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Ash Wednesday

(Ash Wednesday SoulCollage® Card
by Susan Heffron Hajec)

The coming of Holy Week always tends to slow me down a bit. To listen within a little more. To pause and reflect what both the history and spirituality of the crucified Christ means to me in a personal way.

I tend to be a “Resurrection person”. And that means more than being a person who graduated from Resurrection High School in Lansing Michigan.

It means I have learned to release myself pretty much from the “oh, woe is me” weeper traversing through my experiences that may not come from the high part of the totem pole.

It means admitting and accepting the responsibility of my choices, and those choices have found their place all over the range of  “excellent, my dear” to “what ever were you thinking”!

It also means that I know by this point of my seventy year plus life adventure that I nor anyone else has successfully managed to dodge pain, sorrow and loss in their lives. Those things are part of what life is.

Still, I find myself,  as I read the Holy Scriptures, wanting Christ and the Jewish power structure and Roman Rule to work it out some other way. The crucifixion is a horrid price to pay, as many more Christians did down through history, for staying solid in their convictions and faith.

So, on a totally different “pee-wee” scale, I call to mind the times I toughed it out and paid some kind of personal, professional or financial price for staying true to myself and the roads I chose to follow.

I let them flow over and through me and say, “It is finished.”

“Lord, Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us.”

“I Am the resurrection and the life. (S)he who believes in me shall not die.”

I am that person.

Married

The dream of a lifetime – that was my dream early this morning near waking time. The lifetime it recalled was my Resurrection High School days and my close friends at the time. Where do dreams come from? There has been scores of psychoanalysis on that topic. This was a dream I wanted to play out before I woke up. I was wrapped up in being a main player in it.

One of the reasons this dream occurred could be from the monthly RHS (Resurrection High School) luncheons being held at Robinhill’s Restaurant in Lansing. Tom and I attend those frequently and from John Lynch’s and Jim Goulding’s early attempts to get something regular started, the event has mushroomed into great attendance which also includes my brother Dave’s class of 1959 along with us of ’61 and occasional visitors from some other classes.

 

Class of '61 Lunch Bunch

It seems both fun and a privilege to sit down and converse, tease, laugh and lunch with classmates who have lived their own lifetimes without you after that big, defining event of high school graduation. That’s why we travel from the southwest side of the state to meet up with John Lynch, Jim Goulding and Carol Cooley. Also, Judy Hartsuff Renz, Mike Ives and Mike Ridge.

Pat Engle and Agnes (Spitzley) Cairns and I share converstions. Also Gil Glick, Judy Magee and Cathy Endres when they could come. Richard Wagner and Jo, Richard Cairns and Chuck Miller join us regularly. Who am I forgetting?
Maybe another reason I am thinking about high school and it is showing up in my dreams is because of the black and white photos of the sports teams and cheerleaders of the 1950s and 1960s John has been posting on the Resurrection High School website.

Touchdown!
Touchdown!

Shamrock Football with Coach Paul CookShamrock Football with Coach Paul Cook

On the other side of all that energy,  John Lynch respectfully reports the obituaries of classmates and their families who have passed on to meet their God:
Prayers requested for the family of Mrs. DePottyondy,
mother of Mary DePottyondy Piacsek R61, and
Tom DePottyondy R63.   Sylvia E. DePottyondy
East Lansing Sylvia E. DePottyondy, 94,
of East Lansing, Michigan, passed away on
February 25, 2014.  Sylvia was born in Hungary
on December 8, 1919

 

John Lynch and the guysJohn Lynch, second left in back row

Whatever vaporous elements mixed together to produce this dream, it was an alchemy that transported me back in time and to the treasures that lay hidden in our high school life – sometimes referred to as the time we never want to go back to.

But in the words of a favorite song of mine:
“….enjoy this day, see only bright tomorrows,
just remember good of yesterday.”

 

Here is where we meet

All RHS classmates welcome, 3rd Tues of month, noon.

