Afraid of the Dark

Afraid of the Dark

The words “the Boogie Man will get you” terrified me as a child. This was one of the many fictitious reasons I was afraid of the dark. Along with the imaginary witches in my closet, the werewolves outside my window, and the monsters under my bed.

I combated my fear of the dark by keeping my bedroom door open and making sure the hall and bathroom lights were on when I went to bed.  But the lights did not stay on long…my money conscious parents always turned them off.

My fear of the dark continued into young adulthood. This time my reasons were valid. I knew the crime rate escalated at night. I had read the scripture passage that speaks about how “people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil” (John 3:19) and I did not want any part of that! It was in these young adult years that I was horrified to discover that there was another kind of darkness…an emotional darkness; a black depression that wanted to smother me. And leaving the lights on did not work, for this darkness lasted through the night AND the day.

I learned that the way to combat my dark fears was to call upon the True Light. For it says in Psalm 27 “The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?” And Paul encourages us in Romans 13:12 to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” For “light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Ephesians 5:9. This Eternal Radiance has brightened my soul way more than I could ever begin to describe.

And as the famous song says…I’m not gonna put it under a bushel! NO!
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine,
Let it SHINE!

Let it Shine

 

Eight. Sick. Severe.

Home sick

I was eight. I was sick. It was severe. I had all the classic symptoms. Distress, sadness, anxiety, and most prominently the shedding of endless tears. It went on day after day after day. The diagnosis? Homesickness. It was my first time to attend summer camp and I was not enjoying it at all. Neither was my big sister who was a camp counselor. I had thoroughly embarrassed her.

Fast forward a handful of decades, and here I am still at summer camp! (I eventually got over my homesickness and kept going to camp.) As an adult camp worker, I can tell you that homesickness is still alive and well. In matter of fact homesickness has been around for a long time. The Old Testament speaks of the sadness that the Israelites felt who had been exiled from their home.  “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” Psalm 137:1

That sadness, that wistful yearning is in us all. We all long (whether we realize it or not) to go back. Back to our true dwelling place. Back to our place of highest joy.  Back to our place of total fulfillment.  Our home in heaven. A place that has no sickness or tears. A place of perfect contentment and infinite joy. A place where we will be united with our big family-the family of God. And of course…it is a place that I won’t embarrass my big sister.

TALKING FEET

Talking Feet

My feet talk to me.
They do that a lot now that I am getting older.
They chatter about Big Thicket hikes,
jumping volleyball spikes,
and running games of tag.

The phalanges yak about
hopscotch,
sprinting bases,
and glacier assents.

The tarsals and metatarsals recall
when life was strong and fast and free.
Each and every movement-memory
is carefully filed away between the bones.

My timeworn feet rejoice
when God puts a spring in their step,
and a giddy-up in their gallop.
They sing when I waltz with my husband
and they giggle when sand settles between their toes.
My feet thank their Maker.

My feet also recount the feet of a man
who walked on a rocky road to a place known as “The Skull.”
It was a bloody death march,
made by Christ
out of love for his brothers and sisters.

His holy feet were punctured with nails
onto the wood of the cross.
He didn’t just talk the talk,
but he walked THE WALK!

And though the path is painful,
I choose to follow
His feet.

Feet walking on rocks

 

I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN An Ascension Reflection

Ascension

When I became a young adult and moved away from home, a visit back to spend time with my parents was a favorite trip of mine. The unconditional love I received along with the yummy homemade food made it hard to leave. I yearned to stay longer and would often delay my parting. Nevertheless, I treasured the way my parents said goodbye when it finally was time for me to go. It was simple and sweet. They would walk me outside, give I-love-you hugs by my car, and as I backed out of the driveway and headed down the street, they would stand there watching and waving. As I looked in my review mirror far down the road, their now tiny silhouettes would still be there- watching and looking.

I now find myself doing the same thing when our grown children leave from a visit home. I stand there watching and waving as they drive away. Happy for the time that we had together, and longing for when we will see each other again.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, I imagine that the apostles had those same feelings. The presence of their loved one was gone and there must have been an emptiness. They looked intently as he departed, longing to keep that connection with him. Gazing and wondering if they would see him again. The apostles’ desire…my desire…your desire is fulfilled in Jesus’ promise. He says “I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22.

Let us pray:

God our Father, make us joyful in the ascension of your Son Jesus Christ. May we follow him into the new creation, for his ascension is our glory and our hope. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal

Look East

Look East SUNRISE

My body screamed for more sleep. It was pitch black and very quiet. Why did I agree to get up so early on our girls weekend away? My friend had pleaded with me to wake up and watch the sunrise on the porch of the beach house we were staying at. She knew I was a single mom who was tired and ragged from working a full time job, cooking, cleaning house, taking care of the yard, and running around all busy with my children’s school and sports activities, so why not let me get some long needed rest?

When we first arrived she asked me if I had ever seen the sun rise on the beach. After I told her that I hadn’t, she became passionate about convincing me to get up early. As she talked, I heard something in my friend’s voice that intrigued me- a peaceful joy as she told me the simple plan for the morning, and I found myself agreeing that I would join her. She had never steered me wrong before.

But now, under the warmth of my covers, everything was telling me to stay in bed on this cold December morning and blow off the whole idea. All the other ladies were still asleep and I could roll over and be snoozing again in two seconds. Then I faintly heard my friend slipping on her shoes not far from me and I sighed. I had made a promise, and she was almost ready. So I mustered up what little energy I had and got out of bed.

