Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

My father lives in a different world than me.

He lives in Mallorca, Spain and the traditions are different in many ways. I always like to hear of the festivities for different occasions, so I sent an email asking him about Christmastide, and whether they decorate Christmas trees.  I received this long message which I want to pass on to my readers, complete with links and photos.  I am especially amazed by the snowflake lights.  At the bottom of the post you can listen to the song my father refers to in this message, sung by a child.

I hope you all have a meaningful Christmas celebration in honor of the Son of God who came to Earth to save us all.

Shalom,

Sister Olive

~♥~

Dear Dottir,

In the last decade or so, yes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves and any commercialization possible has taken over.  Even here in this small village, in the little plaza up in town there is a Christmas tree with decorations.

Before this northern invasion, Christmas Eve was celebrated in the church, or quietly in the home, no tree, no gifts just a celebration of the birth and the mother.  Here on Mallorca and in Catalunya, they had another very strange custom. A young child sings the Sybila, a song of the Judgment Day. You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Sibyl 

I have heard it sung many times over the years, because when I directed the church choir we were up in the organ loft, waiting for our turn to sing various Christmas songs from the region.  It is a haunting melody, very difficult for a child to sing, so they practice it for weeks before, no accompaniment of any kind, just that pure “white voice” as they call unchanged voices here. Here it is sung in a little church by a woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfirOs1RGIc

In the Cathedral of Palma they make a real production of it, with full choir, organ and a young woman singing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aYV_Kqv44g– these may be beautiful, but I prefer the single child in the Deya church, innocently singing about the end of the world.  Every year a different child is chosen.

Before also, the decorations were basically “nerulas” or white paper cutouts like snowflakes, hung across the nave of the church and in houses.  The streets still are blazoned with lights, as traditionally – I first saw them in Barcelona in 1969 and was amazed. Take a look https://www.google.es/search?q=christmas+lights+in+Barcelona&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=nZfRULDuGOyY0QWeuICoBA&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=614

As for myself, you know me – Stephanie and I would sometimes walk and look at the world, especially the stars which are exceptionally bright in winter, just appreciating Creation, perhaps lamenting its ultimate passing…

I will be doing that alone this year for sure, and will send my love to you all.  What I see from my balcony is this:

 Poppy's Window View

Where Chopin stayed in 1838 for the winter, so I have good company.

At night it is lit up, blocking the stars until late, when they are turned off.

 Poppy's View at Night

What will you be doing?  Have you found a compatible church where you can enjoy the songs of Christmas?

Lots of love,

Poppy

~♥~

Here is the link for the solo sung by a child, my favorite of the versions so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nANDw8XOHhU

 ~♥~

The Song of the Sibyl

On the Day of Judgment
The good go to heaven for their services.

An eternal King cometh
Dressed in our mortal flesh
He certainly will come from heaven
To judge the century.

Before the judgment is passed
A great sign will show itself
The sun will lose its shine
The earth will tremble with fear.

Then comes a mighty thunder
The sign of a great anger
In a hellish confusion
Rays and cries resound.

A great fire will fall from the sky
In a stench of sulfur
And the earth will burn furiously
And a great terror afflict people.

Then comes the terrible signal
A major earthquake
The rocks will break
And the mountains will collapse.

Then nobody will have gold pieces
Silver or wealth
And all await sentencing.

Death will leave you penniless
And all collide
Only men remain crying
And sadness will cover the world.

The plains and peaks are all the same
Good and bad will be achieved
Kings, dukes, earls and barons
They will have to account for their actions.

And then comes, unexpected
The son of God Almighty
He will judge the living and the dead
The good go to heaven.

The Unborn
Cry from the wombs of their mothers
And with her cries say
“Help us God Almighty”

Mother of God, pray for us
You, the Mother of All Sins
You have the judgment merciful
You have that paradise is open to us.

You who have heard it all
Pray to God with devotion
With all your heart and fervor
That should save us.

