Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wishes with borrowed words

For a change, this year I am going to use someone else´s words to express my Christmas wishes. This is a unique time for me, a learning time for me, a journey time for me, a deep and enriching time for me... Oddly enough, in some ways, those feelings make me feel more in touch with what must have been a disconcerting, world upheaving, all is uncertain, all is wonder, the future unknown and more than a little amazing... time a couple thousand years ago when a baby was born. A baby who added stars to the heavens and hope to Earth, a baby who would grow, change world history irrevocably, love everyone infinitely...

Peace to all who visit these pages. May we take on the mantle of this wonder filled child and have the courage to walk out of darkness and witness to the light by making manifest in our actions and being love, justice, courage, respect, dignity, and joy.

Christmas thoughts from Karl Rahner...

"And now God says to us what he has already said to the world as a whole through his grace-filled birth: " I am here. I am with you. I am your life. I am the gloom of your daily routine. I weep your tears. I am your joy. Do not be afraid to be happy, for ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living that is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they have no hope. When the totals of your plans and of your life's experiences do not balance out evenly , I am the unsolved remainder. And I know that this remainder, which makes you so frantic, is in reality my love that you do not understand. I am present in your needs.

This reality--incomprehensible wonder of my limitless love--I have sheltered safely in the cold stable of your world. I am there. I no longer go away from this world, even if you do not see me now...I am there. It is Christmas. Light the candles. They have more right to exist than all the darkness. It is Christmas. Christmas that lasts forever."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two for Advent/Dos para Adviento


The star-

The robes-
bedsheets and dirty cord.

The kings-
dethroned and sun leathered.

The baby-
oh, the baby was wailing real

and seemed to know
that his life would be
with the people of the streets.

c. MperiodPress

Adviento IV, 2009

Oro, Incienso, y Mirra

Cuando yo les encontré,
tenían regalos para dar.

El cantante borracho del calle
que besó mi mano.

La abuelita sin dientes
que besó mi mejilla.

El hombre que dió un guiño
mientras tomó mas pan
para dar al perro.

Gaspar, Baltazar, y Melchor
están en camino.

Guarde unas comidas
para los viajeros reales
y unas cascaras con mantequilla
para el perro.

c. MperiodPress

Advent IV, 2009

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

When I met them,
they were laden with gifts to give.

The drunk street musician
who kissed my hand;

The toothless grandmother
who kissed my cheek;

The guy who winked
when he took extra bread
and fed it to the dog.

Gaspar, Balthazar, and Melchior
are on their way.

Save some food for
the travelling royalty

and some buttery crusts for the dog.

c. MperiodPress

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adviento III / Advent III

En castellano, luego inglés...
que estén bien, queridos amigos.
en paz...

Adviento III, 2009

El humo del incienso
que te llevo como ofrenda
huele de las especias
comunes y cotidianas
que han dado sabor a mis pasos recientes:

la amistad, el pan;
el polvo, la orilla;
la esperanza y la pobreza;
el sol que impregna
mis sábanas limpias y secas.

c. MperiodPress

Advent III, 2009

The smoke from the incense
I bring to you as an offering
is scented with the common,
daily spices that have flavored
my recent days.

friendship and bread;
dust and the shoreline;
hope and poverty
and the sun that permeates
my clean, dry sheets.

c. MperiodPress

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quiero que vengas

From the Virtual Heart of RevGals...It´s Friday Five!

Please share five ways that God has come to you (your family or friends, your church or workplace, our world) in the past year, that God is coming to you right now, and/or that you are longing and looking for God to come.

Before I begin, I must say that I chuckled when reading this one... read my previous two blog entries and you will understand why!

1. God has come in a young girl with sticky, wet, grimy, loving, cheek kisses for her beloved ¨tías¨ (The rscj who live in her public housing sector). This child with a fungus on her cheeks from malnutrition, this child whose mother has no kitchen or any other means of cooking a meal, this child with light and depth and too much age in her eyes.

2. God has come in the grandeza and profundidad of both the Pacific and the Andes. Such amazing, amazing, images of God for me. Talk about offering a perspective far greater than the personal. When I have a chance to be by either one, I simply can not stop staring with a longing in my heart.

3. God has come in visitations...with my grandmother and grandfather (89 and 92) before leaving...with two chances to see dear and loving friend I have known for twenty six a surprise phone call here in Chile from another wondrous time spent with friends before messages exchanged de lejos tan cerca (from a far away that is so near).

4. God has come in silence. In finding places where my mind and body and spirit can give in to a desire for resting in silence with God...without a need to think, a need to speak, a need to read. Simply a need to be.

5. And I am pretty sure that was God in the form of a butterfly who landed on my jeans while they were drying on the line in our back yard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Una respuesta/A response

Again, first in Spanish, then in English.
Otra vez, primero en castellano, después en inglés.

Como he tenido unos que me han preguntado después del poema Adviento II--¿Lindo, pero no te crees que la llegada es ahorita y siempre ahorita? quiero tomar un momento y explicar un poco mi motívo...

Sí, creo que la llegada es ahorita y siempre ahorita, pero por un razon--o mejor, por multitudes de razones, este año tengo ganas de decir explícitamente que tengo el deseo, tengo la necesidad, de su presencia. Es algo diferente expresarlo tan directamente para mi. Significa que estoy hablando desde mi profundidad, tocando o sentando en la piedra bien calentita en el centro de mi ser. Estoy hablando sin pensar en mas que la necesidad de decir una cosa. Siento honesta con este poema. Bueno, siento la honestidad de todos--si no, no los escribiría. Y cuando digo que quiero que Jesús venga, es venir a ese mundo que le necesita tanto. Este mundo herido, bello, increíble. Y como parte de ese mundo, estoy sintiendo la necesidad de expresar mi deseo, aunque creo con toda mi corazón, mi mente, mi alma, mi fuerza, que está siempre-- en todo, por todo.

As I have had several people write and ask after Advent II -Lovely, but don´t you think Jesus´arrival is now and always now?- I wanted to take a moment and explain my impulse a bit...

Yes, I believe the arrival of Jesus is now and always now, but for some reason-- or better, for multitudes of reasons, this year I had the urgeto say explicitly that I have the desire, the need, of his presence. It is different to express it so directly for me....I am speaking from my depth, touching or perhaps sitting on the warm stone in the center of my being. I am speaking without thinking of anything beyond the need to say a thing. I feel honest with this poem-- well, I feel honest with all of them--if I didn´t, I would not write them. And when I say that I want Jesus to arrive, it is to arrive in this world that needs it so much. This wounded, beautiful, incredible, world. And, as part of that world, I felt a need to express my desire--though I believe with all of my heart, my mind, my spirit, my strength, that Jesus is Always, in all and for all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent II, 2009

Primero en castellano, después en inglés. Así fue el proceso de escribirlo, y por eso, el proceso de ponerlos aquí también.

First in Spanish, then in English. Such was the process of writing them and so thus is the process for putting them here too.

Adviento II, 2009

Soy de pocas palabras
durante estos días de esperar;
estas noches de gloria fresca.

Por eso, digo en forma sencilla,
en palabras humildes como
la llama que baila por las sombras

quiero que

c. MperiodPress

Advent II, 2009

I am of few words
these waiting days,
these glory tossed nights.

So I say simply,
in words humble as the flame
that dances for the shadows,

I want you to arrive.

c. MperiodPress

Friday, December 4, 2009

Won´ts and Wills

From RevGals...

List Five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.


1. The tin soldiers will remain unpolished
2. The goose is on a diet, but I promise to still put a peso in the old man´s hat.
3. The one horse open sleigh ride is just going to have to wait. Sand in the runners, salt water in the horse´s eyes... not a good scene.
4. The open fires I have seen lately are rubber tires burning, so I´m thinking chestnuts are not an option either.
5. No muzak renditions of wilting holiday wishes here!

Five things I WILL do... (I know, not part of the play, but in the interest of balance...

1. Continue the series of Advent poems I have composed now for ten years.
2. Participate in Navidad en las Calles--Christmas in the Streets...celebrating the holiday with homeless people in Viña del Mar.
3. Light a candle for all those I love and miss...
4. Read the Midnight Mass Isaiah reading (9:1-6) and likely weep. I LOVE that reading.
5. Give thanks for Mystery in the Midst.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Matisse, my camera, and Inner Ah!

I have never been much for taking photographs. Once I read an article by Alice Walker, author, about the fixed nature of pictures versus the roominess of the written word. It was fascinating and helped me understand why I preferred to write in the place about being in the place rather than take what I assumed would be a static snapshot.

This habit served me well when I went to England with a group of students in 2003. Everywhere we went, I had my notebook and would write first impressions, things I thought important, time of day, weather, where I stood, what I was seeing, what was going on around me. I lost all of the pictures I took in a developing accident, but had this marvelous record that I was able to share with friends.

