Hope

Lent 34 ~ Two Roses

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          This morning, I returned to an old garden, hidden from the busy walkways of life. There, I plucked two blooms and carried them back with me in my heart ~ my two children returned to Heaven through miscarriage.

          Later, a struggle with anger against oppressors attacking my kids, anger worsening with every mile to church. All through Mass. Wanting to protect my children. Planning. Then, not sure if anything I do will work. Twenty years of this, worse now because of the kids and the danger they face.

          I tried saying the Rosary during our drive to church but I couldn’t focus on a single Mystery then. So, I resorted to simple Hail Marys, little roses for my Mother. I couldn’t seem to offer anything else.

          I just wished She would say just one word to me.

          Just before Mass began, I was with my Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul. Speak to me, please, I begged. The entries I read were to do with Confession. I read them carefully, searching for His voice. I couldn’t hear anything clearly. So, I moved on.

          Then, I remembered that we were planning for Confession. I went back to the Confession entries.

Concerning Holy Confession.

We should derive two kinds of profit from Holy Confession:
1. We come to confession to be healed;
2. We come to be educated-like a small child, our soul has constant need of education.   ~   #Entry 376

          I understood the words. But I still could not access the direction and comfort I was desperate for. Then, somehow, I lost my place in the book. Searching, I stumbled upon something else – O Blessed Host… Despite my inner turmoil, I was drawn to those words.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the toil and monotony of everyday life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope amid the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.

The efforts of hell. Yes. That aptly described what I was facing, what the kids and my husband were facing.

          As the Host was raised, I cried out with heart and soul,

Save us, Jesus!

Save us, Jesus!

          Later, during Confession, listening intently to my pastor’s words, quiet and gentle, unhesitating in his counsel, my soul was educated, and directed towards hope.

And towards the seeking of angels.

          Just before his final prayer, this gentle priest who has known much suffering, told me to offer Heaven a gift. Two Hail Marys. Roses for my Mother. A softness stole into my heart.

          I knelt to pray. Heart and soul, I offered up the Hail Marys. I begged Mother Mary to keep my children safe.

          Then, I remembered my two wee babies returned to Heaven through miscarriage.

Two children

Two Hail Marys

          Two roses. One for each child, for our Mother. Gift of angels.

 

 

 

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Lent 33 ~ Unexpected

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They who aspire to reform the morals of others lose their time and their pains, by not preaching by example, in correcting themselves first.   ~   St. Ignatius of Loyola

          Yesterday, the quote above touched me. When surrounded by so much negativity and wrong, and we’re trying to survive and thrive, it’s easy to forget to look within ourselves for the solution. When I read the quote, its gentle urge to work on myself filled me with unexpected light, and that light – to preach by example – I took to the day,

          For cruelty, compassion

          For self-seeking, generosity

          For pride, humility

          Towards the end of the work day, preparing for my final appointment, I reflected that, despite my best intentions, I didn’t really get the chance to press compassion, generosity and humility into the widening cracks of my workplace. There’ll be another day, I reassured myself.

          Only the angels could have known what was waiting for me at that final session. We strayed slightly away from our discussion and I stumbled upon pain territory. I heard of truly heartless bullying by those tasked with protecting their charges. I heard the unspoken, deepening resentment. I heard voices stretch and crack from hurt. The blow was unexpected, but paled beside the rawness of the wounds suffered by those victims.

          For a while, I couldn’t find words, anything to make it hurt less for them. As I struggled to wrest control over my emotions, I heard myself speak. I spoke about not rebelling – as I sensed it would worsen the situation. I told the group, all Muslims, that there is a God who sees and feels their tears. I found myself telling them about our natural reflex towards revenge – which is so entrenched in their religion – then gently steered them to rest that revenge in God’s heart, clearing the path in their own hearts to receive His powerful strength.

          They were not empty words, not out of a book, or some preacher’s mouth. They were my journey, my struggles. But I didn’t tell them that because what mattered was their suffering and that they leave the room in hope.

          Did I give them that? Was it enough? As I fretted about it hours later, someone softly spread this over my heart,

          For cruelty, compassion

          For self-seeking, generosity

          For pride, humility.

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 20 ~ Three

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          A short while back, when it became certain that a health concern was recurring, I became anxious and worried. I had faced it before and knew firsthand how problematic and disruptive it could be.

          In the midst of this Cross, I thought of Julian of Norwich and the way she had come  one old night bearing the message,

All shall be well

          I wished she would come once more now, to tell me again that I needn’t fear.

          But she didn’t. It was just one more disappointment which I tucked into the folds of my heart.

          Then came the exhortation that I ask God for His sign for me. After some dithering, I obeyed. On the third day, He brought me this sign early in the morning,

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices. ~   St Teresa of Avila

          All things are passing away. My heart caught at those words. I could feel strength slowly return, gently watering the fear~dried gullies within me. I had just learnt an important lesson – to hold on to hope, to keep my eyes on God – through loving my family.

