Week 3 – Lenten Labyrinth Journey

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If you look back at last week’s labyrinth and compare it to this week’s, you’ll see what I saw: this week’s is a lot less active than last week’s.

And that’s okay.

Every week, every day is different, and while sometimes we are overwhelmed with activity, other times we are Baby Bear levels of just right (thanks Felicia Day for that description), and often we won’t know how we feel about each until the week is over. That was one reason that I chose to share the previous week’s labyrinth, after the week was over, and I had a couple of days to reflect and process how things went. This is titled Week 3, but I am living in the middle of Week 4.

This has given me a chance to look back and reassess. Am I reading enough? What am I praying for and should I pray more? Should I add people to my prayer list? I began grouping on Monday and this will continue indefinitely twice a month. I was confronted with taking action, and realized that I really do need a little intentional time; time to intentionally spend with G-d, in prayer, in meditation, contemplation, and discernment. That sounds like a lot of work! It can be, but it can also be a time to rest in the spirit, and see things from different angles and perspectives. Rest in the Word and in words.

How is your third and half-fourth weeks of Lent progressing? Are you feeling your way through the desert?

I’ve added another downloadable sheet to the home page. This is the coloring sheet I designed for Gish‘s Book Bash in reference to Florida’s discriminatory law not allowing schools – children and faculty – to say gay. I don’t understand a society that is afraid of a little word. Anyway, it IS okay to say gay, and more importantly, it IS OKAY to BE GAY (or any of the other LGBTQIA orientations and genders).


Lenten Labyrinth. Week 3.
(c)2022

Mental Health Monday – More Lists

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I mentioned earlier today that I participated in a scavenger hunt this past weekend. The hunt consists of a long list of items to find, do, create and then submit for judging which occurs way in the future. Today with the hunt long over, I completed one item from the kids’ section of the list. These are items geared towards younger ages, usually for lower points because of their level of difficulty or ease. I made a bookmark (see below).

I might be asked why did I make this bookmark when the hunt was already over. It was one of the items that I wanted to do; I don’t know why, although it does do to remind myself and others of the importance and benefit of lists. They are certainly a valuable part of my mental health toolbox. Sometimes, I’d say they are essential and a powerful way to keep track of what I’ve done and what I’ve still yet to do.

Seeing it all laid out in brainstormed order with no numbers or priorities lets me see it all, and allows me to choose one or two to get done even on a bad day. Crossing each item off after they’ve been completed is a positive reinforcement that is beneficial to those of us with anxiety or depressive disorders as well as ADHD, autism, and a whole host of things that slow us down and get in our way, whether we’re overtly aware of them or not.

I’ve written previously of journals, and one thing I’ve done this season is use a small spiral notebook/journal that fits inside my purse to keep my master list. It’s handy and it’s easy and unobtrusive to sneak a quick look at. It also leaves me space to keep a master list and a grocery lists separate and along side it. At the moment, filing my taxes should be at the top of every list.

I wrote recently about my intense enthusiasm for the Amelia Peabody books, and one of the things that attracted me to Amelia and her style is her use of lists. Whether it’s for packing and travel, or solving the murder, or planning a dinner party for her archaeologist friends, her lists are indispensible.

Mine are too.

Some of my past publishing on lists you may want to revisit:
1. Mental Health Monday – Lists
2. Mental Health Monday – Lists & Listmaking

I also discovered two items that I think readers will enjoy:

What is another word for a list of items? (This is for all you word obsessives out there.)
Macmillan Dictonary’s Types of Lists (It states this as a function of the thesaurus, but I saw it more as a suggestion of what lists I could and possibly should be keeping, either for mental health, necessity, or for fun.

Lists can be fun. They can.

Post-BookBash Bookmark. It folds over the page like a magnetic bookmark, but no magnets and no dog ears either.
(c)2022

Reflection on Weekend’s Book Bash

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This past weekend was spent in scavenger hunting fun! Since the pandemic, they’ve (GISH) been doing more and more mini-hunts to give people on lockdown something to do and raise money for charity. This most recent hunt was called a Book Bash and most of the items centered around reading and writing. My go-to’s if you will. With my writing retreat cancelled I found myself with nothing* to do so I signed up at the last minute.

