Hope

The Harvest Has Begun

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The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.   ~   Matthew 13: 39

 

          This line from today’s Reading lingers before me while others move ahead. I see the words: Harvest. End of age. Harvesters. Angels. All of these marked the old July. A few short weeks before, such a line would have filled me with dread. And the way July this year shaped up for us, would have added shadows to the chill in me.

          But since the passing of my colleague’s husband, and the prayer journey we took as a family, and since a physical and financial difficulty we faced over the weekend, something has changed within me. I fleetingly sense something has taken root. A calm I never had before. A quietness to my strength. A gent~ling. It’s as if someone not me has come to live within me.

      The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  

          For the first time, I am filled with hope. Always one to fear the Cross despite my best attempts to love it, I cannot understand this reaction. I cannot explain it.

          Neither can I explain my conviction that the harvest has indeed begun.

 

 

 

 

LOOKING BACK

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          In the waning hours of the old year, Edgar A. Guest’s Looking Back might just offer us some lifepearls to live differently in the freshness of a new year.

Looking Back

by Edgar A. Guest

 

I might have been rich if I’d wanted the gold
instead of the friendships I’ve made.
I might have had fame if I’d sought for renown
in the hours when I purposely played.
Now I’m standing to-day on the far edge of life,
and I’m just looking backward to see
What I’ve done with the years and the days that were mine,
and all that has happened to me.

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I haven’t built much of a fortune to leave
to those who shall carry my name,
And nothing I’ve done shall entitle me now
to a place on the tablets of fame.
But I’ve loved the great sky and its spaces of blue;
I’ve lived with the birds and the trees;
I’ve turned from the splendor of silver and gold
to share in such pleasures as these.

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I’ve given my time to the children who came;
together we’ve romped and we’ve played,
And I wouldn’t exchange the glad hours spent
with them for the money that I might have made.
I chose to be known and be loved by the few,
and was deaf to the plaudits of men;
And I’d make the same choice should the chance
come to me to live my life over again.

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I’ve lived with my friends and I’ve shared in their joys,
known sorrow with all of its tears;
I have harvested much from my acres of life,
though some say I’ve squandered my years.
For much that is fine has been mine to enjoy,
and I think I have lived to my best,
And I have no regret, as I’m nearing the end,
for the gold that I might have possessed.

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LIGHT THE LAMPS

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          As the sun dips to his rest, and the purple night gently ribbons across the skies, our hands reach out for light. However welcome the night in its cool flower-scented breezes and hushed life sounds, we seek the light to see and live.

          And so it is with the soul. Even in the wilful pursuit of all that chokes and stamps out the breath of God within us, the soul in loneliness seeks the Light. In every straying heart, the soul stands in diametrical solitariness, longing for that which gives True Life.

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          So as the indigo mists of night drop their veils, heed the urgent whisper of the Spirit:       Go forth and light the lamps.

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          Seek the barren streets, seek them in compassion. The paths where lonely snow drifts. In love reach out to those whose heads are bowed against the snow, intent on their cold aloneness because they think no one cares enough any more. Let love warm and melt the snow that they wear around their hearts, kindle unseen embers long dormant.

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          Have courage. In patience, search for homes locked from within. Shutters clamped tight against the light, soil tilled no more, gardens listing to neglect. Walls adorned by sadness, loss of hope. Seek these homes of a thousand gray memories, dwelling place of souls fettered by the past and present. Seek them and let the Light stream in, for it’s only by His Light that the soul heals.

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          Seek the faces on the streets of hardness, despair, fear and shame. Seek in earnest the faces of those who earn their living by the barrel of the gun of violence and drugs. Search out the souls who offer spousal comfort to those not theirs. In mercy and love, part the thorns that hide and protect those who choose to sever the bond between a mother and her baby in the womb. Go forth and light the lamps on those darkened streets of a thousand shadows. Give hope where hope has gone. Share love where hate has reigned too long. Light the lamp so the soul may be healed.

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          Light the lamps in souls who choose their end before His time. Those so bereft of hope, who suffer the poverty of relationships true and strong. Those for whom love has fled. Let their grief light your path to them. Illumine the darkness of their agony with Christ, that they see in their sufferings, purpose amalgamated with the Divine Will.

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          Go forth and light the lamps in lands where faith slumbers in peril. In prayer and deed, in a life lived true, guide hearts to the Pearl of the Blue Mantle.

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          Shine the Shepherd’s Beacon in every pilgrim soul, away from the precipice of death, steer each one safe.

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….

THIS TOO WILL PASS

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          When there’s a song in my heart and a skip in my walk, I cannot help but wish I had a little more faith to remember the Lord and His goodness on days when the sun doesn’t come out for me. When the clouds gather, worry and anxiety come to nest all too easily within me, the Hand that has been stretched out to me so often in the past becomes a blurred memory.

          And even if I do recall how He has been there for me before, when troubles come, I’m not so sure if He’ll be there again. They say that’s having a “house” built on sand. One that faces easy collapse when the winds come on strong. The first doubt and I’m down.

          But I wonder, is my faith really a house built on sand just because my tread is less assured when grey tinges the horizon? Is faith really about bravado and a strong stride forwards despite everything?

