Sunday, November 27, 2016

sobbing on the mountain..

The hubris, the cheek of it all.

It was the Fall of 2013 when my husband and I left for Europe with a friend to walk the Camino, the holy pilgrim path of 500 miles in Spain. But did we start in Spain? Oh no, we had to do the whole thing, so we arrived in a small town in France so that we could climb over the Pyrenees the next day. Did you read that?The Pyrenees Mountains! Up in the dark, with a roll for breakfast and with an exuberance that should have been a warning, we started our trek. Up, up, for 13 miles with no food but some lovely views. When we reached the top, I was weeping like a open faucet; so depleted that I wanted to curl up in a ball.

 And then there was the down.Three miles over a rock strewn path with no other way to go. After a few feet, I took off my hat put it over my face and started wailing.This was the 70 year woman who was going to show those Europeans that Americans aren't soft. Soft? I was shredded cheese,  an overcooked pasta dish, a mess.My husband was very patient and later told me that he was so whipped he wanted to call for his Mother. Finally, we got down and I took two Advil, had some wine and just knew that the next day would be better. And it was for ten miles but by the 13th mile, I knew that my feet and my soul  just couldn't do this.

We finished but with train and bus assistance, walking only 175 miles.

I was reminded of this horror by today's wonderful Advent readings from Isaiah who I wished had been with me those days for inspiration. Listen: " Come let us climb the Lord's mountain, that he may instruct us in his ways,.and we may walk in his paths."...

Despite all that had happened, we were on the Lord's mountain and as if to underscore this, Guy happened. He was a  Frenchman about our age who was hiking the trail.The second night, we encountered him at dinner.My French would fit into your sock and his English wasn't there, so we smiled alot. After night prayers in a convent, I kept getting the feeling that the rosary that I was carrying needed to be given away. And to Guy. The next morning, in the dark, I saw him heading out the door. I followed, pressed my small green ladybug rosary into his palm and went back to eat.I  looked up and there he stood and through tears he told me that the day before he had lost his beads somewhere on the trail.Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

rosary by the river..

The woods are now filled with the muted yellow of an artist's palette.The green has fled and here and there I can see the grey of tree trunks that stand sentinel by the river.The birds have been taking their yearly fling southward; the bird bath yesterday was visited by blue birds, bright orange robins, stunning blue jays, and some red headed house finches.None seems in a rush to leave.

There is nothing more calming than walking in the woods, leaves scattering, saying the rosary. The one that I am using was made in Russia; the beads are blond wood with a cross that is edged with curves and all caught with white string. Simple. I recall the day that I bought it in St.Petersburg. It was a beautiful August day, two years ago. After the store purchase, we went into St. Issac's church and I saw a perfect bag to hold it.There was Russian writing embroidered on the side and oh, how I wanted that little bright blue sack.However, despite my fevered yearning, they didn't accept anything but rubles.How Russian of them! Of course, we had none.  I smile remembering how my husband scoured around looking for rubles outside the church, only to find that we couldn't get back in without missing the bus.A memory worth many rubles.

Sauntering with rosary in hand, I never feel alone or unproductive.I hold the mother's hand and we wander together in harmony.The beads come from a forest on the other side of the world in a place that, years ago, I would have been unable to go.The faithful in St.Petersburg gathered that day in a small side chapel of that huge cathedral.They held a service touching in its intensity.Heads covered, eyes on the altar or closed, grace dwelt among them. While in that city, we also saw the place where American communists helped bring on the Russian Revolution.What was going on in that church is of a different sort . Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

strolling through the leaves with Riley...

Again, a stunning Georgia day.No clouds, just a thick blue background to the many colors in the woods.The bright orange pumpkins, side by side on a bench in the front yard, look  to a day that may reach 80 degrees and wonder. Each day brings more reason for gratitude.

Last year at Thanksgiving, each of my family members wrote 5 things of thanksgiving on a piece of paper as we always do, and then we read them aloud. My grandson Riley, 14 at the time said ,"Jesus". His brother thought he said Chees-its and started to laugh and then had us all laughing. A truly joyous moment for me for many reasons. Just their being there and for the faith of a teen-age boy.And laughter.

The first time I saw Riley's heart was a few years back. He may have been three at the time and we were sitting on a log in the backyard when his Grandpa came up.Immediately, the little boy held out his small bag of Graham Cracker Teddy Bears for John to share.Now Riley is as tall as his Grandma, thin from running cross country and has bright red hair that stands up with glee.

