Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

26th February 2020

Ash Wednesday
Image result for people getting ashes on ash wednesday

One of the prayers for this morning - "let us turn to him with our whole heart."
What does it mean?
Our whole heart, no room for anything else, anyone else.
It's a hard call, not easy to attain, but therein lies the happiness of the Christian.
Ash Wednesday starts that time when we try to turn more to our God.
We are asked to think about three things in particular:
My musings are just that. I hope they help or at least make you think:
Time is a precious gift to us.

Let us make time for prayer, to take some quiet moments just conversing with Our Lord.
Let us pray better, taking more care to prepare and maybe have a book with us or the Gospels, for when our imagination wants to capture us and distract us.
Let us remember during the day a particular person or intention to pray for.
In the Gospel ( Matt 6) Jesus says,
" But when you pray, go to your private room and when  you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you." Sometimes, I feel that the prayer, which gives so much peace, is the reward itself.

Let us take the time to think about our fasting.
Yes, it can be about food and some of it should be, especially today, but there are so many more ways in which we can fast ( deny ourselves).
What about fasting from tv so that we have time for others.
A dear friend who is dead now used to choose a person who he found it more difficult to get on with and spend his lent doing things for that person, giving his time and energy . At least two lents were devoted to his mother. She ended up feeling well blessed with a devoted son who loved her dearly.
What about a day for each member of the family when we pray more for that person and also contact them.
Remember our time is a precious gift to us, if we give it to others for God, it becomes even more so.
What about running a prayer group with some friends throughout lent.
There are lots of ways we can fast. But whatever way we choose, let us do it cheerfully and without show,   " and your Father who sees all that is done in secret..."
You probably have more ideas.
Please share them with us.

Let us take time to think of Almsgiving:
Let us look at where we can help. Who needs our assistance.It needn't be a big donation but it should be done with love.
It could be there is a family near who are struggling and could do with some extra food for the children.
Or maybe a friend needs a copy of the Gospels and you can buy it for them.
It could also be some money that you have collected from your fasting in other areas that you send now to those in need.

Pope Benedict:
" Dear friends , on this lenten journey let us be careful to accept Christ's invitation to follow him more decisively and consistently, renewing the grace and commitments of our own baptism, to cast off the former person within us and put on Christ, in order to arrive at Easter renewed and be able to say, with St Paul: I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me."

Let us make a good Lenten journey  close to Jesus.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Shrove Tuesday

24th February 2020

Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day. I will not be making pancakes today. My husband is avoiding gluten and dairy, and my daughter is dieting and the calories involved are just not worth it. I'm relieved. I like pancakes, but not enough to make them just for me.
It's a world of a difference to when the children were all at home. We always had them at tea time, after a small  main meal. The batter was made earlier in the day - a lot of it. Sometimes I would have to make more as they disappeared quickly into little bellies.
Image result for pictures of people eating pancakes
I stood the the stove for hours flipping each individual pancake, often making more than forty during one tea time. They would eat more quickly than I could supply them and they'd wait eagerly for their next one. At the end I was usually too exhausted to have one myself. I usually just sat with a cup of tea and sigh.
The children loved them  though, some dolloping chocolate spread in large spoonfuls into the middle of theirs and carefully easing it to the edges before rolling it, others might have jam and do the same, still others, especially as they got older would squeeze lemon juice liberally all over and cover it with an inordinate amount of sugar. It didn't matter.
At some point in time, I changed the pattern. It occurred  to me that I could make up batches and keep them warm in the oven, thereby being able to eat together and actually maybe enjoy one myself. One time, I remember, I made 50. It took a few hours, but it was worth it. I separated them by putting grease proof paper between each one. How much more relaxed. Why didn't I think of it before?
This was a revelation and worked really well.

But why do we eat pancakes and why is it called, Shrove Tuesday?
Well, it's a Christian tradition. Shrove Tuesday always comes before Ash Wednesday which is the start of the Lenten season. It was customary to be shriven, (absolved ) before lent started, so that the season could be prayerful and get one prepared for the great celebration of Easter. People would often go to confession to put themselves right with God. Actually many still do.
Having pancakes  came about because people would have to eat all the fats and eggs in the house, due to fasting during the following weeks. We no longer have such strict fasts, but we are still encouraged to find ways to do without and live more spiritually

So, although I won't be having pancakes I will be looking at how I can live this lent in a more prayerful and thoughtful way, so that Easter will be for me a  great celebration.

Will you be eating pancakes today or changing things over these next few weeks? It would be good to hear your stories.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Is It Even A Memory

24th Feb 2020

I ran a one off workshop last week, which was most inspiring. Giving prompts  and poetry to respond to,  the   group of six eager  writers spent an hour and a half getting their words down in their journals, each producing some really creative work.
As I was leading I didn't have the same head space as I usually do but I did do a little something.
The first exercise I suggested was to write to the prompt, "I remember" without taking the pen off the paper - free writing. From there we then wrote again in a more detailed way with what came from that.
This second task is where this poem came to life.

Is It Even A Memory?

Is it even a memory,
that day when the sun shone bright,
that day mum sent me out to play,
I was only three.
Can I trust that I remember
that worm that I ate,
that worm that hung from my mouth,
while I, keeping cool,
played under the caravan?

I see a little girl with blond curls.
She picks up the worm
 from the soft, squelchy mud,
her blue eyes wide, smiling.
She turns the creature
over and over in her hands,
rubs it down her dress,
the dress with the red roses on.
Gently, she rolls it in her fingers,
then, swiftly, she pops it
in her mouth.
She does not recoil - as I do now,
or grimace at the taste.
No, she stands triumphant.
She is queen.
She has conquered her prey.
The worm now hangs from her lips,
the little girl giggles.
Her freedom eludes me today,
as does her joy - passionate, pure.
When did I lose that innocence,
that sense of adventure?
That little girl is gone now.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back,
just for a while,
and join her under the caravan.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Our Lady of Lourdes

13th Feb 2020

The 11th  February is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. 

This year my husband , my daughter and I watched The Song of Bernadette, the old one with the accompaniment of  old fashioned romantic music and some really over the top  acting. It was, however edifying to watch and  I was reminded that we visited the resting place of Bernadette in Nevers,  when we visited France a few years back. They keep her body in the little chapel there. 
Her body is incorrupt ( ie. does not show any signs of decomposition) and she has a beautiful, serene look on her face. She is small, maybe less than five feet. We spent quite a while in prayer in the chapel on our visit. I was aware that it might be the only time we would get there. Her story is remarkable.
 I remember getting a little statuette when I went to Lourdes with my parents and sisters. It was an image of the grotto with Our Lady and St Bernadette. The figures glowed in the dark and I would often look across at them from my bed if I woke in the night. I think that first visit to Lourdes all those years ago had a formative effect on my life in many ways.

The Chapel and the grounds of the convent where the nuns still live

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The sound the colour the smell of lonliness

11th February 2020

The sound,
 the colour, 
the smell,
of loneliness

Chattering voices of passers  by
they knock me, bump into me,
talk together, listen, ear to ear
like trees bending towards each other.
Their conversations intimate, warm, 
 not for me.
Loud laughs, shared, shaped in friendly
 linked chains
says, you are important to me,
echo's in my head,
but, no portion for me.
They do not want to, will not
can not,  hear me,
hear,  the buzzing inside me that
craves some part, of someone.
I,  am a grey blob, in their path
blending with  clouds
those clouds closing in,
I seep anonymously  into
dirty black streets
where they walk with blind feet,
their cherry blossom scent
a comfortable garden ,
every flower belonging.
I am the whiff of the dung heap
to them
to be avoided, passed quickly by.