Saturday, December 19, 2015

house at Auvers

This small grey house keeps my secret.

When the morning sun enters the east window in my plain kitchen, I sit in the old oak rocker, warmth  caressing my hands like an old friend.The solid wood and warmth anchors me.The chair is a five dollar cast-off from the thrift store and the sun is today's gift.I wonder about the person who sat in this rocker before me.Certainly a story is wanting to be told about the porch it decorated and the rain that beat on its runners.

A small blue pillow holds my back and oddly it has a pouch on the reverse side where I keep the crinkled white envelope.

The garden on the side is wild and green with a brick wall , very uneven , that seems to be keeping the roses at bay.This is all mine and I treasure every board, every plank of the kitchen, especially the kitchen with the rocker and blue pillow.And the green overflowing garden and wall.

When I arrived at my house to become its lady, I wondered if peace would follow me and seep through the small cracks in the walls and between the boards. What song would the boards sing as the wind battered the windows and birds called in the garden?Would my heartache follow or be sloughed off as I walked through this beautiful, tight, safe house of grey and green in the French countryside.

No one knows me here; knows about the hidden letter.When I walk to the village, which brings its own pleasure, I meet strangers with a smile and  wonder, will you be a new friend ?Will you come if the flu takes me down: will I help you carry your parcels?All of the future that spreads out before me like a quilt, is unknown.This I what I do know; I left it all behind me.I found this little house and leapt into the future, holding on tight to its shutters and roses .

I will one day burn the letter. The pieces of who I am, different certainly, will meld into a whole person again with cracks now sealed in gold and I will live again and give this house a name of its own: new beginning.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

you are never alone....

It was a bright cold day after an unusual Georgia snowstorm in 2010. My boots felt warm as I wandered back to the floodplain to take pictures of the brilliance of sun on snow. Fairyland, Narnia, Wonderland;that's all I could think in my joy of the moment.I took a few shots and marveled at the stillness, the deep eternal quiet.Out of the corner of my eye, I saw motion and there on a small snow coated tree was a waving branch.It also was covered in snow and around it was total stillness.There was no breeze, no snow was falling from above branches. I watched in awe.What could be causing this ?My Joy whispered that it was an angel enjoying this moment with me.

On retreat last week, a dear friend shared a similar experience and her writing is so perfect that I will quote her.At the time of this happening, over 20 years ago, she was walking in the woods trying to discern an important decision that would be life-altering. She wrote:"It's my quiet time as I walk around the lake and into the woods...I am looking for God's signposts.Passing a bush, I notice one leaf caught in the wind.It flutters with such frenzy .How oddly the one leaf stand out "Here, look at me", it seems to be shouting.I pause to watch for a moment, as the wind seems only to disturb this one leaf.I searched for any leaf or limb moving and saw none-only this one leaf...I walk on."

As she walks she is praying for guidance and when she stops to listen, He speaks:"Remember the bush with one leaf caught in the wind?Just as I have the power to single out just one leaf in the wind, I have singled you out for a purpose.It doesn't matter what anyone thinks.I have called--you."My friend knew what that meant and has lived out that life ever since in a most fruitful way.She shines.

All of this came back to me when I was reading my journal notes from last year.

December 15,2014. By the Flint........

"Sparkling water, listlessly moving around the bend where I cannot go.Sun barely warms.Quiet.Some color there.Brown and russet leaf catches a sunbeam.All else is dun, beige, but up the river, there is blue as it reflects the sky.To my right a small plant with  bamboo looking leaves sways in the breeze at my side.I say this:"speak bamboo plant that stands right above the flinty river.Does the sun please your leaves?Were you even here the last time I came to my tree trunk writing seat?

This is what I heard:

  "I just grow by the river and sway when forced.Then my strong brown trunk and 3 or 4 leaves on each branch, move.Nameless, I am to you but a companion.Yes?You are never alone.In your darkest hour remember that.(and then I recalled another plant companion, a hand held by someone not visible at all, a dog companion on a gurney). I come to you in things you might not notice except for My urging.The gift is that you notice and believe.And here is this small plant as if sitting by your side.Believe, be open,and notice.You are never alone."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Way of the Rose first anniversary....

Way of the first anniversary December 12, 2015

   If you don't think that there is a Hand behind all of us being on the Way, then we disagree.How does a life long Catholic come to be praying the rosary for a full year after having considered it irrelevant for most of her life? How is she brought here, a Yankee from NY by a Buddhist from Alabama ?

 I hope to celebrate my 1st anniversary on December 12th with some brief comments here.In this year, my heart learned something :I should treat all people, even people like the drunk next to me, as if they were my sons.This was whispered to me when I wasn't paying much attention on a flight from Europe.Nothing has changed my thinking like the soft voice giving me this truth.

 When I prayed to know what to do with my love of writing, I found myself leading a class, sharing that love.What a blessing; and after struggling with the idea for seven years, it happened.And the class will held again in the Spring.

 When beginning to pray the mystery of the Annunciation one day,  a scene unfolded in my mind as if I was viewing it on a movie screen.My father coming in the door with a sponsor, announcing his pledge to stop drinking with the help of A.A.I felt joy in this scene. This must have been God's will that didn't happen then, when I was young.The child in my heart rejoiced at the surety of this declaration as if it really happened.Healing.

  My niece and I joined the Woodstock rosary group one evening last summer,and after that we have been speaking weekly on the phone since we can't meet with a group because of distance.A singular blessing.

 All of these revelations were given from Mary's hand.

 There have been challenges.I was raised Catholic but left in my early twenties when I decided that I believed nothing of the things I was told.I never saw prayer work and so I took myself across a bridge(over the Belt Parkway,Queens) to a new life, liberated, I thought.A few years later, I felt a weight of emptiness and  threw a prayer of dubious fervor skyward.Then things began to happen and I had a background, a faith tree to hang the God moment ornaments on.I have been doing it ever since with gratitude.

When I went through a terrible time of crisis in 1980, a young priest walked with me giving me total acceptance. We got through it together.When I entered a dark place of no path through the woods of mid-life, flailing like a rudderless ship, Confession helped me back.The gross behavior of some clergy has nauseated me beyond telling and I have felt shame.But the Church is my home and when criticized it as if someone walked into my house and told me how ugly my home is.My home is me and so is my Church but  we all must be free to say our truth.

I know that all here are coming from very different places.Some have been very wounded by the Church and it is easier for me to love it since I have not been hurt in that way. And, Perdita, you will especially love this:the other day at Mass I was treated by a priest in a way that made me feel like a child.I just knew he wouldn't have treated my husband that way.After Mass, I told him what I think he needed to know.Who is this crazed grey haired lady speaking up for herself?

Finally, I will close with a heart full of gratitude.I loved gathering that night in Woodstock with the arms of the Way group open and accepting.More than you know, I appreciate what is shared here.The early Church must have been like this, clinging to each other's wisdom. What Mary tells you, helps me and it is supposed to.We are on a raft together in a churning sea with danger on all sides but when we hold hands like this, she is smiling and riding the waves with us.I believe this.Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

blessing bowl

There is something about wooden bowls that intrigues me, especially if the bowl has been well used before it becomes mine.The one on my desk has chips out of the rim and the rim itself is uneven.There are carvings around the middle that suggest Aztec design; the wood is imperfect and grainy.Like an old  leather shoe, my bowl has character.

