Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
                                      --Norman Vincent Peale.

I did not want to get out of bed this morning.  I hit "snooze" on my alarm clock at least a dozen times before I could get enough energy going to stagger out of bed and go to the bathroom.  I had to get up.  
Sky had to go to work and the dog needed to go outside.  If I crawled back into bed, Sky would get in trouble at work and I would have a mess on the floor from my dog.   Not the best of motivation but it worked as a struggled to get dressed.

It was foggy and dingy and awful outside.  I knew I had to change my attitude, but the whole world looked depressing.  I thought of a challenge.  If I could find any sign of happiness or good or hope, then I would gather up all my strength and work to make it a good day.  

At first, all I could see was drivers who like me seemed grumpy, but slowly and gradually I noticed other things and my morning began to turn around.

One driver I looked at, actually smiled at me.  I smiled back and then realized this simple act made me feel a little better.  Another driver stopped to let a car merge into traffic and that driver waved thank you.  Then I realized that I had not heard one horn honk since leaving the house.  That was very unusual for the morning commute.  For some reason tolerance seemed to be in the air.  These were good signs but not really enough to convince me not to go back to bed after taking care of my daughter and dog.

I stopped to pick up something at the store.  When I turned the engine off, I heard music blaring from another parked car.  I saw young man dancing in the parking lot with a small child in a grocery cart smiling ear from ear.  I couldn't keep my eyes off them.  The song ended and a young woman came out of the store, laughed, picked up the child, and she and the young man and child got into the car and left the lot. I couldn't believe what I had just seen but I noticed the heaviness I had felt in my neck and shoulders was going away.  I felt lighter and more awake.

Then the most awesome thing happened about three blocks from my house.  The street that I normally take home was closed due to some construction so I turned down a residential street I normally don't use.  On the sidewalk I noticed a man, around sixty, with an armful of cut flowers--all red, smiling, with a spring in his step walking with what seemed to be a definite destination in mind.  He emanated sheer joy.

This I could not ignore.  I caught a whiff of his delight and the doom and gloom of my day disappeared.  My mind imagined a lady somewhere who was going to get the surprise of her life.
And with that thought, I realized that I felt as though this happy man had given the flowers to me.

Needless to say, I don't want to crawl back into bed.  I am home and I want to dance and share flowers. I want to thank the one driver for her smile, the other driver for his grateful thank you, and all the drivers who were tolerate and kind this morning.  God created a world that is inherently good, but you may have to look for it.  

I know God was listening this morning when I asked to be shown a reason to be happy.  He didn't have to do anything but open my eyes and let His world take care of the rest.

Thank you God for the good in this world and the eyes you gave me to see it.  Amen  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Blessing of Spontaneity

It rained all night.  It was raining this morning.  I had planned to finish painting my desk and mow the yard.  Since it was not good idea to do either, I decided to be spontaneous.

I took my youngest son breakfast at work.  He smiled.  I did some grocery shopping.  As I was driving across town to go to the bookstore,  I remembered how sometimes rainy days can be stressful at work (because the little kids are stuck inside all day).  I stopped to get a drink for me and some chocolate for my friends.  I stopped at work and got hugs and smiles all around.  Also I had a few questions answered so I know the details when I go back to work.  I got excited about going back to work and I felt good because I got to see the people I miss being in my daily life.  I finished driving to the bookstore.  I found wonderful books at great prices.  I bought a book on stenciling, making jewelry, a safari animal book for my class,  a book on management for my son, and a special cookbook for my oldest daughter.  I called my daughter at work and asked if I could come by with a surprise.  She said yes.  I stopped by and gave her the cookbook which she really likes!  When I left, I stopped by my favorite sandwich place and ordered lunch.  I came home and found my big hound dog chasing a bee wick (bird) that had gotten in a window I hadn't shut completely.   It was hilarious!  Finally I opened a window, the bird got out, and my dog, exhausted, took a nap.  I looked at the clock and it was after noon and I felt incredible!

It was past the time I usually write my blog but I knew that was okay.  I opened my laptop and realized that my heart was full and I felt so grateful!  I touched the lives of some of my friends and family and they touched my spirit.  What a wonderful day this has turned out to be!

Thank you God, this day, for the gift of spontaneity.  AMEN!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Challenge of Change.

My youngest son, Owen , and I had an important conversation.  Both of us had slid into the familiar of habit--balance was no longer a part of our lives.  I clung to the house, not giving a second thought to possibilities outside my door. Owen, on the other hand, always on the go, was not fully present the time he was home.  We made a pact.  For the next two weeks, we would consciously leave our comfort zone and we made a plan.

