Everyone Belongs

Every day in my neighborhood, I see a woman walking alone. She walks with a determined air, hands clasped behind her back, observing everything around her. We don’t know each other but we always wave and smile in recognition. In strange way, I feel connected to her and pray she doesn’t feel lonely. Someone asked me recently to name the most talked about issue in spiritual direction. Despite different circumstances, I most often hear people lament about the basic human need to belong. Because of the dehumanizing effects of our modern world, people feel isolated in their struggles, even if they are married or have friends. Without guidance, God can also seem distant and silent. My simple antidote is to spend more time outside without electronic devices, listening and observing, taking a slow, contemplative walk, opening all of the senses. If faithful to this practice, we eventually feel timelessly, joyfully, connected. For at the heart of all created existence is a oneness. Everyone and everything belongs.

by DC

Our Lady of Refuge

In my journey towards a relationship with the Holy One, I was first a Blessed Mother girl, even as a Protestant. I wasn’t a mother at the time but Mary’s devotion to her Son was a beacon of loving maternal light for me, guiding me gently into the arms of Christ. She was my refuge in my rainy days. Her arms were sweet, tender and sure when I folded emotionally into them. She was my comfort. I started to pray the rosary back in those days and most of my friends thought I was really weird. Only Catholics did that! Mary’s loving eyes and arms reach out with tender mercy to each of us.. In a real sense, she is our royal Mother, our role model, the pathway to shelter when the storms in our lives rage on. She loves the poor, the underprivileged and the poor of spirit. She is a refuge for all who seek sanctuary in this chaotic world in which we dwell.

by Gracie

The Alchemy of Giving

There is something exceptionally good and precious about praying over some object, especially a  blanket/shawl, then gifting it to another person to find comfort in. It’s as if there are these invisible stitches of grace, woven together to bless and encourage. A certain spiritual energy is present that is invisible to the eye. The object now becomes the conduit of Jesus’ love and healing. It is a beautiful way to enter into the service of another whether it is a stitched blanket, a meal, flowers or a handwritten note. There are so many people we meet on a daily basis that need to know this love. In the alchemy of giving, both the giver and the receiver are blessed. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

by Cathy

Resurrected Belonging

The new day comes in just like the other days.

The spring sun brimming at sunrise.

My heart sings and my soul swells as I stand in the light.

Humbled. Not giving. Receiving.

Resurrected joy.  Simplicity of the silence.

I remain quiet, listening to God’s world.

It invites me in;  the cascading sounds of birds, the wispy wind, rustling leaves and the smell of fresh Kona coffee.

A new day of my life has begun.

So I stand.

Receiving.  Belonging.  And I smile.

by Liz

Under Mom’s Eyes

Growing up could be a difficult time for anyone. Rich, poor, healthy or ill we all yearn deeply to belong. As I was growing up the center of our family unity was Mom. She had these inner, warm eyes that woke me up each morning and calmed my inner being. She made me feel as though I belonged to something bigger than myself. We all have dads, uncles and siblings that contribute to the lives we live. We have outside influences that shape our thoughts. We see things through the lenses of our existence. The Blessed Mother Mary is the image of all moms. She was chosen by God to create a space where we all feel like we belong, a fully human woman made to carry the burden of the cross. It seems our moms are charged with an impossible, bigger than life responsibility. They calm us, invite us to belong and give us the hope of an early morning sunrise.

by Diego

The Ascension

This coming Thursday, the Church celebrates the Ascension, a Holy Day of Obligation, or is it Opportunity?  The Ascension sets the stage for Pentecost, the birth of the church. In the days after the resurrection, Jesus continually warned his friends that his time on earth was drawing to a close but he promised to send his Holy Spirit who would eternally companion them, and us.  But that couldn’t happen until he left. They begged him not to go but one day he ascended in a cloud as they looked on from below. How strange it must have been!  Reflection on the ascension continues to hold symbolic meaning for our personal lives. What needs to ascend before a new Pentecost can happen?  New life isn’t new until I allow the old to disappear in the clouds. Only then can there be a spacious place in my heart for the abundant life the Spirit can provide.

Unexpected Blessing

Very little of my family lives near me, but I knew that would be the case when I decided to move here nine years ago. However, I have been blessed with a whole “new” family by virtue of being a member of our parish and being in the very best job I have ever had, as the coordinator for our middle school youth ministry (“Outlet”) here. The amazing people I work with have shared my joys and my sorrows, prayed for me and for my family and helped me innumerable times without my asking. It is an enormous joy to be with them, whether it’s with the families in our group working on a service project, a Monday morning parish staff meeting or sharing a meal with our team. I am truly excited each time I am able to be with this “new” family and I always thank God for yet another unexpected blessing in my life!

by JAM

Fiesta of Joy

Summer’s coming. I can feel it, see it vividly all around. Spring rains brought a plethora of bluebirds, swallows  and bunnies. Coyotes skulk stealthily in the evening dusk.  In addition to those natural wonders, it’s time for our church fiesta.  Last week giant candy colored steel machines rolled into the church parking lot. For days, local kids and a few awestruck dads, made pilgrimages to the grassy field to monitor the construction of a temporary megalopolis. Murmurs of electric excitement run through the neighborhood, crescendoing into cacophonies of laughter, shouts and songs.  As night falls on Friday, children careen through a flashing world of carousels and cakes.  “Vertigo,” “The Zipper,”  huge spinning contraptions, thrill and nauseate. (I hear this can be mitigated with a taco, funnel cake or cotton candy.)  Young couples promenade holding hands and kids experience a first small taste of unsupervised freedom.  A band blasts from the stage. Our human capacity for joy is a divine grace, a gift of the Spirit. Also, maybe skip “the Zipper.”

by Nathaniel