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Posts Tagged ‘union’

Recently, I read something which moved me so deeply that I contacted the author and asked permission to post it here.  Receiving a resounding “Yes!… for His glory!” I post the following – may it inspire all who struggle.

Peace.

 

From her book, Wow God by Sister Francis Clare, S.S.N.D. :

 

I will open for you every door I want

and close those I do not want . . .

 

When you are beset by doubts, know that

I am still here. These plans are My plans,

not yours. You’ve asked to be used by

Me and I’ve told you that I will use you.

The plan is Mine to work out. I’ve not

given the plan to you.

 

I’m only asking you to be My tool. The

hammer does not know what the

carpenter is doing. It only follows the

hand of the carpenter. I will pick you up

and I will lay you down. When I need

you I will use you. I know what I am

doing. I know what I am building. All I

ask is that you be on hand when I need

you.

 

Because I have called you a hammer, do

not think that I despise you. A carpenter

loves his tools and the more he loves

them, the better he handles them and the

better work they will do for him.

 

I have many tools. They are arrayed

before Me and I pick the one I need. Be

content to lie still if I do not need you,

for I know where you are and I will pick

you up when I need you.

 

 

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My brain is not up to the task of putting into poetry an experience that was sublimely poetic.  So, please forgive my many words in my effort to clarify my thoughts and share something that was very meaningful to me.

In a poem I posted recently, “On the Necessity of Being Still” I mentioned the return of the red dragonflies I’d thought had not come back this year. The gift of those tiny creatures is what I write about today.

Last week, needing solitude and immersion into the natural world, I used our electric cart to visit the pond.  It was close to 5:00pm and the sun was playing hide-and-seek behind our neighbor’s trees.  The shady places having become way too mosquito friendly and the weather cool, I sought the sun and sat on a bench to just be for awhile.  The red dragonflies were all around me – a special delight since I’ve found them not only beautiful, but willing to trust and use me for a resting place if I sit in the sun and remain still.  How they make me smile!

As I sat and watched them, I saw two choose each other as mates.  I watched as they agreed to fly in tandem and began the flights that would lead to new life.  After a bit, still in tandem, they came and landed on my thigh, resting in the sun.  As might be imagined, I remained very still!  In the course of only minutes they flew off and came back for a few seconds of rest over and over.  Then something changed in a very subtle way.

Still in tandem, they came back and settled on my thigh again but this time, both of them lowered the angle of their wings until I could see, though not feel, that all eight wing tips were touching my leg.  Seconds of stillness on all our parts went by.  Then, having dared last year with a single red dragonfly (the only species that has seemed to invite this) I slowly moved a finger along my leg until it was level with their wings and dared to gently stroke the upper edges.

We sat there quite awhile, all three of us resting in the sun in trusting companionship before they took to the air and I took to my cart.  I cannot express how deeply peaceful and sublimely privileged I felt!

As I reflect again on that experience a metaphor of sorts presents itself.  I dared much in touching these astonishing creatures – but did so with what seemed to be their invitation after a trust had time to develop. I dared touch only the top edge of their wings, knowing that to touch the impossibly delicate lower edge could cause them harm.  They seemed to eagerly share part of their hidden lives; and more, invited me to spend some time within it.

I am so often so terribly ill.  Most who read these words are so often so terribly ill.  For me and for many, even our best times are times when we are simply just a little less ill than the worst times.  It is very easy to be afraid of the future, to be afraid of the derision that too many of us have encountered, to grow so much into the fear that it becomes more natural than trust.  It is very easy for the necessity of solitude to become a habit of isolation.

These creatures, so tiny compared to me, so easily harmed – trusted and by doing so gave me the gifts of peace, of companionship, of awe, of a sense of connection to the entire world.

These jewels of the natural world, by bravely sharing themselves, have illustrated for me that we all, big or small, well or ill, have been given gifts to share and no matter how small we think the gift is, the sharing matters.

Peace.

 

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The past couple of months have, for me, been particularly difficult in terms of morale. The health of one of my children is in grave jeopardy; this disease has been putting me in bed far more than letting me out of it;  my immune system is really mad at me; and the preventive medication for my migraines seems to be losing effect – allowing for only a few hours recovery before the next attack begins as was the case before I began using it.

