Life, Deaths and Resurrections

The Paschal Mystery it is called

In the Catholic Tradition

We live

We suffer

We live again, but differently

We are somehow changed.

How do we embrace the sufferings?

Embrace the deaths?

Knowing, trusting

They are a part of our journey

Leading to true wholeness

To Resurrection

It makes no sense in the moment

As we grieve

Suffering through loss, pain

It makes no sense

That there could be found

A greater healing; a new life

That we could attain a greater whole

As we embrace, accept

And trust

In the path of Mercy.

The dark times

Can seem unending

But, if we can reach out a hand

A smile, a kind word, a loving thought

As we journey our paths

Separate while joined

We might be a thread in another’s resurrection

Sharing our light

In even the smallest way

May bring hope

May help dispel the darkness

Sending in a fragment of life

A firefly to breakthrough the darkness.

May we trust in the mercy of Life

As we travel our own Paschal Mysteries

May we have faith in resurrection

Just as the fragile greens of spring

Open to the lush beauty of summer

As autumns flowers and foliage fade

Into the grays and browns of winter

As the frigid cold and ice cocoon us inside

Until spring arrives once again

So, too, do we travel

Through life, death and resurrection

With each cycle we can journey further

Toward our better, more authentic selves

With each rebirth may we know

greater peace, love and acceptance

May we find hope!

The Velveteen Rabbit

Never brand new again
How do we embrace ourselves?
Accepting our bodies
As life makes it marks
Remains one of life’s greatest challenges.
Our body is a temple
We were told growing up.
A temple
Dwelling place of the holy
It was our job to keep it pure.
To keep it perfect.

How can that be done
Without leaving it in the package?
But can we love without opening
Without touching and embracing 
Without getting a little dirty?

The first time my eldest was injured
I recall the torrent of love
Which flooded by being.
I can also still feel the fear
Fear of loss, of her suffering and of my failure 
to protect her.
That chipped baby tooth
Held all those emotions
While my heart glimpsed a love
Greater than I knew existed.

Our bodies are human
Human ~ not divine
They are mortal and vulnerable
Yes, we can nurture them
Feed them well
Seek peace for our spirit
And movement for out limbs
We can immunize, do our screenings
Take our vitamins
And breathe deeply
Breathe Deeply

But our bodies 
Wear and tear and break
They sag and wrinkle
We sometimes creak and sigh and moan
We sometimes hurt
And it is okay
It is not failure
It is human.

Can we embrace our humanity?
Do we believe the Velveteen Rabbit
Became more real
More loveable
As she lost her velvet sheen?

Is the only way to invest the talents 
We have been given*
To open the package
And dare to live fully
The one life we have been granted.

Broken is not failure
It is a side effect of living.
Broken gives path for light
Illumination for the inner self
The true self

When the exterior wrinkles, sags and cracks
The outer shell is more flexible
Creating room for our true being
To stretch and morph

Pain, suffering is a part of our human existence
Can we accept it
And not fear it
While we work to alleviate it
May it grow within us compassion
For the suffering of the world.

*Matthew 25:14-30

My Grandmother’s Candy Dish!!

The Benedictines

Their smiles radiate warmth and love
Their courage steadfast 
As they persevere in serving
However they are able
But they are aging.
Their hospitality remains beyond compare
In keeping with their vows,
They welcome with open arms
Providing warm, comfortable beds
Peace-filled rooms
Nurturing, tasty meals
Tea and coffee ever ready.

The nuns of today
Are mostly survivors from yesteryear
Few are coming forth
To take their place
To care for them
As they cared for their predecessors

The days of 500 nuns
Living in the Yankton monastery
And others like it
Are past

The massive bread oven remains
Once providing home made sustenance for the breaking of the bread
At hospital, college and monastery
Now must limit to monastery alone
The oven which for some reason paused my breathing
As I stood before it in awe – 
Five rotating shelves 
Baking loaves upon loaves
Still functioning
Baking delicious bread
Created though by the hard work 
Of fewer and fewer nuns

They pray.
They pray for us all
For our world
They have lived lives of service
Who will serve them?
They have given much
Our hospitals, schools and so much more

I believe
The nuns, the sisters
Have been moulding our world
Mostly for the better
For decades now.

