Sunday, September 23, 2012

I will always remember...

One of my sons occasionally reads my blog and told me something like this: "Mom ,all you talk about are con-incidences."Guilty am I but I prefer to call the things that I see and hear as something else but I don't have the perfect word.This is today's 'co-incidence".

Last night I, had a dream.;a very long dream about a trip that my husband and I were on.Planes and buses and waiting in between.One of  the people on the trip with us was a stewardess who organized a road race through sand dunes for all of us while we waited in between rides.We all enjoyed the race and as she was getting onto one of the buses, she turned to us and said these words:"I will always remember who I was today". Odd words ,but even in the dream, I knew what she meant.She loved and treasured the person who she had been this day because she had served others well.

When I woke up this morning,I wrote down her words and was determined to make this a day to remember.At church,  I was able to affirm two precious friends and comfort another who is struggling.Co-incidently, the words of St.James and the sermon spoke of service.Let me offer their beauty:"Wisdom from above ,by contrast, is first of all innocent.It is also peaceable,lenient,docile,rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits,impartial and sincere."James 3-17

In the Catholic faith, we are encouraged to examine our souls at the end of the day to see how we have spent this time that is given to us.To see if I want to ...."always remember who I was today."

And now for the last "co-incidence" of this extraordinary happening.We sang a beautiful hymn at Mass,one of my favorites,The Center of My Life" ,and the second verse goes like this:"Who even at night directs my heart...".

I am on my knees.

Friday, September 21, 2012

the dolphins of September

As ordinary as this September day is, I must go deeper and deeper.Take the time to do that. It is a great grace to have this time alone to sit undisturbed in the sun and feel its power on my arms.To look at the garden and its hues.It should be totally depleted after this unbearably hot summer but the pale pink,bright coral and red roses and the new yellow swamp daisies continue to paint the area by the wooden fence .I tuck this sight into my mind for another day.

Today is the feast of St.Matthew and the readings and prayers are full of praise for the God of Life and Creation, whose will is seen in It."Let the earth bless the Lord...praise and exalt him ,forever...mountains and hills....seas and rivers ,you dolphins and all water creatures ,bless the Lord.

I have often prayed this Canticle of Daniel and wondered why, out of all the praises, the dolphin is mentioned singularly.A sadness always comes over me as I recall a special that I saw once about the dolphins of Taiji,Japan.I hesitate to write about this;there are some things that I know about that I wished I didn't.But maybe Daniel is reminding me that the dolphins need help.

Humans seem to have a unique affinity for these sea creatures: maybe it's the smile, or their proven intelligence and friendliness.Who wasn't touched by the story of the Cuban boy,Elian Gonzalez,alone in a raft heading towards Florida and when found,he was surrounded by a pod of dolphins,seeming to be protecting him.Who would harm these creatures?

Without going into too much detail, the Japense of Taiji have a tradition of capturing and slaughtering the dolphins who migrate in September.They are corralled into a cove for that purpose.It is not food but tradition and there are people who monitor this disgrace and are trying to stop it.Each year they are  weeping witnesses as the dolphins cry for help.Literally.The movie,"The Cove", documents this effort.It is horrifying to watch.In response to a world-wide outcry,the Japanese have beefed up security around the cove.Awesome!

None of us are innocent as long as this and other death dealing practises exist without our protest.Tolstoi said this:"For life is only life when it is the carrying out of God's purpose.But by opposing Him,people deprive themselves of life,and at the same time,neither for one year,nor for one hour,can they delay the accomplishment of God's purpose."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

a hymn to first love

On Sunday, my family went to the Georgia Tech football game to celebrate my first grandson's fourteenth birthday.While we were hanging out, he brought his phone over to show me the face of a girl he likes, she of dark hair and sweet soulful eyes.I admired her and have thought of her since.What does he feel for this girl, this pretty teen-age girl.Is it anything like my first love? Could anything be like that?

 It is a summer evening on Long Island, after I graduated from the 8th grade. One of my classmates, Teresa, has invited me to her house to meet a neighbor friend of hers that she thought I might like. I really didn't want to go but she was my friend, so I headed off towards Jerusalem Avenue, crossed that big street and went several blocks to her neighborhood of old, stately brick houses. She introduced me to her friend: I am shy and don't say much. I can recall nothing of this guy or what was said, but what I do remember is the walk home in twilight.

I was going home to my room with the pink bedspread, the tall maples that guard and shade, and the street where my heart has been captured. As I walk, I am hoping  that maybe, when I get home, he will be out shooting baskets or hanging with the neighbor kids and I will see him. "And you walk down the street on the chance that you'll meet , and you meet not really by chance".And my heart fills with a joy that I recall to this day.

This boy rode into my heart on a lightning strike when I was 13. Until that day, I had been a normal kid and then, besotted and bewildered was I. He was tall, well-built and had a perpetual grin that lit up my world. He was also unreachable.

