Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Second Sunday of Advent

The Mother of God is a Woman clothed in silence. As I draw and paint this great Mother of Mercy, Mother of Grace, Mother of Love, Mother of Patience and Mother of the Word, I reflect on her many visits to her children here on earth to warn and to guide them from the enemy. She is indeed a great Lady. She yearns to hear the cries of her children and to bring these hurts to the heart of her son. The son of God who carried every sin and hurt to the cross. The God Man who chose without reservation to save us. I am grateful as the child of the Father to help Him carry this cross by lovingly carrying my cross up the road towards Calvary. This season of Advent I will remember Your Mother's silence and with Your grace follow you till the end. I yearn for the end to come quickly, but I know that I too will ask...."My God, why have you abandoned me". My cross is so small in comparison to the one you carried. You felt every known abuse so that by Your suffering I would too enjoy an eternity of joy. Please forgive my fatigue, and give me the grace and strength to endure to the last. I love you so much, Jesus and I thank you for your Mother. Her example of trust in the midst of trial brings me so much joy. Please convert the hearts that don't know you and give them the great gift of humility which will free them from the enemy. Thank you for today. Thank you for never letting me out of Your sight. I long to see Your face.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

True Love is Dying to Ourselves

"It was pride that changed angels into devils."

Saint Augustine

This was a most enlightening holiday. I learned a great lesson in humility. My youngest daughter was hurt by family as I many times. I however, have learned the lesson of humility. Learning to turn the other cheek and to visit the abuser and to forgive. Taking the high road is taking the road of humility. It is not about being right, it is all about being a servant. It is not about who is right but rather about forgiveness. All that is needed is to focus on the cross and to understand that LOVE itself was crucified for us. In comparison who would ever suffer such an assault. No one on this earth for we are all sinners.

However, I chose to visit the one who hurt my daughter. Just as my husband has asked to visit the family who treated me with disdain. I have had almost 40 years of abuse and learning to turn the other cheek. This was her first experience and I made the big mistake of not standing up for her. For this error, I am deeply sorry. I hope that one day, Lia after I am gone, you will come to understand the power of forgiveness. You don't need to be right or understood... always remember the Lord's mission to spread the gospel of LOVE up to the climb to Calvary. Know always that everything that you have suffered, He has suffered unto death. True freedom is being the smallest and the servant of all!

Monday, June 8, 2009


"From the heavens the Lord looks down and observes the whole human race.
Surveying from the royal throne all who dwell on earth.
The one who fashioned the hearts of them all knows all their works."

(Psalm 33:13-15)

North House

The eastern wing of the North House goes from one to five stories. Each door is to a different, privately owned home. They are passed from one generation to the next.

The buildings are made of adobe, a sun-dried mix of mud and straw, and must be repaired every six months or so. Each family is responsible for its unit. While we were there, it was as though I was looking at the very first condominiums in North America, built over 1000 years ago.

St. Jerome's Chapel
This little church is a National Historic Landmark.
This well recognized Catholic mission church was built in 1850 to replace the earlier San Geronimo church and is named for the Patron Saint of the Taos Pueblo.

The inside of this chapel is beautiful with it's the hand carved vigas and the choir loft. The Santos in the church were brought by early Spanish missionaries.

Another busy tourist day at Taos Pueblo but again, Frankie is able to photograph a peaceful still moment at a church which at any next second will be teaming with activity. How does he make the people disappear?

Red Willow Creek
Called the Taos River by the state and Red Willow Creek by the Indians who live there, this stream which arises in their sacred Blue Lake, high in the mountains behind the pueblo, is the pueblo's source of water. The tribe traces its origins back to Blue Lake.

Red Willow Creek supplies drinking water as well as water for live stock and irrigation.

Cemetery at the Ruins of Old San Geronimo Built in 1619, this mission church was destroyed in the Great Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and rebuilt in 1706.
During the Mexican American War, the U.S. Army bombarded it again leaving only the bell tower standing. You can see the adobe structure that was the bell tower in the background.

It has since become a cemetery which is now filled. Taos Indians are buried according to their traditional religious practice, with the addition of a Christian cross.
I never gave it a thought that one of my relatives would be a resident of this pueblo until I noticed the name Mirabal, (which is my maiden name) on the crosses on some of the graves in this campo santo.
I wondered about this stranger who shared my last name and who's memory was carved into wood. Born two years before my father and passing two months and one week after my father, their paths may have crossed.

My dad, Henry Mirabal used to tell me that there were not very many Mirabals because the name came from two brothers, one of which was my great grandfather, Reyes. Dad would kid me saying that you could take all the people of the world named Martinez, Smith, Sanchez or Brown and throw them in the ocean and they would almost fill the ocean. But not so the Mirabals.

Daddy would have been vindicated as actually the name Mirabal has made a unique mark in this ancient pueblo, as one of the artists that presently reside in the pueblo enjoys this very unusual Hispanic last name.

