Family

Lent 12 ~ Wounds for Glory

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          I have been trying to stay faithful to my Atonement Rosary ~ The Divine Mercy Chaplet. Lately, through dreams and other experiences my family and I have faced, I know that as Sr. Lucia dos Santos of the Fatima Apparitions revealed, the family is the latest battleground. The family is under attack.

          And I fear for us.

          I wish I could be stoic and unflinching, with an Abraham-esque faith. Unshaken by storms and uncertainties; clear-minded and loyal to every asking of God. But I have too much of Peter in me. One squall and I’m ready to jump out of the boat.

          This morning was no different. Because of my working hours, I have now taken to reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet during my dawn Holy Hour. In the past week, I have begun to pray for the family’s persecutors. I wish I could say I pray the chaplet with love for my fellow men.

          I do not.

          I pray it with fear. No matter how many times I kick myself over it, whenever I pray for my husband and children’s protection, I still pray with no small amount of trepidation. What we have been through in years past, what we have recently faced, they make me afraid of what else is in store for us, and if our walls will hold.

          This morning, I went to the Chaplet with the same agitation. After the 2nd decade, at the start of the 3rd, about to petition for protection for my loved ones, I lost the prayer.

          It was slipped away from me. In its place was:

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          The minute the prayer got out, I twisted and flailed to pull it back.

          I didn’t want wounds. We have had enough for two lifetimes. We are a family that struggles with wounds and woundings; it would be sheer insanity to accept, to ask for any more. So, I quickly tried to tack on a couple of caveats.

         But an unseen hand had once more swiped the prayer out of my staining reach. I felt like I was down below, gazing up at my prayer held high, away from me.

         I completed the decade, and went on to the 4th. Again, at the beginning, the same attempt to pray for protection. And yet again, it was gently taken away and replaced ~

Give us the courage to bear our wounds that God’s Glory may shine through them.

          God’s Will Be Mine, I finally whispered, the fight gone out of me. I don’t know how we’d cope with any more lashings; we don’t stand among the strong, for sure. But suddenly, my wobbly love for God wins out. It is along those lines that my heart falls into peace. We may not be soldier material, but we have always loved. And if love calls us to bear our wounds for others, just like Jesus bore His for us, then my family and I must – no matter how afraid and spiritually timid we are. Because the Miracle of the Glorified Cross shines brightest through wounds borne for Love.

          Because to bear our wounds is a sacrifice. To bear our wounds is to praise God.

          And to offer praise as a sacrifice is to glorify God.

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The King Reminds

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          It had been a gentle and tender day of household chores. Busy hours under the quiet of cloudy skies and a light breeze, wet from old rain. Deprived of my usual morning Holy Hour, I tried to find the time to pray simple prayers as I worked, but the call of the pots and the stovetop and the laundry clanged a loud clamour for my attention. In the later hours of the sulking day, I went to my room for some quiet time, intent on saying a chaplet. But it had been taken over by blankets and soft toys and two very busy little people charming the air with giggles and smiles, toothy and toothless.

          I found another chore crooking its little finger at me, and to it I sailed, prayer forgotten.

          By night, little things began to rile me up. Gone was the gentle unhurried pace of the day. All I saw were the many little things that needed to be attended to before bedtime. But my household of people, in happy anticipation of a good rest, did not share my urgency. So, a little fuse was lit and the night veils heard a song of carping and fuming.

          Still bent on getting to bedtime with a home in apple pie order, I unconsciously decided to help one of my children with his ironing. I wasn’t even aware of moving to his cupboard to get the shirts out.

          As the hot iron moved over crease after crease, I felt a gentleness settle into my heart. While I still kept my tone firm with a slightly subdued family, giggles muffled and their eyes lowered to hide the dancing in them, Someone began to release a soothing wetness to quietly flow over the little fires lit in my heart earlier. Suddenly aware of the change within me, I paused. It was then that I heard the insistent strains of a hymn,

Ubi Caritas,…..ubi caritas…..

