Friday, March 29, 2013


                Forgiveness.  A word that has been resonating with me for weeks now.  A couple weeks ago we had silence at dinner, as with every Tuesday and Thursday evening during Lent.  Actually there was not silence; rather, we listened to a reflection by Edward Hays (incredible person, just so you know).  The reflection was on Forgiveness. 
                Edward Hays in this reflection painted a picture for us of a rainbow rain that fell on human beings.  After the rain stopped an unforgettable thing happened: the rain left stains on the people.  The stains were colors of the rainbow, but not so pleasant.  These stains were color-coded to sins, i.e. red for murder, blue for adultery, etc., and the stains covered the faces and arms and every inch of skin on the people, on us.  People frantically tried to scrub off the stains, ashamed of themselves.  People did good deeds in hope of absolving their sins; we went to church, prayed; we gave up earthly possessions, donated money.  People went in to hiding; as the story goes so did the Pope, and government offices were closed. 
                I encourage you to find this reflection if you are interested.  I really don’t want to spoil the ending, the solution to removing the stains.  But I will by telling you what Hays said.  There was a man and woman who, among the frantic attempts to scrub away stains, sat quietly talking with one another.  We soon find out that they are apologizing for the hurt they’ve afflicted on the other, and on themselves.  The two forgive one another and promise to do their best.  And guess what? –their stains disappeared. 
                In addition to this reflection, multiple times in the past weeks I have turned on the radio and what is the song that fills my ears?  Forgiveness, by Matthew West.  There have been many Gospels and other readings recently on FORGIVENESS.  What a beautiful gift.  And a focus during this Lenten season.  The parable of the Prodigal Son (or daughter; --child) also speaks to me of so much Forgiveness. 
                Alas, forgiveness as it has been a resounding cymbal to my ears and my heart provokes my thoughts in many ways.  Forgiving myself is one of the hardest things to do; it’s right up there with forgiving the hurt experienced from the carelessness of those close to me.  But God always forgives and that forgiveness is love.  So too, then, unforgiving or not forgiving keeps me from God.
Forgiveness, by Matthew West

It’s the hardest thing to give away,
And the last thing on your mind today.
It always goes to those that don’t deserve.

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real.
It takes everything you have to say the word…
Forgiveness; Forgiveness.

It flies in the face of all your pride,
It moves away the mad inside,
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy.
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you got a right to hold a grudge,
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘set it free.’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible.
Forgiveness, Forgiveness;
Help me now to do the impossible:

It’ll clear the bitterness away,
It can even set a prisoner free.
There is no end to what its power can do.
So let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace:
The prisoner that it really frees is you.

Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible:

I want to finally set it free.
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees.
Help me now to give what You gave to me…
Forgiveness, Forgiveness,
Forgiveness, Forgiveness,

Friday, March 15, 2013

In Gratitude for the opportunity to Change

Change our hearts
this time;
Change our minds
This time.

Change our hearts… the song of the season. Here is the first verse that resonates with me in this Lenten season: Brought by your hand to the edge of our dreams, one foot in paradise, one in the waste; drawn by your promises, still we are lured by the shadows and the chains we leave behind.  But Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be.  Change our minds this time, your life could make us free.  We are the people your call set apart; Lord, this time change our hearts.   (Hymn credits to Rory Cooney; ©1984,®, a division of OCP; taken from OCP missal Breaking Bread 2013)

On my current reading pile:

Not By Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent, 2013 reflections by Bishop Robert F. Morneau; Liturgical Press

Give Us This Day daily readings and reflections, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN

A Love That Impels by Stephanie Campbell, OSB.  The history of the Ridgely Benedictines © 1986. 

A Field Guide to God by Patty Kirk

Prayer by Joyce Rupp  

Running With Expanding Heart by Mary Reuter, OSB (St Benedict’s Monastery, St Joseph, MN)

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  Something I’ve been meaning to read since high school.  A novel about Dinah, the forgotten sister of Joseph and his eleven brothers.

The Breath of the Soul by Joan Chittister

…and many other novels that I have not yet dipped into, however, I did read the first book of The Hunger Games in January. 

Last week five college women on their spring break were here to volunteer everywhere on campus.  It was fun to have them around.  They are lovely, hard-working girls.  Having their help at the Barn for the week was wonderful.  Young—keep in mind age is relative!—persons are hard to come by.  We all enjoyed their company, energy, humility, and compassion.  I was responsible for training them on Monday at the Barn.  It went really well; I could tell they were overwhelmed that first day.  They kept extremely busy—splitting their time even more so than I do in a day or a week.  They each wrote me a sweet note at the end of the week as well.  Darling J

Three weeks ago our Sister Jeannette was taken to the emergency room.  To make a long story short, she was admitted, spent a few days in the hospital and then returned home and is on hospice.  She has had good days, some bad.  She tires easily, but has lots of visitors come to see her and many people praying her through it all.  Sister Jean Marie also has good days among not-so-good ones.  She has spells during which she talks to some people.  She seems to be especially suffering the past week or so.  Our other Sisters in the infirmary have been pretty stable, not anything major. 

Saturday, March 2nd was the 16th annual Author’s Luncheon to benefit St Martin’s Ministries.  It went extremely well and was an enjoyable day.  I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here, to be a part of the preparations for and execution of this event—one in whose target audience I otherwise would not be.  The Luncheon was held at a beautiful venue on the Chesapeake Bay, all windows looking out on the water and the Bay Bridge.  Three local authors were present; we (this was my main job during the event) sold their novels and the authors were available to sign them.  The authors also each spoke on their writings following the lunch meal itself.  They did a wonderful job sharing, answering questions, and giving their time to the event.  The silent auction of 90-some donated items and vacation-trips successfully found homes.  A highlight of the day was Beth, one of St Martin’s House residents, shared her story and the blessing that her life at St Martin’s has been.  I encourage you to read her speech here:

I have been taking WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) classes the past four Wednesday mornings.  The program is put on by the Chesapeake Voyageurs.  A staff person from St Martin’s House has been participating as well.  This action plan can be used for a habit, addiction, behavior, etc.  The process looks first at wellness and what is needed to be well.  These five things are hope, support, self-advocacy, education, and responsibility.  A wellness toolbox is then created specific to each person with go-to resources such as healthcare providers, taking a walk or exercising, meditation and deep breathing, being around positive people.  The recovery action plan itself looks at triggers and a plan for triggers, early warning signs and how to deal with them—things that will set off the maladaptive behavior.  It is very thought-provoking and makes a person very self-aware; suggested uses are anything from a substance abuse/addiction to quitting a job to mending a relationship to motivating oneself to clean. 

Up and coming:

My mom and sister will be here soon to visit for a week!  We ALL are very excited. 

St Patrick’s Day heightens the mood a bit for especially the Irish.  Clover-shaped cookies are in the making. 

This evening I am going to Alexandria, VA to join my CSB friend Shannon for an International Festival.  I will report next time. 

The end of Lent will be here before we know it.  Palm Sunday is next Sunday the 24th followed by the Triduum and Easter!