When love cripples

Once a little boy  playing outdoors found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to ask his mother if he could keep it. She said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, into the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. Worried, the boy called his mother who understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. She explained to him how the caterpillar would go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly. chrysalys The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He waited every day for the butterfly to emerge. One day, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out it looked like it couldn’t break free!  It looked like it was making no progress! 

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He got a scissors and very carefully snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly emerged! As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised to find it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings. He continued to watch it, expecting that at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would usually shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand. But neither happened! untitledinjured butterflywikicommons The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong, his mother explained to him: the butterfly was SUPPOSED TO STRUGGLE. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions had hurt the butterfly. “

Excessive zeal, love and care of parents for their children, spouses for each other, and elders towards children, can sadly and often cripple growth of the people they are trying to help.

Parents who fear their children will be rejected and  try to make them perfect – to ‘conform’ to peer standards – cripple a child’s ability to accept himself as he is.  He will always strive to be perfect before he can be accepted.

Jesuit Priest Anthony de Mello was very critical of the popular phrase “I’m OK, you’re OK” which sends a deep message to the subconscious that you have to be OK to be accepted.  We should rather, he suggests, keep reminding ourselves and our children “its OK to be not OK!”  

Parents who are too protective of their children and curtail their movements out of fear, send out subtle messages of doubt, timidity, lack of courage and inability to cope with dangers that may surface. Do not let fear cripple. Better rather to warn your children of these dangers, role play how to handle them and send them out with courage, hope and confidence in their ability to cope.

I know a girl who was at risk for epileptic seizures. Her parents were so scared to send her out,  she lived and died not ever leaving the confines of her home except with her mother or father.  Love and parental fear crippled her.  The words of the song by Leeanne Rhymes are a poignant reminder of “the soul so afraid of dying that it never learns to live”. 

They say “love must be tough’.  I think this means we should learn to let go and learn to love with the ‘good’ of the object of our love being the primary focus.

I know another beautiful and talented child – a slow learner in academic studies – but with sharp observation skills and with it an outstanding talent for  imitation and drama. Unfortunately, because our society believes you need the three R’s (Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmetic)  to be a ‘whole’ person, she is considered ‘mentally challenged’,  cosseted and treated her like a five year old without realisation of how crippling this action is.  Sadly, who she is or can be is mirrored in the low expectations of people around her.  They think she can never crawl out of the cocoon alone and so she never is given the opportunity to struggle, to strengthen her latent and unique talents, and soar.

Parents,  spouses, elders … we need to keep the story of the boy and the caterpillar in mind.  Actions, albeit of love, can stifle growth;  ‘help’ can  be a hindrance to progress. Fear for safety paralyses and encourages doubts, anxiety, lack of confidence. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust God and let go.  He who takes care of the lilies of the field and the caterpillars in their cocoon will fulfil his plan for your little caterpillars,  for they are His beloved children.

May we always give our children the freedom to struggle, to take their own time to strengthen their wings, to be who they were created to be,  so they may one day soar to the heavens. imagesKF0LHI4Itelepic.netimagesB8OMQEU7programs.omsi.edu

An Icon is no more.

I was surprised to find myself humming tunes like ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’  whilst getting ready to return to my old school.

OK … so I was going to the funeral of the lady who was Principal the entire time I was in ‘College’ – Grade 6 to O’ Level;   the funeral of one whose personal signature is stamped - alongside her comments – on every page of my report card,  and indelibly stamped  in my memory.

But Norma Jean, Princess Diana, Evita … heroines of these songs buzzing in my head,  were super-star icons on the world stage.  Sr Helen Marguerite was well …  just Sr HM, our former Principal.  So why were these tunes surfacing from my subconscious?

Don’t cry for me ….?   I was not crying?!  She was our Principal maybe 30-40 years ago.  We had moved on … she had moved on.  The candle had in many ways been dimmed a long time ago.

It was only as I sat in the subdued quiet of a familiar chapel … with students of each class filing past in wonderful orchestrated synchronicity to recite a decade of the rosary and move on;  it was as the soft music of hymns like Amazing Grace played in the background between the visits of each class that I realised why my subconscious had thrown out these songs.

Sr Helen Marguerite may not have been a player on the world stage, but for us who passed through the hallowed portals of HFC Bambalapitiya in the late sixties/early seventies, she was indeed an iconic figure who loomed larger than life.

For me – Holy Family was “Puggy” and  “Puggy” was Holy Family – such was her influence in our lives.

