Thursday, December 27, 2012

Of Magic, Chocolate, and Story

I told someone not long ago that when I was a child, I seemed to know intuitively of the magic within, rivers, leaves, books, flowers...the wonder that was there, waiting for me as a gift, if I was patient enough, still enough, thoughtful enough. In fact, I remember the feeling and deep desire that if I could just loosen up enough or look intently enough, perhaps I could even see inside, beneath the surface, into the heart of things... This was not a wish for x-ray vision, but rather the belief that somehow I was being invited in to see the essential and that it was possible.

This conversation returned to me earlier this afternoon as I stared into a pot of drinking chocolate on the stove. I had whisked together 3 oz. of grated dark chocolate, 2 oz. of grated 72% cacao chocolate, the finely grated zest of a clementine/satsuma, a pinch of sea salt, two pinches of cinnamon, just a hint of sugar, and 2 cups of milk. I was whisking and watching for just the moment it would reach a boil...I realized at a certain moment that in fact what I was trying to do was see below the surface to know when the bubbles would rise...or perhaps, as when I was a child, I thought I might chance to see the moment of perfect blending when the flavors all come together and harmonize into a whole greater than the component ingredients.

Standing there in the kitchen, I also thought about how this morning I was nestled into the corner of the third level in a local coffee shop, reading a book and writing a bit. One of the books I wanted to read over break is The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Unbelievably to many, I have made it this far without having done so and it was time to remedy the gap. More than half way through this adventure, Bastian has entered Fantastica and this morning was conversing with Grograman the lion, also known as The Many Colored Death. Bastian, the first to ever eat and sleep with the lion, the first to weep at his daily death, asks if it is possible to stay with him. To this question, Grograman replies

Here there is only life and death, only Perilin and Goab, but no story. You must live your story. You cannot remain here.

And it occurred to me that perhaps that is the essential that I strive to see, to live, to taste, touch...the final result of the chocolate in my mug is not a moment, but the taste of a story of flavors. The heart of a stone is not a single flash, but cosmic years of light that has traveled incalculable distance. What ever I dare to write is not a final fixed work but part of a larger whole resting on the page, waiting to be freed in the reading of it by others.

All of this makes me see too that what I learn of God, the presence I experience, into which I am invited, and which is accessible, the faith that I have, is not a single observable thing, but a lived Love that is itself a grand tale without end. A tale I am asked to live actively, intensely, one page at a time, no skipping ahead, no staying put.

And I have to say that part of the thrill is not knowing what will come as well as looking forward to finding out.

The chocolate was certainly delicious...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent IV, 2012

Galaxy group Stephan's Quintet, as taken by the Hubble telescope

Advent IV, 2012

It is the almost time, uncontainable,
and stillness does not suffice.

All trembling grace is in a stir.
Birth is near and nearer and
everywhere around within
my free and wild hope.

O mystery of light, sing to me!
O life abundant, dance!

Kimberly M. King, rscj

Sunday, December 16, 2012

So many things

So many things are gathered together in my mind and heart after what happened in Newtown, CT on Friday...things that at first might seem contradictory or something like magnets put the wrong way together. Yet, there they are...teaching me, challenging me, calling to me in love and sadness and anger and humility.

I believe evil exists and I believe there is light that no darkness can ever overcome.

I believe anger and compassion are not necessarily distant from one another...

I believe God welcomed with tenderness and extraordinary love each adult and child who died. I believe God welcomed too a wayward son.

I believe this day and every day is a day to tell people that I love them and that it shouldn't take a tragedy to remind me.

I believe that the children and faculty/staff were loved in this life by someone. I believe the shooter was too.

I believe there are times when to love someone is a difficult honor and calls for a courage that lives in the deep warm stone that steadies my center.

I believe that people do things I might not ever understand for reasons I might not ever know...yet, I do know intimately of pain and sadness, of hurt and anger, and my own capacity for sin.

I believe I can never know the day when something unspeakable will happen where I am; I can begin each morning and end each evening with "Thank You for loving me as you do...wholly, completely, and without reservation."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent III, 2012

Field of stars photographed by Hubble Telescope

Advent III

In the knowing, nothing
now is sameness.

The iridescent ordinary
occupies my wonder, ah!
while spice warm mystery
cradles the dancing of my awe.

Oh the wind borne glory of this,
the unsettling elegance of love!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent II, 2012

  (Star forming cluster NGC-3603, taken by Hubble telescope;

Advent II, 2012

Wandering wrapped
in the star tousled wind,

I turn toward infinite onward hope
in a moon washed silent
fullness of Yes, now embracing
the readiness

for birth, for possible,
for unshakeable becoming.

C. MperiodPress

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent I 2012

(Image from Hubble space telescope, Nov. 2008)

Advent I 2012


In the already not yet waiting

of birth time bright and never before,


Oh let me sing

praise...sing praise

of what I don't yet know

but trust will be


of shimmering heart,

of Love, of Word, of Wonder.


c. MperiodPress


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Love in the time of Dinosaurs

If you see Gabriel sometime, please let him know that someone found his dinosaur. Or, if you should see a dinosaur and he seems a little lost and confused, his name might be Gabriel. Try calling his name and see how he responds.

Finding this tag in a wet parking lot reminded me all over again why I do not like The Velveteen Rabbit. There are parts of it that are lovely, of course, but it has always bothered me that the rabbit was left behind by the child. Left in the rainy yard, alone, steeping in the forgetfulness of its child-owner. At least, that is how i remember it. Yet, as I know, love prevails...and it is love that makes us Real...and sometimes becoming Real hurts.

