Port Isabel, Texas, at sunset… The air seemed to cool off quickly after sundown. I realized I left my jacket in the car while enjoying the last twilight. I sat there quietly contemplating how the spiritual life parallels this phenomenon. When Christ our light fades from our concern, hence, when confession is put off needlessly, when we struggle to get to mass on Sunday because we do this more out of a sense of duty and not as the anticipated highlight of our week, when daily contemplative prayer becomes arduous to the point of saying to ourselves, 'why bother?', then yes, it won't be long before we stumble and fall into darkness. How far that darkness goes is anybody's guess.READ MORE
Grief is often an experience filled with many surprises. One surprise that occurs frequently after the loved one has died comes in the form of an unexpected emotional response to something that reminds the mourner of his/her loved one.
For some, it may be a favorite song, the scent of a favorite perfume or after-shave, a "twin" who bears a striking resemblance to the deceased loved one, a favorite eating place, a favorite movie or television show. What may be shocking is that the response seems to come out of nowhere at a time when the mourner no long considers her/himself to be actively mourning. A surprise of this type is normal even if it happens several years after the initial period of mourning. It is part of the journey through grief that becomes easier with the passage of time, but is never totally completed. When the surprise occurs, it is best to experience and express the emotions instead of trying to suppress or ignore them. As time passes, the surprises occur less frequently and the intensity of the response diminishes.
One of the most devastating diseases is Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's/dementia is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. The most stressful journey for caregivers is taking care of someone with memory loss.READ MORE
At the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach the Memorial Wall lists names of loved ones who by and large were never buried (because of incineration) or because the mass graves were left unmarked. The Wall serves as the only permanent visible reminder for those whose remains were never located. Our Jewish brothers and sisters had the right idea to etch the names of their beloved on a memorial that has the possibility of surviving a few millennia.READ MORE
Many people grieving the loss of a loved one may wonder if the journey is taking too long. Mourners may cling to the past afraid to let go of the life they once knew and afraid of what lies ahead. In this situation, the focus is on the past, and the grief journey does not lead to a renewal of life. In another situation, comments from family and friends may cause mourners to feel guilty about taking so long to get over the loss of their loved ones. In yet another situation, mourners may notice that other mourners appear to be making great progress while they see little, if any. Both of these can cause mourners to feel that there is something wrong with them.READ MORE
Here's another image taken from a summer gone by. The bridge connecting Granville Island to the Vancouver mainland offers a splendid view of the yacht club harbor. What makes all the glass and metal in this picture sparkle is precisely the hues of the sunset. We are fascinated with the beauty of our own works but we need the sun to make them shine. Here's the deeper reflection: we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that our qualities and gifts never run independently of the Heavenly Father's goodness to each of us.READ MORE
Here's another photo from Abiquiu at the Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery. This is as time lapse photo using over 130 photos woven together using a free software program called StarStax. I braved the cold for about 90 minutes of automated shutter release. I too had to play the part of the Magi as I looked for the North Star. The tunnel effect is only possible if you point the camera towards Polaris. All other stars in the Northern Hemisphere appear to orbit it.READ MORE
As the new year begins, you are now beginning a new year of caregiving. Reflect upon the past year and ask yourself how you did on your caregiving journey.