A shoe drive

We travel the streets heading to our different destinations too many times unaware of the many conveniences and blessings that help us make the trip. Like blinking and breathing, we never take a second thought to it, we just blindly go on our busy way. But we should be taking a second thought, and a third, fourth, and fifth, for there are many that do not have the same means that we do to get where they are going. They may not have a car,a home, or even a pair of shoes to protect their feet.

Recently, my church had a shoe drive for the homeless. We gathered together many shoes from different members of the congregation to provide for the homeless of Houston. I could not help but think about the saying “walk 10 miles in someone else’s shoes”. My grandmother had a plaque that hung from her living room wall that had that saying, and it always stuck with me. We are always so quick to judge others without truly understanding their circumstance or background. We would be giving our shoes and they would be walking 10 miles in our shoes, literally, yet we needed to be spiritually walking in theirs. I just could not get that out of my heart and mind after that. All I can really do is appreciate the many blessings that I do have in my life, and hope that when there is someone in need, I will be able to fill the shoes for what is needed in their life.

– Carrie Burtt

Where I’m From

I am from orange groves
and old Florida,
from a house my parents built
in a field my grandfather gave them.
Black-eyed Susans grew there in the spring,
so thick we played hide and seek
simply by kneeling among them.
I am from a town
with more cows than people,
from Judy and from Joe,
from generations that have grown up
in one place.
I am from peanut butter and
honey sandwiches every morning,
from my grandmothers’ kitchens,
from Thanksgiving feasts in the
community park,
from Christmas Eves in the
white painted church
among the pine trees.
I am from the dictionary we kept
by the dinner table
where we ate words like food,
from hours and days in libraries,
from miles of books.
I am from the path they have made.
I am from solitude and silence,
from the monks and mystics who lived
between the choir and the cell,
from the scribes bent over their books,
from parchment and paint,
from ancient ink and from gold
that turned pages into lamps,
into light.
I am from women less quiet,
women of the shout and the stomp,
testifying wherever they could make
their voices heard.
I am from Miriam and Mary and Magdalena
and from women unknown and unnamed,
women who carried their prayers
not in books
but in their blood
and in their bones,
women who passed down the sacred stories
from body to body.
I am from them,
listening for their voices,
aching to hear,
to tell, to cry out,
to make a way for those
yet to come.

– George Ella Lyon, Appalachian poet

Vulnerable

The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.

– Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Be thankful

Be thankful for the smallest blessings
and you will deserve to receive greater.
Value the least gifts no less than the greatest,
and simple graces as especial favors.
If you remember the dignity of the Giver,
no gift will seem small or mean,
for nothing can be valueless
that is given by the most high God.

– Thomas a Kempis

Ain’t grace grand?

In his wonderful book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning relates the following story:

Several years ago in a large city in the far West, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus. The reports reached the archbishop. He decided to check her out. There is always a fine line between the authentic mystic and the lunatic fringe.

“It is true, ma’am, that you have visions of Jesus?” asked the cleric.

“Yes,” the woman replied simply.

“Well, next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins I confessed in my last confession.”

Ten days later the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition. “Please come,” she said.

Within the hour the archbishop arrived…”You told me on the telephone that you actually had a vision of Jesus. Did you do what I asked?”

“Yes, bishop, I asked Jesus to tell me the sins you confessed in your last confession.”

The bishop leaned forward in anticipation. His eyes narrowed.

“What did Jesus say?”

She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes. “Bishop,” she said, these are His exact words” ‘I CAN’T REMEMBER.’” (pg. 118-119)

I wonder how often we forget that an essential aspect of God’s grace is God’s forgetfulness. You and I carry around so much needless baggage—guilt and sadness about the things we have done, or failed to do; resentment about what others have done or not done. Is it any wonder that we Christians far too often seem sad or angry? Do we wonder why we are afraid to risk things for God if we worry that we may get in trouble with God if we fail?

Grace is more than a “get-into-heaven-free-card”, a lot more. It is also about living in the here-and-now, everyday eternal and abundant life knowing that God knows us, loves us and liberates us from any need to carry the rotting baggage of our pasts. It is the celebration of God’s intentional amnesia about our sins, faults, imperfections, and screw-ups.

How do we respond to such extravagant forgetfulness? Why not with extravagant, joy-filled thankfulness?

The grace-filled disciple of Jesus is one that seeks to imitate The Master’s example of love and compassion out of the joy of one who has experienced the free gift of God’s compassion and love. Remembering that I have nothing to prove to God, and that God is not some cosmic sin-counting accountant grimly watching my every move, I am FREE to show my appreciation and joy by doing my best to be a bit more like Jesus.

Of course, I will eventually twist that endeavor up, as well. I will find a way to wrap my self in more self-righteousness for the things I accomplish and guilt for the things I failed on. But isn’t it wonderful that God will pick me up again from my mess, wrapping me in those great big arms of grace, and set me on my way again…and again…and again…

Ain’t grace grand?

– The Amnesia of Grace by Rev. Martin Eldred, Eagle River

Open my eyes

Open my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me
that I may walk through this day with the kind of awareness
that calls forth grateful living.

– Macrina Wiederkehr, Seven Sacred Pauses

Stephen Paulus “Pilgrims’ Hymn”

Stephen Paulus \”Pilgrims\’ Hymn\”



Gallery Choir of
Saint Peter’s Catholic Church
Established 1821
Columbia, South Carolina USA
Mark Husey, Organist and Choirmaster

Even before we call on Your name To ask You, O God, When we seek for the words to glorify
You, You hear our prayer; Unceasing love, O unceasing love, Surpassing all we know.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in, we breathe Your name, and through all the days that follow so
fast, We trust in You; Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace, beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and for ever, and unto ages and ages, amen.

– Michael Dennis Brown

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the whole Holy Spirit in our tiny heart, a love great as God is beating within us, like a moiling sea struggling to break out, to spread out, to penetrate into all these closed-up creatures, into all these impermeable souls.

To be able to pace every street, to sit in every metro, climb up every staircase, carry the Lord God to all places: we are certain to find a soul here or there that has preserved her human fragility before the grace of God, a soul that has forgotten to armor herself in gold or concrete.

And we can pray, pray just as they pray in all the other deserts, pray for all these people so close to us, so close to God.

A desert of people. We can plunge into the crowd as if plunging into the white desert sands.

A crowded desert, a desert of love.

The nakedness of real love.

And we do not miss the countryside, or the friend who would understand what we have on our hearts, or the quiet hour in the corner of a church, or the favorite book left at home.

The desert is where we become love’s prey.

Won’t this love that dwells in us, that explodes in us, also transform us?

Lord, Lord, let the thick skin that covers me not be a hindrance to you. Pass through it.

My eyes, my hands, my mouth are yours.

This sad lady in front of me: here is my mouth for you to smile at her.

This child so pale he’s almost gray: here are my eyes for you to gaze at him.

This man so tired, so weary: here is my body so that you may give him my seat, here is my voice so that you may say softly to him, “Please sit down.”

This smug young man, so dull, so hard: here is my heart, that you may love him, more strongly than he has ever been loved before.

Missions to the desert, unfailing missions, sure missions, missions in which we sow God in the midst of the world, certain that, somewhere, he will take root, for: “There where love is lacking, put love, and you will reap love.”

– Madeleine Delbrel,  We, The Ordinary People of the Streets

The Christian Way

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier.

Christ says, “Give me all.  I don’t want so much of your time and so much  of your money and so much of your work: I want you . . . . . Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit.

I will give you a new self instead.  In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.”  Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity