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Healing Thoughts

How are you doing?

I really wish I could ask each one of you this question. During the uncertainty, upheaval, and confusion of this strange time I would love to know how you REALLY are and if your faith is being challenged or deepened? Has your relationship with God changed? Intensified? Expanded? I’m sure it would be enriching to discuss how you are experiencing this time.

There is a group, “Journey to Healing,” I meet with regularly. I think of them as my “healing friends.” Several had been to a conference on the topic and felt called to reach out to a few others to continue the dialogue about healing in our lives.

I do not remember exactly how I got involved. I did not feel a special need for healing when I said “yes.” But each day into this pandemic I realize the collective need for healing is pervasive right now. Physical healing. Emotional healing. Spiritual healing.

I believe in God’s design for us, individually and for the world– a paradise where love is the ethic, serving is the work, and Christ is our companion. In this pandemic of illness, I see an invitation to healing from what keeps us from embracing this reality– that our God is always with us. And that changes everything.

I want to share a peek into this healing group that I have experienced. Laura Smyczek, editor of this newsletter, has a love of and expertise in art history. In the group she shares some thoughts about this beautiful picture you see below. I hope you will “see” in it a prayer, as she describes it to us.

I think it is fair to say we are all in a collective storm right now. I believe that can be an invitation to radical trust, if we remember our God is in the boat with us! Always wanting to transform our fears into trust, in a relationship of perfect peace.

Hope to hear from you! Sending love and healing thoughts,

Easter Expectations

What were your expectations for Holy Week before all of us were living Plan B, Safer at Home?

I envisioned our families at Holy Thursday Mass washing each other’s feet, our teens sharing the story of Jesus with our little ones in the Living Stations and praying at the Easter Vigil with my husband.

Like you, what I envisioned isn’t going to happen. So many things we looked forward to aren’t going to happen.

This year made me think of my eighth-grade Easter. 

I was expecting two things, singing in the choir and wearing high heel shoes to Mass. (I recognize this story reveals my spiritual maturity in middle school…lol.)

I can’t tell you how I looked forward to the joyful celebration, the church being full, singing the joyous songs we had practiced, the end of the somber sacrifices of Lent, and loving it all from my new height in those shoes!

But that Easter morning was blanketed in a foot of snow. As I headed out the door for Mass, my mother looked at me and said, “Kathie, put your boots on!” I looked at her as only an adolescent girl can look at her mother and with a distinctive eye roll, responded, “Boots? Are you kidding?!?”

I won’t go into more of the story, but you can imagine the mother-daughter dialogue that followed. That Easter I walked to church and sang in the choir in my big old boots.

I share that embarrassing memory because it makes me laugh, and these days, we all need a laugh. But, also, to remember that sometimes the unexpected offers lessons and gifts. 

One, it is never about what happens to us that matters the most. It’s always about how we respond. Sometimes even our most humbling moments can offer our clearest lessons about life. Sometimes our most stressful moments later reveal strength we never knew we had. Sometimes the loneliest moments teach us how much belonging to a community is never to be taken for granted. Sometimes faith in God and each other is what we hold onto most dearly as we live six feet apart.

Two, God always wants more for us than we can imagine for ourselves. I wanted to wear those shoes, but God wanted me to remember decades later that my mom loved and protected me, and she taught me to laugh at myself. God wanted me to be nurtured in a community of faith that has been my rock through transitory challenges, as well as unthinkably difficult times. I wanted so much less for myself than God wanted for me.

This Easter, because we aren’t gathering for brunch or hunting for Easter eggs in the backyard with our family or heading out for Spring Break– perhaps because we won’t be “doing” any of those wonderful but distracting things, we will have the time– take the time to remember our extraordinary identity. Each of us is a child of God, and we share a heritage in Jesus, Son of the Almighty God, whose mission was to save us from ourselves and our limited expectations of who we can become. He lived and died so that when we face death, our expectation can be everlasting life with our God who loves us. This Easter, whether you are alone, disappointed, discouraged, or wearing big old boots, remember you are loved, and our good compassionate God is with you and will give you all the wisdom and strength you need. 

Know that my love and prayers are with you and that I am wishing you the great expectations of what God wants for you this Easter!

Traveling Serenity Prayer

Years ago, when I must have been fretting about something, my mom gave me a small framed copy of The Serenity Prayer. I have always kept it on my bathroom counter as a reminder of how to live. 

But several years ago, when my husband Jim was going through a difficult time, affecting his employment, shaking the core of his self-esteem and his whole sense of security about life, I quietly moved the prayer from my side of the bathroom counter to his. It has been there for several years. Over time, his work issues resolved, and he has been in a stable place for years now, but the prayer remained there.

Well, I don’t know how you are doing, but this pandemic has ramped up every anxiety I harbor. I worry about everyone and everything. Each time I think, ‘Okay, I’ve heard the worst, now I can cope,’ another shoe drops, and there is something uniquely new that concerns me. Will my family be okay? How will my church function? What about the poor? Will someone I love get sick? Who will take care of the sick if the caretakers get sick? I think the facts that this enemy is invisible, and that uncertainty is a daily state, fuels all the more fear.

So yesterday, my sweet husband, picking up on my rising anxiety, moved The Serenity Prayer back to my side of the bathroom counter. I smiled when I saw that and remembered the sound spiritual advice it has always given me. 

That is, we are in God’s hands, in God’s good, good hands. I must surrender myself and my loved ones to God’s care. And while there are some things I can control, and there is much I cannot, I can only use my gifts-including time-to serve others. That is how I will continue to find meaning. My anxiety will be manageable if I let wisdom guide my heart. Please let me know if I can do anything for you during this time.

Be well. I send love and prayers to you and your families.

Give thanks with a grateful heart…

Give thanks with a grateful heart… the words of the children’s meditation for our First Communions, often echo in my mind, the reminder to simply live with a grateful heart.

There is a parable told by Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis, of a man who complained to Jesus about the hiddenness of God. “Rabbi,” he said, “I am an old man. My whole life, I have always kept the commandments. Every year, I went to Jerusalem and offered the sacrifices.”

“Every night of my life, I have not gone to bed without first saying my prayers. But… I look at stars and sometimes the mountains– and wait, wait for God to come so that I might see him. I have waited for years and years, but in vain. Why doesn’t God show himself?”

Jesus responded gently, “Once upon a time, there was a marble throne where sat 3,000 kings. All of them called upon God to appear so that they might see him, but all of them went to their graves with their wishes unfulfilled.”

“Then, a pauper, barefooted and hungry, came and sat upon that throne. ‘God,’ he whispered, ‘the eyes of a human being cannot look directly at the sun, for they would be blinded. How then, can they look directly at you? Lord, turn down your splendor so that I, who am poor and afflicted, may see you!'”

“Then- listen, old man- God became a piece of bread, a cup of cool water, a warm tunic, a hut and, in the front of the hut, a woman nursing an infant.”

“‘Thank you, Lord,’ the pauper whispered. ‘You humbled yourself for my sake. You became bread, water, a warm tunic and my wife and son, in order that I might see you. And I did see you. I bow down and worship your beloved many-faced face!'”

Paula D’Arcy said, “God comes to you disguised as your life.” So often we seek some grand manifestation of God. And like the kings, we can let our lives slip by, missing the God that was there all along. We find God’s love in a warm home, clean water, and ample food. God’s light is in the kindness found in community, in the day-to-day blessings of family and friends who soften the hard edges of life. Holy moments fill our lives.

I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving! May we all have grateful hearts for the God who humbled himself so we could see Him.