5 Things of Beauty for Today

Image by Rory Gunderson, for Wilder Quarterly

Image by Rory Gunderson, for Wilder Quarterly

There is a great need for beauty of late, especially with so much ugliness in our world. The balance is off kilter, the joy in life is blurred.  When darkness seems to overwhelm I seek  five things that delight. I thought you might enjoy what I’ve found today.



Image via Design Sponge.

Image via Design Sponge.

String Gardens: Are also known as kokedama, or moss balls. They are airy and lovely to look at. They are relatively easy to make, but require soaking in fertilized water twice a week. Here is a wonderful tutorial to make your own from Good Magazine blog.








These were found at Pearls of Joy web site.

Carved Pearls: I found these fresh water pearls carved with patterns of seeds delightful in the connection of earth of sea. It is believed in Tahitian culture that

…a carved pearl which is worn with respect or given and received with love, takes on part of the spirit of those who wear or handle it. In this way it becomes a spiritual link between people spanning time and distance.



Words from a Hermit:

Like a bee that secretly fashions its comb in the hive so also grace secretly forms in hearts its own love. It changes to sweetness what is bitter, what is rough into that which is smooth.  ~Pseudo-Macariusfile0001318067946




Velvet PetuniasPurple Velvet Petunias: A dear friend, Elizabeth, loves elegant well designed dresses and fanciful cloths. This purple velvet skirt of a petunia might delight her as well.






Neighborhood Helpers: And the most beautiful thing today? The two neighborhood boys, John-the-Tall and Gavin-the-Loud, insisting I needed help with my yard. And I do so they did!Neighborhood Helpers


Jesus, Crown of Holy Women; Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

Jesus and Mary MosaicChrist is the spouse and crowning glory of Sisters and Nuns. Let us praise him with joy in our voices and pray to him with sincerity in our hearts: Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Christ, the holy women loved you as their one true spouse, grant that nothing may separate Sisters and Nuns from your love. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

You crowned Mary, your mother, queen of virgins, through her intercession, let Sisters and Nuns continually serve you with pure hearts. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Your handmaids were always careful to love you with whole and undivided attention, that they might be holy in body and spirit, through their intercessions grant that the lure of this passing world may not distract Sisters and Nuns from you. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Lord Jesus, you are the spouse whose coming was anticipated by the wise virgins, grant that Sisters and Nuns may wait for you in hope and expectation. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Through the intercession of St. Jane Frances de Chantal,  grant Sisters and Nuns wisdom and perseverance in life. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.


Image from morguefile.com


Devouring Christ

lamb and cakeWhen preparing a meal I find it to be more than just about sustenance; it is a creative and prayerful time.

I am blessed to be living a life where good food can be bought—organic eggs and milk, fresh produce in abundance, and Amish chickens at the market (if I arrive early enough!). This hasn’t always been true in my life or yet so for many friends.

Taking the time to fix a simple meal and set the table for one, or making a kettle of soup to share, offers opportunities to pray. For the grace of food, and enough to share, with gratitude I give thanks to God.

With eagerness I approach making meals, especially this time of year when produce is abundant and often picked fresh from the garden. Consuming flavorful and healthy food daily is a delight. It doesn’t need to be a gourmet feast.

The other morning I read a piece in Magnificat by Fr. Robert Barron about consuming the Eucharist.

Given every opportunity therefore to soften his words, or to give them a metaphorical interpretation, Jesus in fact intensifies his language: Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. The Greek term translated by “eat” here is trogein, rather than phagein. The latter is the word customarily used to designate the way human beings eat; whereas the former is the word employed to signal the way animals eat, something along the lines of “gnaw” or “munch.” In short, he scandalously underscored the very realism to which his audience was objecting.”(Magnificat, August 2015, Vol. 17, No. 6, Page 244.)

Not being familiar with that discourse I went searching the Internet and found there to be a considerable amount of discussion about the terminology. None of which particularly moved me spiritually.

What struck me was the aggressive nature of consuming the Body and Blood of Christ.

