The Journey and the Dream still continues…

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Twenty years ago, I made the first journey to Assisi on my own. I was young, healthy and carefree imitating the life of St. Francis, poor in spirit. Alone I was, I met a lot of strangers along the road. … Continue reading

Finding Advent at the Inn

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Yesterday’s destination at the Quay is to attend a conference at the Inn. It’s a conference that most people would shy away from attending since the main focus is people with (dis)abilities. People with vision impairment and hard of hearing, with walking … Continue reading

The land that glows

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It is the land that glows and expands. There are so many possibilities what one can do here. It is one of the most beautiful lands I’ve ever seen. Cuba meaning “Land”. In its simplicity, this is a place that … Continue reading

Finding Time

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Joining a guided walking and sightseeing holiday in Cuba with Walker’s World is not actually a pilgrimage. However, I made sure that I consider it as one for I always consider myself a pilgrim on this earth. Visiting Churches is … Continue reading

The happiest table at home

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It is a gradual change of transition as we waited patiently with anticipation when the happiest table in our house is redecorated. The decoration then was pumpkin, Chinese lantern flowers and golden maple leaves on Thanksgiving Day. Now the table … Continue reading

Pick One

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“Knowing that my emotions are only partially in my control, I reflect on what emotions I want to have If I could choose only one, what would it be: joy? peace? loving-kindness? courage? gratitude? I pick one of these imagine … Continue reading

Sense of Wonder

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Do you know that we are just like cats that get scared easily, fearful? So be careful. All we need is love. Yesterday, I attended a conference in renewing my sense of wonder by bringing together theological, psychological and spiritual awareness … Continue reading

It’s still raining. So intoxicating!

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I don’t  which one is more intoxicating. To take a close up photo of an African Queen Basil whose sweet aroma fills my nose or the smell of a wetness that permeates the earth to quench our thirst. “What would spirituality … Continue reading

Quote me and make me famous!

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What is it that we enjoy quoting other people but afraid when we are quoted? If you want to quote me, by all means: “Frankly speaking my dear, I don’t give a damn” to quote Rhett of Gone With The Wind. … Continue reading

Forgiveness has no limitation

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“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. Forgiveness is not so easy. It’s easier said than done. But once it’s done, forgiveness is transforming. Citing the forgiveness statement of the victims … Continue reading

Going Home – Thoughts of In between

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My thoughts are collections of other people’s ideas. There is no need for me to rewrite the story. They are good as they are. The following writings are thoughts from ordinary people who do extraordinary work that help shape my … Continue reading

The sweet refrain, “Oh take me to church”

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Take me to church sang by Sinead O’Connor has a very catchy tune especially the first three lines of the refrain.

 […]
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, take me to church
[…]

It’s not so much that I have done so many bad things; it’s the bad things that people did to the world that hurts. It has nothing to do with the church either just life in general. You know, the existential angst that is part of living.

When I am hurting mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually, I take refuge in a church. Even if it’s not a catholic church, it does not matter to me. Even if it’s a temple, I will still go in, sit in the quiet, calm myself down and talk to my invisible God.

In a church, temple, mosque, forest; they are more than an oasis. It’s a place for me to connect and replenish my spiritual needs.

Here’s the song. It’s just a song with a catchy beat. But if you want something deeper, I found the song at Friar Musings and there he wrote more about Sinead.

Enjoy.

when we are hurting it’s difficult (and) to understand where God is. I know that God is using her to educate not just the Catholic but as well as the whole world.

Take Care, Be Careful, Heal, Look after and Watch out

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“Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most … Continue reading

No need to pretend

holy fool

When you are a “holy fool” you’ve stopped trying to look like something more than you really are. That’s when you know, as you eventually have to know, that we are all naked underneath our clothes, and we don’t need to pretend to be better than we are.

I am who I am, who I am, who I am; and that creation, for some unbelievable reason, is who God loves, precisely in its uniqueness.

My true identity and my deepest freedom comes from God’s infinite love for me, not from what people think of me or say about me. Both the people who praise me and those who hate me are usually doing it for the wrong reasons.

Adapted from Franciscan Mysticism (an unpublished talk) Richard Rohr

Gateway to Silence:
I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less.

Seeking a life of meaning and service

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~  St Francis of Assisi

It was one of the dark moments of my life when I decided to follow the Footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. The very first pilgrimage I did, alone. Of course, it took planning and reaching out to strangers. Sending out e-mails mostly to the Franciscans and Sisters in Rome.  They are very helpful.

Hello, my name is Maria Siglos. I am writing to seek your help if you could provide me with contact e-mail in Assisi, Italy for any retreat centres or catholic homes who would like to accommodate me during my visit in September. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Waiting and patience is very important when embarking on a pilgrimage. They say everything is in God’s time. These qualities did not exist in me at the time. For one, I want to run away, throw in the towel and enough of the so-called career and professional life. I quit my job of 14 years.

