Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philippine and Failure

Happy Feast--just a few days late!

I preached this morning at our mid-day prayer service, using the Gospel reading of today, which is not one of my favorites.  But it gave me an opportunity to talk about St. Philippine Duchesne, whose feast day was on Monday.  Enjoy!

Gospel: Luke 19:11-28
While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.’”

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Today’s Preaching:
I have always been uncomfortable with this parable.  There is not a single character in it whom I want to emulate:  the unjust master who seeks kingship and riches, the two servants who bow to his desire for what is not his, and the final servant who is called “wicked” simply because he lives in fear and is not able to use what he’s been given.  I can’t really relate to any of them.  Well, maybe that’s not true.  I can understand the final servant, in his sadness and fear, and I think that above all is why I am uncomfortable with this story.  It just seems so unfair, that the harsh reality of the world is thrown back on him when he fails to live up to the expectations of a greedy master. 

We all can relate to the feeling of fear and its effect on our ability to live each day to the fullest.  We may fear physical or emotional pain.  We may fear the loss of a friendship, or the angry reaction of someone we love.  I can remember with shame and sadness pouring my heart out to a friend, only to have him sever the relationship completely.  Maybe that fear is of failure, as it seems in this story.  We fear to use our talents, our gifts, because they (and therefore we) might not be appreciated.  Even worse, our best efforts might be ridiculed or belittled despite everything we do. We’ve all experienced that feeling of humiliation, and no one wants to experience that again.  It seems safer to build walls and to stay where it is safe, where we do not feel so vulnerable.

Yet, we are called to use our gifts and talents, not to protect them from the scrutiny of the outside world.  In fact, as the parable tells us, the more we are given, the more that is expected of us.  As teachers and preachers, growing in Christian knowledge and faith, we become more aware of our responsibility and call to share what we have known and what we believe with others.  We grow and are stretched by approaching the edges of our comfort, by opening our lives and our faith to the influence of other thoughts and belief systems, and by allowing those others to change us.  That space of growth and openness is terribly vulnerable, as is sharing our deepest beliefs with others.  Whether it’s in opening our lives to someone we care about, or in following where we see God calling us at our deepest being, our vulnerability is where we most become who we are meant to be, where we can most make a difference in the world around us.  Being in that place is putting our safety and security at risk, opening up to the possibility of rejection and acting despite our fears.  Yet, when we do that, we can feel the transforming power of the Spirit molding us.

When we talk of acting beyond fear and vulnerability, I can’t help but think of the life of St. Philippine Duchesne, whose feast day we celebrated on Monday.  Philippine was an early member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who brought the mission of the Society to the United States from France.  She first came to St. Charles and established a school for girls in 1818, and she died and was buried there many years later.  Philippine’s life is marked by the risks involved in using her gifts and following her call, and by her own sense of failure in doing just that.  She felt the call to religious life and became a Visitation novice just before the beginning of the French Revolution, which put an end to her religious life for a time.   After moving back home, she risked her neck (literally) to minister to the priests and nuns who were being held awaiting execution in her own precious convent which had been seized and turned into a prison.

Eventually, Philippine met St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and became an RSCJ.  In her lifetime she opened numerous schools and convents throughout the United States.  Her life-long dream of serving the Native Americans was realized when she was in her 70s.  Philippine did amazing things, but she believed throughout her life that she was a failure.  Her attempt to re-establish the Visitation monastery in her hometown of Grenoble ended when the sisters walked out on her, unable to face the harsh post-Revolutionary conditions.  She never learned English to her satisfaction, and she did not learn the language of the Potawatami Indians.  She had great difficulties in administering the religious sisters under her care, repeatedly asking to be removed from the position of superior.

While we remember her as a humble woman of deep prayer, her self-perception was as a failure.  What inspires me in her life is her ability to move forward with her calling and her dreams, after many years of patient waiting, and while she believed herself to have failed at all she did.  The reality of failed attempts at one thing or another did not cause her to live in fear of further failure. 

I can hold Philippine as a model when I feel like the third servant who hides what he has been given in order to protect it from being taken from him.  She helps me to see that perseverance pays off, and that failing is not the end of the story.  Without risk, we are unlikely to fail—but without risk we cannot fully use the gifts God has given us.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The here and now

We are the communion of saints--imperfect, and deeply loved by God.

