Archive for the ‘Death’ category

DO GOOD; A REMEMBRANCE

August 3, 2019

I needed to take a walk in the actual Spruce Tunnel recently, just to think, to clear my mind, give me some time to . . .  breathe.  I often write that I hope each of you have a place to go to like this;  although in the undisturbed quiet, you have to be prepared for  any  thoughts that arise.

Here’s how you enter the trails that lead to the Tunnel.  A nice, inviting, lush green trailhead:

ST Entrance 380

July begins a time of the year for not-so-good anniversaries for us.

My thinking on this day:    We like to think that when we leave this world,  someone will care.     We don’t wish our family and friends  unbearable grief or unending sorrow,  but it would be nice if we are remembered for something . . .  something good, some good effect we’ve had . . . .

And since there is someone who left us who really did have a “good effect” on us,  I want to pay tribute to her.    She left us almost a year ago,  way too young, it shouldn’t have happened  (from our point of view)  and we keep bumping into little “anniversaries” of our last months, weeks, and days with her.

Oh, dear.  This has to be “brief.”

This is about Meghan.  She was a bundle of energy, busy, busy, busy,  always doing something good,  doing some good for other people,  wise about other people’s needs . . .  how can I explain?

Her flowers 370

She made the earth around her a better place. The flowers she planted last year to beautify Son’s front yard — came up again this year – gorgeous and glorious.

She was wise and very  observant about just exactly what a person needs.  She seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of how to improve things and how to fix things;  but she had the ability to know when she should back off a bit too.

 

She was always there for the needs of any of her friends.   I don’t think anyone in her circle of friends ever did as much for her as she did for all of  us.

About a year ago,  I brought her a drink that she liked:

Her Drink 400

There it is.   Just a Peach-Pear smoothie, sold at our local coffee shop.  I go there to buy some of the white packages you see in the background.  Coffee of every variety you can imagine.    She already wasn’t feeling very good,   but I just thought she might like a smoothie, maybe.   We all knew she needed to eat more.

A small thought on my part but she was so happy with it.   Such a little thing,  but it made her happy.    Looking back,  she delighted in giving to others many unexpected little “surprises.”  but I don’t know how many spontaneous little “gifts”  she received from other people         How grateful she was to be the recipient this time.

ST Tall Trees 338

The Spruce Tunnel will last longer than I will.    It will be there longer than the thoughts I was thinking.    But one day it will be gone too.

Some of you will hear a passage from Ecclesiastes read to you this Sunday:   “Vanity of vanities;  all is vanity . . . .”    Everything we commonly strive for will actually  come to nothing.      It all passes away.    All our effort is in vain,  in the end.   Only the good we do for others will count for anything in the eyes of God.

Love.  And do good.

Jesus a man at His feet

It’s what He taught us.

It’s what Meghan seemed to be striving for.  Love people.  Cheer them up.  Do for people. Help them out.  Have fun and make fun.

If you want to live forever and have all your efforts count for something,  Love and Do Good because God is Love, and you count for something in Him.   It is something you learn and then grow slowly into until it becomes instinctive.

You know me,  I’m  a teacher – by nature, by profession, by habit;  I teach but sometimes I just give advice.   So my advice to all of  you, my dear Readers:    Do good.  Do good to all you know so that you don’t some day regret not doing  enough good things for the family and friends you will lose some day.

We did not love her back — enough.     Or, we did not show her enough that we love her.

Jesus enfolded at His lap

We can hope that she is now enfolded in all the love she deserves.

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I John 4:19 –    “We love, because He first loved us.”

 

Crucifix

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BLAKE TO THE RESCUE

July 2, 2019

 Yeah, well,   I guess I don’t need “a few days” to get better, emotionally, as I ended the last posting. I am strong. I won’t die of grief or fade away. I will live to experience more grief in the future.

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INTELLECTUALIZING THE GRIEF

My two favorite poets: Blake and Yeats. It’s time for Blake.   Poet and illustrator.

The House of Death 1795-c. 1805 by William Blake 1757-1827

Adam and Eve  become dead, by William Blake

William Blake, one of the most gifted poets the English-speaking world has, understood the supreme tragedy of death. He was deeply attached to his younger brother, who was sickly.  Blake was there when his little brother, Robert, died of tuberculosis. At the moment the pain and difficult breathing overcame his brother’s body, Blake saw something that transformed his understanding of the world. He saw his brother become infused with great joy, great happiness, and he saw what he called his brother’s spirit rise up, attracted to the Source of that joy, rising up further and further . . . .
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DEATH, AGAIN
So, a good night’s sleep and a retreat into intellectualizing has shielded me from the worst of it. That, and being distracted by the surprising, horrifying news that a young man named “Joe” has died, just a couple days ago.  June 29th.   Maybe murder; but maybe, maybe not.   36 years old.
I understand that family’s grief.
Though I don’t know Joe personally, I’ve had him in my house, so to speak, many times a week, for several years now. He and his father host a show that reflects the results of their research into current events. I’ve never known them to be wrong about their information , although their revelations are sometimes “unwanted” – if you want to live a tranquil life.
They are investigative journalists and their show has been removed from YouTube along with the many other non-mainstream news sources.  Here’s a partial list:

CENSOR all these
“The Purging of Truth”  

Too bad, because every single mainstream entertainment-news media has been wrong, and proven wrong frequently, even our local news readers who blithely read their scripts to us, completely unaware that what they are saying is either not true or is a partial truth that is meant to allow an agenda to go forward.
Joe and father Doug   (so some of you will know whom I’m talking about now)  were an antidote to that. I think their religion is wrong, it’s inadequate, somewhat non-factual, but their observations of our world are pretty accurate.    I’m not necessarily a “fan” of their show, I won’t promote it by name, but I’m interested in the topics they cover, from time to time.
netf  When you take someone into your home like that, they do become a part of your life. It’s the reason why you watch your favorite television show. It’s the reason I and many people watch “series’ on any streaming service, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube. You watch the series that has people you become familiar with and you come to like and care about.

But now Joe is dead and gone from this present world.

Blake’s stunning drawing that I show above illustrates the tragedy and finality of death as it came to Adam and Eve after they rejected God.   Whatever you think of Adam and Eve, we are all in Adam and Eve.

sin kills
We would not have done differently.    Romans 5:12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

 

THE END OF DEATH
But of course God, Who is Love itself and has delighted in mankind (Proverbs 8:31) did not leave us alone, without a remedy. Paul goes on to say that : But not as the offence, so also the gift. For if by the offence of one, many died; much more the grace of God, and the gift, by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
As horrible as death is, the gift of God, is eternal life, a million thousand times better than the life we know now. He came here to overcome Death itself, and we are not permanently dead.
So we can’t get rid of death. We can’t avoid death. We just have to deal with the death of our loved ones, and more significantly, our own death. That’s our primary task; our reason for being here: to find our way to God’s grace.

Bar Cross in middle
No fake news.
No fake religions!

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JULY, A VERY BIG DEAL

July 1, 2019

(Ever hear actual, authentic Catholic teaching?)

