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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse
by me, Karen Williams.

For my "little fleur" – may you be at peace. 

I was playing on the shore of the sea when I grew dry and weary from the ways of this world.  My heart was parched and brittle like dried up November leaves,
choked off from all sustenance. 
I was surrounded by water yet I was dying of thirst.
Cut off from life, there was little left of me to give.
I decided to leave it behind and embark anew.
I would take a risk and leave the sandy shore.
A dingy waited nearby.

Bright yellow, bobbing on the surface of the blue shallows…
Who put this here?
I noticed other dingys with their passengers.  Happy, contented, fellow-sailors on little pink clouds.
Throwing footballs and frisbies
Splashing and oaring. 
Falling out into the warm salty water
Sun glinting across the crystal blue water
Casting spider webs of light against the sand below.
Waist-deep water, warm soft, snuggy sand insulating my healing feet
Falling back in to the safety of the dingy
Falling asleep

I let go and allow the freedom of sleep to overtake me.
I am at peace.

First light brings red dawn.
Violent, bloody clouds fill the once blue sky
My fellow sailor-friends are all gone
I am pushed and billowed out to sea
The shoreline is far, far away
People still on the sand look tiny, like little ants, as they run for shelter.
I scream for help but no one can hear me.

My dingy is plunged and buffeted by the angry wind
I am powerless over the waves that engulf my small craft
Pushing out further into the deep
I am soaked to the bone and freezing now.
Rushing deep waters appear bottomless to me
Fear blackens my gaze. 
I am going to die, alone.
My dingy can no longer hold my water-logged body
It is losing air. I grab an oar and float.
My once safe, playful, yellow bobbing raft slips below the waves into the murky depths
My hope disappears with it.

I am alone and confused. 
Parched again, my lips crusted with salt.
I came this far in my new life….to perish in the sea that rescued me?
I was surrounded by water but I was dying of thirst.
I am going to die, alone.
I am surrendered to this thought as the hours pass.

I let go and allow the freedom of sleep to overtake me
My strength is gone.

A bell sound lifts me from my surrendered slumber
I sense a light in the sky.
It turns slowly clockwise.
Coming around to me now, the light is very bright
And almost warm.  It smiles.
A lighthouse.
How can this be?
I am supposed to be dead….
My heart quickens.

Unknown strength arrives in a jolt
It sends electricity to my once-paralyzed extremities.
I paddle-kick with all my might as I grasp my oar in my cramped hands.
It is all I have in the world, my oar.
Get there. Get there. Please God. Help me get there.
I arrive at the base of the lighthouse.
My lungs are about to explode.
I can hear people. They are in the light house.
Warm, cozy people are inside talking and laughing.
My voice does not work.
I cannot produce a sound.
My mind races.  Then plummets.
I must hoist myself, but how?
I will need to surrender the only thing I have. 
It is all I have in the world, my oar.

I let go….again.
I am alone in the frigid water. 
I REACH with my two arms.
For what? I do not know.  I can barely see – the light is facing the other way.
I begin to sink. Water starts to pull me down, entering my nostrils, my mouth.

Hoist-pulling on my arms.
Emerging from the black waters that wanted to kill me
Legs-standing for just a moment.
I lay on the cold stone pavement
I see Him, whose hands are holding onto mine.
The one who saved me.
The only one who could, really.

He calls me by my name.
How does He know my name?
He lifts me into his arms.
I see His hands and His feet.
They are wounded like mine.
We both have wounds.
I seem to recognize Him but then again…
He is familiar yet someone I’ve never known.
He knows me.
How does He know my name?
My questions dissolve into the joy of the moments.
I am safe. Saved. Being saved.
Saved for?

For what, I do not know.
He says that He was with me the whole time.
In all of the letting-goes.
He told me that he fashioned for me a little dingy and set it upon the waters that one day.
He watched me as I enjoyed my first period at sea.
He watched with me as my little dingy sank
He protected me as I slept in the dark water and cried
He cried with me
He guarded me from the sharks and rays.
He made sure my oar would stay with me, even as I slept.
He allowed the waters to guide me to the light
He has prepared a table before me.
He has reunited me with my fellow-sailor friends.
(They made it too!)
He has made everything new in its time.
I will never have to fear the water.
He said that I learned how to REACH by following his prompts.
He had to reach out His arms too.
He was with me the whole time.
And I didn’t even know He was there.

