HEALING: Crossing The Line

September 9, 2017

My first healing miracle occurred in a public place.  A seminary, in fact. At morning Mass.  During the service.  At the rail. And while the event disturbed me deeply, I was still conscious enough to watch people around me and how they reacted to me now. Now. Now that they knew. I didn’t know I had this ability. But the next second in my life after the touch, they knew. My reaction, of course, as it has been my whole life, was to curl up like a mole somewhere soft and dark and just stay there until the commotion was over. Commotion. We don’t think of that word being attached to God. Mostly we think, Yes, I believe in God, but this morning’s newspaper is a lot more interesting than to think about than God. We [...]

PRAYER: Seven Things To Pray For Your Children, by Jon Bloom

January 16, 2017

From Desiring God Some years back a good friend shared with me seven scripture texts that he and his wife prayed for their two daughters from the time they were infants. The girls are now grown. And it’s beautiful to see how God has (and still is) answering the faithful, specific prayers of faith-filled parents in the lives of these young, godly women. I have frequently used these prayers when praying for my children, too; and I commend them to you. But, of course, prayers are not magic spells. It’s not a matter of just saying the right things and our children will be blessed with success. Some parents earnestly pray and their children become a gifted leaders or scholars or musicians or athletes. Others earnestly pray and their [...]

POETRY: Solace by Dick Allen

January 11, 2017

Newtown, CT December 2012 There are the fields we’ll walk across In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the fields we’ll walk across. There are the houses we’ll walk toward In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the houses we’ll walk toward. There are the faces we once kissed In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the faces we once kissed. Incredible how we laughed and cried In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we laughed and cried. Incredible how we’ll meet again In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we’ll meet again. No small hand will go unheld [...]

POETRY: I Turn My Silence Over, by Kary Wayson

July 1, 2016

I am in the tenth month of the ninth life of my silence. My baby’s grown fat enough to feed me. I turn my silence over. I turn it towards my mother. It wears the expressionless face of an oscillating fan. Each day, at intervals, a bell brings enormous horses to the middle of my alphabet. I turn my silence over. I’m not speaking to my mother. My mute has balloons for his hands. O Underbite! With your mailbox of a jaw. O Nothing! When I ask what’s wrong. I turn my silence over: an astronomical number. O, How I could go on! Market to market I go and come home. My silence runs parallel to the direction of my travel. My silence makes a district with just one constituent: I am the legislator of my mother. My silence [...]

POETRY: The Waltz We Were Born For, by Walt McDonald

July 18, 2014

Wind chimes ping and tangle on the patio. In gusty winds this wild, sparrow harks hover and bob—always the crash of indigo hosannas dangling on strings. My wife tries copper to turquoise from deserts, and bits of steel from engines I tear down. She strings them all like laces of babies’ shoes when the squeal of their play made joyful noise in the hall. Her voice is more modest than moonlight, like pearl drops she wears in her lobes. My hands find the face of my bride. I stretch her skin smooth and see bone. Our children bring children to bless her, her face more weathered than mine. What matters is timeless, dazzling devotion—not rain, not Eden gardenias, but cactus in drought, not just moons of deep sleep, not sunlight or stars, [...]

POETRY: Yard Sale, by Jane Kenyon

July 16, 2014

Under the stupefying sun my family’s belongings lie on the lawn or heaped on borrowed card tables in the gloom of the garage. Platters, frying pans, our dead dog’s dish, box upon box of sheet music, a wad of my father’s pure linen hand-rolled handkerchiefs, and his books on the subsistence farm, a dream for which his constitution ill suited [...]

POETRY: The Idea Of Ancestry by Etheridge Knight

July 9, 2014

1 Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand- fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews. They stare across the space at me sprawling on my bunk. I know their dark eyes, they know mine. I know their style, they know mine. I am all of them, they are all of me; they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee. I have at one time or another been in love with my mother, 1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum), and 5 cousins. I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece (she sends me letters in large block print, and her picture is the only one that smiles at me). I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 [...]

