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.

Take Back Your Rest

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Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush alive with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes.   ~  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

          A conversation I had with a friend from work today lit a flame of thoughts in my head. We had been talking about how work could intrude so insidiously into our home and personal lives when I felt called to share with her an unpleasant experience of being pushed to the very edge of sanity by excessive work demands and no effective outlet to vent off that pressure. Imagine my pained surprise when my friend narrated a similar experience. It underscored just how much we were having to endure at our workplace. We talked some more. Soon, I had to leave her company to attend to some tasks.

          But something from our shared experiences followed me home.

          In the evening, for the first time in more than 2 weeks, I found the heart to go into my garden, even if it was for scant minutes. Work having been so incredibly intense in June took so much out of me. These past weeks, I woke up in the dark of dawn and went to bed each night with lists in my head that left little room for anything else. But the work crush ended for a bit today, and knowing that gave me no small measure of relief and delight. Hence, the late evening scurry into the garden to check on some plants.

          As I wet the sun scorched earth to ease the night time sleep of my valiant plants, the smell of awakened soil went deep into me, and I realised how much I needed this aspect of healing and rejuvenation. How much of it work takes from me, from us all. It also took me back to the conversation earlier in the day, and the final words I had shared with my agonized friend,

Take back your rest

          Take it back from those who know nothing of the need and beauty of cutting out work after office hours. Take it back from those who think that just because they pay our salaries, that they own us as well.

Take it back from those who know well that rest is important yet grant themselves that gift by denying us ours.

          And with that, I gazed up at the evening sky, blue and orange sweeps lingering in the west, reluctant to let go of the day whose hours were close to ending. With June gone to its eternal sleep, I had been wondering about July and what it might hold. A month of memories of loss and grief, it is a month I endure more than I live it.

          But now I wonder if my angel has come, as he always does, quietly hidden in the breaths of peaceful breezes and fading sunset flowers. Come to tell me that July is the month of journeying into meadows which offer repose, to intentionally seek the quiet deeps where heaven rests, lying in wait for searching hearts.

          Because to find those pockets of heaven and to sink my heart into them is to take back my rightful rest.

 

 

Last of June

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          On this last day of June, month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the winds lift and fall from the break of dawn, blowing secrets among them, marking the last of what has been a very hectic month. Still, even as I’m glad it has come to an end, a quiet awe sits stronger within me. Awe at all God has done and eased for us this entire month. Awe at how, for once, I managed to face the innumerable twists and hurdles relatively calmly and with fewer stumbles.

          But I also know that it wasn’t me going out to meet each deadline and obstacle; each day, it felt as if someone or something within me was already in charge and leading the way. A still and quiet power beyond what I’ve ever experienced. A power so strong yet so exquisitely gentle, unperturbed at my occasional shenanigans and general inability to read things right. A power at peace even when I often tried to do things my way.

          Today, on this last day of blessed June, looking back, thanksgiving and gratitude breathes strong in my heart. I know well many hearts have helped me get through all the hard days of June, for very few journeys of this life can be undertaken safely and successfully without the love of those who pray and guide us all onwards and upwards. Most of all, without a doubt, we have journeyed through June, as a family, bound tightly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

          As the winds raise their softly golden voices higher in the late morning sky, I can’t help but ponder what July holds for us. I can sense something is ahead, for some endeavours have ended even as we hoped to go on.

It is as if an invisible gate is slowly being shut on some journeys, why I do not know.

          But fear finds no living within me today.

          Today, I am at peace, content to let the Spirit lead.

          And He will, Father of the Poor He is.

Periwinkle Memories

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          Yesterday, our family made a trip into the city for some much needed shopping. As always, I made a list and hoped we’d get all we wanted and that the day would go well. I had concerns because while shopping is always fun for us when it is being planned, it quickly becomes tiring when we’ve been on our feet for too long and more so if we run into problems over the stuff we planned to get. Plus, the travelling to and from the city taking close to 4 hours both ways is enough to blunt at least some of the fun.

          Still, I knew that it is often the choices we make and the way we react to life that actually decides the outcome of any endeavour. With the right choices, choosing roads that lead to life, no matter how much the path twists and bends, life will sort itself out in the end. And even if things don’t go as planned, we always have the option of choosing how we react to it – we could either seek to find silver linings and thus save the day or get snarky and irritable and make things worse.

          Hence, in the serene quiet of the morning, I decided even before we piled into the car that I was going to keep my heart on my husband and kids and focus on enjoying my day with them whatever shopping potholes we hit along the way. Our second child was due to leave home for college in a few short months and with two of our children – our great joy~gifters – embarking on the next phase of their lives, I knew that an aching quiet would soon find its way into our hearts. No matter how important and necessary the shopping was, making sweet memories was by far the greater call.