          And so to the garden of my beloveds I went to love. The hours flew by as the winds sang their hymns from the breast of trees. Late last night, the house stilled in slumber and my heart at peace, once more, St. Teresa smiled her words at me,

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices. 

          This time, I felt her place her finger on Whoever has God lacks nothing. As my heart willingly embraced those words, someone quietly and gently stood behind me. Sensing a presence, my spirit turned, and I beheld,

All shall be well.

          My beloved Julian of Norwich. The third of three.

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 19 ~ Eyes on God

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          Last night, eyes of my heart moving over my day, I was chagrined to realise that my  hours could have been lived better. I had done little and accomplished even less. I had given in to sluggishness. I had not served my family as much as I should have. I had not spent enough time to listen and to enjoy them.

          I barely even heard the birds in the winds yesterday.

          I did not forget the rainbow message of the morn – to remember hope – but even as I held on to the promise of hope, I forgot to try to live that promise in a deeper way. Instead, I had allowed my weariness over my health issues to cloud my day. I allowed it to hold back more of myself from giving love to others.

          Today, I strongly sense that God must have watched me in my hours of yesterday. He must have observed me spend that time trying to hold on to hope by fighting my fears, suppressing my worries through positivity and some prayers.

          And surely, He knew that yesterday, I forgot the most important prayer of all – the prayer of holding His hand through my family.

          So, with the deepening of the night veils, He set about straightening my path.

          He brought me a week’s old post of Melanie Jean Juneau’s where she had written of a situation she was facing. Of the fear. Of trying to hold on to Jesus’ hand even as she tried to walk on water. Of feeling the waves rise higher and higher over her.

          Reading about it, pity and sympathy for a woman I admire so much pierced my heart and shocked me out of myself. Wanting to do something to help her, I bound  Melanie to the Passion of Christ, to His Blood and Water, in fervent prayer for mercy for her and for her family.

          I believe that prayer set me free. My health concerns paled in comparison to this pain. My eyes now just where He wanted them to be, God then set before me other posts – each bearing the message of keeping our eyes on the Lord as we walked on water towards Him.

          No spirit can turn away from such a powerful sign; neither could mine. I knew my Master’s sign the moment I perceived it. I understood His urgent call and my spirit surged towards the impossibility of what He was calling me to: walk on water.

          He’s not called a loving Father for nothing.

          God knew I would hurry to obey. But then, like Peter, I would suddenly take my eyes off Him and I would begin to sink quickly. And so, He showed me how He wanted me to keep my eyes on Him.

          …in the garden every morning are these exquisite blooms, ravishing roses, that are our beloveds …. As we step out each day, may we celebrate the blooms God has so graciously gifted us with.   ~   Linda Raha, Time Enough, Reflections From An Open Window

          God was telling me to return to my family. To love them. To serve them. As I cared for my beloved blooms, I would be keeping my eyes on Him and walking on water towards Him.

          That is how He wants me to remember hope.

 

 

 

Lent 13 ~ Returning of Hopes

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          I read about the Holy Spirit Rosary on Susan Skinner’s blog, Veil of Veronica, and like her, I too was immediately drawn to it. The drawback was that it needed to be prayed as a group – to ensure we do not attribute to the Holy Spirit what is actually something out of our own heads. I didn’t have a group I could meet with to pray the Rosary together. Even with friends, no common time to come together as well.

          This afternoon, with the weather the way it was, sullen and sulking, I decided to go it alone. I prayed with all my heart that my mind, my will and my emotions be bound to the Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. That nothing of me pierce through. It was incredibly difficult, to be honest. I viewed with suspicion everything that moved past the window of my consciousness. I felt as if I was all tightly bound up, stiff and rigid. Not the best way to pray, for sure, but there didn’t seem to be any other way.

          I decided to pray all 5 decades on the meditation of the Agony in Gethsemane. I imagined myself beside Jesus in the garden. Then, I wished I had done some research on this so as to better imagine the place. While I was dragging my scattered thoughts back to the garden, I somehow ended up in the desert with Jesus during His 40 days fast. I’m not sure how that happened. Nonetheless, somehow, that worked out a lot better than trying to imagine the Garden of Gethsemane.

          I believe I imagined Jesus sitting on a wide smooth slab of rock, facing straight ahead. And I settled myself beside Him. He didn’t seem to be aware of my presence. I likely imagined that too. I must have seen the time in the desert to be an intense time, of  deep, penetrating  silence. That would explain why I imagined or pictured Jesus in that still, unmoving, undistracted manner. I remember telling myself not to be a distraction to Him, not to squirm and wriggle trying to get comfortable on hard stone.

          Again, that was just probably my way of quelling my own distractedness.

