Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa is not a Saint .......

The talk today has been all about the book that is coming out which consist of letters Mother Teresa wrote to friends and spiritual directors. In these letters Mother T talks about what she called her “crisis” of faith or her “dark nights of the soul”. Apparently it comes as a surprise to some that Mother T questioned her beliefs and even the existence of God.

These are a couple of the most quoted lines I heard today.
"If there be no God - there can be no soul - if there is no Soul then Jesus - You also are not true."
At times she also found it hard to pray.
"I utter words of community prayers - and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give - but my prayer of union is not there any longer - I no longer pray."

One person even suggested that she be removed from the beatification list for sainthood. Well, guess we will have to take the keys of heaven away from Saint Peter. Saint Peter walked with Jesus and still had doubts – there was that whole denying Jesus three times, and the time Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus. How about Saint Thomas, guess his Sainthood will have to be called into question also – he was with Jesus and had to place his hand in the nail holes before he would believe that Jesus had risen. Throughout the Bible and the life of the Saints there are examples of their “crisis of faith”.

I wrote just the other night about my “desert” periods and my inability to pray. Why does the fact that Mother Teresa struggled come as a surprise to anyone? If you have ever read any of her books or books about her or had the experience of hearing her speak you would know that this was something she talked about often.

I live in a wonderful home surrender by things and people I love and still I have “desert” times. Mother Teresa was with the poorest of the poor, she saw dying every day – several times a day. How could she not be filled with doubt at times? How many of us have lost a child or family member too soon and looked up and said “GOD WHERE ARE YOU”?

I complain about not being “feed” from time to time and this is no one’s fault but my own. I have family, friends and a parish family that I can turn to for nourishment – Where did Mother T go to be “feed”? Who was there to prop her up when she had to pray over a dying child? Who did she turn to when she needed to let it all out? She had no one – because she was the one that everyone else turned to. How very draining spiritually, mentally and physical that had to be for a small little woman that did nothing great only “small things with great love”.

Does doubt make our faith any less? In my opinion NO. Sometimes, I think the stronger our spiritually is the more “crisis” we seem to face. When you walk close to the Lord, when you talk to Him and feel His presence daily and then you lose that closeness for whatever the reason, for even a few hours there is a “crisis” of faith. Sometimes it last for a few day or weeks or months or even years.

I cannot speak for Mother Teresa I can only trust that in her final journey home that Our Blessed Mother took her by the hand and lead her to her mansion in heaven. And I hope Mother Theresa is one of the first people I see when I trade my baseball cap for a crown.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

When is a lie not a lie?????

