Inspire. November.

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November is full of opportunities for gratitude – Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, colorful fall leaves, the smell of apples and cinnamon. We don’t think so much of Election Day as a day of gratitude, but for those of us who cherish our representative democracy, it is definitely a day to count our blessings.

After the last seven months of isolating and after 230,000 covid deaths (and rising), those of us who have been spared have much to be grateful for in addition to respecting the sacrifice made by others, not only the dead, but the frontline workers – in the health care field, in the food field and the fields that grow the food, our first responders, our teachers, and our parents, and so many other unsung heroes.

Tomorrow is Election Day.

It is the final day to vote for the candidate that best represents us, ALL of us. We have the opportunity to vote for the man (this time) who cares; who epitomizes decency and character; who truly feels the empathy this country needs right now. On a more pragmatic note, he also knows how to get things done without divisiveness, without distruct, with honesty and dedication to service, and that is Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. I proudly voted for them more than a week ago during early voting. You can join the majority of this country in turning around the hate train, the white supremecists who in the last two days tried to run the Biden bus off the road in Texas and closed highways in New Jersey and bridges in New York and today blocking polling places in California. We can take our country back, and it begins tomorrow.

May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation. – Joe Biden

What we do, we do together.

Inspire. September.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.

Meister Eckhart
On the cusp. (c)2020

This back to school will be quite different from years past. My youngest starts high school, and yet won’t see the inside of the high school until January. She opted for fully virtual school while my other child in school opted for in-person/remote hybrid. Even back to school night will be virtual.

The above picture I chose was from the last day of our vacation. It is on the cusp between both summer and fall. Its place is so far north that is on a second cusp, balanced between the United States and Canada. It is a home away from home although we’d only stayed at this hotel the one time.

Reading and absorbing Meister Eckhart’s words, I will strive to be more in balance; to start something new; to find the magic of beginnings, and keep moving forward.

This year will be challenging.

It will be hard.

We’ve come through worse, both personally and as a country. We can do this – – – together.

Two days ago, we began school here. We have our agendas and our schedules, our chromebooks and our notebooks.

Yesterday marked forty-nine days until Election Day. As I said then, create your voting plan, and implement it. I was going to do a mail-in ballot, but I think my current plan will be for early voting. I have the dates and the locations, and I’m ready for this new beginning.

This week includes a doctor’s appointment, a therapy session, and the first part of a four part Cursillo workshop and concludes with the observation and celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. That holiday is my personal traditional time for starting anew with plans and changes and goals.

I’m wary… but excited.

I feel goodness and hope. I hope you can feel it also.

In Time

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It’s noon on Friday.

I woke my family to the greeting of “It’s Hamiltime!

Get up, get dressed, there will be no talking, no singing, no pausing, no leaving in the middle. The intermission is one minute long. Please plan accordingly.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that a film of Broadway’s Hamilton performance would be premiering in theatres in October of 2021, I put it on my calendar.

Immediately.

When he surprised us a few weeks ago with a new, moved-up date of July 3rd of this year, I think I may have shrieked and then I put it on my calendar in big, bold, capital letters. Back when Hamilton was on Broadway, and then later on, locally at Proctors [live theatre], I had thought about getting tickets, but it was well out of my price range, and I accepted that, but I also knew that there was a filmed version in a vault somewhere, waiting for the right moment, and I waited.

I believe I’ve been rewarded for my patience.

I mean, I could have watched it at 3am when it began streaming on Disney+, but I waited for my family even though they’re only watching it with me to indulge me. (I must confess that since I was actually up at 3am, I did watch the first song, and let the second one start, but that was it. I turned it right off. Honest.)

Patience is a virtue, they say.

And patience is something we’ve all been living with and being forced to accept during these last few months. Hurry up and wait. It’s been frustrating and sometimes a little scary being in this new place we’ve never been before. Even the meaning of time changed for many of us. While my kids had school remotely, they didn’t have very much online class time so they were very flexible in doing their schoolwork. It didn’t matter when they woke up or when they went to bed, their video game consumption or facetime as long as they got their work done. That same level of “flexibility” stretched into grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning. Things definitely got a little lax there; after all, who was coming to visit?