Why  Puggy?  Am not really sure.  I think I first heard it on the lips of batch mate Faye.  I do know that Sr HM had a pug nose. Beyond that, was she ‘pugnacious’?  I was about to use that word and thankfully checked it.   Nope she was not belligerent, combative, aggressive, bellicose, argumentative, contentious etc.  No need to be.  She was the Principal.  Her word was law and we were not about to argue with her. We respected our Principal,  teachers and elders.

SrHm

Rev. Sr. Helen Marguerite, First Sri Lankan Principal

Puggy was Puggy well because she looked Puggy. She strode around the school in a shorter than usual nuns habit, with a higher than normal heel in her shoe, and a stronger than normal walk.  I already mentioned she strode.  She never walked, minced, glided or moved like other nuns you knew.  In fact Puggy was not your normal nun.  You knew when she was around – both by the sound of her walk and by her PRESENCE.  And she did have a presence.  A huge presence that was way way disproportionate to her little diminutive figure.

However back then we did not see a little figure. We just saw a nun who was not very orthodox, who chatted ‘quite friendly like’ but was still able to command the utmost respect; one who maintained the highest standards of discipline; who would not accept falling grades even if you engaged in extracurricular activities, and one who maintained and insisted  on the highest morals of catholic education.

But most Principals are expected to do this … so what was so special about Puggy – or to be more formal –Rev. Sr. HM?  I believe she will be remembered and defined by her role in bringing the ‘Up with People’ songs to HFC and creating an indelible memory of  stage performances that took Colombo by storm.  It seemed the whole school was there in that choir except yours truly who cannot sing if my life depended on it.  Can you imagine the resounding echoes of songs whose words (I realise only today in Googling it ) defined a generation …

Up Up with people, you meet them wherever you go … Up Up with people they’re the best kind of folks you know.

And …

What color is God’s skin? What color is God’s skin? I said its black brown yellow it is red, it is white,  every man’s the same in the good Lords sight.

Plus the resounding echo  of Freedom isn’t Free. Freedom isn’t Free … You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice, Freedom isn’t Free.

This was 60’s music:  psychedelic revolutionary pop culture, and the words were ringing out from the hallowed precincts of a convent with  Reverend Sister HM at the helm.

Sitting in the chapel,  I realised that ‘Puggy’ was in many ways ahead of her time.  She would be making waves on the international stage if she was Principal in these times … when nuns in habit are performing on the world stage, winning Voice Italia titles whilst carrying a new message of evangelisation .

Alas, we were entrenched in the pre-Vatican II era.  We thought Sr. HM was unorthodox and this was confirmed when we heard she had ‘left the robes’.  Sadly only that bit of ‘shocking news’ was passed on.  Not the fact that she continued in her mission till the end, working amongst children – street children.

She had a special vocation with these children, just as she had with her charges at HFC.  I remember once we had forgotten our text books and my Dad had brought them into the office to be given  to us.  The receptionist had inquired ‘What class?’  “Class?  Errr … Don’t you know ?  … maybe Grade 7? “ stuttered my Dad.

Sr. Helen Marguerite who was passing had stopped by to interject : “Mr. Rasquinho, your girls are in Grade 9. They are preparing for their O Levels.  I have 2000 children and I know which class they are in and you have 3 and can’t keep track!”  We laughed so much when Dad told us.  He had muttered something about their Mum looks after that side and squirmed out of the office.

This was the lady I had come to pay my respects to: the Principal who took a personal interest and followed each child’s progress.  The nun who ‘left her robes’ but not her faith or her commitment to love and serve children; the lady I had once met in a doctor’s waiting room decades after I had left school who recognised me and spoke to me when I could not recognise her in her new garb  – grey skirt and blouse.

Don’t cry for me Argentina … the truth is I never left you … all through my wild days my mad existence  …

I served the Lord in the best way I could.

I was surprised that I had to fight to hold back the tears.  She was so much ahead of her time.  She had the courage to follow her heart, to pursue Truth wherever it leads you.

I went up to the bier to place a rose for a life that touched hundreds – nay thousands - of students in ways we did not realise.

I would not have recognised her if I passed her on the street with her children.  She looked so very tiny and frail … so ‘non existent’.  This my Principal who had filled the College corridors, who had left all that pomp and pageantry behind to live a new and anonymous life among the poor.

That is how I will recollect her memory in future.

Farewell ‘Puggy’.  Rest in Eternal Peace with your maker, courageous and indomitable Rev. Sr. Helen Marguerite.

