Love

Lent 38 ~ For Love

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Love never abandons.

The Blessed Mother walked each step of Calvary.

As He wet the rugged stones with His Precious Blood,

She wet it with Her Holy Tears.

Stone by stone they traversed, Son and Mother,

As before

As always.

He wiped the blood from His eyes so that He could look again at His Mother…

Till the very end, His Mother in His Heart.

She receives His Body from the Cross

Asks for the Blessed Weight against Her once last time.

Memories

Of a Baby held against Her shoulder

Tight and comforting then,

The leadenness of Him against Her now

Knives score Her broken Heart

For She was as much a mother like us,

as she Is the Mother of God

She weeps for the Son She gave up

That He may belong to us all,

Love,

Love everlasting.

 

 

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The King Reminds

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          It had been a gentle and tender day of household chores. Busy hours under the quiet of cloudy skies and a light breeze, wet from old rain. Deprived of my usual morning Holy Hour, I tried to find the time to pray simple prayers as I worked, but the call of the pots and the stovetop and the laundry clanged a loud clamour for my attention. In the later hours of the sulking day, I went to my room for some quiet time, intent on saying a chaplet. But it had been taken over by blankets and soft toys and two very busy little people charming the air with giggles and smiles, toothy and toothless.

          I found another chore crooking its little finger at me, and to it I sailed, prayer forgotten.

          By night, little things began to rile me up. Gone was the gentle unhurried pace of the day. All I saw were the many little things that needed to be attended to before bedtime. But my household of people, in happy anticipation of a good rest, did not share my urgency. So, a little fuse was lit and the night veils heard a song of carping and fuming.

          Still bent on getting to bedtime with a home in apple pie order, I unconsciously decided to help one of my children with his ironing. I wasn’t even aware of moving to his cupboard to get the shirts out.

          As the hot iron moved over crease after crease, I felt a gentleness settle into my heart. While I still kept my tone firm with a slightly subdued family, giggles muffled and their eyes lowered to hide the dancing in them, Someone began to release a soothing wetness to quietly flow over the little fires lit in my heart earlier. Suddenly aware of the change within me, I paused. It was then that I heard the insistent strains of a hymn,

Ubi Caritas,…..ubi caritas…..

I couldn’t remember what those words meant, but I let them flow unhindered over my spirit because they brought with them the dew of peace. Before I went to bed, I looked up the hymn. Its English translation told me while I had not remembered my God as much I should have, He hadn’t forgotten me. He came to me to remind me that I should not make Martha’s error mine – that in every little thing I do, only one King should hold court.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end. Amen.

LENT 27 ~ Our Hand in Heaven

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A Treat For The Children ~ by Hermann Werner

         

          Heaven is God’s grace to us. But the grace comes to us only through the doors of the life of holy obedience we lead on earth.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given.  ~ St Francis of Assisi

 

LENT 25 ~ By Love, on love

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At the end of our earthly travails, we will be judged by Love, on love.

 

ALL THAT MATTERS   by Edgar A. Guest

When all that matters shall be written down
And the long record of our years is told,
Where sham, like flesh, must perish and grow cold;
When the tomb closes on our fair renown
And priest and layman, sage and motleyed clown
Must quit the places which they dearly hold,
What to our credit shall we find enscrolled?
And what shall be the jewels of our crown?
I fancy we shall hear to our surprise
Some little deeds of kindness, long forgot,
Telling our glory, and the brave and wise
Deeds which we boasted often, mentioned not.
God gave us life not just to buy and sell,
And all that matters is to live it well.

The Pilgrim Christmas

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          It’s the season when Christmas carols waft over and around us, and a quickening in our spirits anticipate the happy day. People merrily busy with gifts and plans for dinners and reunions, happy panic of the much not done yet. Cards being bought, gifts to be wrapped. Homes we pass, busy ovens, busy windows. New drapes, streamers, fresh cakes and cookies, evergreens being dressed. Christmas wreathes its magic, all and sundry caught up in the hope, love and joy it heralds.

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          But for some of us, our place is in the frost just outside of that circle of enveloping Christmas joy. To watch from the periphery. With aching hearts to see the Yuletide light twirl around, and choose to not settle on us. To see everyone else caught up in the giddy joy of the festive days, and wonder what we did wrong to not feel as light and as free and as hopeful. Within us we carry a quiet hurt that God’s magic wand somehow missed us. We hurt that we seem to carry burdens not cast on others. New burdens, old ones from years and old years before. Always us, the choice beast of burden. The grief inside us is a hurt we try to damp down and hide, because it seems to uncharitable to mar the beauty of the season with something that shouldn’t be there. It’s a shame we try to camouflage, that the joy everyone is experiencing is withheld from us, and it’s a wart we don’t want others to see.

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          So, some of us retreat from the world during the season of goldreds. Why inflict our black of hopelessness and despair on others? we ask ourselves. Why beg sympathy from the abundance of the joyful? We retreat, and we hope no one notices because we have no answers to their prodding queries. We retreat out of shame because we bear the black mark of sorrow, a defect that stands out more in the face of so much surrounding merriment. We retreat and hide because it’s much easier on everyone this way.

