Joy

And Dove Makes Three

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          A frustration in the morning, my mood darkened. We had received news earlier that some Christmas wishes would not see light and I ached for my family as much as for myself.

          Yet, travelling to Mass, on this bright morning of golden sun and cherubic clouds, I decided that this was not the way I wanted to go, this was not the way I wanted to be on the breath of Christmas week- hurt by those who couldn’t care less for family.            

          I decided I wouldn’t pretend I wasn’t hurt either. I wouldn’t pretend I was alright with their actions. I wouldn’t pretend I understood why. Yesterday, I had read a story about offering up brokenness to Jesus as a gift for Him. So, like Pepita in the legend about poinsettias, as the clouds slept close to the roads, I offered up my loved ones’ disappointment, the ones they hid and instead tried to be brave and cheery about. I placed my hurts as well as my failings in faith and charity, by Jesus’ crib. Every hope that didn’t come true, every fear, the ill-formed trees of my faith, I gave Him all.

          Then, as mile folded into mile, I recalled the Triduum I had read about, for the 23rd, the 24th and the 25th. 3 days.

Faith for the first,

Hope for the second, and

Charity for the third day.

Today was the 23rd, the first of the Triduum. I didn’t want to think about my faith – I wasn’t sure how much there was for this present situation. And charity for some family members was a tad beyond me today. 

          I sensed that for me today was more about Hope.  Not so much hope for the future or hope in Jesus, as it was about leaving my hopefulness in Jesus’ heart. It was a little hard to deal with disappointing news so close to Christmas. I just wanted someplace safe to keep all that was precious in our hearts.

         At a traffic stop, a Blue King flew to a point close to me – something that has never happened to me before, not the closeness of the bird, not at a busy city intersection.

Quieten down, Listen Up,

he reminded me before the lights changed.

          As we travelled, cloud after dark cloud chugged across my thoughts, and I took each one to line the Crib of Christ. Amazingly, I didn’t have to even fight or force myself. Something stronger than I had taken kingship over my heart.

          Soon, a miracle began to unfold its wings. A gentle hymn found its way into my heart. Not joy. But a simple serenity. To test this serenity, I looked over the hurts once more.

          The peace swelled even more. I found that I could tease and laugh and joke!

          We met with extended family after Mass and our hearts gained a few more nicks. But where flesh-and-blood had cheerfully scant need for us, unexpectedly, another warm, old heart rejoiced in our visit. That love from a kindly, sickly parishioner who shared her widow’s mite with the needy, was like wine that warmed our own hearts. Every rough edge of the day was smoothened down by this old lady’s love.

          And suddenly, my little disappointments no longer loomed large in my heart. Suddenly, all I wanted was to pray for this beautiful soul who chose to love.

          At any other time, I would have viewed this as merely a surprising and pleasant turn of events. But today, the gentle healing earlier and now the suddenness of wanting to pray and love an old lady glowed in my spirit as only a miracle could.

          Two miracles and I was a happy soul and so was my family. Together we left church, our disappointment still present, yet without casting a shadow upon our hearts. It meant so much to hear my husband and children’s laughter and to feel the gentle call of the lark in their happiness.

          We had one last stop to make before we left town. The resting place of our loved ones. For 11 years now, we’ve come, every single Christmas, my husband, my children and I, to love with flowers, where once we touched and talked, hugged and kissed. It was a day beautiful beyond compare. A grey dove alighted on a light post just as we turned in. He’s come to welcome us, I thought as I smiled.

          The sun shone his love upon us, yet he burned us not. White cloud carriages silently made their way to Christmas destinations, gently and languidly led on by sweeping gold~breezes. All around us, everything swayed in the gentlest of motions. I looked around at the many sleeping, lives once lived now come to this earthly end and thought of the hearts each soul had left behind. It has always been so peaceful here, but today, every green and brown crease of hollow, leaf and earth, was perfumed with a peace that surpasses understanding.

          In that peace, we kept tryst with unseen spirits who smiled their joy into the golden air of that blessed hour, and each of our hearts found a prayer for those who lived on beyond the veil.

          As we drove away with full and happy hearts, I farewelled the angel~clouds on their journeys. As I watched them, I couldn’t help but notice that on this day, the white, jolly clouds especially, bore much resemblance to the picture in my previous post.

… 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

          As I recalled the words,

and the song of the dove is heard in our land

a dove swooped down and perched once more on the cables above us.

