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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Now is the Time

Dear Lois,

This one is tricky, right? They say timing is everything…they also say no time like the present…and again…now is the only time we have. They say… time and time again. 

Time and time again, I have had to turn to my faith and trust in my God.

Time and time again,  I haven’t liked the pain in my now.

Time and time again, I have seen my joyous acceptance of the Exquisite Blessings in my life and find I never question them.

Time and time again, I have found the faith to accept a difficult now, and then comes the strength to bear it.

Time and time again, I have learned that surrender opens my way to the only part of the path that I need to see at this time.

At this time, I call upon the loving presence of the God you love and who loves you, to satisfy your every need.

 

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The Road Ahead

Albany Road- TaluskiePhotography by Stacy Taluskie

The Road Ahead
Susan Heffron Hajec   10-29-2015

Speed limits seem to faze me no more
I go a speed slowed down from
my hurried past.

The road ahead is the one I have always
been on, learning its twists and turns
reading its signs for safe passage.

The hardest part of this road seems
always to be
learning to stay where
I presently am on this road.

Right where I am is
the most mysterious to me.
Fully absorbing the present moment
without looking too far down the road.

For faith travels that part of the road for me
and the vision it gives me is
that this vehicle of my body and soul
arrives at the destination intended
in the brilliance of the creator’s larger plan.

I just have to keep my hand on the wheel now.

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IMG_5398SoulCollage® by Susan Heffron Hajec

Angel of God, my Guardian dear
To whom God’s love
commits me here.
Ever this day, be at my side
To light, to guard
To rule and guide. Amen

I say this prayer each morning for Tom and myself, our children and grandchildren and place trust in the scripture that says, “For I have sent an angel to watch over you and guide you in your ways”  and I expand this prayer to include all those who have asked for prayer or are presently facing challenges of any kind in their life.

Today, Napkinwriter copies a reading from an essay posted in the October 2014 Magnificat for Thursday, October 2, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. It is the same day that Catholic Charities Caring Network celebrated twenty-five years of work dedicated to the unborn babies, mothers and ongoing family needs in the Kalamazoo area.

And it is the day that the newly formed Prayer Place was dedicated and blessed by the bishop and begins its prayer ministry for all who need guidance and support in their lives and responsibilities toward the young life that has been placed in their care.

Prayer Place Image

I believe the light of the angels shone upon us that day, for when I took the photo of the blessing, it was a dark and dreary day, just holding off the rain. Yet the light shone brightly upon Fran Denny, the founding director of Catholic Charities and Julia and William VanDomelen, who created the VanDomelen Center to house the charitable works and services that help so many.

The Bishop's Blessing

The writer of the following essay is Jennifer Hubbard. She 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, 2012.  The news was just breaking on television while Tom and I were having his birthday luncheon celebration.

Jennifer writes:

” ‘Angel of God, my guardian dear…’ I watch as his eyes light up for what feels like the first time in a very long time. He interupts her, saying, “That’s what my Pop said when he tucked us in.”

Instantly, I am taken back to the summer when they all shared the same bedroom. As he finishes the prayer, it’s their voices I hear alongside his. ‘…to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light to guard, to rule and guide.’

It was the prayer my father taught us as children and now he was teaching my children. It is one of the simple prayers planted deep into the crevices of my soul.

Now, my brave little one says it to remember that he is not alone. I say it with him, and realize these are the words I have been searching for but couldn’t seem to find. The prayer we recite together is the divine insight for which I have been pleading. It is only then I realize the reason we are given this promise as children. It is the heart of a child that is willing to accept unconditionally. A child — truly opens to receive — to believe — to feel, deep within her heart, the truth.

This is the promise that grows in my soul, even when the days seem dark and my body is weary. It is the everlasting reminder. I am his child.  He will guide and protect me. He is my Father and my Shepherd. He will light my path and bring me home to the little voice I long to hear.”

– End of Jennifer’s Essay –

Clients at Caring Network are filling out prayer requests in the lobby and putting them in the Prayer Place Mail Box.  During our Monday and Wednesday noon hour small group prayer where “two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”,  we pick up these intention slips and pray for each request.

