Monthly Archives: June 2012

Enduring Grace

One of the most enduring graces of the past weekend was a reunion with a former student.  She had been in one of my adult classes a couple of years back, married a Navy man, moved to Virginia Beach and they now have a two year old son.  It was such a joy to see them, get acquainted with their little boy and hear of their adventures in Navy life.

They served us a wonderful breakfast and we laughed over regional stories and local pronunciations that are difficult for those from the Northwest part of the country.  How refreshing to be with folks who share the same origins and know people that we know.

People — friends — sharing stories, food, and the music of laughter — like Eucharist, it is definitely an enduring grace.


The Lighthouse

My experience at the lighthouse last weekend has given me great opportunity for reflection.  We saw three lighthouses over the weekend – the old Point Comfort Light from the moat of Fort Monroe; and both the new and the old Cape Henry Lighthouses.  But it is my experience at the old Cape Henry Light that is stuck in my mind and has me thinking.

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is open to the public.  We went through security to gain access to the military post where it is located; paid our $5 National Parks fee to enter the light; and walked the 74 steps up the hill to stand at the base of the light.  It was fully my intention to enter the lighthouse and walk the steps up to the level of the great light where I would be able to see out over the waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Only, when we got that far my husband – cautious of heights – said “I’ll wait here,” and he sat down on a bench.  I proceeded forward and entered the door of the lighthouse.  I looked up to see a narrow, metal, spiral staircase as far as I could see.  I had to wait for two others to complete their descent before I could even think of beginning an ascent.  I asked a little hesitantly as they reached the floor, “Is it worth it?”  “Oh, yeah,” they said, “Only it’s a little freaky at the top when you have to go by ladder the rest of the way.”

My own fear of heights made up my mind for me.  I was not going to climb several hundred feet of narrow, metal, winding staircase only to have to mount a ladder to continue the climb, no matter how much I wanted to see the beauty of the sights such a height would afford me.  My fear of heights and an even greater fear of ladders kept me close to the ground.

I slowly walked around the lighthouse and, in faith, imagined what I would be able to see if I had not been filled with fear.  I imagined how this light for centuries has been a beacon to seafarers so they might find their way through the fear of difficult weather or darkness of night.  This light provided the way.  This light offered safety.

And I began to think about where I looked for the Light that guides me, allows me to overcome my fear, provides a way for me, and offers me safety in my daily life.  Jesus told those who followed him: “You are the light of the world.”  The shock in that message is that means you and me!  WE are the light of the world!  Do we believe it?  And, if we do believe it, do we act like it?

My desire, my fear, my imagination, and my faith has caused quite a stir in me.  It’s grace at work asking me to face my fears and see how I can be a light to the world. Are we allowing the Light that is Christ to shine through us so that others may see? How are we doing with that?







The day is unseasonably cool and pleasant.  The breeze is brisk, but totally refreshing.  The trees are swaying with the rhythm of the winds and the sun is playing through the leaves.  After my walk this morning, I just could not go inside.  So, I found a little stoop and sat in the shade and just marveled at the trees and the dappled sun shining through them.

Just to pause under the trees and be present to the movement of the wind and the rustle of the leaves was a graced moment.  Remember to pause – there is grace to be found in every moment.

Beach Choice

Our weekend at Virginia Beach was beautiful, really beyond beautiful, extraordinary!  The pristine sands stretch for miles and people were flocking toward the surf with their chairs and blankets.  We rented a pedal buggy and, at a leisurely pace, explored the boardwalk and took in the sights in both directions.  The sun increased its brilliant intensity as the minutes passed, and by mid-morning, ice cream was on the menu.   Finding the beach a little crowded, we moved on to another area to explore the lighthouses.

Later that same afternoon we found ourselves back at Ft. Monroe, exploring some of the surrounding grounds and beaches that are right outside the moat of the main fort.  I was stunned at the incredible beauty – and  the fact that there was almost no one around.  Clearly, this would be my beach of choice!  Why would anyone go to Virginia Beach when Ft. Monroe was available?

This realization made me appreciate my desire to be alone with nature.  While people are wonderful, and I love to be with them, there is something about a connection with the grace and beauty of the natural world when I am alone.

