Sunday, April 22, 2012



Shema is the Hebrew word for “hear,” as in

     Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all
     your heart, will all your soul, and with all your might.
This is also the text the Musseim call from their minarets, and the believers stop to pray.

     If our “God is one,” why do we fight each other? Perhaps because of belief of the “one” God? In a polytheistic world the Jews were counter-cultural. Difference breeds a danger in human minds. It is the reason children call names or bully one another. It is difference that leads to misunderstandings and to fights or wars. To be counter-cultural is to present a danger to the smooth agreements that form a society. Something new is a danger for it calls all accepted beliefs into question; it disturbs the status quo and threatens law makers and those who benefit from a society which follows “their” principles.
     Today, as we face all sorts of beliefs, to be counter-cultural and believe in one God is dangerous. To believe in Love is dangerous. In a society focused on “us vs. them,” Love is dangerous. Those who profit from the balance of us and them are against those who believe in Love towards All.
     I often think of today’s society when I think of the Bible’s position on aliens. We are to be kind to them for we were once aliens ourselves. At least in the Americas, only the native peoples are non-aliens, the rest of us came here from somewhere else. So, we are the aliens.
     The reverse is true when it comes to behavior-in a society which presses to remove “In God we Trust,” everything is moral—immorality is moral, is acceptable—for there are no standards. It is the age- old question of “who” is to decide what is acceptable or not, and isn’t everything shades of grey?
     Let someone become a Hero, he is destroyed. His/her accomplishments are nothing if there is one blemish in their life. All models of behavior are to be shot down, removed from their pedestals; the criminal becomes the underdog, the victim. Consequences of any action are “unfair.” Yet, actions have consequences. A society without Love for each member is a society ready to fall.
     Jesus the Christ came to save us, to forgive us. Is it pride to believe we don’t need saving or forgiving? Would He have needed to come, to die, to rise, if humans hadn’t chosen selfishness instead of Love? The real danger is evil, not love.
     Do we still hear? Hear that internal moral voice, or has it been drowned out by desires? In silence we can hear the “still small voice,” the whispering voice, but we have to allow silence; we have to quiet the voices clamoring for action, so we can listen, so we can hear.

Kyrie 2

     Here I am again in A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri.

First: I am constantly amazed at what the Scriptures have to say to me as an individual. Vatican II explained,     
      "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed hem in his task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."
     A new word for me, theopneustos, which means God-breathed. What a marvelous image, God breathing in the minds of men so they could write what needed to be written. I used to just listen or phase out when the scripture was being read during Mass. Since I have been a Lector, I have had to study the words in order to read them with meaning. This has caused me to listen carefully to the words of Mass, and I discover at each Mass, God breathing his meaning in my ear. Sometimes I feel His presence in my mind.
     Another new concept: I’ve always like the Hymn “Lord of the Dance,” but I really understood why “dance” was chosen. I’ve thought of the way some think of life or marriage or even work as a kind of dance – though in these cases the ‘dance’ wasn’t joyful, but required-if one were to win or at least keep from losing.  Since God is Love and Joy follows Love, then His is a joyful dance. Thomas Howard wrote:
     The universe, all creatures and things, all angels and saints, invite us, “Come Join the Dance.” The antiphons of the Mass are early training in the great choreography, in the great ringing antiphon before the eternal perichoressis, the “Dance” of the Persons of the Trinity. The seraphim know this; and in the liturgy we begin to be introduced into this blissful antiphonality. When we respond to the Psalm, we are taking or first steps in the Dance.
     Here the Dance is the joyful praise of God; as when the choirs of angels sing in praise of God in the ongoing Mass of Heaven. Their joy becomes a song or a dance in praise as the saints, angels, and other creatures sing back and forth in their hymn and dance of joy. It is this back and forth chanting of psalms and antiphons that become the dance.

       Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
To repeat in threes is to find completion. Holy Lord is to recite a name. Holy, Holy is the beginning of action. Holy, Holy, Holy, is praise – the Sanctus is praise – but also a description of the indescribable.

     Lord, God of Hosts
Who are these hosts? Saint, choirs of angels, archangels, seraphim all singing the threefold praise of Holy.

