Monday, 31 October 2016

Mysteries: Hallowe'en. Saints. Growing Old(er).

 Saints? Hallowe'en? Getting old? Mysteries!

My little prayer box made by Joanne Racette - in front of my pumpkin
(first time I've carved a pumpkin in many years)

Yesterday (October 30) we had a Jazz Mass for All Saints' Day and a wonder-full birthday party for my 70th. I keep looking behind me to see if this is someone else. How can I be 70? Just yesterday, I was 10. 

Church was packed. 90 people. Five fabulous musicians led by our Tom Mennier on the keyboard/piano. Bass. Guitar. Harmonica. Drums. "Oh when the saints go marching in.... " A bunch of children jostling each other, carrying three processional crosses to the front of our wee church. The singing lifted the roof several times. There was laughter - joy - creative chaos (well, a little or a lot depending on your capacity for living with chaos) ... sharing peace and communion. 

And, I spoke about saints - which I will share ... it went something like this ... actually - having now written some of it - it's taking on a life of its own that approximates what I said... and those who listened might not recognize it.

The beginning was this:

If you want to sit with God, sit with saints. If you do not consort with saints, you will be lost; you will be separated from the whole.
- Rumi
Definition from Wikipedia: A saint, also historically known as a hallow, is a term used for a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness to God.
 “Saint” also retains its original Christian meaning, as any believer who is "in Christ" and in whom Christ dwells, whether in Heaven or on Earth.
In Anglican, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Oriental Orthodox doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation .... 
The English word saint originated in Christianity, historians of religion now use it "in a more general way to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people",
... with the Jewish tzadik, the Islamic walī, the Hindu rishi or Sikh guru, and the Buddhist arhat or bodhisattva also referred to as saints.    (summarized or edited)

Saint:  holy, virtuous, perfect?     Uh uh. Or let's re-define terms. Technically, All Saints Day is supposed to be about The Saints. I'm more into saints. People we know or have known who have touched our lives for good. Who have wrestled with the meaning of life and death, faith, and being human.

Many of us were brought up with the idea that we were meant to to try to be perfect - that is - don't step out of line or you might get zapped by God, be nice, don't express 'negative' emotions like anger ... anger? I'm not angry - ummm... well, I wasn't that I knew of ... ha!

As we grow up - grow older - definitions and understandings change. 

I shared stories of some of the people who have brought me to 70 - saints who were real people, who did the best they could with the life they were given, the choices they made, who got up when they fell... 

My parents - After Mum and Dad died in the mid-nineties, my relationships with them  didn't end. I have, in addressing my own issues and life choices, been allowing them to be whole people - broken and courageous ... and so much more.

Dad who lived with the lie of his father's early death - and who therefore never had the chance to know Grandpa Mac or even know that he had two brothers and a sister. His step-father was abusive. Dad was a man who left school at 12 because he had to help with younger siblings and because the family couldn't afford to send him downtown to high school. Who was the only one of his brothers in Canada who didn't become alcoholic. Who went to school after the war to get his high school leaving certificate and then night course by night course, a BSc. Who was fragile and strong. Mysterious. Depressed and/or very angry.

Mum grew up with a father who loved her and her two sisters fiercely and was proud of them - a father who was away in the Black Watch in two wars and in Germany after WWII. Then he didn't return to Gram, though he'd left emotionally many years before. He was strong and strong-minded.  Mum used to say he'd be silent and/or angry at meals, and so mealtimes were high stress affairs. I can relate to that. She was broken by Lorne's death in 1950 and still she courageously struggled on. Camping. Driving across Canada with Jim and me. Got a B.A. at night, a teaching certificate in summers, developed MS. Told me shortly before she died that after Lorne died she was always afraid to be happy - happiness could be taken away. And yet ... 

Well, like the rest of us - they were human.

