Monday, February 28, 2011

Frantic Pace

Dear friends,

In my post last week "Facing Fears" I mentioned my beloved uncle, Fr. James, a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani. When I was a young girl visiting him, I met Father Thomas Merton who was also a monk there and a famous author.

I think we can all probably relate to some aspect of Thomas Merton's statement on peace entitled "Frantic Pace."

"To allow one's self to be carried away
by a multitude of conflicting concerns,
to surrender to too many demands,
to commit oneself to too many projects,
to want to help everyone in everything
is to succumb to violence;
frenzy destroys our capacity for peace.
It destroys the fruitfulness of our work,
because it kills the root of inner work
which makes work fruitful."   Fr. Thomas Merton

That phrase "succumbing to violence" was convicting for me. Perhaps it was truth that  lifted a veil from my eyes. It changed the way I saw patterns in my own life, and made me desire to resist the "frenzy" that could easily overtake me.

I found that it wasn't just too many commitments and concerns that made me feel frantic, but also the practical need to be organized--like getting my socks or earrings matched and keeping my belongings from being scattered. So that when I am trying to get somewhere on time, for instance, I don't have to go searching for something.

Recalling that moderation is a virtue, as women of peace, we can prayerfully examine our motives, set our priorities, and stay aware of the fruit being produced in our daily lives. Is it the fruit of the Spirit as described in Gal 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Or is it the opposite?

Somewhere in our day we need to make time for tending the inner garden of our souls-- even if for 15 minutes--to read scriptures, sit in silence, pray,...so that we have greater mindfulness of the Lord's presence in all the little simple things we do.

May we bear the fruit of the Spirit this week, especially peace,

Sheila

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"God love you!"

Dear friends,

Every week-day afternoon I spend two hours with my dear mama who has Alzheimer's disease. My precious time with her inspired this little prose:

Same buttons pushed to enter the doors.
I could probably do it blindfolded now.
Elevator up to the second floor
as I take my coat off.

"Hello, Tina!" "How's your husband?"
"Hello, Angela!"
The women who take care of her.

I enter her room as I have so often.
"Hello, Mother!"
Cheery voice hoping to stir a word, a look.
"How are you, mama?"
"You look so beautiful!"

I wait. Her eyes closed.
I look to see if her chest is rising and falling--
sleeping, or is she really?

"Your hair looks beautiful."
"Oh, mama, you are so beautiful."
I wait longer.

My eyes are glancing
at everything around her little room.
She peeks.
I saw her peek.
Little slits opened.

"Hello, Mama, it's me, Sheila."
Nothing yet.
I waited again.

Preview

The dinner hour passed.
Just a few smiles from time to time.

I tucked her in bed
that cold winter night,
kissed her on the face
and stroked her cheeks with my fingers.

It was then, with eyes looking right at me,
she said, "God love you!"

Have a glorious week-end!

Peace & prayers,
Sheila

Friday, February 25, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Dear friends,

Over the thirty-one years of our married life, Punky Doodle (my husband) and I have chosen themes for the new year that usually rhyme, like this year, "On earth as it is in heaven in 2011." And last year, "Breakthroughs again in 2010." And my favorite from 1984, "Trust and believe in the Lord as never before in '84."

At that time, we were living in a smaller city and while driving back home after spending the Christmas holidays with family in Tulsa, we were excitedly talking about how we were going to trust and believe...and we were immediately put to the test.

Upon entering our little house we found that a pipe had burst while we were away and flooded every room. Needless to say, I was quite upset and overwhelmed with the task before us.

Our daughter, Jacqueline, four years old at that time, had these words of wisdom as I sat on her bed staring at the sopping carpet:

"Mama, don't cry.
Jesus is in our hearts.
Jesus is in our home.
Jesus will take the water away."

Right "out of the mouth of a babe...you have framed a hymn of praise." Mt 21:16

I sat speechless, dried my tears, then got to work.

The sweet little story traveled the world since my in-laws shared it at a story contest on a cruise...and won!

Twenty-seven years have passed since then and that story is gilded in gold because God's faithfulness has proven true all through the years.

May our mouths be filled with hymns of praise.

Peace,
Sheila

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remember When?

Dear friends,

In the middle of the night these words came to me, "when I was a child...".

Several things came to mind as I pondered that phrase :
  • St. Therese of Lisieux, or St. Therese of the Child Jesus who was also known as the "The Little Flower of Jesus."
  • She continually inspires me by her teachings on the "Little Way." She found sanctity hidden in the stability of ordinary life within the convent walls--in the garden, in the chapel, in her little cell.
  • And the delightful book I've been reading called St. Benedict & St. Therese.
  • The author, D. Longenecker says, "Desert Fathers lived in cave cells...The cave is his prodigal's pigpen where he goes down to the underworld of his own soul. He goes there to find a hidden treasure, and the treasure he goes to find is the little child who was buried by the grown up he has become."