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July?    July already?    Already?   Already?    Already?

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Summa

Ten or Twelve years ago Hubbie saw me receive in the mail another volume of Aquinas’s Summa, and he asked me when I’m going to have the time to finish all my books.

Hadn’t thought of that before.   But I answered him that I’ve made a “bargain” with God:  “I promise to read all these volumes if He would just let me live enough years to complete the set.”

Well,  don’t you do that.

I think I’m being given “enough years” to read all these volumes . . . but the unforeseen trick is that the years are going by so fast that . . .   well, I should be done with all these volumes by now,  but I haven’t had the time!

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And now it’s July.    We’ve entered the last half of the year 2019!

So quickly time goes by — a reminder that all time is fleeting, our lives are so short (so say almost every 90 year old you talk to).      Since this is the human situation, God has some advice and wisdom for us – to “set our minds on things above” . . .    because Eternity is where we’ll spend all of our existence, except for this brief time on earth, which does, of course, determine where we spend our Eternity.

Knowing with my Knower

If we do it wrong,  we don’t come back and “try again” — because, in the first place,  even those who believe in reincarnation acknowledge that we “come back to earth”  having forgotten all that we learned “the last time” we were here.    What would we “know” to correct the next time around?

Of course, reincarnation does not happen.   We are all one soul-body person, with a powerful weapon that gives us all we need for a good Eternity.  That “weapon” is our Free Will.   A hopefully well-informed Free Will,  and  then we’ve got to use our Free Will to search for what is the Most Important.

blood drop   So,  July is a Big Deal,  because the Church has designated this as the month of The Precious Blood – with the implication that we will learn how to best exercise our Free Will in the time we have left.    Hopefully, those stuck in the rather squeamish Victorian mindset as well as today’s Snowflakes won’t be too turned off by thinking about blood.

Eventually we’ll all have to, one way or another, especially in our dying days,.

Blood.  “The life of the body is in the Blood.”     When our body separates from our soul, at death,  our blood ceases to flow and deteriorates, back to the elements of the earth.     When Jesus died on the Cross,   we say “he poured out His Blood for us.”

blood logo

The only present Source

 

Efficacious death.  Salvific death.  Sacrificial death.    The only One’s death that could actually make a difference.    He died, so we don’t experience a second death – a very bad Eternity, indeed.     And the undeniable symbol of Christ’s death is the pouring out of His blood — Precious Blood.

blood banner

July 1st is the “kick-off” so to speak;  it’s the Feast Day of the Precious Blood.   This is the day set aside for us to take some time to meditate on the willing sacrifice of Jesus and what it means to the human race, and to us, individually.

Time.  We still have time.

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Efficacy

italian

This Feast was instituted  on the occasion of the evidence of the true efficacy of prayers, about 170 years ago.    That prayers of the people are efficacious is not a new teaching,  but the occasion was new,  the crisis was new:

During the First Italian War for Independence in 1849, Pope Pius IX went into exile to Gaeta. He went there with Don Giovanni Merlini, third superior general of the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood.

While the war was still raging, Merlini suggested to Pope Pius IX that he create a universal feast to the Precious Blood to beg God’s heavenly aid to end the war and bring peace to Rome. Pius IX subsequently made a statement on June 30, 1849 that he intended to create a feast in honor of the Precious Blood. The war soon ended and he returned to Rome shortly thereafter. *

 

And there will always be new crises. 

America’s is coming soon, very soon I think.

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There are prayers available for us:

blood prayers

“For us”   who are Catholic;  or for us who are in the New Version of the Church; or  for anyone who is concerned with their Eternity;  for all humans.

 

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.*  Source (remove spaces, as usual)   —

https://   aleteia.   org/2019/07/01/heres-why-july-is-dedicated-to-the-precious-blood-of-jesus-christ/

 

 

 

 

 

A DEATH

March 11, 2019

Could be anybody’s.  Could be yours, someday.   Will be mine someday soon.

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A very good man died early Sunday morning.   He was a friend.  He and his wife attended my classes for many years,  but our relationship grew beyond class.    I did speak to him two days before his death, in the hospital, where he was very ill;  but I thought I had time for another talk.

Thought I could see him again, even if only one more time.

I’ve had a lot of deaths in my life in the past nine years:  Suzy,  husband,  father,  mother, sister,  our dear Meghan – “second daughter” –  every death is new and different.    You don’t get used to it.

And you always, always have regrets.   Something you could have done; you could have said;   you should have done; you  should have done more;  you should have said;  you should have said more fervently.     You should have shown your love more.

I think everyone in church knew, before the Mass started.   It seemed “quiet” in there;  heavier.   More solemn.   But the Mass began, as it would have.   A brief announcement before the sermon started;  then the sermon continued on, as it would have.    Communion occurred, as it would have.

We all went home, as we would have,   but we’re waiting for information; and when we know the details of the funeral,  we will all come together as a family of those who knew this good man —  as we should.

Perhaps we will try to become better friends to the people we know – as we should.

Death . . .  will be everybody’s.

MYSTERY AND LIGHT – NO GOOD-BYES

February 16, 2019

I’m not ready to leave the subject of Mystery-and-Light;  too many more things to say!  And because of that,  here are some seed thoughts for you,  so to speak.

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In the last post I said:  Light will in one future instant say a final and eternal good-bye to all who choose Darkness.

How many are the human souls who will say a permanent good-bye to us at the end of life!   What a sadness!.  What a horror!!   A horror because the permanent good-byes are given to those who choose not  the Light,  and  who then  will exist in a horror of Darkness that we cannot now fully imagine.

But Light is eternal,  and Light is eternal Life.   Light is from the Creator,  it is the Creator:      “He was the Light of the world,  and His light was the Life of men.”

Here is some photo-miscroscopy for you:

1 light conception

We are told there is a  “flash” of light at the moment of conception; at the moment that the sperm enters the egg,  whoosh!  However brief and instantaneous it is,  it does occur.

 

1 cell suicide.jpg

We are told that when  our immune system causes a cancer cell to self-destruct —  whoosh!    Again,  a flash, a release of energy.

 

1 destroy tumors

Light has been used (in a laboratory)  to destroy tumors.

And we can see a strand of DNA in a powerful microscope.

1 dna

Bathed in light (energy).

 

Light is Life.     

I don’t know how many of you have read the classic book which describes the qualities of our existence in the next  Life;   Heaven, that is,  for those who have chosen the Light of Christ.

(Now,  this is Light as a Catholic is instructed,  not a New Age concept of “Peace and Light.”   Not the secular-atheistic concept of “Enlightenment.”   It’s not some esoteric and nebulous Nirvana.     As Christians are instructed, the Light is from God,  the Light is God,  the Light is a Person entering this world,  giving and bringing Light.)

That Light raised himself from the dead and is able to raise each of us, in that same manner.  We will have new resurrected bodies with new qualities,  reserved until then.

