Lent 29 ~ Something From Above


The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”   ~  Isaiah 7: 10 – 12


          My heart skips a beat when I see the first lines of the First Reading of the Feast of the Annunciation today. There have been many times when I have asked for a sign from God for the journeys ahead of us but they have always been in anxiety and with a touch of fear.

          Not so today. Today, I kneel at my Lord’s heart with joy and hope, putting forth that timeless entreaty,

Will You give me a sign, O Lord?

One from You and only You, my LORD and my God;

Let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!

          It’s true that I ask for a sign in joy and hope that has been freshened by the dew of an early dawn. But despite our Thursday miracle, I’m still seeking the sign of morning come, glorious in its burst of gold and tangerine and rose. It is the morning foretold years ago for every one of us, of a time of enduring peace and joy. In mid January, seconds after awakening came an early morning word,

Something from above is coming.

 In May.

          Will this mystical morning begin its ascent in May? Will this May coming be positive or otherwise? I have no answers. What I do know is that when God calls us to obedience, it is a call that must be answered. And no longer a slave to fear, I seek to answer God’s call in hope and in joyful anticipation.

          And so, I ask for a sign.

As deep as the nether world,

or as high as the sky,

From the Lord my God.


Lent 27 ~ I Say, Rejoice!


Rejoice, the Lord is King:
Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks and sing,
And triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart,
Lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!   ~ Rejoice, the Lord is King, hymn by Charles Wesley


          Over and over, in a never-ending loop throughout the day, unseen voices sang this hymn in my inner ear. My heart had settled once more into a strange peace. Strange because it felt as if my heart was beyond any more troubling related to the issue we were facing as a family.

As if we had passed over something.

          Sure enough, the miracle we sought through St Joseph’s intercession came to fulfilment. Against all human hope, God worked a miracle.

          During the Hour of Grace today, the dawn broke, for our child and for us.

        Rejoice, again I say, rejoice! 


Lent 26 ~ From A Distance


God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.   ~   Psalm 46: 5 – 6


          Glimpses of a rising dawn today.

          After yesterday’s troubling phone conversation, I felt St Joseph whose feast day it was, was telling me to fight fear by hoping against hope. And so, I did just that, literally. Every time, I sensed anxiety curl into the edges of my awareness, I affirmed, I hope against hope. I will trust in, Jesus.

         This morning, my heart skipped a little to see the verse, God will help it at the break of dawn in the Responsorial Psalm. I knew it was a sign to keep the faith.

          Hours later, to my utter surprise, an unexpected opening comes to be.

          From a distance, the skies catch the first golds of dawn.


Lent 16 ~ The Lord Knows


The dear Lord knows what is going on.

We must pray. The good Lord will take pity.

We must not lose patience.

~  St. Conrad of Parzham


          Today, the sign of geese appears once more, after yesterday’s surprise. A personal sign to me signifying a change of seasons, a sign of hope.

          3 days ago, I had suddenly wondered about the geese that took as their home an area of our daughter’s university campus. One of the first things our girl did when she had settled into her place there less than a year before was to send us pictures of those geese. It thrilled our hearts so because this was the life we had wanted so much for our children – to have decent access to modern life and yet to retain a strong hold on the old where Nature truly lived and breathed free. To know she had geese there made it perfect. She was just as happy with them and over the next few months, we were kept informed about the family of geese and their little exploits.

          And then, life got very busy for us all, and the little geese got tucked away somewhere unseen.

          Until 3 days ago, when my thoughts went there.

          Then, yesterday, without a word from me, our daughter sent us 2 videos of the geese on her campus. Needless to say, I was so, so surprised. And delighted.

          It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that after such a long time, geese had returned, on not just any day but on what I refer to as Miracle Thursday and Illumination Thursday. It had been a somewhat dry day, my spirit silent and unmoved in listlessness. Although I pondered so many things, I did so only with my mind as my spirit had curled in on itself. I knew I was physically tired from my studies and that there was nothing to do but to let the body heal in its own time. Still, a part of me yearned for some sort of sign. And it came, on the breaths of twilight.

          Today, without warning, the geese return for a second time. They come after I have asked God if things at work would ever change. If the old dream of a quiet and pared down workforce would ever come true. If the hope of an especial peace and quiet to work hard and to work in love would ever be ours.

          Right after this weave of thoughts, comes the geese. Then, in its wake, St. Conrad’s gentle entreaty.

          Among the highest and lowest boughs, the winds leap and twirl.

          They know something I don’t.


Spring Comes Even in Winter


          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. 

Once and For All

Free photos of Storm

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.