With that as a preface... several years ago I went to an exhibit of Matisse paintings and the material that inspired the patterns he used within them at the Metropolitan in NYC. A number of things stay with me from that exhibit. One, everyone in the room was smiling. It was a place of joy--to see the brilliant colors, the contrasts, the textures, the play, of threads and patterns and then notice how he encorporated what he experienced in the particular cloth into a certain painting. Another thing I recall is that while I was walking through, I marvelled that I understood what he was doing with colors and textures because I hear the same thing with language! The rub, the blend, the contrast, the pleasure of texture, the evocation of feeling simply by how you place a brushstroke or combination of letters. The intentionality of each element in order to evoke response.

Before coming to Chile, I bought a digital camera. I knew I would need to take pictures and would want to be able to share visuals with friends, so as to invite them virtually tap them on the shoulder and say HEY! Look at THAT! Hey! Doesn´t that tell a story? THIS is part of my daily reality and I wanted you to know it too... Somewhat reluctantly, I bought this camera. Functional, not flashy, no bells or whistles, one button and voila. I knew I would need to remind myself to take pictures and not simply take up my pen and write.

It did not help my motivation that for a while there seemed to be no way to download the photographs I had taken. Why take them to keep them, I thought. If I take them, I want to share them. Funny, that. That thought should have been my first clue...because while I do write for myself, there is also a large part of me that writes knowing that she will share the results with others. Particularly poetry.

Several days ago, I found a way to download those that I have taken so far. A significant help in the motivation to take more. In looking at the snapshots again, I realized that I really must enjoy composing the shots...thinking about the colors, the patterns involved, the shadows and lines. In the days since--now knowing a sure method of sharing what I see--I have walked and walked with my camera in my bag and have found myself truly enjoying putting together a picture--nothing too constructive--perhaps simply putting a leaf against the pattern of a chairseat.

I find it truly satisfying and pleasing and evocative to notice the textures, the angles, the light. It is an unexpected gift, that.

And as I was writing about it this morning, I realized it is not a new interest that is blooming. No, instead it is another way of expressing a long held joy and intuition. That to draw a person in and invite a person out, one must pay attention to silence and spark, to meaning, to context, to movement, to music, and to integrity...

I suppose it is a desire to explore, to probe, to suggest, the fullness of a thing...knowing that in the entering, there is so much more. In that is the Ah!

(In a funny irony, I am not able to upload any to the blog at the moment! Augh!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent I, 2009

Advent I, 2009

Will it be
like the potent natural urge
of moon and gravity
to loose the sea
and let her praise?

Will it be
like the smooth and traveling warmth
in my hands, my fingers,
when I hold a stone
that has rested with the sun?

Will it be
like light and silence-
the fullness of color,
the fullness of sound,
like the awe of recognition?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Talkin´ Turkey Friday Five

The Cure

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)

So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?

1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?

Cooking or baking for others is always a good one for me. So too a trip to a coffeeshop--a large mug full of something strong, a journal, a seat by the window to look out onto the streets of NYC, a favorite pen, a book, and music in my ears. Another too is simply the courage to say You know what, could I please have a hug?

2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?

In Reñaca Alto, Chile. No Thanksgiving this year--or next, for that matter, now that I think of it...will be in Rome with an international group of rscj. Ah well. Am glad for the memories I do have and the hope for those to come!

3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?

Greenbean casserole! Break out the crunchy onions! Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey, and my Great-Grandmother´s orange date bread--and her Bing Cherry Salad--always served on one leaf of iceberg lettuce. Let´s hear it for the midwest and jello salads!

4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?

Love, love, love it. Love the time cooking in the kitchen with friends, love the smell in the house, love the warmth inside on a cool day outside, the gratefulness, the gathering of people who want to be in one another´s company to share a meal. Favorite memories include using a staircase as extra seating while in grad school and playing wordgames in the kitchen afterward while the whole bunch of us cleaned dishes. Also, learning to make cranberry sauce from scratch from a friend in Louisiana...zesting the orange, the port wine heating, the pop of cranberries as they split and offered up their tangy zing. Can´t forget either, the Thanksgiving around a community member who was dying though still awake and alert. Her bed was in the livingroom and we gathered around her to eat...such laughter, such joy...the passing of food, the passing of life, and gratefulness for all.

5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?
Too much to contain here, to be certain. I am grateful for what I have learned in life so far, for the people I have met and loved along the way, for those who have loved me, for my sisters, my friends, the opportunities I have had to share what I have been given... for so many many things.

BONUS: Describe Aunt Bert's Thanksgiving.

I can see Aunt Bert remembering that in the bottom drawer of the breakfront where she keeps her dishes, there is the good tablecloth that she has not used for a while. She gets it out, spreads it on the table, and lets the wrinkles settle while she bakes. Then, she thinks about Uncle Frank, lying in his bed, and remembers that somewhere she has a record of music from WWII that they listened to while they were courting. She finds it when she goes to check on the table cloth and looks up to see the photographs of her family on the shelves between books, knickknacks, and some dust that she doesn´t notice anymore. On the edge of a low shelf was a stack of LPs. Finding one that she recognized, she put it on the player and lifted the needle. The dinger rings, she pokes the cake with a knife--clean! And takes out the cake to cool. Meanwhile, she heads to her room--they have had separate rooms now for some time...just easier that way--and finds her red dress, wrapped in plastic from the drycleaner where she took it last Spring--or maybe two seasons ago? It is a little big on her in some places and a little snug in others, but no matter. She slices the cake, puts a piece on a plate and brings the tray to Uncle Frank. Sitting carefully on the edge of his bed, she cuts bites and feeds him one bit at a time, so patiently and carefully. He can hear the music and thinks he might just remember the connection between it and the woman who is offering morsels of warm chocolate cake. Aunt Bert, when Frank has eaten all he can, goes back to the kitchen, pours a glass of milk, cuts another slice or cake, and sits at the table with the now smooth cloth, and watches the snow fall with a smile on her face.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the beginning...

The theme of prayer the other night was the question Jesus put to the blind man—What would you have me do for you? The answer was easy for him—I want to see. And so he did, by his faith.

It was an interesting thing to think in what my answer would be—or better, what my answer is, to the same question. And, it came easily to me as well. What would you have me do for you? I would have you write with my life. I want to write more of your story with my life.

And with that came the most marvelous imagery, the most beautiful pictures in my mind and heart. It was something like the wedding feast at Cana, but instead, people gathered around a fire at night, telling stories. All had told one except Jesus, who is laughing and looking deeply as he pokes the embers to stir more flame.

¨There is another tale,¨ he said between the conversations and good spirit…and as people began to realize what he said, they quieted slowly and turned toward him.

¨There is another tale,¨ he said again, ¨But it is not in my bag to bring forth and reveal, though it has its home in me. I know it by twist and surprise, grace and syllable, but again I say, it is not in my bag of stories to spin amidst these sparks and stars. Search your own.¨

Surprised and curious, people unbuckled or untied their purses and satchels, searching for some forgotten hint of the words Jesus might mean.

I folded over the flap of the bag always at my side and slid my hand in as well—moreas a matter of following suit than of hope in finding something new that was not there when I gathered my things for the day in the morning. My fingers touched the familiar edges and shapes lovingly. It was a perfect bag, a comfortable bag, that held all I needed in a day and I kew each ítem in it.

I looked and saw Jesus tilt his head back, pulling the person next to him to his front. Soon, they were both pointing at the stars and marvelling. Then, my fingers went into a far soft corner of my satchel where a coin often likes to hide. There was something new there—smooth and gently curved with a stopper in the top. It fit easily in my palm as I carefully withdrew my hand.

I lifted my own head, staring across the spark-lit darkness. This time Jesus was looking at me. And so were the others.

I held the vessel up to the moon and starlight to see more clearly. As I brought it closer to me, I found myself protecting it almost reverently, as one might the tender first flame of a newly lit candle until it gathers strength.
Jesus passed through the ash and flame, approaching me face to face. His hands wrapped my own for a moment before he moved behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. No one had spoken for several moments.

¨Ink?¨ I asked. I felt him nod gently. My thumbs loosened the cork plug and I tucked it safely in a pocket. That same hand reached again into my bag and found a narrow roll of cloth. Working free what the worn material protected, I brought out a freshly sharpened reed.

I felt Jesus smile and sit down behind me. Others also began to sit, leaning on one another for warmth and the pleasure of close company.

I dipped the reed inside the fine clay bottle and felt the refreshing confidence of river water moving through my being. I smelled lilacs as though I were napping in their branches and oh! A taste filled me entirely! Cinnamon, honey, and clove! The bite of curry, garlic, and pungent, warm, citrus…smoothed with a clean hint of something close to vanilla. The sound of drumming met in my hearing with the calls of birds whose songs were the light for flowers to open! Before my eyes was the very world! People standing shoulder to shoulder, weeping and dancing, people eating, sharing, walking together…

I heard myself sigh in wonder before I spoke. ¨The story I continue is old and true, according to all the faith I have. In the beginning was the Word…¨

Monday, November 16, 2009

La Iglesia del Mar-- The Church of the Sea

Yesterday morning I went to the iglesia del mar-The Church of the Sea. I sat on the beach and prayed my own version of the rosary and was accompanied by flocks of pelicans cruising in synch. I also learned how to tell which line on the water will become a wave. Before I guessed, but now I know. It changes color just before the lift and surge. The color is from the tidal pull that draws up the silt from the ocean bottom and causes the wave to form. God is good to show me a thing like that. Just the sort of thing I think is cool.

