The Book of Wisdom

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The thing to do is not to turn away ~ is not to remove ~ is not to avoid ~ is not to deflect is not to neglect ~ is not to move the problem unresolved elsewhere ~ that in time hope would render it disappear. . .

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No.

The right thing to do ~ is to rest in the stillness ~  is to grow in all our smallness tall ~ is to apologise ~ is to forgive ~ is to understand ~ is to build bridges  ~ is to reconcile ~ is to heal ~ is to grow taller still ~ is to welcome home ~ is to smile ~ is to bless ~ is to reunite is to ignite Love ~ is to share the milk of human kindness ~ is to Grace overflow ~ is to be God’s example of Love exposed ~ for all to see the way of healing ~ is the way of being Christ ~ in a broken world.

Yes

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To Love tenderly.

10:8 For regarding not wisdom, they gat not only this hurt, that they knew not the things which were good; but also left behind them to the world a memorial of their foolishness: so that in the things wherein they offended they could not so much as be hid.

10:9 But wisdom delivered from pain those that attended upon her.

7:22 For wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me: for in her is an understanding spirit holy, one only, manifold, subtil, lively, clear, undefiled, plain, not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good quick, which cannot be letted, ready to do good.

3:9 They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth: and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him: for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect.

The book of Wisdom.

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If You Cant Beat ’em (with an unorthodox English Weeping-Willow Cricket Bat) ~ Join ’em

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An hour of Prayer and Love for the new Bishop Alan Williams

12.00pm ~ 1.00pm

01.  07.  2014

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Everything Hurts

Everybody is getting ready for the blessings and the ordination of the new bishop, Fr Alan Williams. For many maybe even me, it will be a once in a lifetime event to witness.   A fun ‘in preparation’ photo has been put up on the Cathedral website every single day for 10 days.   The count down is on.

Everywhere has been cleaned, refreshed, sparkled and swept to welcome our new humble king-prince of peace. The musicians have been practising their glorious hymns. The invitations have been sent out, and every single preparation and posting in newsletter, radio and social media have been building up to the expectant wonder which is full of the same wonder as Christmas Eve for a child.

Tonight is the blessing of the episcopal ring. The blurb reads ‘a special Vespers and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament to pray for Fr Alan Williams and the Diocese of Brentwood.   Bishop-elect Alan will be present and make his oath of fidelity. The episcopal insignia will be blessed.   All welcome.’

This is Fr Alans first formal public appearance at the Cathedral.

‘All welcome’  is what every single posting on the Cathedral Website has said in invitation, for the last so long.    All.

All  but  me.

I am sitting here Again, and Again, and Again, and Again,  feeling an excruciating pain that you couldn’t even begin to believe.  A pain which wont stop revealing itself in tears that I don’t even know where they are coming from anymore. Everything is hurting. Other people might shake the dust from their sandals and not care a monkeys.

I am not other people.   I care.   And whilst everyone else is in absolute celebration and rejoicing together   –   my heart is bleeding salt down the back of my throat.

Men of the cloth you failed God.    BIG TIME.

 

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St Mary Magdalene@St Sabina’s

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Amazing little Magnificat Miracles.

This year our little parish is celebrating it 50th year anniversary.  This humble little church is so very special to me.  I have spent much profound time here in prayer ~ I have been blessed by the Holy Spirit here ~ I have tangibly felt Love Absolute here.   I have also spiritually felt the love of a few very special parishioners (whom I so dearly loved, that are now deceased) sitting along side me in the chapel,  holding me in their presence in prayer from a realm that I have yet to journey to.   I have communed with Jesus here ~ I have celebrated with Him ~ wept with Him ~ been broken with Him ~ smiled and danced inside, in absolute joy and wonder with Him ~ and it is here that I first consciously Loved Him.  I have conversed with Him ~ exchanged ideas with Him, and lived prayers of Thanks Giving with Him for all my consolations.

And one evening in darkness (after entering through the combination lock) ~ I went alone into the church for some much-needed quiet time.  I entered the sacred little chapel to spend some deepest solitary time alone with my Lord in deepest solitary prayer ~ and it was here where I found a stillness so sublime ~ so utterly still ~ that in the stillness there was nothing between the thinning ~ it was here that I lay down and prostrated myself in the narrow little aisle upon the carpet ~ just like St Dominic had showed me those few years before, at the Margaret Beaufort college in Cambridge ~ (where then I never got to experience prayer in prostrate because I was too self conscious, and the chapel had people from outside the intimate group ~ milling around.  And right there I ~ with nothing before or after ~ with nothing above or below ~ fully present ~ horizontal ~ All of me ~ All of who I am ~ Every single beautiful part of my body ~ was Earthed to God.

It was here in 2009 where I first recognised Sacred Love Absolute. And it was here at Pentecost 2012 where I publicly recognised the Holy Spirit was to be a part of my life Forever.  It has been here where The Word has shaken, and spoken, and whispered their Life into my life. It is here where in such a profound way Jesus has planted seeds of inspiration ~ and commands me to hear and see what He wants me to hear and see.  And so my truth is testament to the Truth that He has planted within me.  And my inspiration, and the fruit of that inspiration, are all His ~ are all down to Him.  And the Saints, and His 2000 year ago family (who seem to have taken me under their wing) have accompanied, protected and inspired me, initially from within the physical walls of this Churchly Tabernacle,  and latterly within the spiritual walls of the me Tabernacle.

Today I am absolutely delighted to announce Today’s Wacking Great Miracle ~ the most Joyous ~ Amazing ~ Surprising ~ Affirming ~ Wonderful news.  Yesterday my Parish Priest phoned me to tell me that the archivist (who is compiling a parish memorial book for the 50th year anniversary of our church) discovered in a pile of gas and electrical bills some very special letters (and a newspaper cutting) which reveal that St Sabina’s was perfectly originally consecrated and dedicated to St Mary Magdalene ~ (for all of 2 weeks) ~ before the other ‘powers that be’ were reminded by letter that the benefactor had wanted the church to be named St Sabina after his mother (and his favourite church in Rome).  St Sabina’s Basilica in Rome is where the head of the Dominican Order presides ~ and Mary Magdalene is their co-patroness with the Virgin Mary ~  and so  St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in England, after 2 weeks of being perfectly ‘mistakenly’ dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene, was then ‘un-mistakenly’ changed to St Sabina.

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Twas no mistake on either account.   I just know it.

That is why the connection I had/have with her was/is Sooooo very strong, I am sure

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B R I L L I A N T ~ G O D †

The Holy Spirit is here.

I just do not feel that same presence in the Anglican services that I have been to ~ neither in my earlier days ~ n’or in the churches that I have entered in my latter days ~ which I am all the more intimately aware of since becoming a Catholic.  When I step inside a church which isn’t Catholic something so Special appears to be missing.   It is  The Holy Spirit.   I recently attended Anglican Mass with a friend from The London Centre for Spirituality.  I had taken her to the beautiful Sacred Mass at the St Mary Moorfield Catholic Church at Liverpool Street, and in return she invited me to the Christopher Wren Church at Bank.  She was very put out that I didn’t receive Communion, and she felt personally hurt and affected by my decision to stay seated in prayer.  But I have to be authentic.   It’s as if that ‘Edge’ were taken off and missing.

That Spiritual feeling ~ the one that evokes the skin alive ~ an almost invisible lightness that raises the essence of our being and evokes it to seep through our skin and radiate out (like we physically see in the readybrek commercials of old) ~ that thinness of veils ~ that charge of  ‘air’  all around us ~ that stirs the soul ~ and draws our spirit up ~ that calls us into Communion with Him ~ its missing for me in the Anglican ritual, and in the symbolic rights of other churches.  I go into those empty churches and something of ‘the emptiness’ leaves me empty ~ and I am not raised up ~ but rather left shocked by the tangible lack of Presence and deeply disappointed.   I don’t want to be disappointed.  This is not my personal prejudice.  I long to feel that same Holy Spirit in the Anglican Church. Somewhere where I could be embraced ~ accepted ~ liked ~ loved ~ pray ~ contemplate and work alongside my clerics ~ together ~ for the greater good of Our Lords Church.  A place where I am not held other, discriminated against or oppressed.  I long to feel the Holy Spirit somewhere where I can exercises my faith, and receive my due formation the same as everyone else, in its Fullness without prejudice, oppression and manipulation.   I wish I felt the same in the Anglican Church but I have to be honest ~ I have to be True ~ I don’t.

I could never quite put my finger on what it was that was missing ~ and now I can.  And the above wonderful news of Saint Sabina Church originally being St Mary Magdalene Church is further blessing, assurance, and absolute wonder to me as to how the Holy Spirit so blesses my life.  Before I became a Catholic I was secular and completely unchurched ~ I never even knew Mary Magdalene.  Since coming here I have felt her Love, compassion and dearest friendship in such a profoundly intimate way.  So much so that I felt her with me when I was writing The Way of Love Charism     ~     It Amazes me that despite it all The Holy Spirit still faithfully continues to reveal the connections that are writ in Christs Love ~ since the beginning of time.

And no amount of time ~ and no plans of man ~ can over-ride Gods Will.

And for such inspiration ~ I Am so very Blessed.

So Thank You Abba Father.

I Love You.

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The Gift of Tears

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Last year when I was a guest on my first ever Beloved Retreat at the Sion Community, one of the ladies giving a talk spoke about herself as having The Gift of Tears.

Tears a Gift?

I remembered back to when the new parish priest came and he led us through (what was for me) a tearful meditation of the crucifixion.  And then later he spoke about the Gift of Tears, and of how difficult it was for him to cry, and of how it was so difficult for him to be moved to tears. This is a man who as an adolescent child lost his mother to cancer, a pain that maybe has not been felt so deeply ever since.

The Beloved weekend was an especially emotional weekend for me, as despite my own personal circumstances (which are enough to make a drought cry)  I was sharing the weekend (and a room) with my dearest sweetest friend ~ a very wise woman ~ a Dutch/French farmers daughter ~ a very intelligent mathematician ~ and a now mother of 3 children.   My best friend has secondary bone cancer, caused from breast cancer 9 years back. This woman has been friends with me ever since our firstborns became earthlings. She has supported me in friendship through divorce, through ‘condemned’ home renovations, through the births of my 5 children, and the too near-death of my twins.  She has travelled alongside me throughout my entire faith journey, and descended with me through friendship into hell ~ and by Love led me back again, in absolute non-judgmental friendship.  She Lives and Loves the Love of  1 Corinthians 13 ~ She is Full of Wisdom ~ Kindness ~ and a perfect friend.

She held my hand when it needed holding and listened beyond listening ~ She has the wisdom of Sophia, the gentleness of the Virgin Mary, and the faith of St Bernadette.  She has hugged me, and held me close, and I have her.  We have cried, mourned, died, grieved, and risen alternately, and together.  And we have laughed so very much in between the tears, because that is all we could do.  We have celebrated and shared our intimately Red Tent friendship, a friendship borne out of the nurture of motherhood and the imposed grief that all mothers intuitively know beyond birth.  I don’t know how I am going to deal with the grim prospect of her future, other than live on the wings of her Grace ~ for despite it all ~ it is she whom carries me.

There were many tears on the Beloved weekend, an almost collapse of ‘togetherness’, just because for once there was the space to do so.  Too much pain ~ too incredible for words. And to be in such an intense period, situation, location, orientation, and in this place with its intimate proximity to Raw Hurting ~ to be told that those Tears could be Gift was such an absurd suggestion, that it turned my thinking upside down and urinated all over me ~ like petrol being teased by a match that was ignited but never dropped ~ whose sulphur laughed whilst I suffocated and drowned in a chamber flooded with the Gas of Tears, Grief and Sorrow.

I never thought those tears gift.

Tears came at every childhood death, where all too often in a large family (my mother was the youngest of 11 children) the 4 grandparents and the many far older aunts and uncles steadily died off one by one.  Tears came all too easily when I saw my father crying on my first wedding day at the altar as he gave me away, and yet these were tears shed in pure Love from one to another ~ those tears broke and sealed my heart at once.   Tears all too easily come to me when feeling the deepest sadness and compassion for others who are in desperation, desolation and in excruciating  grief.  I could never watch the pain of those suffering on the people-in-need T.V fundraiser programmes, despite the happy endings without so many tears.   Tears come all to easily when I feel the absolute ‘injustice of life’  projectile vomiting into the face of good kind honest descent people.

One day we will all be dead ~ there is but just this life as we know it ~ for living and sharing and loving upon our earth ~ precious time with those that we Love.  And to oppress and deny anybody whom God has called, and whom God has led in friendship to Love ~ to banish and cast people outsiders, against Gods Will ~ to hurt and deprive and ‘murder’ anybody unnecessarily and unjustly in the face of all the other uncontrollable hurts of life; life that naturally will endure the pain of  loss, death, and grief all too soon, to which we have no control over ~ to cause any human being such unnecessary man-made pain, separation and suffering ~ is Diabolical.  It is absolutely NOT of GOD,   NOR of LOVE.   And to try to deplete someone of their dignity ~ to try and steal it from them ~ to degrade them in their humanity ~ and to deny someone the fellowship of Love, which God in His Kindness, Grace and Faithfulness bestows upon His chosen ~ is Devastating.

May God forgive you.

On Friday I spent a wonderful Eve with Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ.  The title of the evening was ‘Women of the Resurrection’  We were asked to ponder on a question, and then to share our thoughts in our little group ~ and then collectively.   I think there were over 90 people present.  ~ The question was ~ ‘If you were to leave here tonight and outside a stranger, else a friend, asks you ‘where you have been?’ and you were to tell them, then they in their non-belief or challenge ask you ‘what evidence do you have for proving the resurrection of Christ?’ (baring in mind we were not alive in Jesus time, to actually bear witness) what would you say? ~ where do you see evidence and proof of Jesus’ Resurrection in this life? ~ what would you say to the person?

Stop reading here ~ and just consider this question yourself quietly for a few minutes.

For me it was simple ~ I said that Jesus was Love personified.  I have met deepest Love in flawed human beings ~ and when the people whom I have Loved, have died ~ the Love, it never died ~ it only grew stronger and stronger and stronger,  and as life was sifted away, so the Love grew purer and purer and purer, until there was no substance left of it, other than the pure Spirit of LOVE.   It is the closest Love to God that we will ever know, God who is Love and Spirit.  Love resurrected in all its Glory ~ in Him ~ from the depth of grief ~ suffering ~ and agony.       Love lives on.     Beyond death.

Gemma told an incredibly sad story about a dearly beloved close family member, a surgeon, being murdered in cold blood, by a psychopath.   The family member was on  the French side of her family, a man whom everybody loved ~ one of the best men she has ever known.  Gemma had to speak at the funeral.  ‘How can you justify Jesus of the Resurrection, to a shocked, grieving secular French family at the funeral of their murdered loved one?’ she asked.    Whilst she told her story my eyes stung with tears ~ silent tears which refused to recede back from whence they came ~ Instead in their gentle well-spring profusion they exposed me and made me feel painfully self-conscious.  The Gift of Tears may well be a gift for others, but for me they are nothing more than a revealing of the pain and suffering of others, and often myself, that I am witness to against my wish.  They bare me to all against my will and humiliate me, even when it isn’t my place to be seen or to be humiliated.

Despite the Tears which are not Gift it was a wonderful evening, of fellowship, sharing and Love ~ We talked about the resurrection in forgiveness ~ I especially already know that by forgiving others we set ourselves as prisoner free, because I read a wonderful book by Phillip Yancey that taught me just that.   It is for us to do the forgiveness.  I do not like unrest or lack of peace or sadness between me and others.   And so I of course struggle with the dynamic of this passage in the bible  ~  ‘Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.’    I struggle with this because sometimes it is others that do the binding and not the looseing.  And that makes Heaven which could come in any shocking moment held in Hell.

On Saturday eve at the Vigil Mass, we prayed for the Pope’s poignant visit to the Holy Land ~ with his powerful witness for peace and unity ~ with his desire and hope for ecumenical understanding and acceptance ~ and with his extended and defiant outreach of Love for others.  I felt so absolutely Raw ~ as it all magnified the absolute rejection which I receive from my own dearly Loved Christian brothers in Christ.  The pain tore through my body with such force that I couldn’t contain it any longer and the bloody tears, Tears which are absolutely not Gift drowned and ripped me apart.  I was all to raw because this Monday it was the anniversary of my 2 year reception into the Church ~ for which there was no parish Mass.  2 years ago my reception and the weeks leading up to it were so full of Love, and miracles and spiritual and physical wonder, and such immense Joy and Hope for my future.  It pains me to look back and see all that has happened within the last 2 years, my faith and Love so strong ~ So crucified.   At any point within the past 2 years, the gift of my life could have been taken back by God, had He so chosen to have done so. To think that I could have died, with such sadness, and lack of peace and unreconciliation is such a tragedy.  2000 years later and the Church and its flawed people and ways still have not learnt from the Passion of Christ.

Love.

In my brokenness I felt excruciatingly exposed ~ thank God I was sitting next to my dearest friend who ‘holds me’ in my grief.  It was all to painful to lift my head to offer peace to others, and so head hung low I just turned to the few directly behind me.   I went up to receive the Eucharist, and then I went back and kneeled in prayer in my place, and something All Powerful happened.  As the warmth of Christ soaked into my soul, it was as if my tears soaked out, as if being expelled violently from my body.  My silent sobs which I was finding hard to contain were obvious.  Tears are no Gift.  And then something beautiful happened.

