Archives for March 2013

an Easterish poem

for Sheila


The March afternoon when Mom gave me the breakable angel

I placed it high on the mantle where its “Hallelujah! He is Risen!”

could always be seen, especially in spring


when the days start cool, then warm into full sun

when the light is longer

when grass is conquered by color. Who can call a bluebonnet delicate

when it grows in the most god-forsaken ditches?

It takes some strength to bloom where no one planted you.


I pick up the angel when — oh, look!

            She’s missing a hand.

When did that happen? How did I not notice? Surely I didn’t throw it away?

That’s how fragile motherhood is. You can lose a hand and not know it.

for Good Friday

As I said last week, I’m posting some early reflections on Holy Week, written last year when I came into the Catholic church. There’s more below, in the “Going Catholic” tab. Hope you enjoy!

Good Friday, 2012

Another service at St. Mary’s that is both the same and different from all the Episcopal services I grew up with.

Since it’s a Catholic church, you look at that big, giant crucifix every day—except today. Today the figure of Jesus was draped in red cloth. In every other Good Friday service I’ve been to, the cross was draped in black. Not here. Red.

We did the Passion readings again, where the priest takes the voice of Jesus and we take the voice of the crowd, and there is a narrator and another voice in between. What struck me from the reading from the Gospel of John was that Jesus knew. He knew everything. He knows all that has happened and will happen in my life, too.

When that was over, Father Enda gave a short homily, and then he led us in a spontaneous, acappella rendition of “Amazing Grace.” That made me feel more at home.

But just as quickly, everything was different. Father Enda said, “Viva Christo Rey.” And all the Spanish-speaking voices shouted out with gusto, “!Viva Christo Rey!” I looked it up when I got home. It is a reference to the martyrdom of a Mexican priest. Apparently the Mexican government has a history of repression of the Catholic church. Who knew? It only resulted in a very Catholic country and many people who remain Catholic even when they come to America.

Then we started the Veneration of the Cross. I thought it would just be some people going forward, like in the washing of the feet last night, but it was everyone. Father Enda took my hand. That always makes me cry. I wanted to touch the “hem” of the cross. Of course, I got nervous. I knelt and touched as low as I could. Suddenly, it was all real.

While we were processing forward, the choir sang. One of the songs I didn’t know but really liked was called “O Silent God.” Of course, I knew and loved “What Wondrous Love is This.”

I thought we didn’t have communion on Good Friday, but I was wrong. The altar was stripped bare. It’s actually wood. I liked it better that way. I got a blessing instead of Communion one last time. I actually sort of, kind of fasted (for me, anyway), going from 3 p.m. until after the service ended at 8:30 p.m. And afterward I only ate a granola bar. It felt right. I just wanted to try.

Then we sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” But we didn’t “lay Him in the tomb.” That’s tomorrow.

Some Found Poetry

(guess what I found in my spam comments? poetry!)



Your place is valuable for me
Actually, it almost looks like a super-hip work folio

The large size makes it a bit odd even awkward for evening
so save it for the workday

There’s alot more wait
I don’t know if I see the center to heart

There is some validity but
I will take hold of my opinion until I appear into it further

They also say it could mean something rather than the goddess herself
So it is anybody’s imagine

Thanks for the share

for Maundy Thursday

Yes, I know I’m early. But I want to spread out my reflections on Holy Week.

These next three entries were written last year, when I was coming into the Catholic church. The posts about that can be found down below in the “Going Catholic” section, if you’re interested.

These describe the services of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, as well as the morning of the Great Vigil of Easter, as I was getting ready for the Big Event. Hope you enjoy!

Holy Thursday, 2012

It’s a good thing I went to the service. I knew I was supposed to go, but I thought it was just “recommended.” No, I had a job to do. I got to be one of the people to go forward and carry one of the newly blessed oils to the altar.

Guess which one I got? Oil of the sick. Figures.

I’m sure it was providential that I got to carry the oil used for healing and last rites because those are my two lifelong issues—healing and death. And the oil I carried will be used for this whole next year for everyone going into surgery or about to die. It was a privilege.

The service itself was joyful. Father Enda wore white with a stole of many colors, every color of the liturgical year. A friend came and sat with me. I told her I hadn’t seen the stole before.

“The kids call it the Happy Stole,” she said. She teaches second grade at St. Mary’s.

One way the service was more joyful than usual was they used the organ, the one that’s over 100 years old up in the balcony. There was also a choir. Who knew we even had a choir?

Many people went forward to have their feet washed. I stayed back and watched. I saw the men and women come forward, old ladies with their wheeled walkers, toddlers—running, a woman with the cane, a teenaged girl in a floral dress that was way too short, another teenaged girl with a Boobies belt, a high school boy with a hoodie. Come one, come all. This was one ritual everyone could participate in. No one asked if you believed in the Blessed Sacrament or not. No one asked if you’ve been baptized or received first Communion. Come if you want to. Come.