(in no special order):

.  1,   Impassibility  –  our new bodies won’t change,  won’t be subject to pain or aging and decay

. 2,   Immortality –  our new bodies will never die

. 3,   Agility –  our new bodies won’t be subject to the limitations of time and space

. 4,   Understanding –  our new bodies will have the full use of our intellectual capacity which will enable us to fully  know and to  understand  everything  around us – as far as “humanly” possible.   We will still be human;  merely human.  We will know ourselves as ourselves – and we will know others.

.4,    Glory –  our new bodies will have Beauty and Glory,  which is the reflection of the Glory of God,  which manifests as pure and radiant Light.

We won’t have “light bodies.”   We’ll have human bodies filled with the Light of Pure Love, which is God.

Eternal Light.   No good-byes to the people around you,  no good-byes to the glorious angelic beings;  no good-byes to the One who loves you with a powerful and eternal Love.

No ending.

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The “classic book”  which discusses these matters, based upon solid Church teaching is called:  The Happiness of Heaven,  by Fr. J.  Boudreau.  Easily available on Amazon.

Also helpful is a passage in the gospel of John, first chapter.  (John 1:1-14)

What will you think,  what will you feel, at the moment you realize you are dying?  This is it!  I’m leaving this world and going . . . .      so, another helpful book is called Preparation for Death,  by  St. Alphonsus Liguori   (Don’t get the one by the 20th century author.   It has little depth of understanding.)

The Sinner’s Guide is helpful.   It’s by Louis of Granada and will guide you away from the darkness.

PURPLE cloud

Lent is approaching!  

We cannot stop our calendar! 

Time to choose a good book to read.    One that is profitable for your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41

December 5, 2018

My poor words can add nothing at all to the power of the magnificent Christian and Patriotic ceremony we saw today on television,  the funeral of George H W Bush.

The audience witnessed sincere,  touching personal  stories, firmly Christian prayer, beautiful and uplifting music.

Most of all I want my grandson to hear  all the words that were said today.   They were words of courage, faith, duty, love and gentleness, hard work, friendship, generosity, family values, respect for our military services, and love for country.   These are the kinds of things I wish were still taught to American children.

These are the kinds of things that should continue to mold our character.     (And still can if we believe in them.)

We, the audience,  also experienced the finest performances of oratory and music and architecture.

(I had forgotten about the spectacular, soul-stirring voice of Ronan Tynan.  He is God’s gift to our ears, nourishing our spirits.   He will be a part of my music listening  now.) 

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I almost missed all this.  I almost thought the funeral wouldn’t have anything new to offer.     Why?

  1.   The entertainment-news media on the Far Left disliked this man, mocked him, ridiculed him, and generally denied or  ignored  his achievements.
  2.  Those on the Far Right were deeply suspicious of President Bush’s endorsement of and involvement with “The New World Order,”  although it seems unlikely that he didn’t understand the truly anti-Western World, anti-Freedom,  anti- Christian nature of a one World governance.

The entertainment-news media has a definite depressing, mind-numbing. and paralyzing effect on our thinking.  I’ve been staying away from it for a while, and so I was able to put aside its powerful influences and make the decision to turn on the TV “just to see what the funeral is going to be like.”

So glad I did.

And I don’t want to hear what “they” have to say about the funeral.   I want my own thoughts.

RIP

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NOT ALONE ON OUR JOURNEY

October 11, 2018

“After a Funeral;  after a Death.”

Hope and Consolation comes in many forms,  but the quiet beauty of a thoughtful poem gives us the time to truly take it into ourselves.

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Jesus,  “Rabboni,”   Teacher,   Master,    told us many things.  He instructed us,  admonished us,  warned us,  and prepared us to understand why He came to die for us.

But He couldn’t tell us everything.   We are not capable of understanding everything.  When He told His closest disciples that He was soon returning to the Father,  He said this:     I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world comes, and in me he hath not any thing.   But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.  .  . (John 14:30, 31)

“I will not now speak many things with you:     For  (Because)  the prince of this world comes . . .

The spiritual ruler of this world is (for now)  the Enemy,  commonly called Satan.  Maybe you think of him as the devil.    This powerful creature will bring about the death of Jesus (through our actions),  but yet has no power over Jesus   ( and in me he hath not any thing.).  They are diametrically opposed to each other, and that “commandment”  that Jesus refers to in this passage is God’s commandment that Jesus come into this world to die for the world, breaking the power that this evil prince of no love has over us.

So it is:  We all must choose either God our Savior in Jesus Christ;  or Satan and all that this world offers.

No matter which you choose,  you and your loved ones will experience that great and terrible consequence of human rebellion against God:  Death.

(And all the things which accompany our  Death:   sickness,  pain,  loneliness,  bad feelings towards ourselves and others,   lovelessness,  doubt,  uncertainty,  sadness, anger . . .  all these things contribute to our Death.)

And so we here in the Spruce Tunnel experienced the Death of a dearly loved one,  our own Meghan.    And here is the Bright Spot:   If we can hear through the spiritual clutter of our lives, through all that strong, insistent chatter from the Enemy,  we can hear words of  Life and Comfort — and Hope that we may be united once again, everyone who lives within the Love of Jesus.  Some day.

Jesus alone has power over life and death.  He said He has the power to lay down His life and to take it up again,  and as surely as He resurrected from His own death,  so  will He do the same for those who live in His friendship.

No easy thing with all that spiritual clutter!   But it can be done.   And we can have real Hope and real the Comfort that we are not alone on our journey.     Some people can testify to this beautifully.     Beautifully in poetic form so that we can enjoy and savor each thought:

 

What God Hath Promised
 
God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
 
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.
 
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide
Swift, easy travel needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
 
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
 
Annie Johnson Flint
Learn it.  Its words are true.
For this poem of Comfort:   thank you to my Recorder-playing  friend who has brought beauty into my life through our shared music,  setting a beautiful  table afterwards,  and always beautiful thoughts.
Deo gratias.
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AFTER A FUNERAL

October 7, 2018

 

St. Therese of Lesieux,  Little Flower,  who promised a shower of roses on us, 

Meg Yellow Rose 380

.     —  shower on Meghan now your intercession for her soul,   and your   “Little Way of Love”  on all of us she left behind.

We can do nothing more . . .   we  too  are “little” . . .  all that is left is love.

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What I feel strongly today, this first day after Meghan’s funeral service,  is not what I truly believe;   nevertheless,   it is what I feel:

M eg Flowers 380

It is this:

I give the fight up
Let there be an end
A privacy, an obscure nook for me
I want to be forgotten, even by God.

(from Parcelsus by Robert Browning 1835)

Usually it’s the poet Blake that I quote here for you.   And often Yeats, since God saw fit to place me in this place and time, this most wicked, inhumane, un-religious, God-forsaken century. *   Our Heavenly Father’s love and care for us is still there, infinite and eternal, but we have so thickly veiled it  that it takes  effort on our part to see through that cold, dark veil.

Our Dear Meghan  touched so many lives, and circles of lives, and so profoundly,  that as one of her friends put it, we all have her  flame like  a little “pilot light”  burning in us, each in our own way,  because she knew each of us, each in our own way,  and she gave herself to us wholeheartedly with cheerfulness, proficiency, and unconditional friendship.