          As I whispered my Hail Marys and tried to be as still and as unyielding towards travelling thoughts, I sank into a slight weary sadness. I saw hopes that were so long in coming true. I saw dreams that didn’t seem possible any more. Expectations being raised and then, dashed.

          As I struggled and struggled to meditate on His Agony all alone in Gethsemane/Desert, I felt a gentl-ing of my tightness. As I felt the ropes I had bound myself with earlier begin to loosen, I came face-to-face with an old shadow inside me:

The hopes within me were my own, not God’s.

          While He had given me signs and shown me glimpses into the future, I had taken them and embellished them with my own visons and expectations. I had sewed on my own buttons of desires, embroidering the garment with my ideas of how life should work out for me.

          And when what I had conjured in my head collided with God’s reality, hurt swelled  and soared like churning seas.

          Sitting by His side looking out at the expanse of sand and rock, I slowly returned to Him my tattered garments of hope, rent and stained by earthly wiles and wishes, by my own undoing of selfishness, pride and vanity. I gave back to Jesus,all the hope that was of me, born of my passions.

          He’d know what to do with it, I reasoned.

          I cannot be sure how I ended up here, at this point of returning. Was it the Holy Spirit Rosary? Was it just the way my thoughts were weaving through the haze of hours and events?

          I suspect it’s not me. Because despite the dulled spirit, when the Rosary ended, I rose and went to my chores with a lightness in my step.

          You don’t confront sadness and disappointment, and yet, leave in light – unless it was the Spirit’s doing.

 

 

 

As The Robin Sings

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         My heart is deep in winter now. The sun mists the skies with rose, shyly and hesitantly, sometimes not showing itself at all. A winter silence has descended. Everything, everyone, is a little quieter. The white power of winter’s cold stays even the most garrulous and rebellious of spirits.

          Every day, I sit by my window of waiting, looking out as far as eyes can see, over the distant hills and expanse of skies, waiting for hope. Even as feet hurry and hands remain busy, the winter has filtered out so much of the usual distractions; thus my spirit remains more securely anchored to this still waiting.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.   ~  Ephesians 1: 17 – 18

          Where are You, Lord? I ask. Where is my hope?  Winter or not, troubles remain, dotting the hills and plains with their resolute darkness. When will the Promise come?

How much longer, Lord? How much longer?    

          Sometimes, I chide myself for this watching, like a mother to myself, afraid I’d fall hard and hurt myself if hopes are long in coming true. Yet, an unseen Hand continues to hold me to my perch on the watchman’s wall.

          This morning, rising early, looking out of the window, the thick white sky solemnly gazed back at me. Where is the hope that belongs to our call? I tiredly pressed into the watchful fleeces.

          Then, I remembered a visit I needed to make. Hurrying to it, Someone was already there.

I heard a chirrup in the trees and looked up to find a robin, her chest puffed proudly, indifferent to the weather. “And yet the birds persist,” I thought. The robin still perches upon the bare branch and sings out her song for the world to hear—praise to her Maker.   ~   Rebekah Durham, Praise in Winter

          Praise in winter. Praise as the robin does, even in the deep cold. 

          I winced slightly. Praise was a ring I hadn’t worn much of this week. Or the one before.

          I had an errand to run. I drove out, had it done. Driving back home, the radio turned off, I tried to seal my heart to God’s. I looked up once more at the white gray skies. A cheery westerly wind was blowing, making languid boughs bend forwards in welcome.  Remembering the robin on the bare branch, I offered up the beauty of the day to my Lord in praise.

          And then again, my thoughts returned to the troubles our family is facing, and I wondered, How do I hope right, how do I hope without breaking?

          Suddenly, piercing the well-insulated car, came an unusually loud avian singing.

Robins!

           Stunned, I scanned the line of trees bordering the roads. How could it be? How could it be that I heard them?? I could not even hear the crunch of the car tyres on the road. If I were to have heard  anything, it should have been that!

          But instead it was the choir of little robins! Unseen yet strangely, so very close. In a way I cannot explain, they seemed to be flying alongside the moving car – which they weren’t!

          The choir stayed by my ears as I drove into our home and got out of the car. Again, I was startled – they were our very own robins – patriarchs of the trees in our backyard!

          None of this made sense to me. How could I have heard the serenade of my backyard robins, from more than 400 metres away, in a moving car, through completely raised up windows and secured doors?

          As the winds continued their joyful ruffling in accompaniment to the gentle sweetness of the lilting robin hymn, I knew that Mother Mary, Queen Immaculate of my Saturdays, had brought me this beautiful miracle. Speaking through the tongues of birds, Mother bade me know that She heard me, that She was watching over my search for hope.

          But more importantly, She asked that, as the robin sings, undeterred even in the deepest winter, awaiting the hope of spring sun upon the snow,

so must I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arise, My Beloved and Come!

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… the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, My beloved, My beautiful one,
and come!   ~   Song of Songs 2: 11 – 13