Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day 2010 - Celebrating my appreciation of God's Creation

As I meander through my days, I often stop and take pictures of things that I find beautiful... of things that are sometimes simple, and other times, incricate. I'd like to share them with you here, throughout this blog.

God has given us amazing beauty. It surrounds us. But we overlook it as we go through our days and busy schedules. It's amazing what we can notice... what we can see, hear and smell when we take time to just "be". I once took 20 minutes to just sit and "be".... and during that 20 minutes I heard dogs barking, children laughing, the splashing of a nearby fountain and birdsong.

“Consider the birds: they do not plant seeds or harvest them, they
have neither cellar nor barn to store their wealth, yet God feeds them.” (Luke

During these same 20 minutes, I observed a bumble bee floarting around lazily and gracefully; a moth danicing its way across the yard and a myriad of birds including chickadees, robins, cardinals, wrens, woodpeckers to name a few. All of these seemed like "alot" to notice. It was 20 minutes very well spent! The Glory of God's creation surrounds us. Even in the midst of ugliness one can often find beauty. It's simply a matter of looking for it.

This is a clematis. It grew on a trellis on our garage. There were weeds surrounding it, and the trellis was in need of painting. But focusing on the blossom... taking a close look, erases all of the ugliness, and shows the beauty of the blossom. It makes me think that that is the same with human beings. Perhaps if we spent more time taking a closer look, we'd find treasure!

Frozen Frost on a tree... walking to church, freezing...but being awed by the beauty.... reminding us again that God is so good!

After the rain, I found this leaf on top of our thrash cans. The earth had been nourished, the remaining raindrops reminded me of diamonds!This prayer can be said in conjunction with the novena to St. Isidore:

O God, in Whom we live and move, and have our being, grant us rain, in due
abundance, that, being sufficiently helped with temporal, we may the more
confidently seek after eternal gifts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

So during this week of Earth Day Celebrations, I encourage you to take some time to just "be". Take a walk, sit quietly on a bench. Look at flowers, listen to birdsong. Pray for those who can't see, hear of feel the beauty of God's creation. Reflect on the glory of God's creatoin and give praise and thanks to God. Plant a garden and feed the birds. In closing:

Prayer on Contemplating Nature

You, O God, Majestic Creator, are the origin of all life.
Nothing can exclude itself from your creative influence.
You are wonderful in your words and in your sovereignty.
Amazed, I contemplate the perfection of the world
You created for human beings.
You are unmatched in your power and in your goodness.
O Lord, you direct like a conductor the orchestration of a storm,
and you shape like a sculptor the petals of a flower.
You are prodigious in your majesty and in your wisdom.
Lord, you have fashioned human beings to accept
the challenges of nature and to be your voice in creation.
O Lord and King, Majestic Creator,

You have made your mystery transparent,
in the world you have created.
I worship you in your creation and in your providence.



Here I Am Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.

I who made the stars and night
I will make the darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

I the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people's pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone
Fill their hearts with love alone
I will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.
I will hold your people in my heart...

(a video of this lovely hymn can be seeing in the next post: click here to see)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Observation or two...

Today, I was out and about doing some errands. I stopped to get some Nyger seed for our upside-down Goldfinch feeder. Feeling thirsty, I then drove down the road to a mini mart and went inside to get a Diet Pepsi. Being a gorgeous weekend spring day, the store was busy. And as I fixed my soda and subsequently stood in line to pay, I did some people watching.

My first observation was of a young girl... she was probably about 15 or 16. She was dressed to play soccer, and as there is a large community soccer field nearby, this didn't seem unusual. She was with her family, and her Father was paying for her Soda and candy. They struck me as quite "well to do". The rest of the family was dressed very nicely... and they appeared to be financially comfortable and to "want for nothing". The girl's parents seemed to dote on their children. The girl's Father gently asked her if she'd like a banana and she snapped "no!" He then asked her if she wanted anything to eat, and she became angry and told him harshly that she was not hungry. This was accompanied with the eye-rolls and shoulder shrugs typical of an angry teenager. As the girl stomped out of the store, the father seemed a bit bewildered, and shook his head as he went to get something to drink. The girl impatiently entered the entered the store to find out what was "taking everyone so long", her frustrated sighs audible.