SATURDAY READING: Seek Solitude by David Yount

March 22, 2014

From Spiritual Simplicity Make Peace With Yourself   Simple living is not trouble free.  Simplicity offers no permanent protection against adversity, but it will help you to deal with ill fortune more calmly and sensibly, while giving you the foresight to head off unnecessary setbacks.  By establishing reasonable expectations and responsible habits you will no longer be a ready candidate for victimization.  You will anticipate ups and downs, but you will not be down for long. The only sure things in life, we’re told, are death and taxes, but they are the things we worry least about.  Only about one American in four frets about dying, but two-thirds of us worry about ending our days in a nursing home because of physical frailty [...]

THE CHURCH: Going To Church — A Sartorial Odyssey, by Marshall Chapman

February 13, 2014

From Circling Faith I am not a churchgoer.  At least not on any regular basis.  The last time I went to church was Easter Sunday 1998.  I’d been out in the yard digging in the garden when, at about a quarter ‘til eleven, I jumped up and decided I had to go to church right then and there.  My husband, Chris, agreed to go with me, so off we went, not bothering to change clothes or anything because we didn’t want to be late.  I just grabbed one of his clean, white oxford cloth Brooks Brothers shirts and threw it on over my Spice Girls T-shirt, gray sweatpants with garden dirt still on the knees, and flip-flops – beautifully showcasing a recent pedicure, I might add.  Chris was somewhat more presentable in dress shirt, ironed [...]

POETRY: Nightingales In America, by Jane Flanders

February 12, 2014

The older women were Sunbeams and I guess we were Cherubs or Lambs but our mothers were Nightingales. Sunday mornings they prayed and sang in a niche of the Methodist Church. They studied the sorrows of Jesus and all who suffered in places like Abyssinia, where there was still so much to be done. There was much to be done everywhere, of course— bake sales, suppers, altars, the homely chores women were made for. Once a year, however, they paused in their good works and took us all to Cold Spring Park. After we skidded around the roller rink maybe a million times, seesawed, swang, got skinned and bitten, skittered through poison ivy, fell in the creek, rode the little train and ate our fill we lay back blissfully in the grass and watched [...]

POETRY: Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden

February 12, 2014

Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had drive out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely [...]

POETRY: The Hammock, by Li-Young Lee

January 29, 2014

When I lay my head in my mother’s lap I think how day hides the star, the way I lay hidden once, waiting inside my mother’s singing to herself. And I remember how she carried me on her back between home and the kindergarten, once each morning and once each afternoon. I don’t know what my mother’s thinking. When my son lays his head in my lap, I wonder: Do his father’s kisses keep his father’s worries from becoming his? I think Dear God, and remember there are stars we haven’t heard from yet: They have so far to arrive. Amen, I think, and I feel almost comforted. I’ve no idea what my child is thinking. Between two unknowns, I live my life. Between my mother’s hopes, older than I am by [...]

POETRY: Beware, Soul Brother, by Chinua Achebe

October 11, 2013

We are the men of soul men of song we measure out our joys and agonies too, our long, long passion week in paces of the dance. We have come to know from surfeit of suffering that even the Cross need not be a dead end nor total loss if we should go to it striding the dirge of the soulful abia drums. . . But beware soul brother of the lures of ascension day the day of soporific levitation on high winds of skysong; beware for others there will be that day lying in wait leaden-footed, tone-deaf passionate only for the deep entrails of our soil; beware of the day we head truly skyward leaving that spoil to the long ravenous tooth and talon of their hunger. Our ancestors, soul brother, were wiser than is often made out. Remember they gave Ala, [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteenth Station — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

March 16, 2013

From The Journey to Peace There were also women present looking on from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome. These women had followed Jesus when he was in Galilee and attended to his needs.  There were also many others who had come up with him to Jerusalem.  As it grew dark (it was Preparation Day, that is, the eve of the Sabbath), Joseph from Arimathea arrived – a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin.  He was another who looked forward to the reign of God.  He was bold enough to seek an audience with Pilate and urgently requested the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised that Jesus should have died so soon. He summoned the centurion and inquired whether Jesus [...]

MORNING DEW: A Gift of Remembrance, by Belvie Rooks

February 8, 2013

Gift of Spirit that I am. I am called this morning to this ancient place of solitude and silence Called by ancient ancestral voices from a deeply troubling sleep Called once again to this place of whispered remembrances where the sacred voices of long-forgotten ancestors rustle silently through these ancient and endangered groves Summoned by these ancient grandmothers to this most holy place to bear witness to the first faint rays of another dawn Please grant us in Your grace the gift of wisdom that we may remember even at this late hour to love to honor to protect and defend the most precious of Your many gifts, our [...]

