Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

For me, Mother's Day is more poignant as my mother is in the final stages of her earthly journey. Many graces to blessings to Connie Predmore and many thanks for the beautiful way you lived your life.


So,....

Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers of children, at whatever age you are.

Happy Mother's Day to those women who are soon-to-become mothers.

Happy Mother's Day to women of adopted children and Guardians.

Happy Mother's Day for all women who have raised children not their own, and have accepted them as their own.

Happy Mother's Day to those women whose bodies were unable to conceive or carry new life.

Happy Mother's Day to women whose spouse or partner was unable help them become mothers.

Happy Mother's Day to those women whose circumstances in life, whether through choices, disability, timing, did not make motherhood possible.

Happy Mother's Day to those women hoped for marriage but marriage did not come their way.

Happy Mother's Day to those women who grieve the loss of their husband or partner.

Happy Mother's Day to women for whom the timing for relationships did not align.

Happy Mother's Day to those women who remain single.

Happy Mother's and Father's Day to women who raise their children on their own.

Happy Mother's Day to men who raise children on their own.

Happy Mother's Day to our beloved sisters.

Happy Mother's Day to our dear aunties.

Happy Mother's Day to our grandmothers.

Happy Mother's Day to best friend and girlfriends.

Happy Mother's Day to all those women who loved and formed us.

Happy Mother's Day to those men in our lives who mothered and formed us in love and care.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who has cared for us and nurtured us lovingly.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who tried.

Thanks be to God. This is your day. Let's help you celebrate.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Stockholm, Sweden


To see photos of Stockholm, Sweden, click on the link below:






















Worcester's Tower Hill Botanical Gardens

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To see photos of Worcester's Tower Hill Botanical Gardens, click on the link below:




Monday, April 24, 2017

Dancing to Abba: A Swedish Spa

On my way to the Royal Gardens on the back side of the Skansen Open Air museum, I noticed a museum dedicated to Abba. I nearly forgot about this 1970's band with peppy tunes. Mamma Mia is still playing in theatres in town.

I was invited to attend a workout session, which was a riot. An animated woman in her 70's, who wanted everyone to smile, was our cheerleader coach as she began class. She was very happy to let me know that George Foreman, the boxer, and a few others from the States will be visiting her in June to watch the way she conducts classes. The show will be broadcast on NBC shortly afterwards.

In class we did a lot of dancing aerobic routines with lots of jumping up and down. I was one of four men in the class of perhaps 40. She played some music and I had a faint recollection of the song from a long time ago and then I realized it was Abba. For nearly an hour we danced to Abba music. It was like a time warp with music, but it fit the beat of the steps. The instructor wanted everyone to be happy.

When that class finished, some of us went into the heater pool for water exercise. I enjoyed this. My hip arthritis got a workout, but without any stress. I loved it. We exercised with tension via floating devices for an hour.

The people at the club were lovely and generous in spirit. They were solicitous of my well being and were happy to ask me about the States, most especially about the POTUS. They can't figure out what Americans did during the election.

It turns out that this club is for the wealthy elite of Sweden and that it is the most highly regarded spa in the country. Everything was tastefully detailed.

It came time for my Swedish massage and it was pure relaxation. Afterwards, I ate oranges and pears as I reclined next to the pool and spent time in the aroma room. I had never given myself over to such treatment.

Well, I had to be off to the next event so I stopped by a cafe for a coffee and pastry. My eye kept being directed to this chocolate covered orb. I bought one. I could not wait to sink my teeth into a tasty chocolate cake ball wrapped in dark chocolate and coconut. I took a healthy bite only to find out it was a marshmallow. Sometimes it is good to know the language. However, it was a tasty marshmallow, so I was disappointed in my choice, but not in the product.

Swedish coffee is strong and tasty. Mmm. Their desserts go very well with the strong coffee. I especially like their almond pastries. Life is good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marielund Retreat

The Ignatian Retreat successfully came to an end. The retreatants left the retreat house refreshed and energized and they seemed to profit from their time with the Lord quite abundantly. They were a fun group of people - all seeking the Lord in a new depth.

The group seemed to enjoy, alongside the spirituality talks, the many crafts and ways to express themselves artistically - through coloring, zen-tangles, origami, scratching black pads of paper to reveal glitter, aquarelle, and other endeavors. We did stretching and breathing exercises, an imaginative journey, a guided scriptural meditation, faith sharing, some singing and listening to music to go along with the poems and prose.

Some of the best parts were the sharing of stories and the time to listen to each person's quest for God.

The food was spectacularly Sweden. I enjoyed the almond marzipan treats, the chocolate toffee pie, the many breads and crackers to be covered in cheese, the well- baked meats, the simple breakfasts with its assortment of herrings, and the constant teas. We were always eating. This type of food does not normally make it to my palate. I'm glad I can get some steps in while in Stockholm because I was attached to a chair while at the retreat center.

I left the retreat center feeling so pleased with the time with the retreatants. It gave me great hope and comfort to spend just a little bit of time with them. God provides. Always has. Always will.

Catholic mass in Sweden

I concelebrated Divine Sunday mass today at St. Eugenia Church, run by the Jesuit community, in the center of Stockholm. Eleven Jesuits serve Sweden, and there are about 100,000 Catholics in the country. The English language community is diverse, much like that of the expat community in Amman. I would imagine it is a challenge to balance the various constituencies of the parish.

After mass, a woman ran up to me to thank me for speaking with a Boston accent. She is from Braintree. She said she felt right at home.

Another woman said, "Thanks for smiling. You smiled a lot. We don't see that here at mass. Besides, your words were powerful for me."

A man in Spanish spoke up and said, "Pray for my country of Venezuela. We are having a difficult time." I was happy to reply a little bit in Spanish.

Mass was fascinating because it was all the smells and bells of a high solemn mass. Church spaces are quite noticeable for their expansive ceilings. Two very blonde American-Swedish girls were the thurifers for the incense while two Indians were the light bearers and an African teen was the main acolyte and cross bearer. They performed their ministries with great precision.

Musicians go all out for the services. Six or seven verses are rather standard; we even had ten verses of one song at this morning's mass. Organ is the instrument of choice and it makes sense in these Baroque buildings.

After mass I met with a dozen university students were are dedicated to their faith. We talked about prayer techniques, Ignatian discernment, and why there is unnecessary suffering in the world. One and a half hours passed in a heartbeat and it was time to end, but we concluded with prayer and kept talking. The students, who are international visitors to Sweden, are fired by their faith. It is exciting to be with people who share such passion.

We stayed talking too long that I did not make it to the Photographic Museum, which is top-rated as an attraction. I guess I'll have to return.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Jordan Waters: Preservation for Sustainable Living

This is an article I wrote for Center of Concern, posted on Earth Day.

https://integral-voices.com/2017/04/20/jordan-waters-preservation-for-sustainable-living/