Recovery

I spend a lot of nights making horse-like sounds as I tromp up the creaky steps of my Washington, DC townhouse, my sandy leather backpack slung over one shoulder, ballooning and nearly bursting open from its contents: my server’s uniform, consisting of a crusty, browning white button-down, an ankle-length apron, splattered with ink-markings, brushed about the surface like spin art in accidental waves of black and blue, and unbearable black shoes, wreaking and stale.  It’s on these nights that I breathe heavy, sometimes I cry.  I often don’t know why, sometimes things just get leaky up there late at night.  I like to lay down and look at my ceiling because it reminds me of limits, and I like to think about limits but then also imagine—launching, movement, surging speeds escaping boundaries and gracefully expanding the skies.  Sometimes my cat licks my face, presses his paws into my sweater, and coos softly.  This is his bliss, though it may not be mine.

I do quite a bit of recovering.  I’m getting very good at it; that’s not to say I brave the storm of various traumatic events that require recovery.  There’s something in between doing and not doing, and it’s recovering.  It’s not often spoken of, but it’s a state of being.  Even when recovery is discussed in an applicable context, it is inferred as rehabilitation or moving forward, moving on before looking at the limits and envisioning the breakthrough.  I’ve watched the ceiling quite a bit, it’s where I learn the most about myself; that and this playlist on Songza called Music for a Woodland Clearing, which is essentially Van Morrison sprinkled with near miniscule flavor bursts from other woodsy artists.  Regardless of its semi prosaic musical DNA, it helps me to learn about myself, and all things considered, it evokes wild and diverse spiritedness and life, which I’m desiring more than usual today.

I’ve received a few job rejections now.  I almost have to run back into the house each morning to grab my coat of resiliency.  I’m rather calculated now as I dress myself as someone whose cares are less numerous than they are when dressed in doubt and fear.  I’m afraid to face anything that might’ve once seen me as seamlessly and conventionally successful: the buildings, the faces, the mentors.  Sometimes I sit down to write thinking maybe I could write the story of non-success, maybe I could write my own story with more grace and beauty than failure and pain.  But the words are too close and not yet far enough to become story or tale.  I think maybe one day when recovery is past, when I’m not staring at the ceiling, concocting innovations and mental revelries of my untold flight through ceiling, stars, through woodland clearing, I’ll have moved enough to write the story of untraditional success—a sort of success that occurs when nothing else does.  When I’m walking up the steps late at night…

My mother sent me an inspirational yet delightfully childlike piece about her own life told in the fairy princess and her kingdom and castle-style.  She, the fair maiden, was described as having lost control over her kingdom, then claiming ownership over a kingdom that wasn’t fully realized until she believed in her ability to rule what was hers.  I, like the princess, need to rule that which is mine: myself, my time, my late night walks up the stairs, in the dark, with tears welling up in the pit of my stomach.  I have gifts of words like paint, voice like movement and song, hands accountable for change I can feel before envisioning it.  I make decisions like paintings.  It’s not even real yet, but I know it, think it, then it is realized like the artist, like the princess who decided life: the inner the outer—it was all hers.

Anyways, my mom doesn’t like Bob Dylan, but I bet the princess would like this song that makes me think of all I can do.  It’s simple, but really I feel the message of what one can do rather than not do is tantamount

She’s got everything she needs

She’s an artist, she don’t look back

She can take the dark out of nighttime

And paint the daytime black.

Recovery is in realizing that it’s all there; it just has to be taken and held in one’s arms, wrapped up and called “my own.”

Girl Story

I have wanted to feel pretty for a very long time.  This is how I’ve justified my bad days, because I am working toward beauty.  One more day of commiseration, please.  I cannot leave the house, because my hair, face, and body still await several more hours of primping. 

