Tuesday, December 22, 2009

more of the Light

Last night, while I was reading in bed,two friends came to the door.I have known Greg and Karen for at least 30 years.They came holding a beautiful rose and a note from our church .They came because they are part of the ministry of our church that brings a rose at Christmas to those who have lost a family member during the year.

Karen brought a rose in 1996, at this time of year,the year my Mother died.That gesture was so comforting.It said," You are not alone in this sadness.Your church family loves you."That is what I felt.And so Karen has been doing this for at least 14 years.

Last night, I could see the fatigue in her eyes as she had just come home from a family funeral in Wisconsin and has yet to finish her Christmas chores and still she came.Again.This is the Body of Christ.This is the Light that came that the darkness shall never overcome.

I wish that my sister, who loved beauty ,could see this rose and know that she is remembered by me, her family and strangers she never knew.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

the light of Christ

During Advent, we await the light that will break through the deep darkness, which is where we live.This must be why we put lights on our houses.The dark of winter is too much for us.We,by our baptism, are the people of light.And we wait.

The Advent readings from Isaiah are just so beautiful;"Rise up in splendor!Your light has come,the glory of the Lord shines upon you."

I have felt that light shining on me this Advent.A very dear friend ,who I met in Charleston in 2006, sent a Christmas card and in it, Sylvia wrote that on December 13,she dedicated her meditation time to my sister who passed away last year on that date.I felt the warmth of her light and her remembering.

On December 5th, I received an unexpected gift from a dear former neighbor who has moved to Florida.She had a cuckoo clock sent to me from Germany.She is originally from there.She also enclosed a beautiful story of her life after the war that brought me to tears.We share our lives and faith.I am blessed by our friendship.When the bird sings and the music plays,I smile.

After church today, I ran into a woman who was in the confirmation class that I taught 22 years ago.We had such a good visit and she said,"Let's do lunch".How nice after all these years.I believe that if we look for the Light, we will find it.It's all around us just waiting to be seen and savored.I don't have to wait for December 25th, It's here in our midst.



The longest night,the deep despair,
The hopeless eyes,dried of tears.
Sin never seen or examined.
All wrought of "me", "mine" and "now".

Sparkle it,cleanse it,lift it high.
It is this moment that matters,this moment,
When only Your Name is here.
Over and over,"Jesus"; save, cleanse, heal and use
this bone and skin to Your glory.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The red brick house where I lived as a child was built in 1940.The winters in New York are as cold as the ones in Michigan and the windows in our house were small and ill placed.Small, to contain the heat in the bitter cold and God knows why there was no cross ventilation in the steamy summer.There was no such thing as bay windows or sliding glass doors or french doors.No one had them.So this was a tight,gloomy ship that we sailed on.

I could not live in that house now.The house we have here in Georgia has windows everywhere and what was missing when we moved in has been added.A large window over the tub, another by the bathroom door and a third in this room which looks over the back yard.Everywhere that I turn, I can see trees.

I have always had this thing for windows.Perhaps it is from the Irish gene pool.Until 1880, the Irish were taxed by the number and size of the windows in the houses they owned.There was also a tax on the size ,height and number of doors.Of course, the poorer peasants had to limit the number and size of their windows and doors or they couldn't pay their taxes.Most of the cabins where they lived were smoky and dark.The poor called this policy "daylight robbery".My ancestors who arrived in the U.S.in
1848 ,were listed on the ship's log as farmers so I am sure that they fit the category described.

One politician in 1819, in an attempt to abolish it, described the health issues that were injurious to the poor such as the spread of typhus.Sadly, the ancestor that left Cork in 1848,died in New York City in 1853 of that disease.

Anyway, windows draw me and I found a beautiful,inspiring one while in N.C.It is a photo of an old chapel window found in Iona,Scotland.I would like to sit by this window and feel the peace of it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

after the rain

This is a good day.On Facebook,so many people are expressing thanks for servicemen and woman and for freedom.I found out that my uncle Walter served in the Second World War and my cousin Walter served in Viet Nam.I didn't know that.Real heroes never mention their service.

The rain has finally stopped and it's windy and the colored leaves are just beautiful.After our swim, my husband and I cut down kudzu vines.Some were thicker than my wrist.We have an old oak on the property that was being smothered.We rescued it.Next Spring, more vines will sprout up but I can handle those with clippers.