She herself was the bright spot in any room.

In observing all the people that came to honor Meghan,  and the young men and women of Son’s circle of friends — Son’s and Meghan’s circle because to know one was to know the other ––   in observing all these people,  I could see that Meghan’s light was in them too, and they live and talk in reference to her . . .  and they are better people for it.

Works in progress, of course, even as I am,  but we want to be like she was.

Here is the young man,  Meghan’s,  at the end of it all:

Meg Son there

“….A privacy, an obscure nook for me…”

At the end of words.   At the end of thoughts.

Viking blood.  Viking courage.   Viking strength.   Viking-size feelings.

He’ll be all right.    He has a surprisingly close group of friends,  the young men standing by him;  I call them a Band of Brothers.   Who else commandeers an extra table at the funeral parlor and writes a sign with the words   “Care Package”  with a calendar for his friends to sign up on certain dates marking when and how they will do something to support him, my Son?

He’ll be all right, but not just yet now . . .

I give the fight up
Let there be an end
A privacy, an obscure nook for me
I want to be forgotten, even by God.

It’s about feelings now,  not belief,  not faith,  not Truth.  Just feelings.

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Advice from a Mom (me):

Meg Book of Friends

When you go to a funeral or to a Memorial, go to it!    Help the family set up and plan  for it, if possible.    Those are difficult days between the death and the funeral.    Sign the book!     Mix and mingle with others who come. Make new friends and acquaintances – you belong there too, having known the loved one, now absent.

Sadly,  I give that advice to all of you because we will all experience someone’s death, eventually, and some day our own.

Don’t ask:  “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”    John Donne had the answer.     It’s a good time to look it up and review it.

 bells

(Not the book, not the movie, not the song . . .  the poem, in plain, simple English.)

 

 

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.*   Don’t misunderstand:   I have NO complaints about God’s wisdom in placing me in this “here and now.”    He was right,  this is the best time and place for me to be able to be directed back to Him.

(And for you.)

 

CURSE OF PELE

October 4, 2018

We’re not feeling very humorous right now, Son and I.    We both want to tell Meghan what a horrible awful sad and grievous week we’re having.   She’d know what to say.  She’d know what to do.    But Meghan’s not here right now.    She’s not with us.  She’s not in this world.

But, this is some humor – for you.      Maybe it’s humor.

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We absolutely do not believe in superstitions, Son and I.    I think.

peles hole

But things happen in Hawaii.

Volcanoes and things.  And goddesses, like Pele, who watch over the islands.

closer

And jealously guards everything that belongs to the islands.

You know the legend.   If you remove rocks, especially lava rocks, from the islands,  Pele curses you with bad luck and things until the rocks come back and she is restored.   So many people have found this to be true that the post office in Hawaii has built several warehouses now to contain all the rocks sent back by chastened tourists.

Volcanic rocks like these:

lava rocks

And like this one, which Meghan picked up  a few years ago, brought it home with her.

lava holes

Her home is not in Hawaii . . .  .

Some day we’re going to write down  all the things that have gone “wrong” in Meghan’s life.  All the bad luck, the bad timing,  the unusual one-of-a-kind bad results.   No matter how hard she planned and worked at something  — and she was intelligent and talented and determined —     at the very last minute something pulled the rug out from under her — and always through no fault of her own.

So many projects that just couldn’t be brought to a conclusion.

It’s astonishing really.  Kind of amusing sometimes.  But always,  you just have to shake your head and say, “That’s Meghan.”

So here was her plan:

Rock in paper 380

 

Before she went into the hospital this last time,  she had wrapped her souvenir Hawaiian lava rocks in newspaper and placed them into a Priority mailing box.

And she placed this one in the box too.

Rock White

Then she arranged the newspapers and rocks, and also put in an address to be used,  one like this:

Rock Return

But as efficient and prepared as she was,   she never quite made it to the post office.   Bad luck intervened, bad timing.     She never came out of the hospital …  at least not alive.

Son and I took the box to the post office.

The box is on its way to Hawaii right now,  I think.  Oh, we have the Tracking Number.   I haven’t dared to check it out yet  —  you know, to see just where the box actually is.   Given bad luck and unforeseen outcomes,  it could be anywhere.

All I know is Pele is not yet happy:

Pele

 

Pele is not yet done with messing up Meghan’s life.

And here’s how I know.    Son and I had to have that very difficult meeting with the funeral home director.   Painful.  We nearly had ourselves under control as we answered all the questions,  made all the decisions.

One decision was which day to have Meghan’s Memorial Service.   Saturday?  Sunday?   No,  Saturday.   Noon.

Which we afterwards realized just turned out to be  our local Big Ten college Homecoming day:   everyone around here has  tailgating plans,  football watching plans,  and kickoff is at . . .  noon.

Of course.

Pele strikes again.

Or is that Meghan?

BAT, BIRD, AND BUTTERFLIES

August 4, 2018

 

Spooky stuff  tonight. 

___________________________

Is there really such a thing as signs and “messages”  that portend the future?  Should I file this under Humor?   Or perhaps  “Horatio”?  *

Several weeks before Hubbie died  a few years ago I was awake in the middle of the night,  just thinking about things in the dark.     Suddenly a “formation” of three very  dark birds  appeared and flew very rapidly right past me.    Now,  that seemed impossible,  but it also seemed like an actual vision and a vision that portended something.

As I said,  several weeks later Hubbie died,  unexpectedly sooner than everyone thought.

 

Just a few weeks ago I arrived home from Florida.   A little tense and worried after taking care of my very sick sister during June and then a long, long drive home —  and not feeling too well.

And then, to make matters worse  —

bat

—  as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come,  out of the corner of my eye it seemed  that something moved.     And then it swooped by again,  making a perfect circle over my bed.  It was a bat!    Probably.    It didn’t flutter up and down like a bat and the sound of its wings was very loud,  but it was live and flying.  It was a bat in the house.

I ducked under the covers for a little while,  long enough to think about a bat we had once before,  thirty years ago!,    and thinking “It’s a BAT,  not a BIRD.”   No evil omen here.  No portent of death.

Soon I made a dash out of the  bedroom,  dragging a quilt with me, and stationed myself in the bathroom with the door closed and the light on all night.     By morning light there was no more sign of the bat,  but I was on high alert.

During the  next several days I had my hospital adventure and then spent time  at Son’s house and by the time I returned home I had almost forgotten  the bat.

My sister died two weeks after I first saw the  bat.

 

Last night, I was standing in my kitchen, next to my table,  looking over things before I went to bed.     As I stood there, seemingly out of nowhere  another “bat”  (I think)  flew towards me and then made a perfect circle over the table and disappeared into the next room (I think).

bird

I yelled, ‘No !  Not again!”    and ran around a little,  got a blanket to hide under, and turned off the lights and opened the sliding glass doors to the deck.    I sat (under the blanket)   and watched in the dim light to see if the bat would fly outside.   After ten minutes — and a bigger fear of raccoons or other critters walking in — I closed the door and went to bed behind closed doors.,

But —   I remembered that this bird didn’t fly quite like a bat either.  Or else it was a very big one.  And its wings fluttered loudly.    It seemed more like a solid gray color,  not black,.     It just came so close to me that I couldn’t think clearly.   It could have been a bird that had somehow come into the house . . . .   And maybe it flew out when I had the door open.

