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Monday 7 July 2014

Painful but Necessary Read

One article on the list...

See the headline list on immigration

Will this lead to martial law in America?

to add to the list from this past May

The School of Providence

Here is a list which is a holiness check list. Here is my St. Paul list of coming to understand that God is in control, not me.

Garrigou-Lagrange makes it clear that trusting in Divine Providence means that the secret, hidden meaning behind “hindrances, contradictions, reverses, disappointments, misfortunes, and failures” which may involve either the disorder in our own lives or in that of others, are all for a higher purpose in God’s perfect and permissive wills.

The Dominican refers to these as part of “providential schooling”.

Years ago, when something “bad” happened, I began to ask God this question, “What do you want me to learn from this, O Lord?”

Now, I frequently have the answer immediately. Something which exericises my patience, and if for my good, is allowed by God.

I made up this check list for those who have a tendency to only see the negative and who fall into complaining.

1)      If I am ill, do I complain at what is not being done, or am I patient and submissive?

2)      If someone makes a snide or unkind comment, do I get angry or try to understand the other person’s upset? Do I realize I deserve the unkindnesses for my sins?

3)      If a bank or billing company makes an error, do I patiently explain the mistake, or do I get angry and snippy? Do I realize that people are no longer trained to be efficient or careful? Do I feel for this lost generation, who have been cheated by inferior schooling?

4)      If someone is late for a meeting, do I go with the flow and try to understand the situation? Do I really know that my time is not more important than theirs?

5)      If someone is continually unkind to me, do I forgive immediately and constantly? Do I respond in love and not judgment, knowing God forgives me constantly?

6)      Am I aware that a contradiction lies behind my responses and the seeming way to perfection? Do I see that my responses point to my predominant fault?

7)      Do I use bad and stressful situations for opportunities for prayer? For example, I do not have a car, so when I wait for a bus or ride, I say the rosary.

8)      Do I ask God to remove critical and judgmental language or even thoughts from my memory, understanding and ask specifically for purification of the mind? Do I judge myself, which is also sinful?

9)      Do I let people make mistakes instead of being a control freak? Do I let go of things, events, people, in the daily course of my life? Do I respond in spontaneity and goodness?

10)  Am I patient with others who have never experienced illness, poverty, degradation and cannot understand the way of purification? Do I pray for the right words to help them to understand?

This is my list. What is interesting in Garrigou-Lagrange on the duty of the moment is that he writes that grace is sometimes a destroyer. Yes, I have learned this. He notes, “…yet it its workings within us, it does not destroy, but perfects any good there is in nature, restoring and sublimating it. We may say of grace as was said of God: ‘It killeth and maketh alive’ (1 Kings 2:6)

I “grew up” on Pere de Caussade. My favorite book in graduate school was Abandonment to Divine Providence. I think I still have the original copy I bought years ago, about 1979, or so in an old, used book store.

God was guiding me even then, but I was not paying attention as I am now. I had so many things to do. I remember reading this book on a hot summer’s day at Notre Dame, the campus all green and quieter, as summer school had less students and less activity. The old, venerable book showed me that the daily routine of my life was sacred, every moment was sacred. The Present Moment is all we have, as de Caussade  taught me. The past was gone and the future totally in the Hands of God.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes this, which is connected to de Caussade’s direction: “In the spiritual order more than anywhere else real knowledge can be acquired only by suffering and action. Though our Lord’s holy soul form the moment of His coming into the world enjoyed the beatific vision and an infused knowledge, yet He willed also to have an experiential knowledge which is acquired day by day and enables us to view things under that special aspect which contact with reality gives when they have been infallibly foreseen.”

For example, I had to sort out a bill which I paid and the company made a mistake and did not put the payment on my account in a timely fashion. Now, after this experience, explaining and being on the phone with someone who was apologetic but was not the person who made the error, I reflected as to why God allowed this in His permissive will. Simply, He does not want me to deal with this company. I have a choice in this matter.

Sometimes we do not have choices. Sometimes the company is connected to our job, or the only gas and electric company which serves the area, or our apartment rental company.

The point is that the disorder, which comes from the disorder of others, must be endured in peace and patience, as the entire episode happens for our benefit. Yes, that is the lesson here. God allowed this so that I would learn yet another level of patience and submission to His will.

