INSPIRATIONAL

Wildflower Whispers

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          There are some days and weeks that take more out of us than we have to give. They pull and tug and scrape out what little patience and energy we carry within us, to the point of near depletion. We are left slumped on the floors of earth, willing for the sun to rise right again, to radiate and illumine the soreness to hopeful joy once more. With our tired hearts angled towards the windows of the world, we await those healing goldbeams. 

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          And come to us they do, these mysterious healing rays, yet, not always are they seen for what they are. Hope and light and refreshment do not always come in instantly recognizable packages of pomp and gaiety. Often, they are like wildflowers, shy maidens peeking through the bossier blades of grass. They come unannounced. Unexpectedly. They wrap their gentle tendrils around wilting spirits, whispering light and life back into brokenness.

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          A dew diamond can come through a timely wisdom pearl dropped into a tired heart. This week, for me it was -…..bring your heart back and put it beside Our Lord…. by St Francis de Sales, through Nancy Shuman’s beautiful post, Visiting My Dry Garden. In that dewy moment, the Lord had me see I had strayed beyond the pasture gate, taking with me only my will. He gently drew me away from the scratch and tear of worldly busyness. He gently led me to His Word, nestled in the hiddenness of holy seeking.

          Through the weave of a hundred moments lived through this week, I once again saw that life is an ebb and flow of success and failure. Of satisfaction and disappointment. Of blooming and wilting. No pilgrim soul ever escapes that. Yet, for so many of us, with the intensification of wilting, comes a restlessness of seeking that leads out beyond the pasture gate. We stray further and further away from moment-by-moment communion with the Lord. We go on the strength of our own will.

          It’s not always due to willful obstinacy; in my case this week, it was spiritual forgetfulness in the rush to meet deadlines and to get work done. Busyness and distraction are echoes that reverberate in far too many lives, day after dry day, leaving in its wake, a desert of wilting of spirits. 

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          But the God of Mercy is not one to stand by and watch us drift down paths not willed. Even on the busiest highways of life, Heaven erects signposts and rest stops to halt our descent. Strains of an old hymn, loving counsel, a rebuke even. One line in a book of thousands. An accident, an emergency surgery. A tragedy.

          Each call from heaven a wildflower whisper of light and healing, not always seen nor valued in the crowd of grass, yet, parting the blades in our lives, in a gentle reminder to bring our hearts back and put it beside Our Lord.

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LENT 35 ~ Jesus Fought My Battle

St. Sebastian, St. Sebastian (41)[1]

          Yesterday, the Lord called me to a fast from anger.

          Never before have I felt such tenderness in a call. Never before have I found the firmness of will to obey. 

          The moment I sensed the call, there arose like mushrooms after the rain, endless pops of situations that tested my patience, and tempted me to anger. Seeing the end of Lent in sight, and not wanting to gift my Lord on Easter with the usual mess of red darts, I willfully chose to rest my heart and will in Jesus.

          And He fought my battles for me.

          I came to evening weary and listless from physical tiredness, but also with a relief that no one did I maim with my anger. Neither did it find a refuge within my soul in the sultry hours of yesterday.

          Because, for once, I fasted from myself and let my Jesus fight for me.

LENT 9 ~ HE

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He can turn the tides
And calm the angry sea.
He alone decides
Who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star
That makes our darkness bright.
He keeps watch all through
Each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time
To hear a child’s first prayer.
Saint or sinner call
And always find Him there.

Refrain:
Though it makes him sad
To see the way we live,
He’ll always say, “I forgive.”

2. He can grant a wish
Or make a dream come true.
He can paint the clouds
And turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where
To find the rainbow’s end.
He alone can see
What lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree
And turn the leaves to gold.
He knows every lie
That you and I have told.

LENT 1 ~ Humble, Holy, Hidden

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          Whenever the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes gently asks remembrance, my thoughts always lead to the Lourdes seer, St Bernadette Soubirous, and the three little goldpearls which describe this saint and her life ~ Humble, Holy, Hidden. A life led only to seek God, taking nothing for herself – no accolade, no comfort, no elevation.

          In my mind, I see my plans and ambitions, the career moves I pursue. The prayers prayed against the holy will of God. I recall my anger and disappointment at thwarted hopes. In my responses, in each of them, I had cast aside humility ~ the diamond of heaven, seeking instead the false gold of the world. It is a dangerous foolishness I have sought with vigour, but must now desist if I am to see heaven some day.