For several days I've been reflecting with God's desire to be with me, right here, right now.  Not to be with me as I wish or plan or plot out my future, but to be with me in all that I am and all that I am capable of on this day and at this moment.  Today's lectionary brought this back to me...

Wisdom 11:22-12:2 (today's first reading):

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people's sins that they may repent.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O LORD and lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!

Each one of us has been created by a loving God, with unique gifts and limitations, and our God is so completely in love with us that time together is cherished by God--what a motivation to spend time in prayer!

These last months have been for me a time of illness and very slow healing, and I have been so conscious of my limitations that I haven't really felt like myself because I cannot do all the things I want to do.  It has helped me to remember that God is with me no matter what, and that the limitations I see as problems or defects are nothing in God's eyes.  We are unconditionally loved by God, who "loves all things that are," as they are, for God made them!  It doesn't matter what I can't do right now.  What matters is that I follow Jesus as best I can, regardless of how limited I feel, right here and right now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Heal us, O God

At my school, we do a weekly mid-day prayer service with preaching, planned and preached by the faculty.  I was on for yesterday's prayer.  It was a good reading for me to consider at this moment.... hope you find some good in it!

Gospel Reading:  Luke 4:38-44

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.”
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, “To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent.”
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

You’ve got to feel for Jesus here—doing great things to help the people, only to be prevented from keeping his contemplative space in the desert with his Father.  So many hurt and suffering people want his touch that the comfort and refreshment of solitary prayer is taken from him.  Anyone who is deeply invested in their ministry feels this pull to meet the needs of everyone who comes, and like Jesus, we have to say “let me go” and help others, too.

Jesus starts healing with a “friend of a friend” – Simon’s mother-in-law.  Her reaction to being healed is to go back to the ordinary: to get up and be the hostess to the guests in her home, a role she surely knew well.  As soon as word of Jesus’ powerful touch begins to spread, it seems that the whole world comes to be healed.  I can place myself in that crowd, hoping to touch just the tassel of his cloak, and be instantly healed in body and spirit.    “Lord, only say the word and I shall be healed.”  Please, Lord, heal my soul, heal my body, heal my mind, my relationships.  Find all the places in me that keep me from doing the ordinary things that you have called me to do, and heal them.  Make me whole. 

We bring with us not only our own need for healing, but the needs of our loved ones, hoping they, too, will be touched and healed by Jesus.  No one wants to see the ones they love suffer, but that is, of course, inevitable in our world.  We will see death, sorrow, pain, and suffering.  We live in an imperfect world among people who have free will, and sorrow simply comes with the territory.

Yet, sorrow and suffering, even the climactic suffering of Christ on the cross, are not the end of our story.  In action and word, Jesus shows us the deeper meaning of his healing gift.  His act of healing preaches the Kingdom of God as definitively as any of his words.  Jesus declares for us a new world, a new kingdom in which the Good prevails.  A new kingdom in which no one needs to be healed and all live in harmony.  While each one of us seeks personal healing of body and spirit, Jesus seeks an even greater healing of which each individual is only a small portion, a prefiguration.  The message Jesus offers is one of hope and healing for the wounds of our world, of war, of overpopulation, of exploitation of the people and of the land. 

This hope-filled message may seem far away, as we hear of atrocious acts of violence in Syria, both violence already committed and violence that seems imminent.  But despite the discouraging news of these last days, hope remains part of our identity as Christians.  The Holy Father has asked us all to mobilize the “hope that is within us” by praying this Saturday with him and people all around the world.  Pope Francis states that “Jesus doesn’t need an army to cast out the demons, He has no need of pride, no need of force, of arrogance. What is there about His word? For with authority and power He commands unclean spirits, and they come out.  This is a humble word, meek, with so much love; it is a word that accompanies us in the moments of the Cross.”  As Christians following Christ’s example, may we use our words, our prayers, and our fasting to work for peace and healing in our broken world.   Perhaps today the kingdom of God will be prefigured in the use of touch and word to end violence, rather than the use of more violence.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A hobbit among ancient giants...

At least, that's how I felt at Big Basin Redwoods Park yesterday.  It was beautiful, glorious, total peace.

And then... Went here and met this guy. :) However, this is a postcard I bought...the museum itself is a little more worn and dusty than it looks here.   The guy is about the same, though.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Yesterday's pilgrimage

As promised, the photos from Carmel Mission and the burial site of Junipero Serra.