Can you relate to that? I certainly can...at least the part about finding the child--a treasure being buried by the grown up.

We are given a summons to become a little child--to go in search of our true self--to find the child within who trusts, obeys, forgives easily and rejoices.

Where did we find our childhood treasures--those sacred moments when we were lost in the now eternal--the places we found life, and joy...and GOD? They were probably found in the commonplace circumstances of our lives --"the doings of nothing special." St. Therese

(And before I begin--this little poem will win no literary prizes, I assure you, but I do hope it will serve a purpose.)

I perched on fences
in the afternoon sun
talking to neighbor kids
was simply such fun.

I climbed three pear trees
in the backyard
and ate the green pears
even though they were hard.

I played "swing the statue"
and froze in my place
'til they guessed what I was
and laughed in my face.

I caught tadpoles and frogs 'n lightnin' bugs
and put their lights--yikes--inside of jars,
then I stared at the night sky
just counting the stars.

I sat in grass lookin' for four-leaf clovers
and fudged one, if I only found three.
I rode bikes up and over the hills,
regardless of bandaged skinned knees.

Round and round in circles
I twirled on ice
I never minded doing
the same thing twice.

"What a paradox that only when we convert and become a little child can we reach Christian maturity." J. Saward

May we find our child within and "become like little children" so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven! Mt 18:2-3

Blessed peace,
Sheila

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Mother, Kathryn

Dear friends,

Greetings! It's Tuesday--the day to recognize a woman of peace. I want to honor my earthly mother, Kathryn Grant. I will praise her not because of all the things she has accomplished, but because of who she is. Even now with an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease her presence is incredible gift--blessed, broken and shared. When I look at her I no longer see her, but Christ who lives in her. Gal 2:20

There is a song "Take Lord, receive all I have and possess, my memory, understanding, my entire will." The refrain says, "Give me only your love and your grace, that's enough for me." That's what has happened to her--her memory, understanding, her entire will have been taken and received by the Lord. But she has His love and His grace and it is ENOUGH!

When I was preparing for the first Women of Peace retreat in 2001 she made a holy card to distribute to all the women. It read:
  

Kathryn's prose exemplifies her life; she is anointed by the Holy Spirit, moving in that river of life flowing from within her; she slaked the thirst of others by sharing the life-giving water (Jn 4:13-14), washed others' feet with a servant's heart, and birthed love and life into this world.

4' X 6' painting she did for Women of Peace:


Some of you know her and have remarked how she has made a difference in your life. She is, indeed, a spiritual mother to many as well as the mother of eight--my seven siblings and I--all born within a ten year span of time.

My mother, Kathryn, is a proverbs woman Prov. 31: 10-31

"A wife of noble character" v. 10--married to my father for sixty years this coming June and whose romance began on Valentine's Day 1936 when he gave her a lace valentine.

"She works with eager hands" v. 13--writing, painting, playing the piano, sewing, cooking, homemaking--all done excellently.
just a few things she's written

"She gets up while it was still dark" v. 15--to accomplish all she did. "When did she have time to write all those stories and letters?" each of us asks the other. It's a mystery...no one knows.

Our family home for 47 years--mom found the land to build on

"She considers a field and buys it" v. 15 finding the land upon which the family home was built forty-five years ago."

She grasps the spindle with her fingers" v. 19--sewing beautiful clothes for herself and her children when we were little.

"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" v. 20--participating in the social justice committee at her church and assisting the needy in the city.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity" v.25--Kathryn, ever the upright elegant lady, with a vocabulary that sent some to the dictionary.

"she can laugh at the days to come" v. 25 having a wit that amazed all who know her. She's still batting her eyes at us from time to time.

"Her children arise and call her blessed" v. 28--all eight of us bestowing to her on Mother's Day 2007 a honorary Doctorate Degree in Motherhood from Grant University.


"A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." v. 30 And this is why I praise her most today. She fears the Lord and has been so open to receive the Holy Spirit into her life, her heart, her home.

Kathryn, my dearest mother, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you are, and all you have been and all you will be forever.

With tears of gratitude, peace be with you, dear friends,
Sheila

Monday, February 21, 2011

Genius of Women II

Dear friends,

Last Monday I shared with you statements about women by the late Pope John Paul II contained in the booklet, The Genius of Women. What I find so provoking about his letters and reflections is the call to renew our commitment to work for peace--a peace that is not merely external, but one that "affects people's hearts and appeals to a new awareness of human dignity."

Yes, he invited us to be "teachers of peace with our whole being, and in all of our actions." He instructed us that first we must nurture peace within ourselves and that this "inner peace comes from knowing one is loved and from the desire to respond to His love." And then he addressed women in the new millennium and said, "The hour has come when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness."

I think we can all see that truth more clearly now, especially after the past decade, as women have made even greater contributions in the areas of sociopolitical and economic structures, as well as spiritual and cultural--breaking the glass ceilings at increasing rates. We have acquired more power to influence and effect than ever before in history because we have more opportunities and freedom that were fought for by our "sisters" that have gone before us.