And the sort of thing I need to remember on low spirit days like today. So many people have asked me what it is that I miss most. It is not products or places or even particular people. What I miss is having a friend reasonably near...even near enough for a phonecall that doesn´t break the bank. I am grateful for the technology that allows for virtual connection, but it just is not the same. I have so much to say, so many thoughts, that don´t have a place at the moment.

I am reminded of a question from a movie I saw last summer in Mexico. How do you keep a drop of water from drying? Throw it to the sea.

I need to spend more time in that sancuary, I think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary by the Sea

Mary By the Sea

It was a question unexpected
while thinking by the sea—

¨Where were you a moment ago?¨

Out far on the mystical assumption of waves
where what the eye no longer sees
is cared for by the sun.
I arrived there, coppery wet
from this font of tidal glory,
full of awe and just a bit of seaweed
caught in a wrinkle of my sleeve.

I went there to pray.

You nodded, and pointed toward a fish
who in the merriment of evening light
seemed to be smiling.
And perhaps that was a wink?

c. MperiodPress

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the Journal

From the Journal...

I am sitting here listening to the high school chorus practice in the sala de pastoral next door. They sing BEAUTIFULLY... guitar, not piano. Harmonies you could sleep on and from the heart, from the heart. I love listening to them. It reminds me of my kids in other places.

Just returned from reading in English to four year olds and continuing in Spanish the tales of the very small woman who appeared on my thumb one morning while I was walking, sipping my coffee, and looking at the flowers. This time, I told the kids about a group of us going to a Benedictine monastery this past weekend (true--it was lovely) and that the monks sang when they prayed. I went looking for my friend once and she was not to be found. I searched many places and finally found her in the chapel where the monks were singing. SO beautiful was the sound of their voices singing together to praise God, that she was able to float on the musical notes in the air! When I walked in, there she was, floating and sliding and rising on the music while sitting on the useful tree leaf she brings with her everywhere. She had the most wonderful smile on her face when she finally settled back down onto the pew beside me...her eyes were closed...and there were tear droplets on her cheek. I heard her sigh with happiness before she opened her eyes, then she hopped into my hand and we went into lunch.

The other thing that happened recently and that I found fascinating in a way that prompts others to raise their eyebrows and think, ¨Oh, you have waaayyyy too much time on your hands...¨ is that I heard an animal speak in another language for the first time! This monastery was named Lliu-Lliu (zjhew-zjhew). We wondered what kind of name that was and were hypothesizing about its origins as we drove there. We got out of the car and within moments, I said ¨That´s why! Listen!¨and sure enough, the birds that are so present there have a call that is precisely lliu-lliu!
I had always found it interesting that animal sounds are recorded differently in different languages... how your ear can hear either cock-a-doodle-doo or kir-ii-kee-kee, depending on what else your ear has been hearing for your life to date. And that both can be plain as day for those who hear it that way. I had not before considered the influence of culture on sound interpretation, but there you have it as well as in the more affective aspects of a personality and more obvious things like foodways, social norms, etc. Something new to contemplate.

Every day I find myself saying to God, ¨You are so amazing.¨ and ¨Wow, you mean there´s more??¨

Thursday, November 5, 2009

La chincha/The Ladybug

Primero en castellano, luego inglés!
First in Spanish, then English!

De mi diario hoy, 5/11/09
From my journal today, 5/11/09

E acaba de entrar aquí con un regalo para mi--una chincha en su mano. Ella me la pasó a mi mano y después de un rato la salió volando. Quizás un placer muy simple, pero uno que a mi me gustó mucho--especialmente porque ella pensó que tener una chincha en mi mano sería una cosa que me gustaría. Y en ese, ella tuvo razón.

Aquí, ahora, después de la salida de las alumnas, después de la salida de la mayoria de los profe, el silencio viene otra vez... barriendo el polvo de tantos pies saltando y corriendo, dando un masaje a los raíces de los árboles, agradeciendo el sol, y pidiendo la bendición de la luna.

En este silencio hay la promesas del viento de mañana. Los pajaros cantan en su honor, cociendo un hilo de cobre en su capa con tantas bolsillas pequeñas--una por cada estrella. Primero, el silencio las lanza al mar. A la llegada de la luna, la olas ofrecen las estrellas al cielo donde se chispean hasta que los rayos del sol las recogen al amenecer.


E {with whom I live} just came in with a present for me--a ladybug in her hand! She passed it to my hand and after a bit, it flew away. Perhaps a simple pleasure, but one that I enjoyed a lot--especially because she thought that having a ladybug crawl on my hand would be something I would enjoy. She was right!

Here, now, after the students have gone, after most of the teachers have gone, the silence comes again... sweeping the dust of so many feet jumping and running, massaging the roots of the trees, thanking the sun, and asking the blessing of the moon.

In this silence are the promises of tomorrow´s wind. The birds sing in its honor, sewing a copper thread through its cape with so many little pockets--one for each star. First, the silence throws them to the sea. At the coming of the moon, the waves offer them to the heavens where they spark and shine until the rays of the sun collect them at dawn.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things Seen and Heard, 03-11-09

1. The silver frothed ocean through the green and craggy hills... I was riding in a micro and realized as I was watching the ocean pass by that the hills on the other side were reflected in the same window that provided my view. Both facets of glory were received gratefully in one sense-thirsty stare. It was so very, very, lovely.

2. A seemingly blind man begging on a street corner in perfect English

3. The exquisitely designed fuzzy inside of huge, huge, bean pods and the perfect little cradles that have the beans for dinner nestled within. The beans within the pod are removed, steamed or boiled, and served plain. They are eaten in a variety of ways--my favorite is to remove a tough but ultimately edible husk from the steamed beans, shake salt on the tender, buttery inner bean and pop in the mouth. Sort of like popcorn...

4. Monjita, ven acá, quiero darte un beso. Little/Dear/Sweet Nun, come here, I want to give you a kiss. I turned and there was a kindergartener all set to kiss my cheek...chocolate smeared lips and all.

5. ¿De verdad? Ella vive en su bolsillo? For real? She lives in your pocket? Yet another class of young children have met the verrrryyyy small, shy woman, who landed on my thumb one morning as I was walking and having my coffee. She had a fine and tiny hat on her head, a suitcase in one hand, and a tree leaf in the other. And yes, she happens to live in my pocket. Very shy, you understand... but awfully adventurous to come so far, don´t you think? Wait until you hear some of the other things she has done! I started this story in Grand Coteau and have brought it with me now to both Mexico and Chile... long live the imagination of young children.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Friday Five From Rev Gals!!

Dramatic or fairly common - what have been/are your lifesavers:

1) Your lifesaving food/beverage.

Food...two things come to mind. One, remembering the absolute Nirvana of pretzels when I was so very sick once and had lost so much liquid (and salt). Two, peanut butter! When all else fails, there´s nothing like it. You can use it in a sauce, you can use it as a dip (baby carrots swiped through is a personal fave), plop it in your hot oatmeal and stir, or... peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Also goes well along side a scoop of ice cream in lieu of chocolate sauce...or in addition to that chocolate sauce. To add one more, I did recently burst into a grin upon finding peppermint Mentos at an abarrotes near here and promptly bought three rolls.

Beverage...Three are on an even par... Cold water, really cold 2% milk, and strong coffee.

2) Your lifesaving article of clothing.

This one hits home...or in my case, far away from home. What I could bring to Chile was limited. The BEST choice I made was to include a thin, soft, snug-comfy, navy blue fleece. It is soft and comforting in its material, folds down to easily stuffable size, and is just enough of another layer to cut morning fog and chill.

3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music.

Book....three. Leaves of Grass, Mr. God this is Anna, and The Magnificent Spinster. (I´m not including the Bible because that´s a given)

Movie... Fried Green Tomatoes, Dead Poet´s Society, The Grass Harp

4) Your lifesaving friends

They know who they are. Two of the longest standing...One, I have known for 26 years, since eighth grade, and she did save me in high school. We decided a long time ago that we were in this friendship for life and I will always be grateful for that. She knows me deep down, we can talk about anything, and I know we will be there for each other. The other, I have known for 16 years. She makes me laugh from my toes on up, sings with passion, teaches with passion, cooks up a storm, is silly, and kind, and serious, and wonderful.

5) Your lifesaving moment.

What comes to mind for me is a series of conversations I had a number of years ago when I needed to loose the bonds that held me. The people who heard what I had to say responded with directness, love, generosity, trust, and kindness. I was then and still remain humbled by this. Humbled in awe, not smallness.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Olive a good story

I was walking down the hill toward where I catch the bus to go home and passed one of the zillion feral dogs that roam around. He was nosing around on the ground and looked like he was eating.

