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Blog 12/10/2013

 

What is your favorite Advent memory?
 
Here at MV, in many ways, Advent is about getting ready for Christmas Eve.  For years, we have had a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner (Wilia) for the family with stuffed cabbage and perogi and Polish ham and kielbasa and fish with horseradish sauce, pickled herring, sauted mushrooms or mushroom soup, sauerkraut, pickled beets and crusty rye bread.  The most important item on the menu is always the perogi, and contrary to the usual way of preparing them in melted butter, we deep fry them and serve them with sour cream, and in years past our children could eat them almost all night long.
 
Wilia.two
 
Today, our children are older, and they have children of their own now, so we still gather for the Christmas Eve dinner, but what used to end with laughter and extra glasses of wine while putting the last touches on the Christmas tree now has most of them scurrying home to put little ones to bed, so visions of sugar plums can dance in their heads.
 
On the animal front, Advent is about preparing for winter in earnest.  The chickens are bedded down in their coop near our house and away from those northern winds, and Bill already put an extra layer of shavings and straw on the upper level of their movable tractor.  Extra shavings are laid in each goat shed to add some extra layers of warmth when the temperatures drop to the 20s or teens or even lower.  Every time we close the goats in at night, when we open the sheds in the morning, 4-5 birds fly out.  One year, we actually found a nest in the rafters.  How they get in, we’re not too sure unless they are squeezing through the air vents near the roofs.  The bird seed is hung with care for our feathered friends, though usually not near the goat sheds.  Buckets are plugged in, so all the water doesn’t freeze every night, and this year, we are still in the breeding season for our goats, so Advent is becoming a precursor to all those little “kids” we may have, come next spring.  Jeremiah is still in the garage at this writing since he is still recovering from his mandibular abscess and cannot go outside yet, but we are hoping that by next weekend, he may be well enough to rejoin Sophie in the goat yards.
 
When I look back on all the Advents I can remember, a couple seem to stand out. Once while in high school, the school chaplain invited all of us to his quarters across the street from the Catholic school to view his Christmas tree.  He was going to light it only once, for he used hundreds of real candles on a real tree that seemed to stand about 10 feet high.  It was absolutely breathtaking.
 
christmas tree with lights
 
Another one that comes to mind almost every year is a very special Advent in 1977.  That was the year I was pregnant with our youngest, who turned out to be our “December” baby.  By the time Advent began, I was VERY pregnant and found myself being caught up in a type of solidarity with our Blessed Mother.  All the prayers and hymns that we sung of Mary that year seemed to resonate with me in a profoundly new way.  
 
Madonna-And-Child
 
There is always something quite marvelous when one is carrying another life within oneself, a life that God is fashioning day by day.  It is a holy time.  But when one can reflect about how Our Lady felt on her way to Bethlehem when one feels swollen with child as well, it takes on a whole new meaning.  Even though our youngest was our fifth child at that point (we later adopted two more), everything was somewhat special during that pregnancy.   By the time I got to labor, I was one of those “experienced moms,” so the doctors more or less let me tell them what I thought was going on.  I remember praying the rosary during labor, and it was such a comfort that day.  Our Lady seemed to help calm me.  Of course, when our beautiful daughter was born, we named her Mary, and a couple days later, I remember that she and I watched and listened to the Nutcracker together for the very first time on one of those hospital televisions.  That was a special Advent.
 
hands
 
This Advent, our parish choir put on a Christmas show a few days ago and I am a member of that choir.  We rehearsed and rehearsed and our director made sure we accented those consonants and made sure we did our crescendos where we were supposed to do so, and watched her every move.  There were a half dozen solos and some combinations of solos and chorus, and we had had the line-up for weeks, but it wasn’t until it all came together that it became a spiritual experience.  The beauty of the hymns just seemed to take over and touched each one of us.  They became a prayer.
 
I was watching some Christmas movie, or maybe it was an episode of the Waltons, a favorite show of mine, when someone asked the Grandfather, “Which was his favorite Christmas?”  After some thought, he replied: “Next year’s” since the coming together and preparation added so much to the holiday, that that was what he savored the most.  As we continue to:  “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” may you think back to your special memories of Advent and Christmas this wondrous season.  
 
Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!
 
 

 

Blog 11/25/2013

 

From Advent to Thanksgiving to Advent again…..
                                            Mystical Ventures opens a Message Board.
 
     In Benedictine Brother Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette’s short text on Advent meditations, he tells us that in days of old, Advent began around November 15th, when the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrated the feast of the Apostle St. Philip.  In some ways the Orthodox Advent season mirrored the season of Lent setting aside six weeks of fasting in preparation of Christmas, so November 15th signaled the “St. Philip’s fast”.  Even in the Western Church in France, this practice lingered, when the French began to observe Advent beginning with the feast of St. Martin on November  11th with the “St. Martin’s fast”.  Today a number of people are re-reading Brother Victor’s meditations and may have already begun the quiet reflective season of Advent.  Here in the USA, however, any quiet fast-like beginning to Advent gets totally shattered by one of the biggest family holidays of culinary consumption there is; we call it Thanksgiving.  All sorts of goodies are enjoyed with turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and cranberries and pumpkin pie, only to be followed by the decadent, sleepy, unfasten your belt buckle afternoon of football gazing.  But that is good, too.  Holidays are for celebrating families.
 
 
thanksgiving turkey dinner
 
      In some years, the regular four week season of Advent starts a week after Thanksgiving; in other years it begins right on top of Thanksgiving.  This is one of those “right on top of” years.  No sooner are we putting the Thanksgiving turkey away, than the Advent wreath is being pulled out or refashioned with fresh greenery.  It also signals one of the craziest shopping times of years, and “Black Friday” has been chomping at the bit” for weeks now.  The next month is one of busiest, stressful months of the year with parties and concerts and baking and wrapping and total frenzy.  It is hard to “be still” in all of that. Mystical Ventures along with the Adult Faith Formation team in our parish decided to try something new this year to address the craziness.  We would set up a Message Board on the Sunday readings for Advent, and invite anyone who wished to read them, reflect on them, and post their comments or questions on the new Message Board.  We would also set up a place on the board to share Advent and Christmas family traditions.  The good thing about a message board is that it is 24/7.  You don’t have to go somewhere to do this.  You can read and reflect in your pajamas if you wish, or while waiting in a car or riding the commuter train to work.  If you have access to a computer, or an IPad or even many of our phones today, you can go on line and simply go to: www.mysticalventures.org to access it.
 
advent wreath  
HOW TO BEGIN: That part is easy.  Simple go to this website: www.mysticalventures.org and register.  You can do that by clicking the upper right hand corner register tab and select a username and password.  Then you can log on (same right hand corner).  Once on the sight, you can check out the “What’s New” column on the right to see if the readings of the first week of Advent have been posted.  I regularly write two columns a week on the readings: one, the “Psalms and the Lectionary” and the second, “Catechism Connections”.  The first column looks at how the psalm of the day ties the readings together; the second column looks at the connections of the readings to one paragraph in The Catechism.  The actual biblical texts of the readings for these four weeks will be posted with both columns.  You can go to either or both of the columns to get started.  After you read them, you will see a large green button on the bottom that says: “Go to Message Board”.  Click on that and you’re there.  Then you can click on the Lectionary Reflections to read or comment or question what you would like about the readings.  
 
Advent readings
 On the Message Board, you will also notice there is a place for Advent and Christmas Traditions.  If your family has some special or unique traditions you’d like to share, simply click there and add your own or read those of others.
 
You can visit the site any number of times per week if you wish.  If you would like to go directly to the Message Board without going to the readings columns, go to the first heading of the website, “About Us” and you will see a small arrow.  Click on the arrow and it will pull down the words Message Board.  Click on that and you’re there.
 
If you have a good recipe for the holidays you’d like to share, please send me a note with the recipe (and a picture if you have it), to the Comments Box (on the right hand column) and I’ll load it onto the Food column.  You may notice that there are a lot of other things of this site as well.  Click on any picture of Pope Francis and it will take you directly to his website with his daily twitter messages and other talks or homilies that might be helpful in your Advent and Christmas preparations.  A great family Christmas movie has just been released, called:  “The Christmas Candle”.  Click on that picture and you can watch the preview, or there are also several prayer links on the right columns for you to consider, reflect and simply pray.
 
We hope that as we begin this crazy, but wonderful time of year, many of you will join us to read and reflect upon the beautiful mysteries of the Christmas season.  Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!  
 