If they are signed, they are returned to the requester through their social service worker with notes on them that they have been prayed for. We trust God, in the midst, will bestow his blessing to make all things work onto good. We place our faith in the promise that to ask, believing we have received, will bring about goodness in what are often scary and threatening situations.

Above all, we know that faith, as tiny as a mustard seed, can bring about a full, joyful harvest. For all these things, we pray.

And during my Wednesday time tomorrow, I will add a prayer intention slip for Jennifer Hubbard, her husband and child, that God, in his infinite mercy, will bless them mightily through their lives and bring them to once again complete union with Catherine Violet, at the end of their days on earth.

IMG_5403Praying in color.

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IMG_1135

This photo is a great expression of how I’ve attempted to move mountains through the course of my life………….the long and winding road!

I was on the bus on this road last year moving through the Alps and five countries by the expert driving of our young Swiss bus driver. Up and down, and all around, it truly seemed he DID move mountains.

This year, however, I’ve encountered a looming mountain of another type — the type we are warned are only removed by an increase of faith.  The July 20 – 22 Meditations of the Day in the AA Twenty Four Hours a Day little black book outline the instructions for traversing this mountain successfully.

First, it seems I must pray I do not limit myself by doubt.  I do dismantle my doubts and fears by reflecting that many times in the past, personal mountains  have been made into molehills with a combination of prayer, listening and small actions over small periods of time that added up to a solution I helped manifest. Or something better I never even saw coming happened and improved the circumstance.  So limiting my doubt calls once again for the wonderful  “S” word — surrender.

IMG_1089

Second,  believing that Faith can and has removed mountains of challenges throughout my life, I lean into the belief that truly Faith can do it one more time. Faith can change any situation for the good, even if there remains much discernment or work to be done.  This has always meant for me to increase the amount of willingness within me.

When I feel willing to work within the circumstance, I become aware that many times I can do little myself to change the situation. But the Serenity Prayer comes to my rescue as I can focus better on what needs to be accepted, what I can work on to change that is within my power, and a little confidence arrives with some sense of wisdom in knowing “the difference”.

Day 3Zugspitze3

The last leg of this three-legged stool of moving mountains seems to be — trust. I try to carry out God’s guidance to the best of my ability. I try to leave the results to God.  The giant step here is to begin to believe that the guidance God gives me has already been worked out by God to produce the required results for my own circumstance.

This week that guidance has led me to look into two areas of service that will be personally challenging but I am following the guidance and see where it leads.

I recommit to living according to the dictates of my conscience and I pray that I may leave the results to God.

The meditation of the day mentions “If you have enough faith to ask God to give you the power you need and if you are grateful enough for the grace God gives you, you can move mountains.”

Here comes the mountain-mover with faith and gratitude.

IMG_0948

 

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FREEDOM

Things are not falling apart for me now. But there are a few times in my life when they truly were on a personal level. Somewhere along the line, I picked up Pema Chodron’s book by the same title: When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

On December 14, 2012, things fell apart on a collective, national scale, and of first importance — fell apart on  the deepest of personal levels for many, many family members and emergency and law officials of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

I, of course, have no advice, nor many words. Yet I recognize, that because I am a writer, I am usually hiding something from myself when I refuse to write.

I am on the verge of refusing to write….so I will not give into that. Most of my “falling apart” personal experiences, I notice I have not written through. My journals reveal the underpinnings, the warning signs, the path right UP TO the falling apart — then there is a significant amount of time not accounted for; in other words, blank pages, until I was “through it” and on my way.

“Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know. When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.”
Pema Chodron

I cannot deal with this on a rational level. Reason demands something  hard and defining like —concrete. I cannot grasp this. It is not static. It is too fluid, too life-changing for too many people, too much, too much, too much….It is a wilderness.

The skies even have gone dark since Friday, after two exceptionally bright days. The atmosphere is gloom. It reflects the hearts of the country, the raindrops, the tears falling everywhere. We are at one with the environment grieving this vast grief.

This Sunday morning, in the midst of Advent, the readings from St. Paul paralleled  this “brink” that was as present in the long ago days in the early Christian faith as it is in today’s scenes of purposeful infliction of pain, suffering and loss upon the innocent. It is “Latare” – Rejoice — Sunday. Only one Sunday of the four week season is focused on keeping a rejoiceful spirit amidst any number of our own troubles.

