Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

The Sky

“Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.” – Chanda Kochhar

Suddenly the sky swoops down and pulls us upright to our proper position. Released from the abyss of our circling scarcity thoughts into the abundant majesty of the whole universe inviting us in.

Conspiring, surprising and overcoming our eyes with brilliance, hue and light.

Breathtaking. Radiant. Bedazzling.

Extraordinary beauty in ordinary moments. Available to all, accepted by few. Be one of the few and look up.

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see” – John Newton

 

Kairos

“Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

Kairos is an Ancient Greek term translated to the right time, a spiritual opportunity, the hour of grace.

May you notice all of your “Kairos” moments in all of the hours between sunrise and sunset. Do not let one day go by without taking a blessings inventory to foster deep gratitude. Invite and allow awe and joy to enter your day.

Mustard Seed

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

The Cathedral of Saint Paul was built between 1907-1915. Eight years with none of the equipment and tools that we have today. The workmanship is magnificent. Those who started in 1907 had the vision, the faith of a mustard seed followed by a heavy dose of fortitude and patience to finish this national treasury. Most days, we don’t have the patience to put eight minutes into something much less eight years.

The Cathedral is two blocks from the end of the Twin Cities Marathon and 10-mile run. During my three marathons especially, I would visualize seeing that beautiful sacred place many times along the long path. And when I saw the tip of the dome, I knew that I really was almost done.

A tiny seed planted takes hold, carries us along and mountains are moved. So often we try too hard to figure it out or do more. Rather than more activity, plotting and pining, we just need to be still long enough to hear that still small voice directing the next step.

Not knowing is o.k., believing in greater things than ourselves is required to live contently with deep joy rooted in optimism.

Go move mountains today, not by doing, but by faith. A mustard seed, that’s it.

Beautiful Light

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

I have fond memories of this lamp through decades of seeing it as a center piece at my Aunt Terry’s house. It’s been 26 days since she passed away and the lamp was moved carefully and solemnly to my house today. My eyes keep getting drawn to it and there’s comfort in it.

As I walked by it tonight to turn it off, it reminded me of the beautiful light that we all have within us. It shined the brightest and with little effort when we were young.

With the passage of time, our lights often dim and flicker. Yet, our light always remains within longing to come out to dance and play with abandon. And when we show our beautiful light to the world, it gives the “permission slip” to others to join us on the field trip of joy and gratitude.

No matter where you are on your journey, you have a beautiful light within that remains steady and unwavering. Let it out.

Shine, beautiful light.

Neutral

Life goes from full throttle, twists and turns, to slow and steady, to stalling in neutral. So many chapters we would never have written ourselves. And yet we are right in the middle of the story with nowhere to go but to write the next chapter as best we can.

Each season has its purpose. Neutral, seemingly fruitless ones so often bear the most fruit. Neutral allows us to observe, to shift our attention, to rest our spirit, to examine our assumptions, to grow patience with a side of resilience and trust. And then suddenly, hidden in plain sight of the ordinary dailiness of life are beautiful, wondrous mysteries taking us deeper to new meaning and astonishment.

Look! Amen.

Mysteries, Yes by Mary Oliver

“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.”

Flowering

“One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” – Joseph Campbell

Always think the best of others and choose the bright side. The alternative is dismal. You have no idea what others are going through, so lighten their load with a smile, a shoulder, an empathetic heart. And give yourself a break in the process.

We are all traveling this short journey together in pursuit of purpose, joy, and fulfillment. New eyes, new world.

“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Harvest

“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” – Orison Swett Marden

I’ve just started to wear my “gifts of the spirit” bracelet the past few weeks to remind me to be open to receive those gifts given freely without effort or merit. This week, I was then prompted to buy a “fruits of the spirit” bracelet to remind me of how gifts and fruits are inseparable.

When we are given gifts, we are called to give them away, to plant and cultivate them in order to produce fruit.

We must go beyond our one dimensional understanding and seek a higher understanding, a deeper meaning to live this life well.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

When we are given gifts, they expand and multiply when we give them away, producing fruits. They move us from “me” living to “we” living.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, chastity.

Seven gifts creating twelve fruits. Pretty good odds to bet on.

Be open to gifts. Plant seeds. Harvest fruit. Gifts to fruit every time.

An Appointed Time

Our deep losses are always interwoven with blessings and gifts. Mixed in with our joy, threads of sorrow and loss. Life is a woven fabric of brilliant hues and worn strands of a single fiber.

As tears have taken their turn with laughter this week, I recall two simple words of John 11:35 when Jesus found out Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” An invitation and permission to be real, to grieve, to be emptied and lost. At the same time, a promise of hope, grace and light. And while it will never be the same again, it will be alright.

In the dichotomy of daily living, Ecclesiastes seemed like a solid first reading for the funeral mass for my Aunt this Friday. It also turned out to be the foundation for a pretty good Byrd’s song too – Turn, Turn Turn.

