Tuesday, September 22, 2020
   
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Wisdom Wednesdays

The words of Ruth Feldman invite us to reflect on the journey of our life. The paths we have chosen to take. Where they have led us and where we have arrived. These times invite us to reflection. Let’s do it!
 
Detour, by Ruth Feldman
 
I took a long time getting here,
much of it wasted on wrong turns, 
back roads riddled by ruts.
 
I had adventures
I never would have known 
if I proceeded as the crow flies.
Super highways are so sure
of where they are going:
they arrive too soon.
 
A straight line isn't always
the shortest distance
between two people.
 
Sometimes I act as though
I'm heading somewhere else
while, imperceptibly,
I narrow the gap between you and me.
 
I'm not sure I'll ever
know the right way, but I don't mind
getting lost now and then.
Maps don't know everything.
 
Who have the paths of your life led you to meet?
 
Sister Rosemary Fry
 

 

September 9, 2020

 
Two friends cross my path...
 
 
A warm place to land
On turtle's back, heated by the sun.
Surprise to all passers-by!
I plan to enjoy my welcome for awhile
Unlike my multicoloured playmates 
Flitting, spiralling, dancing free
From blossom -- to people -- to tree
Then swirling upwards to catch the light.
 
Mystery awakens my soul
To the wonderment of the metamorphosis of a butterfly
Symbol of new life,
Living interdependently with my four-legged friend 
Which reminds me that slow and steady wins the race 
On Turtle Island.
 
Praise our Creator, every egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly.
Praise the Holy One, all turtles, young and old.
Praise the Great Artist for this glimpse of heaven on earth.
Glory to our Cosmic Christ whose radiance shines
In all creation.
 
Sister Betty Lou Knox
 

 

September 2, 2020

 
No one leaves home.
 
 
Poet Warsan Shire writes forcefully to help us to enter into the skin of those who leave home and follow roads away from their home toward us. Can we meet them on the road? 
Home, by Warsan Shire
 
No one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
 
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
 
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
 
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied
 
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
 
the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
 
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important
 
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying–
leave,
run away from me now
i don’t know what I’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
 

 

August 26, 2020
 
Who are we?
 
 
Who are the Sisters of St Joseph of Toronto and their Associates in our world today?
 
We are women who dare to dream of oneness with all in a world in turmoil, deeply divided in so many ways.
 
Father Jean Pierre Médaille, in the midst of the turmoil of the 17th Century, told us to look to the Eucharist as a model:
 
... this Holy Sacrament is a mystery of union, and it brings this very union about. This Eucharistic Jesus unites all creatures to himself and to God, his Father, and -- think of the title communion -- he unites all the faithful to one another in a common union.
 
Of this union Jesus speaks in profoundly moving terms when he asks his Father that all may be one, that they may be perfectly one in him and in God, his Father, just as the Father and he are but one.
 
There, my dear daughter is the end of our totally selfless Congregation. It is wholly directed toward the achievement of this total double union:
 
of ourselves and the dear neighbour with God
of ourselves with all others, whoever they may be,
of all others, among themselves and with us,
but all in Jesus and in God his Father.
 
In the 20th Century Ilia Delio tells us to act and not to fear the cost of this oneness:
 
Love challenges us not to sink into the status quo, but the challenge is great; it can tear apart our hearts as we long for more wholeness but fear the cost of oneness… justice is not an achievement but an evolution of love.
 
Love challenges us to fight for:
  • Justice for frontline workers in our society who are often the least paid and in the most danger.
  • Those throughout our world who live in degradation and violence as a result of the effects of a history of colonization and slavery.
  • Our Earth devastated by our human actions.
What is the cry for oneness tearing at your heart right now? Join us in praying for it, in demanding it, in acting for it in our world right now.
 

 

August 19, 2020

This is our time!

 
 
This time of social isolation and more or less staying at home can give us more time for reflection! One Sunday morning, I was led to reflect on how the negative of adversity can lead to the positive of transformation if we own it.
 
These days
invite us
to reflection, 
to looking
backward,
longingly
for what was.
 
Sure
there was good
in the past.
 
This is true.
 
But
what we really
need now 
is to move
forward
into a new future.
  
Change is possible. 
 
Change comes
through evaluation,
through choice,
through decision,
through action.
 
