Healing

Lent 25 ~ Slow the Horses

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The latter days of summer are a good time to wash the heavy linens used in winter. A clothes line is quite handy for this. I have a line full of soft blankets now, that were hung in the early morning, when the day was new and the scent of the mimosa filled the air up. Hanging clothes out is a peaceful task – and you are liable to solve a problem or say a prayer while doing so. I have done both.   ~  Michele Warren, The Rabbitpatch Diary

          One of my faults is that I tend to rush through life. In the midst of doing something, in my mind, I am already chasing down the next thing. I seem incapable of quiet deliberation, focusing on one thing at a time. Maybe that’s one reason why I am often tired.

          Today, Michele Warren’s quote and Linda Raha’s post, The Coming of Spring, hold a teaching for me.

Bring presence into everything

          To quieten the unruly horses within me, I need to learn to restrain my inner presence to the present moment. To be in the moment and to be deliberate in what I am doing. It will not always be possible, I know. Thoughts are much like clouds, chugging and skitting from one port to another. But giving free rein to wild horses is to run many races in one day and that is never a good thing if it becomes a way of life. In a rush, we fail to notice the little wants and needs along the path of life. We will be too intent on covering the course to savour the little joys hidden along the way. Racing from one duty to the next, we risk training ourselves to always focus on the next thing, missing all that’s precious in the present.

Life is not always about the next thing. Often, it is about how we live the now.

          A new dawn slowly begins to light the eastern skies in gold. A busy day is ahead. Already I feel the day’s tension champing at the bit, waiting to be released in myriad ways. Today, like many others, it’s not possible to pare down the list of things to be done nor to reschedule.

          But maybe it isn’t about doing as little as I can in a day as much as it is about slowing my inner horses, bringing my whole presence into every little thing I need to get done today.

          Maybe it’s to be like the sun, moving deliberately and surely across the skies, in careful measuredness, till his work is done at the close of day.

Lent 24 ~ God’s Nectar

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          Today was a very busy work day and not everything went to plan. Still, it was one of those rare days when I was able to tell myself to stop work by slightly after 4pm. About 2 hours later, I had just snuck back to my laptop again, when my daughter called me outside to look at the sky. The late evening clouds were fuzzy yet shining at the edges with centres that glowed with hidden suns. It was so very beautiful, spilling a happy peace inside me. Suddenly, I wanted to be out myself, with my family, lounging around at the back.

          It was a school day and there was still so much to be done. We weren’t outside in the playful yellow-gold evening breezes for very long but it was long enough, I soon learned. I had time to take in the old swing gently sway in contentment beneath our old tree. Time to chat some more and listen to my children and husband as I swept the floors and neatened the space. Under the watchful gaze of those shimmering clouds, slowly slipping into orange ribbons, a sweet, lifting happiness found its way into me and all the tiredness of the day was gone.

          Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to spend a lot of time to rest in the way we want to. Sometimes, we hurt ourselves by expecting a long restful drink out of the cup of life and we withhold ourselves when we see that the cup isn’t as full as we want it to be. We deny ourselves that sip, training our sights instead on bigger things – longer time to relax, a fun activity ahead, a big trip.

          But ever so often, the angels offer us God’s nectar in tiny flower~cups. If we could just let go of ourselves a bit and lean down, I think we’ll find that a seemingly little bit goes a long way.

Lent 16 ~ The Song to Sing

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Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’   ~  Luke 15: 25 – 32

          Today, I finally saw what others had long before caught: that the older boy in the parable was likely jealous. And that his jealousy prevented his heart from rejoicing over his brother’s repentance.

          I’ve always felt sorry for this older boy/man. It is never an easy thing to slog at something and be contented with small rewards. It is much harder when it is left to us to pick up the slack caused by others; worse when we seem to be left out in the cold while the everyone else fêtes those who have made things difficult for us.

          Except that the parable of the prodigal son has never been about a forced and meaningless celebration. It has never been about burying the hurt and projecting a happy we don’t feel, nor about killing the fatted calf for someone who has come home the same he was before.

          Anyone who has been scarred by jealousy knows its dark power – as well as the suffering it is capable of inflicting. Jealousy has poor tolerance for good news. Its participation in joy is often short-lived and uncertain. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about a jealous heart, it is that it is extremely short-sighted, not able to see too far beyond its personal borders.

Everything I have is yours

          Jealousy will never allow the heart it rules to be convicted of that truth because a jealous heart cannot share sincerely and generously. It will keep careful accounting over anything given. What it gives today, can be demanded back the next day – because it struggles with sharing. So, even when God promises that Everything I have is yours, a jealous heart can only view it with suspicion.

