Tag Archive | Community

Ascend

 

Our treetop hearts

bend and sway

in these strong winds.

 

Yet, our faithful roots

are sturdy,

strong, and deep,

and have no end.

 

We’re lined up,

row after row,

straight and tall

sustaining

lifelong friends.

 

If one should fall,

we hold her up

and help her stand

stable again.

 

Our prayers unite, 

and bind up the hurts,

lifted up

and upon the winds,

they ascend……

This was a poem I wrote today while admiring the trees in the park ūüôā I was thinking of all of the friends God has blessed me with in my life, and how He holds us up in so many ways. The following is a very beautiful song with amazing pictures of the Scottish lankscape. Enjoy and God bless ūüôā

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See Me

I am sharing this beautiful poem in honor of Muriel and all of the sweet old men and woman who live with my mom at her Care Center. Muriel eats each meal with my mom and tries so hard to carry on conversations. She is losing her memory and words no longer come easy. She often forgets words that were once easily recalled. Her face lights up when she sees me and my kids though, and she loves to express how wonderful it is to see young children.

¬†The other day, we were decorating pumpkins with my mom, Muriel, and a few of the other residents. As I was helping some other residents, Muriel rolled herself back in her wheel chair to her room forgetting to take her new pumpkin. My daughter and I then rushed to bring her the pumpkin. We visited with her in her room for a bit, admiring all of her pictures of her kids and grandkids. When I brought over a picture of her daughters, she teared up, and said, “It’s nice to see this, I am losing my vision, so I can’t see these pictures very well”. She continued to express how she was told by her doctor that she is going blind and that she wishes it wasn’t true. She could not remember what it is that she has, but I told her I understood anyway.

I could sense that she was so relieved and happy to be able to share this, her story, with someone who would listen. She, and the other people who live out these quiet days and nights often shut up inside themselves, just long to be seen and heard. They long to be validated, understood, and loved. They each have a story, a history, hopes and dreams. Above anything else, they just want to be loved. They want to know people still care about them and remember them.

It is a very rewarding thing to know that perhaps I was one of the few people who gave Muriel any concentrated sincere care and attention for that day, or maybe even for the entire week. God’s grace is palpable in these moments of sharing His love and compassion with someone who¬†desperately needs it.

Muriel with Lauren

This poem was written by an old woman living in a nursing home in Ireland. It was found among her thing when she died.

 What do you see nurses, what do you see?

 Are you thinking when you look at me?

 A crabby old woman, not very wise, Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes,

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try.”

And forever is losing a sock or a shoe.

Who unresisting or not, let’s you do as you will,

With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you think, Is that what you see?

Open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,

As I rest at your bidding, and eat at your will,

I’m a small child of 10, with a father and mother, Brothers and sisters who loved one another,

A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet, Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.

A bride soon at 20, my heart gave a leap. Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At 25 now, I have young of my own, Who need me to build a secure, happy home.

A woman at 30, my young now grow so fast, Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At 40, my young sons have grown and gone, But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.

At 50, once more babies play around my knee,  Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead. I look at the future and shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known,

I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel,

Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.

There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,

And now and again, my battered heart swells,

I remember the joys and I remember the pain,

And I’m living and loving life over again,

I think of the years all too few…gone too fast,

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

Open your eyes, nurse, open and see.

Not an empty old woman, Look closer….see ME.

Honor your father and your mother,  so that you may live long in the land the  Lord your God is giving you Ex 20:12

We Shelter Each Other

A church in Mykonos, Greece

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey (Constantinople) It was the largest Christian church in the world for nearly 1,000 years (500-1400)

Inside the Hagia Sophia (Church of Divine Wisdom)

 

A Greek Orthodox church in Mykonos, Greece
Ar Scath a Cheile a Mhaireas na Daoine are old Irish words that mean “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Within our faith community, we shelter each other, to care for one another and embody the love, peace, and hope promised by God and found in the Life of Jesus.(Jars of Clay, Shelter Album)¬†¬†¬†

My Daughter Anna's Baptism in 2008

A community is a unified body of individuals, who share a common bond and connection. Within my¬† Catholic community, we gather to share our stories; our joys, triumphs, and our sorrows. We gather together in joy and thanksgiving to receive God’s life and grace;¬† through His Word and his body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Our church is our shelter and our harbor in times of difficulty,¬†as is stated in Isaiah 4:6.. “It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day,¬†and a refuge and hiding place from storm and rain.” And we are brought together in Christ as stated¬†in Ephesians 1:23…”The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”

I felt a very keen sense of shelter and love within my church community the other week,when I was able to take my mom to Ash Wednesday mass. It was a very momentous occasion for us, because I hadn’t been able to get my mom to mass at a church in four years. This was the first time since her illness begam¬†that mom was well enough to be able to sit through a full mass. I have been able to occasionally take her to catholic services at the chapel in her care center, but it is not the same as attending a full Catholic mass in a church.¬† I had dreamed of going to mass with her again… especially an all school mass, where my kids attend catholic grade school. So, when I finally got her there, it was a very big deal for me!¬†¬†¬†

