Where Does The Road Lead?

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“…the road that we seek is often the road we have already found.”

 – Fr. James Martin, SJ, My Life with the Saints

I sometimes find that I need to get away, but I still want some familiarity. It’s less running away and more running to. Or strolling. It’s not always hurrying along, but slowing, not sloth-like but cautious optimism, observant, and taking it all in.

In those familiar places, taking it all in comes in spurts, a little at a time. At first, we see the big things, the vibrant colors, the loud sounds, the people’s clothes, and then each time after, we pick up something new. The running water of a stream, the steepness of a hill, the beep of the French fry fryer, the cheek’s freckles, the light that won’t stop flickering.

For some, familiarity breeds contempt; for others, comfort.

We have two nearby shrines – four saints that I’ve tried to visit each year. I’ve heard talk that it may be sold. That would make me sad.

While I was in Ireland, the chapel was unfamiliar but the shrines, while different in saint and location was familiar enough. I lie a candle fort the first time in prayer.

In Wales (and Ireland) I gathered my own holy water. The feel of the water was familiar as was the air I breathed and yet, still new.

My three favorite eateries are familiar even when I travel away from my regular joints.

Our habits can make the places familiar and they are different, changed enough to make the experience e, the visit, the meditation something new.

A breeze in a community park can feel the same as at a shrine or at St. Patrick’s Park in Dublin.

The feeling conjured by the 9/11 memorial in Belfast can be just as moving as others away from New York City.

Signing a condolence book as I did as an American in Belfast for Barcelona joined me with the prayers of others across the world and across City Hall.

When I’m not seeking I often feel that I should have just stayed home, made a pot of tea, lit a candle and sat in my office that I modeled so carefully. Easy chair and ottoman, tea mug, and flickering candle guiding the reading or the writing or the praying.

The candle doesn’t light the darkness, but guides the holy spirit to where it is needed, requested, its purpose unknown until it arrives.

Visit a few of your familiar places: the shopping mall, the library, your church in the off hours, a porch chair on a quiet morning, the sun glimmering through bare branches or glowing through full green ones.

Where is that road that you seek?

Where does it lead?

Is it rough or easy terrain?

Is it new yet familiar? Or so new it sets your heart pounding, your breath quickening?

Have you found what you’ve been looking for?

Are you still continuing to look?

Choose: Focus

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[Note: Some of this week’s posts were originally scheduled to be written last week, but I’ve been very ill since Wednesday. The only two that are slightly off as far as timely are the reflection for January, which was supposed to appear yesterday, and the review of the Wayward Sisters episode of Supernatural, which will appear later in the week.-Kb]


Focus is the key. (c)2018

When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.

 – Michael Leboeuf 



Last Wednesday, I had planned to talk about focus, both in general and what my focus may or may not be for my writing, and that was going to tie into a post for this past Friday about intentions. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, i couldn’t focus on anything except continually alternating between covering myself and uncovering myself with two or more (or less) blankets, and being all around miserable and sick.
It really just illustrates that you can have the perfect planner, the schedule mapped out, the outline written, the post forming effortlessly in your [my] mind, and life will find a way to knock you down.

Because that’s what life is about. Whether they be big or small, life is about facing challenges.

I spent all day in bed on Wednesday, barely lifting my head when an angel from church texted me that she had made my family dinner. She had no idea that I was sick or how much of a lifesaver she was truly being. She had mentioned it last week, but it was a maybe, so when she called, it was a wonderful godsend.

And that’s also what life is about. Sharing love, sharing food, sharing ideas and thoughts and challenges. Apart from my family and church, my writing is the most important thing to me. I think that’s because it encompasses every part of my life. It surrounds and warms, it emotes and comforts, it laughs and screams, and when I can’t do it, for whatever reason, it pains me.

Choose was/is my word for 2018. My second word is focus. Not merely the pinpointing of a topic or a photograph or a subject, but where will my writing take me? Where will I take it? I consider myself a Jane of all trades, which is simply another way of expressing that I take on all kinds of things and remain expert in none of them. Like a Jeopardy contestant, I’m all about a little knowledge about a lot of things, and that’s actually a great thing for a writer, but is it a good thing for a writer’s audience?

Only time will tell, and you, dear reader, will also tell; by your follows and your likes and your opinions, which I love and appreciate.

So where is my focus? What do I write about? So many things interest me, and I can expound on many of them: spirituality and fandom. Self-help and self-assessment. Travel. Writing. I feel like sometimes I can’t decide on which writer, which person I want to be in the moment. I multi-task, but when I looked up synonyms for multi-task, it gave me focus as an antonym. How strange. When I muti-task I tend to focus more on what I’m doing even if it’s three things at once and a delegation of a fourth.

