Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas Angel at Benaroya

Monday night I went to the PLU Christmas Celebration concert at Benaroya Hall... It was so magical, and here is why:

One of God's most precious & charished children sat next to me tonight.  In clean- but well worn, stained clothes, hugging her beloved and soiled teddy bear to her chest, a woman in her late 30's, maybe early 40's, eyes blind, dug through her backpack and pulled out a rosary.  During Chorale's first piece, she touched each bead, running it through her curled and slightly deformed fingers.  At the end of the song, which was a magical latin piece sung by candle light, she waited just long enough after the 'last musical moment' and then let a little giggle escape as she smiled from skin-to-soul.  Before the next song, it looked like she pulled out an old tape recorder, but I couldn't tell.  (for her sake, I hope she was able to capture some of the music so she could bring it with her!  Lord knows, she wouldn't be able to buy the cd!)

As we all stood up to sing the carol and the orchestra played the first two notes of a hymn I have never heard, she softly and delightfully exclaimed, "I love this one!" and sang- quite beautifully- every single word, as if singing in God's chorus of angels.

After the choirs had left the orchestra on stage for their instrumental pieces, by the third note of their first piece, my little angel-friend whispered "Hanson!" and, sure enough, the piece was composed by Jeffrey Bell-Hanson.  At this point, she pulled out her rosary again.  There is nothing quite so recognizable or comforting to a Catholic... hearing the soft click of the prayer beads, each tiny tap symbolic of a resounding plea for faith, peace, and God. 

The second piece, also by Hanson, left her completely still- for the first time since she sat down, no rocking, no prayer beads, no movement whatsoever.  She relaxed into the chair, allowing her weary self to rest, and an amazed and breathy "wow" was all she said as the piece continued...

The more solemn pieces invoked more emotions, more rocking, more clicking of the rosary beads, fervrent prayer, and-- I tell you-- the Kingdom of God came down to earth right there, at Benaroya during the Choir of the West performance of Long Long Ago.  I know in my heart that the only reason I had words at this moment is so I can share this with you. 

This child of God, this angelic voice, this woman of Faith, trapped inside a body that has been her enemy since birth, is exactly why I love God. Faith. Music.  I long to hold her hand and pray with her.  I long to worry for her, knowing full well that she has a hard life.  I found comfort in the fact that she has her faith, her music, and thought to sneak that recorder in her backpack so she can carry this amazing gift of music that PLU brings to communities.  I wish I could know her story!  To share three cups of tea, to prepare and share a meal, to break bread, to laugh, cry, and pray with her, to share fellowship in the Lord.

I want to learn from her.  So simple, such joy, such faith.  Such a blessed soul.

She is my Christmas Angel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Ink

"...waiting for the pend to dry up so (she) can start fresh with thoughts that are worth new ink..."

I promise, I'm trying to write... it's just "STUCK" right now...

Friday, October 15, 2010

A linked post....

... from my regular blog.  Don't feel like retyping it. 

Breathe In, Breathe Out (lather, rinse, repeat)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Haven't Forgotten..

I promise... I will write here, soon.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thank You, SIR, May I Have Another!

Yup- you read that right.  I am now asking for Soul Cries. 

I realized that if anything happened to Camilla, her family, or Gunvor, I would want to know about it asap.  The best way to do that is to allow the open communication between them and me- aka the Holy Spirit, which brought us all together. 

I still haven't heard anything from the priest I mailed a letter to before my Nordic adventures, and I had also spoke with someone who said his wife's friend would be good to talk to, but I haven't heard anything from her either... so, I'm catching the hint as well as feeling brave enough to acknowledge that I am strong enough to experience these Soul Cries on my own.  I will not fear them any longer, rather, I will use my prayer to deepen my understanding, and my understanding to deepen my prayer.  (sounds confusing, but it makes sense in my soul, and that's where it needs to make the most sense)

We'll see where this acceptance of the Lord's request takes me... I'm pretty sure it won't be easy, and I'm pretty sure it will be intense... but I am ready.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Live, from Norway to Today

I wrote a letter to a local priest about everything, and how I was hoping to have this all resolved before leaving for Norway, but I never heard back from him.  (Come to think of it, I still haven't heard back from him... why does this not seem to be important to anyone but me!  I need help processing and coping with these Soul Cries!)  Feeling as if I was alone on a tight rope, balancing between bravery in the face of my biggest fears and total surrender to the dark depression that lay behind me, I took a deep breath and focused on doing whatever needed to be done to be there for Camilla.

