Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Need is You

My Need is You

When others darken my path,
My need is You;
When I am chastised for
Who I am,
My need is You; 
When I am lost,
My need is You;
When I am shamed,
My need is You;
When I ponder Your Name,
My need is You;
When others explode,
You are My Calm;
When I can't bear my load,
You are my support;
When I feel damaged,
You are My Healer;
When humans fail me,
I know you are Divine;
When I lack purpose,
My home is Thine;
When I rise, You are My Light;
When I need rest, You provide the night;
When I'm alone
I need You Still;
Fill me with Grace
For every hill;
Humans my shelter
Can never be,
As I sit...just at Your feet;
When I am depressed,
When I am blue,
It is then I know
I need You.

December 19, 2013
Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Taking Christmas as It Comes

You have to take your Christmas
As it comes--even if you've had losses;
In lettting go you can embrace
Your friends; Your Angels
Your family;Your tree;
For the New Year
Comes in Time
for Healing
And Wisdom
the gifts

Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming - Renée Fleming and the Mormon Tabernacle C.../ Living Candles

Christmas isn't the frenzy
Or the rush of shopping carts;
Christmas is You
And the gift
We each impart:
Christmas is Living Candles
Glowing in the Dark.

©Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prayer of the Clothes Horse

Lord, may my garments
of the day
Be all Your gifts
in full array:

acceptance, joy
patience, trust,
service and sane sacrifice.

May my gown of compassion
and my cape of caring
be garments
of the Love I am wearing.

Clothe me.


©1995 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Linda: When The Angels Say Hush!

In 1993 a beloved friend called and asked if I would help her write her Christmas letter. Her name is Linda. She said: All my letters sound the same; but if you could write it: all would be better.

I said of course and wrote down the happenings in her family for the past year: her life as an impeccable teacher, as wife to her husband Mike, and news on her dear daughter, Tasha.  

When my son gave me a surprise 60th birthday party, she and sister Bev, my teaching partner, were there, too, as I slithered down the wall of the Hotel Sofitel in my stunned awakening.

But not too long after the incredible party, Linda's voice disappeared on a phone call with her father. She was rushed to the local hospital and then air-lifted to Hennepin County Medical Center. We nearly lost Linda. Physicians discovered an aneurysm which had branches where no branches should be. An aneurysm is nothing you want, but something that happens. Many don't survive--and immediately fly up (my description of death).

But Linda, who had spent half her life in one of the Catholic Churches in Shakopee, MN, (either St. Mark's or St. John's), her life, most joyously, was spared. But the surgery and subsequent surgeries, caused mini-strokes. She lost the ability to speak clearly and never returned to the classroom she loved to teach.

What is fascinating with the passage of time, is the small poem I wrote is nothing compared to her life. For Linda, has triumphed. And in David Richo's dear words: she's used her "givens as graces." 

Her life isn't easy, but she still radiates joy which I credit to what author Susan Shumsky calls the Divine Within--or the still small voice of God. But for Linda it isn't small; it's a much bigger voice which has ennobled her life. 

She speaks more clearly now, but it's still a bit of a challenge. And all the work she tirelessly did for others is more limited. But she still does all she can, helping clean her father's house and maintaining her own home. She volunteers in the school library. 

Linda has accepted what happened years ago. The matted frame that bears the quote speaks louder than the poem. Because Linda and her faith simply shine. Not in total perfection because this is still the planet Earth, but as luminous as her private and public faith. 

So this blog post is dedicated to a woman and her sisters, and surviving brother who continue to embrace family and shine on past hard times. I love them all.

And all the gold you see above--is what Linda has done with her life along with husband Mike and daughter Tasha.

Linda would say: Embrace your road; it's your journey to God. 

When the Angels Say: Hush posted one year ago. (Easier to read.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratitude in the Face of Grace

Thank you message in the grotto at Our Lady of Guadelope Church
 in New Orleans.Added by parishioners  in gratitude
 for prayers or miracles granted.

Gratitude begins with awareness
And fuses with love;
Embellished by the gentle ticking
Of time and seasons;
By infinite acts of loyalty,
Steadfast dedication and kindness;
Constancy and love:
A devotion born
From the Heart of God;
Gratitude thus Gathers
In the Face of Grace.

