Worth Revisiting: A Grandfather’s Legacy

Today I share a granddaughter’s revisiting of the legacy of a poet, not by trade but by heart. A teacher, farmer, surveyor, and cotton gin manager, Carl Wyatt Ferrell wore many hats in order to best provide for his family.  And still always the student he looked at life each day anew, finding God not in grand gestures but in the small everyday details of life. His love of poetry captures this awareness and is the treasure left to me by my grandfather a lifetime ago.


Dawn on the River

I stand at dawn above the stream
As skies begin to glow,
Like stirrings from a drowsy dream
I sense the river’s flow.


My face is fanned by morning breeze,
That stirs the trees so tall.
The squirrels chatter in the trees
While nuts begin to fall.

Now birds begin their morning song;
The dewdrops from the leaves;
The fog-bound river flows along
between the Cypress trees.

First signs of sunrise now appear-
the east is bright with gold.
The veiling fog begins to clear-
Earth’s beauties now unfold.

Below I see the shining stream,
this clear swift path of light.
The sunlight’s golden gleam
has took the place of night.

By Carl Wyatt Ferrell

Worth Revisiting: A Spirituality Glimpsed

Every now and then, we are given those moments where we glimpse an aspect of ourselves embodied distinctively in the rather small bodies of our children. We are reckoned with the fact that for better or worse, they have assumed a bit of our personality, abilities, perspective or approach to life. Today, I stood in wonder and amazement, as I held the pages of my ten year old Thomas’ personal poetry anthology in my own hands. Amidst the collection of poems centered on the theme of buildings was this one which caught me completely by surprise and left me speechless.

              “Church”         by Thomas Reardon (age 10)

Today the outside is my church
As I watch the falcons perch.

I look at all of God’s creation
I remember the world’s revelation.

The sun shone bright,
It’s such a wonderful sight.

As I watch the morning sun,
I remember what God has done.

How did he, the boy fearful of writing finally find his voice in the rhythm and rhyme of poetic stanzas?

How did he articulate that deep resonance that I feel when I look out upon creation and see God’s beauty, suddenly aware that God is ever present and close to me?

My grandfather, a poet himself, had published in small circulation a collection of his poems, each speaking too of this experience of God in nature. And since I was quite young, I had followed in these steps finding that poetry combined my love of words with music, expressing my deepest longings. Now, to see my son discover this within himself…was one of the best gifts this mom could have ever received.

What is it that moves or nudges you closer to God, to recognize Him in your day? How do you express this best? Do you notice these gifts in your own children?

Peace,

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Memorial Day: Freedom Prayer

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This Memorial Day, we remember family members, friends and loved ones who have given their lives in service to our country and for the freedom we so cherish. At the heart of all of this, we long for peace. My Grandpa Ferrell penned this poem while the Vietnam War was in full swing. It echoes this tension we feel today, and the hope we have for tomorrow.

Freedom Prayer: Carl Wyatt Ferrell

In this dark hour of nation’s woe
When paths of peace men do not know,
Lord, show us now which way to go-
Protect us with Thy arm.

When Tyrants seek men to enslave
And power drunk more power crave,
Lord, help us all to be more brave
And keep us safe from harm.

Let freedom be our battle cry
And may its banner ever fly
Above the world when tyrants die
And peace we have again.

When useless wars shall cease to be,
And haunting fears no more have we,
Lord, may our land that now is free
In liberty remain.

Peace,

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Worth Revisting: Poetic Examen-ation

This is a day that was long awaited,
A time dreamt of and indeed anticipated,
With months albeit years of preparation,
And a myriad of readings and connotations.
Today, I awoke knowing that there was nowhere I had to be.
There was truly no post to edit,
Or theologian I needed to credit,
An argument carelessly ignored,
Nor deeper meaning to explore.
I now wondered in this stillness what was to be of me.
On the surface I had considered,
Neglected tasks that could be bettered,
Domestic duties that once were small,
Sat waiting to be again forestalled.
Feeling there was a greater more fruitful use of my time.
Where was that book that had been given,
read when my free time too would beckon?
What was it now that I would write,
if granted this instant of respite?
Ah, yes  these too cannot be my compass prime.
For always when I come in prayer,
The answer seems to find me there,
No longer doubt or thoughts amiss,
At the day’s events that carry bliss.
Since You know where it is that I need to be and what I am to do.
But rather surrender to Thy will and grace,
To lead me to my rightful place,
Perchance beside the lost, or dying,
Or counseling a friend whose day is trying-
Where ever my feet are needed to go Lord I give them to You. 

 Peace,

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Worth Revisiting:Love Worth Waiting For

Those who know my husband and I closely, know that before we ever dated we were best friends. John was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts and I a freshman at Mount Holyoke College in 1990. In looking back, every detail of our meeting and courtship was just as it was intended to be. Neither of us was initially looking for a long term relationship but honestly seeking someone that reflected the values that we held dear.

