Prayer Mandala

At times when I feel grief spill over me, for missing Mom, I take out her prayer mandala and spend time building upon the piece and praying, both.  One of those times came upon me this past weekend.  As recommended by my spiritual director and dear friend, I’ve connected my creative side and my spiritual side through this form of prayer. I know that mandalas are used in countless religious traditions and these are as varied and as unique as the people who create them.  As a practicing Catholic, I have used art for the past many years, as a way of drawing closer to God.  While I am painting or creating, I don’t feel as though I’m sitting outside, on God’s doorstep…I feel as though I’m spending time, sharing his kitchen…no rushing about…no distractions…quiet and restful.

P1030399The process of creating a prayer mandala, one that is not intended for art, but for the focus and spiritual aspects of the prayer, may take much time.  As an example, the initial four concentric circles took somewhere between four and six weeks to complete, beginning in early September.  I think that more typical of a mandala, is a pattern that segments itself around a central point, where as my mandala has become a series of almost concentric circles.  I wanted my mother at the prayer’s center.

Many years ago, at a silent auction, intended to raise funds for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, I bid on and won a mandala created by Tamarah Alister Rose AntaresShe creates exceptional works and is a beautiful woman.  I took a photograph this morning, out on my back deck, of Tamara’s mandala that hangs in my bedroom.

P1140703The process of praying my particular mandala, incorporates many of the memories I have of sharing times with Mom…but also, a bit of a journey through her life as little girl, growing woman and mother.  I am comforted through this process and while it is a deeply personal journey of prayer that I can’t share here, I think it’s alright to share that this can be a very healing possibility that might benefit readers going through similar loss.  If you’ve created a mandala, I would like to hear about it.

Four to six weeks of prayer...

Four to six weeks of prayer…


Reading over Mom’s old letters to me…and incorporating them…remembering her teaching me the blanket stitch…of doing and undoing…of weaving…

I think it is important for the artist or spiritual being to not see or set limits to the experience of prayer.  I think that God opens up the heart and the mind…we are simply needing to be open to that.

I think this is a particularly wonderful exploration of a mandala by the Dalai Lama.

Gaudete Sunday: Light the Advent Candle Three

Pink! Joy! Hope!  Out of the pain, suffering, challenge of every day life…out of all of the faults of humanity…I find hope and wish for peace for all!

This, from

“Rejoice: the Lord is nigh.” As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. The oft-repeated Veni (“Come”) of Advent is an echo not only of the prophets but also of the conclusion of the Apocalypse of St. John: “Come, Lord Jesus,” the last words of the New Testament.

Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice”. Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.

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Father Lacombe Chapel: Mission Hill

This past weekend, I went in search of the resting place for the man who most inspired my faith development and taught with such sincerity and wisdom, that I became a Catholic in 1976.  On Saturday, it was a blessing to share this particular part of the journey with a friend who I have recently reconnected with, after thirty-five years…my dear friend, Hollee.  Another motivator for this trip was that I named my son after this wonderful and selfless Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest, Father James Carroll, and I feel gratitude for my boy every day.

Locating Father Carroll came with the help of a few wonderful people who I wish to acknowledge here.  Rene Georgopalis is the Archivist and Reference Coordinator for the Musee Heritage in St. Albert, Alberta. Among other bits of information, Rene told me about the Oblates at Rest book.

Most helpful to me has been the tremendous care and attention given by Diane Lamoureux, referring to herself as Oblate Archivist for Grandin Province.  I hope that by the fire lit in me regarding this history, others will be seeking the same.  It is a wonderful thing to understand our roots…family and faith.

Diane responded immediately to the desire in me to know MORE as I sought out any information about Father Carroll’s history and to build a context for my own faith development.  I have recently been very interested in looking back into the roots of my thinking and Diane had an authentic approach to supporting me in this.  The resources and information that she has shared with me are invaluable.

And finally, I wish to mention gratitude for the interpreter, Leila who gave us an exceptional tour of the historic buildings and spaces; the Father Lacombe Chapel, the crypt where Father Albert Lacombe, Bishop Vital Justin Grandin and Father Leduc were laid to rest, the grotto and finally, the cemetery where Brother Anthony Kowalczyk was laid to rest, followed by many of his brothers, including my friend and teacher, Father James Carroll.

Sculpture in Memory of Father Albert Lacombe at Mission HIll

An image of Father Hyppolyte Leduc OMI (1868-1895) from the Provincial Archives

Photo Credit: Alberta Provincial Archives Father Hippolyte Leduc, OMI (1868-1895)

The day was a blustery one, but it will remain one of my fondest days of summer.  First of all, to share time with a friend, can only be a magical thing.  We had shared a dreamy meal out the night before and did a generous amount of catching up as well as sharing our perspectives on pretty much everything.  So, we regrouped in the morning and headed for St. Albert.  The wind was strong and the clouds were drifting fast across the sky.  A wedding was convening in St. Albert Church as we pulled into the parking lot.  And, as we left, the bride and groom were on the front steps in great celebration.

St. Albert Church, Mission Hill, St. Albert, Alberta

We met our personal interpreter, Leelah, for the walk-about in the Father Lacombe Chapel and learned about its restoration, explored sacred artifacts and had the chance to ask several questions.

I highly recommend that if you are interested in early Alberta history, particular to Metis/French settlement along the Sturgeon River, then this is your go-to location.  The guided tours will finish up at the end of August, but once available again, this is an awesome place to visit!

Leila was the one who first spotted Father Carroll’s resting place.  For quite a long time the three of us, in circle, stood and visited about our lives, our choices and our faith.  It was a wonderfully rich event, one I will not soon forget.  I admire Leelah’s courage very much and I am so blessed by this meeting.  There is much more I could say…but a good part of this event, I want to keep in my heart.  I lifted up prayers…it was/is just that sort of place where a person feels very close to angels and to God.