I couldn’t remember what those words meant, but I let them flow unhindered over my spirit because they brought with them the dew of peace. Before I went to bed, I looked up the hymn. Its English translation told me while I had not remembered my God as much I should have, He hadn’t forgotten me. He came to me to remind me that I should not make Martha’s error mine – that in every little thing I do, only one King should hold court.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end. Amen.

Glorify

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          I didn’t always love my family. I polished the home, cooked every day, and cared for little ones when the sniffles and spotties came. But I didn’t spend enough love-time with them, listen to their hearts as much as I should have. I had lovely, joyful children blessed with a freshness only children possess, whose little stories tumbled out eagerly, yet, fell wasted on preoccupied ears. So, I didn’t get to hear firsthand about the yellow and white butterflies playing tag amongst the gardenias, or about the yellow-and-green ‘ballbirds’ in the lush trees  at night. My young ones got hugs and cuddles and kisses, but very often, they didn’t get them too, because I didn’t always love my family.
see_no_evil_hear_no_evil_by_pinkparis1233-d5sfuql[1]           For many sad, bereft years, I didn’t always love my family because I allowed trespassers into my little sanctuary – those who had little or no regard for the sanctity of family life. They came into my home armed with authority, under the pretext of love and shared values, and dispensed wisdom they said I didn’t have. Cowed, I let them hold my mind and heart captive to satisfy their every whine and whim. When my small inner voice rebelled that my family needed more, I made feeble attempts to wriggle free, but the deceivers in my life told me I was wrong because I didn’t know, and they were right because they did.
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           I bought into the fable of the trespassers that in order to live, I must be enslaved, and my family paid the price for that. A hug when they needed it they did not get. A comfort when they fussed remained a wishful thought. They got a wife and mother who got things done but forgot to love because she was busy putting others before the Family, and didn’t see anything wrong with it. My husband and children fell a distant second because I let others dumb me down and set the parameters for family life. I was lulled into accepting the flawed belief systems of others. I let them dictate to me the hallmarks of a good Catholic wife and mother. I even allowed them to drive my religious beliefs. Family life was not lived through the lens of the Almighty, and whilst we seemed the joyous all-Catholic family, we were tearing at the seams.
          I stilled my conscience in order to up the volume of the trespassers, and that was my sin, and mine alone.
          Good mother, they patted me on the head in glee.
          And they led me out the front door, away from the family, into the dark.
          But there was a God above, and He kept watch over my soul. I had in me a hidden part that I misted away from everyone but my Saviour. It was my tiny act of defiance to keep a space of my own that was not overrun by external dictates. It was in this secret hollow veiled from human knowledge that I crumbled before the Almighty. It was here to Him that I took my sorrows and doubts.
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          But prayer is never a one-way street of petitions and pleadings. My Lord spoke, and the words of Life came back to me, but couldn’t take root because the soil of my heart was not right. It was a soil watered by a lack of spiritual nourishment and a drought of holy obedience. The Word struggled to live in me because I had pledged obedience and loyalty to those who lived dual lives: outwardly upholding family life; in reality, undermining it.
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          There was an incessant howling at the door of my life, voices not of my family’s, commanding me to come out for I was needed for vineyards not willed by heaven. The feral howls continued for many years. I was powerless to resist because I lived in the dangerous aridity where sin and dark was king. I offered incense in homage to people, not to my Lord. My refusal to break with the dark, my fear of repercussions, was in fact, a personal rejection of Life-giving Truths – God’s Commandments – which would have set me free a long time ago.
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          Then, one still night, on the tenth chime, the angels broke my heart. I learned a pain never known before. The searing flame of a final farewell marked my soul, never to be erased. The sea of grief formed a wave of walls around me, making me an island; for the very first time in my life, cutting me off from all that had stretched me in a thousand wrong directions. Alone in my pain,  a sword knifed through my soul, severing in finality, the ropes that strung me to the deceivers. 
          Then, came the grace of divine sight, hitherto withheld, borne on a blue wind.       jesusmarymet02[1].jpg
          Into that sudden freed expanse, the Mater Dolorosa slipped in quietly. To tell me She’d been here before. In gentle wisdom, She parted the old swirling mists, and bade me see the life my family and I deserved ~ a life lived in freedom to glorify God, and no one else. A freedom that would come only if I let the angels unbind my conscience captive to the world, and avail it for the nurturing of my Lord and King.
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          From that night of grace of grief, on a journey that has spanned years and far from over, Mother Mary continues to gently lead me down the blossom-blessed path of bitters and anguish towards peace. Every day, my spirit in Her Hands, I learn to fight any darkness that seeks to still and rule my conscience. Every day is a learning to discern the voice of my Saviour from the beguiling chorus from the sewers.
          For my Mother has taught me there is only one life that glorifies God.
          It is a life where the conscience, the breath to the soul, is never shackled nor governed by human tyranny that seeks to kill God and all of God.

