Reflecting on the Veil….

Flags and Flowers by Heidi Ann MorrisIt’s a cold, blustery day and I am hoping the dogwoods in my front yard will bloom before long. I love all the flowering trees in Virginia, like the one in this photo by my friend Heidi Anne. It has taken considerable contemplation to unearth the significance of such a tree to me. Memories seem to surface when we are ready to take hold of them. I contracted the old fashioned measles when I was five years old. The fever spiked at 105 degrees and my grandmother packed me in ice in her clawfoot tub. She refused to let them take me to the hospital because she was convinced I would die there. She felt the nurses were overworked and I needed more constant care. In her words, I was ‘too close to piercing the veil’. After the fever broke I spent three weeks in a darkened room with a radio turned down to a whisper. The volume knob had been removed to keep it at that level. Old fashioned measles was notorious for blinding and deafening children that survived. Any loud noise or bright light could compromise my senses for the rest of my life. I did end up with a weak left eye, the side that faced the bathroom door while I was in the tub full of ice. My hearing is actually more acute, an effect experienced by those who were meticulously cared for. I do not remember much about those three weeks, except an overwhelming sense that I was not alone. I knew my grandmother and her friends were desperately praying for me. She fed me that fact with each and every meal of jello and each time she checked to be sure I was drinking water. It was more of an abiding sense and a knowledge that a healing waiting me. I made up stories in my head and listened to all sorts of strange radio stations. Perhaps part of what gave me hope was that untamed imagination that is the prevue of every five year old. My most vivid memory is sitting on the porch for the first time after those three long weeks. Being outdoors seemed like a fairyland, and every color, every sight was over the top. It was early spring and there was a blooming tree in front of the porch, a tree a lot like the one in photo. Even my perspective mimics the photo, since I was in a reclined position. There were even flags of a sort that glorious day, at least flags in my imagination. The veil my grandmother feared I would pierce had become a direct line to the heavens. Life of any form was beyond precious, something miraculous and awe inspiring in its own right. My life since has been full of ups and downs, uncanny victories but also devastating disappointments. Yet regardless of what life brings, I begin each day with pray, with hope against hope in what may seem to others to be beyond hope. You see I have no choice but to believe in prayer, because without it you would not be reading this blog. I have been living on borrowed time for all but five years of my life, and God willing, will continue to live on borrowed time for as long as God needs me here. Make time today to thank God for your precious life, given to you breath by breath. Let the wonders of nature speak to you. Pause to contemplate the beginnings of new life on the trees, the nodules that began to grow last autumn as soon as the leaves fell. And most of all, trust in the healing that has been prepared for you, and deeply and slowly breathe it in, one breath at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, photo entitled ‘Direct Line to Heaven’ by Heidi Anne Morris ©2015-2017, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.


Reflecting on the Way Out….

Way Out by Rick Martin Sep17
Life is never as neat and tidy as I would like it. My attention shifts from one aspect to the next, usually resulting in total neglect of at least one part of my life. I start to eat healthy, but can’t manage to exercise. I take time for morning prayer, but neglect to keep in touch with friends. It seems I am much better at focusing on one part of my life than I am at balancing the many parts of my life. So I was drawn to this incredible photograph by my friend Rick. He seeks out abandoned and deserted places and turns what others see as a lost cause into beautiful art. I look at his work and wonder about who might have lived there and what their lives must have been like. Most of all, I am intrigued by how light affects how I see the image. I have been turning my attention to long neglected areas of my life, cleaning out clutter and dealing with ancient memories that clutter brings up. Perhaps I hang onto things because I dread thinking about what those things remind me of. It is easier to box up the stuff and the past that goes with it than to the time to sift through it. Somehow I have wound myself into the darkest corner of that house of memories, with not enough light to discern what I am looking at, let alone what I need to address. And of course, I expect the way out to be simple, a single step, a single turning, a single change of heart. Yet how can that be when it took me forever and a day to get here? Why do I expect the way out to be any less complicated than the way in? A part of me has been dealing with the monsters in the closet, whether I chose to turn my conscious thoughts toward them or not. Unpacking the way out will take time and more than a little space for grace. Take time today to peek around the corner and take a look at what you hide in the shadows. Tomorrow or next week, clear out the cobwebs and clutter that gets in the way. When you are ready, wipe away the dust and look at that old memory calmly and clearly. Most of all, be gentle with yourself and let go of what happens next. Hold open space for something new and unexpected. Open your heart to a future beyond what you can imagine or hope for, a future that embraces the past rather than remaining trapped by that past. And always remember, it starts with just one step out of the darkness, one day at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, photo entitled ‘Way Out’ by Rick Martin©2017, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more of Rick’s work, go to or

