Sometimes

herondance.org III

herondance.org

Sometimes
~ Herman Hesse ~

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far-off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My world turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions.What should I reply?

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Today’s Quote

stained glass

For a long time it had seemed to me
that life was about to begin – real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way,
something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business,
time still to be served,
a debt to be paid.
Then, life would begin.
At last it dawned on me
that these obstacles were my life.

~ Alfred D. Souza

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Today’s Quote

flowers ii

“I don’t know Who – or what – put the question,
I don’t know when it was put.
I don’t even remember answering.
But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone
– or Something –
and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that,
therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.”

~ Dag Hammarskjold ~

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Today’s Quote

panhala.net

panhala.net

Journeying god,
pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength not bolstered by might,
toward a god not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in others’ shoes.

(Prayer song from Ghana, traditional, translator unknown)

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Today’s Quote

gratitude

You are precious with a preciousness
that cannot be computed.
Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you
from the source of all life.
Nothing.
Not disease, not suffering, not even death.

Go forth sustained by the knowledge
that you precious, you are embraced,
able to go forth with a courage that is not your own,
because its source is the source of all that is beautiful,
all that is good, all that is true.

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Life

Life

Life is an opportunity – benefit from it.
Life is beauty – admire it.
Life is bliss – taste it.
Life is a dream – realize it.
Life is a challenge – meet it.
Life is a duty – complete it.
Life is a game – play it.
Life is a promise – fulfill it.
Life is sorrow – overcome it.
Life is a song – sing it.
Life is a struggle – accept it.
Life is a tragedy – confront it.
Life is an adventure – dare it.
Life is luck – make it.
Life is too precious – do not destroy it.
Life is life – fight for it.

~ Blessed Mother Teresa ~

Desiderata

Desiderata
by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.

You have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive God to be;
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

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This is How I Will Remember Dad

Dad as a little boy

Dad as a little boy

He was baptized by monks.

When you spoke with my Dad, that was one of the things he was most proud of in his life. Oh, he was proud of his wife and 2 daughters (his “girls”), his three grandsons, his four great-grandchildren, too. But he always returned to the monks…

Both his Hungarian parents entered the United Sates (separately – they had not yet met) through Ellis Island in the first decade of the 20th century. His Mother came here all by herself when she was 16 years old, with $28 in her possession. His father had even less. His parents – my grandparents – eventually met, married, and had 4 children. My Dad was the youngest, born almost 10 years after his oldest sibling. And yes, where he grew up in Union, New Jersey, he was baptized by monks.

He grew up on a farm of almost 90 acres, where my grandmother had a beautiful garden, a spring where we used a pail to fetch clean water, cows that Dad used to milk and manage to have fun at the same time by squirting near-by cats, and an outhouse that had rhubarb growing at the back. Things were a lot simpler then.

Dad played high school football when they wore leather helmets and decided differing opinions mid-field. In his senior year, World War II raging, he joined the Navy on September 16, 1943, a day before his 18th birthday. His school gave him his diploma even though he only finished 2 weeks of his senior year. He was an A student, anyway.

Basic training was in Great Lakes, Michigan, which must have been interesting for a farm boy who had always walked to school and had never been away from home. In addition, he joined the Navy not knowing how to swim. But there was a war on, and that was unimportant in the bigger scheme of things. After Basic, Dad was one of three sailors out of 500 chosen to go on to Texas A & M for training in what would become the nuclear submarine program, but he refused. Why refuse what was such a golden opportunity? Because this 18 year old man has recently met the 15 year old girl who was to become his wife.

Before leaving for the war, this sailor in his dress blues went to a small park in Pennsylvania with a friend, where he saw a pretty young girl with black hair and dark eyes across the gazebo. When he asked his friend who the girl was and said he was going to marry her, his friend laughed and told him he’d never get past her mother – the protective, unsmiling woman beside her.

We know how that turned out. Dad did get introduced, the now 16 year old girl wrote to him during the war, and they got married (Mom was 18, Dad was 21) when he returned home after the war was over. They were married in a beautiful church ceremony with money Dad had saved by selling his cigarette consignments while in the Navy, at a reception with beer, root beer, and sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. Dad promised Mom he would buy her a new dress every week. Romantic – yes. Did he manage to keep his promise? No – which Mom never let him forget, but he did give her so much more.

Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad

Dad apprenticed as a furrier, then worked at a company that manufactured tools such as scissors, tweezers and nail cutters. Then, this young couple decided to venture out on their own by opening their own business. First, they bought an old house in a small town that didn’t like outsiders. In fact, they had to retain an outside attorney (this was almost 60 years ago) to close the sale because my parents’ ethnic background and religion weren’t easily accepted (sound familiar?). After the purchase, they found white sheets and hoods in the attic, which they hurriedly threw out. You get the picture…

They knocked on doors in the garment district in New York City until, after mocking laughter and countless doors slammed in their faces, one Jewish jobber (Bless him…) took a chance on them and offered to send them work. Their business – manufacturing women’s’ and children’s’ blouses, had begun. With a stranger and a handshake. No contract, just their word. In a business relationship that lasted for more than 2 decades.

We lived in a small apartment over the blouse mill. My parents employed almost 30 women and one man for 23 years. Many were single mothers who needed to put food on the table; others were disabled in some way (epileptic, partially sighted, learning disabled). The hardest workers made enough money that some of the men in their lives came to “have a talk with” my father, angrily asking why Dad allowed them to make more money than the man of the house. Dad simply explained that their women earned it. Enough said!

Earlier than most men, Dad treated women as his equal and respected anyone’s hard work and desire to get ahead. By the time my older sister and I were born, Dad was surrounded by women at work and home, so it’s a good thing he could survive in the midst of those hormone shifts!

Memories of Mom and Dad getting up by 6 am and Dad still being downstairs at midnight, doing book work… He made smart investments and saved money, but we still managed to drive almost an hour away once or twice a month to try out the hamburgers at some new type of restaurant known as McDonald’s. When he’d fill up the station wagon’s tank with gas, sometimes we’d get a few ice cream squares, cut them in half, then share them between the four of us. Plus, Dad found that he could save a lot of money by repairing all of the machines in our factory by himself, so the smell of soldering and polishing wafting upstairs was common.

As things settled down and he knew the factory was going to “make it,” Dad started to take us on actual family vacations to Atlantic City, New Jersey and Williamsburg, Virginia. Wow – that was the height of luxury to stay at a motel near-by. And to actually eat out every day??? Heaven. By the time my parents retired from their business, their travel had evolved into Spain, Italy and Greece. They always taught us that we needed to broaden our horizons and meet other people to better understand the world.

They weren’t perfect parents – I’ve never met a perfect human being – but they were very good parents. Mom taught us that “ladies don’t drink, smoke or swear,” (those childhood messages stick with you, don’t they?) and to always wear clean underwear in case we were in a car accident. My sister and I couldn’t date until the magic age of 17, and I worried that no one would ask me out. (A few brave souls did). We were taught that if God gave us more (of anything – intelligence, money, opportunity, etc.), then we were obligated to give more back (to society) in return. Dad had a temper (yelling, never physical) and could be stubborn, while Mom had a tough time forgetting if someone did her or anyone in her family wrong. But they were smart, hard-working, compassionate, generous people who believed in God and their country.

The blouse factory was a family business, one that saw my sister and me working every summer, as well as in the evenings after we did our homework. We were a family unit, and my parents always gave good advice, with no agenda other than our best interests. I asked my parents’ advice until the day each of them died. They never led me astray.

Family

Family

They would also throw high school graduation parties for nieces or nephews if relatives didn’t have the money, buy someone a washer and dryer to make that person’s life easier, or loan money to those in need. Education was very important to both of them; they always said that education was something that no one could take away from you.

My sister went to beauty school and obtained her real estate license; I went to undergrad, optometry school, then grad school (wow – that’s almost 12 years of higher education; one could question my sanity!). All 3 of their grandsons graduated from college. Their 4 great-grandchildren (another one is almost here) already have college funds started.

The American Dream.

From grandparents who came through Ellis Island (Moms’ parents also came through Ellis Island, from Italy) to a man who quit his senior year in high school to fight in WW II and a woman who had to drop out of high school after her sophomore year in order to earn money for her parents and siblings during the war…

What a wonderful legacy Mom and Dad left behind… And I miss them terribly. Next week, another family will take possession of Mom and Dad’s house, another chapter closed.

But I was able to give one last gift to Dad, after I held his hand in the driveway where he fell (see “Remembrance II”).

One of the priests at the college where I worked – a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross – traveled almost 2 hours to say his funeral Mass. He never met Dad, but he knew him from almost 4 years of working with me, and he had the entire church crying about how important Dad’s wife, “girls,” grandsons and great-children were to him. And he allowed my sister and me to dress Dad’s casket with the pall and bless it with holy water as well. Three times – Dad’s favorite number, representing the Trinity.

So for this man of faith who was so honored to have been baptized by monks – add to that a funeral mass celebrated by an ordered priest. A fitting validation of a good and decent man…

By the time the veterans played Taps at the cemetery and we were given the flag, our time together was done. He was finally with Mom…their bodies together in the mausoleum, their spirits together in another plane, at long last.

