Monday, April 30, 2012

Something to Share

I wanted to share a couple excerpts from the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.

"I wonder too...if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. 

To see through to God.

That that whcihc tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thi8n, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him.  To the God whom we endlessly crave. 

Maybe so. 

But how?  How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places?  To more-God places?...

To fully live - to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.  It is possible, wildly.

...Bowed at the edge or the world, Jesus asks me spun in circles, me coming to, only to lapse and to forget again, He asks soft of me who is yet again lost what He asked of the man born blind: "What do you want me to do for you?" ...He knows what I want, need.  Has He called me because He wants me to do my plumbing of the soul?  What do you want? Isn't that the sole question we all need to circle back to, over and again?  And who knows the answer? 
   I feel in it my chest first, before any answer or layer of answer finds shape in image words. (For all real answers, don't they come in strata, gradations of understanding?)  My body know it, the way tension drains from shoulders and a heart unknots.  I loosen, breath long.  I slow.  Moonlight cascades and a smile spreads in its wake.  What do you want? Why have I run?...A summer of pain.  ALways running.  A summer of grace.  Always the revelation.  Pain is everywhere, and wherever the pain there can be everywhere grace, and yes, Jesys, I am struggling and I get turned around but I think I know, at least in part, what I want.  If I had never run, if I had never falle, and here, I am not sure I would have known with blazing clarity.  I may not know all that it means, but this is what I want. 

This kingdom laden with glory, this, the pearl of great price, the field I'd sell everything to possess.  This is the pearl that crams me with a happiness that throbs, serrated edge, pit open wide for more of His glory.

The only place we have to come before we die si the place of seeing God.

This is waht I'm famished for: For of the God-glory.  I whisper witht he blind beggar: "Lord, I want to see." (Lk. 18:41)

That's my moaning pulse: "See. See." "

Monday, April 23, 2012

Suffering and Sweet

I do have a glimpse of heaven story to tell.  But first a few thoughts.  I finished reading John Paul  II's Apostolic Letter On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.  It was a short 56 pages but FILLED with richness.  As I have been earning my "PhD" on suffering, this letter particularly enlightenened me on a couple beautiful points on suffering.  The ground work that needs to first be established is that John Paul  II experienced MUCH suffering in his life, tragic, long term, slow term, all terms.  He definitely has ground to write about suffering in the light that he does.  It is all incredibly hope-filled and amazing coming from a man who experienced and witnessed IMMENSE suffering.  The first revelation that made my soul's eye open a little more was this - "suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whold of human civilization into a 'civilization of love.' "  That is a profound statement.  Suffering produces LOVE.  I remember making a comment after Stella died and being deeply touched by so many people.  Their works, their actions, words, their vulnerability and openness to me.  It was so beautiful, so...human.  People I had only known on the "surface" and they only me on the "surface,"  shared moments that only come from deep within.  It was real beauty.  I remember saying, "Why does it take things like this to make us so vulnerable and really loving with one another?"  So yes, I see how suffering births love.  Suffering is neccessary for love to be released.  Amen!!

The second point that woke my soul more was this, "This is the meaning of suffering, which is truly supernatural and at the same time human.  It is supernatural because it is rooted in teh divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission...revealing of man to himself and making his supreme vocation clear...It also happens - as experience proves - that this can be particularly dramatic.  But when it is completely accomplished and becomes the light of human life, it is particularly blessed.  'Through Chirst and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful."  WOW!  Suffering allows a person to discover himself, or often what we say "find out what one's made of."  Through this discovery a person, a soul finds his\her mission, his\her supreme vocation.  God has one for each soul from the moment He calls it into being. Jesus had a divine purpose God had for Him, But we must remember WE ALL DO.  For a closer look at a unique soul's purpose please check out the blog - iwillcarryyou.wordpress.com. 