A fat pencil, a thin one, a dime, three pennies, a fortune from a cookie,  a dream I had last night written on a slip of paper, a brown leaf with a splash of red,  painted by a sprite, a pure white feather, curved in. These are now part of the bowl's story and mine.Life is speeding by like a comet across a dark sky, so I am collecting. These humble items anchor my day.Where I was, what I was doing and what this detritus brought to mind.The feather, dainty as a whisper, suggested a forgotten poem about hope;the leaf, impressionist art and artists.

Each found thing speaks, if I pause. The collecting itself has become a spiritual practice.

Every item in my bowl can tell a story if I listen.The fat pencil is telling me to grab the first bright sunny day, run to the floodplain and honor the fallen leaves in the woods by sitting with them and when I finally know them, drawing.

I once had a rough, well used bowl.I  had no idea what its use had been so I just filled it with dried flowers.For the first session of the writing class that I recently facilitated, I took it, along with other items and asked the participants to pick one and tell a story.One lovely lady took the bowl and wrote a tale of her grandmother making biscuits in a similar one.She told the story with a poignant simplicity that was so moving.From her words, we saw the bowl, smelled the biscuits and knew the love.

The feather is sacred, the leaf and the bowl are sacred.

Monday, November 16, 2015

hope is the thing....

 Nike has saved my running "career" more than once with their slogan, Just Do It!TodayI so wanted to lay around and not exercise but  instead I got in the car, went to the park and did loops on the track.This weather is just perfect for running and after I did several laps, I walked my cool down.In the back of my mind, I wondered what I would find strewn in the park grass by careless hands.I wandered through the picnic tables and was slightly disappointed not to find some pencils, pennies or pearls but oh, with patience, what I found was so much better.

What child dropped the dime while running with his bag of chips and who else noticed this muted red leaf?And then, when I thought this was enough, an orange and brown spotted fritillary butterfly landed on my shoe and stayed for awhile.Did that small creature know how much I needed a visit, with the world exploding?.

  These small things brought my mind to poetry.Perhaps it was just a straight line from the lovely poem a friend shared today about the mighty Hudson River.Did this start the flow in my soul or was it the picture of autumn on the Flint that I posted this morning.Whatever led my thoughts to the beautiful, I nod in gratitude.

                                        "The world is charged with the grandeur of God......
                                              because the Holy Ghost over the bent world
                                         broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." 

                                                                               Gerard Manley Hopkins

                                                          "Hope is the thing with feathers-
                                                                 That perches in the soul
                                                           And sings the tune without words-
                                                               And never stops- at all-"

                                                                               Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The grey clouds and constant rain and drizzle have finally left the pines of Georgia ; a blue and white scarf of sky  peeks out from the trees.The Flint River is muddy,very high and is moving  unusually fast through the sandy banks.Autumn on the river.

 Because of this break in the dreary wet weather, I was able to go to the park to run on the track. After 27 minutes of a hard jog, I found the shade of a large table area, covered by a wooden roof.As I cooled down, I said the rosary and kept my eyes open.What I found was quite remarkable to me.

 When I recently facilitated a writing class at church, we spent some time outside writing haiku, brief nature poetry originating in Japan.What a joy that was.Wasting time observing a changing dogwood tree and some amazing intricate mushrooms.We focused on what was right in front of us, what we were seeing and feeling so we could capture it with words.This way of focusing is very rewarding for me.Being, just being with a.....

                                                ....tired dogwood tree
                                                  green leaves dotted with red
                                                    small buds for next year.

 One of the participants stated that since being in our writing class, she is seeing things she never saw before.I think I understand .If you are going to be a writer of any kind, even if it is journaling, you have to keep your eyes open and your hands outstretched to receive what is moving, shining, sparkling, tumbling, crying, sighing, what is happening around you and in you.

   This brings me back to the sheltered tables and the picture above.These are the gifts cast away by unknown hands onto the grass by the place where I walked. In 30 minutes, I found each one by its whiteness, shape, sparkle.The fat pencil suggests that I need to take some paper into the woods tomorrow and sketch a leaf which is really just savoring it.Following the line of an individual leaf with my eye and hand without looking at the paper to see if it is right.Caressing the leaf with the pencil and not caring if what I draw even looks like a leaf. That is my assignment for tomorrow, by the Flint River .

                                                        Pencils, pearl, pennies.
                                                      pink petals,new red crayon
                                                        humble acceptance.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

the bench

It was there in that peaceful garden that Stan smiled at me.That was the beginning.

   The many flowers in this pocket garden droop under the weight of the humid air.It is June in Paris and although this garden usually brings me peace, today I hardly notice the scent of the roses, the beautiful colors painted on rose petals.The bench, where I often write in my journal, offers no comfort.

    I sit on the edge of the bench, hands fidgeting with paper, checking my watch.We were to meet at 4 P.M. and it is now ten minutes past.What if he doesn't come?The question, so heavy, takes root in my mind.My heart starts to beat faster. I check my watch and sigh. Has it all come to this? Will I walk out of this place alone?Just then, from the corner of my eye, I perceive movement.Two people are coming slowly through the garden gate past the fountain and onto the path to the bench.One of them is Stan.

 They are holding hands and I notice the sun dazzling the blond of his hair.He is thin and has on a blue polo shirt, beige shorts and sandals. I can see his sad blue eyes from where I sit.They are walking so slowly, I doubt they will ever reach me.Finally, they are close enough for me to see that there is no smile in Stan's eyes, or on his lips.I feel a cold dread in my chest and tears form.I wait.

  The young woman leans over and whispers in Stan's ear and puts her briefcase on the ground.He starts to walk, watching, watching, his eyes never leaving my face and slowly I see it, a slight curve of the mouth, some glimmer of light in the eyes. He reaches out and takes my shaking hand in his.I swoop him up, twirling us both to the sound of his giggles.I have become a mother at last.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

the writing class

Georgia O'Keeffe's Painting Space

We shuffle into the cool classroom and slid into a seat. Fresh smelling crisp paper, a new marble notebook and pens.A wrinkled brow here, a sweaty palm. there.A mind reader could see the thought bubbles over heads."Who do I think that I am to be in a writers class?What do I know about art?Will I measure up?"

I breath a bit easier as the quote from Georgia O'Keeffe is read.This isn't about success but about letting our unknown be known.My chest relaxes some and then the only rule is explained:only positive feedback will be allowed.Sigh.This feels like safety.We''ll see..

Hunched over my computer, shoulders tensed above my paper, I gaze at the Van Gogh, "Wheat field with Crows." I don't even like this painting," I say to the wind, but with teeth clenched, I stick with it and slowly, ideas start to form and my pen races over the paper.A story forms like a fog over a meadow  and I am happy.

