Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Reflection Mark 7:1-23

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

In no way do these words of Jesus in today’s gospel make less valid the good advice you were probably given from early childhood: wash your hands before you eat. Of course it is helpful to remember that there are people in our world who have to carry water for miles for the simple necessities of life. The water they bring into their households may need to be used for more important matters than washing hands.

Jesus is attempting to teach us the art of discerning what is essential in life. He wants us to reflect on priorities. And so he dares to call the hecklers on the sidelines who make it part of their profession to watch for other people’s faults, hypocrites. How easy it is to honor God with our lips because it is the acceptable thing to do in our society, yet to have hearts that are constantly making judgments about others. How easy it is to ‘keep the law’ and forget to love.

Guard well your heart the ancestors tell us. The same heart that pours out envy and greed, hatred and evil thoughts, has the potential to send forth love and blessings. Thus we are encouraged to evaluate our interior life.
My blog entry for today is taken from a meditation I wrote in A Year of Sundays, published by the Little Rock Scriptue Study.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yearning for God

I yearn to be held in the great hands of your heart
Oh let them take me now. Into them I place these fragments: my life --and you, God, spend them however you want. --Rilke

Knowing something of the angst that the poet, Rilke, lived with I find myself wondering just what was going on in his dear heart when he wrote the words above. There are some who think he was an atheist (not that I would hold it against him if he was) but I don't think so. There is so much searching in his life--such an authentic yearning for the eternal. He was always reaching through the mists trying to draw apart the mystical curtains that would reveal the face of God. This morning as I sat by my window journaling, it came to me that I, too, am haunted by eternal questions. I, too, want to do something beautiful with the fragments of my life. I cannot think of a better place to put them than into the great hands of God's heart that they may be used wisely for the good of all. I comit myself to walking through this day aware that I am held in those hands...but it is not easy to live AWAKE. Today let me be awake to the needs of others for they, too, have fragments of their lives that they are trying to understand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Wild and Colorful Dream

I have been praying for a renewal
of my creativity.

Perhaps this dream is the beginning.

A group of us were going to Subiaco Abbey for the night. I was driving a huge truck which seemed more like a bus. A few passengers were with me. I cannot recall the exact nature or purpose of our visit to Subiaco but someone told me to be sure and look out the window very early in the morning because there would be some cute little monster-like creatures running around before dawn. It seems they were part animal and part human and they appeared just before sunrise while it was still dark. Early the next morning (in my dream) I was awakened suddenly and literally drawn, like a magnet, to the window. Sure enough—there they were. The yard was filled with pudgy little friendly creatures running here and yon—decorating the trees, the lamp poles. Some were even hanging bright colored paper circles in the air; they looked like little Ferris-wheels and moved in a circle yet hanging in mid-air like magic. Then I noticed that some of the group I had come with were outside walking around with these friendly little creatures. And I thought, “Oh my goodness, they are actually out there in that magical land experiencing all that creativity while I am only watching it from the window. With that thought I went racing down the hall with the intention of joining these unconventional visitors. I woke up just before arriving in that that magical, mystical wonderland.

Now what was that all about?
I sure hope the Subiaco monks
take time to look out their windows at dawn.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Longing For Simplicity

Sometimes my life feels and looks a bit like the picture above. Yes, even my life as a nun. I have visions of the perfect nun—demure and sweet in her almost empty prayer cell, attached to nothing but God. Well, that’s not I! The desire for God, though, runs deep in my veins and recently my prayer has been leading me to look at the obstacles to my heart's deepest desire. One of my favorite gospel passages is the story of the rich young man of Matthew 19 who had such a burning desire to follow Christ but couldn't quite pull it off because of his possessions. My life has been haunted by a desire for simplicity and I believe it is an authentic haunt. A few days ago I was so moved by a meditation Mitch Finley wrote for the Living Faith Catholic Devotional. It was a reflection on Mt19:16-22 and Mitch was writing about how part of the path to spiritual freedom is "a radical disinterest in accumulating stuff." I got a lump in my throat as I read that phrase. I am glad for the lump as it got my attention. My mantra for the next few weeks will be exactly that: a radical disinterest in accumulating stuff. It is a practice I am ready for. Must be my age.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