What is true of my lifetime during high school is that Resurrection School and Church were cornerstones in it.  Life really did revolve around high school — studies and extra-curricular activities.

What is true is that I was blessed, coming in as a newcomer in ninth grade, to make a great group of girlfriends to pal around with, attend school events, and party with throughout those years. What is even greater is some of those friendships remained solid over the years as we all grew into our own separate lives. THAT seemed to be what my dream was about.

High School Friends
Homestyle Parties

Potter Park SkateMeeting the gang at Potter Park for a skate.

So, as with all dreams, some parts of it did not fit smoothly and would need symbolism and maybe an analyst to explain, but I know for certain that the main part of the dream was the reunion of these close friendships.

The setting for the dream was Resurrection Church, itself. Tom and I were returning to the church of my high school and college days – the church in which we were married one month after I had earned my bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University. The reason for coming back to Resurrection seemed to be some sort of grand memorial celebration of the church.

It was very ornately decorated, lots of “royalty” clergy were everywhere about and streams of people were pouring in to attend. I did not know any of them, having been gone for so long, almost fifty years now.

I did not go in right away, but hung back outside on Michigan Avenue. Tom went off to run an errand. With a change of heart, I made my way into the back part of the church and then up the main aisle on the left near the front. It was the same location that year after year, the seniors of the school occupied for daily 11:15 Mass near Mary’s side of the altar.

When I came into the pew, I realized my mother and family were there also, but still I was not aware of anyone else I knew. Then in my dream, Tom came up the side aisle and slipped into the pew beside me, being happy to see my parents there.

Fr Francis MartinRev. Francis Martin, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, Lansing MI

Father Francis Martin, pastor and priest who married us, was officiating the Mass but that was the only thing familiar to me in my dream. The liturgy celebration going on was “quite over the top” and almost circus-like, so again I give credit to not knowing about everything in this dream. It all changed at the sign of peace , nearing communion time.

Now, as I turned to greet those around me, I was standing there in my white wedding dress and veil. As it so happens, everything became exceedingly white in my dream.

Standing beside me was my best, best high school friend, Diane DeRose and she, too, was in her wedding dress. My heart lept to see her. Then just beyond her were Barbara Czubak and Marsha Pricco, both of them, completing my inner circle of precious youth pals. And they, too, were in their wedding dresses. We began expressing sincere signs of peace and the love we held for each other in the teen friendships we enjoyed, only now we were mature women.

scan0006Barbara and Diane

More white appeared and there was Diane Hess and Mary Lee Green. I could see all these faces so clearly, it seemed like more than a dream. I was whisked across time and space and back to a time like none other. And there we all were, in our wedding dresses, celebrating once again in togetherness.

One more friend came view in precise focus.. Turning to look behind me, I saw Sharon Bliven, myfriend and classmate. She lost her life in a tragic accident with her husband when they were driving to attend our high school 25th reunion. She was in my dream with a knowing nod of acceptance and probably more wisdom than those of us still living. She was peaceful and accepting. Much more than I am of a tragic and too early death.

scan0007Mary Lee Green, left front’ Sharon Bliven next to Diane Hess standing right

My dream is almost finished and I am struggling not to wake up because I want to see this dream through. The best part comes right after all of us “girls” march up to take communion in our white, white wedding dresses, not graduation gowns.  There is white everywhere. There is joy all around. There is friendship that is honored and there is gratitude for the blessing of it.

What looked like and can easily be thought of a “clique” in high school carried out through our lives when we could occasionally be together and share the new creations and challenges of living through the decades of the ’60s all the way into the new millennium.

The finale of the dream came when, turning around in the pew after communion, there were the faces of the mothers of my friends just as clear as if I had woken up and seen them. It was like an early Mother’s Day present. We had spent much time in each other’s homes and their mothers were friends of mine too. Diane and Barb lived just a street away from each other on Foster and Francis, so I was over there often from LaSalle Blvd. In this dream, their moms were directly behind me. I saw others too, but these were the main ones.