Rest well. You did good. The world is a better place for having had you in it. And at the end of life, that’s all we can hope for.

Thank you for all of the sacrifices, the guidance and the love. I hope to make you and Mom proud.

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TAPS
Daniel Butterfield – music
Horace Lorenzo Trim – lyrics

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

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Who Will Remember?

Memories IV

“Memories” by
Adrian Art

Who will remember us after we are gone?

Really – who will remember each one of us, past perhaps our grandchildren? Or, if we started a family young enough (I didn’t), perhaps our great-grandchildren? If we have not achieved the notoriety that a Lincoln or a Gandhi or a Mother Teresa has, then who will remember us?

These thoughts came about during the past year when my sister and I were charged with cleaning out our Dad’s house after he died (see Remembrance II). This is the house that he purchased for Mom in the town where she was born – her “homecoming,” so-to-speak. She loved it, even though she died after only a few years of living there.

After Mom died, it took Dad 24 more years to die (at least physically; emotionally, I believe he died when Mom did). And in that 24 years of living alone and missing Mom, Dad accumulated three 30-yard dumpsters full of “stuff” that we threw out, and that didn’t include lots of furniture, food, clothing, etc., that we donated.

That’s a lot of stuff. More than a third of a lifetime of stuff.

What my sister and I sorted through over the course of months (yes – months) meant something to Mom and Dad. Sometimes we understood why it meant so much, and it meant a lot to each of us as well. Did those things mean something to his grandchildren? Only a few, markedly recognizable things. To his great-grandchildren? No – they only remembered that Poppy used to bring them a treat whenever he came to visit.

Some things we found:

– Mom’s old eyeglasses
– Thousands of rubber bands
– Hundreds of plastic bags (wrapped inside of paper bags, wrapped inside of…)
– Piles of empty boxes
– Coins
– A compilation (at least 10 years worth) of mpg for Dad’s Saturn
– Laminated, hand-written, detailed instructions on how to correctly pull the handles on slot machines in Atlantic City in order to win money (we’re talking coins here)
– Black lab calendars for at least the past 10 years (Dad loved our black lab, Misty) with important dates and events listed
– Christmas gifts that Dad had specifically asked for, opened in front of us, then placed in piles, never to be taken out of the boxes
– Packages of white tube socks, unopened
– Bottles of rubbing alcohol
– Thousands of band-aids and cotton balls
– Hundreds of clipped coupons
– Thousands of personalized mailing labels from every charity imaginable (Dad always was a soft touch for sending in donations)
– Hundreds of comic strips clipped from newspapers, held together with rubber bands or paper clips
– Trousers in Dad’s size from Haband, still with tags on
– Several boxes of new sneakers in Dad’s size
– Boxes of tissues and toilet bowl cleaner from the days when Mom & Dad had their own business (they retired in 1981)
– About 15 digital wrist watches in their original boxes, never opened
– Packages of sugar and artificial sweeteners from fast-food restaurants
– Styrofoam coffee cups from McDonald’s (used but washed clean)

The list goes on and on…

But please don’t get the wrong opinion about my Dad… He was not a “hoarder,” as showcased by the reality show of the same name. He was simply a man for whom time stopped when Mom died, and who couldn’t bear to part with anything that reminded him of their 41 years together in marriage. Being born in 1925, he was also a child of the depression, where doing without was “normal;” where he ate what his mother grew in her garden on the farm, and he drank what he milked from the cows (that is, whatever was left after he finished squirting all the cats who lived on the farm) and had breakfast each morning with the fresh eggs he grabbed from the chicken coop.

You never knew when you might need something, so you’d better not throw it out…

Every available resource was used, then reused. Clothes were patched and handed down, foods canned and “put up” in the basement, vegetables stored in root cellars. You were poor, and in order to survive, you kept just about everything.

Old habits die hard.

But we also found:

– a bank envelope with 5s, 10s, 20s and 1s laying on the top rack of the dishwasher
– two paper clippings (one for each of his daughters) with the name and number for a business that specializes in estate junk removal with a comment in Dad’s handwriting: “for after…”
– detailed instructions on the location of life insurance policies, bank accounts, keys, important papers
– a note from the parish priest who married my parents authorizing their double room reservation in a NYC hotel for their honeymoon (my, how times have changed!)
– The NYC train schedule that Mom & Dad used when they first started their business – when they walked through the garment district, door-to-door (and having many of the doors slammed in their faces) – trying to find work
– three copies of a prayer for those living alone
– Dad’s rosary
– Dad’s American Legion membership cards all the way back to 1945, when he was honorably discharged from the Navy
– All of the sympathy cards sent to Dad when Mom died 25 years ago
– laminated copies of years of the “In Memorium” notice Dad put in the local newspaper each year on the date Mom died

And so on and so on and so on…

How much stuff do you throw out until you no longer have anything tangible to touch, to hold onto, from your loved one?