     Heaven and earth are full of your glory
For me, living in the deep woods, the glory of God surrounds me: lakes, streams, oaks and pines each a glorious statement regardless of the seasons – have you ever seen a pint dusted in snow, or the copper oak leaves frosted in the midst of white – and the clouds, sunrises, sunsets, birds at a feeder, the antics of squirrels, the glory of Fall or the budding green in Spring. Even without storms, they suggest the grandeur and the power of God.  So we sing praise - yet, what if like Isaiah we get a glimpse:
     When angels sing, the foundations of the Temple shake and the room is filled with smoke.
He realizes his and our-unworthiness.
     Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips…for my eyes have seen the King,
     The Lord of Hosts!  Holy is His Name.
We, sinners as we are, are still unworthily; we still distrust the alien, the different one, and still aren’t ready to give our all for Love.

Anamnesis and the Passover Sacrifice

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

     The purpose of this prayer is to be reminded at this part of the Mass to lift our hearts to God, to forget our worldly concerns, and focus. Focus is difficult for humans with business, home, family, monetary, and time constraints. Yet, we are asked to do that very thing, to forget who we are, what we have to do because “it is just and right.”
As St Cyprian explained: 
     When we stand praying, beloved brethren, we ought to be watchful and earnest with our whole
Heart, intent on our prayers. Let all carnal and worldly thoughts pass away, nor let the soul at that time think on anything but the object only of its prayer. For this reason also the priest by way of preface before his prayer, prepares the minds of the brethren by saying, “Lift up your hearts,” so the people’s response, “We lift them before our Lord,” he may be reminded that he himself ought to think of nothing but our Lord.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem said much the same thing, but warning the Mass participants of the seriousness of this moment in the Mass: 
     “Lift up your hearts:” For in this sublime moment the heart should be lifted up to God, and not be allowed to descent to the earth and to earthly concerns. With all possible emphasis the sacrificing priest exhorts us in this hour to lay aside all the cares of this life, all domestic worries, and direct our hearts to God in heaven who hath so loved men…Let there be none among you, who shall confess with his lips: We have lifted up our hearts, and allow his thoughts to remain with the cares of this life."
What a difficult job to lift up our thoughts when, the cares of the world go out of their way to bring our thoughts to all we have to do, the problems we have yet to solve. If we can take these very tasks to do and problems to solve and lift them to the Lord, what a relief will come. He will take our burdens on himself as he took on our sins. And then, we should “give thanks to the Lord, our God.”
     In the Jewish tradition, giving thanks is the one thing we can give to God that he doesn’t already have. As Philo said:
      We affirm that the activity most characteristic of God is to give His blessings. But that most
fitting to creation is to give thanks; because that is the best it can offer him in return. For when creation tries to make any other return to God it finds that its gift already belongs to the Creator of the universe, no to the creature offering it. Since we now realize that to give due worship to God only one duty is incumbent upon us, that of giving thanks, we must carry it out in all times and in all places.
     We have much to thank him for. Consider all you know and have, then consider what your life would be like if everything you had not thanked God for would be gone. What would you have left?
     In the Passover, the Jews keep a memorial of an historical event, one where God saved them from death of their first born, slavery, and led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. Each year, Jews re-live the event. Their prayers are spoken as though they and not just their answers were saved by God, “When You led me out of slavery. When You led me out of Egypt. When You rescued me,” though it was generations ago.
     So in the Eucharist part of the Mass, we too re-live the last supper, knowing the bread and wine are really His body and blood “broken and poured out" on the cross for the Love of us. In the Catholic Catechism explains:
      In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work are united with hose of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.
      If for no other reason than the Eucharist, we should give Him thanks, for His great glory, and sing with the angels the Great Amen!