Well, it is thundering and that means I am sitting in my chair with 3 – count them 3 dogs in the chair with me. Then how am I typing you ask, they are all use to me laying the laptop on top of them. Given the choice of having to stay in the floor 2 feet away from me or laying under the laptop they will choose the laptop every time. You are now shaking your head asking why I put up with this. Animals have always been a part of my life. When I was growing up I turned everything on the farm into a pet given half the chance. Once while I was out hunting big game in the woods around the farm in Alabama I spied a little baby fox. I have no idea how old he was but I decided he would follow me home. A couple of hours later and a piece of rope around his neck we arrived home – I swear he followed me! I named him Shipper. Dad felt he was a cross between a wild dog and a fox. Made no difference to me what he was I just needed a dog. At that point I was down a couple of dogs – only had 7 dogs and 21 cats. So, Skipper became my new best buddy. He was the smartest dog I had ever seen. Skipper could learn tricks must faster than Penny (one of my beagles). We spent many hours together hunting big game and swimming in the creek. He was allowed to sleep with me, which was a real treat. I had always had pets but none of them were allowed to sleep with me until Skipper followed me home.
Skipper had one bad habit – now remember I grew up in the COUNTRY – he would run in front of the fox hunter’s dogs. Every week on Thursday night the men would get together and have a fox hunt. My Dad did not hunt – thank goodness! Skipper would go and get the dogs to chase him and then run home, scratch on the back door and I would let him in. I had no idea what he had been up to. One morning Skipper did show up. I called his name for hours. Dad suggested that he had gone to visit his old friends for a few days. At the end of two weeks it was pretty clear that he was not coming back. Dad said he felt pretty sure he had gone back to join his fox family. As broken hearted as I was I could accept the fact that Skipper needed to be with his family just like I needed to be with mine.
Many years later I happen to walk up behind Dad, he was talking to some of his friends. Dad did not know that I was there. He was telling the guys about Skipper. It seems that the fox hunters got tired of Skipper messing up their hunts. They figured out where he crossed the road every night and one of the hunters sat and waited on him. Dad found his body the next morning when he went down the mountain to town. I walked away and did not let Dad know I had heard his conversation. I was broken hearted; it had been several years since Skipper went to join his family. Enough time had passed that the edge had worn off the grief. Now I needed to process the new information. Why had Dad not told me the truth? He lied to me. There was one thing you learned early on with Dad – you did not lie to him and he did not lie to you. Dad would not even teach me that there was a Santa Clause because he knew someday I would find out it was a lie. Now, my granddad – his dad – would lead a cow around the house every Christmas Eve and tell us it was the reindeer. So, I did believe in Santa, Dad just never helped predicate his existence. So, here I was – lost my dog and Dad had told me a lie.
Somewhere in the wisdom of my 12 year old mind I reasoned out that Dad did not really lie to me. Well, he did but not a bad lie. Really, just a story to save a little girl from the truth. Dad tried for many years to protect me from the lies of the world. I lived in a fairy tale world created by all those around me. I was the youngest of the cousins living on the mountain so I was treated like a little princess. The lies of the real world would have to be faced soon enough.
I would not take anything for my childhood in the country. I only wish kids now days had the chance to live where there are no tiny backyards with fence that you cannot venture out of. A place where you knew everybody and you were somebody. A place where you could have 7 dogs and 21 cats and nobody cared. (We had a big barn and crib so there were plenty of mice to eat) A place where the morning smelled like honeysuckles and the night was filled with fire flies.
Yes, I am talking about the “good ole days” and for me they truly were good.
I did not tell Dad that I overheard his conversation until I was 16. He knew and I knew it was O.K. and I appreciated what he did for me.
When is a lie not a lie – when someone you love loves you enough to make the story have a happy ending.
May all your stories have happy endings and may God send you honeysuckle scented mornings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A friend knows your Heart Song --------

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

Do you remember when you were a kid and “best friends” were so very important. Everybody wanted to a “best friend” not just a friend. You might have 2 or 3 best friends in the same week. Pat was your “best friend” on Monday, then she told you that your dress was ugly so Mary was your “best friend” on Tuesday. As you got older best friends did not change so often but still they came and went. You learned that you could have more than one friend at a time. When you got into high school your friends were the most important people in the world – their opinion was more valuable than your parents and certainly more significant that your brothers or sisters. Your parents became incredibly stupid at this time in our life – but that is a different blog. No matter how hard I tried to convince our kids that the people they thought were so very important during high school would not be around in a few years, they would not listen – heck I sure did not listen when I was their age.
I think by the time we reached college age we tended to rely less on our friends. We are trying and figure out who we are and for the most part we see everyone else as competition – they are either competing for the guy we want or the job we want or the grades we want. It is sometime around the age of 25 that our parents get smart. How in the world did they get so smart over the passed few year? But at last we don’t start listening to them until we are 30 or so.
My Dad always said that if you had a handful – meaning 5 – close friends, the kind you could call in the middle of the night and know that they would listen - 3 friends that you could tell your greatest fear to and know that they would not share them with anyone else – 1 friend that you could go to and ask for money and they would not need to know the reason why – that you were a truly blessed person.
I can say that I am “truly blessed”. I am still friends with several people that I went to school with. I have friends from jobs long gone. Then there is the whole church thing – lots of friends there. Marian says we can’t go anywhere that I don’t run into some one I know. That is really a good feeling! You feel like you belong. Now the ones I run into that I have not seen for awhile and they tell me I look just like I use to worry me. Either they are trying to be too nice or they really need new glasses – I see that old woman staring back at me in the mirror.
BUT – the main reason I am blessed is because I am married to my “best friend”. The person that I want to spend my spare time with, the person that knows my greatest fears and doesn’t make fun of me when I cry for no reason. The person that holds my hand when I step off a curb but will let me change a car tire if I need to prove that “I AM WOMAN”. The person that gives me all the freedom I need then is there to pick up the pieces when I come back home with a broken heart because things just did not work out the way I thought they should. Tom knows my heart song and has often sung it to me when I have forgotten the words.

