Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Deep Joy, seven years on

I made my final vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart seven years ago today, January 30th.  That truth feels at once like a blink-of-an-eye-ago and a lifetime.  Perhaps both are true…

On the one hand, seven years is not yet a decade and on the other, when I look at all that has happened in the last seven years…well, at a minimum, I can say it’s been a dense stretch of days.

There have been many individual events and occurrences, to be sure.  Travels for helping with different Society projects; moving; beginning the service of interpretation/translation; all that surrounded the life, illness and death of my father and all that those events required of me; so many new people; new responsibilities…

As well, through these experiences (and sometimes independent of them) there have been the challenges and invitations issued by both the Spirit and those around me to grow, change, expand, increase some things, decrease others, learn of and from my humanity, learn of and from the Love of God, the Heart of Jesus, and the beckoning intensity of the Spirit.  I admit to having received these challenges and invitations with greater or lesser degrees of grace, depending on a host of factors. I suppose for me, though, the point is that they continue to come. It is a humble reminder of both my own incompleteness and the infinite Whole that awaits.

When I sat with coffee and the readings this anniversary morning, I was so happy to discover that the Gospel was telling the story of the women with the hemorrhage.  I was glad for her company.  For years, I identified with her on a physical level, having lived with a three-month long bleed that I imagined could be similar to what she walked with as well.  When I was in Rome seven years ago, however, she became something more.  It was there that I heard one of my sisters speak of the Gospel woman's hemorrhage as a loss of self; not so literally a loss of blood.  And she wanted healing.  Wanted wholeness.  And knew that by consciously touching, encountering, Jesus, the wound would heal and strength would return.  A touch of the hem changed her…and Jesus knew it too.  Out of the whole crowd of people jostling, pressing, clamoring for attention, he knew of a woman who was tired of wandering, tired of hiding, tired of aching…and who wanted to be touched, healed, freed. 
Oh, there is a part of me that that understands that too. 

And I am grateful for her company each time when I need to touch the hem of Love yet again, when I need to consciously draw near and be seen, felt, in my incompleteness by the one who is and who contains the wondrous infinite Whole.  Wanting to do it has its place too, though I do use the word need freely and intentionally.  It has to do with a restoration of self-dignity, a sense of personal freedom, a desire to stand in the wind and have the strength to stay upright.

Going back into that crowd has happened over and again these last seven years.  In some ways it is getting easier.  In other ways, it will never be entirely easy—and that might be a good thing. 

No matter what, when we do brush by one another, I know it.  And so does Jesus. And that will never cease to be a source of amazement and profound gratitude that helps me To Live and Love with Deep Joy.  (The name of my Probation group—the sisters who were together in Rome for five months and who all made their vows seven years ago today). 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Exploits, Expletives, and Touching the Hem of Beauty

Donald Trump and his exploits, expletives, and free-hand proclamations; sexual misconduct all over; the Doomsday clock advancing toward midnight; 11 school shootings in the US so far this year; Rampant elder abuse in Ontario; DACA, ICE, and deportations; Parents who lock up children in boxes, in basements, in shackles in the U.S. and in Canada… This is what’s dominating the news.

And today is simply an average Friday in January. 

Sigh.  I think we ALL need to be knocked on our behinds like Saul was in the readings earlier this week.  And maybe we need to stay there a while.  I know that a change in perspective helps me…A perspective change doesn’t alter the truth and doesn’t change reality.  But the change helps me maintain a groundedness in it all.  Without the shift, I’d want to high-tail it elsewhere, assuming I could actually make my legs move when they can feel paralyzed by the sheer weight and pressure exerted by the bleak morass of the state of things. 

Long ago I decided that THAT was no way to live—so knock me on my behind, please…Remind me of the way I want to be… One who can be in the midst of reality, whatever it might be, and who remembers that there is more.  One who is attracted to difference and craves time enough to steep in simple glory…and if not steep, at least brush by, touch the hem of it…like the woman in the crowd.  