Day one was not a resounding success.  Owen was sidetracked by his life outside of this house.  I went through the motions of getting out but really didn't enjoy the process as much as I had wished.  I made sure the uncomfortable situation was of  short duration.  It is a good thing that accountability takes place on a weekly basis.  There still is  plenty of time for improvement and getting use to the idea of change.

And that is the whole point of my writing today.  Change, even if it is for good,  can be work.  Habits after they are formed are easy.  Habits are all the things we do without a second thought.  Usually our "bad" habits are innocent in the beginning.  If you eat a dessert now and then, it is okay.  The trouble is that without conscious effort that now and then soon becomes everyday. We carry the extra weight of not making a conscious choice in our body, and it takes a toll on our health.  When we develop "good" habits, like exercise, its work at first.  After a while, it becomes easier, almost second nature and we benefit with better health.

Among other things, conscious spirituality is a habit I am trying to develop.  It is change but with a unique challenge.  I take time to write on this blog everyday and that is becoming a habit--a good habit for me.  The challenge is not to write the same thing, over and over again.  I have to keep looking and learning about spirituality, not just mine but others too.  Having a relationship with God is a process-- not a goal that can be reached and taken for granted.  I am attempting to form a habit of conscious choice.  This choice has to be made on a daily basis to become a good habit.   It sounds like a contradiction in terms but it is not.

I want to write here everyday.  I want it fresh.  I want it positive.  I want it to become a lifelong habit.

Think about your habits.  Are they good?  Are they bad?   How many times a day do you do things without thinking?  It is good to have the habit of a shower a day--but it is not so good if you drive the same way everyday to work and find out you are not paying attention to the road or the traffic.  Have you developed any habits that specifically include God?  Habits of prayer? a grateful heart? regular worship?  Do you ever stop and examine why you are doing something the same way over and over again?  Habits and change can be good or bad or even neutral.  It is important to be aware and conscious in your life and not just going through the motions.

Richard Bach wrote in the book,  Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah,  "You teach best what you most need to learn."   So hopefully, by making you aware of the challenge of change (and habits), I can be successful in the changes (and habits)  I want to see happen my life.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Is Prayer?

Todays sermon was on prayer and it gave me a lot to think fact I am still thinking about what was shared and what it means in my life.  I especially am a bit overwhelmed by the picture described when Jesus was in Gethsemane--not the familiar picture of Christ praying at the rock with light beams from heaven embracing him--but the picture of Jesus on the ground begging God to take away the pain and suffering he knew was coming.  I can not even imagine the desperation that he was feeling.  And that was a prayer of astonishing proportions.

Last night I read the editorial in Guideposts magazine and it talked about prayer as being conversation with God.  It is that too.  "Thank you God for this day."  "God, give me more patience."  "God, please help me."

In church today,  as a community, we recited prayers together.  There are those would say that they weren't really prayers but that is not true is it.?  It is the way a group of people can pray together for peace, and hope, and forgiveness, and all the things all of us want to say to God.  Jesus recognized this prayer when he spoke of "two or three gathered in my name."

Sometimes a prayer is a habit.  Repeated without much thought like grace before a meal, or a prayer before sleep.  It is still a prayer no matter how many times you have repeated it.  It is when prayer has become just a natural part of your life. and that is a very good thing.

If you sit silently and meditate, maybe just on the name of God, that is prayer.  If you sit quietly and just be with God,  that is prayer.

Years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer and was told I was going to die,  I couldn't accept it.  The reality of the possibility sunk in after a few weeks of intense radiation and I was burned, with hair falling out, and sick!  By myself, I went outside and yelled at God.  "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?  WHY?"   And then another time, when my baby daughter Sky, only six months old, had made it to recovery after open heart surgery,  I went to the chapel, and I just cried.  No words.  Nothing but tears streaming down my face.   Are these prayers?  Yes, they are.

I believe that anytime God is involved with your thought processes,  anytime communication is attempted on any level with God,  that is a form of prayer.

So what do I think is the best way to pray?  The following says it best:

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
― Mother Teresa



Saturday, July 27, 2013


It is good just to stop and take time to be grateful.  I try to have this attitude of thankfulness in all things but it is the specifics that get you to this point.  I can not list them all but I will share this morning some of the things that I am grateful for and why.

1.  I am glad to be alive.  I am sixty two and have been with those who are about to die and those who have died.  I was told once that the cancer I had could kill me, that I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it.  I am not afraid of death but I am familiar with it.  I choose to live.