As an adult, I understand something of the difficult honor that love is, and that ultimately, yes, Love is whole making, and it draws me on toward the unknown wonder of what is ahead, and that Love is home and hard and liberating and consoling and ah and wow and tears and silence and laughter and letting go...and profoundly Real.

Dinosaurs were real once...and if you ask a child, they might still be. I think that's fantastic...

Long live Love, and long live little Gabriel and his dreams, wherever he may be.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From a window

This is not the third window of Chesterton/Janet Erskine Stuart, referenced in a post a few weeks back. It is not the window on the world, the window of opportunity, or even a Rear Window. And yet, for me, today, this is a window of salvation that affords a view beyond where I am at the present moment.

This window is in the public library I found in the town where I am is a window out, and a window in... A window in toward a familiar warmth of surroundings, good sockets, and free wifi...helpful people, a pleasant buzz of quiet chatter, and the occasional papery flick as a story progresses. A window out, beyond range of my sight and reach of my arms.

It has not been a good day, in spite of varying interpretations of what that might mean. Though, I can also say that gratitude fills the writing I did this morning. Gratitude for the love and accompaniment of friends who are with me on this journey, gratitude for the extraordinary love of God that wraps me in the fragrant steam of bergamot that rises from the Earl Grey I held earlier to warm my hands and spirit.

I yearn to see beyond on days like see past the moment while also being present to the moment, reminding myself of both "here I am" and "there also I will be." ... to know with the deep sigh of knowing that things might not be better or nice or done up neat and tidy there either.

...and to be okay with that, to say Amen and thank you and go forward with wafts of bergamot steaming gently at my fingertips.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Life of the Word

The Life of the Word
Not long ago,
two moments passed.
My poem spoke in Spanish,
(I had no idea it could),
while a neighboring thought
broke free of its paper cocoon,
versifying in a widening spiral,
dizzying itself and drawing in those who would listen
until all we could do was delight
in the washing-over smear of colors,
in the carbonated crackle of Life.
c. MperiodPress

Friday, October 26, 2012

RevGals: the Reader's Edition

It's another Friday Five from RevGals!

You probably have, like me, a study full of books. Maybe they spill into another room. They go with you in the car to appointments when you might have some dead space in your schedule. In my study, the books are double-stacked and in somewhat precarious piles. I've always dreamed of a study that looked like this:

Recently I decided to re-organize my study and put books of like topic and purpose together. (Of course, they don't stay that way -- but that's another matter!) I also culled out some books which I hesitated to even donate to the library book sale because they were either extremely outdated or had content that I didn't want the unexamined mind to read. (Not quite as bad as "The Total Woman" but... you get my drift!)

SOooo... with that in mind, let's talk about the books in your life!

STUDYING: What is your favorite book or series for sermon prep or study? Or have you moved from books to on-line tools for your personal study?

Related to a talk I am giving next week, “Deep Down Things:  Listening for Story within the Sacred Heart,” I have been reading We Live Inside Story, by Megan McKenna.

2. IN THE QUEUE: Do you have a queue of books you are longing to read or do you read in bits and pieces over several books at a time? What's in the queue?

Hm… I like having a book going that I can pick up and put down easily—Poetry and Bill Bryson both nicely fill this need for me.  At the moment, I have Made in America, The Small Continent, and At Home in different stages…as well as a little Antonio Machado, Pablo Neruda, and Wislawa Szymborska.  But, I am also reading the latest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery and the Megan McKenna title from above.  Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss and As Always, Julia  by Julia Child/Avis DeVoto are waiting patiently on the shelf.

3. FAVORITE OF ALL TIME: What's one book that you have to have in your study? Is it professional, personal, fun or artistic? (For instance, I have a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It just helps sometimes.) 

One?!  May Sarton’s The Magnificent Spinster, a collection of Neruda, and my Bible that’s been around the world with me.

4. KINDLE OR PRINT? or both? Is there a trend in your recent purchases? 

Both.  Love them both for different reasons.  Print has the whole sensory/environment thing going for it, as well as inviting a more personal interaction.  E-reading is incredibly practical and exceedingly portable.

5. DISCARDS: I regularly cruise the "FREE BOOKS" rack at our local library. (I know, I know. It's a bad habit!) When's the last time you went through your books and gave some away (or threw some away?) Do you remember what made the discard pile?

I winnow when I move… the last move was a year and a half ago and wow did the local library sale shop make out like nobody’s business!  I try not to purchase fiction too often because I know I can check it out from the library and I am less likely to re-read it.  Poetry I will purchase…as well as other non-fiction books.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

With thanks to GMH

(With thanks to the influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins...)

Fall's Shooting Stars

I walked amidst a thousand stars
fallen from the trees…
wet with newborn wondrous being
while offering their triumphant
fiery falling whistle 
as a mosaic for my feet.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sensitivity to Touch

Here I am at the day's conclusion, watching the moon begin its cabaret song as the sun bows from the stage... and I am watching my hands as they type while I also reflect on the day.

These hands today have held an incredible kitchen knife and thrilled at the ease with which it dispatched a pile of chicken breasts destined to be skewered and barbecued for a fund-raiser.  I confess that a small part of the joy of volunteering was knowing that it was likely that I would get to feel the keen functionality of a finely cared for tool.  It does what it does well and confidently, with purpose, deftness, and sensitivity.  It was quite pleasing to work with it.

