For some people, Christmas can be a time of the year that they’d rather not have to think about.
They may even want to avoid it.
The commercialism, and inappropriate values associated with it, can lead people to feel that the only meaning to be found in Christmas is the power of the mighty dollar.
Yet at the heart of Christmas is the gift of sharing and love that we offer one another. Continue reading
Once upon a time, there lived a lady.
She always strove to be kind and selfless, and most of her time was spent caring for her children and the family home.
Because she was such a caring person, she wanted to be the best mother she could be.
So, she stayed at home to raise her children and happily went without many of the things most other wives and mothers took for granted.
Amongst the things she went without was a good frying pan.
When people would see her frying pan they would say to her, ‘That frying pan is terrible. You must get yourself a new one’.
But the lady simply smiled and thought to herself, ‘Of all the things we really need, a frying pan is the least of my considerations’.
As the years passed, the lady’s life changed in many ways. Continue reading
I was born in the year of the Snake.
When I made this discovery, I felt an immediate rapport with these much-feared, slithering creatures.
I don’t have a fear of snakes.
I’ve never had reason to.
Unlike those who do fear them, I find myself excited when they make an appearance in my life.
I see them as sacred messengers of Spirit, who cross my path to impart some wisdom.
And just as nature holds messages for me, so do many other facets of my life.
My astrological signs, animal totems, past lives, angels and every other influence of that nature, have each had their own significance and impact.
Whether subtle or profound, each of these elements are all a part of the jigsaw puzzle which is my life. Continue reading
I love animals.
I love them in the same way I love trees, mountains, the ocean; all of nature.
And, although I wasn’t a child who fussed or fretted about animals, I would dearly have loved a little cat of my own. But that was really the extent of my interest in pets.
I didn’t feel a need to acquire a menagerie, or possess or pat every animal in sight. I simply appreciated the differences and beauty they offered to my experience of life.
At Easter time, when we traveled to the country to visit family, along the way Dad would point out the lambs that had just been docked or the sheep which had just been shorn.
At these times, I always felt that there was something unnatural and unkind about what had been done to those animals.
They were being shorn as Autumn was arriving.
Of course, I now understand the kindness behind docking — albeit unnatural and imposed.
But my natural, first impression, was an unpleasant sinking feeling and an overwhelming surge of compassion. Especially for the little baby lambs. Continue reading
When I was about 7 years old, I had a profound experience of grace.
Our family home was often filled with extended family, and this was one of those occasions. For some reason, I’m now unable to recall, I retreated into the quiet and darkness of my Nana’s bedroom for a moment.
Whatever it was that lead me to do this — I call it grace — I was required by what was about to take place to be away from the noise of the collective laughter and frivolity of the kitchen, the heart of our home.
I would not realise, for sometime to come, that my retreat into the silence of Nana’s prayer-filled room would reflect a way of life for me, and that this was a divine and defining moment of my life. Continue reading
Mark, my brother, has been responsible for introducing me to many new and wonderful experiences.
He has, on numerous occasions, acted as a true friend and guide to me through the more difficult challenges I’ve encountered in this life.
Here’s Mark’s grace-filled story of his passage from the dark night of his soul, into light.
I’d reached a stage in my life when I no longer believed in God.
At the time, I knew little about spirituality apart from the teachings of the Catholic Church, which I grew up with.
My partner would talk about auras, Guides, the Light and past lives, but I was very sceptical about these New Age things. It’s just that there was something about the way he spoke about them and believed in them that meant I didn’t discount it as nonsense.
It was the sudden end of that relationship, in August 1994, when everything changed. And, from my perspective today, I can say that the end of that relationship was one of the most important events in my life. Continue reading
At the time in my life when my faith was being tested, I prayed.
My life was filled with prayer from a very early age.
My mother’s example of praying while she worked (I think the only time she isn’t praying is when she’s speaking — and she does a lot of that too!), had been instilled in me. I attended Mass on Sundays and followed all the devotions of Catholicism.
But during this period of my life, the practices of Catholicism weren’t addressing any of the deeper questions I was being faced with. I spoke to priests, nuns, friends and family, but no one could tell me what I needed to hear, as Catholic dogma seemed so embedded in their responses. Continue reading
My mother worries about many things.
And she possesses deep faith in God.
It’s an odd dichotomy.
Her concerns are driven by her deep need to keep safe those she loves. In fact, it’s her primary motivation in life.
Her need to keep us safe from the dangers of this troubling world, are often met with our shared frustration.
But in this net of protection she casts across our family, amid her fears of us falling prey to some awful fate, is the thread of grace connecting us all safely through her love and prayers. Continue reading
I was most definitely a daddy’s girl growing up.
I recall many moments of grace with him. My most immediate memory was at the end of the day when he would return home from work and I would greet him at the door by throwing my small arms around his wonderful legs.
Both my parents were ballroom dancers.
They danced simply for pleasure. Both were truly a graceful site to behold as joy and light filled their union of elegant movement.
Needless to say, both had beautiful bodies. But it was Dad’s legs which evoked a feeling in me, which still remains.
I can’t put in to words what that feeling is, other than to call it grace. Continue reading
One of my earliest recollections of the gift of grace in my life was an interaction I shared with Sister Catherine, my 1st grade teacher. I loved Sister Catherine in an all-encompassing way.
One day, we were discussing names and she said to me that my given name, Karen, was the Danish derivative of her chosen name, Catherine. She told me that our names mean ‘purity’.
I was only 6 years old, but the feeling of expansion and the sense of space I experienced in that moment remains with me today.
She joined with me in likeness, through our mutual purity — hers chosen, mine given — and gave to me the gift of grace.
It’s not something that can be planned.
It can be desired, but even the desire for a moment of grace seems to make it elusive. Continue reading