Away for some writing time! I had a serendipitous and mystical drive to my hideaway through meadows of fog. It seemed as though the Holy Spirit was revealing to me that I was being guided. A friend who lives near Mt. Ida had suggested I stop at Mt. Harbor Resort for blueberry pancakes that were out of this world. She and her husband were waiting for me. I wasn’t prepared for the sight of these pancakes even though Deb had done well in singing their praises. When they arrived on our table splashed full of blueberry jewels my first thought was, “Oh I should run to the car and fetch my camera.” And my second thought was, “No, don’t try to capture them; just enjoy.” I enjoyed half of them and decided to take the left-over’s with me to my writing retreat so was able to photograph half of them after all. I had brought along Diane Lockward’s poem, Blueberry, to share with D & R. after we had feasted on the B.B. Pancakes and as I read the poem it felt like a moment of MAKING MEMORIES. I will never again pass Mt. Harbor without remembering this mystical, magical moment—the three of us sharing our hearts out, eating blueberry pancakes and reading poetry. And that is just what Diane was doing in her poem. She was writing about a memory of her and her mother in their quilted robes, hair in curlers, in the kitchen (long ago) “ plates stacked with pancakes, blueberries sparkling like gemstones, blue stars in a gold sky, the universe in reverse—the two of them eating blueberry pancakes.” What memory would you like to write about? Or, perhaps you would just like to make a new memory.

See Diane’s blog at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Speak To Me Only...




Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fire Filled Soul

This morning in mass I was so moved by the Responsorial Psalm response that I've decided to use it as my mantra all day long:



Today I will practice remembering that my soul is filled with fire. My task is to guard that flame, protect it and cherish it so that it may be for others a guiding light and a comforting presence rather than a wild fire that threatens lives. There are times when the fire of my life has almost gone out. The result is a kind of apathy, indifferent, acedia--I don't have enough energy to get up and put a little kindling on the embers; but the Spirit of the Living God is farsighted and always seems to send someone to blow on the fading embers of my life. Sometimes it is a person, sometimes it is a word from the Scriptures or a poem. Sometimes it is a meadow of wildflowers. Oh God, thank you for the fire in my soul. I know it is your breath and your burning.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rocking Chair Meditation

All of us are holders of stories, keepers of memories. Early this morning a memory rose out of my soul and painted an icon in my mind. The memory was of another early morning, another quiet morning in the Blue Ridge mountains somewhere in North Carolina. I was leading a retreat near Winston Salem. I rose very early that morning. Participants were still sleeping or out walking. The rocking chair was inviting me. I begin rocking slowly. I rocked my way out of the night and into the dawn. It seemed as though I was rocking my way into my deep soul. I don't know why that memory came to me this morning but I choose to receive it as a gift. I find the memory healing. This morning under my sycamore tree as I moved back and forth in the cedar swing glider I closed my eyes and allowed that Blue Ridge Mountain memory to wash over me like healing oils. What memory would you like to be enrobed with on this warm August day?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Craving Hope

About a year ago one of my author friends (Joni Woelfel) sent me her new book, Craving Hope. I paged through it and realized the book was a spiritual companion for one's weight loss journey. Since I don't really need to lose weight I put the book aside, thinking I would return to it later, do a little browsing and then donate the book to my community library. About a week ago the book found me again. [books are like that--they have a mind and soul of their own]. This time as I began reading pieces of the book it occurred to me that although I don't need to lose weight in the sense of taking off pounds, there is a heaviness in my life that I need to pray about. And I am using Craving Hope as a meditative study about the things in my life that are weighing me down. There is the weight of resentment, the weight of impatience, the weight of my undisciplined life. There is the weight of anxiety, the weight of discouragement, the weight of intolerance. Oh my! There is no doubt that I need this meditative book on weight loss.
Craving Hope:
A Spiritual Companion on Your Weight Loss Journey
Joni Woelfell--Acta Press

Friday, August 7, 2009

Morning Prayer

O Gift Giving God,
As the earth's quiet turning offers me another day,let your new light pour into the spaces of my life where I have grown stale, weary and indifferent. Enlighten and refresh my mind and heart that I may be able to be a blessing in someone's life this day.
May it be so! Amen, amen!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Magic Monastery

This is my magic monastery and although it is not always magic, it is the place where I live and grow, and celebrate the beautiful struggle of daily life.

Under the Sycamore Tree

With a bit of trepidation I have decided to begin a blog. For many years I have been a devoted journaler. Journaling has been a true spiritual practice for me. Recently I have become careless with the practice. I haven’t exactly stopped journaling but I’ve not been as faithful as I once was and my entries seem to have lost a little heart. Beginning a blog is a small effort to restore my writing soul. Since I often write under my sycamore tree or at least sitting at my east window looking out at my Sycamore, I’ve decided to name my blog UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE: an almost daily journal. The subtitle is a little protection for me. It means I am not promising to write every day but I will try to write often and I will try to write with love.