 

Blog 11/7/2013

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate Thanksgiving in November???  Every year, it seems the buyers and sellers drag out Christmas shopping and all the trimmings even before Halloween, but once the ghosts and goblins have gone bump in the night,
 
Halloween 2013
 
it is like a full- fledged assault for all things Christmas…..all, that is, except calling a Christmas Tree, a Christmas Tree or calling Christmas Carols, Christmas Carols, or mentioning anything about Jesus Christ.  Our political correctness seems to have gone over the deep end, and given way to Madison Avenue and the idolatrous economy that attempts to envelope this season.
 
norman-rockwell-freedom-from-want.three
 
 
 
     Would that we could go back to a simpler time when for instance, Norman Rockwell captured the Four Freedoms for which we should give thanks: The Freedom of Speech, the Freedom of Worship, the Freedom from Want and the Freedom from Fear.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt first introduced those freedoms to the American public in 1941 during his state of the union address.  Those were fearful times, but he outlined these four freedoms as basic human rights, and when Rockwell displayed them in 1943 in the Saturday Evening Post, they had become all too precious in the midst of World War II.
 
 
 
 
 
first-thanksgiving
Or, would that we could go back even earlier to the first Thanksgiving, when the English settlers and American Indians celebrated a feast together, thinking that they might be able to live side by side in this new land.  There is a Thanksgiving Special this year that has already aired on television, entitled: “The Thanksgiving House,” a story about discovering the actual spot of that feast.  Whether or not that is true, the spirit it conjures up is one of thanks and hope.  Hope is one of those fragile and nebulous virtues.  We kind of know what faith looks like and what love looks like, but hope always seems to beg the question: hope for what?  In the Thanksgiving special, the hope is suggested that people may even be able to live together in peace!  We know how the majority of later settlers treated Native Americans and vice versa, and it is not pretty, but if we try to stop periodically to thank God for all the rich blessings we share as a human race, then perhaps that is our true hope, that one day, we can become one human family that lives side by side and pauses regularly to give thanks to our Creator.
 
 
 
This year, the Thanksgiving season reminds me of a grammar lesson.  Maybe it is because I am in the midst of correcting mounds of papers from my students and wish that somewhere along the line they had learned to write better before they got to college (though most of my students write beautifully).  Years ago, when I was small and learning how to diagram sentences, I learned that a sentence usually had a subject and a verb and often an object, like: “I love my husband.” or “I bake bread.” or “I mailed a letter .” etc.  Increasingly, we seem to be surrounded by a secular culture in the United States.  We hear so much about political correctness and are told to avoid certain phrases and names and terms that might offend someone.  That may be all well and good, but a recent Thanksgiving practice has me a bit concerned.  November does seem to be the month to think about those things for which we are grateful.  Children are encouraged in the schools to think about things for which they might be thankful and sometimes they are even engaged in “so-called” Thanksgiving projects.  In those projects, I keep hearing lines like “I am thankful for good health.” or “I am thankful for a nice home.” or “I am thankful for my job” or “I am thankful for my dog, Sam.” etc.  Not bad thoughts, but what is missing here?  WHO are we thanking?  Wasn’t the whole point to set aside a day to thank GOD for the good health, the nice home, the job, or even my dog, Sam?  What happened to “God”?  We seemed to have lost our object.  Gratitude needs an object.  Otherwise it bounces back to the subject and we set up our world without God, and we just pat ourselves on the back for being so grateful. 
 
This year, in our family, we have a lot of blessings for which we need to thank God.  We have had an abundant harvest, for one.  As we await the feast of Thanksgiving, we are also awaiting the birth of our ninth grandchild, a fabulous blessing for our son and his wife and their little two year old daughter.  Some of our family is coming in from other states to celebrate, so we will have extra cousins and aunts and uncles coming together to share each other’s company, another blessing!  Here at MV, we have plenty of room and in the past, I have usually cooked that Thanksgiving dinner, but as the children have gotten older, one daughter began to bring the mashed potatoes, and another started bringing veggie snack trays before dinner, and another, special cookies.  This year, one of our daughters even wants to soak the turkey in brine overnight and then drive it up here from Virginia in a cooler, and cook that!  Since we will have cousins joining us this year from the west coast, too, some of them are getting in on the "cooking craziness," as well, so it will be a culinary work in progress!  
 