          And what a day it turned out to be. Quietly and gently, the angels went about tucking little blooms into our hours. We didn’t get quite a few of the things we really needed and everything was so costly. But we had cheerful and kind sales assistants who made the shopping pleasant. The roads we traveled along were mostly traffic free and we easily found good places to park our car wherever we stopped. While we experienced a brief moment of disappointment when one favourite restaurant was found to have shuttered, we went to another and enjoyed the most amazing lunch.

          The last thing on our list before we ended the day with sunset Mass at church was a quick stop at a garden centre. I was looking to add some colour to my garden, but with my gardening success rate being about 20 per cent, it had to be plants which could take my mostly erratic and sometimes over-enthusiastic bouts of gardening.

          I had daisies in mind but the angels had set aside something else for me. Carefully making my way down the aisles at the garden centre, I suddenly spied pots of happily-coloured periwinkles. I already had a wee purple~pink plant which I had sent to the cliff’s edge of life and then thankfully saved. Having forgiven me now, it was growing by our fence, getting stronger by the day. But now here was a new baby, a pot of the sweetest reddish pink blooms, smiling up at me beguilingly.

          So, of course that pot came home with us, its blooms with their girlish blush brightening its wee spot under our bedroom window. Later, reading up on this latest addition to our family, sunshine and song spilled into my heart. I discovered that the periwinkle is also known to be a miracle plant due to medicinal extracts from the plant being used in the successful treatment of cancers, especially childhood cancers, and other illnesses. It’s always a joy to have colourful flowers to brighten the garden but if the plants yield cures for our deeper sufferings, the power of strength and hope are added to their colourful blessings.

          I do hope this new periwinkle puts down strong roots into our garden so that I can always gaze at them and remember a day embroidered with little miracles, a day that went so well because we placed our plans in God’s hands and kept our eyes on what mattered the most: time with family. Paul Bowles wrote these lines in his book, The Sheltering Sky,

…Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your life like this, some afternoon that’s so deeply part of your being that you can’t ever consider your life without it, perhaps four or five time more, perhaps not even that? How many more times will you watch the full moon rises? Perhaps twenty, and yet it all seems limitless…   ~

          But it isn’t limitless. There is a time and a place and a manner in which the petals of our life will close back in and the passing over to the next life will begin. We could live one day today and in the next find life has changed unalterably, that it’s no longer possible to go back into time and retrieve what has been taken away, what we have consciously given up or even what we have let slip from us. A great many of us have known this grief, the grief that comes when the path shifts and bends sharply. There is no going back, only forwards…

          But as I learned yet again on this gentle day of the softest sunshine, that in choosing to focus on what really yields true life, we open our hearts to the gift of miracles. No matter how hard the roads of life can become, along the right way, there will always be the sweetest periwinkles, the kind we can pick and tuck into our hearts and take with us, henceforth moving forwards and onwards with renewed hope and joy.

Your Times Are In My Hand

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PRAYER OF ST. BRENDAN

Help me to journey beyond the familiar

and into the unknown.

Give me the faith to leave old ways

and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You

to be stronger than each storm within me.

I will trust in the darkness and know

that my times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,

and somehow, make my obedience count for You.   ~  St Brendan

          A day after the words, The end is nigh, a new world/life awaits you mysteriously appeared on my screen and then disappeared, I came across the above prayer from St Brendan, the monk’s words piercing my heart gently with its sweetness.

journey beyond the familiar

and into the unknown

          At the sight of those words, a tiny nightingale began to sing a strange, new song outside the door of my heart. Nonetheless, even as my heart harkened hesitantly to its melody, an invisible Hand withheld the lyrics from my understanding. No other word beyond this was given to me.

Give me the faith to leave old ways

and break fresh ground with You.

            In the days since, I have been listening in to the winds as they too sing an unknown hymn amongst the trees, the wind~wraithes turning over a secret among themselves. Is it to do with my job, I wonder? Is it time to leave for something better? And with that my heart goes two ways: one in tremulous glee of unknown joys ahead, while the other retreats into the shadows of familiarity, impossibly favouring unhappy folds long known, over the uncertainty of a new life elsewhere. What if I exchange hell for hell? After 23 years of being chained to unhappiness, I am fearful of leaving and starting over even if I long so much to find joy in my work in the few years I have left before I retire.

I will trust in the darkness

          A resolve comes to life within me. I will trust in the darkness of not knowing what lies ahead, if joy lives in wait there, whether in this place or somewhere else all new to me. The God I know got me through the past year; I know He can do anything He wills, move any rock or mountain in my way, level the most impossible of paths. It is in Him that I will place my trust, my lord of Miracles. Why even this past week, I have been seeing a version of myself which I haven’t before. Facing challenges better, making wiser decisions, still afraid and still given to bouts of worry, but much less so for both. If I dare say it – I am almost like an Easter version of who I once was! All because I’m trying my best to tuck my mountains into His heart and to hold His hand tight.

