OOPS--July is gone
...and I never got around to writing about my word for that month.
The word was MYSTERY!
My neglect in writing did not prevent me
from attempting to dwell in the heart of mystery.
July is my birth month.
Truly it was a mixture of birth/death, wounds/healing, doubt/faith,
hope/discouragement and more.
I've always loved mystery stories.
The greatest of all mysteries is the story of one’s life.
In this month of my birth I prayed with the mystery of my life.
The symbol I used for my prayer was a path, call it what you will: a road, a trail, a track or footpath. The path I chose at the beginning of July was one that led into a forest. It reminded me of the path I used to take through the forest of our old homestead in Arkansas to my Aunt Annie’s house.
On a pathway there is mystery. You can’t always see what’s behind the next tree. Nor can you detect the animal sounds in the forest. Is it friendly? Is it harmful? For some reason, in those young years of my life, I was seldom afraid of the path through the woods. It was mysterious yet strangely known, kind of like God.
As I moved into the month of July it occurred to me that it might be fun to take a different path every few days and re-experience some of the mystery stories of my life. There was
- the hillside trail leading from the valley where I lived, up the hill and through the woods that led to St. Mary’s Church and School
- the path around Lake Fort Smith that I miss now that the new lake has been created
- a path from the Quiet House at Laity Lodge (Kerrville TX) to the upper rim of the canyon where I could watch sunrises and sunsets
- an unforgettable green moss trail in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina (Maggie Valley)
- the winding labyrinth path on the grounds of St. Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, Arkansas
- the path through the vineyards of Altus, Arkansas that I traveled with my brother, praying the rosary, when my little sister was dying
- the deer trail through the forest surrounding San Damiano Retreat in Danville, CA
- the little country roads where I could walk through farmlands in Canterbury, NZ viewing the amazing pastures of sheep
- the walking trail around St.Mary's Lake (Notre Dame campus) July of 1997 when I feared I might have cancer. I'll always recall those morning walks filled with both angst and therapeutic beauty
- the forest trails at Jamberoo Abbey (New South Wales) quietly trekking through the woods at dusk looking for wombats. (never saw one)
- and then there are those inner trails that run through the path of my heart and soul nudging me into creativity, exploration, continual growth. I am always tracking the mystery.
- In between all the trails of my life I have never forgotten that Christ is my way!
Many paths of memory! Each path holds a mystery story of my life! I could pray a trail for the rest of my life and never be finished reading the pages of my life. I want to allow the holy-healing mystery of life to continue its journey flowing through me like a stream or bubbling brook. The quiet trails are like gentle streams. The rushing brook is full of obstacles and yet as the poet, Wendell Berry, explains, It's the obstacles that help make the music. I want my life to remain a song.
Where is the life that once held me
in its sometimes gentle, sometimes terrible grasp?
That life lives on; I am every age I've ever been!
How easy it is to forget as I walk through the day
that I carry within me layers of life, layers of ages.
My life is a mystery story still unfolding
It is a good life full of joys and sorrows,
promises kept, promises broken
memories and forgetfulness.
O God of so much mystery
Continue to dwell in the layers of my life.
Be my way when I lose the way.
May it come to pass!