The sweet pain of remembering…

Glimmers March 2, 2018

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, March 1, was my father’s birthday. If he were alive today he would be 93, instead he died at age 36. I lived a full and connected day yesterday, in honor of him. And, I’m coming to realize, because of him. My personal journey of grief through the losses in my early life led me on a path of healing that has brought me to this moment…right now…with each of you in my heart.

The following is an edited excerpt from my new book, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss. It includes one of the many stories I present about folks who sought help with their grief. This one is different, though, because it’s part my story. I share it to illustrate love’s healing presence in our lives, even in times of challenge.

Anne’s father died when she was eleven. Her life changed, as a result, but she found happiness and fulfillment in relationships and career. Anne married and raised a family, gratefully using her father’s name for her first son. Years passed, her children grew up and started their own lives. One cold February, the date of March 1st kept returning to her mind. Anne searched her memory but could not remember the significance of March 1st, so she let the date become a part of her prayer. Anne trusted the arrival of this date in her thoughts and waited to learn its importance. One morning, sitting at her desk at work, Anne was flooded with a depth of sadness that was inescapable…and she remembered. March 1st, this very day, was her father’s birthday. She let the tears fall, breathed through the pressure in her chest and remembered the emptiness. At the same time, Anne experienced a kindling of warmth and tenderness as she remembered love. She gave herself permission to receive this moment, even though it was attached to sadness. She did not dwell on forgetting her father’s birthday, but chose to be grateful for this powerful reminder of love. As the waves of feeling passed through her, Anne stayed aware of the sweet love that touched her little girl heart.

For Anne, this unexpected experience was indeed Love’s reminder. She surrendered to it and focused on the gift of that moment. Perhaps the years between the loss and healing helped, a more recent loss has other elements. Certainly grace appeared on that March day, and shows up in our lives as well. But our attitude toward love and grief is a significant piece in our healing and in our surrendering.   With Surrender’s help, we come to understand that our capacity to love is a part of who we are. It does not die. It is woven through our story, enhanced or inhibited by our unique nature and, ultimately, it is experienced in the present moment. Our relationships, in life and in memories, have gifted us with experiences of love… as long as we live, love lives on in us.

Friends, thank you for being on this road with me. I am so grateful for your interest and engagement in my Glimmers. I hope you’ll look into the book on Amazon  or Barnes and Noble and explore my ideas about conscious grieving. Your well being matters, so keep taking care of yourself! If you’re near by, send me an email – I’d love to see you at our April 8th Book Launch! In the meantime, “This one’s for you, Dad. Your love is still with me, it shines through the confusion of life and lights the path before me.”

with a grateful heart,

Own the Light Within You

Glimmers February 6, 2018


We must remember that to own the light is not to deny the darkness,

but to allow it to be transformed.” Doris Klein, CSA

Dear Friends,

It’s so easy to sit in the darkness of our own making….

            to “stew,” over and over again, about what didn’t happen

            to replay, with painful detail, what should have happened 

            to fear, a familiar place, that things will never change

The darkness of our wounds, wrongs and worries can wrap us up, hands bound, and deposit us on cold cement steps that go nowhere. And there we sit….sometimes wriggling a hand free to reach out for help, sometimes pulling away the layers of doubt that keep us bound. The darkness waits as we go through the usual routine of stepping over the the remnants of a particular encounter, watches as we try to pack away all the evidence of our deepest feelings, wonders when we will return to the realm of hopelessness. As it happens, the more we deny the darkness of our lives – be it loss, fear, anger, loneliness, shame – the more likely our return to the empty space within.

But there is hope. There is light in the darkness.

Doris Klein’s words are a wise response to normal, human struggles: “We must remember that to own the light is not to deny the darkness, but to allow it to be transformed.”* Ahhhh, a way through…our human journey is not simply choosing good over bad, light over dark. We are called to transformation. We are invited to shine the light of Love, that also lives in our hearts, upon our places of pain. This is not easy, “it takes courage,” she adds, “to be faithful to this transformative process.”*

Where do we find such courage to face the intimate stories of our lives that we keep hidden away? How do we shine Love’s light into the depths of who we are? For me, dear friends, the real question is, how do we not? This one life that we’ve been given is precious. It is filled with potential, like the crocus bulb waiting for winter’s cold to pass. She rests deep within the earth until the warmth of the sun’s light reaches down – coaxing, warming, inviting – until she says yes. We, too, hold much beauty in the depths of who we are. Love’s light is reaching out to us all the time, our task is to open our arms and surrender…to say “yes” to Love and allow it to transform our lives. “As we take the brave steps deeper into our healing, we move into an acceptance that changes us. We live out of our vulnerability and encounter a certain tenderness that becomes our strength. We shift away from control to empowerment, away from isolation into love.”+

Be brave! Let this one precious life of yours become a testament to Love.

peace on this day, Lisa


*Doris Klein, CSA, Journey of a Soul, (Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 2000) 112.

