Arise and Bloom

Mandala of Hope


Arise and Bloom
By Susan Heffron Hajec

Living takes time.
Like the seed destined
to bloom
where it is planted.
A response to the sun,
making more grand the landscape
with its unique pattern.

It holds the DNA and mystery
of the stars that burst forth
billions of years ago.

It is no small thing
when the stately sunflower
stretches tall into the sky,
and a tiny crocus barely rises above the surface
through the last of winter’s snowfall
or a human being transforms its life
through the power and strength of love.

Each responds to the eternal call of being.
Each blooms forth in purpose and design
to create anew
and move forward in time.


Bloom where planted




CHAKRA - 6th Chakra - Turtle  Third EyePoetry and SoulCollage® by Susan Heffron Hajec

Keep The Pace

And who is to judge
how slow one goes?
The pace of a snail
or the flight of a bird
is a response to the rhythm
inwardly heard.

Grandma Heffron apron and rosary

I have posted this blog before on grandma Heffron’s rosary, but since I have been writing about aprons and rosaries, I thought I would repost this and show you one more way my grandma  Heffron’s  apron served her — as the holder of her blue crystal rosary, now in my daughter Laura’s safekeeping as her adult Confirmation gift from me.

My Grandmother’s Rosary

Sue’s Mother’s Day Tribute

“Excuse me,” the gentleman said as he got my attention. “I’m sure you did not mean to sell this.” In his hand, he was holding my grandmother’s crystal blue rosary, with a dull and tarnished silver cross with her name, Katherine Heffron, engraved on the back of it. My heart leapt in my chest. I was so grateful for his kindness in assuming that this prayer tool had much more than a monetary value attached to it. He returned it to me and I keep it on my home prayer table now, connecting me in faith to my elderly grandmother who passed many years ago.

We were in moving mode once again, leaving our country home for a condominium a little closer to Tom’s work. We were getting the final items arranged for the sale, sipping our wake-up coffee to warm us on the brisk Michigan  spring morning when this early-bird garage shopper arrived. He didn’t spend much time and quickly shopped the entire space, snatching up goods that were on his “hunt list”. Somehow, my grandmother’s rosary with her name inscribed on the crucifix, got into his catch. By returning it to me in the pre-sale hour, he saved it from the later rush traffic of the day and confusion which allowed me to keep this rosary in my family heritage.

The rosary belonged to my Irish grandmother who prayed her beads faithfully each day. Most of my memories of this grandma stem from her visits to us in the 1950s in our home in Sycamore, Illinois when I was in grade school. Grandma lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She lived with her daughter’s family, my father’s only sister and I never knew my grandfather. He lived and died working the hard life of a lumberjack, cutting and hauling wood out of the northern Wisconsin and Minnesota forest lands.

My own father, at a young age, took over the provision role for his mother and sister. Early photos I have seen of those times in the late 1920s and early 1930s looked tough and gritty. I do not know the specifics, but I came to understand that my dad sacrificed in many personal ways to ensure that his mother and sister had their needs met. Most of that information came from my mother. I don’t remember dad talking about it very much.

What I do remember is that my father and his mother had a loving but very testy relationship. Volatile and explosive would be more accurate. Grandma was a pretty cryptic personality when she wasn’t influenced by a little whiskey swig, which she was known to steal on the fly on occasion.

She had her long, white-grey hair usually pulled back in a bun at the neck and she wore soft nylon or cotton shirt waist dresses with a belt around her full torso. She always seemed immaculately clean to me and smelled of soft, fragrant body powders and cream. My mother bathed and medicated her legs faithfully after which they were bandaged with elastic wrappings and stockings. Grandma always wore what I called “Eleanor Roosevelt” shoes, the same black heeled lace up oxfords the Sisters of Mercy wore at school.

My dad and his mother may have agreed on their religion but in almost any other discussion topic, they were starkly at odds – each with a stubborn Irishness that would  not let disagreement of opinion rest. So many of their discussions turned into broiler heated arguments, my dad’s voice raised to thunder level with my grandmother, shaking her head, making clucking sounds with her false teeth, and walking off in disgust and amazement at what she deemed as her son’s lack of healthy respect for her.