I went to Norway. My "YES!" to God's call here, and Camilla's email, brought me back to church half way around the world, and rekindled that flame, that passion for Christ's love.

Actually, it all started in Boston as I was on my way to Norway.  Anyone who's been reading my blogs over the last few years knows that a huge hurdle between me and God right now is "George" (name changed for anonymity), and the pain and hurt he's caused me.  You also know that I've acknowledged that forgiving him is going to be the ultimate in what I need to do to feel right with my Faith.  I started taking steps towards healing and forgiving by googling his name and finding that he was ordained, and that a lot of what he talked about as turning points in his path involved many personal conversations and moments that he and I had shared.  It didn't make his hurtful words any easier to live with, but it did give me a sense of validation for the anger I felt when he denied our friendship. 

So- back to Logan Airport- I get a call from my mom saying that "George" had replied to Camilla on FB about her conversion and me being her sponsor, saying that he was thinking about me during his morning reading, how the one who loves much suffers much in the context that Jesus loves us so much that he suffers interiorly for us, that it was beautiful, and that I have a very big heart.  This is a subject that he and I talked about quite a bit because of my Soul Cries.  At first I was very angry- who does he think he is, and why does he think he has the right to "think about me" after he did what he did!!!  Then I remembered that I have been asking God to give him a sense of conviction about how he had chosen to end our friendship... While I don't know that "George" will ever apologize, or could ever do or say anything to heal my soul after what he did, I believe that this is as close to that as it will get. 

After crying and then composing myself while waiting for my flight, I just kept praying- so hard- that God give me strength to attend mass, since being a sponsor sort of means that I need to be PRESENT at the mass. 

I can't begin to explain to you how perfect it was, having mass in a language that I didn't understand.  It almost helped me to focus more on the Spirit in the mass!  I mean- at Easter Vigil my first prayer was "Lord, I'm in Your house, it's a language that I don't understand, so please- speak directly to me, let me hear Your message.  Amen" And you know what?  I understood the next few sentences spoken about the Pope and his message from the Vatican.  After mass I asked Camilla why they said all of that in English, and she assured me they didn't... and the words " shall speak my words in foreign lands and all will understand..." came to mind.  Was I understanding God's words in a foriegn land?  Yes!  And I didn't feel lost during mass because it's the same in any language- that's the beauty of mass.  You can go to almost any country, walk into a Roman Catholic church, and know exactly where they are in the mass because it's the same liturgy.  It was almost better than having the mass in English because I had to actually focus harder and recall the translation from years of Sunday service.  It was nice one-on-one time with God without having to be alone.

"George" 's birthday happened to be one of the days this week, and - gotta love those social networking sites telling you what friends are doing - Camilla wrote on his wall... he replied, and said to "extend well wishes to Melinda" along with Camilla's family.  Again, I caught myself saying "he has no right to ask her to do that.." and then stopped myself, prayed that God will help to heal my heart and move me on from this garish scar on my soul.

When Camilla and I went into town, we spent about 2 hours at lunch just catching up on the last 7 years or so.  She reminded me of how I taught her to pray the rosary, and how it was such an important moment in her faith formation.  I felt bad at first, because I didn't remember, and then I realized that I was just being me- that's who I am.  Blessed Teresa of Calcuta said "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."  I'm not saying that I am anyone's world, but I see now that who I am in my day-to-day life has a direct and positive impact on those around me.  It was a very humbling moment for me.  My dear friend then shared how both "George" and I had been so important in her steps toward Catholicism... and we realized that she was not aware of everything that had happened since that fateful April night 2 years ago.  It was then that I shared how I had been wounded so deeply that I haven't been to church since, and that I didn't know if I was strong enough to open back up to the memories and the pain now associated with what used to bring so much joy and fellowship for me.  I cried, but it was a healing cry.