I just love Facebook.A girl who used to run cross country with my kids found me.She lives in Billings ,Montana and I got to see her children's pictures.Neat.And a cousin,Anne Frame, who I haven't seen in 40 years is now my friend.That's how I found out about her father and brother and their service.I can tell by what she has written that she is a good and caring person.How lovely to find her.

The best thing is that my brother-in-law gave me this used camera and I took a picture of the swollen Flint River and was able to post it here.For me that is a miracle...figuring out the camera and this new P.C.I think the picture is just perfect.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I meet the most interesting people at the pool.The other day, this woman my age and I were sharing how boring swimming can be.Thirty minutes of the back stroke with nothing to see but the corrugated white ceiling of the Steve Lunquist Aquatic Center can get tiresome.She offered that recently she started to go through the alphabet with each lap and think of a scripture verse and ponder it as she goes along.

Today, I tried it. When I got to "O" the thought came that, "Only in God is my soul at rest;he is my help,my salvation."I thought of all the times in my life when I let go of the tether that holds me to "Holy the Firm".(Annie Dillard's words.)All I have to do is stop praying and my focus goes here and there like a kite without a tail.But mostly, "I" become the focus and become the obsessive person with a dustpan and brush sweeping up the crumbs of admiration, success, love, and adoration;trying to fill that hole that only the One can fill.

"I can do this" I say to myself...""all by myself.This is deadly for me.In my heart,I know that we are not made for that.

Then, I get to "V" and of course , off I go thinking of the priest,the teenager,the perfect Lizard Leader and like a gentle wave the words "venite adoremus"come to my mind;"come, let us adore Him" and I am back to where rest is.

Monday, November 2, 2009

connection at the pool

She came into the locker room with her big smile and a hello.We met a few days ago and I was glad to see her.

She has just celebrated her 93rd birthday and is quite proud of it.She swims about 30 minutes, a few times a week.I will call my new friend Mamie.She has thick white hair, a face that wouldn't be out of place on a 60 year old and we share the same "crepey"skin.

We chatted for a few minutes and then she headed for the pool.I was curious, so I peeked in a bit later to see if she was in the warm, "arthritic" pool, the 4 foot deep one.But,no, she was swimming in the lane that is marked 7'12".I swim in the 5 foot lane.There she was goggles,swim cap doing the crawl which I have yet to master.

I want to share with you what she said before she went swimming because you may never have the privilege of meeting Mamie:"I like to keep busy.If you sit on the sofa, that is all you will be able to do.I am active in my small church and I do work for Habitat for Humanity.(I immediately thought"paperwork").I believe that we are put here for a purpose and that is to help each other.It doesn't have to be a big thing, a smile will do nicely."

As I write this, I think that my assumption about the paperwork is probably faulty.I can see Mamie with a hammer and nails working on a window frame and I smile.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Room Of My Own

When I was growing up, I shared a room with my sister.A small room.I did homework in bed; the room was too small for a chair and the desk was stamp size and wouldn't hold a book and a notebook.To keep that room neat with two of us was impossible.What I do remember most and with fondness is the window and the maples beyond, lit by the street light.They were my friends and when I looked out there, I was in a different place.

In her essay,"A Room of One's Own",Virginia Woolf posits that there would have been a plethora of women writers through the centuries if they had had a spot to call their own.A place where a woman could ,undisturbed, spread out her thoughts and come to some conclusions.Without guilt.

That,however,is the past.Today,I am in a room of my own.It faces the back yard where there are trees and grass and in my garden, the nodding yellow heads of the swamp
daisies.Beyond the trees,pine,oak,maple and tulip,is the floodplain and the Flint River which I cannot see.Living near the floodplain assures me that I will never see a house behind me.Just green and brown and grey.

I have three windows in the room which makes it very bright.I do yoga here,listening to music on my P.C.I write,keep up with friends and pray. Around me are pen and ink drawings, old wooden tables and books.And in the corner is a chair, not unlike the one in the painting that I have attached by Gwen John.That picture speaks to me on such a deep level.It says,peace,solitude,writing and simplicity.Margaret Forster wrote a novel about that painting, she was so moved and infatuated with it.It's called "Keeping The World Away".Reading it was a pleasure.