There was also something hanging in the air. It wasn’t tangible, but something changed. Time is often described as fleeting, but in March… it just stopped. Our whole lives jerked to a stop, and when it started again mere moments later, it began a slow crawl to nowhere and no-when. Days slipped into weeks. It took a year to travel through March, and the next three months weren’t any better. At times, it seemed that we were moving backwards. We weren’t of course. Time wasn’t fleeting, but we also weren’t standing still. Here was where we established the days by Sunday’s livestreamed Masses and Monday’s Rosary [with the Cursillo movement], and time by watching the Governor’s daily briefing. As each pause of society was extended in two week intervals we were given some semblance of a hope that we would return to normal. If only we had patience. Collectively, we learned to focus on our present and be patient for the tomorrow that is yet to come.

And now with the majority of the country failing the present crisis, we try to slip by the inevitable return of lockdown, balancing our lives with our life, and those around us. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It’s certainly not how I wanted to spend my summer. But I remain in faith. If we all do our part, together we will get through this crisis, and come out on the other side.

Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr sings in Hamilton, “I am the one thing in life I can control….I’m willing to wait for it.

And as St. Paul tells us in Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

In the meantime, that’s really all we can do.

De Colores.

[De Colores is a greeting, farewell, and song used in the Cursillo movement by many of its groups.]

[This was previously published in our local Cursillo Weekly Digest the first week of July, 2020.]

Inspire. July.

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Original art. kbwriting. (c)2020

“There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical

Throughout this pandemic, I have written and arted and journaled and prayed, usually with no rhyme or reason, letting the time at home and the mood of the day take the lead.

Last week, I volunteered, but was also asked and encouraged to write something for our weekly Cursillo newsletter. Our lay director decided to start it during the pandemic to keep everyone in touch.

I was happy to do it, but it took forever to start it. I had three drafts about online retreats; just a paragraph each. I skipped two lines to try again, and then it was July 3rd.

Our day revolved around watching Hamilton on Disney+. It was the premiere and for those of us unable to see the Tony Awared winning Broadway or the traveling shows, it would be the first time to view its magnificence.

I woke my family with shouts of “It’s Hamiltime!

And that began the piece that would eventually make it into the newsletter.

It was inspired in subtle ways, and then it just came to me while sitting at the keyboard.

Inspiration is everywhere.

Let it catch you when you’re least expecting it.

What is Treason and When Did It Stop Mattering? | Opinion

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“A republic, if you can keep it.”

As attributed to Benjamin Franklin when asked in Philadelphia if we have a republic or a monarchy.
Continue reading

Inspire. June.

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Lilacs. (c)2020

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

John Quincy Adams

This pandemic has taken, but for those of us continuing to live through it, it has also given. More time with our families. More time to think of our priorities, our spirituality, our blessings, and our failings.

As President Adams said above, this pandemic has brought patience and perseverance to all of us in varying degrees of success. We all have both despite having different levels of both, and through it all, in whatever way we are and we can, we are moving through it and adapting.

It is ever with us.

Wear your mask.

Keep your distance.

We’re all in this together.

Be well.

Patience. Perseverance.

Inspire. May.

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Statue of Mary, Journaling, Spring Blooms, Rosary, Mary by Tomie de Paola, Zen Garden. (c)2020

Mary our mother sustains us in moments of darkness, difficulty, and apparent defeat.
– Pope Francis

We’ve been slowly returning/adapting to a new normal. I don’t think we’ll go back to what we knew as normal for a long time, if at all.

I don’t think it’s helpful to be Pollyannas, but it is possible to find joy in our new circumstances.

Knowing that staying home and also wearing a mask when I go out for groceries and other supplies is my way of contributing to the mitigation and the time to search for a cure makes it a bit easier to accept my role in the effort. Each of us has a small part but all of us together can create a larger outcome.

Cooperation.

Unity.

Selflessness.

Compassion.

We all have our own struggles, but I would encourage you to find the silver lining in the cloud; the rainbow after the rain; the cliche in the trope.

