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Why would you refuse to dance with grace?

Okay, I’ll admit that when I first saw this clip, I was drawn in by the Hafiz poem, one of my favorites. Because when I grow up, I want to be the sage who has to duck her head when the moon is low. But then I kept watching, and I have to tell you that this video is so good from top to bottom it gives me goosebumps.

“I feel so badly for those people who would come to this party that is Christianity and refuse to dance with grace,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry On Warrior (a great book, by the way).

Five minutes is all it takes. Watch it, and then decide to dance. (And you can read the full Hafiz poem under the YouTube link below.)

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Grace finds beauty in everything

“She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings

“Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

“Grace finds beauty
In everything

“Grace finds goodness
In everything.”  – U2, Grace

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Oceans of grace: keeping my eyes above the waves

This is one of those songs that stopped me in my tracks. I happened to have on K-LOVE, when I heard these words sung so sweetly:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand Read more

Proving that age really is a state of mind

“It’s all about having a purpose, and that’s why I think to retire is dangerous,” says one woman featured in the Fabulous Fashionistas documentary about older women who still have a sense of style and a sense of purpose. “…The minute you give an inch, life or illness or something else will take a mile.”

And this from the narrator:

“For all six women, their style and attitude was not just about the clothes they wore. They all have the same steely determination. They all share a quality, a spirit that keeps them going regardless.”

Can I get an Amen? Read more

Receiving unexpected grace via the U.S. mail

Grace can be hard to put your finger on, like trying to grab at fog or hold onto a breeze. I remember even back when I was writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism that I struggled to define it in a way that would make sense to people, especially people who maybe had never really contemplated that word before and what it might mean in their lives. Read more

Metamorphosis…

A sign? An omen? A “God breeze,” as one Facebook friend suggested? I don’t know if it’s any of these things, but this butterfly certainly made my night last night. The doorbell rang around 9 p.m., and, when I answered it, this beauty was fluttering around under one of our Adirondack chairs. As I took the manila folder full of medical forms my son’s Boy Scout leader was dropping off for our weekend camping trip, the butterfly flew out from under the chair and landed smack dab in the middle of the folder I was holding.

I was thrilled, calling for the kids to come look before it flew away. No worries there. It flew right into the entry way of our house and landed on the slate floor. Olivia gently picked it up, which is when I snapped that picture above. We brought it outside but it didn’t want to leave. We had to pry it — ever so softly — off Olivia’s hand and back onto the arm of the Adirondack chair.

I have to admit that it’s hard not to think of this little God moment as a good sign. I’ve never had a butterfly land on me, much less fly into my house. And at this time in my life, when so much is changing and expanding and challenging me, it feels like a very good omen. “Metamorphosis,” as another Facebook fan wrote.

Remembering the power of one small life

My annual post in remembrance of the baby I never got to meet:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 14 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.

With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong during that pregnancy from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

With that same mother’s intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.

Four years ago, when I posted about this day, I talked about how Grace had shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence.  I am very much aware of the fact that life would be very different had she lived. She managed to leave her mark on us, even without taking a breath. She lingers here, not only in my heart but around the edges of our lives — especially the lives of our two girls who followed her. I know them because I did not know Grace. What a sorrowful and yet beautiful impact she had on us.

So thank you, baby, for all that you were and all that you have given us without ever setting foot on this earth. The power of one small life.

Embracing life, with death in sight

My latest ‘Life Lines’ column, which is running in the current issue of Catholic New York.

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Some people know how to live, even as they’re dying. I have a friend who is just that kind of person, and I am continually awed by her strength, her faith, and her grace as she journeys through each day knowing full well that what’s left of her life on this earth is coming to an end. Quickly.

When I saw Maureen this week, she told me the last thing on her Bucket List – now that she’s checked off a trip to the Cape with her husband– is to live long enough to see her newborn twin grandchildren when they visit in December. “I think I can make it,” she told me, and I believe her.

It was not that long ago that I sat in her living room and she told me her daughter-in-law was pregnant but she didn’t know if she’d be alive for the birth in September. Now September has come and gone and she has her sights set on a new goal, all the while managing her life and her pain from home, thanks to Hospice care and a devoted husband.

Maureen has been battling ovarian cancer for years. Long before she became ill, however, I saw her as an inspiration and a role model. Hers is a peaceful, prayerful presence. She’s quick with a smile and an offer to help in whatever way she can. Cancer has only increased those wonderful qualities, it seems.

When someone needs prayers, I email Maureen. I know without question she will remember my friends and loved ones in prayer, even as I often forget. Just this past week, she asked me about a little girl I had asked her to add to her prayer list. To be honest, I haven’t remembered that little girl in prayer in quite some time, but Maureen prays for her every morning, along with a laundry list of other people and problems I’ve asked her to remember. I have come to believe that her prayers – coming from a place of such deep faith amid such incredible suffering – are especially powerful.

Although she no longer receives any treatment, she mentioned that when she did have to sit through those difficult appointments, she’d pray for all those people who had much worse things to bear. And I found myself wondering, even as she spoke to me, who could have much worse things to bear than a woman dying of cancer before her time? But Maureen doesn’t seem to see it that way. As I sit with her, spinning tales of my kids’ latest escapades or my own spiritual struggles, I get the sense that I am in the presence of someone who is at an advanced and somewhat rare spot on the spiritual journey.

So often it’s not until someone is gone that we realize the impact they’ve had on our lives. I feel blessed to recognize right now the impact Maureen is having, and will continue to have, on my life even after she’s gone. Her example of courage and determination and faith will not fade, nor will her peaceful acceptance – when it was clear there were no more treatment options — of what life had handed her.

None of us know the day or the hour. Logically I realize I could die before Maureen, but I still can’t seem to wrap my brain – or my everyday attitude – around that reality. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, at least not according to our plan. Life goes according to His plan, and we can either embrace the journey or be dragged along kicking and screaming. Too often I choose the latter, but Maureen is teaching me another way, the only Way.

Life isn’t always pretty or easy, and sometimes the lessons are learned the hard way. We can either stay stuck in regret or move forward with grace. Choose grace.

Remembering the power of one small life


For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 13 years ago today that I learned that the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.

With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong during that pregnancy from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

With that same mother’s intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.

Three years ago, when I posted about this day, I talked about how Grace had shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence. I am very much aware of the fact that life would be very different had she lived. She managed to leave her mark on us, even without taking a breath. She lingers here, not only in my heart but around the edges of our lives — especially the lives of our two girls who followed her. I know them because I did not know Grace. What a sorrowful and yet beautiful impact she had on us.
So thank you, baby, for all that you were and all that you have given us without ever setting foot on this earth. The power of one small life.