Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Revisiting My Tiny One

It's time again for Revisiting Wednesday, and I'm taking this opportunity to revisit something that has remained close to me since I first shared it here. That was almost four years ago. Since that time, there's another youngest grandchild (now nine months old) to fill my arms and my heart. 

But I also have "spiritually adopted little ones" to fill my prayer...

As my lectio drew to a close, something happened.

I felt a desire to hold a tiny, tiny newborn.  Being well beyond the age of giving birth myself, I attributed this longing to the fact that my youngest grandchild is now two.  And yes, I think that's part of it.

But it hit me:  this "call to hold" may well be a nudge from God.  I think it is a spiritual call, not a physical one.. and certainly it's in line with the call each of us has (to some degree or other) to pray for and help those in need.

So today I am saying yes, as an act of faith, and I'm "spiritually adopting."  There are so many little ones in imminent danger, ones so tiny that some dismiss them as not human.  There are tiny infants whose parents have been told "there might be something wrong with the fetus.  Our advice is to abort."  There are newborns lying on cold metal tables, their skin burned with saline, ignored because their mothers, after all, did not want to carry them to term.  Leave it alone, a nurse is told, forget it.  It's not a baby.

Not-A-Baby utters a pitiful cry, flails its little arms, reaches out with tiny fingers to grasp its gift of life.  It IS a baby - a tiny, helpless, wounded baby who needs someone to care, to love, to hold. 

Perhaps I am adopting all of them, perhaps there is someone(s) specific, but today I hold out my "arms." I pray for mothers, fathers, grandparents, doctors, government leaders, voters, nurses, abortionists.  I pray for the parents who have just been told the ultrasound indicates an abnormality.  I pray for the unmarried teenager, and her boyfriend, and her frantic parents.  I pray for a change in laws, I pray for a change in hearts.

I swaddle in prayer.  I cuddle with intercession.  I hold a tiny one in my heart, and I say yes.  I will work for you, O tiny one, I'll be your advocate however I can.

And when they come for you to take your life, I will be at your side in prayer...

"The mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo."  Pope John Paul II (Evangelium Vitae)

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You  and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One Sees Very Well From A Tower

The following, written to Poor Clare nuns about their life of enclosure, strikes me as applicable, also, to lives "enclosed in the will of God."

"There have been remarks for centuries past about people who dwell in ivory towers. We know what is meant when it is said in the way it is said. Exasperation. Condemnation. A certain contempt. That they are unaware of other persons.

I always thought that was a very strange figure of speech. For one thing, one sees very well from a tower, much better than when one is in the midst of a crowd. If you really want to see the needs of everyone, a tower would be a very good place to go for perspective.

And then I thought, 'ivory tower?' Well, what could give more joy to the poor who have so little than the sight of an ivory tower? How it would draw them! How it would make them surge toward it to investigate this beautiful thing.

So an ivory palace is a very beautiful place to dwell in - and that is your enclosure. Out of it must always come music, the music of Jesus. Then one is very pre-eminently doing God's work.

So always from your life of prayer, from the ivory palace of your enclosure, may God hear music, for from the heart of true payer comes stringed music to God and to the world. To all the grinding hatreds and frustrations of the world must come the stringed music of our enclosed life of prayer."

(Mother Mary Francis PCC, Walls Around the World, p. 22. Click here for information)

"From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad." (Psalm 45:9)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cloistered Anytime. Even Now.

Among my re-discovered letters from friends, I found the following treasure. It was written by a woman who'd read the original The Cloistered Heart article when it was published in 1993, and now (twenty years later) was reflecting upon her own embrace of its ideals.