Then in my dream, I began to search for returning to my own, current life. And that, of course, always means a search for Tom. Somehow, he had faded in the dream. And as in other dreams when he has “gone missing”, the anxiety builds and I come to an awakened state, hopefully not before I have found him in the dream.

For in real life when I found Tom, I found my soulmate and my dream of a lifetime completes itself with him.

Sealed with a kiss

Sealed with a kiss.

 

Love Your Body

Love Your Body

Do it! Love your body. It houses your soul.

“Clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Colossians 3:14

This was the scripture for today, Thursday, March 27, 2014 in my Unity Daily Word. The focus word is…..harmony.

And that instantly makes me think of my dear friend, Lauren Lane Powell. We have never met in person, but our spirits of harmony, respect, joy and suffering have been united for a long time.

Lauren Lane PowellLauren

Lauren lives the scripture passage in her life daily. A life that was almost lost to a most serious case of rare cancer during a struggle and test lasting more than two years.  She traveled, coped, took many big breaths of deep, deep courage, tasted the well of acceptance, letting go into whatever was to be.

And what was to be was………recovery and transformation. A treasured return to the love of her life….actually two loves of her life; her husband and her gift of singing, and more than singing. Healing through singing, and helping others do the same.

Getting back on the stage of both life and performance. Giving from her talents, her heart and the message that is hers to give.

Her message is one of HOPE AND HARMONY.

Lauren in Harmonies of Healing

Lauren Lane Powell

“I took myself on a interesting journey having arrived finally at perfect health, ” she states in her blog.

Lauren practices harmony, not only in her performances, but in her life. She lives, as she is called, not as she used to “pre-Canswer days”, but in respect for the new now of her life and her body and letting go of what used to be that is no longer needed.  Like a super-duper booked schedule of activities and demands. (Although her “light” schedule bodes fairly ambitious to the casual observer).

Let Go

Daily Word reminds us “In music, dissonance is resolved by moving to a consonant chord.” Even if we are not trained musicians, we can intimately be familiar with the feeling of discord  or lack of harmony in our own life.

Yet just as the musician can move her fingers to different keys on the piano to invoke the harmony needed, I can open my heart to God, surrender to the great presence of God within me and listen for inner guidance and direction.

Have I learned yet that as I let go of conflict, I find that every situation is a lesson in love?  With a mindful response and a willingness to do what is mine to do…forgive….let go…..or resolve …harmony is restored even if I now play in another key.  The highest good for all.

This takes effort…..gifts of grace…..and practice.  Ahh, practice. There is the key. It allows for mistakes and  “retakes”.   Much valued in my life.

Butterfly Simplify

Amy’s Angel

rainbow and little angel

Once upon a time, in the land of Kalamazoo, a small princess was born. She was a beautiful baby girl who had come to bring much joy and happiness into the lives of her mother and father, the Queen and King of the land of Kalamazoo.

This little princess’ name was Amy. The King and the Queen took very good of this baby and she grew to be a happy, happy child who truly believed in magic and knew she belonged in the kingdom of princesses.

Princess Amy especially loved her “Baby Bear” who was with her from the time she was born, until now more than six years later. She loved to play pretend and did a lot of this with her GrandQueen Grama.  They built castles together, played hide and seek together, walked on rainbows and climbed mountains together. They loved spending time together.  They often had tea together.

IMG_4198

Princess Amy was very often seen in sparkly dresses and play clothes. If it had sparkles on it, she loved it.

IMG_0403

And Princess Amy loves rainbows. She draws and colors them all the time. She even draws rainbow snowflakes.

IMG_3936

This is a picture of Amy and Grama walking under the rainbow and in the background, Dziadzia is watching us from behind the rainbow.