What beach would you choose?  Is there a place you like to go when you want to be alone with nature?



Time Travel

I’ve always thought time travel would be a great adventure, but somehow we’ve just never figured out how to do it.  This past weekend, however, I did experience a bit of a journey back in time – first to 1975 and then to 1862.

My husband and I ventured out on the road to find Ft. Monroe, VA, the newest National Park in the system.  It was an active military fort until September, 2011 and it also was where my folks were stationed and living inside the moat in 1975 when I was preparing for my wedding.  So, Ft. Monroe holds many memories for me.  It is the place where we purchased our wedding rings at the Post Exchange, and in the huge quarters on the parade ground, I sewed my wedding dress over Christmas break when I was home from college.

The place is splendidly beautiful and has a long history dating back to the first days of European settlers in North America.  But stepping out of the car there yesterday took me back 37 years to when I was coming home from college.  Many memories flooded back.  It was truly a step back in time.

During our visit to the Casemate Museum, built inside the battlements that are hundreds of years old, it was impossible not to think about life there in the 1800’s.  All of the sudden we heard booming and cracking.  It could have been cannon fire from the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack right outside on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay – but it was only a thunder storm!

We had a lovely weekend and the memories and the travel back in history was fascinating.  It gave me a great appreciation for all the people who have given their lives to preserve our Union and our country’s freedom, and for all the people in my life who have loved me and given me the freedom to be the person I am today.

Where would you like to travel back in time – if it were possible?  And, who are the people through time who you have come to appreciate for the grace and gifts they have given you?


It is HOT today.  The kind of hot that can do damage.  So, I just went out for a short, 2 mile walk before the full sun of the day.  Still, even in the early morning, it was very hot.  I was thinking as I was walking about how my husband likes to repeat the advice he heard once from a stand-up comic:  at some time in your life, everyone should have the chance to live in a place where the winter can kill you.  It is funny, but today I was thinking about the reverse.  Should everyone have a chance to live in a place where the summer can kill you?

Thinking about such advice made me think about moderation.  It seems our environment itself is trying to teach us the lessons of moderation.  A little cold, snow and ice are OK and sometimes necessary, but a lot of it can do damage.  A little sun, heat and humidity are OK and sometimes necessary, but a lot can do damage.  A little rain and thunder are OK and very necessary, but a lot can do damage.  A little fire is a good and necessary thing but, out of control, a lot can do severe damage.  So, the watchword is moderation.

While we have little control over the natural elements, we do have control over the decisions that affect our lives.  So, perhaps we should ask ourselves:  How moderate are we?  How moderate are we in our eating habits?  Exercise habits? Working? or Playing?  How moderate are we in our desire for time alone, or our desire to be with people?

In every aspect of our lives the simple concept of moderation could save us from doing real damage to ourselves.  Our struggle for moderation can bring us nothing but grace.


Bird’s eye View

It’s rare that we get a bird’s eye view of anything, but occasionally it can be a real treat.  For example, I love looking out the window of an airplane and seeing the landscape from a perspective I don’t usually see.  On Father’s Day, while taking a short boat ride on the Potomac, we had the rare opportunity to have a bird’s eye view of an osprey nest.

It was nothing short of amazing.  There was a parent bird with a fledgling sitting in their finely constructed nest atop a piling at the pier.  From the boat we could look right down into the nest and see the parent bringing fish for lunch for his young one.  We could see the intricately woven branches, twigs, and bits of straw and derbies that made up the nest.  On one edge, connected between bits of branch and twigs, was a delicate, lacy spider’s web that was blowing in the breeze.  Never before had I peered so closely into the dwelling of another creature.

This bird’s eye view provided me with many moments of reflection over the next few days.  I began to think about standing back and taking a bird’s eye view of my life and my dwelling.  I began to think about what we would see if we looked at ourselves from that perspective.  Would we see ourselves as being caring and loving toward another, or simply taking the action because we wanted something in return?  Would we see ourselves with only the things we need to live comfortably, or hording more than we need for no good reason?  Would we be pleased to see our taste in the magazines on our coffee table, or the websites we visit, or wish no one knew we liked to read that stuff?  Would we see ourselves pausing long enough to truly enjoy a moment of grace, or see ourselves rushing through the day simply to get to the end of it without more complications?