 

 

Thanksgiving For Little Lights

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          A chance reading of Melanie Jean Juneau’s lovely piece, Discovering the Fountain of Youth, lit a light within me: I don’t thank children enough. My lack of thanksgiving for children- born of me, born of others – perhaps stems from my single-minded focus on caring, nurturing and providing for them, seeing children mainly as something to work on, to work for, but precious little else.

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          I am too fixated on the notion that it is my duty to lead children to heaven, that it fogs my vision to see the truth: that I need them as much, too. This unfortunate amnesia of the gift that children are often obscures the greater truth that children are lights for me from Heaven, sent to lead me Home.  And need their light of leading I do because I don’t always know which path it is that leads to Heaven.

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          In the egoistic preoccupation with life and duty, it is often forgotten that life is not always just about caring for children; it’s just as much about letting down my guard and opening the door of my heart to allow the young in my life to minister to me, to set me on the path to heaven. If I could let them through the fences I’ve put up, I reckon there’d be much I can learn from them, for children possess a power I do not have – the power to lift the veil to the living I am called to, melting away that which is superfluous and detrimental. They live joy through love, teaching me that love needn’t be draining and burdensome; that sacrifice without love parches the soul – a lesson to be learnt a thousand times over.

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         Let no one dispute that children are the Keepers of the Lamp of heavenly TruthThey take me away from the smug belief that the beginning and end of Wisdom lies solely with me. When the young hurt me even as I try to love and guide them, it’s a pain that bewilders because they seem to have rejected what I deem right and good. I often fail to see that heartaches wrought by children actually lead me away from the deception that the children in my life exist mainly to be shepherded and corralled into approved pastures of thought and behaviour. If anything, putting on the mantles of humility and faith can help me understand that my will for the children must never supercede God’s path for them, for His sight extends far beyond my myopic limitations.

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          All children are formed of joy, the gift of laughter and joy firmly tethered in the soul of children even in the rising of the squall. They embody joyful survival in the life-journey through challenges and pains.

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          Hence, when life sours and pickles into greys and aridity, and laughter shrouds itself, the blossoming of insight comes from the little souls who live the Truth that the balm for the weary spirit is in the casting of its burdens on the Master, and that release can be found in heaven’s wellsprings of mirth and play.

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          And now, as the Light of the Baby King peeks from its pearl shell of Advent, on my heart I etch a renewed prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of children brought into my life – little Keepers of the Lamp who help me lean on God to heal and love and live right, and who thus, light the path to Heaven true.

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NO ONE DIES MOTHERLESS

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For every soul gone to rest, a mother weeps somewhere in the remembered loss of another child. Motherless, orphaned or abandoned, no one dies without a mother. A mother-heart grieves – for her children and for those born of other wombs. Her dirge is not a weakness, but that of love that burns through and transcends barriers of bloodlines and race, creed and time. Hence, no one dies unloved, un-mourned, by a mother somewhere, because no one is motherless.

