Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It is a warm spring day on Long Island.Azaleas are blooming and a gentle breeze ruffles my auburn locks.Mrs. Carney,who is my ride from school, has dropped me off on Jerusalem Avenue across from Artie's Cleaners.I have a six block walk home and have no fear because it is 1948 and these streets are safe,even for a kindergartner.I am walking along the sidewalk when I notice three boys,older than I ,across the street.I don't know them.Suddenly,amid laughter,they pick up stones and start heaving them in my direction.I am shocked and frightened.I start to run and the laughter and the rocks continue.I do not cry until my mother opens the door of our house.

I have carried this burden since then ,the weight of it heavy, because I always wondered why they picked me.What was wrong with me?I took the incident very personally; perhaps children do.

Several years ago, I was in a program that trained Spiritual Directors.The leaders encouraged us to seek God's healing for the wounds of our lives, so I took this memory into a quiet place and closed my eyes.In my imagination ,the story unfolded as it happened:the boys,rocks,the fear, but instead of turning onto my street ,I turned right and walked down California Avenue.The sweet red haired Mrs.Lyons was in her front yard and when she saw my sad face she came over to hug me with her special warmth.She ushered me into the bright kitchen, gave me milk and a cookie and when she heard what had happened,she explained that they were just rowdy boys who would have harassed the first kid to come alone.I could feel her kindness in my heart.Since that time, this is my memory when I think of those boys.But,you say,it's not real and you are right and wrong.

I was not ready to understand all of this ten years ago.Even though Mrs. Lyons was not there,Christ was.I know that He saw and though He wouldn't interfere,He loved me wantonly in those dreadful moments .If He had whispered the truth of what happened in that small ear,I would not have heard so when I was ready to understand, which was today while swimming ,a revelation came.He was the Mrs.Lyons and Mrs. Rooney and all the kind people I have known and He has been with me,always.It was He who led me to Mrs Lyons in my imaginative journey and I am surprised to see how rich this memory has become.It took 65 years for me to know this but I glow with the

And as if to affirm my revelation ,this quote appeared on Facebook today:
"I command you:be firm and steadfast!Do not fear nor be dismayed,for the Lord,your God,is with you wherever you go".Joshua 1:9.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

something so big,I can't see it....

It is a cold ,blustery winter day and I think of those who suffer when the sun has left for another town.So much rain,so good for the fields and farms but in February a glimpse of the the sun is
cause for joy.When its light slants unto the daffodils, all creation claps at the brilliant yellow.

But, I see good news,so ancient ,so new.Even in February.

There is a parable that is so confounding that I want to turn away from it ,it makes me so uneasy.Why?It is the story of the householder who went out to the town looking for laborers to help in his fields.If I recall the story correctly this was a different sort of day.Like the one when my husband and I hiked for the first time.The temperature rose to  95 degrees,not a breeze and we were sweating just standing still.The men he hired early in the day were promised a certain wage.These hot, hardworking men who had helped all day and the men who came to work much, much later,were paid the same wage.Unfair,we shrilly cry at the top of our lungs.

A deacon once gave a homily about this parable and how glad he was at this generosity of God.His father-in-law had come to the Lord late in life yet he too, not having served the Lord for years, still would be embraced by Eternal Love.I can see that and agree but there is more.

This parable, above all others ,tells me how far from my thoughts are God's.This is a story of copious,overflowing,never ending, all-embracing Love that CAN do nothing else but love because that is who He is.It matters not whether we serve Him,he loves.Our crusty,selfish sins,smelling to high heaven in our view,does not diminish that Love by a dot.He loves.And the reason we don't believe this is because we do not think this way.We have boundaries on our love,conditions.And forgiving depends on many things,your grovelling,my mood.

He says:"I am free to do with my money(love) as I wish ,am I not ?"Mt.20:15.This is the God I worship.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

an artist sings....

Several years ago,while in the Catskills, I heard a strange sound .I was porch sitting, when I distinctly heard a turkey call .I had never seen turkeys in these mountains so I got up and went outside and there in the huge old maple was a mockingbird singing out his turkey song.Sounded just like a gobbler to me and I had to laugh out loud,so amazed was I.Later, a band of  turkeys came by the porch and I knew they had  been singing their song to the mockingbird while they were up in the woods.