I have said all of this to say – if you are in a relationship now and that person is not the one you think of first when you have something you just HAVE to tell somebody – if you do not consider how pretty much every decision you make will effect them – You are not in the right relationship! And growing old ain’t going to be much fun.

Before Tom and I got married my Dad asked Tom one question – Have you prayed about this and have you waited for the answer.

God has to be a part of all relationships – have you invited him into yours?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Well, God is gone again!

Well, God is gone again! No, He has not moved but it seems that I have. I am in what some of the Saints spoke of as a “desert” phase. This is a time when you go to the well, but find nothing to drink. Nothing to really grab onto that will quench the deep down thirst you feel. That time when you can find nothing to fill the hole in your soul. Why I find myself in this place is not near as important as how and when I will leave.
Yes, I guess you could say there is a lot going on in my little corner of the world – our son Billy leaves for the FBI Academy in a couple of weeks. Billy and I have never been separated for more than a few days since he was born. He is a grown man now with a son of his own and is trying to do what is best for his family. I am very proud of Billy; he has accomplished what few people do. He has worked hard to reach the first rung on the ladder of becoming a FBI Agent. At the end of 6 months Billy, Mont and Hunter will move to who knows where. Then there is the whole work thing, with the company being sold none of us really know what will happen. Can’t leave out my upcoming birthday, nothing like a good “old” birthday to make one ponder the meaning of life. Put all these things in a bag and shake them up and when you dump them out there will be sand in the bottom of the bag.
So, I have got to pull myself up and shake the sand off my sandals and move on. This is not a new place I find myself in; I am a frequent visitor to this arid land. I spent almost a year wondering in this dry land after my Mom and Dad died. I wasn’t mad at God; my parents had lived a long wonderful life. This did not and does not keep me from missing them each and every day. For many months I simply had nothing to say to God and figured He didn’t have much to say to me. I went to several retreats during that time seeking the answer that would restore my breaking heart. It was not until an old guy in a class I was teaching at church utter a few words that shook me back to reality. I made mention that I had not been able to pray since my parents died. The old guy looked at me and said “we can never stop praying, never. Prayer is the greatest gift God gave us.” It was at that moment I left the desert and once again felt the rain on my face. Yes, prayer is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. A way to talk directly to our creator. A way to make our needs know to the One that can truly provide.
I am not so far out in the desert this time that I have stopped talking to God nor have I lost the ability to hear His small still voice. I am simply skirting around the edge, kicking the sand with the toe of my sandal every now and again. I am not so far in that I can no longer see the beautiful sun rises and sunsets that God sends my way – or enjoy the endless calls from Hunter “Ya Ya lets go, it will be great fun”. As I say I am just skirting around the edge of the dry land, but I also realize it would not take much letting go before I can no longer feel or hear God.
How am I going to keep from getting sucked into the vortex that is as close to Hell as one will know here on earth – separation from God. Well, I will spend more time in the word, I will read my bible. I will make more time to pray and listen. I will listen to the old gospel songs from my childhood, the ones that reminds of “What A Friend I have in Jesus”, and the one that tells of His “Amazing Grace”. I will sing along at the top of my lungs – remembering that “Those that sing pray twice”. I will lean on Tom, my shelter from all storms, my strength when I have none of my own.
They say that which does not kill us only serves to make us stronger – a walk in the “desert periods” of life will not kill you but they can truly make you wish for death. Today I am dancing on the edge of a vast wasteland – I intend to pray and sing and dance my way right back into the arms of my loving God.
Come dance and sing with me!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is anyone perfect???