Just found on facebook - hmmm... :-)

In no particular order:

Gram kept me grounded as much as she could after Lorne died and my parents were, to put it mildly, broken. Dad went away to teachers' college. Mum returned to work and ran from the bus stop at the end of the day afraid something had happened to Jim or me. Gram was a constant, living upstairs in our home. (The worst that happened - Jim decided we'd try barbering and cut off all my curls. Mum got home before I had a chance to be the barber.) :-(

Last week, one of our cousins in Bermuda died. Dorothy Esdaille was in her 90's. When I first started discovering our Bermuda roots, someone took me to Dorothy's little home on Cut Road in St. George's. I don't think she knew I was coming. We dropped by in case... Dorothy opened to door into her living room... we looked at each other and I still feel the electricity - it was as if we had always known each other.

Now, our common ancestor is my great-great-great grandmother, Joanna Virgin Smith. That's a ways back - and yet Dorothy looked quite a bit like Gram. She was a generous, kind, loving woman in whose company one was bathed in light. She was a committed member of the Salvation Army. A saint. Not perfect, I 'm sure. But not far off. Real and committed to faith and outreach and loving those around her.

Dorothy Esdaille - photo Ros, April 2016

On October 5th, my first therapist died in Boston. When I had my breakdown/breakthrough in 1975, psychiatrist John Terry Maltsberger enabled me with compassion, empathy, and hard work, to survive and keep going when I was in the Pit, so depressed I could see no hope or way forward, often feeling suicidal. JTM stood with me. He wasn't perfect - in fact he missed some huge cues - but he was there and reached out or down or wherever to keep me going. he was quite young then. I expect he may have mellowed over the years - or - as with the rest of us - he grew.  His daughter told me after his funeral that he'd never lost a patient to suicide - except one through drugs - because he enveloped his patients in a bubble of empathy. Lovely image. He was human.

Sister Rosemary was my novice mistress as she was called in those days. And then my friend. She was an expert at putting her foot in her mouth. She had a huge heart. Gave away a pair of boots belonging to a Sister to someone who came to the convent door in need of boots. Threw things out. She loved to clean up messes and toss stuff. Sometimes it wasn't hers to toss. ;-) I used to visit her in a nursing home in New Hartford. We'd go for long drives in the country and sing silly songs.  Pop goes the weasel comes to mind on a tree-lined country lane. And shortly before she died, as I was leaving for home, I said, "We'll meet again some day." SRM replied softly, "I'm not sure I believe that." Me: "I'm not sure either, but love is forever." We agreed on that. We loved each other. 

Then another living saint - Sister Marjorie Raphael who was Mother in my day. Who sent me to Haiti. Who still passionately loves Haiti. Who loves snow, as do I! Who told me once - just one of her lines of wisdom - when I was anxious - to remember that sea gulls ride on the wind. When I see sea gulls, I remember - and when I'm anxious, I try to remember.

Joanne at Mile End Mission is broken as we all are - that is - she is human.  Creative and an artist who has developed the art programme at the Mission. Bringing in experts. Taking people to the museums. Providing opportunities and space for members to be creative, get in touch with deeper parts of themselves, be part of a little community within the community. 

Johnny, an Inuk fellow - who suffered enormously - beyond our imaginations - and who kept a warm heart and a sense of humour. Who would ask us why we cared and we would reply, "Johnny, you've had such a hard life and you've kept your heart." No one could be the same after knowing Johnny. A very human saint.

Jackie at St. CHL struggled often in excruciating pain for 46 years with Sickle cell anemia. She was on our altar guild. Faithful at worship. Loving. Spoke her mind! Touched us deeply. 

Bet who was my teacher in Grades 5, 6, and 7, was a steady, loving presence caring for extremely anxious little me. I visited her in New Zealand in 2000 when she was dying of cancer. She decided to live another ten years. ;-) 

There were and are others. They have in common being Human and Real (like the Velveteen Rabbit was Real). 

Saints are called to:
Be Real
Who they are
Speak truth even when it is difficult and Truth may be resented by others
People who struggle to love – within our limits and out of our histories
Have a sense of humour!

