Saturday, April 26, 2014


It’s hard to hear, “It’s over!”

It is. If the movie, the meal,
the vacation was good, it’s
hard to face, “It’s over.”

Someone else needs our table,
our seat, our space, our place.

The End – it’s part of every day -
every movie –  every life. It’s reality.

The disciples had to face it.
Their Jesus was arrested,
roughed up, beaten, ridiculed,
condemned and pushed towards
Calvary with a cross - with death
just ahead. And he died. It’s over.
Death…. Burial… Roll the rock
over the entrance of the tomb.

Yet all stories, all history was about to
change that weekend, that moment,
in that tiny place in Palestine.
Easter…. Resurrection… began.
The Father erased death, pushed
away the rock, lifted his Son and
announced to all, “It’s not over!”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2014

Poem for Today - April 26, 2014


In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top.

And wait, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life and death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

© Richard Wilbur

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Poem for Today - April 25, 2014


held together
in wholeness
by the air of the Spirit
the putty of trust
the glue of friendship
the cement of Scripture.
Serving a purpose
Beautifying the world
to the power,
and possibilities
of limitations embraced.

(c) Imelda Cooper

Painting: The Broken Vase
by Harry Wilson Watrous

Poem for Today - April 24, 2014


Christ will come again,
God's justice to complete,

to reap the fields of time
and shift the weeds from wheat;
then let us passionately care
for peace and justice here on earth,
and evil's rage restrain with love,
till Christ shall come again.

(c) Brian Wren

Painting by Matthias Grunewald,
from the Resurrection Panel
of the Isenheim Altarpiece

Poem for Today - April 23, 2014


If Jesus could transform
common water
     into wedding wine
spit and dirt
     into new sight
troubled sea
     into a pathway
well water
     into living water
Could Christ transform
     the waters of my life
          into a shower
          of blessing?

(c) Tom Lane

Poem for Today - April 22, 2014


O God,
I am content to be
Thy little piece of chalk.
(So small and white and thin).
Write thou with me
How men should walk --
And if betimes
'neath the pressure of thy hand
I squeak and squeal a bit

In shrill complaint
Bear down the harder
And write with me
Until I crumble into dust.
But do not (no, Lord, no)
Wash Thy hands of me
(White powder on They fingertips)
But let me unto Thee
adoring Thee
for all eternity.

(c) Frater Joseph Manton CSSR
around 1913
First Dogma, Mt. St. Alphonsus
Esopus, New York

Monday, April 21, 2014


Poem for Today - Monday April 21, 2014


For parents, the only way

is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.

I read of Abraham's sacrifice

the Voice required of him,
so that he lead to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared

that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.

I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary

at his grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.

And then I slept, and dreamed

the life of my only son
was required of me, and I 
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.

(c) Wendell Berry
pages 43-44 in
Upholding Mystery,
edited by David 

Sunday, April 20, 2014


[Last night after the Easter Vigil I sat down to put together a homily for this Easter Sunday. I read the readings, said a prayer for insight, then thought: “Write a story!” I do that for Christmas. Then the writer’s question: “What’s the story?” Having gone through a few family deaths and  as well as other deaths and funerals lately – as well as planning on going to the cemetery with my sister this coming Wednesday – I just sat there last night and rewrote the Easter story in new wineskins. So the title of story is, “First Easter”.]

It was their first Easter after his death.

It had been a long, rough winter since his death last November.

Thanksgiving wasn’t easy. Christmas was tougher. So she hoped this first Easter after his death would be easier for all around. He was 42 – fourth tour in Afghanistan – planning of retiring in 2 years.

Life wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Death wasn’t supposed to happen this day. The future wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Once a month, she would drive down there – with the kids – just to try to get in all to crying and holding onto each other – all at once. Sporadic memory come backs were too sudden and too surprising. Too many reminders – including some of his scent - clung to too many things in the garage, the cellar, and some closets. Going to Arlington – going to his stone cold grave – to pray – to hold onto each other – to tell a “Remember the time when dad did….” story helped.  Then they would stop into a teenager friendly restaurant on the way back – and then get back to life.

