I offer a silent prayer to all the firefighters battling the flames
For those forced to move out of its fiery path
There are things and situations that are literally out of our control, when all we can do is take the time to breathe. To see beyond the smoggy din that surround our lives and grasp for air.
Looking out into the ominous sky, I look beyond it and look deeply at its implications for my own well being. I can let it drag my mood down, or look beyond it to see hope. Within my magnified space, I offer up a silent prayer to God for all the firefighters working vigorously to put out the flames. I pray for all those who have been displaced by the gravity of the forest fires (Quebec). I let God do his job.
just to breathe. i am alive
grasping for air
my magnified space
allowing myself to go with the flow
Don’t forget Jesus too often withdraw from his disciples to pray: 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Luke 5:16
Philippians 4:6 reminds us to take the time and offer up our angst and worries to God:
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
There is anxiety and stress. There is also depression. Coming from a Christian and Chinese cultural milieu, I use to feel guilt that I would have these conditions.
As part of my own psychological and spiritual journey, I now acknowledge that it’s ok to go through anxiety, stress, fear and even depression. Going through life changes and growth is never easy. It can disable me, or it can create so much fear and panic that I don’t want to leave the confines of my home.
I have been working with a St. Ignatius Spiritual Director for the past few years as part of my own spiritual journey to love, know and do God’s will. Part of this is shedding away all the layers of “things” piled upon me in my 60 plus years of life.
The awareness of how much psychological and emotional baggage I carry on my shoulders is daunting. Spiritual awareness is letting go of all the “stuff” that keeps me from God.
Hand in hand in my spiritual journey the past few months is seeing my art therapist. Through visualization, I can explore those areas in my psyche which chains me. Art therapy and my spiritual direction helps in healing me to be the person I was meant to be in God’s image.
I am going through a personal transformation and letting go of emotional and psychological chains to becoming my authentic self. Free from the sins of the “father” and all those “ism” that has unconsciously molded and shaped the neurotic, anxious and stressed out me. It is and has been a healing journey.
Christian work ethic was my moral compass. Topped with the drive, angst and expectations of my immigrant parents – where my Chinese cultural repertoire often conflicted with my Christian one. I was a CBC – Canadian born Chinese.
The pace of life since university and then career set the pace for the next 30 years. It shaped my friendships and social environment. Fast forward into my 60s is the realization that I existed in a pressure cooker. The past many months have seen me breaking free to find my authentic self in the mundanity of my life. The career that once gave me much joy, is now but a shallow prison. Friendships were based on a thin thread of association and easily sever (for the first time C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves made sense). I let the “stuff” of the world come between me and God.
Luke 24 is pivotal in my state of flow. Mediating on Mary Magdalene’s grief over the death of her beloved friend and the disciples focus on the current news until they recognize Jesus when he broke bread, all help me understand that peace and joy comes only from fixing our focus on Jesus.
With my eyes on Jesus, I can move towards healing my mind, body and soul. All those angst and inner pain starts to slowly flow out of me. Yes, it is taking proactive action on my part to get better. Now, I can move towards the next phase of my life because my gaze is on Jesus. Only then can I let go of my baggage. I can now grieve and walk towards the light – because I am safe in Jesus’ embrace.
Resource: The Catholic Guide To Depression, by Aaron Kheriaty
Thank you for letting me share my journey with you. Jesus loves each of us at whatever point in life we are at. I pray that each of you walk with him into the light. All the things we once deemed important, hurtful, or heavy falls to the wayside.
Looking into the blue. The deep reaches to you layered by the hazy translucent clouds and wisp of white clouds moving to life’s beat – the rhythm of my life.
Into the stratosphere I think to myself – how beautiful is your creation. My soul longs to reach out to you.
I rejoice and sing songs of praise to your beauty. My heart explodes in love as I think how wonderful it is to have you in my life.
I imagine I have wings to fly high to you. But I can. My soul can swirl up high towards you.
Funeral March Sketches (April/May 2023)
Much of this new body of work arises out of a many weeks meditation and prayer on Luke 24.
My son calls this phase of my life my “Funeral March.” He said this as a joke as we reflected on his photographs of me, but it gave me pause for thought.
Hence, I coin this body of work and reflection Funeral March.
Yes, there is definitely grieving as I let go – of all the “isms” that have molded and shaped my life. Now is the time to return to my authentic self – the person I was created to be before all the baggage was piled up upon me to the point where I was no longer recognizable – to myself. Grace awareness is what I call this journey.
What is reflected back at me?
Looking towards the light – peace and joy can only exist when I let go.
Working with an Art Therapist and a Spiritual Director goes hand in hand (for me). Healing is not only about self care, but also within – the soul. My body is temporal, my soul is eternal.
Thanks to my readers for letting you share this process with you.
Blessings and I pray your path is filled with joy and peace in your spiritual journey. 💖🙏
I have been befuddled and sometimes mired in the negativity surrounding Vatican II. This has also lead to having a critical mind frame – and taking my focus off Jesus.
In this post I am sharing a great conversation on Vatican II which has help me see all that it encompasses. It helps in understanding and seeing through all the controversial din.
I am the first to admit I have been confused by the criticism of well meaning traditionalists and more contemporary commentators on Vatican II. Discernment on my part was necessary not to get dragged into all the controversy and cloud my own spiritual walk with Jesus. Keeping my eyes focused on Jesus and his love for all regardless of sin, illness, race and ethnicity has helped me.