Needless to say, this was very disturbing to my brothers and me who could not admonish their father and who hated to see their grandmother upset. The fall-out continued later, too, as the pattern was that grandma would then be gruff or mean to my mother, who through no fault of her own, took the heat that was meant for grandma’s son.

My suspicion is that the place where grandma settled all this was with her beads. She would sit in her rocking chair, sometimes completing her own debating points in the absence of her son to no one in particular in the room. Then, within a short period of time, a soft quietness descended upon her and she would reach into her dress or apron pocket and draw out her beads. I often watched her and was grateful for the calm settling over her and the house as she sat alone and began her prayers.

I would sit in the room near her, perhaps reading a book or completing some homework. I could see and feel the tension and the upset in her give way, for this short period of time, to be replaced by the rhythm of the beads slipping through her fingers and the repetitive words of the prayers coming quietly from her lips.

Grandma shared my bedroom with me when she came for visits. One of my favorite times with grandma was when we were alone in my bedroom at night, just before  going to sleep. I would ask her about times when she was a girl like me and she talked softly and sweetly to me as she shared things I cannot remember today. It was a twilight time together for us and I got to know a grandma different from my daytime grandma that I loved and cared about deeply. We even laughed together. I think she liked that. My father might come to the door and warn us, “You two, go to sleep”.

We would quiet down, and maybe whisper one more secret between us before turning over and settling into our twin bed covers and pillows. Then, before drifting off to sleep, I would once again hear the slipping of the beads and her whispering lips praying her nighttime rosary. Mary, Mother of God, called upon once again for all of our sakes.

Even with Faith


Even with faith, I don’t know how they do it. I really don’t.  Another group of families whose lives have changed forever in a most sorrowful way due to a mass attack on the innocent.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I just discovered this from the Magnificat magazine after I had said my daily rosary. Today’s rosary is for my son-in-law Greg’s intentions, but I was catching up on Kathleen’s Tuesday rosary, since I fell one behind. Each weekday plays out prayers faithfully said for each daughter, spouse and grandchild.

Tom and I have a prayer practice of daily saying a private rosary. His parents said one daily for all of their lives. Mom even had a tape she treasured after dad’s death of them reciting the rosary together in Polish.

Jennifer Hubbard resides in Newtown, CT. The younger of her two children, Catherine Violet, was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14 a few years ago. It is not hard to remember that date. It is Tom’s birthday and we were at Findley’s Restaurant having lunch when the news started to break.

Jennifer is a contributing writer in Magnificat and I always look forward to her reflections.  In this, she said:

“She tucked her rosary beads into my hand and suggested we pray. Sitting quietly, our voices united with a sense of urgency.'”Hail Mary, ful of grace.’ We trusted that in her compassion, she would intercede for us and envelop us in her grance and peace we desperately needed. The beads — they rolled through my fingers and centered my mind. ‘Holy Mary, pray for us…”  I felt dead and yet somehow I was still inhaling the air of the earth and the words came easily, ‘pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

‘The beads found shelter in my pocket in the days and months that ensued. I would automatically reach for and wrap my fingers around them. During her funeral Mass, I squeezed so tightly the beads created craters in my fingertips, and kept my thoughts on the only place I found comfort. Our Father who art in heaven.

“Even now, when words are few and tears are great, I reach for her beads. In that  instant, my mind goes to Mary my Mother and God my Father. My prayers and remembrances become centered on grace, discernment, and forgiveness and cast aside the fear and angst of this world. His peace fills me and restores my breathing. The rosary beads are a gift to me. A gift to teach me, show me and remind me to center my thoughts on him — his gift to help me feel the peace he longs to give.”

Tomorrow, a new round of family funerals begins from this latest tragic shooting. I do not think so much on gun control or lack of it. My mind and heart goes to the deep, deep need for compassion, trust and a prayer that  these family members receive the gift that surpasses all human understanding—His Peace and Mary’s tenderness.