On Anna's Baptism day at the hospital

I can’t explain how emotional it was for me to sit next to her while listening to and singing “On Eagles Wings”, which has always been a favorite church song for both of us. It brought back memories of when I would play the song¬† on my flute as a young girl in our porch, with my mom standing in the kitchen listening (and probably secretly hoping I would get bored with it , as¬† I would get a little “obsessed” with my playing when I found a song that I loved to play !) Every so often during the mass, I would look over at her, and she would flash me a beaming smile…obviously thrilled to be sharing mass with me and my daughter Lauren. I choked up a few times when I heard her trying to sing, as she garbled out some of the verses of the song. It was a very healing experience for all of us, and a memory I will always hold dear.

Recently I heard a speaker at our parish faith formation night tell us, “We don’t “have” to go to church, we “get” to go to church!”¬† Sometimes I hear people talk of how they don’t “get” anything out of a particular church service. Ultimately, the real purpose of going to church should be to praise God and to show Him our great love and immense gratitude for all of the many blessings that he has given us!¬†

¬†I think of people in war torn or communist countries where there is no religious freedom.There are people in this world who don’t go to church, because they are not ALLOWED to go.¬† It is against the LAW to go and celebrate their faith with their community in public.¬†¬† I can not even imagine what it must feel like to live in such an oppressive place.¬† I have heard of a¬†group who lead a¬†Worldwide Marriage Encounter Christian retreat in China, who had to memorize the whole entire curriculum, as they had to destroy any evidence of holding any sort of Christian event.¬† They needed to hold the weekend retreats while hidden out in the jungles, or in remote areas, where they could not be easily tracked. Talk about having dedication and a deep¬†passion for spreading the Good News!

I think of how important it is to belong to a supportive and loving church community, especially during very difficult times in our lives, like when a loved one dies or is very ill.  Our church friends hold  us up, keep us afloat, and help carry us to shore when we feel so consumed and adrift with our intense pain and loss. I was very much reminded of this during the 6 funeral services that I attended during the last 10 months this past year. 

One of the funerals was for my dad’s best friend who had passed away after a long courageous battle with cancer. My father gave his friend’s eulogy, which was such an honor for him, as he was his friend¬† for nearly 40 years.¬†I sat there feeling so very emotional and proud of my dad. I knew that it was very difficult for him, as his friend was not only his friend, but he had also become a father figure for my dad.¬† My dad’s friend was 15 years older than him, and as a result he became sort of a mentor for my dad throughout the years.¬† This was especially true since my dad lost his own father suddenly when my dad was only 19 years old.¬†I was very inspired by the high level of deep respect, love, and admiration¬† my father shared with his friend.¬† I was so inspired by the deep faith of his friend, and the very loving support from his family and friends.¬† At no other type of service is it more apparent just how essential it is to have that kind of love and support in a faith community!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

I myself have been lifted up time and time again by the rosary prayer group that I am involved in at my parish church of St Odilia in Shoreview, Minnesota.We are a group of young moms, who usually gather once a week¬† to share our joys and struggles, and to¬† pray together.¬†We pray for God’s grace and love to heal, protect, and strengthen others that we know who are hurting in our community and our world .¬†We pray for each other and the various hurts that we ourselves battle through.¬†We pray for the safety and well being of our families and our children. We then pray the holy rosary together, which involves contemplating on the sorrowful and joyful events of the lives of Our Lord and his Mother Mary.¬†The rosary allows one to get a very personal sense for what Jesus went through for us…and it allows you to focus on and pray for specific virtues during each meditation throughout the prayer. It has been a very powerful prayer method for me and my group of friends!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

The home of The Blessed Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey (it was later turned into a chapel)

I want to end this blog post with a passage from Max Lucado’s book “Fearless”. It is about the importance of¬† being a part of a loving Christian¬† church community!

Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship.¬†He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many.¬† When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries…When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.”¬†(reminds me of Romans 12:4-8 ūüôā )¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

“The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us.¬†They stuck together.¬†Even with ransacke hopes, they clustered in conversant community.They kept “going over all these things that had happened.”(Luke 24;14)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Isn’t this a picture of the church–sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits?¬†And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matthew 18:20)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

“And when He speaks, He shares his story.God’s go-to therapy for doubters is his own Word.¬†“Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to (Romans 10:17).¬†¬† So listen to it!”¬†¬†

The rock on which St. Paul preached to the pagan Athenians in Athens, Greece

¬†The following is a¬†beautiful song called “Shelter” by Jars of Clay (just click¬†the Youtube icon at the bottom):