Healing

Take Time For Yourself

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          God must have known this was coming. In the short days since He sent his messenger, St. Paul of the Cross to tell me to

Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her

I have been a bit more mindful of not raking in dust and dirt into my soul lest I render myself deaf to the soft voice from heaven. Still, there’s only so much one can do to remember to close the door each time to some of the stuff the winds of life can blow into us.

          Late in the afternoon today, tired from work and the never ending deadlines, I told God once more that I’d really, really like to hear from Him, to be moved by His voice in my heart. It was a very hot afternoon, the winds were blowing about. While that did little for the heat, with the swish of the winds through the tree leaves, an unexpected hush stole into my heart.

          The later hours of the day came with the humid promise of rain. Alas, aside from a few drops, the silver rains took their blessings elsewhere. But I had scant time to sulk, for there was dinner to see to and some more work to be done before I turned in for the day.

          After I was done, I remembered I had not had the time to complete my reading of Susan Branch’s latest post, so to it I went and absorbed myself for a time in patches of poetry, quotes and verses, photos and gorgeous illustrations, all quilted together in a lovely celebration of life and living. Although it left me longing for the beauty and quiet of serene places, a languid gentleness nonetheless pooled into my heart.

          Then came 4 little words, and Someone pressed my spirit to alertness,

Take Time For Yourself

In this life, where the world owns so much of me – and is yet far from satiated, I must somehow find a way to cast out into deep, go to where the voices of life will dull and fall into quiet, till they are unheard.

For only when I take time for myself, will I hear Him.

          What a sweetly delicious way to enter the Heart of God.

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.

 

 

Lent 35 ~ Water for the Rocks

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Prayer to St. Raphael, Archangel

Glorious archangel, St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travelers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as you did once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost.

          There’s a prayer generator I access every day after I’ve done my Bible Readings for the day. It’s an avenue God often uses to get my scattered attention – and He did again, today. Over two days, I drew prayers to be prayed to the Archangel Raphael; the one I drew today, gave me pause.

          Today, an unexpected skirmish with a family member upset me. Unexpected as it was, it was just one of many I’ve had with this person and I was so tired of it all. I flew straight to God’s heart and I vented mightily there. But by late evening, the annoyance was still stinging and I conceded that something more was needed.

          Emerging from the cave and standing on the ridge, I called out for all my saint-friends, calling each one by name. I had a feeling that I was missing some humility but I wanted to be completely truthful as well. So, I expressed my frustration to them, holding nothing back. I told the Communion of Saints, including the Archangels, that I felt like giving up on this family member; but I ended by quietly asking that I be shown my sin as well in this tug-of-war, in case it was I who was in the wrong.

          There was no denying that all I wanted was to turn away and stop caring even as I knew that giving up on this person and walking away was not God’s way. Yet, wounds in a heart can be like rocks strewn across the path of an already tattered and mottled human will, making it a struggle to love, to forgive and to persevere.  

Blood and Water that gushed out from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for me,

I trust in Thee.

          Still, as afternoon rains began to press their silver~pearls into a waiting earth, my heart slowly fell into peace in the ensuing hours. Busy once more with work and studies, the morning’s squabble retreated quietly to the sidelines of my consciousness.

Until I drew St Raphael and realised that it was the second time since yesterday.

And spied the words my heart had missed before,

consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners,

in all the trials of this life, 

physician of God,

I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities 

                  

          Even as God saw my hurt, He also saw my need for healing.

          And so He sent His Angel with Water from His Sacred Side, to break and dislodge the rocks within my heart.

Lent 35 ~ The Meadow Beyond

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          The week has finally come to an end and not a moment too soon. I couldn’t have managed another day. From the light and energy of yesterday, without warning, I swung to the other end of the spectrum this morning: exhaustion, confusion, every gully within bone-dry. I clearly have nothing left to give where work is concerned.

          But I have a week off from work and after two brutal months, I sink into this promise with un-shuttered relief. I will close the gate to work and lock it behind me, for

there’s a meadow beyond to skip in

flowers to gather

and apples to share

Glory! Glory! Glory!

Lent 21 ~ Conqueror

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          I saw this heading to a post yesterday, Gratitude Conquers Envy, and understanding lit my mind.

          Almost 2 years ago, I had a dream. It was of the colleague at work who had hurt me very deeply and continues till this day. In the dream, she was at her desk beside me and all around us were odd, yet perfect boxes, almost the size of shoe boxes, tightly packed with brand new books – except that interiorly, I knew that they weren’t books. They were memories of everything I had done for her in our 20 plus years of knowing one another. Memories packed tight into light, perfectly made mud-coloured boxes. My colleague was at her desk, with a pen in hand, writing on each of those boxes.

In thick, black, fancy classic script, she was writing, Thank you, on the inside of those boxes.

          And I knew immediately, with neither joy nor relief, that it was directed to me.