That first evening, John was in fact to be meeting someone else, who was the roommate of a friend of mine. Yet, with nothing in common and little desired conversation both had decided it was a bad idea. At dinner, he spotted me across the room and inquired from my friend who I was.  I had noticed him too, but was unsure if he was with one of the other girls. Called over to their table before leaving, I suggested that we meet in the common room for coffee.  As the conversation flowed, the more we discovered that there was indeed something very special in the other. I could not explain it, but I recognized what had been so missing in my life at the time.

Instantly, John will tell you, that he knew that I was the one- who held his heart, mind and attention from that day forward. Yet, I was not so ready to “jump”. Knowing that he was special and desperately needing a true male friend, I was fearful that a relationship would ruin this.  Reluctantly, he accepted that I was not ready to date but longed for his friendship. Through months of listening to one another tell of the faults of those we dated, and giving advice we grew closer. He was waiting for me and loving me all the while.

So it happened. Having invited him to a party that I was certain would be uneventful, I eagerly anticipated spending time with my best friend. I did not worry that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, or that we would face that awkwardness at the end. I knew that we would enjoy the time no matter how lame the event was. What I wasn’t aware of, however, was the surprise that God had in store for me..now that I was ready for it.

We kissed. (Oh, no..I’ve done it, I lost my friend), I thought. Yet, in those moments of recognition I prayed. Father, lead me, lead us. So, upon my suggestion we decided to go take a walk and sit beside one of my favorite reflective spots beside the waterfall. Though quite picturesque, I was feeling a bit chilled in the cool New England spring air. As he put his arms around me, and we sat in relative silence..I finally understood.

The following is a poem that I later wrote that summer. I waited to give this to him after we were engaged for Valentines Day 1992.

The Waterfall   (1991)                 by Elizabeth Reardon 

The waterfall cascaded down onto the lake below,
I marveled at its beauty and watched as moonbeams shone.
I hadn’t known the lake to look as lovely as that night,
For within his arms and loving heart I was now held tight.

In friendship had I known this loving heart before,
I never thought that ever I could ask for any more.
But suddenly I realized that this was but a start,
That every second of my life he would be a part.

To hold me, love me, and share the vast wonders of the day-
To walk along a mile with me down steep and narrow ways.
And when we are no longer young to our grandchildren I will tell,
Of the sparkling waterfall, and the painted lake-
when their grandfather kissed his southern belle!

This Valentine’s Day as we stop to express our love for those that continually bless our lives let’s remember how God never ceases to surprise us!

Love,

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Worth Revisiting:Procrastination

Last year at this time, I was sitting on a beach and feeling an unbelievable gratitude for the gift of being present to the moment. Thankful, if you will, for the ability to procrastinate much needed tasks and to-do’s to simply discover God. Take time today to pause, reflect and examen God at work in your day!

Procrastination

thy name is mine- Reminiscing.
Warm sand, waves crashing
I am engulfed by your inspiring presence.

Laughter of children
Amazed by your splendid treasures,
My soul sings with joy.
Little palms upturned, bare feet carrying such gifts.
sea, beach, grass:

 

And yet I hear you
Not in a rushing wind rather
A small gentle breeze
Instantly mindful of the infinite ways

 

 

 

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You long to converse
Desiring to be discovered
You hide not from me.
But smile-sunlit rays dancing upon sea sprays.

 

 

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Suddenly I find
Myself exceedingly thankful
Gifted graced moment
Aware that I am unbelievably loved.

 

Oh yes, procrastination thy name is mine! Returning from Winter Break I honestly felt that I needed a day to recoup, a time to catch up on neglected chores and conversation over a cup of coffee with a close friend. Back to school for my children, work for my hubby and I find I am finally enjoying my groove in the normalcy of a routine.

Yet, there is definitely a need in our lives for retreat and a break from the everyday. A time to reflect on all of our commitments, re-examine our priorities, as well as to appreciate all that God has given us. As I sat on the sand, my children laughing as the waves were crashing I was reminded of the joy intended for us. Moreover, that through the ups and downs God is always there, breaking into our day to allow us a respite, moments of peace, clarity, joy and love.

What then is waiting for me? There is that elusive final integration project (aka thesis) needed for my Master’s degree.  Procrastination in part stems from placing extremely high expectations on myself while knowing full well that perfection is not what is required, or even possible through my own efforts. I find solace in recognizing that if meant to undertake a task, speak to a situation, God will give me what is needed to do all these things and more.

 So the other part to this picture is discernment and that is the better part of delay. The time that I spent with my family and with God was necessary. Can we continue to race forward with endurance if we do not pause to reflect on where we have been, where we are and desire to renew our spirit? Connection, we were never meant to do it on our own, the love, support and guidance are there to be discovered.  With this, I ask for your prayers as I embark on the path ahead.

 Peace,

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This Advent: Where Are We Headed?

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Advent is a time to prepare yet also to discern where we are being led towards. The journey that Joseph and Mary were to make from Nazareth to Bethlehem, by many accounts, was not a fairytale but fraught with much danger, miserable weather, and challenges. Even in the best of health, this undertaking would have been difficult for the ablest of travelers. And yet, as scripture reminds us this is how God was to become Incarnate in our world. Not in comfort, or amidst luxury but One who walks with us through the most difficult moments and trials that we might encounter in life.