Reflecting on Anger….

It’s a bright, sunny morning, and I have a full day planned. I’m feeling better than I did yesterday, when I was ready to hand our dog off to whoever would take him. It’s funny how anger can warp your perspective. So I was drawn to this high dynamic range (HDR) photo taken by my friend David Buckwalter. I love how the colors pop against the sky, how details are emphasized, how a picture becomes a painting. David took this photo of a shot furnace at Fort Griswold State Park in Groton, CT. This morning I feel a bit ridiculous, after expending way too much energy on anger, rather than on resolving the problem. Our dog Hobbes has decided the new dining room carpet is a good place to relieve himself. The carpet’s colors camouflaged the stains, until my nose detected the problem this weekend. So I spent yesterday shampooing the carpets, after finding other hidden offenses. Just when I was ready to start cooking supper, the dog returned to the scene of the crime and defiled my nice, clean carpet. Before you ask, the dog is still here, although it’s a small wonder my family still is. I was far from pleasant company last night. There is nothing that frustrates me more than wasted work, especially when it’s difficult, manual labor. And truth be told, I started the job angry, because I was mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner. Getting past anger takes time and perspective. Anger may feel like strong emotion, but is often more of a chain reaction. We feel something now, then link this incident to others from the past, make judgments about ourselves and others, then over react. What we see and hear becomes like this photo, the dynamic range of our reactions is off the scale. Or perhaps we vent our frustration about one situation elsewhere, losing our temper in a safer place and time. Take time today to step back from anger, to consider your initial emotion, be it frustration, or disappointment, or fear. Look at the surrounding circumstances, relationships, and past history, to understand what set you off. Pray for God’s perspective, to see all sides, rather than just your own. And remember, when we invite the Holy Spirit to burn in our souls, we become a steadfast flame, instead of a shot furnace. Photo by David Buckwalter ©2011, used with his permission

Reflecting on Presence….

This morning I spent longer than usual outdoors, waiting for the school bus with my five year old friend Patrick. It’s delightful to see the world through his eyes, and allow myself to be a child again. So I was drawn to this stunning photo, part of a series called ‘Being with Trees’ by my new friend Heidi Anne. I love the colors of the sky as the sun filters through the trees. The branches remind me of feathers, delicate and lacey. This morning the sun was rising behind us as we stood near the road. Patrick wanted to throw rocks, and it would have been so easy to simply say no. Instead, I said yes and made a game out of it. We both turned around to face away from the road, and into the sun. While Patrick returned gravel lost in the lawn back onto the driveway, I took into the beautiful view. I don’t know about you, but being present is challenging. There are days when the cares and concerns of this life clamor for my attention, pulling me this way and that. I can so easily convince myself to rush from one task to another, hoping for a few quiet moments at the end of the day. Then there are days like today, when I find those quiet moments in the midst of the most mundane errands. A child doesn’t need scheduled activities or expensive toys – a few pieces of gravel can easily become a delightful matching game. The quiet we so vainly seek may be found in the joyful noise of a child, fully present to what life brings each moment, each and every day. Take time today to seek quiet contemplation amidst the busy-ness of life. Notice the sky and scenery, or perhaps the faces of those around you, allowing their voices to meld together and blend into the background. Seek to be present to all that life brings your way, without judgment as to what is or is not important. And remember, sometimes all it takes to be present is to say yes, and turn around. Photo by Heidi Anne Morris, used with her permission, to see more of her photos, visit

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