A LITTLE WHITE HEARSE
by Ella Wheeler Cox
 

 Somebody’s baby was buried to-day

The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled back,

And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and gay      

As I paused on the walk while it crossed on its way,

And a shadow seemed drawn o’er the sun’s golden track.

France Honours Attack Victims As The Nation Mourns

Somebody’s baby was laid out to rest, 

White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold,

And the soft little hands were crossed over the breast,   

And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were pressed

With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.

 

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Somebody saw it go out of her sight,

Under the coffin lid—out through the door;

Somebody finds only darkness and blight

All through the glory of summer-sun light;

Somebody’s baby will waken no more.

 

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Somebody’s sorrow is making me weep:

I know not her name, but I echo her cry,

For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep,

The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep

In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.

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I know not her name, but her sorrow I know;

While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more,

And back to my heart surged that river of woe

That but in the breast of a mother can flow;

For the little white hearse has been, too, at my door.

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Pictures of Paris attack scenes sourced from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3318379/

My Father – ST PADRE PIO ~ SEPT 23

Flower-Fairy-daydreaming-25485002-304-428[1]  My father loves me. Of that, I have no doubt. But he loves himself more. I am only loved to the point that he doesn’t need to exert himself too much, or give up something he loves more. Which unfortunately, is not God.

When you have a dad who loves you but loves himself more, he is not likely to make the necessary sacrifices of true Christian fatherhood. It would be easier to yell and hit, than to apply the teachings of the Bible with love, to correct the child. It would be easier to terrorise the child into good behavior without bestirring oneself to be a model of such. A lot less stressful to dismiss dangers and thus, not get into a knot trying to protect your daughter from them. And when the child is weighed down by problems, and not able to make her father laugh, or be a social comfort for him as before, then, for the father, it is the path clear of brambles to harangue the child, Move On! Go back to being the joyful person you once were – not said out of love and concern for the child’s well-being, but for the continued preservation of the father’s comfort and happiness.

After years of deep hurting and bewilderedness, I shrugged and decided it didn’t matter; it was time to stop whining for what I wanted but couldn’t have, others were worse off. But the truth was, it did matter. Having a father who failed because he didn’t try was a wound that needed healing, and healing didn’t come from stuffing the hurt down a dark hole in a dusty corner.

It was Our Lady of La Salette who brought my father to me. The light from my wound came from discovering the man who loved me enough to make me his daughter: St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

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fairytallflowers[1]  My Father Pio taught me that a sin was a sin, whatever the history, but forgiveness was readily available and it was imperative for a fresh start. I just needed to humble myself, for humility unlocked many doors, including that acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

One man from Padua, who had gone to confession to Padre Pio, tried to go to confession again before the eight-day waiting period had elapsed. In order to circumvent the waiting-period, he lied about the amount of days that had passed since his last confession to Padre Pio. When he entered the confessional, Padre Pio sent him out and forcefully accused him of his lie.  After being kicked out, the man said with tears, “I’ve told many lies during my lifetime, and I thought I could deceive Padre Pio too.” But Padre Pio had a supernatural knowledge of his action. Padre Pio demanded that each confession be a true conversion. He did not tolerate a lack of honesty in the confession of sins. He was very stern on those who made excuses, spoke insincerely, or lacked a firm resolution to amend their lives. He demanded frankness and total honesty from the penitent. He also required a true and sincere sorrow of heart, and an absolute firmness in a person’s resolutions for the future. 

Father Pio made it clear to me that in order to make a fresh start, I needed to make a clean break from my past failings.

flower-faerie[1]  Father Pio told me in no uncertain terms that I could not blame God for what was intended for my purification, and that my trials should take me to God, not fleeing in the opposite direction.

One woman who came on a long trip to see Padre Pio said to him in confession, “Padre Pio, four years ago I lost my husband and I haven’t gone to church since then.” Padre Pio replied, “Because you lost your husband, you also lost God? Go away! Go away!” as he quickly closed the door of the confessional. Shortly after this event, the same woman recovered her faith, attributing it to the way Padre Pio treated her – probably acknowledging how she had put her attachment to her husband above God.

