Joy

9th of 9

bu8a8768_151415_jpg.jpg

          This beautiful break draws to a close. Even at so late the evening hour, tiny night breaths bear the lonesome call of the last water birds. Gazing at the gate I must soon open to return to the world tomorrow, my heart constricts. This has truly been a beautiful 9 days. Even the day I slipped and returned to anger brought me to a new day lovelier than the day before. It’s as if God would not allow anything to tarnish the pearl of His gift to us.

          Still, the 9 was not a break from this world. God did not shield us from pain and stings on this break, He did not take us to a world away from this world. Instead, each day that we lived cuddled in our joy in the evergreen valleys of home and hearth, we also stood within the circle of pain of others. Granted, despite our best intentions, we did not always live our hours in perfect charity and obedience. But like seasoned sailors we rode each crest and billow, our eyes in constant seeking of the Master’s Light. If we fell, we got up and sought our post again.

          Although I tried to live this break for God entirely, no effort of mine could have scripted even a single minute of these 9 days. The gentle flow of hour into hour, from the rose of each sunrise to the sultry, triumphant bloom of sunset, sang of the grace of God Who loves and gives beyond compare.

          It was truly, truly Grace that wrote the story of each day.

 

 

 

 

         

 

Advertisements

No Holding Back

17756835540_c09ff607f9_b.jpg

          I have a secret pleasure: each day, when the sun has gone to his bed and the stars dimple the skies, I often go among the old hours of my day, gleaning from them what is of some worth.

          I hold each of these kernels of deeds, close to my heart, breathing in their soothing perfume, taking from each bud what comfort they give in telling me how I’ve lived my hours. Sometimes, there are many buds; often too few. Sometimes, I remember to thank God for the strength, the wisdom, the patience, which He gave me, enabling me to complete tasks, achieve goals.

          Often, though, I number among the 9 lepers who forgot to return to thank Jesus.

          Yesterday, the first day of my 9, everything I did I gave to Jesus. No morsel did I hold back for myself. No ache at letting go did I feel, no firm tug at my will to comply either. From morn to night, I skipped in happiness to the Heart of Jesus to empty my basket at God’s altar.

          I know this was possible only because my spirit is wrapped up in the anthem of joy and relief at 9 days away from shadows. I wish this could be me always; yet no such vow do I make. For once, I don’t want to go outside the gate, nor crest the hill to sight what lies beyond. All that matters for these 9 days is to live in the meadow of today.

          And on the first day, I lived it by giving, no holding back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Posy for My God

eyeem-124941892.jpg

          I’m on a 9-day break from today and there are no words for the relief and thankfulness at not having to see my work place for 9 days. But I wished to also put the 9 days to good use, mainly by resting as much as possible to prepare for the tough coming months. I’d have to travel to the city daily for a couple of days but there is home and family and love and duties to return to each day. There’s the beckoning of a garden waiting to be loved, stomachs to be filled and perhaps a head start on the Christmas cleaning of closets too!

          In my head, I had the 9 days pretty filled.

          Then, I realized something. Rather than put myself and my responsibilities at the centre of my break, I could consciously try and live these 9 days for God – making it a special prayer. A perfect novena. 

          I am so grateful for this break, and what could be more beautiful than making a posy of each day for God?

 

 

 

 

Winter’s End

23865576196_92af9a4509_o.jpg

          Many sunny hours have woven their sweetness throughout my recent days. For the first time, in a long, long while, I have begun to feel a happy spring flow and flow  through me, tripping and tumbling through my spirit. After so long, once more, I find joy in the gentle sway of green trees in happy winds. I see parents with tots and rejoice over their Yes! to life. Even storm clouds make my heart sing as swathes of orange~gold sunset shine through breaks of grey.

          Yet, if anyone had told me this much longed for happiness was coming, if they had told me this last Thursday or Friday, I would have found it hard to believe – because on those days, I was involved in yet another fight for my religious rights. In those smarting  hours, I didn’t have a faith big enough to ask for joy.

          All I begged of God was for peace of mind to work peaceably.

          Because when troubles are deep, when life is difficult, we need peace to get from one day to another. In many places like mine, where religious intolerance and skirmishes are escalating, even a sliver of peace each day has immense power and I have learned to value it. That was what I was experiencing since that odd silence came into me, and I was so grateful for the strength and help God rendered to me. 

          But then suddenly, came this unauthorized ‘addendum’ on an old leave application for Good Friday way back in April. With one slice of someone’s dark sword, silence – and peace – went. My leave had been approved by my superior and submitted a long time back, and the leave taken. Yet, suddenly, weeks later, a clerk in the state department, not even a higher ranked officer, took it upon herself to place extra conditions on my leave application, threatening to void it if the conditions – her conditions – were not fulfilled.

