Final Lenten Labyrinth

Standard

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.

Continue reading

Friday Food. The Last Soup Delivery.

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Continue reading

Week 3 – Lenten Labyrinth Journey

Standard

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

Through the Labyrinth: Lent, Week 2

Standard

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!

Standard

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.

Continue reading

Lenten Journey: 2nd Week of Lent

Standard
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.

Standard

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.

A Lenten Labyrinth

Standard

Lent is right around the cor – hmm…I guess it’s here.

I’m not ready. My prayer life is struggling, and the idea that I need to make a forty day plan for myself is giving me hives. It’s daunting. Between new bouts of covid isolation keeping me from in person masses and spiritual gatherings and my continuing struggles to come to terms with the sudden death of my priest this past fall, I have been having difficulties in focusing on my prayer life. I read constantly. I finally resumed listening to podcasts this morning while I was setting up my medication. My daughter has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow so my plans for 9am Mass to receive my ashes will need to be adjusted. I made three phone calls yesterday and mailed a letter. I’m not sure what this has to do with Lent or prayer or anything other than keeping the chronic depression at bay.

I’m still at ‘what do I give up‘ part of the process and I just don’t know. With mask mandates ending and war in Ukraine, the giving up decision of my Lent feels superficial and not at all relevant.

Should I stop drinking soda? Watching TV? Starbucks? Giving up the internet for a couple of hours a day? (Heaven forfend!) Cheese? Chocolate? Cigarettes? Alright, that one would be cheating; I don’t smoke. Can I give up being judgmental for forty days? I’m not sure I can manage forty minutes.

What is a worthy of sacrifice that doesn’t strike me as trite or worn out?

However, there are some things that I have worked out: a weekly Scripture series through March, a weekend retreat, reading, and art journaling with the use of a Lenten Labyrinth (pictured below).

Beginning tomorrow, I will read Learning to Pray by Father James Martin, and Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly and a daily devotional: Daily Reflections for Lent: Not by Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekah and Thomas Stegman. I’m sure there will be more reading as the days go by, but these three are on my goals list.

I will pray the rosary at least weekly.

I will make one pilgrimage, although I’m not sure to where yet.

I will work diligently on my Labyrinth Prayer Book.

I will attend Sunday Mass on Facebook and commit to attending one daily mass in person during the week.

I will keep up with my labyrinth in the art journal. It is similar to the spiral journals I shared a few years ago after my trip to Wales. I plan on looking at it daily and trying to draw or write something relevant. I have enough copies for a new labyrinth each week.

I also have included a downloadable clean copy on my home page for anyone interested in journaling through Lent. (Sorry about some of the crooked lines.)

(c)2022

I think the most important thing I can impart to readers and to myself is to be easy on ourselves. Focus on the three Lenten principles: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.