Today, these hands have given in to a desire that often comes to me when proclaiming the Word at liturgy...the desire to touch the text as I let it fill me and then offer it in voice.  This is a holy touch.  My fingers reverence the printed word as it rests on the page and I ask that if it be the will of God, I would like to take it within and proclaim it well, to breathe it so deeply that it might be be heard, seen, felt, and shared with others.

In the last several days, these hands have reached for the hand of a friend thousands of miles away and as near as both the beat of my heart and the glow of the computer screen.

With each touch there is an exchange...the hand respects the tool, the tool works for the hand; touch honors the Word, Word fills the senses; the touch of the heart is not daunted by distance, distance graciously contracts.

Such a sensitive and extraordinary gift...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Poetics of Hope

In the tender compassion of our God, the
dawn from on high will break upon us...
(Canticle of Zechariah)
"Tomorrow we shall see what has changed in this town," said Baz.  "I wonder what it will be."

They woke to the sun shining down on them...In the night a pear tree had flowered, sprouting white and pink blossoms.

"It is nothing that would not have happened anyway," said Baz.

"But maybe no one would have noticed," said Tadis.  "The poet has opened their eyes.  He has made them see what is there.  That is his power." 

(The Magician's Apprentice, by Kate Banks)

Now let your servant go in peace; your word
has been fulfilled...
(Canticle of Simeon)
Long sing the Poet, I say,
and long bless God.

Long may my heart behold
and long may I listen wide

to the full feathered wind of love
that tousles my ease and mind.

To the Word, the One,
my Hope, my Ah!,

infinite always praise.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beans about it

Garden Grace

I like praying
when my hands
smell like the garden…
green and soil warm,
fresh bean-snap pea sweet,
earthy and close…
like I just clapped my hands
as You danced in the field
primeval and full of creation.

The other evening, I came home from school thoroughly glad to be heading into the kitchen.  I had earphones in, was listening to music I knew well, and sank my senses into preparing a meal for my community.  It was to be a variation on the couscous salad I described in this post.  I was trying out the basic salad with the addition of thinly sliced pork on top.

I'd like to think the music made a difference in how it turned out...somehow, the focus I had because of listening to music intensified the flavors and made the overall taste a bit deeper and more complex.  Perhaps I simply added more garlic, perhaps I tasted and adjusted a little more often, perhaps it was something to do with the ingredients... perhaps, like plants, a meal likes to be sung to--at least while in process?  Though, I hardly think my efforts in that area would be considered a gustatory enhancement.

I prepared, we prayed and we ate and we cleaned up, but my time in the kitchen was not done.  Earlier in the day I had received an email from a community member who had been given a sack of green beans from a teacher whose family has a farm.  I couldn't quite imagine adding beans to the salad I was preparing, but I promised to do something with them afterward so they'd be ready for the following day.

After rinsing them well, I sat down at the dining room table and began to pinch off the bean tops and bottoms, again accompanied by music (rather than the television, which was playing in the space just to the right of my shoulder).  Soon, my hands that already had the residual smells of citrus rind, garlic, and green onion, took on a subtle, earthy, leguminous, aspect as well.

OH, that smell...that memorable, wondrous smell... It became for me in that moment when inexplicable mystical aspects converged, as incense... a perfume of memory, an invitation to remember...

From my notebook later the following morning...

6:30 AM  Thank you for the kitchen time last night--for the joy of making dinner with music in my ears, but also for the beans... Yes, thank you for the beans.  I loved that time with you...and the memory-feeling of the smell on my hands.  The warm earthiness, sweet nature, green smell of warm sun and wet dirt.  The smell of our different garages when I was a child...of inside the branches of the buckeye tree at the top of the yard, of Nanny's kitchen and Grammy's backyard... Thank you for the reminder that we used to meet there and that you enjoyed it too....for the reminder that we found one another outside, marveling, touching, feeling, listening, seeing... and that we were for one another an absolute delight.  And still are.

I boiled the beans, chopped the handful of remaining mushrooms and tossed them in a skillet with olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and a good pinch of kosher salt...tossed the lot together...and said Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Acts of Creation

It was a day to experiment.  Rain brings out that desire sometimes.  Somehow, the soft tikki-tum of raindrops can act as the protective curtain that says "within this space, you can try something new, something bold, something different...and if it works, great!  And if it doesn't, great!"  Whether it works or not, however I understand that, doesn't matter, really.  The important thing is the space itself...entering into that thoughtful, mystical place of letting go, listening to creative desire, and giving in.

Buckwheat shortbread
Today's invitation was buckwheat cookies.  I'd read the recipe yesterday while at the public library--a fabulous source for cookbooks of all sorts.  I read it and felt the stirrings of Hmmmm... I copied it into my notebook of other Hmmms and carried it with me to see what it felt like in a while.  The provoking possibility remained.  I purchased what was needed and waited. The rain began and I knew it was the time. Whisking the dry ingredients into a bowl (1 c. buckwheat flour, 1 c. standard wheat flour, 2/3 c. sugar, 1 t. salt, 1 t. baking powder), I then melted 2 sticks of butter and whisked them into a froth before adding two egg yolks and whisking again.  Bit by bit, I added the dry to the wet and spoon-stirred the dough.    I made little balls and put them on the ungreased cookie sheet.  Once the sixteen little cement colored sandy wonders were in place, I flattened them merrily with a fork and introduced them to a 325 degree oven.