Then one day, she drew and cut out a rainbow snowflake, encouraging spring to come after this very long, cold winter.

IMG_4303

The very next day the sun shone brightly and melted some of the big piles of snow we have from the winter snowstorms.

Lately, almost every time Amy is playing with Grama, she mentions she is going to have her tonsils out in a short while. Now, with less than a week to go, she even counts down every day until next Monday when the operation is scheduled.

I mentioned to her Queen Mother that we could help Amy’s anxiety a little if she knew she had a special guardian angel looking over her at all times and they could talk about that leading up to the big day.  I told her I would draw her angel and bring it to her and that, of course, her special angel would be a rainbow angel with lots of sparkles on her.

A few nights later, I got a call from the Queen. She said that Amy needed her angel right now, since she knew I was going to find it for her.

With all the graces that angels bring to us, her angel flew right into me in an image I found on the computer.  I had taken a photo of Amy a week earlier as “the sleeping princess” awaiting her prince (me), who would kiss her and wake her up.

So the two pieces went together beautifully on a SoulCollage® card which I was working on at the very moment of the Queen’s phone call. The power and mystery of SoulCollage® works that way.  I finished it up and drove over to see the Princess.

IMG_4260

Princess Amy was thrilled to see her angel. She recognized her right away as her own angel that God sent to her. She said she sees the very sparkles that were on the card already in her room when it is dark.  “Sometimes I even feel a breeze in my hair and that must be the angel’s wings,” she said. “Look, even her hair and wings are rainbows.”

“I am going to keep this forever,” she told me. “I’m going to keep this until I grow up and then I can show my own little girl my guardian angel and tell her about hers.”

She clasped her to her heart and said she wasn’t going to be alone and not so afraid to go to sleep now that she knew all the company she would have: her mom and dad, her baby bear, God in her heart and “Sparkle Rainbow Diamond” guardian angel. She thought she should tell the doctor there was going to be an angel in the room.  And that God was in her heart and would tell the angel everything she needed and for the doctor to do everything right.

Her confidence and courage built by the moment, and my daily prayer is that all that good energy stays with her through her first major medical experience. The angel can do that.

And back in the land of Kalamazoo, we will have the popsicles and ice cream ready.

River made green

We are just finishing the first week in Lent 2014 and the themes and reflections of Hosea’s “wilderness” and “coming home” are floating through my daily quiet meditations.

It also brings a look back at the wilderness and seeking home time for me during a major life style change for our family in the summers between 1976 and 1977.  Following a long period of not easy to make decisions and agreement, we sold our home and moved from our twelve year residence in Lexington Kentucky, with our two young daughters, to the outskirts of Chicago.

Tom was on  a one year leave of absence from the corporation where he was employed, with the ability to return to it, if he so chose. We lived on our savings and I sought a job while he remained at home with the children and devising a new way to earn a living.

Seeking a job — actually my second job since our arrival in Illinois — brought me to downtown Chicago, via the El train line from our rented home in the Elmwood Park subdivision, where I began working in the famed Wrigley Building at 400 N. Michigan Avenue, the Gateway to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile of high-power shopping.

GP_Wrigley-Cropped-Hero-Shot-150x150

While that could seem somewhat on the romantic side, it was actually more reminiscent of what a wilderness would be to me. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! ” 2 Corinthians 5:17

True, we were attempting to bring newness about, but there were plenty of things in the old way of life passed away that I truly grieved. Much of the old was perfectly comfortable. I was a stay-at-home mom, working only temporary hours here and there that fit the children’s schedule. We had a home family life and a community of friends that nurtured my day.

Now, I got on this creaky, iron-squealing motor coach, whisked into a city, far away (a world away, it seemed to me) from my children in their school lives.  This was not something I felt comfortable with and it definitely  would be temporary.  The job just provided small weekly additional income but I think my mindset was that “somebody” in this family needed to have a job.