          I only saw a red mist at her audacity. Suddenly, with all that has been happening, it was too much for me. This is why I am very wary of the Muslim fasting month here – There is something about this month of theirs that brings out the worst in them. It seemingly never fails to light and stoke the flame of intolerance and suspicion against others. It either turns people into what they weren’t before or it makes them worse.

          Please end this, God, please end this, I begged and begged, in frustration, in weariness. I am trying to endure but this is so hard. Please help me. Tell me what to do. Give me a sign, I prayed.

          On Friday morning, tense at what else lay ahead, I placed my Friday of Atonement and Reparation in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I said my first prayers at my altar, I saw a few flashes of light. This has happened many times before, though, not always. It is my guardian angel’s sign to me – to cheer up, all will be well.

          Really? I obviously didn’t have a lot of stock of faith at the moment.

          Then, came the next. The opening lines of Friday’s Gospel reading was,

Jesus said to his disciples:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  ~   John 14: 1

          In a more humble and steadfast soul, those words would have pierced right through, flooding the soul with strength and hope. But I was no humble and steadfast soul; I was a steaming geyser right then, not sure if I had to grit my teeth and endure this, or pray and ask – and hope – that it be resolved.

          So, my spirit wasn’t exactly quiet and meek and humble.  Because of that, I couldn’t feel His words. I leaned against the very door Jesus was trying to open to come in.

          But I didn’t give up either. Are you speaking to me, Lord? I asked. Let your heart not be troubled… is it for me? I pawed on.

          And then, I bowed my heart and asked for forgiveness for my lack of faith.

          Just as I was about to rise and go to my work day, St. Margaret Mary stopped me,

When you are in trouble and anxiety, go and plunge yourself in the peace of this adorable Heart, which no one can take from you.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          And the words fell straight into my heart. From the doubt I had shortly before, if I was meant to endure and suffer or if I had to go ahead and fight for my rights, now I suddenly had the strongest feeling that she understood me, that she was on my side.

          More importantly, that this was a battle and it had to be fought.

          The change in me was instantaneous. I rose from my prayer mat, pierced with a sudden rush of strength at the words, Go and plunge yourself in the Sacred Heart. Gone was the inner tension. Gone was the fear of standing up and making my voice heard.

Go and plunge yourself in the Sacred Heart

          Over and over, I said the words to myself, I plunge myself into the Sacred Heart. When I thought of the absurdity and the sheer unfairness of what I was going through, I plunged it into the Sacred Heart. When my thoughts went to how this would all work out, what I needed to do, when to do it, I plunged them all into the Sacred Heart.

          Within two short hours at work, I got a call telling me the matter was settled. I had not done anything. And neither was there anything that I needed to do.

          It wasn’t mere relief that burst through my heart. It was the hymn of utter joy! I could barely understand it. I have faced far, far worse before, and while I have received God’s guidance and consolation for those times, yet, it was over the resolution of this – smaller – issue that the arrows of joy were piercing me over and over and over again in their unutterable sweetness.

          I carried this bubbling, laughing light within me from the moment of that phone call. Gone was every shadow that had taken firm residence in me for so long. Suddenly, I tasted freedom. I could lean my heart against every thing of beauty ~ children not mine, big and little, my own husband, my own children, the sacred duties of wife and mother. I ran out to greet every song the winds sang from their secret  watch amongst the clouds. In a long neglected ritual, I stole minutes to go and rest awhile in the mad tangles of a little garden coming back to life, rejoicing over new shoots and baby buds. And late at night, at my window, saying good night to the world, I lay my heart in grateful rest in the gentle, solemn embrace of the mother~moon, suddenly sure of my Heavenly Mother’s love for me.

          Someday perhaps, I may learn the secret weave of this story, how each line, both visible and hidden, lived out its mission to take me from one chapter to the next.

          For now, though the road ahead lies in patient wait for my travel, I am certain of one thing.

          I have finally come to the end of my long winter. Spring has indeed come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 22 ~ Spring is Starting!

jonathan-klok-400253-unsplash

Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;
as certain as the dawn is His coming,
and His judgment shines forth like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.   ~   Hosea 6: 3

 

          Spring is starting! I know it. I know it differently from the still quiet of the morning, rinsed and blessed by new rains. Before this, my knowing was of hope. Today, it is of certainty. Joy tingles my fingertips. To the physical eye, little has changed from the old hours. Yet, my spirit is curled in the delight of knowing the secret whispered among angels,

Spring is starting!

          Suddenly too, emerges a desire, gentle yet sharp, to get my ‘house’ in order.

To clean,

to remove

To rebuild,

to restore.

Spring is starting!

Rejoice!

 

 

 

 

 

And Dove Makes Three

Eurasian-Collared-Dove

          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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise

gamze-bozkaya-652627-unsplash.jpg

          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

pexels-photo-262669.jpeg

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

         Redwood-Forest-Wallpaper-D8W7O-800x600

          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.