Tag Archives: rosary

Being a Pilgrim…


No, not the kind that wears buckles on the hat and shoes.  The religious kind.  Hoo-boy.  Never thought that would be me, but I guess God had a different plan.  Imagine that.

So what is a modern-day pilgrim?  My treasured, brown Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a pilgrim as one who makes “a journey, especially to a shrine or holy place.” Somehow, that doesn’t quite capture it.  I think a pilgrimage is a journey made with an open mind and heart to the experience of said visit to the holy place.  At least that’s how I began my pilgrimage.


I just returned from Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  It is a small, fairly obscure village in former Communist Yugoslavia.  In that village, since June of 1981, the Blessed Mother has appeared to six visionaries, who started out as young people, ages 16 down to 10, who have grown to be mostly middle-aged joyful, prayerful, normal, kind, men and women.  Not that I personally met any of them, but I did see and hear a couple of them speak.  By the way, they have been medically certified as normal and sane.  I can’t say that I have that piece of paper.

It was a long and arduous post 9/11 journey, from Charlotte to Toronto to Munich to Split.  I had never even heard of Split.  Then a three hour bus ride to Medjugorje.  The village is dominated by a very large, double-spired church, with Cross Mountain and Apparition Hill at points equidistant to each other.  We spent nine days climbing the Hill, going to Mass twice a day, praying the rosary twice or three times a day, climbing the Mountain, hearing talks and testimonials, and well, I’m not proud of this, but shopping.  At least the shopping was for sacramentals and blessed items to bring back, I tell myself.


This place is what the rest of the world should be like…accepting of differences.  The Italians are pushy.  So what!  That’s just them.  They are loving and faithful people.  The Americans talk too much and say little.  So what!  They are generous.  The Protestants don’t pray The Way of the Cross.  So what!  They respect Christ’s Passion and suffer for Him the same as Catholics.

The experiences I had do not center around the visions of the Blessed Mother.  I haven’t had any of those.  My experiences and impressions center on what the Blessed Mother calls us to do.  Love.  That’s it.


I am working very, very hard to keep that message in my heart and at the center of my life.  And with prayer, it’s possible.



Walking the track…


The sky was that crisp blue, Carolina blue, only it hovers in Wisconsin, too.  The air temp was 60 degrees (feels like 58), a nice breeze, a lovely summer morning.  I was walking the track. 


The track is a half mile oval race track on the folks’ farm, used for training horses for harness racing.  There are three race horses…Kenny, Nurse Jackie, and Vickie.  They are jogged everyday, with few exceptions.  Harness racing has been part of this family for at least three generations, maybe more.  Walkers shouldn’t be on the track when the horses are working, and they were already in the barn when I hit the gravel.  I try to walk every day, at least three laps, when I am here. 

That’s not what I was thinking about when I walked the track this morning, though.  I love this time and routine that I have developed on my visits.  Often, I say a rosary, and that is done in two laps…one rosary = one mile.  Good to know.  Often, I write this blog in my head.  Often, I plan for future projects, or just think.  Sometimes I make a phone call home.  Mostly, I just BE.

Track-walking time is pretty sacred.  I’m close to the soil, crops, the birds, and yet, I can look across the fields and see many changes.  When I arrived three weeks ago, the corn was just a few inches tall, and the beans had barely poked through the soil.  Now, the corn is knee high, and the beans’ rows are filled in.  The hay has been cut, baled, and is well on the way to the second cutting not too many weeks from now.  We’ve had heat, and good rains, and it’s cooled down to a couple of perfect weeks, too.


Next time I get to walk the track, it will be winter, and an entirely different experience.  I will still be close to the soil, though it will be frozen ground.  I’ll still be able to look across the fields and see the changes, probably snow-covered.  And I still will just BE.  I have to pinch myself sometimes to know this chance I have to experience this part of family and life is real for me.  And so, Amen.

Walking to the Y…


Y?  Because I like to.  I live a mile away from the YMCA.  I joined six years ago when I first came to Winston-Salem, because I had to have something to do while waiting.  I was waiting for travel documents to come for my brother and sister-in-law, so they could go to China to get their youngest little girl.  I was waiting to figure out my next steps after having left my husband of thirty-three years.  I was waiting for the marriage to be legally over, and waiting to see who I was and who I could become.