Your students will sing  the College Anthem  in  your honour and listen also to the song that defines you.

http://hfcb.lk/content/sub/5

Photo and School Anthem http://www.hfcb.lk/

It seems to me a strange thing mystifying

That my Lord came to this earth “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4.18)

And yet we who call ourselves Christians because we wish to follow him, do the very opposite.

We get into our ivory castles where we are beyond reproach, and from the safety of this castle we throw stones at those who are not like us in religiosity, in piety, in following the letter of the law.

We are in fact, following the Pharisees rather than following Jesus.

In a recent homily, Pope Francis  exhorted that we ask ourselves the reason the doctors of the law (the Pharisees) did not understand the signs of the times and invoked an extraordinary sign. And he proposed several answers:

The first was “because they were closed. They were closed within their system, they had organized the law very well”. It was “a masterpiece. All of the Jews knew what one could and could not do, where one could go. It was all organized”. But Jesus caught them unprepared, by doing “curious things”, such as “going with the sinners”, and “eating with the publicans”. And the doctors of the law did not like this, they found it “dangerous”, putting at risk “the doctrine which they, the theologians, had been making for centuries”. This happens, said the Pope,  when you forget that you are people on a journey:

“when one is on journey  one always finds new things, things one does not know. And in the law, they had to accept these things in a heart faithful to the Lord”. But, also in this case, “a journey is not absolute in itself, it is a journey toward an end point: toward the definitive manifestation of the Lord”.

For this reason,  Pope Francis explained, Jesus defined them as an “evil generation”, inasmuch as “they did not understand that the law they protected and loved was a pedagogy toward Jesus Christ”. Indeed, “if the law does not lead to Jesus Christ, does not bring us close to Jesus Christ, it is dead”.

And this is why Jesus scolds the members of that generation “for being closed, for being incapable of recognizing the signs of the times, for not being open to the God of surprises, for not being on a journey toward the Lord’s triumphant finale”, to the point “that when he explains it, they think it is blasphemy”.

We who live in ivory towers, closed to the signs of the times, need to reflect on Pope Francis’ words:

Am I attached to my things, to my ideas, closed? Or am I open to the God of surprises?”.

“Am I a stationary person or a person on a journey?”.

May we lose no time  in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope, in setting captives free, and doing the ‘curious things’ that Jesus did as we follow our Master and not the Pharisees.

“A heart that loves the law, for the law is God’s”, but “which also loves God’s surprises”, for his “holy law is not an end in itself”: it is a journey, “a teaching which leads us to Jesus Christ”.

Bible-Verses-About-Mercy

Excerpts (re-arranged with comments) from a homily by Pope Francis on 13 October 2014 on the God of Surprises.

One lovely blog award ‘correction’!

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I don’t know how it happened.  I realised today that one of the blogs at the top of my list for Nomination was  not included.

I have been posting off  my phone till I get my new laptop this weekend and the script is not always clear as in a big screen.  Somehow in doing bullets I had left out :-

Faith Friendship & Fortitude … a most incredible blog by a youngster,  that has me in awe – humbled by his outstanding … well …  faith, fortitude and courage in the midst of great trial!

I am not sure I can get the link right on this phone but D Wickward of Faith, Friendship & Fortitude please accept my humble nomination for sharing with us your faith journey in one lovely  & inspiring blog.

I apologise for typo error.  please see related post for the nomination details.

One lovely blog award nomination…

one-lovely-blog-award

Thank you sunshine girl aka Send Sunshine for nominating me for one lovely blog award.  You too are a hard act to follow with your daily doses of sunshine.

Here are the seven more facts about myself ….(lots of self revelation these days :)  !)

  1. I celebrated my grand six oh with my twin with a beautiful thanksgiving mass and fellowship this Friday past: 3rd Oct “D day” we entered the universe six minutes apart.
  2. I used to have a ‘thing’ about proclaiming my age.  Now .. it is only a number to me: Am happy to add up the numbers which means more life .. more grace!
  3. I love music and can dance anywhere, anytime  – whether alone or in company.  I picked up this freedom of spirit from Jamaica  (Not always advisable in Sri Lanka …)
  4. One of my favourite pastimes is to lie in the shade of a tree – to sleep or read a book.  Next choice a hammock - also under a tree.  Writing and blogging is fast ousting this from top of the list.
  5.  I would love to travel some more -  Mexico, Graceland, Northern Lights, Africa and China are on the list:  and to Spain, Rome  and Israel (again!)
  6.  Outlook – my twin says I swim upstream when everyone else is  swimming downstream. Have not yet decided yet whether this is good or bad. Shouldn’t you check where the water is coming from before you go with the flow? Or is it unnecessary?  An interesting analogy I might need to check out.   Meantime  I remain  a ‘weird fish’ (her words.)
  7. Encompassing all these …. just as the Rose follows the sun, so too do I wish to follow The Son and take my bearings only from HIm.

