For One Who Is Unable to Leave the House

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For One Who Is Unable to Leave the House

When the world has folded in
and left you stranded in your own home,
may you remember that you are not alone.
While you are not living as freely as you once did,
may you remember that you are held
in the earnest circles of prayer, 
by someone who may not know you,
and yet loves you, dear Child of God.
May you be free of the harsh filter
that would narrow your vision into pain and criticism
so that you see in your past a trail of fruit and wonder,
God’s goodness as it has unfolded throughout your life.
Even now, as you live with loss, may the angels
soften your sitting, your resting, your dreaming
and open for you the flowers of beautiful thought,
reminding you that you have gifts yet to give—
kindness, love, and the enduring leaning toward God.
 

 

This poem is dedicated to those whom I know and love who are no longer able to leave their house freely and are living within the space of their home. It’s also my prayer for everyone I don’t know who suffers the loneliness and isolation of having an illness or injury that keeps them from participating in the life they once had. May you be blessed.

~Cheryl

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Swan Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash.

Mother and Child Photo by Cheryl Racanelli. San Alfonso Retreat House.

 

 

 

 

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Prayer for Those in Darkness

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Prayer for Those in Darkness or Despair

O Beautiful Mother upon a Cloud
with your mantle of sky,
adorned with pearls of light,

Lift me from despair and darkness
into the brilliance of your gaze.
Keep me lifted
in mind, body, and spirit,
supported by angels
guided by stars,
that I may move fully
into your presence
and receive the gifts I need.

With deepest devotion,
I thank you for every
miracle granted.

**********************

Recently I visited the historic Saint Lucy’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. Built in 1925 by Italian immigrants, the church has all the beauty and splendor of a cathedral. Marble columns, murals painted by Gonippo Raggi, statues of all sizes and types, and marvelous stained glass windows that tell the stories of faith, sorrow, and triumph.

I was particularly taken with two very different statues of Our Lady of the Cloud. One statue rendered Mary in a beautiful sparkling mantle. The other was surrounded by lights. Although I’d never heard of this name for the Blessed Mother, I felt called to pray to this beautiful woman of light and hope. After a quick search, I learned that Our Lady of the Cloud refers to the appearance of the Blessed Mother to a small village in Ecuador in 1696. She appeared on a cloud in the sky above the village.

I also found a standard Catholic prayer to Our Lady of the Cloud, but it didn’t fit. I tried for a week or two to write something broad and beautiful, devotional and deep. In the end, I went off the track and wrote something spontaneous, simple and real.

Although the prayer is written in first person, when I say this prayer, I’m also praying for all persons in despair or darkness.

Any time I’m feeling overwhelmed, even by ordinary circumstances, this prayer is a reminder for me to look up, be held, and say thank you.

Wishing you beauty and bounty this Thanksgiving.

With love,
Cheryl

 

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St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ

 

Monday Morning Mary: Thank You for Noticing

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Monday Morning Mary: Thank You for Noticing

Thank you for noticing
the ordinary day,
how the sun was shining
and everything
flowed
like the little brook
you stopped to watch

how your sweet dog,
old as she is,
almost wanted to walk
up the hill
and then trotted like a pony
back down

how you made plans
for the day
and some of them worked out

how you reclined in the sun
and read a novel instead

how a dinner of spinach
and potatoes tastes
like a celebration
when made by someone
who loves you

and how your heart turned
toward the one you love
as the evening grew bright
with the crescendo of crickets
heralding change
still masked
in these last green
days of August

 

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove - 2

Monday Morning Mary: Remain in Love

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove - 2

In These Times

You have turned to me
in disbelief, shaken
as the earth cracks
like bone
under the plan and force
of stricken minds.

How, you ask,
can this continue to happen?
How, you wonder,
can your tiny prayer matter?

I tell you now
that it does.
That all the tiny prayers
of the world
add up
like the grains of sand
that line the oceans.