This took place in a period of less than a minute. I noticed that the cashier had also witnessed all of this, and she looked as embarrassed and appalled as I must have looked. It was then that I made my second observation.

As I was preparing to pay for my soda, a young boy came up to the counter. He had a five dollar bill in his hand. He spoke very softly as he handed the money to the cashier. He had found the money on the pavement outside the store. She didn't hear him so he repeated "I found this on the ground outside". He was shy and polite. He too was with his family. This family did not appear to be as affluent as the first family. Again the Cashier was confused and surprised. She took the money reluctantly, as if she couldn't understand why the boy had not kept it.

I grinned and said something about him being a good samaritan. He nodded shyly and hurried back to his Grandparent's car. It was as if he didn't want any attention or praise for doing a good deed.

As I walked to my car I was was reflecting over both incidents. On one hand, there was a young girl, who was clearly pampered and doted on... she wanted for and appreciated nothing. She behaved poorly... typical of what you might refer to as a spoiled brat. I wondered if she would even "miss" a five dollar bill. My guess is probably not. On the other hand, there is a young man... from a seemingly poor family. But he was polite and honest. He found some money, money that he could possibly use Yet as it wasn't his, he did the honorable thing and turned it in.

I drove off feeling rather sad- sad that there is such a rude and angry young girl who doesn't appreciate how good she has it. I also felt sad that anyone would be surprised that someone would turn in money, when they clearly needed it. Yet I also felt inspired and blessed to have witnessed all of this. For despite the world's problems... there is still so much good. And that is worth everything. In this time of so much negativity... finding something positive is like finding treasure!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lilac Memories

Wow!!! Two blogs in one day! My "muses of inspiration" are clearly busy and quite inspired.

When we got home from work today, after walking and feeding the dogs, I started to get ready to go visit my Mother. I glanced outside and saw our lilac bush. And then I had an inspiration. I found a pair of scissors and went out and cut a few sprigs. I took them inside and put them into a pretty glass filled with water and left to go visit Mother.

As I was driving, I suddenly was filled with the memory of my Father. One spring day, when we were very young... we came home from school for lunch. I think I was in the 3rd grade and Lilli must have been in the first grade. We had huge lilac bushes in our back yard. I remember him going out and cutting enough springs to make two seemingly large bouquets... one for my teacher and one for Lilli's teacher.

He was very methodical in putting the bouquets together. He soaked paper towels in water and wrapped them around the stems. Then he wrapped them in aluminum foil, and finally he wrapped the stems of the bouquet in newspaper. The bouquets were huge. I can remember the excitement to give them to my teacher. I can remember the pride I felt as we walked the two blocks to school. I remember people looking at them, and commenting on how pretty they were.

Once inside the school, I remember grinning as other teachers oohed and awed over how pretty the bouquets were. And of course I remember my teacher, Mrs. Faga's reaction. She was thrilled, and was profuse in her praise and thanks. I think I must have glowed all afternoon.

So it was with all these thoughts flying through my memory that I walked in to the nursing home. And yes, people looked at my bouquet of lilacs.. they had the same appreciative looks as people all those years ago. And when I entered my Mother's room... she looked at the flowers and smiled nostalgically. "They remind me of home" she said. I smiled and said "I know...... do you remember when Daddy made those bouquets?"

And she smiled and said yes. It was a lovely moment filled with love and shared memories.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Divine Mercy

It's during the night, when I am tossing and turning, that the demons of fear, anxiety and worry really do a number on me. I have vague haunting dreams that torment me until I awake distraught and traumatized. Usually, by the light of day, these "monsters" fade back in to their more "reasonable reality" and become manageable.

I have always had the horrible habit of "stuffing" things when I am worried or troubled. I avoid thinking about them during waking hours. So when I am sleeping, I am relaxed and unguarded, leaving the door wide open for these tormenting demons. I realize that I am not alone in this. And when I say that I am "not alone" I mean two entirely different things: 1) Most people are haunted at night by things that are bothering them; and 2) I am not alone because I have Jesus Christ in my heart, because I am a child of God.

