and again, and again…

Orlando, Istanbul, Bangladesh, Baghdad, and on and on…and now, again, France, on Bastille Day. The murder of innocents all over the world goes on.

But as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only love can do that. 

Hatred cannot drive out hatred: only love can do that.

Let us all, each of us wherever we are, spread some love to all around us. And remember to hold your loved ones close.

bone-deep gratitude

“If the only prayer you ever said in your whole life was ‘Thank you’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)

Today on Facebook a friend posted in gratitude on the fourth anniversary of his heart and kidney transplant. Definitive proof that miracles happen everyday, to people we know and love.

A smaller miracle happened to me, recently, when I had my first foot surgery. My midfoot was a mess–there are a lot of small bones and cartilage in that area–and so my surgeon had quite a bit of repair work to do, culminating in a fusion stabilized by several plates and screws. Lisfranc fractures are by definition nasty and complicated to fix.

I knew about most of this prior to the surgery, although I didn’t appreciate just how much skill would be needed to fix this mess and how lucky I was to have to surgeon I did.

What I did not realize, however, was that I would receive the following notice in my post-surgery information packet:

Dear Patient:

During your recent surgery, you received a tissue graft from MFT. [Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation] This graft was made from donated tissue (bone, tendon, ligament, or skin), which is now your own. The tissue was donated at the time of the donor’s death. Many donors and their families choose donation so that they and their family member may matter in death as they mattered in life. Today, you are a recipient of this gift.

I am able to walk again only because some thoughtful, generous person and their family chose to donate part of their body after death. It really is that simple: it was a nasty break that couldn’t have been repaired without donor bone chips.

And I love my walks, need my walks. My walks keep me sane. They clear my mind and lift my mood, they keep me connected with nature, with God’s creation. And of course walks are terrific therapy for fibromyalgia.

I’m in the process of writing a thank you letter to the donor family to tell them just how much their gift has affected me. I’m planning to send them some photos me at some of my favorite places to walk: Lake of the Isles, Dorothy Mary Park, The Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Parkway.

I keep looking at my foot and thinking about what a difference a few chips of bone have made.

And I’ve emailed the MFT to let them know that I am interested in being a donor. I’m already an organ donor, but until my surgery, tissue donation had never occurred to me. All of my life I’ve wanted to make a difference…perhaps this is one chance to do so.

If you are interested in becoming a tissue donor, or finding out more about the program, contact the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation at linkinglives@mtf.org or call them toll free at 855-554-LINK (5465).

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seeing with new eyes

The technology, speed, and busyness so prized by our Western culture foster a habit of blindness. For all the bustle, a dreary sameness comes to mark the places where we live. We forget that there is a vast depth beneath the apparent surfaces of things.

The eye of aesthetic spirituality sees more than other eyes. Art in general, and photography in particular, helps to facilitate this awakening by granting epiphanies through its transfigurations of the ordinary. We come to know more than what appears within our line of vision.

–Christine Valters Painter, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

There is great truth in this. I know I have come to see the world differently since I started photography…I was so blind to all of the beauty around me, in everyday things I never saw before and completely took for granted.

I remember when my mom had cataract surgery, a number of years ago. It was a joy to drive her home afterwards, for she was like a small child again, exclaiming that she’d forgotten how beautiful the world was, how lovely all of the colors were; my mom was experiencing the world in a completely new and unique way, at the age of 76. Cataract surgery–having the film removed from one’s eyes–is a prefect metaphor for a new way of seeing reality. A way of seeing with wonder and amazement.

That’s how I feel when I am  photographing, for instance, purple flowers from a five dollar supermarket bouquet. Take, for instance, the lovely flirty ruffled curve of their petals, their soft, velvety textures, their gorgeous deep and rich purple tones…I live my life immersed in beauty, chronic pain and depression be damned! The ordinary is indeed transformed.

Photography has helped me to be grateful for the beauty of this glorious, fascinating world God has given us. Sometimes just the act of photographing a flower, a sunset, the smile on my husband’s face (oh my, do I love his dimples!), becomes a prayer of gratitude in itself.

What about you? If you like photography, do you find it has changed the way you see, and participate in, reality? Or is there another spiritual practice that transfigures your world, your everyday experiences?