Req-DaisyGirl-GraphicsFairy1[1]  I wasn’t in the habit of going to God with my problems and difficulties. I had an unhealthy self reliance that kept me from seeking His wisdom.

Padre Pio commented on the amount of confessions he heard, and how he was able to do it: “There have been periods when I heard confessions without interruption for eighteen hours consecutively. I don’t have a moment to myself. But God helps me effectively in my ministry. I feel the strength to renounce everything, ….”

vintage-flower-fairy-garland[1]  I wanted the firm guidance of a godly father. But I also liked humour, and Padre Pio had it.

One person in confession questioned the very existence of Hell. Padre Pio responded, “You will believe it when you get there.”

TheSnowdropFairy[1]  My father didn’t have much patience for much, and letter-writing/emails was the agony of agonies. I didn’t receive many from him, but the ones I did, I wished he hadn’t sent. St. Pio had many spiritual children, and he wrote them, and his letters were treasured for the life they gave.

Beloved daughter of Jesus, 
           May Jesus and our Mother always smile on your soul, obtaining for it, from Her most holy Son, all the heavenly charisms! 
           I am writing to you for two reasons: to answer some more questions from your last letter, and to wish you a very happy names-day in the most sweet Jesus, full of all the most special heavenly graces. Oh! If Jesus granted my prayers for you or, better still, if only my prayers were worthy of being granted by Jesus! However, I increase them a hundredfold for your consolation and salvation, begging Jesus to grant them, not for me but through the heart of his paternal goodness and infinite mercy….Therefore, be humble of heart, circumspect in words, prudent in your resolutions. Always be sparing in your speech, assiduous in good reading, attentive in your work, modest in your conversation. Don’t be disgusting to anybody but be benevolent towards all and respectful towards your elders. May any sinister glance be far from you, may no daring word escape your lips, may you never carry out any immodest or somewhat free action; never a rather free action or a petulant tone of voice. 
           In short let your whole exterior be a vivid image of the composure of your soul. Always keep the modesty of the divine Master before your eyes, as an example; this Master who, according to the words of the Apostle to the Corinthians, placing the modesty of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with meekness, which was his one particular virtue and almost his characteristic: “Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ” [Douay-Rheims, 2 Cor. 10:1], and according to such a perfect model reform all your external operations, which should be faithful reflections revealing the affections of your interior. 
           Never forget this divine model, Annita. Try to see a certain lovable majesty in his presence, a certain pleasant authority in his manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in walking, in contemplating, speaking, conversing; a certain sweet serenity of face. Imagine that extremely composed and sweet expression with which he drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to the solitude and deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink and their domestic duties…. 

          Don’t worry if you are unable to answer my letter for the moment. I know everything so don’t worry. 
           I take my leave of you in the holy kiss of the Lord. I am always your servant. 

Fra Pio, Capuchin 

I loved Padre Pio’s letters for the light in them and their lightness of burden. When the human will is exerted in letters, it is a burden that weighs down on you and takes the skin off your shoulders. It makes you go in any direction but heaven. I didn’t get that letter from my Father Pio, but it could have been written for me, and I too treasure it for it is a letter from a true father, setting me in the direction of God the Father.

2534033067_47c872012f_z[1]  In recent months, I have skipped away from my Father Pio, but in pursuit of heaven still. He does not bully me home or petulantly force me back in homage to himself, but prays me on my journey. Only a true father….

GOING BEYOND THE VEIL

Lake In The Morning, NZ ~ STEFFEN SCHRAEGLE

Lake In The Morning, NZ ~ STEFFEN SCHRAEGLE

Some years ago, in the rain-drenched month of December, I heard the insistent whisper of four words that cut through the fog in my head: Go Beyond The Veil. Day and night for weeks, every single minute, and even the very second I opened my eyes from sleep, the words beat an insistent drum on my soul. Go Beyond The Veil, Go Beyond The Veil, Go Beyond The Veil.