As a birthday gift, Joanne painted me a little round box to look like birch bark. (see above) If I were a tree, I'd be a birch. It's perfect. I asked the congregation if they were a tree, what kind would they be? Well - most had never thought of such a thing - so they did ... and I sent them off with homework. What kind of fruit? What kind of flower or plant?

The box was open on the altar. I said I was putting the names of all the people who had journeyed with me to 70, who had helped and supported me - who had gifted me with their presence and their humanity. Then we sat in silence for a moment or two, and I suggested they 'toss' the names of those who had touched their lives through the years into the box.

One more came to mind - not an individual - but a people. Haiti. I was sent as a missionary in 1971. I wasn't needed as a missionary. I was converted. And I understand the person I have become, committed to justice, anti-racism, the marginalized - as growing out of my experience in Haiti. I would not be the person I am if not for Haiti. It was also one of the experiences that led to my breakdown and eventual healing. I came back angry and have learned (and am still learning) to channel that energy into ministry.  

Enough - Maybe it would have been enough to just use this image and the quote and leave the rest to mystery ... The above all arose out of the picture below and the caption that went with it on facebook - a quote of Sufi poet Rumi:

"Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your Heart for Love."


from facebook ... Me at 70 and my little Maggie Muggins :-)

And now I'm off to the parking lot to get my broom - so watch out tonight - I'll be flying by... 

Photo sent as a card from my friends at PWRDF - thanks Suzanne

from Google images

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Daisies and Loons

There is a small field up the hill from Mum's old home on East River Road in South Bolton. Raphie, my extra special cat,  and I would head for the hills. (She was the once in a lifetime kitty who was so affectionate and talked to me all the time - real conversations). I'd start off at a run, call her, and she'd gallop past me into the woods, onto the path leading to the field, stop at the bend and roll ecstatically in something like catnip. Then she'd either follow me or dash ahead. My heart still hurts at the memory of her as a kitten, leaping above the evening dew-covered long grass with a miaou, disappearing and resurfacing over and over.

Circa 1992, I wandered up one day and found the field full of daisies. (See photo) I stood, overwhelmed. Then I sat amongst them, feeling I'd landed in a magical world - wishing I could become teeny-tiny - maybe three or four inches tall. I could run about amongst the daisies exploring the magical world, lie in the daisies and gaze up rather lie ON them...  crushing them.

I often returned to the field, even after Mum and Burton had died and we'd sold the house. I might find a few straggly daisies, but never a field full. 

This year, there are daisies everywhere. Year of the daisy. I expect Mum's field is carpeted - but I don't need to go. It's enough to know the world here in Quebec is full of daisies for a while - and I wonder what combination of factors brought them back in such profusion after more than twenty years. 

Awe. Thankfulness. Memories.

Photo taken in South Bolton circa summer 1992

From daisies to loons.

Thursday evening I went to stay for two days at Trousers Lake with my childhood friend Sandy and her husband, Tony - over for six weeks from the UK at their old cottage. A loon appeared and settled for many hours on the right pant leg in front of their cottage. Peace. Float. Dive. Pop up. Float. Dive... presumably catch small fish, repeat until apparently full... 

The loon is one of my totem animals - along with the tiger, closely followed by a badger. 

This past year has been difficult for many reasons. The light at the end of the tunnel is now not just visible in the distance, but sometimes, I'm actually in it. 

Yesterday, July 8th, was 66 years since Jim's and my brother, Lorne, drowned at Camp Kanawana. I was always afraid of water, even though I was only three at the time of Lorne's death. Especially water that's brown and murky preventing me from seeing the bottom or what might be lurking in the depths. Well, at least there aren't any sharks in Trousers Lake. My fear isn't rational. 

