Category Archives: updates

First Friday of Lent

My reflection for today, the First Friday of this Lenten season has been posted on Global Sisters Report.

The invitation for me this Lent, it seems, is to focus on beauty, to add to and look for and create and celebrate beauty amidst all the goo of life. I’ve been invited to focus on beauty in my work, in loving community, in the challenges and in the blessings. I do believe in the power of redemption, in the awesome continuing work of our creator God, in and through us and yes, even in the most messy bits, when beauty can be harder to see.

My Lenten intention, given to me as sheer grace, is to remember all of this these days and to be an engaged participant in the beauty that surrounds us.

We’ll see where this Lenten journey leads.

May you and I be graced with a beautiful Lent

Click here to read the whole reflection

Contemplative Lessons

Today is my Mom’s 15th birthday in heaven. As often happens around anniversaries, she’s been on my heart and mind a bit of late.

I am grateful to her for so many things, not the least of which is the gift of life!  She taught me so much by her love and example.

My mom was a true contemplative in action.  She could stop and stare for hours … at the forest, at the ocean, at her own backyard.  She saw the love of God reflected in creation and knew instinctively how to soak it all in.

Mom

I used to love just watching her as she stared at the embodiment of God’s love all around us.  My Dad took this picture in West Virginia. It’s classic mom.  She’s probably a little older than I am now in this picture.  She’s got her book on her lap, but she’s contemplating the book of creation instead.

Nourished and fed by the love of God, be it at Sunday mass or all around her, my mom put it into action.  Dust did not settle under her feet.

Over the years in her work, helping prisoners at the local jail learn decision making skills or as a congressional aide helping citizens navigate our system, she found herself on the right side of justice and helped to build the kindom.

In our community, she was a leader in ways we never even knew until her wake, when person after person came up to us to tell us how she helped them with x, y and z.  So unassuming, she just did what needed to be done.

At home, journeying with her own parents through chronic illness and death, welcoming them into her own home, raising five kids, supporting her husband’s call to serve the wider world, she was most always grounded and exuding love.

Even when she herself was very ill, she would sit and ponder and teach us how to love and be loved.

I still miss you mom, and always will, but I will also always be grateful for your lessons in contemplation, action, and love.

This Must Stop

Stop Gun Violence Now.pngLast night I was perusing the CNN Exit Polls and discovered that 59% of midterm voters polled support stricter gun control measures.  I was sad to see that number so low, especially after all the amazing activism of young people after the Parkland Shooting and countless other senseless mass shootings.

Then today, just after reading about the latest shooting at a nightclub in California, I received a text from my sister.  It started out saying that my niece Eileen was dancing at the Borderline last night … the nightclub where the shooting I’d just been reading about happened.

my heart stopped.  what if?

I closed my eyes, said a prayer, and went back to reading the text.  She and the friends she was dancing with escaped with their lives after the first shots were fired. They have since discovered that at least one high school friend is among those killed.

Active shooter drills were not a thing when I was in school. I guess I should be grateful that my niece and her friends knew what to do in the moment.  Eileen told me that she’s not hurt, except for rug burns on her knees from crawling her way out to escape, close to the ground.  Of course her spirit is wounded.  As should ours be.  We allow this to continue to happen.

Yes, it’s a cliche that it’s different when something like this happens close to home.  And this certainly did.  My other niece lives down the hill from the club.  My sister is a professor up the hill from the club.  The shooter is from the town where they went to high school and where their little sister goes to middle school.

Given the lack of common sense gun laws, this will happen close to you one day too.

We must pray.  We must act.  We must join together.  We must make gun violence stop. Now. Seriously. Now.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, please read this column written by Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, two of the students from Parkland, that appeared in the Washington Post the day before election day and a few days before my niece escaped the Borderline with her life.