As I approached, I noticed little things littering the sidewalk that looked an awful lot like olive pits. Sure enough, the dog was eating a pile of olves someone had left--but was spitting the pits!! I saw him loll one out with his tongue!

A pit-spitting feral dog... for some reason, I enjoy the dignity of that. I bet he´d know which fork to use when too.

You never know the stories of those who live on the street.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Five from Far Away

My First Friday Five From Far Away From Where I Was Before! Which is to say, I was in NYC and am now in Chile.

RevGals say...Let's talk about music. Share with us five pieces of music that draw you closer to the Divine, that elevate your mood or take you to your happy place. They might be sung or instrumental, ancient or modern, sacred or popular...whatever touches you.

1. The song raised by a chorus of mockingbirds doing their thing in morning fog while walking to work in southern Louisiana.

2. Mystery by Paul Winter Oh Mystery, you are alive!

3. Salve Regina... oh, this is like rocking me to sleep...I love the waves of it, the up and down fullness that spreads from it...the sort of sound that makes candle flame lengthen and the night deepen down.

4. Gabriel´s Oboe from the movie The Mission. If I was a kite, this music would be my wind.

5. The song Que No Se Ve by Teresa Parodi, an Argentinian folk singer... The song talks about living what you do not see....and the sustenance offered by what is not seen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Come, Live in the Light...

Primero en castellano y después en inglés. : )
First in Spanish, and then in English.

De mi diaro de vida
From my journal

21 Octubre 2009

7:05 AM
En el mismo momento que ayer, estoy aquí en mi dormitorio con los sonidos de la casa en la mañana. Bueno, mas que los sonidos, estoy aquí con la vida de la casa como se manifiesta por las mañanas. Me di cuenta, sentando en frente de la ventana con mis pies encima de la mesa, que estoy reconociendo y acostumbràndome a la luz particular de las mañanas en nuestra manera de entrar la casa, sus movimientos y iluminaciones. Ahora, después de unas semanas, parece que ella es una amiga mia, acogiéndome y esperándome con ternura y tranquilidad.

Sé donde quiero sentarme o ponerme de pie con mi desayuno porque conozco la luz. Sé unas de sus preferéncias, sus lugares en donde a ella le gusta jugar con los pajaros y flores, los lugares en que ella pinta sin preocupación o delantal. Ella deja los colores caer donde quieren.

Para mi, decir que conozco la luz es decir que estoy reconociendo la gloria de Dios como se la manifiesta en ese momento, en ese lugar; estoy disfrutándola. Y por eso, estoy tan, tan agradecida al fuente y profundidad del misterio santo que ha hecho todo desde su corazón.

At the same time as yesterday, I am here in my bedroom along with the sounds of the house in the morning, Well, more than sounds, I am here with the life of the house as made known in the mornings. I realized, while sitting in front of the window with my feet up on the table, that I am recognizing and coming to know the particular morning light that comes to our home...her way of entering the house, her movements and illuminations. Now, after several weeks, it seems she is a friend...welcoming me and waiting for me with a peaceful calm and tenderness.

I know where I want to sit or stand with my breakfast because I know the light. I know some of the places that she prefers, some of the places where she likes to play with the flowers and the birds, where she likes to paint without worry or an apron. She lets the colors fall wherever they like.

For me, to say that I know something of the light is to say that I am coming to know the glory of God as made manifest in this moment, in this place. I am enjoying it. I am so very grateful to the fountain and depth of the holy mystery who created it all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Té y pensamientos

I am in an office of the Pastoral at the moment with a cup of tea. I actually said the Creed this morning while sitting in front of the window that looks out across the street in front of our house. Not that saying the Creed is AT ALL a usual part of my praying, but this morning was the first time I have been able to make it though that much internal English...the first time to say as a whole something I know by heart in English. And better to try something whole and memorized for me...rather than thinking my own thoughts in English, trying to pray in English with my own internal conversation... there are bits and scraps only...then it all either runs into itself in Spanish and English or just plain stops because I can not sort out which one to use. Silence is something to relax into, and I can on occasion, when there is actually a space to be silent! Five people, one bathroom, and one room other than bedrooms, and a highly communitarian style of living that begins at 630 in the morning and goes until 1030 or 11 at night...well, it poses a challenge. Yes, I can stay in my room or go there earlier, but those times in the morning or in the evening are when everyone is there and together...watching ¿Dónde está Elisa?, a ridiculous yet captivating telenovela, or simply having a snack and talking or working on something.

The other thing that I do rather enjoy on a simple, human level, is that every one says good night to one another when they are going to bed and good morning when first seeing one another in the morning. The intention of it, the impulse to greet one another simply because you see one another for the first time after six hours of sleep. Nothing big, just a simple Hola or Buenos. And when you go to bed, it will be six or seven hours until you see one another and here´s hoping you have a good night too.

This reminds me of night prayer at the Benedictine monastery in MA when the abbot prays that all may have a restful night and a peaceful death. At one time, I thought it rather morbid to pray each night for a peaceful death, especially in the same breath as a restful night. But, in a way, it is a sign to me that each new day together is a gift. Should we not see one another again, may it be well for all...and if we do, what a treasure that new day.

As I sit here, writing, watching the students arrive, and enjoying the last sips of tea that could strengthen the weakest of souls, it makes me realize how or why writing is different than the internal comes in and goes out my fingers, if that makes sense. It comes, it goes, there is room for new. When it is just me thinking in head and heart, it gets all swirly. Wild experience.

To each who read CTL, know this brings a smile, a hug, a laugh, and a new spring green leaf from the copihue outside the office.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two prayers/Dos Oraciones

Here are two prayers I have recently written. The experiences leading to each one have been unique in my life. Enriching, provoking, questioning, refreshing and frustrating in the way that newness can sometimes be. One of the beautiful things is that I think they sound better in Spanish...and for me, that is something incredible. I prefer the images that are brought to mind with the phrasing and the sounds. Wild, mystical, and amazing, that.

Llevo en mi bolsa al álter de Dios todo que me asombra y me confunde, todas las maravillas y todas mis dudas, traigo ausencia y deseo y necesidad- y con ternurna, con reveréncia, las dejo contigo en la seguridad que mañana mi bolsa otra vez estará llena. Aunque no entiendo lo que estás haciendo en mi, tengo la confianza que será fuerte, suave, y bella.

I bring in my satchel to the altar of God all that delights and confuses, all that brings wonder and all that brings doubt. I bring absence and desire and need--and gently, reverently, I leave them with you knowing that tomorrow, my satchel will again be full. I do not understand what you are making in me, but I have confidence that it will be strong, soft, and beautiful.


Cuando cierro mis ojos, veo la oscuridad; si los abro, puedo ver tu corazón. Cuando cierro mis oídos, oigo la soledad; si los abro, puedo oir tus olas, tus rios, y la emoción de la lluvia. Cuando cierro mis manos, puedo protegerme; si las abro, puedo dar y recibir.

Ayúdame estar siempre en la abertura de tu amor.

When I close my eyes, I see the darkness; if I open them, I see your heart. When I close my ears, I hear lonliness; if I open them, I am able to hear your waves, your rivers, and the emotion of the rain. When I close my hands, I can protect myself; if I open them, I am able to give and receive.

Help me to always be in the openness of your love.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Las 10 Convicciones de Damián

Here are the ten convictions of Damián of Molokai as referenced in the earlier post today...

1. I will fight without ceasing and without discouragement because I believe God is always with me, giving me a hand.

2. I will struggle without fear or rest to build up the reign of God here on earth...but I constantly dream of the radical new world God has promised: heaven.

3. I will always propose giving priority to those who are weaker, those who have been abandoned, and those who are marginalized.

4. I want to be the voice of those who have no voice.

5. I will not find the beauty of a person on the exterior, but rather the interior.

6. I will not judge, nor condemn, nor exclude anyone...from this will come my strength to understand and tend to others.

7. Like Jesus, I want to live my life totally without self-interest, because the one who loses their life for another will be saved in the next.

8. To find the strength to love those excluded, I daily turn to Jesus, looking in his heart for the ardent fountain of divine love.

9. What I fear in life is not poverty, nor sickness nor struggle, but rather the absence of faith, love, and hope.

10. Though the work may be hard and draining, though illness may invade my body, I am the happiest person in the world.

Damien and the Not so Itsy Bitsy

I had an interesting experience this morning after washing my face in the bathroom. Think about washing your face... no glasses, right? And then you bring the towel up to your face to dry, right? Picture a black dime...inflated to three dimensions. Put eight legs on this chubby dime... THAT is what was on my towel as I brought it up to my face!! The spiders are populous and healthy in this part of Chile, I am told. But there is only one that can kill you...I suppose telling me that was to be some sort of consolation.

It isn't the spider itself so much that bothers me...more the splat-factor. Although, having one that close to my face is a little too intimate an aquaintence, thank you, and I don´t care how big it is.