How does all of this align with who I am and the kind of writer I want to be?

What’s the one thing that connects them all for me or to me besides me?

2018 may take me on that journey of discovery. A fork in the road or a crossroads? We’ll see.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.

 – Greg Anderson

A Spiritual Marathon

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​I had expected to be able to post throughout this week, but unfortunately this is probably the busiest week of Lent for me. Until next week that is. As I mentioned to my priest last night, it’s all good busy, but this morning I was beyond exhausted. I stayed in bed an extra hour until my headache subsided, and now I’m slowly getting ready for today.

As part of my Lenten journey this year, in going to the desert figuratively, and finding my own wilderness, I have taken on many spiritual projects that are dear to me. It was fortunate that my local retreat center had so many sessions and experiences to choose from.

I have been keeping a Lenten journal since Ash Wednesday, and I have been loving it. From the feel of the pen gliding across the paper to the beautiful green Celtic designed journal itself, it has given me a feeling of purpose that I will try to continue, although not daily, throughout the spring and summer, and perhaps convert it to an Advent journal later in the year. Continue reading

Pilgrimage in the Year of Mercy

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“This (Holy Year) is the opportune moment to change our lives!” the pope has said. “This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!…May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion.”

– Pope Francis

This is what Pope Francis said when he opened up this Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy. I touched on the idea of what a pilgrimage is a few weeks ago, and as I proceed through this holy year, I’m still wondering.

I have several plans that involve retreats and learning; contemplation and writing, and I’m not sure where one activity ends and one begins.

Is that a pilgrimage? A retreat? A holiday?

And where does mercy fit in?

I honestly don’t know, and part of this year for me is looking for my own form of mercy; for me.

I’m much better at giving mercy to others, forgiving and letting things go, but I still haven’t done my pre-Easter penance for reconciliation, not because it’s too hard, but because it involves another person and that is the hardest thing to ask of me.

So I ask you:

What does this mean for me in particular as I take my retreats this year, and sort of a partial pilgrimage?

Or just wander through my notebook and my Kindle finishing projects and beginning others?

At the end of this holy year, will I have traveled enough to find my mercy?

Our parish is one of the lucky ones that is not a cathedral, but still has a Holy Door to enter. I’ve walked through it once, earlier in the year, simply as an introduction to myself and to G-d of my intentions, but I will be going through it again after some prayer and meditation.

It gives me joy to see it whenever I go to my church, and it also gives me the reminder that the year is not over yet. I still have time to find my way, and my way begins through that door.

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Pilgrimage

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Is a retreat a pilgrimage? What about the reverse? Is a pilgrimage a retreat? They can be. They can also not be. Is a road trip a pilgrimage?

For a long time, I assumed that pilgrimage meant spiritual and/or religious. In looking back over my more focused travels, I’ve taken historical pilgrimages, writing pilgrimages, and nature ones. I never looked at them that way before. Everywhere I went in those instances (an in many others) always included writing. Notebooks came with me. Notebooks, journals, and my camera. Now, I will sometimes bring a sketchbook, like this past weekend retreat, but as opposed to the notebooks which is second nature I have to be conscious of packing a sketchbook and colored pencils. Drawing will never feel second nature to me, but it is something that doesn’t intimidate me as much as it used to.

While I’ve been writing this, I have come to the realization that a pilgrimage can sometimes include a retreat, but they are two different things.

Continue reading

As We Journey, We Do Our Best

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I’ve been very lucky that G-d led me to the parish I’m in. When I began attending Mass, the parish priest was in Rome. When he returned, I was hesitant; he wasn’t who I was used to, but it didn’t take long for me to love his way of expressing things. He spoke to me, seemingly out of the blue, but clearly with G-d’s hand on his choices, ones that would stand out to my ears.

One of those apparently innocuous statements was at the end of my first summer.

As we journey, we do our best.

It was simple. Straightforward. Easy to remember and easy to follow; a new mantra for me to take on my new journey.

As we journey, we do our best.

Lent is one of those times of the year that we try to do our best. We give something up, we take something in. We attend Mass more faithfully.

I’ve been struggling with what to give up, but in remembering that Lent is between me and G-d, I’ve decided to keep it to myself for now, maybe for the entirety of the forty days.

Sometimes it’s easier to do my best without eyes looking over my shoulder for if and when I falter.