Are you where you want to be?


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Musings: Our Mortality

Yet another friend has returned to the great eternity.  Just over a year ago I dealt with the passing of five people who were close to me, some more than others.  Four of them died within a seven-week span, and the fifth, my dear church sister Susan, just two months after that.  At the time I remember feeling a sense of dis-ease, and although I have many spiritual tools and good friends to help me deal with this kind of thing, I was aware of “descending into greyness” and came to the conclusion that I was in a mild depression, which is not abnormal or alarming given the circumstances.

Last Thanksgiving, as Rich and I spent our now traditional week down in Orlando, I was on the computer and needed to make a rare (for me) foray into Facebook.  While there I found an entry by Rosa, the daughter of a dear old friend, Santiago.  Santiago was an engineer who I came to know very well, along with his wife Josefina, when I lived on the island of La Maddalena in Sardinia, Italy in the 70’s.  But more than an engineer, Santiago was an artist.  He painted using many mediums, he created exquisite mosaics, and he was a talented guitar player and writer.  Santiago was also my unofficial mentor, and he re-awoke my dormant Muse and I began writing and painting again.

Rosa’s posting was a photo of Josefina, and the caption read: “Here’s Mummy putting roses on Pappy’s tomb for his birthday.”  My hands froze over the computer keyboard as the significance of those words sank in.  I contacted Rosa immediately and she confirmed the sad news that Santiago had had a very serious stroke from which he had never recovered, and that he had passed last April.  Once the initial feelings of deep grief subsided, I was able to feel so grateful for his presence in my life and also for the fact that just two years ago my husband had gifted me with a week-long trip to Puerto Rico so that I could visit Santiago and Josefina and spend some wonderful time with them after about twenty five years of absence.

On our way home from that stay in Orlando, Rich and I stopped to visit with old friends from our time in Italy.  PA had been Richard’s Department Head on his first ship, U.S.S. Belknap (since decommissioned) in Gaeta, Italy in the mid-80’s, and then in the 90’s he had been his CO on another tour in Naples, Italy.  PA retired in the early 2000’s and on New Year’s Day 2006 he had a massive brain aneurism which robbed him of motor coordination and most speech.  He and Deb, his devoted wife, returned to live in DeBary, FL in 2007.  PA was wheelchair bound and had very little communication capability but when we visited them, which coincided with our Orlando trips each year, we could see that PA was “still there”.  Recognition and interest would flare in his eyes and we somehow knew that he appreciated our visit.

During the evening of 3 January 2013, we heard from Deb that PA was not long for this world and, in fact, he died in the early hours of the next day.  Yesterday we attended his funeral Mass and my husband was asked to speak about PA on behalf of the family.  As I heard Rich’s words of appreciation for this man, I was also drawn to my own place of gratitude – gratitude not only for PA and all he represented both as a a Naval officer and as a family man, and for the opportunity we had to know the whole family and be enriched by their presence in our lives, but also for life in general, the precious gift that it is, and for friendship and the gift that that is. I was also grateful that God had given us the opportunity to be present and supportive to our friends at their time of loss and deep personal grief.

As I remembered our last visit with Deb and PA, I then thought about the passing of my beloved soul-sister Cawne the week following Thanksgiving.  I will be writing a separated posting about Cawne because of the important place she held in my heart and in my life.  All that I will say here is that she was one of three people near and dear to me that I have lost recently all in the space of seven weeks.  That makes a grand total of eight losses in just over fourteen months.  I cannot help but wonder what is the “message” or the lesson behind all that loss, and I have been resting in the Creator’s loving arms about that.

There are three themes that have surfaced.  The first is that I have been prepared to carry this weight and, in dealing with my own grief, I have been able to support many people as they have journeyed through their grief. The second is related to my preparation as a spiritual director.  I firmly believe that I am being groomed to help others as they deal with their grief, to be a spiritual companion in this particular stage of peoples’ lives.  And the third is that I believe Creator is also teaching me about and gently bringing me closer to full acceptance of my own mortality.

And so as I close this blog I am also acutely aware that I want to write another blog dedicated to this particular topic.  So many people, in the Western world are scared to think about death and dying and live in a state of complete fear and denial of death, especially their own or that of their loved ones.  And yet death is the one thing that we are guaranteed to have to face in life.  Because of personal denial of the possibility of death and the general culture surrounding death in the Western world, many people are completely unprepared for the moment. Without being morbid,  I want to write about the subject so that whoever reads about it can choose to be somewhat prepared.

Travelling: Family & The Kentucky State Fair

When Rich and I left Rod and Trish, we headed east out of Missouri towards St. Louis.  Rich wanted us to see the “Archway to the West” and as we rode I-64 I was able to get some decent shots of the archway and the St. Louis skyline.  Then we crossed the state border into Illinois going almost halfway across to spend the night in Mount Vernon.  We attended Mass in the lovely church of St. Mary’s on Saturday 27 August which left us free to have a small lie-in on the Sunday before making tracks for Louisville, KY and Richard’s family.

Like most of the days on this trip, God blessed us with perfect weather for riding as we finished crossing the state of Illinois, clipped the bottom of Indiana, and rode into the blue grass state of Kentucky.  I could feel Richard’s excitement mounting as we rode closer to “home”.  The plan was to head to his sister Rose’s home, unpack the bike, then head over to the Kentucky State Fair with Rose, her husband Ronnie, and their kids, Megan and Kalin, to meet up with another sister, Robin, and her daughter, Brittany, and his brother, Robert and his wife, Sylvie, and their son, Patrick.  Wow, what a reunion!!  I had not seen some of these folks since Thanksgiving 2004!