The same day, I ran out of phone card credit and cannot use my cell phone, which is a pay as you go type, or track phone. One of my best friends was in the hospital and now at home. I am not free to phone her and see how see is. This breaks my heart, but God has allowed this to happen, this situation of poverty, so that I have to be detached even from consoling my friend. I have to be detached from love itself.

Some of my friends may not understand why I cannot phone them. They have never not had enough money for phone calls, or not even not had a printer, or daily use of the Internet, or a car and so on. God is in the details. Always.

I see a lot of compulsive buying in America. Some people change their cars every 200,000 miles, miles which clock up easily in the Midwest and West. Some people change their living room furniture yearly, re-decorating every single year. Some eat out daily.

This mad desire for change shows missed opportunities for waiting for God, for the freeing and growth of virtue, for dying to self and just not having what one wants.

Most Americans do what they want, go where they want, eat what they want, see what entertainment they want, wear what they want and so on.

Trusting in Divine Providence is the lesson of denial of self. For some of us, this is done directly by God. If I merely complain and murmur, I would miss the lessons. I would try to control the situation by looking for alternatives, even inconveniencing ones. That is not the lesson God wants me to learn through these things.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes, “This is the school of the Holy Ghost, in which His lessons have nothing academic about them, but are drawn from concrete things. And He varies them for each soul, since what is useful for one is not always so for another. …let us in all simplicity listen to what Providence has to say to each one of us personally in these concrete lessons it gives. We must not treat this doctrine in a purely material and mechanical way: it is a question of being supernaturally-minded in everything, in all simplicity and without disputings or foolish questionings.”

To reassure readers who may think that the only sufferings I have experienced are trivial, like explaining a paid bill on the phone, let me list a few things I have had to endure in order to write with conviction this post. Like a mini-St. Paul, I can state that hardships come to those who stand up for Truth and Christ. St. Paul seems very close to me these days.

I did not get my doctorate because a famous university staff, which dealt with a problem I exposed, told professors I was a whistle blower for drugs being encouraged by a faculty member. I was blackballed as my advisor then refused to help me finish my dissertation.

I was refused entry into a monastery at 36, as the Abbess thought I was too old.

My son and I were abandoned when he was seven. I became a statistical single mum. He became holy.

We fell into deep poverty and penury

I lost a job two days before Christmas one year with a ten year old son to take care of on my own.

After applying for 96 jobs, I got a job in Canada and some of my personal belongings and furniture were stolen in the move.

9/11 stopped the renewal of my visa there.

I had to declare personal bankruptcy.

I died and came back to life in one serious operation.

I contracted a thyroid disease, lung problems and cancer all in one year.

My son had pneumonia five times and almost died three times (scary), including once from being choked in the womb, from severe food poisoning, and from untreated pneumonia. He had a post-viral disease as a child which put him in a wheelchair for a year and a half, and more a bit later on with a relapse Thank God, he was healed, finally, and is strong and healthy. God taught him patience and empathy. God taught me I was not in control.

(In all of this, I home schooled, mostly.)

I was fired for speaking out against a renegade priest.

I was fired for having cancer and taking time off for complications resulting from surgery. (Yes, this is legal in some states).

I had a knee operation which did not solve a problem.

I could not stay in a convent I loved because I am not physically strong enough.

I was detained in prison for nine hours for wanting to visit my son often, refused entry, sent away.

I have been homeless for almost eight months unable to find work, thrown back into this country against my will, but in God’s will-His permissive will to allow evil having power over us.

I have had severe pain in a foot for seven years, and no way to have an operation, as there is no one to take care of me. I have asked God to heal this tendonitis, but He has decided not to do so. So, this is God’s Will.

This is an incomplete list. For all these things, I see the hand of God in my life. And the blessings in friendships, meeting wonderful and holy saints, being taught by those around me, even my son, outweigh all hardships, making these seem as nothing.

In all of this, I have learned to be content, even joyful in suffering.  I have lots of practice to see that all of these things work for the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and the salvation of the souls of others. I pray for holy priests with my foot. I thank God in my thoughts and love Him in my will.

Many people have had problems. Many people grumble and murmur. I smile, now, when things go wrong and ask God immediately “What is it that I need to see here?” Some suffering is purgatory on earth, making up restitution for my own many sins. Some suffering is a mystery.

In this mystery is a quiet assurance that God is in charge, always.

‘It killeth and maketh alive’ (1 Kings 2:6)

Now, I pray daily, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done.”

