Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sometimes We Fall On Our Faces...

I think everyone now and then has taken a fall. Ice, wet pavement, mud, a stumble over something we don't see...all those unexpected violent moments seem to happen when we're totally unprepared, maybe thinking of something completely apart from the danger at our feet. Not being mindful of our footing, down we go!

I had a fall like that tonight as I was stepping into my home after a long day. I was busy thinking about a conversation I'd just had with a very nice lady who was interested in buying a miraculous medal from our store. We talked a very long time, and then I headed home. My mind, however, was back wandering around the many things we touched on in our discussion.

Now, I have to take responsibility for this "accident" because I know the step into our house is steep and I always have to be careful. I've had bad falls before, you see, so I'm not unfamiliar with what might happen. Yet I was not mindful of the NOW, the moment in which I was living, stuck as I was in "the past" even though it was the recent past of just 20 minutes earlier. I was not living in the NOW, was not mindful of NOW, and down I went. I spare you the ugly details of the cuts, etc., as it is the lesson upon which I want to focus. I need to focus!!

How often do we live our days in the past? Whether it is the days of our youth, joyful or challenging, or downright painful, or last week's conversation that may have left us with much unsaid that has haunted us (if I only said ...). Maybe we focus on past relationships that have hurt us, or ones that have been so positive that we cannot bear to continue living in the flesh without that other, so we cling to memories without notice of today's Grace.

I discovered a wonderful lesson tonight. Sometimes at the end of the day we fall on our faces...because we are still back in the middle of the day. Sometimes in life we fall on our faces because we are not truly living fully in the NOW with all the potential given to us by God. If only this, if only that, while God waits patiently, lovingly in the present moment with outstretched arms of love, waiting for us to focus on Divine Love in this life NOW, or (yikes) waiting to catch us until we do become mindful of NOW and this moment's Divine Love.

I wish I could have learned this lesson from some mystic I've read and reread. Alas, I learn best from experience it seems!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Christ came to chat

July 10, 2007 - Tuesday

Today was hot and humid, and I couldn't wait to close the shop and get home. I was just saying goodnight to a friend when a homeless man I have gotten to know well came walking into our store. Only recently our local business owners had a meeting with local police to discuss the problem of the local homeless who hang out near the stores, and in some cases frighten people off. The discussion was about what to do about the problem.

When BT walked into the shop tonight I was actually glad to see him. He had not been around in a few weeks, and when he's gone that long I figure he's in the hospital or jail, or maybe worse. I admit, I worry about him. Tonight he was coming back from a stay in the hospital.

Often enough when he comes, I can smell the beer breath, and tell him to watch his step because I'm not anxious to clean up any mess he may make if he bumps into counters and knocks items down. In fact, he has never made any such mess. Tonight I noticed his breath, but it was not more than one beer at the time. I come from a family that can easily recognize not just beer, but many of the other options, and we have a good idea by the look of a person about how many and what kind of intake they've had!

Tonight I gave him no warning, but instead I greeted him, happy to see he was not in jail... and was still alive. I was getting ready to close, and honestly didn't feel like chatting, but I did want to see how he was and where he'd been. We started talking and catching up. If BT were sober long enough, he could write an interesting autobiography. But he does love his beer, as he tells me often.

Somehow we got to talking, as usual about God, and forgiveness, and BT's choices, and the choices that are still before him. I admit, when we talk, some of my NYC street speech comes boiling to the top. I have discovered I am bilingual. I can talk to both sober and drunk speakers. He was rather shocked, because he said priests don't talk that way. I told him to be happy I was talking turkey to him, and wasn't Jesus Christ, or I'd beat him with a whip--to get his attention. BT is quite bright. He immediately got the reference.

Our chat led into some very deep talk of God, mercy, judgement, and I found myself thinking how much the world was missing with BT hiding his light under a bushel, or a glass. I told him so. I told him how intelligent he is, and that it was obvious to me, and that he was given this gift to use. We talked about that, in his language. He laughed a lot because he was amazed how fluent I am.

I was very aware the we were not there talking alone. Where two or more gather we know there is a Third. It's easy to think that I might have some words of wisdom for BT, afterall, I'm a priest. Ha! Don't ever let that fool ya! BT teaches me more about humility than I could ever teach him. He listens, he shares, he cries, he prays, and yes, he says he can't give up the beer.

I think BT is right. Alone he cannot. He knows he needs Christ's help. He asked me to pray that he could. He knew I was seeing his potential and he told me the things he had enjoyed in life, before he took this real nose dive and ended homeless. He couldn't see himself getting out of this rut. But he told me he did a lot of thinking and crying at night when he talks with Christ. So, when he and Christ walked out that door, after kissing my hand like a knight, and thanking me for taking time to talk when stopped in, I told him to visit whenever he wanted because we really have great talks.

Some locals have said there is nothing we can do for these homeless who seem to have no goals. I wonder. Even if we can do nothing, we know Christ can. Tonight, when Christ and BT came to chat, I realized that even more clearly.