I have lots of reasons to embrace life.  Sky who needs me, and and helps me see the importance of each new day.  Sam and Liesl and Owen who share their lives with me and allow me to continue to be their Mother but in exciting new ways.  My job at PDO and the kids who motivate me to see and explore the world every day for the "first" time.  My church who accepts me for who I am, loves and supports me, and accepts the way I have chosen to follow God's will.  My extended family which enriches my life by just being who they are and letting me share.

2.  I am glad I can hear.  Losing hearing in my right ear has made a dramatic change in my life.  I know that the choices I made years ago to have the radiation and kill the cancer and extend my life are the reasons for my hearing loss but that does not make it any easier.  I love to hear in stereo.  The hearing aide can only give me sense of what that sounds like.  I am not completely deaf.  My left ear works fine, but we were designed to hear with two receivers.  I miss what I could be hearing but I am grateful that with help I can still hear most of what is in the world around me.

3. I am grateful that at this point in my life I have some financial security.  There is enough for Sky and me to live our lives and share with others.  So many people helped me throughout my life that I am paying back by paying forward.  I love being able to enjoy this privilege.

4.  I am grateful that God gave me the ability to write.  I could not survive without the written word.  It is the way I communicate the best.  Hopefully it is the way that I can make a positive difference in other's lives.

This barely scratches the surface of what I am grateful for.  I could write for hours and never complete my list.  This has been an important exercise for me because when I think of God's grace and my abundance I do not have room to feel negative about anything.  Now that I have taken the time to express gratitude, I can honestly say,  "Thank you God for this beautiful day and the gift of life.  I am sincerely grateful."

Friday, July 26, 2013


Today my mind pleasantly wanders and I remembered the first poem I ever had published.  This poem was written when my second child, Sam was still a baby and was published in May of 1993.  When I read it today it was as if I had written it today.  All I could think is that I wanted to share these words again.


My baby sat content in my lap
And made soft sounds.
At the flash of lightening
His dark eyes opened wide.
We listened to the long roll of thunder.

I looked out the window
At the iris-blue clouds,
And wondered how the transparent rain
Made the trees emerald green.
The earth had become iridescent.

How marvelous it is that 
God is such an artist--
He sculpts this living miracle
For me to hold
Ands paints the panorama of an early
Morning storm.

I am in awe of his creations.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Surprise! .....on a stick!

When I opened the unexpected box from David and Cindy, I started to laugh.  All I could think of was Jeff Dunham and Jose Jalapeno .............on a stick  (see you tube if you are not familiar--you will laugh).  Here I had three puppet heads on sticks each with a lever to make their mouths move.  My preschool kids will love them! and so do I!  And they have already wielded their magic on me.

Each of the puppets is a different color and they come with names....There's Fez, Kai, and Bob.  When I began to play with them--yes,me, playing--their personalities began to emerge.  Take Bob, for instance.  He is actually a clam with eyes on a stick, a boy... and very purple....He has a deep voice and talks very slowly without any emotion.  "My name is BaaaaaaahhhhhhhB.  The story is about a FRaaaaaaaaahhhhhhG.  Do you have a DAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHG?" and so forth.

Kai,on the other hand, is all girl and very self assured. She is lime green with two eyes that pop out of the top of her head and she is round with a very big mouth.  When I picked her up I naturally flipped her head back while she talked in a very little girl voice.  "Kai, why are you flipping you're head like that,"  I asked.  "To get my beautiful long hair out of my eyes,"  She replied.  I said, "Kai, you're bald!"
"SHHH!"  she whispered,  "maybe no one will notice."

And then there is Fez.  He is navy blue, a boy, and he does not have two eyes.  "Hey, Fez, how are you doing I asked."  "I know how to count," he replies. "I can count all of my eyes without a mistake."
"You can," I say, "show me."  "Okay, here goes....One.  I have one eye."

It has been along time since I have had so much fun!  and I wanted to share it, so I got Sky and the puppets sang the ABC song to her.  Sky was not amused and told all of us to be quiet and proceeded to take her hands and hold the puppets mouths shut.  Not my mouth, the puppets! that time I was practically in the floor I was laughing so hard...  Like I said before, I can't wait to share these puppets in school.  Thank you so much David and Cindy!

So you ask, what has this got to do with my spiritual journey?  EVERYTHING!  Thoughtfulness by my brother and his wife to give me something to enhance the job I love so much refreshes and renews my spirit.  Gifts that are given "just because" are the best and it makes no difference whether you are on the giving or receiving end--everyone benefits, just like what happens when you simply smile.   God gave us the miracle of laughter and creativity and we need to use these gifts often and share them...and today this whole experience has made my heart soar! and hopefully by sharing your heart will soar too.