©1995 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blessings of the Thanksgiving Season

Norman Rockwell 1943

May your mashed potatoes be smooth;
May your stuffing not turn to mush;
May you win the wishbone;
May there be no guilt to pass;
May all grievances be forgiven
(at least until the dishes have been put away);
May your stomach be glad and
May your memories be like a broth you savor for years.

                                          ©1995 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Monday, November 18, 2013

Orange Caps or No

Sears Orange Dakota Cap

Driving from Minneapolis to the North Shore gave me hints of what was to come. Two deer laid alongside the highway on the way: with blood on fur. Cars were parked alongside the highway, too, as I approached Grand Marais. They made me nervous.

Only shoot if you need the meat to eat, I said silently to the hunters. I should have added: Please don't hit me...which is what I was thinking. 

The winds were harsh. On my first morning there, a man and his wife or girl friend started to leave for the hunt. She looked like she was on her way to a wake which was true enough. 

I like how older men get late in life: they don't want to kill anymore. They'd rather watch the deer eat at a salt lick or dance across the yard. 

Most men in Grand Marais were dressed in camouflage outerwear except for the orange stocking cap. A few removed the hat indoors. My mother cheered in heaven for their etiquette.

Cascade Resort made me happy as they dressed their two deer figurines in their yard in brilliant orange attire: a message for the astute. 

Thich Nhat Hanh writes in his Five Mindfulness Training on Reverence for Life that we resolve to live by "the insight" of compassion and interbeing, protecting humans, animals, plants and minerals. 

A dear friend who is serving as a nun in the Franciscan order admits she finds St. Francis a bit loopy. That's okay with me. St. Francis was a Saint known for the stigmata (the wounds of the Christ); humility, and his affinity for birds and animals. 

As far as deer season, I go with St. Francis.

Legend of St. Francis
Sermon to the Birds

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Prayer of the Late Bloomer

Chrysanthemum: Dance

Lord of all Seasons,
In my youth I wished myself tulip
Then even daffodil
But I am really chrysanthemum,
Flowering in my autumn;

See my shoots, my leaves
All green!
I may not be exquisite, but
I am flowering at last, Lord,
For You!

Rooted in You
Absorbing my needs
My greening was due!

May I, Lord,
All autumnal floral
Grace thy table
And winter with thee?


©1994 Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Other Christs - Growing Up in Christ Consciousness

St. Richard's Catholic Church & Adjacent School
(Now called Holy Trinity)

In recent weeks I've been reading about Christ Consciousness. In reading I have been lifted, but I have also found in researching the term, memories of my early years of Catholic education coming to mind.

I can remember being in the church of St. Richard's in Richfield, MN (a Minneapolis suburb) and being taught that each of us, each of us, was "another Christ." 

This left a powerful imprint on my imprint that is still there. In the 1950's and early '60's, our school experience was profoundly religious. In those days, there was daily Mass, religion class, and later a St. Richard's Breviary prayer meditation which took place three times a day. In the monastic language prayers were termed the Divine Office. As children we said prayers in the morning: Terce; mid-day, Sext; and None, mid-afternoon.  

When I look at my prayer book now...the psalms and readings are so familiar that each is like visiting an old friend. Part of my soul and bones reawaken with each word and phrase. 

Being taught that all those students around me, and even some teachers I didn't like, well, we were all "Other Christs." It was a reverential teaching for a serious little girl who was God centered, I believe, even then. 

I carried these tenets with me to my first job in Birmingham, MI after a move there following 8th grade. It was in my first job in retail that I was put to the test.

I worked with a woman of another faith but also a personality not to be denied. I had to work hard on telling myself that Virginia was Another Christ. I looked for the good in her, and of course, I found it. 

When I left the job, Virginia had a gift for me, a small book on friendship: A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund, which had wide popularity at the time. Virginia wrote in it which meant a lot to me. 

Now I know or believe that Christ Consciousness can have other names. Whether Buddha Consciousness, the Over Soul, Higher Consciousness, Allah, Holy Spirit, Brahman, Collective Unconscious, or Great Spirit...we are all united under God.

What was old is new again or what was old was never old, but timelessly true, for all eternity.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Boy's Will is the Wind's Will

"A boy's will is the wind's will and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." Longfellow

The SS America

It's hard to go back 100 years if you haven't lived it. But if you have lived it--it's a snap! Phoebe Josephine Pecore Nelson returned home to her mother in Rhinelander, WI to have her third child. My father, Willard Charles, was born on November 11, 1914. He will turn 99 years of age on what was termed Armistice Day which marked the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiegne, France in 1918.

