Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Utter Godsense


The desk in my bedroom has a squared-u on top of the back part of it. There is a wide flat top to the u that up until several days ago held most of my books. There was a pile at one end...a line of books...and a pile at the other. Since putting volumes up there, I rather enjoyed the idea that I had end books instead of book ends.

I loved having my books up there. When I sat at the desk, I felt surrounded by them--because aside from being overhead, inevitably, there is a book or three on the desk surface itself and an assortment of dictionaries in the small cubbies of the u. But, the top was beginning to bow slightly and would probably only get worse so I found a book case in another part of the house and it fit just outside my door...and my books fit perfectly. Now, books welcome me when I enter this room. And, they keep watch when I leave, wrapping me in the memory of certain passages or stanzas or lines. I crave the free and creative space to which books and language lead me...And that space moves with me throughout the day and the places I occupy.

And while books and writing are things I enjoy, I know too that they are but one way to learn of the wonder that is the Origin of all that Is, the Creator, the Impetus, I AM. They are one way of entering into and sensing the presence of God.

Hearing the sounds of language when I read and bringing what is inside of it into being in voice or imagination is a profound experience of God for me. In some wondrous and mystical way, the story or image that rises is also what lifts notes of music into a cradle of air and what happens between them to make sound and it is the overlapping edge between light, shadow, colors and texture and pattern in painting.

God is the space between and in the sensing itself and in the whole come together.

I think I have read something of God in lines of the poems on my shelves, in Isaiah, the Gospels, the Psalms...And I have seen something of God in the works of Matisse and Van Gogh, students I have taught, and the movements of sun and moon....I have heard something of God in laughter on the playground and in the notes that hang at the center of the ceiling at the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in NYC.

And today... Today I have tasted something of God...

I made ancho chile-cinnamon-chocolate crackle cookies and they were amazing.

All of the flavors were huddled together and yet, each could be discerned, each waited its turn for revelation. The chocolate was up front, but you could tell that cinnamon was teasing for attention. Then...just when you think you are done, there is a tap on the shoulder and chile is there, claiming its role in the whole overall, drawing the cinnamon and chocolate back for an encore. What happens between the layers of flavor is not at all unlike what happens in the other sensory experiences...

And I believe it is God to whom I draw close in each sensory act of creativity. God in the sound, in the Word, in the coming together of color, line, contrast, texture, and in the thoughtful interplay of flavor...

Glory, that thrills me.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent III, 2014

Advent III, 2014

My counter-weight,
my center down,
my metronome, my joy,
my song, my strength,
my fascination,
my hope, my help,
my rumination,
my wonder, awe, best inclination,
grace, cry, laugh, word,
moving me out to the neighborhood;
Born a baby, born of yes,
born to journey, born to bless.

Joy to the world, parumpapumpum,
Hark, herald, welcome,


Kimberly M. King, rscj

image: c. Natesh Ramasamy

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent II, 2014



Where the voice cries, plaintive or piercing,

at the bend of becoming and no return, I am

watchful for the low words

that draw me down center,

that humble me, impassion me,

steady me, move me,

move my light, move my being,

into the here and the now of

the still and the fray of the world,

to proclaim the time

of Love's incarnation.


Kimberly M. King, rscj


(words in italics are from Janet Erskine Stuart,

Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart, 1911-1914)


image: c. Mosi Lager, 2008



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent I, 2014

Advent I, 2014


With bare spread arms and fullness of being

I ache for your coming and praise you already

in the becoming colors where night awakens the sun

with stories and visions and hope.

Where day bows to starlight and promises tales

when next they meet to dance

on the edge of Mystery's vastness.


--Kimberly M. King, rscj--



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Offering Tree

The Offering Tree

I understand your desire to bend
in an open offering of self--
Transparent in ache and yearning,
willing to let go
into the becoming colors that hint
at the infinite, almost, not quite,
stars remaining, new day rising,
glorious fullness and subtlety of being
that is God, that is God,
that is God.

c. MperiodPress




I love this tree.

I watch her every morning as the night gently wakes the day and the two exchange news of dreams and imaginings, places traveled and what has been witnessed by the great lights that guide their journeys. I watch her with longing and understanding, admiration and care. I have come to think of it as The Offering Tree. Her branches bare and spread wide to wind, bird, and snow alike...she is vulnerable yet well rooted. She has sustained much in her life and is subject to the changes of season, rainfall, and soil composition...