I recall a day thrift shopping with him when  he suggested we get something for his younger sister who couldn't come.He picked out a necklace with a silver dolphin hanging from it.I thought it perfect for her as, at the time, she wanted to be a mermaid when she grew up. He also found a small green Bible that was free.His face shone with joy. Riley, please always delight in giving and in the Word.

When I started writing, this was going in a very different direction. But our inner place of mystery and delight knows what really needs to be said. So this is about Riley, my precious grandson, who told his Dad that he remembered being with God before the long journey down the steps that he took alone to come here.He was about 4 and still had that memory which I  hold in my heart.

And so this writing is really a prayer for protection for my dear RiRi, and a hope that he will always feel God's presence and follow His lead. Yesterday, while in prayer, I was given this which is too good not to share:

......"for all the good in the world, give praise: for all that has been given you, both great, this land, and small, this journal. Ask for what you need daily. Ask and smile as you wait for a response.
   Is it peace of heart ? Ask, and thank before it comes. Is it riches or wealth, ask and see what different thing enters your heart. Is it health? Ask and see what changes need to be made.
Hold the hand of the One who loves you and ask."

Friday, November 11, 2016

shuffling through the debris

Georgia has finally been visited by cool air and I greet it with enthusiasm.What pleasure to have cold cheeks; to hear the crisp leaves under my feet as I walk the woods.This year I took a few, just turning, leaves and put them on my desk to watch as they colored up in bright red and yellow.And yet, the pink roses still bloom.Wonders all.

I can feel the world curling up, night comes sooner and sap is retracting.

Colder nights means bringing in my house plants, some very old.There is a red crown of thorns that I treat like a fragile baby. It must be 30 years old and I recall the day that I bought it.My son Sean, who was perhaps 10 at the time, and I  drove out to the monastery in Conyers for a wander around and a visit to Flannery O'Connor's screaming peacocks, which she had donated to the monks.It was there on that special day with my son that I bought the plant..........

...And locked my keys in the car; we were 25 miles from home.Then a minor miracle occurred . Instead of losing it and crying/screaming like the peacocks, I deliberately sat down to think things through.It must have been a residue of monk prayers hovering over Conyers that caused this reaction because that is not me.With a patience I don't have, I thought for awhile and then called my son Michael who was home and asked him to drive out with some keys.He was gracious and showing great kindness said;" Of course."That's the way he is.

This small plant was attacked once by my dog Cooper for some odd reason.I came home from work a few years later and Sean had it in his hands with a face that looked as droopy as the plant.He knew how much that little plant meant to me.I potted it again and it survived.No one can appreciate how much I love that plant because of its connection to my two wonderful sons.This feels sappy but so be it.I love them so much.

Last week, I received a message that means a great deal to me at this time of turmoil and rancor.The Lord said this:

"Keep your focus on love.How can you love in this situation?Can you take a minute to love?If I were standing next to you, would your response be different?I am, you know.See that truth, live that truth.It matters."

I am grateful beyond words for all the love in my life.I have no choice but to give that away.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

a herald and signs

The wonderful , mild,  Fall weather continues and as if that wasn't enough, the robins are back.One is in the bird bath trying to get set, right before traveling to Florida and points South. Who doesn't love these birds that arrive to tell us of change ?The signs are everywhere.Plump pumpkins, that seem to be smiling, in church yards for sale, purple mums in flower pots and the constant swirling of multi colored leaves.This year, I have plucked a few off the trees around our house and have them on my desk.Watching them change daily has become a blessing of 2016, this year of turmoil.

A church in Mississippi was burned and the culprit left a Vote for Trump sign on the charred side.Within a day, Trump supporters raised over $140,000 to rebuild.A sign of the goodness in people's hearts.Amazing.

This is what sustains me in this world that is as confusing as a house of mirrors: there is a river of goodness and Love that holds the universe in balance.It is around us, unseen, and we have a choice to be part of the flow or not.We can burn churches or collect money.I think of two young friends of mine, who both had a choice to help or not a few years back, Michelle and Kris, and they chose to dive into the river not knowing where the bottom was or how hard it would be.They helped, and the river smiled.

In my prayer time I was told this:"All things point to that Love, that river,  if you have eyes to see and the ego doesn't stand in the way.Perhaps there is a story here."Yes, perhaps there is.

For me, in these worst of times, I have needed to get away and clutch some leaves, fill the birdbath for the robins,and admire the bees in the last rose.Maybe a small stream of opportunity will be diverted in my direction .Will I step in and float along?Or perhaps I  could sing like the Native Americans do when feeling threatened. Together, they chant an old repetitive song until they come to hozhq when their world feels like it is in balance and whole.Amen.