We do not know 
What is the power of their prayer
We are not even aware
The many ways they have served

I hope we never need to learn
What our world would be 
Without their service
Without their prayers
Without their love.

Thank you, Benedictine Nuns
Thank you, nuns and sisters all!!

Little Lake Sunapee

Little Lake Sunapee
The Summer of ‘22

Gently cloaked by morning mist
Wisps of white float upward
To the warming sun
They swirl, dancing on the surface
Leaving shimmering ripples to move across the lake
The mist bellows as surface water evaporates
Into the cool autumn like air
Nearly obscuring the distant shore.
Little Sunapee is releasing some of the heat
It courageously absorbed
Over the course of the Summer of ‘22

The outcroppings of orange and red
Flame amongst the tree lined shore
Announcing the coming of fall
The marinas are coming daily now
To tow away the toys of summer
People stop by to say,
“See you next summer”
As they journey south once again.

But Little Sunapee remains
The healing, baptismal waters
Stalwartly fill the lake’s crater
Teeming with life within, atop and beside.
The snappers will dive deep
With the fish who have survived the hunting efforts of
The eagles, mergansers, loons
And patient fishermen.
The loons are still calling
But they shall be departing soon
For waters which will not freeze
The Common Merganser babies continue to glide 
In their trio
They, too, will be venturing to more swiftly flowing unfrozen waters. 
Three still alive
I recall the day when one nearly 
Became lunch for resident eagle
I watched breathlessly as the majestic bird
Swooped down from his hunting perch
High atop a pine on distant shore
Common Merganser youth
Floating peacefully in the boat launch all morning
Though facing shore
She somehow sensed
She flew mere inches above the water
Likely, her maiden flight
Making it to a protected area
Safe from the hungry raptor!

Life of Little Lake Sunapee
The circle of life goes round
As the lake offers life to all. 

The faces of the athletes
Arriving to go on the lake
With their instructors from NEHSA*
Pure, unleashed joy
Expressed so magnificently
By the young man who had no words
But his smile radiated into his eyes
And his hands and arms reached out
In unbridled happy movements
Expressing the joy of his heart
People, unable to move lower limbs,
Lifted into kayaks
To be cradled 
In the healing waters
Of Little Sunapee

The man with barely any use 
Of the left side of his body
Propelling his kayak through the water
With adaptive equipment
Even with his head bent down
His smile could be seen
Then, as she helped him from the kayak
His instructor offered him a swim
The day, sweltering in oppressive 90’s
The gentleman expressed doubt in his ability
But trusted the generous guide
Lifejacket intact
He moved himself, floating atop the water
Free, unencumbered
No canes, no brace
Freely moving
In the healing waters
Of Little Lake Sunapee
The foursome arriving from VT
Hassled, harried
Snapping at each other
They pushed through their edges
And launched their kayaks
Faces grim, angry even
As they entered the waters
Without seeing the welcome

Two hours later,
They emerged
Faces transformed
Laughing, joking
Filled with the fresh air of nature
Speaking of the loons,
The wind, and the fun.
Healed by the lake.

The pregnant woman
Carefully watching James and Charles
As they delighted in paddling at water’s edge
Never tiring of their play
Returning another day
With new baby sister
Sleeping, snugly cocooned upon mom’s chest
The boys entering with glee once again
As new life comes to the welcoming waters
Of the Little Lake

Early summer adventures
As Momma Merganser
Tried to teach babies how to scale the wall and enter the lake
How did they know after trying for half an hour,
How did they know
To enter the woods and walk around the little waterfall
How did they know
And what gave them the persistence to keep trying for so long
Despite knowing there was an easier way?

The haunting, compelling call of the loons
Their beauty
They call Little Sunapee one of their summer homes
And such loved residents they are.

