A New Year’s Eve Blessing

new year's eve

A New Year’s Eve Blessing
~ Teo Bishop ~

May you look back on the year,
and feel a sense pride.
May you remember the strength of your character,
the resilience of your spirit,
and the inherent worth of your being.
May you know that you are a part of an ecosystem,
and that your life is sustained
by countless other living things.
May you have gratitude for what has been;
for all that you have lost,
and all you have gained.
May you laugh at your mistakes.
May you forgive yourself, and love yourself.
May you be resolved to be more fully alive in the year to come;
more present in your body, in your mind, and in your heart.
And most of all, may you be blessed with unexpected joys,
undeniable happiness, and unending compassion in the year to come.


Thursday Re-View — “Heart Song”

If I were a song…

If I were a song, what would I sound like?

At birth, luminous angels must trumpet the Hallelujah Chorus for each and every soul in celebration of their birth, their innocence, their precious light.

As an infant, I must have sounded like wind chimes…softly stirring, different refrains, yet always in harmony. Tripping like water over pebbles in a winding brook, exploring different paths, yet always pulled forward.

But there were deeper tones – starts and stops, hesitation, background noise – too quiet – almost imagined.

Then – regimented, in step with military precision (what happened to the wind chimes? the babbling brook?), with a cadence never out of step.

Oh, no – never out of step.

Ominous darkness with undertones of rhythmic despair; on and on, building to a crescendo. A cacophony of discordant sound – keening wails, shrieks, cries, moans… Until cymbals crash and everything stops.

Then silence…echoes of silence…

But wait –

There it was –

Faint at first –

The wind chimes, the sparkling notes of laughter and joy, of innocence and love, of life and hope and play… Bright colored, shimmering golds and purples, a glittering rainbow of dance…

Free style dance.

Theresa’s dance.

It sang with spirit and direction and confidence in itself, this song. This heart song…

It never stopped, never left.


It was always there, lighting my way, dancing in the darkness, spilling its notes through the channels of my heart carved by tears.

My heart song.

Always there in celebration, always my own; song of Your heart, song of my own.

heart IV


Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety Fifth Street


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

santa III


“Is There a Santa Claus?” reprinted from September 21, 1897, The New York Sun, Francis Pharcellus Church.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
~ Clement Clarke Moore ~

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

santa 3________________________________________

Today’s Quote

cobwebs manu gomi

We are all on a journey together…
To the center of the universe…
Look deep
into yourself, into another.
It is to a center which is everywhere
that is the holy journey…
First you need only look:

notice and honor the radiance
of everything about you…
Play in this universe.
Tend all these shining things around you:
the smallest plant,
the creatures and objects in your care.
Be gentle and nurture.
As we experience and accept
all that we really are…
we grow in care.
We begin to embrace others
as ourselves, and learn to live
as one among many…

~ Anne Hillman ~


A Winter Blessing

National Geographic

National Geographic

A Winter Blessing
Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

Blessed are you, winter,
dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter,
you faithfully guard a life unseen,
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter,
frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb
you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.

Blessed are you, winter,
your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons
about emptiness and solitude.

Blessed are you, winter,
you teach us valuable lessons
about waiting in darkness
with hope and trust.

Blessed are you, winter,
season of blood red sunsets
and star-filled, long, dark nights,
faithfully you pour out your beauty.

Blessed are you, winter,
when your tiny snowflakes
flurry through the air,
you awaken our sleeping souls.

Blessed are you, winter,
with your wild and varied moods,
so intent on being yourself,
you refuse to be a people-pleaser.

Blessed are you, winter,
when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
you call forth the good in us
as we rush to help one another.

Blessed are you, winter,
your inconsistent moods
often herald spring’s arrival,
yet how gracefully you step aside
when her time has come.


Thursday Re-View — “The Greatest Miracle in the World”

“However, I am not that sort of a ragpicker.
I seek more valuable materials than old newspapers and aluminum beer cans..
I search out waste materials of the human kind,
people who have been discarded by others, or even themselves,
people who still have great potential
but have lost their self-esteem and their desire for a better life.
When I find them, I try to change their lives for the better,
give them a new sense of hope and direction,
and help them return from their living death…
which to me is the greatest miracle in the world.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World



If there is any one thing that being a Licensed Mental Health Professional can teach you, it is that every single person you meet has a story. Some are easier to detect, while others are cloaked in near perfect images of success. The complexity of these stories is enhanced by gender, socioeconomic status, culture, genetics, upbringing, faith tradition, age, marital status, family situation, education…the list goes on.

But every person has a story…

In my work, I am privileged to be a co-journeyer with another person when they choose to share even a small part of their story. The details of some of their stories can crush you; I often find myself marveling at their strength and courage. Indeed, I do not know if I would still be standing if I had to go through what some people have gone through. And yet many of them retain their inherent goodness as they keep pushing forward…

The single mother whose younger son was tragically killed in a car accident by his older brother, which she was reminded of each time her oldest son came home from school…

The woman whose father had sexually abused her since she was an infant, with whom she had three children, receives word of his terminal cancer diagnosis and is torn between wanting to forgive him and wanting to condemn him…

The man who never told anyone else about his molestation when he was a little boy at the hands of his stepfather…

The former gang member, his body covered in tattoos, crying about how his mother died in her native country without knowing that her son left the gang and started a new life…

The teenaged girl, left pregnant from a brutal rape, whose daily morning sickness reminded her each day of the horrific incident…

The Viet Nam veteran who was plagued by flashbacks of his best buddy being blown into pieces right next to him…

