Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh Holy Morning

Waiting....listening in the dark.  That dark that comes just before dawn, between dreams and a new day, when all pauses.  I wrap myself up in stillness, reluctant to move...into the day.  The cats seem equally reluctant to move as they remain tightly curled up at the end of the bend.  But Hank gets up from one bed and moves to another, as the beds lie empty now.  The children are gone away, my house being now all stilled.

There are no little ones to prepare breakfast for; no lesson plans; no interruptions of little feet.

As I wait for the light to creep in, I am really waiting for God, turning aside selfish thoughts, consuming thoughts,  silly thoughts.  My mind lies empty. Waiting...

There will be more poignant and thoughtful moments throughout the day but as the hours hurry on, things will become a blur and I will stop to wonder, "Are you still there God?"

In the stillness, the Psalmist speaks:

Harken to my speech O Lord,
              attend to my utterance.
Listen well to my voice crying out my King and my God,
              for to you my prayer.
Lord in the morning you hear my voice
              in the morning I lay it before you and wait...  

Let all who shelter in you rejoice.
Let them sing gladly forever-protect them.

The house gently stirs as the light moves and mingles with  darkness outside my window and joy slowly creeps in.


outside awakens to a bleak dull sky and we feel the greys and the browns of winter. In the dimly lit barn loft, I run my hand over the bales of hay, feeling and searching for the course prickly stems of hay to feed the sheep their breakfast.  I am saving the soft bales of hay that lie hidden, for the older sheep with their aging teeth and Tristan who struggles to eat and gets the stems caught in his mouth.  In the dark, I make my selection and throw the bale down the stairs.

Walking back from the barn, the cold frozen ground and the stillness of this early winter morning, remind me that I need Him.  And He is here...hidden, quiet.  He hides beneath our selfish thoughts, passions, appetites and obsessions... busyness.   But my faith is born from this great sense of need and it is stronger than all the clutter of Christmas...all the clutter of our lives. 

And in the morning....He hears my voice.  I lay it before Him and wait.  It is my gift.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pressing Days of Autumn

The last days of autumn are filled with pressing chores to do and not enough time. But this one day with just enough sun to make me feel hopeful, I go for a walk by the stream. Sitting down, I watch kitty run up a tree until she can run no further with no way to return. I am tempted to help her but instead, I just sit and watch her as she decides what to do.

Hank ventures out into the stream...deeper and deeper. I am tempted to call him back but if I do, he will miss the leaf that is floating quickly by and will soon be out of reach. When he has touched it, he turns and swims back to shore. And I sit and wait and watch for it all to happen.

Several times a day, I go to the barn to feed my sheep, Tristan, who hurt his mouth mysteriously. After visiting the university animal clinic, he only eats and drinks very poorly . Each day, I continue to place hay and water in his mouth. As I do so, I stand and watch all the sheep eat with their mouths. It is a mystery to me how they so adeptly fill their mouths with hay, and with barely any time to move the hay to the back of their mouths, they begin again grabbing another mouthful; while the hay in Tristan's mouth moves slowly and he chews and chews and chews. He gives his head a shake as if to try to move the hay further back.

As the sheep move out of the barn, Tristan and I are still standing together; him-waiting for me to patiently and skilfully place more hay into his mouth.

Lengthy visits to the barn...I am not sure how long I can do this...but God says...time to watch and listen. And that is the way with God.  When there is something he wants you to know...He just does.

Tristan on a happier and sunnier day in his life....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't You Know

It was a slightly overcast but hopeful spring morning as my daughter stepped off the back veranda like she had done hundreds of times in the past, to make her way to the little alter at the edge of the woods, but today it would not be an amble stroll but her little feet moved with confidence and determination. 

As she stood at the alter, exchanging vows with her young man, I  realized in a new way,  how beautiful she was.  How could I have have missed that ? And for the remainder of that day I was just simply captivated by her beauty and spell bound by how happy she was.

I also realized that her young man completed her in a new way; a new joy was given to her that radiated from deep within, on that day. From now on, she will sit with him, stand with him, and walk with him.  Marriage- an inspired gift from God,  teaches us ever so gently how to break our own selfish will for something bigger, something outside of ourselves, something sacred..a calling.

