…(end of) summer flu blues…

End of summer holiday weekend? Everyone’s out and about having a grand time. Everyone except Virginia, that is.

Such fun plans, niece in town from NYC, family birthday parties to attend to.

Instead? Auntie V spent weekend in bed. Oh my God, my head, my head. And wretched retching tummy. And meandering body aches, roaming head to toe.

Full on nasty four day flu, in summertime? So not fun.

Couldn’t even read much, an unwelcome circumstance compounding flu blues. Thankfully, Tuesday night I read Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses. Wanted to make it last, but alas, read it in one sitting (it’s that good!)

Misery loves company, so they say. Brother Dwight’s had a bad sore throat this holiday weekend. Sniffling, shuffling by sickie sis. Hack. Hack.

Whose germs, what & where? (Lysol spray deployed everywhere.)

Food finally settling down in tummy today. Summer flu blues softening down a notch, petering their way out. Laptop (briefly) powered up, click clicking.

Enduring end of summer flu blues made me think of friends and dear ones fighting more serious challenges. Cancer. Terminal illnesses. Broken heart blues, broken life blues.

For some dear ones, medical blues and life blues won’t just peter out. A few may lessen, for a short time, but cancer aches, body aches, heart and broken life aches are ever present.

Humbling, that. My flu blues heart asks God for extra doses of love, peace & healing graces for all of you suffering whatever blues wherever you are. May God give you enduring grace, attuning your blues with notes of comfort and love.

“There is no hell, no private hell of wound, depression, fear, sickness or even bitterness that God’s love cannot and will not descend into. Once there, it will breathe out peace.” Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

grace, peace & (ending) summer flu blues

: /   Virginia   : )

“Regret will not prevent tomorrow’s sorrows; it will only rob today of its strength. Keep believing. With Jesus you have not a hopeless end but an endless hope.” Barbara Johnson (from Boomerang Joy)

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The Movie ‘All Saints’ – Uniting Hearts, Inspiring Hearts

After catching the trailer for “All Saints” before Valerian awhile back (a great flick BTW), I made a beeline to see this movie tonight. A closing church, refugees, drama and… John Corbett in the main role as Rev. Michael Spurlock, a new pastor assigned to get a job done.As a huge groupie of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, watched umpteen times with my parents and friends, I was all about catching him in this. (Corbett’s brilliant performance as non-Greek Xeno Ian Miller gets me every time!)

Once again, John Corbett delivers an amazing performance, with just the right balance of humor, confidence, angst and humility (a journey in this film.) But All Saints is about so much more than just him. I may have gone to see the movie because he was in it, but this inspiring story grabbed my attention, and my heart by the end.

Based on a true story, the movie was filmed on location at the real All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. Sent by the bishop to close this church of only 12 members, newly ordained Michael Spurlock (Corbett) and his wife (Cara Buono) and son move to a temporary post expecting to be in and out in just a few months.

Things take a turn when a group of ethnic Karen refugees from war-torn Burma turn up at All Saints Church and quickly make an impression in their lives. As Michael befriends Ye Win (Nelson Lee) and learns of the horrors they’ve escaped, he wants to do something.

Something involves planting fields around the for sale church, that requires commitment not only from the Karen Burmese, church members (including irascible ones like Forrest, played by Barry Corbin), Spurlock and his family, but also involves members of the whole community (including the big megachurch down the road) who unite their hands to pitch in as crisis strikes.

This is a story about faith, commitment, friendship, and relationships. No superheroes with superpowers, just ordinary people with extraordinary faith and a desire to do something & be something TOGETHER.

Open hearts inspiring one another, aspiring to be God’s hands & feet & arms of love.

Here’s a peek at the trailer. If you have a chance to catch this movie, it’s one not to miss! (For friends getting this in email, you need to click to Roses in the Rubble website to catch the YouTube trailer video.)

grace, peace & inspirational movies

Virginia : )

p.s. my heart & prayers are with the people of Texas, especially Houston, as the horrendous flooding continues.   : /

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Purposeful Cycling: Riding My PURPLE BIKE!

“A cyclist is someone who is seriously involved in cycling. A person riding a bike is, well, a person riding a bike. Cyclists use the word “cycling” to indicate that they are engaging in a Serious Activity, not just a ride down to the coffee shop.”  (Google)

Taking a breather from all the doom and gloom beckoning at the corners of our globe, Virginia is dishing up fitness fare today: the joys of cycling and riding a bike.

