Saturday, May 9, 2015

Just to let you know that we are working 
on a new blog site for me.
Under the sycamore tree was fun 
but I've moved away from the sycamore tree
and will be returning
 hopefully with new spirit in my bones.
To check out the progress of my new blog

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Don't give up on me

For health reasons I will not be posting for a while.
Don't give up on me.  I hope to return.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Wonder is our prayer word for the month of September which is just about to slip into October.  In his many beautiful words Thomas Merton once wrote,

“Some people never see a tree

 until they are ready to saw it down.”

You are a creature of wonder.  You are a poet.  You are a poet not because of what you write but because of how you see.  Not everyone has discovered the hidden poet in their souls.  In the following reflection I am offering you some images that will hopefully draw forth the poet in your soul.   Where do poems live?  How well do you see?    Bring forth your receiving eyes.  Come forward with a seeing heart.  Listen carefully, and you will hear a quiet voice murmuring:  May I have your attention please?  We will never be people of wonder until we learn to pay attention.

Where do poems live?

In the early morning hours
---they fly through the sky singing.
They ride on the rays of the sun
---and breathe open the sleeping buds.
They fall from the sky
---in a thousand tiny raindrops.
They dance in sunlight
---on shining waters.
They sing through the darkness
---of the star studded night sky.
They flash forth lightening
---from dark, stormy places.
In tall swaying poplars
---they build their nests.
They rise up like blessings
---in the steam from your coffee
They gaze in your window
---from snow covered branches.

Where do poems live?

In new budding leaves
---and in dying foliage
In all that is blossoming
---and in all that is withering,
At birth and at death
---between birth and death.

Wherever you go
---they are waiting to greet you.
When you return home
--they meet you at the gate
Wherever you stand
---they stand beside you
Persistently they call out
“May I have your attention please!”
                       ©Macrina Wiederkehr

And what about you?  
      Where do poems live in your life?

It is there you will find the gift of WONDER.


Saturday, September 6, 2014



I just turned the page of my 2014 calendar and drank in the new word that is to be the theme for this month.  My word to live for the month of September is   WONDER and I am in dire need of sitting in its shade.   But then I remembered that I hadn't written about my August word yet so I turned the calendar back to August and gazed at the word SOLITUDE.  

The picture for the month depicts my friend and sister in community sitting in a lovely outdoor dwelling with a cup in her hand, presumably coffee, and I ask myself, "does this really depict deep solitude?"  What would need to go to truly depict solitude?  Probably the cup and the caffeine!   But let's not get hung up on semantics.  This is just my take one it.

Recently I saw a lovely outdoor scene with a woman lying on a diving board reading a book.  The caption was:  SOLITUDE!   I found myself saying, “wrong!”    Throw the book in the lake.  Get off the diving board.  

So truly, what is solitude?  Are you afraid of it?  Do you find it healing?  When you are in solitude, do you look for distractions?  Or, do you slowly begin to taste the sweetness of solitude?  I believe that can happen only after we learn to be comfortable with the gift of stillness and silence.    When I truly learn how to be alone by choice—how to embrace solitude as friend, I slowly cease looking for distractions.  I learn to melt into being.  I begin to be comfortable in being with the self that is me.

In looking at the word solitude I see a relation to the word latitude.   The sol of solitude suggests aloneness which also points to space, the space around us and even within us.  The word, latitude, points to space: geographical space, universal space:  the breadth, width, size of something.   Why not personal space?  Although I have not taken the time to look this up entomologically I can see a kinship.   And so when I use St. Paul’s beautiful words from Ephesians 3: 16-19  I find myself being moved into solitude.  The space around me seems to grow larger and I find myself move into a greater stillness.

The more I practice this kind of solitude alone, the more I will discover that when I am with a group of people some of that  space around me lingers and it is easier for me to remain calm in troubling situations.

Out of his infinite glory, 
may you be given the power,
through his Spirit, 
for your hidden self to grow strong,
so that Christ may live in your hearts 
through faith, and then,
 planted in love and built on love, 
you will with all the saints
have strength to grasp the 
breadth and the length, 
the height and the depth; 
until knowing the love of Christ, 
which is beyond all knowledge,
you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Ephesians 3: 16-19—Jerusalem Translation

Find a space alone and ask yourself,  What is the latitude of my heart!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tracking the Mystery

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.  