The dogs, oh the dogs!
Zoey, who danced circles of joy
From car to water
So excited every time she came
To enter the magical waters
The shepherd, Jada
Gathering rocks
Over and over
Bigger and bigger
Day after day
Too cool to dance
Making a beeline
Needing to cool her fur covered body 
Going straight into the soothing waters
Without so much as a 
“How do you do?”

So many lives enriched
So much life nourished
Untold healing
Happened at the waters of Little Lake Sunapee
The Summer of ‘22
What an honor
What a privilege it has been
To stand witness
To a tiny portion
Of the life-giving waters
Of this beautiful lake.

May we all work
To keep her healthy
To grant her continued life
As she continues ever to give life to all!

Pat O’Connor

*New England Healing Sports Association

Sacred Wounds

We all bear wounds

They mark suffering we have borne

Suffering we are bearing

Wounds, when sacred

Can reach into the soul

Wounds can open us

To our world

To humanity

To mortality

To a strength beyond our knowing

To find that passageway

You merely need to probe the tender

Gently, with compassion

Touch, Explore the wound you carry

Where does it go to?

What gives it power to cause suffering?

What mysteries may lie

Under the ineffective scar

Which we present to the world?

Sacred Wounds

Explore with curiosity

And compassion

Wallow not in the pain

But feel it, see it, and touch it

With a heart of compassion

Then, embracing it

As a part of you

Carry on


In your wounds, your suffering

There can be found

Wisdom, acceptance and forgiveness

Of self

Which brings to the world

Compassion, understanding and kindness

Sacred Wounds

Don’t run

Don’t hide

Be present and listen

To the wisdom of the wound

Breathe and accept

The healing power of the wound.




Future Desires

Images which bring joy

Images which send a thrill

Exploding from toes

To fingertips

When allowed full focus

Images calling our hearts

Pulling, reaching into the inner most recesses

Crevices buried under

Grief, disappointment, fear, heart ache and so much more

Reaching and finding a spark


Patiently waiting

For oxygen to be breathed in

For spark to become flame

As passion ignites


How to begin

To even explore

To untether our minds

And dare to reach

Beyond our safe grasp

To dare to reach


We may not succeed

The first time,

Or the second

Or even the third.

Acknowledging our dreams

Takes courage

Exposes vulnerability

While welcoming possibility

Dreams can fester and die

Never brought to light

But always present

Even as a microscopic glimmer

A firefly in a sky decorated with

Galaxies and constellations

Find the courage

To welcome your dreams

Find the vision

To search your soul

Find the moment

In the quiet of your tender heart

To seek for that which is hidden

Pushed down

In the busyness of life

The restraints of reality

Find the firefly

Welcome it, nurture it

And step toward the dream

To my dear husband,

I stand in awe

Of your courage

I salute your tenacity

And I rejoice and celebrate

The reaching of your Dream!

Soar on, Pilot Tom!

Finding Life’s Balance

Struggling to maintain composure
Despite a morning of frustration
Feeling outdated
By today’s communication tools
By customer service disappointments
By System Error
After System Error
By lack of human interaction
Lack of human compassion

I go to the lake
I gaze at the water still rippling
As it has all my life
Still reflecting the bluest sky, the green leafed trees
Gentle breeze continuing to touch
Its cooling, soothing fingers
Caressing my furrowed brow,
Relaxing my scowling countenance,
Lessening the angst of disappointment,
The knife of discouragement
And the noose of fear
Fear that our world is crashing headlong
Into a place of disregard
For all that was once sacred
For each other 
And the world we inhabit

The German shepherd barks out the car window
As the vehicle pulls into the parking lot and pauses beside me
My heart races forward
Into future fear
Backward glancing at previous pain
The dog leaps out of the car
And runs to greet me in my chair
A greeting of joy not malice
He collects rocks from the peaceful lake bottom
Bringing each one to my chair
Rocks of beauty and strength
Shining with mica chips
Decorated with black veins of unknown mineral
Precious gifts nevertheless

And therein lies the balance
The joy and the fear
The delight and the disappointment
The fullness of life

The breeze continues to caress
Rippling the water’s surface
Shimmering the maple leaves as they dance in place
Bending the far reaching branches
As they so kindly shade me from the heat of mid-day


Breathing in the fresh flowing air
Now bending my page
And blowing my hair
Inhaling the scents of water, earth
Cooling my angst
Unfurling my anger


Stepping back from the edge
The world as I knew it is not over
Customer Service glitches
Merely a distraction
A measure of frustration
Blended into a bowl of precious life
 A mere measure
In my overflowing
Sweet, savory, spicy life!