But I got the impression that the circular flight right in front of me was deliberate — like I was supposed to see that.

No sign of the bird today, and t doesn’t even feel like it could be in here anymore.  But . . .

Now what?

 

 

butterflies

Well, now a good word:       Tragedy has struck our family, bad health news for many of us,  family and close friends.      These things happen.  They’re difficult,  but they happen to all of us fellow-humans.    For those of you who have helped us with your prayers,  I give you a heartfelt thanks.

One abiding request for prayer has been my own health;  healing . .  .  sometimes when things get dark and uncertain,  there is a feeling of something “fluttering”  around me,  just out of my range of knowledge,  but it’s there, nevertheless.     It feels soft and benevolent and spiritual.   It could be your  prayers,  around me,  fluttering like the soft wings of sweet little butterflies.

Of course that’s fanciful.    But it’s good.  It’s a good way to  say that I believe in your prayers and I can almost feel the effects of your prayers.      God will hear.   He will hear because e are all connected.

An ongoing thank you  and Deo gratias.

 

______________________________________________________

Where the natural world intersects with supernatural thoughts:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

.

 

PATCHING UP CRACKS

July 31, 2018

 

Patching up our cracked-up world with goldfish and sailing.

 

ground cracks

The ground does seem to be cracking up underneath me.  Nothing I can’t handle.  It’s just . . .  difficult and uncertain for now.

It’s still Tuesday here tonight.  July 31st.   Hubbie’s birthday.     I know he’s been gone for a few little years,  but it’s anniversaries and milestones,  his milestones and ours,  that brings everything back, fresh again.    There are things we must remember and things we must do to make our memories alive and healthy.

One thing that we  feel we must do is our  annual  Goldfish Pond Dump in honor of Hubbie.

Each year  (after Hubbie’s death) Son and I add goldfish into our backyard pond, on his birthday.   How many?    We add as many goldfish as his age would be!

Fish with Son

It was a great tradition begun the very first summer after his death.

Fish into pond

We get them used to the temperature and the water of the pond for a while.

And then they’re ready to meet their new home:

Fish in Pond

Most of them make it just fine throughout our long, icy northern winter. And many of them escape our hungry kingfishers.    But we need to add more fish again this year;  we see only one old goldfish swimming around.

We’ll do it.

Hubbie’s  death was a major crack-up in our lives *,  but the cracks are coming together,  getting smaller; we’re stepping around them.    New traditions patch them up a little bit.

And good things will come out of this difficult summer, if only a deeper knowledge of how rare and  precious each life is and how important we are to each other.

_______________

Well.  Well!!     The phone rang just before I clicked “Publish.”        Daughter called from her California home —

donner lake

—-   wishing her Dad a “Happy  Birthday.”     But more!    Her husband was delayed from coming home by a traffic accident on I-80 tonight, so she decided to go out on her paddleboard —

paddleboarding

—  and then paddle on over to her sailboat   —

sailng

—   And then she paddled home again.      (Sigh-h-h-h,  such is the life when you live on a lake)

Daughter and Hubbie loved to sail on our little nearby lake.    Daughter left home and  took her  skill further, learning  some ocean sailing too,  but tonight she did it for her Dad.

Above all, after our world “cracked apart” when Hubbie died,   we understood that Hubbie worked hard to give us the opportunities we have now, and he would have wanted us to use those opportunities, to keep on living, to enjoy our lives.       My sister also  knows, for very sure now,  that we have things left to do in our own lives,  things to learn, things to enjoy.

It’s what my sister would want.

It’s what I will want after I leave this world too.

 

_________________________________

 

.*  (Spruce Tunnel Archives,  November  2010)

PRAYER AND PERU — CRACKING UP

July 31, 2018

(Prayer over my sister Nancy) –

________________________________________________________

 

The world around me is “cracking up.”     Jesus told us “Heaven  and Earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away. . .”       Normally, that would be comforting.

Peru crack 1

. . .  Comforting words because it means you can absolutely rely upon  the words of Jesus  (and that they have been pretty closely and faithfully passed down to us)  — but upon taking a second look,  Jesus has referred to the world “passing away.”   Not exactly rock solid ground we’re standing on.

Whether it’s the world of men we live in or the planet earth we live on,  we can’t trust that it will always remain the same.    Storms happen.   Tsunamis happen.    Tornadoes happen.   Earthquakes happen.

Here is a before/after photo of what happened this month in Peru:

peru crack 4 beforeafter

That was a pleasant, medium-size village in Peru on the left;  what’s left of it after the earth cracked apart on the right.

Peru crack 2

A close-up of one of the fissures.    In case you haven’t been paying attention,  there have been cracks and fissures in the earth all over our planet in recent years, happening with increasing frequency.    Sometimes they are preceded by immense  groans and howls and roaring noises from deep in the earth;  sometimes the strange sounds are reflected up into the atmosphere.

peru crack 3

The surface, the ground we stand on seems to be undergoing “some changes.”

My yard seems to be okay right now.

But not my life,  not  my world,  not the people in the world around me.   Because of what happened to my body in Florida,  I now have to see a doctor — that is an earthquake of a change for me,  one that keeps me up at night.  But enough of that.

Our dear young Friend (in Son’s life),  our dear young Friend M.,  must undergo surgery for a rather serious cancer.   This week.    We just found out.     Her health is no longer “firm ground” to be counted on, though she is so very young.

“Fissures”  and incisions:

Operating theater

 

Son is on his way to Florida to close out family business after my sister’s death.  We are her only surviving family.     Sorrow that he just missed seeing her alive.   Uncertainty, as he closes out her house,  makes thousands of little decisions,  meets new people,   perhaps attends a memorial service among people he doesn’t know — oh, yes, and all this in the extreme heat and unusual traffic patterns in that crowded little city, hopefully being able to afford a somewhat unplanned-for trip.

And worst of all —

plane off he goes

—  worst of all, he’s not driving.

I didn’t know it would happen,  but when you become a mother of a son,  every thought and action of that son,  every event,  every experience, good and bad,   squirms around in the mother’s heart.       What happens to him happens to me. *

Because I have a son,   I now understand the relationship between Our Lady,  the Virgin Mary,  and her son,  Jesus.     Even more  “better,”  I understand the Gospel  —   the Annunciation, Birth,  Passion, and Death,  Resurrection,  Ascension, etc.  of Jesus,  (almost) through the eyes and heart of His mother.

Both Rosary mine 70men and women who experience the prayers and meditations in the Rosary have been moved deeply,   broken,  during prayer;  broken,  fractured in their spirits,  cracked apart by the actions of the Holy Spirit,  in the process of being shown new insights,  and growing.     The rosary  can move you to a meltdown,   in today’s  vocabulary.