          But if retreat from cheer is not an option in the Christmas season,  we might plaster on a smile, pretend an ebullience that is not there, so as not to be singled out for a Yuletide inquisition. It gives us anonymity, and allows us to blend into the background of happy. No worries here, move on, please, we grin till it hurts. Pretense buys us the relief of space and time away from the reality of the emptiness in our own lives, where lives a barrenness that refuses to die. And so, we laugh along with others, and hope the hollowness doesn’t show, and pretend to love and be loved.

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          Yet, nothing blinds us from seeing that emptiness has a weight that bears down harder than fullness.

          And the cross bites deep into our wounded shoulders.

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          In our little nook in the frost, an ancient truth almost escapes us ~ Christmas is not about us. A Christian pilgrim Christmas is about Love. Love born of holy obedience. Love blossoming and flourishing in the kingdom of hardship. Love birthed to bring joy to sorrowing hearts.

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          A Christian Christmas is the wounded pilgrim taking Jesus-joy to the fellow wounded. It is the meal we cook for the lonely when we too only have emptiness to return to. It is the card we send to someone who needs to know love, although ours is the address everyone forgets. It is the prayers we sob for broken hearts in other homes when our own children have broken our hearts. The gentle empathy offered by a lonely widow whose husband will never return, to a young, frazzled wife whose husband works far from home.

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          The pilgrim Christmas is taking love to where it has long been dead. To coax life and joy back into bitter deserts. To inject hope and resurrect life. It is to love even as we weep from our own unhealed wounds. It is to draw from our own pain to touch the sometimes, lesser wounds of others.

          And this sowing of Jesus-joy in souls is inadequate if it comes from a filled heart, for there’s sometimes, nothing more dispiriting than to receive from material abundance, because it underscores a grieving soul’s squalor.

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          So, it is precisely when we feel we are running on empty, that the purest giving can we bequeath to others. The parchedness of our own waiting for Jesus-joy must lead us to a Bernadette response ~ to dig streams of Lourdes in the lives of other pilgrims, so that they may receive the gifts of healing and hope. Our seemingly empty lives must never lead us away from the pilgrim path of giving, onto the dark alleys of self, because to feel our barrenness is to be filled with God, and this Light must be shared.

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          The pilgrim Christmas is the antithesis of the world’s Christmas. Ours is a light for the poor, and a holly wreath of tender charity foreign to the world we occupy, and it will earn us ridicule and derision. But it is the way of heaven that for the sunrise joy of Christmas to bloom in us, we must first take it in obedience to where God wills us, and sow it in hearts not ours, so that the mourner’s dirge be transformed into a Gloria.

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          For the Christmas cannot come to us before it comes to others.

EVE OF MY HEART

Eve of my heart. Loyal, even when I wasn’t. Patient in silent wait as I ran far to get away. A hand reached out to comfort and caress, to support and hold up. Never to hit. Never to pinch.

Listened to my litany of peeves and grouses every day of my life. Held me close in prayer. Kept my secrets. Never taunted. Never mocked. Humiliation was not her way. Neither was force or coercion. With her, no fear, betrayal or abuse.

Helped me build my marriage when I was bent on destroying it. Taught me how to cook, and to laugh when I couldn’t. Held me when the children didn’t come, but insinuations did. Patted and burped babies when they did come. Taught me that the best perfume was found in the folds of a baby’s fat neck, the softest pillow against a wee one’s fine down head.

Then, one day, she looked to me in silent question, and I didn’t know how to say no, because how do you refuse a mother who watched her son die a violent death just because He loved? All I know is what she took, she keeps safe. I gave up to my mother because all she asked of me was to love. And when the grief mists refused to subside, she sent me tangerine butterflies in the rain to teach me death has no power over us.

Many journeys through caverns and valleys where the sun was not welcome. On a great search and wanting to be alone, although I never was, for Mother stayed close.

Lessons of trust and yielding finally learnt. I’ve finally come home to my Mother.

 

 

SOAR A SOUL FREE

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A true story of a man haunted by the past, whose life had been totally miserable due to the harrowing burden of guilt……

A priest in California was preparing to go to bed on a Sunday night after a busy day when the phone rang. It was a nurse at the hospital which was a couple of hours drive away. A man was dying. He was a Catholic and would “Father” come. The priest was reluctant because there was a storm raging outside. But he decided to go. Upon arrival he entered the room of the dying man. He introduced himself and was gruffly told to “go to hell.” The conditions of the storm had worsened, so the priest decided he would hang around for a while. An hour later he approached the man again. “I am a Catholic priest. You are dying. Are you sure I can’t help you in any way?” Again the man rebuked him, demanding that he be left alone. For some reason the priest decided he would try once more. He waited another hour. Then he entered the room for the last time. To his surprise the man responded, “Well, I may as well tell you.” Then he began to relate the story of his life. Forty years previously he worked on a railway signals box. Everything was done manually in those days. It was Christmas time, and he had been drinking. When the train was approaching he pulled the wrong lever. The train went down the wrong track and collided into a car as it was crossing the lines. A woman and her two children were killed instantly. He told the priest that from that day onwards he had lived with the guilt of that accident. He kept to himself, never married, and gave up on life. He lived in quiet despair.

