#Randi

Experiencing the Sublime

This week has been about singing Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with Pacific Symphony. The work is a tour-de-force engaging two hundred fifty musicians, including singers and orchestral players. The music sublime, the last movement in which the chorus sings, depicts the heavens opening up as a soul ascends. The music swells in a crashing crescendo of power and joy. Now that may not sound like “holy leisure” to you and there is certainly nothing serene about it! However, as a performer, the exhilaration from singing at the top of your lungs on sustained notes, creating achingly beautiful chords over the orchestra as it explodes in the fireworks of the finale, does create a place of deep reverence in the soul. It begs the question, what if every soul is embraced into heaven on a fanfare of welcoming power and joy and celebration? I am humbled by the thought. Please enjoy the last four minutes of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with conductor Leonard Bernstein.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rECVyN5D60I

by Gracie

Touchstone Moments

For twenty years I spent summers in Idaho on a lake. My favorite thing to do was to sit on the porch in the rocking chair with my coffee, feel the soft breeze, watch the rippling lake water and observe the Canadian geese with their goslings. I felt serene, connected to nature and as such at peace. I do not visit Idaho as much today and have missed that tranquil feeling of at-one-ment with that nature of God that I can not fathom but belong to when I am still and contemplative inside. I felt at once intimate and vast. Recently, I bought a painting that, when I look at it, brings back to me that same feeling of belonging to something grander, more universal than my own small sphere of being. It’s kind of like when you hear a song from your past, the feelings from that long forgotten era come flooding back, evoking memories. My painting is a “touch stone” for me to enjoy the serenity in the spaciousness of God.

by Gracie

The Joy of Accomplishment

Last Saturday my daughter graduated from college. It was a day of completion, celebration, and joy. Saint Mary’s has an on-campus tradition of setting up canopies, tables and chairs for the grads and their families. Everyone pitches in for catered food and it’s one big party. I sat in my chair, completely at peace watching my daughter get and give hugs to fellow graduating seniors and undergrads. I felt content and joyous watching these young millennials reach out to acknowledge one another. It was a time to savor the accomplishments, the memories, and the challenges. The work was done. The days of pressing the intellect were over. Now it was time to play and rest and hopefully experience that time of ‘Holy Leisure.” As stated by Josef Pieper, “Leisure implies an attitude of total receptivity toward, and willing immersion in, reality; an openness of the soul, through which alone may come about those great and blessed insights that no amount of “mental labor” can ever achieve.

by Gracie

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

Belonging and Baseball

I’m on my way with a friend to their grandson’s Little League game. My heart is full, anticipating these young boys in their clean jerseys all ready to play baseball. It’s not unlike the anticipation of a major league baseball game when your favorite pitcher is starting and your heart is racing, all pumped up for the game with hope and exhilaration. There is something thrilling watching these young, nascent ball players doing their best, the joy they communicate, belonging to a team. The  elation they exhibit when they win, the agony of defeat, is felt throughout the crowd. When they trust that they played their best, they are satisfied and look forward to the next contest with hope, course correction, and determination. I don’t know if God plays baseball but I bet He enjoys the human soul embracing teamwork, learning to forgive and let go, and sportsmanship in action!

by Gracie

Acts of Love

I spent last week with my brother who has suffered a stroke. It was painful to experience him reduced in abilities as a result. However, as Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Prayer is an act of love; words not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will of love.” And that is what I did, cooked for him, sat with him, drove him, spoke with patience and understanding. Even though he suffered, his spirit was not daunted. I felt peaceful adjusting my emotions when I had to explain something several times to him before he could grasp it. He too became peaceful and less anxious in the process. He was able to start his physical and occupational therapy and the prognosis is good. As I prayed unceasingly for his recovery, I simultaneously prayed in gratitude for his life. I was touched by the gentleness of people who interacted with him while we were out running errands. I remembered the words of St. Mother Teresa, “Joy is prayer, joy is strength: joy is love by which you can catch souls.”

by Gracie

Growing Up

I was only eight years old. My Mom was shopping in our local “Mom and Pop” grocery store. I was cruising the cereal isle when I spied them, three-D  picture squares on Cheerios boxes. Without thinking, I ripped off four and stuffed them into my pockets. As we checked out, the store owner came over, looked me in the eyes and said, “Some children have been stealing the pictures off the Cheerio boxes. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?” I looked him right back in the eyes and said, “No!” That night kneeling on the floor by my bed, with my Mom, saying my nightly prayers, I confessed. The next morning we drove back to the store. My Mom instructed me to go in and give them back. “By my self?” I squeaked. She nodded, and I walked in alone. I grew up a little that day. I learned the Lord purifies through prayer and that I face the consequences for my transgressions alone. As I lifted my prizes up to the store owner, he said,”Thank you.” Relieved, my heart sang with joy!

by Gracie

 

 

Joy of Surrender

I met Jesus at a crossroads in my life in the Garden of Gethsemane through a prayer of letting go.  I was reading Matthew 26:36-46 and praying that God’s will be done in my life, not as I will it. Up to this point, I only prayed to God to do something for me, to help me out. I asked Christ to walk with me, in the still moments, the silent moments, as well as the hustle and bustle moments. I asked Him to take my will into His and through His refiners fire, shape it into my Father’s will. It was a hard prayer for me to pray, to surrender but it freed me from an over dominate obsession to be a mother, to have a child. I was forty-seven years old, that wasn’t going to happen. I came to know Jesus that moment as I sat in the garden with Him. I felt His compassion, His overarching Love, and I truly felt released from the bonds of obsessive longing. I was free! The next month, I conceived, and surrendered forever.

by Gracie