Now for my heaven story.  Johnny was laying on the couch with my mother in law. She was resting and he seemed tired too.  I went up stairs to put some laundry away with Gia.  I hadn't heard a peep downstairs and I figured he must have fallen asleep too.  I looked down the stairs and he was just laying there with his eyes open, maybe day dreaming.  Later that afternoon, we were outside playing.  Both of the children were up in the tree.  I was standing next to Gia.  I found a star in the grass and gave it to her.  I said, "Gia, did you see Stella today?"  I always ask her that.  I asked again smiling and nuzzling into her chunks.  John solemnly responded, "I did. I saw Stella."  Johnny is very "guy" like in his thinking.  Practical.  He doesn't like when I make jokes to him or use figures of speech.  Anyways, this caught my attention.  "When did you see her?"  I asked.  "I saw her in my dream, but with my eyes."  I didn't really understand.  I assumed he meant when he was sleeping last night.  As we went back in forth about when this happened.  He made it clear when he said, "You know, when I was laying on the couch with Nonna."  He saw her with the eyes of his soul and didn't know how else to describe it.  I asked what she was doing.  "She was in an ocean petting a shark, but the shark was not mean. And the water was gold and silver."  I asked wanting to hear more "Did she say anything to you?"  "Yes" he replied.  "She said, 'Johnny, you will be in heaven tomorrow.' And, 'I love you Johnny...and Gia."  I smiled at him and said, "Johnny, I'm so glad you got to see Stella, but I'm even more glad that you are learning to use the eyes of your soul to see.  That is praying Johnny and I'm so proud of you!"  I huggged him and peace wrapped us both in our embrace.  Meanwhile, Gia is yelling over and over "Lella! Lella! Lella!"  for Stella.  It was all so sweet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Must Pass

I'm getting over a terrible stomach bug and cold. Yuck. I'll post next week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quick Easter Week Thought

I remember somebody telling me one of those "analogy stories" about a lost sheep sometime during the last year. They told me how when a shepherd loses a mother sheep, he immediately finds her baby in the flock and throws the small lamb over his shoulders. He then proceeds to search for the mother sheep. He knows the mother will respond immediately to her babe's call. I remember in some way feeling a little offended by this analogy. My over sensitive self felt a little wounded, thinking, "What are you trying to say? I'm lost and God had to take my daughter to make me come to Him?" Here I am sitting and writing and I found comfort now in this story. I see myself tonight, for who and what I am - a sinner, in desperate need of her Savior. I know there's a great purpose in this path of suffering for myself, my family, and many others. The Salvation story continues through each of us if we are willing.

However, I see myself and think how I've grown in my journey with our Creator but how very far I still have to go. And whether it is the way I would choose or not, I do feel like that mother sheep. Where my child is, I want to be. I desire to respond even harder, faster, and quicker to the call of hers I here. Stella being with Him has yanked my wandering eyes into better view - Heaven's view. I falter too much, but pressing forward is not an option. I wrote on Stella's Feast Day about my name and it's meaning. Tonight, I was reading "Queen of the Cosmos" a book of interviews of the visionaries from Medjugorije by Janice Connell. Vicka, one of the visionaries was talking about God's plan and how we are all part of it. How He called and knew us all by name before the world was made. He loved us and knew each of our purpose. He gave our parents the grace to name us what He had already named us. She continued to talk about how there are no coincidences and she even broke down the name meanings of all the visionaries and how they coincide with their role in the appartions and their role on earth. So just as I type this I think of how I just wrote about my name meaning, the story of the mother sheep and lamb came to me, and now I think of Stella's name meaning - star. What are stars noted for in history? Guidance. So yes, my star, my Stella, from the beginning was meant to guide her mother and I'm sure many others to our Heavenly Home, Home meaning Him. Stella continues to shine brightly drawing attention to God and His ways, which will never pass away. UGH! But I want to be and do so much better! I truly have mountains of self-love to climn over so that I can stand on the summit and see the Valley of Beauty I know I was made to be a part of.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Through Her Eyes

I want to share a passage from the book I read over a year ago "The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics." As we come close to Jesus' Passion and Resurrection I thought sharing this would be a different outlook. It is Mary's perspective. This is - "The Crucifixion - As Described by the Mother of Sorrows to St. Bridget of Sweden."

When I came with Him to the place of the Passion. I saw there all the instruments prepared for His death. He was ordered to take off His robe, and He immediately did so. And after he had undressed Himself, the soldiers said to one another: "These clothes belong to us, because He who is condemned to death will not use them again."

Now upon being ordered to do so, He lay down on His back on the Cross and stretched out first His right arm. Then His cruel executioners seized Him. First they attached His right to the beam, in which a nail hole had been prepared, and they drove the nail through His hand in the part where the bone was firmest.