That night, the priest who performed the mass was a younger, tall, slender man, with an infectious grin, a light hearted laugh, and very distinct mannerisms that reminded Camilla and I of  "George".  Pater Pål.  I wouldn't be surprised if he said the same sort of things that "George" says, just in Norwegian instead of English or Spanish.  Again, I cried.  Tears to heal, tears of mourning for a friendship lost, and more tears of healing.

So, yeah- 4 days in Norway and the taboo-ex-friend of mine has been in my face three times.  But that's not all.  We were talking about the Holy Spirit, and the mysticism of the Faith, and how sometimes that can be the hardest to swallow... I shared the story of my Soul Cries.  Camilla shared a moment she had that really started her down her path.  Turns out that we both had significant experiences involving the Holy Spirit in 1998, in a church in France.  1998 was declared by Pope John Paul II to be the year of the Holy Spirit. 

(I'm noticing a theme here...) 

At mass that night I prayed that Camilla would feel the Spirit move inside her, helping her to feel and understand the fullness It brings.  No sooner had I said "Amen" then she turned to me and whispered "ONE MORE DAY!", holding up one finger and showing so much excitment and light in her eyes that I thought for sure she was a child on Christmas morning after Santa came with presents!  It was beautiful.  Again, I cried. 

Between "George" and the Holy Spirit, I cried quite a bit at church this first week of Easter!

Day 5 itinerary was -meet w/priest, Camilla's 1st Confession -interview with national newspaper -mass. 
Maybe Day 5 was when we had dinner with Pater Pål?  I don't remember... I just know that mass felt better and better every day, even though I still didn't understand anything but the latin music and the eucharist.  Every day was better and better, and I felt more and more at home in the Church.  I met an amazing woman, Gunvor Johanne, and felt an instant connection.  We decided that I am Camilla's US-Gunvor and Gunvor is Camilla's Norway-Melinda.  It was so wonderful to just share mass and dinner with them.  The fellowship that was faith based was so amazing, and something that I've missed since I was at PLU and still had "Sara" and "George" as friends.  (I really don't think either one of them knows how much they meant to me and how much they have hurt me by their actions and non-actions)

Day 6, I had a silent meltdown at about 2am.  Seeing Camilla, knowing I would be leaving her in less than a day, having "George" in my face almost every day all week long after working so hard to FORGET him, confronting my fears of opening up to Soul Cries again without any sort of support network in place, and realizing I felt like I had finally found a few solid women of Faith and I would be half way around the world from them for most of my life... I think it was all just an emotional overload. 

The day I left, I thanked God here and there, all the way back home.  It was such a wonderful journey, and such an amazing and humbling experience, knowing that me being exactly who I am and allowing the Spirit to work through me had made such a strong impact on one of my friends... and found it oddly comforting that "George" had such a presence while I was there.  (And at the same time, it really, really pisses me off!  Why does he still have to be involved in my Faith!  How can I move on from him if he keeps popping up?)

I wish there was a smooth resolve to this blog, but I don't think there is.  I feel like there's so much more that I haven't been able to express that is moving inside me- with God, with processing and accepting Soul Cries on my own, and even with the lingering haunt of "George".  I got an email from FB the other day saying he'd commented on a wall post I'd made on Camilla's wall.  I just about fell off my chair when I saw his name in my inbox after 2 years.  Seeing his name, hearing his name, seeing his picture, being reminded of what he said and did- all of it still stops my heart and hurts my soul.  Someday I won't feel any more pieces of me die because of him.  In the mean time, I'm going to focus on everything ELSE....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Soul Sign

Soul Sign

The essence of soul is Love, the energy of connection. It prompts you to give and support, and eventually to experience deep unity.
This was the email from Soul Journey that I received today.... it is incredibly relevant, and I will be writing more about this soon, I promise!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where Will Your "Yes" Take You?

