“April Fool” – thank you Noel Paul Stookey for your lyrical gift (music video)

“April Fool”

(Noel Stookey and Stu Davis
©1981  Neworld Media Music Publishers)

April Fool
You wear your heart on your sleeve
And though they laugh when they leave
You call it Love and I believe (you)

April Fool
Why must you always play the clown?
You have the edge you laid it down
You give it up without a sound…

Oh April Fool
How can they say “love is cruel”?
They catch the ring but drop the jewel.
Like a teardrop in a pool…

April Fool
As the heart shows through the eyes
Before you were born you were recognized
And unto the losers comes their Prize.

Oh April Fool
Even as the hands were washed, knew
We’d free the thief instead of you
April Fool
You said the Father was in You
You said we know not what we do
Forgive us…April Fool.

The F.U.N. Quotient… An Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

The F.U.N. Quotient… An Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

 Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

Cereal,
Not just any cereal,
A bowl of cereal.

Not just any bowl of cereal,
A pit crew, ready,
To fuel up the car,
For the big race

A claw game,
Descending upon tiny
Flotation devices.
Giving their bounty to
The lucky winner

Tiny stars floating in the
Milky Way.
Being harnessed by higher beings
As if picking fruit off
A tree,
But picking cereal off a
Cereal tree
They
All band together,
Soldiers mingling in a
Circular expanse.
Collaborating and conversing
With each other,
Waiting,
To see when they will be selected
To fulfill their duty,
And head to the front lines
For battle

 A simple
Bowl of cereal,
A morning ritual, practiced
By millions each day.
Completely underestimated,
But also essential
For everyone

-John Oliveira-

This poem was written by my nephew, a high school freshman. Thanks, John!

Photo credit

This makes me think… it’s all grace…

“I shall love You, O Lord, and return thanks to You and exalt Your Name because You have pardoned so many of my guilty acts. If my sins have melted away like ice, it is the work of Your grace and mercy. All the evil that I have not committed was likewise the work of Your grace. Was there any sin that I could not have committed, I who have loved evil with so light a heart? I confess that all my sins have been forgiven, both those that I committed as well as those that, with Your help, I did not commit.” (St. Augustine)

Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2014/03/14/examination-conscience#ixzz2wKcAmQMv

Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

It’s been a difficult winter season here. No getting around that. And I’m not just talking about the cold and the snowfall. In some ways, that has added some beauty to the landscape, and frankly, the excuse to cocoon a bit. Just a bit, because I’ve been out straight as they say. To compensate I’ve have to let go of a few things in order to embrace whatever fire is burning in front of me. To that end, I’ve missed writing and working consistently, I’ve missed getting together with friends or experiencing restful downtimes, I’ve missed podcasting, I’ve missed walking, and I’ve missed what I call balance-in-my-life. Even my prayer life — the anchor of each day — has been getting shifted into new times and forms, though that’s not always a bad thing.

My heart has been broken over sadnesses within my family, my friends’ lives, and mounting pressures — some unavoidable and some self-inflicted. Thank God for the menopausal crying jags… they cleanse me when I least expect them! If you know me, you can laugh at that last thing. Being a woman is still a wonderful thing — and it’s a wonder that I can recognize this new me on some days! Haha!

I’m not griping or ranting as if I’m looking for pity or for sympathies. I’m just a beggar who knows where her bread comes from, and I’ve written about in my latest over at Patheos. I had one of those Jesus moments that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.

Here’s some of that…

All I wanted was a minute’s peace.

No, that’s not accurate. All I wanted was world peace, or something akin in my own little corner of it. At the very least, I wanted the noise in the church to go away. I wanted peace and quiet and escape from all that burdened me.

The Christmas season was ebbing away. I closed my eyes to pray after communion at Mass, to adore the Presence of Jesus in that moment. I attempted to pour out my heart, to break free from my troubles, to lean in and let him restore me with his holy food.

Instead I was remarkably distracted.

Normally, in prayer, I can tune out what’s around me. This day my concentration proved inadequate to the distractions.

The church seemed chaotic. I could not escape the scratchy shuffling of communicants in line to receive. After a New England snowfall, the “snowmelt”—salt and sand that sticks to the bottom of shoes—makes a scraping, gritty contact with the floor tiles in our church.

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Even the music distracted me; the cantor, Lord have mercy,was out of sync with the hymn.

Oh geez, I know I am pitiful as I nitpick others—after communion, no less! Lord have mercy… on me.