Then they pulled His other hand in the opposite direction with a rope, as it did not reach the other nail hole, and they nailed it down in the same way. Next they nailed His right foot, and over it the left, so that all the nerves and veins were torn apart and broken. Then they replaced on His holy head the crown of thorns which caused such deep wound that His blood streamed down, filling His eyes and His ears and matting His whole beard.

When the first nail was driven into Him, through the shock of that first blow I lost consciousness and fell down as though dead. Everything turned black before my eyes. My hands began to tremble. And my anguish was so bitter that I could not look up again until He was completely attached to the Cross.

When I came to myself and arose again, I saw my Son hanging crucified in misery. And I , His deeply grieving Mother, felt such a shock through and through my whole being that I could hardly stand.

I also heard men saying to one another that my Son was a robber, others that He was a liar, and others that no one deserved death more than my Son, and when I hears such words my grief was renewed.

Now the crown of thorns, which covered half of His forehead, was pressing down onto His head so strongly that His blood was running down over His face, filling His eyes, hair, and beard. His whole head seemed to be nothing but one stream of blood, and in order to see me, as I stood by the Cross, He had to press the blood away from His eyes by contracting His lids and brows.

Because I was very close to Him during His Passion and did not allow myself to be separated from Him, for I stood right next to His Cross, and because the nearer something is to the heart the keener is its stab, so His suffering was more painful to me than to others. And when He looked down at me from the Cross, and I looked up at Him, tears streamed from my eyes like blood from veins. And when He saw me overwhelmed with grief, my sorrow made Him suffer so much that all the pains which He felt from His wounds were surpassed by the sight of the grief in which He beheld me. Therefore I boldly assert that His suffering became my suffering because His Heart was mine. And just as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so in a certain sense my Son and I redeemed the world with one Heart.

While He was hanging there, bleeding and pierced with nails, He had compassion for my suffering as I stood near Him, sobbing. With His blood-filled eyes He looked down at John and commended me to His care.

Then after He had entrusted me tot he care of His Beloved Disciple, He saw me and His friends weeping inconsolably, and from the depths of His Heart He cried out in an overpowering voice, raising His head and His tear-filled eyes toward Heaven: "My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned Me?"

I was never able to forget that cry until my Assumption into Heaven. And yet He uttered it more out of compassion for me than because of His own suffering.

Then His eyes appeared half-dead, His cheeks sunken in, and His features grief-stricken. His mouth was open and His tongue was covered with blood.He abdomen had fallen in toward His spine and seemed to have collapsed. His whole body was pale and weakened form continuous loss of blood. His hands and feet were stretched out in the cruelest way, drawn and forced by the nails into the shape of the Cross. His beard and hair were clotted with blood. While He was hanging there so torn and livid, only His Heart was still vigorous, for it was of the best and strongest quality. At His birth, He had acquired from my flesh an extraordinarily pure body and an excellent constitution. His skin was so fine and delicate that the slightest blow caused the blood to flow at once. And His blood was so red that it could be seen coursing under His clear skin.

And because His constitution was so very excellent, now death struggled fiercely with life in His pierced body. Alternately the pain rose from His torn limbs and nerves tor ward His Heart, which was still strong and undamaged, causing Him indescribable torture, and then the pains would flow back from His Heart into His limbs, and thus prolong the agony of His death.

And yet, though He was in the midst of such suffering, when He looked down at His weeping friends, who, rather than see Him suffer, thus, would have wished to undergo the same pains themselves, the sorrow which the suffering of His friends caused Him was far greater than all the bitter pain which He had to endure in His body and His Heart, for He loved them tenderly.

Then in the excessive anguish of His humanity He cried to His Father: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!"

When I, His Most Sorrowful Mother, heard these words, in my keen grief of heart all my limbs trembled - and indeed as often as I later thought of that cry, I could hear it again in my ears.

Then the color of death came over those parts of His body that were not covered with blood. His cheeks hung down over His teeth. His ribs were extended and could be counted. His nose became pointed and thin.

Now as death was near and His Heart was breaking from the intensity of His suffering. His whole body quivered. His head rose slightly and then sank down again. His half-closed eyes opened partly. His mouth fell open, and we could see His tongue all covered with blood.

