Author: caitlynnegrace

I'm a working mum with five children. I blog from the heart. This blog is cathartic in its function. For too long, I have been denied the right to be ME. Now, I am slowly learning and discovering my heart and soul. writingonmyheart allows me the anonymity to be one of the who-s that I am - REFLECTIVE.

Geese in the Water

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Who in my land can ever forget the week that was, from the 19th to the 24th of November 2022?

          A week of learning the earth-moving lesson that when the call to radical trust comes, one must walk blind. One must pray with the communion of saints for it will be almost impossible to hold on to prayer when the winds are tearing at you, and you will need the saints’ help. One must hope against hope, even as each passing hour brings news upon news, shattering and shattering everything within us.

A week that taught me that when we cross the Jordan, it is the tearing winds that we must beware.

          For these are winds fed by an evil that abhors peace and hope. Each time we give up and give in to disappointment, we feed satan. And each time we feed satan, he raises the winds in violence against us, dashing us upon rocks, till we are no more.

Never feed satan, our angel lays the quiet caution into our hearts.

          Oh, what a week! And the blessed angel led the way forward. Against the winds. Out of the gathering darkness.

          We have crossed the Jordan to safety now, we have finally reached the shores. From days of the most violent of tumults to utter, absolute joy! Spring in Winter. As I close my eyes to draw breath, the old, old words from years back find me once more,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest     St. Mary of Egypt

          How true!

         And now, il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing, St. Pio reminds me, his voice the freshness of spring in the gathering of winter’s cold.

          Rest? But there’s so much to do.

          And then, I see.

          The geese are in the water now.

          It is indeed time to rest.

Spring Comes Even in Winter

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          The mists hang low this morning. Like a soft lace shawl around our home, heaven is putting its arms around us.

It must know how very tired my husband and I are.

Yet, November is far from over.

          Just as I was waiting to rejoice that after weeks of hard work, I’ve more or less cleared up my yearly work portfolio well ahead of time, the news came that yet another programme was on the way, made that much heavier by a boss seeking to burnish his personal credentials through our efforts. Then came a meeting with my supervisor and suddenly, in addition to a packed-to-the-gills November, I found myself staring at 3 massive deadlines in an already crammed road leading to Christmas.

          Although I didn’t flail and weep as I am wont to do, a quiet anguish nonetheless lanced the calm waters within my heart.

          These past weeks, from a distance, I had been hearing God’s call to prepare for winter – but in a slightly different way than before.

To prepare for winter by intentional shedding of the weight of the year.

Once I heard it, I understood why I had been led to push myself these past weeks, why despite the worsening chaos at work, I had remained very focused on clearing my in-tray. I was preparing for a winter of quiet and rest. From something that I had feared and struggled through these past years, winter was now a time to look forwards to! And that knowledge filled me with happiness, for nothing compares with sitting by my Lord’s fireside, my head on His knee.

          But now, with the new tasks and deadlines, it seemed as if, in a single stroke, life had rendered that hope gone. From seeing the sun’s rays push deeper into my November, all the windows had now been shut tight and resolutely against the happy light. Why tell me to prepare for a quiet yet joyous time and yet allow these huge boulders to crowd the path? I asked God.

          All through our travelling through winding roads to the family wedding this weekend, I thought about those boulders which had to be cleared in such a short time. How on earth was I to accomplish that and yet keep still, in watchful silence in the lead up to Christmas?

          No direct answer came to my seeking.

          But something else did. Looking out at the friendly mists that gathered around our trees this morning, I realised that recently I had been seeing geese in some way or other a number of times. Just as a sudden sighting or hearing of the kingfisher’s call is a sign for me to Quieten Down and Listen Up, from this year, geese have become another avian sign to me. Seeing them soar determinedly across the skies told me that one season had ended and soon another would take its place. That it was time I too made ready to pack and move on to whatever lay ahead. With a sigh, I would then nervously and reluctantly move to comply.

          But this year, the geese began to herald something else. They began to come as a sign of hope where there appeared to be none.

The hopes of spring even in the deeps of winter.

          As I pondered the various geese sightings in recent weeks, slowly, a learning wove its way into my heart.

          Life seldom works out the way we envision it, no matter how well we plan. We could work hard, face down all the Goliaths in our way, do all the right things and still find the road ahead marked with rocks and stones. It is easy then to give way to fear and worry, to dejection and defeat.