There is no real happiness, joy or peace without being in the perfect will of God. Even if He allows horrible things to happen, there are reasons.

I have no bitterness and am reconciled to the past, looking at the present moment always, and trusting in God for the future, doing the best I can in every moment.

One reason, for now, is this blog…so I can help others see that God is Love, pure, sheer Love.

Sometimes, as St. Therese writes, love is not felt; there is “unfelt love”.  De Caussade writes, “O unknown Love! …no one sees that Your inexhaustible activity is a source of new thoughts, of fresh sufferings, and further action…of new saints.”

Rest in the unfelt love. When one waits, love comes.

Here is a poem for today’s thoughts.

All for a higher purpose
Unseen, unknown, but
Sensed in love and quiet,
Hidden by light brilliant.

The soul waits for God,
For love, for the calm
Flight of the lark, the
High singing in the

Pale sky; in twilight,
When the locusts tell
Us of heat to come, or
Cold, winging their calls

Into the night. I do not see
But trust. I do not know,
But trust. God alone suffices.
Why? Because Love Is All.

Like the ebb and flow of
The insect song, or the cool
Breeze with scents of unseen
Flowers, so is Love. And, in

The mystery of darkness and
Light, He waits as well, for
Me to become holy so that
He can claim me as His own.

To be continued…

Pray for D in the hospital with an obstruction. Pray for S who needs surgery on her knee and cannot go anywhere. Pray for S and R who need healing. Pray for S's daughter to continued to be healed. Pray for four couples who want children to be graced with such.

Let Your Soul Be Carried Like a Toddler in His Mother's Arms

All the past weeks’ comments on the Garrigou-Lagrange book, Providence, fall under the series on perfection. One can see easily that if one trusts in God in good times and in bad, in health or illness, in success or failure, that one is exhibiting a great faith.

This is practical practice of the virtues of faith, hope, and love.

The author quotes Aquinas on “confidence”, which is steadfast hope, coming from faith.

Garrigou-Lagrange refers to the titles of Mary, who helps us in faith and hope: Mary, Help of Christians, Refuge of Sinners, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and one may add, Our Lady of Good Hope.

Faith and hope lead to love. If we, as the author notes, throw ourselves confidently into God’s Arms, placing our past and our future into His Hands, this is holiness united in love.

The theological virtues come into a fullness when one trusts in God.

“Love in its purest form, in fact, depends for its support upon the will of God…”

Therefore, a great act of love is expressed when we make God’s Will our own. We abandon ourselves to His “good pleasure”.

I especially like this next part, “For souls that follow this road, God is everything: eventually, they can say in very truth: ‘My God and my all’. God is their center; they find no peace but in Him, by submitting all their aspirations to His good pleasure and accepting tranquilly all that He does. At times of greatest difficulty St. Catherine of Siena would remember the Master’s words to her: ‘Think on Me and I will think of thee.’”.

I wish I had done this much earlier in my life, but it is never too late to submit in faith, in hope, and in love to the Will of God.

Here is a wonderful quotation from this chapter from St. Francis de Sales:

“Our Lord loves with a most tender love those who are so happy as to abandon themselves wholly to His fatherly care, letting themselves be governed by His divine providence, without any idle speculations as to whether the workings of this providence will be useful to their profit, or painful to their loss, and this because they are well assured that nothing can be sent, nothing permitted by this paternal and most loving heart, which will not be a source of good and profit to them. All that is required is that they should place all their confidence in Him….”

Using the example of a child or toddler being carried or not carried at will by the mother, the saint says this: “So this soul lets itself be carried when it lovingly accepts God’s good pleasure in all things that happen, and walks when it carefully effects all that the known (expressed) will of God demands.”

Hello to Readers in Brazil

Oh Man...


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Falconer assisted suicide bill, urgent action needed


Monday, 7 July 2014

Falconer assisted suicide bill, urgent action needed

Lord Falconer has reintroduced his Assisted Dying bill, which aims at helping terminally-ill people to commit suicide. This is the same bill that he introduced last session as a 'dry run'. It is due to have a Second Reading in the House of Lords on Friday 18 July.

Please write (send letters by post) to Peers (members of the House of Lords) asking them to oppose the bill.

To receive a list of suggested Peers to whom you can write, please send an email with the subject line "Peer list request".