Twenty minutes later, there was goodness on a cooling rack.  The rain continued and so did that notion of the creative process being a cosmic set-aside moment for which I was quite thankful.

This feeling reminded me of a TED talk I'd heard by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Eat, Pray, Love.  In her lecture, Gilbert muses about the origins of genius and how world changing it is to understand creative inspiration as precisely that--an inspired gift, originating not within the human self, but with the Divine, and how much freer that can make us.  Among other things, she speaks of having genius, not being a genius, and those moments of  recognizing transcendent divinity in the creative act.  

Some of my favorite parts of the lecture, though, are her minutes about Ruth Stone, a National Book Award winning poet who died at age 96 in late 2011.  In describing how poems come to her, Stone said she could feel the ground shaking beneath her feet and that she knew then that a poem was coming and she had to run and find a pencil and paper before it caught her or thundered by, looking for another poet.

I heard this and said "Yes!!"  Really, I did...and rather emphatically.  Out loud and in the company of others...others who looked at me quizzically and then went back to the screen.

The thing is, I totally understand that.  And it thrills me when I hear that someone else has felt like that and went with it....gave in to the desire to listen when the Spirit is moving.  And not only listen, but respond!  Passionately, creatively, without reserve and with a pen in hand.  Because she was called by that same Spirit to write.

Whether I care for what she writes is secondary...that is a matter of taste, as are cookies.

But responding to the mystical invitation to create...

Amen to that.  ¡Olé!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Poem to Mary

Oh Mary (a continuation of a series…)

Oh Mary, I want
to keep my soul free
and keep my soul wide;

I want to remember
the big and the details,
the loose and the particular;

I want to live
what it feels like
to center-down deep—

living lightly while YES
comes springing its AH!
just when I let go and fly.

c. MperiodPress


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Poet in the Kitchen

After the morning rituals of coffee and writing, praying, and listening, I headed to the kitchen to make dinner with enough time for it to get to know itself better before we would eat this evening.  I found myself uncharacteristically working on more than one dish at a time.  I usually find that rather chaotic, but this morning, it worked.  I was in a place of great harmony in the kitchen...both within the realm of flavors as well as within the balance of silence and conversation inside myself...a balance of considering things and musing with God.  A mayo-dijon mustard chicken salad with diced cucumber and green onion was done in a is something I have done many times before and the proportions come naturally via pinches, dices, spoonfuls.  The chicken was cooking while I was dicing for the other part of the meal, I was making the dressing while something else was boiling... it all worked.  But, that said, the other salad I was making was much more deliberate, measured, in some way important...I wanted to get it right and I was making it up as I went along.

CousCous Summer Salad

2 c. dry pearled couscous (the bigger grain-size) ; 3c. liquid ; 1 1/2 zucchini, diced fine ; 1 carton mushrooms, rough chopped ; 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained well--save the liquid ---  juice of a lime and lemon ; enough olive oil to have it come together while whisking ; two bunches green onions, sliced up through light green ; salt and sugar to taste

Boil the liquid (I included the reserved tomato juice as part of the 3 c.) with a dollop of olive oil--add couscous--let boil for five minutes or so--test it periodically after four minutes. Drain in fine sieve when done. Mushrooms and zucchini in a skillet with some olive oil for a couple of minutes until just beginning to soften.  Toss zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and couscous together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemon and lime, add a pinch of salt, a good pinch of sugar, and begin to whisk.  While whisking, drizzle in olive oil just until it comes together and won't take any more.  Taste and adjust salt, sugar.  Toss in the green onions and let it steep a while.  Then dump the whole bowlful over the couscous mixture and toss with a large spoon.

What I liked most about that salad was the salty/sweet/citrus of the dressing and how that began to permeate got together with the onion, conversed with the zucchini and mushrooms, danced with the tomato, and became one with the couscous.

And in that mysterious way that I have come to realize and accept as the way my mind works, those flavors got me thinking about my summer... This summer.  The Incredible Summer.  A summer where I have known both sweetness and salt, have known tang, bite, fullness, and delight.

I have washed the feet of my sister who believed in me enough to give me a chance to translate at an international meeting; I have sat at table with a community from five countries and shared both the nourishment of a meal and the nourishment of stories.  I had a mango hedgehog on my plate for breakfast, bats come to dinner, and two hummingbirds flying together closer than arms length in front of me.  I've been two weeks with an incredibly international group of over forty of my sisters, listened in and spoken in two different languages at the same time, and traveled by bus under three different names, none my own.  I have been too tired to know what language I was speaking, lost in the midst of conversations, and panicked on a train.  I have been welcomed for who I am, been extended the precious gift of friendship, and invited to share what I love.  I have played drums and ping-pong and tapped a message on a wall.  I have been witness to new life and hope, made mistakes, and hurt a friend.

I have asked forgiveness, I have offered forgiveness, I have broken bread, shared chapati, and passed the tortillas... And over and again, I have offered my thanks to the Hati Kudus Jesus, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, and Sacred Heart of Jesus.

My summer.  This summer. This incredible Summer... salty and sweet, full, flavorful, nuanced, complex, to be savored, learned from, shared.