Look back
evaluate 
choose 
decide.
 
But
more important
in this time.
 
Transformation is possible.
 
Transformation 
comes with
embracing loss 
embracing grief
embracing suffering.
 
Allowing suffering
to enter in,
to take possession,
to make us different, 
to move us forward
in a new way. 
 
These days
are a time
for deep transformation.
 
A time for
owning suffering,
allowing suffering 
to be there 
within us,
to take possession of us,
to do its work 
in our lives,
in our society,
in our world.
Transformation is possible.
 
Allow it
to do
its work.
 

August 19, 2020

 
Who did you really meet today?
 
 
To listen, to hear the other’s story, to let that story enter into us, to take possession of us, will widen our world, will change us.
 
After listening and receiving the other with our eyes, with our ears... entering into their reality... we will never be the same again. Are we willing to risk that?
 
Pope Francis tells us: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us: it is he who knocks on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, seeking an encounter with us and requesting our assistance. And if we still had any doubt, here are his unequivocal words: ‘I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Mt 25:40)
 
Listen to the story of one refugee.
Listen to the story of one migrant worker.
Listen to the story of one unwed mother.
Listen to the story of one black mother.
 
And who else do we need to listen to this day?
 

 

August 5, 2020

 
This poem by Mary Oliver is perfect for a hot summer day and the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions. Like the newborn salamander, we are more than ready to swim away into the almost post-COVID-19 world.
 
Swim Away, by Mary Oliver
 
Who can say,
is it a snowy egret
or a white flower
standing
at the glossy edge
of the lily and frog-filled pond?
 
Hours ago the orange sun
opened the cups of the lilies
and the leopard frogs
began kicking
their long muscles,
breast-stroking
like little green dwarves
under the roof of the rich,
iron-colored water.   
 
Now the soft
eggs of the salamander
in their wrappings of jelly
begin to shiver.
 
They're tired of sleep.
They have a new idea.
 
They want to swim away
into the world.

 

July 29, 2020

 
Where is the ocean, where is God?
 
 
Anthony De Mello has a story about a curious little fish who one day swims alongside a much more senior fish and asks him how to find the ocean.
 
The senior fish looks at him quizzically and says “but you are swimming in it!”
 
Teilhard de Chardin is telling us much the same thing when he says, “We imagine the Divine as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact we lived steeped in its burning layers.”
 
Does the fish believe this? Do we?
 

 

July 22, 2020

 
This moment, our moment in history, is a time to listen to nature and let it teach us about staying in the present moment with “grace” and let it lead us into a “Limitless” future.
 
 
Limitless, by Danna Faulds
 
Sun says, “Be your own illumination.” 
 
Wren says, “Sing your heart out, all day long.” 
 
Stream says, “Do not stop for any obstacle.” 
 
Oak says, “When the wind blows, bend easily, and trust your roots to hold.” 
 
Stars say, “What you see is one small slice of a single modest galaxy. Remember that vastness cannot be grasped by mind.” 
 
Ant says, “Small does not mean powerless.” 
 
Silence says nothing. In the quiet, everything comes clear. 
 
I say, “Limitless.” I say, “Yes.”
 

 

July 8, 2020

 
Where is your love-based church? 
 
 
In speaking of the Apostle Thomas, the Jesuit, Father Greg Boyle is quoted as saying: 
 
"Normally, he's the brunt of the 'Oh ye of little faith' message. But Thomas is my hero, because when everyone else was locked in that room — because they were terrified — Thomas was not there ... but outside ... in the streets ... where people of faith are supposed to be. There's the 'fear-based' church — locked in the room — then there is the 'love-based' church: in the streets, trying not to circle the wagons, but rather to widen the circle."
 
Where is your "outside…in the streets… today"?
 
In what "locked room" do you need to spring out of today?
 

 

July 1, 2020

 
Here is a prayer for these days as we yearn for this time of COVID lockdown to be over.
 
 
For our churches to be reopened so that our hearts again experience the consolations of community, of Eucharist, of oneness concretely celebrated in a liturgy shared with others.
 
