Monday, March 31, 2014

More on Resilience

Before March slips over into April,
let's reflect a little more on resilience.

Here is a book about resilience.  It is easy to find your life in these pages even though it is about Clarissa's uncle who, after being wounded and broken in spirit by war, returns  to life through planting trees and gardening.  In this lovely  book, The Faithful Gardener, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says,

"Something is waiting
for you to make ground for it
so that it can make  
its full presence known." 

She calls her story: a wise tale about that which can never die.  I cannot speak for you (and I know that our stories and our scars are uniquely our own) yet I have experienced a hope and a resilience in myself that seems immortal.  

During the rest of this Lenten season perhaps we could take some time to ponder and pray about what gift we have that is waiting to make its full presence known.  How do we need to prepare the soil of our hearts so that a new presence can be born in our lives?  What do you need to make ground for?   You've heard of 'breaking ground'  and ordinarily that means something new is rising.  

Happy Ground Breaking!

Friday, March 21, 2014


Resilience is part of our name.  It is the word I am trying to celebrate during the month of March.  It's been a long hard winter for many of us and for some there is still no sight of Spring.  The ravished land is a marvelous metaphor for what happens in the human spirit.  There are times when what seemed to be blossoming in us comes to a halt and remains frozen, yet beautiful.  How can we trust that the winter of grief in our lives, the deep containers of doubt, the mountains of discouragement can all become teachers for us. Somewhere in the heart of everything is a resilience that wants to lift its face, lift its voice-- and sing its way out of the frozen land of our lives.  AND IT WILL!

YES, IT WILL!  It has its own time.  It will blossom again!  And part of the fertilizer we must bring to it is our belief in it.  The crocus and the shooting-star that you see here are icons of your own resilient spirit. I invite you to own and honor that often invisible face of yourself.  Whether you fully understand this truth or not, you have an amazing rising power in you.  Resilience is your inner guest.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

The difficult music of your life

In case you don’t know the poet, Ted Kooser, I would like to introduce you to him.  He was born in Iowa and now lives in Nebraska.  Go to his official website;  Ted Kooser  If you like poetry you won’t be disappointed.  And if you think you don’t like poetry, you may be pleasantly surprised.  

The poem below is one that I love.  It is from his book, Delights and Shadows.  
Try to see the poem as  you read it. 

A Rainy Morning

A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.

—Ted Kooser

One sentence from the poem that lingers with me is this:   “So expertly she plays the chords/ of this difficult music she has mastered.”  The words, “difficult music” linger in my heart.  I am in awe of the courage of so many people (you may be among them) who are daily mastering the “difficult music” of their lives.   I am constantly amazed at the courage portrayed in people's lives.  That same courage is in each of us.  And so, to discover it!

Sometimes just sitting with a poem can be a prayer.  As you sit with this poem,  bring to your mind people you know who are struggling with the “difficult music” of their lives.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wisdom is knocking at your door

Those of you who have my 2014 calendar will know that WISDOM is the  word I chose for us to focus on for the month of February.  It would, of course, be a wonderful gift for us to be conscious of  at any moment of the day.  Wisdom need not be something we think about only on Pentecost though many of us  will recognize it as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I chose wisdom for February because here in Arkansas it is a time when (especially toward the end of the month)  we are likely to see little faces of green growing things trying to lift their faces out of the frozen earth.

This miracle of life pushing through what looks like death is beautifully metaphoric for our lives.  It is valuable to remember that in our desperate/lonely moments when no teacher is in sight, there is always a teacher within.   Are we able to learn the patience of waiting beside the sorrow?  Waiting with the sorrow?   Can we sit with the death we are experiencing and just listen to the wound?  Life is a wisdom school, yet  there are times when we have to do our grief work before the wisdom shows her face.

Spend some time getting acquainted with your inner teacher.  What pieces of wisdom will you gather during the month of February?  Wisdom is knocking at your door!

Here is a small wisdom poem I wrote many moons ago.

Again and again
the words washed over my soul
bathing me in truth.
-words from Terry Tempest Williams:
"The most radical thing you can do
is to stay where you are."

[..and by those words I do not believe she is asking us not to grow;
or to remain in our sorrow forever; we must take the words deeper.
Eat them.  Taste the wisdom within.  Live with them for a few days.
I think she is referring to our modern day restlessness that takes us
away from the wisdom of NOW]

My restless, wandering spirit
stood beside those words for days.
Ate them for dessert
went to bed with them at night
and rose with the taste of them in my heart.

And what about you?
Where are the words that linger?
                          -Macrina Wiederkehr

What have you discovered in the middle of your living that could serve as a resource for your own wisdom poem?
At the end of the day ask yourself this question:  What pieces of wisdom from this day's journey,  linger?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's essential?

This week on January 23 St. Scholastica Monastery celebrated the 135th anniversary of our Benedictine community in Arkansas.  The little log cabin below is actually a cake which is a replica of the original log cabin in New Blaine Arkansas which was, at that time, our founding site.  As I look at the cabin I realize that I am looking at history.  I hear echos of the stories of our founding Sisters.   As we enjoyed the cake at our evening meal January 23 I was so aware that when our Sisters entered that cabin they had no cake.  Indeed they had very little, the bare essentials and  not even that. 