Dear Friends,
     Hillman, Michigan is changing before my eyes.  The downtown has a new bridge, new seating along the way, new trees.  Now we have lovely lamp posts, and all electrical is underground.  The entire town is wi-fi and definitely 21st century.  We still have several empty store fronts, but I have a feeling that will change once the construction is completed.  And so it has, just one place left for sale.
     Brush Creek Mill is one of my volunteer sites.  It is a historical museum, hobby center, community center, and more.  Its River's Edge gift shop contains quality arts and crafts from area artists, and by area we mean North-East Michigan.  The Historical Society has its wide collection here.  The most recent exhibit is photos of regional schools, and photos of various graduating classes.  As many schools no longer exist, a map is also posted with schools marked. 
     I work in the office, paying vendors, creating flyers and brochures, and managing the web site.  The web site requires the most time, and I have the least time for it.  I invite you all to visit us at to find out more.
     St. Augustine's Catholic Church takes up my other free time.  Located on Veteran's Memorial Highway, I lector regularly, and president of the pastoral council, and soon to be president of our local altar society titled Council of Catholic Women.  I have been reaching out to Catholics who have left the parish, for one reason or another, especially for the lack of Sunday Mass.  Our last pastor was in charge of four parishes spread widely apart, so our Mass was on Saturday.  Our current priest only has two parishes to tend to, and three churches to say Mass for.  One of the churches loves a Saturday Mass, so our Mass is again on Sunday.
      Our little town has a new library, the old health clinic, and has doubled in size.  We won't be losing our Post Office, even if it is closed on Saturdays.  We are proud of what has been accomplished, and what is yet to be done.  We are in Montmorency County, the poorest county in the State, but we have pride, and it is only about 19-15 minutes from our little house in the woods.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Snow Update etc.

     When I left you last, we were without power.  It came on Tuesday afternoon about 2:30, so we were four days fighting the elements.  Sounds like we were out in the cold, when really we were quite warm, though I was tired for three days for lack of sleep.  I'm sure you have seen snow photos before, but this is one I took, looking into the woods from the front porch.
     Of course, now its summer...well, the second day of Spring.  We have had three days of 85 degree weather and relatively high humidity.  All the bulbs are up, and my mother (yes, she's 90) and I have been raking and blowing leaves to get them off the plants.  Even the lilac and honeysuckle bushes have leaved out, and the maples are in bloom.  We have one more area to finish, then I can go along the edges and clean things up.  We aren't supposed to get rain until Thursday or Friday, so our fire danger level is "high".  With all the trees and dead branches brought down by the heavy snow, the debris in the woods is considerable.  I've picked up branches large enough for the wood stove, and the lowest level of leaves is still wet, but I'll be better pleased when all the leaves are gone from the nearby beds and yard trees.  We have many dead trees close to the house, but will need to wait for the "men" in our family to come take them down.  
     With the crocus blooming, the tulips and daffodils up two inches or more, and all this warm weather, I feel ready for spring, or summer.  Mom and I have been sitting on the back deck in the afternoon, as the front is full of sun.   I went so far as to purchase a table and chairs today, and a small fountain to enjoy on the deck.  We just know this can't last.  But even next week will be in the 50s.  I keep waiting for a unexpected snow storm.  I hope it doesn't come, for the fruit trees are budded in Lelanau and it would spell disaster for the grapes, cherries, and apples.  It will be a tough year anyway.  Migrant workers are all in hiding, afraid of showing up and being deported.  In the meantime, farmers fear their fruit will rot on the ground.
     Nothing is easy in life.  We're lucky God is in charge, not us humans!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


     Right now, Momma is melting snow on the wood stove.  We've brought in split wood for now, and heavier round logs for overnight.  It is supposed to get down to -3 tonight, but right now, the sun shines in patches of blue sky.
     We have the ice cream and milk, along side the coolers of meat, vegetables, and frozen blueberries, on the deck in the three feet of snow I haven't shoveled.  I've done the rest, though I cold have done a better job around the woodpile.
     Walking to the feeders, the snow is over my knees (but remember I'm not quite 5 foot).  I have to lift as I shovel the front porch, as the snow is even with the wide boards.
     We knew the storm  - we was coming on Friday evening, but we had to see a doctor in Alpena and couldn't get away until 9:30 PM.  We got as far as the Alpena airport and had to turn around.  The snow was a wet one, and the road was inches deep in slush.  We spent the night at a Days Inn, then headed for Hillman about 10:00 AM.
     We called friends, and Jerry had us plowed out, but Ess Lake Drive had seen no plow.  I drove carefully to Hillman  at about 45 or 50.  When we reched Hillman, some of the town was without power.  624 was quite snowy, but even the hills were drivable.  When we reached Ess Lake Drive, it still had seen no blade, but there were tracks in the deep snow, we believe Jerry had made them as we were able to make it to our drive way, and in.
     I guess power went out about 12:30 AM Saturday morning.  It may be Monday or Tuesday before it is back on.  The heavy snow took down power lines all over the northern part of the state.  We should be fine -food in the snow - wood in the stove - snow water for flushing - bottle water for washing-God's grace.
     Pray for all those not so lucky.  Jackie's mother is on oxygen constantly, so she and her mother are staying with friends.  Those without wood stoves are filling the area motels-I guess this makes up for our warm winter.
     Pray for those fighting tornadoes - death and destruction.  God has blessed us, and blesses us daily.  May God continue to bless you too despite what nature sends!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