I am very ill, very isolated, and very much aware that nobody can fix it.

None of those things has changed, yet, today I have a sense of renewal. Isn’t it odd – on a day called Ash Wednesday, I come out of the ashes.

In my faith, today is a day for fasting, for beginning a more intense time of penance and introspection than usual, and, most vitally, for listening more closely and responding more deeply to God’s invitation to come closer.

Most people I know regard Lent as a somber time, I always have. Many Christian churches avoid outward appearances of festivity in decoration and in music. Many Catholics will, today, be marked with ash on the forehead (made from burnt palm fronds blessed and given out last year on Palm Sunday.) Signs for fish-fry dinners appear as Christians of many denominations refrain from eating meat today and on Fridays until Easter. Days of fasting, eating only one modest meal (for those of age and in good health) are part of being Catholic during this season. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a common question between friends and family – we do try to support each other and we are also inspired by each other in sharing our decisions.

Pretty somber stuff, eh?

And yet here I sit, in a bright pink blouse, because I am quietly happy about it all.

Goofy as it may sound to some, I have been mired in upset but find myself free today because what I go through is useful, whether I can see it or not. I feel free today and connected too, knowing that countless other Christians are joined with me in accepting the invitation to come closer.

Yep, I am definitely still physically miserable. Still have my share of stressful situations with which to deal. Still no fix for this disease. Still going to meet others who roll their eyes upon hearing my diagnosis. Still going to have another migraine. Still have to struggle for strength for the least of tasks. Still going to have times of terrible upset for what I want to do and can’t. Still going to be looking out the window while others live their lives.  Still going to dissolve in tears sometimes when I feel I am at the bottom of the well – again.

I suppose there will still be times, too,  when I long for useful work – though I know perfectly well that prayer is of the ultimate usefulness.

And it’s all still useful. Even when I can’t see it. Even when I’m dry as a bone in spirit and cry in frustration “I need You, I can’t do this without You!”  It’s still true.  All useful.

The weather is gray. I am not.

Peace.

God, make us more like Jesus.
Help us to bear difficulty, pain,
disappointment and sorrow
knowing that in your perfect working and design
you can use such bitter experiences
to shape our characters
and make us more like Christ.
We look with hope for that day
when we shall be wholly like Christ,
because we shall see him
as he is. Amen.

– St. Ignatius of Antioch

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A Walk in Winter

Brilliant pearl of sunlight on snow,
my spirit aches to touch.
Unrest, my too constant companion,
I beg to rest awhile in Love.
So I trust in strength not mine,
and slip outside in quiet.

Crunch of snow underfoot,
glitter dazzles and dances.
Sky a color nearly forgotten,
beckons to reaching branches.
No sound of bird, no call of human,
silence reigns in this icy place.

All is dormant, hiding, waiting,
for milder days and sweeter times.
Wind’s icy fingers seek out weakness,
in layers of protection.
Tugging, probing, questing,
trying to change my mind.

My eyes upon a distant oak,
my strength upheld with a stick.
Sun so brilliant I cannot look,
except upon my goal.
I remember now that it was there,
though I haven’t always seen.

I come closer today, but cannot yet reach,
that oak that beckons me.
Too fragile for the distance now,
I must go where I am meant.
As I turn the wind grows stronger,
thinking it has won.

I pull my scarf across my face,
and in so doing see,
Unbroken expanses of infinite parts.
Radiance warms me.
I know now a lesson of snow,
humble part of resplendent whole.


Peace.

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For a few days now, I have tried to write. It took until today to figure out why it just wasn’t working; I was trying to write the wrong post.

Today, after a time of having been especially ill, I was able to pursue one of my creative endeavors – in fact, the most physically demanding of them – pottery. Even though I’ve said in the past that this blog would be about my encounters with creation while walking my path, I didn’t expect to be writing quite so literally. Though I will no doubt pay with pain and illness for this time I had today, I cannot help but think it worth the price. I leave the reader to find what metaphors may be found.

In the Silence of the Wheel


Blessed window of strength,

     blessing of opportunity.

Earthy scent of damp clay

     being readied for the wheel.

Kneaded, cut, joined

     again and again.

Moisture and texture evened,

     ready at last to be used.