I want to hold on to the word, ESSENTIAL, for a little while.  Ever since our Founding Day Celebration I've been praying with that word and trying to discern just what is essential in my life.  In no way am I implying that we should live in destitution yet I do have concerns with how distracted my life can become in regard to the truly important ingredients of each day.  How can I simplify my life in small ways that truly matter each day?   How can I do a slow dance with only the essential?  For indeed, when I make friends with that which is essential I see everything with new eyes.  For example, beauty is essential and it is all around me.  Sometimes when I stop my restless pacing, I see the beauty that I pass by every day because I'm looking for something else, something better, more profound or elaborate....  These musings reminded me of a poetic reflection I  wrote many years ago.  I named it DECORATIONS.

"In our search for the holy, there are times when our restless preparations smother the very truth for which we are searching.  We decorate our rooms and make elaborate preparations for our prayer,      
    when a single flower  ...

......and a moment of waiting 
                                                                                                                                      are all we need to meet the One Who Comes. 
 In our restlessness, our search 
sometimes becomes the only god we every meet. 

My days are all spent
in decorating my house.
I am forever preparing
for your arrival.
I hunger for your presence
yet I take not the time
to wait for your coming
and to my great sorrow
you never arrive.

It is because I refuse
to be silent
that I cannot hear you.

It is because I refuse
to await you
that you cannot come.

It is because I refuse
to be idle
that I cannot enjoy you.

It because I am too busy
hanging decorations
that I cannot welcome you home.

Yet in your deep wisdom
your presence leans toward mine.
You understand my decorations
to be symbols of my hunger
and you know of the day
when my heart swept clean
will be the only decoration needed
and I will listen for you coming
like night awaiting day.

--Macrina Wiederkehr
Seasons of Your Heart, HarperSanFrancisco

And now back to our beginning question: 
What is essential?  
What will you dance with this week?
List a few things/people/experiences 
that are essential
for you to live a happy life.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

O Lamp of God Gone Out

No matter how much we cry out to God, "Be thou my vision..." there are times when it will seem as though our lamp has gone out.  Any kind of vision that we hoped would light our way has fled and we are left with a troubled heart.

Even in these moments we can find a voice for prayer.  Even if it is a sad and lonely prayer, let us dare to let God hear our voice.

O Lamp of God Gone Out  ~   Where art thou?

Once there was a sweet innocence that lived in the garden of my heart and you 
were my Epiphany Star; you were my clarity, amazing gift of my life.   Your  presence was obvious in the pages of each day.  Reflecting on our original relationship I perceive that it was vibrant and alive with possibilities and meaning.   I remember  how you  helped me claim my authentic spirit.  From childhood days I had such a longing for authenticity  and you were my coach, my star, my gate, my lean-to.

Give me back the sweet innocence of childhood along with the gifted wisdom of my maturing years.  I am firm in my resolution that you are still the Lamp of my Life and I boldly ask you to shine through the stark and seeming barren branches of my life--all the way through to the Epiphany Star that is still shining  in the core of my being.

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Amen from Macrina

Monday, January 13, 2014


The word I have chosen for January is VISION. It seems like a good word for a new year.  Even though you may have chosen a different word for this month I offer you this rich word for your prayer.  "Where there is no vision, we are told in Proverbs, the people perish." (29:18)  So just what does the word, vision, mean to you?   First of all, it is considerably deeper than a plan.  Anyone can make a plan; not everyone when making a plan will invite vision to be a companion in the planning.

The first thing to do is to get out your piercing, penetrating eyes (your far-seeing eyes) and become very still.  Wait!  Listen! Look! Rest in the unknowings of the moment!  Close your eyes so that all distractions may more likely disappear and help you get in touch with your inner seeing, that is...your insight. All of this is prayer.   You allow God to pray in you.  After a brief quiet time you might ask yourself a few questions.

  • What is my vision for this day?  If I borrow God's far-seeing eyes and look into this day, how would I like to see myself living? [this need not involve a long list, which is often detrimental to faithfulness; perhaps my vision for this day could simply be to live awake (aware).]
  • How can I live each day with less plans and more vision?
  • Do I have a spiritual vision for the path of 2014?  Am I willing to use my far-seeing eyes to discern what areas of my life are in need of transformation? 
One of the things I am doing this year in an attempt to awaken the vision that I so often allow to sleep in my soul is this:

Before retiring I ask myself a question,  What is your vision for tomorrow?  After a few moments of silent listening, I write in my journal one or two of my dreams for the next day.  Amazing how a little exercise like this can help me stay on the path, awake!

I am also trying to allow everyday theophanies (God-Showings) to speak to me about VISION for my personal life.  E.G. I am walking along and come upon a young green shoot sprouting out of a dead branch.  I pause and allow this ICON to speak to me about my personal life.  What is my vision about the things in my life that seem to be dead but in reality are not.

Another example is this:  I see a Sister in my community doing something really kind for another Sister.  That is a 'God-Showing' and as I let this beautiful vision cleanse me, I call upon my far-seeing eyes to discern what I might do for someone.  It happens every day.  I am jarred out of my sleepwalking.  I awaken to a vision of something more that is waiting for me.

Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? 
 Of course not!  
We have 11 months and 18 days of 2014 left.
 That's enough time for you to do a tremendous amount of good and have an exorbitant  number of visions.  

Thank you for the blessing that you are in our world!
Happy New Year!