Reflections on Saint Patrick’s Day

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Acceptance is part of spiritual growth, right? I am sharing an older painting today, called “Acceptance” (above) because it seems appropriate for today in a variety of ways. About a year after I painted this painting back in 2005, I accepted that I needed help, that I wasn’t perfect, that I could be better with hard work, faith in God and love of self. I am still that person, just a bit farther down the path. I am lovable (as I am at any point) and I want to love others where they are on the path. This is easier said than done, of course; but nobody ever promised that it would be easy! I want to be a better mother (always), want to be a better child (always) and a better friend to Jesus (always).

I haven’t painted in four days, to my surprise. Other tasks have occupied me this week… cooking for and attending (fabulous) social events, attending a memorial service, increased scripture reading, more meditation and prayer. I raced to mass at noontime today and (as always) sighed a sigh of relief, as I settled into my pew, feeling like I’d just returned home again. The Gospel and homily that followed hit the nail on the head… and hit a nerve in me like a bolt of lightening! It was all about forgiveness and retracing steps to make things right (St. Patrick spent his lifetime trying to regroup and go on). Forgiveness has consistently been a problem for me, both asking forgiveness of and forgiving others; and I have a tendency after living with my mom, two adult women under one roof, to be highly judgmental of her.

My sister’s children lost their grandfather today and my friend Lynda lost her father earlier this month — and it made me so sad for them. I know what it felt like to lose my father and if anything happens to my mother, I’ll be really really upset. I know that life is never the same for family after these losses. Faith carries us forward, but we miss them! I miss my Dad.

Reality-check of today: while I wasn’t a difficult child, my mother has been there for me through many trials and tribulations in my more difficult adulthood, mothering me the best she could. Surely, my over-analysis of our past relationship lately is hurtful to her. I’m lucky to still have a mother — my “as is” terrific mother. I’ve disappointed so many people in my life and they have forgiven me (most of them), so my concentrating on peoples’ flaws is ridiculous. Maybe I have too much time on my hands (a job miracle is needed) but more likely, I’ve forgotten the best advice I ever got on this issue from a hysterically funny guy I once knew. When he overheard me saying that I felt fat in an outfit, he said “No, you’re just fat“; and when I had a complaint about a sister, he said “No, just be a better sister”; and when I said “but — but — but—“, he said “NO buts; the only thing you can change is your attitude.” I thought he was a bit of an idiot (briefly) but he was right. Likewise, I just have to be a better daughter! I’ll pray for the right words, apologize and start again.

Lent is such a great time of year and has me “contemplating” more. I’m loving the “Life in the Spirit” Seminar at St. Patrick’s Church on Smith Hill in Providence — a positive and moving experience. This charismatic, Roman Catholic church emphasizes witness and renewal — a gift of the holy spirit! It isn’t a place where anyone is forgotten — and that is what I believe church should be with the only parish K through high school in the state, and even houses Mary House in the basement! My first goal is to be an active part of a church on which I for a decade turned my back (unlikely to happen ever again). Like my friend said: instead of complaining about the Church and the past, I can be a better member!

Hopelessness is the worst problem we have as a society — and I believe that “Acceptance” is a start in every upward assent. Enjoy the painting above and “For Ronnie” below. I painted it in memory of a friend who led people to church by example and died doing what he loved most, riding his motorcycle home to his nice wife. I wanted it to depict the rising up, after the peaceful sunset.

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Thank you God, for this day of days! I’m so glad to learn your lessons.

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