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It finally happened! Yesterday, two speckled white eggs filled the nest outside my study window; in their place today, bob three naked chicks patched with gray down, their yellow beaks splitting with hunger, awaiting insects caught by their cardinal father; their mother keeps guard on a lower branch of the viburnum shrub, the afternoon sun shadowing its green leaves. For the next two weeks, frequent feedings will feather out the chicks and enable them to eat parts of berries or seeds softened by their parents.

Similar drama is enacted all over the world, the replication of the Genesis story: On day five, God created every winged bird…blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life. It is precisely this unbroken chain of life that heartens the weary. Often when I used to walk in the nearby woods, a bird trill would seize my imagination and transport me to the wordless realm of the Sacred. A later blog told the story.

Never before this cardinal family appeared in my viburnum shrub, had I observed their instinctual caring, how it fosters fresh life with darting colors. It’s like Creator God orchestrated this event for up-close learning in my present circumstances—A more than timely lesson for me to assimilate.

And if Creator God set all this in motion what have we to fear?


Leg and hip wounds from a cannonball led to the psychic conversion of an arrogant Basque mercenary. His name was Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), Catholic priest and teacher, theologian, and co-founder of the Company of Jesus (Jesuits).

Toward the end of his life shortened by the outbreak of malaria in Rome, it is said that he composed this prayer of surrender:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

Step III echoes this surrender of will and life to the God of my understanding: Both entail firm decision. Given my jitters with the emergence of new symptoms, for instance yesterday’s neuropathy in my feet, my will collapses. God’s love and grace are not enough: Fears like smoldering fires nip my surrender into shards. Only when leveled by emotional pain do I renew my decision and begin my day afresh. It’s all about obedience of the heart, and I’ve much to learn.

Yet, my spiritual growth deepens, and that’s all that matters. It’s the exercise that counts, messy though it is.

Note: Of special solace is the St. Louis Jesuits’ rendition of this prayer on YouTube.



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