I watch the tree and how she changes over time and against the back drop of a stunning assortment of colors. I like looking through the lace of her branches and noting the crisp contrast between her living solidity and the diaphanous wonder of nature's shifting palette.

On some mornings, while tucked in the rocking chair and hand hugging a wake-up mugful of coffee, I think I can understand her... Or, if not understand, I can at least imagine more easily...

And what I imagine is what I myself desire...to be in the horizon where these colors live first, to offer my being with transparent aching to the One who is Artist and Writer, Word and Wisdom, Compassion and Justice and Mercy... To be so open that giving and receiving meet and there is a loosening, an allowing, an expansiveness to accommodate all that I am and all that Is... To be so open that nothing remains save the essential truth that God is all in all.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

To the Letter


23 October, 2014

I have spent some time this morning with the letters of women who intrigue me...Janet Erskine Stuart, Georgia O'Keefe, Willa Cather...And as I read I find myself talking to them as I might if I had the chance to sit across from them in a book-ish ambiance, or upon a hillside blanket, washed over with a new day's becoming and the generous pauses of contentment and keen observation that are markers of the rare experiences at the tail end of the earth that are here--you can't help getting them. (G. O'Keefe)

As I read, I keep thanking them with a slight blush...A window they (for the most part) never intended to be hewn into the side of the lives they fashioned has been un-shuttered and opened to the elements by the publication of their letters...and I have stood in the wind and peeked through, reading the correspondence that was intended for another.

I thank them for the fluidity of their pens and the intimacy they are able to convey in the coming together of ink and paper... Intimacy of thought and feeling, intimacy of relationship to the world, to others, to God, to Nature and Art...

I thank them for their lives, fully lived, fully engaged, fully given...to Beauty, to others, to God, to creating, to interpreting what they experienced in a way that can speak seriously to others over time and invite the pursuit of such expression by others.

I thank them for the way they have me reflect on the letters I have written in my lifetime and the letters I have received. As to the former, some I have written are meanderings of thought, some describe a particular moment, some are purposeful and to the point, some are quietly expressive of a truth that begs to bloom. Some of the latter have cut me to the quick, others have made me consider situations or actions in a different light, others are of the sort to keep apart and read again and again, gently and thoroughly...letting the heart rest in the warmth and rise on the nearness of the one who writes....who shares their word and their hand, their thoughts, feelings, and wishes...in a one to one conversation with a reader...

...who might be someone else one day... ???

And I find myself asking... What will the landscape reveal through the hewn window of the words I write?



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Job and the Angels

It is the feast of the Guardian Angels today... And I was thinking about that while I sat in the Public Gardens this morning. I have a hard time with conventional representations of angels...wings, saccharine, pink and cherubic.... But, LIGHT...yes. Warmth. Depth. Presence. Balm, Strength, Steadiness, Accompaniament. Even Guardian, protector...

And as I closed my eyes and opened my arms alone on the bench and steeped my being in this Glory, I thought of Job... Job who proclaimed that in spite of what surrounded him, in spite of his doubts and questions and insecurities...I know that my Redeemer lives , and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him, and from my flesh, I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.

And I thought... Oh, Job...I get that. Those moments when I have had to dig down and stand up and say I Will Walk Through This. Bring it on...because why? Because I know my Redeemer lives and my own eyes will see...Because Light walks with me to remind me and I am not alone.

2 October, 2014

On the same bench in the Gardens. This could well be a part of my vision of heaven. The light alone--the way it moves through the trees, soaking and saturating them like morning dew and the way it slip-tugs around each branch like a ribbon wending its way. The light that knows both tag and peek-a-boo as well as her asanas of grace, blessing, and harmony. The way this light makes each color its own fullness. It is ALL within the gold of the black-eyed susan stand and every ray finds home in the deep fuchsia that softens the lamp post's angularity. The way it smooths the surface of the water and the sky so that the geese and the sparrows, the woodpeckers and gulls, all have a clear path before them. Even the clouds look shaken out and snapped awake by the strength and depth of this radiance after a night shot through with the half-light threads of dreams.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

The Gift of Love

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians, Chapter 13)

It is a funny thing the act of hearing. I have heard these words a multitude of times...so many times that they simply skated across my mind as though being churned out on the front covers of a floridly cursive Hallmark card.

Until I read them the other day.

And each word, phrase, image walked with slow weighty confidence into my heart and stayed there...present, real, and stark with truth and experience.

These lines come afresh in the midst of a recurring challenge in my life...how to love someone for whom I can do nothing that changes the circumstances of his life, how to love someone who has made choices informed by illness and seems to be living with less than the dignity I would wish for him.

There was no glittery penmanship this time...I heard it as a chapter of freedom...my own and the freedom of those who occupy my heart and surround me.

Love is big...large...encompassing...and filled with truth...whatever that truth might be. Love is not surprised at any aspect of truth but blooms most fully in its honest company, enduring all things, bearing all things, and hoping...

And there is no one all-inclusive connection between Love and its manifestation...It does not insist on its own way except insofar as it meets the other descriptors Paul uses and Jesus lived...patient, kind, humble... The loving act might be letting someone go their own way...it might be posing a challenge...it might be asking a question or sitting in silence...making dessert or washing dishes...

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face... I too am wounded and yet, I believe I am loved...that God bears with me and hopes, that God celebrates and challenges...that nothing can separate me from this encompassing love because I am known, I am accepted, and love never ends.

May this greatest gift be what inspires my words, my thoughts, my actions, my being...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Snapshots in Word

I have long thought of writing as another way of taking a picture...light and shadow portrayed via word choice...texture reflected in the syllables rubbing together...the invitation to enter offered in both the specificity and the expansiveness... I recently read a stunning example of this--the first section of Dylan Thomas' radio play, Under Milk Wood--and then I found this recent snapshot of thought and wanted to post it--something like a cerebral selfie in the moment?

17 August, 2014

9 East 13th Street at Joe the Art of Coffee for a cappuccino before Xavier. Had a small coffee earlier but that didn't quite cover the need for cobweb cleaning and clarity of thought.

As I rode down here on the M3, I read for a bit and also found myself simply looking out the window and breathing deeply, thinking--This is my City--City of my heart and familiar as the touch of someone who knows me well. There is room here. And, I fit. The ease of conversation with the woman getting her hair colored and set at Franco's, the exchange with the woman at Agata's when she heard me say "ciambella"-- "Oh...does it taste as beautiful as it sounded when you said that??" The side conversation with the woman at the bus stop--weather, temperature, jacket or no jacket?, what will it all mean for winter?

I keep saying 'Thank you' for knowing of a place like this--for an experience of home that IS connected firmly to a place. The Flatiron appeared in the front window of the bus and all I could do was smile and think--'There you are! It is good to see you..."

It does my being good to simply touch certain places here--as though reminding or reassuring myself of their presence, their steadfastness.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

What's in a name?

Vase of Irises against a Yellow Background by V. VanGogh

A blogging sister of mine who writes at All this Life and Heaven Too, posted the story of her blog's origin and posed the question to several of us--What's your story?

I am coming up on seven years worth of entries at Consider the Lilies...and if you would read one of the first couple of entries you'd find my own doubts as to whether I'd have enough to say to make a viable go of it! I guess time and paragraphs have answered that curiosity.

A friend of mine had a blog I admired and he had gently encouraged me to begin using this format as a way to put writing out there...I wrote anyway, I reflected anyway, I shared some of it anyway...and here was a format ready made! But, it made me nervous! Who would find it, let alone read it? Would it feel artificial? Those questions too have been kindly answered.

I chose the title because of my understanding of one word--Consider. It is a call, an invitation, a pause along the way, a thoughtful mulling, a mental and mystical picking up and turning over of a thing, a concept, an image, in order to see it from another angle and therefore come to know it more thoroughly, more intimately. I spend a lot of time doing it at the invitation of the wonder of what surrounds me and find it a fascinating path to meander.

That said, 'Consider' alone seemed stranded...like it was perpetually in search of another word to accompany it on the island at the head of the screen. I do not have a special affinity for lilies...but the reference is already well known. Consider the Irises or Consider the Daffodils just didn't have the same cache, even though, florally speaking, I do favor those two.