This is my girl story.  It mostly circulates around the concept of attempting to feel and be 6,000 things at once, to wear masks that didn’t fit, to go places I didn’t like.  I genuinely don’t know where it all begins.  When does one, whether silently to oneself or aloud, declare one’s sex?  Whether the gender declaration is a reality for some or not, I have no idea, but I can’t recall a day on which I parted my awkwardly long arms and squealed “I AM A GIRL!!!!”

In fact, I feel like I came to realize my girlhood more thoroughly and accurately through my revelations of boyhood.  I remember my first crash course in differences between my boyish counterparts and me.  It was Kindergarten.  Naptime arrived after lunch.  My nap buddy was a skinny, bleach blonde-haired boy named Alex.  As I attempted to fall asleep, Alex woke me: “Pssst.”  I looked at him.  He is no different than me.  His hair is short, yes but so is Gracie’s.  He and I play Star Wars together.  He continues, “Reach down my pants.  There’s something down there that girls don’t have.”  No, no there’s not and no I won’t.  My this-would-be-sexual-harassment-if-we-weren’t-in-Kindergarten experience seemed to impact me in a rather rudimentary way.

There was something intrinsically (& outwardly) and fundamentally different between my naptime buddy and I and this would never go away, despite any half-hearted efforts to thwart differences.  I would never have a male best friend, I would never be able to successfully deal away physical or emotional traces of womanhood, I would never successful raise my voice to wild or unorthodox calls and whistles.  I’d always remain a starry-eyed napper, a little girl laying next to a different being, trying to convince herself that difference wasn’t there, and despite its incessant presence, I’d always try to make us all the same.

If there is a personal battle that is more strenuous than trying to equalize something that is not meant to be equal or the same in any way, it is mindlessly trying to perfect one’s physical appearance.  What I learned from the next phase of girlhood:  It is only an awkward phase if you allow others to define you as awkward.  The real problem with the awkward phase is that we have handed our existence over to someone else; we have handed over our freedom.  There are several ways in which my Philosophy education has made my perceptions of myself wholly a thing of the past.  I owe most of these warding off techniques to Albert Camus.  My girl story took form mostly throughout a number of depressing years in which I had zero ownership over a life, which I was neither creating nor living.  It begins when my looks and ways were only bad because I allowed them to become tangled in the world, which, if we are realistic (I say realistic and not cynical, for a reason), is an unfree one.  So here is unpretty me tangled within our unfree world.  And that’s when the hand that drew Sisyphus comes in and defines absurdist philosophy as an unlikely joyous reaction to the stagnant.  He says: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become to absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”  So if self-creation is rebellion in the face of the unfree world, then my girl story, my self-loathing begins with me in a very stationary state.

By now, hopefully, have a vision of me in a Catholic school girl uniform, sitting down, legs crossed at the ankle, with a swarm of manic, lip-glossed tweens shouting obscenities, making me feel worse and worse about myself by the minute.  This is an exaggerated picture of the goings-on of my adolescent years.  The whole picture is more complex.  The truth is, some kids really are mean.  A girl story is not simply a one-dimensional depiction of an awkward girl willingly being picked at.  In my girl story, I am pummeled on several occasions by mean boys who really did grow up to fight aggressively with cops and underage bars and girls who really did continue settled, content, and sort of sleeping while aware in their childhood suburban home.  People were mean to me, but the person who was meanest was me.  I was likely my biggest bully.  I did all the looking in the mirror, and the pseudo face painting and caking on of unrealistically shaded face makeup.  I did the stomach sucking and occasional dirty dancing.  A girl story is only right if a girl takes the time to sort it all out and realize she’s the one who’s in control.

But when she realizes it, she turns her shirts inside-out and paints her walls green, dyes her hair with a fatal outcome, goes to record stores, and selects her new favorite tunes from Urban Outfitters message boards.  By this time, by the time I’d made a whole slew of exterior alterations to myself, I’d deciphered more clearly the difference between men and me.  I’d redirected the prettiness ideal to something both unique and self satisfying, but also appealing to my male counterparts—friends that wouldn’t stay friends, and others I’d just stare at while making my way through a crowded mall or city street, on some sort of secret prowl for anything that would make even a semi-pithy attempt at garnering my attention.  All the while, I’d gloss my lips and line my eyes, like a little pretend beauty, then I’d burn my pretty curls with electricity and fire.  In my girl story, I thought I was a thing that could be played with and pulled at: a small child, a wind-up toy, a human heart.