Consider cyclists bedecked in seriously tight biker gear on narrow bikes zipping as fast as they can down the road. Then, there’s Virginia on her purple bike enjoying the scenery, pedaling, but not so fast as to miss anything: blue birds, woodpeckers, trees, deer, turtles (& the occasional shirtless scenic joggersby.)

It’s a careful thing not to crash (a cycling hazard.)

My purple bike reemerged from a loooong hibernation after an automobile accident awhile back jostled almost-behaving neck discs into misbehaving again. (More details? Click here: Crash! Smash! Bamboozled.)

Cycling the last two months has been exhilarating, but, let’s face it, also a difficult task getting lax muscles back into shape (after their long hibernation.) Bike trails have made it a joyful endeavor (despite reticent muscles) because they are so beautiful.

Last week while pedaling to access the trail on this wooded entryway, 12 deer leapt across the path, including several little Bambis like this one.

It felt like being inside a story, like Tolkien’s LOTR!

Turtles are usually out sunning themselves.

We’re blessed with an amazing 52 mile bike trail that goes from Williamsburg to Richmond, the capital of our state (hence the name: Virginia Capital Trail.) We can access it from the back of our neighborhood, but there are choices:

one direction leads to long bridges and hills (extremely hard ones)

and the other direction leads to flat farmland,

more wide bridges,

and also out to Jamestown Island.

Which is a lovely ride, especially the causeway where there’s a marsh on one side & the James River on the other side.

Occasionally, there’s a sighting of the ferry to (& from) Surry County.

@ Jamestown there’s a 3 mile loop, and a 5 mile loop around the island. If you have a chance to check out Jamestown’s cool digs (literally), there’s cutting edge archeology & historical sites to visit.

My neighbor Laurin (who is in GREAT SHAPE) said the hilly way was hard. The first time I tried it, I almost cried. Had to turn around 15 minutes in. But now I can make it with lots of huffing, puffing and all-encompassing exerted pedaling.

My muscles may feel like jelly after, but it’s a beautiful ride. There’s a sense of accomplishment putting muscles through their paces, getting stronger so next time it’s not so hard (in theory, anyway.)

For Virginia & her purple bike cycling is a Serious Activity: getting atrophied muscles in shape, taking on hard hills, and chiseling pounds away. But it’s one meant to be enjoyed, a chance to hang out with nature, fellowship with friends & family when riding together, and thank our Creator for Heavenly paintbrushes so busy all around us (& within us.)

A thought from Virginia (the contemplative purple-bike-rider.) Just as riding a bike uphill exercises and builds up leg muscles (& more besides), so, too, we need to exercise our compassion muscles, to get them in better shape for steep mountain-sized challenges around our whacked-out world.

“Compassion is a verb.” Thich Nhat Hanh

grace, peace & purposeful BIKERS

Virginia : )

p.s. For a more in depth look at cycling tips (& the fun of a serious biker in India), check out Dev Mallangada’s inspiring blog: Cycling – What it Did to Me.

p.s.2 All photos brought to you by Virginia’s iPhone : )

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Charlottesville: Standing Against Hatred

Here in Virginia our hearts are wobbling after senseless bigoted violence pounded the city of Charlottesville. Nestled in beautiful Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Appalachian mountains, this is where Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. I spent four years as an undergrad @ UVA where everyone is welcome: the best and brightest from our state, country & around the world. The only challenge I had with my African American first year roommate: guys were extra nice to me to meet her because she was so very beautiful! (Then she would introduce them to her fiancé’s picture on the wall.)  🙂 Open multicultural learning experiences, like mine in Charlottesville, make what happened there so hard to fathom. White nationalist extremists wrecked horrifying havoc in this peaceful university town with bigotry, racism, hatred and violence. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of those killed and with the injured of body and mind.

As condemnation filled our televisions and social media feeds, it was alarming to see defamatory rhetoric pushing shaky lines of hard-won peaceful coexistence back to the stone age of prejudice.

In the aftermath, heated divisiveness plays the blame game.

All hearts and minds need to understand that we are all equally beloved of God, whether we are pink, purple, black, green or blue (or red-headed, like this white chick.)

All white people did not do this. Extremists did.

It’s hard in the face of intense hatred to look past our fear and mistrust, but we must.

I need to see the me in you, and you need to see the you in me.

We’re all part of this human family.

Hebron

Working in the Middle East in the 1990s, I experienced hatred up close in the Palestinian city of Hebron where extremist Jewish settlers made life difficult for the civilian population. At the behest of the Hebron mayor, the international Christian Peacemaker Teams served as a non-violent buffer protecting local families. After a young American Mennonite member was severely beaten by settlers, the next Saturday a diverse group of us joined the CPT-ers  – including Rabbis for Human Rights, international NGO representatives (like me), and a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.

Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist, Israeli, Palestinian, and internationals from all over, we stood together while armed extremist settlers spewed venom at us. I’ve never experienced such ugly unadulterated hatred as from their hurled slurs, shouts, gestures and threats.

It was easy to be scared, but standing together against hate our disparate hands and hearts were interwoven with a unifying belief in equality and the equitable worth of despotized people(s.)

No one was beaten or harmed that day.

Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Later that day we passed by the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba to see the shrine-like memorial erected for Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli doctor who attacked Muslim worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, killing 29 and injuring 125 before he was killed. The Holocaust survivor with us refused to look. He said, “I’m not the only survivor of my entire family to witness this travesty honoring a mass murderer.”

Baruch Goldstein was an extremist. Those settlers were Kach extremists.

We were there together with Israelis who chose to stand up for others, who were horrified by the actions of these extremists.

I get it that there are times to stand against systems of injustice (like I stood between uzi-toting soldiers and Palestinian children in Gaza, and at the same time decried Palestinian extremists blowing up Israeli civilians.) Although I worked in the Palestinian context, I also had Israeli friends who risked their lives documenting human rights abuses. Others, like a beautiful friend from Netanya who crossed challenging checkpoints to stay with me in Bethlehem, built bridges of hope through reconciliation initiatives.

After working there, later documenting mass graves in the Kosovo relief program, traipsing around Bosnia and Croatia, seeing East Timor recovering from injustice to freedom, working with Congolese refugees in Tanzania (& so on) I have developed a simplistic view. There are courageous people standing against extremists all over this globe. There are hope-filled, peace loving Palestinians, Israelis, Albanians, Bosnians, Croatians, Serbs, East Timorese, Indonesians, Congolese… (there are also extremist Palestinians, Israelis, Serbs, Indonesians, et all.)

Kosovo, 1999

What does all this have to do with Charlottesville, VA?

“The acts of a few are not representative of the many.” Those white extremists do NOT represent this white chick. Not now, not EVER. Nor my family, nor my friends of diverse ethnicities, orientations and religions.

Let’s counter our fears and acts of extremism by building bridges of peace, one step of understanding at a time, not letting acts of a few shutter our hearts to the value each of us inherently have as human beings.

Life is a gift. All life is a gift.

The Rotunda @ The University of Virginia

To the people of Charlottesville and the great commonwealth of Virginia, to people of hope and action all over our country and around our whacked out world, we need to put our hearts and hands together to STAND AGAINST extremists, bigotry, racism, hatred and violence.

Let our hearts stand up for love (and our knees, even if a little wobbly.)

Let’s stand up for peace, dignity and equality of all with love from Above. Not some more than others, but all molded as uniquely crafted works of our Creator, equally precious in every shade and hue.

Let’s open our hearts and minds to encounter everyone equally as beings beloved of God.

Let’s STAND AGAINST HATRED in CHARLOTTESVILLE and EVERYWHERE!

grace, peace & hearts (standing together)

Virginia

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

p.s. Yes, I’m Virginia, from the state of Virginia, and I went to the University of Virginia (=VA 3 !)

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Lord, Please Save Me (us, you, them-all!)

With what’s happened in Charlottesville this weekend (so unbelievable in the sleepy university town where I spent four years as an undergrad) and with our Gospel readings for today (about Peter walking on the water), I dusted off this prayer written during the early days of my parental care-giving gig (which got a little overwhelming, at times!)  Maybe today we can say, “Lord, please save US!”

Saint Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. It was a fine time until he looked down: there was no ground, just deep sea all around. His faith step faltered and he started to sink, then cried out: Lord, please save me! Today I tried that walking on water faith thing, but when the going got tough, like St. Peter I prayed:

Lord, Please Save Me

(the surf down here is getting rough!)

+++++++

Waves of frustration swell the shores of my anger

(nothing is going my way today)

shake – rattle – let go

Lord, please save me!!

Waves of self-doubt stir up the shores of my insecurities

(I am just a nothing nobody)

shake – rattle – look up

Lord, please save me!!

Waves of apathy crush my empathy for the suffering in this world

(there’s already too much on my plate)

shake – rattle – look around

Lord, please save me!!

Waves of fear freeze my courage muscles

(can’t, won’t, NOT, too scared to try)

shake – rattle – work them out

Lord, please save me!!