After it was over, we turned to each other in the congregation and blessed each other by making the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads. I did this with the woman in front of me and with the woman who is the teacher.

“Did I do it right?” I asked.

“You did fine,” she said.

When it came time to bring forward the oil, I had no idea what to do other than walk with it. Father Enda motioned to me to hold it up high so everyone could see it, so I did. Then I was supposed to turn and put it in a stand in front of the altar, but I didn’t hear that because the deacon telling me was on my deaf side. Eventually Father Enda pulled my arm and gestured. At least I didn’t spill it.

After the service was over, they processed outside, over to the chapel, where they would be holding Eucharistic Adoration until midnight. They sang all the way.

I had a question for my sponsor. I was still worried about the oil. “Did I do it right?” I asked her.

“Of course!” she said.

But that wasn’t good enough. When I saw the deacon, I apologized to him. “I’m so sorry I messed it up. With the oil. I didn’t know what to do,” I said.

“I don’t think you can mess it up,” he said. “See you tomorrow.”


Word Candy from Hope Confections

Speeding for the Lord

This past weekend, I drove to Fort Worth, and just south of the Metroplex, I ran into a section of highway that was under construction. All traffic slowly merged into the right lane and continued along a five-mile stretch at a slow, but steady pace.

That kind of thing happens often on Interstate 35 in Texas. And in the many times I’ve been stuck in construction traffic, there are always cars that cut in line, and there are always cars that jump the median and head for the frontage road.

But until last Saturday, I’d never seen a church van do both of those things.

Yep, I saw the church van cut in line, and then I saw it take off across the grass toward faster pathways. Once traffic evened out on the south side of Fort Worth, I saw it pass me. It was speeding.

I assume it was speeding for the Lord. I’m sure that church van was on Kingdom business (it was the beginning of spring break, after all). Certainly, their work was more important than mine.

But if you are going to break a bunch of traffic laws, I’d advise you not to do it in a church van, with your name, address, phone number and website clearly painted for all the world to see. Instead, if you must put lives at risk, take my anonymous-looking gray Hyundai. I don’t even have a fish bumper sticker.

Trying a pantoum


(for Tweetspeak’s pantoum month)


We’re supposed to try

That’s what dads do

Try and try and try

Move over more money


That’s what dads do

Fix the car

Move over more money

Moms, too


Fix the car

Find the right shoes

Moms, too

Pray you do okay


Find the right shoes

Try and try and try

Pray you do okay

We’re supposed to try


I live in peach country. Forty percent of the peaches in Texas come from Gillespie County, where I live. So you won’t be surprised to learn that the top story in this past week’s paper was about the upcoming peach crop.

Besides having enough water, the other thing you need for good peaches is enough “chill hours,” hours below 45 degrees, before the trees bud. Sorry, all you folks up north, but sometimes we don’t get enough cold hours. This year, we’re a little on the border at 660. 700-750 is preferrable, and we’ll probably get there soon. In a normal year, we get 800-850 chill hours.

The reason peach trees need chill hours is for something called “healthy dormancy.” Different peach varieties require different amounts, and our area produces 12 varieties. Not enough chill, not enough flowers, bad fruit.

The chill gives the peaches their sweetness. But if we drop down into the low 20s at this point, the buds will be damaged. A light freeze is fine. This morning 27 degrees–a little on the edge for the first peaches, but not as bad as, say, 21 degrees. Six degrees of separation can be an awful lot.

Once the trees start to bud–and oh, that’s the time to take a bike ride!–they need rain. While they’re dormant, rain isn’t necessary. But when we see those stubby trees covered with white and pink blossoms, we pray for the good Lord to turn on the rain. Just not too much.

The first fruits will come in mid-May, the last in early August. We’ll see then if we got the balance right. The proof will be this summer, when we slice open a local peach.

In the meantime we wait. And irrigate, if it stays dry. Mostly, we pray.

Announcement by way of haiku

peach trees are budding

vineyard blooms follow—

Lyla finished my website

OK. It’s not a perfect haiku. You’d know that if you read Lyla Lindquist’s “Boost Your Haiku High-Q” infographic over at Tweetspeak. However, it does reflect a season—spring—which which has shown up in Central Texas. And it doesn’t rhyme (so you still like me, right?). And I am particularly emotional about my new website being ready, after years of denying that I needed professional help.

So, if all goes well, the new site will launch tomorrow, March 4, 2013. I’ve never had an RSS feed before, but I will now. If you were RSSing on your own, you may need to resubscribe using as the website address.

If there are any problems, they’ll get worked out. Spring is funny that way–thunderstorms one day, sunny and 72 the next. Or in Lyla’s corner of the country, random blizzards. Lay in your store of tea now!

Thank you all. I mean it.