I am not sure if I am being fitted for scuba gear, a large yacht or a pair of wings. 
But I am assured that I will never need to fear the water again.
He told me so.

And He told me many other things that are too wondrous for words.

So I sit here in my lighthouse
With all of my sailor friends--like little dazzling sparks of divinity
Reviewing the dingy days.
My shorebird ways.
I am eager to soar
But will be patient for my wings.
Knowing I can handle but one day, one moment at a time, on the beautiful blue sea.

I am at peace. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Just the other day, my husband relays to me that we had a few smallish strangers come to the door. They had an odd request, one I don’t think I’ve ever heard…

They were not selling magazines.
They were not looking for missing Fido.
They did not lose a football in our backyard.

“Do you have any children between the ages of 7 and 10?” these children asked, and “If so, can they come out to play?”

Quite strange.  And endearing. 

They are friend-shopping.  That’s amusing, in and of itself. 

They had only one requirement of a friend.  That he or she meet an age stipulation.  Apparently 6-year-olds are too immature.  Just coming off the reading curve, perhaps 6ers would be too silly, uncoordinated or lacking the inventiveness or sophistication of a riper 7-year-old.   Or maybe they lack parental sanction to play with older kids, causing the inevitable “having to go home early” lament, which is a real buzz kill. Sorry, low range cut off is 7.  And what if you’re 11?  That’s apparently  problematic as well.  I’m sure 11s are too boring or stiff.  A little high-brow? Perhaps they throw too hard or might possess a keen talent for life stuff that would simply make any form of competition no fun for fledgling talent.  Sorry, our 11 and older crowd has also missed the cut. 

Can you imagine grown-ups doing this?  Knock knock, "Hi, my name is Karen, and is there anyone here between the ages of 45 and 50?  If so, can they come play catch with me in the street?  If they don’t have a glove, I have an extra.  I'll make sure we're back by the time the streetlights come on."
(Yeah, I’d be committed.)

Do we, as adults, friend shop?  Yes we do.  But we are subtle.  We whittle them down and size them up and before you know it, we’ve eliminated the number of potential friend candidates that could populate half of Manhattan by lunchtime.  We’re persnickety about our friends which is why many folks have so few. As we age, we also make fine gradations in friend categories:

The best friend,
The real friend,
The golf friend,
The friend of the family,
The poker buddy,
The Significant Other
The book club,
The church friend
The fair-weather friend (like seasonal tires)
The fall-back friend
The honest friend
The fun friend
The road trip friend
The Imaginary Friend (ok, not all of us have these J)
and down at the bottom of the list….
The Acquaintance. 
And then the extremely rare:
The willing-to die-for-you friend.

Some of you have individual friends that fit into several of these categories at the same time and for this I commend you! I think the rarest types of friends are the “best, real, honest and willing-to-die-for-you" categories.  Of course, if they golf or travel, you’ve found a multiple blessing. 

How do you find them?  I think you have to put yourself out there a lot, like the hokey pokey.  You must be willing to be vulnerable; to take a risk. It also helps to be a friend and do the honest, real, willing-to-die-for-you stuff that is what we ultimately look for.  “To have a friend is to be a friend”.  This is an adage that still applies in our time, believe it or not.  Or this one:  “A friend in need is a friend indeed”.  I really do strive to be a good, real, surrendering type of friend but I must admit, this is hard work and…I fail frequently.  (By the way, if you’re looking for excellent reading on friendship, I might suggest Holy Scripture and in particular the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the book of Sirach in the Old Testament.  It is chock full of sage wisdom on the art of being a friend.)