It looks like a daunting, impossible task for the immediate future, but we are also in the season of promised hope — Christmas; but now one Christmas so unspeakably different than what these families in Newtown were preparing for.

The liturgy today, including the hymns chosen to be sung, appeared to me to be sending a cradle of love to fellow families on the East Coast. Even though the presider of the Mass had to speak of rejoicing in his homily, he drew us gently to  the one main way (not by reason) we are able to do this.

It is through our embodying the faith of old, as when St. Paul, in his most dire circumstances of imprisonment and impending execution, still wrote to his followers to rejoice, as indeed, he himself was doing. The reason Paul told them that they could was that Christ was truly present to them in all circumstances, at all times,

There had been no mention yet of the Sandy Hook School shootings by Bishop Murray, who was assisting Father O’Leary until he is feeling a little better. But he concluded his homily, by slowing down his words and deliberately pronouncing these words directly to the congregation. I felt it was as though he knew he had to address the amount of grief held in the hearts and faces before him.

I cannot quote directly, but this is what my heart heard.

“In the fifty-three years of ministry I have performed and the 80 years I have taken breath after breath, I can tell you this. I know for certain that God is very especially present with individuals undergoing hardships of any kind and that God was and is most present to the victims and family survivors and officials dealing with the vast horrors of this immense and immeasurable tragedy.

I believe that.

I am still on the brink — in the moment of pain. There are an infinite number of beaches around the world, I suppose, but today, there is not enough sand to hide my head in. I know what’s going on. But then again, I don’t know anything, really.

I’m also choosing to believe in another line Chodrin writes in Falling Apart.

“Right now — in the very instant of groundlessness — is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.”

That, I can do and I commit to doing it. Perhaps that will help in overcoming the dueling-banjos of both a headache and stomach murmur.

…..”main point is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path.” Pema Chodron’s words, not mine.

I will need practice to arrive at peace with that.

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Institute of Heart Math Image
February — the month of heart. Probably nowhere else is it more celebrated that at the Institute of HeartMath, whose research is focused on empowering heart-based living.
 
Instantly, one thinks of good nutrition and exercise, which is one part of the whole equation. But at the Institute of HeartMath, their research and resources goes well beyond that. Their mission is to help establish heartbased living and global coherence by inspiring people to connect with the intelligence and guidance of their own hearts.
 
Ah, but can we trust that lovable, yet occasionally fickle heart?
 
The HeartMath Institute thinks so. In a newsletter dated Spring 2007,  they note the worldwide trend (back then!) of increasing levels of stress. This was BEFORE  the economy bust and political hassles that have ensued, the mortgage foreclosure stompede, the nation-wide massive loss of jobs, and world-wide economic bank and financial systems broken-ness and failures.
 
Global Coherence – IHM
 
Research at IHM has shown stressful feelings not only create incoherence in our bodies, but like radio waves they also radiate outward and are detected by the nervous systems of others who are in our environment.
 
Occasionally I notice a general but very non-specific feeling of anxiety within. I always hate that because being a Type A, I always want to KNOW what I am anxious about! I wonder if this is what happens here.
 
IHS says in Energetic Heart, that when our nervous system detects these subtle stress waves, it can create a background feeling of incoherence or unease that that often is hard to put into words.
 
Their claim is that back in 2007, global incoherence seemed to overshadow coherence, which accounted for the increasing intensity of the stress. But it also caused people to take a deeper look at their own inner resources and find deeper connections with others. As a manifestation of natural human resiliency, this they say is a sign of a coherence momenntum beginning to take shape.
 
One of the signs? The increasing number of people who are turning to their heart, listening to their heart, following their heart, and connecting with other heart-based people.
 

Heart-brain conversation - IHM

 
This in turn also led to an increase in appreciation, gratitude, compassion, caring and personal and social balance. If I look at my life over that same time period of 2007 – 2012, it is the absolute truth of me.
 
They were very tough years; dreams destroyed, business collapse, life-savings swallowed up, heart-health challenge met head-on. Yes there was fear, misery, confusion, grief, all rolled together in one big ball of incoherence, yet we kept a dialogue going that made all the difference, provided resilience beyond our own human capability, and pulled us into a new future that feels quite comfortable now.
 