At the close of Vatican II in 1965,  it was stated that "women imbued with the Spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling." Although that was over forty-five years now, the truth remains, WE ARE THOSE WOMEN! We can do so much to aid humanity. And so John Paul II issued the challenge: "Will we be women imbued with the Gospel? Will we say YES to God and use our new influence and power in ways that are life affirming--ways that bring reconciliation and peace? Will we use it wisely, fairly, prudently or for our own gain--or will we not take responsibility at all?"

There are so many women--our sisters in other countries, as well as our own--who are suffering from every kind of exploitation and domination. They are being raped, mutilated, abused, sent into slavery, tortured, and killed today--this very moment. "We can not remain indifferent to the violence against women."

After reflecting upon this today, the scripture verse that rings out is, "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Eph 5:14. I have been one of the sleepers, but now risen by the grace of God. May we fully rise and enter this day into greater light and offer a sincere gift of ourselves in service to a hurting world.

Moving forth, let us remember our Mother Mary's sensitivity--her "genius" as described at the Wedding Feast when she recognized the human need for more wine and bring that unique capacity into our societies' systems so that they may "be redesigned in a more humanizing way--marking a civilization of love."

You might also be interested in reading this earlier post on Genius of Women:

http://www.becomingwomenofpeace.com/2011/02/genius-of-women.html

Grace & peace,
Sheila

Friday, February 18, 2011

Facing Fears

Dear friends,
Do you love adventures like I do? They can be so fun, but they can also be scary--like rock climbing, rappelling, mountaineering, skiing black diamonds, or camping and hiking in bear country--the ones that really challenge you physically. I'd like to share with you a story, "Path of Statues"--an adventure I had that helped me overcome some fears in my life.

"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, charity, and a sound mind," 2 Tim 1:7--a scripture verse that I speak often to help myself and others overcome fear whether it be physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. A woman of peace must learn to face her fears and overcome them. For those of you that live in other countries, especially war-torn ones, you may face the greatest threats of all to your sense of safety and security, but perhaps this little story will still reassure you.

While on a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani,
my uncle, a monk, suggested
that while he helped in the kitchen,
I take a walk along the "path of statues"
that Brother Rene had created.

"Wonderful!" I thought, "I want to see what he has done."
Of course, then another thought crossed my mind,
"Is it safe?" knowing that I would be alone.

But, I wouldn't admit that question to him.
After all, I was a grown woman now,
not a child or even young woman
as I had been years before when I visited.
Surely I had overcome my fears since then.

"Walk first through the garden
next to the monastery guest house,
onto the blacktop road, until you get to the wooden gate,
then simply cross the highway, and you'll see the path,"
his instructions rang out.

I envisioned a short jaunt just off the highway. After all,
these were huge life-size statues
and how would they be able to transport them very far?

So off I went with rosary beads in hand, lips movin'...
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you..." and me!

Over the highway I crossed that wet August morning
about 7:30 AM.
"I'm really pretty isolated," I realized at this time of morning.
The beginning of the path was not very inviting--
gushy mud puddles, but onward, I plodded...up into the grassy slopes.
Quickly it became windy--turning this corner and that,
with a thickening forest of trees.

There was that question again.
"How safe is it for a woman to be on this path alone?"
My mind was telling me, "Be brave!"--my emotions,
I hate to admit it, "I'm afraid."

It was too early yet to make a decision to turn back,
so I thought I'd see what was around the next bend...
and the next bend.
Surely those statues would be visible any time.

Traversing hills up and down, round and round,
across bridges and then
real trouble--spider webs. You know what that means.
I was the first to venture out that morning.
And I hate spiders, but not only that--
"What if someone--some creepy woodsman
hung out there last night?"

I'd read scary stories before--my sister lives
near the forest areas in Montana
and terrible things have happened to people--
kidnapping, murders, bear attacks, 
"Stop! Mind over matter," I thought,
I am not giving in to my fears."

I can always out run someone who tries to get me," I reasoned--
(after all I had on running shoes).
Timidly I came upon a clearing next to a big pond, and then
a steep flight of stairs leading to another level.
Bigger trouble now.
"It's going to be increasingly difficult to outrun anyone...
and I could fall and break..."

Frozen in an intense moment of a prevailing question--
"should I turn around now or go on?"
"I can not give in to my fears," I thought--
"this could be a great story--
if I live to tell it."

Up the steps, around more bends--
surely those statues are going to be...
but, the path was narrowing--trees still thickening--
isolation overtaking me--heart rate increasing 
and no one would even hear me scream now. ..if I needed to.
I was too far from civilization.

"Ok, this just isn't prudent--after all--
prudence is a virtue," I reasoned,
"I'll just go and find someone to come back with me later."
But my mind wouldn't let my emotions control me.
"Where is your faith?" I questioned.