          But we often forget that it’s not our job to actually move those boulders. That power to move mountains rests only with God. It’s not for us to put our worn shoulders against the burdens that can often be too much for us, and to heave and push till we break. And yet, we often do just that because we forget to take His yoke upon us. We might pray for strength and wisdom even as our first response to a problem is to swing into action to wear down or circumvent our hurdles. But what often slips our memory is to first ask what His will for us might be.

And that includes asking if we have any business going near those huge rocks in the first place.

          This is where I fell. Some weeks ago, God had sent an emissary to tell me to continue to keep my eyes upon Him and not upon the rocks in my path. Since then, I have been trying to do just that – but I’ve been doing it from a place too close to those boulders – because I thought it was up to me to get them out of my way. As a result, I’ve inadvertently allowed the coming work and deadlines to block out a lot of God’s light and the cold of anxiety and disappointment has slowly begun to trickle in.

        Today, as the early morn sun slowly warmed the mists to a gentle shimmering, my heart saw what heaven had been trying to tell me through the sighting of geese. Keeping my eyes on God meant exactly that – eyes on God. It was not as I had been doing, praying, yet with my gaze full on my work and studies.

          Still, even as the morn’s gentle lesson wound its arms around my heart, I remained by my window, uncertain. How do I do that? I asked God. How would I know I am doing it right, that I’m going about my Father’s business and not mine?

           Ever so slowly, on the breaths of eventide came the softest reply,

When you believe unwaveringly

that even in winter, spring can come. 

Hold Your Eyes

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Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.   ~  St. Jane Frances de Chantal

          I’ve not heard from my Lord for some days now. For most of the past week, work had yet again encroached past personal boundaries. While it hadn’t stirred up the usual ruckus within me, it certainly rendered me deeply exhausted. Despite many entreaties to heaven, there was little sign of an easing. How are we to go on? I must have asked that question so many, many times.

          This morning, gentle rains silver~pearl the early hours. Yet, despite the falling wet, the birds sing their myriad songs undeterred. Closest to me, somewhere in the deeps of our trees, two turtledoves trade throaty warbles in a steady rhythm against the heavenly benediction. Tracing the Sign of the Cross over both my ears, I pray, Let me hear Thy voice.

          In quick answer, comes this, from a saint I’ve never before sought, the Patron saint of rejected women.

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.

Once and For All

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Let the malice of the wicked come to an end.   Psalm 7:10

          This time it is the suffering of my colleagues that sends me to the feet of God. The relentless heartlessness of narcissism which I know only too well, now comes to life once more, binding tightly others in the nets of work. For so many, the past two years have taught them searing lessons of compassion and humility. That life is fragile. That the presence of one day does not ensure the next. So, go out into life’s lanes. Look for the maimed and the lame and give them Jesus’ hand, to the orphaned and the widowed, offer His own wounded heart.

          But not these other people. It’s as if no light can penetrate the darkness within them to choose peace and love over abuse.

          And I cannot sit by and do nothing.

         What prayer do I pray, Lord? Fresh from a 9-day novena to St Padre Pio, I’m not sure if I can commit to another similar entreaty, for I too am exhausted, barely standing upright.

What do you ask of me, Lord?

          Through a gentle weave of moments, it comes. The sparsest of prayers.

          Let the malice of the wicked come to an end

          In God’s mercy, may it end, once and for all.

She Knows the Way

Virgin of Lourdes France

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

Lovely Lady dressed in blue-
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things-
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me- for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue-
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

~  Mary Dixon Thayer

          This afternoon, I traced the sign of the Cross over both my ears and asked for Jesus to speak to me, to give me His Word and only His. As I prayed, a little memory came unbidden. Of a pre-dawn day in August many years ago when I heard Jesus say to me,

Blow the breath of My Mother into the realms

I didn’t understand what it meant; and I searched deep for its meaning. Yet, till today, heaven in silence watches over my pondering. But it didn’t stop me from using those words as a prayer. At the height of Covid, a muslim colleague was hospitalised for severe Covid. When I heard that he was struggling to draw breath, I remembered the words of that old August day. I reached for those words once more. With conviction that they would work a miracle, over and over, I prayed them as a prayer. Soon, I began praying this prayer for all those in hospital with Covid and struggling to breathe.

          Today, the old words return with the sign of the Cross. Seeing the words of Mary Dixon Thayer’s poem on this day of the Feast of the Holy Rosary gives me pause. I wonder if Jesus is finally answering both the seeking from years past, as well as my plea today for His word.