I thought my time was up. Had He come to call me?

No, Lord, I fought back, Not now. The kids are so small, I am not ready yet. Not for another great many years.

          Go Beyond The Veil.

In a twist over the urgency of the voice and its message, I asked someone what it might mean. She said it was to go into the holy of holies, right before the Throne of God.

I recoiled inwardly because the last thing I wanted at that time, was to stand before a God who I considered harsh and unfeeling. One I had called out to so many times, begging for help, for release, but to no avail. Go to the God who gave me an exquisite joy, and yet, reached out and took that joy away?

I fled as far I could. No, No, No.

The voice then stilled.

Many a pot-holed road travelled years later, with all manner of stumbles and trip-ups and lurching into mud puddles, I am now beginning to grasp the true meaning of Go Beyond The Veil. It was not a summons to judgment or death. It was a love-invitation to part the gossamer mist that separated the gray swirls of my life, and the bloom of Light where my abode should have been. It was the Hand I had prayed for but never recognized when it came.

          Go Beyond The Veil was the call to the child within me that I never knew existed. The Hidden Child. One who peeked at the life I led, from behind curtains. Who lived in silent spaces, never intruding, quiet and in hope of release some day. So, release her I have, this year.

Where once I stumbled tiredly to the kitchen to begin each day,

The Child Once Hidden now watches the violet blue unfurling of the dawn sky;

She spends restful minutes under the shade of zinnias,

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And pauses to allow the jasmines to bless her

For many years staring, yet not seeing the blooms in the morning rays

She now bends in humble homage for the pink blush petals to bless her soul;

Rediscovered delighting in trims and trinkets

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Soul’s repose she seeks now in her Mother’s beads;

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Where once she turned away from mothers holding a child in embrace

The Child Once Hidden now laughs and giggles

Treasuring and honouring Life’s pearls and tears.

I no longer lament loss.

But neither do I welcome it, for that strength is not mine just yet.

I do not rue wasted years, for to get to where I now stand, that was the only route.

I have finally found Life in the love God blessed me with ~ the enduring and precious gift of husband and children.

I have always loved them.

But the Child Once Hidden, healed and freed, now receivesBy Jeremiah J. White

The gift of Love that was always, always there.

WHISPERS AND STILLNESS

As we trace our lifelines upon this earth, often do we look up, seeking Light of Guidance. And they come – in many a form, every one, little and big, speaking in a rhythm unique to each traveler’s heart.

A little nudge, a gentle word, a picture that makes us pause and think agony-in-garden_1408599_inl[1]

A friend’s love, a father’s hug, letter in the post;

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Pink hush of sunrise, tangerine goodbye of sunset,

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Gray rain rivulets, call of the wild sea, still pond among shadows;

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A warm kitchen and cake fattening in the oven,

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A home where welcome is for all and always.

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Birdsong clear and awakening, zinnias’ secret blooms,

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Ribbons of wind in the trees, giddy perfume of flowers wild,

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Purr of the grass dance, sweet feline repose,

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Angels in gentle wait, the quiet rest of souls;

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All these,

Each and more,

Whispers and stillness,

Lamp to our feet,

Light to our souls.

Eden Rose

Eden Rose

In memory of Love, 24 November 2004 ~ 18 July 2007 

But You’d Understand

imagesWN3KR7PNI’m thinking of you, today, St Joseph,

This second day of your novena;

To retreat from the world

And rest awhile in your lap, I’d like.

Away from questioning gazes and puzzled frowns

To cry, if but a little.

No real reason, no tragedy or true sorrow

Just a silly cry over a silly sadness

But you’d understand.

 

imagesALAGWKOCI’m thinking of you, today, St Joseph,

This second day of your novena;

To open my heart

And lay bare

The hope in shame, hidden

Wrapped in ribbons of foolishness;

A fool in the eyes of the world, I am,

But you’d understand.