Thus, "Consider the Lilies" came to be and has continued for these years of moves, adventures, travels, and changes in the company of God and creation.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two weeks and an Era


14 August, 2014

6:50 AM

On a corner of the dining room table in NYC. However, I feel compelled to say that this sad skeleton is not the place where I came to know the Society for three years, where I also lived for a bit more than four years... Or, on some level, maybe this has always been its skeleton and as things age and diminish, more of the skeleton is exposed--like in humans. Hm...in a way, the community I knew was people...and this time is about place...but in its own way, this building has been a living organism for over forty years...accepting without question and accommodating for untold numbers of residents and guests who stayed for greater or lesser amounts of time--but each leaving a mark of presence...stories that have become both a part of the pattern of its skin and in some cases, stories that have caused a crack or two, testing the limits of what these constructed confines can accept before something has to give.

The laughter that has filled this place, the multitude of languages, the prayer, the mourning, the keening, the death, the blessing, the difficulties, challenges, conversations, verbal sparring, and the Love... It has experienced a life of great meaning, this place, and now its body is tired and sore.

It helps me to believe that what I am doing here is helping anoint this space...helping to prepare it for death, for evolution, for whatever it is that will come...and this anointing happens by the care I take, by attitude and disposition, by my spirit.

I find myself returning to my understanding of Love...and how deeply that spirit, that feeling, can go... and yet, for Love to be as large and expansive as it can be--that is to say, for Me to experience an ever greater fullness of God, for this Love to be the home I know, there must also be within me a spirit of freedom and detachment... I met the Society in this building...among many women who are now gathered to God and keeping watch...In fact, I met death here in the living room...I was welcomed here, found a place here, and was sent forth from here a better person, a kinder person on some levels, wiser, more authentic, because of all of the challenge and all of the grace.

It is this mix of prismatic light that I pray fills me, inspires me, and grounds me, as I work to free this space from what holds it bound and honor the the incredible swirl of spirit that has embraced it for so long.


28 August, 2014

I am back in Halifax now, having arrived utterly exhausted last night. I am back from the loving embraces of folks at Xavier; back from a slowly emptying edifice that seemed to close in on itself; back from the morning jokes with the guys at the parking garage across the street; back from washing my hands at least ten times a day; back from the conversations and laughter that can happen with strangers; back from a friend driving down an avenue, seeing me on the sidewalk, and calling my name through her open car window as she crammed into a parking spot; back from clamor and echoes against bare walls; back from dust and the well-settled accumulated whatnot of longevity; back from the memory of my first grand adventure, working for the New York Public Library; back from a City that has always had room for me, for who I am.

And yes, it is a bittersweet mixture that fills me here...listening to the seagulls, doing translations, and unpacking the final two boxes that were sprung at last from their month and a half long purgatory in a warehouse somewhere.

The doors needed to close. I could see that. And fittingly on this feast day, I believe too that "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, Oh God..."

In thee, Oh God. Not in a particular address or a city or a country. In thee....a home so much more expansive, accommodating, liberating, diverse, endless, fascinating, and freeing than any other I can imagine.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

For God

by Lyn Mason, 2006

For God, In Gratitude

It would seem

that you

delight in me.


Thank you

for that.


I too

find joy in you

and love it


when you

play hide

and seek


just to watch

my face

when you open


deep inside outside

wide your love

and sing


in the voice of a snapdragon,

in the challenging grace of change,

in the heart of an embrace,


Here I am

Here I am

Here I am.

Kimberly M. King, rscj.

Monday, August 4, 2014

So Begins a new Adventure...


And so begins a new adventure...with games of Scrabble and laughter and cooking in a new kitchen with someone else who also was unfamiliar with the treasures hidden within drawers and behind cupboards...Have you seen a wooden spoon? Ah...and oil...where do you suppose...?

And it begins with a library card and long wanders and small discoveries that delight--the rose entwined lamp post, the morning sun that streams in my bedroom window, the big purple sign that might actually spell out the name of a store but for me says "If you can see me, you are turned in the right direction to walk to the majority of the places you might want to go."

And it begins with writing...(this from the other day)

2 August, 2014

3:15 pm On a bench in the public garden, having had a day of walking and good adventure. Went with A and M down the the farmer's market--such a delight. M and I sampled our way through on the most delicious bites of things--little tastes, no more, but they were just the thing...they were beautifully enough to be bright gifts for the senses. A bit of cracker with gingered pear jam and a lovely peppered strawberry preserve that begged to be enjoyed with well paced hope and concentration. It is good to be back in a nook and cranny city where you can walk with a purpose and also step aside into a thought, into a twisting bit of greenery, a welcome bench, an interesting statue or bit of architecture, or step back to lean a while against a wall or post and watch what passes while letting the mind and heart 'see into the life of things' ...things that are immediate and things that are further afield.