Grandma's Apron

This is the second time I have seen this black and white photo of “grandma at the sink.” This reminds me so much of my Grandma Katherine Heffron. It is how I saw her many times. She had the cotten dresses, bandage supported legs and the black “ugly” shoes as I called them. Everything that the writer says about the apron and what happened around it are memories I have of my grandmas Heffron and Grandma Thompson, on her Wisconsin farm.

Cottens are still my favorite fabrics. In the early 1950s when we visited my grandpa Thompson’s farm in Wisconsin, I used to play for hours on end in great grandma Thompson’s closet, with a fabric drape door. In there, she had squares and squares of cotten and other fabrics that I endleesly matched and hand sewed together for doll clothes. I just liked playing alone in her tiny bedroom and fabulous closet.

My guest blog today:

The History of ‘APRONS’

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons.


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love
—Hawk Seeker of Truth—

Flower Power

Rose - 2 become 1

I am telling you the story of the rose. It is a story of love.

It’s all about the boutonniere! I am a really good speller and I could not come close enough to the correct spelling of that word to get spellchecker to correct me.

On Sunday October 4, 2015, Tom and I joined other couples throughout the nine counties of Southwest Michigan at St. Augustine Cathedral. We were all celebrating 50 years or more of marriage. Bishop Bradley presided at the liturgy and I felt blessed beyond all that our children, their spouses and one of three grandchildren were sitting in the pew with us.


As we prepared on Sunday morning, Tom presented me with a beautiful wrist corsage, which I thought had come from the children. But, in fact, Laura had suggested to Tom that he give me one, and that she would arrange it all and drop it off. He could pick up the tab later. When I saw my corsage, which was beyond beautiful,  I immediately thought Tom should have a boutonniere, but it was very close to departure time. What to do??

Sue with drape

I immediately put in an SOS call to Kathleen and asked her to check on the slight chance she could pick one up at the supermarket on her way. The odds were less than favorable.

When Tom and I arrived at the cathedral, we had a welcome at the entrance which included our congratulations certificate AND a corsage for me and…..a boutonnaire for Tom and all the other couples!


Moments later, Kathleen and Greg arrive. And she has a beautiful red rose boutonnaire, handmade by herself (which I did not know until much later that night, having missed her phone texts in my left-behind cell phone).

Rose Single

Already pinned, we did not add this to Tom’s lapel, but I regret not having him loaded up with two beautiful flowers, one especially made from love.

Rose - 2 become 1

And the two shall become one.

The Mass liturgy and music were beautiful and reflective and evoked gratitude for the lives and loves we live. Greg and Kathleen had a 25 year Silver Anniversary this year and Carl and Laura are approaching their 20th Anniversary in the middle of this month. Ninety-five years of committed and intentional love between us. We each have a rewarding and demanding vocation. We look to each other all through our lives. We will ALWAYS be there for one another.



So today, like the news anchor men who dress “top down” and maybe/maybe not below the desk (rumored), I had Tom dress again in his dress shirt and favorite green sports coat and pinned the beloved red rose from Kathleen on so I could take an official photo shoot.

There was power in that flower……The power of a daughter’s love.

Rose - Happy Dad

Kathleen,  dad’s smile says thank you. Love you back.

I don't know

I could have written this but Liz did.

I don’t know either….and my personal answer for some time to mass violence and unspeakable suffering of humans all over the world is much like the conclusion Elizabeth came to. I help either myself or the next person to me with loving kindness and any action that seems appropriate. Most times,  it means staying quiet and reaching deep within me for a trust and a tiny light I can feel myself and share with others.

From Elizabeth Gilbert — Guest Blog

Dear Ones –

I woke up yesterday in joy, and went to bed in sorrow.

I woke up yesterday to the delightful news that my book was a #1 bestseller, and went to bed heartbroken and shaken by the awful news of yet another mass-shooting in America.

I won’t be writing a political message here today. The internet is filled with outraged people arguing with each other this morning, and I can’t bring myself to contribute more argument to the world right now.