We spent several fun hours at the fair. I found some great HOT dip mixes and some wonderfully decadent fudge, while Richard ate a Krispy Kreme hamburger?????? (yes, that was a hamburger between two doughnuts!!), and later he could not resist trying some “fried Koolaid”. While some of the others went to a concert they had booked to see, Rich and I strolled around the rides for a while. We had fun tempting the “guess your age” guy who made my day and gave me a “prize” after guessing me to be 15 years younger than I amSmile. Whether he was being truthful or gallant in his guessing I’m not sure, but I was happy. Then the tiredness of the ride hit in and we headed home to get a good night’s rest. We needed to get our beauty sleep because the next day we were putting on a Bar-b-q for the family and even more people were coming.


So on Monday we went shopping then got busy cooking and preparing food. By 4pm yet another sister, Rhonda, arrived with her daughter, Ginny, followed shortly afterward by Rich’s step-Mom Ruth, his step-brother Ryan and his step-sister Rachel and her husband Michael with his son in tow. The crowd was rounded out when Robin got there with her son Dustin, and finally we were able to tuck into all that good food. A little later, as we rested full tummies, Kalin took Dustin and they went to pick up Brittany and her girlfriend who had been attending a school sport meet-up. By that time we were ready for some dessert and enjoyed some wonderful concoction that Sylvie had made.


Our final day in Louisville, Rich went to get his (final?? who knows) tattoo in honor of his retirement. Of his eight tattoos, Lucky in Louisville has created 5 of them. This one he actually created around a small existing one of a dolphin that Rich had done in Washington, DC some years ago. Lucky extended the water/wave line under the dolphin , then added the letters USN over the top of everything with a sunrise and the year Rich entered the Navy at one end, and a sunset with his retirement year at the other. It’s really beautiful.


That evening we hooked up with Rose and Ronnie and the kids, Robin, and Richard’s old school friend and partner-in-crime, Fonda with his wife Sherry. We had a great meal and wonderful socializing at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we all ate a bit too much because the food was great!.

Next day, Wednesday 31 August, it was time to load up our faithful Harley, say our farewells, and hit the road again as we headed towards North Carolina.  It had been a good visit with family and hopefully it won’t be so long before we see each other again.

Spiritual Growth: The God Path

As I gathered my thoughts together to begin writing about the Healing Prayer Mission at our church last February, I realized that to tell that story I had to go back to October 2008.  Without the events of October 2008, we would not have had the Healing Prayer Mission this year.  Back in 2008, I crossed paths with a fellow parishioner and friend, Guy, and he told me about a conference that was to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in a couple of weeks. 

He knew that I was a Reiki Practitioner and that I referred to myself as a “healer”.  The conference was a joint effort of the International Catholic Charismatic Movement and Christian Healing Prayer Ministries and was focused on today’s need for Christians to recognize that Jesus invited us, the church, to continue his work.  “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14)  After speaking with, Guy I realized that the conference was a week long and would cost quite a bit of money.  However, he gave me a name and number to call and invited me to trust.

The next day I called the number and told the gentleman on the other end of the phone that Guy had told me to call.  He said, “Ah yes, you need a scholarship; I’ll see you at the conference”.  I was blown away.  This was no two cent deal.  So a week later I attended my first day.  I remember feeling a little cautious as I wasn’t quite sure whether I could handle this “charismatic” stuff.  By lunch time I was raising my hands to the heavens and praising along side hundreds of strangers from countries all over the globe.

I thoroughly enjoyed the next few days.  The people were joyous and worshipped God joyously.  The presentations were both informative and interesting. I loved the informal music group and it was easy to begin to feel free and unrestrained as I learned to worship God in another way, no holds barred.  Every evening at the end of all the presentations and teaching, Mass was said at 5pm by a different priest.  Their were priests from all over the world in attendance and it was beautiful to experience the Mass celebrated by priests from different countries.

On the Thursday evening I had already planned to leave at the end of the presentations because there was an activity that I normally participated in with my Yoga group, and I didn’t want to miss it.  However as 5pm rolled on I felt compelled to stay for Mass. I sat quietly waiting and the music group began playing the entrance hymn.  People began singing and clapping.  Suddenly I was aware of a wave of energy coming from behind me.  I turned around and I’m sure my mouth must have gaped open. 

There was a large colorful group of people coming down the center aisle. Men and women of different nationalities dressed in their native costumes swung down the aisle smiling, clapping their hands, and singing joyously.  Bringing up the rear and rocking and rolling down the aisle was this tall priest who had an energy, a charisma about him that I have rarely experienced in a member of the clergy.  As I watched the procession make its way down the aisle I was aware of one strong thought in my head:  I have to get this priest to our church; we need this priest at our church.

By the end of Mass and after experiencing his wonderful homily, I was more than determined to make this my goal.  My friend Guy was helping behind the scenes at the conference, so before leaving after Mass I sought him out and gave him my “mandate”: whatever you do please get contact information for this priest.  And so it came about that Fr. Jim Curtin from St. Dennis’ Parish in Wisconsin came in 2010 to give us our first Lenten Healing Prayer Mission and returned again in Lent this year.  My church has never been the same since and we now have our own blossoming Healing Prayer Ministry. Alleluia!!

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