          What do I do as I await the signs to unfurl their truths in the skies of my spirit? I wonder and ponder as I scan the familiar path within my sight. In clear answer, the word from Heaven comes,

Tune your spirit to the notes of heaven,

And live out your days in obedience to Me,

For your times are truly, truly in My hand.

The End is Nigh

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          This morning, stopping by the late Nancy Shuman’s The Breadbox Letters for a quick nibble at my favourite blogs indexed there, a heading jumped out at me from out of nowhere.

The end is nigh.

A new life / world awaits you.

Then without warning, the page was suddenly refreshed and just like that, those words disappeared. I went blog by blog, searching for them but to no avail. They were gone.

          I sat back and turned things over in my heart. Just minutes earlier, I had prayed my morning prayers at my altar. Since we recite the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary on Thursdays, for some years now, I’ve called my Thursdays, Illumination Thursday, a day when I pray for the strength to see my soul and all its sins as God sees it and for the strength and will to repent and start anew.

          Thursdays have also become my Miracle Thursday, when I pray and ask God for every miracle possible.

          I had asked for both the illumination and the miracles today, for myself, my loved ones and for the world. God knows how much we all need both. Even at this point in time, with the many Covid restrictions being lifted bit by bit and life smoothening out once more, something in my heart urges me to still seek miracles. Not from the usual lack of gratitude do I sense that this normal life we are returning to is missing something. It could be the terrible war in Ukraine or Covid or the vaccine mandates or even all three that have changed us all in some way or another. But I cannot ignore this feeling that even if the life that is opening its doors to allow us back in seems much like the one we knew before, something, somewhere has changed.

          The windchimes outside my living room sliding doors chime in a sudden urgency, as if to signal the angels’ agreement with the gentle swirling in my heart.

The end is nigh. A new life / world awaits you.

          Two years of suffering is bound to change anyone. With a new boss having assumed the mantle of leadership, life at work is already different, yet without the sweetness of hope and joy, all the old the ruts and tangles remain. Still deep in my studies and discovering and learning so much, I too am no longer the same. Yet, none of this explains why the waiting world we are returning to has lost a bit of its flavour.

The end is nigh. A new life / world awaits you.

          Unless it means that we have not arrived yet at the lands promised to us on this earth.

          But that the appointed time is coming.

          And it is close.

Heralds of Spring

Canadian Geese Flying in V Formation

For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the Name. ~  Acts 5: 38 – 41

         The birds around our home were in the throes of mad, secret avian joy, their calls ringing out in exuberance just as the early dawn rays began flaming the skies into golds and yellows and tangerines. One chapter of my life has ended today, and with it, hopefully, much of the darkness. Yet, I greeted the news with an unnatural calmness. For a moment, I wondered if it was because I was not being grateful enough. Nonetheless, I had to admit that I was also very tired, that having given all I had within me these past years, it had likely taken me beyond the point of celebration.

          Still, reaching out to close the old gates behind me and to walk into this next phase of working life, I wished for some joy. Even a spark would have been welcomed.

But there was none. I was well and truly spent.

          It was past twilight when I came to the readings of the final Friday of the month of the Holy Eucharist.

…they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.

          I thought of the calvary we had endured as a family these past years. Cut after cut of an invisible whip, days, weeks and months of it. Fear, anger, pain and shame. Choking grief. Over and over telling God, I cannot go on. I just cannot. Over and over, He had put His hand out to me,

Oh yes, you will.

Do not waver.

Keep going, you’re almost there.

Walk on water.

Meet Me at the other end.

I am already there.

          Each time, impossibly, I would rise to my feet through the love of so, so many who would not give up on me, to let me fall to the earth and die. With their arms about me, each time I managed to stand up and to make my way forwards. On and on till I reached today.

Oh, for just a spark of firelight now at the shores of freedom.

          Just as I was wishing for that special joy to sing once more, something made me look up from my writing. A quick scene on the tv.

A flock of Canada geese intent on their journey across the bluest of skies.

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.   ~  Aldo Leopold

          In that tiny moment, I felt the spark. Even a heart still frozen in the old ice of winter knows that life is about to live once more when the geese are sighted in blue-shot skies.

For they are the heralds of true spring.

The Day is Here!

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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.

New hope his clarion note awakes,

sickness the feeble frame forsakes,

the robber sheathes his lawless sword,

faith to fallen is restored.

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.

Happy Easter!

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