Chris Picco–a true witness to hope

Chris Picco–a true witness to hope . . .

Re-posted from faithit

Chris Picco should have been singing “Happy Birthday,” to his newborn son, Lennon.

But Lennon’s birthday was a somber one. On November 8, 2014, Chris’ wife of seven years, Ashley, passed away suddenly in her sleep. She was 24 weeks pregnant. The doctors who had fought to save her life turned their attention to Lennon, who was born via emergency C-section 16 weeks earlier than planned.

Chris, a worship leader in Loma Linda, California, lost his beloved wife and welcomed his newborn son in the same day. In the face of such an enormous tragedy, Chris did the unthinkable: He sang.

Then, after only four days of life, Lennon joined his mother in Heaven. And Chris used his voice again, only this time, it was at the funeral for his wife and son.

His beautiful rendition of, “My Father’s World” shows the power of God to bring people closer together, even through tragedy.


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Frodo Teaches Us about Strength in Times of Darkness

Sr. Dorcee:

“At morn God will befriend us . . . “

Originally posted on Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings:

If hope means to have some expectation that things will turn out well for the one who hopes then Frodo has little of it. He does not expect that he will survive his mission. When he awakens at dusk in the foul pit in which he, Sam and Gollum have been sheltering he prepares to go to the Black Gate of Mordor with no plan of how to get past it but only a clear sense of where his duty lies. He must do what the Council has asked of him. He must do all in his power to take the Ring to the fires of Mount Doom and there unmake it. If he has hope then it must mean that he believes that what he seeks to do has meaning even if he fails and perishes in the attempt and the Ring returns to the hand of its master…

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May 20: Very Early Morning

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

It’s Sunday and time for me to share a poem.  I love this poem by Luci Shaw.  I think it’s one of the first I ever read of hers and always comes back to mind this time of year.   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  I think it’s one that benefits greatly from being read aloud.  (There are shades of Hopkins in this poem.)

May 20: Very Early Morning

All the field praises him/all
dandelions are his glory/gold
and silver all trilliums unfold
white flames above their trinities
of leaves all wild strawberries
and massed wood violets   reflect his skies–
clean blue and white
all brambles/all oxeyes
all stalks and stems lift to this light
all young windflower bells
tremble on hair
springs for his air’s
carillon touch/last year’s yarrow (raising
brittle star skeletons) tells
age is not past praising
all small low unknown
unnamed weeds…

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A pure transparent pool

Sr. Dorcee:

Oh, to be like her . . .

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

I’ve been thinking about how I would answer my own query at the end of yesterday’s post, and one thing that immediately came to mind that brings beauty into my own life is a little photo album of art prints and such that I have collected.  For many of them I have an accompanying quote on the facing page.  Often I use it as an accompaniment in prayer, a source of meditation.  One example of this can be found here.  And here is another example:

I find this image of Mary quite beautiful.  Its title is Mary, the Mother and Consolation of the Grieving.   The following is the poem I have placed opposite it:


There was nothing in the Virgin’s soul
that belonged to the Virgin–
no word, no thought, no image, no intent.
She was a pure, transparent pool reflecting
God, only God.

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“God Speaks in Blue”

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Wonder and Beauty:

A poem from Luci Shaw:

God Speaks in Blue

My friend hands me a gift
from overseas.  “Here,” she says.
“For you.”  The small packet rustles
with dry particles.  Through thin paper
my fingers feel the nubs.  I thank her,

 turning over the plain brown envelope.
There from the other side a photo–
the vivid, blunt cross of Mecanopsis Betonicifolia,
a Himalayan Blue Poppy–looks at me with
its gold eye, four azure petals blazing.

A blue to color a dream.  The blue
of Mary’s mantle according to Raphael.
The blue at the heart of a gas flame, within
an ice cave, one a cerulean door in a white wall
on Santorini, a kind of blue that

catches my heart ajar and blows it wide open.
Dry seeds and a picture, until next spring.
But, oh, if only I could be alive enough
to burn like this flower.  If only
I could bloom…

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A walk along the river

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Yesterday I was talking a walk around Gallup Park along the Huron River.  When I turned one corner, I was struck by the brightness of the sun being reflected off a portion of the river.  I started thinking about how that brightness was the result of the sun being reflected of many individual drops of water.  We are like those drops of water.  Many days we can wonder whether our life counts for anything.  We’re just living our ordinary daily lives, trying to love God and love His people.  Who even knows about us?  Yet, we are part of a people, the people of God. And when His light shines on us, we do reflect it.

In order for light to reflect off of something, the object must be pure, and that requires purification –the purification that happens right there in the ordinariness of our lives. This reminds me of…

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Journeys through dark places

I just discovered Stephen Winter’s blog, Adventures in Living, where he writes about The Lord of the Rings.  Just starting to delve, but here is a treasure:

Journeying in the Dark Places

Anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings will know that journeys through dark places play an important part in the story. In order to become king Aragorn must journey the Paths of the Dead and lead a fell army in order to overcome the Corsairs of Umbar at Pelargir. Frodo and Sam must journey through the utter dark of Shelob’s Lair in order to enter Mordor and carry the Ring to the fires of Orodruin. And the Fellowship journey through the mines of Moria in order to find a way from the west to the east of The Misty Mountains, the greatest mountain range of Middle earth.

I did not use the word, “must” when speaking of this last journey because it is debated vigorously by the company. Boromir is entirely set against taking this way through the ancient kingdom of the Dwarves, now long abandoned, and argues his case with vigour. “I will not go…not unless the vote of the whole company is against me.” Legolas does not wish to go either and the hobbits are simply afraid of this journey in the dark. Gandalf is sure that it is the only way but Aragorn warns him, “It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!”

But in the end there is another, “must” that determines their course of action. Their camp is attacked by wargs, the wolves, the “hounds of Sauron”, and in order to escape them they make for the doors of Moria. And when they get to the doors there is one more “must”. The company is attacked by a foul creature in the waters that guard the gate and are only able to escape it by entering the mine with the doors shattered behind them. They now have only one way out. They must journey some days through the darkness and all the perils that might be concealed there.

None of us willingly choose such dark journeys but the great spiritual traditions teach their necessity if we are to find our true selves. In the Christian tradition is the dark journey of Holy Week that must be taken if we are to come, fully alive, to Easter Sunday. The intention of this week is to remind us of this reality at one point in each year; the reality being that it is a journey that none of us can ultimately avoid, there is a “must” about it. Our fear when we begin such a journey is that there is no certainty that we will come safely to the other side. The words inscribed over the gates of hell in Dante’s Infernocome to mind here, “Abandon all hope all you that enter here.” The temptation that assails us in all dark journeys is the temptation to despair. Dante shows that there is a way through and that is to go boldly if fearfully into its very heart. And as he journeys through hell he sees signs everywhere that it has been harrowed by Christ who entered the dark in order to defeat it and set its prisoners free if they wished to come with him.

The Fellowship “must” take this journey if they are to some safely to the other side of the mountains and for one member it will be a very dark journey indeed. For him above all this journey will be both terrible and yet also a wonderfultransformation. If when we “must” make our journeys we can take them with the same bold faith it will lead to our transformation too. We too will become “fully alive” and our true selves.