I love my Y.  I lift weights.  I ride a stationary bike.  I take Gentle Yoga classes several times a week, and I’ve met some great people.  I still find refuge in my Yoga class, though I don’t go as regularly as I did in the early days.  My life has gotten happily busier!  Nowadays, I walk.  I used to walk with a friend who lived around the corner, but she moved away, so now I just walk by myself.

I do some of my best blog writing when I walk.  Often, I will be inspired with a topic, and this past week was no exception.  This post is the result. 

Walking is scenic.  It is rhythmic, and it is meditative.  It takes one whole rosary to get to the front steps, and coming home, I usually work out a blog post in my head.  Often, I remember it, and write and post.  Many times, I don’t remember what I’d thought to write, only to have it pop up later.

It’s a gift to be able to live in such a beautiful and pedestrian-friendly place.  It’s a gift to exercise my body and my mind.  It’s a gift to be among friendly, kind, funny faces who greet me with welcoming  words when I’ve missed a few classes.  Walking to the Y is one of my gratitudes, often.  Walking to the Y has been a huge part of who I am and who I have become.  Who could ask for more?  Prayers and fitness, and working out in more ways than one.   It doesn’t get any better than this.  Look at the photo.  Get it?IMG_2651.JPG

What five things would you take?


This morning, Parade Magazine had an article by Connie Schultz.  She wrote about the five things she would take with her, if she had to flee her home.  I thought of this myself.  I really, really had to think, because I am a pack rat, and I have had to leave behind my belongings twice.  Both times, I was able to bring away much…just not everything.  I still mourn the loss of my books, and work hard to release the desire for those, telling myself they are only books, and I can buy them again, nevertheless…

So when I pondered this question, I determined the following things were the ones I must always have, assuming all the living things are safe:

My grandmother’s wedding ring.  I was given this by my mother on the day we buried Grandma.  After my mother, growing up, she was the most important adult in my life.  Grandma actually saved mine.  She was my one most enduring person, who loved me unconditionally.  She taught me how to BE.  For years, I wore her ring around my neck on a chain, and if I am ever fortunate enough to find love again and marry, I want this to be my wedding ring.

My “heroes” pictures.  On the wall in my one tiny little hallway, I have the pictures of the people who were my strength and salvation when my life crumbled and I seemed to crumble, as well.  These were my confidants, my siblings, my friends.  They were the ones who called, wrote, traveled miles and cross-country to visit me, offered to travel around the world, housed and fed me, and listened to me cry, held me in their arms, and were steadfast.  They still are.  I don’t need their pictures, but it is my small way of honoring their love.

My philosophy slate.  Fifteen or more years ago, I had two moms of students who gave me an old school slate.  It has “Christmas 1914” scratched in one corner.  I have used this slate ever since I received it to chalk my current “philosophy.”  I collect sayings and quotes that appeal to me, and I try to attractively write the current one to remind me of a virtue, make me laugh, or just give me encouragement.  In Arizona, I hung the slate by the back door.  In my tiny house, I have my slate on the plate shelf that lines my kitchen.  The current philosophy is “Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet.”  More often than not, my philosophy helps me in ways I would never have guessed.

My glass teal and pink flower paperweight.  When I was seven, my mom took me with her to collect advertising for the neighborhood newspaper for which she worked.  I remember it vividly.  It was dark and we were in an antique store.  Mom told me I could pick out anything I wanted.  That’s my memory.  The fact was, she probably didn’t give me carte blanche.  I chose this paperweight, and it cost $2.50.  How I remember this, I have no idea, but I still have the paperweight, and have added several others to make a display, including the apple one Mom gave me when I began teaching.

My rosary.  I actually have several now.  I love each one.  I wish I were a better pray-er of the rosary.  I think it is something that takes time to acquire, and since I am a new Catholic, I haven’t had enough time, but it is becoming easier.  I pray with a group on Wednesdays.  There is power in numbers, both with support and in prayer.  I have seen the results.

What five things would you take?