But I have no choice but to wait and see. I prayed to all the Gods: Shiva, Ganesha, Buddha, St. Francis, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Finally, I received a response.

Hello

Fr. Gregory forwarded your letter but I am just back from vacation and tomorrow I am on my way to Assisi… if you are online now, please answer immediately and I might be able to help you by getting the info tomorrow. I would appreciate knowing what you are looking for… there are guesthouses and there are probably retreat houses.

How long do you plan to be in Assisi? Are you looking for private time? For a directed retreat? Are you looking for 4 star? Are you looking for modest places = shared bathrooms? Retreat places are likely to be basic. Do you have an idea of your dates? Please furnish any other info you might think is helpful.

Oh?  Too many questions! I thought it’s just as simple as booking a hotel and I am on my own. St. Francis didn’t have to answer to these questions. All he did was divest himself in front of the church and left Assisi. What I need is private room with spiritual direction.

Being not in the right frame of mind, I really do not know what to do. I simple replied whatever that they can provide, I will be grateful.

Year 2000 was Jubilee Year in Rome, I found out.  A very special year when one of the sealed doors of Vatican Church will open and will shut again for another 25 years. Imagine Rome and Assisi are buzzing with pilgrims and tourist alike. Good luck finding a place to rest.

Dear Maria,

It has taken a while but I have now obtained the necessary information. One of the friars in Assisi did a bit of telephoning and searching. I need to say that in Assisi they are very full as far as accommodations are concerned. I believe this myself because some friars here in Rome have been looking for places for friends coming to Rome and they are pulling out their hair… everything seems to be packed here in Rome and by extension in Assisi.

Maybe prayer is not the answer. Maybe I will challenge God. Maybe I will give St. Francis of Assisi a threat. NOW HERE THIS! I said in my mind. Instead I said, whatever St. Francis. If you want me to come, I will come.

Surrender. When I completely surrender myself to God, it works. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Dear Maria,

I have found a single room in a guesthouse run by the friars at Porziuncola. There are two guesthouses. This is the simpler of the two, prepared to make things within the reach of simple, working class pilgrims.

The dilemma of travel arrangement is over and a new fear surfaced. I have no job to come home to. Back to prayer again begging St. Francis to help me find a job. Not a career but a job that is a means to an end to continue being of service to humanity while I live on earth.

A week before I departed for Assisi, I received a job offer, an answer to my prayer. The people who hired me were willing to wait for my return even though they needed a person immediately. Another sigh of relief.

With everything in placed I went with peace of mind, walked the plains of Porziuncola, climbed the mountain to reach his hermitage and scrambled my way up to the hills of Assisi to visit San Damiano where he heard the Cross spoke to him to build a church.

St. Francis of Assisi is real. A person who lived in life of luxury, partying and drinking. He joined the war, captured and imprisoned. During his imprisonment he was dangerously sick, body mind and soul.  After his release from imprisonment, in the forest he met a leper. Leper is the lowest of the lowest, the untouchables. But Francis touched, embraced and kissed him. From then on, a new Francis rose and started a new movement.

That was lifetime ago, another 14 years. Currently, I am still working for the same employer. A job that I like, love the people I work with and doing service in between.

The teaching of St. Francis touches and helps me. It’s plain, simple and ordinary; yet, it provides a great lesson and instruction for living.
St. Francis Peace Prayer

The Application of Senses

Trees

Trees

Leave your house and make your way to the park.
Pause.
Notice your impressions.

What senses are engaged: sight, scent, hearing?
Do you notice movement or stillness?

Walk on and take notice of everything around you.
What do you see, hear, feel, smell?

Try to experience something you usually wouldn’t spend much time or attention. Look at individual trees and note their differences. Touch the ground, listen to the people, birds, sounds of nature.

Think of God’s great love and vitality, shining through all the gifts He places around us:
A peaceful city and country, summer weather, green space to walk in.

Finish with a prayer before making your way back.

I See Your Lord

I am so blessed my Lord I can see you
In all the lovely things, so fine and true
I see You in the beauty of the flowers and the rain
I see You between the lines of a sweet refrain.

I am so blessed my Lord I can see you
Even when I’m lonely and in pain
I see You in the beauty of the stars at night
I see You in my life, I feel alright.

I see you Lord in sorrow and in happiness
I see You in the glory of sweet success
I see You Lord every hour, everyday
I can see you Lord whenever I pray

I am so blessed my Lord I can see you
In the smile of a baby sweet and true
I can see You in the eyes of my very best friends
I see you in these bonds just like Your love never ends.

Source: Prayer as openness

Life is but an instant

“My life is but an instant, an hour that passes by;
To love you, my dearest God, I only have today.”
Yourshotmeetup

Our Thanksgiving Prayer

I am grateful to be alive, Lord. I’m breathing.