Too, it begins with gratitude...when I was leaving Saint Charles, I made a point of standing in the classroom where I taught last year and giving thanks for the life that filled that space...the life of the mind, the life of the heart and spirit, the lives of each of my beloved students...and I stopped in the library...and gave thanks for the light that fills that space...for the learning and the growing--both for the students and for myself...for the joy and yes, for the magic...because extraordinary things happened there... A boy understood how an author made people fly, a tiny woman engaged the imaginations of class-fulls of students, and countless students found a book to enter and explore...there are so many stories... Stories with pages, stories of friends who love me, stories of students being who God is calling them to be...and they are all worth reading and re-reading...

And it begins with gratitude for the present moment and what is to come...the 'unknown what lies ahead' and the 'lo más allá.'

Yes, thanks for it all...for this life I have been given to live with my being and shape with love given and received...as grace and growth and joy and challenge...thank you.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Beautiful Reminder

I wrote this in my notebook yesterday afternoon...

...having spent four (when I wrote three on Facebook, the book wasn't done yet and I just couldn't stop...) hours reading this morning...four uninterrupted hours immersed in the world of Delicious...four hours of sensory bliss, four hours of the best sort of fading away--loosening the hold, letting go and rising, entering...four hours of being cared for by Story. Though I know how I feel when a friend reads to me, I had forgotten the feeling of intimacy that also comes with reading myself...the feeling of having the story told to me, as though the story found me, specifically and delightedly. It made me think of what it is like when you tell me stories, and how often you do just that...how you invite me to pay attention, to "see into the life of things" (thank you, Wordsworth)...That thought, that feeling, made me so happy...the simple ache of sensual joy that comes from Story. Thank you for the gift of knowing how this feels...for giving me the chance to feel it again...for reminding me that you are a God of Word and Imagination, sensuality and deep knowing...

On the one hand, it made me twinge inside to realize that I had forgotten the feeling I described, and yet on a wholly other plane, I was so humbly grateful for the gentle gift being given to me... Whether it was new, or a reminder of something forgotten, doesn't really matter.

...four hours of being cared for by story... Being cared for by Story! Yes! In so many ways, that is what reading is for me! When I was a child, books took me elsewhere...transported me...showed me that there was more, there were places that made sense, places where I could fit, places of possibility, and those places welcomed me. As an adult, reading does something of the same thing...serves as a portal, a map, or an island, or a slide, or an interesting path leading down the road less traveled.

As an adult, though, reading has also taken on a deeper aspect of divinity that was certainly present when I was a child, but I was not as able to articulate it. When I read poetry, for example, the sounds made by the words sparking, bumping, nestling, on the page, are God-sounds...the rhythms, the spaces, pauses... And I recognize that as much as I love the hint and suggestion of poetry...just enough kindling language to begin the fire within my spirit, I also willfully revel in bathing my way through pages of sensory description...In the hours I read Delicious I spent months, years, walking beside the main character, tasting Sal's spring Parmigiano, smelling the papery history of wartime correspondence Billie discovers, and steeping in the heady swirl that is walking down a NYC sidewalk. This level of sensory involvement is part of the story God tells, too, I believe.

Some would say "The Devil is in the details," but I seriously wonder...

I think it might take all sorts of Story to reveal God...And that becomes all the clearer to me when I think of the whole variety of ways God tells stories already...aside from the way the people of God tell stories about God...

Flowers. Silent tears. The gift of listening to a friend. A shadow. A stone. A kiss. The inspiration behind a work of art. The crash of a wave, the hand of a loved one, a lifetime.

This diversity is reflected in the recorded collection of holy Story Iturn to time and again... I see it in the exquisite metaphors of Wisdom, the unspoken commentary of the woman caught in adultery, the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the poetry of Isaiah, the detail of the three young men dancing in the furnace, the anguish and ache of the Crucifixion...

And I am invited in...invited to loosen my hold and open the imagination given to me in abundance by a wondrous God who knows every curve and quirk of my mind, spirit, and being...my Story.

