hope

Lent 17 ~ A Better Sunday

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10 He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
11 And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
12 When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
13 He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
15 The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?
16 This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?
17 When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.   ~  Luke 13: 10 – 17, Cure of a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

          For some time now, I’ve been trying to make my Sunday one of deep thankfulness, even as I cook and do home chores, to sink myself into gratitude for all God has given me. This Sunday was no different. After such an eventful week, I looked forward to a quiet Sunday at home with blue skies lit by the sun and the breezes in joyful mirth.

          Instead, I had to go in to work for a short while. I took it in stride, figuring that I would be in and out in no time. Then, came a call and the person at the other end stuck a knife into me. And that was the end of Thankful Sunday.

          As far as hurts go, honestly, this was a very small one, but for some reason, the pain grew and grew into a tree. I said all the prayers which worked so wonderfully for me before and called upon St. Joseph too – but none of the previous miracles came to life again. I was puzzled but did not leave heaven’s door either. I had to know why this was happening.

          Heaven did answer my questions – by bringing me news of another woman’s workplace suffering. I did not know this lady personally but as she told me about how she was abused by those whom she cared and looked out for, her suffering hurt me so much. So much of it mirrored my own experiences here, yet hers had reached pits far deeper than mine.

          Desperate to do something for her that would alleviate this terrible sadness, I told her I would keep all her tears in my heart and take them to God. I didn’t know if that helped her but she continued to personally tell me of the many things she had to endure at work. As she spoke, I saw that apart from the similarity in pain, the bridge between us was that we both sought God through our different faiths, she a Muslim, I a Christian.

          All through this, my own hurt stubbornly remained before me. Even as I saw how much more this woman suffered compared to the nick I received today, it did not reduce my pain – and I could not understand why.

          It also did not make sense to me why God would allow this when I had sought to give Him nothing but thanksgiving this Sunday.

          Some hours later, I saw that my newfound suffering friend had become cheery, now sharing bits and pieces of sunshine where there had only been pain before. I also realised that while the memory of my own hurt remained, the sting had gone. Curious, I reflected upon this development.

          Then, in my mind suddenly formed this story from the Bible, about how Jesus had cured a woman on the Sabbath,

This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?

          That was when it all came together. God had allowed a hurt to pierce me this Sunday morn so that I would reach out and offer some comfort to another wounded soul. A necessary wounding to help someone else rise from sorrow and go on to hope.

          As I pondered this, Someone’s words swept across my heart,

A better Sunday

Lent 33 ~ Step Into the Breach

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Yesterday a woman from Crema phoned me to get news about her grandmother who is hospitalized and in serious conditions at the Sacco. She told me of her other grandmother, who died of Covid, and of her mother, who is in intensive care in Crema, and then she said, “You see, Doctor, at the beginning I was praying, but now I’ve stopped.”

I answered, “I understand, ma’am. Do not worry. I will be the one praying for her.”   ~  Dr. Amedeo Capetti, A Letter from the Trenches, Luigi Sacco Hospital, Milan

 

 

          An insistent whisper beats against my heart,

Step into the breach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 18 ~ Remember Hope

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          A silver rain beat down on our roof very early in the morning. Looking out at the freshened skies a little later, I saw a tiny fire~rainbow smile at me from the depths of a blue cloud.

Remember hope

whispered the rainbow before it returned to its Maker.

          A missing blouse. Hours of a precious morn gone. A recurring health issue. Having to travel when I’d rather stay home. My husband is tired, weary from troubles. Unpleasant local and international news.

Remember hope

          It’s easy to let go and fall, if just a little. It’s tempting to want to lower prayer~arms just for a bit. To lay my head down awhile and mourn all that will not be.

          But a rainbow came, at the smile of day, to bid me remember hope. My God’s sign that He understands the day might be a little tough, that there might be more of such days on the necklace of weeks and months to come.

          And so I will, in obedience, remember hope.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yearning

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          As day eats into day, and work becomes an endless biting of the spirit, there’s a world I wish I could escape to – the beloved Prince Edward Island of Anne of Green Gables. Not just for the beauty of this Eden-on-earth, but also for the living that kept souls leaning against God’s heart. For the communing of neighbours. For a return to the time when work was a labour of love built on charity, generosity and simplicity of heart.