Time passes quickly, and I forget that all life is gift from You Who are breathing me into life moment by moment. Help me to be present in the sacrament of each moment – to where You are with me right now.

I am grateful to you for every moment of life You give me.

Source: Little Flower

Writing to Save the Day

ReadingWriting can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become life saving for us and sometimes for others too.


– Henri J. M. Nouwen 

A for Ashram

Yashodhra Ashram set in the beautiful mountains of southeastern British Columbia, sounds so inviting to spend while I was in between times. It’s a place for all ages and backgrounds who want to further ones self-development.

Its main purpose is to stimulate open intellectual and spiritual enquiry, supporting the potential of transformation in each person.

I decided to sign up for a two-week stay in working Yoga and paid my way to do work in the ashram. The cost was minimal and I can join a course offered when I was off duty.

Working yoga was basically about mindfulness.  Doing the same thing over and over and paying attention to what I did.  For example: one of the duties was to sweep the floor.  I swept all day long until my mind got carried away from the swinging of the broom from left to right; right to left; back and forth, forth and back.  It was meditative.  Oh, cleaning the bathroom was an experience and a half. What came about was instead of cleaning the bathroom; I was cleaning my internal thoughts.  The weeding in the compound, peeling potatoes, burning trash, these can take me out of myself.  Pretty Zen or what?

Hatha Yoga was also offered.  The poses for Hatha Yoga took getting used to because it required meditation; active imagination for me. The contortion involved was not a problem for this body was younger then.  The favorite pose I did was the Archer where I imagined the arrow released boomerang and struck my heart.  The image came to mind was when a lance pierced Jesus Christ.

Whatever I learnt, I translated it to my Catholic upbringing.

At the end of the property by the cliff side, a Temple of Divine Light overlooks the Kootenay Lake.  The Temple is a place for those who want to find the Light in their own religion or practice such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islāmic, Judaism, Taoism and a lot more.  I learnt how to sing a Jewish song, Hindu song and danced the Lord’s Prayer.  They have service called sat sang which I was having a hard time grasping due to words used are not related to Gospel written in the Bible.

Across the lake is the famous Ainsworth Hot Springs and I could easily escape the ashram should I need to take a hot bath.  There are no bathtubs in the ashram since it’s not really a 5-star hotel.  There must be at least five of us in the “chalet” and my quarter is up in the attic that I froze my extremities. 

I lasted one week.  Why?  Here’s an interesting story.

One early morning, I saw a man by the main hall.  He was hippie looking, long dark hair and beard.  We waved at each other and thought he is a new comer.  I was on my way to the temple in search for this divine light. I met one of the workers that was frantically running and I asked him what the commotion was all about? “Intruder alert”, he shouted.  Oh dear, I followed him because I don’t want to meet a bogey man by myself.

The next thing I knew, they were escorting the hippie looking man out of the property.  When he was out of the property, I took the courage to speak to him.  He said he went to the dining area, asked if he could have something to eat and he has money to pay for the meal.  He was denied and asked to leave.  It was very upsetting for him because he thought that this is a Jesus place where he will be welcomed.  I felt sorry for him and beyond disbelief.  The man looked harmless to me; he is clean-looking and did not emit any odor.  With this nose, I can smell FOUL

Intuitively, I know I do not belong to this place.  I took that as a sign to say adieu.  Pack my stuff, went to the office to file my resignation letter and they may keep the balance as severance pay. Then I hitch hiked out of that galaxy.

Did I find the light?  I did.  The intruder showed me the way and the light.  Another temple, another time.

Forty Days and Forty Nights

I am preparing myself for Fat Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013.  After that, it will be 40 days and 40 nights of Lenten season in the Christian world. 
During this period, I will  focus on Pilgrim’s Progress; series of short stories of  my experience with a spiritual twist.  A period of cogitation, contemplation and vegetation; not necessarily in this order.  And of course, there will be humour.  For my God has a sense of humour.  He created me! 
Daily Prompt has to be sacrificed in order for me to pay attention to my spiritual needs. I am pressing the Pause Button.  Should these stories touch a few nerves or spark your divinity, the responsibility is yours on how to act on it. 
I will miss the daily fun and mostly I will miss the interaction with you as a community.  At any rate, there is a time for everything.  With the help of Patricia of day of grace, I feel peaceful about this decision.  This is a I calling, a prompting mentioned in my About page. 
This time is God’s time.  
With love and prayers, Perpetua aka seeker. 
 
One Minute Meditation:
The Master gave his teaching in parables and stories, which his disciples listened to with pleasure and occasional frustration, for they longed for something deeper. The Master was unmoved.  To all their objections he would say, “You have yet to understand, my dears, that the shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story.”  Another time he said, “Do not despise the story.  A lost gold coin is found by means of a penny candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.” – Anthony de Mello, SJ 
MORSEL: 
People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. – St. Augustine of Hippo