    "...I was drawn to the idea of a cloister in my heart. I longed for a place to retreat from the world, to be alone with Jesus. I not only longed for a place where I could escape the noise of life around me, but I also dreamed of providing a place in my heart where Jesus could find respite from this world.
    Visits to church or Eucharistic adoration were not an option for me at that time. The image of a cloister in my heart, a place for me and Jesus, was exactly what I needed. I could enter the cloister of my heart at any time or in any place.  It might sound foolish, even selfish, but at that time I lived such a busy, demanding and crowded life that I needed the hideaway. As time went on, it made perfect sense to me to adopt the image of the 'grille' to enclose my cloister and to protect it from the world.
    Is God 'saying' something to me about this now? I do believe He is. I think God is calling me back to my cloister. God has not abandoned me and I have not abandoned God. I am praying, but it feels so disorganized. I like organization in my home and in my life. I want my spiritual life to be organized too.
    So what am I doing to revitalize my cloistered heart? I am reading a prayer guide for active people, a back-to-basics kind of book. I am re-entering the cloister of my heart through the Eucharist and through prayer.
    I say my life is busy. It is, yet I am home alone quite a bit these days. So what is my excuse? I do this and I do that, but I am also guilty of squandering my time. A whole morning will get away from me before I realize I have done virtually nothing.
    I pray very well before I get out of bed in the morning. It is good prayer. It is spontaneous prayer. The same thing at night. I find it easy to 'talk' to Our Lord when all the world around me is dark and silent. I feel Jesus drawing me into His Sacred Heart. These are my best prayer times...
    When things happen around here, I want to get back to prayer as my FIRST recourse instead of prayer being an afterthought."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Revisiting Keyholes

"When it’s God Who is speaking.. the proper way to behave is to imitate someone who has an irresistible curiosity and who listens at keyholes.  You must listen to everything God says at the keyhole of your heart."  (St. John Vianney)

Lectio Divina is so central to monastic life that I’ve often hesitated to write about it, for I am terribly aware of my inadequacies to explain.  But lectio itself is not about explanation.  It’s not about study, not about intellectual speculation.  Lectio is about listening and noticing and hearing and responding.  Lectio is about love.

Lectio Divina is reading of Sacred Scripture, but with a specific purpose.  That purpose is not to gain information, but to interact personally with God. To illustrate how this has operated in my own life, I’d like to share about a time when I prayed with Psalm 63….

Opening with a prayer that God would lead me, I began to read.  I spoke the first words directly to Our Lord:  “God, you are my God whom I seek.”  My practice is to read, slowly and prayerfully, until something particular grabs me.

Soon I was echoing words of the psalm, asking that my lips would glorify Him.  The next verse (5) had me telling God I would bless Him as long as I live.  I prayed for the grace to do just that:  for the grace to praise Him throughout that day and throughout my life…

That’s when I felt He “spoke” something to me.  This was not in words... it was simply a gentle sense of awareness that to bless Him as long as I live means that ... wow!!! ... I can bless Him forever!  Jesus has come and opened to me the doors of eternal life, so I can praise Him forever!

I told God this was the best thing I could imagine about eternal life.

I went on, awhile later, into prayer of intercession for several people who came to mind, asking that they be given grace to seek God and to bless Him forever.

The practice of praying with Scripture is central to monastic life. It is central to allowing God to lead His people to the graces of contemplative prayer.  It's not just for those in monasteries; it is also for you and for me.

I lean in closely to listen.... 

"Every day will I bless You, and I will praise Your Name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; His greatness is unsearchable.  Generation after generation praises Your works and proclaims Your might.”  (Psalm 146:2-4)

This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You  and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Friday, August 19, 2016

Am I Living in Denial?

Among my recently uncovered treasures from a friend, I found the following. It was written in 2000 and later edited a bit: 

I believe God is calling us to wake up and stop wasting any of the moments of His precious gift of life. We live in an anesthetized society, a society in deep denial of the fact that each of us was made to live according to the will of God.

All around us are people in a stupor, and we are affected by it - for how could we not be? Yet we are called to be like the saints gone before us: the ones who escaped from their societal denial and used their allotment of time for God.

As we enter a new millenium, we must walk in the footsteps of the saints. There is no more time to waste, no more time to walk with one foot in the world and one in the will of God. We must decide. 

A pretty serious call? You bet. If we're serious about following Christ, we are invited to follow in the footsteps of those who, in their own times, were not popular. Oh, the saints are admired now, when we read about them in books. They're well loved on days when we wear green and celebrate a bit of Irish blood in our veins. But the fact is, and we all know it, that the saints were never very popular in their own times. Why? Because they were those who worked to call their societies out of denial. 