 ~♥~

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My Dear Readers,

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have faithfully visited this site so many times and sent me kind and thoughtful messages. I have been involved with many other things lately and my computer is about to crash, so I am not sure when I will be able to write posts for you again. But I wish all of you peace and grace and the beauty of nature this springtime and always.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

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My father sent me these lovely neules from Mallorca for Christmas!

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20141216_164038They are paper cuts made by nuns there during holiday season, and they are not only decorative but practical. They are hung in the cathedrals in Spain to help illiterate people keep track of the seasons and festivals during the year. They look like snowflakes hanging from the chandeliers and the slightest breeze makes them float and twirl.

20141217_113806I will always treasure them.

Peace be with you,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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~♥~

A professor with silver locks and pecan brown eyes asked Iris a question as they strolled down a sidewalk together. “What is it like when the Holy Spirit comes?” he blurted out. “Can you describe what happens or how it feels?” His open hands were motioning earnestly towards Iris, and she was quite startled.

“That is a question that will take some time to answer” she replied, “so I will write to you about it.”

As the days passed, she prayed and waited for the Spirit to break into her thoughts with words. She sat down at her cluttered desk one morning and wrote this letter. She slipped it into a long white envelope and mailed it to the gentle professor.

 

All Souls’ Day 2011

St. Augustine, Florida

Dear Seeker:

You asked me one day to describe what it feels like when the Holy Spirit comes. There is no short answer to such an inquiry, and I want to try to answer your question in the clearest manner possible. I can only recount my own personal experiences to you, and run the risk of being perceived as completely mad.

The Holy Ghost moves in many different ways depending on the time and place and circumstance. His works are so varied that it would take at least an entire book to describe them all. For now I will recount only a few “visitations.”

When I first met Him as a young child, the Spirit would come to me while I was in my bed, and it seemed as if I could feel His warm fatherly hand stroking my hair or rubbing my back until I fell asleep. He drove my childhood fears and tears away like leaves in the wind. When I was being beaten or mistreated in some way, He would remind me of how Christ was treated, and this gave me a sense that I was not alone in my suffering.

The Spirit has continued to be near me, throughout my life. At times, He is like a cloud covering me, sharing His thoughts with me when I need them. Sometimes His voice will break into my mind with a simple phrase like “Trust in Me” or “Forgive him”. On occasion, He might direct me to go here or there, do this, or say that to someone. Sometimes He warns not to do or say this or that.

On other occasions, He comes to me in dreams to teach me something important.  I remember one such dream about a cross so tall that it pierced through the clouds of heaven, and blood was spilling on my hands in great warm raindrops. It was the first time I began to grasp the bewildering rhetoric about Christ dying for my sins in particular, and realized that I partook in the blame for His death.

Sometimes His healing power has come to me through holy people who have touched me during prayers. There have been times when I have simply arrived at church sick and left with no symptoms.

Once I had been suffering with a digestive ailment, and a voice awoke me one night saying, “Get up and drink some water.”  I had been considering seeing a doctor, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t bothered to pray for my healing. So I decided not to question the voice. What did I have to lose by being obedient?  I got out of bed, poured some water in a glass, prayed for the Spirit to be in the water, and drank it. I could feel it working instantly, as if medicinal powers had gotten into the water. I fell asleep, and by morning I was well. I felt really foolish for not asking for help sooner.

I have been present when the Holy Ghost has visited and consoled other people in terrible misery. Once while I was talking with a downcast young man at a detention center, the Spirit came in and took charge of the situation. I saw something like white smoke or fog stirring in the room and I felt His presence. The young prisoner felt it too, and he cried out, “Oh my God, I’ve never felt anything like this before. I feel so comforted!  I feel like I can make it now!”  Both of us were in tears. I said, “See how the Holy Ghost has come in, just to ease your pain?”

I have found that the Spirit loves to manifest Himself in places of misery and isolation:  in care homes, hospitals, prisons and on the streets. It sounds crazy that the Spirit wants to hang out with us and help us, but it is true. He doesn’t want to be left out. He yearns to be invited, but will never force Himself on anyone.

The most powerful experiences of the presence of the Holy Ghost have come to me during the gatherings of holy people. I suppose He just enjoys being among His faithful friends who love Him. Just like we do.