I am invited to encounter, to learn, to grow, to be cared for...And use my own life to open the cover for others.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Fullness of Light

I was brought to quiet tears today by an image of such beauty, such love...the image of a dear friend sitting in the light of God, letting it flow all around her, through her... I was so deeply happy for her and so moved by the tenderness of God... This prayer filled me as I blessed her for the adventures awaiting her in the months ahead...

Light came to me again as I prepared dinner...the light produced in flavor and texture combinations...Tonight it was the balanced coming together of salt, chile, balsamic vinager, and the natural sweetness of roasted vegetables. Add in the chewy crunch of garlic, the melt of zucchini, the unashamed uniqueness of asparagus, and the meaty heft of quartered mushrooms, and the whole experience was both bonfire and fireworks.

I have been sitting in my more empty than full room this evening, watching the lullaby playing on the horizon...evening gently weaving her fingers into the branches, touching each leaf, soothing away the heat with her cooling half-light song... and yet still filling my room...filling me...

And as I give thanks for the day that has been, I remember how in difficult situations or stretches of time, it has been Light that calls me home.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (Prologue to John, v.4)

Amen, alleluia.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Aching Nearness

It is no secret that I truly enjoy being in a kitchen...the chemistry, the flavors, the creativity, the textures and colors....it is a place of the senses, of poetry and music and love and prayer.

There have been several things I have wanted to master over the years. Most of the time, I am attracted to those things that take a certain amount of focus while also faring far better if one trusts more and thinks a bit less. Juggling falls into that category. It turns out that caramelizing onions does too.

The instructions I read before attempting to invite an onion into this other stage of being were fairly simple... melt a bit of butter in a heavy bottomed pan or skillet, layer in the onions, watch them, listen to them, and stir now and again. Listen to the onions! While taking care of other elements in the meal, also keep an ear to the conversion happening in the pan. Watch the onions! Note the changes that happen with time and chemistry...let it happen...but watch for the moment, the moment where the next step would be one too far.

But, all of this takes time...about 45 minutes. In the grand scheme, that is a pretty quick bit of wonder. However, in terms of cooking on the stove, that asks a slow and steady patience. An in-between-time patience that can be filled with other wanderings...into the music that might accompany my dinner preparation...into a review of the day that has happened...into the grace and memory of a meaningful friendship...into my list of what I'd like to get done...into the company of God as I wonder about the next adventure that awaits.

All of this while also remaining present to the onions in the pan.

This space, this time of contemplative, spacious, attention, is a place where much happens, I think. It speaks to my experience of silence being a fullness, not an absence...like light is a fullness of color. In some ways, it is here that I feel most me...focused and loose in the molecules...present and exploring...being and creating...still and thoroughly alive.

For Octavio Paz, poetry lives here too.

Between what I see and what I say,/ between what I say and what I keep silent,/between what I keep silent and what I dream,/between what I dream and what I forget,/poetry.

Surely much of what is most intimate, most inside blooming-drawing out, happens here. The moment of a flower's first petal unfolding into spring's sunlight, the grounding feel of a friend's hand, the coming together of olive oil, vinager, lemon, and mustard into a dressing, the coming together of information into new understanding, noticing a hummingbird...

All of this coming together in an aching nearness of God, in a gentle waft of butter and onion.

Monday, April 21, 2014

These Last Days

Last Wednesday morning while I was reading and praying, I came to discover that it was the feast day of 17th century Mexican poet, scholar, and religious, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. I do not study to know more, but rather to be ignorant of less. I first posted this quotation on Facebook with a slightly different translation-- but rather to ignore less... which I also liked. Rightly or wrongly, I associate ignorance with head knowledge. But studying in order to ignore less...that speaks to me of paying attention to what is outside and being able to consider it deeply within the heart and mind because one has knowledge of it, or knowledge that allows one to approach something with curiosity and possibility... or, as Wordsworth put it...

While with an eye made quiet by the power/ Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,/ We see into the life of things.

I was quite content with this bit of contemplation...turning it over in my mind and heart as I made my way through the day. And then! Then a dear friend who knows me well forwarded me a set of photographs she had taken of a placard about Sor Juana which included the line "...she spread the meaning and significance of cooking as a creative act of love."

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz... the original "poet in the kitchen!"--a moniker I have used frequently. I love knowing this about her and the feeling of kindred connection over the centuries.

