A Blue Angel Quarantine Salute

On Monday morning Facebook lit up with posts about the Blue Angels coming to North Texas.  As they have in other cities, they would do a flyover to honor COVID19 frontline responders and essential workers.  But, it became more than that.

Whether it was on social media or the news the excitement was palpable with the notion that for a few seconds the public would be treated to seeing the amazing Blue Angels.

Why were so many of us so excited? After all, it was just 6 jets streaking across the sky.

First of all – it was 6 jets streaking across the sky! And, in a formation!! Sometimes a very-tight-so-close-that-it-was-kinda-scary-looking formation.

Second of all – they were doing it to honor the American workers!

Third of all – don’t we all love planes, trains, and cool cars? Okay, maybe not absolutely everyone loves them but a lot of us do.

This was the most exciting thing to happen in the metroplex since the quarantine began. For a brief moment, life felt normal again. More importantly, it felt like, instead of 47 different opinions on every decision being made, that we were all one.  Excited and eagerly anticipating a brief glimpse of these great symbols of America fly right over our hometowns.

After the flyover, the social media I saw was filled with amazing pictures and videos.  Some from cell phones, some from professional cameras.  All filled with pride that Dallas, Ft. Worth, and all the cities around were honored. The Blue Angels and the US Navy may have been officially recognizing first responders and essential workers but the gift they gave to many many more of us lifted our spirits, renewed our sense of patriotism, and boosted our morale.

Photo cred and a big thank you to Mrs. M Monnat for the use of the 3 pictures

For my own family, it also took us on a trip down memory lane.  Way back in the olden days we would go to the Pensacola area for a week each summer.  And, every Tuesday we would haul ourselves out of bed so we could be at the Naval Air Station before 8:00 am because we knew that the Blue Angels practiced on Tuesday mornings and that the public could watch for free.  (Again, this was 15 + years ago – I have no idea what they do now).  Following the show, we would visit the National Naval Aviation Museum.  It was always a wonderful morning and highlight of our beach week.

Blue Angels and US Navy – THANK YOU! The flyover today, along with the trip down memory lane, made this a very nice quarantine day.

ps….the weather was also spring perfected – light winds, low humidity, blue skies, few clouds, and 79 degrees.  What a bonus!!

 

Holy Thursday Thoughts

Have you ever done contemplative prayer? It is an Ignatian exercise where you place yourself in a scene and imagine the thoughts, feelings, and actions of those around you.  If you know what it is, have you done it with scenes from the Passion of Jesus Christ?

This evening marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, and tonight we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  I’ve been wondering how Jesus felt as the day wore on, and the Last Supper took place.

When he shared that last meal with his disciples, did he enjoy it? Was he in a good mood and take pleasure in the time spent with friends and his mother? Or was he sad and anxious, unsettled over what he knew was coming?

Tonight will be a different experience as the Mass from our church, St. Jude, will be live-streamed.  The pews will be empty, and parishioners will not be together.   Honoring our Lord Jesus and commemorating the Last Supper, along with the washing of the feet, will be done from our homes and not in the broader community with the congregation.  For so many of us, this is strange and doesn’t feel right and makes us sad and anxious.

The Bible tells us Jesus was distressed and that he agonized in the garden at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-42, Mark 14:32-36, Luke 22:39-44). Was he also troubled during the meal?  Knowing his betrayal was imminent, was he able to enjoy the evening with the disciples and Mary?

If you are feeling a wide range of emotions about the coming days, remember that Jesus felt many emotions, too.  Jesus knew he would face horrible things, but he also knew he would conquer it all. We have no idea what the future holds but, even in our despair, we know that God is in control, and it will get better. There is light on the horizon, and Easter will come.  Coronavirus won’t end on Sunday morning, but we – and things – will be better.  And, in the meantime, Jesus knows all too well the anxiety, frustration, betrayal, and sadness.  He’s been through it, also, and He understands.

Luke 22: 14-16
When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

 

November Sunday Afternoon

This Sunday afternoon was a perfect fall day: sunshine, mid-60’s, blue skies, little wind.  It’s always easy to get caught up in preparing for the new week with a chore list a mile long but, today, I felt more compelled to get outside and enjoy a little fun.  An impromptu call to my daughter, Krista, and within an hour the hubby and I were hiking with some of the grandkids at The Heard Natural Science Museum in McKinney.