From what I read, this mission was Serra's favorite, and it became his home base.  It also had some significant damage from neglect before being rebuilt/repaired.

The outside of the mission.  To the right is the old cemetery, and to the left are buildings around a courtyard.

I think this said it was the original cross from the top of the church.

Serra's burial place, beneath the floor of the sanctuary.

And I cannot resist this last one.  I think it will find its way into future lectures on the Spanish conquest. I can't get over the imagery... Sacred Heart of Jesus / Christ the King rolled into one.  Complete with gilded cape and wooden cross.  I was a bit amused, but also a bit saddened by the way we use imagery sometimes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my first anniversary of first vows!  I am so happy to be here, and grateful for all that this year has been (though not all of it has been easy!)

As part of my celebratory day, I took a mini pilgrimage to the Carmel Mission, which I'll post in a little bit.  I lit a candle there for my own vocation, in gratitude and hope, for my dear friend who is just beginning a new journey, and for all women who are discerning a vocation to religious life in the Society of the Sacred Heart.  May they be courageous and confident in their choices.

And, here is my favorite picture from the ceremony a year published in a newspaper in my hometown.  

Amen, and Blessings all around!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Going by the side roads

There is a great woman among our Sacred Heart sisters, who wrote of the side-roads and their spirituality (as opposed to the highways).  Janet Erskine Stuart, rscj, was the superior general of the order 1911-1914, and she wrote an essay called "Highways and By-ways."  "By-ways" is what we would call side-roads.

I'm on vacation at a house we have in the mountains in California, and I'm learning a little about the side-roads.  To get to this house, you have to go 5-10 miles in either direction on a winding road up and down mountains through the redwoods.  It's spectacular.  Of course, I can't actually take a picture of it (since I'm driving in it!!) but you can imagine the smell of the forest, and the sickeningly-windy roads going through it. (I do mean sickening.  I'm not sure I would want to be a passenger traversing these roads!)

These days have brought back to me the feel of growing up in Montana, and the vacations we took when I was a child to visit my extended family in Oregon.  The smell of the trees alone brings memories and happy feelings to my heart!  Ah!

A little snippet of Janet Stuart's essay on the highways and by-ways....  She contrasts the two ways, that by the highway, one is trying to "arrive" at the destination.  The journey is not about the journey at all, but about getting to a final location in a speedy fashion.  In contrast, the side-roads attract those who are on a journey, for whom the journey is more important than anything else.  She says of the side-roads:

“There pass the inspired people, the seers, poets in contemplation, shepherds and sons of the soil who hide behind irresponsive faces strange gleams of the unseen world, shadows of inarticulate fears, and hopes still more unutterable.  There pass village children gathering flowers, and gypsies in quest of forbidden things, and crazy, harmless wanderers perhaps wiser than the sane, and all the uncounted seekers after that which can never be known, and lovers of that which always lies beyond.  The people of the other world are attracted to the by-ways, where the mysteries call them onward, and the shy nightingales sing, and the stress of life is lifted off, and the ticking of time is still, where it is no longer the chronometer that divides the seconds, but the sun that rules the day, and the moon and stars that govern the night; where life seems larger because of silence and calm, where the soul may be invaded and taken captive unresisting by the power of the world to come, where the mind learns to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for the heart’s desire, where the conviction grows that at long last all things come home to their God, Ad Te omnis caro veniet!”

Her language is so lovely! And I pray that each of us find the path to a heart open to being "taken captive" by God, resting there in love.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reflecting on Freedom

To begin with, this post really has nothing to do with the coming celebration of Independence Day.  Just in case the title led you to think that...

Instead, I want to focus on yesterday's readings.  The second reading was from Paul's letter to the Galatians.  I'll abbreviate it here (but the whole thing is Gal. 5:1, 13-18, and can be found here):

Brothers and sisters:  For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.  But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

What is it that keeps you from freely following Jesus?  What freedom to you need to be truly able to live a whole-hearted life in love?
  • Freedom from illness or physical pain?
  • Freedom from mental illness, depression, or otherwise?
  • Freedom from attachment to "stuff" -- a closet full of nice clothes, a fancy car, a designer dog?