I would like to nominate the following in a spirit of sharing  – and because they have really inspired me  in the ways mentioned. I have seen where some do not accept awards on principle. If you are one of those ..please do not take the nomination amiss;  just know that I sincerely appreciate the thoughts that you put out on the ‘noosphere’ that have inspired me.

And to all those who visit my blog …  hope you find some little something that made your visit worthwhile.   Thank you for stopping by.

Nomination Rules:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award
  3. Include seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award -
  5. Follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already!)

Angels with only one wing

I felt the odd one out. There was an aura of excitement when I signed in  to ‘uni- class’ today. Students were already posting links, asking questions.  The numbers indicator on the new comments button kept rising.  I tried to keep pace,  to keep up with the flow of comments. It seemed to be about a “Dream reader.”

Are you serious  … is that the task?  I had been so interested in chatting before class I had forgotten to check the days assignment.  I looked at the blackboard, sorry Dashboard. No assignment there. I was on the wrong page.  A bit of searching and a couple of SOS messages later to the ‘Commons’ and I found the right page.  Yes… it’s there all right.

cropped-class-seal_seal-class-of-september-2014  

Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

“New–to-you element”  – Very nice !!   I felt the excitement now. I had enrolled to learn the tech wizardry of the blogosphere. The  incredibly supportive WP team had given necessary guidelines for tweeting, embedding videos, images etc. I don’t tweet (yet) but would like to try my hand at embedding a video.

The other part (to write about my Dream Reader) is  another story -figuratively speaking, because I am going to have to put that story in this story!

Problem is, I’m not sure that I have a dream reader.  I am a sort of a  reluctant blogger … I blog for ‘me’.

Oh dear. I can hear many exclamations … what are you doing here …. go keep a diary etc  … but am I the only one who feels that way?   Some one help me please.  Some one tell me you feel the same way too … please … !

I write to unravel my mind … to come to understand myself, others, life, our final destination, God.  And when a little bit of light comes In through my window, I open it wider … see if I can reflect some light back to someone else who needs it – who is trying the unravel the same issues.

Is that my Dream Reader then?

I want to postpone this task  as I have chores to do, but my mind has got into a tangle and I need to unravel it now.   WP team is really clever.  They set you thinking and get you focused with their questions … who are you, why are you here, who is your dream reader ….

Heavy stuff.  Or is it?  I am a thinker … an over thinker … an over over thinker if there is such a thing… and I have to remind myself to ease up, laugh at my self  … because ‘the reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly’.

I need to keep that in mind now.  it would be nice to have a picture in front of me so I Google it. First strike – many quotes on angels. Not really what I wanted but I read some of them :

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ~George Elliot  

Very nice. Reminds me of the day the lotus bloomed and I knew it not; Reminds me of me :) .

      Philosophy will clip an angel’s wings ~John Keats .

Oh oh … I like philosophy. Maybe I should not philosophize so much (my siblings complaint :) ) But there is another quote that counteracts it.  I like this last part which in some odd way reminds me of my ramblings :

…(angels) speak their own (language) whether there be any who understand it or not ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And then this one

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another ~ Luciano de Crescenzo.

A song popped into my head and suddenly my Dream Reader was before me:  This is who I write for … my brother standing on the road with a heavy load from the seed he’d sowed;  My sister fallen by the road with no one to point the way  . . .

I write to unravel my mind.  I blog to share my journey, compare maps with fellow travelers, lend our compasses to each other for the joys and hopes, obstacles and hazards on the road are the same for all men.  

There were  many versions of this hauntingly beautiful song but I selected this one because the images bring you to silence. I hope you take a few minutes to watch…

 …  (even) with only one wing, we can still fly by embracing one another ~ Luciano de Crescenzo.

Who do I say I am?

chickeneastercard

Yikes … it’s self disclosure time. Again?

I thought I had left my calling card lying around ? … that you could get to know me through a ‘search and rescue’ operation in my posts.

But Blogging 101 suggests I put it right there on the table.

I agree it will be more considerate of your time. So as the earwig said when he fell of the wall … ‘ear wiggo’: A list of 10 more things about me.