This morning, I’m just writing to say: I don’t know.

My heart is broken, and I don’t know what to do about it — in the same way that I don’t know what to do about the plight of the Syrian refugees, or the rise of ISIS, or the deterioration of the Sudan, or the stubborn endurance of racism, or the onslaught of climate change.

I don’t know. I don’t know how to fix any of it.

I do know this, though: I know that great joy and great sorrow have something in common, which is: they both cause us to overflow. Joy and sorrow are emotions that make us SPILL — because they are too big for us to contain.

I always know what to do with my overflow of joy — that’s easy: You dance it out, you laugh it out, you celebrate, you cheer, you pop the champagne.

I don’t always know what to do with my overflow of sorrow. Last night, alone in a hotel room, I lay awake for hours, overflowing in too much sadness to handle. I found myself saying again and again to God, “I don’t know what any of this is for, but please help us.”

I also found myself thinking about a beautiful young woman at one of my speaking events recently, who asked me how — after a recent devastating personal loss — she is meant to go on. She asked me what God intends, by making her suffer so much? I don’t know what her loss was, but I could see by her face, it was very bad.

What was that loss FOR?

The answer is: I don’t know.

I don’t know what suffering and sorrow and injustice and brutality and loss are FOR.

It’s so easy to know what joy and happiness and love and grace are FOR — they are to be celebrated and shared. Joy and good fortune seem to be proof of our divine blessings — proof that God is smiling upon you, proof that you are being looked after, proof that your angels are protecting you, proof that life is fair.

But what is suffering for?

I always hate the simple, reductive answers people often offer up about suffering — because I feel like those answers sometimes only bring more sorrow to those who are in pain.

To blithely say that “This is God’s will,” in the face of terrible events, seems cruel to me. (Or worse, to say “This is God’s punishment!” — Lord help us, what a brutal and inhumane statement.)

To tell a mother whose child has died, “God must have wanted another angel,” is almost too awful to bear.

To say, “Well, that must be karma”, is also terrible and dismissive. You might as well just shrug at someone’s unbearable pain and say, “Hey, shit happens, man.”

To say, “Someday this will make you stronger,” to someone who is at their weakest? No. Don’t ever say that.

To say, “Maybe this tragedy will open up people’s eyes about what’s going on, and so your child’s death won’t have been in vain!” is to use another human’s life as a political tool. Which is just monstrous.

To say to someone who is being asked to endure the worst sorrow of their lives: “God never gives us more than we can handle!” is so outrageously hurtful, I don’t know how anyone ever got to the end of that sentence without being punched in the face.

People seem awfully confident at times, speaking on behalf of God’s agenda.

I don’t where people get their confidence, to say that they know what God is up to. I don’t make such presumptions. In the face of outrageous sorrow, I can only say, “I don’t know.”

And once we have said that — “I don’t know” — then we have reached the end of ourselves. Then, maybe all we can do is sit in silence with the person who is suffering, or with the people who are suffering, and just say, “I will stay here with you.”

That’s easier to do on the intimate scale than the global scale, but I feel like that’s what the great compassionate souls have always done. They say to a sorrowful world: “I don’t know why this is happening. But I will stay here with you. I will sit beside you. I see your pain, and although I don’t know how to solve it, I will be here with you.”

The great compassionate souls always take their overflow of sorrow and turn it into love.

I don’t have any answers for anyone today. This is one of those days for me when the world overwhelms, and I feel very small.

But when the world starts to feel overwhelming in its sorrows, I always ask myself to look around me — to narrow down my focus — and to notice somebody who is nearby me, who is suffering. I can’t help the millions, but maybe I can help one. You never have to look very far to find a suffering soul. Life is hard; there is always someone going through great pain. I tell myself: Go sit with that person today for a while. Don’t try to solve their life, or answer for God, or offer dismissive “reasons”, or try fix the whole world. Just say, “I don’t know. But I will sit with you through this.”

Turn your overflow of sorrow into love. That’s the only thing I know how to do sometimes.

Love and blessings,


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