agnestirrito

"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


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Friday’s Five

Re-establishing this weekly practice of listing…

Five good things from the past few days:

Watching my granddaughters delight in throwing rocks into our creek.

Bundling my grandmother’s heirloom roses onto silk scarves to see if I’ll get a print or dye.

Laughing as a child I tutor tries on my glasses.

Copying a poem a day into my little altered art book.

Opening the mailbox to find packages and letters from loved ones near and far.

Simple things that bring happiness. Truly, if we cannot be happy in our own self we cannot bring it to anyone else.

What makes you happy? I’d love to know…

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Sunday’s Song: Suffice it to Say…Palm Sunday in Taos

I am at one of those places where I have so much to say, but I cannot say it all today. The specifics have to arrange themselves in the shape they want to be, but I am honoring the commitment I made to blog each Sunday of Lent. So, here I am on sketchy WiFi, typing on my phone, my dear friend Care across from me in a lodge room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

I read over my journal entry from yesterday morning. Start today’s entry. Wonder how on earth a day can hold so much. Today held so much. It is one of those times you think How could all of this happen in one day? Abundance. Total abundance.

I am spending this Holy Week in Taos. It is a marker of time that keeps ticking…keeps saying yeah this is the week you were supposed to be in this place at this time.

If I told you everything so far, you might not believe me. Or you might think I’m a bit crazy. Or you might be glad. Choose glad.

The people in my path have been from every end of the pendulum. A wide arc. We are not all kindreds here…believers and unbelievers and all in between abound…but I have decided sometimes we need the disparity to recognize how much good there is. Or how far we might have to go. How much we still have to do. How much one’s presence matters in this world for so many reasons.

Today I saw parishioners process around a town square, people waving palm branches, singing, marking a moment. I saw a policeman far far down the square holding a palm branch. Waving it. And then a child, an armful of branches at the edge of the crowd bringing us lucky bystanders palms. He was in the frame of my lens and a second later his sweet voice Here. Just that.

Here. As in take it, Woman. Or as in the message be here, present right now. Or as in I see you. Or as in you need this.

Later, I see a family walking. The man (son/brother/father?) had his back pocket filled with palms. He was probably the designated carrier for the family. Maybe they were all out for lunch like we were, enjoying the New Mexico sunshine on a crisp bright day. Maybe they were filled with hope. Something about that pocketful of palms. Something that said see this.

I am seeing a lot these days. Knowing every image is leading me to a place I cannot quite see but know it’s worth walking toward…but remembering to worship the moment I am in. The deep moment of place and time…and suffice it to say I am grateful.

I am watching. Listening.

Here.


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Sunday’s Song: A Sentence and a Step

Week 5 of Lent. Easter is not far away, and my Lenten promises have pretty much gone by the wayside. But… a sweet surprise came along and helped me see that when we strive to follow a better path, things do indeed work out, and sometimes we don’t have to follow through on this plan or that goal…we just have to be the real me or you and walk on.

I met a new friend this week, one who knows me from what she saw me post on social media. We were at a mutual friend’s party and were introduced there. You may not remember this but you defended your religion awhile back. She went on to say what I’d written and the one part that stood out for her: You ended with Peace be with you and I thought wow. Yes. That.

Turns out this new friend has a Catholic upbringing. Thinks about coming back. Attends Mass when she’s visiting her mom.

She is also a cancer warrior, and has just spent several months recovering from treatments.

She’s seen a lot, been through a lot. Walked some dark roads like others have. Is still working things out. Thinking things through.

But she stood there and talked to me about one little sentence I posted months ago…maybe even a year or more ago. And she remembered that. Not because of the theology. Because of the grace. The kindness. The “no matter what you think, I hope you find peace on your way” which is how I strive to live.

Look, you cannot change people. You cannot force anyone to do this or be that, but you can wish them well. And mean it.

And while I am not the best Catholic in a lot of ways, that day she saw me as one who brought her a step closer to coming back to church. So, I am grateful to know. I am grateful to see a God who works through every person in every way…simple people like me and simple things like comments on a public post.

Grateful because I ask God routinely to help me lead others to Him…and to look for Him in them.

And this week, He said yes to all of that. And that meeting, that reminder, beats any list of things I could hope to do. So, keep on living your best day to day, not just during Lent, but any day. And God will use you if you ask Him to…and likely even if you don’t.