For our hearts to be purified so that we embrace each individual other and all of creation as known and infinitely loved by the Creator.
Patient Trust
 
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
 
—Adapted from Patient Trust, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ,
excerpted from Hearts on Fire
 

 

June 24, 2020

 
Lately, this staying at home and not visiting with my friends has made me think wistfully about the future and then, last night, I had a dream.
 
 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I were sitting on his front steps behind where he gives his press conferences. Looking into his big brown eyes I said: 
 
"You know, I think we should respond to this COVID-19 meltdown by helping people, not all these big corporations. Most of them still have a pretty good bottom line and their executives and board members are really well paid. We need a recovery that includes every one of us, not one that supports wealthy corporate interests, cuts social services, lifts environmental regulations and relaxes labour regulations."
 
Trudeau's big brown eyes were beginning to look a bit glassy. (I wondered if I had lost him and he was dreaming about a seat on the United Nations Security Council or winning the next election.) I hadn't finished all I wanted to say yet!
 
I nudged his foot with mine and he glanced over. He looked as if he wondered where he was…
 
Before I lost him again I said:
 
"Look here: we need a recovery that creates decent jobs where people will be manufacturing what we need here in Canada. Green jobs that meet community needs and tackle the climate crisis. You know very well that we cannot go back to the way we were before COVID-19. We need to transform ourselves and our world. We need a change that works for everyone in our world and the whole of creation."
 
Then, light was filtering through the window. As I woke, I knew it was a dream. I had not been chatting with Trudeau on his front steps. I would still have to buckle down and write him that letter!
 

 

June 17, 2020: The Armful

 
This lesser-known poem by Robert Frost about choices always causes me to smile when I read it.
 
 
 
For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns,
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best.
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.
 
The whole scenario is only too easy to imagine. 
 
First, I substitute life choices for packages in the verse. How often have I experienced 'fear of missing out' during these days and watched too many webinars until I suffered from an extreme case of 'screenitis.' I would not put even one package down to make my load easier.
 
Another time it is memories that I substitute. I can spend hours rearranging these packages of memories, keeping them balanced at my breast, cherishing all even those tinged with sadness or grief. Sometimes I will not put even one down for my own peace of mind -- not even the bad or angry ones. Alas!
 
Then there are the times I am struggling for a name or telephone number and realize I must have dropped a memory back there on the sidewalk and the forgot to go back and pick it up! When you get older it gets even harder to juggle all those packages.
 
What are the packages that you carry?
 
What do you choose to hold onto and cherish?
 
What do you need to let go of on your journey?
 
Do you need to feel some consolation today?
 

 

June 10, 2020

 

 

Within Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si': On the Care of our Common Earth, in which he covers some good things and some really sad things about our world today, he tells each of us near the end:
 
"God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!"
 
Let’s go forward today praising God and caring for our earth!
 

 

June 3: Be Attentive to What is Emerging

 
On my desk where I can see it, out of the corner of my eye, sits a note card from the Leadership Conference of Religious Women. On a green and yellow background, bringing outside beauty indoors, is the saying: "Surrender to what is dying and be attentive to what is emerging."
 
 
 
Do we not have to do this in our own lives each and every day? 
 
Do we not need to do this for our world?
 
Pope Francis invites us to a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19.
 
As we move into the future, how can each of us contribute?
 

 

May 27: God in the Smallest of Creatures

 
This past week, there was an online celebration of the fact that it is five years since Pope Francis issued his encyclical, Laudato Si, On the Care for Our Common Home. 
 
 
This and our beautiful weather the last few days have led me to admire many aspects of nature outside my window. The delicate green of the new leaves on the trees and antics of the squirrels have definitely lifted my spirits as I gaze out to our Common Home during these day of pandemic. 
 
I am reminded of the words of Pope Francis in one of the prayers at the end of the encyclical: "All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures." Really! In that squirrel? 

Where Do We Find God

 
Mary Oliver, one of my favourite poets, often uses animals to reflect on aspects of  life and make important points about the way we live in this world we have been given to live in and care for. 
 
In her poem Straight Talk from Fox, she uses the voice of a fox to make us aware of how shallow values can be in our consumer society. 
 
 
The fox, as he lists all the delights of his world and how he lives in it, comments:
 
 Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
  making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
  instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
  home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
  give my life for a thousand of yours.
 
O fox! What are you challenging us to look at in our lives?
 
By Sister Rosemary Fry

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