The priest, who had been listening very intently, asked him a few more questions about the date and time of the accident. Then he said to the dying man, “I want you to listen closely to me. You did not know this. But there was another little boy in that car. He lived. And when he grew up he became a priest. And he is speaking with you right now! And I want you to know, I forgive you.”

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          That man, who had spent his whole life in such an awful prison of self-hate, guilt and self-recrimination, was able to hear from the priest the words of forgiveness that set him free. He was finally able to forgive himself as he not only heard the words of absolution from the priest, but also the words of forgiveness from the little boy who had lost his mother and siblings in an accident 40 years previously. He died in peace…

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          When you live in the darkness of depression and despair, when the Light shines in, even a sliver of it, it is deeply welcomed for it liberates the imprisoned soul. There are so many of us living within prisons. Trapped by ourselves. Trapped by others. We grieve and rant for we are unable to find the key to the lock of our dark, dank cells.

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          There are too many sitting in prisons, and too few holding the keys to unlock those prison cells. And this is why, even as we live imprisoned lives, we must strive to release others. We cannot wait to be free ourselves before we free others. We need not wait! And if we know the pain of being imprisoned, it must never be our wish to see others share our fate. Guard against it we must, that perverse joy of seeing other souls suffer as we do. No comfort must we seek in seeing the numbers increase in prisons like ours.

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And even if that sordid wish lives in a secret crevice within us, we must turn away from it and not give it life, for it makes no sense to welcome death for others while we fight it ourselves.

Even as we stumble along the lonely terrain of Calvary, even as we bleed and hurt, we must train our wounded-ness to find joy in freeing other imprisoned souls.

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To watch in peace through our own prison bars, that other soul soar free. To welcome that inevitable sting of sorrow that others are free whilst we aren’t. For that sting is not selfishness; it is our wounded-ness.

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And when we have freed others, and if that Sting comes – that they are free and we arent, we must know that angels stand in gentle wait to take our pain.

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          Our wounded-ness in all its forms, our own imprisonment, must never hold us back from freeing others. We are both prisoners as well as jailers. We might not possess the keys to our own freedom, but we have with us that which can unlock other cells not ours.

And unlock them we must.

For to free others is to love Him.

To free others, is to free ourselves.

Angels Came By

It has been an angel of a Christmas.

Angels in pictures, angels in a blog, angels in places I never would have expected. They’ve slowed me down, a gentle touch on my shoulder to tell me work is not all there is to life. They’ve come this Advent, come in the blue-gold breezes and in the melody of resting birds; in the hush of long grasses that grow on our hills. They’ve been the lamp that continues to glow long after lights in the home have been switched off. Angels were that spark of Advent joy within me, joy I’d thought I’d long since outgrown.

Angels made me do what I had never before done – decorate my kitchen! Always guided by a dull sense of practicality, I let go this year, if only a little. We got us three little boxes of little joy-bells, and strung them up in red ribbons on cabinet doors and door handles. 2 little gift tea cloths in festive reds and whites found their place in my kitchen too. And unseen angels kept our kitchen lighted all through.

Thirty people ate, slept and made merry in our little home amongst the quiet greens last Christmas. Thirty people, young and old, brought us an Angel warmth like never before. Its gentle glow banished into the shadows the hurts and pains of yesteryears, and gently nudged us to gratitude, thanksgiving and hope for the new year.

A Thief Called Dementia

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Grief takes many, many forms. We know all too well the mourning of one so loved. We’d give anything for another few stolen minutes, hours before the chasm between us, the living, and death opens up (again).

But what of the grief that comes of seeing your love slowly morph into a stranger. Going to a place that admits only them and not you. Going beyond a boundary and looking at you while you stand outside helplessly, unable to bridge that gap, that chasm. You can see this person you love, touch them even, and yet, they are no longer the one you once knew.

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That’s dementia. The thief that steals love and memories and so much more. A slow death, more painful than anything, for which support is not as abundant as needed.

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Dementia is death that necessitates mourning long before the patient succumbs and leaves this earth. You mourn the loss of things and rituals shared. The loss of carefree life, loss of freedom from fear and anxiety. Loss of sleep. For too many, dementia brings out the worst in a carer.

Dementia takes too much away. Takes it away and never gives it back. It seems as if it wins every single time. And yet, it need not be so.

Call me fanciful, whimsical…..but love triumphs. Love always does. Whether with dementia or any other illness or sorrow, when every decision we make is made from love……..then, years later, even when grief burns deep, that love returns, yielding the peace that surpasses understanding.

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