Please ask as many people as possible to write to Peers. Short, preferably hand-written letters, relating personal experiences and concerns, are likely to be most effective. We believe they are likely to be much more effective in this instance than sending e-mails.

The Falconer bill poses a major threat at this time because the composition of the House of Lords has changed markedly in recent years, with many more 'Cameron' appointees reflecting anti-life attitudes. Although previous bills, such as Lord Joffe's bill, have been defeated in the Lords, this vote could be much closer.

Bishop Mark Davies in a pastoral letter calling for opposition to the bill recalls the major conflicts of last century and says:
"Whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recog¬nise the great challenge for our own genera¬tion. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it."
Please write to Peers, and encourage others to write, opposing the Falconer bill. We would be most grateful to receive copies of replies from peers who indicate whether they intend to support or oppose the bill.

On the day of the Lords' Second Reading, the Care Not Killing Alliance is organising an event in Parliament Square and SPUC supporters are encouraged to attend. Please contact CNK for details: 020 7234 9680 or via their website 

Read a detailed critique of the Falconer bill by Rev. Dr. John Fleming.

Nurses Opposed to Euthanasia (NOE), a group within SPUC, has also published a critique.

Further briefing information is available on the Care Not Killing website at:

Have Masses Said

...for the living, for those Catholics who have fallen away, for seminarians, for priests.

Have Tridentine Masses said. Please, conversion happens before death and we need holy priests.

Novella Sally Forth Part Eight

Sally's world constricted quickly. From a mobile, open, networking life to one confined to a few rooms, Sally moved in peace. Matt phoned Massie and Duke several times, but they claimed they could not travel down that far. Matt said, practically yelled, "But Sally is dying." Duke just repeated that they would not come down, and, anyway, people die.

Massie refused to speak with Matt, saying it was so upsetting, and why did Sally have to move so far away, she asked?

Matt did not share the conversation with Sally, who could have warned him of the result. Matt then phoned John and James. Both said their work schedules did not allow them to get away at this time, but James said Bobbie might come down, might.

John told Matt that Sally did not want to be part of the family, as she showed by not attending the last family gathering. Matt's patience became so strained that he politely shortened the conversation and plopped down in a chair. Abbey walked in with coffee. Sally was asleep in the spare room. "Poor responses?"

"Lies, as usual," said Matt slowly. "Why do they have to lie? Just say, we do not like Sally, we do not love Sally, and we are not coming."

"Why do they lie?" Abbey sat down. She could feel the Baby kicking.

"People lie because there is a lie somewhere, buried in their hearts and souls so deep, they no longer see the lie. Somewhere, they turned to a lie rather than turning to a truth, and in that turn, they forgot the way, the roadmap."

Matt began to cry. But, he knew he would never change his family. He knew all he could do was to love in truth and not in pretense. Love is not love if is not based on reality.

to be continued..

Important Enough to Repeat Here

Novella Sally Forth Part Seven

Sally did not even tell Matt the results of of the blood tests, and further tests. She did not tell Massie as Massie would blame Sally for the illness. Massie would pull down her glasses and stare at Sally, saying, "Your illness is your own fault. You do have a problem, don't you? None of us have had cancer. I just do not understand why you are sick all the time."

Sally was hardly ever sick. Massie was never sick. Duke was never sick. Sally wondered why they were Catholics, sometimes, and not Christian Scientists, as her CS friends were never sick.

Illness for Massie created shame. Only poor people got ill, or people who sinned, or people who made huge errors in their life decisions.

Cancer could not be mentioned, at all, so Sally told no one of her prognosis. Sally's doctor sent her to Mayo, which was close. The doctors there agreed with all the tests in Madison, Acute myelogenous leukemia. Sally wanted to tell Matt and Abbey, but Baby was on the way and she did not want to upset them. But, this morning, in December, Sally realized she was acting like the other family members, who never shared information about illnesses. She only found out about John's heart attack only after the fact. And, Duke never told any one of his ear problem. Matt found out by accident.

That Sally's cancer could be connected to genetic influences, crossed her mind. Yes, she would tell Matt. Matt and Abbey had decided to have their first Christmas on their own. Massie and Duke complained to John and James that Matt never visited anymore. But, the young couple wanted to attend their own Latin Mass parish and have a few single friends over for Abbey's sumptuous dinner. Matt phoned Sally to invite her. She told him the bad news.