thanksgiving prayer
 
We thank God for such a wonderful crazy family.  So far, our patriarch, Bill’s Dad, who lives next door and is affectionately called “Pepere,” is still with us and enjoying his 94th year, so we thank God for his fatherly presence in all our lives.  We do thank God for good health and we thank God for good hospital care for our little grand nephew, Mac (1 and ½ years old), who has some serious health problems.  We thank God for all the animals he has entrusted to our care.  We thank God for our country with all its failings as well as its successes.  We thank God for all the family and friends in our lives, both near or far away, both old and new.  They help us to weave the fabric of our lives that we present to our Loving God.  And most valuable of all, we thank God for being God, a God slow to anger and of great compassion.  May his name always be praised!  And may he always be thanked!
 
 

 

Blog 10/20/2013

 

 
A new day is dawning…..
 
Yesterday I attended a Catholic New Media Conference for those of us who are trying to blog or twitter or use websites or Facebook or other social media to share our lives and our faith with others.  Here, at MV, we are about living off the land, but also caring for the land and acting as God’s stewards as long as we are here, so any way we can communicate that with others is a blessing.   It was an encouraging day, since so many that attended were the next generation of young folks, who have a passionate desire to communicate who they are, pray, and share their religious faith with others.  I’d say the average age was somewhere in the young 40s and several had young children in tow, or were talking about their young children who may have been at home.  For those of us who are counting and enjoying our grandchildren at this stage, it was a welcome sign for the future.   The keynote speaker was a Monsignor Paul Tighe from Dublin, who works as the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications at the Vatican.  As part of his presentation, he gave us a little taste of the Gaelic: “mol an oige agus tiocfaidh said,” which loosely translated means something like: “encourage the young people; they have good ideas”.  
 
Media conference resized 300
 
In my classes last week, we were studying the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy and on Friday, I introduced and tried to share with my students the meaning to that wonderful Hebrew word, hesed.  This is one of those multilayered words that one encounters in the Hebrew Bible, whenever one is trying to learn about the character of that One God, the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Years ago, G. Ernest Wright wrote that hesed is an attribute of God, and it is important to remember that attributes of God in the Bible are nearly all words depicting relationships between persons.  Translated freely, hesed means that God is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, and full of loving kindness, faithful and just.  Wright goes on to explain that “as God is gracious, patient, full of loving kindness, faithful and righteous in all his ways, so man is to exhibit the same qualities in his relationship to his fellowmen.”  God is showing us an example of how to live: we are to be patient, and full of compassion and loving kindness.
 
Media conference collage resized
 
A lot of the information at the media conference recognized that we are not only at the cusp of a seismic shift in terms of communication today with the internet and all it affords, but we are also at a unique moment in history with Pope Francis at the helm.  It appears that the whole world is watching this man and one of the reasons seems to be because he is such a breath of fresh air.  He is a do-er.  He does not put on airs or opt for the lavish lifestyle of some of his predecessors, but rather, he pays his own bills, downsizes his car, lives very simply with just four items in his small study besides a desk and chairs: a crucifix, a statue of Our Lady, a picture of St. Joseph sleeping and a picture of St. Francis.  Like St. Francis, he lives simply.  That resonates with our lives at MV, for even though they can sometimes be incredibly busy, it is still the simple life that we seek.  Pope Francis is also going out of his way to build relationships, even if that means pick up a phone and call someone thousands of miles away, who may need some healing, or stop and take a drink that is offered to him in a crowd.  He is unashamedly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he is much more about doing the preaching than just mouthing the words.   Francis is giving us an example of living hesed.  He is a man of relationships.   It may also be his Jesuit training or simply his love for all things Trinitarian, but Francis often shares his insights in three words.  That can be very helpful in our tweeting world of 144 characters.  He is much more about welcoming people and healing them that teaching them the intricacies of the Catechism.  He is much more about inviting them to consider a relationship with God than he is to criticize behavior.  Recently, in one of those tweets, he just offered three words: “Listen.  Converse.  Encourage.”   In a very simple style, he is giving the world some very concrete ideas about how to live the Gospel in today’s world by his example.
 