[*Nothing to do means: cleaning house, taking a shower, going to mass, planning and cooking dinner, writing, preparing and filing my taxes, typing up interfaith meeting notes, writing and sending Cursillo reports, and half a dozen other things that are still on my to-do list, but hey who doens’t have 48 hours to spend aimlessly. I also signed up for a free vision journal workshop at a food co-op.]

Aimlessly doesn’t accurately describe the weekend, but I think you get the drift of the lack of impulse control I sometimes have.

Before I share the few items I did, I want to share the link to the charity that we supported with our registration fees: World Central Kitchen for their current humanitarian work in Ukraine. Their leader is Chef Jose Andres who leads with his heart and encourages giving especially where getting hungry people their necessary nourishment. If you have the mean, please give generously. They are on the ground in the world’s poorest and dangerous places, bringing hope with their meals.

World Central Kitchen

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Through the Labyrinth: Lent, Week 2

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Last week was kind of extraordinary. I am making great effort to attend Mass on Sundays on Facebook regularly, religiously if you will. There is a routine of the mass structure at our parish, and I’m sure it parallels many parishes: Music, Announcements, Prayer for the Deceased, Stand, Processional, Mass begins.

When there is a change to this, I can tell simply by who is milling about near the altar during the first musical portion. On this second Sunday of Lent, I saw our parish trustees. I felt tense. I felt anxiety creeping in and when they approached the ambo and stated that they’d be reading a letter from the Bishop, it did not help my tension and anxiety.

As I’ve mentioned previously (probably too many for some), my parish priest died suddenly in October and we’ve been waiting to hear about a new priestly appointment. This was that announcement. I held my breath, not that I have any control over the choice or know many of the priests very well, but still, I waited with literal bated breath.

It turns out that I do know this priest who will soon become my new priest. I actually cried. I was happy (and am) that he will be joining our parish. I’m feeling excited as I write this, nervous but not apprehensive and I think the announcement was the catalyst that set my week on the right path, although it was a very busy week planned (as is this one).

You will see from the labyrinth photos that I ran out of room and needed TWO more extensions. Unbelievable. The one negative was the my writing retreat scheduled for next week was cancelled, but again, I can muddle through and self-direct my own writing retreat while simultaneously doing a writing/reading scavenger hunt.

I had several close moments where I felt G-d’s presence palpably, I listened and learned, I wrote and I drew and I kept up with my readings. The week was overflowing with grace and spirit.

Looking back on last week, I am also looking forward to this busy week. Celebrated my son’s twenty-fifth birthday last night and today I am Zooming all day.

I feel good.

Lenten Labyrinth, Week 2.
Part 1.
(c)2022
Lenten Labyrinth, Week 2.
Part 2. (Plus book list)
(c)2022

Monday Morning Gratitude

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There’s a lot to be said about gratitude. I had a really busy and good week and this one is looking to be equally busy; let’s hope it’s equally good. I’ve found myself coming out of a struggle and I am grateful for that. It wasn’t an overbearing or debilitating one, but it was like a constant dull headache: it was always there, and I was always aware of it, and I couldn’t stop it. The dull ache is still there, but it doesn’t seem to be constant and that is a blessing; one that I have much gratitude for.

March is always a busy month for retreats and workshops. The buds and birds are coming out of their shells and coming alive, and so it seems are the classes to break everyone out of their doldrums. There were two online and one in person, and they were splendid. I am very lucky with the quality of teachers and presenters in my life. I needed to add more circuits to fit everything onto my Lenten labyrinth!

Monday begins the week with my oldest son’s birthday. He is twenty-five! Two. Five. How?! When?! We’ll be seeing him and taking him out for dinner and then going back to his house for cake (store bought – I’m a good cook, but baking is not really my forte). I already have it in the fridge and I’ll spend this morning finding a gift for him. He is so hard to buy for. That is a complaint that I can deal with.

We are so lucky to have him (and his siblings)! They all hold a special place, but the first one is just the first one – the one that began it all – parenthood, mistakes, lessons learned; incredible, overwhelming, abiding, never-ending, unconditional love.

My week ends with the writing retreat that wasn’t. It was cancelled, but to bring about the positivity it’s given me the chance to sign up for a mini-scavenger hunt with Gish revolving around books – a Book Bash if you will, and that should be entertaining and loads of fun with friends.

