Hope

Lent 35 ~ He Has Heard

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In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears.   ~  Psalm 18: 7

 

          An unearthly hush has descended here. Even the breezes caress the leaves in gentleness and silence. Only the birds delightfully chirp on unhindered. The First Friday of the month of April, the month of the Holy Eucharist. Ten days to Easter.

          What silence is this, I ponder and wonder, yet not really seeking an answer, for so very beautiful it is, this silence, this peace. Just being swathed in it suffices. Suddenly, nothing else matters, except being in the moment.

What silence is this?

          Softly, softly, it comes. It is the silence when heaven has heard.

 

 

 

 

Lent 18 ~ Two Ways to Live

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There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.   ~   Albert Einstein

 

          There’s nothing more enervating than a world-weary person who’s seen it all. They either annoy you by pretending an interest in your doings, or they cast a pallor over your joys and excitement, leeching the light out of your spirit.

          I had not met too many of such people, and of the few in my life, scant patience I had with them. They lived their own lives in greys and painted everything else likewise. I kept well away from them.

          But today, edging closer and closer to fifty, my heart has softened a little. I understand at least one reason why some people are this way:

A lack of thanksgiving

          Some spend their whole lives waiting for the ‘biggie’, that anything smaller fails to register. And some struggle with gratitude and giving thanks because life has been one long pull of heartache and grief.

          Thanksgiving doesn’t come easy for many of us. Caught in the bog of pain and yearning, it can be so much harder.

          But as I’m slowly learning, it’s thanksgiving that opens the eyes of our spirits to the greatest miracle there is –

Life itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 17 ~ Just Today, This Hour

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I thought to myself, Look at that. It’s not so difficult, the trick is to think small. I shouldn’t think of a whole book at once, that’s too big, too scary. I should think of it as one page at a time. And if I make each page the very best I can, when I put them all together to make a book, it will be the best book I can do. It’s not think big like everyone tells you, it’s think little, the same way you cross the beach in the sand, slogging along, one little step at a time, until you’ve made it.

And that thought carried over to, Maybe it’s not a lifetime – that’s not how to think about it. It’s just today. If today is the best I can make it, the lifetime will take care of itself. If this hour, right now had kitty petting, dinner cooking and book reading in it, and the next had a bubble bath and a call to my mom, and the next had painting with a cup of tea, an old movie and a walk in the woods, if I put all those hours together, what a lovely Red Letter life that would make.   ~  Susan Branch, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

 

          I’ve always been the sort to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Maybe it has something to do with my growing up years. From the time I was very young, I learned to mistrust today’s happiness because tomorrow always brought sadness of some sort. No matter how happy I was today, I learned to scan the skies of tomorrow, to anticipate the dark clouds, to familiarise myself with their shape and form so as to soften the blow when it finally, inevitably fell.

          It never occurred to me that the tides of my young life had been orchestrated. That sorrow was always hot on the heels of my happiness simply because I had been raised by people who could never bear for me to be happy. Every bubble had to be pricked and burst. Every sun blotted out as soon as it rose – lest I think I was too good, too smart, too blessed and got carried away.

          Nothing I did was ever good enough. Every success was attributed to someone else – but every failure mine, and mine alone. Every little dream and achievement was held up against an impossible gold standard.

          And each time, it was too little, too small.

          Today, on this green~gold day of a thousand chattering breezes, more than 40 years after I was taught those lessons, my God Who loves me reminds me instead that,

It’s not think big like everyone tells you,

it’s think little

one little step at a time, until you’ve made it;

Not a lifetime,

It’s just today

This hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Hold On A While

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Hold On A While

by Amos Russel Wells

When all the sky is very black
And all the earth is blue,
And all the fiends are on your track
And howling after you;

When courage falls and hope decays
And fair ambition dies,
And all your dreamland is ablaze
Beneath the ebon skies;

When you would fain renounce the goal,
Nor plod another mile,
Oh, straighten up your drooping soul,
And—just—hold on—a while!

Hold on a while! the darkest night
May bring the fairest day.
Hold on a while! the good, the right,
Will always find a way.

Hold on! for is Jehovah dead?
His love an empty song?
Hold on! have heaven’s armies fled
Before the hosts of wrong?

Hold on! for still some strength remains,
Nor yield you till you must;
A newer life may flood your veins;
Born of a larger trust.

A newer life—hold on for that!
A lily from the mud!
The greening peak of Ararat
Emerging from the flood!

The clouds are shattered by the sun;
The earth is all aglow;
Away the howling devils run,
And back to hell they go!

Hold on for that! Do what you can,
Nor prove a craven elf;
For heaven never helped a man
Until he helped himself.

And when your fondest hopes are dead
And fate has ceased to smile.
‘Tis then it pays to lift your head
And—just—hold on a-while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 13 ~ The Saint to Call On

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“Jude is my favorite of all the saints,” he says. “Patron saint of lost causes. The saint to call on when all hope is gone. The one in charge of miracles.”   ~  Jandy Nelson

 

          My country needs a miracle. As my heart scans the undulating sand dunes stretched out before me, I see no hope for my land. We have seen the government we voted in shockingly stolen from us. The sordid past once again occupies the seats of power and authority. Everything we fought for is gone. And yet, each day, we seem to lose more and more. And more. Corruption is rife. Money buys loyalty.

