Lenten Grace — The Uses of Sorrow

Originally posted on Barnstorming:

photo by Josh Scholten photo by Josh Scholten

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
~Mary Oliver, “The Uses of Sorrow”

The bright sadness of Lent
is a box full of darkness
given to us by someone who loves us.

It takes a lifetime to understand,
if we ever do,
this gift with which we are entrusted
is meant to
hand off to another and another
whom we love just as well.

Opening the box
allows light in
where none was before.
Sorrow shines bright
reaching up
from the deep well
of our loving
and being loved.

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The happiest of beings

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives.

Originally posted on Wonder and Beauty:

“I do not know when I have had happier times in my soul, than when I have been sitting at work, with nothing before me but a candle and a white cloth, and hearing no sound but that of my own breath, with God in my soul and heaven in my eye . . . . I rejoice in being exactly what I am,—a creature capable of loving God, and who, as long as God lives, must be happy.  I get up and look for a while out of the window, and gaze at the moon and stars, the work of the Almighty hand.  I think of the grandeur of the universe, and then sit down, and think myself one of the happiest beings in it.”  ~a poor Methodist woman, 18th century

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What should I give up for Lent?

Sr. Dorcee:

Still good advice . . .

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

I have the answer for you!  I’d like to share a short article I wrote for The Catholic Times last year:

“So . . . what are you giving up for Lent?”  The best all-time answer I’ve ever heard to that question comes from Fr. John Peter Cameron, editor of Magnificat: “Here’s what to give up for Lent: the doubt that goes, ‘I can never get closer to God because I’m too sinful, too flawed, too weak.’”  Lent really is not about giving up, but about receiving. Fr. John goes on to say: “Lent is not about lamenting our inadequacy.  Rather, it is a graced moment to receive from God what he is eager to give us so that we can live the friendship with him that he desires. . . .”

This approach requires a major change of attitude on most of our parts.  We are so geared…

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A Recipe For Good Medicine

Sr. Dorcee:

I want her for my doctor.

Originally posted on Barnstorming:

raindrops1315

A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.
~Ray Bradbury from Dandelion Wine

Most days in clinic we see tears, lots of them.  We keep boxes of tissues strategically placed in the exam and consult rooms,  as well as the waiting room.  Life can seem overwhelming, fear and worry proliferate unchecked and floodgates spillover occurs when just one more thing happens — maybe a failed test, a fight with a family member, a lingering fatigue that just might be some dread disease.

We underestimate how therapeutic a good cry can be, almost as helpful as deep and heart felt laughter.  Stress and tension is dissipated, endorphins are released, muscles relax.  Holding back tears, like trying not to laugh (think Mary Tyler Moore at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral service) is hard work and cab only…

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Shatter Me

Originally posted on Barnstorming:

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As through a long-abandoned half-standing house
only someone lost could find,

which, with its paneless windows and sagging crossbeams,
its hundred crevices in which a hundred creatures hoard and nest,

seems both ghost of the life that happened there
and living spirit of this wasted place,

wind seeks and sings every wound in the wood
that is open enough to receive it,

shatter me God into my thousand sounds.

~Christian Wiman “Small Prayer in a Hard Wind”

May I,
though sagging and graying,
leaning perilously,
be porous enough
to allow life’s gusts
through me
without being pushed over
in a heap.

So the wind
makes me sing
filling my every crack
and defect,
shattered into pieces,
a mosaic of praises.
~E Gibson

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The marvel of snowflakes

Sr. Dorcee:

We got 14 inches of this beauty last night.

Originally posted on Wonder and Beauty:

(The wonderful photographic work of Andrew Osokin, a Moscow-based photographer. You can see more of his photos here.)

Cold

This is the season of snows,
when the sky, all in pieces, is falling,
and bells from invisible towers
are soundlessly tolling.

Over the carpeted earth,
footsteps are coming and going,
leaving no tracks on a land
where winter is snowing.

Where are they hanging, the bells?
Whose are the feel that come walking?
And voices gone speechless with cold–
to whom are they talking?

Sound is an alien here,
and vision the child of a stranger.
Nothing is feeding the heart,
nothing but hunger.

Feed then my eyes and my ears.
God, feed my hunger with hunger,
my longing with snow-falling snow,
my heart with your winter.

Mother Mary Frances

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John must have wondered . . .

Sr. Dorcee:

From the archives.

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

I have a number of “lighted coals” in my life.  One of them is Amy Carmichael whom I have quoted quite often in this blog.  She never fails to “rekindle” me.   And one of my favorite things is to introduce my good friends to one another.  Here is another gem from her:

I have been reading Luke 1.  “With God nothing shall be impossible” [Luke 1.37].   Then I read Acts 12.  James was killed in prison; Peter was set free.  God, with whom nothing is impossible, did not answer the prayers of those who loved James in the same way as He answered prayers of those who loved Peter.  He could have done so, but He did not.  “And blessed is he who takes no offense at Me” [Luke 7.43].  The words seem to me to be written across Acts 12.  John must have wondered why the angel was not sent to James, or…

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Foggy and Fine Days

Sr. Dorcee:

Feeling in a fog? You’re not the only one.

Originally posted on Barnstorming:

morning18151

frozenpineneedles

webbymoss

The weather and my mood have little connection.
I have my foggy and my fine days within me;
my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter.
- Blaise Pascal

There has been freezing fog the last several mornings when I’ve gone out to do barn chores. This is fog that literally sticks to the world, dripping in tiny icicles from everything, swallowing up all visible landscape, hushing bird song, erasing all color, homogenizing everything.

It also sucks up my horses as I send them out to the field from the barn. They lead slowly out to the gate, sniffing the wet cold air, hesitant to be turned out into the grey sea surrounding them. What is there to eat out here in this murk? Each one, when turned loose, wanders into the soup, disappearing, as if never to be seen again. One by one they move boldly…

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He knows

Sr. Dorcee:

Just needed to go back to Amy Carmichael as we begin this year.

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Ps 103.14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
Job 23.10 He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

“Perhaps those words, He knows, are meant for you today because God has allowed you some special trial of faith.  The love of God is very brave.  He does not hold trial off lest we should be overwhelmed.  He lets it come and then gloriously strengthens us to meet it.  And at the end, I shall come forth as gold.”  (Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power)

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“Let it penetrate your heart”

Sr. Dorcee:

Always good to remember . . .

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

On this great gift of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I can’t help but post Mary’s beautiful words to Juan Diego, words that she speaks to each one of us:

“Listen, and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son; do not be troubled or weighted down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

 
“Let it penetrate your heart.”

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