A Fancy Forage of Spiritual Nuttery

The Reign of God — Through My Grandmother

Posted on January 22, 2015

The day before my Grandmother passed away I came to see her for the last time. The watch had gone on for days, frail and small she lay bravely waiting as death took its time. My memory of that day has blurred. I can’t seem to remember the details of how age and sickness had ravaged her physical body though I know they had. Instead, I remember her glowing as if her pale skin and white hair were infused by light. And out of that light I remember her striking blue eyes looking across the room and connecting with mine in an invisible current of love. In that moment, I knew two things: the Grandmother I knew in this world was saying goodbye to me for the final time and the love we shared between us would never die.

After she passed I was asked to come back to her house to help clean up and divide her belongings between us. In the spinning chaos of old magazines, china and dust I sat, numb in grief, among a dawning reality that none of “this” mattered. The physical pieces of my Grandmother’s tiny kingdom on earth, her little house full of blue crystal and hidden candy would be divided up and dispersed — dust to dust.

As I write this, with my Grandmother in Heaven and her ceramic quail watching over me from its shelf, I realize that “quail” is not her legacy but rather the unconditional and infinite love she shared that continues to reign in my memory , in my heart and goes out into the world through me — thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Forgiveness

Posted on May 31, 2014


 

My words. They come out twisted and tangled.

Incarcerated, they escape with their knife edge sharp,

slicing quick serial ripples of mad spinning crazies.

Damn there they go and I grasp for them back

as you gasp and implode

into silence – but it’s loud and explosive,

a deafening wave wrapping me into you.

Twisted and upside down wreckage.


Eyes narrowed, downcast, fleeting

your door closes again and again so softly

and your back keeps walking away

and neatly you fold your love up in squares

and your cold shield blocks my words.

New words.

Words untwisted untied, laid out clean just for you.

Words grasping for forgiveness

floating in hollowness,

drifting into the after shock.

My words. Still twisted and tangled

still stuck in the knife edge wounds.

But you’ve gone now

with your squares of love

and the beautiful cross you once shared.

— Foraging Squirrel

Lovely Things

Posted on May 11, 2014

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In the emptiness of the waves
I searched for lovely things
wet with promise
rolled out in a rhythmic unveiling

In the emptiness of the waves
I walked gently over echoes
and around silent stories
still beautiful opalescent
gleamings of once we were

In the emptiness of the waves
the wind bit hard, angry and
demanded lovely things
in violent possession

In the emptiness of the waves
cracked and broken
chilled by the watery coldness
bathed in the memory of your lovely
I missed you.

—Foraging Squirrel

‘Awakenings’ – Learning the Value of Suffering

Posted on May 6, 2013

Détail d'une photo de Gemma Galgani

During the past year my 6 year-old son was diagnosed with autism, Tourette syndrome, and celiac disease. My 8 year-old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia and anxiety disorder, and my 3-year-old daughter was also diagnosed as having celiac disease. Then a letter came from the school saying my son was colorblind. My husband took the letter, crumbled it and threw it across the yard. It was the last blow in a series of too many blows.

I was received into the Church at last year’s Easter Vigil after 20 years of agnosticism. As I learned of my children’s autism and dyslexia diagnosis I was also learning about the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary gave me strength and helped me understand.

As I fought against shock and denial, I learned acceptance as Mary graciously welcomed her fate. As I cried while watching my children struggle, I heard Jesus say, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” and I learned how to let go. As I watched my husband bend under the weight of the sorrow he felt, I learned how to help him carry his cross.

Treatment for celiac disease is no gluten (wheat) for life. I wondered how my pizza, bread and pasta loving children could do it. I wondered how I could do it. I turned to the Saints.

Jesus once said to me: “Do you know, daughter, for what reason I send crosses to souls dear to me? I desire to possess their souls, entirely, and for this I surround them with crosses, and I enclose them in sufferings and tribulation, that they may not escape from my hands; and for this I scatter thorns, that souls may fasten their affections upon no one, but find all content in Me alone. My daughter, if you do not feel the cross it cannot be called a cross.Be sure that under the cross you will not be lost. — St. Gemma Galgani

If you were to ask me “Why Catholic?” I would say, “Because through Catholicism I have learned the value of suffering and that has lifted me up and brought me joy.”

At our children’s Masses there is often a picture projected on the wall as we sing “Hallelujah” of a little girl in a field. Looking up, arms stretched toward heaven, she is smiling. When I see this image I am brought to tears. It is a child full of joy, love and trust. Similarly, my children do not dwell on their disabilities but rather exude love, trust and happiness. As an adult, the suffering I have felt for my children and, in time, the thanksgiving, has brought me closer to this pureness of being. I believe this is the “me” that love has chosen to break so as to embrace.

Like many parents of children with disabilities, I am not where I thought I would be but am in a much better place than I planned. I understand now the trials we face as a family are a blessing. In fact, without the autism diagnosis we might never have been given the tests that uncovered the celiac disease (which can be fatal).

I once believed religion was for people who could not stand on there own. Now I understand that we never stand on our own. During the past year Catholicism has taught me what love is, how to love and the value of suffering.

This long year of learning reached it’s joyous crescendo at this past Easter Vigil as I watched (with arms stretched toward heaven and a smile on my face) as my daughter was baptized. Thank God, and I am grateful.

What Is The Holy Spirit?