Example of the construction. The Lacombe Chapel was moved a few times in its history and this system made that possible.

Altar: Sacred objects came from other parts of Canada, but represent vessels and written words of that time.

Father Lacombe Chapel Interior

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Religious Sisters: The Grey Nuns

Sharing Life and Positivity

Lectio Divina: “The World Does Not Know You”

I Find Him Walking On Water…The Crowds Do Not Notice


Crossing the Water

by Sylvia Plath

Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.

A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.

Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;

Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls

Lectio Divina: Abide In Me

Lectio Divina In Progress

To abide in anything is a very ‘old school’ sort of concept.  I picked up a bit of the history/meaning of the word herePronunciation: ê-baid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive, transitive

Meaning: 1. (Intransitive) To live in the sense of dwell, to reside. 2. (Intransitive) To continue in existence, to exist unchanged in some state. 3. (Transitive) To tolerate, put up with, endure.

Notes: Historically the past participle of this word was abidden, but the past participle assimilated with the past tense a century or so ago, so now this verb is conjugated abide, abode, (has) abode. However, since this latter form is now used for the noun (an abode), the verb seems to be converting to a regular verb: abide, abided, (has) abided. This trend should continue if this seldom used verb survives at all.

In Play: The original sense of today’s lovely word has pretty much been replaced by the simpler verb (to) live, but it holds its ground for those unafraid of touching up their conversations with a bit of poetry now and again: “How Lester can abide in such a hovel as he inhabits is beyond explication.” I still like to hear the noun from the old past participle when in such a poetic mood: “Postlewaith retired from cricket in 2002 and now occupies a small but cozy abode tucked into a garden of his own making just outside Stikiwick.”

Word History: Today’s Good Word is a rarity, indeed: a genuine unborrowed English word. It came to us from the Old English verb abidan, comprising a-, an intensifier prefix + bidan “to remain”. The same root that came through the Germanic languages to English as bidan emerged in Latin as fidere “to trust, confide” and fidus “faithful (remaining unchanged)”. Words with the Latin root were borrowed en masse by English in words like fiancé, affidavit, fiduciary, and confide.

John Teaches Us

Father Jerome shares that in John 15: 1-8, the word  ‘abide’ is used 8 times…seems to be important…a concept to be meditated and prayed on, for sure.  “Abide in me as I abide in you.”  This afternoon, I will be attending a memorial for a young man who, on my birthday, lost his life.  I will honour his life by residing in his memory and remaining in the boat of God’s love.  I will continually lift up his family and friends.  Peace be with you…beautiful boy…treasured son…fun-loving brother…intelligent and mindful friend.

I Enter Into the Garden

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert

Three Men

Yesterday, I wrote briefly about a few priests who have influenced my thinking and offered me support before and since my confirmation in the Catholic faith.  I realized as I was writing how interconnected that faith journey has been with my growth as an artist.  I’d like to explore that a little bit here.

Old ACAD Notes

First, as I was thinking about them, I searched the internet.  I searched the name of my long-time spiritual director, Father Carroll…and found absolutely NOTHING.  It was interesting to find that someone who I viewed as godly, should not have a stick of recognition on the ‘information highway’.  I DID find, quite by accident, that my home Parish in Lethbridge, St. Patrick’s Parish, is  ‘temporarily’ shuttered.  At some point, this will be a topic for my blog, particularly since Father Carroll shared with me some archival material about the history of the church building and I think that it is a truly significant landmark and a place where I celebrated my baby steps as a Catholic.  As well,  I found a great deal of information about the Oblate priests and their mission, but nothing specific to Father Carroll’s journey from Ireland, to serve as a priest to God’s people for what seems, a zillion years.  Father Carroll’s final resting place is in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Cemetery in Mission, B.C.

Wee Sketch

I have always really treasured Canadian literature and novels that were inspired by the early settlement of Canada.  These seem to contain powerful examples of how ‘the Priest’ has influenced Canadian society in a whole number of ways.  Five of the books included in the list of novels that got me thinking about male archetypes in Canadian literature and in life, and eventually art, were John Richardson’s Wacousta, Ringuet’s Thirty Acres, Sinclair Ross’s As For Me and My House and Gabrielle Roy’s Where Nests the Water Hen and finally, O’Hagan’s Tay John.  Along with these, are a whole number of more contemporary (mostly Canadian) novels written by women that also explore the same themes, but for now, I’m thinking EARLY Canada.

Three Men

Two summers ago, my son and I visited the Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across the highway from the Martyrs’ Shrine Catholic Church near Midland, Ontario.  This opportunity, and others since,  have provided me the ‘magic’ of exploring  settings that were essential to writers of these novels.  My travels have invigorated my faith and contributed to greater knowledge of the early church in Canada.  There is no way that I can possibly convey how significant my journey to Ontario and then up the St. Lawrence river to Prince Edward Island was this past summer.  On so many different levels, returning to my ancestral roots, brought me to a profound realization in my faith.

So, I have been incredibly interested in reading about and painting archetypes that appear over and over again in life and in reading and this has transferred into my art, most literally, in the series I painted in art college, Three Men.  In various cultures, there have been written scads on male archetypes.  None of my work is related directly to these views and suppositions, rather I painted three men who were significant to my own life and the development of my esteem and path.  In the end, I met these people again and again in literature AND in other art and so, I came to know them as archetypes because of their universality and how they were used as the conduit for so many stories.

Soldier (Warrior), Husband (Hunter), Priest


I am certain that these archetypes have influenced my evolution as a woman/person and likely my readers will note how these directly impact my writing and the sorts of ideas I explore.

Close Up: Father/Military Man/Soldier: Husband/Hunter/Warrior