Spirituality is more than seriousness and quiet....spirituality is about the exuberance of feeling love and joy.  Spirituality is working to be one with God and laughter helps us grow closer.  So smile and feel joy.   God is with us always.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

This quotation is stuck to the back of my laptop.  I put it on in such a manner that if I was working on the computer, anyone in front of me could clearly read the words.  I would have been better off if I had stuck it to the screen so I could read what I was promoting.  I have a lot of work to do before I can be the change I want to see in the world.

Today is as good a day to start as any.

I have been successful in the fact that I wanted the discipline to write regularly and in a hopefully positive manner.   I want my passion for words to make a positive difference in another person's life.
But, there is more to me that just writing and it is the other parts of my life that need work.

I am in the process of writing down the changes I would like to see in my world and then writing down how I can be that change.  My eyes have been opened and so has my heart.  The obvious has come to light.

To be loved, you must first love.
To find happiness, you look where you are and be happy.
To get things done, you have to do.
To find joy, you have to give it.
...and the list goes on and on.

All the answers, I am seeking can be found in myself if I am willing to look hard enough and am willing to do the work.   Others can help me on my way (or be a major distraction!)  But eventually it all comes down to myself.....and it is a process that never ends.

Today, I hope whoever reads this post will take the time to figure out how they can be the change they want to see in the world.  And then take action so OUR world will become better.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


My mother lives in a big house with a wonderful front porch that faces west and there is a large tulip tree in the front yard.  This is important to know because we live in Missouri and the month of August can get unbearable.  Almost all the time there is a breeze and shade and it is a joy to sit on the swing with her.  Mom loves her front porch and the swing and all the hanging baskets of plants.  The thing she looks forward to the most is when her summer guests arrive.  This year they showed up as usual and took up residence in her hanging begonia.

Almost every year a pair of birds decide that Mom's porch is the best place to raise their young.  They pick out the location--sometimes the north side of the steps, sometimes the south.  They pick out the hanging planter...sometimes it's blooming, sometimes it is a fern.  They proceed to build their nest in the middle of it, and lay eggs.

Mom watches her plants closely to see if there is any activity and when there is, she gets excited.  In the past, she would always share with me that a nest had been built and tell me how many eggs had been laid, because everyday she would gently take the planter down, check the progress of the family, and then very, very carefully water the plant to keep it alive without drowning the young ones.  As she ages,  she doesn't trust herself anymore with this responsibility, so the job of keeping watch and watering the plant has become mine.

A while back, Mom announced that her summer visitors had arrived and showed me the plant they had chosen.  I knew what to do.  I carefully took done the begonia, and let her peek inside.  Sure enough, a nest had been built.  This time, both of us were excited.  So every few days when I visited, she would have the water ready, I would carefully lower the nursery, and we would count eggs and water the begonia. One. Two. Three. Four.  Five.  The birds had laid five tiny little white eggs, and then Mom and I (and I assume the parents) waited for the special day.

I had to take Mom on an errand this morning and I almost forgot about the birds.  She didn't.  The water was ready and when I carefully lowered the nest we both got the surprise we had been waiting for. Instead of eggs there were five tiny little birds, dry, but almost featherless, all alive and gently moving.
They had not left the eggs very long ago.  Both of us were very happy and excited.  I moistened the dirt around the nest and put the planter back where it belonged.  Another summer, another family of birds, and another special day for my mother.

Mom will enjoy this family for a short time as they grow and learn to make noise and then one day, all will be quiet again.  We will be sad to find the nest abandoned but not for long.  Mom will begin to look forward to next year and the time for her summer guests.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Seems hard to believe that churches being open 24/7 has gone the way of the dinosaurs--extinct--and with good reason.  Actually it is harder to believe that they were left open in the first place,  Except for Sundays and scheduled meetings and celebrations, the only way you can get into a church these days
unscheduled is with permission, a key, and a door code.  I realize that a person can pray anywhere and there are many places you can stop to worship, but think about it.  How wonderful would it be that at any time of the day or night you could just walk through an open door and go into  church.

I am not proposing that we leave our places of worship open and vulnerable.  My goodness,  so many churches including mine have been vandalized on the grounds that I can't even imagine what would happen to the inside of a beautiful church.  Even a simple chapel with only a wooden cross and a few candles would eventually be abused.  Our churches, like our homes, have to have their doors locked and be protected.  So what can a person like me, who would love to step inside a holy place often and unscheduled to do?