So —  sister,  son,  young friend,  and me:   my whole world cracks apart around me.   I’m standing on . . .  what?   What to trust?  What to count on?

In the last post I promised you I’d copy down the Last Words that my sister Nancy heard on this planet earth.   I have the permission of the speaker of those words now – with the condition that I do not give him credit for the words,  but that he was only speaking words from heaven that came through him..

Therefore,  these are God’s loving, comforting, encouraging  words to a dying person:

The . . . hospice nurse had the curtain closed, the lights dimmed and a soft, sweet, relaxing aroma in the air.  From Nancy’s ragged breathing and posture, we knew she was close to her journey.  I calmly reassured her that she has no unfinished business here.  (I)  am . . . good, (My Son)   is good, M.    is getting her treatments, Dusty has a home, it is only up to her.  It is okay to stop fighting, to go and join Jesus.  I know she could hear me, she just couldn’t respond.  So I read Psalm 122 to her.  Talked to her and stroked her forehead a bit, then read Psalm 23.   I prayed private prayers of encouragement to her, assuring her that everything she had learned as a faithful servant is true.  Jesus is waiting for you.  He won’t grab you and pull you, He will wait for you to reach out to Him.  There is no need to fight or be in fear of leaving the pain to go to the joy and peace Jesus promises us.  He is God and God keeps all his promises.  The only fear we have as Christians is that of leaving what we know and have lived, for something we cannot touch or even understand.  This, Nancy, is the ultimate display of your faith.  One day you will see all of us again.  And you will see all your friends and relatives who passed before you.

 

Oh, my.    Deep fissures and cracking apart again as I reread that.    Amidst all the uncertainties and during all the “bad” events in our lives,   the Good God does break in and show us that He is there, waiting for us to turn to Him.

Like the Prodigal Son,  there comes a time when we must  “come to our senses.”

_______________________________________________

Please.  You have a soul that is everlasting.   You   ( your soul, your whole you)  are on a journey from this life to the next.    Read the words again . . .  that is the pathway that is Solid Ground.   It won’t crack apart and disappoint.

bar dissolve er

.*   Son is quite capable.  He is strong and intelligent and has resourcefulness and equanimity that will see him through.    I’ve no doubt.     But —  he’s still . . .  vulnerable.

 

WELL . . .

July 29, 2018

The day has come.

Chart in Blue

 

My sister Nancy passed away this afternoon, July 29, 2018, at about 2:10 p.m.

Well,  just a few hours ago.      Still feel a little numb;  nothing much to say.

. . .

Well,  I have the last words that were spoken to her.    I’ll get that copied down later.    You need to know what she heard during her last hour.   We all wonder what will be happening to us during that last hour, that last half hour, that last minute or so before we die.

That separating point between this world and the next world.

white feather rising.jpg

The soul is mostly up and leaving,  the memory of earth is mostly fading.

………………….

Well,  something like that.

 

THE BOOK OF LIFE AND OTHER BOOKS

July 27, 2018

All time seems to be suspended.  Or all activity suspended while my sister in Florida struggles to die.

Death nis a Feather Rising

It doesn’t always come quickly.    Sometimes it’s a days-long process.   That little white feather rises upwards ever so slowly.

It flutters back down, rests awhile,  then flutters up again.   One time it will just keep rising.

________________________________________________________

Though my sister has expressed her wish to have known different things,  known more,  done more,  made different choices,  still her life could fill a book, just as all our lives could be written into a book.

Horses would figure prominently in my sister’s life.

Nancy and Dusty 380

Nancy and Dusty

This photo was taken just a few years ago.  Nancy had always had horses.    I guess she got it from our Mom:

Mom on Horses 325

Nancy and our Mom on horseback,  both looking like teenagers.

There is much more to Nancy’s life, written in her Book.   It’s like the Book that is being kept on all of us —

book of life

A  “book” is a good metaphor for the record we are making while we live here on earth.  A record book that will be used in our Final Accounting.  And we hope we are written in the Book of Life.

Our lives not only could be written in a book,  our lives are being written in a “Book.”

We have been watched all our lives —

been watched

If our eyes were opened,  if the veil could be lifted from our eyes,  we would be able to see the spiritual world which permeates our physical world,  all around us and through and through.

Nothing is hidden from that spiritual world.

Of course our misdeeds and unkindnesses are not hidden,  but so too are all the other aspects of our lives an open  “book”  to our Creator and to all the intelligences of that spiritual realm,  including what we call the angels.   Nothing  hidden, good and bad.

It is a good idea to think about “writing”  a “book” about your life.    You could write it and rewrite it,  many times, until it feels right and until you know yourself and until you feel ready for your own Judgment.     Be prepared.

God is love —  but He is just.     You will stand before Love and Justice.

“Search me, O God . . . ”     Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths.    And  see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way.    (Psalms  138:  23, 24  — or Psalms 139 in the Jewish numbering)

My sister Nancy’s book is just about all written.     She is nearly out of time to make amendments.

But that’s what our “Book” is for.    You are not the person you were years ago,  weeks ago, days ago —   you are only the person you are at this moment.     You have time to write your  Book the way you really want it to be when you return to your Creator in the  next life.

And I thank my sister for teaching me this lesson.

Angel sad 75

.

“FLORIDA” UPDATE

July 20, 2018

Events in Florida very much on my mind:

 

VISION

That picture is not far from what my younger sister described to me about a vision that she had quite a while ago.

As you may know, or remember from being here in The Spruce Tunnel in June,   I drove down to Florida to be with my younger sister after her sudden and surprising  terminal diagnosis.   She was not given much time.

I spent time with her,  did what I could for her,  but eventually I had to return home, leaving her safely in the care of Hospice.     I then ended up in the hospital with pulmonary embolisms, partly from “too much driving”  and told not to drive like that anytime soon.  I cannot be with my sister during her last days.

My sister believes in Jesus,  she is what a Protestant would call Born Again, what a Catholic would call Born From Above.   Her vision was of a private audience with Jesus, Who told her that “everything will be all right,”  among other things.

He is calling her home now – soon.

across the meadow

She is less and less responsive.  Her food has been untouched for days.    Today her visitor from her church texted me to say she did not open her eyes.

I have some serious health issues too, and I may be following my sister sooner than I thought, although not too soon.   If  I get through them, I will tell you how I did it.   But  all of you, dear readers,  all of us, will also follow my sister,  in God’s good time.

I’ve said many times before,   this Earth was never meant to be our permanent home.   If we want,  we all can have the saints and angels accompany us, teach us,  guide us,  comfort us.  Here are the words of one:

Life is Passing

She died at 24 years old — but, oh,  how much she learned while she was here. *

We were all created for God, and by His love he wants to lead us into “the very life of God.”

My sister can’t have that until she leaves this Earth.

I should feel  okay about that.

 

____________________________________________

.*    St. Therese of Lesieux.

GOING BLUE: COSMIC CONSIDERATIONS – 2

July 8, 2018

 

A story of motion,  of moving,  of constant movement . . . . a journey.