Another day, with a light breeze and mild sky, we are herded outside for twenty minutes.Each writer is bent over in thought with fingers at the ready.5-7-5.That's the key.And I look, really look, and take dogwood leaves in hand and rub them between my fingers and mushrooms become a source of great excitement.Bent down, I pat the yellow one with the bumps, exclaim over the red and stare for awhile at the misshapen one. Haiku.

In beautiful, colorful words, we offer to each other; clouds, loneliness, tears, deprivation, confession, mistakes, childhood, damaging times, family, flowers, church.All the while, we walk around with priceless art under our arms, in our journals.We are sharing this earth with the Masters; Van Gogh, Manet, Wyeth, Gwen John, Georgia O'Keeffe and others.Stan and his bench throw us and we tense with frustration. And yet, slowly we relax with the flowers and the languid garden and in the calming , mysteriously  a story comes, a wonderful tale that surfaced from deep in our pure souls.

In the corner, unseen or noticed was a Person, the Listener.He is peace itself, seated with His back to the bright sunny windows.He smiles, nods, enchanted by what He is hearing. His beaming face and constant applause go unnoticed.At the last class, this 8th member wants this to be known:

" When you put pen to paper, you learn who you are.
  When you put pen to paper , you learn who I am.
  in this you will come to know that I have loved you always and ever."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the sea, the sea...

Pierre Bonnard, artist.

This is where I am most at home.The sparkling, restless sea.The softness of the sea breeze, the pounding of the surf on timeless rocks.The treasures in shells and creatures that captivate a child and settle an adult.

The minute I see the white caps in the distance, I feel a a certain excitement.This is endless.This is immense.

I am alone on a rock with a stick poking at a small crab trying to dislodge it to take it home.Totally alone but captured by the moment when the sand sings over the rocks, the wind howls with the waves Later, my feet in the sand seem to dig in of their own accord as the tide pulls the water out.

It is surprising that I love this sea knowing what I know.Having seen the drowning of a young husband in the sight of his wife and having heard the story of another.This story told by a new boyfriend on a first date in 1964.His best friend, who was with us, asked the question,"What happened ?"And then the story of himself, a seventeen year old boy, his brother,15 and their Dad in a small boat on the Atlantic off Jones Beach, fishing in what seemed calm waters.A storm came and washed the Father out of the boat; the older boy grabbed his hand and held on until he couldn't.I have so many questions now.How did you get back to shore? How did you tell your Mother? How do you live with that memory? 

 The sea, the sea.Everlasting, unfathomable, forever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

running- a love story

Last Saturday, in a moment of weariness, I made a decision.I was at the track ready to run and I didn't want to.Just didn't. So, from then on, I decided, I would be a walker not a runner and I walked briskly for 30 minutes.I walked the track saddened.Walking, however, seemed so much easier: no 3 hour wait after eating, no deep breathing and long cool down."I bet I will walk more often than I now run, I thought," consoling myself.

As I cooled down from the walk, I thought of the wonderful adventures my New Balances and I have had: running beside a bird happy corn field in Scotland, along a rock studded road in Ireland with a tall tower castle on my left and the roaring ocean to my right.The time I was running in a small shaded park near home and tripped over a kudzu branch.Within seconds my Yellow Lab, who had been way ahead of me, was sitting at my side, comforting me with the only gift he had, slobber on my cheek.Or the run this fall in the Maine woods with two beloved nieces by my side.Shade, soft footing, scent of ocean and pine, laughs as we plodded along.What is a memory like that worth?

Other memories crowd.The six mile gentle down hill road in the Spruceton Valley that ends at the flag pole.Running that with another niece and my husband in the place that my child's heart has loved forever.The race through the woods of Dauset Trails south of here last spring that seemed like playing, for the joy of it.Not to mention medals.(I told you not to mention medals !)

I have been running for almost thirty years and maybe it was time to hang it up.Then I thought of the many injuries in all those years that I have fought through: back spasms, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints..Once, I was sidelined for a year and a half with plantar fasciitis and when a friend said that I would run again, I couldn't picture that foot pain not being there.But when it was healed,  I laced up and started over.I ran 5 minutes, then 8 minutes and on.I thought of that investment in effort and the results in good health that I feel I have acquired.

None of this mental drifting through runners land changed my mind until something truly unexpected happened.

After the walk on the track, I went to get my center pass.At the desk were two ladies that I barely knew.They looked up, smiled and asked how far I had run.I told them that today I became a walker and did 30 minutes.Two big frowns appeared and in unison they said:"No,No,No, You can't do that.We would love to run but can't and we watch you and wish we could.You have to run." Tears came to my eyes and I nodded.In that minute, I became a runner again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


When I was at Big Bend National Park earlier this year, I fell in love with Texas and wanted to take some home.Do you do that?Along the shore of the Rio Grande river, the border with Mexico, I found lovely smooth stones.These glistening pebbles had tumbled, rolled, and moved along the river bottom and finally landed in the sun on the shore.I scooped them up, each one different, perfect in their own beauty.I took them to show my son who informed me that I had to return them.Not allowed.I found some outside the park but they were jagged and unworn and had no character.They had lazily sat in the sun, travelled hardly anywhere and didn't smell like the river.I still have them but....

 The same thing happened in Maine this past week.I am not a trashy souvenir hunter.Please don't ask me to buy those little bags of pine needles that sell in shops all along the coast.Or Taffy or even Lobster rolls.I want Maine.How do you buy the rolling waves, the pine trees swaying, that perfect jogging path, the sight of white sails against a bright blue sky?How do you keep those things to turn over in your mind? I had no idea but in the strangeness and mystery that is my life, I found something so perfect and unexpected.

 It was on the way to the airport that we stopped at a Goodwill store to browse.I had already picked up a few extra books that were stuffed in our bags but I found the shelves calling anyway.I picked up a small dollar book that someone had donated unaware that she/he was giving me the experience of Maine that I wanted to hold .

 The cover of this book of haiku and other types of poetry brings it back.Each poem was written in the presence of the shade of those pines, the scent of the bay, the cry of a gull.They are simple and a great gift to my soul.This small book rests on a table by my bed so I can see it and remember.It is called  "shorelines" and the wandering poet is Kirsty Karkow.A few lines:

                                        "Lonely, I watch
                                    an osprey's high dive
                                       into dark water
                               its quick shake and flight
                                      with empty talons."

                                           "salt marsh
                                     a moose lifts antlers
                                    dripping with weeds."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Maine and a practice.

This morning is cool and lovely in Georgia ; it is good to be home from Maine.There is a perfect pink rose in full bloom by the porch and the Mexican heather is lush and beautiful. But the New England coast where we stayed was so different and beautiful, with ocean and bay scenes everywhere.And there, I found a heavenly running path.Pine smells, gentle waves, soft pine needles and shredded bark underfoot.The path was shaded and mostly flat.If I lived in Belfast, I would be on it every day.Running nirvana.

 I must admit that I caught myself looking at signs that offered apartments for rent.I know that's crazy, since I have already moved to New Mexico in my mind but the bay, boats and laid back friendliness of the natives was very appealing.

