Inspire. November.

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I have three inspirationals to share with you this month:

The first is, of course, VOTE. Election Day is tomorrow in the US and it is the most consequential of our lifetimes, especially if those lives are female. VOTE BLUE for DEMOCRACY. I will have a post tomorrow of some races to watch, and will try to update at the end of the night or early the next morning. Despite not being able to drive yet [see my personal update on the home page], I will be going to the polls with my son, who is a first time voter. He understands the responsibility of voting, but I still think we’re more excited than he is. My offer to drive locals to the polls still stands; I will just need to find a substitute driver if the need arises.


The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.

Harlan Ellison

The second is Nanowrimo! Even if you’re not officially participating, take some moments today and write something. Write for ten minutes without stopping and then write for ten minutes more. I have been meeting my writing goals of Nano [1667/day to meet the thirty day deadline] so far. Some days are better than others, but I’m surprising myself with how much useful writing is coming out for my book. In fact, I was just inspired by a book I’m reading [rec below] to look again at one of the places I will be writing about, and describe it in more detail. I may share that excerpt later in the week.


Third, I’m only halfway through this book, but I highly recommend it. I feel that he’s in my head with his side comments and irreverance, and then doubling back and doubling down on the incredible faithful journey he’s experiencing in the Holy Land. As I said before, reading his very detailed description of his visit one Sunday afternoon has made me want to revisit one of my wanderings and see what I can come up with this eveniing for today’s Nano writing session.

One Year

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(c)2022

I read this quote attributed to St. Jerome awhile ago, and since my priest was also a Jerome, I recognized him in this quote. Do your best. Be your best. I always wanted to do my best for Father Jerry; not to impress him or for accolades but because he made you want to be a better person. There is no perfection , but I am definitely a better person because of my friendship and faith journey with Father Jerry.

Last week was the first anniversary of his unexpected death. So many who were close to him are still mourning; I miss him every day. That’s not to say our new pastor isn’t wonderful and special in his own ways, but I’ve said many times in the past year, and I’ll continue to say it, but I would not be here today if not for Father Jerry. He guided me, not only through my faith, but also showing me a different focus, a different way of being, a gentler, more compassionate, more giving way of being.

He was a gentle soul, gently guiding you, not always where you wanted to be, not even where he wanted you to be, but to where you needed to be.

He accepted my silly questions and loved my family even though they didn’t come to church. The last time I saw him he had just celebrated mass and was rushing from one thing to the next – the busyness was written on his face, and still he took time for me, he sat me in the sacristy and heard my confession. I didn’t want to leave on vacation without reconciliation.

His memorial garden is complete and it was blessed and dedicated on his anniversary. It was moving and the day was beautiful. The design of the garden is extraordinary in my opinion. It was put in an area where Mary was already standing. I often sit by Mary’s statue and pray and look to her for guidance, so the space is a familiar one. The garden designer laid out five separate gardens so that when you walk it, beginning at Mary and following the stepping stones you can pray the rosary; one decade in each garden space.

Father Jerry had a secret garden in the back of the rectory. A place where he could sit with his dog, Grace, and spend time with the Master Gardener. He shared it with us during the pandemic through videos and a newspaper story. I think the idea of a memorial garden was a natural one, and a way to share his secret garden more permanently with those of us who loved him, and miss him, as well as those who will come later to worship at our parish.

Earlier in the week, I had seen the new sign, and then I sat in my car for a bit, reading through a paper on moving forward in grief. As I was reading, out of the corner of my eye, I could see a shadow moving just in and out of my peripheral vision around my car, but every time I looked directly at where I thought I saw the figure, there was no one there. This went on for a few minutes, until I finally just rolled my eyes, and thought, Father Jerry?

It was gone after that moment.

The Garden of Grace.
(c)2022

Inspire. October.

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There are so many things happening in the last 24-48 hours and I’d love to write about them and share them here, but putting them all in one post feels as though it would diminish each of them and not give them the attention and love that they deserve.

I decided to give a little piece of each, a tease if you will, and then write more in depth with the feelings that are rising within me.

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On This Indigenous Peoples Weekend

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I would like to acknowledge the land where I live is the traditional and historic land of the Haudenosaunee, specifically the Mohican [Eng.] or Lenape and the Mohawk, known as Kanienʼkehá꞉ka in the Mohawk language.

The Haudenosaunee have been known in New York as the Iroquois and the Mohawk are the Keepers of the Eastern Door, traditionally guarding the Iroquois Confederation from eastern invasions.