     It's Lent, and as happens every year, but most particularly this year, I am learning things I hadn't conceived of needing to be learned.  I've been reading A Biblical Walk Through The Mass,  Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, by Edward Sri..  As an example, this quote on making the sign of the cross:
    "Let the cross, as our seal, be boldly made with our fingers upon our brow and on all occasios; over the bread we eat, over the cups we dring; in our comings and in our goings; before sleep; on lying down and rising up; when we are on our way, and when we are still.  It is a powerful safeguard...for it is a grace from God, a badge of the faithful, and a terror to the devils...For when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they fea him who has 'smashed the heads of the dragons'." St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
    "A safeguard"?  "Terror to the devils"?  I thought it was just something we did honoring the Trinity.  I won't make the sign of the cross so flipently again!  As if that weren't enough, "In Scripture, a name is not merely a conventional way of refering to a particular person.  A name mysteriously represents the essence of a person and carries the power of that person.  Therefore, to call upon God's name is invoke his presence and his power."
     Another example is "Lord have mercy."  I've already learned that to call upon "The Lord," is to invoke his presence and power.  But I didn''t understand his "mercy," or his forgiveness.  Then, after reading about the prodigal son, Mr. Sri tells us, it isn't a welcoming of the child back home, but a welcome of the changed child; a child whose heart has change, who has sorrow for his sins, and a noble desire to get his life back on track.  Mercy is not to be seen as a higher power like a monarch randomly pardoning criminals in his kingdom.  It is about God's Love for us, even in the face of our sins.
     As Thomas Howard said in If Your Mind Wanders at Mass,
        "In the Kyrie...we may hear the fathomless cry of the whole race of man ascending to heaven from the depths. Kyrie! Goes up from all windows, and all dispossessed and brutalized children, and from all the maimed, and the prisoners and exiles, and from every sickbed, and indeed from all wounded beasts, and we could believe from all rivers and seas stained with man's filth and landscapes scarred by his plunder.  In the liturgy, somehow, we sttand before th Lord on behalf of his whole groaning creation."
     I wonder, what more do I have to learn?  I am humbled by my lack of forethought.  I am humbled daily by my inability to become the person I believe God would have me be.  I am humbled by that thought, for I can't.  I can only grow as I ask for His help.  Thanks be to God!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Philosophy, Humility and the Holocaust 2

Another good read is
Christopher B. Kebs, A Most Dangerous Book.  The author follows the path of  Tacitus' Germania from origin to foundational importance in the Third Reich.
           A few quotes:
  • "It is the greatest honor, the greatest power to be at all times surrounded by a huge band of chosen young men"  motto for  a 1935 Hitler Youth manual, taken from Germania.  (p.29) 
  • "The tribes in Germanien, not tainted by intermarriage with any other nations, exist as a distinct unadulterated people that resembles only itself.  Consequently, all of them even share the same physical appearance...fierce blue eyes, tawny hair, huge bodies."
So much evil has come from these two quotes from Tacitus.  The glory of numbers, Hitler Youth, the Nuremberg Rallies.  All these young men bonding together, honor bound to support their nation, Germany.  And yet, when Tacitus wrote, Germany did not exist as a nation, but only as scattered barbarian tribes, wearing little but skins, but fierce in battle.

The second quote, formed the seed of opinion about "the other."  Not only Jews, but Poles and Slavs were the other. Only the Aryan look was Germanic in the end.  Only the way of the soldier, or mother, or productive worker was necessary to the nation.  So the invalid, the insane, the crippled in body or mind, the homosexual, all religions were dangerous to the Reich.  These "others" were responsible for the first world war defeat.  To rule the world, as was their right, these others needed to be destroyed.  And so they were.