From these windows, I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and like ghosts, four deer will have moved onto the grass from the woods.I have seen turkeys wander through and saved a blue jay that had been caught and pinned by a hawk.His flock mates set up such a racket that I had to go out there.

I am blessed to finally have what my spirit needed and didn't know it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

connection in the streets.

Today,my daughter and I had lunch in the Virginia-Highlands area.It was a lovely time and I was so happy that we had gotten together.As we were walking back to our car, a woman with red hair and desperation written on her face, came towards us.I knew what she wanted.

She said that she was hungry and homeless and as I opened my wallet, she said,"My name is Sharon."I said,"That's my name, too."
She thanked me and asked me to pray for her and that she would pray for me and that I was not to worry because the angels protect her.
Since I have recently been led to believe that same thing about myself, I was astounded by her words.And as I type , I do pray for her.

I know what you are thinking;she took it to a bar and that is a real possibility.There were many bars close by and her face did have a reddish tint.But,maybe things are not always exactly what we think they are.Perhaps, Christ was on that corner letting us each know that we are loved.That's how I felt as I walked away,loved and part of a huge story that is mostly unseen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The West Kill

The brook never dries,
That is its promise.
"As long as there's skies,
I run on."

Clear and cold,
rocks cup and hold
nature's gifts to ponder.

Blue heron stands
still as a staff,
mink never stops
its "wander".

Red leaves are caught,
they tumble and play,
a wonderful gift,
this water ballet.

Brook thoughts drift peacefully
over joys of the past
of grace and times,
that memory holds fast.

I go on to another place,
the brook goes ,forever after.
'til once again in this peaceful place
I'll hear its running laughter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

back home

Arrived home on Thursday to a computer that had died and alot of stuff to put away.Despite this and the 18 hours in the car,it was good to be home from N.Y.While we were there, we enjoyed a lovely week with my new/old friend and her husband.Their pleasure at being in the mountains was so rewarding.She wrote a lovely poem about her experience that I may ask to post on this site.Just beautiful.

My husband put in a rock labyrinth on a friend's property in August.Such hard work but the resulting path became a very holy place to walk.Angels swirled about and prayed with me as I walked.

The weather was cool,crisp and just delightful for the three months that we were there.I made a new friend and we spent a lovely day together,laughing and sharing deeply.Thank you,Garnette.

In June,we had to bury my Retriever, Cooper.He was 16 1/2 years old and he rests on a hill over the pool in the brook where he used to swim after sticks.Red, orange and yellow nasturtiums trail over the stone grave and I placed sticks here and there.When we left ,I felt like I was abandoning him.

My sister's ashes were buried in the small valley churchyard in early June.Appropriately, it rained on and off all day.Her family and friends gathered to say goodbye and a few verses were read.Over the summer, each time I passed by, I could see that one of her daughter's had left a rock formation or a flower.So sad.

One of the highlights of the stay in the mountains was a poetry walk along the rock sides of a rushing creek.It was led by a tall,gentle faced, woman Buddhist monk .Walking slowly, then stopping, we read some poetry that seemed perfect for me to savor.At the end of the short walk, we were served tea in silence.Peace, serenity and beauty.Across the stream, a black bear appeared, not wanting to miss something new.

While drifting around a strange shop in the town where we go to church,I found some treasures.Two small wooden boxes with figures burned on them .They call this pyrography.One box had a monk and a blazing heart.Another,pansies.They were created in the early 1900s and they are known as Flemish Art.They are both flawed but useful.In one box,I put prayer requests;in the other I am storing seeds for next year's garden.

And then, in the strange state of Vermont, I found my ancestor's grave and house which has been steadliy occupied since the 1700s.This the the Revolutionary War hero.Quite a lucky find and we also stumbled over Robert Frost's grave.A birch grows right next to the headstone for those who loved his poem ,"Birches"."One could do worse than be a swinger of birches."Ah,yes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I once met a monk

It was in the early 70s that we lived near a monastery which was famous for one of it's monks,Thomas Merton.His writings were published throughout the world and had influenced many believers,including myself.

My husband, small children and I went to this peaceful monastery and walked the hills that surround it.As we approached the monastery church ,we were joined on the shaded path by a tall, smiling monk in denim who had just come in from the fields.Ah, I thought, a spiritual brother of my mentor, Thomas.