"I am sorry I did not tell you right away, Matt. You know how it is, but I start chemo next week."

Matt held back tears. Sally was his real mom, his best friend after Abbey. He could not believe his good sister would have to fact this disease alone.

"I can come up and be with you in January. I can take two weeks off, really. Or, do you want to move down here? We can make room."

Sally smiled. Here was the dad-to-be dividing up space in a condo already too small for three. "No, Matt. Let me try to make it through here. Frieda can accompany me on some days. Really. I shall email you or she will, daily."

Matt put Sally on speaker phone and Abbey joined in. "Sally, get yourself down here. We can all manage. Please consider this. Baby is not due until May."

Sally really wanted to move out of Madison and live in Houston, but she was too tired, too weak for such a move.

"Let me see how it goes. Please. Have some Masses said for me, please."

What Sally did not share was that she was feeling moody about her time in Houston when Hans and she would meet for dates. That was a long time ago, but for some reason, memories flooded her inner vision, and she had to make a mental effort to forget him. She prayed to God to take away her memory, and to heal her imagination. Hans was no longer part of her life. Period.

Frieda proved to me resourceful and organized. She could arrange her schedule at the University to take Sally to chemotherapy. Sally's doctor discussed the possibility of blood transfusions. Sally had to think about this. She was not sure she wanted to go that route. She would ask Matt for his opinion, but she knew he would want her to have the transfusions. Sally prayed as much as she could in her fatigue. 

Then, the University did an odd thing. They fired Sally for taking too many days off. Sally and Frieda were shocked, but apparently the law in Wisconsin for university instructors without tenure did not guarantee long days off for chemo.

Sally took this as a sign, as her insurance would only last three months longer and then be suspended. All therapy would end until she transferred her insurance to a government source. But, with a pre-existing serious cancer, her chances for transfusions faded quickly.

Sally called her spiritual director, a wonderful priest of the "old school", Father Andrew Schiller, an Opus Dei priest. She wanted to know how a Catholic, a real Catholic, should respond to her situation of what she saw as now, especially, excessive treatments for a few months or few years added to her life.

Fr. Andrew sat in silence, holding his fingers before his face for what seemed a long time to Sally. "No one can be told what to do, how to respond in your situation. I cannot tell you what to do. You must pray and be peaceful with your own discernment. I know many holy people who died after years of treatment, and I know many holy people who refused treatment."

Sally thought that she could not make a decision right now, in this room in the rectory. So, when Frieda came to pick her up, she asked if they could go out for tea or coffee. Frieda had the day off, "Sure, I know you like Indie's so let's go there."

Frieda opened the car door for Sal. The young woman was too thin, too pale. Frieda did not know what to think or even how to react, except to help with the practical things. Sally was grateful. She was not in the mood for either sympathy or philosophy.

December ice filled the streets and hung on the trees, pushing down branches, almost to the sidewalks. Fog covered the lake and the fog froze on the lines around the city. Sally could here the cries of the seagulls, but she could not see the large birds.

Frieda had a knack for finding odd parking spaces, and in minutes, the two women were sitting warm and cozy in Indie's. Sally could drink certain things and not others. Frieda started the conversation, "I know what you are going to say. You are going to tell me that you are not going on with the transfusions."

Frieda sipped her cappuccino. Sally stared at the green tea. "Yes, I have almost made the decision, but you know what it means."

"Sally, we have been friends for years. I have always known that your life would be different, more exciting, more daring than mine. Whatever you decide, I just want you to know that I trust in you, totally."

Sally gently touched Frieda's hand. Frieda saw the thinness and felt the cold in her friend's fingers. More than anything, this small gesture brought tears to her eyes.

"I shall go to Matt and Abbey's and see if they will let me die there. I think there is a Catholic hospice in Houston. Matt would help. But, the baby, is it right I go there?"

"You belong there, in my mind. Madison does not love you. The University could care less. Only our little parish cares and they would want you to be with family. Sadly, Matt and Abbey are the only family you really have, not the Toxics."

Sally smiled. Frieda always came to the point. "Well, I guess then, really, I have to make this choice, either to stay here, find financing for further treatment or leave and die."

Frieda looked at her friend's big eyes. "You know what I want. I want you to stay and I would help raise money for you. I would be there, you know that. But, I think that staying in Wisconsin is not what you want."

Frieda ate her little cookie. "Have you told your parents?"