As those who live in the world rather than in actual physical cloisters, we live in an atmosphere of denial. The great lie is that this earth and our time upon it is the only important thing, and that what we get out of life is all that really counts. 

How much of this have I bought into? 

What is the motivation behind the things I do with my minutes and hours?

Am I about loving God, serving others, working to increase the population of heaven?

Am I primarily pursuing my own comforts, interests, gains or status - perhaps telling myself that I'm not doing so even as I do so?

What is the focus of my life? 

If I knew that Our Lord was coming for me for me tomorrow, would this knowledge alter my activities today?

Perhaps it's time for me to talk with Christ about some of these things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Revisiting the Hiding Place

I am appreciating more than ever the Refuge we have available to us in this torn, aching, wounded world.  If we don't realize that parts of our planet and our civilization are in great distress just now, we have been living under a rock.

Yet in the midst of troubling news, moral confusion, and input from a world going mad, we really do have a Rock to live in and on and under. Jesus is our Rock, our Refuge.  He is our Hiding Place, our fortress, our one true cloister.

I see the truth of this when I consider so many saints gone before us... martyrs who much preferred death to the possibility of turning away from Christ.  What grace they received - exactly when they needed it.  This gives me hope.

In Acts 16, for instance, we read of Paul and Silas thrown into jail after having been given many lashes.  Their feet were chained to a stake.  I can imagine myself there, whining and grumbling and feeling sorry for myself.   But were Paul and Silas wailing, angry, groaning?  No.  They were praying and singing hymns to God.

And consider St. Ignatius of Antioch, as he was on his way to be fed to lions.  "Leave me to the beasts," he wrote, "that through them I may be accounted worthy of God.  I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of the beasts I shall be ground, so that I may be found the pure bread of God.  Greatly provoke the wild beasts so that they may be my grave and leave nothing of my body, so that I won't be a burden on anyone.  Then I will truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ."    

What grace!  The same grace that was given to St. Stephen as he was being stoned.   The same grace (we can believe it) that is offered to people undergoing persecution for Christ today. 

I see Stephen as a perfect patron for those of us who strive to view life "through the grille." If anyone ever saw and responded to circumstances in such a way,  it was he.  Even as his persecutors were preparing to kill him, he boldly exclaimed "'Look!... I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."

I am sure this acute view of reality buffered the saint's agony as stones were hurled at him.  "As he was being stoned, he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'  He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'"  (Acts 7:54, 59, 60) 

"The cloistered heart."  I wrote some years ago, "is the heart of David dancing before the ark; of Mesach, Shadrach and Abednego in the fiery furnace; of Paul in prison, Daniel in the lions’ den, John on Patmos, Peter in chains.  The world is not safe from evil – even the body isn’t safe from harm – but within the cloistered heart there is refuge.  The Lord is with me, He is within my cloister.  My heart, as long as He is in it, is safe." 

I must remember this.  In the madness all around, I must remember.

Within the cloistered heart there is refuge.  The Lord Himself is with me.

My heart, as long as He is in it, is safe.

This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

True Pilgrimage

'To live by the day and to watch each step is the true pilgrimage method, 
for there is nothing little if God requires it.'
Fulton J Sheen

Friday, August 12, 2016

How Do I Pray Now? (As I Can, Not As I Did)

The last person we'll hear from about "praying now" was surprised to find that retirement was not what she'd envisioned.

    "My attention span is shorter than it was in my younger days. My youthful plans for later years included day-long-prayer-marathons, when I knew I would take time to just sit and be with God!
     Now I have the time that once eluded me, but I no longer have the powers of concentration. This realization has been sobering. However, I am helped by seeing that I'm not actually in 'dryness,' nor is it that I've lost interest in prayer, nor am I 'lazy' if I sit down and fall fast asleep. It's just that my body and my mind are not as young as they were even a few years ago.
     My call is to pray as I can, not as I did. The important thing, for me, is to set aside the time - whether in one solid chunk or in ten-minute segments throughout the day - with the firm intention to give that time to God. I am seeing anew the truth that the Lord is my strength. May He be praised forever!"