The day is bright, clean, and beautiful today. And this morning´s laundry is dry on the line. I do enjoy clothes dried outside and brought in all warm from the sun. The big deal in the area, aside from Chile beating Columbia and thus earning a spot in the World Cup in South Africa, is this morning´s canonization of Damien of Molokai. The Los, as the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary is known here so as to distinguish from El, which is us, have a big presence in these areas and several parishes are dedicated to Damien.

His story is an interesting one and one of his famous writings is The Ten Convictions. My favorite of the ten is What I fear in life is not poverty, not sickness or conflict, but rather the absence of faith, love, and hope. The rest of them are lovely as well.

My day will end with folding the laundry I washed and hung about eight hours ago. There is something pleasing about that sort of circling. To say nothing of clean pyjamas...

Monday, October 5, 2009

de Reñaca

I write this while sitting in the room of my community's house that serves as everything except kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. I can hear dozens of feral dogs barking outside, nothing unusal about that, and smell the instant espresso that many have for their morning wake up. The view from the window on my right includes a neighbor's flag still up from the Fiestas Patrias of 18 September, electric meters, a rose bush in the front yard, lots of dust, and a lemon tree across the street. I have finished with my breakfast, washed the dishes (except my mug of espresso!), straightened my room, and am now catching up on some writing.

I have been to the Sacred Heart School in Reñaca several times already to watch, look, ask, and listen for ways that I might be able to be of help there. As it is a bilingual school, they are quite excited to have someone nearby who is a native speaker and can help the students with their pronunciation. To get to the school via micro, the local public transportation, takes about an hour and a healthy walk. The ride takes you steadily down, closer to the ocean. The house where I live is up in the hills. As you climb up into the hills, the poverty level increases along with the beauty of the view. The saying here is that the most poor have the best view. It is seen as a sort of ironic justice.

Also, I have had a chance to help here in the neighborhood. This past Saturday, a clinic was set up in the parish hall with a doctor, pediatrician, hair dresser, vet, and podiatrist volunteering their time. There was clothing for sale, and breakfast was served to all. Many came and took advantage of the services for their children and themselves, as well as some pets.

I am not at school today, Monday, because it is our weekly day for gathering as a community. People will come home around 12:30, we will have our main meal together, and then someone will have prepared prayer and an activity for us as a community. Responsibility for this rotates--I still have three weeks to figure out what I am doing when it is my turn!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Falling and Springing

From Rev Gals! It's a Fitting Fall Friday Five for me! Why?

Because it is my favorite season and I leave at 11:45 tonight for nine months in Chile where it is rising Spring. I'll still have access to the Internet and will be chronicling the experience in one way or another. The nine months will be followed by two months back here and then off to Rome for five months with other Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who have been on their international experience. We will make our final vows in January of 2011.

For now, Fall!

1. Share a Fall memory.

Augh, so many. Walks in the woods when I was a child, the SMELL of the leaves, the cool, the soil. Coming back in to a house that smelled good because something was in the oven or on the stove, the clarity of sound as the air cools...

2. Your favorite Fall clothes--(past or present)?

Hands down--kneesocks, jeans, turtleneck, sweatshirt. But, for work--khakis and a corduroy shirt. Soft, snug, just the right temperature.

3. Share a campfire story, song, experience...etc.

Um, not really a campfire story, but I remember lying on my back in a Wyoming fall and looking up to the cosmos with a (detached, naturally) rifle scope of my father's. At that moment, I understood for the first time why it is called the Milky Way. SO stunning, inspiring, freeing, and humbling to look at it all!

4. What is your favorite thing about this time of year?
The feeling of being snug but cool outside and coming in to warm. It's a season for walking and crunching around, a season for beauty! The leaves! Augh!

5. What changes are you anticipating in your life, your church, the season changes and winter approaches?

Well--my ministry, my community, my continent, my primary language of use, pretty much everything! But, it is rather fitting, actually, that I am headed into Spring for the journey feels much like that--new discovery, new becoming, possibility, revelation...

The Bonus: Fall Food

Three things immediately come to mind-- Chili, homemade vegetable soup (with saltines crushed up on top just before eating), and apple cobbler. Funny how these things are specific in my mind-- not just any old, but those versions specifically created from the recipes used by the women in my family.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things seen

I was returning from the post office this afternoon and saw these two little scenes.

The leaves and bright ticket caught me...the arrangement on the sidewalk, yes, but also the components and chance of them being together... where would that ticket take someone who picked it up? Where did it already take someone? Where will the wind lift it next?

The plant is a force of life! Not a smidge of dirt to be found but such a commitment to growth! It boldly puts roots where it can, gripping to the binding force of life in spite of odds and challenges. Go for it, plant. Grow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh. My.

This is the unsophisticated thought that has been running through my head since picking up my Visa yesterday and realizing that I am actually leaving for Chile on Friday evening and God willing, arriving in Santiago at noon the next day.

I am at once quite mellow and exceedingly wound up. I am filled with a depth of gratitude only surpassed twice in my life. I am both worried that it all won't get done and confident that by the time I go, things will be in place. I feel grounded and free and on various levels aware of the both the gift and cost of that feeling.

This is not a trip I am taking from which I will return to what I had known and been doing. A larger unknown now begins. Chile, back for two months of visiting and rearranging suitcases, Rome for five months of "Probation" and Final Profession, and then...?

Am I ready? Ready for what will be asked? Ready for what will be offered? Ready for what I do not know? Ready for revelation? Ready for encounter and question and awe and silence and loneliness? Ready for others to go their way while I go mine? Because, I am not alone in my journey.

I am blessed tremendously by having others around me who are also making their way. Sometimes we share a map for a while, come to know one another. And you look at one another and say, for now, I need to head over here for a bit. You keep going and we'll circle around again, I am sure. Because, the point of convergence is God. The center drawing us down, the love inviting us onward, the reflection of beauty, the welcome table, the rest and cool drink, the challenge, the laugh, the one who knows all of the constellations.

Somehow, believing that helps make this all the more amazing and all the more real. Because mystery is amazing and mystery is real. Not easy. That's sometimes the way it is and often how discoveries are discoveries are made and revelation happens and fullness becomes.

Friday, September 18, 2009


From RevGals... a most thoughtful Friday Five

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
I always

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up,
And isn't down.
it isn't in the nursery,
it isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really
It's somewhere else

— A. A. Milne
“Halfway Down,” When We Were Very Young

Thinking of your childhood as a stairway, when did you feel (and how did you feel then)

1. at the bottom?

Have to say, I wasn't really aware of being at the bottom. I had no idea what was going on around me, sometimes, but I considered getting out of bed and having a new day ahead of me to read and learn and wonder and explore another stair on the journey. I suppose, though, I felt a certain sense of desperation for that journey. Wanting to experience and know in the bones that what I believed was true--there was more to the world than what I saw and heard around me, that there was a place where I could be and do who and what God had given me as gift and call...and not be alone. There would be others on the staircase with me, to stop sometimes, to look, to comfort and encourage.

2. at the top?

Not there yet--don't expect to be until I'm walking into that most amazing vista with no horizon...

3. halfway?

What a gift! To be able to look back and say wow, I walked THOSE stairs to get here? Those stairs strewn with both obstacles and openings to naviagate? Whoa. To see what I left on those stairs and what/who I brought with me. To be able to look ahead and say WOW! I'm walking those? What will happen? What will I come to know? What views await? What people?

4. At this point in your life, where would you place yourself on your own stairway?

Don't know, really. I'm just walking and looking and saying Wow. A lot. Wow, isn't it amazing and Wow, the tragedy. Stairs don't only go one direction. I know this personally and by familial association.

5. Identify a place for you that "isn't really anywhere" but "somewhere else instead."

Writing, creating, praying space! The loose space where I and the world and God sit together in flow and conversation and being. Love that space.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Upon First Seeing

For a video of the renovations being done and more info--click here.

This is an excerpt from my journal after first being back in the main Church. I couldn’t find a place to sit that allowed room for the expanse of feeling moving around within me so I went to the back. And then out came the sacramentals of pen and paper… sometimes, you simply must pray.

Wow! Life! Light! Crispness and Clarity! As though I once was blind, but now—ah! The singing we do here these first Sundays feels like it is beginning to seal the work that has been done. New layers of life and living and feeling and glory and humanity’s reality are being offered—in a way, a chrism of praise is being applied to the freshly revealed…
I love that!

The bounce of the feeling in here begs for dancing. I can’t find a place to sit where I am comfortable because there is too much to see… not that I am in constant motion here in the back, but it feels free-er to me to be standing with space around—especially in this “new space” that is Xavier. Which, really, isn’t new, but simply re-awakened. Before, it was like being tucked in under blankets whose warm weight was secure and reassuring. Now, though, that weight has been lifted—much like when one moves from warm slumber into the stretching deep breath of wakefulness. Both feelings are wonderful, though different from one another.

Amen for the new day dawning!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, to whom St. Madeleine Sophie Barat dedicated the Society of the Sacred Heart in a tumultuous time of our history.

May the ones whose hearts have been pierced and yet found life be a source of love, understanding, compassion and consolation in a suffering world.

Friday, September 11, 2009


In a Jam with RevGals....Friday Five Time!