          Some time after the dream, I went to Confession to a visiting priest to our parish. I confessed about my struggles with anger and my difficulty loving those at work who hurt me. I didn’t provide Father with any details of my work situation; instead, focusing on my sins and weaknesses.

          But the priest had looked deep into my eyes, hearing in his heart words I had not given him. And he understood why I was being attacked.

It is due to jealousy, Father had said that day.

          That illumination had shocked me to the core, that jealousy could wreck such cruelty.

          But today, the memory of that dream lifts another face towards me. That of the Thank you. The power of gratitude to bend a soul to humility. To heal it of every trace of envy and jealousy.

          We often take gratitude for granted, assuming it’s a virtue we either have or do not possess. However, I have had one spiritual experience, in church, of being pierced by an invisible arrow of gratitude and thankfulness, to learn that it is also a grace. Some of us might have been born to be grateful and thankful. Some of us lack it. And some of us barely possess it. So, what if God was now asking me to pray for the oil of gratitude to heal jealous hearts?

          A few days ago, I had written that those ruled by jealousy needed to make the effort to cleanse themselves of this ugliness. While that is certainly true, I think God is now telling me, No, that’s not all. You can do something else too.

          This Lent, He wants me pray a very specific prayer of healing. To pray for the grace of gratitude, that jealous hearts be healed by it.

          Because gratitude conquers jealousy.

Lent 10 ~ Come and Rest

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In green pastures He makes me lie down;
 to still waters He leads me;
 He restores my soul.   ~  Psalm 23: 2 - 3

          I didn’t live the days of this week too well. Too much work and way too little rest. Thankfully, I was still filled with good cheer and didn’t mar the days with occasions of ill temper or grumpiness. Still, I wasn’t happy. While much had been accomplished, all the ticks on my list on only heightened my dissatisfaction over the way I had lived these Lenten days. I had not read any Lenten reflections. We had not recited the Family Rosary in a long while. I missed a day or two of My Lenten promise to recite one decade of the Luminous Mysteries each day for healing. No exercise, no workouts, no time spent in the garden.

          Not good.

          Then, yesterday morning, I discovered something interesting for work. With my limitations and slow understanding, learning how to use the apps ate into my hours. Somewhere in the evening, I nailed one, able to comfortably navigate it now. Buoyed on by sheer glee and hope, I rushed through dinner and went to try the second app. I could feel my younger children watching me very carefully, trying to determine if they could safely sneak in some harmless mischief. When I’m in this mood, I become very focused and I was determined to learn how to use this platform before I called it a day. So, it was the kids’ lucky day and boy, did they light the fire. Nonetheless, nothing distracted me. It was midnight, by the time I leaned back in satisfaction.

          Just before turning in for the night, something occurred to me and I returned to the app to check it. And found all my effort for naught. Absolutely naught. There was a glitch of some sort and it was beyond me to figure it out.

I’m going to mop the house first thing tomorrow, I thought to myself.

          Not to work on it or to get help with it. But to wield the mop and shine the home because something told me this was the end of the road where that app was concerned.

          I slept in a bit this morning and then rose to give the house some loving. The deep cold of past mornings had suddenly given way to an intensifying heat. A storm was likely some days away. But the happy singing of the birds and the laughing breezes playing tag amongst the trees had turned the day into gold.

          Like liquid incense, that golden joy spilled into my own heart. A smiling, rosy lightness lifted me.

In green pastures He makes me lie down;
to still waters He leads me;
He restores my soul.

            Come and rest, said the Lord.              

Lent 4 ~ Only on the Hungry

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If you bestow your bread on the hungry
    and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
    and the gloom shall become for you like midday;  ~  Isaiah 58:10

          A project of more than 2 years goes into its final days and I’m ready for it to end. I think I’ve given my all and that makes me very happy indeed. The relief is great too – suddenly I seem to have a lot more cheer and energy for home chores and cooking.

          Today, those verses from Isaiah come to raise my heart to hope once more. Basking in its warmth, my eyes trace the last verses over and over.

          Presently though, I sense a tiny shifting and an unseen finger gently pushes the first verse to the front.

…bestow your bread on the hungry…

          I sense someone watching me. Waiting to see if I’m paying attention. If I will be humble and contrite enough admit the truth.

Did you bestow your bread on the hungry?
 Or did you kill yourself trying to feed everyone?

          There’s no hiding from the truth, not when the question pierces so gently, so lovingly thrust.

Did you bestow your bread on the truly hungry? How often did you allow guilt to decide how much to do, how far to go?

When you were so tired, yet kept pushing on, how often was it for the truly hungry? How often was it because you kept hearing, You are lazy, that voice from the past? The past that has no place in this present?

How often did you try to feed everyone?

How often did you let the wolf in?

          I answer from my heart, Often enough.

          I hear my own voice tell me,

When you go back, feed, bestow your bread.

But only on the hungry.