Sitting and watching, I could hear a farm vehicle lumbering down the road in the distance.  Life goes on according to the established order of God and His cord runs through the centre of it all, sometimes hidden from view.

The story of our lives, is the story of salvation, in and through us, ahead of us, behind us.  It is who we are,  because we are complete in Him.  The journey is to His Kingdom.

                                                   You will show me the path of life;
                                                  In Your presence is fullness of joy;
                                        At Your right hand are  pleasures forevermore.

                                                                                    Psalm 16

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It was a late moonlit dinner in the barn tonight. Dinner time in the barn is never a simple affair. There is much more to it than you would think.

After placing the hay out, I waited for a while, watching to make sure the shy and younger sheep got their share. It takes some effort to make sure that these gentle ones get their share of the hay. A nervous or smaller sheep will sometimes fall behind in weight which leads to other problems. And the dominant sheep keep getting bigger; the ones that always seem to step on my toes.
As usual, on cue, some jumped up on the feeding trough- standing on someone else's dinner; some nibbled away politely; some ran from feeder to feeder; the dominant ram pushed everyone else away to eat first; some ate the hay off another sheep's back; some put their front feet on the table.
But the important thing is that they all got fed.

However we do it, we all need to be fed.

"All scriptures were written for this purpose: that human beings

might grasp how much God loves them and grasp it so as to

become inflamed with love for him."
                                             The Mystery of God's Word. pg.72

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer worries

We live in the triangular area between two lakes and a river which means than when the summer rain storms move through, they often turn back on themselves and come through again. When you think you are finished with the storm; it returns. The rain today began softly and I thought perhaps I would sit under the umbrella and read, enjoying the delicious sound of a soft gentle summer rain.  But the wind came and the thunder came and gradually the rain pressed down hard.  My umbrella was threatening to turn itself inside out as I ran to the barn. The sheep were worried, the horses worried, the farmer down the road hurrying to get his summer wheat off the field was worried.  I was too busy closing doors to look up to see and worry about the strange green cast to the sky.
All inside after a change into dry clothes, we keep listening as the thunder is still moving about, threatening to return. But gradually the thunder moves off into the distance and the birds as if holding their breath, begin to open their mouths and speak quietly at first. The sheep, although they never really stopped eating their hay, relax their muscles and their eyes soften. Soon they will return to the field after an afternoon nap. The horses can now be taken out and saddled up.  But the farmer down the road, stands and looks at the wet hay, worrying about when he will get it off the field. 

(To listen to video, pause audio at the end of blog page...Thanks.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Be Thou the best thought of, by day or by night...Waking or sleeping, Thy presence, my light.

You wake up to a beautiful and still Sunday morning but you do not feel ready for the new day. Infact, you are feeling rather lost...can't quite remember your way to grace...feeling spiritually poor.  

You are daunted and overwhelmed by the rather long list of 'important' things to do. You are daunted with how you will find God today and please Him and love Him.  You have a great need to make this day beautiful in many ways but where to start?

So you start with something simple....the smell of coffee brewing; speaking kindly to those waking up, planning the next step in finishing the strawberries preserves and sending somone out to get eggs for the cherry clafouti.
Keep moving out towards the flower garden.

 Let your hunger for God be honest and raw. He is waiting.

There is a nose somewhere in the house that keep trying unsuccessfully to open the toilet lid as it bangs on and on.  Ignore Bertie, the cat, as he whines, noisy Hank as he bangs his food dish and barks for his toy because it is all music.  Keep moving out towards the flower garden.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In the life of the spirit....

He often deplores our blindness, and is always complaining that we are to be pitied for being satisfied with so little.  God, He says, has boundless treasures to give us, and a moment's sense of devotion is enough for us.  We are blind who so bind the hands of God, and we stem the abundance of his grace.  When he finds a soul imbued with living faith, into it he pours grace on grace, a flowing stream, as it were which checked in its proper course, and finding a new outlet spreads wide with force, abundantly.