          Or is faith about

Making a journey?

And along the way,

Falling sometimes or falling often?

Crying when the fall hurts?

Not wanting to get up from the ground?

And yet,

after a time,

Pushing to the feet and staggering up

And pressing forwards?

          That would indeed make Faith a journey of many steps. Not merely a decision, or a single resolution, made when the sunflowers tilt their heads in worship of the skies and flowers bloom in wild abandon.

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          Faith would be the steadfast heart and patient toil, but also the sting in the eyes and the trembling hand holding on to brittle prayer when the skies darken. Faith would be the struggle to tame fear and the whispered prayer that tentatively touches the door of Heaven even when hopes are dim.

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‘Til the Storm Passes By
by Mosie Lister, 1958

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me and there’s no hiding place,
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious LORD, hear my cry;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Chorus:
‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more,
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispered, ‘There is no need to try;
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by;’
But I know Thou are with me and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.

Chorus:
‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more,
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended and the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence on that bright, peaceful shore;
In that land where the tempests never comes, LORD, may I
Dwell with Thee ’til the storm passes by.

Chorus:
‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more,
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

TOIL AMONG THE BRIARS

I have a little place in my life where the sun does not quite reach in. Yet, there’s no sorrow there. No grief, nor tears. It is just where I sit and watch the world go by in a parade of achievements, banners of glory and victory unfurled.

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From where I watch, I see fists raised in triumph and backs patted in acknowledgement of success. I see doors of opportunities swing open. I hear names being called. I hear cheers and the happy sounds of a winner’s feast.

And from my little cove-away-from-the-light, I watch and listen. I step out from time to time to cheer on those who need it. Sometimes, I try to whisper, “If you need me, I too can do the same….”, and I smile away my shame when I hear the excuses, and see eyes glaze over and smiles tighten. I know rejection in all its forms.

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You see, I don’t belong to that golden group with the sun in their hair and diamonds for smiles. The people everyone wants on their team, the ones with the Midas touch. I’m the one who shuffles behind those who confidently stride ahead. My spot is in the shadows, whilst others court the sun and its glory. My place is where the winds come to rest, and water ripples end their bloom of circles.

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For some reason, I can never make the crowd of the Sun gods. There is almost never a breach in the circle of gold wherein they reside. Despite my overall contentment doing what I do best, from time to time, a tiny pang of wistfulness finds its way to me when I nurse a dream of glory. When I ask, Why not me, O Lord?

My Jesus’ answer comes to me through Ellen M. Gates:

YOUR MISSION

by Ellen M. H. Gates

If you cannot, on the ocean, sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows, laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors, anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them, as they launch their boats away.

If you are too weak to journey up the mountain steep and high,
You can stand within the valley, while the multitudes go by;
You can chant in happy measure, as they slowly pass along;
Though they may forget the singer, they will not forget the song.

If you have not gold and silver ever ready to command;
If you cannot toward the needy reach an ever open hand;
You can visit the afflicted, o’er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple, sitting at the Savior’s feet.

If you cannot, in the conflict prove, yourself a soldier true,
If, where fire and smoke are thickest, there’s no work for you to do;
When the battlefield is silent, you can go with careful tread,
You can bear away the wounded, you can cover up the dead.

If you cannot, in the harvest, gather up the richest sheaves,
Many a grain both ripe and golden oft the careless reaper leaves;
Go and glean among the briars growing rank against the wall,
For it may be that their shadow hides the heaviest wheat of all.

Do not, then, stand idly waiting, for some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess, she will never come to you.
Go and toil in any vineyard, do not fear to do or dare,
If you want a field of labor, you can find it anywhere.

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.

 

Tears Tucked Away

There are some lost souls who stop parents from mourning babies lost through stillborn births and miscarriages. These lost souls deny us the right to weep our grief, and dream a life of what-ifs. Mourning a baby not seen, not held, is foreign to them, and so, they surmise, it must be wrong. And they proceed to educate us on the wrongness of this our dirge of grief.

Sometimes, against our better instincts, we buckle under the social pressure exerted on us by those who have not loved a baby who once blessed our wombs. We bury the tears and smother the pain under the guise of tight smiles and a getting-on-with-life.

But the knife of grief remains hidden for a time, awaiting its unsheathing.

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An Angel Never Dies

Don’t let them say I wasn’t born,
That something stopped my heart
I felt each tender squeeze you gave,
I’ve loved you from the start.

Although my body you can’t hold
It doesn’t mean I’m gone
This world was worthy, not of me
God chose that I move on.

I know the pain that drowns your soul,
What you are forced to face
You have my word, I’ll fill your arms,
Someday we will embrace.

You’ll hear that it was meant to be,
God doesn’t make mistakes
But that wont soften your worst blow,
Or make your heart not ache.

I’m watching over all you do,
Another child you’ll bear
Believe me when I say to you,
That I am always there.

There will come a time, I promise you,
When you will hold my hand,
Stroke my face and kiss my lips
And then you’ll understand.

Although I’ve never breathed your air,
Or gazed into your eyes
That doesn’t mean I never was,
An Angel never dies.

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