Monday, May 25, 2009

La Mezcla

The Mix. Such is my life these days and weeks... doing grades...beginning goodbyes...
finishing school with my wacky, antsy, students who are completing last projects in a frantic frenzy while otherwise anticipating the onset of vacation...

Coming to realize more fully what it means to me that I have been recommended for final vows and can anticipate a ten month stay in Chile beginning this Fall once I receive word from Rome...while also beginning to be seen by more people as a writer whose work they anticipate on the blog for the capital campaign at my parish...

Coming to a new level of gratitude for having the time and friends in my life with whom I can gather, eat, laugh, cry, listen, and have each speak of the movement of God in his or her life. Being able to tell them chapters of the story of how I got to where I am and have the faith/feeling that they "get it." Being able to tell them that I am filled beyond description with the possibility of coming to know more of God during my time in Chile...that I can't wait to speak Spanish for ten months--knowing that it will tax me as much as teach me, but also knowing how much I enjoy what it feels like in my mouth, how it changes my thinking...

Having someone at school want to host a party to celebrate the next chapter of my life...going to lunch with friends today...and then spontaneously gathering with other passers-by on a street corner on the way home because someone was practicing his opera piece in an apartment with open windows.

Yes, quite a mix. Even though it does get crazy, I can't quite imagine anything less.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shadows in a Former Space

Today, I arrived at Mass customarily early. Thus ended personal custom for this Sunday!

The church space has shrunk over the course of the week—new dimensions are demarcated by floor-to-top-of-scaffolding canvas sheets. The cloth affords a wedge shaped view of what lies beyond this artificial boundary—the high altar, caution-taped sections of pews…

My curiosity, however, is not drawn to imagining what is or once was behind. Instead, I am captivated by the shadows on the forefront. Rippling canvas changes support beam shadows into flowing banners. The placement of caged incandescent bulbs multiplies by at least five-fold the number of procession crosses seen. Congregants and ministers arranging themselves in the new space also cast their marks on the curtains—mingling and sharing shape with the banners and crosses.

All things considered, I can’t help but wonder that we’re called to that no matter our surroundings. To share space and being with the crosses we encounter, to be those banners announcing glory.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ascension Thursday/Madeleine Sophie Barat

The feast day for Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, is May 25th. However, she died on an Ascension Thursday, which is celebrated today. Here at school we are combining the two celebrations today and I am offering a reflection. I include here the text of what I will present.

Feast of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Harmonic waves, the Ascension of Jesus, and a quotation from a Saint born 230 years ago. Hmmm. Let’s see what happens when we stir that all together…could be interesting.

I asked the choir director at my church one day about the notes that were coming from the piano. He began explaining that the music I heard came from the convergence, the coming together, of different sound waves emanating from the vibration of the hammer striking the wires in the body of the piano. Those waves vibrate in my ear and send a signal to the auditory nerve that produces sound in my mind. So, it really is all in your head!

This concept, waves coming together to make harmonic sounds, got me thinking about the voice of God and the waves that would come together to make that sound. I can imagine that the waves of sound that resonate into what I understand to be the voice of God come from the vibrations of laughter, the vibrations of wailing, and crying and living, the sounds of surprise, joy, and tenderness generated by all of kinds of creation. The sounds of wind and kittens and flowers when they bloom and children lump-thumping up four flights of stairs in the morning.

In her day, Madeleine Sophie Barat made a lot of noise of one sort or another. She challenged common practice by educating girls. She wrote more than 14,000 letters. She stood by her faith and her Sisters in the midst of religious extremism, and challenges on many fronts. This while always-always-always listening to what was being done, said, shown, lived and trying to discover and reveal the Love of God in all.

Also, she is quoted as having said…”I understand silence better than words…let us pray like that and we shall love.”


Being a wondering and somewhat imaginative soul, I can’t help but entertain the possibility that silence is what happens when all harmonic waves—all of them!!—somehow come together. So, perhaps silence is not the absence of anything, but rather the fullness of everything. Light is the fullness of color—broken apart by prisms and raindrops into component parts. Perhaps silence is the fullness of sound and it is broken into audible notes and noises by creation doing what creation does—live, breathe, have being-ness.

Sophie was talking about praying that fullness. Praying silence that leads to love…because love is about that fullness. Full knowing, full accepting, full discovery, full presence, fully real, living, breathing, and having being.