          I know the importance of hope, but there is none left in me to summon.

          Heart aching for my country, I consecrate her to St. Joseph. Please save my land, St. Joseph, I pray. Every fibre of my being wants to give up and to leave this country and start a new life somewhere else, but I’ve never run away and won’t start now.

          I call out to the night for hope. I seek and call, over and over. Please give me hope, I beg of heaven.

          Then, someone strikes a match in the dark.

Patron saint of lost causes.

The saint to call on when all hope is gone.

The one in charge of miracles.

St Jude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Winds of March

Dave Sandford, Lake Erie

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.   John Greenleaf Whittier

 

          This has been a truly severe few weeks. If I thought 2019 was a tough year, it is nowhere near the incredible stress that has manacled almost every day since January.

          I came to Wednesday this week, worn to the bone. Incredibly, it is only February. An unbelievable number of deadlines to be met in the coming days, so much work already done, yet seemingly not a dent in that towering mountain before me.

          Late last year, heaven had sent me a belated Christmas gift in the sudden transfer of my boss. Life had become increasingly difficult under him. Job change or early retirement not being an option for me, I was glad indeed to see him go. Still, there was no remedy for the anxiety I felt about who would replace my old boss. I couldn’t help but be anxious that it’d be someone worse – based on past experience.

          From where I was, looking over the landscape of the coming months, despite my resolve to be brave and not cave in to despair, all I saw then were the endless weave of sand dunes beneath an unrelenting sun.

           Then, remembering the sign from the end of January, before daybreak of this 1st Wednesday of February, I went to St. Joseph and laid down my heart before him. I was so tired but there was still so much to do. I wanted to hope for good things, and if it wasn’t the good that I was imagining, I wanted to be brave and strong.

          Late that evening, with the primrose yellow evening sun peering determinedly over my shoulder, I received news of our new boss. What little we knew of him offered scant hope. With that last rung broken, I was completely emptied of myself. So, I gave myself up to St Joseph. Please help, I whispered. Boss. Deadlines. The rest of this year. The years left till my retirement. Please help, St. Joseph, I whispered as I rested all my burdens at his feet.

          It was night when St Joseph gently slipped my weary heart an unexpected gift. Some weeks before, I had received a beautiful gift from a dear friend, Sue Shanahan, of 2 precious and gorgeously illustrated books written by Susan Branch. I had been slowly working my way through the first book, The Fairy Tale Girl, and I had come to the final few pages. It was winter and in the book, the author had left her home in California for some months of respite from pain and sorrow, on Martha’s Vineyard. She was exchanging grief for uncertainty, yet looking also for hope and peace. I felt my heart go with her on that plane ride from California, knowing what I know now what she hadn’t known then: that her life was about to change forever. That awaiting her was truly the peace and hope she yearned for.

          What I hadn’t known was that something was waiting for me too.

          At the end of the book, on that final page, were the stirring lines from a poem,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.  

          The words the wind of March sheared through my heart with a suddenness that took my breath away, tumbling a brook of silver~joy into the wearied gullies. The wind of March. My tired spirit was thrust high into the skies of sudden hope. March! The month of spring. Of the Feast of the Annunciation. Of news we tremulously await as a family.

Of St Joseph!

          Winds! The one element vested with certain power to still my spirit. No matter how I am feeling, the call of the winds possesses a power only heaven can bestow, to quieten the squalls in my spirit, to raise it in freeing joy. True to form, just the mere sight of the words wind of March, roused my spirit to an anthem of joyful hope.

Something in March

Something in March

Something’s coming in March

my spirit pranced about in giddy glee.

          Nothing definitive was revealed to me that Wednesday night. Nothing about my new boss nor his leadership. Nothing of how the months ahead, the years even, are going to be.

         And yet,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March

spoke a secret to my heart.

          And then the folds of my heart closed tight upon that secret, resolutely sealing its knowledge from me, until the time of illumination.

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling, I watch the shaken elm-boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.

Between the passing and the coming season,
This stormy interlude
Gives to our winter-wearied hearts a reason
For trustful gratitude.

Blow, then, wild wind! thy roar shall end in singing,
Thy chill in blossoming;
Come, like Bethesda’s troubling angel, bringing
The healing of the Spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Happy

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I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. Think of all the beauty still felt around you and be happy.   ~  Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

 

          Two Thursday miracles so far, two answered prayers. Uncertainty for the future remains, the thread of anxiety stitches a quiet seam through my hours.

          But what is life if not to hope?

          This day is a carefree young girl, undecided on her hours. Should she drench the earth with springs from heaven, or burst gold and warmth through blooms and boughs? The winds laugh and sigh, giggle and chatter, as the day ponders how it will live.

Think of all the beauty still felt around you and be happy. 

          As the hymn of the winds dip then soar from minute to minute, a lone robin slips his notes into the spaces. Hope, he sings to remind me, Hope being his song from a winter old. While worries and concerns are an immutable part of my daily walk, the robin wills me remember they must never be allowed to blot out the sun of hope.

           So, for my heavenly Mother, my offering for this First Saturday of the decade is to seek out the blooms of hope She has hidden for me to find.

          May this be my gift to my Mother today, the gift of enduring hopefulness. For hope is the angels’ paean.

          To hope is to be happy.