She was happy they had gotten married early – that they had their three kids early. The kids were  17, 15, and 13 when their dad was killed. An IED explosion – in somewhere, nowhere, Afghanistan – did it.

Looking forwards was tough. Looking backwards, she was happy that their kids had many good vacations – great trips – as a family – even though their dad was away for some of them – serving our country and our world.

Being a marine family they had moved around a bit – they missed their dad a good bit – those tours were crushers at times -  but when he was home he made his presence felt – big, big time. That presence, that joy - he had a great laugh – told his wife and his kids he was not the stereotypical tough Marine type. He was a teddy bear.

Easter was coming. The plan was Mass at 9 AM – then a good breakfast at Denny’s – and then off to Arlington – for some time at dad’s grave – and then head home for Easter dinner together.

For some reason – there was a different feeling in the car – in this trip.

For starters it was Easter – The sermon, the readings at Mass, the prayers, the music at the 9 AM Mass was all about resurrection – obviously.

Arlington was beautiful – budding flowers – blossoming trees – in abundance. Color – color – yellow, red, blue, purple, white, green - everywhere.
They parked their SUV – in the main parking lot and decided this was a good day for a walk.

All knew exactly where dad’s grave was. The youngest daughter, Mary, ran. For some reason she decided to take off and run – and get to her dad’s grave first. She did. Then Jack, the next youngest, started to run – and he got there second.  Pete, the oldest, and not that great a runner ran and came in third.

Mom watching their running and the race – got smiling and laughing. She said to herself: “We’re turning a corner in the road.”

Her tears felt different as well - as she walked up the macadam road towards where his grave was. Some had a smile in them; some had slivers of sadness in them.

As she got closer – Easter – the Risen Christ – Faith – Hope – Love kicked in even more. “Of course,” she thought – “rejoicing and regretting – can be twins.” Her prayers of “Why God why?” were still there – but prayers of “Thank you God for all that has been” were showing up slowly these past two months.
She finally got to her husband’s grave.

No, the stone was not rolled back  Yes, her husband’s grave was still as is.

“Kids,” she said, when she got there, “Do you realize what you 3 just did?”

“No, mom, what,” said Mary her youngest.

“Well,” mom said, “do you remember what the gospel was that we heard  read in church today?”
They all said, “No!”

“Well,” mom continued, “the three people in today’s gospel were Mary, Peter, and they think the beloved disciple was John.”

“Wow,” the kids said, “That’s funny.”

“When we named you – this gospel and this moment – were obviously not on our radar.”


The 4 of them breathed in the early afternoon cool.

They stood together holding hands – snug up against each other – especially leaning into mom.

“Thanks dad,” Jack said, “thanks for helping us get from last November  to this moment. Thanks. Happy Easter!”


Then mom said, “Let’s pray for the families of everyone buried here in Arlington – and what they are going through today.

She had seen lone people here and there – as well as clusters of people at graves – around the cemetery.
Peter said, “Let’s pray for the many people around the world who are dealing with death today – especially those in Korea and that airplane that is still missing. Help them Lord.”

Mary said, “Let’s pray for kids – kids who have lost their parents.”

That got an extra hard squeeze from Mom to Mary.

Peter said, “Thanks dad. Thanks for being such a great dad. Thank you!”

They walked the long walk back to the car skipping – even mom – laughing, and singing, “We’re off to see the Wizard – the wonderful wizard of Oz.” That had been the high school play that John was in this past spring and he played the part of a munchkin.

They had a sweet trip home – not too much traffic – and a great Easter Dinner that late afternoon – and they all toasted dad in the empty chair – they had at their dining room table – but they knew in a new way – it was a Happy Easter – because their dad was with the Risen Lord. Amen.


Poem for Today - Easter - April 20, 2014


Break the box and shed the nard;
Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Upon Christ throw all away;
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

(c) G. M. Hopkins,
Easter - 19th Century

"sard" - is an ancient, 
rare word - for a 
deep orange-red precious
stone -  translucent quartz.