"It is better to say one Our Father fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction."  (St. Edmund)

"Physical condition or advancing of age are not obstacles to a perfect life. God does not look at external things, but at the soul." (Pope St. John Paul II)

Painting: Carl Vilhelm Holsoe, in US public domain due to age

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Do I Pray Now? (All I Have to Do is Respond)

From yet another friend:

     "In the past, I relied on Christian music and spiritual reading to help me pray. Often I took time for a walk or to sit in the back yard and be still. I learned not to answer the telephone every time it rang but to wait until it was convenient for me to do so.
     Discipline is very hard for me but slowly I am surprised by the new doors God is opening as a result of my efforts, which are beginning to bring peace and joy.
     I have also felt direction for a world situation that needs prayer.
     Now I'm back to Ralph Martin's book 'The Fulfillment of All Desire,' and for me it is huge. It is teaching, inspiring, and leading me to change my life.
     I have realized that God led me to my cloister. All I have to do is respond."    

"As soon as we wake up, turn to the Lord, thank Him for another day, dedicate it to Him and ask His help for living it in a way pleasing to Him. Take a substantial time for personal prayer (including spiritual reading) as early in the morning as feasible. Attend daily Mass as often as possible. As far as circumstances permit, pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Withdraw into the cell of our souls periodically during the day to remember the Lord, to be aware of His presence and speak to Him. We can do this even in the midst of activities." (Ralph Martin, The Fulfillment of All Desire, Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006. Emphasis mine!!)

Painting:  Peter Vilhelm Ilsted, in US public domain due to age

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How Do I Pray Now? (Sometimes With a Printed Prayer)

Whoever thought up holy cards was undoubtedly inspired. These little gems have turned thoughts back to God for centuries, helping focus distracted minds and world-weary hearts.

One collector of holy cards shared "how she prays now" by writing the following...

     "I have been amazed at the great fruit that has come from my commitment to pray several short times a day - sometimes simply reading a holy card or a printed prayer of a saint, making the intention to pray it from my heart. What great things God is doing with this little exercise!
     These initially brief prayer times have been growing in frequency, length, and fervency - and I have begun to recognize why prayer in shorter segments is working for me at this season of my life. 
     I am more likely to go to prayer in the first place when I do so with the idea that I'll stay there for a few minutes. With this attitude, I am not as likely to be tempted by thoughts that I need to clean the kitchen or work on a project before I can be free to take time to pray."

What kinds of prayers are we likely to find on a holy card? I'm sure we each have our favorites. Here are just a few that my friend has found helpful on busy days... 

"Heavenly Father, I offer You all that I shall think or do or say this day, uniting it with what was done by Jesus Christ, Your only Son. Amen."

"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment. But most of all because I have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen."

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but hear and answer them. Amen."

Holy cards in US public domain due to age

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How Do I Pray Now? (It Changes With the Seasons)

Reading through my cache of rediscovered 'cloistered heart' letters, I ran across a few sharings from friends struggling to pray in the midst of everyday demands. Because I personally find these motivating, I will try to post several of them over the next few days.

"I have been paying closer attention to my days to see exactly when and how I am praying," wrote one homemaker. "My spur of the moment thought would be 'it's a hodgepodge!'  But a closer look shows me it is not as chaotic as I thought. 
     I have been studying the daily Mass readings; this gives me an opportunity to think about them more in depth.
    My life lately has been more 'Martha' than 'Mary.' I begin the day with my Morning Offering and thanking God for the new day. It is a grace-filled time for me.
    The rest of my day is filled with little thoughts, prayer aspirations, lighting a candle while I cook.
    When I can manage to escape my chores for a few minutes, I sit on my yard swing and pray. 
    When I drive I listen to hymns on my car CD payer. 
    When I think about my children, I turn my thoughts into prayers for them. I sing. I sing a lot!  
    While ironing or doing work with my hands, I sing. I often make up my own songs to suit my thoughts or the situations of the moment.
    I go to Mass several times a week. I try to pray from the Liturgy of the Hours before Mass. I go for Eucharistic Adoration each Friday, even if I can stay only a few minutes.
    So you see, at the present my prayer life is nothing formal, but it is active. 
    More and more I realize that my prayer life changes with the seasons."
"You don't know how to pray? Put yourself in the presence of God, and as soon as you have said 'Lord, I don't know how to pray!' you can be sure you've already begun." (St. Josemaria Escriva)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Name of Our Redemption

'How happy we will be if, 
at the hour of our death, 
as well as during the whole 
of our lives, we pronounce 
the Sacred Name of our 
Savior with due respect. 
It will be like a password 
with which we freely enter 
into heaven, for it is the 
name of our redemption.'

