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.