Waves of mold muddle the shores of my mildewed mind

(too much mindlessness, too little mind-filled-ness)

shake –rattle – be transformed

Lord, please save me!

Waves of helplessness hash the shores of my abilities

(challenges are TOO big, I am TOO small)

shake – rattle – take a leap of faith

Lord, please save me!

Waves of doubt drain the shores of my faith

(why now? why this? why ME?)

shake – rattle – believe

Lord, please save me!

Waves of love surround the shores of my prickly heart

(what’s that soft knocking I hear?)

shake – rattle – open up

Lord, please save me!

Waves of joy shower the shores of my sadness

(Beautiful Savior, come to save me!)

shake – rattle – be lifted up

Lord, please save me!

Waves of mercy wash the shores of my thirsty heart

(Holy Redeemer, forgive me!)

shake – rattle – receive

Lord, please save me!

 

OH LORD

– THE SURF DOWN HERE IS GETTING ROUGH –

PLEASE SAVE US!!

grace, peace & stormy weather

: /   Virginia  : )

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Inspiring Street Art

With all the negative (kinda frightening) global goings-on, here’s a little inspiration today to stretch our mind (& smile) muscles.  

SNAPSHOT…

Traipsing out and about with my niece a few weeks ago in Newport News (our closest big city), I looked down on the ground to encounter this uplifting street art. ‘Twas a rainy and gloomy afternoon, yet this well-worn pavement glowed with a message of hope.

Trampled by cars, traversed by feet, missed by most, this upbeat street art was there despite it all. 

It made me chuckle, it made me smile, it lifted me over the gloomies (for awhile.)

& WHATNOT…

Maybe we don’t feel there’s anything to smile about?

Sometimes in the midst of a global crisis or in the face of seemingly insurmountable personal challenges, a smile can be an act of courage. Full on, straight up, COURAGE.

I’m going to smile, despite it all, because I CAN choose to do it. Instead of clouding the ground with frowns, I’m choosing to share sunshine.

Maybe you (& I) think that’s sentimental sap. But I’m super serious – sometimes sharing sunshine is downright hard amidst a typhoon, hurricane, tornado (whatever.)

Years ago I developed a smile strategy while living in a conflict zone. Passing through military checkpoints multiple times each day my distemper spewed grumpy frowns. I decided to switch my attitude (with exerted effort) to smiles all around. The soldiers thereafter were so disarmed they usually passed me through with out much ado.  🙂

You see, a smile works two ways. It lifts the smiler (working out internal hope muscles to share a little joy) and the smilee (the recipient, who may wonder what’s up with the smiler, but still, the aura of a nice smile lasts awhile.)

Because a smile says something. It says ‘hey you, you are special!’ Yes, YOU, I’m smiling at you. (Not a creepy smile, mind you, something nice.)

Inspiring street art? Yes, if we let it motivate us to share a smile with others who might be low on hope reserves (& increase our own hope meters in the process.)

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love.” Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

grace, peace & SMILES!

Virginia : )

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Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

So that’s Latin. Since I (& maybe you) didn’t study Latin, here’s what it means:

“To the Greater Glory of God”Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

A noble motto from Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits (literally followers of Jesus) whose feast day we celebrate 31 July (today!)

I am a groupie of Saint Ignatius (1491-1556), a Spanish noble who, after making major life changes during convalescence from a serious battle wound, totally devoted his life to Jesus Christ then enlisted buddies to join him in a new way of living, thinking & doing. Approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, this fledgling order founded universities, sent missionaries (ever wonder why so many schools are called St. Xavier?) and developed super spiritual prayer muscles while being the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them.

Notwithstanding a bit of turmoil along the way, the Jesuits and the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius have endured 475+ years. Today Jesuits continue to serve in many ways: educating students in universities & schools, assisting refugees (Jesuit Refugee Service), through churches (Holy Trinity in DC a favorite), facilitating spiritual growth (retreat centers, Spiritual Exercises workshops, books, podcasts), sharing faith in Jesus, providing social commentary (America Magazine, a fav) & so much more.

As we celebrate the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Jesuits the world over, including our beloved Pope Francis, here are a few inspirational quotes from Saint Ignatius for our minds & hearts to munch on:

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

“To give, and not to count the cost
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will.”

“Laugh and grow strong.”

“Speak little, listen much.”

“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes.” 

And, once again, the Jesuit motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

May all we do today be for the greater glory of God!

grace, peace & Spiritual Exercising

Virginia : )

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