In a few short weeks, family will meet to honor Willard's birth and long life. The son of a fisherman (and small resort owner) who grew up on Lake Superior, he looks at that giant Superior now and on any given day tells me the direction of the wind off the lake.

Just a few days ago, my dad said: "It's a southwest wind today; I can see whitecaps on the water." 

This startled a visiting Twin Cities' neighbor several years ago--who found it hard to see the waves herself! She was stunned he could! My dad has always had exceptional eyes for distance.

In the "old days," if fisherman ignored the wind on Lake Superior, they did it at their own peril. It is still the case.

Dad was born in a time when Germany invaded neutral Belgium, Babe Ruth joined the Red Sox, and Joseph Kennedy married Rose Fitzgerald in Boston. 

In January of 1914 Ford Motor Company established the eight-hour workday with the minimum wage of $5 for a day's labor. Later that year, Henry Ford had sold 248,000 cars. 

At just two weeks of age, my father and grandmother made the journey from Duluth to Lutsen, Minnesota on the SS America. In the 90's Dad mentioned three ships he may have been on for that trip: The *SS America, the Steamer Winyah (ship logs exist from 1933-1935) and the Edna A. He has said since then the other freighters came later. 

Fearing the baby could contract pneumonia, little Willard was allowed into the captain's chambers where liquor was place on his lips to ward off the chance of infection. When they reached the beginnings of Lutsen Resort at the mouth of the Poplar River, my grandfather Carl rowed a skiff out to the America to pick up his wife and second son. 

To still have a father who picks up his phone and calls me is a joy and peace difficult to translate from the heart in which it resides. It's a profound gift. I honor our relationship. We are very close; and I am--very blessed.

*In the pre-dawn hours on June 7, 1928, the SS America struck a submerged shoal off the shore of Isle Royale and had to be abandoned. Everyone made it off the ship in time. The America still lies off Isle Royale in the frigid waters.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Letting Go! Letting Go!

Letting Go, Letting Go
Let the Breezes Blow You!

Each oak and maple tree
Teaches me,
Come along each October:
About spiritual branches
Stretched just so;
Shimmering sighs of
Orange and gold,
While the wind weaves
The trees' whispers:
"Darlings, I'm letting go!
Letting go!
Let the breezes blow you!"

©1997 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Giving Healer at Dusk to You

Salto del Angel-Canaima-Venezuela

Peace of the sleeping birds to you;
Wonder of the tumbling waterfalls;
Peace, peace of your grandmother's quilt across your lap;

Love of the first birth to you;
Laughter of the first steps at your feet;

Soaring of the splendid eagle to you;
Running of the laughing child in the sun;
Spirit of your father of the nest to you;

Prayers of the Healers to you!
Blessed herbs from the verdant meadow for you;
Rest from the hunt to you;
And the putting down of bows;

Blessings of the circle dance to you;
And the grace of benediction of the sun;

The knowing of your own strength to you;
And the gratitude of your elders;
Joys of your son to you; 
Peace of each daughter now your friend;
Gratitude for each grandchild eating
The grain you have gathered;

Respect...honor for your life to you &
Endless peace at thy holy rebirth--&
Thanksgiving for the blessed ground you leave.

©2013 Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Is Grace Unmerited--or Is it One With Who We Are?

Is Grace "unmerited" or is it one with who we are? Have the old definitions lost the beliefs, the knowing, in the soul itself? Could grace be more the open gate to God?

With God's Divinity within us, how is grace unmerited?

To me Grace is a floodgate opened by prayer. Prayer is a part of grace. Prayer is Grace. It's through prayer abundant Grace descends and synchronicity, wonderment begin.

Our lives are our Greek saga, the endless tale, with the choice ever before us: can we, as author David Richo writes in Five Things We Cannot Change, "use our givens as graces?"

Our suffering becomes alchemist, we heal from being "broken open," as Rashani Rea illustrates in her book Beyond Brokenness. Our journey thus flows to translucent grace.

Inherent in our transformation, we have accepted the dark, the light, the gray, the shadows, the losses, the triumphs as a gift given back to ourselves, and a prayer on our knees to God.

