face a Light.

In so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.

          This I didn’t want to hear. I fought against the words the Unseen hand wrote on my heart. I marshalled every argument against the Light that fell on my failing. I justified my hidden response of vengeance.

          Through it all, the Light shone on, strong and unwavering. In so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.

          When I had exhausted the last of my fight, I sank and wrote this in the air before me~ I have failed Thee. Yet again. Because I knew the truth. Not a whit of mercy had I shown those who needed it most. Most easily did I dispense mercy and forgiveness to the suffering sheep who looked the part – wounded and in pain, but for those who looked more wolf than sheep, I unsheathed a sword of a totally different kind.

          Yet, I realize now that it is these who need my willful mercy. These wolf-sheep, with the snarling and feral demeanour that hides the wounded and bleeding sheep within them. Whose plaintive bleat for help is papered over by polished confidence, arrogance and sometimes, outright cruelty towards others.

          Wolf-sheep don’t invite our mercy easily. If anything, we feel mercy should be extended to us, not them, because it is we who suffer from their bites. But nowhere in the Golden Book are we allowed the comfort of retreating from the call to love just because we have been hurt.

32 If you love those who love you, what credit can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. ~ Luke 6: 32

          For every hurt endured, Christ suffered each one first. Long before I ever knew grief, He carried the wounds of every soul to the point of death on the sacred Cross. To give me a Light so pure and bright that I cannot evade but follow.

          I must go where I do not wish. To love the sheep that wear the coat of wolves. 

Transfigure Me

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          I wanted to mark the Feast of the Transfiguration with a more personal involvement this year. More so since I believe I was given a sign to pay attention to it. Having begun the morning with the readings, I mused over why the Transfiguration happened in front of witnesses. 3 witnesses. Peter, John and James. One Christian writer explained that it was to prepare the apostles for the tragedy of the Crucifixion and the glory of the Resurrection.

          To prepare for grief and glory.

          I took an honest look at my life, viewed through the lens of faith. Viewed through the mist-wreathed experiences I do not always have the words for. And I asked myself what exactly did/does the coming of Jesus into my heart mean for me?

          I expected my own response to be sunbursts and all things lit by the lamps of joy. Instead, to some degree of surprise, I saw Jesus in my heart to mean the gifting of crosses to purify and the dew of holy relief from the purification. The Cross and Joy. Grief and Glory.

          What do the weeks and months ahead hold for me? What lies in a deceptive slumber, awaiting its unfurling? I know it’s not going to be all calm seas. Life is rarely that for me. But I had to be done shrinking from the tomorrows if I was to truly glorify my God. I needed to shore up my wobbling spirit and learn to face all that is to come with courage from above. So, I bent my spirit to ask for the needed grace ~

Jesus, transfigure my heart and soul,

Prepare my spirit to receive You.

Glory!

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          I woke up to the new day that rose from the sad day before. Immediately, I noticed there was none of the grey of spirit spilling over to the fresh day ahead. Neither was there lightness. I shrugged. I just had to get on with it and not stray again.

          I had eased into the dark dawn hours, busy with work, when I heard unseen voices lilt hymn lines quietly within me.

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

          The very moment the lines escaped unseen lips, my entire being exploded with energy and hope! I soared and soared. Caught by hands I could not see, led into a dance of spirit not visible to eye. Joy, oh utter joy! Hope and lightness.

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

          What could it mean? What could it mean? This was the second time I was hearing a Christmas hymn in a ‘non-Christmas’ season. Gloria in excelsis deo. Latin for Glory to God in the Highest. When my eyes traced over the terrain of the day that had passed, all I saw was my will to sin. What loomed large was the loss suffered through choice – although in the later hours, I had trudged back to my place at the foot of the Cross I had too willingly abandoned earlier.

          Had I given glory to God through my remorse? I rolled the bean of thought back and forth. It was possible, but it didn’t quite fit the pod. There was something else.

          It came very slowly.

          In my remorse over my betrayal, my spirit had ached for the Cross I had discarded for human comfort. After a lifetime being in a tempest over my crosses, for the very first time that sullen night, my spirit longed for the Cross as anyone would a treasured and beloved friend.

          I do not know how long this love for the Cross would last. I do not trust myself. But the angels had tinkled the silver bells of comprehension in my contrite spirit. That to give glory to God goes far beyond merely obeying. It is also much more than mutinous obedience.

          To truly love the Cross is to glorify God.

Fell. But Not Pushed.

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          After a couple of days of doing things right – saying prayers faithfully, responding right, performing little duties well, I received a gentle warning early this morning. Being prompted to and also wanting to offer Mother Mary something on the Feast of the Annunciation, I began the Novena and Divine Mercy chaplet this morning. Obeying the voice I heard during the Rosary of the Sorrowful Mysteries last Tuesday, for the Chaplet meditation, I contemplated on the Holy Wounds of Christ.

          In the first meditation on the wounds caused by the crowning with thorns, this line stood out more than the others: We show mercy by not only forgiving but symbolically dying to the notion of getting even or telling others about our experience. 

          Dying to the notion of getting even or telling others about our experience. I read that line carefully, sure that with the inner spiritual strength I was feeling, I would stand strong.

          A few short hours later, the exact opposite happened. I fell.

          Stung by a colleague who had taken my help for granted, – help I rendered despite tiredness and too much other work – I sought release from my inner hurt and anger. I talked about her to others. I received prompt support and understanding.

          Yet, the balm of human comfort did not ease the sting for long.

          Within minutes of being comforted, I felt bereft. The little wound smarted with a deeper keenness. And there was no leaf I could find to cover the nakedness of my sin – I had NOT died to the notion of getting even. I had NOT died to telling others about my hurt. I had not even forgotten the warning speared to my heart in the slumbering sable hours of early morning. It was ever before me, like parchment messages held up by unseen angel hands.

          Yet, I had willfully turned away from the Cross. When others are suffering so, so much more, under the weight of heavier Crosses. When others are bearing pains far worse. When I myself have tasted bitterness beyond compare in times past, today, over a relatively minor difficulty, I chose the shadows over the Cross.

          I fell. But I was not pushed.

          As the sultry hours of the day seek their repose, I seek a quiet corner to cry the tears that must be shed. But for the first time in ever so long, I do not cry over my hurt.

          I cry because I chose to sin. I cry because I chose to fall when I was not pushed.