Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The morning before Thanksgiving morning is always special: the last hush before "the holidays" begin in earnest.

I read a passage from Caryll Houselander this week about the Parable of the Sower and of how one way the seed can be choked out is by overfocusing on our worries, our "cares."

I'll be moving into a new apartment over the weekend and I thought of all the things that have been occupying me as of late: Will Carlos and his friend show up with the truck at Public Storage as planned at 9 on Saturday? I have a backup plan but my friend Ellen is coming to help and WHAT IF I INCONVENIENCE HER? How to get the best deal on AT&T wifi? (I've already called three different numbers and received three different answers). Where (and freakin when) should I shop for a dining room table, a bed, possibly a new desk as the old one may have been damaged in the last transit? I'll have a longer commute to certain things: where will I find the time? Whoops, don't forget to stock up on cleaning supplies!

Those tiny details have at times choked out the overarching glory of the fact that I HAVE AN APARTMENT. I have money to pay for it, a car, good health, a life that is so rich and full the only real "problem" is that I can barely take it all in.

I am seeing many people I love over the next few days.

This afternoon I'm going with my friend Joe, with whom I've shared many holidays, to his favorite spot: the lunch buffet at The Sizzler.

Tomorrow I'll go to the clubhouse where I hang out and enjoy some fellowship with my sister and brother on-the-mend alcoholics.

Then I'll join my friend Donald and his extended family and my dear friend Tensie and her son Thomas and many others for a feast at his place in Glassell Park. I have all the ingredients for the persimmon and pomegranate salad I'll bring (talk about cares!).

All the while I'll be reflecting on a year that's been full of two of my least favorite things: asking for help and receiving.

How much easier, safer, and more secure to "give." But the truth is I'm not a very good giver either! I'm not a natural sharer, I'm not naturally generous: definitely not of money, not of heart. I want to give, if at all, my way: on my time, in the way that, given my temperament, energy level, doesn't overly tax.

That's how I want to receive, too.

But if we're very lucky, we're called to give and to receive in ways that stretch us into deep discomfort.

For me, the discomfort often means exercising superhuman effort (and often failing miserably) to be gracious and patient when everything in me wants to scream, If you're going to give to me, just give and then leave me alone! Or on the other end, For God's sake, haven't I given you ENOUGH of my time, my energy, my heart? I'M BUSY. I'm overwhelmed. I've already given you my widows' last two mites while I'm trying to write a weekly column, ghost-write a book, change over every account/contact I have to a new address, have my gas and electricity turned on, respond to your request for time, money, love. And now YOU WANT MORE!

You want me to look at and comment upon MORE photos, youtubes, links; to pray for your alcoholic brother, your mother-in-law with Alzheimer's, your wayward priest; to plug your charity, attend your fundraiser, blurb your book, listen to your story.

Oh. You want me to visit the prisoner, to give a drop of water to the thirsty, to sit by the bed of the sick.

Oh. Just as the world from the day I was born has done for me.

I thought especially this past week of the people who have supported my blog--in every way, but I want to particularly thank those who have done so financially. I have three readers who give each month and how incredibly beautiful and generous and kind is that?

I have a few who a couple or three times a year donate generously. I have many and you know who you are and so do I who have given and continue to give over the years. Many of you correspond with me from time to time. Of course more deeply than and/or way apart from the money are the goodwill, the silent support, the prayers, the Eucharistic flow--for as St. Ignatius of Loyala said, "Love is an exchange of gifts."

Still, money is good and when folks donate cash one of the things I get to do is pass on a bit of it.

To that end, I rec'd an email this morning from Elizabeth Alex, Community Outreach and Media Relations Director of Unbound, asking me for a plug ("I was hungry and you fed me...).

So here you go.

Unbound is an organization that connects sponsors with kids, young adults and the elderly in areas of the world that you think things are bad here have NOTHING. Thirty bucks a month, which makes a huge difference: a new roof, an indoor toilet.

Unbound hooks you up with an actual person whose name, age, face, and daily life you can know and "see." They make it super easy to donate each month, write letters or emails to your sponsee, send a birthday card and photos.

I took a media trip to Honduras with Unbound earlier in the year. You can read about it herehere, here, and here.

One upshot of the trip was that I now sponsor 9-year-old Brenda Valasquez.

Recently I received a letter from Brenda.

"Thank you so much," she wrote.

"Last week we bought some pots."



  1. Beautiful. Thanks for this, Master Eckhart said that if the only prayer we ever said in our life was, "Thank you," it would be enough.

    Now I'm thinking that if the only goal I ever reach before I die is to take such striking blurry photos as yours, it would be enough.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Happy Turkey Day, Heather. Blessings from NZ.

  3. I recently terminated services with a client who had met the goals outlined in her service plan. To show gratitude for my service she began showering me with baked goods and with gifts, despite struggling financially to meet the needs of her family, let alone her own needs. She didn't honor my wish for her to stop thanking me in that way. Eventually I told her "The best way for you to show your gratitude is to continue taking care of yourself. I want, more than the delicious cinnamon rolls you shared, for you to be well." The same goes for you, Heather. More than wanting a response to an email or comment, or anything else I might hope for or come to expect, I want for you to be well. That is all I ask of you, of anyone really!

    Be well. That is enough (enough of a challenging task, but also enough of a delight for those who truly care about you).


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