You see there was a spare seat (on the end of the 2nd row from the front) next to where I was sitting, and the Brazilian lady from the row behind (whom I have only ever chatted to once before) who had obviously seen my tears when I offered her peace, came and kneeled in the spare place beside me ~ and just as I was praying on my knees with my elbows up on the pew in front of me, hands clenched to hide my face, so too she came and knelt besides me, and so too she prayed.  Initially I wondered why she had knelt there, but within a few minutes I felt her deepest prayer tangibly envelope me ~ and my breath began slowing down so that I regained control of it ~ and I felt my whole body physically stilling ~ and I felt all the presence of her prayer wash over and around me in a deepest soup of peace.  So powerful that I was acutely aware of her praying for me ~ and of her presence ~ and yet not a word was spoken.  She didn’t touch me, or look at me, she just kneeled and prayed next to me ~ Deeply ~ until my tears had stopped ~ and I could actually feel the Power of it.  And at the end of Mass I briefly looked at her face and her gentle smile, and all I could do was mouth Thank You.

Gemma Simmonds taught us that the word thank you in Greek is Eucharistia.

And so if my tears which are so not gift can bless me with such depth of Love from others. Love which so fills me with Eucharist, how could they possibly not be Gift of Tears.

Gemma Simmonds says having Easter eyes doesn’t transform all the hopeless Godless situations ~ but that having Easter eyes, our eyes are opened wide by the Love of Christ, transforming the very way we look at those situations.

And so yesterday I rose to the occasion by taking myself and my Easter eyes off to High Mass at the Brompton Oratory ~ where I lit a candle and prayed before Mary Magdalene, and where by pure surprise and delight I got to kiss and venerate my Spiritual Fathers relics on his Feast day ~ and on the anniversary of my reception into the Church.

Eucharistia.

I celebrated High Mass alone with God ~ my Spiritual father St Philip Neri ~ and my spiritual sister St Mary Magdalene ~ and All the other faithful people with Easter eyes. I must be the luckiest person in the world to be able to celebrate the day of my reception into the Catholic Faith on two days of the year ~ on St Philip Neri’s Feast day the 26th of May, and at Pentecost, (as both days fell on the same day in 2012).   And I must be the luckiest person in the world, to be able to celebrate my genuine birthday on two days in every year ~ on the 29th March, and on Easter Sunday (as both days fell on the same day in 1970) ~  Both my birthday and my reception day, Pentecost (the Church’s birthday) intimately connect me to Christ’s Love and to Mary Magdalene ~ whilst at the tomb on Easter Sunday, at 5.30 in the morning  I was born. and then in the upper room at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon Mary and the apostles, I was received into the Catholic Church ~ And then there is the little miracle that my Spiritual Father St Philip Neri’s birthday . . .  is on St Mary Magdalene’s Feast day.

I wonder if it can be that the Joy of St Philip Neri (patron Saint of Joy) ~ and the tears of St Mary Magdalene’s (Gift of Tears) ~ might just be so very intimately connected ~ If only we dare to see with Easter eyes.

Eucharistia.

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Mary ~ Star of Evangelisation

‘Mary Star of Evangelisation’  is a beautiful line.

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Wrong Mary!

Please think of the right Mary next time when you say these words in Mass.

There was One Star of Evangelisation ~

She Evangelised her risen Lord to the apostles.

“Mary”

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Passing Time

Sometimes   ‘On earth as it is in Heaven.’   feels a bloody long way off.

When I was at Heythrop a dear lady friend asked if I had read Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair ~ it apparently mentioned my town. I swiftly brought myself a copy and never read it, I couldn’t for some reason begin it. Study pressure maybe. I then picked it up a few weeks back as I grew tired of falling short of my courses suggested reading list, I needed to enjoy reading again.

After the first few chapters I couldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t put it down. Then frustratingly one night I went to read the next chapter and I couldn’t find it anywhere.  It was gone ~ not meant to be.  I looked everywhere, under the car seats, down the back of the bed, through all the book shelves, just in case maybe in my ‘on-automatic-pilot’ I put it back amongst all the many other books awaiting reading. In the end I gave up.  I resented buying another copy, so didn’t. It just wasn’t meant to be ~ so I returned to another partially read book, which I knew hadn’t fully penetrated the first time around.

However a few days ago I deep cleaned my room. I pulled the bed right out as deep as itself again, and there awaiting me was the elusive unread novel. I must have fallen asleep with it in my bed, it must have fallen down the back, and when I pulled the bed out to look for it on the previous occasion, it must have got caught under the base, and been pulled deeper still along-under the bed, only to be found weeks later.

The days have been too taken up lately by hospitals and sadnesses, and distractions like my course, which give me the impression that I am moving forwards, when actually they are just passing time. However today for the first time in an age, I had a much-needed day, where time for once felt timeless again. I spent it in my garden ~ just me ~ no other human being ~ no other agenda ~ just me.   I read all day long.

And I read and I read and I read.

What a book.

By the time I had got to the end of it, the mood I was left with infiltrated my own mood, as if they were strangely and intolerably glued together. The melancholy sat like mercury in my blood for the rest of the day and evening, and I thought about the passing of time.

There is a paragraph in Greene’s novel which makes reference to St Augustine on the passing of time

‘St Augustine asked where time came from. He said it came out of the future which didn’t exist yet, into the present that had no duration, and went into the past which had ceased to exist. I don’t know that we can understand time any better than a child.’

The courageous young man Stephen Sutton who recently moved the world with his astounding and beautiful outlook in the face of such a momentous journey says this about time

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Stephen raised millions for cancer research ~ he died just last week,  and appears to have transcended all time ~ unlike the sadness below;

Devastatingly within 6 weeks of each other, shockingly two young 40 something year-old mothers took their own lives in this little town. The shock waves filtered through the social network system, not in any undignified or exposing way, but in absolute grief that within a small community, such brokenness had not been found by the love that could bring salvation, that death alone appeared to bring these women.

Theres something so heartbreakingly sad about man needing to play a hand in controlling ‘time’.  It’s as if the very thing that we insist on measuring, in turn measures us.  I say let go of time.   ~   Maybe they thought they were.

Mass has been offered up for these mothers in our little church, by a kindly parishioner who knew them both. I pray that these women might take with them, to God, all the pain from all the people that ever think death might be a less painful option than life ~ including my own pain.  I don’t think what they did was selfish, as so many people think of suicide victims, for how does that equate.  I feel the deepest sadness for humanity, failing in its very eschatological purpose of loving where love was needed ~ too late.

And still after such devastation, we can keep on turning towards the Love ~ forever we must.

The one quote of St Augustine’s that for whatever reason planted itself in my head years earlier, and won’t leave is ~ ‘I have learned to love you too late, beauty at once so ancient and so new’ ~ I can not decide where there is more hope ~ too late carries something of hopelessness ~ whilst to have never loved is still, maybe, to be so full of hope. Then I think to have loved too late, is to have hope momentarily fulfilling itself ~ and that never to have loved, is not to know of hope’s anchoring and aspiring extents.

In Orhan Pamuk’s The museum of Innocence it states ‘If we can learn to stop thinking of our lives as a line corresponding to Aristotle’s time, treasuring our time instead for its deeper moments, each in turn, then waiting no longer seems such a strange and laughable obsession’

Today in the garden, my innocent pure little 12 week old gentle lamb puppy, who plays, and cuddles, and loves unconditionally, ran up the path with a big young thrush in her mouth.  She is quiet, and as quick as lightning.  She had killed it in her instinct, in her game, in her innocence.  And in my tummy I wanted to retch ~ and all I could do was hold it up in protection ~ and cry and cry and cry for its new life taken so prematurely ~ poor darling ~ and for my puppies pureness somehow tarnished.  After holding its softest body up in the air for what felt like an age of not knowing quite how else to protect it, I laid the dead thrush high up in the greenery on the ancient wall and in sadness wept to God, who despite the horror which His creatures continually do, keeps on loving us anyway. And then I felt angry with Him, for He made His creatures this way.  And then I thought how noble humans could be, the ones who could never hurt a soul.  And then I remembered how we hurt others so easily with our ways all the while.

All we can do is keep on turning towards the Love.

Tonight in the sanctuary whilst reflecting, I had a vision of time in layers rather than linear, happy layers, sad layers, expectant layers, fruitful layers, hopeful and hopeless layers ~ layer upon layer upon layer ~ interleaved ~ and then like a dandelion seed-head I momentarily blew it all right away.  All death ~ all life ~ all Heaven and all hell ~ all beginnings and all endings ~ all matter and all spirit ~ And for a split second ~ nothing was left ~ but Love.

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Milagros

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This week I received my beautiful Praying Mary Magdalene.

It is a Sterling Silver Milagros ~ from the South Americas.  I have never seen a Mary Magdalene one before.  Milagros are small mass-produced little votive’s, often in the shape of hands and feet, and are used as a vehicle of  prayer.  A couple of years ago I went to a brilliant exhibition where I witnessed these milagros pinned on to imitations of the Saints vestments and garments.  They were offered up in prayer, in the hope that the Saint would intercede in miracle for the intentions of the faithful.  This same exhibition hosted many tin roof tiles, often taken from the homes of the poor (by themselves), and painted with the scenes of the story depicting the miracles that had taken place.  These scenes were painted in gratitude for the Saints intercession.

My milagros came on Saturday ~ it is beautiful ~ it is Mary Magdalene in prayer ~ and I Love her.  I wore her to the vigil Mass.  We prayed and offered up Mass together.  I have prayed with Mary Magdalene ever since the bizarrely spiritual encounter beneath her painting at the Brompton Oratory, which left me feeling deeply understood.  And yet after the shock encounter I had to walk away ~ as I felt that had I stood there any longer I would have been visibly exposed.  And I have meditated upon the Gospels many times with her since.

She shares the intimately secret movements of my heart ~  and she has accompanied me in the most surprising of ways ~ a way which I could never have imagined or expected at the outset of my journey.  And it is my hope that knowing the secret movements of my heart that she will somehow intercede for me, which seems the strangest thing to ask for, because I feel so close to Christ ~ to ask anyone to intercede feels ridiculous ~ however it appears to be an intimately Sisterly exchange, that she will help me ~ and that I will help her † And that both of us in doing so, will be doing so for our beloved †

In deepest sisterhood and faith I wear her on a chain around my neck.

‘Milagros (also known as an ex-voto or dijes or promesas) are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, and parts of the Iberian peninsula. They are frequently attached to altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship, and they are often purchased in churches and cathedrals, or from street vendors.

Milagros come in a variety of shapes and dimensions and are fabricated from many different materials, depending on local customs. For example, they might be nearly flat or fully three-dimensional; and they can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.

The use of milagros is a folk custom in parts of North, Central, and South America traceable to ancient Iberians who inhabited the coastal regions of Spain.  The use of milagros accompanied the Spanish as they arrived in Central and South America. Although the custom is not as prevalent as it once was, the use of milagros or ex-votos continues to be a part of folk culture throughout rural areas of Spain—particularly Andalusia, Catalonia, and Majorca.

As part of a religious ritual or an act of devotion, milagros can be offered to a symbol of a saint as a reminder of a petitioner’s particular need, or in gratitude for a prayer answered. They are used to assist in focusing attention towards a specific ailment, based on the type of charm used. Milagro symbolism is not universal; a milagro of a body part, such as a leg, might be used as part of a prayer or vow for the improvement of a leg; or it might refer to a concept such as travel. Similarly, a heart might represent ideas as diverse as a heart condition, a romance, or any number of other interpretations. Milagros are also carried for protection and good luck.

In addition to religious and ritual applications, milagros are often found as components in necklaces, earrings and other jewellery.

They correspond almost exactly to the tamata used in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.’

On my first ever recent quiet time retreat to Walsingham, I ventured into the charming little railway station ~ Russian Orthodox Church ~ and there I saw the only gift that depicted Saint Mary Magdalene (a postcard).   I brought it.  I find it such a frustration that in most of the repository shops from here to Rome, there are never any devotional items for sale which depict Saint Mary Magdalene.  Why not?   She and Our Lady walked everywhere with the Lord ~ They were closest companions.

Whilst there, I lit a candle with Christ ~ and I touched my hand on his heart and I prayed my prayer.  (When I pray at Mass, it is as if I hold my own heart in my cupped hands, and I offer it, and all it contains, up to Jesus) ~ And as if tangibly received and magnified, it was as if invisibly but radiantly he took it, and my heart shone out through his hands ~ and in through my camera lens ~ and back out to me, where in miracle light it visibly revealed His response upon the screen ~ as if to say . . . .

‘I am with you ~ I am holding your Love and My Love  ~  and Love is all that is needed  for prayer to be answered.’

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And there as bright as anything reflected that Love ~ and in it my deepest prayers.

Maybe I will share my beautiful Walsingham time with you in another post.

It was beautiful.

But just for now I want to savour it.

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Inspiration

jesus-in-marys-womb

Franciscan Inspiration

As a child I had a great Love for nature, wildlife, animals and pets. I came from a non-faith background even though I was culturally/fashionably christened C of E. We never went to church except for weddings and christening, and as children we never went to funerals either.   However as a child I had a profound sense of spirituality, of feeling alive when alone, in the woods, else with nature ~ a feeling that appeared to be filled with ‘magic’ and wonder, that appeared to be so much less ‘magic’ in the presence of others who often had their own agenda.

On my 7th and then 8th birthday my aunt and uncle brought me two different little bibles (they must have forgotten the gift the year before) and this as a child was my introduction to Jesus (other than school hymns in assembly). The man in the beautiful pictures within the books cradled the lambs, and was painted in beautiful countryside and mountain side settings by a river, I so loved these pictures, and knew them to be so full of goodness. These pictures held and captured the nice feelings that I felt when in a similar countryside settings, and were the same feelings evoked much later too, which I  called my One to Ones with the universe ~ and these special feelings were what my Christian friend at a much later time (when I was an adult) called her encounters with God.  This Christian God, and the personal relationship which she had with Jesus and Christianity was all new to me.

As I got older the sense of enchantment and the spiritual presence of my ‘One to Ones’ when out on my solitary walks (and so too when wandering around London) just grew even stronger.   And yet in another kind of way, more frustratingly isolating, as I had no understanding or comprehension of formal faith, and at the time no friends who seemingly felt what I felt ~ the same Love ~ from the same experiences that made me feel such joy, happiness, freedom, elevation, wonder.   This was until I discovered my Christians friends.

As I got older I ‘saw’ and observed snippets of information about St Francis of Assisi. I knew little about him theologically or in religious terms, but his image was one of prayer, nature, kindness, Love and freedom, that I understood in the very depths of my being, inherently from a small child.  My grandparents all lived simple, humble, loving lives and this appeared similar with St Francis.

It was upon having children when that ‘magic’ became a very different magic, and then living life as a busy mother, the spiritual feelings of ‘magic’ that I had discovered pre motherhood lessened, and a different kind of wonder for a while prevailed. I am using the impoverished word ‘magic’ because in my secular upbringing that was the only word that could describe the something extraordinary which I felt, that my brothers and sisters and friends, never articulated or seemingly felt.

Part way through my journey of bearing my five children, the same Christian friend brought for my birthday The Circle of Days book by Reeve Lindbergh. It is The Circle of Days from Canticle of the Sun, written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1225. On reading it I was staggered that St Francis talked of Sister Moon and Brother Sun, he talked of death as if a friend. Ever since I was a young woman I have written poetry and often in a similar vein to that of St Francis in relationship to the beautiful world around me. I had a great understanding of the moon as female, and the sun as male, and it frustrated me when I saw them depicted other. I have discovered a deep sense of the interconnectedness and relationship between the tides and the planets, the earths inhabitants, and creation, and of the invisible dimension which in some small way I can sense ~ and on occasions I can in some way make manifest through my writing ~ but not make tangible.

As somebody that has both had a powerful conversion and a life-long love of nature, I have come to have a warmth and affectionate love for St Francis, as someone with whom I can identify. He is often portrayed as a romantic soul, whose strength, determination and non-conformist ways had people often concerned for his wellbeing. It left him ostracized from his town, and led him upon a difficult but joyous journey.   His refusal to deny the Love between him and St Clare inspires me so much, and his pure audacity in the square and then again in Rome speaks to me of someone who is inspired by God alone ~ and on mission for God.

Then one day after I converted, I went on an S.V.P retreat. By default because of another priest’s sickness we had a beautiful elderly wise Franciscan friar lead the retreat.  Fr Austin took us on three talks, each talk a spiritual journey in its own right. He was a gentle, humble beautiful soul.  He talked about sin being only a small part of the incarnation, for before there was Original sin there was Original Grace.  He gave us the metaphor of a giant white board and in the tiniest corner he described writing the word sin barely visible, such a small part of the message, the whole of the white board being left pure white and unblemished after the sin was atoned for.  He said that because Jesus came for sinners, wherever you find a sinner, it is an entitlement to Jesus Christ. Thank God.  Wherever there is helplessness, there is God waiting.  He described God like a helpless baby clinging to the human breast.

He talked about purgatory being like a box of tissues to take away with us, until we have regained our self-respect and can come back to the fold, tissue less.  He said to refuse to be forgiven is to sin against the Holy Spirit.  Jesus never pointed the finger at anyone, he never looked for someone to blame, and what a waste of time it would be for us to do so. He said like us Jesus made mistakes, he said Jesus choosing Judas was not a good move, but that each mistake made is a lesson whereby we learn not to make that same mistake again.   He said Jesus had no chance of survival on this road, because when people don’t go quietly they are removed, so Jesus was removed.  But not before he had freed us from fear, for fear can stop us being fully alive.

Fr Austin said that God did not send Jesus to be killed, but man killed Him by sin.  He also said that Jesus did not ‘only’ die and then rise, but that Jesus is at once dead and risen, and that by His self-giving and resurrection, death has been emptied of its power. We see this when we are desperately grieving the imminent death of somebody we love, and yet when our loved one (who is ill) has accepted their imminent death; by their very acceptance they become the comforters of us in our grief.  It is then something that in the world of translation becomes evidence in Love.  A new kind of humanness, an otherness. Grace. We came into existence without our consent; we can only go back with our consent; we do this by the way we live.  This is grace.