          For St Bernadette, God was her only consolation through poverty, suffering, sorrow and humiliation because she allowed herself no other comfort. God was the only light she yielded to. 

My God I love You, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength.

          Hers is a journey I am beginning only now. To make God my all, as Bernadette once did. But how hard it is, how deep the craggy rocks of obedience and holiness cut into my bare soles. The pain is felt ever so deeply because I do not love enough. Too much of me is still attached to this world and its sordid allures. Yet, although I have not completely surrendered to the will of my Lord, I can at least pray her prayer to pave the way. My God I love You, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength. And even if my heart has not fully yielded, it will begin to.

          This journey of mine, into the heart of God, must be hidden, for the most part. Hidden to not incur unnecessary derision and hurt. Hidden to protect me from pride. Hidden to keep my seeking pure, unsullied by blighted sight and impure motives. This hiddenness costs me, though. It brings with it loneliness and aloneness. The steeper the climb gets, the fewer the companions, lesser the comfort of pilgrim empathy and understanding.

          This journey of the soul, from earth to heaven, should never be like an interrupted train journey, undertaking and disembarking on a whim although it pauses at many stations, weakening at the behest of capricious winds. It is one that calls for resoluteness and stoicism, though many its tumbles and falls. Humble, holy, hidden is an arduous, yet joyful journey, leading to an embrace of life that will see heaven some day and bring souls the peace yearned for – that which surpasses understanding.

 

I lead, not you

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          Someone I love is in a dark place, bereft of hope, sodden with a grief that wounds and wounds with every resurrection. Every lift and turn of head brings into focus the loss that cuts deep. There is no escaping it. No forgetting, no momentary relief. Strength has gone to the grave, hearts weep and chafe for a light now gone.

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          At the first stain of pain, we both prayed our hearts out, joined by other loving souls from across the world. There was hope and light and a future. But then, something changed overnight.

           Something’s not right, my prayers are not being received, I realize.

          I plough on. She has fallen. Pray to St Joseph, invoke him, I tug her to her feet insistently. And I share a lot about St Joseph after that, so she seeks him as I did and do. But the resistance strangely deepens. I ache with a frustration which I hide – to not add another cross to the grief. I want nothing more than to reach out and press the balm of healing into a wound that bleeds. To stretch out my hand, and light up every darkness, banish each shadow to its lair of lament.

          Yet, no power do I have. There is little I can say or give that will turn sorrow into joy. I am no replacement for what has left never to return. I am unable to bud and bloom the rose of hope for her.

          No power do I have, no power do I have.

          And we both slump, tired.

women%20sad%20window%20panes%201920x1080%20wallpaper_www.wallpaperfo.com_39[1]          I see the darkness of despondency encroach quickly in the wounded heart of my loved one, shores and waters away. The prayers continue to fall into a vacuum, novenas bounce off invisible walls. My loved one screams for reprieve, for a glimmer of hope that lets one put one foot in front of the other. Yet, unexpectedly, no hand from Heaven reaches out. A wall of silence meets each weeping entreaty.

          I worry. I can sense her giving up, the tenuous grip on life and hope, loosening. I pray to compensate for her. But when I battle on, I sense I’m being restrained. Doors being closed. I fret because I think I prayed all the right prayers – to restore hope, to heal the wounds, dry the tears, light the path ahead. Yet, they’re not being received.

          Why, why, why?

          Why has Heaven suddenly put a Hand up against my sincere prayers?

          I want answers. I turn to St Joseph – the saint of interpretationof not only dreams, but of every manner of twist and turn of path. I beg his discernment. Why, why, why? I ask him. Why did you not help her as you helped me?

          And it comes, on a lily-breath:

          I am your journey, not hers, he presses on my heart.

          And there it was, laid out plainly and directly.

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          I am your journey, not hers. No two journeys are the same, however similar they may seem.  No two valleys, no two peaks will ever be the mirror image of the other. And it is not my call to make it thus. I cannot play God. I cannot take His place, and commandeer the path others must take – be it a course of action, or a saint to invoke, or a novena to say – even if it worked for me. God must be allowed to lead unhindered, each pilgrim soul through the valley of grief. I cannot, should never, take the lead, even if it seems so right.

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          And when the arrow of humility finally finds its mark in my bowed soul, a sudden power of strength and hope surges through me. Gone are the muddy shadows and lethargy. Gone is the wall, the resistance. I see my failing in my pride that I knew it all, but I see too Heaven’s mercy extended in the fresh blossoming of hope come alive in my soul.