A delightful couple of hours spent soaking up a beautiful day, checking out the animatronic dinosaurs, looking for wildlife and butterflies (they were gone), taking pictures, walking and, if I’m honest, a little bit of, “I’m sooooo tired I just can’t go on…”.  No matter, this spur-of-the-moment outing made for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Always time to play
A tree 250+ years old
Checking out a very unique dinosaur
The Heard
Making sure we are heading the right direction on the map
The Heard
Photo op!
The Heard
T-Rex
The Heard
Pioneer Village
The Heard
Pretty pond
Colette
It’s so tiring riding on grandpa’s shoulders
And, Fulton!

Silly Squirrels and Sparky

The antics of the neighborhood squirrels makes me chuckle.  While I do run them off sometimes, other times their determination makes me laugh.  And, then there’s Sparky, the hunter cat.  He patiently sits, waiting for the opportunity to strike.

I’m not sure if I want to cheer for Sparky or the squirrels.

Where is that cat? Does he see me? Is he watching?
Ha-Ha! No one around to stop me!
I’m going for it!
Bwahahaha – victory!
But wait! Stealthy Sparky is always watching….waiting.
Drats!! Lost him…next time for sure!

 

Earth Day 2019

Today is Earth Day – Google said it so it must be true.  I did a bunch of extra-but-ordinary tasks.  Did they make a difference in the protection of this beautiful planet?  I don’t know.  However, they were pleasant and I enjoyed the slow-paced-yet-steady busyness of the day.

In honor of the day I did the following:

  • Picked lavender and hung it up to dry.
  • Picked lettuce from my garden and prepared a delicious side dish for dinner.
  • Wrestled a snake from Sparky the hunter cat.  Okay – maybe I didn’t actually wrestle it since it was already dead, and maybe it has nothing to do with Earth Day but I did it and I was relatively calm the whole time.  I’d like some points for that.
  • Added material to my makeshift compost pile, gave everything a good turning (it smelled so good!), flung up a second snake, still didn’t scream.
  • Went to watch my grandson, Kolbe, play touch football.

All in all, it’s been a nice day.

Happy Earth Day!

Montserrat Love

Living in this crazy, instantaneous, social-media-driven, can’t-live-without-a-phone world these days can be distracting, to say the very least.  It can also be wild and wonderful, but let’s talk about that another day.  Taking time to disconnect for a few days – usually in the spring – has become an annual tradition of mine.  It’s both important to me and for me to do this.  The place I’ve headed to nine times now is Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas.

 

A place that is peaceful, tranquil, reflective, joyful, beautiful, and quiet.  It allows me to rest and just be, even if I’m ‘busy’ exploring the grounds, reading, journaling or walking up and down the 1/2 mile long drive.

On the days leading up to this time, the anticipation is always welcome and when I turn onto that long driveway and pass through the gate I can feel the tension beginning to ebb away and almost hear the naps and relaxation calling my name.

 

The retreat leader encourages all of us attending to let go of our expectations and agendas and to just enjoy the time.  Allowing God to lead us where we need to go while resting in his presence is freeing and takes the pressure off of finding the answer to whatever it is on my mind.

This ‘letting go’ has resulted in retreats where I did nothing but rest and other retreats have resulted in realizing things God was trying to tell me but which I couldn’t hear.  You know, because of how often I  allow myself to get caught up in the busyness of life. Either way, I’m enjoying the surrounding landscape beauty – both inside and outside.

My time at Montserrat has allowed me to experience thunderstorms rolling in across the lake as well as basking in the warmth of the sun while gently swinging in a hammock or a porch swing.  I’ve listened to the rain from a rocker on the covered lake-front porch and from an open window in my room as I lay resting while also being treated to an abundance of stunning sunrises in the quiet of a mesmerizing morning. I’ve sat in the dining room and spread notes and books out on the table in front of me while appreciating the view and writing in my journal. I’ve relished the many different varieties of birds as they’ve played, dive-bombed for fish, pecked at the ground and sang from the trees or birdhouses.  I’ve knelt in the chapel and prayed when it was so quiet the stillness was almost heavy. One of my favorites is sitting next to the fountain with the gentle trickle of water that is so soothing you can’t help but relax.  I’ve walked and prayed on the rosary path and sat in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with his arms open. I’ve walked and/or run the driveway and circumference of the property countless times while marveling at the abundance of wildflowers and wildlife.  All of this leads to a reverence for the beauty of creation and appreciation of all that our Creator has given to us.

