Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Wonderful Mix

This morning we attended a delightful Mass at a very beautifully restored  old  church called Merced. It is the feast of San Pedro a third order Franciscan who came to Antigua from Spain in the 1500's. He spent  his life educating the poorest of the poor and  lovingly cared for the sick. His statue  was  on a special table on the altar decorated with flowers and beside him was an exquisite gold monstrance which held his relics. I was deeply moved by the humility and  the simplicity of this man as I heard stories of his love for the people. After Mass, we went to a small Mayan village to see the ceremonies of the Mayan shamans mixed with Catholic saints. We watched the people pray to Maximon, a white skinned man with a mustache,a hat and  a cigar. The Mayans say he visited their cities two thousand years ago and taught them the things they later read in the Bible.Maximon  sat high up on an altar and was surrounded by flowers, different colored candles and  firewater (alcohol!) Quite a scene! When we returned to Antigua, we watched the parade in honor of San Pedro. Women, men and even small children carried the flower laden float with the statue of San Pedro on top. Eight Mayan indian women proceeded the float and were dressed in their native rainbow colored, hand woven  garb and had hand carved bowls of burning incense. The Franciscan priests, brothers and sisters as well as 3rd order Franciscans walked along with the float and hundreds of people surrounded the float on all sides! The enthusiasm was infectious and left Dave and me feeling exhilarated.
We returned to the hotel full of wonderfully colorful and meaningful memories. How special it is to participate in the many ways we pray to our God.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Death of a Dear Friend

We are in Guatemala and are enjoying the beauty of the old city of Antigua. It is a wonderful break from all the business of responding to the books enthusiastic responses.It is raining today...a bit earlier than usual but it did not interfere at all in our wanderings.
Today, I picked up the emails and found one that makes me very sad. Frank Houdek S.J.
died at noon today. He was a great friend to me and I will miss him tremendously. I pray that he is at peace and that he continues to be a light to those of us who search for God in our lives.
We are off now for a swim in the heated pool which set in a glorious garden!It ought to be lovely at night.
Tomorrow we will go to nearby Mayan villages and to see some of the weavers of the area. The Guatemalan people are sweet and seem to smile all of the time! It makes me happy just to be around such happiness!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Creative Gifts Flow

I have been trying to create a title for a workshop I am doing in June with little success. The titles that I sent to the people helping to promote the book were not hitting the mark.I was stumped and I was wondering when the creative gifts would begin to flow.
I awoke one morning this week to these words...' If you can feel it, God can heal it'. That was it!! The gift I awaited had arrived!
As I sat with this I realized this would be familiar material for a workshop. It is what I am about...healing the past so that we are free to experience the presence of Divine love within and all around us. So, the title is " Let Your Light Shine".   I realized  that I could teach this class immediately, the preparation is already done and in my heart. This is the second gift.        

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Transforming Fear...into a Light Heart

It is apparent that there is a great deal of fear in our world and just as clear is the reality that some people feed on helping us to become fearful. The word feed is not a comfortable word. It makes me think of leeches or tics that feed off our life blood!
Yesterday I spoke to someone who like many,was glued to the television and obviously fearful and angry because of what he was hearing.His emotions were becoming more and more fired up.I found myself squirming inside,wanting to get away from the emotions that were being released and hoping I could steer him back to his repressed  personal issues that were tied to these emotions.Honestly, there are things going on in the world that are unfair,evil and horrific but when our responses mirror those ugly events, then there is something hidden within us that needs looking at. If we have hidden our own anger and fear at what has been done to us as a child or young adult,those emotions are still within us,and get projected out into the worlds evil rather than to the evil that has been perpetrated against us. If you are feeling a great fear or are overly angry,enraged or hateful towards someone or some evil in the world ,ask yourself, "who in my life has enraged me,hurt me or shamed me that I am not allowing myself to fully  acknowledge?" Then sit with the pain that your body holds for you and listen to the story with love and compassion until you have heard every word that wants to be spoken...every word and feeling from that deeply wounded yet very dear part of yourself.Remember to hold yourself with a felt sense of love,for love is what heals!
When we have done this well,we are free to be present to the world in a new way. When we see evil things that we can not change or that are too big for us to tackle alone we can pray to do something good to offset the evil...we can love more fully, we can smile more often, we can  join an organization that is doing good in the world but we must be careful not to be lured into the evil in the guise of doing good. Negativity breeds negativity...we all know that. Or another way to say this is...what we focus on grows . If we focus on love and the good, we actually do confront that which is evil. When we  fill our hearts with love,we bring light into the world and light does away with the darkness... effortlessly.I truly think this is what Jesus teaches ,by example. He sees beneath the darkness and calls forth the light,with love,still today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Surprises!!

Today Matthew, a gifted song writer and performer, a friend of my daughter and partner of my husband's God son, emailed to tell me he really liked my book. He said that he felt it was important to let me know. He continues to sing, he said, because people continue to respond favorably! Keep singing Matthew!! 
I spoke to a friend I knew years ago who heard that I had written a book and called to say he ordered it and it had arrived. I had not spoken with him in about 20 years. This book is connecting me to so many people from my past. There was even a visit from my next door neighbor who found my sister on facebook and then found me. I had not seen Joan in about 55 years...amazing. She wrote to say she 'loved' the book!
 I am continually surprised by the way this book is touching people! I had been told over and over by publishers that I had to write a book about'The Ten Ways to Spiritual Well Being' but NOT use my own story. My guidance was always to tell my story and I thank God I was faithful to the guidance rather than write to insure publication. The story seems to give people who read it permission to 'feel what they feel' and in so doing to clear old stuff... to lighten up, to be free!! Praise God!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

There is nothing like a good friend

Yesterday, my friend Sharon came to visit. She lives in Portland now and we do not get to visit too often. We enjoyed  a tasty lunch on the patio at Boulet's Larder , a wonderful cafe at San Francisco's Ferry Building. We chatted away, filling each other in on the latest and best news. After lunch, we walked along the Embarcadero, warmed by the sun and entertained by the people along the way and the activities on the bay...but mostly we talked! When we arrived at our condo, we changed into swim suits and indulged ourselves in the warmth of the outdoor spa for an hour or two more ,such fun...catching up!We began to talk about the stresses of our world and fear emerged as a common theme of these times.
Our conversation reminded me of Sparky, one of the prisoners that my husband and I  work with at the prison in Jamestown. His son is going to Afganistan next week and Sparky's face was riddled with fear as he spoke about Bear, his 20 year old son. I shared with Sparky that perhaps,the fear could be used as a signal for him to pray for the safety of his son. Fear is only helpful if it is a warning that awakens us to something we need to change but in this case, Sparky could not change his son's destination. He could however, ask Sparky's angels to protect his son and that would be a helpful option.
As Sharon and I talked about fear and how destructive it can be, Sharon said"yes, fear is a thief. It steals my peace, my sleep,my happiness,my sense of safety,and worst of all, it steals my health, and if it could it would steal my life!"Wow, that resonated with us both and our conversation continued about how we might recognize when we are besieged by fear and how we can use that fear as a signal to pray rather than allow it to enter our inner homes and rob us of our treasures...our peace,joy and our health. 
I must say it is a great gift to have a good friend visit! Our conversations are treasures! I am smiling as I write this!!