 

imagesKA7L2U8NI’m thinking of you, today, St Joseph,

This second day of your novena;

Silently to me you came

In old light of remembered prayer;

That a place to rest there is

For silly tears and worn dreams

Wrinkle against logic, they do

But you’d understand.

 

Mail in the Mailbox

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The mail in the mailbox made my day when I was growing up. To a young child, hearing the tinkle of the mailman’s bell was the highlight of the day. Tipping open the mailbox door and sliding out the mail was so pleasurable, as was tearing into the house bearing the assortment of letters and cards that made up the treasure, because that made me the bearer of “good news”, as opposed to being the “woe of the family”.

And I relished that change of name – even if it lasted all of 5 minutes.

Christmas was the best time. I’d hang onto the window, waiting for the mailman’s tinkle, for card after delightful card, the familiar verses and tender Christmas wishes ensconced within. Reading, “To…..and ….. and family”, the word “family” would have me hug myself in delight that someone actually remembered and loved me.

It never occurred to me that it was just a common phrase employed by those who couldn’t remember a couple of kids’ names.

I just felt loved, and came to see letters as just that: sheets scented by love and concern.

I grew up and began to love someone who would become my husband. He lived in a tiny town. To save on phone call costs, I took to writing to him. Lord knows what I wrote, I can be quite the rambler, but every week, I sat at my desk in my rented room, and penned him my love. I’d put the letter in an envelope, and a stamp in place and seal it twice – first with a quick lick, and later, after Marilyn Monroe-ing myself with red lipstick, I’d adorn the envelope with red smooches.

What did you get in the mail today? I’d ask him mischievously over the phone.

He’d chuckle and reply with quiet humour, Kisses in the post.

And I’d hug myself with a child’s delight.

After marriage, the mailbox slowly became less loved as I grew to dread its contents, heralded by the sharp spit of the mailman’s bike horn. My mother, fearing a loosening of her grip on me, kept me anchored to her through daily, hours long calls, and weekly letters.

Those letters.

They were masterpieces of cunning espionage and torment. Enough endearments and praises of my new husband to paper over the hidden knives of ridicule and manipulation. Every time, a letter came, the dreaded handwriting, a pit opened up within me. The contents tarred the hours and days that stretched out ahead of me with hopelessness, shame and of being perceived as a failure.

I struggled with household chores. I struggled with work. I lashed out at my husband and children because every letter underlined and reasserted my failings and failures.

And yet, never did I not read them, because of the fear of the interrogation that would inevitably come in the daily phone calls, Did you get my letter, Did you read it carefully, I underlined some things…. very important in case you missed them…. your faith is very weak, so I wrote that letter to strengthen you…

I’d clench the phone and swallow the black anger.

There was everything in those letters. From false sweetness and concern to curses that contrived to hide themselves behind the word of God.

Then one night the winds died down and watched me as an unseen Hand guided me to the phone, and an unheard Voice put words on my lips.

I called her and told her never to write me again. That I didn’t want her help in finding my way out of the maelstrom of grief.

An unseen being helped me cut one rope that knotted me to darkness.

Years on, the mailbox no longer bears poison missives from a poisoned soul. The fear of its contents has gone.

But so has the allure of anticipation.

I look at my mailbox from afar from time to time, by the gate, sheltered within a pillar, shaded by the evergreen boughs of the fattest conifers. I hear the mailman’s hoot. I watch him from my perch by the door, no movement do I make.

Because now, my children’s feet trace a joyful skip towards the mailbox. Letter, fliers, wedding cards, bills, magazines, all crushed in little fists, as my little ones charge into a home where they are loved and cherished. They are the bearers of news, the joy of our lives. As they watch us rip open envelopes, eyes alight with curiosity and innocence, I’m glad I no longer open letters from home.

So, the allure of the mailbox shines bright for my innocent children, an allure burnished with hope and a sense of mystery.

As it should be.

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