 The Buddhist monk who celebrated the marriage ceremony that gave my niece her new spouse, passed through Belfast on her way somewhere else,  stopped in her tracks and stayed for thiry years now.I can see that.

 The shining couple stood with their backs to the bay as white sails drifted by.The sun was shining and the lapping of the small waves on the shore was peaceful music that couldn't have been improved. We took deep breaths before we started and breathed in the beauty and released distractions. A breath, a wave.Calmness.

In the ceremony itself, Bonnie, the celebrant, spoke of marriage being a practice.I have thought of that often since then.Right now, I have three spiritual practices: the Liturgy of the Hours, which keeps me connected to the Scriptures; Centering Prayer, which empties me of self twice a day and the Rosary which puts me in the loving presence of my Mother.These are spiritual paths that I have been led to that keep me connected to the Real, the  eternal world which is not this one.This is what enables me to love as He loves and be a vessel, though a very imperfect one.

 How can I make marriage a practice as important as all the others?Those words of hers spoke deeply to me for a reason and I intend to find out where all this leads.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

the man on the plane....

This is going to be difficult to write because when the words were forming in my mind, a lump was also coming to my throat.It is about something that I thought would never make it to my blog but, as often happens, this now seems to be the most important moment of the trip.

We were in the airport in Amsterdam waiting stand-by for the early flight which had been open with empty seats.Then they announced it was over booked and offered money for a person to get off.Oh,No! We were so ready to go home.We waited and watched people boarding.Then I noticed a male employee pulling a young man aside.The man was in his late 30s, medium build with auburn, well kept, hair and casually but nicely dressed and he was weaving.The employee asked him if he had been partying.I couldn't hear the rest but I am sure the young man was told that he would not be served on the flight that was boarding.The man never got hostile just did alot of nodding;then off he went to the plane and out of my sight.

With only minutes to spare, I was given a seat toward the front of the plane.When I saw who occupied the seat next to my empty seat, I was horrified.Those who know me, know the antipathy I feel for drunks, having spent my childhood haunted by them.With unconcealed loathing, I sat down.He turned and said hello.My "hello" was encased in frozen icicles with a brisk North wind thrown in.Undeterred, he asked if I was going home.My "yes" was the most clipped, shortest "yes" in world history.He got the clue and turned away.He smelled and I fumed.

Then, oh, then, it was as if a sweet voice whispered,"Sharon, what if he was your son?"You could hear my heart crack in Toledo.Yes, what if he was.How would I want some old lady next to him to treat him? Minutes later, he fumbled to put some trash in the pocket near him and kept missing.I helped him and he turned and stared.I said:"I'm trying to help you."He smiled and thanked me.And when a steward came to get him to take him up front for a lecture, I helped take the blanket from his shoulders and patted him once on the back.Talk about conversions.

When we arrived in Atlanta, he was once again nabbed by Delta and hustled off, I don't know where.By then, I wanted to intercede and take him home. I had prayed the rosary for him on the plane.I pray again today and tears form.

Anger is such a common emotion.It makes you feel strong and in control.Compassion will break your heart.No wonder it is in such short supply.O clement,O loving ,O sweet virgin Mary,pray for us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Star Moments


In Finland, I purchased something so perfect and unusual that I smile each time I see it.It happened at the end of a long bus tour; this was the last stop after Helsinki.I loved Finland and that clear, sweet air after a muggy, unbearable Georgia summer.Tired, I almost didn't get off the bus but finally we tumbled out and checked the stalls of Finnish goods.

Recently, I have been re-doing a guest room in things from here and there, mostly thrift stores. Things that I love. I added a blue Indian bedspread from Woodstock this summer.Cool, Mary blue.As I walked among the stalls of things made in Finland, I spotted a small pile of pillowcases and a white one with blue stars bursting across the front.I asked about the Finnish word printed among the stars in blue:tahtihetkia. The clerk said that it meant "star moments".How perfect, although I had no idea what that meant. She thanked me for buying the item, as the old Finnish ladies who make them in cottage industries at home had their work shipped to Asia but now the work is slowly coming back.The designer of my pillowcase is Lina Blom and I thank you, who I visualize in the forest somewhere creating beauty.Lina Blom.

 So what is a star moment? Something unforgettable.Like that moment on the first day of the cruise when I let a frantic looking woman ahead of me in line so she could join her friends.They were from Plainview, New York and one of the ladies whispered to me that this was their first cruise as widows.I felt a shudder in my heart;unexpected tears accompanied my walk to the ship.

Or This:Tallin, Estonia.My husband and I were in a small square that overlooks this beautiful, free city.The square was hemmed in by small shops and beautiful trees shaded the whole area.There was a young, thin man playing the balalaika.My husband asked him to play the theme from Dr.Zhivago, our wedding song, and to his beautiful playing, we danced amid the cobblestones like new lovers unmindful of the crowds, happy.

I think of that beautiful song,"Stars fell on Alabama".Star moments fall on us all the time.How would life be if we looked for them as often as possible?(to be continued)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

busted in the Hermitage

 Before I left for our Baltic cruise, I promised a young internet friend that I would pray for him in a Russian church; he thanked me and asked that I touch Mary for him.I was delighted to add that to my things to do in the cold North near the Arctic circle.He became part of my journey.

These musings will not be a travelogue,I will leave places out but this is what I remember most:

-The closed convent in Rostock, Germany with a lovely courtyard and tall lush Ginko tree.Some of the old town wall encloses it's peace.There, just outside the gate, was my first, most primitive Mary.Just soft lines, simple but evocative.Feeling peace, I vowed to share her.Later, as we walked the streets towards a church, I looked up, I don't know why, and there she and her Christ were again, in an alcove high on a business establishment wall;looking down in the rain.

-Tallin, Estonia.The guide showed us some majestic square wooden houses  that were private homes when the Soviets invaded Estonia and took them over.Faded paint could not take away the character and beauty of these plain buildings. When the USSR dissolved, the houses were returned to their owners but none have the money, after 50 years, to repair them so they stand.Each with a story,each one moved me.

-In St. Petersburg, Russia, you can not drink the water.The country that was racing ours to the moon, does not have potable water in this city.I was shocked.Few shops, many apartment buildings that still have the stern, utilitarian facades. They have, however, taken great care of the Hermitage, that repository of incredible works of art.This former czar's palace gives a glimpse of the beauty and excess that caused a revolution.I know that I will never go back, but I would have loved to savor some of the art but the crowds were aggressive and the rooms stifling."Move on to keep from losing our guide" was the theme of the day.

 It was in this incredible museum that I sought to fulfill my promise to my British friend.I spotted a Mary, blue and wooden, within reach on a wall.I backtracked to her and reached up.All the weight of the Russian state descended in the form of a gnarled hand on my shoulder."No,No,No,"she cried.I never saw her anywhere, have no idea where she came from but I jumped a mile in the air and then shuffled off, badly chastened.

Conan, today I prayed for you with my hand on Mary's feet in my own church where we have a stunning Our Lady of Guadalupe statue that hangs to the right of the altar surrounded by soft burning candles.You know well the prayer that I was free to say. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.It was a special moment for me.They both were in fact.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

blessed are they.who come in the name of the Lord.......