In acknowledging the land I am on, it is an attempt to come to terms with the violent history of the European settlers and immigrants who did not understand the way the Native peoples viewed the land and in many cases simply did not care.

We, and they are the caretakers, not the owners of the land, and it is important to recognize that and move towards the future with respect and compassion while acknowledging our collective past.

I spent today praying at the St. Kateri Shrine. There was Catholic Mass and a celebration of miracles attributed to St. Kateri. This was also in recognition of Indigeneous Peoples Weekend as well as commemorating the tenth anniversary of the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Tomorrow, I will share some photos from that beautiful time. It was full of Mohawk tradition, language, music, and spirituality and grace. It left me in a better place.

Inspire. August.

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I’ve often talked and written about how profoundly life-altering it was when I returned from my first (and at the time I thought only) trip to Wales. It was barely forty-eight hours and yet it left an indelible mark on my soul. It led me down new paths that branched off and created new adventures and journeys within these past thirty-five years. If I recall correctly, that first summer was spent working at (the now defunct) Waldenbook’s bookstore, where as an employee I received a 33% discount, and folks wonder why I had less money at the end of the summer than I started with. I was straightening and dusting books, and performing an additional wide plethora of mindless tasks when I noticed a small mass market paperback book high on a shelf. It was the title that drew my attention: Here Be Dragons. I thought it would be fantastical and in line with my hobby of playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I was to be disappointed in that, and extremely gratified to discover that it was a novel based in medieval Wales centering on the life and world of the Prince of Wales, Llywelyn Fawr.

I was drawn into this story quickly. This is the only book that I’ve owned three copies of: one that I read several times and gave to someone to read, a new copy to replace that one, and a digital copy for my Kindle. There were two subsequent novels, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, now know more or less as The Welsh Trilogy. I was all in.

The author, Sharon Kay Penman had a way of bringing me into the medieval age, and I read the rest of her books – all of them – voraciously. Not one was a disappointment. One of the things that drew me so deep was Penman’s Author’s Notes, where she discussed and explained her researching process and she defined some of the things that seemed implausible but that had in fact actually happened.

  1. Lady Joanna’s affair, the burning of the prince’s bed, and the execution of her lover. True.
  2. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, the prince’s son was held hostage by King John and the terms of his release were detailed in the Magna Carta; yes, THE Magna Carta. True.
  3. Eleanor de Montfort kidnapped by pirates. True.

And much more.

Earlier this week, I discovered that Ms. Penman died in early 2021. I am heartbroken, but I’ve discovered her last published book, The Land Beyond the Sea, which I began this afternoon. The memories of reading her well-researched and well-developed books will continue to inspire me as I continue to gain insight into the process of writing and the joy of reading.


“We’d become aliens in our own land,” he’d warned, “denied our own laws, our own language, even our yesterdays, for a conquered people are not allowed a prideful past. Worst of all, we’d be leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of misery and loss, a future bereft of hope.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, The Reckoning

“But in all honesty, I do not find it so peculiar a notion, that a Welshman should rule Wales.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

“Poor Wales. So far from Heaven, so close to England.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons

“Fretting about time’s passing will not slow it down one whit.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here be Dragons

“for each age interprets the past in the light of its own biases.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) in or around the 13th century. Dolwyddelan, Gwynedd, North Wales. (I don’t imagine it looked much different in his time, especially from this angle.)
(c)2022

World Photography Day

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I have always loved taking photos. It took me quite some time to switch from film to digital, and more recently have I forgone using an actual camera for my cell phone. As the online world is more interactive and visual I try to take photos to accompany my writings. I think it adds to the layers of my writing life as well as much of my spiritual life. In looking for photos to include on this day, I did some googling and research into photography. Living in New York, I’m partial to Kodak and the Eastman-Kodak company, not to mention their connection to Paul McCartney and his family.

In reading up on National Photography Day from the National Day website, I was reminded of a postcard that I carried with me for the longest time. It is one of the few pieces of artwork that I recognize immediately and draws me into the black and white mysteries of the art world as well as a bygone past and of course the romanticism of Paris.

The Kiss by Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, photographed by Robert Doisneau. Fair Use. (c)2022

There is so much going on that it inspired me throughout high school and college in creating characters, writing their stories, and including myself in the background of the photo, perhaps in the lobby of the Hotel de Ville.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes, and in many cases more than a thousand words in descriptions, feelings, dreams, and spirit. Although not all of them need a caption; the picture is often enough. Here are a few of my own:

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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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Friday Food. The Last Soup Delivery.