Well, my first line of defense, is to have the nave (as we Episcopalians call it--sanctuary if you are Baptist) open with the lights on before and after celebrations and meetings.  The second line of defense is just more weekday services.  And my third line of defense is cyberspace.

One good thing about the internet is that you can go to church anytime day or night, 24/7.  You can watch a service of the denomination of you choice,  enjoy sacred music, listen to just sermons or if you want just stillness and quiet, you fill your screen with a beautiful altar.  I am very fortunate that my church has a website with a full 360 degree view of the inside of our church.  By focusing on the familiar, I return to the place I need to be.  It isn't perfect but neither is our world.  I have accepted the locked doors and that people now only go to "open" churches in old black and white films.

And finally, if I really, really need the full experience of a prayer chapel, I can always go to the hospital.   Hospitals are open 24/7 and so are their non-denominational chapels.  Sad thing is though, they usually are very, very empty.   This I believe is an indication that most of us only think to go to church on Sunday so we might as well keep the doors locked.....but wouldn't it be awesome if all the church doors could stay wide open?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The rector stood tall and announced in church this morning that although this was only his second week in the pulpit he was going to take on something controversial.   My heart sank.

"Oh, Lord, couldn't he have waited until we got to know him just a little bit better?" I thought.
 You could have heard a pin drop.

Then he asked, "Are you a Mary or a Martha?"

"WHAT?"  My brain exploded, but he had my attention....and maybe just a hint of aggravation.

Am I a Mary or a Martha?  What kind of controversy is that?.....but I listened and so did Sky.  (After the service was over she asked me if Mary and Martha was on the front of the church bulletin  and if Mary was the one listening to Jesus.  They were and she was.)

Anyway,  Fr. Kendrick talked about the day that Jesus came to visit the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus.  Familiar with the story, I was already aware that Martha worked while Mary sat and I don't know where Lazarus was but I imagine he was sitting too.  As the oldest of five siblings this story really irked me when I was young.  I always had to set the table, and help cook and clean when visitors came.  My brothers and sisters may or may not have helped depending on the situation but it was a given that I would help Mom.  So when Sunday School teachers and ministers sang the praises of Mary and even Jesus reprimanded Martha.  I would take offense.  Didn't anyone realize that without Martha there would have been no dinner? or a clean place to sit?  Maybe Martha wanted to hear what Jesus had to say--after all He was her friend too-- but who would make sure there was something to eat?

As I grew older, I realized that what Jesus had to say was important.  Mary was all ears, but Martha had it in the back of her mind, that there was plenty of time to listen.  Jesus knew his time on earth was coming to an end.  Martha was more concerned with the moment and in hindsight I know she wished she had sat down too.  But that is not where this story ends.

Fr. Kendrick also related another story of Mary and Martha and Lazarus.  It was the story when the sisters cried out because their brother was dying.  By the time Jesus came to their home Lazarus was dead.  Mary was mad at Jesus because "he let their brother die"  while Martha ran to Jesus because she recognized who he was and what he was capable of doing.  "Wow," I thought, "Martha WAS important after all!"

The soul of the "savage beast"--me, the oldest sister--- had finally been soothed.  But that thought only lingered for a moment.  This is more than a story of importance, or sisters, or whether we are type A or type B.  This is a story about balance and timing and being open to Christ.  It takes action and contemplation to be in Christian service.  I believe that most of us are Marys and Marthas depending on the situation and time.  I also believe that as Christians we need to recognize when the Mary's need to work and the Martha's need to listen.   Over time and with God's help I have become a little less Martha and a little more Mary and it has enriched my life.  I have also learned that tolerance and forgiveness can go along way.

So Fr. Kendrick, if you are reading this,  forgive me for jumping to conclusions before I heard your sermon...... and I forgive you for unsettling me in the pew.  Amen.


Saturday, July 20, 2013


I'm glad it rained
The flowers were thirsty.
And the little sparrows
Were tired of dust baths.

I went outside
To smell the rain
And touch it--
Everything was cool and fresh

I had the desire
To leave the porch
And take a shower
In the shower

But I stayed put and
Watched the lightening
Paint the sky
With brilliance

The thunder made my dog
Annie nervous
She paced a lot
And whined

She doesn't understand
Sometimes with rain
You have
Loud thunder..

But after a while
She just stood
at the screen door
and sniffed the air.