Blow the breath of My Mother into the realms

Ask Her

For She knows the way

The Sign of Children

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Many spiritual undertones are concealed in little things.

~ Entry 112, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

          This has been the lesson over the past few days. Taught over and over, yet differently each time, it feels as if all of heaven has suddenly come together to impress upon me the signs of the times, the signs for the way forward and the signs of the things to stay away from. From near absolute stillness, there has begun now a sort of insistence, gentle yet with power, telling me that the signs are in the little things. That even as the world shouts and attempts to influence us about events and threats and all manner of future events, God wants my eyes on the little things because that is where the signs will be concealed.

In things which lie underfoot, hidden, obscured among the brambles and chaos of distraction and human insistence.

          The first sign came through one of the two most trusted people in my life. I had sought their holy discernment of a dream I had on the morn of Sept 14th, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Instead, they hurried to give me their thoughts, as they themselves made clear. For such a holy and devout couple usually given to prayerful consideration of everything, all of a sudden, their personal perspective took centre stage. The result was a body hit that that left me reeling, the tumult of old fears once again attaching themselves to me with glee.

          Still, I resisted my own intuition. I’ve been wrong about things many, many times before. I could be wrong this time as well. And so, even as my entire spirit rose in rebellion, I probed the waters gingerly, seeking a sign that said I was wrong and they were right.

          It took many hours of pondering and prayer. But I refused to yield to hurt, instead going deep into the heart of my family, the Heart of God in man. There, from its deepest, most pure confines, I saw it. It was the littlest of signs, hidden among the other things that were said. The sign told me to heed the cry of my spirit – and not insistence that was blinded by human frailty – even if it came from people I had always trusted, even if it came from elders of the church.

And the sign was of children.

I was told by the people I trusted that my hands would not be sanctified until I ministered to those in the dark even at the cost of endangering my children.

          What sounded the trumpet was that God has taught me many times that my children must be my life. And I have learned some hard lessons when I chose to turn away for a while; in fact, anything that has taken me away from my children has not worked out well. Hence, now, while I will not withhold them from sufferings that strengthen and purify, I will fight anyone who tells me I must put my heart’s loves in danger – supposedly in the name of God.

          That was why heaven screamed its warning through the events of the weekend. Because, in effect, I was told I had to put my children in harm’s way so that “the Light” could be shone into dark lives.

          Once the truth seized me, I gently made clear my stand, then turned away. It is sad when truth comes to us this way, more so when it involves family. But when we give our lives to God, earthly pillars are bound to crumble and fall. Some of those we trust and respect might fall before our very eyes. Some might reveal to us their hearts. It is a pain I must learn to face and bear, for I know it is in exchange of something far, far greater – complete trust in God and in God alone.

          And so, I left the tumult of the weekend, to come into the new week. Give me a sign. A sign as high as the skies, I had prayed many times. And so, it began. The stream of signs didn’t end with the weekend revelation. One after the other, they came, tiny, tiny ones, gently and in quiet order.

          Like a little child shyly pushing his play blocks towards me, seeking only my eyes and my love.

Return to the Water’s Edge

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          Recent days found me knocking on God’s door a little more insistently, seeking His light for the path ahead, for I have been sensing the edges of my spirit drying up a little, curling inwards, tired and weary once more, hence, getting fraught more easily. Initially, I ascribed it to sadness and adjustment required with the oldest two having left home for studies, the never ending work pressure and all manner of workplace and home shenanigans. While there was no major upheaval, not even the slightest trace of tumult, nonetheless, I felt as if I was being splintered.

          Unsure as to how to proceed, I finally went before Him in Adoration and threw myself into His waiting Heart. With the past weeks being what they had been, I had fallen away from my daily practice of slipping away to be still with my Jesus. Even as my daily Bible readings and prayers continued, the demands of weeks past had drawn me deeper into the whorls of busyness; soon, I had forgotten how important it was just to be still and to do nothing.

          Until today. This being the feast of St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, my spiritual father, I went in search of some reading with the hope that I would find a door which led to my beloved saint.

          Padre Pio was indeed waiting for me – except that his words were not what I had expected.

Il dolce far niente

The sweetness of doing nothing

          No lightning bolt of illumination, no word speared through my spirit. Instead, it was the call to the sweetness of doing nothing. To let go and to be freed. To pull away from the highways of this world, to return to the water’s edge.