If it be your will, let the journey continue, Al-Latif, The Subtle One, you who know the delicate meanings of everything. (From the 99 Beautiful Names of God.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

All at once

Walking home from Church,
Jakarta, Indo

I could still hear the singing
that reminds me of butterflies-
rising on the delicate colors
of hope and humble praise

when I teased out
the sweet thread of jasmine
from the rough woven cloth
of hard living

worn by the man
selling hot steamed mussels
and clacking his stick
against the cart.

He passed as I turned
to wonder in sighs
at the child's red sandal
in the muck-water roadside ditch.

c. MperiodPress

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brilliant In the shadows

These are some of the wayang gedog, gedog puppets or shadow puppets, first created and used in 16th century Indonesia....which of course wasn't yet Indonesia.  I saw them yesterday on a visit to Taman Mini cultural center, here in Jakarta.  I was quite taken by them...mesmerized, really.  Carved from water buffalo leather,they have extraordinary detail--the tiniest curls of hair, the finest line of a moustache--and are sumptuously painted though the puppets would only ever be seen in shadow form from the other side of a screen.

It was a moment of...what? Profound connection...a certain roomy looseness and generosity in the Cosmos...a deep breath of Aha.... to see them.  When I saw these characters, these puppets, I could immediately see/hear the stories they wanted to tell--good versus evil, beautiful princesses, nasty was nearly as though the puppets spoke to me...or to the part of me that enters into and understands Story.  Story Universal.

And That was something that truly moved me...the puppets represent something that I understand already--but teach me even more about it, make it something more full, more whole, because it comes alive in different clothing, different languages, different contexts.  This element of relationship between what is deeply known/felt/recognized and learning even more about it by the experience of difference seems to me to have everything to do with freedom and integration... of expanding toward the infinity of God and becoming more deeply, fully, who I am as created by God.

And that expansion/contraction movement, the flow of inner~outer~inner, is the heartbeat of true is an exquisite, intricately unique and astoundingly beautiful dance between God and each one of us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jakarta, Entry II

Dalam nama Bapa, dan Putera, dan Roh Kudus....

(In the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit...)

I renewed my vows in Indonesian yesterday!  It was a beautiful celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart...we had mass in the house here with the entire area minus two who are away--fifteen people, five nationalities...the local pastor celebrated with us.  There was a chorus of novices and postulants who sing beautiful harmonies together, accompanied by guitar...everyone sitting on the wooden floor and the altar perhaps at the height of your knees when sitting.  The front of the tabernacle in the chapel here is is a very thin layer of tough paper that looks like is batiked with an image of the open heart so when the light shines behind the chapel, you see the light through this door and the image is illuminated.  Quite something.  Afterwards, serious feasting on chicken, fish, rice, rice, rice, veggies, salad, juice, and a pound cake topped with shredded cheese--a nice flavor combo, actually.  And, to go with the cake, fruit salad flavored icecream that tastes EXACTLY like "Frozen Fruit Salad"  that my great-grandmother/mother used to make!!  We all then gathered in the living room for much laughter and a game involving everyone's names.  Just as has been true in other places, my name is a source of curiosity and amusement for sounds Asian to many and reminds people of Kimberly Clark the paper company, King Kong, the ape...and is difficult to sort out first name from last.  I juggled fruit from the basket--my contribution to group entertainment... :)

The morning of the Feast (Friday) I was up when I have been all week--around 4.  I write for a while, I pray for a while.  That morning I was especially moved...because in the midst of the morning call to prayer happening all around me, there I was praying...and it being Friday, the holy day for both Muslims and Jews...I was adding my prayer to untold millions of others from major world faiths all happening at the same time... the image that came to me was of a shimmering, undulating wind that smells of spice and flowers, love and tragedy...a wind that blesses, refreshes, and can also part the sea.

The day before was a trip to the local market to buy food for the celebration.  As I later wrote--The market was something else...PACKED with people and stalls everywhere selling everything from diapers to dried fish, bins of chipped, fried radishes, peanuts, snakefruit, a whole variety of chilis, the biggest chunks of ginger I have ever seen (wrist to elbow), fashion head scarves, sandals of all sorts, incense, and a hot almond nougat wrapped in corn husk and sold by the 2X4.  There was more there than I could hope to describe that all came together to ears, nose, mouth, and eyes as a nearly overwhelming sensual cacophany... It was intense and it was amazing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A New Corner of the Sky

I am sitting in a kitchen not my a city not my a state not my own... and yet, as I head out into the coming Adventure, I am feeling quite at home.

These last days have been days filled with walking for miles each afternoon, long morning thinks accompanied by a strong mug of coffee, plenty of time to write, and lots of time to pray.  It actually hasn't felt so much that prayer has been a separate time, to tell the truth.  It has been a week of presence, of conversation with Jesus whether in Mass or stopping to notice a bee stuffing his sacs with sweetness, conversation while walking, conversation while listening, and the silent exchanges of love between those known to one another who can share quiet with joy and ease.

I include here some lines from my notebook...

If I think truthfully about my life...about the desire I have to serve the international Society, I realize that this desire to live "in geographic breadth" is a way to live aligned with the call of God in my life and how I most readily experience God.  It is like I have sought a coherent way to respond in living to the way I experience God...the way God has revealed God's self to me...the way I experience who God IS.