 

 

 

 

 

pray for paris, but remember

PRAY FOR PARIS

yes, pray for Paris
but remember
before They attacked Paris
They bombed Beirut
They brought down a Russian airliner
They killed one hundred in Egypt
They have slaughtered thousands in Syria and Iraq
and they are not done yet
so pray not just for Paris
pray for Our entire broken, bleeding, world
for We are all in this
Together

IMG_2591

6 Helpful Prayers to Know

I had to add these prayers to my blog. I know I am not the only one who struggles with depression, and these prayers are simply beautiful. There is even a prayer for those contemplating suicide–by Mother Theresa, of all people. I’m not sure why, I just never thought she would understand the depths of despair depression can lead to. But judging by her prayer, she did.

buddies

Crosses at WW2 American Cemetery in Normandy
Crosses at WW2 American Cemetery in Normandy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From today’s Prayer for the Morning in Magnificat, a hymn for Memorial Day:
“Remember, Lord, the fallen
Who died in fields of war,
In flaming clouds, in screaming crowds,
On streets that are no more,
That we today might waken
And greet this day in peace
With grateful prayer for those who bear
The storms that never cease.

“Remember friends and strangers,
And those forgotten now,
Whose names are known to you alone,
Before whose love we bow
And ask that you surround them
With mercy’s endless light
That we may live, and we forgive
The foe they went to fight.

“Remember, Lord, the living,
Who bear the pain of loss–
A death she died who stood beside
Her Son upon the cross.

“Remember all your children,
The dead and those who weep,
And make us one beneath the sun
Where love will never sleep.”
– Sr. Genevieve Glen, O.S.B.
Copyright 2004, Benedictine Nuns, Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, CO.

My dad had many close calls while serving in Europe during WWII, and lost many friends, but there is one in particular I want to remember today: his best friend, killed by a land mine in France? Belgium? Germany? I’ll never know. He finally told me the story–which he had never told  anyone else–on Memorial Day 1992. The last Memorial Day he lived to see. It was also only the second time I ever saw my dad in tears (the other was when my grandma died). I’m afraid I wasn’t much help to him. I was so stunned to see tears in my dad’s eyes I didn’t know what to say. But I’ve never forgotten the pain in his eyes, and the way his voice cracked in the middle of his tale.

Photo: This is my dad with, i think, his best friend who was blown up by a land mine in Belgium. My dad always said he "was just doing his job" and the real heroes were the boys who never came home. The second (and last) time I ever saw him cry was Memorial Day 1992, when he told me about his friend. My his soul rest in peace.

This is a picture of them together, I think. I know this was taken in Europe because of my dad’s acne. He was very handsome but he broke out for the first and only time in his life in France from, he told me, eating too much chocolate from their rations! I suspect the stress of being in combat may have added to the skin problems. In any case, this soldier is in a number of pictures my dad took, and this is the only professional picture he had of him with any of his buddies. but I will never know. For the last 21 years, however, I have prayed for my dad’s friend, and all the boys he knew who never came home.

It gives me a pang in my heart every time I remember the time I was planning a trip to France, and I showed my dad all the material that the Normandy Tourist Office had sent me about visiting the WWII beaches, especially Omaha Beach. He looked puzzled and asked me why on earth I would want to go there. Shocked, I said, “Because you were there. You were in the third assault wave to land on Omaha Beach. Daddy,” I said, ” you were a hero.” He turned away to hide the fact, I suspect, that he got choked up. Amazingly, my own father, the man I had lived with for 23 years, never realized before that his daughter thought he was a hero. (Alas, the trip to France fell through. But someday I’m going to see that beach, and bring flowers in memory of all of those who shed their blood n “Bloody Omaha.”)

My dad (on the left) and Lt. “Crazy” Roberts (who once flew his little spotter plane under the Eiffel Tower) and their Piper Cub, somewhere in Germany.

I mentioned a later that day that I was planning to visit the American Cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mere. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said, quietly, “I watched them build that cemetery.” And I know he never, ever, got over the images he carried from Nordhausen and Buchenwald.

My beloved and gentle father has been at peace now for 20 years. I believe this with all of my being; I know the memories which tormented him all his life have no power to hurt him now, and that God has wiped away all of his tears. But it still breaks my heart to think of my dad, just a boy really, straight off the farm in Minnesota, facing the evils of Nazi Germany.

Eternal rest grant unto him, and all those who served our country, oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls rest in Your peace, until we meet again. Amen.

Fort Snelling National Cemetery

 

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