Then His hands shrank back a little from the nail holes, and His feet bore most of the weight of His body. His fingers, and arms which had been convulsively contracted, straightened out, and His back pressed against the Cross: Finally His head dropped, and His beard rested on His chest.

Then my hands became numb. Darkness appeared before my eyes. My face turned as white as a corpse. My ears could no longer hear, and I could not utter a word. My feet gave way. And i sank to the ground.

But when I arose again and saw my Son more despised than a person afflicted with leprosy, I directed my will completely toward Him. Then I fully understood that everything had happened in accordance with His Will and that it could not have happened unless He had permitted it. And I thanked Him for everything. A certain joy was even mingled with my grief, for I perceived how He, who had never sinned, had willed to suffer so much for sinners, out of His great love.

Now His half-closed eyes were turned downward, and His already dead body hung down. His knees had bent in one direction, and His feet had twisted around the nails in the other direction as on a hinge. Then some persons who were present said in a mocking way: "Mary, your Son is dead now." Others, who were more considerate said, "Woman, now the agony of your Son has come to an end in eternal glory." And still others said: "Though He is dead, He will rise again!"

And while they were saying this, a man came up and drove a spear so forcefully into His side that is almost came out on the other side. And as soon as he drew it out, its point was all red with blood. The Heart of my beloved Son was so violently and mercilessly pierced that the spear split His Heart in two.

When I saw that my Son's Heart had been stabbed through, I felt that my own heart was likewise pierced, and it was a wonder that it did not break.

While the others left the scene, I did not want to go away. Later my Son was taken down from the Cross. Two men set up three ladders. One reached to His feet, the second came to His arms under the shoulders, and the third reached the middle of His body. Then one of the men climbed up the second ladder and drove the nail out of the one arm. Then he moved the ladder and drove the nail out of the other hand, for the nails extended far beyond the beam of the Cross. Then, while he held the body up and slowly came down a bit, the other man went up the ladder that reached to the feet and drove out the nails. When they lowered the body near the ground, one supported it at the head and the other at the feet. But I who was His Mother, held Him in the middle. Thus we three carried Him to a stone which I had covered with clean linens.

All my Son's limbs had become stiff and cold in death, and the blood which had flowed over them during His Passion adhered to them. But I was indeed consoled that I could touch His body and take Him onto my lap, examine His wounds and dry up the blood.

I took His white body onto my knees. It was like the body of a man suffering from leprosy. His eyes were lifeless and filled with blood, His mouth was as cold as snow. His beard was twisted together like a rope. His fave was contracted. He lay on my knees as He had hung on the Cross, like a human body that has been twisted apart in all its limbs.

I did not want to bend His arms, which had grown so still that in trying to fold them on His chest, I was only able to place them over His abdomen. His knees too could not be altogether stretched out, but remained up, as they had stiffened on the Cross.

Then they laid Him out on some clean linen, and with my cloth I washed His wounds and His limbs. And with my finger I closed His eyes and His mouth, which were open when He died.

But I did not sew up the cloth, for I knew for sure that He would not decay in the tomb.

Then Magdalen and other holy women came up and also there were many holy angels present, like bright sunbeams, to render honor to their Creator.

It would be impossible for anyone to describe how sad I was then. I was like a woman who gives birth to a child, after the birth her whole body is quivering, and although her pain is such that she can hardly breath, yet in her heart she feels the greatest possible joy, because she knows that her son which she has borne will never again have to go through that suffering which he has just experienced. This, though I felt a grief over the death of my Son that could not be compared to any other, I also rejoiced in my soul, because I knew that my Son would not die again, but would live forever. And thus some joy was mingled with my sorrow.

Then they placed Him in the tomb. Oh, how gladly would I have allowed them to entomb me alive with my Son, if it had been His Will! I can truly say that when my Son was entombed, there were two Hearts in one sepulcher. Is there not the saying: where your treasure is, there is also your heart? Therefore my thoughts and heart were always in the Tomb of my Son.

After all these things had been accomplished, the good John came and led me to his house.

So you see, my daughter, what my Son suffered for you. Consider therefore how great was my suffering at the Death of my Son, and it will not be hard for you to give up the world.