POETRY: A Parental Ode to My Son, aged three years and five months, by Thomas Hood

February 6, 2013

Thou happy, happy elf! (But stop,—first let me kiss away that tear!) Thou tiny image of myself! (My love, he’s poking peas into his ear!) Thou merry, laughing sprite, With spirits feather-light, Untouched by sorrow, and unsoiled by sin,— (My dear, the child is swallowing a pin!) Thou little tricksy Puck! With antic toys so funnily bestuck, Light as the singing bird that wings the air,— (The door! The door! he’ll tumble down the stair!) Thou darling of thy sire! (Why, Jane, he’ll set his pinafore afire!) Thou imp of mirth and joy! In Love’s dear chain so strong and bright a link, Thou idol of thy parents,—(Drat the boy! There goes my ink!) Thou cherub,—but of earth; Fit playfellow for Fays, by moonlight [...]

POETRY: A Prayer for My Daughter, by William Butler Yeats

February 6, 2013

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid Under this cradle-hood and coverlid My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill Whereby the haystack and roof leveling wind, Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed; And for an hour I have walked and prayed Because of the great gloom that is in my mind. I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower, And under the arches of the bridge, and scream In the elms above the flooded stream; Imagining in excited reverie That in the future years had come, Dancing to a frenzied drum, Out of the murderous innocence of the sea. May she be granted beauty and yet not Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught, Being [...]

SATURDAY READING: What Really Matters, by John Taylor Gatto

November 17, 2012

From The Plain Reader Going to the moon didn’t really matter, it turned out. I say that from the vantage point of my six decades living on Planet Earth but also because of something I saw not so long ago.  It was at Booker T. Washington High School where I watched an official astronaut, a handsome, well-built black man in his prime, dressed in a silver spacesuit, with an air of authentic command, try to get the attention of an auditorium full of Harlem teenagers.  It was the board of education’s perfect template for dramatic success — a distinguished black man leading ignorant black kids to wisdom.  He came with every tricky device and visual aid NASA could muster, yet the young audience ignored him completely.  At several places [...]

MYSTICISM: Fifteen Ways of Seeing the Light — (4) Family History, by Peter Friederici

September 13, 2012

From the Georgia Review  “. . . the natural limitation so flight sempiternally deny the satisfaction of desire.  For this is the inherent irony of vision, that it reveals to us the space beyond our bodies, and the shortness of our grasp.  Visual perception makes it possible for us to grasp for what is beyond, and, at the same time, to realize that we cannot reach it.” —    F. Gonzalez-Crussi, The Five Senses “The value of exposure to light cannot very easily be overrated.”  That’s what my grandfather wrote, in 1930, in the New York Times.  A half-page in the New York Times to reproduce a lecture he’d given!  He’d done quite well for himself, having come to this country from Germany only ten years earlier.  He was [...]

FAMILY: On The Nature Of Honor, or The Gift of Intention

August 7, 2012

Honor: to regard or treat someone with admiration and respect. I had a problem as a child.  I took God very seriously.  I took church very seriously.  I took the words of the Bible very seriously. And every time we read aloud the Decalogue, there would be the words: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. As I said, I had a problem as a child. No matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did, no matter what prayers I gave to God, I could not find a way to honor my father and my mother.  I didn’t really care about how long my days would be upon the land. But I did care very deeply that every day of my life I was breaking one of God’s holy laws. My [...]

POETRY: Family Bible by Robert Morgan

July 25, 2012

The leather of the book is soft and black as that of Grandma’s purse, brought west by horse and wagon, kept on mantel shelf and closet plank. The red dye on the edge has faded. The marriages recorded, births and deaths set down in pencil and in many inks and hands, with names and middle names and different dates and spellings scrawled in berry juice that looks like ancient blood.  And blood is what the book’s about, the blood of sacrifice and blood of lamb, two testaments of blood, and blood of families set in names to show the course and merging branches, roots of fluid in your veins this moment. You open crackly pages think as film of river birch and read the law of blood and soar of blood in print of word and print of [...]