Every morning, on the way into work, I try to listen to Sacred Heart Radio AM 1050.  Sometimes it comes in crystal clear, sometimes I get a sports talk show, and sometimes I get a spanish talk show... it's kind of a game.  Yesterday, 03/25/10, was the Feast of the Annunciation, and the radio was coming in clear.... Dr. Tom Curran was talking about Mary's Yes, and what that means.  Then he asked the listeners "where will your "yes" take you?" 

My answer - Norway!  As Holy Week approaches, I am preparing for a trip to Oslo, Norway.  One of my good friends from PLU is becoming Catholic and she asked that I be her sponsor.  Of course I said "YES!" I was so honored and humbled to be asked. 

Of course, there's a lot more to that "yes" than trans-Atlantic travel and 14 hours on a plane next week.  It means being in a right place to communicate with God again.  It means going to church- not only mass, but services during Holy Week- again.  It means celebrating- with genuine joy of spirit- without a particular person.  It means opening myself to receive Soul Cries again.  And I think I can do it. 

For the last 4 weeks I have been trying to get in touch with the priests at my local church, wanting to discuss a few things before standing up to sponsor someone else in their faith-journey.  Unfortunately, it's been a game of phone tag.  When I was finally able to speak to one of them, he said it'd probably be better for me to speak with the head priest, my situation was more the other one's area of expertise. (I sort of expect that reaction now... it seems when I talk to someone about my issues with faith, which are Soul Cries and that one person, that's usually the reaction I get... the depth of what I experience scares people.)  Last night I was really hurt by the fact that I can't seem to find someone who believes my situation is a priority during their preparation for Holy Week. (yes, that is supposed to sound a little sarcastic- I mean, really, who I am?!)  Why do I have to bear this burden ALONE?!  But then I started to think about what Dr Curran had said, about how Mary said "YES" without anyone to stand by her, she had faith that God would get her through. 

While I would still like to talk to someone, because I think it will be a HUGE step in the healing process for me, I am going to challenge myself to have the faith that Mary did... Even in Norway, God will get me through.  Of course, I pray to God that I don't have a complete emotional-sobbying break down during mass, and I pray to God that I don't have any Soul Cries while I'm thousands of miles away from home, but- like before- when the Spirit needs me to pray for someone, I'll know.  (But please, God, if you're going to give me someone's pain, can I please ease into it first?  Just a little eensie-weensie twinge... no major events, okay?  For once, work with me on this, let me work in baby steps this time)

I still need to talk to someone, this I know.... but WHO? 

If I'm going to break down the wall that I've worked so hard to protect myself, built between me and God, that means that more Soul Cries and more empathic experiences will happen.  It's already started with the whole feeling-someone-else's-pain bit, this last week has been so emotional for me at work- each claimant's fears weigh so heavy on my heart... *sigh*  [enter: FEAR]  I am still afraid that I am not strong enough to be the intermediary to God, the chanel in which the Spririt travels to reach so many...

I am praying and hoping to find my strength in Mary, in her "yes".

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Light of God

There is a lot of hurt in my heart right now, and twice in the last hour I have stumbled across the prayer of St Patrick:

The Light of God before me.
The Light of God behind me.
The Light of God above me.
The Light of God below me.
The Light of God within me.

In many of the visions and Soul Cries I've had, Holy beings have been surrounded by this amazing light that brings love and peace... it's such a calming feeling.  I know this is the Light of God.  As I continue to find this prayer through out the day, I stop and try to envision my soul being comforted and calmed by this radient Light. 

Close your eyes.  Envision a wonderful, warm summer day, early morning, and how the sun shining on your body is just enough to bring a glow through your eyelids... it seeps in, and as you take a breath, you simply relax.  With your eyes still closed, exhale and feel the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.  God's light has filled you and comforted you... embrace that feeling, and carry it with you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inspiration Entering Into Lent

"Believe that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Believe that you might be that light for someone else." ~ Kobbi Yamada

It's no big secret that I've been absent from the church for quite some time.  For lent, this year, I am giving up that absence... and started by missing Ash Wednesday Mass! 