 

Lent 1 ~ The Angel’s Lent

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          My Lent direction came a little early this year – only it took me some time to realise it and to reconcile myself to it. One bright blue Sunday morning, as the winds sang aria after aria around our old home, my eldest son did something he doesn’t normally do – and certainly not on a Sunday. He began to clean his room. And one of the things he cleaned was his tiny St. Michael figurine I had bought him years before. With characteristic tenderness, he held the figurine and probed its contours with a damp cotton bud. I smiled and left him to it.

          It was late in the evening, much of the day run its course, when I had some time to my thoughts. From my seat in the living room, I gazed outside at the sun~warmed evening, winds stirring strong the leaves on the trees. Watching those breezes, I felt them lay something by the door of my heart.

The St. Michael’s Lent prayers

          And a stillness stole into my heart. It was the second time the prayers had come by this week. The second time accompanied by these unusual winds, singing and singing hymns only the angels knew the words to. Each time the winds came upon me, I would tilt my face towards them and silently ask the same question,

Is it you, St. Michael?

          For some years ago, St. Michael had taught me that when the winds blow strong and  a quiet comes upon my spirit, that would be the sign of his angelic presence.

          In reply to my asking, I almost felt his quiet yet strong affirmation borne by those winds as they brushed against my heart. So, it was him. And he was asking that I say those Lent prayers again.

          Still, I hung back. It was only 3 years ago that I had become acquainted with the St. Michael’s Lent prayers. Both times, they had come during deep personal strife, my anchor in the storm of pain. They were indeed prayers for when the whip and lash of the storm is great.

Battle

          That very word had resounded several times to me as January quietly folded her heart and passed her life to February.

Battle

Battle

Battle

          Now, both the word and the prayer formed side by side before me. It should have sufficed. And yet, my heart sought a final confirmation – because the St. Michael prayers is no simple undertaking. To be said for 40 days, they were for me by far the most demanding of prayers. Coupled with their significance of being battle prayers, prayed when in deep suffering, I was more than a little reluctant. I wanted peace. I was tired of fighting.

          At that very moment, my son came into the living room. Quietly, he placed something on the hall cabinet. Daddy will mend it, he said. Turning away from the waning evening marking the skies with its final pinks and tangerines for the day, I saw my son’s tiny St. Michael figurine on the cabinet top. Its sword had detached.

The St. Michael’s Lent prayers are also known as the Sword of St. Michael.

          Just like that, it was enough for me.

          My Lenten devotions this year is to be the St. Michael’s Lent prayers – but begun on the very evening of my understanding and acceptance. My Lent is to be one of battle.

          This year, it will be one of healing too as I sense heaven ask for a decade of the Luminous Mysteries Rosary each day.

          As the sun rises from its slumber on Ash Wednesday morn, it rises more golden orange than ever before. My angel’s sign, tender reminder that he walks beside me.

          And so it begins, this Lent of 2021. The Angel’s Lent.

LENT 26 ~ In the Shadow of the Prodigal

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Frostad ~ Prodigal Son Turning Point

 

Mothers watching the door, listening out for a familiar sound, a hesitant call;

Fathers too, tears hidden deep, waiting for the shuffle they know, the shadow of a child long not seen;

Pilgrim souls, journeying through bog and sands, cliffs and drops, trying to keep the faith for ones who do not care enough;

Those who have borne crosses all their life, did all they should, kept the faith, only to be asked to lay to rest their only child;

Faithful and diligent in the vineyards of life, being rewarded with a cancer diagnosis in twilight years;

Too many lifetimes lived in one life, too many shadowed pasts crippling the soul with shame;

Frightened and confused, backed into a sullen corner, believing that there is no Hand held out to us….

         Each soul on earth lives a different life, but a common thread rivers through – every life is part of the collage that is the parable of the Prodigal Son. We are the sorrowing father who chose to love by releasing. We are the son who thought he had the world under his feet, and was then shocked into bitter reality. We are the older one who worked His will in silence but secretly nurtured a clandestine hope of earthly reward in the deepest recesses of his heart.

          We are different people, in different places, yet in the same shadow.

          What is left is to write the same ending of mercy.

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Prodigal Son   by Father Eugene O’Reilly C.Ss.R

 

  1. Father I have sinned, help me find my way,

Remember not my sins, just let me hear You say

Chorus:

I forgive you, I love you. You are mine, take My hand

Go in peace, sin no more, beloved one.

 

2. Father I have turned, my back and walked away

Depended on my strength, and loved life my own way

Chorus:

I forgive you, I love you. You are mine, take My hand

Go in peace, sin no more, beloved one.

 

3. Father I have closed, my heart to those in need

Thought only of myself, a victim of my greed

Chorus:

I forgive you, I love you. You are mine, take My hand

Go in peace, sin no more, beloved one.

 

4. Father I’ve returned, I’m home with You to stay

Standing by your door, knowing that You’ll say

Chorus:

I forgive you, I love you. You are mine, take My hand

Go in peace, sin no more, beloved one.