Why do we come together?Drink, food, laughter? I can recall occasionally getting together with relatives a few towns over on Long Island, for who knows what reason.The adults would gather around the dining room table, chat and drink until 3 or 4 in the morning.We kids would read comics and occasionally beg to be taken home.

Finally, in an early hour before sunrise, we would be loaded in the old DeSoto and with sleeping heads banging against the window , we would make our way home.How did the adults heads feel the next morning? Do I sound bitter?

I have thought of those nights often since then.Why those late hours?Why sacrifice how you would feel the next day for the fun(?) of the night before?This is what I believe: they were hoping to connect.Bridge the gap that is between human beings.Feel loved.Of course, none of these people are around to ask.

It was a hot August day at Jones Beach in 1962.I was on a blanket with a boy friend getting rays near the water's edge.A disturbance caught our attention, people pointing towards the water.In a split second, the two lifeguards were off their elevated stand and with ropes and floats they charged into the surf.Within seconds, they were dragging a man through the sand and over a large barrel.He was on his back as the guards began their work.Nearby, was a young woman screaming: his wife.

As if by quiet command, four young people, including myself, drifted out of the crowd and took her hands.We gently sat down in a circle in the sand surrounded by the onlookers.Her back was to the man who was her husband of 6 months, but I could see him.As the lifeguards pushed and thumped his chest, sea water seemed to be pouring from every opening.A young fair haired man to my right began the rosary:Hail Mary,Our Father.We all joined in including the wife.She broke down sobbing, we softly prayed and we all got through those terrible minutes as the life guards worked.I kept looking for his hand to move, anything, as  tears came out from the bottom of my sunglasses.

After 20 minutes or so, the young wife spotted a friend walking up the beach and getting up she ran to her.Our small group dispersed and I gathered my things and went home.The next day I sadly read that the man did drown and that he was the first known fatality at Jones Beach.

This memory is so clear in my mind that I can see every second of it unfold like a movie.I didn't know it then but now I see this:Spirit moving in the crowd, calling this one, that one to move.Gently, but firmly.Move as Christ would, with hands outstretched.Be present with no thought other than bringing comfort into this overwhelmingly sad scene.Comfort for the moment and when the time is right, it will be revealed to Mrs. Henry who it was that held her hands on that hot August day by the sea.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

we must not be afraid of the truth......

I am a coward.I cannot bear to think of a lion shot with an arrow, stumbling bleeding through the jungle.Did this magnificent animal with his thick black mane know what was happening ?In his spirit, did he contemplate why he had enemies that he had never seen?

I once had a dream about a black lion that was so real I awoke in relief.My old dog, Cooper, and I were sitting on the rocks in the brook and to our left came this huge black lion.I whispered to my dog to hold still and not move but even in the dream I smiled inwardly because my beloved Coopie was quite deaf at 16 years old.The lion passed us without a glance.The spirit world used this unusual animal dream to tell me that I have a guardian angel and that her name is Ariel.It's a long story but since then lions have been a special mystical symbol to me.

What is lacking in a human being that they should have to kill this creature?I pray that self reflection might be happening as a result of the near universal outrage.

I am a coward.I have not watched one of the undercover videos filmed in Planned Parenthood facilities.I cannot.

I am a coward.I could not have survived the childhood described by Moira Greyland at the hands of her parents, one who raped her and the other who sexually molested her.Her parents.

She is a now a harpist of Celtic music and the founder of two opera companies in the United States.Her mother wrote "The Mists of Avalon," a novel of the Arthurian legends told from a feminine perspective.I got the book from the library at the recommendation of a friend.I thought the strong feminist strain would resonate, but my spirit, which is pretty tuned, felt unease.I knew nothing of the small child and her horrendous life.She describes her parents as avowed pagans and they probably didn't believe in hell but their daughter lived it.Her pain has seeped into her poetry and I have to think that at one time she wanted her life to be private.Now, however, she is speaking out and people are listening.She has much to say about the sexual revolution and where it is going.I rarely feel tears when I write but I just cannot believe this life.Her father finally molested the wrong child and died in prison. Her mother? Deceased as well.

I do not need to see pictures of the dead lion whose  head is missing to know the truth.I do not need to see the videos nor do I need to meet Moira.I know the truth, you know the truth and we must not be afraid.We must do the work that God has given us.For now, for me, it is prayers for Moira, the dentist and the workers in the videos.I do not know what is next.These things hurt and and make me angry but I am glad that my heart has been softened by Love so that it does.When I think of these three stories, I feel like I am standing over an abyss, a canyon so deep that light will never reach the floor; a place where love never enters.

Holy, holy is the Lord.
Holy, holy is the Lord
Rain, down, rain down
Rain down your love on us.Rain down your Love.....David Crowder

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mary in the mountains...

Each July, the Episcopal Church of St.James has a craft/antique fair on the
grounds in the town of Delhi in the Catskills.The church is lovely on the outside, grey stone and very solid; the grounds are shaded by old maples. The crowd and vendors are friendly sorts and we always have a lovely time.

I decided on this trip that I would look for Mary.The last time I did that I found her in an antique shop in Newnan,Georgia.What I discovered was a beautiful blue and gold triptych.Mary is holding her Son and two angels stand watch on the other two panels.It is the look on His face as He gazes at her that is so arresting.His little hand is on her neck and it is as if He wishes he could get closer.The angel on the left is dressed in red and is blowing a horn as if to say:"Pay attention, this is what matters."The angel on the right is in blue and is holding something that may be a red cross.

You don't often find Mary in Georgia.

We were on our way out of the fair when my husband said:"There she is."I stopped and saw that a woman had picked up what he pointed to and was asking the price.This carved Mary is about 3 feet tall and is made of mahogany.Her eyes are closed and she is bent in prayer.I whispered to my husband:"If she puts it down, grab it."She must have felt my yearning through her back because she turned and asked if I wanted her.I nodded and she gave the carving to me.I was so touched by her kindness that I told her I would always remember her and now her kindness was part of this Mary.She smiled and said just pray for me.I have and I do as I type.

I don't have Mary yet,since we flew on Delta and had no room for her but part of her story will be the kindness of my very busy niece who offered to bubble wrap and tape her up and mail her to us.She may be over Virginia right now.Wherever she is, when she arrives she will come with two blessings. That is just the beginning.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

holding your mother's hand

Those who read my blog know how much I love my adopted state; that Georgia suits me.Moonlight through the pines, the history and warm people have made our forty years here contented ones.We fit here.But then there is July and it's torrid cousin August."Run inside" heat that makes one weary and languid.So, last week we rented a small cabin in the Catskills, those mountains of memory in New York.Across from the cabin is the West Kill, a sweet stream that changes with the seasons but is always beautiful to me.

Each morning, I got up at 7 A. M. and with coffee, rosary and my journal,  I crossed the country road.Sitting on a knoll above the brook, I wasted time.The water was flint colored and musical as I settled into solitude .A green plant the size of a tumbleweed was to my left and honey bees hung from each small white flower in their constant searching.A blue and grey Belted Kingfisher flew on a straight line over the water and then crashed into the brook in a violent dive.I turned to my right and about 60 yards upstream, a bear cub meandered across the stream.So much life.