Ultimately, there is a Best Practices model available on friendship.  It’s authored by a friend Whom I have not mentioned yet. He didn’t write a single word on friendship in a book that might have been aptly titled:  Friendship for Dummies.  Rather, He modeled it in His living and in His dying. He is the One who will look for us even when we’re not looking for Him. He’s in a category all His own.   He defines true friendship and defies every clichĂ© about friendship.  He actually laid down His life for all of His friends even though His friends treated Him badly at the time He needed them most.  (And, sadly, still do).  That’s not an obstacle for this Friend though, because he set up a beautiful collection of little friendship doors for us.  They are called prayer & sacraments – where we can find Him when we get a little lost.  This Friend always has our best interests in mind - always has our back.  This Friend is a sturdy shelter.  He is patient, kind, never jealous, envious or rude.  He never demands His own way; is not haughty or selfish. When all others have gone, this Friend remains.  There are no strings attached to His friendship.  He is madly in love with us and is a complete gentleman about our boundaries.  He is knocking at your door every day hoping – just hoping you’ll not be too busy to “come out and play”.

I’m pretty sure He doesn’t have an age requirement.

Say, say ole playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rainbow
Into your cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more, more, more, more, more! 

Happy Easter. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lost & Found

Abortion Testimony at 40 Days for Life Closing Rally at Planned Parenthood Glendale, today, Good Friday....

Lost & Found
Good Friday, April 6, 2012
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, you know. This place was once a place where children laughed, played, sang, napped and felt safe. One day something went terribly wrong; everything changed.  There was a garden like that a long time ago.  Two children laughed, played ,sang and lived happily in the presence of their Creator.  And just like this former preschool, Something went terribly wrong.  What was the common denominator—free will? sin? disobedience?  I think in both situations we need to look no further than the common enemy of man. How do we recognize it?  I will tell you how: By the lie that comes before it and death that follows closely at its heels.

Abortion is like that. The enemy tells us a lie, and death follows.  In our case, we’re already against the ropes because of our proclivity to sin, and our darkened intellect brought on by the fall of our first parents. This is why we are so desperately in need of a savior.  If we could only recognize Him as Emmanuel—God with us.

I want to tell you a story about a young girl who also believed the enemy’s lies.  She didn’t recognize that Christ had been with her all along, even during the darkest parts of her story … but he was there. I think it’s only fitting that on this Good Friday, we pause at this place of death. Because, this ground on which we stand today, is another Calvary.

Her story goes like this:
“I was a junior at Michigan State University when I visited the Planned Parenthood clinic in 1987.  The stunning confirmation of my crisis pregnancy was delivered to me while I stood in a hallway surrounded by strangers.  It was a death sentence.  Through hot, angry tears, I sobbed that I could NOT be pregnant. I would have no part of a baby-limited future. I was a good girl, from a good middle-class family and I had a promising future. I was supposed to BE somebody.  The title “unwed mother” simply did not fit into my plan. I was in a disconnected panic.  Confused, alone and unsupported I feared how I would deliver this news to my family & friends.  I believed that I was out of options and running out of time. I reached out to a procedure that I thought could deaden the panic.  Abortion was not the ideal, but it was a solution…an easy way out that could be kept secret.  A choice.”

Christ received a death sentence, too.  A carpenter’s life would have been much more palatable; or even street preaching for 3 more decades while staying out of the way of the authorities would have been an acceptable alternative. But crucifixion?? A mere drop of His blood would have been enough to save the universe. A crucifixion?  I’m sure the title “convicted criminal” struck him as odd. But in the end, he was obedient to God and fulfilled his calling. He loved his cross. There was no procedure that would fix the terminal problem of death.  “Not my will, but Thine be done”. Abandoned by his sleeping friends & sweating blood in a garden, he accepted the Father’s plan.

“A very attractive clinic employee clad in business attire reassured me that I need not feel afraid or guilty for choosing abortion. She herself had multiple abortions and was grateful for having the power to be able to control the size and spacing of her family.  This was my final edification. A death sentence would prevail, but it wouldn’t be my life that would be surrendered. I chose my body, my plan and my convenience over his life.”