Grace is Love.

I spoke to him on my own for a short while about all the different inspirations and ways and how they inspire and differ.  Apparently St Dominic and St Francis were friends, he said that different orders have different structures, and they often view God from a different viewpoint.  The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) looks from the point of view that God is Truth.  The Franciscans look from the point of view that God is Love.  This resounds with me.  For me God is Love . . .  and spirit and truth.

I have always lived by an acute truth, so I have often in contradiction wondered whereby that truth was ever distorted, and then Fr Austin hit the nail on the proverbial head.  He said providing you are honest you may not be right but you wont be wrong, he said if you genuinely walk up the road to reach your destination the wrong way, and you believed you were heading the right way, even if it were wrong, you were doing what you genuinely believed to be right.  He said conversion was then turning the right way.  The way of honesty and truth equals the way of conversion.

He said God doesn’t make copies, there was no blueprint, we are all unique, every life is unique never lived before, never to be lived again.  Apartheid means different – apart, we are all infinitely different, and we are to celebrate, respect and enjoy those differences. Every aspect of otherness must be a reflection of the supreme otherness of God.  Every single person has a part of God in them, don’t let it lay dormant.

He talked about having this eternal empty space within each of our beings that our nature constantly tries to fill up with vocations, work, study, activity and the like, but this space is infinite, it can never be filled, only the spirit will come upon us and fill us full.  And when the spirit has filled us full, then we are to bring others to God, not by being a signpost, but by being a living example of the beloved of Abba.  St Francis said ‘goodness is Godness.  Whenever you find goodness and celebration; enjoy it.  Whenever you see goodness is broken; mend it.  Whenever you see goodness is missing; bring it.’

He told us he did not believe, else agree with people when they tell us ‘Not to follow our hearts desire’ because they fear our selfishness.  Instead he told us with great humility and authority to go into the deepest depths of our heart and try to locate our hearts desire, and to centre our life around this, for this be the transplant that our hearts desperately need.  To live life with this transplanted heart is to feel like the sunshine, the brightest white light, warming right through us.  I go into the deepest depth of my heart and there it is . . . . Love . . . . in spirit and truth.

By knowing and living this way we are called to be the beloved of Abba by grace.  We are assured that through being One with Him in His humanity, that we may share in His Divinity. After this retreat I felt my deep Love of St Francis grow in maturity ~ and his Gospel revelation of a God that is Love, is the same inherent way that I see God ~ God  is Love and Spirit ~ and this alone will ever hold me close to the Franciscan way. As a teenager living in London I used to feed the homeless in Cardboard City under Waterloo Bridge.  Franciscan poverty is something which also I can identify with, having lived for a while in N1 and been witness to, and taken food to those in poverty, it is a wealth to the Spirit ~ Franciscans can see a wealth in  poverty ~ thus they turn the secular way of thinking upon its head, just as Jesus did.

The Carmelites and more importantly The Mystics

The first time that I ever walked down Kensington Church Street in London, I was brought sharply and startlingly to attention.  It was Saturday 1st October.  A large banner with the famous sepia tone photo of St Thérese of Lisieux looked down upon me from a huge church.  A lady whom I can only presume was not English, was almost hugging a Jesus shrine outside the church doorway, deeply in prayer.  The day is Saint Thérese of Lisieux Feast day.

Just the day before, I had spiritual direction and we chatted about the writings of St Thérese, and of how it was just remarkable that these writings (written inside the obscurity of the enclosed Carmelite Order) ever allowed her to become more widely discovered, and lead to her becoming a Saint.  That they should be so widely known today is no less than amazing.

So the fact that I had just happened to have ordered her book online, and I just happened to have had a conversation about her writings.  And the fact that the very next day, the first ever time I happen ‘to happen’ upon ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church’, of all days, just happens to be the Saints special Feast day, is all pretty numinous.  So timing once again led to a numinous experience which left me with that feeling that coincidences are somehow not so coincidental.  On my way back past the church after my day’s study, I was drawn in.  I told Saint Thérese my deepest prayers and lit a candle.  I needed all the heavenly Love I could get just then.

Not long afterwards I was to do my first ever confession before being received into the Catholic Church, I went in to Westminster Cathedral in greatest trepidation and fear, and there on the wall as if waiting in comfort for me was the beautiful sculptured plaque of St Therese of Lisieux.

I had just finished reading St Thérese of Lisieux’ autobiography The Story of a Soul, having previously read the book written by Sister Genevieve My Sister Saint Thérese. Little flower seems a somewhat delicate and insipid name for someone who although physically very poorly at times, I have discovered actually had such a great strength of character.  Little ox might have been more fitting.

Close to the end of the book (in the last few pages) page 161, I read this paragraph, “Swept by an ecstatic joy, I cried: ‘Jesus, my love!  At last I have found my vocation.  My vocation is to love!  I have found my place in the bosom of the Church and it is you, Lord, who has given it me.  In the heart of the Church who is my Mother, I will be love.  So I shall be everything and so my dreams will be fulfilled!’”

‘My vocation is to Love’……… is the last line from one of my 2010 poems

I am a vessel overflowing with your promise, I will pour the wine for many.My vocation is to Love.’

One other line from the Carmelites Autobiography of Saint Thérese of Lisieux The Story of a Soul, that felt as if it had been taken direct, absolute and pure from my own soul was on Page 153: ‘Above all I imitate Mary Magdalene, for her amazing-or rather her loving-audacity which won the heart of Jesus captivates mine.’ Mary Magdalene is someone that I have an absolutely unshakeable devotion towards. Her closeness, perfected Love, and devotion to Jesus Christ was/is the most esoteric key to unlocking my faith from the secular world, and her proximity to Christ, I am absolutely sure in my resolution, is the answer in bringing the contemporary world closer to Jesus Christ.

The Carmelites with their contemplation led me deeper still on my spiritual quest and it is thanks to them that I discovered in a deeper way the likes of St Therese of Avila whose birthday is just before mine, and whose book the interior castle had moved me years before when I was just observing Christianity quietly from the fringes, when the stirrings of a new faith were still just beginning to arouse and reveal acknowledgment with my own intellect. I need to go back and read that book again now with greater insight and understanding now that my journey has progressed somewhat.  Somebody once read some of my work and said how it reminded them very much of some of St John of the Cross’ poetry. I had never heard of him and so they brought me a copy of some of his work, and the staggering identification of what he had in detail experienced, and the comparison of what I had felt – recalled – and identified of my own painfully difficult journey was most inspiring and comforting.

The Carmelite mystics and the Dominican mystics taught me that the body in profound meditation, prayer and worship is a spiritual flight of deepest Love to unite us with our creator, and is only possible because of the reality of our humanity and spirit. St Teresa of Ávila and St John of the cross, St Francis and St Dominic in their physical and spiritual devotion and worship reveal their own Truths, all were graced with ecstatic Love.

The Dominicans

Having experienced moments that I could identify with some of the mystics, and having felt incredibly inspired by them, I looked up St Catherine of Sienna and St Rose of Lima, both of these Saints had been sending me ‘spiritual friendship requests’ by way of inspiration :O) inspiration that I almost continued to ignore. I brought St Catherine of Sienna’s book, which I began, but mostly remains unread upon my bookshelf still to this day. Her birthday is a few days before my own. One day when I am ready I will read her work.

These women have led me to more closely observe the Dominicans ~ whom I Love because of their learnedness, for their precision and care taken over their preaching, and their homiletic skills which inspire me so very much. They point me towards great theological writers like St Thomas of Aquinas ~ whom although I have yet to discover, I very much have warmed to some of the sound bites of his words that I have happened upon. The Dominican spirituality is integral to God who is Truth, and has me bound by such fascination for one reason alone;

I discovered that the Dominicans have a deeper Love and devotion for Mary Magdalene. From the very beginnings of the Dominican Order Mary Magdalene has been recognised for her special place as True friend of Christ.  She is patron saint and protectress of The Order of Preachers, and because I have spent the deepest time in prayer and meditation with Mary Magdalene, and because I feel what it is that I feel about Mary Magdalene being the closest companion to Christ, perfected in Love, taught directly by our Lord, I feel a special connection to the Dominicans. I know the fact that they hold her in such high regard stems from the Absolute Truth, Truth that I know in my soul needs to be made manifest to others.

The Dominicans say of Mary Magdalene;

‘It is a joyous thought to realise that the whole Dominican Order has from the time of its foundation, sung during Easter Week the Victimae Paschali laudes, which expresses the mission entrusted to it: “Speak, Mary, Declaring/ What you saw, wayfaring/ The tomb of Christ, who is /living/ The glory of Jesus’s resurrection/ Bright angels attesting/ The shroud and napkin resting/… Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining/ Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning/ Amen.
Alleliuah”.’

“And all who heard her were in admiration at her beauty, her eloquence, and the sweetness of her message…and no wonder, that the mouth which had pressed such pious and beautiful kisses on the Savior’s feet should breathe forth the perfume of the word of God more profusely than others could.” (Blessed Jacobus de Voragine O.P. The Golden Legend, Readings on the Saints, William Granger Ryan translator, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, 1:376-77).

Saint Mary Magdalene

Because of meditating upon the Gospels, and upon the encounters between Mary Magdalene and Christ, in prayer I came to a far greater understanding of the significant scenes to which we all bare witness. These meditations ~ this prayer ~ and these insights ~ which are so clear for anyone to see (once the splinters and planks have been removed)  inspired  The Way of Love Charism.

I feel inspired to live out the Charism of Mary Magdalene, and to bring her Love of Christ to other people. I am fully aware of the traditions that have inspired my journey and I find it immensely frustrating that there are Marian traditions that are focused upon the Virgin Mary, and yet Saint Mary whom sealed the first covenant in pure oil of nard at the foot of the temple, and whom sat at our Lords feet in both formation and Love, who walked everywhere with the Lord and his mother, whose ritual foot washing Jesus then blessed the disciples with at the last supper, the beloved whom Jesus chose to first appear to, Mary whom was the apostle to the apostles, a woman of such integrity, courage, evangelization, and perfect Love ~ has not as of yet a formal tradition for her devotees, in which her Sisters and Brothers can follow, in order to become like her, the closest Beloved of Christ.

The time has come for Catholic parishes and dioceses and everyone else besides, to embrace St Mary of Magdala, and afford the contemporary woman and man a pathway back to the Original Traditional Way of Love.

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Chrism

mary-weeping

The Chrism Mass is so important to me, for it is the One Mass that instantly transports me back to the heart of the Gospel ~ in the deepest of meditations.   And it has done so ever since the first ever time that I ever experienced it.   The blessing of the Holy Oils passed on from year to year, from generation to generation, is a ritual ~ and a blessing ~ and a grace that only the blindest of parishioners could fail to see ~ in such staggering awe and wonder.

The first ever time that I was blessed enough to witness this Mass, I was graced by seeing right back to ancient times ~ to my first ever conscious experience of anointing in the Gospels. This Mass is so very special to me ~ for beyond it I see the original anointing of Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Temple.  When she anoints her Lords feet in Love, inspired to do so by the Holy Spirit, then proceeds to dry them upon her hair ~ Our Lords feet by the very nature of their touch (Love), proceeds to anoint her head ~ her brow.

We use oils today for only the most grace-imbued of occasions ~ The Sacraments ~ The sealing of a covenant.  Two thousand years ago this covenant ~ the spiritual marrying of the bride to the temple ~ is the revelation that Mary Magdalene has been chosen by God for the most intimately special of calls.    At this sacramental moment in the Gospel, tears of repentance, release, reconciliation, healing and pure Love flow, just as in the Sacrament of Reconciliation today ~ when all the sins of her humanity are forgiven and restored to innocence.  Thus the Covenant between her and Christ is sealed in absolute pureness ~  a pureness that is made manifest in the anointing of pure nard.

This Sacred ritual is the Covenant of the Trinity ~ Bestowed by God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ~ between divinity and humanity ~ between male and female ~ Interdependent.  It is the greatest commandment and covenant of all ~ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  ~ This is the very beginnings of Church. Without this lovingly bestowed and sealed Covenant Mary would never have become the beloved companion of Christ ~ she would never have borne such intimate witness ~ and she would never have become the bearer of such beautiful and life-giving news.   Her Charism springs forth from the Original Oils of Chrism ~ from the greatest prayer.  And so this very Mass ~ the greatest prayer of All ~ where the Chrism Oils are blessed ~ continues in Sacredness to this very day.

And that is why every year when I am denied, and forced to miss witness to the Chrism Mass against my will ~  I die.

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Daughter of Man

I brought a puppy.  Her pedigree name is Halo Agnus Bo.  She is a little lamb of God.

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We are going to call her Agnus Bo ~ with Bo being the name which we will use to call her in affection, and so to command.  Agnus means lamb in Latin.  She looks like a little lamb and came at Eastertide.  She has the softest hypoallergenic fleece.  She is a poodle.  I have never particularly liked poodles with all their puffs and bobbles and pompousness ~ but then I saw the natural ones, just allowed to grow as God intended them to grow ~ and there was something so beautiful and gentle and lamblike, and tender about them.  And so I watched them for a while on and off, from a safe distance ~ and the distance grew closer. They were all out of my price league, and then one night whilst flicking around the internet I came across a poodle family in Norwich, Julien of Norwich land.  And the very next day me and my two littlest girls went to see the pup ~ and we fell in Love.  She was less than half the price of all the others I had spied online, and this was a blessing ~ and the fact that she came from Mystic lands :O)

Agnus Bo is small and cream, but has athletic proportions to her shape ~ unlike the Bichon/Poodle cross puppies who were available from one of the children’s school friends, whose legs are too short.  Poodles are intelligent as they were used as French fishing dogs, and they are also used for hunting truffles, but Pre France they were a German breed.  They are supposed to be easy to train.  We wait and see.   

Why did I get a dog at this precarious time in my life?   Well, I lost Jadey in the new year, my 16-year-old rescue mutt.  Papa seemed lonely ~ although with hindsight although he missed Jadey I think he was learning to be happy being the only dog.  I wanted my last born to know what it is to feel the joy and Love of getting your own puppy as a child.  I knew that experience, and it was the best ~ and I wanted my children to know it too, to have a puppy to Love and to be Loved by.  The twins play so perfectly with each other at times, and so perfectly and securely without each other too ~ this is the blessing of being a loving twin constantly having a playmate of the same age, and feeling such security in that mutual Love, that you have that secure love even when apart.  Eliza wanted her own play mate ~ and so I indulged her, but mostly I indulged myself, because I wanted a little soul mate ~ and having lost my faithful Jadey in the new year, I wanted a dog that this time I could pick up and hug.  And I wanted a pooch too that could cuddle me with unconditional Love in those lonely moments, when the soul is needing to feel close to another soul.

You see priests and brothers and sisters have their brothers and sisters, their families, their vocations, their parishioners and parishes,  they have each other, and their community, and a paid job, and a car, and a secure home and bills paid, and their own chapel to worship in whenever they please ~ and access to the wider diocesan network, privileges beyond what I have.  They often have instant respect and grace bestowed upon them because of their intimacy with their parishioners, or just because of their status ~ just because they are what they are.  And when life at times is personally lonely, they can draw upon their wealth of privileges, and those privileges can often make life easier, or help to counteract the things they have to go without.  They are rewarded with Love.  And when it all gets a little too much ~ they are blessed with retreat.

But to be a lay person of deepest faith, with a personal vocation to Love ~ but with celibacy imposed upon us ~ without the same security’s and privileges, and blessings ~ and without the support of a formal structure or relationship is excruciatingly difficult, and painful, and lonely.  My Co-habitatio either propositions me, or in angry rejection denies me almost any verbal interaction ~ other than an absolute necessary exchange.  He is a good man ~ but the situation has changed his treatment towards me over time, and my talk of divorce has disintegrated any communications there might have otherwise been.  He is very angry inside, and at times quietly emotionally negative, and ungenerous, and at times shows spite towards me.  Because he lives with my denying him, and in physical intimacy I do.  The intimately physical separation became everyday practical physical and emotional separation and that has made the often unkindness impossible to live with.  But I can not afford to move.  I can not pay bills, or rent or anything.  I have to be free for children’s sickness, school runs, school holidays etc.  I have looked for little local flats, so that I still could be close to my children, but they all cost money which I do not have.

Living rural I was put in a compromising situation, and so I had to buy myself my own car ~ as my other car was on finance in R’s name ~ and should we row, and should I exit the home upon rowing, the first thing R did was to take my keys away, and give me the older heavier caravelle whose petrol I could ill afford.  The beach hut was in my name only ~ as I brought it when I sold my own home to move here.  So I sold it and traded in the caravelle and added cash to it, and I brought myself my first ever nice car purely in my name.  I did my homework ~ it is tax-free and economical – 60 + miles to the gallon, and I pray serves me well.  It will never happen again, this was a once in a lifetime purchase, never again will I be in the position to buy a newish car from a VW main dealer. At least now I don’t have to forever rely upon very expensive rail travel to travel any distance, when I can fill up more economically with a tank full of diesel.  It has the most amazing number plate FX13XMA  (F) Father (X) kiss (13) (X) kiss (MA) Mags     13 was my fathers lucky number  (a bakers dozen) + my maiden name ~ 13 is the Marian day of worship each month.  MA is also Mary or Mags or Marie (my middle name)      :O)

Already the heartbreaking grief of having to sell my beach hut is easing (it felt connected to my wider family – happy previous family days – and especially to my Daddy who died). It was so difficult letting go of it.  I walked past it yesterday and they have gutted it ~ and changed it ~ and bastardised the once beautiful little vintage hut.  It just doesn’t feel like the same Spirit is there anymore ~ They even changed the name :O(

There is nowhere to go now in the daytime to escape the moodiness and northness of this once loving and warmly lit home.  I took my Dads oystering shoes from the beach hut and put them under my false car boot floor, so that something of his once physical presence continues to bless me.  I pray that somewhere to live eventually drops out of the sky ~ no money ~ no job ~ no prospects ~ no security ~ a partly school run mum, whose children need to live still in the security of their Daddy’s home, he works from home.  I pray to live in a peace filled home one day again.  A centre parks style log cabin would suit me well.  I pray for R to be strong and loving and find hope and kindness and peace again.  He is such a good man.  He doesn’t deserve any of this.  He deserves to be happy and content, and blessed with Love.