One’s perceptions of humanity change and grow, just as mine did with age and education.  The world becomes smaller, one may travel more, one may consistently encounter those she serves food to in a restaurant setting while at a bar on a Friday night, one may care less about birthdays, take time for granted, find the neighborhood next door to be less breathtaking and more commonplace.  The world is smaller, people are both better and worse, and beauty hasn’t looked the same in years.  It doesn’t even smell the same anymore and it doesn’t wear its hair the same, either.  Perhaps it comes with suffering, watching the physically beautiful falter and completely screw me over, or perhaps it comes with genuinely feeling uncomfortable as a sheep in a wolf’s clothes (see what I did there?).  Whatever it is, though, whatever sort of strange guise or wrapping I’m cloaked in or whatever sorts of perceptions I’ve developed regarding others and their boy and girl stories, I know I’m ready to unbind others and myself.

The girl story doesn’t extend, hopefully.  If time tells, it just goes away.  I recently closed my girl story at points of ellipses.  And it was at these points that the woman story began.  It’s here where the declarations occur.  I am not shy, as I was in my girl days.  Arms are parted, heart full, I am brimming with belief, excitement, and pride.  I know when I am different and when I am the same.  My gender is not my story, but it is what gets me from story to story, my catalyst, the recurring segue, my womanhood.

“All kinds of marvelous things go on. I don’t see how anyone who has looked, and seen, can do ought but say, ‘where I stand, wherever I stand, I am on holy ground.” ― John Wood

Two days ago this was my Facebook status: Today while interviewing a counselor and teacher for child domestic workers for my research publication, the counselor told me that the non-profit organization Room to Read is helping to fund new resources and books for the school. Three years ago I read a book by the founder of that same organization, and that was when I knew I wanted to go to Nepal. Life works in really strange ways, but seems to still come through with letting me know that I am in the right place.

I knew I was in the right place when I walked in to find the woman I was to interview reclining back and having her eyebrows threaded amidst young school girls getting hair cuts.  I later learned that it was a special day at the school.  The girls were receiving basic hygienic facilities, like haircuts, that the superior person of the home for which they worked usually did not allow for them to receive.  Of the four teachers I was assigned to interview about their experiences as teachers and counselors for child domestic workers, she made the most impact on me, so I shall speak mostly about her.

First of all, any women to rock a bob hair style in a traditional society of women who all seem to sport that same long hair is my hero.  And at least for the day, she was my hero.  It’s interesting, interviewing someone who does not speak your language, and although there is a translator, you know you’re not getting nearly half of what she said in her native language.  The teacher would speak for maybe five minutes ebfore I got my four second response from the Nepali volunteer who translated for me.  This time, though, things were different.  For some reason, when the translations came, I felt I had already known what she was saying.  She spoke Nepali clearly, slowly, and passionately, right to me, looking into my eyes.  I knew how she felt.  I knew that in her 10 years as a teacher for children who had to choose between the bad and the worse, girls who hid their scars and emotional baggage from years of sexual assault by their domestic employer just so they would not have to face attention of pity, because they knew that life in the city with an education was better than being back in their rural home, with a step mother who abused them verbally and physically and a father who couldn’t care less about her well-being.  I knew how much she cared and what’s more: I knew how happy she was to see me.  My final question at Shree Rudramati Lower Secondary school was  an open ended question asking the teacher what she thought was a very important point that I should be sure to stress in my report.  She said, “More than we need education, we need counseling.  Counseling plays a vital role; it is more than work.  Every human needs it, in every culture, in every value system, and every society.”  She also said that counseling always has a reciprocal effect on her.  I then asked her if I could see a classroom and perhaps take pictures of the children.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the class being taught by an energetic blind Nepali woman who was dancing and shouting excitedly in the middle of the room while the children sat repeating after her.  I was introduced and the kids all stood and, in one accord, greeted me in English.