Over eighteen months before the shooting at our school, 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Four months before Parkland, 58 people were killed at a concert in Las Vegas. And on Oct. 27, 11 people were killed at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In all that time, not a single federal law has been passed that addresses gun violence. Not a single law. Our nation’s leaders have failed to protect citizens where they live, where they learn and where they pray.

As they note in their last sentence:  not only must young people (and All people) vote, “the day after the election, the real work begins.”
  • Be the voice of reason.  If you have friends who are part of the 37% who do not think we need stricter more common sense gun laws, tell them about my niece and her friends.
  • Bother the you know what out of your representatives in Congress, no matter what their party.

    My niece lived in Alabama as a child, and her Godmother who still lives there just posted on Facebook that she tried to call her representatives to call them to support gun reform that would have protected her Goddaughter and was HUNG UP ON.

    Not ok.  But they hang up … we call back.

  • We write.  We text.  We march.  We become a broken record and a strong loud voice speaking for every man, woman, and child who can no longer speak for themselves.
Because silence is not an option.

Global Sisters Report: The Hour for ‘Our’ is Now

GlobalSistersReportMy latest contribution to the conversation has been published over at Global Sisters Report: The Hour for ‘Our’ is Now

Our Father. Our daily bread. Forgive us as we forgive. Lead us. Deliver us.

This prayer that for decades I have said desperately at my most lonely hours calls us to be community. It is not a prayer to my Father for my daily bread and my forgiveness or deliverance. It is a prayer for the whole. As I have prayed this prayer anew in these days, I haven’t been able to get this sense of the collective out of my heart and mind. The hour for “our” is now. …

What would happen, I wonder, if instead of spreading negative energy in our conversations that contribute to the toxic levels of our current civic discourse, we practiced loving even those bits of the whole we struggle with? Speaking the truth in love, standing in solidarity in love, acting for justice in love.

Maybe this would lead us to deliverance, provide our nourishment and sustain us, help us to listen deeply for that which binds us together, no matter how small, in the sea of division.

Visit Global Sisters Report to read the whole reflection.

Today

Today I visited this blog and realized I’ve not written in a few months.  My recent yesterdays have been filled with much travel, work, visits, etc…  On the political and ecclesial sphere, it’s been a mess to say the least.  And yet, we live today, knowing tomorrow will have its own challenges and blessings.

I’ve found myself pondering the wise words of Winnie the Pooh from the recent film, Christopher Robin.  After an action filled adventure with its own ups and downs and share of uncertainty, Pooh and his friend Christopher (now an adult) are sitting together looking at the horizon.

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Pooh asks Christopher what day it is, to which Christopher replies, “Today.”

Calmly Pooh responds, “My favorite day.  Yesterday when it was tomorrow was too much day for me.”

Indeed.

Hearts Wide Open

We need people with hearts wide open,
ready to take in the bad with the good.

We need brave and noble souls
who are able to discern where possibility lies,
who are willing to name the truth for what it is,
and who do the hard thing
with as much compassion as is possible.

The time is here and now.

We cannot wait
for the world to look the way we want it to,
we cannot wait for our vision to win out,
our party to be in power,
our narrative to dominate.

We simply face what is head on,
arms wide open,
living into what we know can be.

We have to face reality
even as
we do the little
and big things
we can do to transform it.

To bring about a world …

Where justice and peace kiss
Where families are free to stay together
Where love prevails
Where honesty is honored
Where diversity flourishes
Where we believe ….

The future is possible.

Our task is to show up
with our hearts – and minds –
as open
as possible.

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Resurrection thoughts

20180328_140512.jpgOnce again it’s Easter Sunday. Christians throughout the earth are celebrating … Christ is Risen.

Easter is not just one day, however, to be celebrated and forgotten.

The Church in her wisdom gives us 50 days for the Easter season.  Maybe that’s because it’s not easy to wrap our heads (and hearts) around the Easter message.

The promise of Easter.

New life springs forth.

Death and sin do not have the last word.

Love is stronger.

Peace is possible.

The promise (and challenge) of Easter –

Live as Easter People.