autumn scene with barn resized
 
 Beyond the listening and engaging and encouraging, we can affirm and celebrate and share the good things that are also happening.  Part of the conference previewed a film that will be released to the general public next May, just in time for Mother’s Day. Titled: “Mom’s Night Out” with Sarah Drew, Sean Austin and Patricia Heaton, it is a hilarious comedy about what Mom’s do every day in this world to help their children to grow up.  The film was produced by men to honor their wives and all the work they do.  It is a celebration of family and I think every mom with children under 10 should see this film not only for comic relief, but also to realize that they are not alone, and that raising children today as in every age is crazy hard, pull-your-hair-out frustrating, but worth every minute of it.  Dads and all the rest of us will be reminded of what heroic women are really all about in our lives and celebrate each and every one of them.
 
autumn maple leaf resized
 
 
I made some new friends at the conference as well when I met a group I had never heard of before, a group called “Communities of Prayer”.  They offer books and DVDs and retreats and other materials based on a rather radical yet simple idea: Why not pray as if Jesus were in the room?  Why not pray like the saints?  Encounter the gospel together, encounter the Creed together, encounter the Rosary and more.  Based on the readings of the liturgical cycles, they have been gaining in popularity across the country.  No doubt the Spirit is behind it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some 500 years ago, when Martin Luther shook up the Church, and when the printing press made its inaugural run of printing the Bible in German, and in the vernacular, the Word of God exploded all across Europe.  Today, we are sitting on another powder keg, ready to explode.  How we communicate via websites and blogs and tweets and social media is exploding onto new frontiers and the Word of God will follow if we become people, who listen, engage and encourage all we meet to be healed and to consider a God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, full of loving kindness, faithful and just.  Praise God! 
 
 

Blog 9/29/2013

The beauty of the trees…..

 
This is the season in New England when nature shines.  People from all over the world come to see our trees!  So, what is so interesting about our trees?  For one, we have a lot of them.  Years ago, when Bill and I were engaged and he was still in dental school in Chicago, a few of his classmates from California were in the Navy Reserves.  So, for a few weeks during the summer, they had to come out to the East Coast to Newport, Rhode Island and do their duty.  Before they came out, they had the idea that from Boston to Washington, D. C., it was one long housing development.  When they ran into stretches of miles along the Pike with no houses at all and when they saw all the beauty of nature that New England had to offer, all they could say when they returned was “We couldn’t believe all the trees, we couldn’t believe all the trees!”  
 
Autumn-Wallpaper.resized
 
If you have grown up in the Midwest with miles and miles of flat land with corn fields or if you have grown up in the southwest with desert and mountains or in southern California with its beaches and perennial green and brown, you are usually shocked to see the number of trees here.  I was one of them, too, initially, since I grew up in the Midwest.  When we were first married, I kept telling my father-in-law that the trees were so gorgeous; we should never cut them down.  He looked at me like I was missing a few screws and told me “The trees are the enemy…don’t you get it?”  I didn’t understand the “enemy” piece until years later, when I began to understand how invasive some types of trees came be.  (God bless goats, who can clear an acre in less than a month if need be!).  So, we have a lot of trees in New England, but in September and October, they are also God’s easel.  The colors of the changing leaves are nothing short of spectacular and if we are fortunate enough to live here, every year we are amazed at the glory of God’s artistry.  My birthday falls in October and until she passed away a few years ago, my Mom and I shared the same birthday.  Every year I thanked God for such a gorgeous birthday panorama for both of us.
 
golden maples
 
The trees change every autumn from green to breath-taking shades or orange and red and gold and yellow and even brown, and we have plenty of evergreens to keep the green background alive as the others change.  Daniel Levinson, in his text, Seasons of a Man’s Life, characterized human growth and development according to the four seasons, speculating that each was about 20 years apiece: childhood and adolescence, early adulthood, middle adulthood and late adulthood, and that images tied the seasons together.  Bill and I are in middle adulthood , I guess, and Bill’s Dad, who lives right next door to us in late adulthood.  We continue to learn from him.  The other day, the three of us were sitting in our backyard analyzing images through the huge oak tree that was beginning to turn colors.  Actually, it is two trees that years ago got their roots tangled up with each other, sort of like a marriage.  Bill insisted that one branch in the middle was gold and the whole tree was turning gold.  I thought the whole tree was turning red with just a glimmer of gold here and there.  As you can see, it is both, and the image is in the eye of the beholder.
 