Seriously, though - we humans are weird and wonderful creatures. A few years ago, Lori and I rode a small ferry across the Richelieu River near St-Roch. I was staring into the brown, murky waters, and Lori asked me what I was looking for. "Bodies," I replied spontaneously. We laughed - and given that it isn't far from Contrecoeur, home of the Hell's Angels, maybe there are some bodies with cement boots in the river. It was a Freud moment and I was able to articulate the obvious after a bit of thought. I wasn't looking for literal bodies. I was/am still unconsciously trying to make sense of children (and others) drowning. Mysterious depths. 

This past spring a former volunteer at Mile End Mission and wonderful young musician was suicidal and stepped (we guess) into the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River and drowned. Her body was found weeks later. There have been other similar stories lately of people taking their lives in this way in Montreal.

When I was seriously depressed in 1975 (breakdown become breakthrough) I'd often walk across the Longfellow Bridge heading home to the convent on Louisburg Square from my psychotherapy appointment - a grey November day - and stare down into the Charles River and fantasize how easy it would be jump in and drown. There's no logic in this, of course. A fantasy of escape from the unspeakable anguish and hopelessness of severe depression. No sense of a body being found later and a family bereft with unanswerable questions, guilt, and anger. And, of course, I didn't jump. I'd also go for long walks along the Charles River, sit under a huge willow tree, and watch the water flow - again fantasizing in some way that wind and water could bring escape and healing.

What it is about water that can seem to call us? Deep water? Dark water? 

Enter the loon. It was a male I discovered the next day when he showed up with his smaller female partner. Exquisite markings the subject of myths. Floating peacefully. Diving with nary a splash and popping up who can predict where? (Did you know a loon can dive up to 180 feet? And although dives are usually less than a minute, it can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes?) Wuff! 

The loon symbolizes the wildness of our northern lands. And since I can only speak for myself - something wild and mysterious in me. Some longing. Its haunting cry, often at dawn or dusk, pierces the heart and soul. 

It appears. Just silently appears. No splashy landing; no splashy take-off. I hardly slept - sitting up often as dawnlight appeared - peering into the mists on the lake. Or staring out into the darkness wondering ... are you there? 

We heard the cry once. Not the wild 'crazy' cry - but the soft trill - p'raps telling his wife on the other pant leg of the lake where he was. Out for a fishing expedition. Alone. P'raps simply to hear his voice praising a creator for the beauty and peace of the evening.

When both appeared on Saturday, they floated aimlessly towards and away from each other, undisturbed by sheets of rain blowing in waves across the lake. Diving now and then. No hurry. No fuss. 

Mystery. Deep longing. Depths calling. Depths of mind and heart. Searching for understanding. Belonging. The human journey. We began in water, after all.

My search for roots is part of this diving journey. I read recently it's not so much that we humans yearn for meaning as that we yearn to live fully. I'm a both/and person. At any rate, loons may not be searching for meaning, but they do live fully - with a calm I envy. 

Still, there's a Peace that I/we can possess by allowing or choosing to dive into the depths. 

Feeling thankful.

Loon at Trousers Lake, July 1, 2016

Loon at Trousers Lake, July 1, 2016

Loon partners at Trousers Lake in the rain, July 2, 2016
(I'm learning to use telephoto lens but they were still too far away)

A dialogue between our two loons, Loretta and Lawrence (aka Larry)
(Sandy said if Loretta had a rather exotic name, Larry should be Lawrence).

Loretta:  Larry, why do people use the expression 'crazy as a loon?'

Larry: I have no idea, Hon. I'm not crazy. You're not crazy.

Loretta:  What's crazy, anyhow? 

Larry: Different? Unpredictable? Hard to understand? And why would they call each other crazy?

Loretta: Well, we do have this wild, haunting call. Do you suppose that's it? 

Larry:  So. Our cry is beautiful! Unique. Does that make us crazy? 

Loretta:  I don't think so, Hon. Must be their problem.

Larry:  Mmm hmmm. Fancy a fish? 

(They dive into the depths)

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Modern Day Slavery: Where Can I Buy Clothes?

Bernie Sanders tells us that the Walton family, owners of Walmart, are wealthier than the bottom 40% of the American people. (See video). Yeah, Bernie! Go!

