Prayer for Those in Darkness


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,



St. Lucy’s Church, Newark, NJ



Prayer for Getting in the Clear


A Prayer for Getting in the Clear

When you dwell in the dark quadrant of despair
and the book of your life
has become some jumbled hieroglyphics
on a gray, windowless wall,
I stand for you.

I stand on the Green Lawn of a Better Day.
Barefoot, in tadasana, I stand for you
like a mountain, grounded deeply in the earth
and I breathe into my core your garbled chapter.
A violent wind
circles my head like a black wreath.
I remember my own tempest,
how unsure I was of my ability to endure,
how lost I was when my map of Right and Fair
burnt up.

I stand for you at the Crossroads of Change,
my feet firm, the howling wind of shared pain
crossing my head in every direction.
My hands lock over my heart.
Inside a prayer grows wings
and takes flight,
hooks the maelstrom by the tail and trails away
until you and I are both once again
in the clear.

Golgotha -2  by ALFRED HRDLICKA
Both photos:
Installed at Storm King Arts Center, New York

As I wandered the Storm King grounds, I was drawn to this somewhat remote figure in the woods. It had a presence that I couldn’t name. I didn’t identify the title or artist until after I’d left the park. Golgotha was the site of the crucifixion of Jesus. As I studied the photos I’d taken, layers of meaning revealed themselves slowly in my mind. The splash of sunlight at the heart of this figure solidifies my sense of belonging in front of that sculpture at that exact moment.

Monday Morning Mary: Lapse



The saints become silent
and the angels freeze.
Alone before dawn
I feel nothing or no one divine.
Only my broken friend, fear,
lingers like an old dog.
At times like this
whom else can I count on?

In the darkness, I am a sieve,
holding neither courage nor love.
I wrap myself in a cocoon of blankets
trying to pool what is left.

If only I could remember daybreak
and how the holy ones assemble about me,
a fluid, traveling wreath,
gently coaxing this wisp out of hiding.



Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother

Only By the Grace


Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother

Dear Mother Mary,
I am desperate, and willing
to beg and plead and negotiate
with promises I probably won’t be able to keep.

I would love to write a poem “Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother”
about the miraculous healing-event-extrication.

I guess what I’m saying is, I won’t write it
unless you give me the miracle I’m asking for.

That sounds quite terrible of me, doesn’t it.
Very childish. Well, so be it. I am your child,
and I’m worn out by years of disappointment,
of hope and dashed hope.
I don’t know how many more knockdowns I can take.
Maybe this is the last one.
Or maybe there are hundreds more.

It’s not like I’m living the high life.
Most days, I dwell in the small village
of my home and my imagination
with a small and humble footprint, if any at all.
In setbacks like this one, I feel that footprint

I can see I’m getting nowhere with you.

What’s this? A falling leaf?
You want me to follow this leaf to the ground?
To be surprised when it lands at my very feet?
To make a leaf rubbing with the pencil and paper
I just happen to have?

OK, I’ll make the leaf rubbing.

There. I made it.

Looks like that’s the miracle.

And that this is the poem I wanted to write,
Only by the Grace of the Holy Mother.

Better to write this poem
from a beaten down place
than from one of exhilaration.
Better to write from a place of want
than a place of luxury.
Better to write from despair than glee.

What could be more of a miracle
than to say with surrender and peace
that the Holy Mother sent me a leaf
and it changed my day?