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Sunday’s Song: Springtimes and Sunsets and Startovers

Fourth Sunday of Lent.

Yeah, that Lenten art book I bought with such good intentions? Unread.

The Scripture study I started a couple of Saturdays ago? Haven’t made it back.

Thinking a lot about seasons and cycles and how some things never change.

Decided to start reading through some old journals to help with a project I am working on.

Realized there in black and white that my themes stay constant.

Same ole songs, day in and out.

Was almost discouraged by that. The same things I hope to get better at or stop doing or start doing are there from months, even years ago. Sigh.

Decided to sit and sew for a little while. Let the silence still my mind.

Allowed the mindful repetition of threads turning into rows of pattern remind me that row after row, line after line, a story still takes shape.

Sometimes there are starts and stops and sidesteps. Sometimes there are repetitions.

Maybe there is a break in pattern and something interesting is sewn in. A contrast. Different color. Unique stitch.

Sometimes a mistake creeps in.

But like spring cycles back with its same ole flowers and crickets and fireflies, we still welcome it. We don’t expect something new from it…not really. We just want spring to be spring.

And those sunsets that mark the end of each day…sometimes they seem closer, brighter, dearer. Maybe it is not the sun, maybe it is the viewer.

So. Take stock of your life from time to time, but don’t look back too long.

See what there still is to do…so much!

And just begin again. And again. Until you realize all the same old words have shaped themselves into the story you want them to be.

Start again…


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Sunday’s Song:Week 2 Lent: Something

Second Sunday of Lent.

How are your plans working out? Did you decide you might do something new this season? Find a way to make Lent more meaningful? Add that extra prayer-time in your day? Volunteer to do some charitable work?

Sometimes our plans do not work out quite the way we anticipate, but in the “wanting to” we can find ways to mark this season of waiting.

At Ash Wednesday Mass, a little boy came into the church pulling on his mom’s hand, wailing and repeating I don’t wanna go to church. Several of us who saw him exchanged knowing looks. Smiles. He was wearing a shirt with the word EPIC in bold type, and I thought that word suited his reaction. I also thought

Look, Kid. You are not alone. It is not always easy being here, even when we know things you haven’t even had a chance to learn yet.

But here was a mom trying. And maybe that kid will remember– years down the road — someone made an effort to get to church. And he might drag someone in, too.

I had not planned to go to the Stations of the Cross this past Friday. No one pulled me in kicking and screaming though. I got there through a different avenue. My son was volunteering that night at the church (helping with a Lenten meal) and invited me to come eat.

I decided to go…and as I was leaving the dinner, my oldest granddaughter ran to me and begged me to take her to my house. Well, I’m not going home yet. I’m going to church.

I was not expecting those words to come from my mouth, hadn’t been to Stations of the Cross in years. Years.

I go, too. I go with you. Please.

It was a sweet moment, one that I know will not likely last. There will come a time that this ritual (and even grandma) won’t seem like a lot of fun. But last Friday night, I held my first grandchild and whispered to her as Father and the servers walked from station to station. She sang as we sang, not the words in the leaflet, but her own song.

We were not that holy of a picture. She, after a few minutes, was busily rearranging the hymnals. I had barely managed clean clothes after a day of babysitting my youngest grandchild. But there we were.

And that was something.

Something because we could look up to Jesus and say, Hey Man. We are here. We love you.

And after the short service, we got to say Hey again. We have already developed a ritual of lighting candles after Mass. We stop at the crucifix on the main altar. We nod. Ok. We wave. Hey Jesus. I love you.

She repeats.

Hey, Infant Jesus. Hey, St. Therese. Hey, Mother Mary.

We say our “God bless us all” prayer. Sofia holds the match and lights the candle.

And I say an extra prayer of thanks because this Lenten moment was not on my radar. It was unplanned, unscripted, un-everything.

It, so far, is my biggest Something of Lent.

Let Him lead you where you need to be. Be ready for something new to transform you.

He has something for you. You don’t have to do anything except be ready for it.