Sometimes the Spirit will flow in softly at first like a gentle breeze or a refreshing misty rain, and suddenly a great thunderclap will awaken everyone. A sense of dread might become so intense that I feel as if I should hide.

One Sunday, an elder was speaking, and the Spirit flowed out of his mouth like smoke and filled up the whole room with a great cloud. People began to cry and quake and fall on their knees. The elder said, “I think there is enough of the Holy Ghost to fill this room all the way to the back, don’t you?”  He paused for a few moments, and said “I don’t believe in interfering with the Holy Ghost.”

He stopped speaking, and the Spirit began to flow around the room, spinning our souls into glowing threads and weaving them together on a great loom, until there was no more separation between us. We became one glorious tapestry of love.

Sometimes the Spirit will beckon people to come to Him and surrender their lives and problems. He can employ spiritual leaders at these times, or He can do the work without anyone’s help. One Sunday in church, a woman stood up and said, “The Spirit says He has been calling on someone here for a long time, and that it’s time to stop running and come home. He says this is your last chance.”  I counted nine people who sprung out of their seats and ran to the altar in desperation. One young man fell upon his face on the floor in front of the altar, weeping and writhing in terrible agony as the holy men gathered around him to pray and comfort him, until his tremors ceased and he had found rest for his soul.

Another day, when an elder was speaking about fountains of living water springing up from within, I felt great waves of the Spirit crashing over me and tears sprung out of my eyes without warning. The elder looked at me and said, “When the Spirit gets ahold of you, water’s gonna gush out of your eyes when you’re not even sad.”

He stopped speaking and I heard voices all around me and a churning like the sound of mountain rapids. I looked over my shoulder. I saw an ocean of people springing from their seats in waves, flowing in perfect rhythm up and down with cries and shouts, as if lifted and cast down by divine force. Some were soaring on top of the waves, and some were caught in the undertow and on the verge of drowning in their despair. I had never seen anything like it before, and it could never have been orchestrated by any human. The waves rolled and groaned and toiled, until the cleansing was complete. When the waters receded and became still as a pond, people’s faces were glowing with serenity and joy.

Needless to say, I could write much more on this matter, but I hope this is sufficient to give you some sense of how the Spirit works in the world of humans. There are so many things I still wonder about, such as how He can be in so many places, and yet dwells perpetually in the hearts of those that love Him, giving every one of them comfort and guidance at the same time. His works remain a great mystery to me.

I wish you the best in all of your endeavors and writings.

 

Peace and Grace, Iris

               ~♥~

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~♥~

The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning “inland” or “in the middle of the land” (from medius, “middle” and terra, “land”). –Wikipedia

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of our beautiful trip to Mallorca, Spain to visit my lost-and-found father. So I have decided to re-post some of my series entitled Spanishoeprints.  At the top of the screen, you can also click on the page with the same title for an assortment of photographs and journal writings from our trip.

I will never forget that day when we looked out of the airplane window and saw Mallorca for the first time from the sky. First we saw the pure and blue Mediterranean sea, then what appeared to be Middle Earth in the art of Tolkien.

imagesIt was a magical three-dimensional game board- green and terracotta with the curves of stone streets and walls, the hammered out cliffs, the pencil lines of fields, square and triangular pastures, and the dots of sheep and almond trees.  The game pieces were steeples and palaces and monasteries set in spirals that rose gently with the slopes to the tops of mountains.

I will never forget that feeling of being a Hobbit in the Shire for three magical weeks with my father and my son. I still dream of the place and long for the time when I can return…Sometimes I try to pretend it wasn’t real because the hollowness I feel becomes almost unbearable. Please pray for me that I may continue to “follow the light unflinchingly”.

Peace & Grace,

“Sister Olive”

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~♥~

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

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I learned so much among the Spanish people, not only about civility which seems to be disappearing in my own nation, but about things that make life simpler and more pleasant.  I would never intentionally shed negative light on my own country, but we could learn so much if we would be more humble and listen to our friends from other places.  My father was a wonderful guide and explained many things to me as we wandered around different villages and cities.