But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.

          Nonetheless, God stands very firm – and fair. Even as His decree is that we open our hearts to the good news of conversion, He gives us the Light that will help us to transition from hurt and hardness to love:

Rejoice over repentance

          No matter what suffering we have endured, when the dead come back to life and the lost finally found, we must celebrate the return. Not tolerate. Not merely acknowledge. But sing the lyrics of rejoicing until its song is one with our hearts.

          Because it is that song which heals the wounded heart. And to be healed of jealousy, no one can sing that song but us.

Lent 15 ~ Go Out and Love

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          Yesterday, some issues regarding my professional future were weighing on my mind. In my post, Destiny, fellow blogger and my friend, Ann Coleman, commented, “It’s natural to be anxious about something so important. But I do believe we can trust God to be with us through even the worst challenges. And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.” 

          Something about that last line snagged my frazzled and tattered attention.

And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.

          Ann’s touching concern and support lit a spark in me. Of wanting to go out of myself and care for others besieged by work concerns in whatever form. Nonetheless, at that very moment, it was mind over heart, because it was almost night and I was so very worn out from staring at my laptop screen for hours on end.

          Still, when God lights a spark, it is lit, no matter what.

          Today, I had to travel to the city with my husband. We met a salesperson he had dealings with. Within a few short hours, the 60-something man had let down inner his mask with us, and let slip that he had just undergone a heart procedure. I thought to myself that sales wasn’t the best job to be in if you had a heart complaint. Later on, we observed signs that despite his good work ethic, genuinely genial nature and immense popularity with clients, he didn’t seem to be earning very much.

          And yet, he was so giving, even when it would have gotten him nothing back.

          As we waved goodbye, something about him tugged at my heart. Well into his 60s and continuing to work in such a cutthroat business when others would have retired, I just felt that something hadn’t worked out in his life. He had a hunted look in his eyes, as if there were forces he was trying to outrun but couldn’t.

          Driving home, I thought about this man’s worn heart and remembered him before God.

          We were late in leaving the city and so got caught in its after-work traffic snarl. Driving carefully, I watched cars zip in and out, drivers in a great hurry to get home. Deeply exhausted, home seemed so far away. And we had one more similarly draining trip to make the next day.

          Despite my state, in the sharply angled evening sunshine, something else began to take over. I found myself empathising with the commuters’ rush to get home. Oddly, it was almost as if I could cut past the layers of metal and noise, and see right into hearts, here and there encountering happiness and good cheer, but mostly touching weariness, worry, frustration or just plain tiredness from a hard day’s work. All stopped at traffic lights after traffic lights, we were sitting in different vehicles, looking different, living differently. And yet, there was a common thread of happiness, worry, fear and tiredness running through each of our lives. 

However different we were, we are all bound together by our need of God, to be placed in His Flaming Heart.

          Once home some hours later, I contacted our parish priest to make arrangements to attend private Mass with him. To my sadness, I found our priest in great agony from nerve pain. He asked for prayers and so I hastened to do what I could, feeling it was too little against such a great need.

          It was past midnight when I sought the stillness to gather my thoughts. While no great mountain did I move in my Friday hours, Ann’s words reminded me that even in our hardest struggles, our hearts must never close in on ourselves. That no matter how gnarled and rutted our own path is, we must take care to never lose compassion for others who are suffering. And yet, that remains a mountain to be scaled – to remain in the moment of others’ suffering, to help them carry their crosses, even as my own weigh me down.

          Although so many of our questions remain unanswered, and the road stretches on through the uncertain terrain of life, in choosing to open our hearts to the pains of others, I have learned a great many times, our crosses will not vanish, our own pain might not diminish. The lesson God wrote upon my heart today was that,

The more we hurt inside, the more we must go out and love.

          Because it is when we wipe the wounds of others, that we touch the very Wounds of Christ.

Lent 12 ~ While In The Midst

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I came home on Monday.  The snow, followed by days of rain, had turned the yard in to a large mud puddle.   There wasn’t a single ray of sun either.  The countryside looked drab and untidy   . . .so I remembered the irises and the pale blossoms of the peach tree to “tide me over” for a while.  The earth is filled with promises, I reminded myself.  This sparked a joy in my heart.  Suddenly, I took a second look around me and noticed the many shades of silver in the sky.  There were all sorts of chestnut and coppery browns and soft greys.  Even the puddles were full of life.  Soon, lamps would shine through the old windows of the farmhouse and the house would smell like supper. 