Posted on April 10, 2013

The following is a passage from “Exercising Your Soul” by Gary Jansen. I highly recommend this book!

What is The Holy Spirit?

“A man stood outside a church in the middle of a busy city and watched as passersby went about their daily business. Many were shuffling off to work, others were walking around in shorts with newspapers and brown paper bags, still others seemed lost and in need of directions. Around noon, the man looked up at the tall steeple and fixed his gaze upon the thin iron cross that sat on the top. Every once in a while a man on his way to lunch or a woman on her way to the drugstore for cotton balls would slow down and look up, too. If the person lingered for a moment, the man would ask, “What is the Holy Spirit?” Many people said nothing and took his words as their cue to move on. Some said, ” I don’t know.” Others said words like God, Jesus, grass, smoke, fire, energy, a new line of sports shoes. This went on for hours.
As the sun began to set, casting the street in the colors of Sri Lankan silk, and after hours of staring upward, his neck stiff and pinched, the man turned his gaze to the street. Walking toward him was a beautiful woman in a sundress. With the sun shining on her she looked as if she was radiating phosphorus.
” What is the Holy Spirit?” the man asked.
The beautiful woman smiled, looking like an angel from God. She raised her hand, her fingers painted in Technicolor, and slapped his face with the strength of a small Balkan army.
“That’s the Holy Spirit.” she said and walked away.
The man, his cheek burning with the fire of God, knew exactly what she meant.

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved — a poem by Mara Faulkner

Posted on March 20, 2013

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Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

By Mara Faulkner, Foley Poetry Contest winner

via Things I Didn’t Know I Loved | America Magazine.

I didn’t know I loved the wrangle of phones and human voices, rough, insistent
until I entered this silence and closed the door. I didn’t know I loved
this silence until the hooked voices reached for me. I didn’t know I loved
didn’t really know I loved the treeless prairies until green bars grew up
between my eyes, the airy sunset, and the moon. Didn’t know I loved
the thorny green thickets of my self
contrary and bear-haunted, until I took the straight smooth road
and found it strewn with death. I didn’t know I loved
black bears lumbering through my dream toward my sister
whom I didn’t know I loved
even though I’ve lost her now in the blind thicket and she
doesn’t love me any more. I didn’t know I loved
my mother until her rose-heart burst and bled
red petals into her chest, didn’t know I loved
the garden of her flesh. And you, my God
under her ashes so silent and cold, I didn’t know I loved
you until you woke every morning in my little stove
so lowly in your prison house of wood and flesh and fire
so eager and so needful of my hands. I didn’t know I loved
my hands—clumsy, tender—until they stirred the fire and found
these words.

 

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie — That’s Lent.

Posted on February 23, 2013

Cover of "Moonstruck (Deluxe Edition)"

Cover of Moonstruck (Deluxe Edition)

I’ve always wanted to be deep, serious and mysterious. Instead I’m goofy, spacy and obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I like who I am, but it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming that someday I might be mistaken for an international spy (who just happens to be holding a 3-year-old as part of a complex disguise). It’s similar to the cloudy, dreamy hope I have every Sunday at mass that the person in front of me, after hearing me sing, will turn around and exclaim breathlessly, “Wow, your voice is incredible! You should be in the choir!”. Ya—  that’s  just not going to happen, but I keep on dreaming.

Last night I was in my, “I’m deep and serious” mode when I went into confession but quickly slipped into my usual squirrel behavior, got off on a tangent and ended up trying to reenact the confession scene from Moonstruck for the Priest because amazingly he had never seen it! Fortunately he graciously put up with my poor performance promising he would watch the movie later to experience the actual entertainment of the scene I was destroying.

And then …I spent the rest of the night… kicking myself for acting out the confession scene from Moonstruck during my deep and serious confession. What was I thinking? How can I ever be taken for a mysterious International Spy at this rate? I was upset at myself.

I realized this morning I was upset because I was caught up (again) in the spiderweb of perfection. I had lost focus of the goal of Lent and instead had become hyper-focused on my ability to pray perfectly, praise perfectly, make perfect decisions, treat others perfectly, treat myself perfectly, confess perfectly, be the perfect wife, mother, friend etc. etc. An exhausting course with an obvious outcome of no, not really, not even close, nada, zip, zilch, never, ever, in a gazillion light years will I ever be perfect. This may be a surprise to many, even apparently myself, but Catholicism isn’t about being perfect. In fact, I have a crazy hunch I’m not the only one out there caught up in the perfection spiderweb this Lenton season.

“I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit*.”

The quote above is also from the movie Moonstruck. In the scene Nicholas Cage is desperately trying to get Cher to understand their love with this raw, soulful, confession. It is an acknowledgment that their imperfections are the final path to learning how to truly love. Similarly, I find it is ultimately my wrong turns and my constant failing to be perfect that teaches me who I truly am (after I take off the spy glasses). This is the me that is left over after life breaks my heart and lays me bare, shredding my ego. This is moonstruck. After being hit in the eye like a big pizza pie it is my true self emanating an honest purity of being. This is the me that love has chosen to break so as to embrace. This is also the ultimate goal of Lent. Through sacrifice, prayer and alms giving, we hopefully shred the disguise that gets in the way of God —of love.  Maybe this basic, naked soul united with Love is where perfection lies… if we can find it. “The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us!”

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