Saturday, June 15, 2013

the geometry teacher

The room is full of tired students,this being the next to the last class of the day.The windows of the room face the street and more than one girl is thinking,soon we will be finished with this mystery that is geometry.

The teacher is Sister Mary Ulick and she is a plain ,no nonsense woman ,clad all in black.I don't recall a joke or light remark passing her lips.This was serious work getting a gaggle of girls interested in and understanding rhombuses.She was an enigma to us because she was all work.

And yet,on the first day of Spring, something remarkable happened in that class.We would drag in as always and when we settled down, she would fling open the three big windows and say in her simple way;"Look girls, look at the glory of God."She would point to the new buds on the maples that lined Cathedral Avenue.Gesture with her hand to the blazing pink and red azaleas across the street, and breath in deeply of the new warm air.We were mesmerized .Our eyes followed hers and we drank it in,this long awaited Spring.The next day, we were back to isosceles triangles.She did this every year.

What I now think she was saying was:"Girls,like you, I want to take off  this uniform and run madly around in the grass singing Cohen's "Hallelujah".Let's do this now.I'll meet you out there and we will shout for joy and singing like birds".I think I can see her more clearly now.I picturre her at a desk in  the convent writing poems in the evening light.Hidden behind the walls, what beauty did she put on paper that has never been seen ?Who among us did she inspire to be poets by her rapture on that spring day when the windows were flung open and the air was sweet?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


If I hold out my hand , what will be placed there?

In the garden, so lush from a bounteous spring of rains, the bright white of two Easter lilies just blooming.They were both from church Easter throw aways and as they bloom I think of their bulbs,grateful to have found a spot of dark dirt and sun.

Many years ago when we first moved in,I saw a rock down by the river and wanted to bring it up and put it out front by the pines.My son, who wants nothing changed in his woods sanctuary was against it but I won.Years have passed, ivy and pine straw covered the rock and I forgot about it.Now, however, I have a tiny Zen garden in the back with a small red rose,a new slip of a lilac and an oriental garden lamp.As balance nestled in the pine straw,the rock glitters in the sunlight.Perfect place to start the day,gazing on this simple place of memories.

As I read on the porch, turkeys appear as if conjured.There are two young males with a tie of feathers down their chests that are called beards.There is another group of larger males and a smaller female and then a solitary young female.They are all getting comfortable here hardly fleeing when I put out the corn.A solitary brown doe may stop by and they quickly charge her and usher her back into the woods.She must know they are dangerous with the spikes on the back of their skinny legs.Last year ,we had a baby turkeys,or poult,all beige fluff but not this year.I have a friend who lives now in Montana whose grandparents fed turkeys in Georgia years ago.If they didn't get the corn out fast enough, the birds would peck at the door and wake them up.I am not ready for that.

The crows,blackness itself,arrive and out of the six regulars,one holds his leg up and hops,injured.I feel sad until I recall that crows are known to help each other especially the aged ones.I have not seen this yet,but I am hopeful.

The waning sun shines through the woods and captures the fox and as if lit from within he is copper glory; then he's gone.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

my soul in stillness waits.....

For some reason,dawn found me this morning on the porch doing my morning prayer.It was still grey,not even squirrels were at the feeder.The only sound was the early rising wren, whose shrill call pierced the air and made me smile. There is something so blessed about this time of day.I felt alone in the world and it felt good.

 This was a perfect place to read a book of meditations by Carlo Carretto, a Catholic lay person who ,at God's call ,left Italy and went out to the desert to live and serve the poor in the waste land of North Africa.Something he wrote stayed with me and I offer it to you:
"Is there any creature which does not speak to us of him?Which is not his photograph and symbol?Which is not an invitation from him?"

Pondering this can change a life.

We have three turkey neighbors that come every day to eat under the feeder.One is a huge Tom ,the other a smaller male and a female.When she is around,he struts and all his plumage is shooting out included that amazing brown fan of a tail.He doesn't eat, he just struts and I know he is letting her and the world know that he is protecting her.It is so obvious. God doesn't strut but I feel His protection.When I asked him why I am not an alcoholic like so many in my gene pool,his answer:"You have been protected" and I know this to be true.I feel it.

 The wrens who seem to enjoy living here are known for putting their nests in the strangest places.They always seem to be nesting,feeding young ,just busy little creatures.Caring ,feeding, nurturing and calling.Doing creation's work.

I recall seeing a snow covered limb moving one glorious February day in Georgia and knowing it was an angel telling me that she was with me in my enjoyment.Nothing else was moving in the stillness of the white woodland.

There is a dear church friend who is suffering from the effects of meningitis and is in a hospice.Are her eyes when I visit her not God's invitation?I now think of them this way.

You may say that this is all a stretch.Fair assessment.But I proffer this:what would a life or even a moment spent looking for the hand of God be like? Would it feel like wonder?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

still water

"Balance is the perfect state of still water.Let that be our model.It remains quiet within and is not disturbed on the surface".Confucius

I used to have a tape that played in my head and I can still remember the lashing sound as I beat myself with words."Failure,never good enough,not pretty,not likable.what am I here for?"In my travels,I have learned that I am not alone in this grey land of negative thinking.Did my childhood predispose me to blue days of self-flagellation?One day, I realized that ,without my effort, the recording had stopped.

What happened?

A golden smiling grace came to me yesterday while doing spiritual direction.Perhaps I have been looking at this phenomena in a wrong way.Could it be that this self punishment is just that?Sub-consciously do we know that we are not in accord with Divine will and so to balance the invisible scales, we punish ourselves with our thoughts or self-destructive actions?We know that we are not measuring up and deserve some punishment but there is no one to give it because the world  thinks we are just fine.

Charlie Sheen comes to mind.I think he might be in better place now but his outrageous acting out when he has the world in his palm is to me a cry for help."I have it all;two women at my beck and call and all the drugs there are and I am so angry.Why?"Does anyone see balance in his life?

I cannot put a finger on the day that my tape stopped playing but maybe it was the day I knelt interiorly and gave the Lord my heart and ask him to lead me .
Could our souls be so sensitive to our inner workings that they automatically work to bring a healthy balance to us?I think this maybe so.Whatever happened, I am grateful beyond words to have left the land of constant beating.

If I ever find myself there again, I will pray for wisdom to know what to do to return to the land of balance and still waters.I love this encouragement from Albert Einstein:"The most important endeavour is striving for morality in our actions.Our inner balance and even our existence depend on it.Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life."