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For example, I love the beautiful lace curtains that hang over the doorways in Spain, and it didn’t occur to me right away that I didn’t see any screened doors or windows.  My father explained that the lace is a more fashionable way of fulfilling the same purpose. When the doors are open, the lace keeps insects out of homes. Many of the people have beaded curtains, like the ones that were so popular in the hippie days in America. Flies and other insects can sense the motion of the beads in the breeze and it frightens them away.  And the homes are more aesthetically pleasing to look at without all of the screens.

One of the most pleasant features of Spain is the remarkable cleanliness of the place. The streets in even the larger cities like Barcelona were incredibly clean.  I never saw trash cans or litter drifting around while I was in there, because the business of trash disposal and collection occurs at night.  Metal hooks are set into the stone walls beside the doors, and the people place trash bags on the hooks at dusk for the trash collectors.

In the entire time that I was in Spain, I never sat at a table in a restaurant that had spills or crumbs on it.  Even in the airport McDonald’s, the tables were kept spotlessly clean and shiny. People seem to genuinely take pride in their villages and cities.

One taxi driver in Barcelona was beaming with pride as he explained to us about the best sites to see during our visit, and he pointed out his apartment as we drove by, remarking several times as he drove that he loved living in this beautiful city.  I don’t know that I have ever seen people take such pride in their places of habitation.  In America, we are proud of our own property, but Spaniards take pride in their whole community.

After a couple of weeks in Spain, it occurred to me that I had not seen any semi-trucks on the highways even in the cities.  My father explained that they transport merchandise at night, not in the daytime.

I saw a sign in the village square which showed a picture of a hand covered in chain mail, and I asked my father about it.  He told me that is was for the butcher shop. He explained that in Spain, a butcher is required by law to wear chain mail over the hand which is holding the meat when he cuts it.  It is not only a tradition but a matter of insurance liability. More importantly, it’s good sense.

My father asked me one night if we wanted to go to a tapas bar, and I glared at him and said “What?”  Then he repeated himself, and explained that tapas are appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.  In Spain you go out for tapas when you are not ready for a full meal but you need a little something to hold you over.  I love this concept because it saves the embarrassment of going in a restaurant when you only want soup or a salad and the waiter looks at you with annoyance as if to say “cheapskate” or “there goes my tip for this table.”

I noticed that many waiters wear arm bands above the elbow that resemble garter belts made of black satin.  So one day I inquired of a dashing young waiter, “Do your arm bands represent something, or do you wear them just to look nice?”  He answered, “We adjust the length of our sleeves with them, so that our cuffs don’t come in contact with the food we serve.” What a great idea! And they look much classier than rolled-up sleeves.

I saw mostly small cars in Spain, because they are economical and more suitable for the narrow roadways and easy parking.  I did not see the gigantic gas hogs driving around there like I am accustomed to seeing here.  The people are also smaller, and I rarely saw an obese person.  The competitive over-consumptive capitalistic spirit seems to be absent from the atmosphere.

Weapons don’t mean a thing to most Spaniards.  My father says that aggression takes place everywhere, but the Spanish people don’t like fighting.  In fact, he says they don’t like to place their hands on each other at all during an argument.  When they get angry with one another, they shout mostly, but seldom push or strike one another.

My father says that there is a strong sense of community in Spain, that
there is not an attitude of every man for himself, striving against the whole world.  Spaniards think in terms of every man for himself and his neighbor.  He said that Americans think this is communist, but it isn’t. Communism is every man for the government.  What could possibly be wrong with “love thy neighbor as thyself”?

There is no charge for medical care in Spain, and if you need antibiotics, you don’t need a prescription. You walk to the pharmacy and buy it complete with instructions on dosage, warnings, etc.  You are assigned a doctor based on where you live and from there to specialists if you need them.  Spain is fourth in quality of medical care in the world, and America is around thirty-two while the care is more costly than anywhere else. My father had a quadruple bypass surgery about two years ago, and paid nothing for his care. There goes that community spirit again.