autumn tree.resized
 
That lead to a discussion with my father-in-law, who in years past had worked on the railroad, about how important color was and how railroad conductors were regularly tested for color-sight or color-blindedness.  He told us how one of the bosses would come out with a basket of various balls of colored yarn, and they would be required to “pick out three oranges,” or “pick out three reds,” etc. to make sure they could tell the difference.  In those days when trains operated according to colored flags, a lot depended on reading the right color of those flags.  The same boss would also ask for their “watch cards” which were proof that their watches had been tested within the last few weeks to make sure they were accurate, again for the same reason.  If you switched a string of cars to the wrong track or at the wrong time, it could have disastrous consequences.  We use images all the time, no matter what season we are in.
 
green maples.400
It is usually easy in the Northeast to determine what season we are in: just look outside.  Do you see snow on the ground and ice on the window panes, or are there lilacs and daffodils outside your door?  Are folks out and about in shorts and tank tops with bicycles and boats hitched up to passing cars or are there falling leaves all over your lawn and a splash of color everywhere you look?  Those same images often translate into our homes.  Are the windows open with fresh cleaned curtains and tulips on the table, or are the red, white and blue cupcakes sitting next to coolers of beer and soda?  Does the kitchen boast of recent apple-picking trips and pumpkins on the counter, or are the stockings being hung with Christmas greenery on our fireplace mantles?  I think those same seasons also translate into our spiritual lives.  Certainly, there was a spring for many of us when we first learned about our awesome God and our summer years were often busy with learning more about our faith and how to better reflect and pray.  At the beginning of our autumn years, more unprogrammed time may afford us more time for prayer, and the hints of wisdom may even appear, especially if we have paid attention to God through lots of life experiences along the way.  By the time winter arrives, if we have been paying attention, we may be caught up in the reality of God as love and may allow that love to capture us and hold us for as long as God wishes.  In our economic world when many of us are working longer and living longer, the seasons may run into each other, but no matter where we are, God is there with us all along.  So, this autumn, as we weave yet another multicolored pattern of leaves into our lives, why not step back and reflect on our seasons.  Where are we and where have we allowed God the opportunity to get a word in edgewise?   Maybe we can start by setting aside some regular time to simply sit with Jesus.  A friend of mine sent me this story about one woman’s way of making time for God.  I think it is worth repeating. 
 
 
MOM'S EMPTY CHAIR
 
A woman's daughter had asked the local minister 
to come and pray with her mother. 
When the minister arrived, 
he found the woman lying in bed with her head 
propped up on two pillows. 
 
  An empty chair sat beside her bed. 
The minister assumed that the woman 
had been informed of his visit... 
'I guess you were expecting me, he said. 
 
'No, who are you?' said the mother. 
The minister told her his name and then remarked, 
'I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew 
I was going to show up..' 
 
'Oh yeah, the chair,' said the bedridden woman 
'Would you mind closing the door?' 
Puzzled, the minister shut the door. 
'I have never told anyone this, 
not even my daughter,' said the woman. 
 
  'But all of my life I have never 
known how to pray. 
At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, 
but it went right over my head...' 
 
I abandoned any attempt at prayer,' 
the old woman continued, ' 
until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, 
' Prayer is just a simple matter 
of having a conversation with Jesus. 
Here is what I suggest.. 
'Sit down in a chair;
place an empty chair in front of you, 
and in faith see Jesus on the chair. 
 
It's not spooky because he promised, 
'I will be with you always'.. 
'Then just speak to him in the same way 
you're doing with me right now...' 
 
'So, I tried it and I've liked it so much
that I do it a couple of hours every day. 
I'm careful though.If my daughter saw me talking 
to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown 
or send me off to the funny farm.' 
 
The minister was deeply moved by the story and 
encouraged the old woman to continue on the journey. 
Then he prayed with her, anointed her with oil, 
and returned to the church. 
 
Two nights later the daughter called 
to tell the minister that her mama 
had died that afternoon. 
Did she die in peace?' he asked. 
 
Yes, when I left the house about two o'clock, 
she called me over to her bedside, 
told me she loved me and kissed me on the cheek. 
When I got back from the store an hour later, 
I found her . 
 
But there was something strange about her death. 
Apparently, just before Mom died, 
she leaned over and rested her head on the chair 
beside the bed. What do you make of that?' 
 
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, 
'I wish we could all go like that.
 
two autumn chairs.resized
 
May we each find an empty chair this autumn!
 

 

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