There’s the distinctive cry of a newborn baby, and a new momma trying all she can to console, to no avail. She’ll figure it out soon enough. She needs to be here as much as we need her to be here with her little one. And their small chaos jolts me back to where I am.

I refocus, this time on the other baby within my line of sight—the Babe in the manger—in all his poverty and humility; Jesus born into our chaos.

 Read it all. 

:::

You can subscribe to this column here. 

 

 

Reprise: Woman, you are a gift! Respecting women respects life!!

Reprise: Woman, you are a gift! Respecting women respects life!!

Last year, on the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, and the March for Life, I penned this column as a summary of the beauty of womanhood, and her gift of maternity and it was featured in the online version of the Washington Post…

Here it is in its entirety.

Woman, you are a gift!

From the first presentation of woman to man in the Garden of Eden, the gift of who you are is nothing less than “wow!” Your dignity comes from the gift of your being, and the gift of your being created feminine.

Man saw your profound and complementary gifts right away, and rejoiced. In God’s first act of blessing humanity, the creator smiled upon and blessed the union of the first couple, encouraging them be fertile and multiply (Gen 1:28).

Their loving union was a blessed gift to each other, and their offspring, delivered through woman’s maternity, was designed to be a visible sign of that blessing; another gift.

Then sin entered the world. For their failures the woman and man suffered grievous losses, and because we are their progeny, our own pains followed.

Tragically, humanity has habitually lost sight of the true gifts we are to one another, and the treasure of maternity was rarely appreciated as the blessing it is, until Jesus; the savior of all was born of a woman.

In and through Mary, the world heard once more: Woman, you are a gift!

Blessed John Paul II was especially eager to teach that women, by the beauty of their physiology and God-given design, are particularly well-disposed to seeing, comprehending and loving human persons. This is our “feminine genius.” This particular strength of woman bears repeating and rediscovery, as we survey the political rhetoric of the day that tends to degrade maternity, especially as the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade comes to pass.

The late pontiff’s major treatise on women, Mulieris Dignatatem, exults in the dignity and beauty of femininity. The gift of maternity, he wrote is a strength, not a weakness.

There’s no mistaking biology. Womanly bodies are wonderfully made, and purposefully created with an empty space of a womb carried under her heart.

A woman’s womb, her uterus, signals that she is made for something and someone more than herself. This reality touches a woman at her very core — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The womb’s raison d’etre illuminates this gift that welcomes and receives the life of a child, sheltering and nurturing it, until finally, a woman gives birth. We even use the expression — giving birth — denoting the gift that it is. The maternal gift ought to be honored and celebrated.

What’s more, a pregnant mother is entrusted with carrying an immortal soul besides her own — a soul that is destined for eternity. That’s why a woman really needs to be aware of the dignity of her feminine creation, and the sublime gift of her maternity, so she can confer that dignity on her child, and upon others through her love of life.

The gift of maternity is inherent in all women. They are predisposed to motherhood by their design. Yet, as we know, not all women bear children. Even if a woman never gives birth, a woman’s life is still inclined toward mothering. All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence. This broadens our ideas of maternity beyond gestation and lactation.

A woman’s relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, can be fruitful spiritually. Therefore a woman’s life–her feminine genius–is characterized by physical and/or spiritual motherhood.

When the gift of a woman’s fertility and maternity are devalued, they are misinterpreted as liabilities or threats to a woman’s potential happiness, or earning power, or freedom.

Both women and men are crippled when disrespect for any of the gifts of the other are ignored, stifled, abused, or rejected. But women are demeaned when this precious part of them is reduced to a faculty to be managed, rather than a capability to be treasured.

Our beautiful maternity, and the lives and loves that issue forth from it, is why the church continues to stand in defense of chastity and marriage, along with its opposition to the use of contraception, abortion of the unborn and any other threat to human life.

Finally, dear woman, here’s something else the church teaches: If we’ve failed to live up to this teaching on maternity, if we’ve disrespected or abused the beautiful gifts of our womanhood, we can make our way back. The gifts of grace and forgiveness through the sacraments provide that path.

Let us trust that grace. Let us be gentle and generous in dealing with our own failures as regards our sexuality or our maternity. Jesus wants us to be healed, and especially to be healed of wounds related to our sexuality and maternity.

Let us come to him with our brokenness, and the sins against our genius of maternity, no matter how grievous or painful.

