Friday, October 23, 2009


He was obedient for my sake. Now I will obey for His sake. That is the inspiration, that is the motive of religious obedience.

Okay so I don't put pictures on my blog. You have to really be a student of the word to get through these! But think about the quote at the top. Jesus was obedient for my sake. Not I will obey for His sake. Wow! God always initiates. He always loves us first. He always doesn't ask anything that He hasn't already given. It is almost incomprehensible. And what is even more incomprehensible is that we turn our backs on this great love.

Lately, before the Blessed Sacrament, I have been peeled like an onion. It is very frightening but I trust in what He is doing. He is getting to the bottom of what makes me tick and showing me along the way. But the great thing is that He is not only showing me but showing me how He can fix it. The layers go all the way down to when I was a child. Before I discovered what people can do to you, I used to be happy. I used to love Jesus and wanted to live for Him. But after a few turns with humanity the seed of anger got planted. It got watered by betrayal, cruelty, mockery, and failure. Because all I saw were the branches of the above, I never realized that most of my life I have just been angry. But because I am a Christian, and because I do love Jesus, I covered it up, pressed it down and shaken it together and guess what - it spills over when things get tough. The Lord showed me that one coping mechanism for this anger is to turn it in on myself.

So I wriggle a little as the Lord shows me what a sin this is. I do not love myself and find it impossible too. But it is essential that I do. So it has become a great comfort to know that anger fuels my life. It is behind all the frustration and inability to deal with society and mostly my own shortcomings. In order to work out my anger towards others, I thought it a virtue to turn it in on myself. So the Lord, in his mercy, showed me that I have to get rid of it altogether. And it has taken Him so long to clear out the thorns to get me to this point. It has been painful but wonderful. I see now how I can be like Him and not act like Him only. I see now how He can heal me thoroughly and there are things I can't confess here that I see for the first time that will be transformed and healed. I see it now so clearly! It is the face of heaven. It will be my first chance to really obey and serve Him.

And it isn't as if all I have done has not been worth anything. But for the first time I will enjoy serving Him. I will be empowered like never before to suffer and serve and be filled with joy. I see it now so clearly. I see what He is about in all of us. I understand freedom for the first time.

Blessed be Our Lord Jesus Christ. Someday I will be able to share the bottom of the well. There is mud there that I didn't think would ever become gold....I thought that I would have to die before I could be whole...but Jesus is about preparing us every day to live with Him forever...why wait until we get there? And when healed and transformed what power to light up this twisted, sad, bound world! I understand Pentecost for the first time. There is no end to His power and goodness and light. There is no end to the amount the Lord can divinize us if we let Him.

I will obey, for He obeyed that I might learn to obey.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Faith for the Impossible

In the reading from Romans today, Paul talks about Abraham. In fact he has been talking about him for the last few days! But today was struck me is that Abraham's unfailing determination to believe that nothing is impossible for God. The Blessed Mother has that unfailing character also. In the face of our fleshly eyes that see the problem, that see only our failings, that see only what man can do, they put themselves into the heavenly hands and eyes that do not fail but bring about His Holy Will. This, on the face of it, seems so logical and easy! But the flesh is a strong horse and it harnesses its mighty strength to pull me backwards into my own depths of despair and shortsightedness.

The psalmist says, "Don't put your hope in the strength of horses"! That is why Paul says we need to be transformed in our hearts and minds - total transformation in the why we think - only then can we see with His eyes and hope with His hope. Then, only then can I love with His love. I am incapable of being like Him at all. At the heart of it is not that I don't think that God can do amazing things and answer impossible questions or give impossible hope.....I have witnessed it time and again.

The impossibility lies within myself. That is what I see as God's impossible task - to help me see and know Him. Lately, I have had the distinct notion that the Lord is very concerned with preparing me to really face Him. Not death, although I am sure it is an option! No, He is confronting me with my unbelief; my failure to believe He can transform me and I can put off this major preoccupation with doubt.

Even this doubt is my joy however, because it reminds me second by second of my eternal neediness of The Lord my God. I rejoice in my weakness, the ever present weakness that dogs my days because He has shown me that it is my life link to Him.

Lately, I have revisited my past. Lately, I have been led by Him to review it. Lately, I have journeyed there unwillingly and entered into the sorrows there. And He has shown me how important those snubs, betrayals and own personal failures have been so vital to forming my inmost being. I have seen that without them my ego would have taken me to Hell. My self-centered character was so strong, my instinct for self-preservation so fierce that I would have done anything to protect it. Only by frequent quelling was He able to get my attention. Only by frequent leveling of my edifice of protection has He taught me to throw it away, to trash it, to utterly deny it in my life.

So as the sun shines so warmly and brightly today I can rejoice. Like Abraham I am on the journey from Ur - away from my ego and all my fallen comforts - and I can rejoice in whatever He sends my way because I can absolutely trust what the Maker of the entire Universe decrees! Sounds simple after all!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sacramental Bucket

The dew was heavy on the tall grass as I sloshed my way to the goat pen. Ten inches of wonderful rain had fallen in the last week so even the mushrooms had mold on them! At the gate of the pen, LuLu, one of my hand raised orphans stuck her head through the bars to be first at the bucket. The white bucket is a well known flag for the goats and horses alike. It is the grain bucket. It is, for them, a sacramental.