Imagine yourself
on the shore of Holy Presence.
Release the answers
you have disguised as prayer.
Receive the messages of love
that arrive on soft waves.

Do not neglect such imagining.
It is prayer.

Walk now, back into your
day which is no longer ordinary,
and be a sanctuary.
Serve love.
Welcome love.
Remain in love.

 

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove

Photos taken by my sister, Christine. If you zoom in on the first one, you can see rain streaming like tears down Mother Mary’s face.

Monday Morning Mary: I Cannot Believe in That God Any More

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I Cannot Believe in That God Any More

that giant man with a biblical beard
looming in the sky
unhappy with my mistakes
sending me bad stuff.

The God I love
is a beach blanket
wild with orange and hot pink patterns
sheer enough for light and air
to drift through,
the kind of blanket
that catches in the sunny beach breeze,
flapping and bubbling,
the blanket I can’t wait to
smooth across the hot sand
and plunk my goofy bones down on
so that I can partake in the full menu
of blissful beach therapies:
sand, salt air, surf, sun, sleep.

On ordinary days, like today,
when God is not a beach blanket,
she picks up her knitting
and settles down next to me on the couch
so I can take a nap without worrying.
As I lose myself in the reverie
of the God/beach-blanket metaphor
and all its possibilities,
she loops her long hair behind her ear,
leans over, all pleased and all,
and kisses my forehead,
right on the third eye.
 

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Monday Morning Mary: Heart Surgery

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Heart Surgery

When she whispered
I am speaking through your heart
I knew she meant not to me.
She who is larger than the stars
gave promise to shrink into my heart,
become a mystery to solve a mystery.

Comes the day, I pray hello
as I open the door to my heart
and fall asleep.
The doctor enters with his lovely light
looking for places that need more light.
She who relaxes with the angels welcomes him,
answers his questions
until my heart is lit and love
radiates cleanly in every direction.

I awaken to a heart in me
that is neither muscle nor drum,
but glowing space, a vessel
of soft light to guide my way,
a mystery to solve a mystery.

 

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Mother Mary with the morning sun above and a small green orb of light below, a blessing.

Monday Morning Mary: Mercy

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Mercy

Mercy comes to me as a blanket
the color of pearls
and ferns
soft
with enough stretch
to cover the awkward angles of
misguided thought

delivered with uncanny timing
not mine
by four angels
who let the blanket
drift down like snow
upon my naked head

their opal wings
say something
I can almost hear

under this mercy
which I do not deserve,
because that is the point
of mercy,
I wonder, what have I learned,
and how am I to share
the pearls
 

 

Mary - Mariandale

Sunset on the Hudson River.

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Photos in this post were taken on the grounds of Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center, New York.

12 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 11, Healing

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12 Things I Am Grateful For This Year
Day 11:  Healing

May you be healed.
May your body find balance.
May your energy return.
May whatever you carry that is not truly yours dissolve.
May health blossom in all the cleared spaces.
May you be peaceful and patient
while Divine Medicine and all its tributaries
rise and flush,
clear and nourish,
restore and heal
every system, cell, and space,
physical and infinite.
May your path today be light.

~~~

Mary at Capuchin

Our Lady of Grace, with an orb of light in the lower right,
as if it is a blessing that has just fallen from her hand

Blessing for Lilliana

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Blessing for Lilliana on Her Baptism

May you be blessed on this day
with a key to your inner sanctuary,
that place inside you where God always is.

May you come to know prayer
in its full voice:
as a way of living, a way of serving,
a way of being still.

May this rosary invite you to remember
this day when all those who love you
gathered to celebrate your coming
into this world to bless each of their lives
in a unique way.

May this rosary remind you of all the blessings
those people are wishing you today,
the blessings of a life filled with color and beauty,
wonder, compassion, strength, gentleness,
well-being, and courage.

May your light shine, dear Lilliana,
outward from your heart
in every direction.

Mary Garden