"Holy angels protect me," I commanded and trudged on.
Finally I came to a large statue, though not life-size--
of St. Francis of Assisi.
"Intercede for me," I begged.



With my nearsighted vision, I thought I was now seeing
my fear manifest before me--
a person in the distance...but as I approached
it was only a statue of a black Madonna.
"O, I am so sorry, dear Lady, that I was afraid of you."

The signs, "path of statues" kept pointing on.
Surrender. At least I would die on holy ground
if that was my fate.
A small wooden shack loomed--
just the place a creepy woodsman could hide--
with a flag hanging on the door frame
like someone could be staying inside.
I peered inside from a distance--no one was there--thank God!

"My brother, I am your sister," is what I figured I'd say to someone
if they suddenly appeared.
The dense Kentucky forest opened onto a wide field now
and across a meadow I was scampering.


My uncle, the priest, the father figure who protects,
I trusted he would never send me anywhere unsafe,
but I was wondering.

I crossed the meadow which led to yet another forest of trees.
I was committed though, determined.
And then, there it was--the first life-size statue before me--
of the disciples lying down.
"That's me!"--exhausted with fear, I mused.  


Around the corner, the next statue and very fitting--
Jesus was kneeling with his hands on his head in desperation
My very sentiment, "O God have mercy," seemed to emanate.


Strangely enough, there was never a clear ending to the path--
I came upon a cross, some rosaries, more flowers--
a hint that some life had been there recently, but
with no more signs pointing the way
I turned and headed back--quickly, and was never the same.    

I was very happy that day--after I returned safely--that I had not given in to my fears. With God's help I faced and overcame them. And so my prayer for you today, my friend, is that whatever fears you may have within you, may be faced and overcome with the help of God's grace for he has given us the power and courage and sound mind to do so. 

Abundant peace to you,
Sheila

Thursday, February 17, 2011

O Misery!

Dear friends,

Hello from Arkansas where my husband and I and our friend, Donna, are attending a conference at Subiaco Abbey. My husband serves as director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services for the Diocese of Tulsa, I serve as co-director, and Donna is on the advisory core. Leaders of the Arkansas Charismatic Renewal Services invited us here to share about what's happening in our diocese, and of course, we want to hear about what's happening in their state.

Even with the best laid plans, sometimes our lives take unexpected twists and turns. We stumble and repeat ourselves. We struggle to regain our health and sanity, as reflected in the following prose:  

O misery!
Sometimes you come knockin' on my door
and you did last night...
and you did last night.

I tossed and I turned
in that bed that wasn't mine;
head cold didn't help,
but led me to my first yelp,
"Help me Lord!"

With all my dying strength,
I managed by His grace,
to offer it up, to offer it up...

Begging for the angels
to help me get some slumber,
I cried out to them too...
I cried out to them too.

Today, I am reminded that, "when I am weak, then I am strong."   2 Cor 12: 9-10 I received the living God at Mass this morning and my heart cries out for joy. May your heart cry out for joy too!

Peace be with you,
Sheila

p.s. no time for editing...such is life sometimes
p.p.s. hope I didn't forget my "o" on hello today

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Look Back

Dear friends,

How many times have we said, "I could of, I should of, I would of..." whether it be about something that happened years ago or yesterday, and get stuck in the mud of the past?

When Jesus commands us to follow Him, he replies to those who say, "I will follow, but..." with the words, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God." Lk 9:62

Night before last about 3 AM, I was roused from my sleep and heard a poem, and you know when inspiration comes ya' gotta' write it down so you remember. Hope it makes you smile today!

Peace, my friend
will not prevail.
If you're lookin' back
and giving a wail.

If you're stomping your feet
and biting the bit,
and storming around
and having a fit.

No peace is not born
in a heart full of strife.
If you want it to come
then straighten your life.

Look inward and onward,
Not backward and down.
Get a smile on your face
and get rid of the frown.

There is so much to cheer about,
so much to proclaim.
It's about your neighbor
not riches and fame.

Put your hand to the plow
and move on ahead.
You've got a future full of hope,  Jer 29:11
and nothing to dread.

When the Lord calls us to follow Him, we must know that he equips for service. May we experience His loving mercy today as we let go of anything that holds us back. As we give it all to Him, he can work it all together for good, as promised,  for "those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." Rm. 8: 28
Best to you, my friends!

Go in peace,
Sheila

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mary, Queen of Peace

Dear friends,

I'd like to begin featuring a woman each Tuesday--a real authentic woman of peace. For this first time, I want to honor our Mother, Mary, as Jesus honored her at the wedding feast when he said, "Fill those jars with water," after she had told him, "They have no more wine." Jn. 2:3-7

Later in the Gospel of John, at the foot of the cross, Jesus gave us his mother, Mary. "Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, there is your son." And to John, the disciple who represents us, the church, he said, "There is your mother." Jn 9:26-27

Our Mother has been given innumerable titles and names throughout the centuries, but the one I love so much is Mary, Queen of Peace. She's also called the Queen of Heaven and Earth. And she has shown her great concern for earth by her apparitions--having appeared many times and given messages for her children throughout the world--revealing her great motherly care.

Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to make pilgrimages to four of her apparition sites: Guadalupe, Knock, Fatima, and Medjugorje and would like to share briefly her messages so we can understand what she is saying to us.

In Tepeyac in 1531 she came as the Mother of the True God, as revealed to Juan Diego, and said to him, "...I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants of this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; I listen to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions, and sorrows." She is known as Our Lady of Guadalupe to people throughout the world.
In Knock, Ireland, in 1879, she appeared with St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist. To the left of St. John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb. She did not speak a word, but in her silence many lessons were learned.  The people of Ireland spoke of how everything seemed to point to the altar with the sacrificial Lamb.


In Fatima, Portugal, she appeared to three shepherd children identifying herself as Our Lady of the Rosary saying, "I have come to exhort the faithful to change their life, to avoid grieving our Lord by sin, to pray the Rosary...If my people mend their ways the war will soon be over." She also said, "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph."


And in Medjugorje, with apparitions beginning thirty years ago in 1981 and continuing today, she more fully revealed herself as Queen of Peace who is deeply concerned about her children and longs for us to come into her Immaculate Heart so she can lead us to the Sacred Heart of her son, Jesus. The best way to summarize so many messages over that length of time is to share with you part of a litany written by B. Gallagher, adapted from Our Lady's messages, describing who Mary is:

The Mother who calls me
The Mother who invites me
The Mother who embraces me
The Mother who draws me to her heart
The Mother who loves me immeasurably
The Mother who feels my pain
The Mother who suffers with me
The Mother who leads me
The Mother who protects me
The Mother who blesses me
The Mother who is always with me
The Mother who brings me peace.



It is my hope today that you got in touch again with our Mother's great love for us. May you feel her embrace and draw closer to her so she can lead you to the "peace that surpasseth understanding."

Grace & peace,
Sheila


p.s. the litany is printed on a little holy card that can be ordered through b_gallagher@btconnect.com 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Hearts As One

Dear friends,

Hello on this special day--Valentine's--when we remember those we love! No matter where they are, our love for each other invites us to an exchange of hearts. It is a sweet day of hearing a song in my heart from Psalm 27: 4-5, "One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life..."

Here is my valentine for you:

Sitting in the darkness
reflecting on Your love
A light breaks forth
as You whisper,
"The power of two hearts as one."

Valentine's...two hearts as one,
my heart is yours and yours is mine.
So where'er I go, you go, and
where'er you go, I go.  Ru 1:16

Two hearts becoming one,
so if one remains, so does the other.
And if one goes forth, the other too
ne'er to be separated.
In our eternal dwelling, in the heart
there is no time.

Though my eyes of flesh may not see you,
my eyes of faith becoming eyes of Love,
do see you.

Likewise, on this Valentine's Day,
Let's exchange our hearts, not just valentines
for I want to be one with you
forever.


May we all enter into the two most beautiful hearts today--Mary's Immaculate Heart and His Sacred Heart--two hearts beating as one--as we celebrate the love of our family and friends.

Grace & peace,
Sheila


p.s. The song I heard was "This Alone" by Tim Manion.
p.p.s. The verse I especially love is "For one day within your temple heals every day alone..."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sabbath Rest

Dear friends,

"...so on the seventh day He rested from all his work...," Gen. 2:2-3

so I will too,

and I hope you do.

Peaceful rest,

Sheila

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Today's Blooper

Dear friends,

Having a sense of humor is so important. Hope you enjoy my blooper in this facebook correspondence with a friend today.

"Hell Susan!
It was so good to see you at the prayer breakfast this morning.
Did you enjoy that? I thought she delivered a wonderful message from the heart of Mary.
I want to share a new blog site with you...
www.becomingwomenofpeace.com
Say hello to Joe!
Peace,
Sheila"

"Hi Sheila,
I did love the speaker! I've already sent an email to a friend...unable to attend, and I am so sorry she missed it. Thank you for the blog site, I'll check it out...I look forward to keeping in touch.
Susan"

"Hello again!
I look forward to keeping in touch with you, Susan.
One more thing...I left the "o" off the first hello.
Gee, for a woman of peace I've gotta correct that. :-) Sheila"

"Oh Sheila,
I wasn't going to say anything, but since you brought it up - I laughed so hard when I saw that, I was in tears. I knew, of course, what you meant to say, but it was so funny seeing "hell" and right after that, seeing "prayer breakfast" and "women of peace." Joe will tell you, I was cracking up. :-) I haven't laughed that hard in some time, so thank you again! Susan"

"Susan, So glad you were blessed with laughter....Now laughing so hard I'm crying. Sheila"

And so it goes without saying, make sure you do a spell check, watch your p's and q's and o's, 
especially if you're becoming a woman of peace!

