Photos, sometimes with Commentary, from a lay Catholic.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Snow!

The Pond in Winter

This picture is from last year but it looks pretty much the same today only with more snow. We've really had a punishing snowfall over the last several days, and today I was stuck in the driveway and it took about 3 hours to get it cleared. Even then it's only one lane wide and the road at the end isn't great. We get a lot of drifting in these parts and it's not a bad day to stay home. There's much to be done before the holiday, but of course much of it requires going out. No worries, though.

Cleaning up at home is good therapy for me and I have gotten a few things done that have waited for my attention for months. Boxes moved from the hallway, that sort of thing.

I'm over my previous melancholy about my mother that hits me now and then. When it's daylight, I am always more forward thinking.

The passage of time, though... That's something to ponder. We are born, we live, we die. We accomplish, we give. I hope we reflect. The quiet of reflection, of prayer, gives needed direction to our activity. It's a good thing. Snow days can slow us down, divert us a bit. Just staying warm is enough.

Into this darkness, our darkness, came the One who would make all things new. Advent is a time to consider how much we needed this One. How much we need Him still.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Missing You

I miss you. I don't understand myself sometimes, and I think that you would. You might be able to shed light on why I feel sad, why I feel lonely. There is a hole where you once were, where I felt known. Who knew it would still be there 33 years later? But here it is. At times I feel so needy, which isn't like me because I really am quite independent. But I always come back to you, to needing you. And then I feel badly that I didn't have more time, and that I didn't know what it must have been like for you. Now I can understand a little better, but then?... then I was still full of my own thoughts and while I thought I understood, I probably didn't understand at all. I'm sorry that I wasn't more help to you. I'm sorry that I was so wrapped up in my own life and friends and that I probably didn't say the things you wanted to hear from me at the time. I know I wish I could talk to you now. I wish I could hear you speak to me, and I wonder what you would say. I really wish I could have known what you think of me. I guess it's a good thing that I paid attention to how you did things. I probably didn't know why you did them, but at least I know some of the things you thought were important to do. Can you send me a little "hello" from somewhere, if you get a chance? Could you pop me a little post card to let me know that you're ok? That I'm ok?

It's cold outside, and dark because it's December. I miss you in December. You did a good job of making December a great time of year. I don't do nearly as well as you at making things special. In fact, I sometimes find it hard to move at all at this time of year. You'd think that because you set a good example for me, I'd be able to throw myself into this time of year with zeal. It's harder than you might think. But I don't want to make excuses. I don't know if a bowl of pine cones on the mantle would make my kids feel any better, but somehow it made me feel good when I was young.

Well, I have work to do here. But I miss you and really wish I could have talked to you today. I wonder sometimes if you ever felt like this. I suspect you must have, but you seemed to do ok.

Remember how I used to like to take pictures when I was young and dad would take my film to the store to be developed?? Well, I take pictures, now, too. These digital cameras are great! Anyway, this is a picture of an icy Queen Anne's Lace bloom. There's a field behind our home and I took this on a really cold day last winter. It sort of captures how I feel today. Maybe you know what I mean.

Thinking of you...

Icey Bloom

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Immaculate Conception (December 8)

Blushing Rose

In honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

"The hope of new life began the very same moment that Our Lady was conceived in the fullness of grace without the slightest disfigurement of original sin."
- from Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez

"Our Lady is rest for those who work, consolation for those who mourn, and relief for those who are sick. She is a refuge for those caught in the storms of life, a fountain of compassion for sinners, a sweet relief for the sorrowful and a sure source of aid for those who pray."
- St. John Damascene, from "Homily on Our Lady's Dormition"

(page 345 Conversations with God, Vol 7)

Mary, conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Romantic Blue

Monday, December 08, 2008

Judge Wisely

Yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent. The Communion Prayer has jumped out at me in years past, and this year, there was the same, sage entreaty: "Teach us to judge wisely the things of earth, and to love the things of Heaven."

That just about sums it up, doesn't it? If we can just sort out the value of earthly things, and place our emphasis and efforts on obtaining the Heavenly ones we'd be ahead of the game. The pursuit of Virtue, versus the pursuit of things... Investing in people rather than in accumulating wealth. Challenging considerations. No wonder we ask the Father for help in discerning what has value.

Antique Flowers

Sunday, December 07, 2008

For T


For T, who died on his 63rd birthday today. All God's blessing and peace be yours. Your earthly battle is over.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Pines: Hudson Mills Park

We are currently blanketed in snow, with gray skies overhead. The winter is only fresh upon us, but I am already dreaming of green grasses and warm breezes. I philosophically tell myself that the winter months are good for the soul, and that they create a desire for something greater. They reveal our vulnerability, our need for shelter and protection. They put me in touch with myself; I become more introspective and I see my faults and weaknesses more clearly. Life becomes more difficult, more challenging.

Spring and summer are full of possibilities and promise. They are months of confidence and life is easy (easier).

In the late summer we took a walk through a park which is a good thing to do. It was early morning in this case, but early or later in the evening are also beautiful times for getting out in the natural world. The pine forest filters the light and the needles make the path quiet. It is like a conversation with God. Stripped of the man-made distractions of daily life, it is healing to be alone in the woods. The mind is emptied of the build-up of worldly concerns, and our vision becomes clear.

I recently had the opportunity to see a movie, "The Human Experience". It has given me so much to think about. There are a number of excellent quotes peppered into the story line, but I had to look one of them up when I got home because it was so true, and so worth considering.

Martin Luther King had many profound and challenging things to say about the way we live. Here's a thought for now:

"We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Pines Overhead: Hudson Mills Park