Friday, October 26, 2012

New Heart, by Camilla Bramlett

Steve and I are hosting a married couples’ retreat this weekend at the beautiful Alhatti Christian Conference Center in Idyllwild. The theme for this year’s retreat is “Guarding the Heart of Your Marriage.”  One of the verses we will be reflecting on is a promise to remove our “hearts of stone,” replacing them with “Hearts of Flesh.” As I was preparing the devotionals for this retreat I could not help but remember a lovely story that was share with my La Mirada Memoir class several years ago. I contacted the writer and asked her permission to share it here on this blog. I hope you enjoy this very personal reflection as much as I did.
“I will give you a new heart and
Place a new spirit within you,
Taking from your bodies a stony
Heart and giving you natural hearts.”
Ezekiel 36:26
Joseph Vella, my first watercolor teacher, was an “old world” artist from Malta.  He recognized in my painting the same joy and enthusiasm he shared in his art and his faith. He demonstrated wet and dry techniques as the class practiced each exercise on sheets of white cold pressed Arches paper. I thrilled to the idea of leaving untouched the white paper as the only white in my painting. Landscapes came alive with brushing on of color, but the pure white remained, reflecting light. This caused an analogy in my mind, a subconscious connection between pure light and a reborn faith. Mr. Vella later called this awakening, my “metanoia;” a Greek word for change.
This process of conversion lasted several years, actually it still continues. I had been painting over the reality of workaholism, alcoholism, isolation in the family. Children were leaving home, going too far places. When I began water coloring I could feel my stony heart softening. A yearning to love God; the pure white of the WC paper, kept showing through the surrounding layers of paint, untouched.
In April of 1986 I attended my first Al-Anon meeting, biweekly support groups that taught me detachment through present moment living. Retreats gave me insights and guidance where I learned tolerance, forgiveness, gratitude and the ability to be responsible for my own feelings! The white untouched part of the paper; the yearning, remained.
This yearning and surrender turned out to be the Holy Spirit working in me. In January 1989, I returned to my childhood faith. Vatican II changes had taken place and reforms were sweeping the church. This is still going on. Monsignor Marron welcomed me home and gave me my first Eucharist in 35 years.
At the ranch where I found serenity in the fruit orchards, the coastal mountains, mature trees and bird life, I wrote and painted nature. Year around I walked our seasonal creek bed, both wet and dry, looking at the peace around me. One morning in my meandering, I glanced at the dry creek pebbles heaped on the bank. There was a heart shaped white stone with faint cracks waiting my searching hand. It was the symbol of Ezekiel’s renewal verse.
Thus began a collection of stone hearts discovered or revealed in various places during my travels of the past twenty years. These symbols of awakening are sacred to me. They teach me my human heart is no longer stony. It is being changed day by day to give and receive love. Now I am a Eucharistic Minister and take communion to the sick and aged in the convalescent hospitals. I am grateful to serve at daily Mass. I have trust in God’s love. I share that love with the women I sponsor. I have been given a natural heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Parents, by Maria Zeeman

One day in class I asked the question, “How did your parents meet?” This was Maria’s answer. The rest, as they say, is history.
The year was 1920.

They were 19 years, best girl friends, having fun walking and flirting with the sailors on the quay in Amsterdam. All three girls worked for the telephone company and felt pretty special. They were high school graduates,(which was special because at that time that was mainly for the boys) and they had a pretty good and fun job.

My mom told us that she saw this handsome, sturdy sailor with deep brown eyes and a lusty laugh. He came closer; they talked, looked into each other eyes and were in a world of their own. The girls laughed and teased them - “Don’t be too serious Maria, he’s just a sailor.”

My mom came from a well to do family. They lived in the city. My dad’s father was a traveling salesman; his mother was a fisherman’s daughter with little education, living in a small village. They sent my dad to work on the ships at age 13. So he was tough. My mom was still innocent, but they got married within a year of that day in July 1920. They loved each other, and they wanted many children (they got 8). They always showed us how important it is to love, trust, and respect each other through thick and thin. Each Mother’s Day he gave her a BIG bouquet of flowers and always said “thank you for giving me so many children. I love you.”

It sure helped us to go through some very difficult times. I consider myself lucky that I was granted the parents I had.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"WHERE I'M FROM" by Tiana Diaz

We have another guest writer this week. Enjoy and respond to this   "WHERE I'M FROM" by Tiana Diaz (Kacie's 10 yr. old granddaughter)

I am from my mom, from Coco and Channel
I am from the smelly, beautiful house
I am from the Magnolia blossoms, the flower of Louisiana
I am from "Tacos and Beer" and sadness, from Papa I love and Cullens I know
And Mom  I miss from summer

I am from the laughter and the yelling and happiness
From don't drink the soda or spiders will come out your stomach
And don't put your fingers in the door
I am from God
I'm from Bellflower and tamales
From Papa, the Vietnam vet , Gram, the "Blue Witch" and Mom who threw the butter knife

I am from a million picture  albums  


Friday, October 5, 2012

I AM FROM, by Gail Earl

Another “I am from” poem – this one is from Gail and it reveals lovely memories in succinct phrases. Read. Enjoy. Imagine.

Please consider making a comment or even submitting your own version of this lovely poem. ~ Bonnie

I am from teapot messages
from wooden bowls and red vases
I am from the gathering place, and Yuban in the air
I am from the tomatoes bursting red
The plumb tree, whose limbs are gone
I remember as if they were my own.

I am from whistles and dancing in the basement
from Donald and Elizabeth
I am from blue eyes and tender hearts
and from laughers with gusto.

I am from "your eyes are going to stay like that"
and 99 bottles of beer on the wall
I am from family vacations
I'm from the East and the Irish
the pot roasts and the Tortes
From the scarred shoulder and leg
from a world war
the crystal faces displayed on a table
embedded in my heart

I am from a sisterhood
I am from lesson learned and lessons shared.

I am from the heart.