It was only right that while I was still on a high from the last group of children, I get caught in a swarm of excited Nepali kids testing on their English and admiring my whiteness at the next school.  One of my favorite moments of the day was when a little girl, about 8 years old I’d guess, pinched me cheek and said, “You are so cute, miss.”  Hey, I’ll take it.  I love getting called cute, and if it’s coming from a young child, so be it.

All in all, I felt so much love in my two days of four interviews and school visitations.  If I walk away with one single memory as I embark on the difficult task of interviewing the children, themselves, it will be a quote from my final interviewee, a 29-year veteran teacher.  Her strength and motivation amazed me.  Even after she told stories of cases where she did not have sufficient funds to help children in abusive situations and thus had to watch them drop out of school, even after she described to me that the only scholarship for girls of the Dalit caste (the lowest caste) is a 400 rupee (approximately 4 USD)/year scholarship, after she told of the abuse she’s seen and the stories she’s heard, she stated “I am proud because most of all, I have made them conscious of their rights as human beings.”

I came full circle in these two days.  I sat in 2 school libraries funded by an organization that prompted me to come to this country.  I sat there thinking:  here I am, all kinds of marvelous things are going on, they’re cutting hair, they’re counseling, learning, speaking, loving.  I must be on holy ground.Image

Age is opportunity no less, Than youth itself, though in another dress, And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

Today is my 21st birthday.  And apart from it being filled thus far with great food that I have purposefully sought out for myself as well as some great jade earrings, which, again, I purposefully sought out for myself, it has been filled with great thoughts: thoughts of my own, of course, and thoughts which have been inspired by individuals and instances, like the great quote from Mr. HWL which I have spelled out above.  I cannot help but think to myself how very far behind me that awkward and ugly egg I once hatched out of is.  Age is tricky, you see, because some, my mother in particular, would like to argue that I’ve been acting 21 since I was 4.  While I can’t argue with much of this, it is interesting, still, to be perceived as older.  I usually love this and bask in it gloriously, but now I find myself both excited yet shocked.  I am smiling to myself at the thought of my first legal drink, regretfully spending money on a too-expensive bottle of wine I’d probably buy just to say I bought it, and that sort of thing, but another part of me is shaking my fist at the heavens, pleading “WHY!?  Slow it down, Jesus and Zeus and the court of Mt. Olympus!”

But sometimes, ex-poet laureates come around and they pull some tricks out of their back pockets and say LISTEN:

“And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

Ok, so my lights are far from burning out, I’m 21, I may, in fact be my brightest, although I’d like to think my brightest is me every day for the next 80 years.  Nevertheless, age is kind of a cooler thing than people assume it to be.  At least past a certain point in life, age means ugliness, death, and the newfound inability to do anything exciting or rewarding.  I am not yet at this point in life and some may say who am I to judge, but believe me, 1) I’m wise beyond my years-we’ve already covered this, and 2) I have a superbly and ridiculously cool mother (oh, have I mentioned this before?), who never ceases to amaze me with her goals, dreams, and endeavors for the future and the present.

So here’s the thing, I’m kind of excited to get older.  I don’t need to skip a year or anything, but I’m pretty excited for this year.  After all if I tried to hold it all back and succeeded, if Zeus and Moses and Buddha were all like “Hm, okay Leah, stay little, that’s cool with us,” I’d be frizzy haired and scared hiding inside my little egg, pleading for it not to break open so I wouldn’t have to face the kids in middle school, even the kids in high school, so I wouldn’t have to speak my mind, or seem sensitive, or seem weird.  And let me tell you guys and gals, trying not to seem weird, especially if you are weird (and I know you’re all secretly weird in some way), is the hardest thing to do.  Wanna see pictures of me trying not to seem weird?  Okay, yeah I didn’t think so.  Because my lips covered in concealer were WAY cooler than my lips tinted red.  But on a serious note, as I get older, more and more people are acquiring knowledge of the real me.  It’s almost to the point where almost every friend I have never knew the Leah from a few years back, the one who didn’t actually exist as her real self.  But now, there’s something different about me, and I have the wonderful gift of years to thank for it.

