Wednesday, March 28, 2018

what is the color of hope ?

What is the color of hope?

Is it yellow?

There is a scene at the end of the movie "The Passion of the Christ."It is finished. The tomb is sealed, the dead savior within.The air is cold and it is midnight black. All hope has vanished in this death. And then, and then, slowly a tiny sliver, then a half moon and then yellow light enters.He is risen as He said! Rejoice.

Or is it white?

The white of an old lace shift being worn as she goes from window to window.Is she looking for him? We know so little of her but it is said that she loved deeply and that her love was not returned. How did she feel wandering through the house in the daytime and in her garden in the evening?

She was a watcher, an observer and from that watching, in the early hours sun and the evening gloom, she put pen to paper and became an American icon.She wrote letters, poems, read devotedly and rarely left her home. Emily Dickinson was obsessed with death and loss and in her final years became the town recluse. If someone made their way into the house, she would talk to them through a closed door.She wrote to a friend that her only companions were the hills, sundown and her dog Carlo.

Emily died at age 55 of  heart disease. Her burial was as simple as her life.White flannel robe, white coffin, handles and ribbons and a few small flowers, blue and white that lay next to her body.The bulk of her poems were found after her death and she received little recognition in life and if one were to paint a portrait of her life,I expect the colors would be white, grey and death black. So grim.

Or is hope as multi-colored as a tin full of buttons?

I pick up a piece of art by a young artist, Mia, that makes me smile.It has a dark background but the girl's dress is red, green, has flowers,white and pink and on the bottom are common, ordinary but bright and shiny buttons and I read of the whisper that is hope.

Mia, Mel Gibson, Emily and I know a thing or two about hope. Emily wrote:

                                                  Hope is a thing with feathers 
                                                     that perches on the soul
                                                         and sings the tune 
                                                         without words 
                                                      and never stops at all.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

just dolls

                                                    who are these strange dolls?
                                                   they listen, love and don't judge
                                                      just friends of the heart.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


                                                             under all the writing
                                                         in the midst of everything
                                                              is sadness and you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

the quiet by the river..

At the Basilica of St.Francis in Assisi, there was a tall, thin priest whose duty appeared to be one thing. Every few minutes, as the din from the voices of many tourists became annoying, he says :"Silencio".Poor man with a hopeless task. Not hard to know what he is requesting. I appreciated his efforts because I didn't travel thousands of miles to talk but to soak up the sacredness and it was difficult with the chatter. Talking to and hearing from the Spirit , for me, requires some quiet.

And so again , with snake proof boots on and an extraordinary blue sky above , I went to the river seeking "silencio.".

Journal notes 2-14-2014.

..".the log holds a writer who comes as a witness to silence. Just water, trees and bird trills. Nothing else is here but an emptiness that feeds my spirit. I need this. The sun wraps its rays around my face and hands and glistens on the brown water...."

"This is the silence that poets and saints yearn after. Only the birds are busily present. A Barred Owl and something else explode in sound across the river .This must have aroused the cows over there to complain but only for a minute and it is still again."

"There is one lone Beech here that refuses to drop its leaves and they stand out in tan/beige among all the other bare trees. A very strange green bush is growing out there in the water, attached to a dead log. Floating southward , a small thin brown leaf turns sideways .Alone, drifting."

This land that I live on was once a huge farm and there are still places where rusted barbed wire goes from tree trunk to tree trunk.The cows are long gone, the farmer , a memory,   and one day this writer will be shuffled off to somewhere else. But this spot, this dead log that sits by the river's edge, has been my church for years and I breathe in its air with gratitude.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

the net of your heart....the joy journal.

The fog seems to be lifting, a flu fog that has left me capable of only the barest activities. I haven't even noticed my winter trees and their grey trunks that always bring me calm.Thanksgiving, Christmas and then the beginning of January.A blur.

Now, the calm of January is here, where I hoped to get back to my routine, the one that holds me on this Fourth Hill of Life. Praying and writing. The rosary, that for weeks has been my safe place, centering prayer that gives me the exact same feeling of being held above the turmoil. How blessed I am in these. Then the routine of desert time, using a pen for praising, thanking, and asking and then the precious Word.What gifts to my soul but so many distractions render these untouched. My own fault.

The only thing that I have been faithful to completely is my Joy Journal. I found this lovely quote from Sister Wendy that reveals the truth of what joy is: "Joy is not a constant condition. Most people manage a settled cheerfulness, but this, however admirable, has nothing to do with joy, which flashes suddenly upon our does not merely illuminate our interior landscape, it transforms it .The world becomes different, marvelous, and unique."