Sigrid Koder

Holy Thursday brought a different connection --this one over thousands of miles. I began the day praying with a friend over Google Hangouts. It was a beautiful use of technology...she had set up a prayer space we could both see and included a bowl of water for washing the feet of those we offered in prayer... There was such a simple beauty about it...about the space but even more about the connection, about the deep quiet, about being before God and offering anew our lives...in service and vulnerability...to a world in need...and remembering too that it was around a table, in the context of meal, celebration, leave-taking, blessing.

Both of these experiences came with me as I spent time in contemplation with pots and Pyrex in the kitchen that afternoon. And I am utterly convinced that the mushroom stroganoff was richer for it. What a lovely while it was, preparing a meal for my community...witnessing the chemistry...guiding the favors...whisking occasionally and letting it be...attending both to the wonder of what was taking shape and the nourishment it would offer others...noticing how much it meant to me to be a part of that and to be absolutely present.

That evening I went to mass at a local university. The music was grand, the people both celebratory and solemn...the symbols were well used and the ritual thoughtful. Within that environment, the day was made whole and I had the sensation of being entirely together...entirely together and at the same time nearly inside out, expansive, everywhere, dispersed in Love.



I spent Friday mostly outside...the wind became the shouts of God witnessing the suffering of the world and flowers, though created by God, were also reminders to God of the deeper hope, the insistent call of Life...

The wind became the chaos of voices in our world...voices calling for condemnation and violence, voices shouting to be set free, voices wailing with fear and keening in loss, silent voices in the pause of the breeze, staring voices, unable to carry the quake of sound...

And the flowers bloom on, and the trees are in bud, and the sun was brilliant and warm... reminding me, reminding me.




Holy Saturday brought time with another friend and helping her prepare food for a gathering as well as another glorious celebration at the university...water flowed, oil was lavished upon heads, bread was broken, Light bloomed and spread, great song was raised and the Alleluia rang from tenor and timpani, child and elder! Even with all of this, though, the homily was what brought it together for me...it spoke of the relationship between grief and love...the embrace of one is the freedom for the other. It was transparent and invitational...give in to our humanity...live it well, live it wholly, live it in the company of God and as witness to the fullness of Jesus...alive, risen, and ever so present.

from The Saint John's Bible


Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Architecture of Welcome

No mater where I have lived, I have found places I enjoy being...specific places...buildings, coffee shops, churches... The initial attraction might be purpose, it might be architecture, location, light, other people who use it... Usually, they are nook and cranny places, places I enjoy exploring, coming to know, and that provide a variety of perspectives for viewing; comfortable places where one might tuck into a corner table and watch for a while, write for a while, or have a good think or wander in a musing. I am beckoned to these places...finding them calls to my creative soul and brings a sense of place and peace to me.

Over the years, I have noticed something else about my relationship with certain places...there is an intimacy, a knowing of sorts...a knowing and a being known. Or, perhaps, a feeling of rightness of place, that brings the relationship of architecture and spirit that much closer together.

I was musing about that this morning as I sat and wrote the following...

People watching and catching up on the news...sigh...this is so nice...watching it fill up here reminds me of watching Xavier come to life in NYC. It is about coming early enough to be a part of the quiet of the building itself...to be accepted into the space quietly, intimately, like the friends who welcome one another's company in stillness. These are the friends who know things about one another...quiet things...how you take your coffee, the sort of movie you'd want to see, what you need to feel free, what kind of welcome makes you feel at home...or the view from a particular vantage point, which window has sun at different times of day, which places others like to occupy, which people will arrive when...

To get here early enough to notice that, to feel that...and then to welcome the coming together of a new day...to witness the blooming crescendo of a space becoming what it is called to be...to delight in that, to feel that...it is like the chance to witness a friend flourishing in her work and feeling that pride born of love--the quiet love that strengthens and sustains and yes, frees. It is the architecture of welcome...built with the heart and rendered in a grand diversity of ways...all with room for others...with room for me...I am grateful for these people and these places in my life.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

To infinity and beyond

But no matter how certain I am that there are in fact things happening during this apparent pause in the here and now, I sometimes find it difficult to answer when someone else asks "Where were you?"

I thought about this the other day when I was on a plane. Where was I? Up. Over. Going. Coming. Suspended. Defying. Contained. Nearer. Further. Neither. Nor. Honestly, it rather suited my mood to not know.

