Saturday, January 23, 2016

the story that never ends...

 The other day I was thinking of the Nativity scene for some reason and I got a bit misty.What is it about that story that never fails to enchant even this older, weary heart? There were efforts again this year to remove the creches from City Hall lawns.This year saw the Festivus tree with beer cans go up in Florida and as a new twist, satanists in Oklahoma demanded equal time for a statue of Satan.. They won and I guess it went up.Shudder.As Steve Martin sings,:"Atheists don't have songs", so I don't know what happened around that display.

  I can see her now in her small clean room with a bed by the window. My father's picture is on all wooden to her.Her grey hair is short and curly and even in her eighties, her face is open like a child's. She is propped up in a chair with a pillow behind her back, waiting.A book lays in her lap and she has come to a place of contentment in the bright, bustling environment of a nursing home.

 My mother read books and prayed the rosary faithfully.She prayed two each day,one for for my sister and one for my husband to stop smoking.She had smoked and knew the damage, the frightening inability to get enough air, so she prayed.My husband tried hypnosis, self-talk and so on, to break a habit acquired at 13 years.All failed until that one day, 20 years ago, when he just quit.Period.

 If every Nativity scene is destroyed, every written tale of the Birth burned, every mention of it banned as hate speech , still it will exist because there is a hole in each human heart that is bare, hollow without this story.

While my mother sat in that chair, she would get very anxious.She was waiting for the nurse to come with her breathing treatment.It seems that it was timed and the medicine always came after her asthma started up again.She would feel panic rising and the only thing that helped was this: a pencil sketch that my son, at age 12, had made for her.It was drawn on a sheet of notebook paper and took up the whole page, what with the people, cows, sheep, angels, baby and a star. So many times she told me that gazing at that scene, which loving hands had made, calmed her when nothing else would.

Friday, January 8, 2016

an encounter that stays with me....

  Australia 2012.I never  thought I would travel this far to a place that I always yearned to visit.We were here for my son's wedding to the love of his life,Crystal Kelehear, and my memories are endless.The birds called bell birds that swarm in colonies and do sound like chimes but are creepy in one aspect, I never could spot one.They were all around in the tree right by the road and though noisy, they were  invisible.

 We were staying at the family farm about four hours from Sydney and miles from a town.The acres were thousands and mountains were everywhere.The crows cry like babies, the kookaburra bird laughs with abandon and instead of squirrels, 3 foot lace monitor lizards come at you from the leaf strewn under story.I loved it.If I never go back, I will feel deprived.

 The day before the wedding was a Sunday and Crystal's kind sister found a Catholic Church in the next town but there was no one to drive me.The most likely volunteer would have been a son who had food poisoning and had been vomiting for two days. I hadn't the nerve to drive myself on the wrong side of the road in an unfamiliar country, so I stayed home, not happy.Crystal's father noticed.

 I had watched Craig, who is a thin , rangy man with a grey beard in his mid 60s , tending sick cows, digging trenches to keep river water flowing to the house and a million other necessary chores and yet on the morning of the wedding he said this:"I know you missed church, so I thought we would have it up on the hill if you wish."What a generous offer in the midst of all that had to be done.I said yes.

After donning straw hats against the brilliant Australian sun, we hiked up the long driveway to the top of a  hill.We sat in the shade of the leafy tree seen above.At our feet was a small monument to a much loved relative who is buried there.This spot looks out over a rolling pasture on to the mountains.We talked of his love for that person and his parents.I told of losing my sister and having dreamed that she and my mother had been reunited in heaven and were happy.It was an emotional time for us and it was church in a most unexpected way.I recall thinking that here we were, two displaced Celts,  (both ancestors emigrated from Ireland) looking out over this beautiful plain.I will forget many church services but not this one on the hill.

  The day before we left to come home, I wrote Craig a note thanking him for his kindness.Today's scripture was part of that note::

                                            "The Lord is your guard and your shade;
                                                at your right hand he stands.
                                              By day the sun will not smite you
                                               nor the moon in the night."Psalm  121

I hope that he has felt the Lord's shade in the many days since.

Monday, January 4, 2016


When I worked for BellSouth Mobility and we were gearing up for the Atlanta Olympics, it seemed that there would be no meaningful life after 1996.What could be more exciting than the world coming to our city? And here we are twenty years later, and there is life on this cold , sunny, blustery day.I am in a house by the river; the trees are bare and the stillness of the house is a gift.It seems a day for reflection.

The New Year coincides with the latest 54 day rosary novena that I am praying through; this time my intention surprised me.I prayed for joy.It seemed that at this time of year, joy was as elusive as a dry day.So much loss by those around me.I claim contentment but joy is of a different order.

When I pray the rosary, I have been led to pray for the desires of my heart.Many times these prayers are for family members, the suffering, the estranged.But when I pray for myself, I see immediate results.Kind friends have suggested that I write a book but that seems so far away in the energy needed but I did pray for what to do with the excitement I feel when I put  pen to paper.Within days, a secret longing blossomed  into a path.Last Fall, I facilitated a writing class.As I stood at the doorway of the classroom, I struggled with what to do if no one showed.But, 7 to 8 faithful writers showed up every Friday and the room was electric, sparks of delight pinging off the windows.A new group will form in February.

I do not teach writing.I am not qualified, but I create a safe space for new writers to share their hearts.Only positive feedback is allowed and encouragement is the milieu in which we write.If the participants leave class wanting to write as a joyous hobby, then the goal has been reached.Where that will lead them is limitless.One lady was going to Florida to visit her Mother for Christmas and was going to write her Mother's life as a gift to her.

We are only a few days into 2016, and yet I feel a stirring of gladness.It is small, like a barely heard hum, but it is there.Is it possible that by identifying the lack of joy and pointing my heart in its direction, the river of gold that it is, turns ?

What are the desires of your heart?Can you name them?Are you willing to turn your heart towards the river of golden Light and let it take you where you want to go?Our Father, who art in heaven...Hail Mary, full of grace...