Three Places Where I Find Joy

1. Cool breeze

2. Mary  *more below

3. Kindle – FB with family/friends, books, podcasts, writing – encompasses much of my person in one place, not quite a talisman, but a path, a tunnel from one place to the next; from one world to the next.

May is also Mary’s month in the church. There’s Mother’s Day and Mary is all of our Mothers. Marian devotions. May Crowinings. Pope Francis provided two new prayers to add to our rosary prayers for the month of May. 

I will have weekly Mary posts throughout May beginning below with links to the Vatican’s Rosary pages and the Pope’s letter and his two rosary prayers.

I have been praying them when I’ve prayed the rosary this week and it truly makes me feel as though I’m doing something tangible and positive during this pandemic. I may also begin a Mary meditation, but time will tell.

Inspire. April.

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Some things have changed since March’s Inspire post. A lot of things across this country and across the world. We can still move forward while in isolation though. I’ve seen online that some people are using this time to learn a new skill, a new language, write the Great American Novel, learn to cook. And some of us are simply trying to get through another day while trying not to suffocate in the constant presence of our families. I am somewhere in the middle. I am not taking up any new skills, but I am thinking about writing more. I’ve been cooking more in the last two weeks than in the last two years, which is a welcome change to both my family and myself. I will share some of our recipes as the days go on, just as I would in a regular year. I usually spend my mornings attending daily mass (on Facebook Live) and then watching and screenshotting Governor Cuomo’s daily press briefing. It makes me feel as if I’m doing something to help my community, and I have received positive feedback from it.

On the other hand, I’ve also found myself full of anxiety, with my brain going into overdrive, and not being able to shut down for sleep. Even in the dark, I’m wearing an eye mask. I think the light pressure on my head helps calm me down enough to fall asleep. Our family has been very lucky in our circumstances so far, and I will probably write and share about that another time. Easter and Passover are around the corner, and we are preparing for both. My next shopping trip will be Thursday to gather all the goodies for Easter dinner and Easter baskets. I am hoping to see my son, but time will tell. (He is a first responder and so he is working every day. I don’t know his holiday schedule yet.) I started a new book called The Boston Massacre. You know, some light reading.

Stay Home. Save Lives.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.

Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

– Helen Keller

Graphic provided by NAMI on Instagram. (c)2020

Inspire. March.

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Some of my tools for this year’s Lenten Journey, including art from Bro. Mickey McGrath, my rosary, a key tab from my church, journal and Scripture gift, and really thoughtful and and prayerful daily devotions for Lent from Michelle Frankl-Donnay. (c)2020

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

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

Thoughts

One of things I’m learning through the Cursillo movement is how I can grow in relationship to Jesus through the three principles of piety, study, and action. These are key components of Cursillo, and while I did my weekend this past October, it is still taking me some time to regularly incorporate these into my life. I believe that I’ve always done them in varying degrees, but Cursillo has given me new eyes to see what it is I’m doing.

Lent is another way, a time of the year, to reflect on my relationships and what I do for myself in spiritual ways. The picture above illustrates some of my tools for my Lenten journey.

We are all obsessed, those of us who practice with giving up something for Lent. It is usually a food or a technology – social media, cell phone during dinner, etc. A lesser known thought is to add something to your life during Lent. This is only the first full week, and I am still discerning what I will add in addition to reading the daily devotional book my church gives us.

What have I given up?

Pizza. And bacon.

I didn’t even think about it. It just appeared in my head, and once it was there, I knew it was the right choice. My family still can’t believe it.

Adding?

I’m trying to journal a bit more, and heeding Brother Mickey’s advice to take fifteen minutes a day to just be with G-d. I’ll let you know how all of that goes.

In addition to prayer and fasting for these forty days, there is also almsgiving. I always support my church and my St. Vincent de Paul Society, but for this Lent, I will also be supporting RAICES, and I encourage all of you to take up that mantle. There are still children in cages; there are still families separated. RAICES is on the front lines with all kinds of help, and have been since the beginning of this nightmare.