A burning question for ages has been: where do I buy clothes? So much of the garment industry (and other industries) is sooo... unethical. If I don't focus somewhere, I'll hide under my bed with the dust bunnies and not speak or act on anything.

Two summers ago I attended a neighbourhood gathering next door and met a couple who have worked, and work, part-time in Haiti for the Quebec government. Their expertise is in workplace issues such as minimum wages. They told me that Haiti had recently installed a minimum wage, but that the garment industry that shipped to North America was purposely excluded. 

So - as of two years ago, in factories visited,working conditions were abysmal: no potable water or toilets. Break time to eat or for other reasons would cut into the time needed to complete the 300 pieces (or whatever number depending on the articles made) to be completed to get the full $2.00 per day, so breaks were seldom taken. No air circulation, and even though the temperature is not to be above a certain mark, it is often above 30 degrees Celsius.

What can we do?

Want to know more? See links below... if you only have time for one - go for this video below put out by the International Trade Union Confederation in their 2016 report:

Scroll down to # 5 - Walmart video - about 7 minutes...

New ITUC report exposes hidden workforce of 116 million in global supply chains of fifty companies

The report is available in English, Spanish, or French with a click of a button at top right....
Rapport CSI:  International Trade Union Confédération (ITUC)

Rapport au Québec des investissements responsables :

I've heard an argument that it's a privilege for people like me who can afford to shop elsewhere to be critical of Walmart shopping/shoppers- and that the poor need Walmart. But - do we find Walmarts in poorer areas of our cities? Not really. At any rate - maybe people who can afford to stop shopping at Walmart could shop elsewhere. Or speak out. Or ... ideas welcome!

At our diocesan synod the fall of 2014, I asked our then treasurer if we earn from investments in Walmart. He didn't know. Most of our diocesan investments are in something called Anglican Funds run through the national church in Toronto.

At the time, I had discovered directly about the abysmal conditions for people working in the garment factories in my beloved Haiti from my neighbour's firsthand experience rather than hearsay ... the factories aren't btw called Walmart - they supply Walmart and other giants. Those for whom the garments are made are responsible, however, for seeing that working conditions are humane and that people are paid living wages. Not happening.

By synod of 2015, it was discovered that, yes, we do earn from investments in Walmart. 

So, for this year, I had planned to submit a motion to synod 2016 asking that we divest of stocks in Walmart. Unfortunately, I messed up the deadline for submission - thinking it was March 31st when it was March 18th. Sigh. At any rate, I couldn't have had it ready earlier, as I needed to meet with said neighbour for help articulating the motion and she wasn't available. So, once I had the info and a draft, Sophie Rolland took it and made it a clearer motion than I was able to write.

To be honest, I didn't really expect the motion to pass at synod. It was more an opportunity to raise the questions and present information. To DO something. Even if it passed our synod, apparently, to make a change at the national level, it would need to be passed by all dioceses in the Canadian Church. If I understand correctly.

It's heart-breaking.

We're good people. And yet, it's as if we have blood on our hands. I don't know the answers. And please - do not tell me, "At least they have a job." As my neighbour said about that response: "It's a good way to stop the conversation." "At least they have a job," isn't an answer. If you think it makes sense, then we have to agree to disagree.

I don't know the answer(s). I know some will disagree with me. I think the fact that it didn't get in as a motion to synod is probably better - as this way I can share the information and questions to a larger 'audience.' 

So - here's what we came up with. Just FYI - as it's not going to be on the agenda. That's ok now. It got me moving in other directions. ;-) The motion that isn't a motion... ;-) but is filled with important information.

Proposed: Roslyn Macgregor
Seconded: Sophie Rolland

Be it RESOLVED, that this synod asks the Board of Directors of the Anglican Fund to review its criteria for holding stock in corporations engaged in unethical business practices such as Walmart.

1.      The Anglican Fund already has restrictions on owning shares in corporations involved in potentially unethical activities such as the sale or production of tobacco or alcohol.

