“Would you go back in time?” I heard her whisper in the quiet of my heart. I pondered these thoughts while walking through the blossoming spring woods and smiled thinking about her calm soul and beautiful brown eyes. “Not now, I have grown too much…thanks to you.” I responded quietly to myself, stepping over broken… Continue reading Don’t Go Back
The afternoon sky became overcast and dark. Looming clouds gathered over the rumbling ocean, blocking the warmth of the southern sun which we had enjoyed all day. Wedding guests nervously chatted and prayed for clear skies, but the bride and groom remained calm and resolute – unconcerned about the troublesome weather forming around them. Becoming… Continue reading Rain or Shine
She sat very still, almost like a statue. I looked over at her from time to time, just to make sure she was okay. She seemed to be in another world, entirely consumed by the moment, her prayer and our uniquely tranquil environment. When I think back to those incredibly precious moments in the Adoration… Continue reading Let Go
I gazed at the bookshelf of well loved volumes from years gone by and pondered which one to choose. I had brought my own book to read but for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right on this particular night. I selected a book somewhat randomly, satisfied that it would soothe the searchings of my soul. After settling into the cozy, warm bed in the upstairs room of my Dad’s Cape Cod home, I opened the tattered book and began to read.
I had finished the first absorbing chapter and a half of the book when I decided to call it a night. It had been a long day which included a lengthy drive from my home to the Cape. I had no bookmark and wanted to keep my place, so I took the cover off the old book to remember my page. Upon doing this, my eyes fell upon something amazing on the front blank page. My heart skipped a beat when I realized what I was looking at…
In her signature left-handed script, Mom was speaking directly to me (to all of us.) On the page in front of me, in a book that had been nestled deep inside my parent’s bookshelf, was her voice – in black ink – loud and clear. I stared at her hidden message for quite some time before smiling and offering a silent prayer of gratitude for this priceless gift. The back pain of the past few weeks had gotten me a bit down but Mom was reminding me NOT to focus on myself or my own struggles, rather to look outward toward the needs of others for true healing. From her life experience, she knew that inward focus brought little joy or lasting happiness, no matter how much one was hurting. It is only when we look to the other, in the midst of our own pain and indecision, that we find the face of God and in so doing discover enduring happiness.
“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.” – Helen Keller
As we embark on Holy Week, perhaps we can keep Mom’s simple, yet profound hidden message in mind as we accompany Jesus to Calvary. In the midst of busy and complicated lives it is easy to get caught up in ourselves but nothing good ever comes from that. Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us “For it is in giving that we receive.” Perhaps then, we should focus our attention on those who are in great need our heartfelt support. When we live for others, we’ll be helping to carry our Savior’s cross and lessen His burden with our gratitude and love. Lasting joy always follows as we sing Alleluia, Christ is Risen on Easter Sunday.
I plopped down onto the blue and white checked couch and yelled into the kitchen “Can I have something to eat NOW?” My mom responded “It’s Good Friday and I’ve asked you children not to eat between the hours of 12 pm and 3 pm when Our Lord was hanging on the cross. If you… Continue reading The Peanut Butter Bagel
After a morning of errands, we decided to browse a nearby Dollar Store in search of some silly trinkets for her dorm room. Walking through the tight aisles nothing really grabbed our attention so we decided to leave and grab coffee at our favorite spot. As we headed toward the door, a young woman approached… Continue reading Q-tips & Air Freshener
She approached the podium with confidence and joy. Looking at her outward appearance, one would never guess the horrors of her past. Without missing a beat she began “I grew up in a violent home…drugs, alcohol – you name it. I was always angry. I didn’t know there was another way. When I ended up… Continue reading Reborn
She pulled up to her favorite coffee spot, excited to enjoy a cup of hot, steaming snickerdoodle coffee. Luckily she found a parking spot directly in front of the popular Southern California shop, nestled into a tree-lined corner of a picturesque neighborhood. Gazing into the backseat, she considered her options; wake a sleeping baby or… Continue reading The Coffee Stop
She greeted me with warmth and kindness donned in familiar blue medical scrubs. Her demeanor was a welcome change from the recent icy encounters with other health care professionals. Upon entering the pre-op room, she patiently recorded my health history and current pain levels. “You are too young to have all of these serious back… Continue reading The Great Lie
The call came at work. “Mom isn’t bouncing back after the last chemo, she’s different.” I became alarmed and responded that I’d be right down. In my haste I called my daughter who was home on college spring break. “Do you think you could drive down to the Cape and check on Nona?” I asked.… Continue reading Not just any Chicken
I ordered my favorite coffee at the local shop and waited patiently for the gal to pour the hot, delicious liquid into a cup. I was not feeling my best after dropping my son off at school and was eager to get home to my heating pad in order to ease the pain in my… Continue reading There are no Coincidences
He darted across the busy street without looking, the backpack upon his shoulder flapping in the cold winter wind. When he reached the middle of the intersection, papers from inside his backpack flew across the street, landing on the dirty roadside snowbank. In a matter of moments everything seemed to fall apart. She was driving… Continue reading The Backpack
“You really did a terrific job with the conference today – you should feel great about yourself.” These kind words were shared with me by a friend who had attended one of the Boston Catholic Women’s Conferences, which I had helped to organize and lead for five years in the Archdiocese of Boston. While nice,… Continue reading Ordinary Life – Called to Greatness
“I’m so glad to hear how well you are doing…really. You sound strong and peaceful.” These beautiful words were shared by a dear friend of many years whom I have not seen in quite some time. We recently had an opportunity to catch up on one another’s life. After I updated my friend on all… Continue reading Find your Strength
Plans we make and dreams we imagine don’t always turn out as hoped. In times such as this, one can become despondent and sad. Years of physical pain combined with maturity and age have led me to embrace resilience amidst adversity, leaving a mark on my heart in the shape of a cross. Older, wiser and bit tattered around the edges, I now envelop lost plans and dreams as opportunities to welcome new journeys which may bring unexpected joy.
