Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Evening Reflections

Just a quick note to Myra. Myra had asked that I do a tutorial on the pleating I did in this week's Free Pattern Friday. Myra, I will do this on Monday as I also want to show you something else that you might find interesting. So I have not forgotten, just come back on Monday and I hope it will be worth it.

This evening we went to Mass and the priest did not show up. Unbelievable! How does a priest forget about Mass? This is the second time this has happened this year. Everything was handled very well, instead of a Mass, we had a prayer service and used hosts that had been previously consecrated. As the service continued, I began to think of a very special friend, Joyce Looby. I loved her dearly. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 27 and sadly died when she was 34. There are very few days that go by that I don't miss her. What was interesting about Joyce was that as her fight continued and grew all the more grim, her faith grew stronger and stronger. She loved going to daily morning Mass and we would go together at least once a week. My heart would break when I would watch her struggle to climb the stairs in order to read the scripture. But she would not give up. She was determined to live every moment of her life to the fullest.
Joyce was a wonderful artist. She loved working in oils. One day while painting, she discovered that she was having an awful time seeing. There were tumors behind her eyes. She was told that they would do radiation and that she may loose her eyesight. Now when it comes to medicine, I'm pretty dumb. My husband came home one day to find me with a patch over one eye. "What in the world are you doing?" I told him that I was practicing. I had decided that if Joyce lost her eyesight, I would give her one of mine. At least this way we would both have one. My husband said, rather strongly, "you don't give away one of your eyes!" Seemed perfectly logical to me, and besides they are my eyes. But as I found out, that's not exactly doable. Thankfully, Joyce never lost her eyesight and she continued to paint until just about the end of her life.
I learned so much about my Celtic heritage from Joyce. I did not know that it really wasn't that long ago that it was still illegal to practice your Catholic faith in Ireland. Joyce did a wonderful painting that depicted a group of people meeting secretly to celebrate Mass. Joyce's aunt was a nun and she told me that to this day you can come across altars in fields where people would secretly gather. Tonight as we had a prayer service instead of a Mass, I thought of that painting that Joyce did and how fortunate I am to be able to celebrate my faith publicly. We are singing a new version of the Our Father. I have tried to find it on Youtube to no avail. I would love to share it with you because it is so beautiful. I will try to record it and download it for you to hear. The Mass, or prayer service ended tonight with the song, How Great Thou Art, and I walked out in tears. We sang this song at Joyce's funeral.
My precious friend. I wish I had a better picture. This has been in one of my inspiration books since she died along with a piece that she wrote before she died. I'll share it with you.

Witness To Hope
Six years ago I was pulled kicking and screaming from my own agenda by a diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of twenty-seven years. While these years have been a gruesome round of seemingly endless treatments, coupled with constant dismal life expectancy predictions, I would not change the experience for the world. I have been privileged to encounter a whirlwind love affair with The Lord. I can best explain this using John 15:1-4,

"I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn't produce. And he prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops. He has already tended you by pruning you back for greater strength and usefulness by means of the commands I gave you. Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can't produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me."

Through this experience, I have developed a greater intimacy with the Lord and happiness for me means being close to God. Painting for me is an act of prayer. The act of painting has become a way to be sanctified.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to paint in the raw landscape from which my parents hail. I have been able to rejoice in the abundant splendor of God's landscape that captures a reckless appreciation for Ireland's natural wildness; it's clean, crisp air and whirlwind of energy that depicts the drama of Ireland. I have been able to inhale the intoxicating beauty of my ancestry and know that I come from such good stock. Above all, it is the legacy of my parent's humble faith for which I am most truly grateful.

About six months before Joyce died, she came to Galveston to visit with me. It was while she was there that we found out that the last round of treatments had not worked. We decided to say, "to hell with it," and went out to drink Margaritas. We laughed that night until our sides hurt. We dressed up and went to The Seaman's Ball. She loved my dress and did the painting of me in my dress. The picture now hangs in my husband's office. I pass it every day and when I look at the painting it's like a small visit with her. I can still hear her laughing in my head.
If Joyce were able to talk to you directly, I know she would tell each of us to live every moment, REALLY LIVE, and her prayer for each of us would be to find the faith that she knew.
This is for Joyce. Enjoy.

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  1. A wonderful tribute to your friend.

  2. So beautiful...she'll never die as long as you keep her memory alive.

  3. It is good to have met and became friends You two will surely meet again