Doh- Strike one!

I am starting my journey into lent and life change by getting back into personal meditation and prayer, and stumbled across a website that has some really great guided readings, prayer, and reflection.  The first Thursday after Lent begins asks us to focus on remembering God's inspiration, and that His grace is behind all that we do. 

This is such an important thing to remember, and I know- I know - that some of my actions have not been so "inspired" lately.  But I'm working on it!  It's so easy to fall into choice expletives and horribly mean thoughts when a few certain people cross my mind or my path, but I am realizing that I don't like how I feel after...

No esta bien.  I am going to make this change happen! 

Here is a snippet from the closing prayer:

Lord, let everything I do this day and in this season of Lent come from you, be inspired by you. 

I long to be closer to you. 

Help me to remember that nothing is important in my life unless it glorifies you in some way....

Heal me, Lord, and help me to find you in the darkness of my life. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Walking in Faith

This is a picture of one shelf at my grandmother's farm house- it has over 100 years of bibles on it, in three different languages, and it is absolutely amazing to touch these books, close your eyes, and open your heart to the spirituality and faith involved.

I've been very honest and opened about a lot of my struggles, and as I left work today, I had a sign- literal sign- that helped to point me towards where my path is going to take me next. It was a sign for an AM Catholic radio station, and I was brought right back to PLU days & listening to recordings of Catholic radio that a certain friend would bring back. (This is the one that crushed my soul by renouncing our friendship, calling it a false friendship of convenience) I realized quite a few things in a matter of seconds- I realized that I am not as bitter as I used to be, because I could actually say his name without cringing, crying, or swearing; I realized that I need to make an effort to find a faith community; I realized that a major healing point for me, and a huge hurdle that I need to work to overcome in my faith struggles involves actually forgiving him for the hurt that he caused me.

Holding on to anger and pain is never healthy. I don't know that I've been holding on to it, necessarily, but I do know that I had to acknowledge the pain I have felt for the last 3-4 years. I do know that it's sometimes okay to take those broken pieces of faith, trust, friendship- everything I used to believe in, take those broken pieces of who I used to be and hold them close to my "self".

Healing takes time. I'm ready to not hurt anymore. I'm ready to welcome God back into my life, 100%, and not put a protective shield around any part of me, because I can see, now, that what this friend did was not of God. It was nothing God would ever want him to do! And really, my first step in moving foward with this realization is praying for him.

How does this all come back to the century of bibles? Amazing leaps of faith. The oldest books came over from Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. That faith helped to build a strong and loving family, and while the bitterness and pain I've felt towards that friend and even God, at times, has nothing to do directly with my family, I feel like I'm cheating everyone who's lives I touch by not opening my heart to God.

I am ready to take the risk of loving for God again. I am ready to fall back into step on my path, and I am ready to add my bible to the shelf that holds over 100 years of faith.

Oh, my Lord,

Please hold me close and bring comfort as I take a terrifying step towards you. I yearn to feel You in my life again, and I cannot feel You fully if I am guarding my heart against Love.

Please help me to forgive my friend, for I know You have used him to do your work, and I know he wants You to use him still. I can see, now, that his actions over the last few years were of his own free will, and I pray that you help him to see the error in his ways. I don't pray for selfish reasons- I don't know that I am ready to have him back in my life- but I do pray that he never feel he is justified in treating or talking to anyone that way ever again.

Please guide me to a faith community that will embrace and support me, a faith community in which I can do Your will.

Please help me to open myself again, I am tired of being closed off to You.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Angels Among Us

My mom's cousin has bad cancer, all over her body, and just had a port put in. She started her chemo treatments recently, and her first visit, while waiting, a woman came up to her and said "Everything's going to alright, you're going to be okay."

Which was nice, one stranger comforting another, and then she looked at the woman's name tag, it said "Olga"...

Olga was her mother's name.
I believe that angels are among us, everyday , everywhere, and we only have to be open to hear them.