At the end of the day, we will be judged on Charity. God have mercy on me.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

It's All About Love

As each day comes to an end there comes that time in the evening when I begin to unwind.  Well, to be honest, it's not normally in the evening for me, it's usually very late at night.  I'm a night person, it seems.  It's in my genes.  My mom was a night person, I am, and so is my daughter.  So, when the day REALLY comes to an end, I start to unwind.

Sometimes, depending upon how well I'm living my intentions to maintain some form of a disciplined schedule, I actually sit, recollect and do a formal examine.  An examine?  Yes, well that's what some of us call it.  It's kind of a personal test of honesty about how I've lived my day.  Not like it's on a chart or anything like that (except if you really get into this and draw that line down the middle of a page...which I've not been known to do much in life).  The examine, for me is about sitting myself before God Almighty, reflecting on the day, and my participation in it.  To go one step more in honesty...often enough I don't sit at all, I'm lying in bed doing this.  There in bed talking to the Creator of the Universe!

It's a good thing my notion of God is based upon the loving Dad I had.  He often told me there was NOTHING I could ever do wrong in life for which he would not forgive me.  WOW!  I didn't dwell on it much as a youth, but I often remember those words of love now.  He's passed on into God, but his words are still with me.  He said that if he, as a sinner could forgive me, then he bound God to do him one better!

The end of my day often finds me thankful for this image of God...a loving parent Who embraces me and loves me despite my many failings at love.  Oh, yeah, I get "the talks" from God.  The Holy Spirit is sent to correct me and help me pick up my pieces best I can, and try to do better, but the talk is not a beating!  It's the talk that flows from a Parent Who wants me happy, wants me to live this gift of life abundantly, and Who does all that is possible to get my mistakes repaired, or pull it all together for the good, because I do so much love God.

At the end of the day I finish my examine, often enough in tears, but always knowing how I will fall asleep in the Arms of Divine Love.  And, so I thank God for loving me...loving me directly, loving me through my husband and daughter, and through my friends and religious community.  And I thank God for accepting my love, poor as it is.  I thank God for the chance to have tried today, and leave it in Divine Hands whether I will be here to try again tomorrow to love a bit better.   At the end of the day it's all about Love.

Good night, God, I love You.

And the Beat Goes On

And the Beat Goes On...

July 2, 2007 1:47am Today
It was a strange and wonderful weekend for me. Joe and I spent it in Syosset, L.I. where my own personal history came flooding back into my mind and heart.

We were there for the ordination to priesthood of Maura Bernard. +Joe and +Katherine Kurtz, and +Peter Brennan were there together to lay hands. Right there is a historic group, when one considers each bishop, and his and her contribution to Church reform.

Maura asked me to preach at the ordination and it was a very odd feeling being back in Syosset, as a priest, preaching at the ordination of another woman in the CCC, in an Episcopal Church! Had anyone told me this would eventually happen, that this would be my life, when I was living in Syosset as a Sister of Mercy, I would have slapped them! How unique, how tailored our personal journeys are when we walk with Christ. If I had walked alone, it would have been a very different path.

The Sisters of Mercy have a huge convent and academy on Convent Road in Syosset. It used to be the novitiate building too. However, when I entered I was the only novice, and a building able to house a hundred novices was not the place to house one. So the novitiate formation program was moved to Brooklyn NY. I was the first one to enter the newly setup novitiate in Little Flower Convent on Ave D in East Flatbush. It seems like a million years ago, but today, when Joe and I visited Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset and chatted with Sr Monica, it seemed like yesterday. Names flooded back. Memories flooded back. History was present. The past 40 years were a blur, and there I was back amid the Sisters who were, for a short time, my family. I missed them. I had loved them so much.

Sr Monica told me where some of the Sisters were now living. All retired in what used to be the motherhouse, until the community recently merged with other Mercy communities forming the Mid-Atlantic Community. So much change. So many dead or old. Oh, but that meant...

Yes, I was no longer that young sister. I thought, "but I feel the same, in a way." Sure, I have walked a different, but somehow similar path. My faith was still my faith... yet here I am an ordained priest outside the Church of my youth, and far from where I expected to be at this point in life.

And here I am--aging, So much older... Looking tonight at the pictures of some I knew way back then, as they celebrated their 50th jubilees this year, I thought, "oh how they've aged!" Then, it hit me...I had aged as well. How strange. How strange to be older. Yet how wonderful to have the dream of serving Jesus Christ still in my heart of hearts. There's that song...Forever Young. I love that song.

So much of this was in my heart as I preached at Mother Maura's ordination. Yes Maura, there is enough sap in these old trees to go around!!! Praise God that we are able to respond NOW. Praise God that age is meaningless and there is only the eternal NOW.

That knotwork of life is strange and beautiful, and I am deeply grateful to God for creating the art and beauty in our lives.

May God bless Maura as she continues her life in this new role, serving in a new way. God bless the Sisters who touched my life so deeply and profoundly, and who in many ways, set me on a course toward my own priesthood.

Being with others in the Celtic Christian Church, and other Old Catholics this weekend was wonderful. I thank God for my life, for Joe and Rose, and for the Faith that binds my extended family in Love.

Good night God, and thanks.

PS 1972 I was known as Sister Dominic Marie, RSM and this is my dear grandmother, Nellie Farrell. She was 90 yrs old and danced a jig when I left the convent.