Advent: Comfort

paul Feb 2012 10_837678809_8834739_2072075477_nAbraham Lincoln gives great comfort:


“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all;

and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.

The older have learned to ever expect it.

I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress.

Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.

You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so?

And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again.

To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.

I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.”
Abraham Lincoln


Heroes: Bella and George

oral meme“He’s actually really small….I use him like a crutch.” ~ Bella

I’ll give fair warning – yes this post is eventually going to lead to another opinion about the recent mayhem of reactions to terrorist attacks in Europe and Africa and the Middle East…but not until the end.


first – please watch this video – I don’t think it is more than one and half minutes. If it doesn’t make you gloriously happy and astounded with hope, I’d so appreciate knowing why. I don’t mean to judge, I want to know! Actually, with the career that I’m wanting to develop – I need to know. I need to know why stories like this make some people sad or afraid.

Ok – do it, please. Watch this one:

Bella and George

Did you hear her say:

 “He’s actually really small…..I use him like a crutch” ?

I grew up with a great dane – they are not small! They are nothing less than ginormous.

My goodness – this story – this family, this mobility access project – it’s a beacon.

This success story is proof that the world has not yet totally gone to hell in a handbasket.

If we take care of ourselves – we get to choose who and what is

going to limit our perspective

about who and what is the…

can’t find another word, who and what is the enemy.

But, come on America! I’m fed up – stop rolling over to and hiding behind your shallow and selfish and vain points of view.

Stop the cover up – take your hands away from your mouth so we can see you and hear you, and for God’s sake – stop interrupting each other. Insane. It’s insane these days.

Take care of yourself – and no, I’m not referring to Botox and man scaping – I’m referring to morals and ethics and decency and intelligence.

I read an article just now that echoed exactly what upset me so much in the past week. I was  upset so much that I considered quitting everything that I’ve worked so hard for the past three years. I went into the week – even after having had a most wonderful, fun, and relaxing weekend away with a dear friend, I went into my classes feeling…yet again – ready to just quit.

I’m registered to at last start the really meaty classes in the American Sign Language – English Interpreting degree that I am seeking. By the time the crocus bust through the now frozen ground – my brain will once again be playing the language two step. I’ll be learning to hear my first language, put it through a quick spin cycle in my head, and according to my instructors hopeful words, my hands will learn to respond with a visual representation of what was said in English.

However, a few days ago  I asked myself: why bother?

“You are gradually losing your hearing – this makes absolutely no sense. Hearing aid or no hearing aid – this makes no sense. If you can’t hear it, you can’t interpret it.”

The doubts passed though – and it’s all going to be fine. I don’t have to know for sure where all of this is taking me – I’ll graduate from the program and I trust my gut that the purpose of these efforts is to pull together work experience and education from the past.

It’s okay that I’ll be in my 50’s by the time I graduate. Lucky am I.

And, the saying I hear often among interpreters is not “if you can’t hear it, you can’t interpret it.”

The saying is “If you can’t understand it, you can’t interpret it.”

And, going back to Bella and George – understanding is a very complicated thing. That little girl is full of depth and I’m going to be careful to not give up my freedom to perceive the world as safe.

Here’s another link to learn more about the accessibility program that connected Bella and George: – check out their donation project – it involves chicken poop.

And here’s the article that I loved this morning:

So – that’s it. No more avoiding the weekend full of homework ahead. And yes, it snowed in Iowa last night. A big, whole lot.

Be well – Kate.

Anne Lamott on Praying for Spiritual Signs

fallRecently I’ve been enjoying this song by Colbie Callait.

And, this morning I stumbled on an interesting Facebook Post from Anne Lamott. I think it fits with the month of remembrances and thanksgiving.

She wrote it on August 9, Just last summer.

I love the idea of God’s grace being available in an ATM.

Every morning these days, you have to ask yourself, What the hell IS it all about, Alfie? Or you pray for a sign that you absolutely cannot miss or misinterpret, the tiniest hint of direction and assurance.

Well? I got one.

It has been one of the worst week in years, and that’s saying something. You know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how much you love your life and your pit crew; no matter how hard you strive to present a good face. It is so hard here. It’s like Old Yeller meets the Hunger Games; plus the parking is terrible.

Under the best circumstances, we are a nutty and sometimes violent species, on an extremely dangerous piece of land.