It feels organic, this desire...and something that is also part of the joy of being known by name by people who speak other languages and being able to respond... So often it is by circumstance and not intention that this happens...I am at a meeting here or there, someone is here or there visiting and I happen to be there too...I find something organic in this.  The spread of people I have known and that I know... I talk with everyone at school...moving between circles...knowing what is happening in Primary as well as in Eighth grade... I don't know, but thinking on it now, I am caught by the relationship between this gift you have given me and one of the facets I find most attractive about you.

I see you as a depth and a Infinite in human form...and I am so attracted to this.  You are more than I can imagine and at the same time you are real, a human who walked and walks the earth and who has said to me "Nothing can separate you from my love."  Part of the importance of this, the strength of this reality is that I hear--and more than hear, I feel, that you are telling me that I too can live with a breadth and a depth of love...and that precisely That is your desire for me too--that at the same time I want to draw near to you, you are drawing near to me.  And when I don't remember, or don't believe it, or don't feel it, or when I fail or make mistakes--in those times, too, you persue me, you draw near.

Several days later, while praying and thinking about this image of Jesus as a breadth and a depth, a vulnerable Infinite in human form, a poem that touched me deeply returned to my heart.  In a biography of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ, her biographer quotes GK Chesterton--

There are more ways than the wind knows,
or eyes that see the sun,
In the light of the lost window
and the wind of the doors undone.

For out of the third lattice
under low eaves like wings,
is a new corner of the sky
and the other side of things.

I think somehow that Breadth and Depth that I experience as Jesus, IS the other side of what can be seen from out of the third lattice and under the low eaves... and seeking that new corner of the sky is entering the pierced heart, receiving fullness and eternity of life from the fountain of love that is there, alive, waiting, breathing, refreshing, cooling, offering respite... that the journey home might continue.

Adventure untold awaits me this month as I head to Indonesia in a few hours to work on organizing a library that is there... a library that is quite literally, if only geographically, on the other side of things...on the other side of things I know... 

What a thrill that there is always more to discover...more to reveal and have revealed...

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Of late, I have spent some considerable time thinking about and engaged in preparations for various things:  helping other faculty and staff prepare for the end of the school year craziness; creating a morning prayer for our provincial assembly this summer; getting the library ready for its summer rest--checking in and shelving all returned materials, final book orders and cataloging, shelf-reading, clearing the tops of shelves, straightening the books on the shelves; creating and producing the summer reading packets for the lower school students;and preparing to leave in three weeks for a little over a month of helping in another area of the Society...   Also, insofar as I am able,I have in a way been preparing my body for healing...trying to do what I can to allow for a best response to treatment for a bug that has been with me now for six weeks or so.

I like being prepared...I tend to travel prepared...whether in the course of an average day or over longer times and distances...and yet, as a wondrous friend gently and helpfully reminded me the other day when I was beginning to fret intensely about whether my voice will ever return and several other things all at the same time, all of the preparation in the world can not account for all events that happen...and when and if those events happen, you do what is needed and necessary. 

Meanwhile,  be aware and attentive, yes...but also, meanwhile, head on into the Unknown Ahead...

Head into the adventure...lean into it, lean into God who is here now and also ahead...and do so in freedom, trust, desire, openness, and faith.

...which made me think of both John the Baptist in the Gospels and John the Baptist in Godspell...

And that perhaps this disposition of heart is itself, ultimately, what prepares the way...and leads us to deepest home and widest horizon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Ink Stains

The  thanksgivings of
images or ideas
that linger with me
while they test their wings,
still damp with the
blue love of birth.

c. MperiodPress 

I wrote this after noticing my hands yesterday as I penned several pages in my journal.  I looked down and saw the filled in fingerprints of thumb and index finger and random splotch on my left hand from an errant drip in the inking of my pen.  It didn't bother me..these were the birthmarks of words, ideas, images brought forth from listening for them, and setting them onto the page...which, really, is only a resting place...

This experience came back to me this morning as I consider this Good Shepherd/Vocation Sunday in the liturgical cycle.  I thought about the shepherd who knows all the the shepherd must somehow bear the mark of each one in eye and heart to be able to distinguish one from another.  And likewise, each sheep bears the mark of the shepherd's voice, likely the first human voice to welcome it into the world.  

Each is bound to the other.

Likewise, we are each borne in the eye and heart and hand of God...and we each bear the mark of God in our very being-ness...the creative expression and image of God in our self and all that incorporates.  I find myself considering my own vocation and how it is as though through time and circumstance, prayer and discernment, challenge and acceptance, that there is not so much distance there as there once was.  Love is the indelible mark that names us as God's own and I have learned to give in to my desire for that a sense, to let Love respond to Love.  There is a sense of wholeness, an ever growing  "union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus," as our Constitutions puts it, that comes from responding to the call of Love.  Responding again and again and again...because the call of God is unceasing, ever inviting, enticing, challenging, and the deepest sense of home that I know.  

And it seems that this Vocations Sunday is all about that...the invitation to finding that deep home in God.  Listening from there. Responding from there.  And letting what is birthed from that rest in the world, take wing in the hearts of others, and bring us all a little further along the journey.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Filling up and Spilling Over...

It began as an issue of volume when second graders were reading aloud in the global studies class I co-teach.  It became a remarkable conversation on the power of an individual voice and using that power well.

I have been without my regular speaking voice for about two weeks now...what I do have is at times crackly, squeaky, airy, or just plain absent.  This, naturally, has required a certain adjustment on my part as far as working with my students.  To that end, today I had second graders reading aloud Lon Po Po, the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood.  They did a fine job except when it came to volume.