The more famous Mirabal native is Robert Mirabal, an accomplished musician and flute maker. His concerts and compact discs have been showcased on PBS television. Artist abound in this pueblo.

Blankets, jewelery, paintings, and sculpture are some of the beautiful things that will delight your little peepers.

The New Mexico sky and red earth, the sound of thunder and the peaceful sound of moving water from the creek made me understand how God creation stands as a benchmark for what we as his children attempt to create inspired by His amazing handiwork.

I found art everywhere. In an adobe window graced with a lace curtain...

I found beauty in a door.
Always wondering about the hearts that loved, just the other side of the chipped paint and dried earth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


"One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life,
To daze at the Lord's beauty, to visit His temple."
(Psalm 27:4)

Frankie and I were given a great gift over the Memorial Day holiday to travel to Taos and Chimayo New Mexico. Thank you Lia and Roberto! Frankie took some beautiful pictures. This one is especially amazing because of the stillness of the photograph. The day we were there, perhaps because of the holiday, there were hundreds of people here, there and everywhere around the Santuario. It is absolutely miraculous how this photo was taken without one tourist walking past. Now for Chimayo's extraordinary story. The Santuario is part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe or (Holy Faith). It is absolutely beautiful. The Chapel of Santo Nino is where the posito or little dirt hole can be found. Absolutely no photography is allowed in the inside of the Shrine or the Chapel. Unfortunate because both are amazing.

El Santuario (The Shrine) was built between l8l4 and l8l6. The "miraculous" crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas was found around l8l0. There is no written testimony concerning the apparition of Our Lord in the Chimayo area. What we have is tradition passed from one generation to another by the people of El Potrero. Here is one account of a "true" story as told by the storyteller.
One tradition recalls that during Holy Week on the night of Good Friday, Don Bernardo Abeyta, who was a member in good standing of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesus el Nazareno (Penitentes) was performing the customary penances of the Society around the hills of El Potrero. Suddenly he saw a light springing from one of the slopes of the hills near the Santa Cruz River. Don Bernardo went to the spot and noticed that the shining light was coming from the ground. He started to dig with his bare hands, and there he found a Crucifix. He left it there and called the neighbors to come and venerate the precious finding. A group of men was sent to notify the priest, Fr. Sebastian Alvarez at Santa Cruz.

Upon hearing the extraordinary news, the priest and people set out for Chimayo. When they arrived at the place where the Crucifix was, Fr. Sebastian picked it up and carried it in a joyful procession back to the church. Once in the church, the Crucifix was placed in the niche of the main altar. The next morning, the Crucifix was gone, only to be found in its original location. A second procession was organized and the Crucifix was returned to Santa Cruz, but once again it disappeared, The same thing happened a third time. By then, everyone understood that El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo, and so a small chapel was built. This picture is of one of the many colorful gifts left behind by a grateful pilgrim. It is decorated by others as well who have hung milagros, flowers and crosses. This piece of art needs a beautiful name. How about: Mexican Resurrection?

El Santuario de Chimayo is now known as the "Lourdes of America." The crucifix still resides on the chapel alter, but for some reason its curative powers have been overshadowed by El Posito, the "sacred sand pit" from which it sprang, which gapes unevenly behind the main altar. Over 300,000 people visit this posito every year. Many, many people including this amazed traveler take a bit of this sacred dirt home. The hole never gets bigger. It remains the same, never changing like God's love for us.

The Prayer Room, which is located in the sacristy of the church (next to the pit), is filled with discarded crutches, braces, and handmade shrines that include photos of loved ones who have been healed of their illness. There are so many candles lit in this prayer room. There are petitions for healing. People have returned with their testimony or gift to be placed on this wall of gratitude. While I was there, I could actually see the priest offer Mass. We were that close to the alter behind a wall sheltering us from the rest of the church and the participants.

The Shrine is very simple but beautiful with huge retablos covering the three of the four walls. The simplicity of this beautiful place is a lesson itself in the power of humility and grace. On the left side of the Shrine where the Chapel to El Santo Nino is there is a window and I wanted a picture of this window because I saw birds had made a happy home inside. We were there on such a beautiful day. The end of May and everything was green and the sun danced on every flower and plant. It was such a blessing and a privilege to actually visit this holy place.

This is the shrine to St. Francis. He is my most favorite saint. It is a mosaic and it is just beautiful! Saint Francis is Francisco and Frankie's patron saint. I asked the twins to stand on each side of this beautiful work of art. Can you guess which twin is Francisco and which is Lorenzo. They really loved our time in Chimayo.

We told the boys, "This saint has the same name as one of you boys." " Really, what is his name?" they asked.
"This is San Francisco," we said.