Then we have honored our own lives. As Henri Nouwen has written: Love in the open hands.With our givens as graces we are unadorned before God and at home with Divinity.

Grace is one with who we are.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvest Moons

A Harvest Moon

We are, we become a harvest moon reflecting God's Light. We never leave this Divine Light.

We may think we do, feel lost, or seemingly create our own spin.
But we are actually held fast.

Our light is Creator Light, our shine, brilliance, and luminosity reflects our evolution over time. We are going somewhere. We are beings of Light.

We are abashed at our irregularities, our rough surfaces. But we are a moon and moons aren't smooth, yet shimmer in the night.

What are we harvesting? We're gathering our greatness, our good works, our sacrifices, the joys, too, of our existence in life. We are whole, we are peace.

I see your light, and it is only yours...yours and God's in an endless
dance of reflection, a dance of honor in the night sky.

We are here to grow our harvest with the talents we possess. I see you. I see beauty. I see God's harvest in all of us. With renewed hope: let us shine.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Blond Son Reveals His Heart

A Tribute to My Grandson

Die Sohne des Kunstlers
by Christian Leberecht Vogel

A Blond Son Reveals His Heart
(And Where It Came From)

They sat at the table 
Only those two:
Mommy & son's sharing
A breakfast view;

Then Mommy asked
What are you doing, Child? 
He smiled sweetly & from his heart:
Mama, I'm making a gentle smile;

A gentle smile? - 
She giggled and grinned;
Where did it come from
This smile from within?

No surprise each Guardian Angel knows
Loving parents are the roots of 
Where each smile grows; hugs & lovies
Strawberries & oatmeal; 

Is but a part of parents
Who know how you feel;
God Bless Mamas who 
Comfort after each fall;

And Daddies who promise
You're going to grow TALL;
Thank you, Mama & Daddy, 
For loving ME--your own--
Little HAMMY!

Honoring my two year-old
Grandson named Andrew
(Nicknamed Hammy)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Slippery Slope of Seeking Approval

  1.              Lupines overlooking Raspberry Island in Alaska

    the action of officially agreeing to something or accepting something as
    satisfactory. "the road plans have been given approval"

    acceptance, agreement, consent, assent, permission, leave, sanction,
    endorsement, ratification, authorization, validation, support, backing,
    go-ahead, the green light, the nod, the rubber stamp, the OK, the say-so,
    the thumbs-up, "their proposals went to the board for approval."

    Native American writer and spiritual shaman, Lynn Andrews, has published many luminary works. One of them offers a different offering, Andrew's Power Deck the Cards of Wisdom. The cards present Native American wisdom for balance and centering.

    Recently I happened to pull out her power deck and book cards, shuffled them. My mindset is generally: What wisdom can I learn?

    I was quite stunned--as it is often the case, energy can be magical at times. This was one of those times.

    On one of her Power cards, she wrote: when the master climbs a summit,
    he doesn't seek approval from the heavens as approval implies doubt.

    I find those words vastly powerful because some of us can be swept along, against our own autonomy, on a ride of approval. Then we have already lost ground. We have lost our sense of equality as we inwardly ask: what do you think? Do I have your support with the implication the other's opinion is vastly superior to one's own. 

    Approval is a jail in a very small town. The only view that can be seen--are those whose opinions one wants to please. The keys are an increase in self esteem, an honoring of oneself, and the letting go of everyone else.

    Seeking approval takes you out of your own integrity and knowing: the latter being too precious to abandon in a search for validation. 

    Spiritual Warriors: Thumbs up--on yourself.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Morning Song of the Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark - Wikipedia

Or As I Walk my Tightrope Higher

May my notes for Thee
Hold the purity
Of a morning song:
Calls from my humble being,
An authentic self,
With You along;

May I take all slights
And transform them

Sure they were not meant
To diminish Thee or
Whittle me---

May peace be my constant song
Within a day
Of twenty-four hours
Gifted back
With You along;

Then at the last
Hold me to Thy breast
Secure, Everlasting, Ever Fast.