I remember when I traded in my car a few years after Mom died; before leaving it at the dealership, I ran my hand along the worn leather of the passenger seat, knowing that Mom had once sat there when we went shopping together. I cried while I was shredding Dad’s old tax returns and cancelled checks, running the tips of my fingers over his handwriting, always heavily indented into the paper. And when I drove Dad’s 20+ year-old car to the salvage yard to have it scrapped for parts, I could barely see for the tears, knowing my hand was touching the steering wheel with his DNA still on it, interspersed with laughter at the sound of its jet-engine whine. Not to mention the sound of the muffler that a teen-ager would do almost anything to own…

Now I know I’m the author of Soul Gatherings, with daily quotations that touch upon the importance of relationship and interconnectedness, rather than the material. And I truly believe all of that. I know that my parents live on in my memory, in me, in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But I’m human, and it takes a lot longer for our heart to catch up with our head where strong feelings are concerned. And throwing out so much of the “stuff” of my Dad’s life was exhausting, liberating and draining, along with a deep sadness accompanied by a profound sense of loss.

Who will remember us after we are gone?

Tell me – who will remember???

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“En ma Fin gît mon Commencement…
In my End is my Beginning…”
~ Mary, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587) ~

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Today’s Quote

Every person, in the course of his life, must build –
starting with the natural territory of his own self –
a work, an opus,
into which something enters from all the elements of the earth.
He makes his own soul
throughout all his earthly days;
and at the same time
he collaborates in another work,
in another opus,
which infinitely transcends,
while at the same time it narrowly determines,
 the perspectives of his individual achievement:
the completing of the world.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ~

The Shoulders of Giants (Once Again…)

On this, the first anniversary of  Dad’s death, I chose to repost something from almost 3 months ago. My feelings stand.

img206

I’ve said it before – at times, my naiveté astounds me.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor – check.
  • Loss & Bereavement Specialty – check.
  • Survived Mom’s death 25 years ago, when she was only 59 years old – check.
  • Working through the grief process (and it is a process) for Dad, who died not quite a year ago at the age of almost 87 years old – check.
  • Prepared for the grief involved in no longer having a parent alive – not even close.

Everyone grieves differently. It depends on your relationship with that person; if you’ve lost someone before; whether their death was far too quick, with no time to say good-by or agonizingly slow, with unbearable suffering; expected or unexpected; natural or by suicide; your age; and, whether you’re male (like to take action) or female (want someone to listen). The list goes on… There’s no set “process,” per se – no time frame or stages that must be followed in the correct order. Some people act like nothing has happened, while others are prostrate with grief. Shock, denial, bargaining, depression, anger with lots of people (including God), until hopefully – finally – some measure of acceptance.

My patients often ask when they will have “closure,” and I answer honestly there is no such thing as closure, only survival. They will survive.

My head knows this. My heart struggles to keep pace.

Mom’s death was 6 months after her breast cancer diagnosis, after having suffered through a modified radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, surgery, and a 29-day hospital stay. The fact that she was only 59 years old and my close friend made her torment agonizing to watch; so much so, that I actually asked her physician if I could end her suffering (and mine) by just letting her drift away with extra morphine. He shot that option down quickly.

Dad’s death at almost 87 years old was sudden. Two weeks before he died, on Father’s Day, we noticed he was slurring his words. We took him to the doctor, got him a bright red 3-wheel walker and made plans to either move him downstairs in his home (one floor, no steps) or to have him move in with my sister. That was all underway when I got the call that Dad passed away. He was walking down his driveway to get his newspaper, a morning ritual, when he collapsed. The neighbor called 911 when she saw him lying there, but he died “instantly.” (Do doctors tell that to everyone to ease their suffering? Just wondering…)

The shock of Mom’s death shook me to my core. Admittedly, after 25 years, I still light a candle every day in her memory. I don’t know how long Dad’s death will sit so fresh and raw; it’s been less than a year.

But this I do know – I was totally unprepared for the separate grief that comes with no longer having a “parental unit.” It’s unique – it’s different – it’s terrible – it’s lonely – it’s frightening.

I feel abandoned, lost, adrift, disoriented, incomplete. There’s no one to watch my back or to be my cheering section or to give me a safe place to fall.