As the weather cools off into a lovely fall, my son and daughter are rediscovering their joy in cozy footed "pajammies"

Without going to TMI land, share with us your sleepwear memories and preferences....

1. What was your favorite sleeping attire as a child? And did you call them pjs, pajamas (to rhyme with llamas), pajamas (to sort of rhyme with bananas), jammies, or ???

Funny, I have no idea what I specifically wore, but am certain it fell into the same category of my choices today-- Nothing to confine, wrap around, make you feel bound in and less than free. HATE that feeling.... Regarding pronunciation, PJs or pyjamas, to rhyme with llamas.

2. Favorite sleepwear put on your own little ones, or perhaps those you babysat? (Bonus points if you made it).

No answer here--though wee bitty pjs with feet are darn cute.

3. How about today-do you prefer nightgown, pajamas...?

Cotton tee, stretchy fleece shorts. OR, in coldest winter, a men's flannel nightshirt. V-neck, no elastic at cuffs, shorter than women's (important when you're 5'2!). Rather Jack Be Nimble, but it works!

4. Silky smooth or flannel-y cozy?

Cotton until the depths of winter then flannel. Also depends on the sheets. Flannel on flannel is like sleeping in velcro!

5. Socks or bare feet?


Monday, September 7, 2009



Let the rain fall through me,
let me be refracted by the sun until I glow;
Let the soil release me,
the wind rearrange me,
and the moon turn my face
toward the tide of heaven

over and over
yet again!

What I want is to rise
loosely and freely;
to move each step
in the certain sway of grace
that is knowing God in and in between
my every mystery-laden molecule.


Saturday, September 5, 2009


I have a list in my mind of all the expressions I could string out on the page right about now that could describe my current state of mind... Lemons? Lemonade. Door closed? Window open. Etc.

But, instead, I'll say this... Breadcrumbs. Far more accurate, and, pleasingly, far more creative an opening to the story leading up to why I used it!

I have been waiting, waiting, waiting for the FBI to clear my fingerprints so I could apply for my Visa to go to Chile for ten months before making final vows. My ticket is for 11 September. The paperwork only got returned to me this past week while I was visiting my grandparents for three days. Yesterday, I gathered all of my other papers which I'd already put together, added the new sheets, got my money order, my photos, and headed to the consulate. Turned everything in and in talking to the gentleman who is now my contact there found out that they mail the paperwork to Chile first and they decide there whether to issue the Visa--another three to four week process.

I have been working on all of this now for several find out I might be waiting yet another month simply makes me grumpy. To say nothing of the uncertainty of when exactly I'll be going and therefore not being able to tell those expecting me when I will be arriving! And, knowing that the possibility exists that the Visa will not be cleared.

However, while I was waiting to be called in to the offices, I watched a video playing about the Lake District in Chile--stunning, informative, and I'd even say lyrical. One of the topics they covered was food--making particular mention of the German influence in the area. A pastry chef went through the process for making the most delicious looking apple dessert with a topping he made by melting butter in a pan and adding sugar and flour until all the butter was soaked up and the mixture turned crumbly. That he then sprinkled by hand over the top of his apple lusciousness.

I'd never seen the topping done that way! But it makes great sense to me--the butter will melt again in the heat, help keep the crumblies moisturized, and let everything get toasty brown without flying away when you take it out of the oven. As a side note, I also learned in this video that it is the sulfuric acid in an onion that makes you cry. Who knew? Neither of those things would I have expected to learn on a trip to the Chilean consulate at the UN Plaza in New York City.

Fast forward to me being the cook for dinner tonight and deciding to do homemade mac and cheese. Spending time alone in the kitchen is a great way for me to relax and think and be creative all at the same time so the fact that I was doing it today after finding out that it might well be another month until going away was a good thing. I'd sauteed diced onion and mixed that in, diced some tomatoes and chiles, mixed those in, added cheese, mixed more, poured an egg-milk custard on top...and then had a culinary AHA!

Breadcrumbs on top! No, no, not shake them on and hope they stick and! We were going to melt the butter first, mix in bread crumbs until the butter was absorbed, crumble the mixture with a fork, and spread them over the top! Ha! Crusty goodness on mac! Incredibly satisfying! I love learning something new and being able to use it myself to see that whoa! Yes, it really does work when it's my hands doing it!

The wonder is in the science, in the materials used working together...not entirely in the hands of the one doing it. This is something I know, but I find it endlessly fascinating to watch it happen.

And I would not have known about it unless I'd gone to the Chilean consulate and had word of a delay in my journey.

So, back to the opening... sometimes, when one thing poses a challenge, you learn about breadcrumbs.

How delicious a way to grow in patience and understand more clearly what so many in our world go through all of the time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Found Poems

Found in my old journals, that is.

I have been filling my father's worn, scarred, but still strong Filson briefcase with my journals to pack them away as I clear out of my room in anticipation of the coming adventure to Chile. I was flipping through several volumes as I placed them side by side in the brass zippered case, reminiscing about where I was, what was going on, and rediscovering expressions of my theology.

Here are two poems I found in those pages.

John's Prologue

Taste with your ears
the spiced syllable story of
Gospel honey.

Is it any wonder the bees
the way they do?


Gonna Be Alright

My deep rooted oak
wilds of the ocean
free dancing
fruit stand colorful
lights of the city
arms of a friend
Gospel music singing, God?

my deep feeling
ancient of days
word painting
human friend?

Is it all gonna be alright?

Can you feel me in the wind-
catch me floating on sweet olive air?
Do you see me on a city block walk?

Listen for me
in the ping of rain on roofs
Feel the warm weight
of me in you at center.

And know
gonna be alright.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Here I am!

Likeable Qualities

Friday Five from Rev Gals....I Like Me!

Five things you like about yourself...

1. My hair...thick. strong, lots of it. Going gray...finally makes me look my age! Changes colors depending on how much time outside. Sometimes the subject of compliments. Had someone once ask me what number it was...assuming I dyed it. I answered 39. 39? Yep. It's how many years of living it took to get it looking this way!

2. My speaking voice. Gift of good voice genes and practice cultivating. Grandfather on Mom's side was in radio/television. Dad was in radio and has done event announcing. Mom is known for doing some taping/speaking too. It has allowed me to do much to be of service to others.

3. A capacity for language. Brings delight to me and has at times been helpful to others.

4. My okay-ness with my body. Was born short and chubby...going to die short and chubby. It's healthy and has served me well so far...and stayed proportionally the same for forever! Must be meant to be, I figure.

5. My intuitions about dynamics and how to understand/navigate them. Those nigglings have taught me much and served me well in the work environment and at home--even when they are wrong, there's a lesson to be learned.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Praiseful Women

There are times—
times when I loosen up
down to the elements
and, like bows on a kite line do,
my spirit lofts on breezes,
changes perspective,
and knows more upon
its quiet knocking home.

Once—and oh, it was lovely,
it whistled so achingly real
the laughter of praiseful women
who blew dandelions in my sleep.


Danger or Grace?

(Written for Xavier...that's why it reads a little funny here...)

I am having a hard time shaking the irony from in between the trite adage about the dangers of assuming anything and the glory of the Assumption of Mary.

On the one hand, dealing with anything less than the reality of what is before you can get you into trouble. On the other. Mary, fully human, was incorporated into the fold of heaven immediately upon her death. Suppositions and full welcome, together in one word…one act….Makes me think about my own assumptions—of both kinds, really.

What are my assumptions about the others who gather with me in the assembly of the faithful? What barriers do they place for me? Is there truth to them? How firm or loose a grip do I have on them? Yet, there is a desire on my part to be assumed into the group of those who make their home here at Xavier. To be assumed wholly, completely, as one of the many fallible, messy, generous, loving, people who find their way here. It isn’t just a part of me that proclaims the Word, it’s all of me, and that’s what comes with me to the table.

Perhaps that is one of our calls—to change our assumptions, or even broaden them—so that when we welcome people, it is a welcome of the whole—heart, mind, spirit, confusion, anger, glory, song, and silence… And, yes, maybe that will mean we appear the fool sometimes. What is real isn't always neat and tidy, pretty and punctual.

Then again, surely those coming have assumptions too—or at least, I know I did when I first came here. I assumed the presence of love. Of care. Of welcome and concern and awe and attention to the act and prayer of worship.

Perhaps it is a mutual assumption of truth. Offered and received, multiplied and shared. Accepted, cherished, yes, even questioned, but with openness and frank simplicity.

Bold, but wow—wouldn’t it be great? Hmm—maybe at this time of renovation and restoration it’s time to create a new saying about what happens when we assume.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Pouring Possums

From the Zoology Department of RevGals, this Friday has Gone to the Animals!

Best wild animal story…

That would have to be when I came home from work in southern Louisiana only to be greeted by members of my community standing in the kitchen, waiting for me. “We have a problem.” “Um hmmm….??” “Go look in the garbage can.” Why? “Go look.”

I go outside and lift the lid to the garbage can, the garbage can sitting in a wooden frame to keep it off the ground, a wooden frame too high for me to get the leverage necessary to lift the garbage can out of the frame—which will come in later.

