Sunday, March 30, 2014
The sun is brilliant on this crisp, blowy Spring afternoon.The bright white Bradford pear flowers tumble like snow across the grass and we are in mid-Lent.It is Laetare Sunday ,where the priest's vestments are beautiful pink.A break from the purple and penance ;as if the Church is saying,take a break from the gloom and the Good Friday that we know is coming and remember,even though He is coming,He is here.I believe.
Since coming to deeply assent to the fact that Holy Communion is Christ, so many nudges and dreams putting me there,I am starting to see receiving in a new way.How many of us ,me included,have other things on our minds when we stroll up to the altar.And this is where I believe I have been led to something new.Christ is not magic.Taking him into myself does not change me,just by that fact.I need to be aware and have intention for this to take place.And shuddering,I need to humbly ask that I become Christ.Whatever that means or whatever that means.What that will look like is unknown to me,rather like blowing through the air like a feather, but I must assent to it each time I approach the altar.After, I asked to see a bit of what that might mean and the word boldness came,thus this very personal writing.
If I believe that the Eucharist is Christ and that Christ is all that matters ,as has been shown to me,then how can I not be bold?
This pink and white ,most colorful,glorious,bold,scary,windy Sunday is like no other.I give it into your hands as a gift.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Driving away from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit always affects me.I get teary as if I am leaving home and yet,joyful because I am going home.
I only spent two days there in my beloved solitude and yet, something in me is attached to the plain cinder block ,white church ,built by monk hands and charged with years of prayers.If there is holy ground,this is it.They now have a consecrated area ,Honey Creek Woodlands,that is set aside for cemetery plots and I will rest there one day.It seems so fitting.
When the sun came out last Wednesday afternoon,I drifted across the monastery lawn to a bench under a Chinese Chestnut "whose long bare branches reach out over me.The sun is hugging my neck and the warmth feels so good on a cool day.Lord,thank you for the sun,this majestic steadfast tree,crows,sky,sounds of bird calls,Bradford white. My heart is grateful.".journal notes.
When Basho, the Japanese poet who died in 1694,travelled, he went on spiritual journeys,not trips.He took little beyond the tunic on his back and writing materials.His poems were influenced by nature and what he saw around him.I can see him sitting outside his poor hut, on the River Sumida.He leans over a fire with a tea cup in his hand.Content.And then,what he described as "the gods seem to possess his soul ", he is up to go and see.And in the wake of his travels he left beautiful haiku poetry.
If I passed him on the road,mumbling in his tattered tunic, would I turn away?If one passed me hugging the Chestnut,would they think me odd?
bench by the grey trunk
old unmovable Chestnut
branches over me.
Monday, March 10, 2014
photo by Kris
Today was the first Sunday of Lent and we pilgrims have a long way to go.The ashes have been cleaned off but the penance remains.I have been surprised at how easy it has been to give up my "reason to get out of bed" sweetened coffee.And so far, I have adjusted to waiting to drop into Facebook and see what's up until after noon.I was meant to do this because I seem to have more time to meet and greet my lenten companions:Caryll Houselander and Ann Kiemel, she who died unexpectedly on March 1, a few days ago.Thanks to my third addiction,Amazon,which I know my husband wishes I had given up,I have two of their books in hand.
I hold Caryll's autobiography in my lap as we have tea together at a white wrought iron table and similiar chairs with soft pink cushions.The shaded English garden is lush and delightful,a perfect setting for our meeting.I tell her how touched I am by her humility in describing the pain of her life and her contribution to it.She smiles and gazes down,unable to handle praise.I think how composed she seems ,how thoughtful as she forms words.Her journey to the church was strange,and circuitous .Her mystical experiences were never far from her thoughts-they formed her.I know about her 'strangeness" but don't see it,just an inner peace.
Ms. Houselander never asked for visions but I am sure that her relentless search for God got the notice of the powers that be.And these visions of who Christ really is colored her whole life.She left them with us to ponder.Simple, they are not.Otherworldly,yes.I would not do justice to them with my words .I just have her little book "A Rocking Horse Catholic" and the rest of my life to ponder their meaning.But there remains this:Christing the world.
What would that look like?It would have this in it:my husband holding the arm of a new friend, a priest who is severely limited ,as they go up to receive communion.It would have a deacon with love in his eyes moving closer to help the movement.There would be peace after the reception and laughter on the way home.Unlikely friends in a Christed world.
Something would happen that I will never forget.A young friend and her husband ,who live in Montana ,holding my son in prayer as he made his way to rescue a trapped Atlanta woman in the snowstorm.A vigil that only ended when she knew all was well, late in the night.
And it would have Caryll Houselander ,dancing to a different tune and unafraid to share her visions with others no matter the cost.I intend to ask for her help in understanding what she saw.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
She is a scientist and I am a dreamer.We have the most unlikely friendship;she being in her 30s and me,having leaped over the 70 mark.Kris and one of my sons dated and though they parted,we have stayed connected through the years.Our differences are many,politically,we are far apart and faith-wise,although you know where I am, I would hesitate to categorize her.I know that she does believe in snow angels.Smile.