I chided myself for waiting for beauty, while in the midst of it.

~  Michele Warren, rabbitpatchdiarycom

Lent 8 ~ Gentle Writing

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When I called, You answered me;
You built up strength within me.   ~  Psalm 138: 3

          For a long, long time, whenever I had been too much in the world and needed to be cleansed and renewed, I would reach for my beloved Anne of Green Gables books. I would begin from the first book and in the months that followed, bit by bit, weave my way to the last one in the series. There’d be a queer ache in my heart as I turned the last pages because it meant I had to return to this world, that the all too brief respite was over, the safe shelter turned back.

          Since Covid struck, due to working from home, I found myself with far less time to read. I would begin working at dawn and go on till well past 1 or 2 in the morning the next day. There just wasn’t the time to settle down with a book, much less an Anne book that tolerated no rush, requiring me to shut out the world and lose myself in another lifetime.

          But the yearning in my heart for gentle writing was as strong as ever. I ached for a love that was tender and strong, coming from a life lived for home and hearth. I didn’t want writing that depicted bull strength, however much that person lived for Christ. I wanted to be held and soothed, not by banal platitudes, but by a heart that understood sorrow as much as it did joy and love.

          Of course, I only vaguely knew what I needed.

          As usual, God had just the right balm for me.

If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.   ~  Matthew 7:11

          Some time ago, my friend, Ann, told me of a blog, lightly suggesting I check it out. It was the Rabbitpatch Diary. Its mere name sent thrills through me, the illustrations of bunnies and blooms warmed my heart immediately.

          But nothing prepared me for the depth of love I found there. Old-fashioned love that spoke most deeply to my heart. Love I had not grown up knowing but which God nevertheless taught me day by day as I got married and started my own little rabbitpatch. As time went by, my love for the writer, Michele Warren, grew as I fell deeper and deeper in love with her gentle, tender mother~heart. I waited to read her posts, her words tripping through my heart like a little brook, washing away the grit and grind of a hard day. A working woman too, she lived the very life I often forgot to seek. In every line she wrote from the depths of gentle love, Michele took me to the Heart of God.

When I called, You answered me;
You built up strength within me.~  Psalm 138: 3

          I never imagined that the longing in my heart for gentle counsel would be answered in this way.

          But my spirit called and He indeed answered.

Lent 34 ~ Blow the Spirit of My Mother

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When the virus reaches the lungs, their mucous membranes become inflamed. That can damage the alveoli or lung sacs and they have to work harder to carry out their function of supplying oxygen to the blood…   ~  The New York Times

And about I guess it was about 3 o’clock in the morning I got to the point where I couldn’t even breathe, and I tell you I felt like I had a man laying on my chest and the weight of this man was so heavy that he was taking my breath. I mean, it was like I couldn’t even breathe. And then all of a sudden I felt this — I felt air blown into my lungs and I know as a believer that God was there with me, and He began to blow air in my lungs and I took a deep breath…the doctor came in the next morning and informed him that he had hardly any fluid left in his lungs… ~  Clay Bentley, Covid-19 survivor

 

I felt air blown into my lungs

 

          5 years ago, on the 2nd day of my Passion of Christ novena, I felt a voice say,

Blow the spirit of My Mother into the realms.

I didn’t understand what ‘realms’ referred to; I didn’t know how to blow either.

          But yesterday, reading that account of Clay Bentley, seeing the words, I felt air blown into my lungs, I suddenly remembered the Voice that told me to blow the spirit of Mary into the realms.

          Like everyone else, I had learned that the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19 can severely damage the lungs, impairing its ability to supply oxygen to the blood.

Step into the breach

          What if there was something I could do to help stricken lungs to heal and function well again?

Step into the breach

Blow the spirit of My Mother into the realms

          And so I’ve begun. I’m praying Hail Marys, offering each one for a Covid victim in need of the Holy Mother’s spirit. I don’t know if it’s what I’m meant to do, but ailing lungs need help.

The Hail Mary prayer is that help. It is the heavenly ventilator needed by so many.