With awe and some level of primal fear we’ve all watched National Geographic shows of wild beast chasing down, killing and consuming their prey. The beasts have a singular intensity of focus on the food, a thorough intent at devouring all that is there to be had. They tear into bone and sinew, leaving nothing behind to the point of even licking the ground for the last bits of flesh and blood.

I shudder at the imagery.

Reading the words of Fr. Barron, I am disturbed by the intensity by which our Lord indicated that we are to consume him Eucharistically. With intent and full knowledge that this is indeed his body and blood, we are to have a singular focus of devouring him, gnawing into every morsel of spiritual tissue. To seek every bit of nourishment being offered to keep our souls from starvation.

I shudder at the demands of such conviction.

May the good Lord save and guide those of us who prefer tea-cakes to the whole of a slaughtered Lamb.

Image public domain, courtesy Wikimedia commons.


Assumption Lilies for Your Mary Garden

Assumption Daylily WhiteThe solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 commemorates her death and bodily assumption into eternal life. This took place before her physical body could begin to decay.

But did you know that Mary’s tomb was not found empty? In 451 A.D. it was noted by St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon that the apostle, St. Thomas, was said to have found beautiful roses and lilies where her body once laid.

There are several white daylilies that bloom near this date, and together are known as Assumption Lilies. The late summer blooming varieties to add to your Marian garden are:

HemerocallisSerene Madonna

HemerocallisHeavenly White Lightening

HemerocallisJolly White Giant’

HemerocallisLady Elizabeth

daylily white budDaylilies are one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain, and will grow in most soils though they prefer those high in organic matter. These are sturdy perennials and adapt most any garden. They tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions, establish themselves quickly, and survive harsh winters. For more information on how to grow these lovely plants, visit the University of Minnesota web site.

The name Hemerocallis is composed of two Greek words, hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. The name is appropriate since each flower lasts only one day, though some of the newer cultivars can last 24 hours—opening in the evening. Each stalk of flowers contains multiple buds developing throughout their specific bloom period. They are not a true lily from the genus Lileaceae, which are the single stemmed Oriental and Asiatic lilies.

This holy feast day is also associated with celebrating the summer’s harvest. The Roman Ritual includes the Assumption Day Blessing of Produce, of fields, gardens, and orchards. It is a beautiful prayer ritual, the whole of it can be found here. There is also a wonderful tradition on this day of giving baskets of fruits and herbs to friends. In this way we can imitate Mother Mary by bringing comfort to others.

For more fun gardening insights for your liturgical gardens, read A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac, available from Ave Maria Press.

Images from morguefile.com

A Murder of Crows

crow file000348520161A murder of crows swooped loud and large into the back yard. Their boisterous cawing drowned out the traffic noise from the other side of the house. The littler song birds flew away— in fear or possibly annoyance. Whatever morning peace existed departed with the winged invasion.

The crows, and there were maybe twenty, landed heavily in the top branches of trees. They hopped and cawed, spread their expansive wings, and bobbed their heads while raising a ruckus. Usually I’d smile at their arrival; they made me think of the rowdy laughter from a gaggle of adolescent boys.

Of late it sounded like mockery. The dark feathered devils seemed to call me out on my regrets and mistakes. They reminded me with each caw what I cannot forget.

By our very nature, regrets surface when mortality lands heavy on the branches of our maturing life. I’ve matured to the age where having a few health issues with my heart is not a surprise, nor am I filled with fear by the implications. What disconcerts me is the awareness of regrets that still darken my soul. Mistakes I’ve made that wounded others, for which I have apologized, ask for or give forgiveness, and when needed, confessed before a priest. I assumed I had moved on from those mistakes, forgiving myself for what God had forgiven. Apparently not.

The gang of crows reflects their and my coarse behaviors. They evoked unwanted memories, and flew away—leaving me to my own questioning.

The black birds have gone for awhile. They will return—the brutes. And I will welcome them, sad and grateful. Saddened by the realization that I still have not fully forgiven myself and grateful for the knowledge of where the work of my soul still lies. I welcome those dark devils that lead me to turn toward God.

Have mercy on me, God…wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin…My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me…you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom…purify me O God. (Psalms 51)

(September, 2013)

Image by morguefile.com