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It’s one of those weeks. My brain has not got a single, complete, coherent thought in it. I am beset on all sides by questions spiritual and temporal, moments of joy and phases of confusion. There is nothing for it but to let it all out. Excuse, in advance, my rambling.

  • I just got back from a trip to St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN, my alma mater and home to the Sisters of Providence, of which I am an Associate. The visit, for a board meeting, was equal parts mentally invigorating and exhausting, but overall, filled with joy. I got to see many of the faces I love, my friends Maria, Sheila and Martha, Jen, Monica, Diann, Li-Chih and Kathleen — among others — as well as many of my most beloved Sisters of Providence. How I wish I scoot Missouri out of the way, like one of those puzzles where you rearrange the squares to form an image, so as to make Indiana closer to Kansas. (Sorry, SueBE! I did think of you with great fondness while whizzing past your hometown on the interstate.)
  • The Synod on the Family has ended in something of a jumble. Some bishops have shown base disrespect for the Pope by dissenting, before crucial subjects could even be discussed, what they perceive as the “hidden agenda” of the synod: namely, to allow divorced, remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, and to accept into the fold those who support homosexual marriage. All poor Pope Francis has to say is, “let us have understanding and be accepting,” and all the scared chickens start shouting that the sky is falling. They’ve issued a petition, which (to date) 182 bishops and 600,000 people have signed, begging the Pope not to alter, in the least, Church teachings or doctrine on these matters. That’s right. Let’s just slam the door in the faces of people, deny them the forgiveness Christ extends with open arms, and put a boot on their necks so they don’t forget they are sinners. Also, let’s deny that times change as human understanding changes. (Maybe the earth is the center of the universe!) I wonder if special technology will be developed so that I can be identified at the church door as a liberal and thereby banned from the pews.
  • Her name is Salome. She recently turned five, and she lives in Colombia. In her photo, she stands, arms akimbo, head tilted, a wry smile on her face. I loved her at first sight. (Although, yes, as my husband guessed at the time, I was looking for a child from Costa Rica so I would have another excuse to visit my friend Tina, who lives there, growing chocolate and making the world a better place.) I am sponsoring Salome through the group Unbound ( She has a “complicated” family life, and a home that makes mine look like the Taj Mahal. And I am doing the absolute least a compassionate human being could do to improve her life. There is so much need out there, at times I feel at a loss. And then I remember that even a single, small gesture of kindness can kindle a flame that might, in turn, spark another, and another, into life. It is hard to hope for a conflagration, and yet, at times, hope is all we have.

And so, with happiness and heartache, sadness and celebration, we come to the end of my news. So many things bubbling away on the stove! Who knows what will be added to the pot next week? We can only face it with prayer. (And maybe some lunch. Who’s hungry?)

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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