Joy! Joy!
Sheila

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dining Room Table

Dear friends,

How are you today? We're excited here in Oklahoma that the temperature is going to rise taking us out of the arctic blast of frigid cold for awhile, at least. Just as the temps are rising something has risen within me this morning as I awoke.

How could I have not realized
You were inviting me back
to the very place
Women of Peace began?

Punky Doodle sorta' bumped me
from the desktop computer in the office
so I retreated to the little laptop
on the dining room table.

Lots of grunts and groans emerged
like a woman in the labor room
saying, "I can't do this!"
But oh, the birth of new life.

Blindfolds lifted from my eyes
and the beauty dawned
as the morning sun arose,
and the Son rose up from my wretched self.

I placed the large clay jug
in the center of the table
reminding myself
that i can only pour the water, and
He must change it into wine.


So I'm settled now in our
"Mary, Queen of Peace" room,
and with wide open arms
I accept my lot
and welcome the eastern light
pouring through the picture window.


As you go to His banquet table may you feast on His choice food, and drink His rich wine so that you may remain in Him and He in you. Jn. 6: 53-58 And may the eastern light rise upon you.

Peace & prayers,
Sheila

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Genius of Women

Dear friends,

Good morning on this bitterly cold day in Oklahoma. The news is reporting that another 100 year record was broken with temperatures at -28 in one of the cities and -11 right here in Tulsa overnight. No wonder many of us slept in our stocking caps. As a "blogger" I am literally and figuratively warming up since this is only the beginning of the second week of this blog site.

I'd like to share with you some excerpts from the book, The Genius of Women, because it is a foundational teaching of Becoming Women of Peace.

This whole concept of "Genius of Women" grabbed my attention in the year 2000 when I attended a Women's Conference at Franciscan University in Steubeville, Ohio. Patricia Donohue, professor at the university, shared about it.

It's based on this little book which contains the
statements and messages of the late Pope John Paul II
written in 1995 which was the Year of the Woman.
Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard University, at that time stated on the back of the book, "This pope has reflected more deeply than any of his predecessors on the role of women and men as 'partners in the mystery of redemption.'"

"Without the contribution of women," John Paul II said, "society is less alive, culture impoverished, and peace less stable."

When John Paul II speaks about "genius" he is referring
to how "woman is endowed with a particular capacity for
accepting the human being in his concrete form."

"Let us look at the Blessed Virgin example," he said. "In
the narrative of the wedding at Cana, John's Gospel
offers us a vivid detail of her personality when it tells us
how, in the busy atmosphere of a wedding feast, she
alone realized that the wine was about to run out. And to
avoid the spouses' joy becoming embarrassment and
awkwardness, she did not hesitate to ask Jesus for his
first miracle. This is the "genius" of the woman!" he said.

So that's a concrete example of what he meant by "genius" of women" lived out in daily life.

Then he went on to say, "May Mary's thoughtful sensitivity,
totally feminine and maternal, be the ideal mirror of all
true femininity and motherhood!"

Amen, I say to that. We are so blessed as women to have this intuitive kind of sensitivity. Let us give thanks for the way we have been created.

I hope whenever you live you are staying warm both in your home and heart.

Peace be with you, dear friends,
Sheila

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You Are In Everything and Everywhere

Hello friends! How are you today?

Yesterday, I came upon some prose I wrote when our children were eleven and fifteen years old. I'm struck by the word become in the second to last verse--a word that was resonating then and still is. Interesting how a word can speak to the heart for so long.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You Are In Everything and Everywhere

Your grace descends 0 Lord, and I see You everywhere.
Are You not in the chirping of the huge flock of birds
deciding which direction to go mid-season?
Isn't that You I sensed
when my own patience would have failed me,
but extra patience—Yours--
helped me stand firm in a trying time?

Weren't You there when the corn meal spilled in my clean refrigerator, reminding me to die to self,
and in my dirty oven that the children messed up--
speaking about inner cleanliness,
as I wiped out its interior?

How about Lord, in the morning, when I awake,
isn't that You that fills me with fresh energy and joy?
Your spirit reminds me to pray--
prompting me over and over—
encouraging me to stay faithful.

Oh, the creative idea I had for my classroom!
You gave that to me, right?
For not a good thought passes my mind
that You are not in it.

In disappointment, I heard your voice uttering wisdom—
giving me knowledge and direction.
You are in all things and everywhere.

If I look at the bushes that have withered this winter,
I am reminded that You sustain all life--
nothing survives without You sending rain from above.



And if I see the new green grass
and flowers beginning to bloom,
I am given hope.
Isn't that from You too?

All day long You remind me of how
I am to be--of how I am to become--
like You. Calling, beckoning, bidding me come.
When I am so weary--waiting patiently, until I respond.

Isn't that I who is now here with You?
You who were always here, always near,
always in everything and everywhere. S.M. '96
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Later, I will share more on "becoming" from a book I am reading called Poverty of Spirit.

In His peace,
Sheila

Monday, February 7, 2011

Attributes of Peace

Good morning friends!