 

Hail Mary, full of grace,

The Lord is with you

Blessed are you among all women

And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 23 ~ A Time to Heal

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One thing good about Martha’s Vineyard being seasonal is that every year when the tourist season ends and everyone goes home, the island has a chance to heal from the summer onslaught.   ~  Susan Branch

 

                In this time of lockdown or Movement Control Order, it is all too easy to focus on the dark and the negative. On the mounting death toll. On the risks. On the endless what-if’s. I’ve lived too much of my life under the shadow of fear and I won’t go there now. Nonetheless, I’m not buying into the bliss of intentional ignorance either. That’s irresponsible. We must do what we must to be safe and to keep others safe too.

          It is a time of genuine worry and fear. But there’s something else too. Something beautiful out of all this pain and uncertainty.

It is a time of healing

          We need to heal from our dependency on the heady brew of the conveniences of daily life. We need to heal from takeaways, home deliveries and online shopping, just to name a few. They have made things so easy for us, and many of us have come to depend quite a bit on such services. And that’s fine.

          But sometimes, we take our dependency too far. We make excuses to use these services to avoid going out even when it’s safe to do so. We deprive ourselves of a good walk in the sun. We choose to instead stare and pin pictures of spring blooms instead of stepping out and feasting on the many surprises which surround us. We send each other online bouquets or use florist services instead of making up a small posy of blooms from our own little plots.

          When we return home tired from work, the takeaway beckons enticingly, and we tell ourselves we need a break, that a meal prepared from scratch, even a simple one, is too much of trouble. It’s fine when it’s an occasional option, but sometimes, we let ourselves go and make it a habit, and too soon, it becomes something we cannot do without.

          In my little town where we are free from at least the stress of traffic and long lines, many of my townspeople have come to overly rely on food services and food vendors for their daily meals. Eating out is not a luxury here. From the wealthiest to the poorest, almost everyone either dines out or sends out for food. On the rare occasion that people cook, there’s again that heavy reliance on ready made dips and marinades.

They want Grandma’s cooking but someone’s got to do all the heavy lifting for them.

          Over time, little by little, we begin to lose all that was bequeathed to us from generations before. We either forgo gardens or we procure the services of professional gardeners. We search out restaurants and cafés for the warm memories of old kitchens and food cooked with love. We don’t trouble ourselves cooking for our kids and family. We prefer to work than to return home to the whining and groaning of our kids. We hire home tutors and use that as an excuse to remain longer at work because that’s so much easier on our tempers than to struggle with our children over homework and exam preps.

          But with a lockdown, with restricted movement, all our previous refuges have to be vacated. We can’t go to work. Restrictions take away the luxury of some of the services that have become an unhealthy staple in our lives. It’s a terrible time. But even with Stay At Home orders, life still needs to go on. We need to make important financial decisions. But kids need to learn too. Family needs to be fed. House needs to be cleaned. Other needs need to be met as well. But no one’s there any more to do it for us.

We’re on our own

          It can be daunting, it can be frustrating. Some days can be hour after hour of mistake after mistake. But times like this can also be beautiful. Just like that beautiful island that benefitted from tourist dollars needs the rest of the year to heal from the effects of tourism, we too need this downtime to heal from certain conveniences that might have made life easier but also eroded life of value.

          We heal by going back to basics. We heal by simplicity. We heal by doing things ourselves as opposed to always depending on someone else.

          We heal by taking the time to do things. We heal by stepping back from rush and speed and instead, begin to savour moments.

          We’ve been given a gift. Let’s take it. Let’s go home to heal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaning Against My Father

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Dearest Padre Pio,

I’ve come today, to lean against you for others. A son in jail, a son fighting to live. Their mothers bravely and valiantly loving others, carrying their crosses and others’, through every shade of sorrow. Their pain bites deep, my father. No healing balm, no comfort do I have for their wounds, but keep their weeps in you I will, St. Pio, for you dried mine years ago.

 

 

 

EYES WE CLOSED, LOVE WE STILLED

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Forgive us, Lord,

For the Wisdom we gave no need

Heads we turned against children

Worldly gold that focused us

Pursuit of treasure in the field

Any wagon riding the railway of Self.

 

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Forgive us, Lord,

For the cries we deafened our ears to

Numbed our hearts against

Pleas from the womb, orphan shelters, secret graves

Homes wreathed in hidden ribbons of abuse

Children in a hidden world not right.

  

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Forgive us, Lord,

For the paths we chose to tread

Angled away from buried sorrows

Bitterseeds birthed and grown old in the drought of hope

But received first in the cold earth

Of reluctant mothers and fathers.

  

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Forgive us, Lord,

For the children we failed to love

Born of us, born of others

Left to pain, forever weep

Gnarled, twisted lives to lead

Because our eyes we closed, our love we stilled.