Yet I know that I have an equal desire to be certain of a given moment...the particulars don't necessarily faze me, but to know, wherever it is that I might be...this gives me place within the embrace of the universe.

If that means knowing I am lost, so be it. Knowing I am scared, so be it. Knowing I love or frustrate or am strong or am vulnerable or all of this all together, so be it. If it means that I am in the midst of a stanza or an ache or an encounter with God, so be it.

But I also know that there are in-between places. Liminal times of neither-here-nor-there-ness. And I know that those places and times afford a perspective on a much greater whole.

That's where I find myself going in the pauses...where the sky and the earth meet in gently curving light. Where there is a fullness, not an absence. A fullness of possibility, of dreams, of more wonder waiting...of new days dawning and star flecked rest beckoning.

The more I muse about this, I can't help reflecting on the connection between knowing where I am and the call of God...the connection between spending time in the limen and being free, loose, open, enough to listen without fear, to listen with desire.

It reminded me of a reflection I wrote once about Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. It is good to find it again and take it to heart these traveling days.

Philippine dreamed big and listened wide for the voice, the call, of God. Whether working with those in need closer to home in Grenoble, or giving herself to a pull that would take her away from that which was physically familiar and ever deeper into the diverse terrain of the Heart where she made her true home, Philippine responded with disponibilite, creativity, and a broad, inclusive desire to make God's love known.

With fervor, she talked and wrote openly of her desires, her thoughts, her discernment with God. My contemporary imagination easily hears her saying year after year "and, oh, by the way ... if you need someone to cross an ocean and start something new ... I'm still open because that is where I believe God is calling me to go."

It is one thing to have the dream. It is another still to voice it. But it is something else altogether to drop everything and go forward once approval comes ... to go when the cost is dear and the unknowns looming; to go prayerfully and with courage; to say Yes and walk on knowing that doubt, fear, and challenge will be probable companions and might sometimes even gain the upper hand temporarily; to say Yes above all else to sharing the Love to which I too have given my life.

That level of freedom, that intensity of commitment to dreaming and discerning, to the Society, to God, and to God's people, is one of the qualities I admire most about Philippine.


Friday, March 14, 2014

The Best kind of AUGH!

I have been in a position of privilege this week. Well, honestly, it is the same position I am in every week...in a chair or on my feet in front of students, teaching. But these last days overflow within me...absolutely overflow...and invite me to repeat what I have brought to God and proclaimed to those who are tolerant and patient enough to stand for a while in the breeze of my musing...

Number the Stars is over and spring vacations are about to begin. It is a poetry week again in 5th grade Literature. To keep the WWII theme going, students spent a while watching video clips of an eagle-cam and of newsreel footage of WWII Spitfire aircraft flying in formation. We then read and discussed WWII pilot/poet John Gillespie Magee’s poem High Flight and spoke at length about the images within the lines that moved the students and what it was about them that stirred their emotions.

After a bit of this, as well as a discussion about poetry being a response to experience, I threw my hands in the air and asked with rather unavoidable passion, “Who else among you has touched the face of God?!?”

Hands went in the air.

Hands went in the air!

And students spoke with care and depth and honest recognition about having touched the face of God…in waterfalls, in the birth of a sibling, in the quiet of a beach, being alone, the beauty of the sun, in a back yard, on an ice rink…

That students believe and KNOW bone deep down that they have touched the face of God…and could talk about it… well, that was an AUGH moment for me. To know and believe that at 11 years old…to walk with that. To have that confidence born of experience and nearness…it leaves me humbled and still with the quiet of God’s greatness.

It was a privilege just to hear them speak about it—to watch the experience play out anew on their faces and in their gestures.

Our next class began with a clip of the Saint Crispan’s Day speech from Kenneth Branagh’s version of Henry V. I admit to slipping into simultaneous translation mode for part of it to help them. Afterwards I invited the students to listen to a piece of music from the movie and to feel…what did they imagine might be happening in the movie based on the feel of the music? What was moved in them? What were the images that filled them?

From here, we went to the fields of France during WWI and read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields while viewing images of poppy fields, doughboys, and cemeteries.

Then, one or two poems from children in the Terezin concentration camp from WWII.

The students then compared/contrasted the images of war/the feelings evoked in the different poems we read/heard.

Motivational, glory, warning, sad, different perspectives…

At week’s end I keep returning to a statement I made at the beginning:

God astounds me—and so do eleven year olds.