A healing prayer for all Faiths
August 28, 2013

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Friday, August 9, 2013

Taught by Nature

Four Loons Webb Lake, Weld, Maine

Taught by Nature

Kissed by the Divine Ones are they
Who need not be taught
That a mother is rich when
She carries a child,
As the loon and babe who
Both rides and glides on her back;
Sacred even before its first cry
Or sound; cherished thereafter;
Never judged by its hue--or backdrop,
Like all the birds which gather
In the spring under a soft sunrise
That nearly makes you weep;
Or the vast night sky in the country
When you have left all the lights behind;
Of the moon whether slivered or whole;
Character has every color,
Eyes that gaze a soul,
Integrity--many feet;
So I, merely one, shall not judge thee
Until many moons after--
We meet.

© 1997 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In this Moment Who Is Hurting?

St. Vincent de Paul 

For the Vulnerable I See

If Christ or Buddha
Us today
Each may say:
See the vulnerable
The old 
The sick--
The ones
Whose minds
Can't make the pieces fit;

Lift the downcast
Whether rich or poor
Stand with the abused;
Support a healing door
Notice the neglected
And confused
Those on the street
With no shoes;

We know not
Where our next
Steps will take us
We each could
Be the one
Who stumbles or breaketh
So hoping
Notice might see
The vulnerable
Just like you
Just like me.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
August 8, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Timeless and True, the Heart of You

Crateva religiosa

Timeless and True, the Heart of You

Dear One,
Love is waiting for you;
And it is here now;
It's your storehouse!
All the love you give
All timeless and true;
Your indomitable Spirit:
The God in You--
Will never fade
Nor diminish
Never over or finished;
There are a million messages
Shapeshifted to you - 
Music (you're tied to)
That flows mysteriously from prayer;
Birds that linger longer than most dare;
Love messages--everywhere;
Faith is the sun that 
Never sets
Rest your heart within it;
And know God 
and the Angels
send you both
grace--and protection
with every lesson;

When you're weary,
Giving up--
 Both life & eternity are
 just beginning
in this moment
You're the Splendor,
The Splendor--
Endless innings!

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg

July 28, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ode to Saint Joseph

The Holy Family
by Raphael

Prayer to Saint Joseph

  Dear Familial Father of the Christ,
So many are hurting:
without jobs
without work
without green cards
without hope;

We need 
your staff of protection,
the comfort of a shoulder,
the belief
we will be heard!

Please protect the lost
the homeless
the poor &

I believe
if we humble 
quantum physics
and prayer will meld--
Unite us then with your Son,
O Earthly Father of the Christ Child,
Save us All!

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
July 26, 2013

The Saints are there for us; 
St. Joseph is a great protector,
and one of my "Heavy Hitter Saints."
This prayer is for all who need it
from every land.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Song of the Gardener

Helianthus Flower
Bannerghatta, Bangalore
by L. Shyamal

Song of the Gardener

I am your humble gardener;
Lord, you are the Greenhouse! My Divine Thumb!

I am fern with fronds misted with occasional tears
meant for my growth;

And then, Lord, a weed who has survived a drought
and doubled in size!

I am a flowering plant taking rests in order
to bloom again!

And, Lord, when I do, my open petals are, yes,
exquisite rich velvet, growing deep, yet delicate;

Admired by all, Lord! Take me, in my blooming
and resting; in my tears, and in my testing,
in my growth, and my surviving...I am Yours.

©1995 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Soul of Me

Doux Reves
Sweet Dreams
By Firmin Baes

The Soul of Me

Oh, Mother,
The soul of me!
The first angel on Earth
I see;
In my home,
Thy beloved womb
You've given
All nurture & love full-bloom;
Gratitude springs
From my Spirit heart;
I picked you, Darling, from the start;
We are held by God,
The very heavens;
So we grow together:
Midst Angel feathers;
Thus I’m blowing kisses
Even before I’m born
I’m yours forever,
And ever more.

©2013 Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Taking Shape: Skies over Blue Spruce

NASA image V380 Orionis within
Reflection Nebula NGC 1999

He said who are you today?
And she answered:
I am Tevye!
I am Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof--
who has lost a sister
and rails at God
for taking her
and causing her 
to suffer;
So let me rant, 
I say!
What do you take me for,
a fool?
 I am not a fool;
I see all the suffering
as if my eyes were Yours;

but after my 
stream of words I kneel
by a blue spruce

like the ones 
in her yard 
overlooking the lake, 
You see,
Both she and the trees
grew together,
but now there's 
just the trees

And she is a star--
and my rant
turned to tears
and my breath 
breathed in
the awe
in the night.