She hangs in our dinning room the the corner over my desk with my computer, from which I communicate with you all and the world.
I have never done a consecration but the excitement I sense from all of you is making me curious and willing to try. (Although 33 days seems like a long time to a novice.) Since I discovered you all in April, your comments, thoughts and prayers have been steadily upholding my spirit and moving me to strive to be closer to Jesus, to explore new ways to encounter him, to pray to our lady for intercession and to be a truer Catholic.
The uncertainty of the presence is like a fog casting a shadow on everything. Prior to my encounter with “the Storm” I would have been highly anxious at this point. Now, I am peaceful and thankful, knowing that God has a plan, knowing that God is raising a people to answer his call and work His plan in their lives. I have gone from being Martha to Mary. I have realized that to listen is more important than mindless doing. (Doing can be important, too, but only when you are doing the Master’s bidding, not the bidding of your fears.)
In the midst of the storm. With chaos swirling around us. God gave our family a gift this weekend. Our oldest daughter had a son (third) child. The older I get the more miraculous the whole process becomes. A living sign to say the future is God’s. Not to worry or fret. Do the necessary things. Take the next right step. Walk in hope.
Several years ago God blessed us by putting my wife and I in the position of being able to buy a cabin in the Northern New England woods. It is our retreat. A place of sanity away from the craziness. (No television, no cable. Sometime I will share about the beauty of that.)
From the beginning we felt that the place was God’s gift to us and that to honor Him we must share. So we have opened the house to family and friends who want to use it without charge. A number of friends and relatives have stayed there. It is particularly gratifying for us when folks who otherwise would not have the means to go on vacation, or even get away for a weekend, have been able to stay there with no worry about the cost.
Last week my sister and brother in law, who have had a very difficult year with health and family issues, and who live on his veteran’s disability pension, spent a few days at the cabin. She called me halfway through their stay to tell me how wonderful it was to get away. She had spent the early fall afternoon sitting on the deck, meditating and contemplating the forest that begins at the end of the yard, releasing the stress and tension of the past year.
When I arrived tonight for a weekend stay, there was an addition to my flower/kitchen garden which borders the walk from the driveway to the door. A statue of an angel. You can see her at the end of this missive.
I smiled when I saw her. Since we have owned the house, every time I leave to go back to the city I have tried to remember to pray for the angels to protect the place when we are not there. The past few weeks had been very busy and difficult with work, family and watching the world disintegrate around us. When I saw this reminder of the angels with us, I felt God was saying, “Just stay close to Me. I have it covered.” I texted a picture of the angel to my wife. Her comment back was that she looks like she has always been there. Truth is, the real angel she represents always has been here.
My brother in law is not an angel type of guy. He knows what my wife and I believe. He participates in family worship at baptisms, funerals, weddings, the holidays but beyond that he is very quiet about what he actually believes. I was profoundly moved to realize that he understands my wife and I enough to know we would cherish this gift and that he would understand to place it in my little garden which is one of the places where I feel closest to God. (I know this is my brother in law’s doing as my sister is very reserved and would never add a piece of artwork to my house without asking me first.)
God is weaving a tapestry with broken bits of thread and twine. A piece here, a piece there. We give my sister and her husband a few days away, something that really cost us nothing. They find a small gift which has profound meaning for us and turns our eyes back to God and his loving care for us. God is taking the pieces of our collapsing world and is building something new. Each next right step we take allows Him to add another strand to the work.
I ask Mary to pray that we may cling to her son during the storm and may come to see the rescue where the new tapestry God is weaving will be revealed.
Trump has won the fight to be the Republican candidate for President. The prospect of a Trump presidency is at once exciting and terrifying. He appears to be cut from different cloth than our Washington politicians but he is also quite unknown as to how he would handle the office.
Two anecdotes about where we have come from and where we may be going. Trump has made much hoop-la about deporting eleven million, mostly Hispanic, illegal immigrants and about building a wall to keep them out and to discourage any others who might think to come here without permission.