But one of the saddest things happened. We had to put my darling old dog Lily down. She died peacefully at home in my son Sam’s arms on Wednesday.

I think she was the closest I’ll come, on this side of eternity, to experiencing the direct love of the divine. You may know the feeling.

Through this love, Sam and I came through. We cried a lot, but agreed to let our hearts stay broken for a while, because that is how light, grace and healing can get in, through the armor.

The next morning, I took Lily’s beloved ne’er-do-well husband Bodhi for a walk. I adore him, but he has tiny mental issues, such as aggression, and having eaten entire chickens, and 24 muffins once. Then, too sad to stay at home without Lily, we went out for a bite.

After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed home. I was disoriented, and so far behind on my daily life, after a month of Lily in decline, that Sam frequently consults A Place for Mom online. But a block from home, I got that Holy Spirit nudge, a tug on my sleeve, which urged me, as it often does, “Stop.” It’s given up on nuance.

They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.

My closest friend’s child, who has been through the ringer, the On Beyond Zebra ringer, starts kindergarten soon, but the friend has been on Total Fucking Overwhelm (TF0). She has not entirely gotten him enrolled, and the school’s website had conflicting info on how to do this. And, of course, no one is in the office, because it is August, which was one of the two biggest mistakes God made–August, and snakes. So we drove to the school.

There was one car in the parking lot and a woman climbing into it. Then some janitors ran into view and called to her–had she locked their lunches in the office? She had–Oops, to quote Rick Perry. So she got out, to unlock the office. I asked if I cd run along beside her, like a little dog, and ask a quick question. “Fire away!” she said. I told her about this boy, and asked all our main questions. She was so helpful. I thanked her, and asked if she worked in the office.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m the new principal.”

Of course she was the new principal, because God is such a show-off. Call this energy the Divine It, or Ed. Whatever works.

“Wow,” I said, bowing my head.

“Look,” she continued, “the easiest thing is probably for me to just give your friend my cell phone number.”

I said, “Okay,” on the verge of laughter and tears. “Thank you.”

Bodhi and I went home and called our friend. “You better sit down,” I told the mom. “I think we got some kind of Inbreaking.”

I told the mom my story, about how we’d somehow ended up at the Grace ATM, and how holy spirit had saved the day.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or Lily.”

I gave her the new principal’s cell phone number. Then Bodhi and I went to read the new People, and took a nice morning nap, feeling a little bit better, which is a miracle.
from FB page Suspended Coffees

Hand Wave: “Hello! I’m still here!”

River Way path in Davenport Iowa

I’ve not posted much of late because I’m working on a few writing projects.

One is that I’m setting up a new page on my blog, meaning that when you look to the top, but below the picture of the train wheels, there are pages to click on that help explain what this blog is about.

So, keep tuned, as I am working on a page that basically says:

This blog is about Grace.

I’ll make it more interesting than that though. As a matter of fact I want to make it interactive. I’ll be looking for responses to reflection questions and posting replies with permission from those who are game with answers.

In the mean time, may I report that in honor of my sporty family I set out on a walk yesterday morning with the dogs? With no small help from the cool weather, as we ambled

This kind of cracked me up. How efficient to catch it as it falls.

along one of Davenport’s Bike paths, I actually started thinking, okay, they’ve got a point…this isn’t so bad.

After checking on Mapquest last evening, it turns out that the dogs dragged me for more than four miles along the ‘ssipi river! I hope your corner of the planet had some nice weather as well.

Surviving Desolation: Two Artists

This morning, in between the second or third hit of the snooze button on our alarm, I had a dream that my husband and I ran into a friend that we’ve not seen in a few years. “Kate!” our friend Jim said, “Did you check out that video I sent you? Isn’t it wonderful?” Of course, off to the computer I skipped.

Indeed, I’d not looked at a video he had sent quite a while ago. Before looking at what Jim had sent, “by chance,” I stumbled on an equally interesting story that was right up my friend’s alley of intrigue. Some say that “there are no accidents.”

I’d like to share links with you to both stories, but I’ll warn you, I’ve been reading up on both of these guys for almost two hours, and could read more. It’s that interesting.

Assuming time only allows you a few minutes, I’d recommend at least looking at the first video that I will link you in each of these inspirational stories of men who survive desolation by connecting to others with their art.