Unlike our girl, Christ was familiar with the oily lies. Not long before his torture and execution, he was led to the desert where he was tempted with power and earthly delights. “All this can be yours…. the angels will protect you….. just bow down to me….” hisses the enemy. The lies of abortion come from the same source. “why should you be troubled with an unwanted pregnancy….it’s just a blob of tissue…., nobody will know….., it’s perfectly legal… it’s your body, after all…., it’s a choice…., it’s healthcare…., it’s your right.”

“Numbed by twilight sedation, my conscience in self-inflicted exile, I allowed my accomplices – the abortionist and his nurse-witness – to rip from my uterus, my tiny, 10-week-old son. His small frame captured on ultrasound only a week earlier was now in pieces in a plastic container.  The sights, sounds and smells of that day in January still haunt me.  The images are as fresh today as they were 25 years ago.”  

It was necessary that one must die. In Old Testament times the victims were animals like lambs, goats and heifers. When Christ came, he WAS the lamb.  Why did Christ have to die?  He wasn’t keeping the peace.  He wasn’t staying in his square, all of this claiming-to-be-God business.  That’s hate speech to a first century Jew.  He has blasphemed by calling himself God.  That baby in the womb is not keeping the peace either. It beckons for attention. It demands its own perfectly-appointed womb space. It blasphemes by reminding us that it is a human life, not a blob of tissue.  It never keeps the peace in an abortion-bound woman’s mind. Never. That’s why she shows up here, angry, panic-stricken and in a big hurry. Somebody must die.

“There was no one around me to advocate for the life of my son; no one to speak for him, to break into his mother’s crisis of the moment.  The choice didn’t really feel like a choice at all.  I wasn’t choosing between Cheerios or Frosted Flakes.  I was in a desperate place and I did what many, young, unsupported, college women do when faced with a desperate situation—I made an irrational, illogical and fatal decision for my child and I regret everything about that decision today.”

Our girl in the story knew this was a baby.  She saw it with her own eyes on the ultrasound.  Peter has a similar version:  “I do not know the man”.  Weeks earlier, he had been the only one who correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, the messiah.  He saw, with his own eyes the transfiguration. He ate with him, traveled with him, clung to him. Yet he denied him at the crisis of the moment. Peter, too, came to regret everything about his choice that day.

Though the days and weeks following my abortion brought immediate relief; years of denial of my trauma and the life I took piled up like stones in the hands of vengeful zealots. Those stones might have easily been labeled with words such as shame, fear, anger, divorce, addiction, depression and self-loathing. I never thought that the stuff I was denying would have brought such debilitating emotional distress. I never thought it could have been connected to that January day in 1987. And I never thought it could be me, Karen Williams, because I was supposed to know better. You see, I am the girl in this story—this is my abortion testimony. I guess you could label me a living statistic, but thanks be to God, his grace, and people like you, my story does not end here.

Just like Mary Magdalene who recognized her savior as her face was planted in the dirt, stones aimed in her direction from a vicious crowd, so too, was I found.  Like the lost sheep I had wandered far from the flock.  I had no expectation of forgiveness or mercy.  I was just ready to put my rocks down and come home. And come home I did.  I converted to the Catholic church in 1996 and began a long journey of healing and reconciliation. I began to recognize myself as a forgiven and beloved daughter of Christ. I saw that he had always stood with me….even in my deepest agony.  I saw how he took my pain and shame and bore it.  While he was on the cross, I was on His mind. He paid the price that I could never pay.  This is the unfathomable love of our Savior….that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. While we were a long way off, he came running to us. ‘O happy fault, that won for us so great a redeemer’. Our current pope wisely asserts that people who have hope live differently.  I am now truly free.  And this freedom allows me, among other things, to witness to other men and women like myself who need to understand that there is great hope and healing for those who desire it. I live my life differently today, because I have hope; because I have Christ.

I am also the daughter of a loving Mother – the Blessed Mother who stands at the cross of Calvary and watches, as we watch, the same story that brought me here to you today.  I know that she wants us to be at these places so that we can be a light to those who are still in darkness; so that we can keep vigil; so that we can prayerfully love them back into the truth.  No matter what side of the pro-life argument you are on, we are all her children wrapped within her mantle of hope.

