Friday, October 18, 2013

second chances

I didn't know Jackie well in high school.On our first day at Sacred Heart Academy,we were divided into four classes alphabetically by last name.She was in the first group and I was in the third,the Ls through Rs.Oddly,the friends we made that year seem to be the ones that stuck.In my Senior Year ,my mother took a few friends up to the Catskills for the week of Easter break.It was April and we climbed Hunter mountain in the snow.These pals last names were: Landi,Lally,Moody and Rice.I remember something about Jackie though with great fondness .She always had a gorgeous smile for me and an open ,friendly face.

I am so glad that I took the time to go to my 50th reunion a few years back.I sat next to Jackie and we were girls again.There is something special about the people we knew when we were young and carefree.Those days of uniforms, heavy book loads and the world laid out before us.We were idealistic to the max ,worked hard and got a terrific education that I only now appreciate.The school is still there.My grammar school is not.The back entrance to Sacred Heart  is no longer a cement slab but a garden and the young ladies who ushered us around that reunion day were poised and lovely.

Scared Heart for me was a refuge from the chaos of my home life.The girls were mostly kind and the laughs were loud and frequent.I recall how clean the school was and the how the candles flickered in the hallways by saint's statues.Starting the day with prayer now strikes me as a great gift.As I type, I think that the Sacred Heart is supposed to be just that:a place of comfort and respite.I didn't think of it in those spiritual terms then,it was just the name of the school.

Jackie and I spent some time the other day talking about our lives and the mysteries that have given us pause.She told me of the time a few years back, when a health issue haunted her and she cried at night in her bed.Then,Oh Lord, then ,she felt a hand on her shoulder telling her all will be well.Peace came and the tears turned to joy.All was well.She doesn't know who or what it was but she was sure it was from the other side because there was no one in the house who could have done it.I told her I understood because early in my marriage,I had a miscarriage and as they wheeled me on a gurney to surgery,I was terrified.In silence, I asked that a hand hold mine and I felt it.And was comforted.

Connecting in this deep way was an unexpected gift and knowing how successful Jackie has been in her professional and personal life gives me joy. I see your face as I type Jackie ,that smile and I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

where do I go from here

The Camino is like a parent who watches you and offers suggestions for your becoming.The hardest lesson was the are limited.I am limited.I was a wimp in the face of physical hardship.And in the discipline of humility ,I must appreciate the strength of others who are suffering things that I cannot imagine.A friend from long ago who has no choice,she must undergo chemotherapy and radiation to stay on this earth with her family.What will come is uncertain but she fights.She cannot slow down or get off the trail for two days.Lord,be kind.

Reach out as I am led.No matter my personal preference.I should know this as a Christian but sometimes I pretend not to hear the voice or acknowledge where it comes from.Finally,I did listen and laid my hands on the hurt leg of a stranger and prayed.My husband said," I'd rather you don't do that" and I said,"I know what you mean."But in the silence of the parenting Camino,I did what it asked.I need to keep doing this.Fatigue is not an excuse.We have so little time here.

I received a note from my German friend who lives in Florida.As if the Camino had been talking to her about me,she wrote about a statue of Christ that was in her town during WW2.When the bombs fell, the arms were knocked off.The townsfolk were very upset.After the war, the priest and the people gathered in prayer and decided to leave the statue as it was, a reminder that we are His hands.Lord,help me remember.

As a counterpoint to this,enjoy life.Resist doing compulsive tasks that take you from the joy.Does it have to be done now?I tried this on Sunday when my son and his family came to visit.My granddaughter led me into the spare room and just talked and talked.Delightful.I let it happen until she was finished and these minutes with her are precious to me.The dishes could wait.Who demands that they be done before sunset?
Or sunrise.

Break out and buy something that isn't you.I have to think about this...a pink boa ?

Ask questions.Amazing what you can find out.Today at Bible Study,I asked a very nice,spiritual lady if she managed to stay out of trouble over the summer.We laughed and had a good chat.Some of these changes came after I left Spain and there may be more and I hope to be open to them.St.James,pray for us.

being awake...