O Beautiful Mystery 
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!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Get Well

I am in the infirmary, an effort to take better care of my broken foot so it can heal.  This infirmary room is slowly becoming a monk cell for me.  I am a bit more confined and so I am less tempted to pace.  It has become a sacred space for healing  I keep staring at the helium balloon that hangs from my ceiling, “Get Well,” it says.  It sounds like a very simple request, a kind wish from a good friend.  Little did she realize what metaphysical ponderings this get-well-wish would work in me!

What does it mean to get well?  There are times when I am not actually sick yet need to get well.  At the moment, yes, my foot needs to heal.  However I can think of numerous ways I need to get well.

·        When my attitude limps and I start feeling sorry for myself I need to get well
·        When I find myself complaining about every little thing,  I need to get well
·        When I get so busy I forget to take time for solitude and prayer, I need to get well
·        When I let  grudges reign in my heart,  I need to get well
·        When I find myself critical and impatient with others, I need to get well
·        When I bring only half a heart to my daily living, I need to get well
·        When I find myself disgustingly self-righteous, I need to get well
·        When what I own becomes more important than the people I live with, I need to get well
·        When I spend more time judging others than affirming them I need to get well...

The list could go on and on.  I could write until tomorrow.  I write these things not to be overly critical of myself but rather as a gentle reminder that there are ways I am not living up to my full potential.  Since I would like to be the best version of myself that I can be, these words are a way of prayer.  

The mystical poet Rumi affirms our goodness when he says:   “If you knew yourself for even one moment!  If you could glimpse your beautiful soul!  Maybe you wouldn't slumber so deeply in that house of clay.  Why not move into your house of joy and shine into every crevice?  You are a treasure; and always have been.”  


It’s the same message St. Paul gives us in 1 Cor 3:16:

 Do you not know that you are a temple of God
 and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

And so, all of you beautiful (though sometimes weary) temples, I invite you to

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Compassion for What is Broken

"Moved with compassion, 
Jesus touched their eyes 
and immediately they could see." 
 Mt 20: 34

...if eyes can be healed, why not a foot?...

The month of June comes upon us  with the  word compassion trailing along in its wake.   The theme I've chosen for this month is compassion.  Everywhere I turn, everywhere I look, I see opportunities for compassion.  Right now I’m looking very close—as close as my own foot.  It’s this big black boot I have to tote around with me.  It’s the foot inside that I am showering with compassion.  Poor innocent foot that suffered trauma in an unfortunate car accident!

So here I am unexpectedly slowed down with the same amount of work to do.  I, who, teach the way of contemplation to others, find myself being invited to listen to my own words. The turtle that sits beside my foot in the picture wasn't staged.  It really is there--my night light inviting me to stop and rest.  It has even greater meaning now.

Life will go on even if I have to cancel a few retreats.  Life will go on even if I have change part of my plans for vacation. (no hiking)  Life will go on if I can’t be at all community functions.  At this moment I am called to care for my right foot…this foot that I haven taken for granted, this foot that I have forgotten to be (consciously) grateful for.  Now I totally understand St. Paul’s lovely analogy of the physical body and the Body of Christ… (1Cor12:12-26)  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, “would it not then belong to the body?  “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.”  HOW TRUE IT IS!   When I take my boot off at night I am drawn to pray with it, to thank it for the healing that is happening, to ask its pardon for taking it for granted, to massage it gently and put lotion on it.  It is quite sacramental. I am being drawn into compassionate presence.  Although it is unfortunate that something violent had to happen in order for compassionate presence to come on stage, that is often the case in our lives.  Sometimes we are jarred into reflection.  I've been spending many moments in contemplation and gratitude recently.  Everything can become a teacher if we open our hearts to what is in front of us.

As a child June was one of my favorite months, freed from school I spent many hours with my feet in the waters of the creek that ran through our forest, catching crawdads, watching the minnows, listening to life.  And this banged up foot:  it was young then but it was there---feeling the waters rush over it.

O Christ of the Healing Waters, 
restore and heal 
all things in the world that are broken.