God only you can sort this one All out.

Yesterday “tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” came on the radio, I havent heard that song in donkeys years.  It was a vinyl record my Dad used to play, and instantly he was right here with me ~ in a deeper way ~ a much needed physical spiritual hug.

I am currently reading Nelson Mandela

The cell is an ideal place to get to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings.  In judging our progress as individuals we tend to focus on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education… but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every soul – are the foundations of one’s spiritual life… At least if nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you.  Regular meditation, say of about fifteen minutes a day before you turn in, can be very fruitful in this regard.  You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards.  Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”

“One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint. I never was one, even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying”

My Mum sent me this today ~ it will hopefully inspire me ~ that I should keep on trying regardless.

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Little Miracle

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My Divine Office II was perfectly faulty ~ upon opening her I noticed that a few of the pages had edges folded back on themselves.

Upon investigation I could see quite plainly that they were sealed.  The paper cutting machine had failed to do its job in precisely cutting the paper ~ several of the pages were unseperated at the edges.

I carefully cut the pages with the scissors in order to free them ~ and once they were free I preceeded to unfold them.

Perfectly imperfect.

Above is today’s little miracle bestowed upon me.

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JOY ~ Loving This

To be watched over and over and over again.   Just feel the joy and look at the expressions on All.

I Love this.

 

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Branded for Life ~ The Trinity ~ & St Patrick

In September 2012 I went abroad for the first time in 18 years.  It was an amazing grace imbued experience.  I went to Rome on my first ever pilgrimage ~ and I am unsure that it will ever be topped.

In the months before I went away, I was received into Full Communion with Rome.  In fact it was Pentecost ~ May 26th 2012 ~ St Phillip Neri’s feast day  (whose birthday is on St Mary Magdalene’s feast day ~ 22nd July) ~ he is the Patron Saint of Joy, and my adopted Saintly spiritual father.   Joy is inherently a BIG quality of my nature, despite the dramatic and wickedly unkind trials that life continually throws at me ~ Joy will ever be here ~ as it is part of my character, my personality, and indeed my very being ~ Joy and Love was the gift that God bestowed upon me at birth ~ and even when oppressed, wounded or broken open by life, joy eventually seeps out, as if to seal all the fissures.

Being very excited about my 2012 holiday (and very unexcited about my summer wardrobe)  I went out and treated myself to a few new cheap summer clothes a la mags style ~ pretty summer sleeveless maxi dresses ~ short sleeve summer blouses ~ and a couple of strappy feminine pretty evening tops.

Then 2 weeks before I left for the pilgrimage disaster struck   . . . . .

I had heated up some olive oil in a large classic orange Le Creuset cooking pan on the Aga, and I allowed it to get too hot.  Then for some reason unbeknown to me, I held the chopping board over the back of the pan and tipped it towards me.  I used the blade of the knife to pull the raw chicken into the pan towards me, straight into the hot oil.  At this point the hot oil decided to splash straight out of the pan, directly onto my bare forearm. In millisecond reaction I grabbed the tea towel hanging on the front of the Aga and wiped the oil right away ~ at which point the melted skin just wiped right off my arm.   It was agony ~ I didn’t cry and yet the tears just poured from my eyes.  Instant cold water and bicarbonate of soda (chemical reaction salvation) on this occasion  was unsuccessful.  I went to casualty who cleaned and dressed my wounds with fake skin, and  then gave me fake skin (special burns patches) to take away on pilgrimage with me.  It was grim.

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This of course meant that my entire summer pilgrimage wardrobe was now marred ~ the wounds were below all summer sleeve levels, and I sported a great square patch of fake wrinkly skin that proceeded to cover my entire forearm .  It is difficult to tell in the above photo, but the wounds now healed have shrunk to scars the size of an almond, a 5 pence piece, and the top of your little pinky finger.  The initial wounds were as deep as a coin too.

With all my experience of cooking to date (and there’s lots) I have no idea why on this particular occasion I  pulled the raw meat off the chopping board towards me.  But I did, ~ and as a result I am now scarred for life ~  just above the inside of my elbow.

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But this isn’t just any old almond eye ~ dot ~ star ~ scar.  This is my own personal branding of the Trinity ~ Father ~ Son ~ & Holy Spirit ~ of scars.    All different ~ but all scars. ~ Consubstantial.

I thought of this the other day when I climbed out of the shower.  Identifiably all mine alone ~ Forever marked ~ Forever reminded ~ Forever branded with the Trinity.

I smiled.

And despite the scar ~ every time it catches my attention, it takes me right back to an incredibly, spiritually fulfilling time in my life ~ a pilgrimage of altars and absolute pure Love.

Branded with Grace.

Then yesterday comes along St Patrick’s day.  I have never previously celebrated St Patrick’s day, but this year for some reason I paid special attention, and I was surprised to find out that he wasn’t an Irish man as I had previously thought.  I always thought it was a celebration for Irish people alone, and that St Patrick was Irish ~ but with a little research from my beautiful Gold SAINTS ~ A Year In Faith And Art book,  I learned otherwise.  Patrick is of Latin origin ~ meaning nobleman.   The day celebrates Christianity coming to Ireland.  He was born in Britain in 385 and died in 493.  Patrick supposedly lived to over 100, and he is Ireland’s Patron Saint.  As a child he was carried off by Irish raiders and then held captive as a slave.   After escaping he trained for the priesthood, and became a missionary priest and later still a Bishop.   He returned to Ireland where he preached Christianity in the places where they practised slavery.

When I took my dearest friend on our weekly hospital run we chatted about the great Saint, and she told me that St Patrick was famous for teaching the theology of the Trinity by using the shamrock ~ one single leaf made up of 3 green love heart leaves, all on a single stem.

In the evening I went for Guinness and canapés with another lovely dear friend, whose long ago now deceased husband was called Patrick.  We celebrated together St Patrick ~ and liberation from oppression ~ me for the first ever time on St Patrick’s day.

I’m celebrating too my Love ~ in Trinity ~ Infinity.

St Patrick ~ Pray for us †

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Original Love

Over the past few years I have learnt something so beautifully profound, from being in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  This profound something is actually Everything ~ It is more simple ~ more beautiful ~ and more poignant, than any person has vocally articulated at any point in my entire lifetime ~ and although no one has ever previously articulated it vocally to me, at moments it has been articulated both physically and spiritually ~ and because of this I know it to be of the utmost absolute inherent Truth.

And now I can vocally articulate it myself.

Jesus Christ has taught me that ~ before there was Original sin there was Original Love.

This Love I know as a result of my own beloved father dying ~ I know because of my happy childhood ~ I know from having lost a pregnancy due to miscarriage ~ I know from holding each of my newborns and looking into their eyes ~ I know from within the very depth of my soul, the exchanged look of Original Love.

And no further amount of investigation, exploration, rejection, study, searching, yearning, or persecution can ever teach me anything ever again, quite so final.

It is not a sin to fall in Love.

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Holy Holy Communion

The intimate Love that draws two people into Loving communion, should forever be upheld in Sacred Dignity ~ for it is Gods gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit ~ sown in the first place from a mutually intimate Love of God ~ from God Himself.  Above all, the beauty of Holy Communion is His precious gift, intimate and gentle beyond all the gentleness of life ~ born out of the deepest understanding of tenderness, expressed and shared.  Sacred beyond all Sacredness.  It is the ultimate becoming One in triune with God, where two people whom Love each other body, soul, mind, strength and spirit, intimately reverence each other, before the eyes of God the Creator, and in doing so go beyond, to reverence their Lord.

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This Lent it just dawned upon me that the tree never wanted to be The Cross.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross

A splinter from a life,  felled, axed and sawn.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Deprived of my oxygen giving life.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Suffocated by the carbon dioxide of death.

Pick me up and carry me for I am your cross.

Nails driven in against my wish.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Erected on Calvary for torturous death.

Pick me up and carry me for I am your cross

Against my will man crucifies us both.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Roots no more, but in God I implore.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

I vow to support you, and cradle you in death.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Manger I wished, but casket I was.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

Wearied and weak but unswerving in Love.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross

Faithful and sacrificed against my choice.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross

Against my will, the tree that was.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross

My branches beneath you, till Heaven thwarts hell.

Pick me up and carry me, for I am your cross.

And take me to Heaven, where with you I Will dwell.

And take me to Heaven where All shall be well,

And all manner of things shall be well.

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Shades of Blue

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On Saturday I snook into the back of Church in order to hear a much awaited homily by the Novice Master of the Order of Preachers ~ I wanted to be knocked off my seat by him. Lose my footing.  Be won over.  Be awoken from the deepest shade of Blue.  It was a unenamouring piece of scripture from which he was preaching, I hadn’t looked up what it was to be, prior to going, but I know it well.

Matthew 5:38-45

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

~~~~~~

I prayed for him, that he would feel the welcome and Love of this little parish, especially as I had read the devastating news in the Tablet this week, an article about the Dominican (CES) former religious education advisor who had appeared in court charged with possessing more that 5,000 indecent images of children.

My heart bleeds for the Dominicans for whom I have a great fondness, and so too once more for the Catholic Church, which is filled with people who care pastorally, diligently and whole heartedly about our children’s future and welfare, and of the future generations integral place within the Catholic Church and Community.

I wasn’t knocked off my seat by his words ~ But there was something in his clarity in the way that he preached, that once again reached out and said  hear me loud and clear.

I like clarity ~ this stems from my personal love of the theatre, I spent much time working there as a young woman, and I know what presentation styles I like.  It was very real, not forged, not over performed or hammy, but delivered no less with quiet acquired strength and gentle tenacious assurance and humility.  He told us it was a difficult piece of scripture for many people ~ but for me it wasn’t ~ I know it well.  I do pray for my enemies ~ and I do pray for those who persecute me ~ and I do Love them.

I so wanted to engage in conversation with him, but unfortunately someone else engaged me in conversation and I couldn’t break away, and then 20 minutes later he left, and so I missed my God-given opportunity.

Some things just aren’t ever meant to be.

~~~~~~~

I havent been to church in a while, nor am I going for the forseeable future ~ and so to receive the body and blood one more time, was All powerful and All intoxicating.  My heightened yearning to receive Christ’s Loving presence physically once again was raw and charged with interior hurting ~ and yearning.  I knew He would refuel me with His physical Love ~ I have missed the deepness of Him recharging me in this Sacred Sacramental Union ~ I have missed His gentle body melting like prayer in the depth of my being, then deeper still back into the depth of His Spirit.  I missed the warm Spirit of His blood filtering into my own body as if in transfusion to my own.  I have missed Him making Love to me in this way . . . and yet . . . in the deepest most personal Spiritual Communion there is another dimension ~ one of heightened desire and indescribable timelessness that has no limits but of its own privacy and call ~ a Union which takes ones breath away unexpected ~ which rouses the soul from the earth to the Spirit in one momentous bodily upwave ~ And only then beyond the surge, gently subsiding as if the tide were being softly called back by the moon ~ Prayer taken on the current ~ without any deliberate conscious transaction ~ just a natural communion in the body ~ spirit to Spirit.