The crows gather in the trees around the yard.The sounds,their calls ,are multiple and eerie but seem to be necessary before they land in the corn on the lawn.
The hawk swoops in, chases a squirrel to the trees,making no effort to grab.The others scatter, then soon are back.
The dark coated deer come in a group of five;the young stag, alone.

The river flows unseen beyond the trees.Silence rules the woods.Leaves are just starting to abandon their green for something new.This is the time when relationships end.Summer loves dissolve.Dark comes earlier.

On the rose bush, a group of yellow,so bright buds.Leaves on the lawn.Wood bench with pale yellow leaves of the proud ginkgo just behind.

When I was young,the last mild day of Fall was taken abruptly away for months by a raging rain."This is it,"I thought.Leaves gone,cutting winds on their way.I need to pay more attention to this Fall that is going on around me.I should attend to it.I once took a counselling course and we were shown how to attend to a person who we were meeting with.Lean forward,make eye contact, cup your ear if you have to.I need to be doing this to the spectacle that is out beyond my window.

"We do not need more knowledge but more wisdom.Wisdom comes from our own attention." Buddha

So this is my prayer today,that I attend to the universe and especially those in it who cross my path.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

different approaches on the Way

On September 24,we left Sarria to walk the 100 km necessary for our Compostella,our certificate of completion.After some time, we spotted a small stone church to our left.In the yard garden were two kittens ,brown,black and white,wrapped around each other asleep and in the church was peace.We had our passports stamped and continue our walk.

This is the forgotten part of Spain,ancient,almost abandoned towns,cows and sheep in the fields,small town squares with ancient  crosses in the center that brought to mind the old hymn,"Lord,You are the Center of my Life."

It was while passing through one of these villages that I noticed a pilgrim up ahead taking a picture.His focus was an elderly woman in blue and grey peasant clothes, kneeling in her muddy garden, hacking at the stems of cabbage.He took his shot and passed on.John and I slowed and watched her as she headed for the crude wire gate that she had to open to get her heavy wheelbarrow onto the dirt road.We looked at each other, and with back pack still on,he went to her.He lifted the wire fence and ,against her protestations, took the wheelbarrow and up the road they went.She was Hermione by name and he was Juan to her.If the color of grace is gold ,that surely explains the sparkling lane they walked on.

Monday, October 7, 2013

saints answer the phone when it rings...

Early in our Camino walk , we found ourselves at a hostel table with several pilgrims from around the globe.As we passed bread and filled wine glasses, I asked the young good looking Dane next to me what he did back home.His answer surprised as he works for the Red Cross interviewing and placing Afhgan refugees.I asked how he does this as I would expect the language would be a barrier.He said that he does the best he can but that the work is very draining.The people he helps have nothing and have nowhere to go and such deprivation overwhelms him.He came on the Camino to clear his mind.I asked if he was a saint.The work he does ,it seems to me ,is God's work.He laughed and shook his head.A young West Coast walker who sat across from me asked with curiosity:"Why would anyone want to be a saint ?"It's a good path,like the one we are on,I replied."And I think that this is so.

Pope Francis was quoted recently about listening to God in the quiet of your heart and responding .I think he must have seen me on the train platform when we were leaving Sahagun.As we approached some benches at the station with an hour until train time,I heard this loud Irish voice pontificating from the other end.He was an older pilgrim with a white beard and ruddy face talking to another hiker and either he was deaf or he thought she was.John and I had planned an hour off our feet reading and were annoyed by the voice booming in our ears.A few minutes later, another group joined the small throng and the Irishman must have known them because he scurried over,sat down and left the first pilgrim alone.Now, there were groups of two or more and her, alone on the platform.I thought,she speaks English ,I should go talk to her but the book I was reading was so enjoyable as I sat in the warm sun.A few minutes later, someone else went to talk to her and I was glad.
But as I walked many steps the next day,clarity came.This is not how saints are made.

Was I listening?What opportunity did I miss,what call?Unbelievably,I saw her again,this bedraggled woman who looked more homeless than hiker,she who was not clad in Columbia wear,leaving the Leon station.She had a new friend and she was glowing .Her Camino was blessing her.