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Friday’s Five

4:30am. Still dark out. Wide awake after five hours of good sleep. Sometimes we need more, sometimes less. Happy to awaken early on this Black Friday. Lots to do. On the list:

Put all the random buttons I find today in a glass jar I saved. When will I use said buttons? Maybe this will be the year. All sorts of random things reside here with me: bits of paper, keys to long abandoned locks…maybe they will find their rightful places today.

Take a 30-gallon trash bag to the end of the driveway and fill it up with all the litter people insist on discarding: ice bags, beer cans, cigarette packaging, plastic bottles…

…there is a danger for that to sour my spirit, so while I’m out there, I will hang wreaths at the edge of the drive. Collect nandinas and holly. Cut pine and cedar and arrange a bucket or two of fresh cuttings to welcome this most beautiful time of year. Do you hear it? The whisper of Christmas coming. The preparation that involves no shopping today.

Of course I am a consumer. Too much so, in fact. But not today. Today I hope to exist in silence and solitude. My lists are in progress. I will likely add to them throughout the day. Little things.

The woodstove needs cleaning. A fire burned bright the last couple of evenings, but Texas being what it is, we might hit 80 next week. So, time to clean and stack and lay kindling for the future. Notice the oak and pecan. Discern the colors as I place each piece. Feel the weight of it. The beauty waiting to explode with the scratch of a match sometime down the road.

The dogs will want to play. And eat extra treats. They will be happy I am not leaving on any errands today. They always hear when I open any door. They never fail to greet me.

Somewhere there is a container of ornaments I have lost. Maybe today will be the day I find them. And as I search, I will pay attention to the many things I have too many of, and I will share. I will line up little cardboard boxes and begin.

I look at the calendar and see that in three short weeks, I’ll get to greet my daughter home for the holidays. The thought of that moment motivates me today. The getting ready. The paying attention to little details. The creating of a space so that when she arrives she feels it, too–the “it” that costs nothing, involves no shopping, the “it” that we do to welcome that feeling that has no price.


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In Lieu of Friday’s Five–Random Strangers Sharing their Lives in the Checkout Line Today

Today there was a man a couple of customers ahead of me in line at a local store. He was placing a cartload of hangers– 70 or 80 plastic aqua ones– on the conveyer belt. A stranger behind him made a comment I couldn’t hear, but he answered Yeah, my wife wants to change out  all the hangers. Here I am. The things we do for love. 

I can imagine his wife standing in front of her closet, waiting for him to come back home. Banishing those plain white hangers. Lining every garment up just so. Are  the clothes laid out on the bed? Has she counted to make sure she has the right amount? Why aqua? Why today?

I cannot imagine why he is the one sent to get them. Maybe she was at a critical point in the purging process. Maybe they argued. Maybe this was a set-things-right trip. Maybe he’s a good guy and offered. Maybe he was out and she called and said Bring me 80 aqua hangers. Aqua. You know like blue or green but not. K. Love u. 

This was all he had in his cart. Hangers. And then he reached over and threw in a candy bar for good measure. He’ll eat that before he gets out of the parking lot. Secret reward. 

Are the hangers just for her clothes? Do they share a closet? Why aqua? Why now? Why am I writing about this? 

My turn comes. How are you? I ask the cashier. 

She answers, Well, I hate when people ask me that because they don’t really want to know.

Well, lay it on me, I tell her. 

My back hurts…I think I screwed it up nine years ago when I fell on some ice. 

 We get interrupted for a second. She calls another clerk over to help her colleague in the next aisle. 

Can you believe this? He is leaving here to go in the Marines in two weeks, but he can’t ring up wine and beer. He’s only 19. I sure would buy him a beer if he wanted one. My son was in the Army. He died in 2011.

Ma’am. I cannot imagine. 

Honey, I would not want you to.

She’s wiping away tears. Looks me in the eye. Shrugs. Rings my remaining items. 

Yeah, I fell down on some ice. Hurts worse when I sit down. Glad to be standing up. You have a good weekend now. 

Yes ma’am. You too. You, too.

Stories and strangers and seconds long conversations every shift. Every day. 

I keep thinking about those aqua hangers though. And now that image is connected with a kid I never knew who never came home. And he won’t be buying aqua hangers for any woman. And his mama will  tell a story about him that maybe she didn’t expect to tell. And now you’ll know it too. And I’ll wish I could have bought that man a beer. 

And on it goes.