Spirit><spirit.

~~~~~~~

Mary, and so too the colour blue, have been a reoccurring feature of the past few months. And on Saturday whilst I was engaged in the unbreakable conversation in church, my best friends darling little boy in all his innocence interrupted us.  He proceeded to hand me a gift for having looked after him since October after school, whilst his mummy was both working and then poorly.  It was a beautiful perfect deepest Mary blue St Martin’s Rosary, in a little book styled box, with a coral coloured opal plaque of Jesus on the front ~ and bless that darling child ~ he even took it to the priest to get it blessed.

Blue truly is the very warmest colour ~ so blue ~ so much comfort ~ so much Love ~

So Much Love.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour

It is a very special film.

I have no words to explain why ~ just that it captures what other films can not capture.

 

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That Light

During the Beloved Retreat weekend a lovely lady called Dorothea Rose (who was the first ever woman to do a homily at Heythrop) gave her talk in the chapel.  Her talk was all about Jesus’ mother it was entitled Mary, the model of womanhood.  It’s a fascinating talk which I heard on both this Beloved weekend and on the previous Beloved weekend. Dorothea had kindly spent some of her precious free time nurturing me ~ relaxing me ~ and praying for me ~ that my talk would go well, and she encouraged me to open up and share a little of my personal testimony.

I did my talk on the Saturday and it was received well.  Then on the Sunday whilst sitting in the chapel once again enjoying Dorothea’s talk on Mary, a shaft of the hottest most radiant penetrating light, pierced intensely through the long narrow side-slit of a window on the opposite side of the chapel wall, and found its way perfectly intensely and directly to me, where it proceeded to illuminate itself upon my head, face and entire being, for what felt like several minutes. I couldn’t move from its direct hit, (even upon trying to) but neither did I want to.  I looked directly up into its intense flood, and at the top of the shaft became a huge purplish/pink opal shape of hundreds of tiny lined rays, filtering outwards in the shape of what one could only imagine to be the shape of  Mary or an angel, just like people have in their visions.

I came home and looked on the computer in google images to see if I could find the pattern, colour and shape which the intense rays made, as they didn’t quite blind but distorted my vision.  I couldn’t ~ but I found these images which echo the opal shaped configuration of the purplish/pinkish rays that seemed to splay outwards in a constantly filtering moving way.   There was no figure of a woman.  And with all my sense and reason one wonders if these images below are an artistic vision of the miracle of light which plays tricks upon the human eye?

When we were back in the restaurant I told some of the women that a weird and amazing thing had happened in the chapel, that an amazing and penetratingly intense  shaft of light came through the side window and that I was sitting directly in its path.   And then a professional 28-year-old woman, called Tanya, who was also on the Beloved team overheard me, she was sitting facing me on the opposite side of the chapel, she confirmed that she had seen what had happened to me.  She said ‘I kept looking at it and at you, and I could see the shaft of light directly upon you, and it was beautiful and amazing’  she said ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off it’.  Then another woman, without meaning to,  lessened it ~ when she said ‘isn’t it wonderful when we have the ability to see things in a certain way’.

I didn’t see it in a certain way.  I saw it as it was.

It reminded me of the experience that I had a while back (which I have written about before now) ~ on a couple of occasions in the Assumpta Chapel at Heythrop in Kensington ~ which you can read about here.

Spiritual Direction, Sunpools & St Rose of Lima

Thank God this time there was a witness.

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Burdens and Blessings

Lately I haven’t felt the usual energy to express and articulate myself through the written word, in order to make sense of the unwritten word experienced and lived by my life.  I hadn’t felt any motivation for weeks.  The last blog-post was obviously just pulled from Mr Rohr and collated into one post by me, for my own interest, and realising that it may also be of interest to others, I posted it.

I am sorry to say that although I admire the wisdom of the elders, and whilst some of those that are learned in spiritual teachings inspire me, I often have a different more wonderful perception of the world.  And although some parts of my journey relate in some ways to other people’s posts and teachings, I think they often tend to kill everything off which is beautifully spontaneous, by over analysing, over compartmentalising, and over prescribing the presumed or expected experience of being.

And that’s just it ~ whilst there might just be a universally native existential path of being a spiritual human ~ too much of it is anticipated,  explained, preempted, articulated and manipulated, rather than allowing each belovedly created person the beauty of naturally experiencing their own journey, based on the unfolding and unfurling of their own spiritual process led by God ~ based on their very unique relationships, experiences, perceptions and awakenings ~ beyond others manipulating, directing, subverting and prescribing in advance the cause, effect and process of our gentle else dynamic naturally God inspired journey, which is uniquely, profoundly and deeply personal, akin to all the components that make us purely and uniquely who ‘I am’ ~  akin to His Grace bestowed upon us.

After a difficult time of never feeling fully or truly welcomed in my own Catholic diocese, I tried to make the impossible leap of crossing beyond borders to the next diocese, which has at times felt like a kind of temporary part-time surrogate home.  Logistically, financially and vocationally this is an impossibility in itself, and location wise it is completely impractical.  I can not live as a hypocrite sharing and promoting the beauty and freedom of the Catholic faith with each of my innocent children, and others, whilst personally being on the receiving end of her lack of forgiveness and mercy, rejection and institutionally flawed character, whilst watching her preach welcomness, acceptance, forgiveness and God’s Mercy, publicly to all.

So I take a sabbatical (unknowing whether it is permanent) with a heavy heart ~ and surprisingly after only a few weeks of no church it becomes a little easier to bear.  On my one day in London there is a church where the Blessed Sacrament is permanently set for adoration and I take this opportunity to be with Christ in a Sacred setting, where my hurting is held before the altar.  I thank God that He taught me the depths of Spiritual Communion and Love, beyond the Institutions restrictions, and beyond personal prejudice.  Thank God for Him being my Rabboni and holding me so very close.  Thank God for allowing me to know Love beyond rejection, suppression, repression and restriction, and Thank God for His spiritual Graces that I pray continue to bless my life.

Despite my painful situation, I had Church commitments which I had to honour this week, which were booked since last year, outside of my own parish.  I was so blessed to have felt truly a part of such a loving dedicated and vocational team of people on the Beloved Retreat weekend for women.  For so long I have been held apart from so many inspirational talks and lectures of any great standing, and yet here I was blessed to not only witness other people’s testimonies (in 5 x 20 minute talks) ~ but also I had to give one of these talks to the other women participating on the weekend.  You can read my talk here, it is entitled ~ I Am my Beloveds.  The title was very apt for St Valentines weekend.

I only got to being a part of this team, by having found my way to the Beloved Retreat, through a chance meeting with a member of the Sion community on a discernment weekend in Hammersmith London.   This chance meeting inspired me to book on to my first Beloved Retreat weekend.  To have been a participant on this most beautiful retreat last year with my dearest friend who is ill with terminal bone cancer, was such  a precious blessing ~ and to spend this precious time for the whole intense weekend in the same room ~ with such profound Love and pain shared between us and Christ, was just so poignantly beautiful.

The only way for me to come back again was to become a part of the team.  So I enquired and one thing led to another in a way that I hadn’t foreseen or planned, and in the unfolding of duties assigned to people, I ended up putting my name down beside a potential talk.  The day grew closer and the many tasks were assigned to the different team members, and so it was confirmed that I would prepare and give the talk entitled ‘I am my Beloveds’.  On the actual weekend I introduced myself  by giving my own little personal testimony and witness, before the actual planned talk which is on the above link.

I was Sooooo nervous, it was the first time that I have ever committed to such a ministry. And for once I felt without fail or falsity the genuine fraternal & maternal support, love, encouragement and warmth of others around me ~ all wanting , praying and willing for me to succeed.  I never realised that this nurturing Love had felt so vitally lacking up until now, and that in its presence I felt fully embraced, and unable to fail.  To feel that perfect warmth was a blessing that has given me new hope ~ and one that I hadn’t anticipated discovering at all before the weekend.  It is a sadness for me that Beloved only happens twice a year.

The conversations that preceded, unfolded, and followed the talk, ~ the Love given, shared, and received ~ the witness ~ the blessings of knowing what it is to be fully accepted and loved beyond prejudice ~ without manipulation, judgement, unkindness, awkwardness, suppression, or frustration from the sheer mis-perceived preempted judgements cast upon my every choice (which is usually the case by others) and stops me from doing what others are entitled to choose to do freely, was so very reassuring.

I shall remember these precious weekends of Love and kindness for the rest of my life.

It was such a beautiful privilege to be on the team.  I went to bed late and rose early at 5.ooam on secret duties.  Each meal, each gift, each touch, each perfect little attention to detail ~ and every care taken so precisely to deliver something of God’s Love to the other women who were on retreat (who had no idea what to expect next)  was such a blessing. It made me full of the desire to want to deliver no less than what Gods Grace had entrusted me with.

I pray I never let Him down.

On coming home I am both moved and saddened at the close of this weekend.  My dearest friend is undergoing her 3rd round of grueling chemotherapy for her terminal bone cancer which is now in her bone marrow.  I am accompanying her to the hospital for the whole of her treatment plan, and I will care for her with the deepest Love until the end of her life ~  because that woman has given me the most beautiful gift of loving friendship and support, throughout one of the most difficult times of my life.  Life of late has not been easy for her, her husband is sidetracked and preoccupied by his demanding new business franchise, and their relations have become strained and often fractious under the immense strain of everything they are facing.

I am scared of loosing her ~ and I am scared of witnessing her pain and deterioration whilst accompanying her on the difficult and gruelling path ahead.  I am scared for her children’s hearts.  This week after great difficulty she finally had a PICC-line put in, a 4 hour blood transfusion, and her first session of now weekly chemo.  Please pray that she wins back a little more time to be with her 3 children.  And Please may I ask for your deepest prayers for all of us ~ for strength ~ courage ~ Love ~ and finally ~ Peace. Please may I also ask you for prayers for my own children ~ that their faith in Jesus may be Forever.

Thank you All ~ God bless you ~  mags †

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Raw ~ Roar ~ Rohr

According to Richard Rohr ~ his thorough and in depth exploration of the 9 stages of spiritual development.

Levels of spiritual development ~ part 1

So many of our problems can be resolved if we understand that people are at different levels and stages of growth. The importance of levels of development has come to be recognized by teachers as diverse as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, Abraham Maslow, James Fowler, Clare Graves, Ken Wilber, and Bill Plotkin. Some speak of six levels, some eight, and some ten, but in general they move in a very similar direction. There is a rather common description for human maturation.

Thomas Aquinas said, “Whatever is received is received according to the manner of the receiver.” As a preacher and teacher, I have found that whatever I teach will be heard on many different levels, according to the inner psychological and spiritual maturity of the listener. It is rather obvious once you say it. Jesus was teaching the same in his parable of the four different kinds of soil that received the seed (Matthew 13:4-9).

My own attempt to correlate the various schemas of development has resulted in nine levels or stages, which I will be describing over the next two weeks. Note that this is merely a teaching tool. In real life, the spiritual journey is much more subtle and complex. Progress through the stages is not usually linear or completely chronological. Also, there is an inherent danger in teaching about levels of growth as the ego will try to use this information to place itself at a higher level than it is! So I invite you to read these meditations with openness, humble honesty, and a desire for the wholeness only God can give.

Levels of Spirituality part 1  ~ Similarities

There is remarkable overlap and agreement among the various schemata of development, and we find psychology and spirituality beautifully coming together here. What they are all trying to say is that growth is going somewhere, and the trajectory is toward union: union with God, with the self (of mind, heart, and body), with others, and with the cosmos. All seem to agree that the lower (or beginning) levels are dualistic, while the higher (or perhaps I should say “deeper”) levels are non-dual and unitive. The early stages are egocentric; the later ones are cosmocentric.

On a good day, the most you can stretch yourself to understand is toward people one step beyond yourself. It shows how narcissistic we all are, I am afraid. People at the higher levels look ridiculous, wrong, heretical, or even dangerous to people at lower levels. Now you can see why the Jewish prophets, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed. On the other hand, people at the higher, non-dual levels have the breadth and the depth to understand, to accept, and to forgive people at the earlier or “lower” levels. Their honesty allows them to see that they were once there themselves.

The way you move from stage to stage is basically by some form of wounding, failure, or darkness. John of the Cross called these experiences “nights.” The old system that worked for a while has to stop working for you, and it will. All seem to agree that you have to go through a period of unknowing (sounds like faith to me) to know at a higher and more mature level. You have to go through a period of confusion and shadowboxing, dealing with your own conflicts and contradictions. And to be honest, we have little good teaching on how to walk in darkness, which is the very essence of Biblical faith.

If you do not have someone to guide you, to teach you, to hold onto you during the times of not knowing, not feeling, not understanding, you will normally stay at your present level of growth. This is the work of a good spiritual director or teacher, or even an effective homily.

Stage 1 ~ My body and my self image are who I am.

At the first stage a person tends to be totally identified with their body and their image of their body: “I am my body,” the infant believes. They are not yet connected in any enlightened way to their heart or their mind. Each part—body, heart, and mind—is dangerous if it’s largely disconnected from the other two. Integration is opening all three spaces so that they can enlighten and inform and balance each other.

Think of little children. They poop and pee and cuddle and eat without shame or defense. They are their bodies, and, in a way, that’s what makes them so dear, because they haven’t made it complex yet by thinking too much. They run into the room naked with no embarrassment whatsoever. We teach them shame by our shocked reaction.

At the first stage my body, its image, and the pleasuring and protecting of it is who I largely am. Many people in a secular, non-wisdom culture like ours may never move past Stage One. People at this level tend to be preoccupied with pleasure, security, safety, and defense—of their material state. If it makes me feel secure, it is moral. Life is largely about protecting myself. (This is seen in endless need for war and guns, little need for education, culture, the arts, and spirituality.) Stage One people are rather dualistic, either/or thinkers, and frankly represent a rather sizable minority of humans. Their morality largely has to do with maintaining their group, and their group as superior.

I believe life, God, and grace nudge most people at least to the next stage. But first they have to allow some of their security and pleasure absolutes to be taken away.

Stage 2 ~ My behaviour is who I am

Most of human history up to now has been at Stage Two, and, frankly, much of Jesus’ teaching is most aimed at this level because it is all about purity codes, debt codes, dogmas, and external rituals—because that was the stage where most of his listeners were. At Stage Two, your concern isto look good outside. Your concern with pleasing the neighborhood, the village, your religion, or your kind of folks becomes such a way of life that you get very practiced at hiding or disguising any contrary evidence. That’s why it is so dangerous.

This becomes the birth of the shadow self. Eventually your shadow side—your denied motives, your real self—is actually hidden from you. You have to start pretending that you are what looks good to your group and your religion. Your whole identity becomes defending your external behavior as more moral than other people, and defending your family, your community, your race, your church or temple or mosque, your nation as superior to others.

This is tribal thinking. It is a necessary stage, however, so that you can feel like you are Chosen, are significant, or have dignity. It gives you a strong sense of your identity and boundaries, which serves you well as a child. But many people remain trapped here, in a worldview of win/lose and good guys/bad guys. Far Right-wing thinking—the false conservative, in any country and in any religion—largely proceeds from Stages One or Two.

Eventually, your own behavior or group is going to have to disappoint you. You will begin to see that you yourself, or some people in your group, are, in fact, unkind, dishonest, or violent. That is the beginning of integrating the negative, of a necessary shadowboxing. If you are incapable of such appropriate critical thinking, you will not go through the darkness, the necessary deeper faith journey that will move you on to Stage Three.

Stage 3 ~ My thoughts and feelings are who I am

Thank God, many people are nudged by life itself and by basic common sense and honesty to the bare beginnings of critical thinking. People at Stage Three believe “My own thoughts and my own feelings are who I am.” But I do not yet see that most of my thoughts are self-referential and to my advantage and preference, and my emotions are usually “all about me.” (Did you know that the word “empathy” did not even enter the English dictionary until 1915?)  I have read a few books; I can quote some authors; I have become a bit more educated. But it is not really the Big Picture yet. I am still trapped at an egocentric level without knowing it. At this point, education is usually a substitute for actual transformation. Beware of college students who are invariably at Stage Three while thinking they are at Stage Six or Seven!