But the Wrigley Building was something else! I was always impressed walking through the golden, brass turning doors and into the marble and granite hallway lobby and flooring. I can still hear the echos of high heeled shoes heading for the gold-plated elevators, which had real, live operators bringing you up and down from the tower floors above.  I felt I was a pretender in their midst — they were the ones doing the real work. I was passing time and trying to either get back to something familiar or ahead to something better and new.  Either of those would do fine.

Wrigley Bldg Entrance Photograph: Susan Heffron Hajec

North Tower LobbyRenovated 2012 Photo: Chicago Tribune

The Wrigley Building is a Chicago original. Cab drivers need no address to get you to the famed, long standing location, along side the Chicago River. World -class business, government, legal, high tech and financial centers buzz with the hurry and scurry of men and women traversing the power paths of their careers.

The Wrigley Building was constructed between 1921 to 1924 and it was the William Wrigley Jr. Company corporate headquarters until 2012. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and it, perhaps, was long-overdue for the honor of City of Chicago Landmark which it became in 2012.

While the exterior of the Wrigley Building is truly magnificent to behold, and properly placed at the threshold of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the offices became outdated enough to necessitate a total make-over in order to attract high-paying modern clientele, who would also require tech, fitness and shopping savvy within its environment.

I remember that even for me, the office I worked in seemed rather antiquated. And actually a lot of the people working in the office, from my early 30 years of age perspective, seemed like grandfather  and grandmother generation.

When I worked there in the old days of the mid- ’70s, it was prior to any modern invention of even the personal computer, not to mention all the tablets and iphones, which have even outdated the fax. which was not evident in my day, and now is losing ground in the “efficiency” key-sent data file workplace.

So, this update came, with the sale of the building in September 2011 to a consortium led by an investment firm, BDT Capital Partners. And the landmark building has been transformed into a state-of-the-art business environment with a new retail component.

As I write this, we are a few short days away from March 17, the Irish feast of St Patrick. One of my best memories of working in the Wrigley Building, was that I saw the already green Chicago River turned more green for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and its city parade. We looked down upon the river from high above out of one of the office complex windows.

Chicago RiverPhotograph by Susan Heffron Hajec

I remember it looking distinctly more green than this photograph taken in 2002.  This parade in March 1977 was celebrated without the 48th Mayor of Chicago, Richard Joseph Daley, who had died on December 20, 1976. He had held his 21 year tumultuous term as mayor and 23 years as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Committee right up to his death.

I was not focused on politics at that time. My sight was more immediate. Like the updating of the Wrigley Building, we also revamped and moved on into a life back in our home state of Michigan by June 1977, entering a business venture as owners of a country golf course outside Gobles Michigan.

Not exactly out of the wilderness, as time would tell,  but a place where our family stayed together and grew, working right along with us in both the golf and cross country ski business. Our daughters went on successfully to higher education, professional careers and families of their own.

Tom and I continued to build our careers and interests as well.

We have, in the words of  Hosea “lived deeply our new lives.”  Moment by moment. Magnificent mile by magnificent mile.

Magnificent Mile

Photos Credits for non-labeled photos:  Wikipedia Chicago Tribune and Alex Garcia.

Historical Information:  Blair Kamin.

Woman by the Well

I looked back to 2011 to see what I was writing in March of that year and I found some of my poetry.

A Woman By The Well

This morning’s gospel reading was the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. Our parish priest loves this story and spends time on many of the insights into Jesus and what he tells us about himself and about ourselves in this story.

The largest image of the story is this wonderful eternal spring of fresh water within each of us that we can return to time after time in the quiet of our heart and soul and be refreshed with grace, energy, wisdom, consolation, and any need we may have at the time.

The woman feels such a release from this encounter at the well that she tells Jesus to stay there and she runs off to get her friends to listen to him for the next two days. They came because she wanted them to, but they stayed because they wanted to.