In one of my favorite books, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas shared “Life is a storm. One minute you will bathe under the sun and the next you will be shattered upon the rocks.” Standing alone, this quote makes me shudder. In the context of a well lived and grounded life with God at the center, these words speak truth. Like the unpredictability of weather, our lives follow a pattern of natural highs and lows. One moment we find ourselves literally “bathing under the sun” and then next we are trudging through a thunderstorm without any gear to protect us. Regardless of our state in life, we are never truly alone to battle the storms. When we give thanks to God during the sunny moments, He surely stands with us during the stormy ones. Regardless, He never leaves our side, even when we turn away from Him. At those moments, He just waits until we are ready and turn back to Him.
Storms come in all sizes and small disappointments can often knock us off our feet. Despite my current plight with chronic pain, I’ve sought to live as normally as possible and give thanks for the many blessings in my life. But, as expected, there are days which challenge my resolve. I am currently a patient at a Pain Management Center and my care is now managed by a group of healthcare professionals who have studied my surgical history and recommended a plan for optimal living. I was looking forward to the new medication they prescribed as it would have leveled out the ups and downs of my back pain in a more effective manner. I learned this week that this pain medication has been denied by an”expert” at the insurance company. Of course I was frustrated and annoyed but then I thought about it. I have a choice to sulk and be angry or I could look at this denial as a message that perhaps there is a better pain medication out there, waiting to be discovered. I prefer to choose the latter.
“The prescription your physician requested is not eligible for coverage under your prescription drug plan..” – United Healthcare
We rise in the manner in which we are open to learning from others. I could not have come to an enlightened level of thinking without first learning it from someone else. My mom faced many storms in her life, none greater than her battle with stage 4 cancer. As someone who truly loved the sun, she sought to do all in her power to live in the light. God was her compass and resided in the deepest part of her soul. United with Him, she was able to turn her face toward the sun, even during the darkest storms. I recall one night toward the end of her disease when she turned to me and whispered “I just wanted to see my grandchildren grow up.” Through tears I responded, “You will mom…you will.” In those moments, mom was not concerned with her pain rather she was centered on her beloved grandchildren, the offspring of her dear children – the people who meant the most to her in the world, including her precious Joey. Mom lived through the storms, was occasionally knocked down by them, but always got up and never looked back. With God by her side, she could permanently reside in the sun. Others knew it and were drawn to her for inspiration and love.
I realize that we all face many challenges each day. These storms can certainly knock us upon the rocks and drag us down until we feel defeated. But the cross was not the end of the story…Christ’s light shines bright for all to see through the power of His resurrection. Turn your face toward the sun, there you will find Him, who is all goodness, hope, and love. There you will find the strength to ascend toward the light.
As I turned the corner onto a deserted, snow covered road during a late afternoon walk, my thoughts moved to all the stuff on my to do list. I reflected on the plans which needed to be arranged for an upcoming family event, some other important things I had to finish, the promises I needed to… Continue reading Today is Enough
The sky was still dark as I pulled out of our neighborhood on the way to the school carpool spot in town. The outside temperature was a mere two degrees which indicated that we should still be home in bed, snug and warm under our thick quilted blankets. As we waited for Andrew’s ride to… Continue reading Hope is a Choice
He emerged from a small booth wrapped in flannel and wool which protected him from the twenty degree early morning cold. His greeting was friendly and the worn, deep lines on his face indicated years of hard work and perhaps advanced age. After pumping my gas, he smiled kindly and wished me a good day.… Continue reading Learn from Others
January 8th would have been my beloved Mom’s 78th birthday. She went home to God 28 months ago after a courageous battle with cancer. The first January 8th without her was horrific, I think we all just cried. Last year was a little better – we attended morning Mass but still struggled deeply to get… Continue reading Celebrate…Never Forget
The late day Irish sun slowly descended behind the gray misty sky. Our large group had dwindled to four steadfast souls willing to take the full day tour despite the rainy afternoon weather. As the mini-bus ascended the hill where the Victorian Gardens lay, we peeked through the grand stone entrance to gaze upon the brilliant,… Continue reading Planting Seeds