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          The fictitious Anne lived the life I yearn for more and more each day. When I come home from work, scratched and worn from a job that seems increasingly removed from God and heaven, when I am too tired and crabby to surrender in love to the calls of family life, when a wretched yellow air stains the little bit of green we own, I think of this bejeweled land and the life it allowed, thousands of miles away, and of the simple folk who once lived it.

          And I long and long and long for it to be mine too.

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          Will my children ever be as safe as it was then, when children knew no fear of shadows and moonless nights and darkened hearts? Will they ever know the little joys of diligence nurtured in honesty and integrity? Will they ever be free to dream and play in innocent abandon?

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          Will living ever be generous enough to allow us time to wander down quiet roads to tryst with nature? More than anything, will time ever slow down, and find its rhythm in gentle passage unbeholden to man’s tainted aspirations to rush and crush?

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          No answers lie in repose in the creases of my spirit. In this humid stillness of fret, that beautiful island and its olden life are further away than ever. Tonight, gratitude and thanksgiving is a bough beyond my reach because I’ve set my heart on a life in a world beyond me.

          But what is hope if not to anchor my vigil by the door of steadfast faith, that someday, that old life of ethereal grace will be mine.

When All Is Gone

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          When all is gone, not everything is lost, although it may seem that way. I continue to learn this truth in each one of my own journeys, from the swell of pain to the light of seeing. In many of my deepest struggles, it took me many, many years to find my treasure in the ash heap of loss. It was never hidden from me. But my hurt, my bitterness and lack of faith clouded my sight and blighted my seeking. I searched for hope and truth, but being guided by my sin~mottled will, I never saw my treasure.

          Even in the greatest loss, some things will remain, waiting for our spirits to recognize them. If we care to place our pain and weeps in the Holy Wounds of Christ, and persevere in searching among the ashes of brokenness, we will find that treasure that has withstood the lash of storms and the sear of flames. We will find that on which our eyes should remain.

          From yesterday, I am sensing the word Persevere being written on my heart. It comes and goes fleetingly, like a fairy’s feather light touch. But it comes and goes very often. So, I am going into the mountains to pray for those whose hearts risk a deadly hardening from one too many storms and flames. I hear the call to persevere for my brethren. To pray for those who cannot pray for themselves. To pray for those who continue to cling to the Cross despite the lash of dissenting winds.

          I hear the call to pray them all to their treasure in the midst of loss.

          Seek and ye shall find ~ Matthew 7:7. Christ’s promise is a promise never broken.

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Last of August

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Appenine Mountains, Italy

 

          This last day of August here is a joyous gathering of wind souls, in a camaraderie understood best by the busy cloud vessels sailing the skies, and the sage welcomes adorning the trees. All morning, the breezes have been in a delightful tumbling, giddily greeting one wind~friend after another. From the dawn hours, they have been linking arms and dancing the merriness of spirit, as the soft, white sky-pouches race to partake of this sacred joy.

          For anyone tired or afraid of what September holds, they need only to rest their gaze against the cloud-laced skies of this last of August, and feel the love caresses of brethren winds that see far beyond the hollows and ridges of today.

         No matter what the ninth of the year keeps hidden in its bosom, in the cusp between old Augusts and September mists, I realize the sunlit winds of the morning have brushed a question against my heart: am I willing to let go of the old, and make way for the new? Am I willing to be born again?

          I’m not sure what I am being called to, but with a sudden ease, I fall into seeking the Holy Spirit. I allow it into my heart, unhindered.

          I’m putting out into the deep.

THE WINDS HAVE STILLED

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          Time rushing past. Days filled to the brim. Lists, lists, lists. Tasks accomplished and unaccomplished. Much done, much to do. A whirlwind of activities. 

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          Black headlines. Bleakness. Fear. Loss before its time. Grief, streams of sorrow. Betrayals of loves we thought we knew. Raging winds, storms all around us. Dreams crushed, hopes dashed, trust decimated. 

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          And yet, deep inside, in a secret place hidden within, the winds have stilled. No curious breezes, no storm, no wind wild. The guardians of our soul know something we don’t – the season is ripe. Wind chimes of angels tinkle, bidding us to slow our stride and pause our rush, for the season is ripe.

         

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          Hold close the Rose Beads, ponder the Truth. Gather the children, spread the mantle of prayer. Love the erring, seek the lost, no soul left behind.

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           The winds have stilled. The angels know. The season is ripe.

You Do Not Walk Alone

 

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May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows fall—
You do not walk alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Old Irish prayer

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