Maundy Thursday

Harp strings flutter their touch through me –
Soothing my soul.
“Holocaust” symphony –
That does not flutter.
It seeps into you –
behind your eyes,
within the wailing wall of your heart.
How could such beauty and gentleness
in the twinkling music
Co-exist with the knowledge of such terror –
knowing that this could happen is horror.
Living it is unspeakable,
And yet, must be spoken.
Was the harp played in a German home
as Jewish families were herded to their death?
Could beauty and this horror co-exist?
Not with the knowledge of the terror –
only in blindness,
cold, dark blindness –
stone silence of deafness.
You can’t hear a harp
and hear their anguished cries
with the same ears.
You’d go mad.

Susan Ceely Phillips

Turning Point

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A time when a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.
A point at which significant change occurs.

Imagine a dancer.
You choose.
A ballerina spinning with supreme control.
A modern dance interpretation.
A jazz gyration.
Swing dancing in synchronized, yet wild enthusiasm.
A powerful footfall through hip hop.
Do it yourself rock n roll.
Salsa swirling.
Hindi twirling.
Imagine the dancer
and the turning point.

Turning, spinning, whirling
Now and then
Or on and on.
But, each turn has a point
When a decision occurs in the dervish
To continue to repeat the cycle
Or to move into a new step,
A fresh pattern,
A solo exhibition,
A cling or clash with a partner,
A fusion with the corps,
Or to just stop.

Turning Point
A time, a point when a decisive change, a significant change, occurs, especially with beneficial results.

Easter – a “turning point”, both grand and minute.  I pray that it’s lovely and kind, either way.

 

Susan Ceely Phillips

Rain

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I have always envied my friends who love to live in rainy places.  There’s the friend who said, “I Iove to fall asleep to the sound of rain drops falling on my window sill.”  I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it now.

I think I have always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  The dreary days affect me.  Rain and fog make me want to stay inside under the covers, waiting for the sun to reappear and draw me out of my bed like metal pulled up by a magnet.  The sun is my magnet and I am pulled up by it.

But this year, this Lent, I have made the decision to approach rain differently.  Rather than focus on the wet sogginess of it, I am going to focus on the life force water is, and how important rain is for replenishing this dry earth.  I am going to be my own internal magnet and pull myself up and out into the pouring drops cascading from the heavens or gently falling around me.

I am going to reach out my hand and feel the wetness, lift my face and let the drops fall on it without being concerned about makeup or mascara.  I am going to let the drops fall on my hair with abandon.  I am going to open my hands and heart and transform my ideas about rain, asking God to help me.

Why?  Because Lent is about transformation; it is about turning back or turning around altogether.  It’s about turning.  Lent is about change.

This Lenten season we are living through a time that no one would have expected.  Even in our current situation, what change or turning is God moving you toward this Lenten season?  How might you open your hand to a whole new attitude or idea or behavior or perspective on something that might seem so “fixed” within you?  Nothing is too fixed for God.  Nothing is too concretized for the Holy Spirit to enter in and initiate a great turning within and without.

Blessings on your journey of transformation and turning.  And may you stay safe in these difficult times.

Shared by Reverend Elise Brown

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Sustenance

Weather not always balmy

obstacles appear

amid swirling wind and storms

former experiences illumine

strong ropes:

faith, hope, love

Biblical passages apply over centuries

these guide

provide balance

become sources

of courage and strength

when mountains overwhelm

grasp ropes tightly

 

 

I Corinthians 13

“ And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. But the greatest

of these is Love.”

 

 

Lynn Doll

©2020

My Sister Maria

 

I was raised Catholic and never read the Bible until I joined Marble Collegiate Church.

 I have joined the one year Bible reading workshop and  am now reading Genesis. It was the Joseph and his brothers story that resonated with me and jogged my memory. The Bible will do that to you. I drew a parallel between my relationship with my sister, Maria, now deceased and Joseph’s  brothers. It has taken me my entire life to realize that she didn’t love me.  She was hurt, angry and I could have repaired any damage at the time, but  I didn’t read the signs, or  didn’t recognize them. She was never affectionate or spend time with me talking “girl talk”  and I think now that it was because I could point to my Dad  and she didn’t  even know hers. I was the apple of my father’s eye and it now is apparent that she envied and felt marginalized because of it. I certainly didn’t pay much attention.

I regret not knowing Maria . And will live with that regret: envy and hate are powerful emotions. They can be chased out with  love, understanding and prayer. I include Maria in my nightly prayers and hope that she knows how much I miss her.  As Saint Therese of Lisieux says, “May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given you.”

I pass on to you dear sisters this: Repair, Replenish relationships because it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s what Jesus wants us to.

 

 

 

 

           

 

A Walk with God

As I began my walk at the outdoor labyrinth at a retreat center on this exceptionally warm January morning, I reflected on the last experience.  It was World Labyrinth Day 2018. God had walked with me as I sought a solution to a thorny situation. Should I walk away, risking a $200 down payment and my reputation?  Or should I do nothing and stay? The answer had come quickly on the contemplative, focused stroll.

Almost 2 years later, I was once again walking a labyrinthine maze, seeking balm or a word from God. Losses weighed me down. The death, 3 days earlier, of a somewhat forgotten and troubled brother left me distressed.  Ozzie and I had not kept in touch, not spoken in over 2 years.  We had not quarreled – just lived in different worlds. He was a good and generous man but often managed to get into disastrous conflicts. Now we were planning his funeral.  I regretted how I had judged him for the perceived mistakes he had made.  As I walked I was confronted with the knowledge that I could have been more – more kind, more patience, more present.  The loss was not mine alone to bear. But I was deeply affected.  I lamented not taking the opportunity to offer counsel and support to my brother.  I had left that to his other siblings.