Let us come to know this God who came through the womb to save us.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.41.02 AM

The On Faith column of the Washington Post has moved to On Faith at Faithstreet.com. Here’s the link for the column above.

 

Some of us are Marching in our hearts… #MarchForLife

Some of us are Marching in our hearts… #MarchForLife

481335_326472067459460_1862643924_n

 

For a million reasons, there are millions of us who are pro-life  who cannot walk in the March for Life, but we will be marching in our hearts.

We do this in our prayers, in our sacrifices, and in our fasts today.

Watch EWTN for special programming around the March for Life.

 

Snowy trees and shrubs in winter… life off the Back Porch

Snowy trees and shrubs in winter… life off the Back Porch

Steps up to the back porch

Steps up to the back porch

 

birch

birch

 

flowering pear tree

flowering pear tree

 

Out front

Out front

 

Maple tree

Maple tree

 

Same maple, wider view

Same maple, wider view

 

Rhoads...

Rhoads…

 

Spruce

Spruce

 

IMG_2199

black cherry

 

magnolia

magnolia

 

IMG_2194

Chinese dogwood

 

Chinese dogwood where the snow looks like cotton balls or broccoli heads

Chinese dogwood – wide angle – where the snow looks like cotton balls or broccoli heads

 

forsythia

forsythia

 

Dwarf Albera Spruce, Blessed Mother in foreground

Dwarf Albera Spruce, Blessed Mother in foreground

 

white pine

white pine

 

IMG_2208

Sedum

 

Cherry tree

Cherry tree

 

cherry

cherry

stone wall

stone wall

 

lamp post… on snowy days I expect to me Mr Tumnus to appear...

lamp post… on snowy days my imagination expects to Mr Tumnus to appear…

“Meanwhile,’ said Mr Tumnus, ‘it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” – CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

 

Before breakfast and before Mass today I spent some time outside breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the last flakes of the snowfall. I love the different shapes the snow makes on each different tree in our yard, the delicate sculptures that are possible before sun comes out and melts it and changes everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me too. #IStandWithThomasPeters

Me too. #IStandWithThomasPeters

Please, before you do anything, say a prayer for Thomas Peters, who has suffered from physical disabilities since a swimming accident in July.

Thanks.

Now let me tell you what this post is about: I’ve made a donation to help a fellow writer and a fellow Catholic in need. I’d like to encourage you to do the same, as well as join us in this social media outreach to stand with Thomas Peters.

I met Thomas Peters when I was SQPN‘s Boston-based conference coordinator for the Catholic New Media Conference (CNMC) in the summer of 2010.  I had recommended Thomas’ participation as a speaker for our blogging track. I often recommended his blog when I had opportunities to introduce people to the Catholic blogosphere. Back then I only knew twenty-something Thomas as the American Papist blogger. Even then, he was a man on the move. Always busy writing, always taking up the Catholic cause for a variety of important ideas in the public square, teaching others by example how blogging needs to have a social conscience.

In recent years Thomas’ writing and commentary skills led him to being a board member behind CatholicVote.org and the communications director for the  National Organization for Marriage.

Thomas and Natalie Peters

Thomas and Natalie Peters

I’ve been grateful for the information that writers like Thomas have put into the hands of Catholics and the media regarding the issues that align with Christian social values. Folks like Thomas help the rest of us to stand up for those values in meaningful ways.

So today, I stand with Thomas.

Since July, this young man I always envisioned on the move has been struggling to move. He’s been battling the impairments that come from a fracture in his 5th cervical vertebra. Yes, he has made already made good progress, but there is so much more to go. His neck has healed, and he has regained some movement and mobility. From a medical standpoint, his injury has been classified as a C6-7 injury.

Today we are raising funds for his needs so that Thomas and his wife Natalie can find a new normal.

This is the GOAL: $25,000.

Please consider a donation via PayPal here.

What’s needed:

Health Insurance via Cobra

Manual Wheelchair co-payment

Renting a motorized wheelchair – transitional

Hospital bed

Motorized lift

Prescriptions and medical supplies

Home health aide 3x a week

Handicapped accessible apartment

Expenses and miscellaneous bills

 As a woman who has had amazing support from my local community when I faced my own health crisis several years back, I have some sense of the enormity of needs Thomas faces. And the humility it takes to ask for help.

Even $5 from a caring person can help.

Read more and donate.

 

The beards of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal confused for Red Sox fans… a cool video about the friars

Love how this simple question of beards in sports led someone to meet a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal.

Ok, and now for something completely different – and silly.