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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Even then, You are my God

Written for a Jewish wedding, but still true for every one of us.

Sung at a Jewish wedding, this song is not a typical wedding song. It gives you a new perspective on the holiness of marriage according to Judaism. Jewish tradition teaches that when a man and a woman unite in matrimony, G-d Himself joins them and that the union is holy. The words to this song, a bit melancholy for a joyous Jewish wedding, are truly meaningful and embody the soul of a Jewish marriage – faith.

“..Even on the days when I “forgot” you You were always in my life In all the ways that I went You have been a guiding light. I was blind. I could not see beyond what my eyes were focused on

Chorus: King, the King of all Kings – Thank you for life For happiness for tears and Laughter
Even when it’s hard sometimes, even then, you are my G-d.
You are never far.”

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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“The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.”

How do I give thanks even in suffering?

I shifted my weight and paper crackled under me. My chest constricted, my eyes sagged and my mind tangled like an old cobweb.

The doctor looked up, “There’s hope for guys your age, this isn’t unusual.” I doubted that and continued rocking back and forth.

I come back to that room in my mind a lot. The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.

My father sat across from me, a steadying presence. My wife held my hand, scared. I rocked with chronic anxiety and depression. My fears had distended into sleepless nights, sweaty sheets and a sick and hopeless heart.

The walls of my life closed in when I was just 23, newly married and a grad student – and I wanted out. In the basement of my parents’ house I cursed God.

With tears carelessly wiped and flung, my fists pounded the bed. I yelled my pain into pillows. I screamed at God, scared he’d leave me.

He didn’t leave. He never intended to.

Fourteen years later, I still struggle with anxiety, but the doctor was right. There is hope. It’s the practice of giving thanks.

There’s a book I always go back to, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. A friend dared her to write 1,000 things she was thankful for in a year. A mother of six and farmer’s wife, Voskamp finds epiphanies around every corner.

The smallest thing, like the way sunlight hits grated cheese, fills her with happiness.

As a guy, I picked up the book skeptically. The cover shows a pair of hands holding a nest with robin eggs and a background just a touch lighter than “Lady Finger Beige”. Yes, I had to research that color, as well as how to spell “beige”.

But this line slashed through my skepticism: “I enter the world like every person enters the world: with clenched fists.”

You can read the rest here.

Armando

This is a story of hope for each one of us.

Armando is an amazing eight-year-old boy . . . .

Armando cannot walk or talk and is very small for his age.  He came to us from an orphanage where he had been abandoned.  He no longer wanted to eat because he no longer wanted to live cast off from his mother.  He was desperately thin and was dying of lack of food.  After a while in our community where he found people who held him, loved him, and wanted him to live, he gradually began to eat again and to develop in a remarkable way.  He still cannot walk or talk or eat by himself, his body is twisted and broken, and he has a severe mental disability, but when you pick him up, his eyes and his whole body quiver with joy and excitement and say: “I love you.”  He has a deep therapeutic influence on people. . . .

What [many people] do not always know is that they have a well deep inside of them.  If that well is tapped, springs of life and of tenderness flow forth.  It has to be revealed to each person that these waters are there and that they can rise up from each one of us and flow over people, giving them life and a new hope.

That is the power of Armando.  In some mysterious way, in all his brokenness, he reveals to us our own brokenness, our difficulties in loving, our barriers and hardness of heart.  If he is so broken and so hurt and yet is still such a source of life, then I too am allowed to look at my own brokenness, and to trust that I too can give life to others.  I do not have to pretend that I am better than others and that I have to win in all the competitions.  It’s O.K. to be myself, just as I am, in my uniqueness.  That, of course, is a very healing and liberating experience.  I am allowed to be myself, with all my psychological and physical wounds, with all my limitations but with all my gifts too.  And I can trust that I am loved just as I am, and that I too can love and grow.

(Jean Vanier)

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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Whatever attracts you

We all have times when we struggle about what we’re supposed to be doing at any given moment.

A brother asked a hermit to tell him the proper thing to do with his life.  The hermit replied that only God knows what is good, but that the great Nesteros, a friend of Antony, made a strong point when he said, “God is equally pleased by all good works.  Scripture tells us that Abraham was hospitable and God was with him.  Elijah sought quiet and God was with him.  David had humility and God was with him.  Therefore, whatever attracts you in the service of God is good.  Do it, and let your heart be at peace.”

And God is with you.

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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