I have been going through my own spiritual “Dark Night” Of The Soul, and will share this when I am able to articulate this journey.
Thinking and praying for all my readers, and May God Bless all. 🙏💐💕
I imagine the cold and dampness of a tomb carved out of rock. Perhaps angels attend to his wounds, or they stand guard and surround his body while his soul travels into the deep depth of hell. As his soul ascends, his body is transfigured into divine light.
I can only imagine with my own limited understanding something that is beyond my human grasp. Today, I share with all this moving ancient homily. It is solemnly beautiful as it contemplates the mystery of the death of Jesus. It comes from an ancient Holy Saturday homily:
“If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my release should come.” —Job 14:14
Something strange is happening— there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.
The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.
The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve.
The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory.
At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake.
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image.
Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.
For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you.
See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image.
On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back.
See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven.
I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you.
I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager.
The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
There is a moving depth to ancient writings that is lost in our modern vernacular.
When I first became a Catholic, I delve right into my new faith with gusto and excitement. I remember my first Lent going a bit overboard with fasting, giving up coffee, no gaming, and no shopping without really understanding the “why” I was doing it. I was miserable! Yes, I followed through it with the mindset that it was what Catholics do during Lent.
As one matures in their spiritual journey with God, one goes through a surface and more importantly an inner transformation of a deeper understanding of faith. Who I am as a child of God and what does He want for me? Where one was once a child and did as we were told, walking with Jesus leads to a blossoming spirituality. Reflecting within and without ourselves as we head into Easter, there are heart felt insights into the child within who loves God, and who journeys in hope and love. For the realization that through the death of Jesus on the cross, one can cross the bridge to the Father. Jesus died for you and me so that we may have a place next to God.
My Lenten this year is not a list of sacrifices as in previous years, but an inward awareness of me as the child of God whose brokenness is healed through the death of Christ.
Two verses moves my heart today:
I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
This Lenten moves me to rejoice within and it’s in the heart and not my headspace. It is a sincere look within, and in doing this, I see the authentic me as Jesus sees me reflected back at me.
I raise my heart in prayer for each of us to be filled with joy and hope in Jesus.
Finding myself is a theme that shows up in my Daily Examen this Lenten. This is part of stripping away the many layers of me as I draw nearer to God. All the distractions that I have placed upon myself believing they will bring me closer to God, are being peeled off.
A part of my journey in life is seeking happiness, love and saintliness (holiness). These are graces I have prayed for the past few months – graced awareness.
What is graced awareness?
Happiness is not an achievement; love is not an achievement; holiness is not an achievement. They are each a grace—a grace called awareness, a grace called looking, observing, and understanding.
In our daily walk as a Christian/Catholic, it’s so easy to get blogged down by life. Taking the time to be mindful, watchful, alert and awake takes practice and time. In asking God for the grace of awareness, one can see everything in our daily lives reflected back. With the help of His divine grace one can see the authentic self without the distortions of layers upon layers of our world piled upon us.
“Set free from human judgment, we should count as true only what God sees in us, what he knows, and what he judges. God does not judge as man does. Man sees only the countenance, only the exterior. God penetrates to the depths of our hearts. God does not change as man does. His judgment is in no way inconstant. He is the only one upon whom we should rely. How happy we are then, and how peaceful! We are no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions; we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone. I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, disdained, ignored, or forgotten; none of this can touch me. I will be no less than I am. Men and women want to play at being a creator. They want to give me existence in their opinion, but this existence that they want to give me is nothingness. It is an illusion, a shadow, an appearance, that is, at bottom, nothingness. What is this shadow, always following me, behind me, at my side? Is it me, or something that belongs to me? No. Yet does not this shadow seem to move with me? No matter: it is not me. So it is with the judgements of men: they would follow me everywhere, paint me, sketch me, make me move according to their whim, and, in the end, give me some sort of existence … but I am disabused of this error. I am content with a hidden life. How peaceful it is! Whether I truly live this Christian life of which St. Paul speaks, I do not know, nor can I know with certainty. But I hope that I do, and I trust in God’s goodness to help me.”
—Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditation For Lent, p. 99-101
May God Bless each of us as we journey towards the cross with humbleness and love🙏💕
While talking to my Spiritual Director, I realized in our discussion about my daily examen, it was too focused on the negative – on sin.
Pages and pages in my journal centred on the negative. As I reflect on this, I realize my focus on sin stems from my strict Protestant upbringing. Sin and hell bent fire sermons expounding again and again human shortcomings and redemption through Jesus. My spiritual journey will look also at the positive – the goodness of God, and his amazing grace for me.
I did a little search online for a deeper and more effective way to do my Daily Examen, and share it with my readers on this post.
As I am working daily with St. Ignatius Spiritual Direction, it is normal I will share the Examen:
St. Ignatius invites us to find God in all things. That means we have to pay careful attention to how the Spirit is moving in each moment of our daily lives. We have to take a magnifying glass to the seemingly ordinary, seeking to encounter the Divine.
That’s why the Examen is such a powerful prayer. In it, we’re invited to encounter God, express gratitude for the gift and gifts of each day, and to commit to make up for any mistakes we may have made.
The Examen is a flexible prayer, too, responding to the signs of the times. Below, you’ll find several variations to meet your need in this moment.
How to Pray the Examen
1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”
God Bless your journey with him. Please pray for me as I pray for you. 💕🙏