“There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace,
and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit have workers from their toil?
I have seen the business
that God has given to mortals to be busied about.
God has made everything appropriate to its time,
but has put the timeless into their hearts
so they cannot find out,
from beginning to end,
the work which God has done.
I recognized that there is nothing better
than to rejoice and to do well during life.
Moreover, that all can eat and drink
and enjoy the good of all their toil,
this is a gift of God.
I recognized that
whatever God does will endure forever;
there is no adding to it, or taking from it.
Thus has God done that he may be revered.
What now is
has already been;
what is to be,
already is:
God retrieves what has gone by.” – Ecclesiastes 3.1-15

Aunt Terry

This day is one of those days you would run from in the morning if you knew where it would lead to 12 hours later. One of those “you never know what’s going to happen” days. In a split second, it twists and turns in directions never imagined.

There are no ordinary days, so do not treat one more as if it is. I don’t want to write this but I need to mark this day. To honor my Aunt Terry who passed away at 10:41 am this morning. Our last earthly tie to Dad. We never really grieve for the dead, but for those left behind.

87 years old young. Up until last Thursday, driving, booking three appointments each day, swimming at the community center, playing cards, picking up friends for lunch, making soup or ham salad and dropping it off. Always ready to go out and grab a beer or her favorite – a brandy manhattan. One tough, outspoken, soft-hearted friend and soul. That is what is worth celebrating. Her spirit, spunk and energy up until the very end.

She fell last Thursday walking into the eye clinic to have her glasses adjusted. 9 hours later in St. Joseph’s Hospital, with a broken bone in her neck and several facial fractures, still fiery as ever. Her cane was safely tucked away in her car. Second guessing and “what ifs” always catch us up in useless pondering.

After a weekend checking in and out, meeting the outstanding compassionate nurses and doctors, today was the day she was actually going to make it out with a broken-damn neck to transitional care. After we left yesterday afternoon, she called and said she was getting out today to go home. I told her she would be making a pit stop at transitional care first. And rather than calling her nurse, I was prompted to go down in person (thank God) to talk to her nurse in person and check in on Terry.

She never swore and didn’t like it at all. But she called the pureed food, “shit on a shingle.” She told me last night that the phrase came from the soldiers in World War II. She was a soldier for sure. She sang in the choir up until a week ago, sang at hundreds of funerals, checked on friends and all of us.

I told her last night that I would swing by this morning on the way to work for 30 minutes to verify what transitional care she was getting into, make sure it was a private room and hopefully in the new part of the building.

When I arrived at 8:03 to get my badge, they said she changed rooms. As I went up on the elevator, I thought “what the hell for?” I high-stepped it down the hall, turned the corner to a blue light blinking (code blue – one step before the final lights – code red) and medical personnel rushing into the room. Praying it wasn’t her room, but I knew. They quickly escorted me down the hall to the “waiting room” – that familiar room we spend many years of our life in. Not before I asked “what the hell is going on?” Cardiac arrest. Frantic phone calls and more waiting. A total of three cardiac arrests later, it was time to let go and say good-bye until we meet again.

There actually is real comfort in imagining the family reunion and pure peace that comes with passing. The only comfort actually.

So to Aunt Theresa Valarie Pugaczewski. Thank you for your dedication, opinions, sass, vigor, generosity, unconditional love, complaining about the right cottage cheese – Land O’Lake 2% over Kemps every damn day of the week and peach Activia yogurt. I told her speech therapist and nurse who cried with us today that they could keep the unopened cottage cheese and yogurt we picked up yesterday and that they should recommend Land O’Lakes to the hospital.

As I left last night, Terry did inform me that I didn’t bring the right things in the bag I packed last Thursday and that she would make a list. Last night, I told her I would get whatever she needed tomorrow if I missed something (internally a little pissy – again, thank God). When I opened her address book today at her house to begin preparations for her funeral with the family, she had that damn list written out. Oh, how I wish I could be irritated and fulfill my orders right now.

Long detailed story for a reason. Please value each day as if it may never come again with those you love, because one day, you will be right. No regrets for me at all. God gave me the gift and others in my family to be irritated one more time this weekend and to be present in tough times. To hold her hand and walk in on a code blue and wait is something I didn’t get with Dad three years ago. Being there when it happened was a gift too.

As Laura Story so brilliantly says in her song Blessings,

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”

So, this day will be marked like a birthday, celebrating loved ones being born. Today, we honor a life of 87 years well lived, generously, honestly, abundantly, gratefully, imperfectly, faithfully, humanly and lovingly. Aunt Terry, give Dad one long hug for me and thank you for a life well lived. Well done, good and faithful servant!

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”– Matthew 25:23

Lean

“Your inner knowing is your only true compass.” – Joy Page

“Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.” – Elie Wiesel

Even flowers know to lean into the light. Light warms the heart, exposes color and hue, cultivates gratitude, builds resilience and pulls us from the depths of indifference. Lean to the light and let it do its work on you.

%d bloggers like this: