Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A leaf in the concrete

For what seems the longest time I have lived in darkness.

Prayer has echoed uselessly in my heart and mind. Thoughts have swirled round and round until I thought I was half crazy. Words disappeared into a deep hole, swallowed and I have not been able to marshal them into any sense or order. Yet after a while the darkness became familiar, almost comfortable. I ceased to despair of it. I had no hope of a change and I stopped seeking one, choosing instead to live day by day. Reacting to each days events in an isolated fashion, losing sight of any bigger picture that may emerge.

My repeated phrase, given me by my sons "breathe Mom, breathe".

So I have breathed. And breathed, and breathed.

And suddenly yesterday I awoke to a sunny day, spring been and gone in a matter of days as it does here and summer hovering in the wings.

And like a blade of grass breaking though concrete, hope stirs.

And with it a forgotten sense of joy.

And for now that is enough; wonderfully more than enough.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Blind silence

It has been so long since I blogged that I almost could not remember my password. I would have said it was ingrained on my memory but as it took a good bit of thought to remember, obviously not.

I have always been a prolific writer - mostly of journals and diaries and dreams and fancies and prayers, even the occasional blog post for fun. Yet for months words have been dry and empty. Sawdust in my mind stirring and settling in featureless patterns on the workshop floor and I have written nothing. I have prayed nothing. Prayer written or otherwise has been dark and deeply empty. Not in a good way. I have been shut into the echoing limited frame that has become my mind and body and spirit. It has been wearily bleak to find myself without the resource of prayer to carry me through the rough and the smooth. All my life, in the face of terrible wounding prayer has been my way out, my door to hope and joy and love and warmth and insight. Now there is nothing, and I grope about, lost in a blind silence. Deaf and blind and dumb in a world that I know to be so much more than the one my senses presently reveal to me.

Repeatedly I recall my retreat in early August and wonder what happened there that precipitated this blankness, this emptiness. This wavering, wandering spirit with in me that skitters like light reflected off wave ruffled water in the early morning light. The predominant sense was one of exhaustion, as I indeed was when I arrived at the Monastery. Yet in the days and weeks and months that have followed I have found within myself nothing but an unwillingness to pray.

And I today I find the courage to acknowledge that and to ask where did that unwillingness come from?

Perhaps the beginning is to simply surrender to what is and let go of what I think should be.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sitting on my hands and keeping my mouth firmly shut is a prayer?

I am in the middle of a steep learning curve.

Mum had a stroke last week. I am deeply grateful that it was relatively mild and although she has suffered some damage she is not completely incapacitated.  She is presently out of hospital and staying with me. The occupational therapist warned me that she must be encouraged to do as much as she can for herself in order to return to some sort of independent life. I am surprised how hard it is to step back and let her struggle with ordinary tasks such as making a cup of tea.  The temptation to say "here let me....." is almost overwhelming. Intellectually I understand but the reality of putting it into practice is entirely another thing. It is heartbreaking to watch the effort simple tasks take. 

Imagine my surprise when sitting with a client this morning and finding myself again in the position of not leaping in and doing the task at hand. It would have taken me about fifteen minutes but left to his own devices and with limited guidance it took the young man over an hour. Again I realized he needed to learn, and that the best way for him was to work through it himself. I wasn't doing him any favours by taking over and doing it for him. 

I am learning to breathe gently, sit still silently and wait in such circumstances. 

Such waiting certainly doesn't come naturally to me but this morning it seemed a form of loving contemplative prayer. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Shattered dignity?

I fell this morning over my elderly golden retriever who was deeply asleep on the steps to my office at the time. A case of not paying attention to what I was doing because I was trying to do too many things at once. So instead of edging out of my office door keeping the other two shut in I was already talking to the guys who had come to service the generator. My crashing tumble had a number of witnesses. The generator guys, my assistant, and a newly arrived client.

Landing heavily on my shoulder I rolled across the veranda. It was not a graceful flight to earth for I am not a small or light woman. More like timber coming down.

