18 July

Only in Dying

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In dying that we are born to eternal life.   

~   from Make Me A Channel of Your Peace, St. Francis Prayer

          I asked my angel for a prayer for today. It didn’t come immediately but a few minutes later, when I had forgotten about my asking. I heard the strains of an old hymn from the deepest part of me. Although the hymn was very familiar, I had to lean in and listen closely in order to identify it.

          As always, with anything long, I asked for the part God meant for my heart.

          In immediate gentleness, the light was shone,

In dying that we are born to eternal life

          Then, I saw what I had never seen before. That in every act that we choose God over the world, no matter how small that act is, we die to all that is wrong. We die to all the world sets out before us in allure.

          Yet, despite the seeming smallness of that death, we make another step towards the only Life that matters, towards Light eternal.

Praise You In This Storm

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I was sure by now God

You would have reached down

And wiped our tears away

Stepped in and saved the day

But once again, I say Amen

And it’s still raining

And as the thunder rolls

I barely hear Your whisper through the rain

I’m with you

And as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away

  

And I’ll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

‘Cause You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

 

 I remember when I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry You raised me up again

My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on?

If I can’t find you

But as the thunder rolls

I barely hear You whisper through the rain

I’m…

  

I remember when I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry You raised me up again

My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on?

If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls

I barely hear You whisper through the rain

I’m with you

And as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away

 

And I’ll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

‘Cause You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm oh-oh

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

 

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

 

And I’ll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

‘Cause You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm, yea

 

And though my heart is torn

I will praise, I will praise You in this storm

I will praise You in this storm

Praise You in this storm

I will praise You in this storm.

          There are songs we bump into and there are songs that come looking for us. Praise You In This Storm by Natalie Grant is both for me.

Soon after it fell upon my ears last week, its anguished refrain, And I’ll praise You in this storm, was a light tap against my heart to ready it for this week: for the missteps, the exhaustion, things not quite working out despite my best efforts. As I played it on loop this week, even as I stumbled and made mistakes, I got up each time, and pressed little thanksgivings into my God’s Heart. There was still so much to be grateful for even as our lives became more and more difficult.

As a new day rose from the old, a new line in the song came to life.

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away

          I’d listen to that line as I drove, as I worked, my eyes wet, my throat hurting from tears both old and fresh. Grief lives always. It never dies.

One afternoon, I wept into my pillow. Of the many things You could have done, You chose to give and then to take away. Why, God, why? No hand did I hold up against my old anguish. I felt I had lost so very much in this life. It seemed as if every single epoch of my life has been marked by loss. Just as I discovered some happiness, it would soon be taken away. But this loss…

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

And takes away

          When I first heard those lines, I turned away from repeating them even as I continued to listen out for them. Then yesterday, driving home from a work day that had decided to live its own plan, so very, very tired, the song playing on, I raised my heart and whispered, You gave, You took away. Thank you. And tears came from the effort of forming the words I couldn’t bear to touch.

As soon as I had placed those words into Heaven’s heart, a light shone upon a new line, only that I heard it differently,

And every tear you’ve cried

I hold in My hand.

An Asking of Roses

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          I was preparing to go to a shrine early in the morning of the 18th of July, when this picture came to me. It caught my heart, this little girl, so many other things to go to like others her age, but there she was, at a little shrine, intent on giving her Mother a rose. Nothing else mattered to the young one. No storm, no gaiety could force her gaze and spirit away from this sacred deed.

          Yet, my mind remained on the rose the girl in the painting was trying to thread through the statue. I planned to place flowers at the shrine I was going to. I hoped there would be a good choice of blooms because I wanted nothing but the best.

          I thought pink roses would be beautiful.

          About to hurry on to something else, St. Pio quietly came, showed me the Rosary and whispered his old words to my heart, I always pray the Rosary.

          There were to be no rose blooms for my Mother that day. We searched the whole town, only to come up empty. It wasn’t until the journey began that the angels knit together the pearls. Just like the young lass in the painting had given Her, my Mother was asking for a Rose from me too. A rose from my heart.

          And so, I said a Rosary. Rose after rose wreathed through every bend of road framed by wild trees and a morning sky of blues and sun-tinged mists. It was my first with no intentions or petitions attached. Every Hail Mary was my rosebud for the only Mother I ever had.

          Maybe some day, I thought, I would understand why She asked for roses on this day of a thousand memories, when giving is never easy because the heart is empty yet longing.

          Then, a little orange light gently bloomed. It was the saint of the shrine I was going to, who asked for the Rosary. I had wanted to place the best roses at his rest, and he wanted them as much as I wanted to give, except that for him, the very best of roses could only be the Rosary for his Rose of Carmel.

WHISPERS AND STILLNESS

As we trace our lifelines upon this earth, often do we look up, seeking Light of Guidance. And they come – in many a form, every one, little and big, speaking in a rhythm unique to each traveler’s heart.

A little nudge, a gentle word, a picture that makes us pause and think agony-in-garden_1408599_inl[1]

A friend’s love, a father’s hug, letter in the post;

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Pink hush of sunrise, tangerine goodbye of sunset,

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Gray rain rivulets, call of the wild sea, still pond among shadows;

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A warm kitchen and cake fattening in the oven,

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A home where welcome is for all and always.

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Birdsong clear and awakening, zinnias’ secret blooms,

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Ribbons of wind in the trees, giddy perfume of flowers wild,

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Purr of the grass dance, sweet feline repose,

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Angels in gentle wait, the quiet rest of souls;

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All these,

Each and more,

Whispers and stillness,

Lamp to our feet,

Light to our souls.

Eden Rose

Eden Rose

In memory of Love, 24 November 2004 ~ 18 July 2007