This little storm came after dark
it was easy to hear
but except for flashes
I could not see my garden smile

but I know tomorrow
my garden will stand a little taller
be a little greener, and like me
Be thankful for the rain.

Doors Swing Wide Open

It may not seem so but writing for me is more than just words put in some coherent order.  It is an exercise in freedom--not only of expression but the sheer freedom of thought.  Always careful in my life with what I think and say, the writing sometimes opens doors to places I don't think I want to visit...
but it also frees doors to swing wide open to visit places I had long forgotten or finally know it is okay to explore.

When I write something to share (like the entries on this blog) I work hard to be concise.
Also I  hope that I am interesting enough that the reader not only enjoys my words, but thinks about what I have said in conjunction with their own life, and maybe will come back to visit me and my words again.  All this being said, the writing not only invigorates me but also drains me emotionally.
If I have done what I set out to do, when I publish my words, I am exhausted.

This week I worked hard to express my freedom by writing.  Everyday, I felt that I had exposed a little more of my soul and beside the feeling of exhilaration, I also realized that I was beginning to feel vulnerable.  Maybe it is because I finally admitted that I felt this was my calling from God.  There are those who would discount this idea in a heartbeat.  Maybe it is because when I write I don't think about what others think,  I just write.  For someone like me who is often concerned by others perceptions this is a real stretch for my psyche.  All I know for sure is that yesterday,  my attempt not only to follow my heart but also my commitment to God,  expressed itself in fatigue that I could not ignore.

At 330 pm, yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a nap.  This nap lasted five hours!  I went to bed again at my regular time and slept until after nine this morning.  I have slept over fourteen hours in less than twenty four.  And this sleep was full of nonsense, multi-colored dreams.  And I can not get these dreams out of my head.  I embrace the vision of my Grandfather and the memory of my mother, young and painting the walls.  I remember the house where I lived the longest in my childhood but now it had a secret room and the repairs that I need to do in the place where I now reside.  I ignored dark shadows but pursued anything that was surrounded by light.  It has been a unique experience, this active sleep,
but today I feel rested and more determined that ever to continue writing.

I share this because I want you to realize just how human and flawed I am.  I want you to know that like you I often feel vulnerable and insecure.  I also want you to know I take this business of God and his plan for my life very seriously, and that I must do whatever I must do to follow His guide. ..and sometimes it is not easy...and sometimes it manifests itself in a confession like this one...but it also can manifest itself in a poem, or an experience of daily life.  I do not know where my journey is going to take me but I hope with all my heart that you will choose to come with me.  A writer without a reader is a sad thing.  You are important to me.


Friday, July 19, 2013

The Grace of Ordinary Time

Today is an ordinary day and I embrace it.  Mostly ordinary birds, sparrows, sing and eat at my feeders. I got up, took the dog out, drove Sky to work, and then came home which is what I ordinarily do most mornings when I am off work for the summer.  There are no appointments on my calendar, no challenging decisions that have to be made, and I don't have to go anywhere for any particular reason.
I can write or pray or do laundry or vacuum which may seem to be a strange collection on my to do list but these are things that have become a part of my rhythm of life.  Everything is familiar.  I embrace this day because in the not to distant past, there were no days like this.  I want this to become my new normal--my ordinary-- because I feel such a sense of peace and grace.

Where I attend church, we have a liturgical calendar that is divided into seasons of which the most familiar are Christmas and Easter. The time between these seasons is called Ordinary Time and is usually designated as so many days after or before a special season.  For me, my favorite time of the church year is Ordinary time. This is the time when the liturgy is the most familiar. This is the time when I feel most secure.  This is time when the church supports me in my day to day existence.  This is the time when I feel closest to God.

The grace of ordinary time is that we know of the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ and have accepted it.  It has become so much a part of our life that even without the celebrations we would continue to live the way we have chosen.  It is a good place to be.  It isn't a straight line of perfection but more a journey where little course corrections have to be made on a daily basis.  It is the time, as some have said, the time to "walk the talk."