I stopped everything about ten minutes before class was over and had the kids all push in their chairs, plant their feet, and stand strong.  "Now, what I'd like to you do," I croaked, alone in appreciating the irony, "is breathe without moving your shoulders."  We spent a number of moments talking about the power of the voice living somewhere just above the belt and how breath should fill us out, not up.  Speaking from there allows the speaker to fill a space with voice, not a yell or a screech, but a full, round, voice.  We used the imagery of a balloon--the rounder the balloon, the more full the balloon, the more space the balloon takes.  The rounder the voice, the more full the voice...the more space the voice fills...

"But!, it is not only your voice that can fill a room... One person can also fill a room with quiet."

One child turned her head toward her shoulder and asked "How do you do that?"

I said nothing. But looked out the window.

She said nothing.

Soon no one was saying anything.

After a moment or two passed, the same child said "That's how..."

And we closed class talking about how that sort of quiet felt, the full round-ness of quiet--how we were all there, each one, with all of our thoughts, with all that we each have in our hearts...not at all empty...but yes, quiet...and the choice they have in whether to fill a space with their voice or with quiet...both exceedingly powerful options that they already have at their age.  And how important it is to enjoy these important it is practice those options, learn from them, how to use them, share them, set them free for the sake of believe that they can fill a space, that they are worthy of being heard in full voice or accompanied in full quiet....and that they can help make it okay for others, too.

I was so incredibly grateful at the end of class for the opportunity to share that with my kids.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Different View

At the invitation of Silvana, here is a different look at Quiet Mind--this one using Wordle.

It’s a visual representation of word frequency in a block of text—the larger the font, the more frequent the use.

It is certainly an interesting and clear way to see themes...God, mind, quiet, thoughts, images, glorious (twice!)... but I love even more the "throw it in the pot and stir" spill of language that allows words to settle into new places and create even more.  I am rather fond of frequently well-thumbed as well as wonder loving Glorious pairing-quiet God is one of my favorites.  And there are even short poems all on their own...Open sat vastness/blooming God's glorious images.  Or perhaps a new invitation...Write revelation moon.

This Wordle excersise makes me realize in a new way the generative life within well selected words.  As a writer, I put them together in a certain way to create certain images or convey particular ideas.  But clearly, tossed together in a different way, those same words have much more to say, reveal.

Frankly, I think that's cool.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quiet Mind

Think glorious thoughts of God and serve God with a quiet mind.  Janet Erskine Stuart, Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart, 1911-1914.

I love this quotation. In fact, it occurs to me as I write this that perhaps I have written of it before.  No calls to me anew, as a book of poetry frequently does, however well-thumbed.

Writer and educator that Janet Stuart was, I have no doubt that choosing her words was a conscious process of selection. Pairing glorious with quiet is part of the resonance in this for me.  Allowing those two images to flow together is something like the fullness of a waterfall being heard in the slow revelatory blooming of a springtime bud.

Glorious thoughts of God...for me, these are thoughts of the vastness of God, the limitless nature of God's love, the motivating faith that good will triumph and death will have no hold and we are called to believe that glory and act on that glory with those around us to bring about a more peaceful, just, loving world.   Glorious thoughts are thoughts of wonder and thanksgiving and marvel at the quotidian revelation of God's love.

A quiet mind is not a silent mind, nor is it still.  I think of quiet as open, receptive, alert, awake, steady.

Holding those images together speaks to me of courage, too...of a constant and humming Yes to God and to life and to lives.

As I sat here tonight and watched the sun go down, casting her threads of light among the branches and fresh-alive greenness of leaves, weaving a hammock for the moon, I prayed

"Let it be so now and forever. Amen."

(image is from

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday, 2012

Holy Thursday

Forget nothing
of this night’s meal
doing the dishes.

That can wait.

the difficult
honor of love…


c. MperiodPress

Friday, March 23, 2012

A long days' evening sigh

From where I am sitting, I can see windows lit in the parish church, an outline of branches stretching up to juggle the stars, candle shadows dancing on a white painted cinder block wall and crumbs from cinnamon graham crackers sprinkled across the scrap of paper towel under my glass of milk.

I can hear my own heart beating, the smoky groan of an airplane, the bay of a dog remembering his ancestral lineage, and a motorcycle exercising bravado.

It has been a long couple of days spent witnessing the extraordinary ability of the human mind to create the world in which it wishes to live, even when it bears no relationship to reality. The ability I witnessed was not exercised by choice or induced by simply IS.  What has been lost over time, thanks to action and choice, is the ability to walk the line between the two landscapes--the one of the mind and the one of the feet.  On the one hand, I find this tragic...on the other, it makes me gasp in awe of such a capacity. 

It is the mix of this tragedy and awe that comes together in my heart's sigh this evening.  And I find myself wondering aloud to God whether that ability to leave the world most people know and go elsewhere is another way God is with some people, protecting them from what would otherwise be too much, what would hurt too profoundly, what would leave them paralyzed with fear and perhaps cause greater harm to a larger number of people.

If I believe that, though, it doesn't really make it any easier to understand how to respond.  And I am still left wondering what my responsibility is as a human who loves and who believes that justice is lived where all are safe, all know love, and all have enough....enough clean water, shelter, food, healthcare, etc... and who also believes in free will...I am left wondering what my responsibility is when I see someone heading off into the brambles and briars of fantasy and delusion...without a compass, map, or promise of return...and I might be able to do something to help them live justly.