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Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Isaiah 55:2b (NRSV)

I had a quick Friday Food, and then I went on retreat yesterday. Let me explain about the retreat first and give you some interesting background as we enter into the last days before Holy Week (on the Christian calendar). It was a look at The Last Supper and the day began with Mass where we ate of the Eucharistic bread. Then a look at The Last Supper in each of the four Gospels, how they were similar and not.

We ended with a beautiful lunch of open-faced turkey sandwiches. I only mention this because of the base of bread that held the rest. The songs chosen for the mass were perfect, the homily was perfect, and everything reflected the entire day’s subject. We were fortified in so many ways: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and nutritionally. We were a week ahead of Jesus as we shared in the meal with our friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in the past two pandemic years save for Zoom. In fact, one of the women I encountered I didn’t recognize with her mask on since I’d almost only seen her on the computer!

One of the other huge joys of yesterday was the amount of familiar faces that I did see. Every time I turned in a new direction, I was met with a wave from someone new, and someone I knew, and who I’d known for years, but hadn’t seen in several, again due to the pandemic.

There was also a hug, unexpected but welcome and it lifted me. Such joy shared. When it ended we prolonged it with another deep embrace, and coming so soon after mass, it just set my day in the right direction.
I was open to possibility, to upcoming knowledge and history, and continuing my faith journey, and doing it especially among friends.

All of this occurred one day after my weekly sustenance from our parish soup delivery. Every week during Lent (during the pandemic since before covid we shared a soup meal in the parish hall), my parish has prepared soup and bread and delivered them to parishioners. My son, who recently began to work, looked forward to Wednesday when he came home to a delicious bowl of soup for snack prior to dinner. This week was the last week, and it is what I call a legacy soup.

The woman who created the recipe was a friend of mine and she died last year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, she left a voice mail for me, expressing that Father Jerry asked her to call and to check on our family and see if we needed anything. It was so typical of this woman and my priest, and the entire parish that I belong to. (Our school district did the same thing regarding school lunches and internet access. We are well and truly blessed.)

The soup is similar to chicken noodle but no noodles. It’s been called Mary Lou’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie Soup and it was brought with homemade pie crust crackers. It is the most unexpected taste in a cracker, and eaten with the pot pie soup it is a perfect blend of joy and faith in the mouth. I love that this is the last soup of the season, and as I ate it, I thought of Mary Lou and her always positive greetings and cheer. She was one of the first people I saw in church in that long ago March of 2020, both of us wearing homemade masks (I in my folded bandana) and nodding at each other. It was one of the things that kept me going and kept my faith from deserting me. In fact, it was also my parish that kept my faith from deserting me.

Food is foundational. Before the pandemic, my church had a community Holy Thursday dinner before the Mass. At the Thanksgiving mass, we are given a small loaf of bread to bring our church into our family meal. During the pandemic, we held online cooking classes from a parishioner who is a professional chef. Food is central to our being, and as I’ve found, to the church family.

Food nourishes, and replenishes, and gives us a banquet of sharing with our families, and as the presenter expressed it yesterday, a table of fellowship, spreading our personal news and sharing the Good News.

What also connected it for me, was two of the links she provided as resources that I am excited to share with you:
1. Food and Drink in Luke’s Gospel (website)
2. Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel (book)

As this Holy Week begins, I hope you’ll find friends and family around your table, breaking bread together and remembering the first Eucharist demonstrated by Jesus at The Last Supper.

Lenten Labyrinth – Week 4

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Publishing these in the middle of the next week gives me time to reflect on the week that’s passed, reevaluate my journey and see what changes need to be made in my spiritual life. It’s a when, not an if. There are usually a few. I think I’ve put writing in the center of the labyrinth since even my spirituality involves an excess of writing, but I feel that there must be more that I’m looking for when I get to the center. I may take a walk later this week (or more probably next) at one of our local labyrinths.

I’m also a little stuck on the exercises in Felicia Day’s book Embrace Your Weird. She suggests filming yourself. (Not going to happen.) But I still need to step back and watch myself with new eyes and then answer her questions. This guide is for fostering creativity, but I find that the parts of my life are so interconnected that I can’t help but reflect on my faith and spirit. I’ll pick it back up this afternoon when I get home from my errands. I think I’ll do my daily readings then as well.

I still haven’t been able to answer what it is I’m being called to, although I feel the tugging.

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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