Yesterday I got a glimpse into what a special little girl in my life will encounter for the rest of her life. Calla is 3 years old, she is my daughter in laws niece and my segregate granddaughter. To say that Calla is a beautiful little princess comes close to describing how this little girl can reach out and melt the hardest of hearts. Calla is the kind of little girl that everyone utters in passing “did you see that child she is adorable”. Calla calls me Ya Ya just as Hunter does. Having the two of them together is a double handful, and Calla’s hand is what she has to deal with daily.
Calla was born with a hand that did not fully develop. I cannot remember the name of the condition but it has to do with a part of the uterus detaching and wrapping around an area of the fetus not allowing blood flow thus the deformity. How it happened is not important, the fact that Calla was born “less than perfect” in the eyes of John Q Public is. For the people that are around her it is something that we do not notice until someone brings it to our attention. Trust me it in no ways slows Calla down.
Yesterday we had a “congratulation/farewell party” for our son Billy who will be leaving for the FBI Academy in a couple of weeks (this is a story for another time). The family was there and several of Billy’s friends and ex co-workers. One of Billy’s friends has a little girl that is 4. I have no idea how long we had all been in the pool playing – which involves the kids jumping in and me catching them – when the little girl noticed Calla’s hand. And in true little one’s style she began to ask questions about Calla’s little hand. “Why is her hand that way?” “Her hand looks like it has tiny little toes on it”. The family is teaching Calla to answer “Because God made me that way”. So, I told the little girl that it was that way because God made it like that and Calla is very special”. Enough said, not for this child. She continued to want to look at Calla’s hand, she wanted to touch it and she wanted to hold it. Of course my first instinct was to smack the kid in the mouth and tell her to go away. BUT she was after all making the innocent inquiries of a child. So, I was left to walk a tedious line between what my heart wanted to do and what I needed to do for both Calla and the little girl. I started a new game in the pool which bought us all some time, but given the opportunity the little girl would gravitate back to Calla’s hand and the questions would start again.
Our first instinct is always to protect those we love. I came away from the encounter with a heavy heart because I had seen for the first time up close what “our little” princess will face thru out her life. Calla will have to be confident in herself so that she will not be defined by her hand. Trust me to date she has made the adjustments needed to compensate; she can do anything she sets her mind to and is truly fearless. (which got us both in trouble yesterday – she was jumping off the diving board and I was catching her – I told her it was time to go back to the shallow end of the pool and I started swimming towards Hunter, Calla was walking along the side of the pool – the next thing I know her Dad is jumping in the deep in clothes and all to get her – told you she has NO FEAR).
Right now as a family we can stand in the “gap” and buffer Calla from questions but the time is fast approaching that she will enter the “world” alone. Our job as family is to prepare Calla for these encounters. On a whole we are doing what we feel will help Calla in the days to come. Mostly we are loving her “with all our hearts” as Hunter says, which isn’t hard cause she is such a little charmer.

We often look at these people as less than perfect and thank God that we are. Well, we may not have outward deformities but grant it we are all far from perfect. So, the next time you see someone that you “feel sorry” for instead of thanking God it is not you – how about asking him for a extra portion of His grace for them, to strength them and make their life easier instead of thinking how lucky you are. Calla might not be “perfect” in your eyes but in the families and God eyes she could not be more perfect – unless God had added wings and make her an angle.
Today I still feel an ache in my heart for a little girl I love so dearly not because I feel sorry for her but because I do not ever want her heart to hurt because of some uneducated idiot says something to her. And because her family will not always be able to protect her from such people. If it was up to me I would just follow her around and poke these folks in the head with a sharp stick.
My prayer for Calla is that God will grant her a special portion of His grace though out her life. I also pray for all those that are “special” in some way. May they walk in confidence in this life and the next when their physical body will be perfect,