Sally nodded. "Yesterday. Duke said that he did not have time to talk to me about it now, and Massie complained that she did not want to bury another daughter. My older sister died, you know, when she was nine when she fell off her bicycle into the street and was hit."

"So, Massie is thinking of her own emotions and Duke does not want to talk about unpleasantries. Really, Sally, you need to go where you are loved."

Sally thought of this, to go where one is loved. Yes, always, that was the answer to life. 

"Frieda, when things are coming to an end, will you come? Please?"

"Absolutely. Now, let me get you home, and we can both talk to Abbey and Matt together. There are a few details I want to discuss with them."

Two hours later, Sally's short life was planned out. Matt would take care of the hospice arrangements but for the time being, he would fly up to Madison and personally escort Sally to Houston.

After all was planned, Sally went into her bedroom and came out with a box. "Frieda, I want to give these things to you. I have no one else. All my jewelry and some journals, plus a few letters. Will you take these?"

Frieda stood up and hugged the thin woman. "Sure thing, honey. I am honored. Now, let me help you wash and get some rest. I shall check in with you tomorrow. I have all the information on the flight and can help sort out the condo. You will sell this in no time, being so close to the University."

Frieda went into her usual bustling mode and then left. When she got home, she called Matt again.

"It is not good, Matt. I hope you get prepared. And, do not tell her ever I am paying for the hospice."

:"Agreed, Frieda. I shall see you next week."

Frieda sat down in her biggest armchair. She took the little cedar box of Sally's and opened it. Frieda had never heard the entire story of Sally and Hans' romance, but there it was, in a journal, a few letters, and a huge ruby ring in a box. Frieda closed the box. "I shall look at all of this after Sal is gone."

to be continued....

Novella Sally Forth Part Six

July 7th was Abbey’s day to come into the Church. Abbey chose the name Ruth, which seemed appropriate. Sally and Matt were the only family members there, the rest were “too busy” to come to Houston for the baptism and confirmation. But, the three, happy and content to be together, just enjoyed the day.
The whole family was invited to the wedding of Abbey and Matt. Abbey’s parents came, but no one else in her family did. The Tridentine Nuptial Mass presented one of the most beautiful beginnings of a life together any one could wish.

Sally felt that God had brought these two together for consolation in desolation. Abbey and Matt’s joy was contagious. Even John mentioned that he had never seen such a gorgeous bride and such a wonderful liturgy.

Massie and Duke put up with the Latin, mentioning several times during the day that they did not understand any of it, but it was “nice”.

The children loved it, being part of the party and processing in before Sally and Abbey. Fiona was in heaven, dressed in pink. She looked like a little rose.

The couple would spend their honeymoon in Ireland. Abbey’s ancestors had been Irish and Abbey had been named after some place in the Emerald Isle near Hoare Abbey---where her ancestors had lived. Her name was a family name. They would be gone for two weeks, settling in Houston, planning on a family in God’s time. They would have another Abbey.

Matt knew that his wife was full of surprises, and finding out that her ancestors were Catholic just added to his happiness.

Massie mentioned several times at the reception that even though Sally was older than Matt, that she had no prospects at this time. She was getting older, as well, Duke said.

Matt’s family was a bit mystified by the community of the parish. Bobbie noted that there was a feeling of family she had never experienced in a Catholic church before. Mary noted that everyone seemed friendly enough. But, Matt and Abbey knew where they belonged and rejoiced in their friends and extended family.

Before the end of the day, Sally felt strangely detached. During the reception, she had left the party and walked back to the church, just a block away. She entered the darkness and sat down. She wanted to be with her Bridegroom. She just sat in His Presence until Sean, who was looking for her, came to bring her back for the dance. Sally’s smile was so odd, so lovely, that even Sean sat down next to her for a while in silence. He had never noticed how beautiful his aunt was. He was content to sit with her until she was ready to go back to the reception. Yes, Aunt Sally was pretty today, he thought. He took her hand and they walked back in silence.

Novella Sally Forth Part Five

The year between the happy time at the lake of loons, as Matt called it, and the past year’s reunion healed the bitter memory of the last reunion Sally ever attended.

