Thursday, January 30, 2014

the the desert......

There is still snow on the ground from this storm that I didn't think would happen.To walk through it is to see tiny skittering bird prints,larger triangle turkey foot impression and rabbit tracks.Then I notice the quiet.No planes going over or traffic on the bridge down the way.Peaceful deep quiet.

I once experienced this kind of quiet in another place.We were on a,not without drama, trip out West.Most of my family flew into El Paso, Texas and in a rented van,headed for the Grand Canyon.After a stop at that incredible place,unmatched in all the world,in my view, we drove to find a place to sleep.No reservations.The Pope was holding a youth rally in Denver and there was NO PLACE to stay.We drove all night and missed most of Utah.But on that trip was a sight and sound that I remember with the clarity of a crystal.

We had stopped along the highway after noticing a sign that said Painted Desert.Ambling over to the fence and gazing out, was startling.I could see for miles,for centuries, out into the rolling sand hills.The silence was so profound that it felt like gentle hands over my ears or soft cotton around my head.And then I heard this:"This is Who I am.This deep silence is where I am found."I could have set up an altar of wood and sat there forever.I am there now as I type.

Hearing this voice is called inner locution.I was unfamiliar with this term and afraid to ask.I believe that we are all meant to hear His voice as if we were strolling through the Garden of Eden.We have lost the capacity.And to admit to what we hear seems cheeky or worse.But I am beyond caring about that.I recall reading a story about a young girl who talked to God and people asked why He talked to her and not them.She said that He tries to talk to all of us but since no one is listening, he wanted her to talk for Him.This strikes me as true.St.John of the Cross said that words arise in this place(the hidden part of the soul)does more good for a person than a lifetime of deeds."

I don't know if you can "hear" by asking for it.I never did.It comes with a deep purpose in my view.To let be known who He is.I have never forgotten what I hear.I share it with trepidation not knowing for sure if this is what is meant to be.I can say that the words are always loving.I can also say that this is, in no way ,what I intended to write nor am I special.Since the proverbial cat is out of the bag,I may have to share other times and places.It will help if I get feedback.

The snow is still here,it is quiet, and He is near.

Monday, January 27, 2014

here and now

The book I am reading is by a ultra-marathoner,Scott Jurek.To define what he does is difficult to write or imagine.Run 7 minute miles for 24 hours:a total of 165 miles.Run through the desert in 100 degree heat for a hundred miles.And more.

I am enjoying his book and getting recipes at the same time.He is a vegan and my husband and I have been since November.We eat nothing with eyes,or products from things that have mothers.Although we cheat occasionally,we are being pretty faithful to this regimen.He has lost weight and I feel better.My running seems easier as well.We got the idea after seeing the transformation in my beloved 80 year old brother-in-law who has lost 60 pounds and is off all medication from this new way of eating.The book,"The China Study" sealed the deal.

This afternoon, I had an epiphany.Really.I am near the end of the book and I realized that I need to copy some of the recipes before returning it to the library.And the thought came:"this(writing down the recipes) is what I am about to do next,and it is holy. "I stunned myself with this.For my whole life,all chores were just that:chores to be hurriedly finished so other things could be done.Dusting?Yuck.Mopping a floor?Ewww.But the joy I felt when looking forward to the next thing was a revelation.Pleasure can be gained by things other than reading, movies and eating at the Thai restaurant.I have to figure this out.

This is my plan:I will say my new mantra before each next thing and then look for what makes that thing holy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the homeless man's quilt...

The weather in Georgia this winter has been very uninviting.If it is mild, then the rain is lashing the windows or misting the limbs of the maples.If the sun is shining, it is bitter cold as it is today.Even the turkeys are shifting from foot to foot to keep one leg warm in their feathers.A lone blackbird is trying to sip water from around an island of ice in the birdbath.I have put away my red and beige Welcome Winter pillow.How did I ever live in New York?

One month from now, my daffodils will be in full bud waiting for just one warm day to open to shouts of joy from the birds and me.Going outside usually stirs some thoughts that find their way to this blog so what to do?I guess not having anything to write about cannot compare with freezing on a heat grate in Atlanta.Which brings me to this story that I hope will move someone to consider the homeless.

Several years ago,I was perched on my sunny bench in the woods on a day in February.As I quietly sat, I was given something like this to my understanding:"Sharon, you have two quilts inside;why not take one to a homeless person."What?How am I going to do that?Coward that I am,I left the bench hoping to avoid any further discussion But,by the time I reached the house,I knew ,just knew ,that this time I had to be obedient.The next day,after leaving for work in north Atlanta,I got off the freeway in mid-town and drove around.Muttering.

Soon on a side street,I saw several men leaving a basement church door and heading for the street.One lone man, older,African-American, and bearded headed towards my car.I rolled down the window and asked him if he slept outside.Strange question.He nodded his head and I handed him the quilt.He gave me a lovely ,grateful smile and blessed me as I drove away.

I don't want to make too much of what happened next ,but that night I watched a movie and all I recall is that it had a homeless man in it, he looked like my new friend and there was a quilt on a bed.I swear.And that's all I remember..

When I drive through downtown now, I still think of that man and the quilt that I had prayed would give him warmth and perhaps hope.Did he sell it for cigarettes?Did he give it to someone who needed it more ?I would love to know the story of that quilt ,where it is now and who has had it."Lord,whoever has that quilt now,may they be blessed this cold, cold day."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

the Christing of the world...

A phrase has been banging around in my mind since I last posted on this blog."The Christing of the world,"Caryll Houselanders odd phrase.I suppose I could spend the rest of my days wandering through my mind with that in my hand turning it this way and that, exploring its meaning.