That was the dialogue of faith and heart; heart and soul; Creator and Co-creator. The line was very busy. We were put on hold many times…..wait and see……trust…..Stay in the present………….”feeling sorry for yourself, Oh wrong number, you dialed into the past.   “Afraid down to your toenails?” Disconnect the line to the future. 
 
Be still!
 
Trust.
 
Connect with other heart and faith-based persons.
 
We did and we continue to do.
 

Inner & Global Awakening

 
Doc Childre founded HeartMath to help people find their way through times of increased planetary stress by facillitating a shift to heart-based living, one of the necessary steps to achieving global coherence.
 
At HeartMath, they teach people to connect with their “spirit” primarily through the heart. They call this “accessing heart intelligence”. They have learned, and now have the value of timed history and research that following our heart’s intelligence and intuition and increasing care for ourselves and others are the most important qualities of heart based living.
 
You can check out many other facts about this organization, their work and their research at www.heartmath.org
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One of my daughters called me this morning while I was fixing our breakfast. She had just received news that was rather stressful. I felt her stress land in a deep part of me as I listened.  I handed the phone to her father and he listened as well. She had a full day of professional work to get through and at this time the best we could offer her was to focus on the day ahead, help all the patients she would be seeing and return home safely tonight to her family.

We had our breakfast together and talked about a few of the items on the list we wanted to do today to get more settled in our new home. Hanging up wall pictures was at the top of the list. A house doesn’t seem like a home without them.

But first, I had a desire come over me to polish the silverware I had left out on the kitchen ledge. I wanted to do that before we got started on the other. This silverware is a small part of the twelve piece settings (two sets) from both my birth mother and the mom who raised me after her death.

We have not “entertained” as a way of life for a very long time. We have either moved away from family or moved back to smaller places so we tend to have large gatherings at my daughters’ homes instead of ours. Tom and I often eat our dinner in our TV chairs which some judge to be a bad habit, but we’re comfortable with it.

So…….I asked myself awhile back, “What am I saving the silver for!” Tom just  turned seventy years old and I am a mere year behind.

 At our wedding time, more than forty-six years ago now, we filled in an eight-piece china set around the china gifts given us from our registry, but never chose a silver set.

As we’ve been moving between apartments, town homes and now finally a new home of our own again, I removed a small sample of four placesettings from each set from their chest storage and put them with the regular silverware, which is a mixed and varied mismatched group if there ever was one.

Then I took two china place settings from the china cabinet where they are stored on low shelves, harder to get down to as each year passes. Then I use these at random times just for Tom and me because, you know, time is spinning on and we don’t really have to save them for anything special because every day is special.

As I am polishing these intermixed sets from my two mothers, I listen to some prayer chant songs that really contain the essence of my faith in God and in life, and my troubled heart soothes a bit.

I also recall the specialness of this silverware, mostly the second set because that was the one mom used for all our holidays and her dining room table was the definition of special. Of the many things mom was, frugal was one of them. Her set was silver-plated, not real silver, so one of my jobs around holiday times was to polish this silver for her.

She was also the finest of cooks and bakers. So we came to the dining room table with a feast to behold. Our mahoghany drop leaf dining room table was pulled to center stage from the wall, adorned with a freshly washed and pressed linen table cloth and napkins and then filled with hot, steaming delicious meats, vegetables, fruits and desserts. Seeing, handling and using this silverware puts me right back in my girlhood dining room and times. This is the dining table Tom came to as we became an engaged couple.

My birth mother’s silverware  –  I’m just glad I have it. I think mom and dad gave it to me in our early marriage. It is one of the few tangible items I have of my mother that I know she chose, used, and cherished in her own married life, as short as it was.

The words to the chants, I am very familiar with, and begin to sing along as my hands slip along in the silvery foam suds. One of the songs was written for our Wings of Prayer group leader, On the Wings of Prayer.”

Cherish the light of each moment.
Embrace the days one by one –”

“Fear neither storm nor darkness,
Knowing you’ve done your best.”

“Enjoy the Power of being….
on the Wings of Prayer.”

So my silent prayer takes flight and I surrender to a knowledge that this prayer is powerful; that so many times we, too, walked by faith and not by sight.  And that this is an answer in itself.

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