What would we look like from a bird’s eye view?  Such a thoughtful examination of our lives and our choices can be the source of grace for many moments.

The Sound of Grace

What does grace sound like?  Yesterday it sounded like the ring of the telephone.  Since moving here we rarely use the house phone, and even more rarely have received any calls that were not recorded solicitations.  After several rings I looked at the number, which I did not recognize, and for a split second I thought I would not pick it up – and then I did.

What a surprise to hear the voice of a friend from Seattle!  It was their last day in town and they wanted to take me to lunch before flying back home.  We had a lovely time and picked up the conversation right where we had left off – discussing topics and ideas that are near and dear to our hearts such as faith and family; grace and our need to be continually open to new learning.

What a grace it was!  And, I couldn’t stop thinking that I almost didn’t answer that ring.  So, don’t hesitate to find grace in the ring of the telephone and don’t hesitate to answer – even an unrecognizable number. Better yet, let’s take the time to make a call to someone we know and help to ring grace into their day.


The Bus

After waiting patiently the bus finally arrived.  The dear old lady, an amazing woman of 93 years, who served in the Army in WWII – among other things – and was a member of our faith community in Seattle, finally got the bus ride she was so longing to take.

For about three months she has been actively waiting for the bus ride to the other side.  This is her euphemism, not mine.  With great faith and strength of character, she actually looked forward to getting on the bus that would take her to the next life.

During our time in Seattle, I had to stop and visit with her, knowing it would be for the last time.  She expressed her disappointment to me that the bus wasn’t coming fast enough.  All I could say was “It will come in God’s time, not ours.”  That seemed to comfort her for a moment, but only a moment.

This past Friday evening at 5:30 the bus finally came for her and she gladly got on.

Her long-time friend, and 24 hour care-giver for the past three months, told me that at mass yesterday they sang “How Can I Keep from Singing?”  She knew that was a message that her dear friend who had gotten on the bus had arrived at her destination.  My message from the dear woman came during my prayer via one of my favorite saints, St. Therese of Lisieux, when I read that she had said: “It is not death that will come for me, but God.”  How true that is and how wonderful to know that this grand lady of 93 years was met at the bus by our God.

Her journey to her home in heaven is one that could teach us all a few things.  It makes me wonder how eager and how ready I am to get on the bus, singing, and to meet God. Perhaps by recognizing God’s touch through the moments of grace in our lives each day we are slowly getting ready.



Dandelion delight

Yesterday while walking I came upon two little boys with their mother and father in tow.  The boys were about 3 and 5 and the parents were laden with backpacks and entertainment supplies for the boys while they were out on their urban adventure.  Mother was trying to point out places of interest to the boys, but they were both fully engaged in other things.  One of the boys was watching ants scurry between the cracks of the sidewalk and the other had encountered a seeded dandelion.  The dandelion captured its admirer’s attention and filled him with rapture over its unique qualities, the seeds slowly floating away in the gentle breeze.  The younger child, distracted from his ant watching and not to be outdone, wanted one of those things, too!

Unfortunately, they were walking in one of the most well-manicured areas of the neighborhood and another dandelion was not likely to be anywhere around.  Mother and father began to hunt for dandelions and the little one began to cry.  I had walked on passed them, but continued to listen to the drama.  Several yards away from them now, I noticed a single, lonely, seeded dandelion in the crack between the lawn and the sidewalk.  I stopped and turned back to the family.  “There’s one right up here waiting for you,” I announced to the little one.  Dad thanked me and mother smiled and rolled her eyes, “Boys!” she said.

With great joy the little boy ran up to find the dandelion.  All of the sights and sounds of Washington DC meant nothing to him.  It was a single weed that was the source of his admiration.

How often do we pass by the “weeds” of life opting for the greater monuments?  It is a sobering moment to realize that everything in life is imbued with the grace of the Creator and everything – no matter how small or insignificant – is filled with wonder for someone.  Can we have the eyes of children to see all that the day holds for us?