I have had the grace to have people in my life who know me in truth, and not through judgment. This makes me believe I know what happened within the Samaritan woman that powerful day.

I return to my own “writing well” to post a poem I wrote in 2002.

                                   A Woman by the Well
                                                           Susan. Heffron Hajec

                         A woman in search finds
the respite of the well
seeks healing water within
draws a bucket full without.

                           A woman by the well
finds grace in a chance encounter
with the stranger who knows her so well
not through judgment
but in truth.

                           A woman by the well
discovers the truth that unlocks
the spring within her that flows and
releases dammed up unforgiveness and
exposes that which is not truth and
does not lead to joy.

                            A woman by the well
is nourished by an inner excitement
of a love not yet known
that now lights her path
and promises an abiding presence.

Photo credit: Susan Heffron Hajec

Ash Wednesday Card

Today’s Ash Wednesday’s 9:00 am Mass, scripture, liturgy and Father Jim’s reflection fed my soul. The selected hymns honed my attentiveness to the season…..and Jesus, the reason.

He came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. He came and taught the largest lesson on love there has ever been. “Greater life no man hath but that he lay down his life.”  “Love one another as I have loved you.”  “I Am the Bread of Life.”

Tom and I were asked to bring up the gifts to the altar. We, parishioners, recited the Lord’s Prayer in unison…..”Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

And we took into our own bodies, the Presence, the Body and Blood of Christ, transformed from plain bread by the priest. We prayed for ourselves and our loved ones and the leaders of our world to be able to……do the next right thing, something Father Jim talked about.

I knew I was going to make a SoulCollage® card for this Ash Wednesday when I came home. One line  from the song Hosea stood out in my mind:

“The wilderness will lead you to your heart where I will speak.”

Over the past two weeks I’ve been reorganizing and harvesting (peeking into for themes, actions, guidance I’ve received) my journals and photographs from over at least the past twenty plus years and this line expresses perfectly the guidance I have received over and over again.

There were a great number of times in my life that I surely did not know where the path ahead would lead and I had to pick a thread of guidance to be able to do “that next right thing” or even have the courage to take the next step. There are many stories coming in Napkinwriter that will illustrate this point fairly dramatically.

So I thought my SoulCollage® card would look something like a wasteland background with some symbols of grace or “light” or something.

But the magic and beauty of SoulCollage® took over immediately and a whole new image emerged instantaneously from randomly selected stock in my materials.

It seems the grace of the Mass and the message of Lent was still in full effect when I sat down to make the card. I took to the table with me my scizzors, glue, card backing and one National Geographic magazine plus three packages of images I assembled some time in the last year.

In SoulCollage®, you don’t really “think” your way into the image. You let the image that wants to come forth do exactly that.

But I was thinking a little bit, I must admit. I thought, perhaps, the National Geographic magazine would give me a desert wilderness type background and I’d work from there.

The first thing I opened to in the National Geographic was the full card size crucified Christ image.  Not the first place I would choose to look for such an image. I knew that was my card; but what else to collage to it?

From one of the three packs of images I had with me, I chose one. On the very top of probably over one hundred images was the image of the inter-twining hands. I knew they went on the card; right below them were images of the loaf of bread and the wheat.  And right beneath those were the people walking on the beach.

All I had to do was sense where they were to be on my card. I composed it and it will be with me in all my Lenten reflections and prayer times.

It is not hard to fall in love with your own SoulCollage® cards. I am in deep, deep gratitude to founder  Seena Frost, and my teacher mentors and SoulCollage friends, Catherine Anderson, Karen Mann, Deborah Storts, Ginger,  Neltje Brawer, Kayle Rice, Dorothy, Mary Russell, and Sara Houseman for sharing and shining our souls.

Ash Wednesday CardI AM the Bread of Life.

IMG_3930I AM the One who is Sanctuary.

Souljourner at-Large“I AM the One who is Souljourner.

IAO Birth MotherI AM the One who is your birth mother.

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