          To watch the changing of the season, the spirit’s summer of cheer and bustle gentling into autumn’s quiet wait.

Even the Smallest Cut

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The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.   ~  Deuteronomy 33: 27

          September marked the opening of yet another chapter in our small world here. Our second child left home for college and we learned anew the quiet ache that visits the heart when someone so loved is no longer at home.

          The day we left our girl in her residence hall and drove back home along winding roads through rural enclaves, it felt as if so much of the colour had gone out of the day. Still, with each turn and bend, I gave thanks over and over to the Almighty for all we had faced to come through to this happy day. It was not a thanksgiving that needed to be coaxed out. It flowed out, unhindered neither by sadness nor of longing for just another day together.

          By the next day, I seemed to have somewhat recovered, as did all the others in the family. There were duties to go to and chores to be done, for even with one now away from home, all the remaining members under our roof were no less precious, deserving every bit of love in my heart. We cooked and cleaned together, and by nightfall, laughter had returned to our enclave.

          We’re alright, I thought to myself. We’re doing better than I expected.

          By Monday, though, something was clear. I wasn’t doing as great as I assumed I was. While I could cook and clean for the family and do a number of other mundane chores around the home, I had been struggling with my studies from the day we returned from the drive to the university. I was still stuck writing the same paragraph from the previous week. There was no progress and worse, I could not remember nor make sense of what I struggled to read each day.

          I had assumed that since it was our second experience with children leaving home for studies after our son left for college last year, we’d weather it better, but as I discovered that Monday night, “practice” does not always leave you better prepared. Even as the periwinkles by the fence burst its pinks impossibly and the zinnias bloomed out skirts in new colours, a light pallor lay determinedly over my heart.

          Speak to me, Lord, I prayed. Give me a sign as high as the skies, I said later, asking for God to show me what I needed to do that I wasn’t doing then. I could have waited for the clouds to pass over but that would mean more days of not being able to study and write.

          Then, this morning, my godfather texted me a Bible verse.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

For some reason, the verse curled around my heart. My godfather is a deeply prayerful man, a man given to giving more than asking for anything for himself. In recent years, he has journeyed with me through the depths of the darkest valleys. Together, although continents apart, we have all come through, blessed by his Josephian faith in God, his unwavering courage to do only what God wills of him and his never drying streams of love.

          So, when he sent me this verse out of the blue, without being privy to the news of our child’s departure and of our sadness, my heart took immediate heed. Like a child, I yielded fully to the truth that verse testified to, even as I felt there was something more to it.

          Shortly after, I left for a drive to the next town with my husband. The car needed some repairs and there was a grocery stop to make. But more than that, it meant a short break from home, a languid drive along which to work through knots and to tuck thoughts into the passing skies.

          On the return drive home some hours later, I sensed something within me. A lightness missing in recent days had returned to roost. Windows within had opened again. Sweet September breezes were slipping in, gently twirling, touching the spaces salted by the sadness of missing a precious and deeply loving daughter.

          By the time we turned into our driveway, going past the old pine trees arching into each other, I understood what the verse my godfather sent me had meant for the day.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms

           No matter how trivial our sorrows may seem to the world or even to us, even in the face of worse pains and griefs, the smallest cut still matters to the God who made us and watches over every second of our lives. No matter what the world at large would have us believe, no matter how many times even those within our circle of life admonish us “for troubling God over minor issues”, the truth is nothing is too trivial, nothing that happens to us is unimportant to a Father who fashioned us to be who we are and who loves us beyond words.

          In missing our daughter, I chose to immerse myself in thanksgiving for all God has done for us and for our girl. And that is always the right thing to do.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

~   1 Thessalonians 5: 18

          However, what I didn’t do but should have was to go to my heavenly Father and tell Him the truth: that I was hurting over my eldest daughter. That even as I was genuinely thankful for all He had worked out for us and brought us through, I was also hiding behind my thanksgiving, using it as a buffer to stop the pain from reaching deeper into my heart.

          But the God who made me from His love and blew His breath into me must have known that I wanted to come to Him but didn’t know how. So, putting out His hand, He took hold of my thanksgiving and drew me towards Him. And thus, thanksgiving became the bridge that took me across the Jordan of this heartache, towards the everlasting Arms of a God who was waiting to to tell me that He saw everything.

          One to whom even the weight of a mother’s small sadness matters.