The rosary was the starting point.Each mystery, each prayer was a step toward the interior still point.It felt like holding your Mother's hand on a bright spring morning.Her warm hand stayed in yours without thought of chores or things to do.All there, all for you, until you are ready to let go.Perfect presence.Eternal sun.

As a child, I can remember putting my head in my mother's lap and knowing, without words, that she wished I would move away.She loved me but was uncomfortable.I feel the beads in my hand as I go around the circle  and I settle into a calm place.

Recently, a friend was dying and my husband and I visited her.I wanted to take her something that she could hold as a machine nearby filled her lungs with air.I wanted to bring her Christ.So, I slipped a rosary in my pocket.Silver links held red clear beads with small medals of Pope John 11.My dear Liz couldn't talk because of the tubes but a tear and a small smile told me she knew we were with her.She held the rosary as we talked to her and, when we left, she clutched it still.Her grandson is my godchild and, after she passed, they were going to bury the rosary with her but Wayne said no, he wanted it because it was from his godmother.It hangs on his bedroom wall and I cannot tell you how that touches me.She is with him whether he knows it or not.She is holding his hand;I can see it.

Mary, Queen of the angels, pray for us.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

change your thinking

                        "Man is what he believes." Anton Chekhov

This brave new world that we are ushering in, is not really about the right of same sex partners to marry, although for some this may be so.The movement for "equal rights" has been wildly successful, and in my view, this is part of a co-ordinated effort to remove Christianity from influence in this country.It has been so for many years.It was subtle at the start.A few T.V.shows, where the perp on a murder spree is shown to have a cross on his wall.Or his looney Mother does.My husband and I wait for it.The movie "The Changeling" where the murderer's desk had a rosary, a Bible and a lit candle.Such devotion although the real killer was neither devout nor Catholic for that matter.Why that scene?
Oh, those crazy Christians, we all chuckle.Drip,drip,drip.

Christians and those fools who believe humans have souls and therefore have eternal worth, are in the way of "progress." We can marginalize these believers by branding them.Yea, that's the ticket.

In November of 1938, the horror began, Kristalnacht.SA paramilitary and non-jewish citizens began smashing windows of shops and synagogues owned by Jews.The German government looked on and did not intervene.Eventually, 30,000 Jewish men were sent away to camps for being,"un-German."Even though they had lived in Germany for ages and had been neighbors for that long, it was time.They weren't like "us."

Christians are now "haters" because they don't jump on every bandwagon that someone in the elite ether has decided is "progress."Oh, by the way, a van is coming for my neighbor, that sweet old lady who babysat my children.She's a Christian and you know what haters they are.Or maybe she had that 75th birthday and it's time for her go.Hat tip to Ezekiel Emanuel, one author of the ACA.Oh, you love your granny? Too bad, we need to make room for younger folks.

They are dinosauers these people of faith.Can't wait for them all to die off.Abortion on demand, sex with no limits, helpful death for the elderly, death for the handicapped.(where have I heard that before?)I think that my imagination is deficient to really get what's coming.Can we have home schooling where these Christians teach their kids about sin?Teaching about sin is hate.Bill 7689 will get rid of that antiquated concept.Won't pass this Congress, no problem, executive order.Here's an idea, first start to charge them more in tax if they home-school.Who is to stop us?If someone complains call them a name, hater or child abuser, will do for now.We do love labels.They work.

I wish to refer you to the history books,You need to go no further than the glorious USSR.That secular paradise was a perfect place of equality.And efficiency.Well, not so much, there were "wreckers" you know.How many were fighting to get in to that godless utopia?

You think that this can't happen in America ? When the van comes for me, will you even come out and wave or hug me good-bye? Or will you hide behind that sheer white curtain and be thankful you were smart enough to do what the President and Mrs, Clinton say we must:change our thinking.What happens if I don't?

Jesus, Lord of the Universe, help us.
Mary,Queen of the angels,pray for us.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Writing your way Home-class 1

1.Welcome:introduce myself.We will be learning and teaching each other.

2.We are now going to write our memoirs...using 6 haiku but not in that format....just 6 words...that tells who you are...share.

3.Encourage journalling.....journalling examples.

4..Wrie down this quote..."Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant,there is no such thing.Making your unknown known is the important thing."

Who would like to volunteer to find out something interesting about the person who said that and print one of their art pieces that speak to you? Bring next week.

3.Some of this and that.

No writing police

You can write fact or fiction.


Pass can pass from sharing at anytime.

There is no grammar, spelling or punctuation police.We will not focus on grammar or spelling;just ideas and dreams.

There is no "wrong" because these are your stories.How can it not be glorious and courageous ?

Let it rip.Write for yourself and no one else.

Don't censor.

4.Feedback is always just the positive.Take notes.What did you like?

Any questions ?

5.2nd Quote:"The spirit of an object, if you sit long enough, will finally sneak through the back door and grab you."Andrew Wyeth.Who would like to volunteer to bring in a picture of a Wyeth painting and share with the class?

6.3rd quote"Any object, a table,  suitcase, statue can serve as the starting point, the seed of a story, just like the famous mustard seed of faith".Diane Schoemperlen."Our Lady of the Lost and Found"

7.Look at the objects before you.Take your time to pick one that has a story to tell through you.Then write that story.20-30 minutes.

Share with class.Class take notes if you wish and share any thoughts.

7.Homework: In detail, tell about one of the best days of your life.Bring to class next week and share.

Lorraine will facilitate next week's session.


Sunday, June 14, 2015


Today's sermon was about the mustard seed and how a small bit of faith can grow into something beautiful; as a small seed can become a huge bush that shades birds from the sun..On this hot Georgia day, that resonated.

 But I see a bigger picture; that a small offering of love can bring bushels and cartons of the same.And how a small girl can grow into a lovely young woman.

It was over 12 years ago that I paid a visit to a person newly coming to the Catholic Church.She was a gentle, sweet grandma who seemed to relish every moment of class.She came in between chemotherapy sessions.Never complaining, she smiled and soon we became friends.Thus, the invitation to visit her at home. The day of that brief visit, I met her small granddaughter, Anna.She may have been 5 years old and although shy, she had an engaging smile just like her grandma.Brown hair and slight, we shared few words yet, I recall being so glad to meet her.

Her Grandmother, Linda, passed away a few months after she was baptized into the Lord.This is what I believe; she left me Anna as a gift. Each Sunday, I see Anna and her little sister, Emma, and they shower me with love.Anna is going off to college soon, and one day she will probably move on but for now, she shows me Christ.I receive Him in the Eucharist and then again from her.This is what I felt this morning.This is what Church means : this is the Body of Christ.This is the gift we were left.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

so simple and imperfect...

What spirit painted this?The edges chewed, so imperfect.Yet, could anything be more perfect?The colors.