In August of that year, everyone met outside Minneapolis, in a hotel on Lake….and a week was planned including entertainment at the local clubs. John had reservations and Mary wanted to go to the casinos. As usual, the parents had planned their fun without considering the children. So, as usual, Sally planned day and night activities for all five, including two movie nights, fun and non-violent games on their tablets, and outdoor activities during the days. Matt could not come, as he had a business trip which could not be changed. Massie complained about him the entire time. “I mean, he knew months ahead to keep these days free. He never sees us anymore.”

Sally tried to explain that Matt was not in charge of his schedule for conferences and such, but Massie did not listen. Sal just left the room when the irrational barrage of words started.

Matt did phone Sally, however. “Are you holding up, Sal?”

Sally was so glad to hear his voice. “I cannot do this anymore, Matt. But, they will hate me.”

Matt replied, “I know. I know. Sorry I can’t be there.”

Sally said goodbye and got the kids together to play badminton. She organized beach volleyball and two hikes. Swimming filled in the other times.

Duke came out and stood by the lake. “Sally, are you still dating that psychologist? You have said nothing about him this time?”

Sally got out of the water. She did not want to pursue this conversation. But, she had to tell the truth. “We broke up, but I do not want to talk about it. OK?”

Duke answered, “Well, that is your business, of course, but your mother will be disappointed. She and I want to see you settled. We do not like your single life, as it is so unpredictable.”

Sally almost burst out in anger, but the presence of the children stopped her. So, Mom would be disappointed. So, they cannot control her if she is single. What about “my” feelings? And, they want to see me settled, not happy, but settled. Sally went back to play water volley ball with the small troop.

Later, at the bar-b-que, Massie came up to Sally. “You should have told us. I had such high hopes for you. Isn’t Hans a millionaire?”

Sally felt anger churning up her stomach. “Mom, don’t you think this is my business and if I do not want to talk about it, you should respect that?”

Massie looked hurt. “You were always too independent. That is probably why Hans left you.”

Duke said, “Your irresponsibility will kill your mother one of these days.”

Sally blew up. “You do not know anything about what happened. You do not want to know. You just want to blame me again and again. I am not going to talk about it.”

Sally left and walked along the side of the lake. Hans was not here to console or defend her. Hans was a thousand miles away, entering the Norbertines in California. No one really cared about the truth, the beauty of life, or the sacrifices of true love. She did not want to cheapen her love and his love by discussing it. Her parents would make comments about Hans wasting his talents, or throwing away his life, or, the fact that they would not have more grandchildren. They would say that Sally made a poor choice and should have known better, and so on.

Only Matt knew the truth and the rest of the congregation at the TLM in Houston.

The remnant understood. They rejoiced, as did Sally in her heart. If she told her parents, they would find some fault in her, or some supposed error in Hans. She could not bear that. She could not bear to see pearls thrown before swine. She knew her thoughts were harsh and bordering on unforgiveness, but she would forgive. She always did. This was her strength, her gift. She could forgive again and again. Hans had told her that was her saving grace-a heart of mercy even if she lacked understanding.

That week ended with Sean coming down with a strange virus. James blamed John for not cooking chicken properly in the heat. Bobbie was sure that Sean got food poisoning from the fish not being kept in cold storage long enough. Sally became so tired of the bickering. She could hear Matt’s voice saying, “They drain me. They take away my energy.”

Sally had tons of energy, thank God. She was not only organizing the children daily, but keeping up a schedule of meditation. She knew what she needed for peace and order in her soul. But, she had decided that to spend another week in the summer with her family, even for the benefit of the children, was not what she needed or wanted. It was time to make the break.

Now, a year after the last reunion, and in late August, Sally was turned down for tenure. The University had cut back on tenured professors for the first time, creating new rules and watching a shrinking budget. Sally was strangely relieved. Now, she had no ties to her position. She was free to do something else. What that was, she did not know. But, God had His Perfect will in place and she trusted Him in this and in all things. Wisconsin would not be her permanent home, she now knew.

Sally was also grateful that she had not discussed the process with her parents. She could not bear the litany of negativity which would follow the news, like a long shadow as she walked across the room of the Big House.

Some things were better not discussed, just as some cherry twigs should not be thrown into the fire of her fireplace, as they would cause too much smoke.

Sally walked across campus to the library. She had to return several books she had kept too long in her office. But, on the way, she decided to stop at the little ecumenical chapel and sit a while. She felt tired and strange, as if she was coming down with something. She was so tired, too tired for her age. She would have to get a blood test.

To be continued…