2.      The Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal has already requested that the Anglican Fund divest of its shares in fossil fuel companies known as the worst polluters.

3.      The Anglican Fund does indeed possess stock in one of the corporations with the worst records on the treatment of its employees; Walmart.

4.      Recognizing that full-time employees at Walmart receive on average salaries well below the federal poverty level.

5.      Recognizing that Walmart has the highest percentage of workers having to rely on government assistance: food stamps, school lunches, medicaid, public housing assistance, etc., …

6.      Recognizing that Walmart explicitly refused to upgrade factory buildings in Bangladesh even after more than 704 workers died in factory fires in 2012 including the 117 workers who died in the largest factory fire in Tazreen in November 2012.

7.      Recognizing that Walmart refused to join a large number of global companies that signed a legally binding agreement supported by the International Labour Organization, the UN and the EU that improved building and fire safety in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April 2013, and 1129 workers died.

8.      Recognizing that these cost-saving tactics have been very profitable for the company but have left thousands of workers on the margins of our society and internationally without an appropriate safe work environment or fair working practices.

9.      Recognizing that, as Christians, we are called to protect those on the margins of society not profit from their exploitation.

Mothers, Mothers' Day, 'Good-enough' Mothers.

Mothers' Day. This is a hard day in some ways - and harder for some.  Daffodils for Mum. In the midst of a search for meaning.  

Daffodils at our cemetery - Mum, Lorne, Gram, Auntie Joyce, Connie and a wee baby from the Mission
Interesting mix - we celebrated Ascension Day along with Mother's Day today at our little church. Of those present, only Tom, our organist, has a parent still living - his Mom. Or Mum as some of us say. ;-)

When our parents die, we're IT. We grow up in ways we couldn't have imagined. Ascension Day is connected. Jesus left because we needed to grow up and carry on being compassion in the world ... 

Long ago when I was a curate in Lachine, I stood in a pharmacy while a young woman picked up her prescription. Her tiny daughter, blonde straggly hair, blue-eyes, about 2 years old was perched on the edge of the counter and was squirming a little. Her mother yelled at her, "I liked you better when you were a baby!" My heart still sinks at the memory. 

Ummm... Growing up is normal. Expected. Two year olds squirm and get more independent as the years ago by. And ummm... so they/we should. We aren't meant to stay babies. I think of a few Mums I've encountered over the years who had difficult (understatement) childhoods with Mums who didn't know how to mother, and generation to generation so it goes... 

I think of a teen whose mother lived a horror story as a child - who sees no options but to follow in her mother's footsteps. No matter how hard we've tried to tell her she can choose other options. She's smart. Really smart. Creative. Beautiful. And it's heart-breaking. 

I'm re-reading Gregory Boyle's book: Tattoos on the Heart: the Power of Boundless Compassion. He founded Homeboy Industries in L.A. - apparently the gang capital of the world. The book is full of stories. Stories of tragedies and of hope. Transformative. He quotes Leon Dufour, a world-renowned Jesuit priest (page 158) who a year before he died at ninety-nine, confided in a Jesuit who was caring for him, "I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you're talking to, the one right in front of you." 

Our mothers? Whether here or gone before us? Other people's mothers? I think of the Mum whose son took his life a few months ago and how especially hard today is for her. 

How beautiful she was. Frances May Hamer Macgregor

Mum was an amazing woman whom I've written about in more detail in other posts. She was courageous, warm, kind, loving, fun, a role-model for enjoying people from all walks of life without judging ... Mum was also fragile and in the months before she died, told me that after Lorne drowned in 1950 she was, for the rest of her life, afraid to be happy. She understandably became lost in grief and in 1950, parents didn't know how to give inner stability to small children who were also grieving. Mum was, then, real in a very real, turbulent world.

Mum with Jim c1945. 

Mum drove Jim and me across Canada in 1956! Camping!