Ara : Photographer and Chef

“It always strikes me, and it is very peculiar, that when we see the image of indescribably and unutterable desolation – loneliness, of poverty and misery, the end of all thing, or their extreme – then rises in our mind the thought of God.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh, painter

Though I admit to having my assumption that the hot, dusty parts of America are God forsaken, I am glad to be proven wrong. I was looking at photographs on Alive Now, and found myself drawn into the story and art of a fellow named Ara. Following the loss of his son to cancer, Ara and his dog named Spirit set out on a journey by motorcycle. This effort toward healing and reconciliation is chronicled on his website name The Oasis of My Soul. I find this site and fellow so interesting! His combination of photos, journalism and links to recipes are hopeful and bright.

If you only have a few minutes, don’t miss this video, it’s only 2 ½ minutes long.

If you want to see more of Ara’s photos, click HERE.

If you want to know more about Ara’s One Pan Recipes, click HERE.

Much peace on your travels Ara and Spirit,

Kate (and her dogs Lenny and Paul)

Doug Smith: Piano Player

“My desolation does begin to make a better life.”

~William Shakespeare, Writer

I mentioned that my husband and I haven’t seen this friend in a few years. One of the last times I did visit with him, he flopped down at the table I was at and said “Look at this, isn’t it beautiful!” It was photographs of men wrestling cattle in Texas, where our friend was moving. I tried not to snarl, but I don’t think I did a swell job at hiding my disdain. Wow! Do I stand corrected, as this video that he sent me is simply the loveliest thing that I have seen in a very, very long time.

It is embedded in the website of piano player Doug Smith, a Texan whose life career as a musician was nearly ended by paralysis that resulted from a car accident a few years ago. The video, amazingly, is his first composition since his accident. The accompanying photography is incredible. Check out the VIDEO.

I found myself wanting to read more on this fellow, and found links to a great article that includes two video clips where Doug explains why he considers his paralysis a blessing. If you want to check them out, click HERE. I also found a link to what looks like a great documentary of his development as an artist. See what you think by clicking HERE.

I think what inspires me the most about what I saw and read of this man’s story, is that by being true to his creative voice, even after the accident, his life is saved even more significantly than the neurosurgery that initially kept him from death. What is more, by sharing his joy, strangers and friends alike, get a window seat view to the truth which is that God wants us to experience life, no matter how dark, bright, soft or prickly.

Prayers for continued healing Doug,


Forgiveness Friday: Now is the Time

“Now is the time.”

“The time is right.”

These are the two phrases that are going to be sticky noted by my desk today. Perhaps I will tape them to my ears.

Rather than utilizing Word-Sunday, my favorite online Catholic lectionary and reflection source, I tapped into a Methodist website that I’ve been subscribed to for months but haven’t had chance to explore.

.“Now is the time.”

“The time is right.”

Continued fist bumps to Larry at Word-Sunday, and now a high-five to the staff at Alive Now for their Audio Lectio.

This website and accompanying blog is totally tubular dude. I spend so much time reading and writing, that, I kid you not, the nine minutes that I grabbed of solitude yesterday listening to this coming Sunday’s Gospel may have saved my family from my wrath for the entire weekend.

At a minimum, my aging eyes were given a deserved break.

Want to hear what I heard? Click HERE.

No time to listen? Gotcha baby – I’m on that frantic path myself.

Both yesterday and today, when I listened to the Gospel, the phrase that I grabbed onto like an after school Twinkie was:

.“Now is the time.”

This morning I read the Gospel story and another version of the phrase was:

“The time is right.”

The story is about Jesus passing by two sets of brothers who are both working in pairs on a shore. Jesus invites them to go do some work with him inland spreading his message of peace and faith.

At first I wanted to hear the message of “now” over and over because I am working so hard to up my game in terms of being more focused and time savvy, rather than my typical distracted, and avoidant self. It’s so much easier to hear “hurry up!” in the voice of Jesus than from my loving housemates who remind and cajole me into laundry, food, basketball and dog treats.

Besides. Jesus doesn’t need lasagna. He just wants me to remember to be nice, and to keep my eye on a bunch of cool prizes such as laughter and sound sleep.


Forgiveness Friday in my snow filled part of the planet is about self forgiveness.

‘S happening in your kitchen or on your work shore?