None of those things are really bad in themselves, and of course, illness (mental or physical) is not something that we can control.  But they are certainly things we can pray for.  I pray right now for freedom from whatever stops each one of us from serving our neighbors in love.  For healing for all those who are ill, in pain or mental anguish.  For detachment for those who need it.  For freedom to be who we are called by God to be.  Freedom for loving as God loves us.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. Clare and the spiritual meaning of virginity

My spirituality class ended last Friday, but there's more to say!  I'll keep posting some of the "lessons" I learned in teaching this class for a while.  At least, until I'm finished with them.  

image from

We had a fascinating conversation one day about the image of virginity in the Catholic tradition.  It came up because we read one of St. Clare of Assisi's letters to Agnes of Prague.  Clare writes a number of letters to this noblewoman ("daughter of the most excellent and illustrious king of Bohemia"), and this one was written in 1234.  She uses quotations and ideas from the Office of the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr.

"For, though You (Agnes), more than others, could have enjoyed the magnificence, honor, and dignity of the world and could have been married to the illustrious Emperor with splendor befitting You and His Excellency, You have rejected all these things and chosen with Your whole heart and soul a life of holy poverty and bodily want.  Thus You took a spouse of a more noble stock, Who will keep Your virginity ever unspotted and unsullied, the Lord Jesus Christ...."

Now, what's all this "virginity" talk about?

One of my students started a conversation about how it's sometimes easy to disregard images that have little meaning to us, and that we lose some of the richness of the spiritual writings of our tradition when we do so.  

I think he's right.  However, I have some concerns about this.

One concern comes from our contemporary church.  In Vatican II, the bishops were cautious to articulate the relative equality of all ways of living, of all vocations, whether married, single, priesthood, or religious.  The "priesthood of all the faithful" and the "universal call to holiness" underline the concept that ALL walks of life are called to follow God, and that no single vocation is holier than any other.

The problem with the use of the image of virginity in this light is that for so long it was taught that the vocations to celibacy -- especially that to priesthood -- were higher than the call to marriage and family.  (If you don't believe me, take a look at this image from the Baltimore Catechism!)

A second problem is that "virginity" tends to be applied unequally to women more than to men.

So, what is the benefit of the image of virginity?  Clare above refers to being "unspotted and unsullied."  She goes on to say of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Whom in loving, You are chaste; in touching, You become more pure; in embracing, You are a virgin."  Additionally, virginity is paired in this writing with the choice of poverty and the rejection of worldly honors.  It seems it is part of an all-around rejection of worldly goods in favor of unwavering commitment to Jesus.

In that sense, yes, virginity offers an image that might be helpful for some people.  It represents a sacrifice of physical desire in favor of an undistracted, pure desire for union with God.  In this, if we remember the high esteem placed on having a family, then the sacrifice of virginity takes on a meaning that doesn't diminish the physicality of our human nature or the holiness of parenthood and married life.  When we revere our human physical selves, we also then begin to understand more clearly this sacrifice this points to.  

Really, to me, this means both vocations are important, both are meaningful, and both lead to holiness.

Friday, June 21, 2013

St. Catherine's Bridge

My spirituality class read a selection from St. Catherine of Siena's major writing, the Dialogue, in which she describes the spiritual journey as crossing a bridge.

This bridge is a metaphor for Christ, and there are three stairs, which become the three steps toward deeper union with God.  The first stair, she says, is the affections, which are symbolized by the feet (she says "the affections carry the soul," much like our feet carry our bodies).

The second step is the "stair by which you can climb into his side, where you will see revealed his inmost heart."  (Do you hear the echos of early Sacred Heart spirituality here?)

The third step is where the soul reaches Christ's mouth, "where she [the soul] finds peace from the terrible war she has had to wage because of her sins."

So, Catherine continues, "At the first stair, lifting the feet of her affections from the earth, she stripped herself of sin.  At the second she dressed herself in love for virtue. And at the third she tasted peace."  The bridge itself, with these three steps, was raised up by the cross of Christ, a link (bridge!) between humanity and God's divinity.

And, as as side note, those three steps correspond to the classical spiritual path of purgation -- illumination -- union that is found in so many other writings!

LOVE is the central element to this cross, and (Catherine tells us) we human beings are drawn by love:  "You can hardly resist being drawn by love, then, unless you foolishly refuse to be drawn."