I think of a morning after Christmas.I noticed a man who I have seen for years, but never met ,walking towards church from a different direction.than myself. I went over to him, he opened his arms for a hug and then he proudly lifted his foot to show me his gorgeous new boots."Wow," I said, "someone knows you well". He said:, "my wife". I nodded, and he said,"I'm just a country boy."Then from my heart, passing  through the rest, came this: "Country boys are the best". We both beamed. The light shines again as I type.

An e-mail that I received before Christmas from a wonderful new friend, Liz, made my journal note for 12-13-17.She attached a recording of "Jesus is Love", by the very upbeat Commodores."My spirit soared as I listened and because I transcribed it, it's back.What a gift.

Stick your head out, walk out of your way, keep your eyes open, you can capture joy with the net of your heart.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas in Purple

Christmas at my son's house. A tradition, but each one, each precious gathering, has its own unique flavor.This was no different.

We gathered around the table for Brunswick Stew, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese and potato salad.The glorious ham that had been forgotten to be picked up was missed by no one.Those who chose to drink the traditional gingerbread martinis found each other much more interesting after just a few swigs. It was for the best that half of mine got spilled. And I never did see my gingerbread man cookie.Perhaps it was with the ham at the North Pole.

My grandchildren, son and his wife joined us at the evening Mass and the joy I felt as I coerced my middle grand, Riley, 16, into singing the carols made my heart swell. My husband, in the spirit of the season, demanded that we all sing Silent Night instead of saying grace at dinner and my son's two huskies found that most appealing as they came and slurped on our faces with tails wagging.The had the spirit, did Murphy and Thor.

Maddie pictured above in her purple jacket had wanted all things purple:so we gave her two purple journals, a purple watch and a doll with purple hair.She seemed delighted but later whispered that she hadn't gotten everything she wanted. Her sad face broke my heart and I asked what was missing.She had wanted to get a ball for her small, old dog Keiko and didn't have one to give him. My son Michael overheard and in the spirit of Christmas that is always in his heart, came to the rescue. In a flash, an unexpected gift was found for Maddie.A black dog ball that he had stolen from Thor was wrapped and handed to her.It struck me how both their concerns focused on another.

Maddie later told me that the purple haired doll was one of a group and she was one of the bad ones.Opps!
Then I heard myself say this:"Maybe if you love her enough, you can help her to be a good doll." No one at the Christmas table had purple hair and, by grace, they are all the very best dolls and  love flowed in all directions.Merry Christmas indeed.:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Joy Journal

How it came about, I am not even sure. Meeting with a special friend, talking about Godly things and the idea was there. Picking up a notebook at Goodwill with a brilliant yellow cover was part of this.Yellow and white flowers, so unusual,  it whispered, "you must take me home."Perhaps that was the first step.

On the inside cover, I put a card from the same friend , a thank you card that stated that in my honor a tree would be planted in a National Forest.The card reminded her of a story that I wrote that was shared in our writing group. That card was the second step. And now, here I am reporting to my journal every day about the joy that comes my way.

I want to give you an example of how profound this is: I have occasionally seen a young girl at Mass and she has a smile that lights up Georgia.The other Sunday, she sat next to me and after Mass I asked her name and then told her this: "Mary Ann, your smile gives me joy and I want you to know that I keep a Joy Journal and today, you will appear on it's pages."She lit up, we hugged and the experience deepened into one I will never forget.

If you look for joy and identify what is giving you joy, you will just become more aware of it in your life.Small things like the bouquets of flowers that Sprouts was giving away because they were passed their dates although still beautiful."Joy".Then I gave one to a friend. Joy spreading.

The happiness when someone I knew in High School appreciates my humble stories and tells me to write a book. A message from a far-away friend that let's me know he is thinking of me.When you recognize these joyful moments, stop and savor them and smile because you know they will be written down and kept. My notebook seems to glow while it sits on my desk;  it is so full of good things.We are meant for this. It's our soul's food. In five years, when I have forgotten the joys of November-December 2017, reading in my journal , I will feel the joy again.What a profound gift to ourselves.

Isaiah knew a thing or two about all this:

The desert and the parched land shall exult; 
the steppe will rejoice and bloom
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
And rejoice with joyful song....
Say to those whose hearts are frightened
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God"...Is 35:1-10