If Stage Two is more common among conservatives, Stage Three is more common among liberals. Stage Two creates groups; Stage Three creates individuals, and thus it is very hard for Stage Three people to really work together for long. These individuals cannot die to themselves enough to actually seek the common good; this requires a very real death to the ego self, which most will not endure.

Most of educated America and Europe is stalled at Stage Three. (I think of many Democrats and many Vatican II Catholics at this level.) They are good people; they are easy to make friends with. They are dialogical and conversational. But do not ask them to go very far beyond their own comfort zone or their own egocentricity.

The Space between 3 & 4

If a death is required between every stage—a period of darkness and not knowing—then surely an even larger letting go is necessary to move from Stage Three to Stage Four. This is probably why most Western cultures are at Stage Three. Without great love (and I mean great love of someone beyond myself) and great suffering, where there is a major defeat, major humiliation, major shock to the ego self, very few people move to Stage Four. This is the great dying that all spiritual teachers are talking about. As Jesus puts it, “Unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit” (John 12:24).

Historically, classic initiation rites were programmed to move people toat least an initial experience of Stage Four; if you can get people to Stage Four, normally growth will continue to happen from there, because now you know that dying to self is central and necessary. You have begun to learn the art of letting go. You have learned that you do not need to be certain every step of the way. The meaning of faith is slowly becoming clear for you: walking in darkness and trust. A certain tolerance for ambiguity and paradox is learned in the movement from Stage Three to Stage Four. But to be honest, many backslide from Stage Four when they see how high the price is (1960s hippies, the broad-minded but arrogant liberal, etc.).

Sabbath Meditation

So many of our problems can be resolved if we understand that people are at different levels.
Growth is going somewhere, and the trajectory is toward union: union with God, with the self (of mind, heart, and body), with others, and with the cosmos.
Stage One: My body and my self-image are who I am.
Stage Two: My external behavior is who I am.
Stage Three: My thoughts and feelings are who I am.
Without great love (and I mean great love) and great suffering, where there is a major defeat, major humiliation, major shock to the ego self, very few people move to Stage Four.

Ecstatic Dance

Choose a favorite or new piece of music—classical, world, contemporary; anything that calls you to move!—and find a place in which you can listen and move uninhibitedly, barefooted if possible.

Allow your body to lead, following the invitation of the music. Let mind take a back seat and tune in to the sensations of each part of your body. Feel your feet connect with the ground. Limbs and joints turn and bend as they will. Swing and sway head, shoulders, hips. Sink deep into your body, remembering what it is to be a human animal.

Dance until you are pleasantly tired and gradually slow your movements, perhaps to another musical tempo. Continue moving in smaller, gentler ways: breathe deeply, stretch arms and legs, roll head. Come to a seated position and rest in stillness.

Stage 4 ~ My deeper intuition and felt knowledge in my body are who I am

If you can stay in the liminal space between Stage Three and Stage Four, if you can suffer the shock, humiliation, and necessary failure of your game falling apart without regressing to earlier, more dualistic thinking, you will ideally move to Stage Four.

I describe Stage Four as this: My deeper intuitions and the felt knowledge in my body are who I am. People who have been trained to keep the heart and head spaces open and to live grounded inside their own bodies and feel their real feelings are able to pass to Stage Four because they have the greatest capacity for presence, and presence to what actually is!

For some, this is such a breakthrough, so enriching, grounding, and self-validating after wallowing around in ego and confusion for so many years, that it feels like enlightenment itself. Thus, very many become stymied here and think it’s the whole spiritual journey. They have “depth” compared to all these hopeless others around them! This can lead to individualism, self-absorption, and inner work as a substitute for any honest encounter with otherness or with The Other. In such a place, there is little real social conscience (beyond verbal political correctness) and usually a lack of compassion or active concern for what is happening on this earth. This kind of spirituality is all about my enlightenment andmy superiority.

But if you are authentically present at Stage Four, you will begin to see your shadow self in sometimes humiliating ways. Without humility, you will run back to Stage Three, and many do. You’ll see your phony motivation: that you are not as holy as you think you are; that you are largely doing this for your own self-image, to think of yourself as moral, aware, and enlightened. Politeness and political correctness pass for actual love. Ken Wilber calls it “Boomeritis” since it is so true of a certain age group in America and Europe.

Yet this struggle and humiliation is what is going to lead you to real non-dual thinking: when you face the enemy and the enemy is you, and you recognize that you can’t project evil onto other religions, races, classes, political parties, or genders. I’m the problem. I’m petty, needy, self-absorbed, or whatever it might be.

If you are unwilling to do some shadow work, to wrestle with the shadow and see it in all of its humiliating truthfulness, you will not go to Stage Five.

Stage 5 ~ My Shadow is who I am

At Stage Five, my shadow self is who I am. This is not an easy time, and thus most avoid it. This is what John of the Cross called “the Night of the Senses.” Here you meet yourself in your raw, unvarnished, uncivilized state, and you start dealing very realistically with your own shadow self, phoniness, mixed motives, and actual unlovingness.

As a young man I thought I had become a Franciscan and a priest to teach and talk about love, that I had left everything to love God and neighbor. But by my forties and fifties I had to be honest and say, “Richard, have you ever really loved anybody more than yourself? Is there anybody in particular that you would die for?” My celibacy was based on the utterly false premise that if I did not love anybody in particular, I would automatically love God more. I realized that that was not at all true. All I did was love myself more, but in a very well-disguised form. Much of that middle period of my life I spent shadowboxing, seeing my own inability to believe and to practice the very things I was teaching to others. And this continues!

The work of Stage Five can go on for quite a long time, and if you do not have someone loving you during that period, believing in you, holding on to you—if you do not meet the unconditional love of God, if you do not encounter the radical sense of grace that touches your unconscious level—the spiritual journey will not continue. You have to experience God’s grace as unearned favor, unearned gratuity, or you will surely regress.

In Stage Five, more than any other stage, you learn to live with contradiction and ambiguity. This is true non-dual, or unitive, thinking. Stage Five allows you to find God in what John of the Cross calls “luminous darkness.” It is a real darkness, but somehow inside of the darkness, you find light—a much truer, kinder, and softer light. Mostly, you learn patience.

Stage 6 ~ I Am Empty and Powerless

Alcoholics Anonymous would call Stage Six the First Step! Stage Six is: I am empty and powerless. Almost any attempt to save yourself by any superior behavior, technique, belonging system, morality, role, strong ideological belief, or religious devotion will not work. It will actually lead to regression. What the saints and mystics say is that some event, struggle, relationship, or suffering in your life has to lead you to the edge of your own resources. There has to be something that you by yourself cannot understand, fix, control, change, or even begin to deal with. It is the raw experience of “I cannot do this.” All you can do at this point is wait and ask and trust.

This is where you learn real patience, compassion, and forgiveness. I don’t know how else you learn to forgive other people until you see seventy-times-seven your own brokenness, your own incapacity to love and, in this stage, your inability to do anything about it except throw yourself into the arms of mercy and love (Luke 7:47).

This is the darkness of faith, and now you can trust that this darkness is a much better teacher than supposed certainty or rightness. God is about to become very real. Some even call this “God’s Waiting Room!”

Stage 7 ~ I Am Much More Than Who I Thought I Was

When you finally accept your own powerlessness, you learn to plug into a different outlet and draw upon a Deeper Source. This is conversion. This is radical transformation. It is like an identity transplant. St. Paul describes his own conversion in this way: “I live no longer, not I, but I live in Christ, and Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). You will experience a much larger sense of self, and it is not all about “you” anymore!

At Stage Seven, you have a qualitatively different sense of your self. “I am so much more than I thought I was!” you might feel. The false self has died in a significant way and the True Self is starting to take over. But because you are not yet fully at home here, it will first of all feel like a void, an emptiness, but hopefully an okay emptiness. You begin to act for the sake of the action itself because it is true, because it is good, because it is beautiful, and not because it is popular or even because it works! There is no felt consolation most of the time, and there is lessening social reward. Yet there is great peace. You are being weaned of your reliance upon your feeling world, which means very little at this point. Because you are living in the Larger Self, all is okay. You know Another is now holding you. You do not need to hold yourself. You are at the heart of faith, and in a certain sense true spirituality only begins at this point! (Most of Jesus’ teaching proceeds from this level or higher, which is why much of the church has not been ready for Jesus.)

Stage 8 ~ I and The Father Are One

Eventually, you are led by grace into the non-dual state (“not totally one, but not two either!”). I do not know anyone that is in conscious Stage Eight a full twenty-four hours a day. To describe this stage, I use Jesus’ words: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). This is unitive consciousness, where you live in conscious, loving communion and trust with God and everyone else. God is no longer out there or over there or separate from you. Henceforward, as Teresa of Avila says, “You find God in yourself, and you find yourself in God.” This is largely an inner experience, an inner knowing. It is truly following Christ, who is a mixture of humanity and divinity. You know that you are the Body of Christ and that your source is Divine, while you are still quite ordinary and human.

Every other aspect of your persona—your roles, your titles, your functions, even your bodily self—is seen as a passing form, a passing ego possession. At this point, you know your body is not fully you. You have found your soul, your True Self, who you are “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), who you are before you did anything right or anything wrong. Frankly, you have discovered your soul, which is that part of you that already knows, already loves, is already in union with and can quite naturally say “yes” to God.

When you learn how to trust this Divine Indwelling (and that’s what it is—it’s God in you doing the God-thing through you), when you learn how to draw from that place, you can find happiness any hour of any day, and anywhere. You can “pray always.” You also realize this is what you were created for. Heaven is not later. Heaven and salvation are whenever you live in conscious union with God, which means conscious loving union with everything else, too.

Stage 9 ~ I Am Who I Am

Stage Nine is what we mean by the freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21, Galatians 5:1). At Stage Nine, I am who I am. I have nothing to prove or to project to make you think I am anything more than who I am. Stage Nine is the most radical critique of religion possible. It sees religion as the fingers that merely point to the moon. And now I am sitting on the moon! So, thank you, fingers, it was great being a Holy Catholic finger for so many years, but I really don’t need to prove that the Catholic Church is the only way to God, because I know better now. I do not need to deplete the resources of the earth and the world to militarily protect the USA, because it is only one small part of God’s kingdom.

There is no need at Stage Nine to appear to be anything other than who you really are. At Stage Nine you are fully non-dual, fully detached from self-image, and are living in God’s full image of you—which includes and loves both the good and the bad parts of you (Matthew 22:10). This is total non-duality. You are living in God’s gaze: I am who I am in God’s eyes, nothing more and nothing less. This is the serenity and the freedom of the saints.
This is the goal, yet there is no non-stop flight to this goal; you must in some way traverse all eight stages to get here, and you cannot skip one of them! But don’t try to engineer this journey; you are being led, and God will make sure you get what you need and when you need it. (You only fully know that for yourself at this last stage!)

Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said it is “those who become like little children who will enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). At this final stage you return to that early little child that you once were—running naked into the room of life. I am who I am who I am. God has accepted me in that naked being, and I can happily give myself back to God exactly as I am. I am ready for death, because I have done it now many times, and it has only led me into Larger Worlds.




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I Am my Beloveds.

I Am my Beloveds . . . . .

I Am.

. . . . . And my Beloved is mine.

‘I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine’

I Just want you to take a second to repeat those words back to yourself, either in your minds eye, or in a whisper ~ Breathe those words down into the very depth of your being. And let them infuse and resonate within you.

‘I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine’.

What a beautiful affirmation to begin and to close every day with. What a beautiful and perfect affirmation that we have been given ~ that we as women, can offer up to our Lord each day. What a beautiful affirmation and pure gift, our Lord has blessed us with. That ‘I am my Beloveds, and that my Beloved is mine.’

I have no problem referring to Our Lord as My.

I think of Mary Magdalene in John 20:13 when she is distressed at the empty tomb, and the angels say ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ and Mary says ‘They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.’ ~ She doesn’t say ‘they have taken Our Lord away’ She doesn’t say  ‘they have taken The Lord away’; as it refers to Him in other parts of the Gospel. She says ‘They have taken My Lord away.

And in this one phrase alone Mary Magdalene shows us how we too can become beloveds of Christ.

St. Thomas Aquinas, once wrote, ʻThe greater the love, the greater the desire. And desire in some sort prepares & opens the one who desires to receive the one who is desiredʼ.       (ST. 1.q.12)

The poet Rumi says ‘you cannot learn about Love, he says that Love appears on the wings of Grace.’

The word beloved itself is a very special word; a place of grace. ~ It is Trinity.  In order to be someone’s beloved, we have to open ourselves up and allow for ourselves to Be!         To Be Loved ~ and in order to be Loved we need to feel the Love of the Lover.

But there’s more to it that that ~ there’s an intimate invitation to respond ~ there is a response required.

In order to have a beloved and to be a beloved, we need to allow the Lover to Love us, and we need in response to Love the Lover ~ and in our Loving ~ our Belovedness reveals even more Love. And so our response becomes both an openness to being receptive to the Love afforded us, and an openness to respond to our Beloved as only a lover could respond. The revelation is an intimate relationship of endless Love.

When two Beloveds respond to each other in this way, the greatest revelation of all is revealed ~ The revelation of God; God who is Love and Spirit.

The relationship of the Trinity who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit we see echoed in other intimate relationships throughout the Gospel. We see it echoed in the relationship between The Father, Mary & Joseph, we see it in the relationship between Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, we see it in the relationship between Mary of Bethany, Martha and Jesus. And we see it in the relationship between Mary Magdalene, Jesus and the Father. This is evident when Jesus says to Mary outside the tomb ‘I am ascending to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father’.  And so we see it echoed in every beloved relationship the world over when God is present as part of that relationship. When the Holy Spirit bestows Love, we see the deeper imprint and reflection of the Love of the Trinity.

And the ‘My’ ~ is our invitation and our ‘belonging’ in this intimacy. By allowing ourselves both to be loved, and to respond in Love. ~ Only then can we become Beloveds of God.

All this is easier said than done. This takes a great leap of faith. To  place ourselves in this vulnerable position, at times can be excruciatingly painful. To allow ourselves the risk of Loving, and to be met by unlove, unjust behaviour, or worse still to be held other; by a world that isn’t particularly good at loving can be very humiliating. And especially in our own secular society where faith of any kind can be rejected out of hand, when outwardly expressed; we can all to easily cease to have the courage to share our Love.

But to feel ~ to live ~ to breathe ~ and to innately know and hold onto the truth ‘That I Am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine’ ~ is one of the most beautiful blessings bestowed upon us ~ and one of the most precious gifts of Grace, that God has entrusted to us as women ~ as daughters ~ for some of us as mothers ~ and for us all, as beloveds. To be So secure in His Love, that we cannot help but be radiant before others because of it, is pure gift.

To be Loved as a Beloved by the Son, is to be Loved as a Daughter by the Father.

So how do we get to this heightened state of Love? How do get to this vulnerable place of exposure? How do we get to this beautiful place of arousal, where I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine ~ as in the Song of Songs ~ where I am to be filled with such yearning and Love ~ without feeling like I am just one of many mistresses; but that in dignity and belovedness, I am especially chosen?

The answer is by Falling in Love.

One of the most beautiful and special pieces of writing that I have ever been witness to; that I can ever claim to be truth ~ are the words below. These words came at the precise time that God called me to Love. To Fall in Love with All of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

These words are attributed to the Jesuit Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

I have no doubt that all of us are here on the Beloved weekend because we needed or wanted a retreat ~ maybe because we wanted to spend some focused time in Gods loving gaze. Maybe some of us needed healing, and to feel His unconditional Love ~ And maybe some of us are here because we want to serve, and to feel an accepted part of a family in Christ.