The day after my brother’s death, my Samsung s6 had a meltdown.  Minutes later, 3000 photos accumulated over 4 years of travel and across 11 countries were erased.  And yes, I must be the only person in the world who had not backed anything up on a laptop or external drive. The wireless store salesman, in between selling me on an upgrade, suggested a place on 1st Avenue where the pictures possibly could be recovered for a hefty price.  But that was not an option. I had a funeral to help pay for.  My pragmatic side knew the pictures were secondary, but the loss still stung.  A cherished part of my story was gone.  I was overwhelmed and pensive.  I was living in that head space where more trouble and danger was coming.

What next, God?

A gust of wind rustled nearby branches and lifted a few of the dried leaves on the grass near my path. I stood still in that moment. And as if out of nowhere came the words…Nothing matters but the sustaining love of God. I looked down and my feet had come to the end of the prayer walk.

If only momentary, I felt comforted. Death and loss are part of the journey and will be encountered from time to time.  But I was not alone.

Jesus said “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

Annemarie Edwards

Follow the Trail: Don’t Mess with the Road Map

It was a snowy afternoon in New York City, and once again I was almost late for a meeting at Marble Collegiate Church; it didn’t help that I was scheduled to chair. So, of course, I took a taxi. Destination reached, I paid the driver and headed into the meeting. All went well, until I reached for my wallet just before leaving, and it wasn’t there.  A colleague helped me search the area where we had been meeting and the space just outside; no dice. It was nowhere to be found. Back home, I called the church to check whether anything had been turned in and the gentleman who had helped me search was at the desk. He told me his own story of a similar loss and shared how he had immediately begun to pray, working to put the entire situation in God’s hands. I wasn’t in the mood at that moment, but I did listen and heard the trust and faith in his voice, as he finished the story, where in the most unlikely of circumstances, he was able to reclaim his lost article. His story stayed with me, as a gentle reminder.

in addition to closing all my cards, I started the laborious process of reporting the loss. I resisted briefly, embarrassed at my own absent-mindedness, but there was nothing to do but to take the first step. So, I called 311, the help line for all things municipal and went through the slow and painstaking process of making the report. It seemed to take forever. But the next afternoon, there was a message from the Taxi and Limousine Commission asking me to call them to answer more questions. It all seemed so useless, but I called and answered still more questions always with more info to pin point time, location et al. Later that day, I got an email back that included license numbers and cell numbers of two possible drivers. It all seemed so unlikely to me, but I did pick the driver whose name was a probable match for the nationality I had intuited, called and left a message that was as specific, detailed and nonthreatening/accusatory as possible. I never got a call back. So, I surrendered, and went on with my life.

Several days later,  my friend from the church asked about the wallet. “Nope, nada,” I said. He had a lovely response suggesting that if it was needed by someone else God could be trusted to make that happen. I actually took comfort in that and felt that I had surrendered. Wallet shopping ensued, and then last night, as I was getting on the elevator  and the door was closing, I heard the intercom go off in my apartment down the hall. I stopped at the desk to find out what was up. The door person said “Someone left this for you; put out your hand.”  He placed the wallet into my hand. All money and all cards perfectly intact. So 9 days after I left the phone message, the wallet was returned.

To me this was a City Trail experience. I had to take each little step; and even though I wasn’t exactly in a prayerful frame of mind about the incident, I was graced with the willingness to listen to someone who was, so prayer partnering was there for me, even though my heart was only open a crack. And then a Christmas surprise was handed to me. So I want to remember to bring prayer into the daily routines of my life, not to get a certain outcome, but to open myself to God’s being a part of the process. If I stay open and true to that idea, I might be available to help the next traveler I meet who is walking through a tough or lonely trail journey.

Shared by Karen Gourgey

The Path We Tread

It takes you somewhere or nowhere.

It leaves shadows in front of you.

It leaves shadows behind you.

It points directions that you must take.

Watch it take shape,

Watch it change colors,

Watch it take strides.

You are confused,

You are frustrated,

You are torn.

You ask for it to be straight, direct and clear.

No?

You hear that small voice whispering in your ears,

You decide to take the risk.

BE NOT AFRAID FOR I AM SENDING MY BELOVED SON TO WALK BESIDE YOU.

 

Agatha Pratt

The Small Gestures that can Reset our Souls…

Late in the afternoon last Saturday, I was attempting to put lights and garland on my fireplace mantel like I do each year.  Nothing was staying in place and two strings of lights ended up falling down and breaking.  I had been feeling overwhelmed with the coming of the holidays and the pressure to get everything done like so many at this time of the year.  We so strive to make everything look perfect, our mantle, our tree, but when things do not go so right, it reminds us we have so much on our plates.  My boys are grown now, my Mom has not been feeling well and other changes happening in my family is overwhelming me.

The lights falling was like the “icing on the cake.”

My husband came in and asked what was wrong.  I ended going into an entire litany of things that had been overwhelming me.  We talked for a few minutes and then he left for evening mass.  He came back an hour or so later with a bag of new lights from our local CVS.  I said to him he had just given me the best Christmas present and that seemingly small task of going to replace the lights meant the world to me that night.

It also occurred to me that God had given me a very big nudge to help me re-light my advent trail to Christmas.

Shared by Bonny Chopey