Soon Pei Pei jostled LuLu out of the way and then Taddy barged her way in as well. The gate screeched a familiar complaint as they threw their collective weight at it. I put the grain bucket on a post, high above their reach because to enter in with it was to court injury. In the ‘body of goats’ there is no such thing as laying down one’s life unless they just happen to be trampled! They love that bucket for what it contains and devil take the hindmost if they are not first at the grain feeders!

The other day, as I was jockeying between goats with the grain bucket, I wondered if I treated the sign of the cross with as much concentration and gusto. I wondered if I treat the holy water font and incense and oils and all the wonderful sacramentals with as much dedication as my goats do the grain bucket. They love their grain and happily push each other out of the way to get to the contents. Am I willing to push incidental life out of the way in order to put it in God’s hands?

The horses, especially the ones on diets, reverence the white bucket with whinnies and hooves as I try to get each one fed in order. All night they have looked forward to the sight of the grain bucket.

Bert Ghezzi, in his book “Sign of the Cross” says this: “Every time we make the sign of the cross, we invite the Lord to bless us, and He always responds…..But most often when we make it, we don’t feel anything. That’s because God is using the movements of our body to reach our spirit and our senses cannot detect much of what He does there.” (page 11). In this wonderful book I have gained not only an appreciation of the sign of the cross but of all sacramentals that I very often take for granted. Working with people in RCIA, I find that their appreciation of what Catholics do inspires me to be more aware of what I am doing.

As I watch my goats and horses revere the grain bucket, their sacramental, I have tried to love and look forward to making the sign of the cross….and say to myself I belong to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do I wait in the watches of the night to respond to the simple things our Holy Mother Church has provided for our spiritual nourishment?

Mr. Ghezzi continues, “A sacramental, on the other hand, does not directly confer divine grace; rather it prepares us to receive God’s blessing and disposes us to cooperate with it.” (page 10) I know that I need to immerse myself in the life of God. So much of my life is mere distraction from Him. I want my life to be predisposed towards whatever the Holy Spirit wants of me.

Now you might be saying that the goats get all this grain and they are hungry and that is why they love it so much. Not really. They only get grain because it emotionally stabilizes them. The way my farm Marygate is set up we have ample food for all our animals – in fact too much browse and grass! No – the sacramental bucket is icing on a rich cake and it has taught me to ask the Holy Spirit to teach me how the sacramentals can bring me closer to divine life. By stopping and taking time to realize what I am doing, I am fed so fully! I highly recommend Bert Ghezzi’s book as something so simple that can change us so dramatically in our Christian walk.

Blowin' In The Wind

As I entered the field in the gray light of dawn I was surprised to see the four horses standing at attention. Still as statues they pointed like setters at something far down the pasture. Every once and awhile vapor like smoke issued from distended nostrils. One horse would break rank and pace, snorting, and then resume its stance Curious, I turned to squint at what lay across the distance.

I have to admit it did look frightening. Something white was wafting gaily in the early morning breeze. I couldn’t imagine what it could be and I felt my stomach tighten a bit – could it be an animal? At any rate, the horses felt pretty nervous about it! I slipped through the fence and started to make my way toward the scary object.

Lots of times things I don’t understand or situations that occur frighten me. I know I need to trust in God. I can look back at all the times the Lord has been faithful and taken care of me and my family. In good times and bad He has brought us through. Not always without pain but I have learned that even suffering has its commensurate joy. Still, in my weakness, I dread lessons of life that scare me.

That morning I felt a little afraid as I trudged across the wet grass. The white form alternately stood completely still and then waved frantically again as the breeze touched it. I heard a few snorts and whinnies behind me along with galloping hooves. Then, again, complete silence as only the dawn can provide.

When my husband Leo, I, and our five children moved to Alabama in the mid-eighties, his salary had just climbed to twenty five thousand a year. We felt like kings. Still for a one income household we were scraping by. I didn’t realize it completely then, but we were quite poor. I am sure our children felt it when they saw what others had and how they lived.

When my husband went out on a business venture a few years down the road we had high hopes of betterment. The business crashed a mere eight weeks later and he was out of a job. At the time we were renovating two bathrooms – and they had just been demolished and only partially restored. A friend was doing the work for us. So here we were with no income, regular expenses, and the wreckage about us!

However, six months earlier, my husband’s former teaching partner, Laura, had applied for a job at a big corporation. It took that long to get the interviews and to get a position secured. She made plans to take up the job. The same week it became apparent that my husband’s job was gone, Laura found out she was going to have a baby. It was unplanned- in fact she had trouble conceiving. As her new job required extensive traveling, she decided to decline the offer. But Laura went to the corporation and recommended Leo for the job. So that very week, the corporation did the interviews and hired him. It floored me that all this had taken place before my husband lost his job!

I thought of this as I came upon the pasture ghost in the ever quickening morning light. I paused in my reflections to turn back and look at my horse companions. They still stood, riveted, as they tried to discern the ghostly interloper. At this point, flush with relief, I realized what the specter was: helium balloons moored to a shrub! Somebody’s birthday balloons had taken a little turn. As I got closer, I had to laugh at myself. Most of the giant problems in life, when under the Lord’s control, are wafting in the breeze. I even had time to be a little amused at my horse’s fear. That is until I recollected my own reaction every time God allows a test to come my way!