We had barely said hello when the monk said,"I don't know what I am doing here".As we walked it became apparent that he had lost his faith.We walked and talked and a connection was made.

He came for Thanksgiving dinner that year and was happy to be having meat for the first time in 20 years.The turkey was bleeding but, in his kindness ,he never batted an eye.In time, we got a letter that he had left his monastery and married.He stopped by our house once, after we had moved to another state, and that visit in the early 80s was the last that we saw of him.

However, we always kept in touch ,by Christmas cards and an occasional letter.He was such a good writer that I loved hearing from him.His Christmas cards were studiously secular and mine were abundantly religious.The first one we got was bordered in black and we received many with cardinals and snowy scenes.We discussed his hero Carl Sagan once in a letter and I said that he suffered from hubris.

I prayed for him over the years and shared my faith and then in recent years the cards stopped.I didn't send any or he didn't and now I am not sure when I last heard from him.Until last Wednesday,when I recognized his writing on an envelope.This is all he wrote on a piece of monastery stationary.It is from "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson and the speaker is God:

"Strange, piteous ,futile thing !
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?..
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me ?"


Monday, May 4, 2009

Dick and Jane and Writing

May is a month loaded with birthdays,graduations and other special days.Off we went this morning to buy cards and gifts.The second stop was that incredible sports store,Dick's, where hubby found a light cotton shirt for his trip out West.One birthday down.

For Mother's Day, I bought myself a yoga strap for stretching so I can put away my green Dior scarf.Perfect.
Then ,the last stop-Barnes and Noble.If they put a bench and a blanket in there ,I would move in.

This gift was for my god-daughter who we just put on a bus to Memphis yesterday,it seems, and who is now graduating next week.She reads constantly and is an English Lit. major so I got her a biography of a famous Georgia author who died too young and owned peacocks.Flannery O'Connor.

Anyway, the cover is gorgeous with a small painting of the famous author and a beautiful painting of peacock feathers.I hope she likes it.

While browsing ,I also found a small Jane Austen journal.I confess that I have never read anything she wrote.Sue me.I have seen some dramatizations of her works on PBS and liked the stories but the quote on the cover of the journal spoke deeply to me.She wrote in "Mansfield Park" ; "We have all a better guide in ourselves,if we would attend to it,than any other person can be." This is it.This is why we write.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In Whose Name?

The other night ,my husband and I watched "The Exorcism of Emily Rose".I had seen it before.It is not as frightening as "The Exorcist" but it is not a fun movie to watch.

The priest who performed the exorcism was charged with negligent homicide because the possessed young woman died while in his care.The movie is based on a true story that happened in Germany.Apparently, the girl's grave has become a pilgrimage site visited by the faithful and the curious.

I thought of this today while at Mass.The reading of the Acts of the Apostles for the day was Acts 4:8-12......"In the power of that name this man stands before you(healed.)This Jesus is 'the stone rejected by you, the builders which has become the cornerstone 'There is no other salvation in anyone else,for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are saved."

In the Rite of Exorcism ,the priest prays this: "We drive you from us ;whoever you may be, unclean spirits,all infernal invaders,all wicked legions,assemblies and sects in the name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ."There is much more to the Rite but it is performed, from beginning to end, in the name of Jesus.

We may wish that this was not so.The story of the bloody man on the cross may be a turn-off for us.We may want to find a way to save ourselves but that is not what scripture says.

When the rubber meets the road and the spirit world separation has been breached by evil, where do you turn? By what name can we hope to get help?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mr.O'Hara and me

I am reading the authorized sequel to "Gone With The Wind," which is called ,"Scarlett." I must say that I find it to be as intiguing as the original.

My family and I first saw the movie at the Hunter Theater in New York and I don' think I have ever gotten over it.I was 17.The scene at the train depot with all the bodies ,spread out as far as the eye could see, was terrible.And then there was Tara. Home.Where Scarlett headed when she,Rhett ,Melanie and her baby escaped Atlanta and the invading Yankees.The horrific fire and explosions.And then home to Tara, the lovely plantation of her family.