With this past Sunday having been "Divine Mercy Sunday" I was very aware and curious to learn more about what this means. From EWTN's website (click here for a link) Divine Mercy is explained as:

During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come." These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.

After learning about Divine Mercy Sunday, I had a much greater appreciation for what this wonderful feast means for all of us who love Jesus with all our hearts, and accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. And then I went on with my day. It was full, and great fun. We were with good friends on Sunday, celebrating the awesome achievements of one of their sons. The next day was my birthday. Having been raised in a family that makes a big deal over birthdays, I've always looked forward to my day. All in all, it was a good day. However there were disappointments along the day... and looking back now, a few days later... they were not worth the energy that I used in getting upset. During the course of the day, a few "worrisome" things occurred, but being determined to 'enjoy my day', I tried hard to pay them no mind.

So it is not surprising, that my dreams were troubled, and my sleep disturbed. And then, "it" happened. I saw an image of Jesus, very similar to the image at the beginning of this blog. It was the image of Divine Mercy. And I knew that it was meant for me. It was more than a picture... it was Jesus standing before me. The love in his eyes was amazing... the love and light coming from His body was dazzling.

I do not know if this is a vision, or a dream, or a both. I do know, however that the message was very real. It came through, loud and clear. It told me that I was not to fear.. that I was to trust in Jesus. It told me that Jesus was with me... walking with me through the valleys of despair and angst... as well as the peaks of joy and jubilation. And I recall feeling an amazing sense of peace. My dreams ceased to torment, and I slept a peaceful and nourishing sleep. Waking the next morning... I gave this no mind. I went on with my morning chores... and got ready for work. I was still vaguely bothered by things, but I somehow knew that they would "all work out".

It was not until later in the day when I suddenly remembered. And then I knew. I had, had a vision... or a dream. Jesus had come to me. I have friends who have told me stories of dreams they've had... where Jesus comes to them. And I've felt envy and awe upon hearing their stories. The awe at my own experience is incredible. The joy is amazing.

I am a child of God. I love Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves me. He is always with me... He walks with me on my path. He walks with all of us who have our hearts open to Him, and have accepted him.

Thanks be to God!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. When I was a child, I had a vague understand of what Good Friday was all about. We were always on Spring Vacation during Good Friday. I vaguely was aware that this was the day that Jesus died on the cross. However my main focus was that our Spring break would soon be over.. and that Easter was right around the corner. This mean Easter Baskets filled with candy and toys, and dinner with family... which was always a wonderful time. I had no clue really... of what Good Friday really meant. Little did I know how I would come to cherish this day... not for the Easter Baskets and family celebrations... but for the true meaning of this amazing day. Click here to be taken to a a webpage that describes in detail the Good Friday Celebration.

I will never forget my first "Good Friday" celebration. I knew that it would not be a Mass, yet I had no idea of what to expect. I recall sitting in awe, taking everything in. It was one of the most moving church celebrations that I have ever been to. As I listened to the Passion, I thought of the sorrow and anguish Jesus went through, FOR EACH ONE OF US; he suffered for us. He carried our burdens as he carried the cross. He endured the torture, the humiliation... the ridicule and hatred. He defied the devil once again. All for us... all for us so that our sins could be forgiven. And then there was Mary... the Blessed Mother. She stood by her son and witnessed all of this. I cannot even begin to comprehend her pain and sorrow.

When it came time for The Veneration of the Cross, I remember being vaguely aware of tears streaming down my cheeks. As I knelt before the cross and kissed it, I thought... how have I missed out on this before? And despite the fact that the Chapel was full, it was incredibly intimate. The solemn silence... speaks volumes... and reaches me deep inside the core of my being.

And now, grasping the true meaning of this day, I feel very blessed. It saddens me that so many spend the day not really knowing... or understanding.... the amazing gifts that this day brings. I can only hope and pray that they too will someday realize the true meaning of this day, and cherish it as much as I do.

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.