Pressed soundly

     onto soundless wheel.

Vulnerable edges,

     sealed with care.

Dampened hands compress,

     push toward centeredness.

Raised up, pushed down.

     raised up, pushed down.

Centered now,

     ready to be formed.

The potter decides form by desire,

     skill born of practice,

          and patience of many failures.

Gentle determination lifts,

     the goal known but not yet seen.

Tools urge shape and dimension.

     Drops of water skim hands across clay,

          easing all resistance.

Fingertips ease slowly away,

     not wishing to distort.

In the silence of the wheel I lose track,

     which of these am I?



Peace.

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For the past few months, from various vantage points, I’ve been observing trees. 

Okay, so my life isn’t real exciting 😉   

As I’ve often mentioned, I am extremely blessed to live on a small parcel of land in a semi-rural area.  The land has a lovely pond with a hill behind it (a small hill to many, but plenty big to me) and lots of trees of different kinds.

At intervals around the pond and on the top of the hill are small park benches, courtesy of my husband.  Like most humans though, I am too often a creature of habit and tend to sit in the same place when I’m out there.  One day last spring, in a torment of illness and in an effort to distract myself from my own despair, I made myself sit in a different spot.

Hmm, what is that?  I don’t remember seeing that before…

A dead ash tree, about which I’d been sad, on the hill – was it alive?  No – but something…   Flowering!  I went closer.  Apparently previously unable to show-off in the shadow of the ash tree, was a beautiful flowering crab-apple.  Just gorgeous!  If the ash tree hadn’t fallen victim to the pest that’s taken so many of them, I never would have seen it.   If I hadn’t changed my habitual viewpoint, I’d have missed the most beautiful spring show on the hill.

Summer came.  I’d known the ash trees lining the road in front of our house had also fallen victim and died.  Each one lost has deeply saddened me.  One day I was well enough to take my time by the road when I was getting the mail.   Flowers!  I remember these, I planted them years ago – they’ve never bloomed before.  I didn’t even know they were still alive!   The light changed as the trees lost their leaves – and here was a gift to mitigate my sorrow.

It’s fall now.  Good weather for sitting on the top of the hill, it’d been too hot there in the summer.  Time to change my viewpoint again.  From here I can see the tops of many of the trees on the property.  I can see the fruit trees mixed in with the rest.  Although I knew they weren’t as tall as the others, it’s really apparent now.

I find myself looking at all the different tree heights and thinking about usefulness.  How often have I felt useless thanks to this illness?  Unable to measure up.  Unable to be like others.   I begin to compare the trees to people.  Some bear obvious fruit – apples, pears, peaches and more.  They tend to be shorter, closer to hand, their fruit easy to pick. 

An oak tree estimated to be at least 200 years old, host to many nests, many creatures depend on the acorns in fall.   It becomes a gigantic umbrella to my home and that of my neighbor.  An inspiration to hold on over time – indeed, to flourish!  A delight to both houses when it wakes in the spring and a study in divine geometry in the winter.

Maple trees.  Some would give sweet syrup if tapped in spring – a hidden treasure.  All provide seed “helicopters” to delight the young and those who dare to play at any age.  Generous in their incredible shows in fall and cool respite in the hottest of summers. 

Pines of many types.  Beautiful even in deepest winter as they catch snow on their boughs.  Making beauty from the harshest weather.  Pinecones provide food to hungry creatures and the elements of crafts to eager hands.

Black walnuts present me with a reminder that sometimes we have to work very hard for treasures within.  Processing their nuts, even opening them,  takes many steps, much work and a lot of time but the flavor is unmatched.

Among the tallest of all the trees, I find more food for thought.  A cottonwood, unbelievably tall!  Considered by many to be “junk trees.”  Junk?  Not to the fish who rise from the depths of the pond to pluck cottonwood seeds from the surface.  Not to that woodpecker who spends his days devotedly “grooming” the tree and finding delicious creepy crawlies.  Not in the night when, ill and in pain, I need to see the companionship of God in His stars that rise between certain branches.   The perfectly flat leaves flutter in the least of breezes and make me smile.  The wild rose-bush that flourishes at its base delights my senses every year.  This is not “junk” – it’s a description of treasure!