          To any birdwatcher, this likely kindles no interest. But it did me because I’ve only seen doves in flight or walking on the ground, never perched above me. And never twice for sure, to welcome and then to watch in farewell. Now here in this place where earth and eternity hold hands, the third miracle – of doves coming in a way I’ve never known them, to bid me listen to them,

          The winter is past,

                                                         the rains are over and gone;

Arise and come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rise

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          I’ve always wondered, if I could be pierced so deeply by the slightest hurts, why could I not be struck as deeply by the beauty of the world around me? Why am I primed to react so to woundings, but not to the loveliness gifted by a Father who Loves? How can a spirit so sensitive to nicks and cuts not rise in ecstasy to the pearling of dawn, the song of winds and the glory of blooms?

          What is holding me back? Why am I not the child I once was?

          Where has this child gone?

          On his birthday yesterday, my spiritual father, St. Pio, reached out to me through another’s words,

… so many killjoys, afraid to enjoy today for fear of what tomorrow will bring… don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us… (Anne of Windy Willows by Lucy Maud Montgomery)

          Fear. Slavery. Those were the reverberations of the past weeks. Although I’ve come a distance from my past, I’ve not forgotten the lessons of fear a child should never have been taught.

          A huge storm cloud rises in the east. It rolls up upon us and breaks its grey breast in a wild torrent. Gone is the blue~gold glory the dawn sun promised. In its place queens rich greens, freshened by the weeping rains. Yet, no mourning dirge sounds for what has passed. No mourning is needed – for this is what life is. Each hour brings us its own surprises. In staying my glance too long on the years that have passed and fearing what the coming may bring, I risk losing the present hour’s gifts. 

          Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring us. Could I learn to be this way once more – like a child again? Is this what God wants of me? I want to be sure, I want God to tell me. I ask Him again, I want to hear Him speak to me.

          Softly, a mist forms and breathes its word upon my spirit.

Rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touching Bethlehem

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Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give Your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ, rest Your weary ones, bless Your dying ones, soothe Your suffering ones, shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love’s sake.   ~   St. Augustine

 

Touching Bethlehem this night

Hearts and spirits stilled and waiting

Seeking the miracle of old still bright

Wishing one and all holy joy and blessings

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

 

Lent 17 ~ Spilling Sunshine

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          The kind of life we lead these days – the traffic chaos we navigate, the endless stress from deadlines and workloads, running the home, caring for the family, homeschooling, helping out at church, observing prayer times – the list of to-do’s never end. It’s probably worse for many others. This is the kind of life that has us running here and there, running lists through our heads. Almost every day, from our morning greeting of the day, would likely be about what we can accomplish this day, what can be crossed off those lists.

          I have that sort of life. My husband does too. And so do many we know. Yes, we get tons done. But something is often missing.

          Two days ago, on a sultry evening while the leaves thrashed restlessly in the hot breezes, I made up a batch of spicy fish cutlets. On a whim, I packed and sent some over, piping hot, to my next-door neighbour so she’d have one dish less to prepare for their dinner.

          The rest of the night sped past in a flurry of activities. I had been feeling tired before this but soon felt a new surge of energy. Despite the swelling heat, I felt contented at bedtime as I stood by my window, gazing out at a night sky fleeced in clouds, veiling distant stars winking slyly.

          Today, I read posts by a blogger, Jean, who holds sway at Molly’s Folks. There was one which caught my eye. A keen knitter and skilled at all things needle, she had made many little embroidered hearts, decorated with pretty baubles, and sent them out to various people. She could have sold them and made money off them, but she didn’t. They went to little girl homes. They went to the poor. They went to lives facing a bit of a chill.

          She was spilling little bits of sunshine here and there. Tumbling joy down where the cold sometimes never leaves.

          How often do I do that? I might do a lot for others, bring them the relief they need. But sometimes, we all need more than that. We need to know we are loved.

          We need that little dewdrop of gold sunshine, tumbled into a busy hour. We need that little goldpearl of love to be tucked into our weary spirits. We need that little tickle to turn us away from chills and heat for a while, to rest a bit in merry sunshine.

          We get that when others choose to love us more than their own selves. We get that when we choose to love others more than ourselves.

          That sudden lilt in my step that hot night was gifted me when I took time off to warm the heart of my busy neighbour. And I can imagine the delicious drizzling of joy in the spirits that received Jean’s love through her pretty handstitched hearts.

          We all need dimples of sun spilled into our everydays. When our Lent is so much to do with cleaning and cleansing, gifting love-through-joy where it is most needed can sometimes get buried beneath the busyness of our spirits.

          I’m going to try and spend more of my hours spilling sunshine into yearning burrows. Because the more tired our hearts get, the greater the need for sun~joys.