People really enjoy being together is Spain. When you meet a friend at a restaurant, you don’t sit for an hour and get your ticket from a hurried waiter. You commune with your friends for hours over food and wine presented with style and kindness. No rude service there! My father says once you sit down at a table, it is yours as long as you like and no one will take it from you.

The cathedral bells there ring out the hours of the day, the church services, special holidays, and the deaths of villagers. I loved seeing the birds flying from the bell towers when they chimed. There are unique rings for each kind of event, and the bells toll differently to signify the passing of men or women or children.

I have been dreaming of Spain ever since our departure.  My son and I wandered around the beautiful Barcelona airport for an hour or so before our departure, shopping for last minute souvenirs and gifts.  The floors were so polished that I felt as if I was walking across a pond.

When we flew into the Atlanta airport, we looked out the windows and saw trash everywhere in and around dumpsters.  As we walked inside, we smelled the dismal smell of sweat and dirt.  We were so sad that this is what foreigners experience when they arrive in America.

When will we ever learn?

~♥~

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The village of Valldemossa affects my mind like a dream because it is so quiet and charming, and the people seem to be the same.  Those whom I met had soft voices and a gentle demeanor.  In the first shop I walked into, a white-haired man smiled at me and lowered his head as if to say “Welcome.”  I don’t know how he could tell I didn’t speak Spanish. When I had found the scarf with oceanic colors that I wanted to buy, I approached the man and he took out a calculator, pressed some keys, and showed me the display.  “Gracias” I said and counted my confusing little coins.  The paper money started with fives and that always mixed me up, but I placed one- and two-euro coins on the glass counter until I had the right amount.  The man wrapped my scarf with decorated tissue that said “Valldemossa” in provincial blue, and placed it into a pretty paper bag.  We nodded nervously at each other and I stepped away.  As I reached the threshold, the man got brave and said “hello.”  I wanted to chuckle, but I didn’t.

In Spain, banks are required to dedicate their profits to social and artistic projects in the villages. One afternoon, Sa Nostra bank brought in a choral group to sing and I walked in with my father and son to listen.  Three rows of ladies and men sang in Spanish with pleasant melodies and harmony, and their faces seemed to be glowing with peace.  After listening for about half an hour, suddenly I was pleasantly surprised to hear a line in English: We are marching in the light of God; we are marching in the light of God.”  I noticed the singers began to switch languages so that everyone could hear these words in their own language.

After the concert, I talked with my son and said, “These people seem so sweet and humble and happy.  They remind me of the Who’s in Who-Ville (from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas).  “I could see that,” he replied with a smile. (The thought occurred to me that my father could very well be the Grinch.)

As I walked through the monastery where Chopin wrote some of his most famous music, a lady named Francisca approached me and offered to take my picture in the gardens.  I remarked, “Oh, the new Pope is named after you, I see” and she smiled broadly.

My father introduced me to some of his close friends during our visit:  Suzanne the quiet concert pianist who forgets her shyness altogether when she plays on stage, Barry the violinist who came with a kiss upon my hand and a deep kind voice, Michael the opera composer who met his wife Philippa when she was singing soprano in a concert, Nils the artist who sketched the musicians at the International Music Festival in Deia, Owen the cowboyish fellow from Peculiar, Missouri with floppy hat and a scar over one eye and fowl language after a few drinks, Arturo the English gypsy artist with a black and white pinstripe shirt, a large black handbag over one shoulder and a hot pink scarf.  “I love your shirt,” I remarked.  He answered with a sweet and high voice, “I am not ashamed. I got it from someone’s trash.” He stole my gypsy heart instantly.

My father leaned towards me and said, “You have asked me why I stay here and don’t return to the states.  These people are the reason, as you can see.”  Yes, I do see.

On our final day in the village, my son and I wandered for one last time down the stone streets. We stopped into the gallery of Coll Bardolet which also features a charming little cafe with various kinds of espresso. Just before we returned to my father’s wooden door, I saw Francisca sitting upon a bench.  “We are leaving tomorrow morning,” I said. “It was delightful meeting you.  This is such a lovely place.”

“You will be back” she said.

~♥~

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