          My tread is more contrite now. It is learning to follow the Light ahead. It understands it should never lead.

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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The Pilgrim Christmas

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          It’s the season when Christmas carols waft over and around us, and a quickening in our spirits anticipate the happy day. People merrily busy with gifts and plans for dinners and reunions, happy panic of the much not done yet. Cards being bought, gifts to be wrapped. Homes we pass, busy ovens, busy windows. New drapes, streamers, fresh cakes and cookies, evergreens being dressed. Christmas wreathes its magic, all and sundry caught up in the hope, love and joy it heralds.

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          But for some of us, our place is in the frost just outside of that circle of enveloping Christmas joy. To watch from the periphery. With aching hearts to see the Yuletide light twirl around, and choose to not settle on us. To see everyone else caught up in the giddy joy of the festive days, and wonder what we did wrong to not feel as light and as free and as hopeful. Within us we carry a quiet hurt that God’s magic wand somehow missed us. We hurt that we seem to carry burdens not cast on others. New burdens, old ones from years and old years before. Always us, the choice beast of burden. The grief inside us is a hurt we try to damp down and hide, because it seems to uncharitable to mar the beauty of the season with something that shouldn’t be there. It’s a shame we try to camouflage, that the joy everyone is experiencing is withheld from us, and it’s a wart we don’t want others to see.

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          So, some of us retreat from the world during the season of goldreds. Why inflict our black of hopelessness and despair on others? we ask ourselves. Why beg sympathy from the abundance of the joyful? We retreat, and we hope no one notices because we have no answers to their prodding queries. We retreat out of shame because we bear the black mark of sorrow, a defect that stands out more in the face of so much surrounding merriment. We retreat and hide because it’s much easier on everyone this way.

          But if retreat from cheer is not an option in the Christmas season,  we might plaster on a smile, pretend an ebullience that is not there, so as not to be singled out for a Yuletide inquisition. It gives us anonymity, and allows us to blend into the background of happy. No worries here, move on, please, we grin till it hurts. Pretense buys us the relief of space and time away from the reality of the emptiness in our own lives, where lives a barrenness that refuses to die. And so, we laugh along with others, and hope the hollowness doesn’t show, and pretend to love and be loved.

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          Yet, nothing blinds us from seeing that emptiness has a weight that bears down harder than fullness.

          And the cross bites deep into our wounded shoulders.

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          In our little nook in the frost, an ancient truth almost escapes us ~ Christmas is not about us. A Christian pilgrim Christmas is about Love. Love born of holy obedience. Love blossoming and flourishing in the kingdom of hardship. Love birthed to bring joy to sorrowing hearts.

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          A Christian Christmas is the wounded pilgrim taking Jesus-joy to the fellow wounded. It is the meal we cook for the lonely when we too only have emptiness to return to. It is the card we send to someone who needs to know love, although ours is the address everyone forgets. It is the prayers we sob for broken hearts in other homes when our own children have broken our hearts. The gentle empathy offered by a lonely widow whose husband will never return, to a young, frazzled wife whose husband works far from home.

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          The pilgrim Christmas is taking love to where it has long been dead. To coax life and joy back into bitter deserts. To inject hope and resurrect life. It is to love even as we weep from our own unhealed wounds. It is to draw from our own pain to touch the sometimes, lesser wounds of others.

          And this sowing of Jesus-joy in souls is inadequate if it comes from a filled heart, for there’s sometimes, nothing more dispiriting than to receive from material abundance, because it underscores a grieving soul’s squalor.

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          So, it is precisely when we feel we are running on empty, that the purest giving can we bequeath to others. The parchedness of our own waiting for Jesus-joy must lead us to a Bernadette response ~ to dig streams of Lourdes in the lives of other pilgrims, so that they may receive the gifts of healing and hope. Our seemingly empty lives must never lead us away from the pilgrim path of giving, onto the dark alleys of self, because to feel our barrenness is to be filled with God, and this Light must be shared.

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          The pilgrim Christmas is the antithesis of the world’s Christmas. Ours is a light for the poor, and a holly wreath of tender charity foreign to the world we occupy, and it will earn us ridicule and derision. But it is the way of heaven that for the sunrise joy of Christmas to bloom in us, we must first take it in obedience to where God wills us, and sow it in hearts not ours, so that the mourner’s dirge be transformed into a Gloria.

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          For the Christmas cannot come to us before it comes to others.

You Do Not Walk Alone

 

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May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows fall—
You do not walk alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Old Irish prayer

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