And right in the middle of the week, I’m starting with a group after a two year forced absence and I am looking forward to reflect with them on my Cursillo tripod and recall and discern close moments and there were a few where they’re hadn’t been in so long.

Gratitude awareness is something that can change a mood from not great to better, lightening the darkness if only we can sit with it and see it. Light the proverbial candle. Sit by the open window. Name one thing that you are grateful for; one thing that gives you contentment, and then sit with that for a few minutes before continuing your day.

Friday Food. Lent and Leftovers.

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Friday night Lenten meal.
(c)2022

It’s hard to find food for Fridays in Lent. Our family doesn’t eat fish at all. My son and I will enjoy a fish fry during Lent, but the rest of the family still needs to eat something so we’ll usually go with a pasta or pizza and my son and I will hit the church’s fish fry at least once. Cracker Barrel also at least once.

Last week was an off-pay week, so we were being frugal, and it was leftovers on the menu. The problem for me was that leftovers was pork loin. My daughter didn’t want the pork and decided to make eggs, so I asked her to make some eggs for me. I like my eggs well done scrambled.

She and I divided the leftover over white rice, which I microwaved. I added butter to mine with peas and a couple of leftover packets of duck sauce and then mixed in the hot scrambled eggs.

It was such a simple meal, and it was very satisfying and delicious. I feel like having it again sooner rather than later, although to be honest, tonight will probably be pizza.

What are all of you eating for your Lenten Fridays? And if you’re not observing Lent, what is your favorite simple but delicious go-to meal for a Friday night?

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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In honor of our common Irish heritage (today anyway), I thought I’d post some original art as well as photos from our very short visit to Dublin, Ireland a few years ago. The photo of the Celtic cross is from the historic landmark at Cranfield Church in Randalstown in Northern Ireland. I would note that we could not get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin because you needed tickets which we did not have. That did not stop us from strolling the adjacent park and enjoying the blue sky and sunshine.

Media below cut.

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Lenten Journey: 2nd Week of Lent

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1st Week in Lent.
Labyrinth. Journal. (
c)2022

Yesterday as I began to look at the new week’s labyrinth I realized how important mass has been to me in more than a spiritual way. You’ll see the picture next Wednesday, but this is what I wrote yesterday morning:

“I do notice that the days I go to mass are filled with other things. Whether it’s errands or prayer or publishing/scheduling here. I am invigorated to do more. I also haven’t felt that for some time.” And in parentheses I added, “This is a busy week though.”

I know I’ve had to push myself to do some things since the fall, and it hasn’t been easy. Of courses, the pandemic hasn’t helped. Like, at all. October has always been an unsettling time for me. What should have been a fully joyous time led in a few short weeks to a devastating time and unconsciously I’ve held that uneasiness yearly. I only recognized it when it was brought up to me and I try to lessen the difficulties by being aware and looking inward. When my priest died this past October, let’s just say that did not help my spirit.

As I write this, I’ve only just realized that his death and my mother’s are exactly two months apart (seventeen years apart though). That’s some coincidence. Or something.

My parish church announced this weekend about the forthcoming appointment of our new pastor, and I didn’t realize the stress and anxiety that I’d held inside myself. The ease I feel now that the appointment is certain is palpable. I’m sure it helps that I am familiar with this new pastor, and I’m looking forward to my continued journey in the faith and the church. I do think that this news has had a positive effect on my spirit and may have given me the punch in the arm I needed to return to my previous level of interaction (in several parts of my life).

Just as it takes one thing to stop us in our tracks or put us off the path, sometimes all we need is that one little (or major) catalyst to jump start us. This was one of them.

I also have two workshops/lectures, one day of reflection, another class, an interfaith meeting, and preparing for a retreat at the end of the month, plus my oldest son’s twenty-fifth birthday. And I’ll be cooking three meals this week, which is a lot for me lately. (Real meals, not hot dogs or pasta. Possibly more on that Friday.)

Here, in the middle of this second week of Lent, I feel an optimism, a hope that my Lenten journey will continue to be meaningful and will set the path for the rest of the year after we mourn the Crucifixion and celebrate the Resurrection in the days and weeks to come.