I carried a daisy bouquet on my wedding day.An orchid girl, I was not.The daisies were cousins of the ones growing wild in the valley near the West Kill, that stream I so loved in New York."He loves me, he loves me not."Daisy chains and a simple girl.

Growing up, I strove to be perfect, to not rock the already chaotic boat that we four sailed on.I still think there is some of that but today a friend came and the house was in a bit of disarry and that was O.K.My leaves have been chewed on.

Georgia O'Keefe, an artist whose mind took in the yellow hickory leaves with the daisy, couldn't say what she saw in any other way but with her hands.In the still desert air that called her West to New Mexico;in its bare simplicity, she bloomed with the hickory.

"This was a land of vast spaces and long silences, a desert land of red bluffs and brilliant flowering cactus.The hot sun poured down .This land belonged to the very old Gods.They came on summer evenings, unseen, to rest their eyes on the milky opal and smoky blue of the desert.For this was a land of enchantment where Gods walked in the cool of the evening."   Marian Russell, "Along the Santa Fe Trail."

I think someday, I'll hitch my paint horse to the front of a canvas wagon and plod along the old Santa Fre trail.I'll don some silver earrings and a buckskin skirt and settle among the rocks warmed by the setting sun.

Monday, June 1, 2015

what's in your bag?

The clouds that left devastation in Texas, have rolled into sweet Georgia and we lost power for three days straight.The air is cool, however, and no flooding here.

Monday is "run around chores" day and that included a trip to the library to pick up a book I put on hold days ago.The man at the desk retrieved my book and I drifted over to the sale desk to see if there was anything new.In the background, I heard a loud voice struggling to read and saw a young man with a volunteer.

From where I stood, I could see he was tall with sandy colored hair, stubble on his chin and an indentation on the side of his head.His reading skill evidenced a mental challenge.The woman volunteer across from him had such patience and her kind smile suggested she didn't mind the slowness with which he read.

I turned to look at the books and then I saw the man in front of me.He asked if I worked there and then turned to his helper and said:"I am just talking to this beautiful...(wait for it)...old lady."He should have stopped, but I had to laugh and I did.This is what I am, an old lady who is in her seventh decade.

How did this happen ?I can remember being 11, with skinny legs and protruding front teeth and wanting to be a teenager.Would that have cured what ailed?

The restaurant was upscale, on the Hudson River in Kingston, NY.White table cloths, flickering candles and subdued music.I was 14 years old and enjoying the treat when I noticed a table near-by.A composed young woman in her twenties with gorgeous auburn hair, a green suit and a bright white smile, sat among a group of men who were so important looking, in their dark business suits.They seem to hang on every word she spoke.I wanted to be her.She eventually saw me looking and, reading my mind, smiled as if to say:"It's not as wonderful as you think." I smiled back.

I look back now from my 70s perch and wouldn't change anything now or then.This old lady is content with what makes up her life.That brown bag of life's fabric is colored, bright and pastel, shiny, has streamers of gold and silver, sequins, smooth pink silk and all those pieces of rough, scratchy burlap.The secret, which took me a long time to know, is to be grateful for all of it.If God is in charge and He is, every second had and has eternal value.

And so today, I met a man that I will give a strong name;Mark. Mark shook my hand before I left the library and as I drove away I realized this:Mark has some lovely fabric in his bag:I see some solid blue denim, warm yellow wool and bright red ribbon.Honesty, friendliness and love.

Monday, April 27, 2015

the relationship still exists..

In the past week and a half, my husband and I have gone to four funerals and missed one sitting in an airport.April, what's going on ?All but one of the deceased were younger than me.All were loved and leave a big hole in family and church.But as with all things, there were blessings.

 The beautiful wife of my daughter's first boyfriend came to me at his Mother's funeral and quietly said, "You have no idea how my husband needed to be with your family during those high school years."She appreciated us providing some stability in that time for a lost teen.I never knew and was blessed by her tearful sharing.Connecting with him and other cross country friends from thirty years ago was a true gift and we are planning a reunion.

Today, the Mass was for a twenty-five year old who died in a construction accident.The pain in the church was palpable.At the end of the homily, the priest shared from a book on grief these thoughts:"the people you love are never cut off from you.You will always be connected and it is up to you to keep that connection."At the end the priest said, "You are still connected to your son.That will never be broken." What comfort to believe that. I hung on each word because I had never heard this spoken before although this has been my experience.

Several years ago, I was on a retreat when this assignment was given: name three things that keep you from being a completely open channel for God's love.Immediately, without thought, I wrote: "That I didn't love my family enough;didn't make their lives better, happier with my love."I was shocked at what I wrote and pondered it for a long time.It was true, but I only treated them the way I was treated and I never deliberately withheld love, just never thought much about it. This obviously was not good enough, I now knew.The challenge lay before me: what to do? Slowly, quietly and in my own time, I told each one of the three deceased members that I was sorry for the missed opportunity to make them happy with loving actions.

  I felt forgiven.

 Loved ones who have left this earth are still with us. How to connect? You can ask for help and then do it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

a wicker basket of blouses..

Memory is a large wicker basket, tan, shining in the sun, filled with clean startlingly white blouses scented by the wind.You pull one out ,shake it and hold it to your chest and remember.This happened today after a lovely cyber friend posted a picture of a group of women dancing on a beach in Fort Lauderdale in the 1940s.

One day settles on my mind as if I drove home yesterday from Jones Beach on Long Island.

It was early September in 1961and my high school friends and I all have scarves around our heads in this black and white picture of mine, so it must have been a blowy day.The beach was empty, so perhaps it was a during the week.I know that the sea ,the glorious Atlantic, felt warm on our legs after the months of summer sun.

Did we have a radio or did we just dance to tunes we sang out at the top of our lungs?How to describe the joy,the freedom we felt, the lifting laughter that seemed to have no end.These girls of sun and beach are lost to me now.One went into the convent, much to our dismay, and died young.Maureen, who was kind and true.Carol, dark hair and dark eyes, very smart, could not be found by the 50th reunion committee a few years ago although she is thought to live in Maryland.I had to try to find her as well.Oh, to hear that voice again.I think of her incredible humor:the lift of her eyebrow could send us into uncontrollable laughter. Blonde athletic Mary Lou passed away from breast cancer a few years back.She was so angry at that disease that as a radiologist she had found in so many scans.The last was my beautiful, blonde best friend Patti.She is alive, well and retired in Texas.We speak occasionally on the phone and always end the conversation in tears.I'm not sure why.

This memory has no end.Soon I will pass it on to a new friend who I have never met but who shared a picture that turned over the basket.She would have fit in nicely on that day, that beach.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

the desert, and a fatal mistake

I can't get it out of my thoughts.It is the Grape Hill Trail that haunts me.One of the easiest paths in the park.That day, we walked on it for a mile up to the balancing rock.This was Big Bend National Park in Texas;it was winter and even then, the sunny part of the walk, which was most of it, was hot.

Texas is not Georgia.The sun is brilliant and in the park, the only shade available is in very early morning or late afternoon when the rocks block the sun.Mid-day is sun.Period.And sand.