But it may also be, that God has called us All here this weekend ~ to Fall a little more in Love.

I have always thought That expression brilliant. ~ ‘To Fall in Love’. It is my lesser reasoning that suggests that we don’t fall in Love but that we Rise in Love. But the person that first ever came up with that phrase was far cleverer that I. Because now that I am a Christian, I know that you can only rise high if you Fall ~ in Love. I think of the book of Genesis, and of the new metaphor that I have heard of Christ being the new Adam, and Mary being the new Eve.

I think of the natural world of Gods creation of Autumn Fall + Spring Rise. I think of the awesome waterfalls joining the great sea, and of the transformation of the oceans and the hydrologic cycle of the rains, feeding the humus (the soil) ~ bringing life to the flora and fauna.

I heard a Buddhist tale the other day about a single drop of rain that didn’t want to fall from a rain cloud, because it was scared to let go. It was scared of dying and no longer being a raindrop. But the raindrop was told by the Buddha to allow itself to fall from the Heavens and land upon the earth below, thus allowing itself to give life to a parched seedling. In its desperate sadness the raindrop let go and eventually fell to the earth, and only then a miracle happened, the falling raindrop brought life to the desperately parched seedling, which in turn bloomed into beautiful radiant flowers ~ which in turn returned to seed, which in turn brought new life.

This tale reminded me of Jesus’ parable in John 12:24  ‘In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.’

So how do we do this Falling in Love? How do we do this falling in Love without falling out of Love, like so often happens in todays world? How do we become so in Love, that that Love radiates us, and radiates Out of us to others? ~ Well there are little clues, and little signposts, and little inspirations everywhere.  But first of all we have to learn to be truly intimate ~ and we can only be truly intimate with somebody if we learn how to trust. We can slowly re-teach ourselves to Trust by being obedient ~ but don’t be put off by this word ~ because the word obedient means to listen. It is no mistake, that the word listen and the word silent are made up of the same letters. When we are silent, we learn to listen. In listening we are being obedient to God, and in being obedient to God, we hear His call ~ and when we hear His call, He shows us how to be intimate with Him. And God has given us the most beautiful way of being So.

He has given us prayer.

Prayer is the braille of the soul.  It is here where our blindness is given a new language. It is here where God meets us in all our brokenness, sorrow, hope and joy. It is here where God alone (God who is Love & Spirit) intimately communes with us in the deepest way imaginable ~ in all our nakedness.  :O)

And it is beautiful.

It is here where God Loves us so intimately and uniquely, that he teaches us how to Love intimately and uniquely in response. It is here where he restores, transplants and transforms our hearts. It is here through this doorway within, that Our Lord comes to us and Loves us unconditionally, replenishing us in all our belovedness ~ and it is from this wellspring of Love that we are nourished, and that we overflow with the fruit of the Spirit ~ that we may go out and serve others in Loving kindness. It is through this very same doorway, that one day we shall go hand in hand, else carried over the threshold by our Beloved, to Life Eternal.

It is here that Jesus asks ‘Who do you say I Am?’

And It is here where we can choose to respond

I Am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine.

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Astray

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Upon my request last year (and the year before) (and the year before that) Mass could not be changed by 15 minutes.  School mothers the parish over could not drop their children off at school for 9.00, and get to Mass for 9.00.  So unless you leave your small child in the office reception, or get the older children to settle your child into class, else get a partner (or someone else) to do the school run, you are late, or don’t go all together. How many young mothers are we loosing.  My children’s school day begins at 8.50 ~ and then its a sprint drive to get to church.

Morning prayer is absolutely out of the question.

I constantly arrive much of the way through morning prayer ~ often just in time for The Lords Prayer.  I tiptoe in, put my palms together, tips of my fingers kissing my lips, and He finds me ~ and stills me ~ and holds me close.  I have no idea what pages or what reading, or where about’s we should be,  and this allows me purely to pray ~ and to be ~ and to listen in prayer.

As for the Benedictus I know nothing ~ but in silent wonder it Amazes me that every time, without fail, whenever we reach the lines ‘As for you little child, you shall be called a prophet of God the most high’  I know them.  I recite them perfectly ~ time and time again ~ and then I drift off in to prayer again.  My rote memory isn’t brilliant, and coming to faith late there are so many prayers that I need to learn.  I keep trying and I keep praying.  And I hope one day that they stick, and that I have my own more formal routine.

6 Years have passed now since I first came to the Catholic Church.  I am very much greyer.  My body is ageing.  What was at once soft is softer still.  I look naked at myself and I feel acute sadness for a beautiful woman who is trapped.  Meanwhile day by night time passes over.  No longer allowed to share that beauty, neither is there consolation in friendship.  I am 43 almost 44, and it feels as if I have been abandoned ~ unloved ~ unnaturally before  it was meant to be this way ~ and it hurts like Hell.

Last week we took in a stray cat.  She was not far from death ~  however far death is.  She followed my Son home from school, calling out in desperate need.  We opened the door and she came straight in emaciated, dehydrated and dirty, with only one eye.  The dog ran up to her in a great bounce and she just lay down in submission and exhaustion on the hallway floor.  The other two cats Martha and Psalm scorned at her, she didn’t retaliate, or cower away, she was too in need.

At first I named that gentle creature Cotton.  So gentle both in touch and in the sweetest nature.  She weighed nothing at all.  I bathed her, and hair dryer’d her warm, all bones. She drank so very much water on the first evening.  She ate regularly ~ I kept food down on the floor continually, so she could help herself when ever she wanted to.  She was sneezey and watery eyed, so I gave her 1/4 of a crushed Vitamin C tablet on a spoon with a little warmed chicken soup, and she ate it all.

Today I took her to the vet ~ I was worried about the bill ~ but the vets were lenient and the money – well I just used it as a tool, and told the kids that’s all it is.  I was concerned about the hollow wound of the eye, which although I bathed, appeared pussy.  However it turned out that she hadn’t lost her eye at all, but she was more than likely born deformed. With a deeply set small undeveloped whitish eye, set right inside the eye socket, deeply sunk into her head ~ baerly visible.  From the outside it just looks like an opening with a hole.  They gave her a long working antibiotic injection for cat flu.

The vet asked me to name her.  Although the name Cotton has a lovely connotation I have called her Maggie.  Martha the other cat wasn’t very gracious when the poorliest stray wanted to stay in my company, and sleep safely upon my lap.  The little darling hasn’t left my side.  So we are now Maggie, Martha, Psalm and Papa the dog, whom I got  almost 9 years ago now, just after I lost my Daddy (hence the reminder) ~ 3 years before I came to the Catholic Church.

I don’t allow pets upstairs, or in my Sanctuary, but close to death Maggie needed to feel Loved, so I allowed her to sleep on my bed ~ in the warm ~ keeping her close to me.  I lay naked upon my cotton sheets below a feather duvet and the cat walked up the bed and climbed up and lay for a moment upon my chest ~ upon my naked skin ~ not unlike a baby.  So soft ~ so light as a feather ~ warm.  And I could feel her little chest rising and falling, and she nuzzled her head into me, and slept there.  And then after a while she climbed off and snuggled down on top of the feathers, against the arc of my body where she stayed until morning.   And then the tears came, because of the pain.  Because I haven’t felt so intimately close to another being in such a long while.

And I hate it.

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My Daddy Who Art in Heaven

(I just found this in my Drafts, unpublished for some mysterious reason) rectified now, even if a little out of timing.

I Love this animation.  It reminds me of St Francis of Assisi hearing his call to rebuild the church at St Damiano.

Every evening the children and I have been lighting an Advent candle on the dinner table. It burns down one daily digit at a time.  Christmas absolutely for me this year is about the birth of Christ, more than ever.  This year there is little attraction to the commercial thrill of wrapping sparkly fizzyness.

Christmas this year is the hardest one in many ways yet.

Once when I was living on my own with my two smallest children, my Daddy gave me the kindest secret gift of £100 and asked me not to tell anyone else.  It was so that I could buy all the family Christmas presents because I had gotten upset that I had no money to buy anybody anything.  I wish he were physically here now ~ not because I have no money again this year ~ but because I am missing his warmth, his kindness and his earthly Love. He filled me with hope when there seemingly wasn’t any.

I even watched him die after all his hard-worked days, where he forever physically grafted  just to feed his family  and take the odd holiday.  It broke my heart to see him part from this life, when he never once knew what the respite of being financially secure felt like.  His mortgage was only paid off for my mother when he died.  His only reprieve would have been Heaven.

After he died I had a really vivid dream (which visually stays with me to this day) of him in his pale blue smart shirt (with faintest cream pin stripes) made casual by sleeves being rolled back like summer.  He was driving a matching very smart metallic palest blue old jag, with a Giant smiley eyed grin on his face ~ ‘Don’t worry about me mate’ ~ he assured me in his laid back manner, he was happy right where he was, window wide open, sunshine pouring in and out, happiness.

God I Love that man †

Silly old mind.

One feels that Advent should be filled with a little more joy, especially that I was received in on the patron Saint of Joys special day.  Gaudette Come.

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Francis on the Eve of St Francis de Sales Feast Day

– the patron Saint of writers and journalists

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2014/01/francis-on-media.html

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Eternity

Eternity

I have found eternity orbiting the earth in the now.
My Love for you is not in past days gone by,
Even though I loved you yesterday and the days before.

My Love for you is not held in future days,
Even though I will Love you tomorrow and evermore.

I Love you  encapsulated in eternity
I Love you  this very sacred hour.
I Love you  in and beyond this world
Eternal        beautiful        now.

Richard Rohr’s meditations at present are all about the experience of the Mystic, and their Divine union with God.  I read somewhere else that we are all Mystics, just some people haven’t and never will tap into it.  We all love and all have the potential to experience Love.  I look back at all my beautiful poetry ~ which in the most noble way became the visible breath of my prayer.  I haven’t written one in a long time.  I was praying my living in the very concentrate of that Love.

2 people this week asked me if I wanted to be a nun, in fact one did, the other one said there are other ways ~ other than being a nun.  I put it to you;  What is a nun?  What good is it in being a nun if you become unkind, bitter and unloving?   I’ve seen it.   I see it. What good is it to shut yourself down, where you believe that you love, but in reality cease to Love as Christ calls us to Love?   Why the need to label yourself in a box?  Why the need to cut yourself off, and cast yourself ‘other’ – ‘separate’ – than life, parish, community and the bishop?  Why make yourself smaller than who Christ calls you to be? Did St Mary Magdalene label herself a nun, or Mary of Bethany, or Mary of Nazareth?

Why not open yourself up, be Full ~ the fruit of the Spirit in its Fullness?  Not hiding away from your own sexuality, but in the full acceptance, embrace, and faithfulness of it. Tenderly live out the sacredness and holiness of the vocation and gift of woman in the heart of the Church.   Expressing maternal compassion and warmth, sharing the beautiful uplifting spring and autumn gift of femininity.  Celebrating the co-existence and inter-dependence of the Grace of holy men & holy women together, side by side, in unity, in friendship, in vocation, in Love, in the parish, in the community, in the diocese, in the world, in life and in death? Why fuel the segregation and separation, and lack of union? Why limit oneself, when Christ already showed us the way?

I want to see a new way of living Our Holy Vocation.  Christ’s Way.   The Way of Love.

Shepherdess

~ T’is yet to be.

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Arthur Miller . . . Transition? . . . & The New Bishop

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.  P L A I N    G I R L  .

‘From this stories compression may be drawn a lesson’

To Candice with much love and admiration from Keith – Christmas 1996

*

R called me from Liverpool Street, and waxed lyrical about a wonderful little book he had picked up freely from the Wivenhoe Station book exchange shelf, and had just read in completion upon his hour-long journey.  This shelf is where you are free to donate a book and free to take another book in exchange, to read on your way to your destination.

[After writing this post I decided to relay back to R my understanding of  his perception of the novel – on doing so he said ‘That is not what I said, – what I said was’ ‘The book was filled with many little insights whereby Arthur Miller in the most wonderfully short but clever sentences had revealed effectively and accurately exactly what he wanted to convey and reveal, where as other authors would have taken whole chapters to have done so’.]

The book he insinuated was filled with many little insights, that in the most wonderfully short but clever sentences revealed startling truths.   He shared a little of his delightful find, which intrigued me to want to rush out and read it.  R had said something (which I can’t quite recall in its precision) along the lines of – I must read it for its great insight, but he insinuated that after reading it (possibly based on my reaction to it) maybe the future – our futures, would take different paths.  His open invitation at my expense made me feel uncertain of his motives ?

I often have the feeling that even though R constantly plays the devoted ‘husband’ that underneath there are other feelings going on, to which outwardly he keeps hidden – else remains in denial, but for his outbursts.  His reaction to the novel and his revelatory recognition with the character of Sam absolutely has me slightly bemused or rather amused, and slightly ‘O k – where to next?’   But never the less I enjoyed his honesty and authentic admittance where before there has only ever been refusal and denial of his contradictory but true feelings towards me, and possibly to himself about our ‘reality’.

I was slightly intrigued and slightly irritated that in his mini revelatory experience, he  of course had associated me with Janice, for I have never been plain, neither have I been in the situations that Janice has.  However upon reading the front slip, the nuanced parable beyond, read poignantly.

I read it twice in two days.

The Novel itself was not a revelation to me, but the revelation was in seeing R’s response to it.

The book came with the above inscription perfectly inscribed in pencil.

How any one could abandon such a perfectly inscribed beautiful little hardback gift (which happened to be the perfect size, and by Arthur Miller so exquisitely written; in just 51 pages) I shall never know.

I once met Arthur Miller in 1987, the year of the launch of his autobiography.  He was at the Young Vic Theatre directing one of his plays, and I asked him for his autograph (which I still have to this day).  Awesome, deeply thoughtful, intellectual man.  Of course I wanted to read this little novel straight away, after all this story had the power to shift something in R’s thinking.  And bizarrely R’s mood has been somewhat lighter and happier, as if unburdened and freed by what the book had revealed to him.

I never received any Christmas gift from him this year, that alone spoke in a thousand decibels, and apart from my hurting, it revealed an unspoken truth that I knew one day, because of our situation, would be imminent.  Upon collecting his 30-year-old adopted daughter, from his first marriage, (whose car had broken down) just after Christmas, he also got a ‘planned chance’ meeting again with his first wife.  Maybe this also had something to do with his new outlook.

New hope maybe.

.

I hoped I may have sold my beach hut this week, though it still hasn’t happened as of yet. A bizarrely coincidental but fun meeting with someone whose mother is St Padre Pio’s cousin.  We had a great very Catholic conversation :0)  He coincidentally had the same birthday as me too.  God or Odd was his saying.  I was very honest with him about the reasons for selling it.  He told me to take it to prayer.  And then I invited him to Mass,  he and his new wife are new to the area.  –  He came to Mass too.

If the beach hut were to sell, then I could buy my own car, which couldn’t be taken away from me as my current vehicle has been at times (in the climax when things get overheated here!) because it’s still under R’s finance.   Then the more expensive larger vehicle could be sold off relieving R of that finance.  The house was valued too, because the estate agent called on the off-chance ‘with a potential buyer’ – post Christmas business cold calling.  I got it valued just out of curiosity  –  just in case.

‘Oh Death, Oh Death, she said almost aloud, waiting on the corner for the light to change, and wondering at her fortune having lived into beauty.’

Still waiting having . . .

I have a feeling in my heart that the new bishop will be announced next weekend – else very soon.

:O/

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Magi FdA

Shepherdess Stargazing ~ with the future Magi

Graduation Dec 2013

Magi –

Old Persian texts, pre-dating the Hellenistic period, refer to a Magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest.

But it “may be, however,” that Avestan moghu (which is not the same as Avestan maga-) “and Medean magu were the same word in origin, a common Iranian term for ‘member of the tribe’ having developed among the Medes the special sense of ‘member of the (priestly) tribe’, hence a priest.” 

The Shepherds visited the Christ child and the Magi came with their gifts.

Magi/Wise men/Magisterium/& Shepherds

All Leading us by the star of wonder ~ to

The source of all Light.

Borne of a woman.

Christ Light.

20 + C + M + B + 14

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EPIPHANY

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Epiphany


A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the Divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.

A revelatory manifestation of a Divine being.

A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.

A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).
[Middle English epiphanie, from Old French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Greek epiphaneia, manifestation, from epiphainesthai, to appear : epi-, forth; see epi- + phainein, phan-, to show; see bh-1 in Indo-European roots.]