+Lisa Irish, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss, (Nashville, TN: Skylight Paths, 2018) 116.

I’ve had an epiphany!

Glimmers January 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

Today is a special day in my world, its the 4th anniversary of  these Glimmers. I took a chance, four years ago, and said “yes” to the idea of sharing my little light with you. I didn’t expect it in the beginning, but as I’ve heard from so many of you over the years, I experienced a precious connection. When we share the gift of hope with one another, hope is enriched, enlivened, expanded. We are encouraged, perhaps, to share our light with others…one to the next…letting hope shine forth in the world around us.

May the enlightenment of Epiphany reach across time and space into our hearts, breaking them open to receive the light we need. May we see our own broken and fearful places as a source of wisdom and wholeness. May we allow Love to heal our hearts, as we share that healing Love with the world. Blessings on this Epiphany of 2018,

I share here the Glimmer from 2014 as an anthem of hope for us all.               


I write this message as the sun goes down on January 5th, 2014. The sky is hovering between grey and snowy white as it awaits the deep darkness that will soon come. Snow is all around the house on this cold Connecticut evening, but even the snow will be covered by the blanket of night.

I am in a place of expectant waiting as I think of you, because I know tomorrow is January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. I know the darkness will be pierced by the bright light of the dawn. I know the gift of Epiphany that brings light into our tender souls.

In Christian tradition, Epiphany celebrates the arrival of three kings or wise men to the manger of baby Jesus. This moment brings the birth of Christ to the larger world. Thomas Keating, OCSO, suggests that Epiphany might be called “enlightenment” in other religions. He says,

“Epiphany is the inward realization and consciousness of being identified with who we really are. We are not our false selves or egos. Kiss them goodbye. ….the most important aspect in life is the epiphany or revelation of God that is going on all the time in the details of life.” *

All the time…God is revealed in the faces I see at the grocery store. All the time…God is revealed in my car’s full tank of gas, my husband’s surprise gift on a cold winter day. All the time…God is even revealed in my impatience with a telemarketer, because I’m invited to respond as my best self to this other human being. God is indeed in the details of life as I have the opportunity, again and again, to discover and share Love.

Christmas provides a helpful context so we can see Love being born into our world. On Epiphany, Love breaks through convention and hierarchy. The streams of light brings a king to his knee and elevates the hearts of all who stop to wonder.

Can we pause, look deep within and see the flicker of Love in our hearts? It’s there. It may be wounded or wandering, it may be strong and steady, On this Epiphany, let us embrace the revelation, once again, that we each carry a divine spark. We “house” the Divine in our hearts. Together, let us nurture the light of Love and learn from it. Together, let us open ourselves to the unending source of Love

*Contemplative Outreach News, Vol. 30, Number 1, December 2013

Love to you, Lisa

the Advent of something new…

Glimmers December 4, 2017

The elegant elephant joined the scene today,

her wooden flanks reflected the morning sun.

Yesterday saw the arrival of The Three Graces,

their beauty enhanced by the ease in their bodies.

Each day a new guest: Buddha, a blue heart, a candle…

and so it shall be as this Advent unfolds.

Dear Friends,

I’m trying something new this Advent season. I’m creating my own nativity scene with figures and symbols that are tucked away in our house. The Three Graces is a statue passed on from my mother-in-law, a light is shining through Corinne’s dragonfly candle holder. Each comes to the table to await the birth of Love, each opens my heart in new places as I wait with them.

My intent, as I sit with the scene each morning, is to allow the next choice to emerge from my prayer. I trust the quiet space before me, I’m having “tea with the dawn.”* I resist the voice that tells me I must set up the nativity as I always have. I’m changing and so is my prayer in this holy season of Advent.

Shepherds, sheep, wise men and camels searched for the Light of Christ throughout time. Their journeys to the stable, year after year, showed me the way so that I too can kneel before Love’s arrival. Some came with gifts, all came with wonder, what do I bring on the path to Bethlehem?

My nontraditional nativity allows me to respond to that question with real answers. The carved elephant carries the weight of concerns and fears that I’ve kept to myself. The Three Graces share their loveliness as I wish to share mine, with grace and humility. The Buddha honors the Divine in you and I, while joining in this time of expectation. Each day a new guest will arrive at this crossroads of faith and a new part of my story will open up to the promise of Love being born, once again.

until next time, Lisa

* the image is a gift from Macrina Wiederkehr’s “Prayer of the Teacup”

Let Your Light Shine!