Before long we were on the porch swing, looking out at the dark ocean with no sign of the sun yet. Not even a sliver. I waited and waited. Nothing. Nothing but a black sky and slow rolling waves that were lulling me back to sleep. I started to nod off, but the squeak of the swing and its hard cold wooden slats wouldn’t let me. My friend was silent; waiting patiently, seemingly content. I on the other hand was impatient. Thoughts raced through my head. When was this going to happen? Why did she have us wake up so early? How are my kids doing with me away? What am I going to get them for Christmas with virtually no money? And so on and so on…I stifled a yawn and drummed my fingers on my leg.

My eyes strained to see something on the horizon-anything. Maybe clouds were covering the sun. I scanned the vast waters from left to right, my eyes getting used to the darkness, but I could not make out any clouds. Maybe I was looking in the wrong direction. What was the right direction!? Then the words of a song from Mass the week before came back to me… people look east, the time is near…I glanced at my friend out of the corner of my eye, who I knew would be looking east, and strived to mimic her peaceful posture; unfortunately though, the ashy sky was still barren of any hint of light.

More lyrics floated through my head- stars keep the watch when night is dim and people look east and sing today, Love the Star is on the way. And I realized, that’s exactly what we were doing! Looking east, keeping watch in the dim night, and looking for the sun, our star to rise.

Slowly I began to settle into the still greyness all around me and started noticing things- the fresh smell of the salt water, the gentle wind that was brushing wisps of my hair, and sound of the waves caressing the sand. Then the song playing again, and those words, Love the Star is on the way. And I thought; my Lord and my God…MY LOVE was on the way! And not just in a sunrise, but as a babe into this world, for Christmas was just around the corner. The swing that seemed so cold and hard earlier now felt warm and cozy, and I laughed at the sight of a sandpiper leaving his tiny footprints all over the sand as he scampered after his breakfast.

After enjoying the bird’s antics for a while, I looked east again. It was different. Something was happening. The darkness was slowly fading. A faint hue lingered along the line where the sky and the water kissed. I kept my eyes on the horizon not wanting to miss a thing. There was a definite glow in the east.  Yes, Love the Star was on the way.

What unfolded that morning is beyond words. There were no clouds to shield the view. No trees or mountains or buildings in the way. No rumble from traffic, or airplanes. Only endless sky and water and the soft sounds of nature. And entering into this masterpiece was an orb of light, so radiant and splendid. So colorful and warm. So perfect and peaceful. Love the Star was reflecting on the water, and a golden beam stretched all the way out, in a straight beeline towards me, touching me with the words… this is for you! The healing rays melted my dark worries away. I now felt the peace and joy that I heard in my friend’s voice the night before and was so very glad she convinced me to wake up early, for a love story was being written before my eyes and in my heart.

I thought of the other ladies still asleep in the beach house that was missing this work of art. I thought of the vast majority of people that were in this hemisphere, still asleep and not experiencing this sunrise. Not unlike the night Christ was born. Most everyone slept through it, and didn’t realize that an incredibly amazing thing was happening. But the sky knew. The stable animals knew. The angles knew and told the shepherds. And a few wise men anticipated. Do we know? Do we really know what an incredibly amazing thing happened out east over two thousand years ago?

We must be careful not to sleep through Christmas. Don’t miss what this day is all about. God so loved us, that he sent his only son to be our light in this dark world. He did this for us.

So as we grow close to the birth of our Sun of Justice, the birth of Love the Star, remember to take the time and

Look east.

For the time is near.

And listen to the babe. He is saying,

“This is for you!”

Precious in My Eyes

Apple of My Eye

I couldn’t wait to get out of the elevator. When the doors finally opened I darted down the hall and into the room where my new grandson had just been born. My eyes instantly found him, and my breath was taken away. He was so beautiful! So tiny. So perfect. His black hair was all wet and curly. I kissed his head; he smelled so fresh and pure. His skin was softer than velvet. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. My arms ached to hold him. I stayed close, soaking in everything I could about him and longing for the moment when I could embrace him.

Finally, he was there, in my arms. His weak wobbly body totally dependent upon my hands as I cradled him. He started gurgling and cooing, and then — his slate blue eyes looked straight into mine! My heart melted.  My soul soared. A smile as big as the universe spread across my face and I cooed back to him saying, oh sweet, sweet little one; You are so precious! You are such a gift! You are the apple of my eye!

It was a couple of days later when I was holding my precious grandson again, gazing upon his beauty and in total awe of him, that a whisper of scripture came to me. “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4) As I looked with loving eyes upon my grandson, I sensed something sacred……there were eyes looking at ME! The loving eyes of Aba, my Father.  And a tender message; You, my daughter, are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” God was telling me that I was the apple of his eye!   I thought of the intense love I had for my new grandson, and realized that my Heavenly Father has that same strong love for me! Only more! Much, much more! More than I could imagine, and I was blown away.

He looks at me, with tender eyes?

He sees me pure and beautiful?

He gazes upon me with love?

He longs to embrace me?

He stays close by, soaking me in?

He holds me carefully, tenderly?

He can’t take his eyes off me?

The answer is YES! Yes, yes and yes! Yes, because I am precious in his sight. Yes, because I am his beloved daughter. Yes, because I am the apple of his eye. And here is the best part…God doesn’t just love me this way, He loves ALL his children, with this deep, passionate, eternal love.  Whether they are brand new innocent babies, or older tainted adults.

So, know that The Eyes of Love look upon us all and say the same thing…

Oh sweet, sweet one,

You are precious in my eyes, and honored,

and I love you!

Precious in My Eyes

Family Stories

Listending to Family Stories

“I remember the day Beth was born…” My mom pauses, recalling the special day of her first born. “I knew I was in labor, but I did not want to tell anyone.” She continued the story about how they had picked dewberries that day and that her mom was making a cobbler. “I did not tell anyone I was in labor because there was a dewberry cobbler cooking in the oven, and I wasn’t going to go to the hospital before I had a piece!” Continue reading