If I don't believe that, then how else is it that such alternate realities are so intricately woven and worn as truth? 

Regardless, believing that somehow God is a part of it all and knows intimately and profoundly where we all "are" is the only way it all comes together for me... and I want that to be certainty enough...wherever the "are" is and however we got there. 

So maybe in the sigh is just that--a prayer for that to be enough to know.  The rest is discovered on the way.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Myth, Magic, and Mandarin Blue

John William Waterhouse Pandora
I had a grand week with my students this week...I got hardly any shelving done--or at least none that left a visible impact on the auto-replenishing return shelves...but what conversations!  This quarter, the global studies class I help with is in Egypt.  Recently. we'd spent a while speaking about the Nile river's northerly flow into the Mediterranean lending itself to migrating groups from further south and how the culture of a place is created by the people present in a given social/physical location.  If people traveled to Egypt from the south, then, it is reasonable to assume that they brought with them the portable aspects of the culture they lived and helped create in their former homeland--music, food traditions, etc...including Story.  Given that, we looked at stories from Sudan, the most immediately southern country relative to Egypt, and Greek myths from north of Egypt.  We spent a whole period on a three page Sudanese story about a wise mother who was teaching her son, the sultan, how to know when someone is a true friend.  Then came Pandora, Perseus, and Medusa...the coming into the world of despair, pain, misery...and golden-winged hope...and confronting fossilizing evil.

After we'd been through the wringer, and they calmed down a bit (the version I had begged for more than a little drama in the re-telling aloud), we teased out the themes of all these tales....Sharing, being True, the reality of evil and hurt and misery, and the presence of hope that will never leave...  and then I asked them to finish sentences they would recognize-- "Do not be afraid...."  "I am with you!"  "Do unto others..." " you would have them do unto you!"  Slowly the light began to dawn....the themes are universal, are essential, fundamental, and live in wisdom, experience, and where humanity/divinty converge! For the Greeks, in the Gods...for Christians, in Jesus...and in us, made in the image and likeness of God.

Noodler's Blue from Ink Nouveau
Truth, wrapped in Story...  Story that can be told in so many different ways--including pen, ink, and paper.  This week, I received in the mail a bottle of fountain pen ink.  I had paper towels on hand, but no matter how careful I was when filling the plunger, splurch, drip, fingers and thumbs have now been baptized by an ink that has serious and unanticipated staying power.  Consequently, when speaking on gmail to a friend, I noticed her eyes following my hands as I spoke.  "It's ink--sorry!"  "You have been working magic!" was her reply.  What an amazing response!  What an amazing friend...

California Mandarins
Which brings me to this morning. I had a sack of small citrus fruits that were too tart to eat by themselves.  Rather than keep trying as is for the sake of using them up, I decided to consume them as juice.  I peeled about twenty of them, plunked their tangy, tender, segments in the blender, and with several hits of "liquify" and a squirch of honey, voila, goodness in a glass.  And the goodness came with me, because my hands now bore the intense, incredible, zesty clean zip smell of the hands that are already stained with ink.

Standing over the sink, marveling at the pleasure that combination brought me, these beginning lines came without thinking--

Just before she said yes to the wind's invitation, she smiled deeply and thought with her head slightly tilted-- "Today is a good day for this... I am feeling rather mandarin blue..."

It begs to be continued...I wonder where it will want to go?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amazingly Alive, Generously Present

This is the Oscar winning Animated Short from this came to me yesterday, at The Perfect Moment, as sometimes happens with things, via a tag from a friend on Facebook.  It was a reminder I needed to hear and see about the goodness of dreaming, wandering, freeing, sharing...about the creative power of words, flying, and how the music of the relationship between reader and text can make for some liberating dancing....

I needed to hear this anew for myself...I needed to hear it again to share it with my students in a new and different way.  Today, before my first group of students went to search for their books, we had an amazing conversation about how words simply rest upon the page.  In the reading, the taking in, of the story or word, we allow it to become.  And when it becomes a part of us, it becomes part of what we share with others, gets passed on, woven in, etc.  We might take a word in because of what it means, or we might take it in because we simply like the way it feels in our mouth or the way it bounces when we drop it against another set of syllables.  When we free it, share it...that is flying time and it takes sparrows, parrots, and hummingbirds alike to fill the sky...all sorts of words for all sorts of reasons...

To that end, as they made their choices and checked out, I asked them to think about what word they wanted to set free in the world.  We regathered on the steps at the end of the half hour and the kids shared their choices.  

It was awesome...we filled the library with words and joy and the fuzz and tickle of language.  Their choices included exploration, Chewbacca, hippopotomoustache, wasabi, hibachi, read, love, freedom, qi...  They were all trying out different words and putting them out into the world...creating something new, setting it free to fly or fumble or shrug the snuffle.

To watch their delight, their realizing that yes, they have within themselves the power to create and set free with language...Augh...I was extraordinarily happy for my kids and grateful to God for being so amazingly alive in them!

So amazingly alive in them, and for four adventurous decades, so generously present to me in writing and language and Word...

Writing Spring
In the effervescent moment
of syllables passing through--
when listening wide, inside,
head just tilted 
toward the wind--
there flitters a feathery deep
knowing in my soul:

Before all else, ah!
I danced
in the heart of Word--

and Word did not forget
our shimmering delight.

c. MperiodPress