I knew the story of the man from New York who had perished here in May of 2004 but to walk and see the exact spot where he made his fatal mistake was jarring.I was with my son who knows this park, my husband and plenty of water when we started out on this flat, interesting trail.Then we got to a place of narrow winding rocks going up and before long I was on my hands and knees.That's when I fore swore going any further and plopped down and waited for their return.Fear of heights is a burdensome thing but also perhaps a warning from my psyche that a fall from here at my age would be dreadful in many ways.

I was in the shade of the monumental rocks and not unhappy to wait and let the breeze blow on my cheeks and look at the magnificence all around.And, it is just that.Soon, they were back, and with helping hands, I got back to level ground.The sun was falling behind the rocks as we walked so there was more shade and that is when we came across what looked like another path.

On that May day,when the 42 year old lawyer from New York hiked solo up  the rocks, the temperature was over 100 degrees.A man who passed him coming down the trail said that he observed no water and a very red face as he said hello.The lawyer had reached the top and mentioned it was worth the climb.When the second man came back down, he observed only one other car in the small lot at the head of the trail and suspecting it belonged to that red faced man, wondered where he had gone.There was only one path to the cars.

I saw the spot where he kept going, down a small sandy wash, a dry stream bed, that looked just like the trail.He kept walking and, as this wash went down, he didn't see the cars above him to the left.His car, his escape.He kept on and rescuers found him the next day, two miles down the wash, face down, swollen.They have since put a small string of rocks to block that wash from being mistaken for the trail.

I stood for a minute at that small group of rocks thinking of the man who succumbed to the heat of the desert so rapidly that day.He was coherent when he passed the other walker and a mile later when he crossed a road which had not been on the path when he went in, he kept going which tells us that, by then, his thought process was impaired.His small journal, found at his side, hurt me when I read it:"9:40 started trail to balance rock.""think I'll be back by ten?""11:00 no car,go path, mtn nearby.""should be back by problem.""Call for help."" rest in shade".The last entry simply said:"12:40".

I loved Big Bend and the wide open spaces of Texas.The fact that this land is so wild and untamed and we don't "own" it.But, Douglas Pappas from New York haunts me.And teaches me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

a story of Lent

Southwest Texas is more beautiful than I imagined.A stark, wide open beauty.A recent trip there brought back memories.While sailing through childhood in that smoky, small and tense ship that was my home, I found winter time to be the worst.Other than snow days, we kids were trapped inside with unhappy adults.The sun set at 4:30 and the cold was unbearable.The maples that lined our street turned into iron pillars and when, at 9 P.M., my mother would yell that it was time to take the dog out, I almost wept.

There was, however, a way to escape that I appreciate now more than I did then.The brown plastic Philco radio.When not tuned into Yankee baseball, we were allowed to listen to some shows that with the help of vivid and well nourished imaginations, took us to the canyons and the arroyos of Texas. How far from Long Island I traveled!

When Lent drearily came around the year I was 10, at the exhortation of the nuns, I knew immediately what I was to "sacrifice."I had to give up my favorite show,The Lone Ranger.I was well aware that giving up Brussels(yuck) Sprouts would not cut it.It had to hurt and it did.Especially because of this:that year, an episode would tell what caused the Texas Ranger to wear a mask, be "lone" and have an Indian side-kick.NO!!!!

I was tempted mightily that year to cheat just that once, but I held firm.I could hear the noise of the show unfolding downstairs but never a clear word of it.

I told this story a few years ago, on-line, and then the inexplicable happened.I opened Facebook to find a message from a young friend, Kris.Attached to the message was a radio show.I didn't even know that was possible.When I opened it and heard the William Tell Overture, I cried.She had found that episode, attached it and sent it to me. I was back riding the range, ducking the tumbleweed and looking for bad hombres in the canyons of Texas.

I had to laugh at her note hoping she wasn't messing with Lent karma.No, Kris, the karma is all good.I smile and feel warm at the thought of that which I gave up over 60 years ago coming back to me ten fold, pressed down and overflowing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


photo by Kris


                                    An ordinary Mass.
                                   I kneel, eyes closed
                                   and there is your Face.

                                        I know it's you.
                                   I feel your otherness,

                                     Your eyes are closed,
                                         no sharp features.
                                 I think later; poor, peasant face.

                                  You are right with me
                                another world around us.
                                  The flock stands and I
                                         want to stay.

                                I obey, up and you are gone.
                                   something to regret always.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

dancing in the Light....


Behind the altar of our humble church are floor to ceiling windows and outside those windows that is a tall rock garden with a waterfall.I have witnessed a butterfly land there one hot August day; the day of a friend's funeral.Her funeral program had a butterfly on the cover.An occasional squirrel will scramble to the top to eat a nut of some kind.Neighbors.

Today, the water was beautiful, glittering and frozen solid.It is the closest we Georgians will get to frozen ponds.The psalm for today is perfect for what I am feeling:"You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation."

I have written before about the young man who attends our church when he can.He, who helped me become aware that my mother had been with me in Australia by means of a butterfly visit.

After mass, he asked this question:"Do you have a deceased sister?" "Yes," I said."Did she die of something to do with the liver ?" "Yes."Did her life involve a cane?""Yes,"I said, stunned.

Before I continue, I need to tell you that I adored my older sister, my only sibling, four years senior.Also, that we rarely got along.I often wondered why and then found the answer in a novel, of all things, and it rang true.When there is little nurturing or love to be had, siblings become competitors.The best time was after she married, left our 8x10 bedroom and became my confidante.I treasured her wisdom and her openness to all my foolishness.She brought a brother-in-law and nieces into my life that I love deeply.So there was good times, too few.I prayed about the lost years  in a chapel once and heard this:"You will get that time back."I don't know what that means, I don't have to.

A few years before she died in 2008, she tripped over a laundry basket and broke her ankle and walked with a cane from then on.

Anyway, my friend Tim said he saw my sister with me at Mass.I believe that the space between the here and gone is very thin but what I heard next brought tears.She had her cane outstretched between her hands and was dancing.He said that she wanted me to see that.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

winter's tale

A time of bareness.Insideness and early dark. Bluest of sky but little warmth from the sun.New beginnings.Crows in the trees and turkeys boldly coming to the door and looking in.Frozen birdbath with crows wondering where to dip their corn.

Advent is over and, quite surprisingly, the days and the journey led to unexpected places.I have joined three groups on line:one to do with the Rosary, one with Christian writers and another exploring the life of Blessed Charles de Foucald.Having done that, I am being richly rewarded with postings from many different seekers throughout the world.The blessings pour into my already overflowing wooden bowl.

Beyond the mystery of rosaries said, poems read and prayers written in the Algerian desert; in the midst of the wonders of crackling brown leaves, grey, bare tree branches, a bright hawk circling over head, a brown colored river that starts near the Atlanta Airport in a debris ridden seepage, is this:
 A family at church suffered a setback just before Christmas.I felt strongly that we needed to give an anonymous donation since they have children and it is the time of gift giving.My husband was totally agreeable or I am not sure it would've happened.The day after Christmas, a check arrived for that amount plus a hundred dollars from American Express.A refund from an error we knew nothing about.