I thought of this when I went to a concert at our church last week.The singer/songwriter is a man I have known since he toddled.When a young teen, I was his Sunday School teacher and he and my son ran cross country at Georgia Tech.When he graduated with that valued degree, he took a road not often taken.The artist's.

In his heart ,he had a fountain of music and stories to share.Thoreau would understand; he and his "different drummer".This courage is remarkable but there is so much more.In his pursuit ,he has kept his soul intact.His songs speak of his essence:nature,family,love.True
poles of his heart.

As singular as his achievements, what struck me was his graciousness; to his family, audience and the amateur musicians who came to join him for a few numbers.This is not an angry rocker who demands attention with his outlandishness.This is an artist with a heart full of stories.I was blessed to hear some of them.

The handsome young man sits and strums his guitar on a wooden porch.It is spring in Denver and the long winter has left him feeling dry and empty,lonely.He sits and as happened many times before,a mockingbird comes to a yew bush nearby.As it is with artists,his time with the mockingbird turns into gold.In a song he writes,the mockingbird becomes a kindred soul wanting to be heard.He is a companion who hears the artist beg:"sing me a song,make me want to sing,make me want to dance,make me feel love."Stirring words from this connection he has made.An artist's prayer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

small steps.......

Inspiration seems to come in clusters and then,dries up for a while.But as my mentor Garnette advises ;"Just write".Put your fingers on the keys and let yourself expand.And that's how it feels.The smallness of my attention to little tasks recedes as I look out to the depth and breadth of the woods.That is eternity out there.

This all brings me to the course I have been taking on how to become a saint.It is remarkable how the culture we swim in forms my thoughts.First one:"who wants to be a saint?"But what am I doing as a Christian if that is not my goal?Then;"What will be required,probably too much?"But what I am learning is that a mere nod with trust is what is required.What that will mean will be revealed and I will be ready for it.

I should know all this but it seems that we need constant reminders of what we should be about.The life of St.Therese of Lisieux is used to help us.Her "little way",made her a saint.She wanted to be a missionary/martyr but that is not what was asked of her.Christ asked  her to love the worst, most irritating sister in her convent,and she did.How many times did she think that being shot would be easier ?

It is a revelation to know that small acts of love that we really don't want to do may be all that is required.Done from a love of Christ.

I  have set a task before myself .It is small and simple.I empty the dishwasher every night before bed no matter how I feel.Making sure the kitchen is inviting when we get up in the morning.This is a discipline for me and it came out of nowhere.I think I'm being pruned and made ready for the next thing.

How many people crave  a challenge in their lives ?Athletes know of this need.The Christian walk is a challenge and the steps may be small and unnoticed but steps they are.

Friday, February 1, 2013

St.Kevin's blackbirds

                                                                           Clive Hicks Jenkins

When we were trying to find a name for our second son, the choices were Keith and Kevin.I am so glad that the final choice was the latter.Kevin is a strong name and the saint who bore it in Ireland centuries ago is a mythic figure.

St.Kevin served in Glendalough,Ireland in the sixth century and there is a story about him that I only recently came across.The saint was praying with his arms outstretched and one was outside a window since his cell was so small.As he prayed in deep reverie, a blackbird flew into his hand and nested.The saint finally noticed and unwilling to disturb the bird and nest,kept his hands outstretched until the baby birds fledged.I know what you're thinking.Really?

The intention of this story, while it may not be factual ,was to show Kevin's intense prayer life and his love for all nature as a reflection of the Creator.I think It's a beautiful image to ponder as we know about 21st century civilized folk who deliberately run over turtles crossing the road.

In 1996, I visited Glendalough and was fascinated by the quiet,and the small waves lapping the shore of the two lakes.I climbed up to St.Kevin's bed which is just a ring of stones on a hill overlooking the lakes.It was a bright, cool day .I sat down and closed my eyes.Immediately I felt the peace of the place.A deep contentment pressed down on me.It seemed that ancient prayers still swirl in the air there,I could feel them.Just then, a young English girl sat down next to me to chat and the spell was broken.It would have been rude to ignore her and she turned out to be a delightful encounter.Still, I feel I have unfinished business at Glendalough.

"...in his hands,and all her hatchlings were born ,
safe in his prayers and gentle palms.
the baby blackbirds grew and flew far 'way
from the patient saint-to new lakes and lands.

This happened long ago like a dream,
like a kiss that leaves you wond'ring what it means."Jane Beal