The retreat sessions or prayer conferences, as they are called, are enlightening and thought-provoking.  Each retreat leader brings a different personality and the ability to help us work through the Spiritual Exercises in a variety of ways.

So many opportunities to pray, reflect, read, write and be still.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

Trust me, it is.

Full disclosure means I also have to share that this retreat is silent.  While I know that one element is a deal-breaker for most I would love it if more of us could find the time and, I don’t know…courage(?) to experience it.  In all fairness, too, silence doesn’t mean I don’t open my mouth for 3 days – there are opportunities to speak like offering the sign of peace during Mass or signing up to speak with one of the priests or spiritual directors.  I can also speak out loud at any time to God in my prayers – just not where I would be a distraction to those around me.

Montserrat has become an important part of my faith life.  I look forward to more wonderful, soul-refreshing experiences there.

If you would like more information about the facility or making a retreat here see their website Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House

Birds in the Backyard – Woodpeckers

Last week I shared some wintery pictures of cardinals.

Today, I bring you red-bellied woodpeckers.  I think.  I do not have extensive knowledge of birds and this is the best guess after – you know it – googling images.  As I said before, the pictures are taken through a window so sometimes they seem a little muted. At any rate, the fascination continues showcasing these birds with the orange heads and black and white backs.

Sunrise Surprise

There are weeks when it feels like the world is a little too heavy and the news a little too sad.  Last week was like that. The one year anniversary of Guy’s death and reminders that it’s been 10 months since the loss of Maggie (10 years old) and 7 months since Fr. Tim died along with the news of 5 additional deaths – 3 unexpected, 1 expected, 1 suicide – these made my heart hurt in a big way.

Luckily, I had already planned a retreat which offered me focused time to lift up the repose of all these souls and pray for those left behind who are grieving each of these losses.

How I wish I could take their pain away.

Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like enough to pray and yet, my faith tells me it is a great starting point.

Prayer – it’s such a powerful tool and being able to spend time with the Lord – disconnected from the pull of a million things that each day brings – praying for those souls and their loved ones, those who are hurting, those who are sick, those who gave me specific intentions and those I love and just want to lift up was a gift.  A gift to myself, to make that connection with Christ and, I hope, a gift to those I prayed for.

This morning I got up to see the sunrise but my phone said it was ‘mostly cloudy’ so I thought there wouldn’t be much to enjoy.  I decided to go down to the lake anyway just to enjoy the quiet of an early morning.

To my surprise, there was color in the sky.  It was like a little hole was opened in the clouds and I was amazed at how pretty it was.

Then, just like that, the colors exploded and became more brilliant and the oranges and golds turned to pinks and purples.

It was a spectacular display of color and beauty.  I believe it was a gift from God saying – I hear your prayers and I’ve got them. (all those I prayed for by name)

A little bit later the clouds, the wind, and the gray settled in and took over the day.

Thank you, Lord, for your gift.

 

 

Takeaways from a Parish Mission

Our church – St. Jude – concluded a 3 evening Parish Mission on Tuesday night and it was a great way to begin Lent.

Fr. Ron Hoye is an amazing presenter and his joy and passion for life and our faith is contagious. His reminders of what our faith should look like were an inspiration to the packed church he spoke to each night.

A few reminders (in no particular order and not complete)

  1. To be a disciple of Christ I should serve God with joy AND enthusiasm
  2. God wants my heart and my hunger for him
  3. God wants me to be happy!
  4. You’ll never find in the Bible verses that say, “I came so you could barely get by”.
  5. Why did Jesus come? John 10:10 says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
  6. Is what I’m doing putting a smile of the face of Jesus?  Even if I’m not doing it ‘perfectly’?
  7. Gratitude – for 25 days take a moment to write down 3 things and tape them to my bathroom mirror. As the sticky notes increase, marvel at all for which there is to be thankful. (no repeats)
  8. Sunflowers follow the sun throughout the day – always turning towards the light.  Jesus is the sun – keep turning my face towards him.
  9. The longer meat marinates the more flavor it takes on.  It becomes more tender.  Spending more time with Jesus helps to soften me and make me more like Him.
  10. God Moment App – random reminders throughout the day to stop and say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

www.parishmissions.org – serious, funny, inspiring, thought-provoking Vincentian Priests spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to all ages.

Mother Teresa

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”