____________________________________________________

I guess I really did need that ambulance ride last week.  I guess my body really was bad off for a while.    It’s still reverberating with the physical stress, and I’m not quite in command of the way my body is acting.    Yet.

So —   “cosmic considerations”  are very much in  order.    Part of achieving good health is  proper, targeted,  strong,  even intense meditation.    (Sounds like a battle zone.)

BLUE HOLE

So I’m doing that.    I wake up to this scene in the mornings.    Blue summer sky behind deep green trees, lit up by the silvery light of the sun.     (I can’t tell right now if the colors in the photo are as vivid as I see them  because it’s nighttime and the Blue Light Filter is “On” on my screen. )

I don’t have to get up right away.  It’s a good time to think and pray and . . .  meditate, inspired by the blue  green, and silver lights.    Natural colors.

And perhaps inspired by all the space and cosmos programs I watched while at Son’s house recently,     I  imagine   Movement.   That little hole in the middle of the photo is a glimpse of the sky above,  the  heavens.

I imagine myself moving up towards that patch of blue,  higher and higher into the heavens.     If you go high enough, into the blue,  you will reach the uppermost part of our atmosphere, and it will eventually turn darker and then black,  about the level of the ISS.

Those blue heavens will have become a deep velvety black and you’ll begin to see the stars.    Still moving upwards and outwards,  the stars will take on distinctive colors and sizes.

If you   keep  moving   out,  you may be lucky enough to graze past some of our beautiful planets, all so real and “alive” with patterns and colors . . . .

Stars,  then  nebulae,  beautifully lit clouds of gases,  colors and light,    galaxies.

Still moving on outwards, your spirit passes unnamed, undiscovered objects and shapes and “colors.”

And then — far enough away from our home planet —  it seems as though your spirit loses hold of its connection to Earth,  the connection is stretched and thins out, and still you move . . .  approaching the boundary into the spiritual realm.

You can leave the physical behind,  and perceive glorious and beautiful powerful intelligences there,   surrounding the Source of Love and Beauty and Goodness.   You can begin to see the Holiness of Heaven.

Intuition tells you this is a place of pure Holiness.

Angels and archangels are there.   Cherubim.  Seraphim.    The Mother of God is there.  A multitude of (human)  saints,  named and unnamed.   Life and the Source of Life that cares deeply for all other  life in the universe,  including you.

You can go no further.   You perceive  the Creator is there,   the Maker and Sustainer of all things;   you can feel  your neediness and you can make your petitions there,  you can ask for help,  and health,  and above all,  you can ask for Mercy.

At that point,  you know deeply that Mercy is the only thing you need.   Ask for the little things like help and health —  but in the end it is Mercy that you know  your soul needs.

Petitions made,  you can begin a retreat, back to Earth where you belong for a little while more.    Back down through the beautiful cosmos,  down through Earth’s heavens,  down to  Earth.

And you will understand with St. Augustine who wrote so long ago that “Every beautiful thing is meant to draw you to Heaven”   from which Mankind’s Redeemer came so that heaven can be our true and everlasting Home.

Every beautiful thing.

Marble Caves of Patagonia

Blue marble caves of Patagonia

___________________________________________

I cannot travel anymore.   For the time being it would mean the formation of more blood clots.

But we  don’t need to travel.   We don’t really even need the Internet.

We just need to look around us.    We can look up  into the morning sky as we wake up,  or  look around as we water our lawns,  or see things as we take a walk.   There is Beauty all around us —

— and we can go traveling upward.

Anytime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT SO BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS

June 20, 2018

pink 400

 

A couple posts ago I showed you this little pink cloud in the  evening above my hotel down here in Florida . . . .

It caught my attention.    A sunset is attractive.  It’s  pretty.    It could turn us to thinking of higher things.    But it could also get us thinking about  “the sunset of a person’s life.”  The closing of a day/the closing of a life.

sunset

You could write poems about  a person’s life “drawing to a close.”   There are sweet songs,   some  bluegrass songs that I know,  about a man knowing his life is ending . . .   and looking back on his life.

Another song about an older man’s acknowledgment that he will be leaving this world soon,  you know?   And how he wishes his son would come to know Jesus so that they will be together when both die . . .  It’s called   “Father’s Table Grace, ” something like that.  His son was at the table and heard his father’s prayer –  and he changed his life around.  A happy ending.

But I am here in Florida, 1,500 miles from home because my very own young sister has apparently reached the end of her life.  It’s been a kind of difficult day.  I helped her move into a nursing home for hospice care.   We were optimistic and very grateful for the space.

But the reality is . . .  no,  the end of a life has some very ugly, painful,  terrible sensations to endure.

The surroundings can be nice,  but the person’s body is failing.

Not all sunsets are pretty.

____________________________________________

In Catholic evening prayers,  your nightly prayers,  you pray for “those who are dying today” and that God will be with them somehow in their last agony.    It used to be something I  “included”  in  my prayers.    I meant it,  but I didn’t understand it.

Up to now.

praying at sunset

THINKING HIGHER

June 13, 2018

cloud

cloud formation above a Florida parking lot

 

Well, it helps to look up,  look above;  have your head in the clouds . . .   really,  above  the clouds,  beyond the clouds . . . .

I didn’t drive this far south for my own entertainment.  My sister who lives here is ill and will not get better.    She’s way too young for that . . . .  but that’s what’s been on my mind during these last few days of absence from The Spruce Tunnel.

There are a lot of things to consider, decisions to make,  conversations to have, comfort and companionship to give, actual physical help to give . . . .  And all  because a young women has a destination,  “above” those clouds.

Your perspective changes drastically when a lifespan is spoken of in terms of “weeks”  by a doctor who can’t help any more.   It will come to all of us some day, because most of us won’t die suddenly and instantly somehow,  we’ll die with time to think about the certainty of what’s coming.

All of us live here:

earth 390

I don’t mean on that blue-marble earth,  I mean — well, see that very thin blue outline in this NASA photo around the planet?  A very, very thin, solid blue line.

That thin blue line is a photo of our atmosphere.  That’s the whole extent of  all the miles of air we must live in to breathe.    That’s where we live our lives,  between the earth and the bottom part of that thin blue line.

That’s all we’ve got.   A thin blue line around the earth and one short lifespan is all we’re given.   It seems a little precarious.

It just does really  matter that we live with our “heads in the clouds.”  Above the clouds.  Beyond the clouds — all the way to the Creator of clouds, of earth, of us.

pink 400

a random pink cloud floating above my hotel

God thought each of us up,  loved the idea of us, then put us here for a very  short time to watch and see if we are making our way back to Him.    Today I can see for sure what I always suspected:   when you have only months or weeks to live,  your body is too busy working at staying alive and feeling miserable for your mind to be able to think about where you might be going,  and doing something about it.

My sister didn’t wait till the last minute –  that is a comfort to her and to me.    Comfort is going to be sorely needed . . . .

We’re all right now, together.   My sister is just going on ahead of me.

“Up above,”  as we commonly say.

 

 

 

“NUNCA MAS!” – A VERY PERSONAL DAY

October 10, 2017

(A meditation recorded for myself.   Important info.)