Today I am grateful for ordinary time, both here at home and at church.  This is the time I feel most enlightened.  There is a buddhist saying that goes something like this:  "Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood carry water."   It is a joy for me to "chop wood, carry water" i.e. live the ordinary life because it is here that I feel of the grace of God..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bird Feeder Addendum

After I wrote my post, my son and I ran an errand and when we came home there was an American Goldfinch at my feeder.  Never in all the years that I have been feeding birds has a goldfinch be seen even in my yard!  We got out of the car and watched it for a few minutes and then it sang!  I have goosebumps still thinking about is like an invisible force said amen to what I wrote!
My birds and St Francis of Assisi

Outside my back door is a very functional "wild birds unlimited" pole which holds four bird feeders: one a cylinder clear glass feeder my brother sent me,  a sock full of thistle seed (finch feeder),  a regular bird feeder with roof, and a large suet holder.  This is not particularly beautiful apparatus but the crowds of birds and squirrels :( seem to love it!  At the base is a statue of St. Francis--maybe two feet tall--with a large nick in the plaster of the bowl he is holding, that I purchased on clearance for a song --if you will excuse my reference.  All this together does not particularly make one think of holy or sacred or even prayer, but for me it is a wonderful, regular reminder of St. Francis and the sermon (legend records) he preached to the birds.

I only say legend because many religious scholars who do not dispute the existence of Francis of Assisi do raise doubts about many of the stories associated with him.  I for one have no problem with this "story." Every time I walk out my back door, I speak to the birds.  "Good morning."  "Thank you for coming to my home." "Wow, the Beewick returned."  "Yes, yes, I know, time to fill up the feeders."It is a very natural conversation and I love the company of birds and I am not even close to being a saint as Francis was.

When I walk out my back door, I am full of wonder at whatever I see.  I smile.  I feel gratitude in my heart.  I am in awe of God's creations.  (Sometimes I still question the reason for squirrels--but only in passing.) In spite of the weather, the squirrels, the foot prints of my possum,  or even the state of my gladiolas which still have not bloomed,  my spirit takes on a very prayerful attitude. Silently and sometimes out loud, I praise God and say thank you.  And if only for a moment in time,  I feel a very special connection with God and his servant, Francis.  And this is a very, very good thing.


post script:  the following is an account of the "story" for those who are not familiar or want to remember....there are many versions and many accounts but I believe with this you will get an idea of what I have been talking about..

St. Francis Preaches to the Birds 

Father Francis and his companions were making a trip through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into air as he spoke. But they moved not.
Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: “My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.”
At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.

Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way.
Later, Francis wondered aloud to his companions why he had never preached to birds before. And from that day on, Francis made it his habit to solicitously invoke all birds, all animals and reptiles to praise and love their Creator. And many times during Francis’ life there were remarkable events of Francis speaking to the animals. There was even a time when St. Francis quieted a flock of noisy birds that were interrupting a religious ceremony! Much to the wonder of all present, the birds remained quiet until Francis’ sermon was complete.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Aquamarine is the color I hear
When I hang suspended in the sea
The water above and all around
As the quiet embraces me.

It's an autumn glow of the candle light
I hear when I pray silently
The amber gold of warmth and love
That touch my ears tenderly.

Soft rose is the color of the newborns breath
mesmerized as I watch her sleep
I hear the pink of creation
In the love that I feel so deep.

Emerald green loud whispers sparkle
from the rain soaked plants and trees
and this quiet makes me stop to hear
Small crickets symphony

A rainbow of sound is just waiting
for all of our ears to perceive
to hear color is easy just listen
Just listen and simply believe.

a poem by me, Paulletta 7/17/13

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It makes me feel good to repeat this prayer before I go to sleep.
I feel like I am remembering everyone.
It is from the office of Compline:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.;


God gave us dandelions so children would never run out of flowers.

Worms never worry about a little dirt.

God gave us energy when we were young to explore this world and then slowed us down with age so we could learn to appreciate it.

Dogs teach us to be better humans.

There is no discrimination at the bird feeder,

God can always be found in the quiet.

Some people can reach millions but my job is just to reach out to one person at a time.


Monday, July 15, 2013


Today I received this in my email:

The next time life tosses you a multiples choice test, Paulletta, remember... 

1) The more time you give it, the more choices you'll have. 
2) There'll always be more than one right answer. And, 
3) Waiting for divine intervention is almost never a good idea. 

Synchronicity?  Again?  After yesterday?

You know at a gut level I already knew that.  God gave us brains to use and a host of people and resources at our disposal and the ability to make choices.  But sometimes, like me, people throw the obvious out the door and wait for God to step in and make everything okay.  Why?  Are we lazy?
Did we forget God's gift of free choice?  Do we not like the answers we have found?  Have we forgotten how to think?  Or like me, just believe it was supposed to happen differently?

I  know now that number 3 above in a life multiple choice test is correct!  When and if God intervenes it will not be because I was waiting for it to happen.  If anything, it will be a big surprise!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

synchronicitya situation in which two or more things happen at the same time and seem to be connected
even if they are not

Whenever synchronicity happens in my life, I take it very seriously.  It happened today and here I am writing on my blog for the first time in over a year.