My daughter relayed an incident from school involving my ten year old, fourth grade, granddaughter. One of my granddaughter’s friends is from a Latino family. I would doubt she’s Mexican, only because they are few in our Town. She is most likely legal as we live in a rather well off suburb and it would be hard to maintain this level of economic life without papers.
There was a playground spat where my granddaughter’s friend was accosted by another girl. In the midst of arguing the other girl told my granddaughter’s friend to just wait as Mr. Trump was building a wall and he will put you and your family on the other side and you will never be able to come back. My granddaughter, apparently from our doing something right, came to her friend’s defense by telling the offending child that she was a racist and then marching to the office to inform the principal of the awful remarks. This apparently resulted in the “racist” child having to spend some time with the principal so she could be instructed as to politically correct playground taunts. My daughter was quite proud of her daughter and, while I usually am not a fan of political correctness, I am totally opposed to intentional cruelty.
The whole incident brought me back to another story, time and place while reminding me that we have not progressed as far as we may believe.
My mother was approximately ten years old when the United States entered World War II. My grandparents were Polish immigrants, although I believe they had become citizens by the beginning of the War. It was bad enough before America entered the War. There were graphic newspaper and news reel reports about what the German army was doing to Poland and communication with relatives and friends had been lost since the beginning of the war.
That was pretty much all I was told about my mother’s family’s experience of the War days while I was growing up. As part of a school project one of my daughters had to interview someone who had lived through the war. My daughter decided to interview my mother.
My mother spoke to my daughter at length about the fear in the Polish community after Germany declared war on the United States. The military was feverishly interning Japanese immigrants on the west coast. In did not matter if you were a citizen. Even Japanese born here were being interned. The Poles were afraid they may be next. After all Poland was now part of Germany and Germany was now the enemy. There had been rumors about what was happening in the German camps. No one knew what would happen in the American detention system.
I suddenly saw my mother in an entirely new light. To think of her going to bed at night, as a child, wondering if soldiers would force their way in to carry her, her sister and parents off to prison. My mother was apparently traumatized enough by the times to never speak about this to me, my brother and my sister.
I often think of the ten year olds among the eleven million. I wonder how they are sleeping at night.
At one of the secular sites I frequent there has been discussion recently about “the tipping point”. The question being are we close to it. The site focuses on the unsustainability of our present systems and much of the discussion is about personal sustainability, how to live with closer contact to the land, our food supply, each other. Usually talk of spiritual matters and/or religion is strictly avoided. In response to several posting by people expressing fear, almost to the point of despair about the future I submitted the following:
This is the point where your spirituality hits the concrete. The only way I can explain how I stay sane, is to tell you that I turn to my belief in God, my view of life and the universe to hope for protection. In the alternative I ask to be able to accept the role I am destined to play. The strength to play that role does not come from my active, intellectual, logical consciousness. It comes from deep within and from without. The strength and presence to live the moment of danger cannot be accumulated in advance. If you are aware of the physical and spiritual world your antenna will be up and you will receive signals. (A big problem with the present culture/society is that we have used, drugs, alcohol, sex, power, wealth, etc. to cut us off from both the spiritual and natural. Most people have no connection to either.) The signals will alert you to what is about to happen and the strength (wisdom?) to respond will also arrive.
Does this mean we all survive just by tuning in? No. For some it is destiny’s moment and there is nothing that can change it. However, even in the darkness of destruction and dissolution there can be light. One of my inner mentors is Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish priest put into the camps by the Nazis. When the order was given to execute ten men, Kolbe volunteered to take the place of a man who had a family. He hadn’t spent his life worrying about or planning this move but at the moment he had the presence and the strength. Kolbe died. Supposedly wiped from life and memory by the powerful conquerors.
The man Kolbe saved survived the camps and the war. He lived to be ninety-three. The Nazi’s are gone. The SS, the Reich, the camps are gone. Kolbe lives on in hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands around the world. I believe he also lives in spirit and I hope to be present with that spirit one day. (Actually, I ask him to pray for strength for me, so maybe, he and I are present even now.)