So I’m 21, I’m in Kathmandu, I’m jumping off a bridge tomorrow, and on Sunday, I’m dying portions of my hair blue.  I’m just being the youth itself, in another dress (Thanks, Sir Longfellow).

-LR

Please Read: This is where I ask my readers and followers to get involved!

Namaste friends and family!

I have been living in Kathmandu for a little over 2 weeks now, and I have been enjoying every moment of my stay.  In is, indeed, a different world here.  Everything from formalities in speaking and body language to the streets, the towns, and the architecture are all so different from everything to which I am accustomed.  I have been assigned a new project through the Nepali organization through which I am volunteering at a non-profit to help with some promotion work for an outstanding, innovation, and socially responsible non-profit that operates in my very own home here in Nepal.  Didi’s Foundation addresses the issue of women’s empowerment while also including skill training and embodying the essence of a community of women.  Many of the women who now work, sewing and knitting sellable goods with Didi’s Foundation, originate from rural Nepal, which tends to be much poorer than the city sector.  Some women are widowed, some have husbands who work internationally or live apart from home working as trekking or hiking guides, and many are mothers.  All of the women, even those who are married and whose husbands are financially stable, are at Didi’s so that they may learn to be self-sustaining individuals with minds for business and craftsmanship.  The women desire to learn a skill while also learning the value of not having to rely on a spouse or other family member.  In case you haven’t met me, I am an empowered woman and women’s empowerment is an initiative that I hold dear to me heart.    Too often are women told that they must be reliant instead of reliable, weak instead of strong, less educated instead of more educated.  This happens in our own American society as well.  It’s just here you can really feel it more.

I have not exchanged much more than smiles with the women who work in the Didi’s studio on the bottom floor of my home here, but I have been touched by what little I do know.  So, here’s the important part.  Help keep this organization going and help keep it going in such a way that the women feel great pride in all they do.  Didi’s website accepts donations to the organization; it also lists photographs of many of the designs and products that the women of Didi’s Foundation make.  I ask you to please consider either donating to or purchasing from Didi’s.  Although the prices are not listed on the website, I will be able to price out any requests you may have through the organization.  Individuals may e-mail me at lmrosenzweig@loyola.edu to inquire about a specific item(s) that they may want to purchase.  Please include your name, which items you would like, and color choices.  I will be sure to e-mail back with a price quote concerning the purchase.  Additionally, I will have a link on my fundraising site, and from there individuals may hit that donate button and transfer money for whichever products he or she wishes to purchase, after I have cleared the amounts via e-mail.  For any questions please contact me and I will work as a link between Didi’s Foundation and you, the customer and supporter.  These women are proud of what they produce, but more importantly they are proud of what their material production represents—sustainability, independence, empowerment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.didis.org/

NPR told me…

that Catholic nuns are being charged with promoting programs with “radical feminist themes” that are incompatible with doctrine on issues ranging from homosexuality to women’s ordination.

I am appalled.

And no, I do not have to flaunt my beliefs nor persecute the church to be appalled, I simply have to feel for women, moreover religious women in positions of power trying to enact change, who have been wrongly charged.  The Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be investigated for their deviation from doctrine.  Dorothy Day was a radical, I don’t need a man, feminist, but we love her don’t we?  There were and are many others who “deviate from doctrine,” yet congregate towards justice.