Along the unpaved flatland trails of the Jordan these feet do embark,
A journey not lightly undertaken but an arduous engagement of heart,
Of readiness for unforgiving weather and unforeseen dangers ahead,
Of hopefulness, peace, and joy that yet expectantly lie in its stead.

In this heavily forested valley, lions bears and boars await,
To seize upon their prey without cause to hesitate,
The ups and downs of the hilly ground that I now find myself upon,
Are unrelenting and still provide a daily impetus to carry on.

The desired and seemingly undesirable invited to travel this road together,
Bringing the weight of our cares and the sum of our joy assuredly tethered,
To the birth of our Savior who was to be born on this promised day foretold,
These 90 miles in a stable laid bare- the eternal salvation of all to behold.

Elizabeth Reardon, Come To Bethlehem, 2015

 

Not a single solitary journey but a walk together, a walk of dependence and trust on God and profound hope of God’s providence. And beautifully too

“Through Jesus, God enters into the broken and sinful territory of the human condition in order to help men and women, lost in their earthly sojourn, find their way back home to God.” The incarnation is, “the great migration of human history: God’s movement in love to humanity makes possible humanity’s movement to God.”[1]

 

Not simply a stationary commitment to inactivity, our waiting this advent is instead an invitation to move towards the divine image that God intends for us to be, while drawing ever closer into community with one another.

Where are you headed this advent?

Peace,

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[1] Hans Urs von Balthazar, Love Alone: The Way of Revelation, 5th ed. (London:Sheed & Ward, 1992) 84.

Worth Revisiting: Examen-ing Motion

Our lives can be so busy and overwhelming at times. Saturated with appointments and dotted with to do’s we may wonder when we will get the chance to come up for air. Yet, finding time to breathe- to prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit into the craziness of life is exactly the antidote needed! St. Ignatius suggests beginning with scripture, allowing ourselves to be part of the story, to dialogue with God and then simply rest in the peace of his presence.


Examen-ing Motion

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Fast-slow, ebb and flow sensing the pace of life,

Thoughts-prayer I find You there amidst the joy and strife,

 

 

In-out without a doubt my every breath You fill,

Start-rest this beating heart lest, peace escape me still.

 

 

Far-near there is no fear for You come when I call,

Doubt-hope a brilliant strobe-light dispelling all.

 

 


Offer-receive your gift and believe your grace is always there,

Hold-release me to please by trusting in your care.

By: Elizabeth A. Reardon


Worth Revisiting: A Poet’s Legacy

Today I share not an old post but a granddaughter’s revisiting of the legacy of a poet, not by trade but by heart. A teacher, farmer, surveyor, and cotton gin manager, Carl Wyatt Ferrell wore many hats in order to best provide for his family.  And still always the student he looked at life each day anew, finding God not in grand gestures but in the small everyday details of life. His love of poetry captures this awareness and is the treasure left to me by my grandfather a lifetime ago.


Dawn on the River

I stand at dawn above the stream
As skies begin to glow,
Like stirrings from a drowsy dream
I sense the river’s flow.


My face is fanned by morning breeze,
That stirs the trees so tall.
The squirrels chatter in the trees
While nuts begin to fall.

Now birds begin their morning song;
The dewdrops from the leaves;
The fog-bound river flows along
between the Cypress trees.

First signs of sunrise now appear-
the east is bright with gold.
The veiling fog begins to clear-
Earth’s beauties now unfold.

Below I see the shining stream,
this clear swift path of light.
The sunlight’s golden gleam
has took the place of night.

By Carl Wyatt Ferrell

Worth Revisiting: Poetic Examen-ations

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Having just finished an incredible book by Fr. Casey Beaumier, SJ entitled, A Purposeful Path, I found myself reflecting on my own time of discernment in my time at Loyola Chicago. Trusting God in the journey, despite setbacks and struggles, in the everyday joys and consolations, Lord I give it all to You.


This is a day that was long awaited,
A time dreamt of and indeed anticipated,
With months albeit years of preparation,
And a myriad of readings and connotations.
Today, I awoke knowing that there was nowhere I had to be.
There was truly no post to edit,
Or theologian I needed to credit,
An argument carelessly ignored,
Nor deeper meaning to explore.
I now wondered in this stillness what was to be of me.
On the surface I had considered,
Neglected tasks that could be bettered,
Domestic duties that once were small,
Sat waiting to be again forestalled.
Feeling there was a greater more fruitful use of my time.
Where was that book that had been given,
read when my free time too would beckon?
What was it now that I would write,
if granted this instant of respite?
Ah, yes  these too cannot be my compass prime.
For always when I come in prayer,
The answer seems to find me there,
No longer doubt or thoughts amiss,
At the day’s events that carry bliss.
Since You know where it is that I need to be and what I am to do.
But rather surrender to Thy will and grace,
To lead me to my rightful place,
Perchance beside the lost, or dying,
Or counseling a friend whose day is trying-
Where ever my feet are needed to go Lord I give them to You. 
*Find your Inner Iggy and celebrate #31DayswithIgnatius this month at Loyola Press!

 Peace,

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