Archive for June, 2013

The question has been asked. Do today’s Catholics think a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is possible. I would have to answer, Of course, they do! At least in my parish.

I grew up in South Alabama in a town where the Protestants were many and the Catholics were few–in fact, for many years, there were only a handful of us, along with a handful of Jews. The Jews and the Catholics stood out. And sometimes, we were looked at with caution. We were used to hearing about ‘a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We were used to talk about ‘getting saved.’ And it was talked about often. As Catholic children, we were told by our parents and grandparents to defend our faith, and that meant we had to know it. That was ‘normal’  for me then. (more…)

My father was a true Southerner, a gentleman, and a wonderful banker for nearly four decades. People liked to be around him because he was funny and because I think they knew he cared about them. His best friends were always those he served with in the Eighty First Division—-The Fightin’ Wildcatsin the Pacific during World War II. Born in Tuscaloosa, AL, he loved Southern expressions, and used them to get points across. This one was one of his favorites: (more…)

A Smile

Posted: June 11, 2013 in World On The Edge

 

Laughter, one of the attributes that make us human, is seen to be more and more important to our individual well-being.

Babies start laughing when they are only a few months old, but they smile before that. Some babies can even be seen smiling in a sonogram before they are born! One might say our lives begin with a smile.

So what happens? (more…)

One of Kind

Posted: June 10, 2013 in World On The Edge

 

Living things are unique. No tree or flower, no bird or beast, no star in heaven, is an exact replica of another.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the uniqueness of people. There is no person completely like another. There never has been, and never will be. Even identical twins have distinguishable characteristics. So, in all of time, there won’t be another ‘you.’ Don’t you think that is amazing? I do!

The rareness of an object makes it more valuable. As human beings, we are more than objects; so if each of us is ‘one of a kind’ then each of us must be extremely valuable, and extremely loved by the Creator who brought us into being. Do we recognize our own value, and the value of each other?   (more…)

The Bell and The Switch

As a child, I didn’t want to hear The Bell. It resonated through the pine trees of the woods where I was building the perfect straw house; it caught me dunking a glass jar in the creek to catch the biggest tadpole I’d ever seen; it caused me to brake my Blue Schwinn bike on a red dirt road after I’d peddled all the way up a hill so I could fly down it again. The Bell instructed me to stop all that. The Bell meant, “Come home.”

A child, of course, comes into the world with irritating abilities. One of them is the ability to close her ears to what she doesn’t want to hear. A child wants to finish the straw house. She wants to capture the tadpole. She wants the excitement of flying down a hill, fast as the wind. A child wants what she wants. Still, The Bell calls. And in the course of its annoying jangle, a child considers consequence. (more…)

Where does our moral center lie? What is our motivation when we build the ‘house’ of our self? And we do, you know, build our own house, over and over again. Sometimes it’s an honorable house, sometimes a dishonorable one. We have been given the perfect tool to build our house—God’s grace, His love–but often we use flawed tools and build a defective dwelling place for ourselves.

In my article on The Catholic Imagination, I talk about finding God’s love in the direst of circumstances, and amid the worst actions of people. In my novel, A Hunger in the Heart, each of the characters, at one time or another, chooses either the tool of God’s love, or the malfunctioning tool of a saturated self-love. Today I compare the choices of two of those characters; Fig and Clayton. (more…)

The Presence of Three Fathers Named ‘Patrick’

When I was in the Eight Grade here in Dothan, our parish, St. Columba, was sent a new Assistant Pastor, a tall, sandy-haired Irishman; Father Patrick Maher. Throughout my high school years, Father Maher was present. I don’t mean ‘just there,’ or nearby. He was really present. He cared. To a teenager, caring is all important. There were already strong, loving men in my family, and Father Maher was added to their fold. When I became engaged to my husband George, I told Father Maher, “He’s a lot like you, Father.”  And when we married, Father Maher performed the ceremony. Father Maher was the first person who used the words I’ve kept inside me all these years. “God is madly in love with YOU.” And if we know that, we know our purpose here. To be loved entirely, calls for us to love in return.   (more…)

Where Are You Going?

Posted: June 4, 2013 in World On The Edge

Trust Without Fear

           Thomas Merton Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. (more…)

 

No matter her circumstances, no matter the artistic medium, all of us women possessing the gift of  creativity will use it. A woman will find a way.  When I was thirty, I’d had three of my five children, two girls and a boy, who seemed to want nothing more than my continuous presence. My husband encouraged me to involve myself in the community to assist his banking career.  I wanted to write a novel, but that required a lot of solitude and no distraction. I was not in such a position with three little ones. I didn’t realize, then, that my family and my community were God-sent pieces of flint that would spark a different kind of creative expression through family and community service. (more…)

Getting up before dawn has become usual for me, a time when the house is still and the light unfolds in ever-brightening increments. One can contemplate the possibilities in a day that has never before been lived; and for the writer, a story that has never been written.  I don’t miss the sleep. Over the last ten years, my routine has allowed the completion of four novels, a novella, and many short stories; but I’d like to perfect them, and I’d like to write more. This will take study of those writers who have gone before, their stories, themes, and craft– and then, more contemplation! (more…)