LENT 20 ~ A Goodbye and a Boat Row


          Somewhere in the purple shadows of an old day, someone went out on the boat, to the chorus of farewelling birds, heading for a distant shore. No one stood among the reeds to wave goodbye.

          No one knew.

          And later, as the night winds picked up, and the world slept, the boat returned empty, from a journey willed not by God, but by the heart.

          A young soul had left this world.

          No one stood in the wet sands watching the ripples return. No one knew.

          The young mother wearied by life and its loop of struggles chose the day to row her boat away from shores she had known all her life. She had in error surmised, this life, its twists and turns, the sands, the pebbles, the rocks, were jagged outcrops on a journey meant for others not her.

          After all, wasn’t the path to heaven supposedly wide and strewn with roses?

          So, she set sights on a distant shore where the sun dimpled peacefully in the quiet ebb and flow of waters; where the reeds swayed in the lilt of gentle winds, and no storm clouds ever held court.

          She didn’t know that the way to that gold-blessed shore was by the Cross.

          She wrote a note and said goodbye, stilled her grief and mind, and took her leave of this world meant for others not her.

          When her darkness remained unlit by light, her child found the note no mother should ever have to write, no child should ever have to find. And read of a goodbye and a boat row across the lake to a distant shore that didn’t know pain.

          The young one now vigil keeps, in the wet sands among the reeds, watching the ripples return bearing the secret deep.

          A note. A goodbye. A lifetime of anguish bequeathed.



          A gentle press on my soul on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Light and undemanding. So, I read on St Bernadette to commemorate the feast.

          When the hours had grown old, I left the feast day, and moved on to other things.

          But something lingered, holding on to my spirit.

          Searching, trying to discern, I sensed it was connected to the Lourdes water, specifically. Sensing a call, I turned it over in my mind, and waited for more illumination.

          Then, today, it came, on a breath of blue.

          Immerse souls, dying and lost, in the healing waters of Lourdes.

          I was ready to obey. As we recited the family Rosary, I felt another interior tug. Why the Water of Lourdes? Understandably for its miraculous healing powers, but there was a sense of something more. I went over what I knew of the apparition, and the beginnings of the stream that St Bernadette had dug. I pictured her there, on all fours, parting the earth, oblivious to the mocking of the gathered crowd.

          What was the source of the water? I asked as I prayed on.

          Then, for no reason, not besieged by any emotion or storm of heart, my eyes filled with sudden tears. What is the water of Lourdes that it has this power to heal?

          And then I knew.

          Tears of the Mother.

          Immerse souls, dying and lost, in the tears of the Mother.



          As the sun dips to his rest, and the purple night gently ribbons across the skies, our hands reach out for light. However welcome the night in its cool flower-scented breezes and hushed life sounds, we seek the light to see and live.

          And so it is with the soul. Even in the wilful pursuit of all that chokes and stamps out the breath of God within us, the soul in loneliness seeks the Light. In every straying heart, the soul stands in diametrical solitariness, longing for that which gives True Life.


          So as the indigo mists of night drop their veils, heed the urgent whisper of the Spirit:       Go forth and light the lamps.


          Seek the barren streets, seek them in compassion. The paths where lonely snow drifts. In love reach out to those whose heads are bowed against the snow, intent on their cold aloneness because they think no one cares enough any more. Let love warm and melt the snow that they wear around their hearts, kindle unseen embers long dormant.


          Have courage. In patience, search for homes locked from within. Shutters clamped tight against the light, soil tilled no more, gardens listing to neglect. Walls adorned by sadness, loss of hope. Seek these homes of a thousand gray memories, dwelling place of souls fettered by the past and present. Seek them and let the Light stream in, for it’s only by His Light that the soul heals.


          Seek the faces on the streets of hardness, despair, fear and shame. Seek in earnest the faces of those who earn their living by the barrel of the gun of violence and drugs. Search out the souls who offer spousal comfort to those not theirs. In mercy and love, part the thorns that hide and protect those who choose to sever the bond between a mother and her baby in the womb. Go forth and light the lamps on those darkened streets of a thousand shadows. Give hope where hope has gone. Share love where hate has reigned too long. Light the lamp so the soul may be healed.


          Light the lamps in souls who choose their end before His time. Those so bereft of hope, who suffer the poverty of relationships true and strong. Those for whom love has fled. Let their grief light your path to them. Illumine the darkness of their agony with Christ, that they see in their sufferings, purpose amalgamated with the Divine Will.


          Go forth and light the lamps in lands where faith slumbers in peril. In prayer and deed, in a life lived true, guide hearts to the Pearl of the Blue Mantle.


          Shine the Shepherd’s Beacon in every pilgrim soul, away from the precipice of death, steer each one safe.