Truth Told in Kindness

Communication is complicated
When we are one to two years
We learn to talk
But communicate . . . 
We come out howling oftentimes
We gurgle with pleasure at mere weeks of age
We smile and bond with others
We grasp fingers with our tiny hands
And we howl
Not always communicating with clarity
But getting messages across
Loud and clear

Then we master the art of language
And communication changes
It is not always as truthful
As the pre-verbal vocalizations
Especially as we age

 My friend spoke today
Of communication
Her words struck me as so wise
She spoke specifically
Of how, when people send messages
Which they think the other may resist, 
be hurt or angered by
 They often try to soften the blow by being subtle.
She spoke of the importance of being kind
And that is not done by being subtle.

Subtleties can cloud our message
Leave room for misunderstanding
And confusion

Subtle can be cowardly
Sidestepping truth
In favor of attempting to “spare feelings”

Subtle is most often not kind
It likely is not communicating the full truth
It relays the message that the recipient is not intelligent, strong or wise
And he or she “Cannot handle the truth!”

Truth is a precious gem
In our world of superficialities,
Mis-truths and deception
Truth can be the beginning of growth, healing and intimacy
Truth is gift
When delivered with kindness
Truth makes clear a path
For future journeys
To places of wholeness and liberation

People have said
“It is better to be kind than right.”
It is also better to be truthful
With kindness
Than to skirt around the truth
With subtleties
Protecting ourselves from confrontation or emotional responses
Protecting ourselves
But leaving others in the dark
Confused and alone

Truth told with kindness is the way
Said my friend
For subtle does not show
Respect, honesty or trust
Nor does it shed light 
In the shadows of life.

Old Friends

There is a certain comfort
Found in the company
Of those who knew
The younger you.
The laughter shared
Comes from a deep well 
Of memories shared.
The admiration felt and received
Coming from a time of
Potential and promise
With resultant questions,
“Have I disappointed?”
“Have I met expectations?”
Coming only from within
Arising from personal doubts
Not from old friends.

The smiles come easily
There is no vanity
With True Old Friends
No need to lose weight 
Or style your hair
You can even dive underwater
For a missing imaginary ring
And not fret over fixing your hair!

Old friends
Known for over 50 years
Like putting on a favorite flannel shirt
The Black and Red Checkered one
From Vermont Flannel
A feeling of being wrapped in love
Embraced by acceptance 
And enriched in ways
That evolve and grow over time
The gift so deep, so true. 

Old friends
Shared history
I am so grateful for these women
And our time together
Begun 50 + years ago lives on!



Old friends
Can disagree
Remember differently
And understand
That who we are now
Has been crafted in part
By early joys,
Successes and mishaps

Old Friends
The flannel of life!
I am forever grateful!

The Divine

To discover the divine
Seek within the mundane
 Pay attention 
To the opening of your soul
Recall moments of wonder, joy, delight, awe

Individually tumble through the sky
Hitting the water with a splash
And a circle
Moving out
Bumping against others
Individuality released
Joining into the lake 
More drops fall from heaven
As creation continues

The fluffy blonde lab arrives
Undeterred by the rain
He prances into the lake
Grinning from ear to ear
Creating a bigger circle
Disturbing the pattern
As he sends out smoother waves
In his delicious dip in the welcoming lake

The parched earth
Absorbs each drop
Destined for nearby tree roots,
Nurturing ground cover,
Filling wells as
Rain drums peacefully down
On thirsty earth

It is Creation
It is good
A gift from the divine
Embodying the divine
Feel the gratitude within

For when our hearts open in gratitude
Truly open
We are united with the divine
Our wells are filled
with love
And we can choose 
To send ripples out to our thirsty world.