The original Tara was in fact the plantation of Margaret Mitchell's great-grandparents, the Fitzgeralds of Clayton County,Georgia.We have lived on the original 3,000 acres for the last 20 years and never knew it.A very informative tour of Stately Oaks, a refurbished Civil War plantation near downtown Jonesboro, led us to this revelation.We live on two acres that borders the Flint River flood plain where Margaret and her brother used to play as children when they went South from Atlanta for the summer.

The original building was taken apart and it sits under blue tarp somewhere in Clayton County, waiting for the money to be donated to bring it back to life.

Of all the towns in this country that we could have moved to when we left New York, we came to Jonesboro.And Tara.

When I wander around our small parcel,the wind whispers through the pines.The white rue anemone and the violet wild geraniums nod under the pink native azaleas that are tall and unnoticed until Spring. It is then that I can hear that old Irishman, Mr.O'Hara.He is telling his beloved daughter, Katie Scarlett ," It's the land,Katie, the land.It's the only thing that lasts or matters.The land." And I feel chills all over, again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

old friends and gaps

Last month, inspired by a story that I wrote of my childhood , I decided to try to locate an old friend .We hadn't seen each other for over 38 years.I found her on "switchboard" in Florida and I sent her a letter.Two days later , my mail box contained an envelope with writing that I would have known anywhere.My dear friend.In bold print she described how she had prayed for help to find me! Wow!
Rosemary and I met when we were ten years old in the old neighborhood on Long Island.It did not go well.We met on the lawn of a neighbor and sized each other up.We were both very atheletic and competitve.Without saying anything about it we vied for athletic excelllence and recognition not to mention boys.We went to the same high school but had different friends.Later, in college ,we became closer and she was an honored part of my wedding.
I have a picture in black and white of us standing in front of the small ,white ,clapboard church in Allaben,N.Y.We had gone to the mountains for a 2 week vacation with my parents.We are eleven years old.She is plump and smiling and I am skinny and grimacing.
This summer, my dear friend and her husband, will visit us again in the Catskill Mountains.We have had two successful meetings since we found each other and we will once again pose for pictures in front of that church as we did 55 years ago.What a blessing.
What is most remarkable to me is the similar gaps in our lives.My only sibling died in December 2008 and my dear friend and her sister are estranged.I realize that if I hadn't followed the urging to write that short story of my childhood,none of this would have happened.I cannot explain what holy writing is but I recognize it when it happens.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I recently have come by some small treasures; one is a pen and ink drawing that represents Mundy's Mill, which used to be a working mill here in Clayton County.I bought corn meal there when my children were very small and made muffins.The mill is gone but they saved the wheel and it is on the grounds of Mundy's Mill High School.I found this wonderful drawing at the Goodwill Store near us for five dollars.After some sprucing up ,it hangs by my front door.
The other item was also five dollars .I found it on-line at a shop in Vermont.It is a white tile with a black drawing of my 5th great-grandfather's house in Guilford,Vt.He lived there in 1772 and the house still stands.It is pink now but somehow that is all right.It is a stunning colonial house.He was Gov.Benjamin Carpenter,and a Revolutionary War hero.This summer I intend to visit his grave in Vermont and have a chat and bow to honor his bravery.
When I worked at the Bellsouth building in Jonesboro,Georgia I used to jog to the Confederate cemetery and pick up trash ,all the while thinking,"What is a Yankee doing in this cemetery ?"The history of it always touched me.It seemed like sacred ground.
I was a history major in college in New York but never "used" it in my subsequent career.The love of it has come back in surprising and very satisfying ways.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


To those closest to me,it is not news that my sister and I were estranged.Per her desire, we had not spoken for four years.Last October, found her dying unexpectedly.She was 68 years old.
I went into her hospital room with great misgiving , not knowing how I would be received.I grabbed her very cold hand and showed her a picture of my granddaughter and we again became a family.I treasure every second of the time I spent at her side,little though it was.
I found the following in a book that I have been recently reading and it stunned me."For families will not be broken.Curse and expel them ,send their children wandering ,drown them in floods and fires and old women will make songs out of all these sorrows and sit on porches and sing them on mild evenings.Every sorrow suggets a thousand songs and every song recalls a thousand sorrows and so they are infinte in number and all the same."- "Housekeeping",Marilynne Robinson
Since her passing in mid December, I have had three dreams about her.In each one, she and I are laughing or smiling and she makes it very clear to me that she is at peace.Indeed nothing divides families.