...However, we must go on working, for in the life of the spirit not to go on is to lose ground.  Those who have the mind of the holy Spirit, sail on, even when they are asleep.  If the small ship of our soul is still beaten by the winds and the storm, let us awaken the Lord who sleeps in it, and he will soon calm the sea.

                                                      Brother Lawrence

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Don't Let A House Drop On Your Head!!!

When Issac had grown old, and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau, his eldest son,   to him.  He asked him to take his quiver and bow;go out to the field and hunt game for him; and prepare a savoury dish that he loved; that he might bless him before he died. 
Now Rebekah was listening and when Esau went out to the field, she said to Jacob, "Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you.  Go to the flock, and fetch me two good kids, that I may prepare from them savoury food for your father, such as he loves;  and you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.'
But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man.  Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.'  His mother said to him, "upon me be your curse, my son; only obey my word, and go, fetch them to me.' 
Then  Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son; and the skins of the kids she put upon his hands and upon the smooth part of his neck; and she gave the savoury food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hands of her son Jacob.
So he went in to his father, and said,  'My father, here I am.' 'Here I am, who are you my son? How is it that you have returned to soon?' He answered,; 'Because the Lord your God granted my success.'  Then Isaac said to Jacob, 'Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.'  So Jacob went near to Issac his father, who felt him and said, 'The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.'  And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him.  He said, "Are you really my son Esau?'  He answered, 'I am.'  Then he said, 'Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you.'  So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me my son.'  So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and he blessed him, and said,

'See the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed!
May God give you of the dew of heaven,
and of the fatness of the earth,and plenty of grain and wine,
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be every one who curses you,
and blessed be every one who blesses you!'

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac, Esau his son came in...and there was no blessing left for him.

Kisses of deception...betrayal...self seeking...hands tied with secrets...self seeking...lies with far reaching effects.... so many things amiss

intimacy...self seeking...touching...smelling...listening...self seeking...

We have no way of knowing how it might have been if Issac and Rebekah had obeyed God's plan. Though truth and blessings may stare us right in our faces, we go the way of self seeking.  It will take years for Jacob to  restore what should have been.  Rebekah will never see her beloved son again. Poor feel the cruel deception of his son's kiss; and poor Esau, was appointed to farm on the edge of the desert. The seeds of their  problems lay in their characters.  Their destinies did not operate as blind fate but were bound up with their personal choices and interests. What we hunger for most, may not lie within the will of God.

It is a hard lesson to learn. I have spent much of my life going my way and not the Lord's. 

If you should ask me what are the ways of God,  I would tell you that the first is humility,  the second is humility, and the third is still humility.  Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless.

                                                                               St. Augustine.

Now, getting back to dear Dorothy...
Glinda, the Good Witch of the North; You have no power here! Begone, before somebody drops a house on you, too!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Remembering Dorothy

As  thunder rumbled in the distance and the dark clouds moved closer bringing one of the early storms of summer,  Hank and I ran to  the barn, waiting until the very last moment to close up the doors.  As I stood there looking out at the swirling clouds, I thought of Dorothy.

The house began to pitch....

Dorothy:  It really was no miracle.  What happened was just this. 

 The wind began to switch-

The house , to pitch-

And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch-

 Just then the Witch-

 To satisfy an itch-

Went flying on her broomstick,

 thumbing for a hitch!

Muchkin:  And, oh, what happened then was rich!

Muchkins:  The house began to pitch-

 The kitchen took a slich-

It landed on the Wicked Witch -

in the middle of a ditch-

 Which was not a happy situation for the Wicked Witch!

