My Patron, St. Elen

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Today is the feast day of my personal saint, the one I chose for my confirmation, St. Elen of Caernarfon. She and her homeland has touched me in many ways, and I was privileged a few years ago to pilgrimage to one of her holy wells in the small town of Dolwyddelan in North Wales. She is the patron of traveling and travelers and ironically, when I visited the town of Dolwyddelan and the Castle there, I was walking distance (even for me) from my future saint’s holy well. There are so many connections that I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.

St. Elen’s Well. Dolwyddelan. (c)2022
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National Pretzel Day

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Whether hot or cold, soft or hard, tiny twists or sticks, I think my favorite snack is the pretzel. With a dill vegetable dip, mustard (yellow or deli), beer cheese, or melted cheddar, it doesn’t matter – the pretzel is the main attraction.

My go-to brand is Rold Gold, but there is nothing like a soft New York pretzel with mustard. In fact, when we needed to use something quintessentially identifiable for our state for our team photo for GISH, I chose a soft pretzel with mustard while sitting at the Erie Canal.

I want one today!

(c)2022
(c)2022

Final Lenten Labyrinth

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Lent did not seem to rush by or to trickle; it went along just right as Goldilocks would say. For me, I think part of it was keeping the labyrinth journal throughout Lent. It forced me (in a good way) to look at my day, both before it began and then to examine how it went later on and keep track of my activities. I mostly stuck to spiritual activities, but some secular ones seeped in, especially when I spent quality time with my family or if I completed writing assignments. Those things got me up in such a positive way, I couldn’t help but meditate on them and incorporate them into my spiritual journey for Lent. I enjoyed switching the colors between journaling, and I enjoyed recognizing close moments with G-d in the micro-narration as well as in the moment.

With Lent finished, and other responsibilities beginning, I thought I would try my hand at a spiritual journal. I started it on the 19th and didn’t pick it up again until yesterday. So far not an auspicious start, but I don’t intend it to be a daily journal; I’m attempting to keep it pressure free. It occured to me to begin it when I started keeping a log for my Cursillo grouping and Ultreya tripod and close moments. I thought I should keep those and have access to re-reading them and be able to always be advancing in my spiritual life.

Here are the final pictures of my Lenten Labyrinth Journal. It is definitely something that I found rewarding and something I would consider doing again. As you can see below the cut, I needed a second labyrinth to cover everything during Holy Week, concluding with Easter.

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Lenten Journey – Week 5

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As we celebrate Holy Week, we are still looking back on Week 5 of Lent. Last week was another busy week. My labyrinth (photos below cut) had to be continued on the back of my card. I wrote about our church’s soup ministry during Lent and that had some profound close moments and memories. Even though I missed rosary last week, I had dinner with my family and sometimes that has precedence. I’ve been working on Felicia Day’s book, Embrace Your Weird, and it’s really forcing me to look inward which is perfectly in tune with the Lenten desert.

Also, last week’s Last Supper retreat was so much more than a one day experience. It really brought so much out of what the retreat house means to me. It was something of a spiritual experience in just being there, amid the familiar faces and places. It was wonderful.

Now I prepare myself for the Triduum – the last days of Christ and the beginning of eternal life. We need to walk through the fire so to speak, carry our crosses and come out on Easter Sunday reborn. I’m looking forward to it.

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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

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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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.