Lifting the lid and peering in, while concurrently aware that it is about to POUR BUCKETS as it can do only in southern Louisiana, I see the problem. Not only garbage bags, but also a possum, a large possum, taking a nap about half way down, curled onto a tuffet of refuse-plumped Hefties. Happy as can be, or so it would have seemed.

The others are watching me from the kitchen door.

It begins to rain.

I go back inside.

“What are you going to do?”


“It can’t stay!”


I go back and try to lift out the garbage can without it tilting toward me while thinking “Possums, mad possums, potentially mad, wet, rabid possums…if it gets hatey about me moving it around, what’s the plan, Bright-light?”

Couldn’t get the leverage to lift the can out.

Went back inside, now soaked.

??? So???


Went over to the Boarding School and asked the high schoolers if anyone was in the mood for an adventure….that involved a possum and the pouring rain.

I love my kids.

Several of them came with me, we lifted out the can, dumped the thing sideways and ran. The possum stayed put.

I could only imagine what might happen if the dogs found it and the garbage…in the pouring rain.

I explained to the possum that the rest was up to it and it had only a moment to figure out its next move—which I was not planning on witnessing.

I checked back in twenty minutes or so—possum gone. I shoveled garbage back into the can.

The other story I considered telling here was coming out onto the porch one night and realizing I was being watched—over and over and over again…looked out, and saw brown flashlights…about sixty or seventy sets of them…right there. The cows across the road had come to school. It’s a funny thing to be surrounded by cows…not something for which one has an instinctive plan. Bears, sure. Snakes, yep. Bees, wasps…uh huh. But cows?

There’s also the armadillo I watched eat breakfast in the clover. That was rather sweet, really. Named her, too. Amarilla.

Yes, it was a she. Had a little napkin tucked in front and a bow behind her left ear. I don't know for sure...but it was definitely cute to watch it eat breakfast.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another poem for Mary

Sometimes it feels so good to write a poem for Mary... I did the first one here and added another tonight. Can't really explain the mood that leads me to it...only that sometimes I just need the refreshment that comes with it. Like cold sasparilla on a hot day, a nap, a walk with quiet company.

That Free

I need you, Mary,
you and the others…
the women who gather
to praise and laugh and eat together.

The strong women, bold women
of life’s mysterious grace
who are free and at ease
in the beauty of being;

who can bear the weight
can dance the light
sing the pain
and drink the cup.

Oh yes, I see
and I want to be

that free, that free.

To say yes and amen
and pass me the pie
and how can I help
and can’t she sing well?

To say look at her go!
and want to come along?
and I am so tired
may I lean on your arm?

Oh Mary, in my praise-tinted,
glorious, fits of imagination,
I say Woman, I am glad
to be born one of you.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Graceful Swallow

For another step in the process of going to Chile for ten months, I have to submit an FBI background check. That requires fingerprints to be taken, a letter written, a payment included, and prayers sent that all arrives and it's treated in a timely fashion.

As I write this, I just got home from being fingerprinted at 1 Police Plaza downtown
and hearing someone try to jump the turnstile there. Naturally, given that this is police headquarters, the gentleman was subdued--but he did not go gently into that good night. This brought about a fascinating sociological moment.

Before the hoo-ha, there'd been half a dozen or more of us in the room waiting for various services. When escalation was apparent--the man was clearly yelling multiple varieties of obscenities and audibly flailing about while the police were trying to contain the incident--everyone except me left the room to go watch. I was the only one left in the room. And I wondered what possessed them to go.

What makes people do that? I do not have that want to go witness someone's suffering/violence when made apparent in that way...when the going would be for its own sake. Given looks on people's faces, it was more of a "fight-fight-fight..." sort of gleam, rather than concern for an individual who was clearly over an edge of some sort. The women behind the counter said the same man had already
tried to gain access several times today.

A disturbing insight into human behaviors and inclinations.

Later in the day...

I have spent time since this morning trying to understand why this event has stuck with me so potently. Some of it came from a conversation with a friend who spoke of spirits who are manifest not physically of themselves but through actions of another. I can go along with that in concept. I know evil exists. I know that there is darkness that seeks to overcome the strength of light.

But, I also know that for reasons of illness, chemistry, and/or mystery, people lose the capacity to straddle realities sometimes. I think there are those who can walk the line. People who are sick, who might or might not not know it or choose to acknowledge it, but who live in two places...somewhere where they are alone in their understanding of reality and in the present moment with the rest of us. Sometimes events occur--predictable or not--or choices are made--that remove the ability to fight for the tensioned balance. When that ability to straddle is compromised, chances are it is the here and now that loses.

I have seen that happen to someone I love. Because I believed I could, and believed I was compelled to try, I have reached across the border and groped, hoping to find the solid flesh of the person I wanted to reach. I reached with direct speech, I reached with love, I reached with the grace, the absolute grace, of God.

I wasn't reaching for evil, I wasn't reaching to cure or even protect from outcomes that would arise from the situation. I reached for the real. I reached for love. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy. And it didn't change any of the surface reality. Things were still unfortunate, things were still messy and tenuous. To do that was one of the three biggest lessons I have ever known about the true potential for love.

While I sat in the room, I prayed for the man, for the police, for the family of the man. Did they know where he was? Did they know that he needed someone? Had they lost track of him? What would his day be like from here on out? Would he get the help he clearly needed to draw him back? Who would know where to reach? Who would be the voice and face of love for this man?

These are questions I am left with at day's end. Questions I will sleep with and not answer. Not directly, anyway.

I learned once that a swallow bird is biologically incapable of flying in a straight line. Seems like grace is often like that too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Five

From those pals at RevGals, it's the Friday Five. This time, a call to describe the perfect church.

At first I thought this would be difficult. I was getting caught up in describing the building—natural, given the major program of renewal, restoration, and renovation that is happening at my parish. But, the more I thought about it the more simply and clearly the thinkin’ dust settled.

To me, the perfect church is a gathering of human beings who inclusively, lovingly, call one another to the full wonder and use of that gift. They do so in the interest of living authentically and communally the greatest commandment we have—to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. This living is born out by inclusively breaking open the common story, sharing sacramental ritual, and serving those in need. The perfect church does this in a spirit of humility and keen awareness that there is more to live, more to learn, more to be revealed than is ever known at a given moment. The perfect church says in the deeds done and spirit it generates together, “Welcome home, there is room for you here.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finding freedom

The closer I get to leaving the country for ten months, the more I find myself wanting or needing to spend time with friends who remind me by simple reassuring presence that they will still be here, that I will not be forgotten, that words will be read and responded to and thoughts/prayers sent forth, even when I am far away.

This is something I know...I know that friends will do this. I know things might not be the same when I return because of the passage of time and what happens in each of our lives between now and the next time we are together. But, I know in whatever way that I will not be forgotten and will not forget them. Friends do not bind one another to a fixed way of being, but rather celebrate the discovery of fullness, I think. Friends say "Go. Discover. Reveal. Stretch. I will be within reach when you return."

What I am rediscovering as I prepare for the journey is the import of the more tangible knowing that comes in conversation, time spent, emails exchanged, hugs given and received. A friend came to visit this past weekend and we had a grand time in this City simply doing things we both enjoyed doing--but doing them together. Thoughtful conversation, laughter, writing together, reading what the other had written, appreciating the colossal reading room of the New York Public Library, strolls in parks... The ease and familiarity of our adventures was itself a gift. In that is the freedom, somehow, to go. Part of the joy of going is knowing that there are people who will each in her/his own way, want to know of the discovery and revelation. Some will not want to know and that will be hard. Freedom has its expense.

It is the irony that gets me every time. It is in feeling the bonds that draw me to others that the freedom to go elsewhere and do likewise is born.

Pablo Neruda said, "it is the sacred obligation of the poet to leave and to return."

Jesus said, "Come. Follow."

I say, "Okay."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Glory Be

One of my favorite “rote” prayers is the Glory Be. I find its cyclical proclamation of praise to be reassuring whether in the midst of something I understand or in the midst of mystery. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be… History, present moment, future.

At times it calls to my mind and heart the promise of the loving, generative, fullness of God that infused life at the first creative Word. It was present then, is here to be found now, and will continue to be on into the future.

At other moments, the prayer is a reassurance of the reality of what is going on now, how ever messy, and that even in the difficulties of humans being who they are called to be, God is active and to be praised. It was messy then, is messy now, and will be messy, and that’s okay…because it is real…and all a part of the journey toward becoming what we have sought all along.

This prayer came to mind last week when I had a chance to see the restoration work happening in the church building where I attend Mass. The past is being revealed in the present moment while looking toward the years to come. What fascinated me was that the whole work seems to be geared toward the unification of these “planes.” The soot, the dirt, the gunk, being stripped away, is what has accumulated between them. With their washing away comes forth the renewed opportunity to appreciate the awe and wonder of the original artisans’ vision of honoring God in an edifice. The leveling of the floor smoothes the bridge so more may cross through “was and is” with safety and ease. And to watch the workers attend to the details with precision and obvious care, there is no doubt to me that the work being done now will last long into the stories of coming generations.