St. Francis de Sales


Painting: Baciccio, 'The Triumph of the Name of Jesus'

Friday, August 5, 2016

What if I'm Hit by a Truck?

Cloister of the heart is nothing if not portable.  Our hearts can be cloistered in airplanes or subways, on beaches and in cars.  Or, as our friend Rose experienced several years ago, when we're being hit by a truck.

    "As I was crossing the street," Rose wrote in a letter, "a big red truck rounded the corner and hit me. The impact sounded like a terrible explosion, and I was thrown to the ground. The police and ambulance came, they strapped me onto the stretcher, and we were off to the hospital.
     It was frightening, but I felt very calm. The fact that I was alive just overwhelmed me. As I lay flat on my back in the emergency room, just staring at the ceiling, I had time to think. My first thoughts were that if I had died - what were my last words? I thought back. I was in a restaurant. I had gone up to the counter and thanked the owner for the nice lunch. This made me feel good, to realize that my last words would have been nice ones. For some reason, that was very important to me. 
     Then I began to ask myself that if I had died, would I have been prepared to meet God for judgment. I thought of my many failings and imperfections that need correcting. I thought of things I can do better in my life. But then: I thought of my morning Mass and Holy Communion. I thought of the time I'd just spent being present to my God only hours before. Would it be terrible for me to admit that at that moment I felt a disappointment that I hadn't died? That I was loving God so much that I really would have liked to have been with Him that very morning?
     As these thoughts were going through my head, my husband came over and took my hand. I looked into his eyes and saw so much love and concern. Then I knew that God knows my husband and children need me and this just wasn't the time for me to leave them. God must have more work for me to do on this earth before He calls me home.
     All afternoon my heart seemed wrapped in prayer. I thanked God over and over for the gift of guardian angels and for His loving care. How can I possibly explain the joy in my heart for the things of God within me when I had just been hit by a truck? It seemed ironic, but my heart was so full of gratefulness and joy. Now I pray 'I offer every beat of my heart as loving alleluias of thankfulness and praise!'
     My sister asked me if this incident has changed my perspective on life any. No, it hasn't. I have always realized that death could come at any time and I have always tried to live my life in this light. It just confirms all that I have always thought and felt.
    One consolation for me was to realize that when faced with the idea that I could have been killed, I was not scared for my soul. I honestly felt that I could have accepted it, embraced it, willingly and with joy.
     I don't know why that truck hit me. I don't know what God has planned for me. I feel a peace and a joy that are unexplainable.
     I want to sing alleluias all day long."
     from a letter by Rose (used with her permission)

This is not the first time we've shared something from Rose here. Click the following titles for more...

Squeezing Through the Crack

When We Feel the Grillwork Crumbling


Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Mediocrity Has Deep Roots"

Among my recently uncovered treasures from a friend, I found the following excerpt from one of my favorite books...

Someone asked Father Thomas Dubay: "is it realistic to suggest in our century that busy lay men and women in an extremely complex and driven society habitually 'go off some place where they can be alone and pray?' Not a few people would accuse you of trying to monasticize lay life."