These four year old already know their prayers. They also do weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for one hour each Friday evening. It is amazing to see little ones learn to adore Jesus and to be still and quiet in His presence for such a long period of time. Did you guess which one is Francisco? He is the one closest to his patron saint. He is on the left.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Were Not Our Heart Burning Within Us

"How foolish you are!" he cried. "How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!"
(Luke 24:25)

These were the words Jesus spoke to the disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus after Jesus' death when they failed to recognize him in their lives. Perhaps like us, they couldn't see His presence in their lives because their eyes were clouded by tears of sadness.

Maybe like us, they underestimated what Jesus could do, up to and including rising from the dead. If we have fallen into the routine of not taking Jesus at His word, then we will miss seeing His power in our lives or His work in the world.

Yet the road to Emmaus is our road of faith, where we with all our challenges and imperfections learn to find Jesus and love Him until our hearts burn within us. With each rocky step we slowly begin to recognize Him in everything.

I was reminded of this lesson last week. I am a closet blogger. No one, even my husband knows that I exist online. I write very infrequently and feel totally free in the experience because no one knows where in cyberspace I reside. Until only recently.

I was shocked to find that my sister in law found me. I had visited her blog when I over heard a conversation between brothers. My husband was wishing his brother a Happy Birthday and his brother mentioned that they had a little dog named Henry. My daddy's name is Henry. I was intrigued.

I found Christine's blog and learned about Henry... and had a sweet peek at their lives. I placed the link in my favorites so I could visit again soon. Ooh, but I left a comment behind. Perhaps so I didn't feel so guilty cloaking and left behind some evidence that I had taken a quick little look at the beautiful fabric she made into quilts. At the flowers in her garden... At the smell of bread she bakes in her oven. Of the empty nest made full by a little dog wonderfully named.

I got an email from Christine. She had posted a comment about Heart to Heart. I was horrified! Someone actually found my cave. It is an unkept place filled with wrinkles instead of nicely pressed fabric ready for quilting. My words sometimes come from a broken place. Financial, emotional and a personal life unraveling. Nothing remotely resembling the pieces of soft and beautiful art that is Christine's world.

How easy it is to look at others lives and believe that everything is so perfect and that we don't have anything to share in our less than perfect, and often broken lives. But it isn't true, no one has that perfect life. There are loose threads even in the most pressed and button down of appearences.

I was embarrassed and shocked to find that she described her peek as inspirational and said other words I know I do not merit. Then I thought that if I waited for the day that I too resembled one of Christine's beautiful flowers or quilts. I would never write another word. I thanked God for her little visit because she reminded me that on my road, I failed to recognize that Jesus was walking with me.

So many negative experiences even if offered to God daily can make me feel forgotten or ignored by the Lord. Pope Benedict XVI said on April 6th of 2008 at St. Peter's Square:

"This road to Emmaus on which we walk can become the
way of purification and maturation of our belief in God.
Through the intercession of Mary most holy,
let us pray that in reliving the experience of the disciples of
Emmaus every Christian and every community
may rediscover the grace
of the transforming encounter with the Lord."
I remember the story I heard once, that our life is like a tapestry, a quilt like creation. God gives us these threads to weave and some of them don't look like they are the best choice at the time, but in obedience, we weave. We tie knots and start again with another texture or color. And quite frankly the work looks like a mess from our vantage point.
But at the end, when we meet Him face to face. He turns the tapestry around and lets us see for the very first time what His creation looks like. I pray with Mary's grace and intercession, it will give Him so much glory!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A letter to Jane

While I was looking through my sent mail folder, I found this letter written in November of 2008 and I was shocked to find that I had actually written it to my friend Jane. It was one of those I wrote this? moments...

I think I found it because I had lost sight of the "plan" and Jesus needed to remind me to remain focused this Holy Week.

Again... my computer is dead. I am using Frank's laptop again to check mail and check Carrie's blog and of course Melanie's as well. Mel and I were still stuck in November but I did post finally in April, so I barely lead her by a nose.

Here is my letter to Jane:

Dear Jane:

Thank you for your note. My computer was sent back to the factory, it is very sick. I'll get it back in 5 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, I can only check my mail when Frankie brings his laptop home.

I know that our Lord is working in our lives right now, Jane. Each of us is being stripped of "stuff" and it hurts. But at the same time I have to say I am so honored that God loves us so much. Our hearts are ready for such a time.

For me, I keep losing things. Phone service, cell phone, computer, mental health, job... the list is a growing one. For you is the loss of a husband... the way you knew him for many years. I do believe Jane that in those losses, God is clearing the field of our hearts to plant something very special and eternal.

I also believe that we can plan for a great harvest. Maybe in saved souls, maybe we may never know. I do know that all this pruning is for a wonderful cause and one day, we will stand before God in all His glory and marvel at what this sacrifice purchased for our Beloved.

So smile my friend and thank Him for allowing us to participate so closely with His redemptive plan by allowing us to contribute our weakness, our pain and suffering. God be praised!

Amen and Amen.

I want my God, to love you face to face.