 This is the scent of first love: lilacs, sea breeze, mouldering leaves, lily of the valley.The sounds, I can still hear as I type: calling robins on the evening lawn, planes from Mitchell Field revving their engines, the slap of a ball being kicked and laughter.

This boy is older and my perfect boy.My devotion is pure, and never-ending.

I have shared some of the photos that I take of things that I see in my wanderings .The attached was taken last week at Stone Mountain and like the picture of the rocks on the beach,  this one had something to tell me. First of all, how is it blooming by a stream in September ? It is an azalea. I's flowers are pure white and tucked into the green leaves off to the side of the path, easily overlooked. It finally said this:"Tell the story of that pure devotion and how if you sit still, close your eyes and remember, you are there again."

There is more to this enchanting story, this perfect boy and I are still friends.We hold each other in prayer and the devotion that I feel towards him is still intact.

"Eye has not seen,ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him".First love is a taste.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

the camino is now

When you decide to walk the 500 mile Camino in Spain,your pilgrimage begins at that moment.My thinking has changed because of this spiritual path ,before my foot has even touched Spanish soil.

As I read about other's walks ,I am struck by the gracious notion that everyone helps each other on the Way or you won't make it.Feet being tended by strangers,food being served free by goups who have walked before and want to help.Mass being joyously celebrated,strangers encouraging when others want to give up.I recall reading of a young, handsome blonde German who wanted to give up after 250 miles.An older Hungarian woman approached his slumped over body,massaged his tight neck and said,"you can do this" and he joyfully finished.

Now that my husband and I are hiking hard places once a week, my thinking has become "camino-like."I find myself helping him hoist his backpack on, sharing my Gatorade, putting away his hiking sticks.We are both pretty independent and tend to take care of ourselves and our stuff but now the stones under my feet, the hardness of the hikes is bringing out the servant in me for him,my fellow pilgrim.

Yesterday, one who is not walking showed me the Camino spirit.My oldest son took us all to a Georgia Tech football game with tail-gate lunch and birthday cake for his oldest boy.Alot of his effort went into this party and after we put everything away,we headed to the game.As we entered the stadium, I mentioned to him that I had never seen the Tech Hall of Fame display that prominently features my second son's picture as the only Georgia Tech Cross Country runner to be an All American.This first son, who also was a high school runner ,took me by the hand and off we went to find that display.It took many special permissions,an attempted bribe and long walks but I got to see the above picture.All because my first son never resented but relished his younger brother's achievements and wanted me to see his name in lights.

I tuck this wonderful memory in my mental Camino book and stand in awe of my son's love for all of us.

Camino is now my verb and to camino is to help on the way.It all makes sense to me-that is why we are here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

it started with a note

I know that Carol doesn't remember me.She was ten years old when we met and so many people would have drifted in and out of her life in all these years ,especially in California. But I remember her,the sweet face,open smile,blond hair pulled back in a pony-tail and her note.I have it still, kept in a red tin box of things that I will never throw away.

It was in Huntington Beach ,California that the Lord gently pulled me back into his arms .As
I began to go back to Mass, I heard a call for volunteers to teach Catechism.,so I found a neighbor girl of 13 to watch my toddlers and went off to teach 5th graders.I loved every minute of it.

California is hard to describe.In the early '70s ,the air was terribly polluted and we had an earthquake,the scariest thing that I had ever experienced.At 6 A.M.,I awoke  to the sound of barking dogs.They felt it before anyone else and then the house we were renting started moving,shifting back and forth.Oh,my! We survived with just a few broken coffee cups that tumbled off shelves.

What stays with me, however,was the 10 and 11 year olds that met with me on Thursday afternoons.They had happy dispositions and were a pleasure to be around.Maybe it was the California sun,or the bright flowers everywhere.Orange California poppies and Bird of Paradise.They came in each time, smiling and eager to learn with nary a bad attitude to be found.This was my first teaching experience and the Lord must have sprinkled these angels onto my path to keep me going.I remember their contagious laughter as we doused a baby doll with water when the lesson was about Baptism.

Before long,it was time to move back to Denver and I said good-bye to my angels.On that day, Carol handed me a note ,folded on pink paper with ,yes, a hand drawn flower on the front.I read it, folded it and moved it with me all over that country in the years that followed.When we landed in Colorado,I taught another class and here in Georgia, I taught older children ,teenagers.Each experience brought me great joy.

One group had a girl whose father was dying, another, a boy whose father had died the previous year and  was so lost and angry.While we learned our Faith, the class ministered to these broken children.The Body of Christ in fifteen year old forms.I was a witness to the healing of these and others;a young girl who finally broke down on a retreat over the divorce of her parents.We all watched her transformation at the hands of the One. A note from another said:"You made me see the beauty in God....and showed me the love in others."All because of Carol.

This is my prayer for my long ago student: May nothing have prevented you from giving love to others as you did me.I pray that you continued to walk with the Christ that we looked for long ago.May you feel his arms around you,this day.And, thank you.

She would be in her early fifties now and I have no way to reach her.Her note simply said:"You've been the best teacher,ever."Carol L.