Here’s what an enlightened and modern-day thinker type nun has to say:

Posted by Mary Lou, OSB on April 23, 2012

What was your reaction to last week’s Vatican bombshell that it was reforming (read dismantling) the leadership organization of U.S. Catholic sisters? The sisters are charged with undermining Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality and promoting “feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Some have used the words “shocked” and “stunned” to convey their reactions. Mine is “enraged.”

I am as enraged as Samson who tore down a building with his bare hands, as enraged as Jesus who entered the Temple and smashed every sign of corruption. Which is not to say that I am ready to tear off heads or destroy chanceries. No, my rage is on simmer as I prepare for the days ahead. And here’s how I prepare.

Every morning I read about a “saint” in a monthly periodical I subscribe to, “Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic” (Liturgical Press). In April alone I met these six women:

April 11 — St. Julie Billiart, co-founder of the Institute of Notre Dame de Namur. During the French Revolution she got into trouble for harboring illegal priests and had to be smuggled out of her house to go into hiding. Lesson I learned: you must break the law, even church law, to protect the safety and life of others, for example, gays and lesbians.

April 16 — St. Bernadette of Soubirous. Bernadette was only fourteen when Blessed Mary appeared to her and a miraculous spring gushed up at the site in Lourdes, France. Church officials subjected Bernadette to “interminable interviews and cross-examinations.” Eventually they canonized her and Lourdes remains the most popular pilgrimage site in Europe. Lesson I learned: God gives visions where God will, often to women, though church hierarchy find it difficult to believe and do their best to trivialize it.

April 17 — Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, poet and scholar. This extraordinarily brilliant nun who was born near Mexico City ventured to write theology in 1609. Though acknowledging her work, the bishop of Pueblo urged her to use her gifts for “activities more becoming a woman.” Her no holds barred response to him championed the equal rights of women to learning and caused such an ecclesial uproar that she was forced to disperse her famous library and write no more. Lesson I learned: Doing theology is a work most becoming a woman. Efforts to silence the theological contributions of Sister Juana in the 17th century was a sin and efforts to silence new theological thinking of women religious today — such as calls for a discussion on women’s ordination — is sinful and to comply would put our souls in danger.

April 18 — Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Cornelia married an Episcopal priest, Pierce Connelly, who subsequently converted to Catholicism. He then decided to become a Catholic priest and Cornelia, pregnant with their fifth child, was asked to take a vow of chastity, which, out of love for her husband, she did. Taking her children with her to England she founded a religious congregation to advance the education of women and was living peacefully until her husband renounced his priesthood and wanted her to resume marital duties. She refused and after losing his suit against her in Anglican court, he kidnapped their children and she never saw them again. Lesson I learned: You can be betrayed by those you trusted and loved the most, in this case the Church that asked us to implement Vatican Council ll. To punish you for doing what you agreed to do when asked — now that they have changed their minds — they will try to take what is most precious to you: your good name, your freedom, your community unity,

April 19 — Corrie Ten Bloom, rescuer and witness. Living in Nazi occupied Holland, Corrie, her older sister, Betsie, and widowed father, heard a knock on the door one night and found a Jewish woman asking these devout Christians for shelter. Corrie invited her in and soon others followed until the Gestapo raided the home and she and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Corrie survived the war and spent the rest of her days traveling the world bearing witness to God’s love. Lesson I learned: Doing the right thing, standing up for those who have no recourse, is risky and can have dire consequences. Do it anyway. Answer the door when the poor needing health care knock. Answer the door when women trapped in desperate situations knock. Answer the door when a lesbian couple knocks. Answer the door.

April 20 — Anna Dengel, founder of the Medical Mission Sister. This woman responded to a notice that women doctors were needed in northern India to care for Muslim women who would not be seen by male doctors. This experience inspired her to envision and then establish the Medical Mission Sisters — the first Roman Catholic congregation to provide doctors for mission work. Lesson I learned: every founder of a religious congregation was a courageous pioneer that battled obstacle after obstacle to realize a dream. We owe it to our founders to trust our vision.