I have told Kris many times that God has blessed me through her with her incredible pictures of angels,colorful Saints and seeds from the Bartram estate.And something blue.
Kris has so may wonderful qualities but today,what stands out is the unquestioned loyalty she has to my blog.I am grateful.She was the first to suggest that I write a book.Sweet words to a writer.Kris doesn't always comment but if I write about the river behind our house which is holy ground to both of us,she lets me know how much she likes what I wrote.And if a post should be about animals, she will comment and even cry.What more could this humble writer want?
Which brings me to a most incredible happening from last night.I mentioned on yesterday's post the many deprivations of Lent:the missed carmel coffeemated java,the cold morning walks to church,missed sleep, the hands off the computer until noon and the Lent that I gave up "The Lone Ranger".And about missing the episode where we would find out why the mask and the Indian.
Last night, Kris sent me a message on Facebook that went like this:"I hope this doesn't cause bad Lent karma, but here is The Lone Ranger episode that explains what you missed."The radio episode was attached and as I clicked, I heard that familiar "Hi Ho, Silver" and the William Tell Overture.Amazing.And today, Lent is no longer deprivation but riches.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
As a child, I am sure that I wasn't crazy about Lent.The purpleness of it, the deprivation.As a sacrifice, we were to find something that we loved,a disordered attachment, and for 40 days,fore swear it.If Christ could hang on the cross, we could do this,we were told.And we did.
I might have been ten or eleven when I gave up the Lone Ranger, a radio show,my absolute favorite.Looking forward to that Tuesday night half hour had been such a joy to me;what would take its place?To make matters worse,that Lenten season, as if to salt the wound even more,one episode covered why the mask and why the Indian companion.I stood firm,didn't listen and still do not know the answers to those very important questions.And then there was the Lent that started in frigid February and my friend Rosie and I hoofed it every morning in the dark to morning Mass.We lasted three weeks ,I wonder if I could do that now,loving my warm bed as I do.Maybe,I should give up my bed and sleep in the yard this year.
Today,my heavily sugared coffee is off limits as is the computer 'til after noon.I have no doubt that my attachment to these is out of control.The point is to depend on God for everything.I actually believe in the discipline of Lent.It is good for the soul and self esteem to have some control over our appetites.Maybe that is why I have been able to give up meat,chicken etc.I have been schooled in the desert spirituality of simplicity,less and sacrifice.For what is a Christian but one whose aim is to put God and others first ?This goes against our nature,surely.
There is a story on-line now about an 8 year old boy who found 20 dollars in the parking lot of a McDonalds.He knew where this money was going-a video game.And then he walked in and saw a veteran.Getting a pencil, he wrote a note to that man and put the 20 dollars in it and handed to him.His Dad had been a soldier who never came home.That outward generous love humbles me.This is the path of Lent.
Monday, March 3, 2014
She was a runner, a writer and then a mother of four boys and a grandma and she is gone.I see her thin freckled face and lithe body running the streets of Boston as a young woman.A marathoner.But the way I knew her was through her words,her books.Her strange way of writing 'i" for herself,small letter and the word Jesus ,capitalized in her writing and her life.
As we left Mass Sunday, I remarked to my husband that no other gospel needs to be read once one has absorbed this:"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all will follow."This is all I need to know and in my life I have seen this...the drifting away,the cessation of praying and then slowly something slips into the driver's seat and it looks alot like ego.And my life becomes tattered,frayed and senseless.I am captive to something other than God.The small "i" is such a potent reminder of the balance our lives should be.
When I was a new believer , in the early 70s, a small votive candle in a shallow yellow bowl, my path was sprinkled with giants .Writers who blew gently on the flame and kept it going:Annie Dillard, C.S. Lewis,Thomas Merton.With pen in hand, they shared their faith and made me thirsty for God.And also ,Ann Kiemel.
I read many of her books in the 70s,in awe of her love of God and her single minded devotion to sharing that love.With everyone she met.With joy.
A year ago, after not seeing her books anywhere, I grew curious.I found her on-line with her own blog where she continued to encourage, and show the way.I so enjoyed stopping by and drinking in her words once again.And then she was very ill and a few days ago she passed away.Sadness is all around me.I found this which I will keep posted by my computer for the rest of my days:June 5,2011 Ann's blog""I believe that we are in a race.All running,side-by-side.along the often narrow and chastising road,to the Celestial city.i believe we should grab hands ,and pick each other up when we fall,and whisper hope even when our spirits are down and we are weary of the twists and turns of life.Yes! i believe . in a Savior who lived and died for our sins, and because of Him,we are free,untangled and delivered from ourselves and our addictions..........please.believe too."i have finished the Race ,i have kept the faith".2timothy 4:7.
Amen and eternally I thank you,Ann.