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Loose soils engorge spidery bulbs beneath wintry graves.

Hesitant greens wiggle and meander among mulched beds.

March rains drench tentative shoots like children forgetting their lines.

 

Weeks pass.

 

Spiked blades pattern gardens like players on chessboards.

Hard nubs stretch like infants flailing rubbery limbs.

Flickers of pink balloon and soften the petals.

Within such freshness glistens Creator God, the Master Colorist.

 

The same Colorist also brings forth spring shows within us, if we wish.

 

We give thanks!

 

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It was time. Latecomers filled the remaining empty seats. The buzz deepened. Suddenly, hilarity turned heads. It was John O’Leary, lean and wiry, his eight-year-old-son, Patrick, under his arm, moving toward the speaker’s table. Anticipation mounted, the introduction made, the book signing at Barnes & Noble began, and with it, the firestorm that subdued the audience.

John’s words, scored with lightness and spontaneity, witnessed to another way of living culled from his having been salted with excruciating pain as a child.

In January 1987, his body became the crucible for a gasoline fire that burned one hundred percent of his body. Five months of treatments, multiple skin grafts, and amputations in St. John’s Mercy Hospital followed. As he scrambled away from the brink of death, his spirit flourished; it was fanned by supportive parents, siblings, medical/nursing staff, peers, and by Jack Buck, sportscaster for the St. Louis Cardinals. Promises of prayer from around the world poured in, including ones from Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.

Not only did that fire burn John’s flesh when a child, it also purified his spirit and refined his story; its lessons challenged the charred places in our psyches. Within the fiery love of God, change happens. We experienced this in John, His firebrand.

Should you or someone you know be stuck in life, do recommend On Fire – the 7 choices to ignite a radically inspired life (2016). A best seller on Amazon, it is also available at Barnes & Noble.

 

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Beeswax candles spilling over bronze holders shadow the sanctuary of this stone church set on a hill. Worshipers huddle in pews, fidgeting, still harassed by the chill of freezing rains lodged in their coats and mufflers. In the transept writhes the bronzed Crucified, his mouth contorted in agony.

In our midst sits the afflicted one, scheduled for jaw reconstruction surgery tomorrow morning. Her four year-old, wearing a white jacket with Medical Helper stitched in red on the back, snuggles against her with soulful eyes. From his right fist dangles the pink plastic stethoscope.

We wait for the healing service to begin.

Strains of Healer of Our Every Ill swell our hearts as the white-robed Pastor enters the sanctuary in deep recollection, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship in his great hands. After the final refrain, “…Light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.” the Pastor’s resonant voice leads us in prayer, followed by a reading from the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and empowers her to continue serving others. The brief homily underscores God’s desire to heal, however experienced, followed by more prayer.

Finally, it is time for the anointing and laying on of hands. By this time, the flour-year old clings to her mom’s neck as she approaches the Pastor to receive the fragrant oil traced upon her forehead in the form of a cross. Her oval face is serene as she returns to her pew and again settles her son upon her lap. Then, in prayer, everyone encircles her and lays hands upon her shoulders. Within this small community, healing occurs. We are all moved as we go out in February’s chill, remembering ….

Her name is Mary.

Her fourteen-hour surgery was successful.

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Available on Amazon

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