This is certainly not to say that words have no place in prayer or that words can not convey love…only that silence can be considered full rather than empty, available to us, waiting, in fact, to speak its piece within each of us.

Which brings me to the Ascension. The Acts of the Apostles puts the event this way-- "As they were watching, Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." The one the apostles had been listening to, the man who had already been crucified and raised from the dead, ascended to heaven right before them. His being was gone. Imagine the silence that remained…filled with awe. Wonder. Amazement. Sadness. A silence filled with…well, fullness. A fullness that includes the love Jesus modeled and preached, living on. The voice of love passed on and shared. Heard now not by listening to the voice from the man, Jesus of Nazareth, crucified prophet, Son of God but by learning to listen to one another…listening to the buzz of the bee…to the crash of a wave and the wind of the spirit…to our conscience…

Jesus did not leave the apostles, really. And he didn’t leave us. He made waves in his day. The vibrations continue. Madeleine Sophie made them too. We ride those waves still. We hear them. We feel them.

It is our call to share them…to see that they continue. Use your voice. Revel in silence. Love. Serve. Model. Teach. Learn.

Change the World.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


7:23 AM
I am here at my desk with coffee, watching the light pouring through the windows, making its columns and triangles of light all over the books and tables. This glorious half an hour is precious to mind and heart can roam loosely and wriggle free of nets that would try to bind them to a purpose other than this time of sitting in the company of the One who Is with no greater thought than "I am, too. And it's a wild beautiful ride, my friend."

The moon and the sun were both out as I waited for the bus. I imagined the conversation between them as something like the changing of the guard-- "Keep an eye on the guy on the bench--he might need an extra bit of light today...and check out the kid singing down the sidewalk two blocks over! Lots of dogs and grandmas this morning."

Monday, May 11, 2009

A moment's rest on the page

6:26 AM

The light seems low to the ground this morning. Like the sky has slept hard and heavy and is just beginning to stretch. The clouds even look like they are stretching diaphanous--I am reminded of carding wool as a kid. I am full as I sit here in my segment of bus booth bench....thinking about all of the conversations I had this weekend at the meeting in Saint Louis, thinking of Chile, thinking of my clowns of God, and of the streamlined birds bobbing their praise as they make their morning commute, stopping off on the stack of New York Times at the bodega on the corner.

Thinking too of the glory in picking up a blue-ink barita mágica and having at creation once again with the laying down of wonder for a moment's rest on the page.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Playing with Treasure

7:39 AM At my desk, musilix done, and considering another cup of coffee...listening to Mercedes Sosa sing me into awake-enough.

Yesterday morning, I began the day by puzzling through a letter written in Portugese. Last night, I had a phone call from a friend in Brazil. This morning, I was reading the poetry of Octavio Paz at the bus stop. Prior to leaving the house and reading his verse, I had been sitting in the living room with God and a cup of coffee and finding my mind and heart going over the deep joy in my being at the tastes and textures of different languages.

In my imagination, I could see myself picking up words, looking through them at what lay beyond; draping them like shawls; offering them on raised hands--lifting them up; scooping them from puddles and pools, allowing them to wash over me and make me laugh and smile; drinking them from waterfalls, filling with the life their waters contain...allowing them to take my shape and feeling my own shape change and swell with liberation as they lived into my marrow and whispered their secret beauties.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


A friend was recently speaking of buying himself flowers and the necessary ingredients for a lovely meal he would enjoy at home in content solitude. It reminded me of finding candlesticks and tapers, waiting until the others have gone to bed, and writing alone by candlelight at our dining room table. Why do it? Because I think being intentional matters. Choosing our words matters, our behaviors, our actions and attitudes. If we are haphazard about what feeds them, then haphazard is what we will reap. If, however, we feed with intention, then we are more prepared to consider with intention as well when weighing our choices.

Sometimes writing by candle light feeds me...taking the time to find candles, find matches, watch the shadows, notice where the light falls on the page, feel the quiet of the house hush through and bend the flame. For me, to live with intention is to help create an environment of freedom. Freedom to rest, freedom to enjoy, freedom to feel, freedom to be who and how we are at a given moment.

And isn't that what good ritual does? An intentional act or series of actions that help us enter more deeply into an experience of being...being Church, being human, being made in the image and likeness of God.