The teen-aged girl, without siblings, who lost both her parents within 6 months of each other – her mother to cancer, her father in a car accident…

The woman who suffered from schizophrenia and refused psychotropic medication, who was evicted from another apartment every 3 months…

The woman who committed suicide because she could not see a way out of an abusive relationship…

A successful business woman who was now living out of her car because of her husband’s secret gambling addiction…

A young woman who would seek shelter in a closet during every thunderstorm, unable to forget how her mother used to bathe her in scalding hot water to try to cleanse her daughter of her fear…


“Each of these individuals and everyone else in the world
still have their own pilot light burning inside them.
It may be very diminished in some,
but…it never, never goes out!
So long as there is a breath of life remaining,
there is still hope…and that’s what we ragpickers count on.
Just give us a chance and we can provide the fuel
that will be ignited by any pilot light,
no matter how diminished it may be.
A human being…is an amazing and complex and resilient
organism capable of resuscitating itself
from its own living death many times,
if it is given the opportunity and shown the way.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World

We are resilient, we human beings. And we are even better when we are joined in our pain by someone who cares…by someone who believes in our worth…who does not judge us, but rather sits with us in unconditional positive regard…who holds on to hope until each of us finds it once again…by someone who is simply present.

So I will continue to be present with those in need, whether those dying at the end of life or those dying while they pretend to live. I will search out those who have been discarded and slowly help them to believe in their worth. If I can find them, then they can find themselves.

And in our connectedness, together we will transform their diminished pilot light into a burning blaze that shines brightly for all to see.

Circles of Compassion and Grace. Remembering the Ragpicker’s instruction by following his very own:

Laws of Success and Happiness

~ Count your blessings. ~
~ Proclaim your rarity! ~
~ Go another mile. ~
~ Use wisely your power of choice. ~
~ Do all things with love. ~

And remembering that we humans are indeed the Greatest Miracle in the World…

babies 2


Echoes of Loneliness

She was 16 years old and living in a nursing home.

You know the type place – where the smell of stale bodies and crumbling memories meets you when you walk through the door, where the cries of lost hope and discarded dreams echo through the hallways.

That type nursing home. Smelling of mustiness and mothballs, of dried food and forgotten flowers.

A 16 year old innocent with the most severe form of muscular dystrophy. Lisa couldn’t talk (but she could grunt), couldn’t walk (but her limbs jerked with uncontrolled movement when she was excited or agitated), couldn’t see (blind since birth), but had about 60% hearing in one ear. Her days were spent in bed, alone, waiting…

Waiting for a family who never came, who was too poor to properly take care of her and who couldn’t deal with the heartache when visiting their daughter. So they stayed away…

Who am I to judge? I had no idea what I would be able to do for her by visiting her once a week, but I do know that after each visit, I needed to shake off the sadness that I wore like a heavy cloak when I walked outside the door. But at least I could leave…

Her caregivers in the nursing home took care of Lisa like she was their daughter. Her bed linens were fresh, her clothes clean, her hair smelling of roses…and there was always music playing, since that seemed to keep her calm. And she loved to hear prayers recited at any hour of the day or night, especially ones that spoke of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When I first met Lisa, she was half sitting up in her bed, enjoying some crackers as a snack. Even though more crumbs were on her lap and the bed, she seemed determined to get her spasmodic hand movements under control enough to aim for her mouth. She made it more times than not; she kept trying until she succeeded.bedThe nurse’s aide explained my presence in a soothing voice, and cleaned off Lisa’s hands and face so we could visit. I sat still while her hands shook their way across my face, studying my features intently the only way she knew how. Satisfied, she sat back and I told her a bit about myself.

In later visits, through trial and error, I found that singing the “Hail Mary” prayer to Lisa in a soft voice, sitting on the side of her bed where she had her good ear, quieted her agitation. She would lay down and close her eyes, grunting occasionally while I sang off-key.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

By sheer luck, I found that Lisa also loved “Hail Holy Queen.” I had my Trappist monk friends to thank for knowing how to sing that prayer, since it was part of their Compline Office each evening when I was on retreat with them at Holy Cross Abbey (Berryville, VA).

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

One spring day, I arrived at the nursing home in a thunderstorm, the torrential downpour and gray skies matching my mood. I ran inside, repeating Chaplain Susan’s reminder to me (“She Who Hears the Cries of the World“): “Theresa, you are their light; Theresa, you are their light.”

The staff told me that Lisa had a rough night, her restlessness almost unmanageable, and that she was finally asleep. I thought I would look in on her anyway, since the loud thunder might have awakened her since the last bed check. But when I stood at the side of Lisa’s bed, she was fast asleep, her thumb in her mouth, hugging her favorite blanket.

As I sang the Hail Mary prayer and carefully pushed back the hair on her damp forehead, suddenly a beam of sunlight pierced the near-by window and settled on Lisa’s face.

Sunlight – not lightning – where you could even see dust motes in its beam as it traveled across the room to illuminate her peaceful face.

She smiled, as if aware of what was taking place while she slept. Her skin literally glowed.

In the middle of a thunderstorm, the rain pounding on the windows, a shaft of sunlight piercing the gloom just long enough to recognize Lisa’s soul – beautiful, healthy, vibrant, singing.

Just like that, the light disappeared.

I looked around her room for the source – nothing. No flashlight, no lamp, no one popping their head into the room wielding a camera. We were alone.

Then again, maybe we weren’t…

Circles of Grace.

A communion of light filling a lost soul who was not lost, but rather, found.

Never doubt that you are blessed, dear Lisa. You were anointed in the midst of a raging storm. Be at peace.

You are beautiful. And you are loved…