Where is my anchor? Who will advise me, guide me, forgive me, support me, challenge me, love me unconditionally? Who will comfort the little girl in me, the lost child, as only my parents could?

I once told Dad when he was really missing Mom (which was for the entire 25 years) that he and Mom had given me everything I needed to be a success, that I had “stood on the shoulders of giants.” They were my giants.

“If I have seen further…it is by
standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

~ Sir Isaac Newton

He liked the thought of that and remembered with gratitude all those who helped him along the way.

I shared with him something I felt while at the Baccalaureate service the night before my grad school Commencement. While I sat immersed in the joyous music that filled the cathedral, I could almost sense two lines of ancestors standing behind me. They were in pairs, from my shoulders, back and up, until I lost sight of them. Without turning around, I could visualize them. Somehow I knew that one line included Mom, my maternal grandparents and the rest of her family, while the other line was my paternal grandparents…on and on and on. They were all shapes and sizes and colors, all dressed in different clothing that gave a clue to their work, some younger than others, some faces lined while others were smooth. They were all smiling. Generation after generation after generation.

I have been schooled well.

The best psychotherapists are those who have been through pain. Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest and author (1932 – 1996), reminds us that “in our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”

Who better to sit with you in the darkness than a wounded healer?

I have sat with people who have lost their child (the worst loss), spouse, parent, sibling, friend, grandparent, married lover, colleague – but never someone who was grieving the loss of both parents as a “unit.” How is that possible?

But now, as is always the case, I will be able to sit with someone who no longer has parents – as one person said to me, “Welcome to the Orphan’s Club” – and empathize with their longing for wholeness.

But a broken heart empties us of all that we might hang on to, often too long, so that it might be filled up with something greater and more wondrous that we could ever imagine or think ourselves deserving of. When I am tired enough of struggling, I will once again accept Your glorious grace. I will once again accept the plans You have for me. I know You understand.

Help me to be Your Counselor, Defender, Teacher, Listener, Instrument, Vessel, Comforter, Starfish Thrower (thank you, Diana), Harvester, Secret Keeper (bless you, T), Heartsong, Wellspring.

“Much is expected from those to whom much has been given.”
~ Luke 12:49

Dad’s favorite saying, as well as the way he always signed off on a letter or in a card – “Keep the Faith.” I’m doing my best, Dad, but I still miss both of you more than I ever thought possible.

Like I said, I have stood on the shoulders of giants – Mom and Dad the biggest and most important of all. They lifted me up so I could soar.

Your Circles of Grace – those Circles of Compassion – widen.

My thanks.

The Beads of Life

The Beads of Life
by Nancy Wood

The space between events is where most of life is lived.
Those half-remembered moments of joy or sadness, fear or disappointment,
are merely beads of life strung together
to make one expanding necklace of experience.

The space between events is where we grow old.
From sunrise to sunset one day lives as another day emerges
from the fluid womb of dawn,
the first bead strung upon the everlasting thread of life.

The space between events is where knowledge marries beauty.
In quiet reflection we remember only the colored outline of events,
the black and white of war,
the rosiness that surrounded our first love.

The space between events is why we go on living.
The laughter of a child
or the sigh of wind in a canyon
becomes the music we hear expanding in our hearts
each time we gather one more bead of life.

The Journey (Another Point of View)

The Journey
by David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
 has to be
 enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.

 

My friends – may you find that one line already written inside you
and that bright wedge of freedom in your heart.
 Sometimes you may not be running away from so much as running toward
something beautiful, new and exciting. ~ Theresa

The Journey

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
 though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

My friends…my wish for you is for the stars to burn through any sheet of clouds that may surround you,
so that you might recognize your own voice.

~ Theresa

A Gift of Life and Death

A Gift of Life and Death
by Macrina Wiederkehr

I want my death to be a gift, a birth.
 When in that final breath
I breathe myself back into God
 I want to be drawn into you also,
into the world of stars and earth,
plants and birds and animals,
into the roaring sea.
 I want to be an intimate part
of all the universe.
 And so, as I am breathed back
into the heart of this world,
into the hopes and dreams
and joys of the people,
into the yearnings
and the tears and sorrows of this world,
my death will be a birth, a gift.

I want my death to be a gift
and the only way my death
 can be a gift, is
if my living is a gift
 right now, today
in this frantic, confusing, lovely
messy moment in history.

Oh, just to be here visible, and unhidden,
alive with a hope that has no boundaries,
ever aware of the immense goodness,
at my fingertips, within my reach,
receiving and sharing that goodness
 midwiving it into being,
tasting the incredible truth, that
every day is a good day for living
and every day is a good day for dying.

I want my life to be a gift
 so that my death can be a gift.