~~~~~~~~

A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the Divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by mags.

L O V E

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Jadey

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On the 30th December Jadey went to her eternal rest.

God Bless her darling nature and may St Francis keep her, in the life eternal.  It was the most drawn out, hardest letting go of a beloved pet that I have ever known.

I read something just yesterday that moved me to that astute place of recognition because I know it to be true ~ by a very intuitive little 6-year-old boy.

A veterinarian,  had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

He examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. He told the family he couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As they made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told the vet they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, the vet felt the familiar catch in his throat as Belker’s family surrounded him.  The 6 year old boy seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that the vet wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. They all sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, they all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned the vet.  He had never heard a more comforting explanation.  Shane said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s the Truth.

I rescued a very frightened Jadey for £25.00 from the rescue centre in 1998.  She imprinted on me.  I never went originally to see her, I went for another dog called Merlin (advertised in their weekly re-homing ad in the local rag),  but I left the kennel without that dog.  The next day however I phoned the kennel back up, and said ‘I keep thinking about the puppy, in the pen at the end, have you still got her?’   She had looked deeper than deep into my eyes the day before, and held my soul with that gaze which is so rare.

This look which is an exchange between souls; an imprinting, has only ever happened before with all of my children, just after their birth ~ when they first stared into my eyes with a concentrated and unbroken gaze.  And this very same look has only ever happened with one other person in my lifetime.    My beloved.

~~~~~~~~~~

Back in 1998, almost 16 years ago, upon collection Jadey jumped into the back of my car at 16 weeks of age, a little pup with huge feet and gangling legs. She laid down as silent as nothingness until we got home, desperate to leave the frightening kennel where there was constant barking and unrest in the soiled dog pens.

She has lived almost 16 years with me, side by side.  The longest creature to accompany me besides my 16-year-old first-born.  Jadey has seen me bring 5 babies into the world, and she has comforted me, as she watched me nurse and nurture some of them back from intensive care.  She has seen me through the turbulent times of unhappiness, separation and divorce, to renovating a new home as a single mother.   She comforted me when I was in the absolute lowest of the low of grief, when I lost my father.  She has watched me struggle with the desperate frustrations that I have lived through to date.

She has kept night watch whilst I’ve done hospital runs, and kept day watch continually. She has guarded my family and my home with her loyalty and Love, and accompanied me on my solitary long long walks.  She has seen the very best of me and the very worst of me, just sat quietly observing it all.  And on the days when it all got too much and the tears drenched my spirit, and flooded my body, she came and gently lifted her head into my hands and stared into my soul, and held me to another/deeper Truth ~ which she appeared to know in all her intuitive wisdom, through a glass less darkly.

Just looked deep into me . . .  revealing Gods presence.

A presence of Spirit and Love.

And all the while she never said a word.

Oh how at times I could live my life in the same silence as these higher beings. Not shut away, but right along side life ~ freely.   How dare anyone suggest they haven’t got a soul. How I sometimes dream of us All going through life just being Love with no words, with no voice ~ mute, like the main female character played by the actress Holly Hunter in the 1993 film The Piano.  If man could only begin to live with the same profound Love, joy, loyalty, Sense, grace, and humility as mans best friend, then it’s my contemplation that this world would be a little more like Heaven upon earth.

Dear Lord,

I thank You for the mystery of imprinting.  For the Love magnificent holding soul to soul in Love, in all Your Majesty.  I thank You for the lessons that You have allowed creatures better than ourselves to teach us.  And I trust that You continue to reach me through Loves imprint.  I Love You, and them special souls ~ with All of me.

mags †

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Rare

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Magnificence

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God I Love You

I Love You
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Awake

 

For there are these three things that endure: Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.
Corinthians 13:13
 
“…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one,
that the world may know…that You love them…”
-John 17:21-23
 
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Await

 
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psalm 130:5
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Mary Christmas

Unknown

Christmas 2013

 †

‘From you, our God who is before eternity became a child!  He has made your womb His throne making it more spacious than the heavens.  In you, O woman full of grace, all creation exults.  Glory to you!’ ~ (Joseph Raya, Theotokos; Mary Mother of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus 40.)

This year interiorly has been the most special of special years.  Firstly for me it was the year of the Bakers Dozen.  Baker being my maiden name, my Dads name.  He taught us that 13 was our lucky number,  and that Friday the 13th was especially our special and lucky day.  Now I have learned that the Catholic Church holds the 13th day of each month special too, as it is the day of Marian devotion. Handmaid of the Lord.

It’s also my knowing that if Mary Magdalene was not one of the 12 disciples, then she was 13.  Marian Devotion on the 13th day is no mistake, and So very special.  It speaks of a far deeper Truth akin to the vocation of All women.

The Virgin Mary, Mary of Bethany & St Mary Magdalene echo in deepest Love, their Beloved Trinity.

John Donne so astutely recognizes Mary Magdalene in his poem The Lady Magdalene of Herbert Street.

‘The Resurrection; so much good there is Deliver’d of her, that some Fathers be Loth to believe one woman could do this; But think these Magdalens were two or three.’

A wonder to behold.

Marian devotion isn’t just about The Virgin Mary, but about every Mary since the beginning of time eternal.  Eve after All was chosen first by God.  He made her out of Adams rib (Adam meaning ground).  He made her will.  He inspired her.  He charged her with life.  He created her character and her very essence.  Her and Adams will, be His Will made manifest.  So too God created and inspired the person that came up with the story that was selected as a book for the bible.

God created the first woman. The woman who by her very nature gave birth to the entire world.  Mary is the new Eve ~ without her Love there would be no Son of God.   The very first spark of Love that brought humankind to being, was between God and Woman, and Man.  Mary is Jesus’ companion ~ the one whom Jesus loved more than all the other women. The one He chose with Love to first appear to, Mary the ultimate bearer of the Gospel ~ The first messenger of The Good News.

This year was a year of milestones. The sweet baby in my first manger turned 16, number 2 was 13 in 2013.  The twins celebrated together their first decade, and my last-born began year one.  We are all blessed.  It was also in 2013 that The Way of Love Charism came to me  :O)

And in the very special 400th year of Heythrop College I finally graduated with a degree in Pastoral Mission, and All my children were cheering witnesses to it.   Shepherdess.   I now officially have the letters LOVE after my name.  0-:O)

Next year is a very special year too ~ for 14 is the house number that I spent the happiest childhood in, and it is the year of two-fold perfection ~ whilst Papa Franci will be celebrating his special year of ten-fold perfection (77).  This is to be a year of perfect Love, where Papa will forgive All the world ~ if he is to Love perfectly as Jesus Loved. Only this Love is perfect.  (7 being the number of Gods perfection).

This year I remember especially my Daddy in his special year of 13 ~ and all the Bakers going back to ancient times.

Everybody ~ if there is one treat I would recommend that you treat yourself to this year, it is to watch the film Fiddler on the Roof ~ which I remember watching with my Daddy when I was a little girl.  The main character Tevye reminds me so very much of my Dad, and of our happy childhood family. I was the middle daughter in real life, and so too in the film.  0-:O)  Things haven’t changed much since my childhood financially ~ things have been painfully hard this year ~ but watch Fiddler on the Roof and see how rich you truly can be if you have a little Faith and much Love.

This Christmas I received a beautiful Christmas card from the Sisters from the Congo, It says  May your heart be a cradle for the baby Jesus’.

Those women are so beautiful and have the most prayerful spirit I have ever encountered in my life. Their words are always so warm and deep and heartfelt. All the tears they have shared with their poorly ~ and yet All they do is Love. 

I pray for a Holy Gentle Christmas for you all

With the tenderest Love

 mags

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Cold Turkey

Whilst you’re eating your Christmas dinner, cast a thought over the street kids in China or around the world, and those living in poverty.

Do something to Help.

The Homeless Rome

Jesus is homeless and sleeping rough on the streets of London. Jesus is Watoto.

Friday Is Sandwiches 4 †he Homeless day. (F I S H)

One Million Children Living On The Streets

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Nelson Mandela in N1

 

When I was 18/19 I lived in Islington.  It was a bohemian setting ~ I had a boyfriend who was a dear soul who first introduced me to the likes of Tracy Chapman, the Notting Hill Carnival and Amnesty International.  He fell in love with Africa, and went there on his travels whenever he could ~ whenever the theatre went dark.

I rescued a little black homeless puppy ~ I named him Moon.  He naturally caused chaos but I had this romantic vision of street-dog and I loving each other, and him following me everywhere ~ and I did, I loved him.

I remember the day that Nelson Mandela was released ~ and in my exuberance I remember us running in celebration up the Essex Road N1 (where I lived) singing at the top of my voice ‘Free eeeee Nelson Mandela’.  It was a sunny day.  There was a heady joy and a liberation in the air that was seemingly another first for me.  In all my exuberant ignorance I felt a part of his freedom and release.

Then things went terribly wrong . . . my friendship with the young man was sadly cut short.  Life changed dramatically and almost instantly.  The puppy ~ the flat ~ the love ~ the lifestyle ~ Everything changed because of someones desperately bad actions, all because they felt unloved.   25 years on and I feel nothing but sorrow for their actions, and absolute forgiveness.

This is a poem that I wrote at the time.

Moon

He was so peaceful
Like a foetus draped in ebony.

Africa at its darkest
With no life mapped out.

We vote to be freed from our prison.
Cant handle the complications.

Want to be a little girl
Want to have a cake
Want to eat that cake…

The Nelson Mandela sculpture outside the Royal Festival Hall was made by Ian Walters, my friend Jess’s Daddy.

Slippers & Sandals  :O)

It was all a part of my cultural awakening back then.  Ironically when I lived in N1 I used to meet my friends down on the tomb stones in St Martins in the Fields for a cheap cuppa tea.  The words of the Nelson Mandela Service at St Martin in the fields today moved me personally so very deeply ~ beyond tears.

Today I lay in bed listening ~ thinking ~ praying ~ hoping.
.

Listen to the poignant words from the reading of his autobiography, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflection on the life of Nelson Mandela, by clicking on the link below . . .

. . .  and pray †

Sunday Worship :08/12/2013

Reading
I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity…. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Sermon
Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated: that means struggle, and struggles demand courage.
Nelson Mandela showed his courage by his determination in the face of evil and by his humanity in the experience of victory. What is more, such courage and humanity were learned and demonstrated in the mists of conflict and suffering. He was that rarest of leaders, those who learn from terrible events so as to exhaust all their lessons, rather than being shaped by them into bitterness and hatred.
Our first reading was the story of the Israelites escaping the oppression of Egypt. It is a story of liberation. God made it possible for Israel to escape. He rescued them when all was lost, and he defeated their enemies, so that the oppressors were destroyed.
Throughout history, this story has been one to which those who are suffering oppression have turned. It is hard to remember today the full evil of apartheid. Nelson Mandela recalled how at school, and in every part of his life, he felt its injustice. Oppression was his life, and those of the vast majority of the people of South Africa.
Not everyone responds to such treatment with resistance. Many of us would have kept our heads down, made what we could of life, looked after those close to us, and closed our eyes to what was happening. We would have said to ourselves, “Life is tough enough, do not make it worse by swimming against the tide”.
But Mandela had courage that showed itself in leadership. He stood out, resisted, and fought. He faced the insult of being labelled a terrorist for fighting for his own people, the absurdity of trial for treason against an utterly wicked regime. At the height of the Cold War, with South Africa seen by many as a dependable ally protecting the seas around the Cape of Good Hope, he had little overseas support. One of the great pressures of conflict is loneliness: he faced solitude and isolation and continued the struggle.
Resisting evil is a call of God. Christians disagree about whether force is justifiable, but are at one that resistance is essential. Easy to say, how hard to act! More than that, the act of resistance opens our souls to harm. In fighting hatred, we risk becoming what we resist. History is full, especially in the 20th century, of evil overthrown – to be replaced by worse.
Archbishop Tutu commented, “I often surprise people when I say this. Suffering can lead to bitterness. But suffering is also the infallible test of the openness of a leader, of their selflessness. When Mandela had gone to jail, he had been one of the most angry. The suffering of those 27 years helped to purify him and grow the magnanimity that would become his hallmark. Jail helped Mandela learn how to make enemies into friends. It also gave him an unassailable credibility. When you speak of forgiveness, 27 years in prison sets you up very nicely.”
“27 years in prison sets you up very nicely.” Only someone like Tutu has the right to say that, because he took the same risks. 27 years, add it to your age, think about what you would be like at the end. 27 years of hard labour, pointless oppression, petty insults. Yet in that school of hatred he learned to treasure the ideal of a just nation. That is a second aspect of his uniqueness. His courage was undefeated, indomitable, extraordinary. His capacity to go on becoming more human was breathtaking. His guards grew to respect and even love him. One called him a father figure, whose absence was a bereavement. Robben Island was defeated by someone who could take everything it threw at him, and by melting courage into forgiveness, create the gold of reconciliation.
In the Exodus story God brings freedom, but the Israelites have to struggle and trust. So it is with us. Jesus Christ gives us freedom.We must take it and struggle for it and stand for it, as did Nelson Mandela. And yet there is more.
Peter, in the reading from St Matthew, is looking for a natural limit to forgiveness. Jesus’ answer says there is no limit. Don’t do the arithmetic, learn the point. We are called to forgive forever. Few manage it. Nelson Mandela was one of the few. He did not merely call for resistance, he led it. He did not merely demonstrate and call for forgiveness, he put in place a constitution and governing system that faced evil and defeated it with truth and reconciliation. Leadership is not seen merely in policy, but making policy practice. It is what Jesus calls his followers to do along with him.
And there lies the challenge. Where do we find those who carry on his work? Pray for South Africa as it mourns. Ask God for every nation to have leaders who are full of courage and resist evil, who learn from suffering, who turn that learning into love and make both into reality. And thank God for Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s amazing grace.

Anthem
Amazing Grace – Will Todd
Prayers
God of grace, in Nelson Mandela you gave us a figure of dignity, wisdom, courage, and mercy. Send your Holy Spirit on the people of South Africa that they may walk in his dignity, grow in his wisdom, embody his courage, and practice his mercy.

God of all peoples, be close to any today who know the sting of racial division, prejudice, injustice, and oppression. Bring transformation in hearts and neighbourhoods and nations where one racial group inhibits the flourishing of another. Raise up leaders like Nelson Mandela, and bring reconciliation to those on the brink of violent conflict.

God of glory, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding. Be close to all today who walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and face a long walk to freedom, peace, and hope. Comfort any who grieve, be present to all in prison or exile, and lift every voice to sing your song even if their throat is weary.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name.
thy Kingdom come.
thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Forever and ever. Amen.

 

Nelson Mandela Pray for me †

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A Prayer of Desire

MY GOD, you are my life; if I leave you, I cannot but thirst.  Lost spirits thirst in hell, because they have not God.  I wish to be clad in that new nature, which so longs for you from loving you, as to overcome in me the fear of coming to you.  I come to you, Lord, not only because I am unhappy without you, not only because I feel I need you, but because my grace draws me on to seek you.  I come in great fear, but in greater love.  As years pass away, and the heart shuts up, and all things are a burden, let me never lose this youthful, eager love of you.  The more I refuse to open my heart to you, so much the fuller and stronger be your supernatural visitings, and the more urgent and efficacious your presence within me. ~ Newman

MY GOD, my beloved; you are my life, my death and my resurrection.  I will never leave you.  I never thirst because you replenish me, and quench my every drought like the silken morning dew.  Lost spirits thirst because they know not of your Love.  I am clad in that absolute innate nature which so knows you, in my loving you. There is no fear to overcome, as you are with me.  I come to you because I am happy with you Lord, not only because I want you, but because my grace draws me on to be One with you.  I come in no fear, but in greatest yearning and love.  As the years pass away and the heart opens deeper still, and as all things become less of a burden, let me ever love you and yours deeper and deeper still, and increase my passionate desire and love for you.  The more I open my heart to you, so much the fuller and stronger be your supernatural visitings, and the more urgent and efficacious your Love burns within me.  ~ mags

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2 Too Beautiful

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Lame

nail-cross

It would have been so perfect.  I wanted to apply and then I didn’t want to apply, because I felt I might not be received by the wider community.  Inside I had lost my confidence.

But still in deepest hope and prayer I applied.

I was really nervous ~ it was my first job interview in 16 years of raising my children. That’s a long time to go without a job interview.

And then suddenly when I was there it all felt so perfect.

Then I really wanted the job.

To put my spirituality into action for Him.  To help others fall in Love with Him.  To help them connect and see the Light of the world.  To be active and contemplative and active. To inspire others.

The money would have stopped the immediate fear of being out of control of my own financial fate.  The fear of losing the beach hut ~ the car ~ the house.  To help my own children out more ~ for them to return to hot school dinners.  Most school holiday’s would have been off with the children ~ I could have earned money, and been with them still in the precious holidays, and to have treated them would have been a joy.  To maybe take a holiday again.  To maybe go abroad for the first ever time with the children, to a warm beach.  Real sand.

To work with my faith.

My faith would have been lived out in a vocation which I would have helped carve out, inspire, it was open to development ~ and in some small way it could have been created by me ~ for Him ~ under His guidance, inspiration and Will.

The gap would have been bridged or at least mended a little at home ~ for then R would not have been held responsible for provoking the lack of my acceptance and freedom within the faith, in which I have so fallen in Love, and so too I would have been less angry with him for his actions, which seemingly caused the counter-active reaction towards me from further afield because he was angry that I chose my faith over him.

Getting the post would have meant that on my merit alone the Catholic faith would have embraced me as the right woman to inspire others.  And any unkindness, unfair restrictions, and unjust action towards me would have been rectified in me getting the post.

I didn’t.

The better candidate got the job.

Part of the panel for my interview, in sensitivity was discretely called away.  That initially helped with the nerves ~ and upon their return the decisions were made, I possibly would have felt cheated either way.   I was wished luck upon their leaving ~ bless their heart.

I’m gutted.

I feel as if there is no hope for me in ever being a diocesan Catholic ~ Ever.

I of course didn’t get it ~  and now I feel bereft and hopeless ~ and  like I will never ever belong here.  All interesting academic and worthwhile lectures are beyond the limits of my boundaries.   I can’t afford to go further afield.

I can’t do this anymore.

To be here is to render myself permanently excluded and held other ~ and with the release of every single parish newsletter its magnified.  I feel like I should open up my life again ~ heal myself by stop allowing myself to be punished.  By freeing myself to Christ alone ~ beyond the limits of the oppression suffocating me, and the need to be accepted slowly eating me away.

Today R went to his daughters to think.  We can’t afford to manoeuvre other.

Beyond repair.

I Love you Christ

hurting mags †

Last night I went to see Philomena.

I forgive you all.

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Personal Taste and the Definition of Beauty

photo from Brentwood Cathedral site - http://cathedral-brentwood.org/blog-2/bc-cross/

This is the artist Brian Whelan’s new work, the Brentwood Cross.  In a recent article about it, it was said that ‘It is a thing of beauty, a vivacious, youthful, joyful beauty.’  The article went on to quote  the theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, ‘Art without beauty is horribly castrated and faith without the experience of beauty can never encounter God, the origin of all that is beautiful’

I didn’t find it beautiful.  In a way I found it quite grotesque.  I do love the bright peacock and russet tones.  I like the historic connection of images telling the story to the illiterate. I like the fact that children and adults alike could wander into the heart of the Gospel and spend any length of time meditating upon its rich imagery, images which may grow beyond the visual representation.  But it doesn’t stir me in the way that I am stirred by poignant beauty ~ where one can do nothing other than surrender in wonder.

Beyond the beauty of Creation, this made me think about what pieces of religious art I do find beautiful.  Often the pieces of beautiful art, are works that appear at first simple.  So too the simplicity which I find beautiful, is also a beauty that I find all powerful.  They speak to me and lift me out of myself . . .  almost as if I feel the work ~ rather than just see it with my eyes.  It often raises the hair follicles on the skin, as if the skin could prickle the air ~ as if in response to there being a gap between the outer layer of the body’s skin, and the closest layer of air, both extending to reach out towards each other. Skin and air longing towards each other in extension, barely touching ~ like fingers on the roof of the Sistine Chapel with nothing but extension in between.

Some religious art works have stirred me so deeply, that just to look was to fold a deep wave of physical motion within the depths of my being ~ fettering me to the earth like an anchor, whilst at the same time washing over me, flooding my interior, compressing and releasing the heart, before surging on upwards swallowing-guttural in my throat ~ released in tears exposed beautiful by droplets from the eye, unexpected.

These pieces have stared right into my soul as if uninvited, and have taken the core of my secret self and returned to their composition with a little piece of me forever claimed by that work.  I can think of few pieces of art that have both set me free and imprisoned me at once in this way.   A breathtaking beautiful station of the Cross being one, amongst too few other pieces, are works of art that I know have taken something of me that will forever be held in spirit earth-bound beyond my existence ~ in both beauty and truth.

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A Letter to Sion

 

Dearest Sion

 

 

 

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Its all Just La la . . . Well . . . once every few months.

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This is me on the right sitting at the left hand of my sister!

I know some of my readers faces, and so I thought it might be good for you to finally put a face to my words.  This is not my sister by blood, but a good friend that I haven’t seen in 15 years (and before that in 7 years).  So now in 22 years we have seen each other just twice.  She is a long way away.  She lives another life in Bondi Beach Australia, and yet last week as we enjoyed each others company, it was as if all the miles and all the hours apart had traveled with us together, and grown us not distant but closer still.  The moment we first met held every eternal joy in the imminent seconds of embrace ~ as if in all the parting was a whole life beyond life ~ in the seconds shared.  Quite mystifying.  We only reconnected last year thanks to Facebook and so the modern technology of the world for me is a blessing as well a constant frustration.  We were only ever social friends and so how apt that we should go forth and socialise.

Later on into our evening my long-time-no-see friend tackled me ~ ‘Whats all this religion then, where has all that come from?’  She made it most clear that she disapproved and doesn’t agree with any of it.  She is an approaching 40-year-old woman of 2013 secular society, just as I was.   And so my apologetics were tested which is no test at all, because I score very low on all tests.  So I am afraid I rather flung the baby out with the bath water, and all I could talk about was my own experience of coming to faith in such an absolute way ~ not to convince anyone else or sway anyone else ~ but because I knew it to be absolutely infallibly True and so indisputable.

I can not live by untruths.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever get things wrong, of course I do, I am a flawed being. Flawed with a capital F.  But I live each day without being able to live a lie, and although this has caused me all kinds of problems ~ which you just couldn’t even begin to understand ~ it means that I live in absolute truth from the point of perception of me ~ Me called by Him to be true.  It means that I am constantly growing toward the absolute point of perfect Truth in Him.  One day when I pop my clogs I might even get there.

I took my friend to a La la evening ~ an intimate family atmosphere party night, where I connect with dear old theatrical friends.   The ‘La la society’ is made up of old-time friends (and their dear friends and acquaintances) from my theatre roots back from when I was eighteen +.   And whilst once (many moons ago) we shared intimate details of each others lives in fraternal closeness, now we just socialise in casual comfortable easy proximity.  They have about 6 special evenings a year, and I go there (usually on my own) to socialise, to celebrate, to have fun, and to let my hair down safely without being accosted or hassled, but mostly I go there to dance :O)  Just for a few songs, mostly at the end of the evening.  I usually have but two drinks, as I have to drive back home from the station, so it is in many ways a very sober night, and rather benign, but the fun, the joy and the mutual warmth shared is precious.

Many of my friends are gay, most are in long-term committed relationships and have interesting and surprising careers, and for the La la night alone, some have a wild sense of dress.  They take incredible care of themselves, live a healthy lifestyle, and are warmly inclusive to everybody that is a guest.  This week a polish immigrant named Pawel (pronounced Paulo) came for the first ever time.  He was warmly welcomed as if he were a long time friend, encouraged to get up and play the keyboard and to join in with our singing antics and joy inherent in the La la gatherings.  He came alone to a venue where it feels comfortable to do so, and in conversation shared some of his life.  It really is like a warm joyous family.  And that brings me on to my next paragraph – you see all this is held in the same cupped hands as my Catholic faith.  A faith often questioned, challenged, sometimes delighted in, and on rare occasions rejected out of hand, by others whose insights, prejudice, and beliefs have been formed by their own experiences, relationships and lives.

It is an interesting dynamic where my church and social community reflect many qualities shared ~ each in the other ~ and yet where at La la a deeper liminal warmth permeates any stance taken.  Because at the end of the day despite our differences, all any of us have to offer first, is ourselves.  And it is that very Love, and nothing more, that leaves the deepest impression, that might one day (without even realising) point someone beyond self towards something other, which is far greater.  Thats why even though completely out of my comfort zone and depth, I went ahead and applied for the rather grown-up sensible job of Lay Chaplain.    GASP.    I am not expecting to get it ~ but in applying I came to realise that although I am never going to ever feel quite so grown-up in the face of all the other very serious grown ups around ~  that all I could ever offer anyone is myself and all the things that stir and inspire me, and nothing more besides.    GASP.   Thats both a whole lot, and nothing very much at all.  But its True.

I have been re-reading The Gospel According to John.  I Love it ~ it is my favourite of all the Gospels and the one with which I most identify.  I Love the fact that it addresses the bipolarity of life, which so often can be seen to undermine any ‘surefootedness’ in life. And yet in this Gospel it surefoots life and affirms it in every example, holding in strength the Truth.  It reminds me of my first personal ‘conscious awareness’ of opposites held in contention when watching the Strindberg play Miss Julie ~ only here it was oppressive and a frustration, where the two ends stood in strong opposition to one another, without solution maybe, and reflected only weakness from either standpoint.  It was a long time ago, so maybe it is time that I need to go back and re-observe Strindberg and see if I receive it other.

I was the reader today in our holy little church ~ I read from the book of wisdom. It seems to be the book at present that fills me with most feminine comfort, fulfilment and learning ~ I Love it.  And so too, do I Love Johns Gospel where it inspires me by using opposite poles to illuminate the light.

This week after a week of opposing poles and bipolarities I realise something quite beautiful ~ and I put it to you all for your contemplation ~

That the scriptures read us . . . . we do not read the scriptures.

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Illuminating

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SMUdGed tears (the 100th post)

She reads the day the adam and the eve.  She prefers amber and soft red fruits to the green envious bitter ones.  She reads the insults thrown, time and time again and feels sad for the throwers, and sadder still for the insults who refused to throw themselves. She prays for them whole.

She is wrongly accused of unlove and unfaithfulness where she Loved much without taking one bite.  And there they nail their muse ~ and with amusement force-feed her vital organs, apples with a bite missing ~ foie gras.  In deepest faith she is imprisoned in celibacy, a freedom named by others, a jailer with the Giant bunch of keys.   She reads between the lines of the scribes that scribbled her life unfaithfully ill literate, who won their volumes and accolades upon her untainted skin.  They spit their spit, her face.

She feels sad for their ink spilled beyond understanding.  Each inky mark engraved like thorns tenscore in her skin, gouged like a score card with no opponent.  And still she Loves them.  She forgives them ~ for they know not the Love nor the sin.  The commentators want to break her legs, but then believe she is already broken dead, though stranger still she dances, dances in spirit wherever she may be. Their wrath belongs solely to themselves as they wonder how can someone who is no one, dare to consider herself equal in dignity to someone who is everyone?  Dignity poverty miracle.

But still despite her living death, her body is pierced in the side by the entourage as a way of finishing her off ~ Dead ~ Casting lots for her nakedness.  To their utter knowing ~ out pours the Love that the cherubim poured in ~ mixed with the already fulness of Love intrinsic.  It overflows like water and wine.  It overflows like Love.  It overflows Love. Love overflows.

And in the Autumn Fall she glitters on the edge of a snowflake burning like the Winter, Full of Sonlight.

She is taken down from the Cross.

And buried Alive

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THE PRISONED SONG

Last night I became overtired and I couldn’t sleep.  It had been a few days of quite internal joy, and yet some of the exchanges of the day had me restless into the eve.  Just after 2 am  I climbed into bed, and only then in the silence did I burst into unexpected tears ~ because somebody during the day said something that needed to be said ~ and whilst my heart knew it to be right so that all the pain  broke through the damn in relief ~ I  didn’t fully understand why.

thank you †

THE PRISONED SONG

A Song lay still, and prisoned in a heart,

And years passed on, and never knew its strain;

And summer glow and gladness shook its chain

Yet it moved not.  And Love with keen bright dart

Came laughing nigh, and aimed with surest art

To wake the silent lay–yet still in vain,

And love spread out his sunny wings again

And sailed away, all heedless of the heart.

.

Then Sorrow came, and with drooping downcast mien,

And softly touched the captive melody,

And lo ! it stirred – it leaped to sound; a queen

Out to the world in passioned throbs did flee,

And spirits paused, and listened tranced, I ween,

To that sweet song that Sorrow had set free !

.

Cassie M. O’Hara

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