The word Holocaust is often misused today.  It has as a first meaning, "destruction by fire."  And the evidence of the destruction of the other was destroyed by fire. Genocide is the word that should be used in the many cases today of one group's effort at eliminating "the other" from their homeland.  And there are so many genocides in process today.  I'm especially thinking of Africa now, and another book I've finished, Little Bee, by Chris Cleave. 
     Little Bee is the name a young Nigerian girl gives herself when she is able to escape to England.  But, she is an illegal immigrant, and it doesn't matter that she will die if returned to her home country.  So much bloodshed fills this world, though it is more difficult to hide what life could be with different rulers and freedom.  To change a system is difficult, and not without more bloodshed, and perhaps, not without outside help.  We couldn't have won our own revolution without the arrival of French Ships.  We were lucky, our people were educated, we had leaders who could see the way the future lay, in countries without a strong religious base or an educated populace, the way to the future is less clear.
     I blame some of this on Empire Building.  Like a Rajah, or a King, or another strong ruler, we empire builders kept all but a few of the people uneducated, untrained, and unschooled in government.  So to set a people free can doom them to the current lives of tribal and ethnic warfare.  Often I think good decisions are made for the wrong reasons, and chaos follows.
     I promise to move on from these thoughts that fill my mind and my reading.  Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Holocaust and Good Books

The Holocaust weighs heavily on my soul.  However, I have found that there were people in every country, including Germany, who saw beyond the propaganda.  While some of these people were killed or sent to camps, others provided great service to the wold, saving those condemned.

Some Survivor Stories to add to your reading list:
Flory A. Van Beek, flory.  Her experiences in Denmark under German Occupation.
Jenna Blum, Those Who Save Us.  A mother who gives all, even life with a Nazi, to save her daughter.
Thomas Buergenthal, A Lucky Child.  Sometimes even in Auschwitz, a German soldier will allow a child to enter the camp instead of the "showers."
Tatiana De Rosnay, Sarah's Key.  A novel.  Sarah lives in France.  She locks her brother in a cupboard so that he may be saved, but she is taken and no one knows he is there.

I have done considerable research for my novel, OTTO,  Otto, and others, are Bavarian farm lads when Germany enters WWI.  Through their experiences together in the trenches they become friends.  They go their different ways when Germany loses the war.  Otto and his lieutenant end up as brown shirts and latter SS.  Otto becomes a member of the Einsatzgruppen which destroys those dangerous to Germany.  Otto's group is responsible for "cleansing" Lithuania.

I have been able to find two diaries which clearly describe, day by day, the events as they happened.  If you'd like to read them:

Kazimierz Sakowic, Ponary Diary 1941-1945.
William W. Mishell, Kaddish for Kovno.  Life and Death in a Lithuanian Ghetto 1941-1945.

I've read several other good books this year, some heavy, others not so...

Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
John Hart, The Last Child
Kate Morton, The Distant Hours
Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden
Dan Simmons, Black Hills.

 Talk to you soon.  Kathy

Friday, January 27, 2012

Starting Over

Sorry I've been away for so long.  Since I've moved to Michigan I have had trouble getting on line.  We are so far in the woods that we get no cable nor can we connect to any satellite.  I have instead found a way through Verizon to make an antenna work. 

Update on Tucks and Me (my historical novel on Crispus Attucks):  After much revision, I have sent simultaneous submissions to seven agents.  I have been working on the next set of submissions and a couple of contests for March.

I have been taking photographs for several years now, and finally decided to do something with them, so I went to my first craft fair in November.   I was more successful than I imagined I would be.  I even sold five copies of my poetry collection, Dusting By Stars.

I've formed a business called "Chickadee Hill, Inc."  I hope to get my book in bookstores in Northern Michigan, and attend more craft fairs. I am offering to do poetry readings and hold poetry workshops.

I know these are retirement days.  I also know I am living and taking care of my mother, but she is doing remarkably well since I've moved north.  I've sold my place in Dubuque, Iowa to a foster daughter.  I seem to have the energy, and my mother's encouragement, so here I go!

I hope to keep  up with my blog, and post new entries each week.  The photo on this blog is the background to my poetry collection, and an example of my photogrpahy.

I hope to hear from all of you.  I don't intend to do any other social media, so this is where we can have conversations.  Love and Blessings to you all!