That’s as far as I got in April. When I look ahead to April 26 there’s Nano Nagle, the Founder of the Presentation Sisters who founded clandestine schools in Ireland. And on the last day of April we celebrate the great Doctor of the Church, Catherine of Sienna who “received a divine commission to help heal the world and the church.” She counseled Pope, kings and other men of power to end war and restore unity in the church.

This is how I prepare for what is to come. I stay close to these women, this communion of saints, because they remind me that, “if this is of God, nothing can destroy it.” They teach me all I have to know of courage, of compassion, of creativity, of tenacity, of faith, of vision. And they remind me of a debt I owe. For the saintly women of April, and of May, and of June…all women who have suffered because they dared to be true to themselves and to their God, it is time to say “Enough.”

And I include all of you in this communion of saints. Thank you so much for your notes of care and concern. Let this Monastery of the Heart join hands with Julie, Bernadette, Juana, Corrie, Cornelia, Anna, Nano and Catherine and holy women and men and welcome the morning star.

Then again, she was also the same woman who happened to write this prayer:


O Cosmic Christ,
in you
and through you
and for you,
all things were created;
in you
all things hold together
and have their being.

Through Teilhard de Chardin,
scientist of the cosmos,
you imagined a new heaven and a new earth.
Through Teresa of Avila,
charismatic leader,
you inspired a church of courage
and wisdom.
Mahatma GandhiThrough Mahatma Gandhi,
great soul,
you became nonviolent
in the struggle for justice.
Through Catherine of Siena,
fearless visionary,
you forged a new path for women.
Through Meister Eckhart,
creative mystic,
you refused to abandon the inner light.
Through Hildegard of Bingen,
greenness of God,
you poured out juicy, rich grace on all creation.
Through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
drum major for freedom,
you shattered racial barriers
and freed dreamers to dream.
Through Anne Frank,
writer and witness,
you preserved goodness in the midst of great evil.
Cesar ChavezThrough Cesar Chavez,
noble farmworker,
you transformed the dignity
of human labor.
Through Harriet Tubman,
prophet and pilgrim,
you led the captives into freedom.
Through Vincent Van Gogh,
artist of light,
you revealed the sacredness
in sunflowers
and in starry nights.
Through Thea Bowman,
healer songbird,
you danced the African-American culture
into the Church.
Through Pope John XXIII,
window to the world,
you awakened awareness to the signs of the times.
Mother Teresa of CalcuttaThrough Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
guardian of the unwanted,
you enfleshed a reverence for all life.
Through Thomas Merton,
universal monk,
you explored the sanctity of every human search.
Through Mary Magdalene,
apostle to the apostles,
you ordained women to proclaim the good news.
Through Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
musician of Holy Mystery,
you bathed the world in beauty.
Through Julian of Norwich,
anchoress and seer,
you showed the Mother image of God.
Through Dom Bede Griffiths,
marriage of East and West,
you unveiled the divine face
at the heart of the world.
Through Joan of Arc,
defender and protector,
you remained true to personal conscience
over institutional law.
Through Rumi,
poet in ecstasy,
you illuminated friendship as mystical union.
Through Maura Clarke and Companions,
martyrs of El Salvador,
you rise again in the hopes of the dispossessed.
Rabbi Abraham HeschelThrough Rabbi Abraham Heschel,
Hassidic sage,
you answered our search for meaning
with wonder, pathos for the poor, and sabbath rest.
Through Dorothy Day,
pillar of the poor,
you recognized holiness as bread for the hungry.

O Cosmic Christ,
in your heart
all history finds meaning and purpose.
In the new millennium,
in the celebration of jubilee
help us find that which we all seek:
a communion of love
with each other
and with you, the Alpha and Omega,
the first and last,
the yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
the beginning without end.
Amen.

Faith found within action.  This is what I believe.  When I am not able to believe because of what is depicted by the institution, things like this fall into my lap.  It’s nice to know this woman, though in a very different place than me, hopes in progress, love, and acceptance.