In the wee hours of the morning, oh dear, a river of attributes for women of peace came spilling into my interrupted slumber, but when the inspiration comes, pen must write before the gift is forgotten. This list, still incomplete, is in no order of priority.
They are in the "present continuous" tense to show actions or a state of being that can be happening now or in the near future, and signify the process of becoming.

ATTRIBUTES:

thinking on these things (Phil 4:8)
breathing deeply
abiding in a spirit of poverty
surrendering self
listening attentively
renewing mind
opening heart
knowing the Word
pondering carefully
seeing with faith
obeying quickly
confessing sin
repenting sincerely
sinning no more
forgiving readily
accepting self
overcoming fear
interceding for others
extending justice
helping neighbor
building the Kingdom
being loving
becoming holy
living in true righteousness
worshiping in spirit & truth
participating in community
rejoicing heart
celebrating life
singing a new song
sharing gifts
playing like a child
having fun
handling stress well
refraining from gossip
diving into mercy
renewing godly desires
choosing wisely
keeping mind on Thee
managing time well
speaking the truth
complaining not
drinking new wine
tasting divine life
trusting in Him
reconciling relationships
suffering long
making reparation
thinking positively
resolving matters
uniting to God
responding to call
seeing body as temple
trusting God's promises
seeking purity
praying for humility
sacrificing for others
begging for graces
walking in light
making a home
creating beauty
organizing chaos

These can be taken to prayer, asking the Lord which one(s) to focus on this week. See which one resonates most with you. That's probably the one the Spirit is bringing to your attention. For me, I will be pondering "seeing with faith" and "diving into mercy." You might try a colloquy like I shared in yesterday's post. If you think of something else I've forgotten that's important to you, please let me know. I will add it to the list.

I wish you a blessed week of joy and peace,

Sheila
p.s. and do visit again!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Intimate Conversation

Dear friends,

How are you this day of bowing heads, of giving thanks,
of going to the house of the Lord to worship?
I want to share with you a piece of colloquy--
that is, an intimate conversation with Jesus I had
the other day while pondering the gospel accounts
of Christ calling his followers.

A colloquy, in case you are unfamiliar with that term, "is made, properly speaking, as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant to his master;...asking some grace,...blaming oneself for some misdeed,...communicating one's affairs, and asking advice in them." (Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius)

Please note in the colloquy the S=Sheila & J=Jesus.

S--My Lord, I hear you clearly saying,"follow me."
You invite me to "come and... see," Jn. 1:39
and instruct me to "put out into the deep." Lk. 5:4
I want to follow you wherever you go so I too
can be a "fisher of men." Mk. 1:17
Where do you want me to follow you?

J--It is not where, it is whom. Follow ME.
I will lead you to life everlasting.

S--You ARE the one I want to follow, so I may become
who you ARE.

J--Indeed, this is the call, the true call.

S--Lord, what do you want me to "come and see?"

J--I want you to experience this for yourself,
see for yourself, have your own stories to tell.

S--I have seen. I do have stories.

J--Then tell them. Ps 107:22
     I am alive. I have sent my Spirit to lead and guide you.

S--Yes, it is your Spirit I want to follow...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Reflection:
It is not so much in the doing, or in the going, but in the becoming Him.

And we are the witnesses who have stories that tell of His faithfulness to us.

So dear friends, I invite you to visit this place again, to come and see with me, to put out in the deep together, and we will see what we catch.

Have a blessed and joyful day!
Much love,

Sheila

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daily Dressing

Daily, and mysteriously eternal,
even while in my polka dot pajamas,
when I lift my arms and say,
"Papa, I am Yours!"
"Mama, totus tuus!"
the annunciation "Yes" ascends. (Lk 1:38)
Remembering my nothingness,
borne of dust to which one day,
I, too, shall return.
I can not give myself breath,
nor the Spirit,
nor any good thing,
for all is gift from You above. (Jas 1:17)
So,
I surrender my nothingness
knowing You
can make something of me,
as You see fit.
And if you make something beautiful,
it is Yours not mine;
and if not,
your grace will enable me
to accept Your perfect will.
as on the day You were baptized
in the River Jordan by John,
your glory was revealed
in your spirit of poverty.

Yet, I declare
my true baptismal identity
as your child, Father,
as priest, offering my life to You for others;
as prophet, listening for Your voice,
as king, standing firm in full armor
against...the powers of darkness...
and always...praying...(Eph. 6: 10-18)

Now I am dressed,
and ready to go out
(well, I need to change my pajamas)
into the world,
to share
the Gospel of peace.