Trees – obvious fruits and not-so-obvious.  Heights and breadths from reachable to breathtaking.   Shading or letting in new light.  It seems every single one has its use.  

A change of viewpoint, a shift of light, just a change from where I usually sit…

I didn’t always have such wonderful views but I remember seeing how the light hit the mica in different squares of cement in the city.  I know my room looks new if I lay my head at the foot of my bed.

Just a change of viewpoint, a shift of light…

Peace!

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Yes, it’s been a long time.  To those who were so kind as to contact me in my time of silence, I sincerely apologize for having neglected you.  You have no reason to believe it, but you were not forgotten.

So, why the long silence?   It’s been a time of transformation for me.  A transformation that will be going on for the rest of my life, since the end result won’t be achieved in this one.  Wow, she’s really getting weird, eh? *grin*  

Some might think so – and might even be right.  But weird is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, if it means being a bit different from the accepted mainstream, it could be a very good thing indeed.

Still talking in circles, I know.

During some of my last posts, I was already beginning to walk a different road in my life.  During my silence, I came to realize that it is not just a different road – it’s my road.  For good.

Yeah, still circles, I’m getting there…this ain’t easy!

When I began to think about whether I should come back to writing, I thought at first I’d have to separate writing about my new road and my CFS life.  Awhile back I posted somewhere that *I* can’t be separated from my illness because it’s part of the package.  It turns out, that’s still true. 

So, what’s changing about how I will write in future?  I’ve decided not to hide the name of my road – though have no fears, I will NOT preach!   After a long heartfelt period of discernment (and boy, lemme say – some real trials!) on September 11 of this year, I officially became an oblate novice of St. Benedict.   I won’t be attempting to explain that here, there are those who are infinitely more qualified than I to do so and many online sources for anyone who’d like to know more.   At the bottom of this post I will put a link to the monastery that received me, living the Rule of St. Benedict so deeply that they extended the opportunity to a person who is nearly homebound with illness.  If asked, I’ll try to provide more resources privately or via comment reply.

What I have to share is a better version of what I was already sharing.  An integration of my encounters with creation and my life with this disease.   I always danced around the word “God” before because I didn’t want to risk offense.  Though I have encouraged the pursuit of interior life, I never said whether or not I was Christian, because I didn’t want to be seen as preachy – still don’t.     So, I may not do that avoidance dance now, but never fear, I am not out to convert anybody to anything.  I am hopeful that at some point, my life will be enough to show what I am.   

What I hope to share here is the scenery and my reflections while walking my road with peace and CFS.   I expect to trip often over my own shoelaces, but the places it takes me are breathtakingly worth it!

Now, onto dragonflies and chances 🙂

Today I was sitting at the top of our hill overlooking the pond.  It’s a favorite place, especially when the weather is like it was today, a little autumn nip with sunshine and brilliant, soothing blue sky.  A breeze whispered by as the purple and white wildflowers hosted the neighbor’s honeybees.  The only sounds were those of birds, rustling leaves, contented buzzing, and in the distance, a farmer harvesting a good soybean crop.  Some tiny butterflies danced, seeming to show in their action my own delight in finding the strength to go up the hill and rest and pray in the sun.

After a little while, a red dragonfly landed on my knee, resting and warming in the sun.  A companion in the warmth and silence.  It’s not the first time one of these red dragonflies has sat with me.  Taking the advice of a friend, I’ve even gently petted their wings – they seem to move to encourage it!  But why is it always the red ones?

Each year, many, many different kinds of dragonflies spend the season on our pond.  Colors and patterns that astonish in their variety.  Sizes from a few millimeters to the length of a finch!  But only the red ones sit with me in quiet companionship, mitigating my pain, reminding me even when I feel I cannot “do this” one more second, that I am never alone. 

It occurred to me today as I watched my companion, that it had something new to teach me.  Having been given countless gifts throughout my life of God revealing Himself in small scenes of creation, here seemed another. 

This tiny creature took a chance on me.  It not only trusted, it sought me out.  It acted differently than all the other dragonflies.  Many lessons in this encounter…  Perhaps one involves making the most of being different than the other dragonflies – taking the chance and giving it to others.

Peace!

http://www.benedictinemonks.com/

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