__________________________________+__________________________________

 

October 10.      The day the Christian world remembers that remarkable man, St. Francis de Borgia.

The training of St. Francis:

Born to a family of status and responsibility with the wealth and royal connections to be able to carry out those responsibilities,   Francis was brought up in a loving family under stern tutors and attentive spiritual directors to train him in the abilities – and attitudes – that would make him a good leader in his area of Spain.

He was trained in the courtly skills of competitive physical games,  swordsmanship,   dancing;   he loved music,  he really loved ball games (alas,  not football exactly,  but the equivalent of it – and I understand him!  I take that personally! )  He loved literature, and above all he took his faith seriously, which,   by my own personal experience,    enhances and adds new enjoyment to everything you like to do.

The character of St Francis:

You can give a child a lot of good opportunities, a lot of good attention,  a lot of good education,  but you can’t make him become a good person,  unless the young man is wise and willing and disciplines himself according to the worthy things he’s being taught.

What’s more important?  Where do you find a balance between demanding,  severely demanding,   that a child learn well and develop a good character, on the one hand,  and giving him the freedom to develop himself, on the other hand?    That is called the Art of parenting,  the Art of teaching,  the Art of spiritual counsel. . . .

Well, it all worked together in the case of St. Francis de Borgia.

The adult life of St. Francis:

Born in 1510, in Catalonia, by the time Francis was 33 years old  he had taken on adult duties, was a trusted and valuable government official,  married and  fell  deeply in love with his wife, and had eight children,  never turning away from God or his Catholic faith in all that he did.

Being a good man does not keep tragedy away,  and soon, in his young adult life,  tragedy struck.   His beloved wife died,  in spite of constant fasting,  supplications,  prayers and mortifications in his private chapel.   Those particular prayers were not answered.    As we can imagine,  it caused some very deep thinking.

Francis had continuing duties in the court of Charles V, including accompanying the beautiful Empress Isabella at various times.   She was well-loved and respected.  St. Francis admired her  piety but was also impressed by her beauty,  her popularity,  her skill at carrying out royal duties.

Nunca Mas (*) ! –

This is the famous statement of St. Francis.   It came about by this:   the beautiful Isabella died.    A national tragedy and  a personal one for St. Francis.    After a state funeral,  her body had to be transported to the royal burial city –  transported through hot weather, for several days, through uncertain roads, and heavily  guarded .   St Francis was given the honorable and serious responsibility of not only helping to guard, but also to be the one trusted royal courtier to identify the body once it arrived at its destination.

After hot jiggly days in the wagon that had carried her coffin,  St. Francis had to look upon the beautiful Isabella – who was by now a half-decomposed corpse.   Of course Francis knew what he might see  . . .  but actually experiencing the horrifying disfigured face of the Lady he had served . . .  that is what changed his life.

If all the beauty and riches and power of this world come to . . .  this terrifying and revolting object,    then St. Francis decided to put away all the time and effort that he had used to serve the things that this passing world  thinks is important.

Career?  Career advancement?  Education?  Sophistication?   Beauty?   Riches?   Talent?

It all becomes what St. Francis saw in the coffin.

From then on his attention changed;  and writings and his influence became, by our standards,  severe and stern, and focused on our preparation for the Next World.

It is at that point in his life that I became acquainted with St.  Francis de Borgia,  shortly after I finally  entered the Church.     It took me way too long to go in,  but when I did,  my mind, my life, my opportunities, my future,   everything opened up for me!   (Much to my surprise!)

One thing upon becoming Catholic, is that all the saints before you,  named and unnamed,  canonized and uncanonized,  all become available, as inspiration,  guides,  teachers,  helpers,  coaches,  encouragers,

Two came to my mind:  St. Francis de Borgia was one.  Stern,  severe words that point the way to the loving faithfulness of God our Savior.

What’s not to like (for me?)     Music,  literature, a thorough education,  a career in which you’re responsible for the well-being and development of other people.  Football!  (or ball games),   sports and vigorous physical training,   but then the Reality that put it all in perspective:   “Nunca mas”   St Francis tells us….  “No more” – “No more of this” –  No more putting these things first, all these things that lead only to death and corruption.

I’m going to die, personally speaking.  Might be at an outdoor music concert.   Might be out on the “wild western roads” I love to drive.   Might be an  accident or a disease.    I had a dream a long time ago, a dream-vision of being shot in the chest by a small Chinese man in a brown uniform.    Don’t know what that means.  The dream ended abruptly.

St. Francis has told me, reminds me every day,  that some things are not so important,  not as important as making sure you that you will  go to heaven.  No more try to please the world –  Nunca mas! –  but live so that you are pleasing to God, the One who gave you your life in the first place.

Omigosh!   Life in this world becomes so much larger then!

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And another big thank you to Mr. Y for sending me a third-class relic,  which  “warns”  every day . . . .     (I miss your blog.)

 

*  Nunca mas voy a servir a un maestro que conduce a la muerte . . .  (something like that)

 

 

 

 

LIFE’S A MESS — TAKE HEART

August 14, 2017

(A message  – to me  –  about lambs and lamb’s wool . . .   and death to come.)

Sometimes life seems a mess,  a complicated, tangled mess.    We get to feeling like that once in a while.     We get a lot of “cares”   and loose ends swirling around in our minds.

Alligator Wrong Side

Doesn’t take much sometimes.    As we work and learn and think —  still, everything doesn’t fall into place, and those loose ends don’t get tucked neatly away,  not even at the end . . . .     Most of us will come to the end of our lives with not all things fitting together and making sense.

Alligator Inside Out

 

Of course,  our Maker is seeing a different pattern developing.

Alligator Right Side

Cute little alligator sweater for Cooper!

I didn’t create the pattern or write the directions for the alligator.     I needed a chart for  guidance.  I needed Guidance.

It’s very soft.     I’m using something similar to lamb’s wool.

But I myself am no smarter about life than a little lamb, soft and vulnerable, in the middle of a great green pasture.

Lamb in pasture

I didn’t make the pasture,   I didn’t even put myself here,  and I don’t know everything that I’m supposed to do here,  but my Creator is the One who, with a gentle shepherd’s hand,  made me and placed me here . . .  and watches to see what I’ll do.

Everything will be provided —

lamb and water

Delicious green grass,  water,  companionship,  and Guidance.

I don’t have to solve the problems of the whole world.       I don’t even have to anticipate everything that’s going to happen.     (“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”   Isaiah 40:31)      Even when   Especially when I don’t understand certain things,   there will be strength to go on.

The Good Shepherd is looking down on the life He gave us, with great care and attention, so when things get complicated  we need to just “stay where he put us.”

lamb waiting

 

Although for us humans that means being active, learning, doing, walking in His ways,   and it might look like we’re making a mess,  He is seeing our pattern forming,  from the “Other Side,” so to speak,    and when He sees that we have made our choices,  for or against Him,  with or without Him,  He’ll know when our time is up —  we are who we are going to be.

 

lamb no lamb

 

—  and we’ll be taken out of this beautiful pasture Earth.

And then stand before Him . . . .