I had thought about writing; even talked about it, but dismissed the urge every time I was about to gather my thoughts on the computer.  After my husband died, I had too much to do to be creative.
This last year was spent roofing the house, paying off the bankruptcy, getting legal guardianship for my daughter Sky, working on settling my sister's estate, and more.  I worked full time teaching preschool and I accomplished all this after work and on weekends when I wasn't doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning.  My life had drastically changed and I am still in the process of figuring out what all that entails--physically, emotionally, mentally, and most important of all, spiritually.

This blog THE WOODEN MONK was to be an account of my spiritual journey....I wrote almost everyday for a long time, but my husband felt threatened by all I had written.  He felt so threatened in fact, I deleted all of it at one point just to keep peace in my home.  Then later, I tried again being very careful of what was written but that really didn't work either.  I have to be honest and authentic...when I write that is the only way I know to be.  I can't write about my spiritual journey and about my relationship with God, while trying to second guess what others might think.  In the back of my mind, I knew that when the time was right, I would know and then I would start writing again.  It appears that today if the right time.

This past year has been a challenging one for me, and it affected my relationship with God.  At first, I was grateful for the security of the church and the kindness and compassion of the community there. but somewhere along the way my emotional state became overloaded and all I wanted to do was shut down.  That included the special time I spent most everyday in meditation and in spiritual writing, and my attendance at Mass.  Except for work and taking care of what Sky needed, I didn't want to do anything.  I didn't want to feel anything.  All I wanted to do was sit and do nothing and for the first time in my life that is exactly what I did.  The church, God, my family, what few friends I have did not desert me.  Just the opposite happened.  I really did not want to have anything to do with anyone and especially God.

On top of that, I had spent my whole life looking for what God wanted me to do with my life--my "calling."  I downplayed the fact that I had raised four kids and tried to be the best mother I could allowing my children to embrace their lives with possibilities.  I also downplayed the fact that I tried to be the best preschool teacher I could be.  I couldn't accept the fact that both of these things were an important part of what God wanted me to do.  With everything else I was going through, I really got mad at God because he hadn't given me a clear picture of my calling.  My name is Paulletta which is french for the feminine form of Little Paul--little Paulie or Paula.  So I guess like the saint, I was waiting for my personal "Damascus" experience and God had not provided me with one. My thoughts went something like this:  God, all I have done with my life is be a wife and mother and teacher.  Now I am old, a widow with a special needs child and you still haven't let me know what my calling is.   I have tried or looked into everything I could that had to do with being of service to you.
Nothing fits.  Why?  What is the hell is it that I am supposed to do?"

This conversation went on for months.  The still small voice inside of me said, "Write."  I ignored it.
Writing is a lonely business and it doesn't light candles,  pray for the people,  wear vestments, or  attend the alter.  My mentors said, "Write."  I didn't listen because I knew something else, something really "special" was waiting for me.   Eventually,  that part of me, that person inside my heart said "Write."
but my brain could counter the sound with every excuse from "you are not good enough" to "you won't ever make the commitment. "

So for the most part I avoided the legal pad and pen and the writing programs on my computers.  I was satisfied to writing little tidbits on Facebook and in emails, waiting impatiently for God to give me a sign (or resign myself that there wasn't anything special I was supposed to do.)  Talk about an ego trip.
I had a serious problem.

God had given me the gift of four absolutely amazing children to nurture.  He had also given me a real knack for not only teaching three year olds but loving every minute of it. And most importantly, he had given me the ability to write with a lifetime of experiences, challenges, and his steadfastness to communicate.  I can't believe I had ignored my "calling."

Today I went to Mass because it was the first Sunday with our new rector.  I was tired of fighting my desire to be mad at God instead of embracing His love.  I was ashamed of myself for the months of isolation because I really missed church and all the people that make it real.  I had decided to make an appointment with this new rector, lay my cards on the table, and ask him what to do.  At church is where I experienced synchronicity.

During Mass I was overwhelmed by the experience of just being there.  All the words so familiar helped me remember why I had become a member of this church in the first place and that it is an privilege not to be taken lightly.  I was welcomed with open hearts and smiles and several people made it a point to talk to me about things I had written in the past that had a positive effect on their lives.  I was even asked specifically about this blog.  Before I left the building I knew what I was called to do--

So today, I intend to carry out my vocation.  I am a mother, teacher, and with God's help a writer and this blog is where I begin.   Pray for me as I finally carry out God's will for my life.