Wouldn't it take a theological treatise to explain this concept ?What would a Christed world look like?And then this came from an unlikely place-Facebook.Someone had posted a picture of a girl,the one elected by her high school peers,to be the homecoming queen.She is in the middle of the school football field, has on a turquoise gown and her face and hands are upward in total exaltation.Behind his Down Syndrome daughter, is her father ,home from service in Afghanistan,pride streaming from his face.Such joy!

Another scene come to me:this on a cross country course many years ago in Clayton County.My son is running for his high school ,Lovejoy, but the times and finish matter little compared to what I observed from a very pretty girl on the Forest Park team.She approached a boy on her team and I only saw his back.She hugged and engaged him with such love and exuberance and when he turned around,I saw that he had a profound cranial deformity.Profound and one that I have yet to forget.But to her he was a friend and their interaction was surrounded by light.

I thnk that Caryll would nod in understanding.Then I wonder what a Hitlerized world or a Stalinized world would look like.Would we even want to ponder that?

Monday, January 13, 2014


In my own odd way,I have always been drawn to the imperfect,the off kilter.On my desk is a hand made wooden bowl purchased at a thrift store.It is small,sort of oval ,scratched and uneven as it sits.I don't know how one makes a wooden bowl by hand but all the work involved tells me that only organic crisp lettuce ,bright red tomatoes, fresh basil and deep green parsley would be permitted to rest in its bottom.I love it and plan to take it with me into the after life.

The Japanese call this oddness,wasabi.The imperfect ,the asymmetrical ,and they add flaws to art objects to add "character".A chip in a ceramic bowl, an off centered window.I doubt if the concept applies to people, however.

All this came to mind as I jogged this morning.The only way to overcome the boredom of the track is to write a story and my thoughts went to the British writer Caryll Houselander who keeps appearing in my life although she died in 1954.

This past Friday,my group of praying ladies met at Chik-fil-a and a theme emerged:judgmental thinking.We all nodded as one of our friends described her reaction to a certain person and how judging she has been.Now,she has been led to cast those negative thoughts away and pray instead for that individual.When I got home, co-incidentally, an article came into my hands about the odd Ms.Houselander. I read of a vision she had in her teens while studying at a convent school.She observed one of the sisters who taught there.The nun was an outcast in the convent and she was weeping at the altar.Caryll saw a crown of thorns on her head.This and other visions in her life led her to understand the often hidden and unacknowledged presence of Christ in enemies as well as friends.the rich and the poor,doubters as well as believers. As a result of this and other revelations,Caryll made it her spiritual enterprise to be "Christing the world."

I think back to when I first saw her name .I immediately asked the universe what her mother was thinking.Caryll? Not Carol?If I had known more about her,would I have been repelled?Things such as the heavy white powder she wore on her face,her poverty,ill health,and neuroses.But the more I read about her life and her writing,I realize that under the cheap items, near the dirty floor and in the midst of the noise of a discount store that is my mind,I have found another treasure.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

the trail of the holy snail...


Is it only by living long enough and looking over our shoulder that we see it?That silver and gold thread that reminds me of the mucous trail left by a snail which tells where he's been.I hope the Spirit doesn't mind the reference but that visual came to me in church this morning as I have been struggling with a story that must be told.Of a grace filled woman who is my friend.

We met over the phone in 2007 ,when my husband and I were running a retreat house on a salt marsh off the coast of South Carolina.She called the house to speak to one of the Dominican sisters who opened the house 12 years before.They had retired and we stepped in.Sylvia had been raised in England with no religious upbringing but had been doing sitting meditation for ten years.The sisters had given a retreat and she had questions for them after her attendance.Through the slender wire and for 2 hours, she and I were enveloped by grace.

Weeks later she came to the house with some friends for a teaching and I was struck by her poise and beauty.A stunning ,tall blond woman my age who glittered.

Her first step out the door ten years before, to sit in silence on a gym floor, was the first "yes." In the stillness and emptiness of her soul,Christ, gently, with great love, entered.

In our many conversations,Sylvia mentioned that the writings she was most drawn to were Catholic.It seemed natural to suggest that she consider entering the church.This thought scared her in the beginning but soon the trail led to a wonderful priest and the next Easter,she and her husband were baptized.They became active members and now have a community of people who love them.Grace is shining yellow and leads the way.

The brightness of her soul has always amazed me and with gratitude I tell of this:when my sister was dying in 2005,Sylvia "took her" into one of her meditation sessions.This in her prayer room on Folly Beach,S.C..After,she called me to say that I ought have someone say the Divine Mercy prayers by my sister's bedside.I called my dear niece who agreed to do this after I mailed her the format.In my place ,she sat and prayed with her Mother. I cannot tell you of the extraordinary comfort that whole unfolding gave me.The web of grace from South Carolina,to Georgia to Connecticut.

Last December ,Sylvia's husband and the love of her life ,was diagnosed with metastasized renal cancer in his neck and lower spine.Theirs has been a year struggle with radiation/chemo therapy and finding the right mix of pain medication.And yet,......and yet, her Christmas letter was the shining one,the one which warmed my heart.

I want to just grab some words and phrases from it to give you the flavor...."Gary amazes me with his fortitude and resilience...Callie the cat is my delight...our dogs stay by his side,always....we are most grateful for family,neighbors and our church family...and e-mail buddies who keep us connected...and I realize the wisdom of "one day at a time".....which has become my second mantra after,Maranatha.

It has been a while since I encountered "maranatha " so I looked it up and, with chills on my arms and back, I read"Our Lord has Come".