So, Gram, who lived upstairs, stepped in. While Mum worked, Gram was ever-present and had lunch ready when we came home from school. She was solid. I found a letter she wrote to Mum in February 1963. Mum and Dad had gone to Florida to visit Granda and Daisy as Mum wasn't well. We didn't know until May that Mum had MS - and I, an anxious youngster at the best of times, unconsciously thought she was dying. She might have been - as the doctors thought it might be a brain tumour.  Gram wrote that she made all my favourite foods and lists them - including apple crisp as only she could make it. 

Ros, Jim, Mum, Gram in our dining room on Lafayette. Why was he kissing me?

Donald Winnicott talked of good-enough mothers. 

Winnicott sees the key role of the 'good enough' mother as adaptation to the baby, thus giving it a sense of control, 'omnipotence' and the comfort of being connected with the mother. This 'holding environment' allows the infant to transition at its own rate to a more autonomous position... "The good-enough mother...starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure" (Winnicott, 1953)
While none of us had perfect mothers - most of us probably had 'good-enough' mothers - and if we didn't we have been fortunate to grow through, into, and beyond ... Those of you who know me know I had a breakdown in 1975 - a breakdown that was a lifetime in the making. Breakthrough. 
My C.P.E. supervisor, Lee Udell told me once that we (being human) don't get all of our emotional needs met by one person - or even by both parents. No matter how good the parenting is. The time comes one way or another as we keep growing up and knowing ourselves, that we find bits and pieces in different people. And, of course, we become more centred in ourselves (and some might say, in God). "I found God in myself, and I loved her, I loved her fiercely." 

Today, I'm thinking back on some of the other 'mothering' people who have been in my life and helped me become the person I am.  Women and men.
Mother Marjorie Raphael at St. Margaret's Convent. I still have letters of wise counsel that she wrote to me. When I was in my profession retreat, she wrote a note - to an anxious young woman - reminding me that seagulls glide on the wind, they don't fight against it. And when, a few months later, I found I was being sent to Haiti, she encouraged me to express my feelings (remember I didn't want to go - tarantulas and all that) but that I was the only one free to go at the time. AND - she rightly knew that I would love Haiti. How different I might be if ... 
Ascension Day was Sister Rosemary's profession anniversary. She was my novice mistress, to use the term of the 60's. She apologized as easily as she put her foot in her mouth (which she did with regularity). She was loving with a huge heart and a wicked sense of humour. The last time I saw her was in New Hartford at her 60th anniversary of profession, a week or so before she died. I had the opportunity to mother her back a little - singing hymns and giving her communion. And we both agreed that, whatever may come next, love is forever.
Sister Mary Eleanor was present with me through my darkest days sitting while I cried and letting me be without having to fix me. Then while I lived away from the convent, she was Sister-in-charge at St. Monica's Home in Roxbury and made a place for me to continue to belong and grow, love and be loved.
If I had been more stable and 'well' I wouldn't have gone to the convent in the first place. So young. While I loved God, there were hidden motives like a search for security and a sense of belonging ... and how blessed I have been and am for these women (so many - I only named a few) and experiences of faith, prayer, joy, sorrow, depression, love, and healing ...  
Men and women - Jim and Sandi - my brother and sister-in-law accompanied me through hard times and then better and good times - taught me to swear (a little) and become more real. I'm still not corrupted quite enough for Sandi's liking - ahh - being too good wasn't all it was cracked up to be - nice - good girls don't do this or that. 
JTM. Lee during my two units of CPE and afterwards. Bryan - especially Bryan. Journeying with me as I've learned to be a 'good-enough mother' for myself while also developing friendships and finding support and encouragement in all sorts of ways. Belonging. Creating places where others belong.  
A number of 'good-enough' mothers. How fortunate I have been.
I wonder sometimes what Mum would be like as an old woman. She'd be 97 and died too young at 75. She was real. Sometimes I wish I could tell her how much I loved her - how I admired her courage and determination and so much more. 
I'm proud to be her daughter. And I believe she was, and would be, proud of me and the woman I've become.