So why are we here today?  This is Calvary.  This is Good Friday. 
So named because of our Victor-King who triumphed over death by going through death. Abortion is a serpent-ed lie delivered to a softened society by an ancient and common enemy.  Our task is daunting. Please never be discouraged that your presence here is in vain. It is not. You are speaking the truth in love when you stand here and call upon our Lord and our Lady to have mercy on all the souls here…An Easter awaits us all - A bright sunshiny morning that comes in glory, radiantly breaking through the clouds.  It’s like the prodigal, appearing over the brow of the hill who is spotted by a father who thought his son was long dead.  My edited version of that story has a bit of a twist…the Father is bounding at lightning speed towards me with my son, Michael in his arms.  We will be reunited someday. Like a carpenter’s son who loved , served, changed all of time and eternity and then was put to death and laid in a garden tomb….  It was’t supposed to end this way.  And it doesn’t. Christ lives, and he is gathering his flock. Please continue the vigils. People’s hearts are changing.  People are walking away from these places.  People are rethinking the failure of love that abortion represents.…And we can be there for them, just like Christ is always present with us: The Emmanuel. God with us.

“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them”.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yes! Let's rename this Judicial Activism :-)

Judicial activism?  Lack of Judicial restraint?  With all due respect to your office, Mr. President, how is it that you are overlooking your own executive activism and lack of executive restraint when it comes to your healthcare plan/bill that...
1. I must purchase or else be fined for not purchasing;
2.  that will cover 10 million more folks without adding a single doctor;
3.  that was passed by a congress who did not read it and then exempted themselves from it,
4.  that will be financed by a country that is broke,
5.  and that now seeks to assault the consciences of those who morally object to paying for somebody's birth control?

So, I guess if the Supremes don't straighten up and fly right, the chief exec might find a way to ignore their constitutional rights too.

Is it me, or has the world gone batty?

Republicans slam Obama over warning to 'unelected' Supreme Court
Published April 03, 2012
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Republicans are accusing President Obama of trying to "intimidate" the Supreme Court by wrongly suggesting a ruling against the health care overhaul would be "judicial activism."
Obama, during a joint press conference Monday with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, said he's "confident" the law will be upheld, but cautioned the "unelected" court against reaching any other conclusion. In doing so, Obama invoked what he described as conservative concerns about judicial activism.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called it a "fantasy" to think "every law you like is constitutional and every Supreme Court decision you don't is 'activist.'"
"Judicial activism or restraint is not measured by which side wins but by whether the Court correctly applied the law," he said.
The president's challenge to the high court drew widespread attention, on the eve of the Republican presidential candidates' next round of primaries -- Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia are voting Tuesday. All the candidates oppose the health care law, though front-runner Mitt Romney has come under fire for his role in passing one with similar provisions while governor of Massachusetts.
Romney, who describes the federal law as an overreach, also slammed Obama for his Supreme Court comments on Tuesday.
Romney, in an interview on Fox News, said an activist court is one that "departs" from the Constitution and legislates from the bench. In this case, he said, the judges simply are weighing whether a law is constitutional.
"That will not be an activist court -- that will be a court following the Constitution," Romney said.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, agreed.
"Nothing could be more appropriate for the Supreme Court to decide than whether a bill is constitutional or not," he told Fox News Radio.
Smith said he was "disappointed" by the president's remarks.
"It is not unprecedented at all for the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional; they do that on a regular basis so it's not unprecedented at all," he said. "What is unprecedented is for the president of the United States trying to intimidate the Supreme Court."
The Supreme Court spent three days hearing arguments last week in four separate challenges to the health care law, which stands as the president's signature domestic policy accomplishment. A central challenge was over the individual mandate -- the requirement that Americans buy health insurance. Critics say the mandate is unconstitutional, and that the federal government cannot force people into the insurance marketplace.
Obama on Monday said that without such a mandate, the law would not have a mechanism to ensure those with preexisting conditions get health care. He said the law is constitutional.
"I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," Obama said. "And I'd just remind conservative commentators that for years what we've heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step."

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