Stunned I lay there for half a moment very much aware that any dignity I might have had was in tatters. Then, as sometimes happens to me in such situations, I was overtaken by a fit of the giggles which exploded into full blown laughter. My audience seemed dumbfounded and uncertain as to which move to make next when confronted with a toppled accountant lying on her back laughing.

Eventually the laughter subsided and I was assisted to my feet and dusted down with much solicitousness.

I will have some spectacular bruises in the morning and my ankle is gently swollen. I have used it as an excuse to take the afternoon off and sit in the sun listening to Margaret Rizza's Light in our Darkness which soothed the last of my shattered dignity.

And if you should be wondering my beautiful "old boy" escaped the incident unscathed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

It's cold

I know it doesn't snow here and a lovely sunny winters day is around 18 C. Hardly cold at all by some standards. But cold enough in houses with out double glazing and central heating.

My best friend thrives in the cool. Energized and full of vigour. I just get miserable, and cranky and long for hot summer days. This year I am especially out of sorts as we had a long wet summer which wasn't any fun either. I am sitting snuggled with a warm cat on my lap feeling only marginally less chilled than since I got up this morning.

The weather has major effects on my mood, and just right now I am depressed and sad. Some of the grief arises from the death of my close friend and therapist a couple of months ago but some of it is definitely weather related. I am wondering how to reorder my attitude so that the cold does affect my mood so much.

But no bright ideas come to mind.

What do you do when the weather gets to you?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Magnolia mistiming

Today my magnificent magnolia is all but bare of leaves in the winter cold, but just a month ago it was flourishing and prolific with flowers. It occurs to me that magnolia's must flower in spring in the northern hemisphere, and mine keeps faith with that timing in the southern hemisphere but is then driven by the cold into winter and leaf loss. A case of mistiming. It does flower in the brief period that passes for spring here, but nothing like the magnificence of its autumn show.

It makes me consider faithfulness on one hand and inflexibility on the other.

It is faithful to its "programming" and flowers when magnolias flower. Just as in the heat of summer we in the south are faithful to the Christmas story with its winter images. Christmas to us usually means summer thunderstorms and baking heat and humidity, very alien to much of the imagery portrayed on European and American TV and in books. None the less we celebrate Advent and the Christmas Feast with as much joy and splendour as anywhere else in the world, observing the same liturgy as Catholics anywhere do. Much as my magnolia celebrates life by flowering in the autumn.

Yet, fortunately it is a grafted tree and so not expected to reproduce itself. The winter cold would kill off any seedlings that grew out of the bountiful autumn flowering. Perhaps inflexibility is not the right word, but a lack of adaptability to a different situation. The tree doggedly pursues its rhythm even when that seasonal rhythm makes no sense. I reflect this morning that sometimes I am like my magnolia and that I can't get in sync with the seasons, flowering when it is right and losing my leaves when the cold winds blow.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Palm Sunday

I was asked to be part of the team who was reading the Gospel this morning. I usually get the crowd or one of the smaller parts and I wasn't expecting today to be any different.

We gathered a little early before Mass and the usual crew were assembled, and we welcomed the lone newcomer amongst us. Our young Jesuit Rector then started to hand out the "scripts", and we were all astonished to find that our usual assignments had been quite shuffled around. I looked at mine in disbelief for I was reading the part of Jesus.

I protested in shock that I couldn't do this. Why not? Asked Father Rector.

I didn't really have a good answer except that a woman Jesus seemed a bit odd. Crisply I was told that I was exactly what he wanted for the job so would I please just get on with it.

So I did.

But I can tell you that for me it is one thing to hear those sacred words and entirely another to proclaim them from the centre of the altar. I heard in a new way Jesus's dignity under trial, his compassion for the women of Jerusalem and the thief dying next to him, and the great gift of his forgiveness and finally his faith in commending his spirit to the Father.

Hours later the words I spoke aloud, familiar and oft heard still echo within me in a new way, in a depth that I have not before experienced.