Ah!  What lovely imagery!  We are drawn to God by the love God offers us, and the only way we are not drawn is if we hold back (and who would do that?).

Throughout teaching about the history of Christian spirituality, what is most striking is the emphasis on love, the idea that we know God only by loving.  We can never comprehend God with our minds, but with our desire and ability to love, we can know God deeply.

Hear, O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with your whole heart, and with your whole being, 
and with your whole strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Thursday, June 20, 2013

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Continuing on with yesterday's exploration of spirituality...the second thing my students read was a selection from St. Bernard of Clairvaux's work "On Loving God" (also called "On the Love of God," depending on the translation).

This is a little work that's not terribly easy to read.  In it Bernard outlines four degrees of love, which mark our progress along our spiritual path toward God.  They are:
1. To love myself for my own sake.
2. To love God for my own sake.
3. To love God for God's sake.
4. To love myself for God's sake.
It's that fourth one that seems tricky, right?

And yet, we are called to live the best life that we are capable of, to use the gifts God has given us to the benefit of our neighbor, of our world, of God.  Is it not love to be able to recognize the good in me?

So, Bernard of Clairvaux makes me happy, and makes me think about what life means, what my desires point to, how I want to live my life.  How I need to value myself and explore my gifts, not in a selfish way, but in order to give them back to God.  In order to be the best Religious of the Sacred Heart that I can be.  In order to be the best Juliet that I can be.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adventures on the Spiritual Path

Benedict of Nursia and the Cup of Poison, image from

This week, I am teaching a course called "Pathways of the Spirit," in which we are exploring five (plus a few extra) spiritual writers from the middle ages.  We began Monday with Benedict of Nursia and Benedictine spirituality  I hope to do a little series of blog posts, chronicling the insights of our journey through the history of spirituality.  So, we begin with Benedict!

Benedict lived around the year 500.  What is so amazing is that he wrote a document that remains to this day the guide of life for monks around the world.  It is a simple document, with an ideal vision of Christian life but a realistic view of the challenges of being human.  It offers flexibility to account for the different needs of people and groups.  This quotation comes from the prologue:
Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord's service.  In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.  The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.  Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation.  It is bound to be narrow at the outset.  But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.

This "school for the Lord's service," not really a school at all, but yet a context in which we learn to live a new way, is founded on that love, strict only in order to draw us into loving service of God and others.  The imagery is so helpful here--that we need a place where we are safe to learn, to grow, to become more human and more godly.  A "school" that recognizes that if it is too difficult, we will want to turn away, and yet if it is too easy we will never move along the pathway at all.

This can be said of any form of religious life!  And probably of any way of life, as long as those in it are aware of their orientation toward God.

I was also reminded of something one of my RSCJ sisters said to me not too long ago.  I've been having a hard time, with some health issues and the transition into temporary vows after the noviceship.  This sister gave me a big hug and said to me (on the Feast of the Sacred Heart!), "It keeps getting better.  It gets worse first, and then it gets better and better."  How I needed to hear that!  Both that life gets easier, and yet also that it's okay that things get hard sometimes.  The path is narrow at first, but eventually we can run along it, "hearts overflowing."

Those are my scattered reflections for today! 

One last thing.  The image above comes from Benedict's life story, which was written by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century.  The story portrayed has to do with with a potential poisoning.  Benedict was asked to become the abbot of a group of monks, and they didn't get along so well.  In fact they got on so poorly that the monks tried to poison their abbot!  Twice, the poison was revealed to Benedict and he was spared.  But, of course, he moved on from that monastery.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Knowing and Loving

My mind today is on the Cloud of Unknowing, a fourteenth-century writing by an anonymous English author.  This is a quote from that author, from another of his works, which is called Discretion in the Stirrings:

God cannot be known by reason, he cannot be thought, caught, or sought by understanding.  But he can be loved and chosen by the true, loving will of your heart…. If God is your love and your purpose, the chief aim of your heart, it is all you need in this life, although you never see more of him with the eye of reason your whole life long. Such a blind shot with the sharp dart of longing love will never miss its mark, which is God.

That's all for today. I'm am trying to hold on to that claim of my heart--to love God completely, wholly giving myself into that love.

Life has been challenging lately, and most of it is too internal for a blog post.  But I'm still here, and will try to catch up a little bit soon.

May God bless each one who comes to this page.