Thank you for visiting again, friends,
and peace be with you,
Sheila

Friday, February 4, 2011

Prayer chair

Wake, stretch, morning offering
still in bed
slippers shuffling for the coffee pot
plop!
into the prayer chair (Mt. 6:33)
Upon entering
His holy presence,
before me and all around,
my breath deepens,
remembering the first man's breath.
The rise and fall of the chest,
the diaphragm expanding--
all for this deep breath
needed for the life that bears peace.
And in this remembering,
somehow,
a child again arises quickly-- within
as if a giant needle just wove
my life-long breaths together.
Ahhh...the silence, stillness, food
for a soul hungering
for her true Love...r.
Breathing, waiting, mind clear,
distracted not,
or if so...
thanks for the grace to return again.
Sinking deeply into His embrace,
allowing myself to be loved
so that in love I may go forth.
Listening for His voice,
for His Word to speak
to His people's hearts.
Candle flickering in the darkness
stirs my soul,
allows the embrace to linger.
No arctic blast will cease the echo of one to another ...
bird... still carrying the universal song,
so I too will sing.
O Spirit, where are you moving?
Closely, I want to follow,
ever so closely
because your surprises are
better than what I can ever plan.
O, now I hear You..
pen writing what You've spoken to my heart
so I will not forget
that today
you will prove your faithfulness again,
O Faithful One!

Grace & peace,
Sheila

p.s. It's raining down snow here in Tulsa.
May He reign in your heart today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blizzard Glory

There she stood tall & strong,
though the blizzard fell all around her,
it did not stay upon her;
it did not mar her glory.
And she stood out
in that blanket of white;
her colors of red and green sustained,
her shoulders held in dignity,
not bowing to any weight.
Though the photo shows her crying,
she was speaking loudly in her silence.
The winds whipped around her
and she only slightly fluttered.
Nandina is her name.



This second day of posting beckons for a dedication.

Three women come to my mind
~~~~a trinity of women~~~~
three of one heart--Sacred
who have helped me in the blizzards of my life:

+my own earthly mother, now in a nursing home
She can not walk,
or talk,
or feed herself any longer,
but she sits strong ...
tears well in my eyes
as I tell you how her silent presence
has blessed me,
spoken a thousand words to me;
she smiles although her eyes are closed.
A blizzard fell on her
and although it covered her for awhile it lifted,
and she passed to the other side right here on earth;
she is still with us
resting comfortably
in deep serenity.
She is a woman of peace,
her name is Kathryn.

+my heavenly Mother,
I can not see her
though I feel her presence;
even as a child I loved her
and I knew she loved me.
She hardly spoke a word either
while she was here on earth,
but when she did
there was power
and her words continue to give life.
"Do as He says"
at the wedding feast
before the water became wine.
She gives me a blizzard of graces
that have sustained me in the blizzards of my life
and helped me to move from "glory to glory." 2 Cor 3:18
She is the Queen of Peace,
her name is Mary.

+and a dear friend, a spiritual mother
who made this blog site possible;
when I did not know how to begin
she began for me...
during the biggest blizzard of my life
many years ago
when I was a principal and she
a teacher in the same school,
she gave me the Word
that I saved and the Word saved me.
Like Mary, she stood with me--
her presence making the cross bearable
and the fruit is ripe now,
a rising in the dying,
a going forth today and tomorrow.
She too is a woman of peace,
her name is Dianne.

Mary                     Kathryn                    Dianne


Have a beautiful day!
I hope you will come again tomorrow,

Sheila
p.s. please visit Dianne's blog site at
www.everythingelsethrownin.net

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Greetings and Welcome to Becoming Women of Peace!

On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, February 2, 2011, I make to You this presentation of Becoming Women of Peace blog site. I remember Joseph and Mary as they took the Lord to the temple according to the precepts of the Jewish law to present him to the Father and offer a sacrifice. He was set apart for the Lord's purposes, and this too is my desire for this blog site. As I present it to Him, I offer a sacrifice of praise. (Heb. 13:15)

As at the Wedding Feast at Cana, I will fill the water jars and hope that the posts on this site will be turned into choice wine for you.

My dear precious mother, Kathryn, who is so much a part of this ministry was inspired to write these beautiful words for me to share at the first Women of Peace workshop/retreat in September 2001.

"The lives of women move mysteriously in context with water--amniotic fluid--the watery world in which we spent the first months of life, and in turn, nurtured our own children during pregnancy. Our thirst was first quenched by colostrum, sweet watery milk, a veritable love potion, repeated with our own newborns. Throughout generations, the ritual of ablution--washing infant bodies, washing old bodies--equally are acts of tender love. Sacramental waters of Baptismal Initiation, and ultimately, of Resurrection, wash over generations of women as rhythmically as the tide. Our tears of joy, sorrow, and compassion water the earth, from which springs life giving fruit.

Throughout all events, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work Jesus did on Earth. We do so with the particular giftedness of our womanhood. As in the painting, we wear wreathes of flowers, denoting reverence toward the Other, as Mexican women do today when they attend Mass. We are pregnant with wisdom accumulated on our life journeys into inlets, rivers, and randomly, on turbulent seas ready to deliver the Life that is within us to a parched world." K.G. '01

Thank you for visiting.

Grace & peace,

Sheila
p.s. do come again!