My beliefs challenge me. They call to me and encourage me. Be strong. Prepare as you can. Sharpen your wits and your physical strength. Then accept that there is life for you. Determine that you will embrace it. Live it. Whatever it may come to be.
Do not dismiss your dreams but do not despair as you face them. There is more to all this than meets the eye. There are powerful forces working for our good as well as for our demise. Look for the good. It is there.
Of course I would have loved to insert Jesus’ name in multiple places but the nature of the site and people who frequent it are often repelled by anything they perceive as religiosity. I hope my week words can help trigger thoughts that will allow the spirit to work in them. In the interim I pray and wait.
Just to add to the reality vs. spirituality discussion:
Having always been attracted to looking at the universe from a philosophical, theological and spiritual bent I have to say that I have long found it amusing that a group of Jewish scribes, exiled in Babylon, three thousand years ago, compiled a creation narrative that fairly accurately follows the pattern of what I understand to be the “big bang” theory of the beginnings of the universe.
Likewise I have a fond attachment to Schrodinger’s cat which can be either dead or alive depending on who is observing it. If our present understanding of quantum physics is even partially correct, we will have to dramatically revamp our understanding of consciousness and self-aware intelligence. Our mere presence and observation may be dramatically changing the universe.
When they found the Higgs Boson particle a few years ago I was amused for weeks. To think that energy could instantaneously become matter. This was the fulfillment of every alchemist’s dream. It is also a concept that was either understood by or revealed to those scribs who wrote down the Book of Genisis.
Our science and our spirituality do not have to be mutually hostile to or exclusive of each other. Our day to day struggles, physical limits and even failures can coexist with our plans and aspirations. Ghandi, King and Mandela (to name only a few) should show us that there are powers beyond physical reality and force.
Sitting in a cabin on the mid Maine-New Hampshire border. It is thirteen degrees out, the wood stove has brought the inside temperature to a very comfortable seventy-seven. (The interior of the cabin was twenty-five when we arrived yesterday and we spent a few rather chilly hours while the fire did its magic.) I am here with my second son (fourth child out of five). We seldom get to spend much time together (he is twenty-six and very involved in his own life) so it has been good to sit and talk (eat and drink as well) with no television and few other distractions. Our wood stove has a large glass front as I am addicted to watching fire dance and play. It still amazes me how entertaining a fire can be on a cold winter night.
Our only two visible neighbors have summer places. We are quite alone on our little rise, a mile down a dirt road, surrounded by woods. Several cars have come down the road but far fewer than in summer.
It is now late morning. He is still asleep. My forty-five year habits from the work a day world pulled me out of bed a few hours ago. They are predicting a nor’easter beginning late this afternoon. I will wake my son in a while as we need to hit the grocery in town and gather in a lot more wood. We are supposed to go back to the city tomorrow but I would not be at all adverse to being snowed in for a day or two.
I am not sure what has caused me to start this blog now. I have been contributing to several sites for a couple of years now. I have been keeping periodic journals of my life and of the economic and political happenings of this age.
I don’t think I am after fame and fortune. They have never been particular motivators for me. I don’t feel I have any particular wisdom, or message to share. However, I do feel a need to write, to chronicle. Perhaps it is my undergraduate studies in history. Perhaps it is a million things I have kept inside my head for sixty years needing to get out.
All I understand at the moment is that I need to organize my thoughts about life and love and God. Writing has always helped me to clarify the things banging round in my mind.
The trigger seems to have been the death of a dear friend and mentor. She passed on December 8th. Ninety-five years old. Her guidance and support have been instrumental in my faith, my marriage, fatherhood and my career. We did not see each other daily, or weekly or even monthly but our meetings usually left me with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. She filled me with a desire to do things that mattered. That would change the world. Her view of what those things were was quite unique.
We will explore her influence from time to time. I will share some of my writings and thoughts, old and new. Maybe this is the best way to honor her memory, by doing what she did.
I have no set plan or schedule. I do not think that work and family obligations will allow me to post every day. If you are so inclined, check in from time to time. Of course I welcome your comments and critiques.
And so we begin.