We returned to the house and went up stairs. Everyone seemed to have claimed their window space to sit and watch the storm beat against the barn with swells of rain.  Hank hid under the desk.  The cats who I scooped up running back to the house, followed me from room to room.  My husband welcomed the storm by opening the balcony door and met it face to face until it forced him inside. And I, feeling unsettled as I watched the storm, returned to my work.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Higher Calling

     MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly desire to be blessed. With this intention your affections, which are too often perversely inclined to self and to creatures, will be purified. For if you seek yourself in anything, you immediately fail interiorly and become dry of heart.
     Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I Who have given them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the highest good, and therefore to Me, as to their highest source, must all things be brought back.
     From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw the water of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace. He who wishes to glory in things apart from Me, however, or to delight in some good as his own, shall not be grounded in true joy or gladdened in his heart, but shall be burdened and distressed in many ways. Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself or ascribe virtue to any man, but give all to God without Whom man has nothing.
     I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me again, and I exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the truth by which vainglory is put to flight.
     Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither envy nor narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. Divine love conquers all and enlarges the powers of the soul.
     If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because no one is good except God alone, Who is to be praised above all things and above all to be blessed.
Imitation of Christ - Thomas À Kempis - Book 3 Chapter 9

Sunday, March 20, 2011


No body can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Maria Robinson

   Hank and I returned to obedience school  this Spring, hoping  to be inspired.  Our mentor and friend, Lynn Fox, had promised to remove all the balls from the room before we arrived.  Hank arrives and comes crashing in through the door heading for the toy box but no toys!  After a moment  or two of shock, he recovers and begins to search high and low  and finds one last ball sitting on a shelf.  Too late! We decide to let him have a play; back and forth and around and around he pushes the ball until he becomes breathless and frenzied.  Maggie walks in who is wise and experienced with border collies with issues.  “That will never do,” she quietly says.  “Take the ball away ; he must calm down”  The ball is set on the shelf and we make Hank lie down, stroking him gently, telling him, “good settle.”  “Breathe Hank Breathe,” we say although out of the corner of his eye, he is watching the ball. We  talk in soothing tones to him and  hear our own breathes slow down, feeling calmer ourselves. Finally his breathing becomes synchronous with ours and slowly  we all get  up.  I walk over to get the ball…one or two moments of play and then it’s taken away.  “Look Hank.”  He takes his eyes off the ball for a fraction of a second  and lifts them to me , then like a magnet, they land back on the ball.  That will do for a start.  And  we repeat   the cycle….play, settle, look, play  until I am worn out.

   Hank is an addict and  without his balls or sheep, he becomes restless and anxious.  That is what drives him and makes him brilliant at times, yet  far away.  He cannot hear his master.  “Breathe Hank, Breathe.” 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day

from "The Breastplate of St. Patrick"

"Christ shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."

-St. Patrick

For Reflection:
Considering this prayer of St. Patrick and in light of Ephesians 6: 11-17, what "armor" do I wear daily? How convinced am I that I need to wear the armor of God?

(taken from Women of Grace-Gracelines)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I learned to love old movies from my mother on Sunday afternoons watching Bill Kennedy out of Detroit.


Memories Of My Education

I remember on Friday evenings, my mother, father, sister and I would travel to town for our once a week  shopping trip. Sometimes for a treat, we would stop for pizza, and finish up with a stop at the laundromat. While waiting for my parents to finish the laundry, my sister and I would walk down the street past a small Pentecostal Church. On hot summer evenings, they would open the doors allowing us to peak in...two little Presbyterian girls just staring in awe at the dancing, shouting and singing with tambourines.  It was truly an education.   Once home, we would be allowed to stay up late and be educated some more, as we watched Johnny Carson and our favourite movies stars. Miss those days when the world seemed safe and less confusing.
Here is one segment with Joan Fontaine and Johnny who I had a crush on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Reading the Holy Scriptures

In the holy Scriptures, truth is to be looked for rather than fair phrases.  All sacred scriptures should be read in the spirit in which they were written.  In them, therefore we should seek food for our souls rather than subtleties of speech, and we should as readily read simple and devout books as those that are lofty and profound.  Do not be influenced by the importance of the writer, and whether his learning be great or small, but let the love of pure truth draw you to read.  Do no inquire, “Who said this?” but pay attention to what is said.

Men pass away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.

God speaks to us in different ways, and is no respecter of persons.  But curiosity often hinders us in the reading of the Scriptures, for we try to examine and dispute over matters that we should pass over and accept in simplicity,  If you desire to profit, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and have no concern to appear learned.  Ask questions freely, and listen in silence to the words of the Saints; hear with patience the parables of the fathers, for they are not told without good cause.

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas A Kempis.