It felt rather medieval, this tour I had. There were workers everywhere! At least four different levels of scaffolding held countless people working on different parts of this act of revelation. There were the sounds of tools, the murmer of conversation, the dull steady thud of hammer and nail… As I noticed newly unveiled decorative details—flower buds no bigger than a large drawer pull on the walls of the balcony, the crisp IHS atop the confessional, the newly scrubbed marble prophetic line-up on the second floor—I could easily imagine church stonemasons of centuries past who spent time carving flourishes for reasons no greater or lesser than the glory of God. Details mattered then, as signs of honor for God as well as pride in craft. Watching the work being done in the church now, I can tell that that holds true in the present as well.

What I can’t yet tell is what it will feel like to be in the space as an active member of the congregation. I had grown accustomed to the space between the planes—being able to readily feel and imagine history into the present if not see it directly. I can imagine that it might take me a while to get used to the new feeling of more immediate convergence. That’s okay with me, though, and all part of the cycle.

And, actually, a gift. How often will it happen that at the same time I get to see more of what was in the beginning while living that vision in the “is now” and hoping it’s around for a fair portion of the “ever shall be?”

Glory be to the journey and adventure that is God which we celebrate as community in this sacred space.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thank you, R.G.

I had the best walk after Mass today. I set off across Union Square and headed down Broadway—there was a breeze, there was ample sunshine, there were wide sidewalks and fairly few people for it being such a perfect City day. It was great to feel so free, so relaxed and right with the world, taking an amble without intention and loving the doing of it.

I passed a “vest pocket” flea market converted from a small empty lot. I saw vendors of items from Jamaica, Africa, and places unknown, lost tourists, a guy conducting business in an entirely black outfit save one skinny white tie, and a kid with a tee-shirt proclaiming “I’m a keeper!” There was the usual assortment of boutiques and shops filled with someone’s dictation regarding modern fashion, a couple of places to grab a bite to eat, and one or two empty storefronts.

On my return toward Union Square, in want of a brief rest, I found the welcome of Grace Episcopal to be just what I needed—in more ways than one. While there I said a prayer of gratitude to R. G. Remisen, whoever she or he might have been. It was for that person that the pew I selected was named. At one point in time, the letters in the nameplate were raised but by the time I sought respite in his or her aisle, it was nearly smooth, edges softened and round. The plate is affixed to a pew-high door that opened to allow passage into the bench.

New to me, I found that this “compartment” approach to seating suited my state of being quite comfortably. It was in some way a welcoming demarcation of space—something that said without pretense or expectation, “Come. Take off your bag. Rest here without worry. Look for what you need. You are home here and will find it.”

The windows were tremendous. I am not able to recall what they depicted—only that they were filled, filled, filled with light and colors and that they were a magnificent contrast to the low-light and dark wood. The carvings on the pillars were graceful and simple.

The whole experience called to mind an un-attributed quotation used once by a friend--—“Center down,” cried the Quaker saints, “Center down.”

For me that is one of the gifts of sacred spaces of all kinds— a church, a friend’s couch, a prayer corner…—The gift of inviting to simultaneously ground ourselves enough and let go enough to feel the pull of the wonder and needs of our world, and our own lives, and the call of a creative, faithful, loving, God to engage, to live, to listen, to do, to appreciate, to challenge, to actively be.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things seen, Things Heard

While out today...

1. A woman playing Simon and Garfunkel on a saw. Yes, really. It was a completely "other" sound and rather ethereal. Wavy... and actually kind of neat.

2. A caffeine hyped chess player who could power a riding mower with his bouncing leg (which knocked into his pile of Crush and Mountain Dew cans...).

3. Two women evaluating color choices for brides-maid dresses. They were deciding whether it would it be peacock blue or orange.

4. And my favorite line... "With all of today's technology, there's still nothing better than cracking yourself up."

I do so love New York...

A Real Stretch...

From the Pals at Rev Gals...It's the Friday Morning Stretch!

So how about you and your beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit?

1. What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity as a child?

I enjoyed playing catch with baseball and mitt as well as with the frisbee. Favorite though...which plays into my responses for 4+5...well, does "going on a wander" count as an outdoor activity? Give me a bag, a length of rope for lassoing or climbing or knot tying or whathaveyou, and I could be perfectly happy for hours.

2. P.E. class--heaven or the other place?

Oh mercy. Need I say more?

3. What is your favorite form of exercise now?

I'd have to say that going on wanders is still my favorite. Heading out into the City with a backpack of necessaries and hitting the pavement for a good long walk.

4. Do you like to work out solo or with a partner?

Solo. But, I've also taken multi-hour walks with friends that have been terrific gifts.

5. Inside or outside?

Outside! It's a way to unify things, for me. Meaning, okay, I am doing something for my body by exercising, let me also offer my senses a feast too and let my mind either take an amble itself or have freedom to find the necessary place to work out whatever I have asked of it. Paper, reflection, essay, poem, situation...

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I am a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. When I entered, a friend who attended the liturgy approached me afterward and said, “I have no idea why anyone would want to do what you just did, but welcome.” Ironically, this is the same friend who later provided me with both the phone number of her friend, a Religious of the Sacred Heart with whom I now live, and the name of Xavier.

I think she had an idea. But, I do wish she was around to ask me again about my reasons. Marian is one of many people over the years who have known me, tilted their heads in curiosity, and wondered aloud “How does this work for you?”

I wish they would ask me again because while I do have a longer, and I’d like to think thoughtful, answer, I now have something pleasingly concise. How does this work for me—being fully me, made simply and complexly in the image and likeness of God, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, a member of a religious congregation?

“Et-et.” Both-and. Yep, that would do it.

This was Peter’s abridged version of Catholic theology that he offered in the 10:30 homily this past Sunday. As I considered its deep resonance in my being, however, I realized that somehow I recognized in four letters and a punctuation mark one of the best (and most pleasingly alliterative) ways to explain the richness of my thirty nine years worth of living.

For me, life has always been both-and. It was how it was explained to me as a child, it is how I have experienced it inside and out. Thunder scares, rain makes crops grow. You’ll get new sneakers… in the color they have in your size. I have tasted hate in my own mouth and I’ve feasted on love. I have known illness and health, wisdom and foolishness. I have moved many times and have friends in many places. I have created, I have wounded. I have been wounded, I have been healed.


This musing took me back a month or so to the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We had nearly eighty people through our house. At one point I was in the kitchen alone, sitting on the stool in the corner by the stove with my head leaning back against the wall and my eyes closed. If anyone had come in then and asked me what I was doing, I’m not sure my response would have satisfied…though I myself was quite content. My answer? Listening—simply listening…finding great joy and satisfaction and gratitude for being able to “lift away” enough to listen-wide, to get to the larger sound of the whole event and know, based on that sound, that people were happy and having a good time. That is one of my favorite things to do sometimes at events like that—shifting back and forth from macro to micro to macro… for me, it is a matter of “letting go” enough yet still remaining tethered to here and now. Macro-micro.


God loves me and challenges me; God frees me and holds me bound; God calls and answers, speaks and listens, gives and receives. God Is, God became human, God gave us the Spirit. Intensely et-et.

It is my utter faith in this reality, the et-et of life and of my being and of God, that makes it all work for me. There is a roominess there that allows for uncertainty and understanding, good days and bad, frustration and joy, and all of the multitudes that Walt Whitman claimed when he asked and proclaimed, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large and I contain multitudes.”

So does the cosmos, so do ecosystems, so does God. All from an unshakeable foundation of love. We are all from and bound for love. That, for me, is the constant. The hyphen that connects.

Et - Et.

It certainly keeps it all interesting, that much is for sure.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clothes Encounter


1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing?

Depends on what we're talking, I'm good at clearing. Pens/paper, not so much! I've been clearing out lately too--feels good to lighten the load on all fronts!

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why?

I'd have to go with the five paneled velvet jester hat with grosgrain ribbon bows and bells on each tip. The panels are black, deep purple, dark green, purple paisley on black, and little blue flowers on purple. As to why...saw the company at an art fair while in grad school and couldn't pass it up. Seemed like a "writerly" sort of hat! I've actually had more than a couple of chances to wear it! The students love it. They claim it suits me.

3. Do you have a favourite look/ colour?

Favorite look? For work, I'll call it practical comfort. I don't want to wear something I need to worry about...worry about what I am exposing, worry about getting it tangled or caught, worry about blooping something and not being able to wash it out. At the same time, it is practical for the occasion of need. If a skirt or dress is called for, so be it. Otherwise, I'm a khakis/tee/cardigan/hit the pavement and move kind of dresser.

Colors? Royal blue, orange, black, coral, rose...things that allow for a little contrast with whatever is on the bottom half.

4. Thrift/ Charity shops, love them or hate them?

Love the idea but usually find them way too overwhelming...too much chaos.

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy?

Hmmm. A membership to khakis of the month club? Don't know on this one.