Forgive. Love. Make peace. Spread Hope.

Bring me back my heart – a Holy Saturday Reflection

It’s Holy Saturday, a fitting time and space for prayer these days, when we often seem to find ourselves in the Holy Saturday moments of  our lives.  There’s so much suffering in the world,  yet even more there is so much love in the world (f we can just remember that!), and here we are called to live into the promise, in between the already but not yet.

This morning I found myself praying with Mary, friend of Jesus.  She had stayed with her dear one to the end, through the suffering that she was powerless to stop, even standing at the foot of the cross in witness to love and life. She was there as his body was laid in the tomb, and the stone rolled across its entrance.  The others departed then, but as Mathew’s Gospel tells us, she stayed there, unable to leave just yet.  Another friend kept her company as they sat together with their memories and grief and uncertainty.

“But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb”

We too keep her company.  We face the tomb.  We love, we remember, and we live into the promise of Easter Sunday, even in our Holy Saturday moments.

And so I share with you this video prayer reflection, the fruit of my contemplation this Holy Saturday, as we await the Resurrection.  Peace.

 

Best Intentions & God’s Patience

I had the best of intentions at the start of this Advent season, hands down my favorite liturgical season.  And then …. life happened and I responded with my little human ways.  You know the drill, anxiety and busyness leads to stress and grumpiness and less patience and less compassionate responses to the folks in your own life because of course you are busy and stressed.  Maybe you don’t know, but it’s a familiar pattern for me unfortunately, and one I fell right back into the past couple of weeks.

Thankfully, this past summer when I was on my annual directed retreat I made a commitment to schedule some mini-retreat time this December.  I tend to take the most beautiful photos when I am on retreat, and so when I saw a listing for a Contemplative Photography retreat in Advent, I signed up right away.  For the months since, I have guarded this weekend on my calendar, knowing I suppose deep down that by now, I’d need it.   And I certainly did!

While the retreat itself was excellent, especially the experiences of guided visio divina and the opportunity to pray with the photos taken by the other retreatants, really it was an opportunity to reset my own best intentions.  Adapting today’s second reading from the 2nd Letter of Peter, I pray:

I can no longer ignore this one fact,
I am beloved, and so are those around me and all of creation,

and with God one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
God’s promise is not delayed, as some think of ‘delay,’
but God is patient with me,
not wishing me or you harm 
but that I would return & center myself on love.

Since everything is grounded in love,
what sort of person might I be
living with a spirit of gratitude and compassion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of love in our midst.

That is of course the kind of person I want to be, to see with God’s eyes the beauty and love and light and hope in the midst of the busyness and anxiety and sorrow and uncertainty.  My best intentions may not seem like enough, but they are because God is patient and there is always today to return to the center and prepare the way for the incarnation of love, reflecting God’s love for us to the world.

 

Advent Reflection

lady-in-waitingAdvent begins on Sunday, and with it the season of waiting.  This year, it feels like we are waiting at the edge. I reflected on this theme in my latest column on Global Sisters Report: Advent Waiting at the Edge.

Advent is not a time to despair or become overwhelmed by all the turmoil and woe, but rather, watchful and alert, to prepare God’s way joyfully. In the midst of it all, the surprising call we hear on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, is to rejoice: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks … Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.” We are invited to rejoice, even as we stand on the edge, recognizing that life itself is gift in all circumstances and that our actions, no matter how small, can make a difference.

On the one hand, this message is so simple, and yet life can seem so very complicated even on the best of days. We know the promise of the good news, yet like Mary, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we find ourselves pondering, “How can this be?”

Mary’s question to the surprising news of the angel Gabriel always comforts me. I find myself with lots of questions; the biggest one these days is how to be the presence of love in such a mixed-up world.

Advent gives us the much-needed opportunity to pause, step back from the chaos, and wait on the edge during these in-between times.

Head over to Global Sisters Report to read the rest.

Blessings of Peace!