Father's response: "Yes, I am well aware of the criticism, but it is superficial and off target. The crucial question is not what I am or am not trying to promote, but what the Lord and His saints, married as well as religious, have done and what He and His Church teach. 
     The monasticizing objection probably stems from a subconscious tendency we wounded humans have to dilute the radical call of the Gospel. People given to one-step thinking love to put labels on what they do not like, and then think they have disposed of the matter. Mediocrity has deep roots. 
     Lay men and women today who are serious about prayer - and I know from personal experience with them - completely reject this criticism. Yet, you ask whether contemplative solitude is realistic in our day and in all states of life. The answer to your question is an emphatic affirmative. Especially in our complex and driven society, as you put it, do we need healthy solitude with God. Solitude is a time for unwinding, for BE-ing. Modern men and women are over-stimulated, over-worked, over-met, over-talked, over-amused. That is one reason so many are superficial and trivial. There is no chance for them to grow and develop beyond where they are. 
     In solitude we begin to possess what we already have. Seeds can begin to grow. In Christ we already have everything, but over-activity and over-stimulation smother it." (Thomas Dubay SM, Seeking Spiritual Direction, Servant Books, 1994, p. 173)

I look at these words and wonder: is anything smothering the "everything" Christ has provided for me? Am I over-amused, over-stimulated, over-anything? 

A question I will be taking into my own next solitude with God is: "Lord, I am over-what(s)?"

(Seeking Spiritual Direction can be found at this Amazon link.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Revisiting Our First Post!

In light of the letter and newsletter excerpts I will be sharing here soon, I think this might be a good time to re-visit our very first post. This was written nearly five years ago...

September 29, 2011

"I am a laywoman, married...yet I have a vocation to the cloister.  Obviously I am not called to the physical enclosure; I am called, rather, to cloister my heart.  The word 'cloister' speaks of total consecration.  It seems that compromise would not fit well in a cloister, nor would lukewarmness, nor would complacency.  The cloistered life is absolute."

I look at the above words and am amazed that I wrote them twenty years ago.  Twenty years!  Today these sentences provide me with a ... well, a kind of challenge.  Have compromise, lukewarmness, complacency found spaces in my cloister in which to hide?  O yes.  O yes, indeed.  Looking at these words now, I wonder if I'm "cloistered" at all.

And the instant I start to wonder, I'm positive that I am.  By the amazing grace of God, I am as "cloistered" as I was in 1991; probably more so.  My prayer has gone through droughts and seasons of change, my life has had challenges and triumphs and surprises.  But in the 'cloister,' I remain.

One thing I've discovered is that "the cloistered heart" has many facets.  Like a precious jewel whose gleam is spotted by a treasure hunter, the cloistered heart is still being dug out and examined, turned about and exclaimed over, loved and cherished and LIVED.  If you happen to be one of those who has explored along with us in the past, I welcome you to this new kind of "newsletter."  We will continue through the rooms of the cloister as we did in "Cloistered Gatherings," and I expect we'll wander about in them more freely.  There is an informality and a randomness about blogging that I think I'll find appealing and easy to deal with (although I warn you that I'm totally new at it).

If you are someone who is joining this exploration for the first time, we welcome you to our "dig!"

As we continue, we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  "If Christ is not the alpha and omega of the life," wrote Dom Hubert Van Zeller, "there is no particular point to monasticism." 

Jesus is the reason for our cloisters, and with Him as our focus - we begin.


This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


I have just received an unexpected gift:  a collection of personal writings stored carefully away by a friend. These were written by several of us who've looked together into what it means to live in this world as "cloistered hearts." For a number of years we mailed monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly newsletters to 100-200 kind souls, sent missives back and forth to one another, and shared prayers and issues and ideas. 

This tidy bundle, filled as it is with thoughts and prayers and quotes, is like a newly unearthed treasure. Nearly forgotten bits of inspiration strike me now as fresh and energizing and new, and I cannot keep them to myself. So - over a period of time, probably interspersed with more "current" reflections - I will be sharing bits and pieces here, with you.

Just flipping through a few pages, I find myself "voicing new amens" to little gems like these... 

"We are in danger of forgetting what we are. The world around shall see us as part of it when really we are not part of it, and we shall be tempted to see ourselves as the world sees us..." (1995)

"Have we ever spoken the Name of Jesus (aloud or silently) and found our hearts suddenly lifted from the circumstances around us? As if a little door into Heaven popped open and we were allowed a swift glimpse inside?" (2006)

'It is easier for me to surrender to God the earth-shaking, freedom endangering issues of the world than it is for me to surrender the simple, everyday issues of my family life." (date uncertain)

Painting: George Phoenix, The Grandmother's Wardrobe, in US public domain due to age