Have a peaceful and blessed Lent. May the week land gently.

Inspire. March.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the  most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

One week ago was World Book Day, although everyday is a good day to read a book. This is proved by the fact that this is one week late. Things happened, one of which was laziness, but not entirely. Last week was a particularly not great one, but nothing that can’t be overcome.

This is the list of books I read since last Monday. The ones with the asterisk are the ones that I completed before tonight (although most were not read entirely in seven days.)

  • Daily Reflections for Lent: Not By Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekeh and Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
  • Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink from Clear Faith Publishing, various authors
  • Quantum by Patricia Cornwell *
  • Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by Rev. James Martin, SJ
  • Spin by Patricia Cornwell *
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The NY Times Magazine *
  • The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
  • Never Tell by Selena Montgomery (Stacey Abrams) *
  • Search Me: A Way of the Cross in Solidarity with the LGBTQ Community by John T. Kyler *
  • Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –

Confucius
Sunflower. (c)2022

My thought daily are with Ukraine, each morning and throughout the day checking on updates. My thoughts have also been with my parish (and selfishly myself if I’m being completely honest) as the search continues for a new pastor. I wrote a short reflection on Facebook a day or so ago, and I do feel a slight weight lifted as the parish trustees announced on Sunday our new incoming pastor (who will start at the end of April).

A friend described her feelings as “being at ease with the decision” and I would agree with that sentiment. I’m not anxious although it helps that I’m acquainted with the new (to us) pastor and looking forward to his ministry, but of course, my feelings are bittersweet. Fr. Jerry, my only priest so far in my journey would talk during his homilies at funerals as the bittersweetness of the Christian journey: we who are left behind are sad, but the one whose gone home is with Jesus and so how can we resent that.

I’ve written before about my struggle to move forward in my faith and my practices and I’m reminded of something else that Father Jerry so wisely said during funerals.

He has also talked about a life that’s not ended but changed, and I think with this new pastor announcement, I feel that my Catholic journey isn’t ended, but it has changed, and with this resolution, I may be able to be changed and follow this new path. I also feel more reflective things to say on this subject, but my words need a bit more study and discernment.

At the moment as I look around at my messy table and my busy calendar, I hope that I can spend some prayer and meditation time to get back on track for Lent. There are other challenges ahead, and I need to organize myself for them. It may be time for a list; a very, very long list.

First Week in Lent

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As similar and routine as each Lent can be, each Lent is also unique in the felings it conjures up. The different readings, the different reflections, the different books chosen for study in this year as opposed to the last one. Further down you’ll see my first two weeks of the Lenten Labyrinths that I’m journaling with over the next thirty some odd days. There are two for the first week because I wasn’t thinking and began on Ash Wednesday and then began another one on the first Sunday. Looking at it each day lets me think intentionally about what I’m doing during this Lenten season.

Today is Wednesday, so there was a soup delivery from my parish earlier today. Funny story: I was sitting in my dining room on hold with my insurance company, and I hear my husband. I ignore him because I’m on the phone, then I hear banging on the door. I look up and out my kitchen door and I see a mass of grey hair, thinking my husband got locked out, although I can’t figure out how since the last time I saw him he was in his office. I get to the door and it’s Tom from church with the soup, standing in my mudroom. (I usually put out a garden table on Wednesday, but I forgot and it’s snowing, so he came in the unlocked (for the kids) door.) I thank him profusely and take my bags of very hot soup.

I sat in quiet contemplation, savoring each spoonful of hamburger barley soup, thinking (or is it praying over) the people in the parish center kitchen stirring and dividing the soup into individual plastic containers. I taste each vegetable and I dip the bread until it practically disintegrates in the hot, tomato-y broth. Each bag has a necklace with a cross and a medal of St. Peregrine. I do not know this saint, but I will spend some time this afternoon reading about him and studying what he is known for.

I think about how food brings us together even when we’re apart, and I look forward to this quiet, solitary ritual every Wednesday until Holy Week.

What are you pondering this first week of Lent, the first moments entering the desert?

Lenten Labyrinth. Ash Wednesday through Saturday 3/5/22.
(c)2022
Lenten Labyrinth. 1st Sunday in Lent.
(c)2022