When she dared to do that, out of her desire, her need, Jesus KNEW about it.  He felt it.  And so did she.

And don’t I too, if I’m honest.  When I have morning coffee and watch the day become…When I sit in the market on an early Saturday and read and write and look out over the harbour…when I am there as the colours of day rise, stretch, and embrace the night sky, promising to mind and keep the Earth until the stars return …when I wander and appreciate the curve of an eggplant, the clean shine of an onion and the variegated wonder of heirloom tomatoes, I know the difference within me and I am grateful for it …It opens something in me:  a reminder of freedom and beauty and possibility…a reminder of the presence of God, the steadfastness of Jesus, and the shimmering passion of the Spirit.

Use whatever language you want…wherever you are on the political or ideological spectrum... I think it’s true that to be able to notice that there is “more to it” than most of what we see or hear is a saving grace and capacity. 

I took a moment and asked friends about the daily…or weekly…or monthly…bits of beauty or delight that they looked forward to...  Here’s what they said.

On a sunny day in winter when the trees are bare of their leaves, I can see from my kitchen window small patches of the river through their branches.  I love watching how the sunlight dances on its surface.

Family dance parties!

Drinking my morning chai in the orangey glow of my salt lamp in my very own haven.

Catching a glimpse of the mountains as I run errands.  Breathtaking every time.

The moment my 14 year-old drapes herself against my shoulder when she first gets home from school and sighs heavily before telling me what happened at school that day.


The sight of the False River when I visit my mother each week.  I grew up on this lake and I think I learned something about silence and contemplation there.

Having B home in the morning (not at school) & then we’re watching birds at feeders, as well as some squirrels.


Opening the back door to the deck every morning when I get up (way before sunrise) to just experience the air and the silence.

Every morning on my way to work, I drive past a lake in my neighborhood and make a point to stop and take in the view and/or take a photo. Helps to ground me in the day and steeps my soul in gratitude.

Seeing the birds in or near the creek near our house. We almost always have mallard ducks, but there are so many other kinds of birds that come from time to time. We never know what new delights will be awaiting us.

my quiet time with my first cup of coffee every morning

Prayer time in my hammock swing on the balcony of my apt - looking out to S F Bay.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ritual Renewed

7:20 AM 
On the second floor of a quiet farmer's market...Such light as there will be today has not yet revealed herself--still under the cover of night's starbright blanketing.  It is a lovely thing to be back in this space after what feels like a long time-- eight weeks.  I suppose that is a long while when speaking of a meaningful ritual.
I have been trying to write a blog entry but nothing unified coming forth-- only images and phrases of these last weeks...and the rather sudden realization that my image of God involves all of my senses...The peace I see in Van Gogh's room; the pleasing chaos of patterns in Matisse; the warming tangy spice and the bite of a short glug of lemon or rice wine vinegar in a hearty-hardy soup ; the rise and release of sung passion in full-bodied freedom--an opera aria, in Gospel music, in the perfection of hip-hop syllables and rhythms; the memory of being held by a friend and hearing "It will all be okay..." when I couldn't believe it for myself; the bloom inside with the first sip of coffee; the trembling courage to do or speak  or accept a difficult or beautiful truth; the astounding diversity of creation--all of the colour, texture, light...the contours of language; the beauty of the human body with its curves and quirks; the capacity of the mind and the heart to meet in imagination and see things that have never before been seen--to design, to invent, sculpt, write, discover; the fullness of silence, the infinite horizon of the sea; All of this and more and more and more and Mystery...are a part of my image of you.
Hm, maybe that word needs to change...from image to experience.  There is far more room in that.
The sun is as up as it is going to be today... To move my vision across the market toward what lies past the windows and out into the sea is to shift from the detailed brilliance of technicolor to an astounding stretch of monochromatic shading... I have a new appreciation for the subtleties of steel, cream, iron... Some of that color is breaking down into elemental fog and snow that I can see heading this way.  Time to get going into the day ahead.  
Thank you for the freedom of time and alone...Thank you for this...Thank you for the stretch and ache of Love.