Before I start  … I should warn you that my posts are a personal journal of moments on the road – shared with others on the journey.

I write about my Encounters  – with myself, with others and with my Lord.

Signposts on the road thus far :

  1. I am the younger of twin girls. We have a younger sister and brother. I had written  my childhood memories in appreciation to my parents, and to share with my brother – who joined our family 13 years later :)
  2. I enjoyed my youth, obtained a professional qualification, had an interesting career, married and moved to Jamaica.
  3. We had glorious times there. Jamaica was like an unending summer. I loved my job and the times we had. My husband and I parted company after 12 years and I returned to Sri Lanka.
  4. The divorce and my father’s death shortly afterwards left me pondering on philosophical and theological questions – the meaning of love, life, love, happiness etc. The questions remained in my subconscious awaiting answers.
  5. I felt there was more to life than work 5 x 52 so I opted for early retirement and started consultancy with reduced hours.

Next 5

Theology

  1. Finally I gave that up to go into full-time study for a degree in Theology – graduating in 2012.
  2. I found answers to many questions I’d had; I learned the Word of God and studied interesting subjects like anthropology and evolution, philosophy, and other theology related topics. I did my thesis on what constitutes consent to marriage in Canon Law and would like to convert that to a readable lay format one day soon.
  3. This past year, I returned to the ‘commercial world’ to help out with a travel agency … but an encounter with mortality intervened and I gave up work.
  4. My other interests – my five gorgeous nieces and one nephew, siblings and mum, a loving church community, my road dog “Monster”,  nature and the environment, POTTERY, psychology and helping young persons grow to their full potential.  Also, of late, diet and good health habits.
  5. Now, I would like to merge my head knowledge with my heart yearnings ….which is writing and sharing, synthesising what I have learned into easy reading for those who have not had the time to research and study as I have had.

And there you have it.

I hope this gives a clearer picture of who is writing and responding on the blogosphere … or as Chardin called it the noosphere.

I’d like to end with one of my favourite quotes from an unknown source.

I strut and prance on the stage of life

Hoarding each moment of thunderous applause.

But when the stage is set, and the lights are dimmed,

and the curtain falls for the last time.

Who will clap for me then Lord?

   YOU?

Credits for graphics:
http://blog.42floors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/chickeneastercard.jpg
www.letstalklutheran.com

Aside

Thinking with my heart!

Retreat with Pope John XXIII

Jesus living wisdom

Shorten the distance between my head and my heart.

Teach me how to THINK WITH MY HEART

so that all my thoughts are filled with love.

Show me that wisdom is truth tasted in all its beauty.

Walk with me as I learn from life how wisdom becomes my friend.

 

Mary, Wise woman, pray for me

that  I may receive the gift of wisdom

and the love which makes it possible.

Holy Spirit, your first gift is wisdom.

Breathe on me, breath of God, and immerse me in this gift.

Take away my fear and fill me with love.

Show me that courage is a heart that acts,

Which is a way of saying that WISDOM 

FLOWS FROM THE HEART

Opening prayer from A Retreat with John XXIII .

 

Aside

Why the Cross? A Postscript …

Velazquez_Christ

Philip Yancey in his book ‘The Jesus I never knew’ refers  to speculation by  John Howard Yoder on what might have happened if God had intervened to grant the request “take this cup from me.”

‘ As Yoder reminds us, the cross, the “cup that now seemed so terrifying was the very reason Jesus had come to earth.  Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despite-fully use him.  The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom.  Nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.

Awesome words !!!!

Can we ever  say enough on the wonder of the Cross?  We can only grasp slivers of the truth as we meditate on 1  Corinthians 1.17 cf) .

Photo Credit : http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_crucifixion.htm

WHY THE CROSS?

"The Son of Man came ... to give his life as a ransom for many."  Mark 10:45.

“The Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

With all thy getting, get an understanding 

Proverbs 4:7

I am a Doubting Thomas by nature!  I could not accept a+ b = c in Algebra without questioning why a or b etc … so it is no surprise I had difficulty accepting the simple statement of faith that Jesus died to save us from our sins.

If you believe unequivocally …  you are indeed blessed. I had many questions in accepting  this  statement that believers take for granted.

Sure, I accepted it as a child.  But when the age of  so called reason hit me, what was black and white became grey, cloudy, and very foggy. I realized I could not give a proper explanation if a non-Christian asked me how Christ’s death on the cross saved us from our sins. I then found myself fumbling to explain what I did not understand.

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