Glimmers November 1, 2017

O when the saints, go marching in,

O when the saints go marching in,

Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!

Dear Friends,

I’m a “small s saint.” There, I’ve said it. Out loud. I’m a “small s saint!” And so are you and you and you! I know there are “ Big S Saints” out there. “Big S Saints” share their light without hesitation or restriction. But I’m just a normal human – filled with fears, flaws and resistance, my light is “in-training.”

But I have a light. And so do you. Somewhere in each of us is a glint of light, an essence of hope, a shimmer of mercy. I experience it in others all the time, I bet you do, too. Think of that person who waved you into the shorter line at the grocery store. Or a friend who listened to your story. Or that infant that melted your heart. You encountered another soul who was willing to be present to your soul…you connected.

For me, these heart-felt connections are evidence of Divine Love that resides within each of us. Love that extends beyond my limited capacity, to something more. Love that lifts me up when I’m down, gives me courage when I’m afraid. Love that heals the wounds I have carried. Love that transforms my eager heart into its adorable “small s saint”ly self. For some amazing and grace-filled reason, I said, “Yes!” I will be that saint I’ve been called to be! No one else can shine my light for me. My light, like yours, like every human being on the planet, is unique and invaluable.

Join me, my friends, and claim the light you were born with! Let your light shine in the world around you! Let it’s warmth touch those you love and those you barely know. Your light, in its shining singularity, will nurture hope, bring comfort, ease another’s fears. Together, our lights can create into something beautiful!

Let your “small s saint”ly self join the parade as we go “marching in” together!

love to you on this first day of November,


Let us grieve together…

Glimmers October 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

I was all set to write a Glimmer about “change” this month…

and then I read the news

I was preparing to pray about the changes around me..noisy construction down the street, the insistence of fall’s arrival, the rhythm of family life…

and then I saw the video

Maybe on another day I can write about the changing season and its lessons for me, but not today. Today, I stand before the truth of tragedy after tragedy, grieve for so many, and carry their pain in my prayer. Our collective grief, like change, asks me to adapt to reality. Our collective grief leads us all into an experience of Loss – where our own stories return to mind, where horrific images break our hearts, where we go numb in response to it all.

I tried to go on with my life, yesterday – attended a meeting, did my work out, sat at the computer – just behaving like it’s any other day.  It didn’t work. Impatience and irritability popped up and reminded me to pay attention. The losses in Las Vegas and Puerto Rico cannot be ignored. The images of Florida and Houston’s devastation are of my brothers and sisters on this planet, as are the pictures from around the world.

I seek to live a conscious, prayerful  life. I seek to open my heart to each moment, to make space for something greater than myself, to listen for Love. I feel so inadequate in the face of such pain, yet here is where Love is needed most of all. I’m going to church today – my faith tradition leads me to a place of surrender. I will open my hands and ask the God of my understanding to hold all of those hurting people. Please join me – at your church or temple, in your hearts and bodies, at the edge of the sea or along a wooded path – wherever you are in touch with Mystery. Join me, friends, as we hold onto Love on behalf of our sisters and brothers, on behalf of our own aching hearts.

peace be with you,


September Sorting – keep this, toss that, create me

Glimmers September 5, 2017

Dear Friends,

Spider arrived today. I shouldn’t be surprised, she makes a home both inside and outside of our little lake house. It’s a spider-friendly environment. But when she walked into my life this time, I was cleaning a kitchen drawer…I was in a process of sorting.

Although I resist regular cleaning tasks, I find myself enjoying the process of sorting. Is the ginger still fresh? Do I really use that knife? What the heck is in this little plastic bag?? Sorting the details of the kitchen invites sorting though the details of my life. Do I want to stay on that committee? How is my morning routine going? What is my priority as I follow Autumn’s lead and begin again?

So what did Spider have to say about all of this? Well, as we know she is a creative master. She designs and constructs webs over and over, anticipating wind and weather, as if her life depends on it. She reminds me that I, too, weave my life with the strands of anxiety or the wisps of hope that I select from the vast storehouse of attitudes and emotions within me. She encourages me to notice that I have a choice over these resources. I can use my fears, over and over, to weave today’s web or I can gather my relationship with nature, for example, to establish intricate patterns within the space before me.

Spider gently invites me to see that my life depends upon my attempts to weave the elements of my life together into a Whole.

I don’t know what the Whole looks like yet. I’ve had glimpses, I’ve had dreams. I wonder if Spider sets her course with an architect’s hand, following the lines of a plan? Or does she turn to her core, her deepest places, and move forward out of her truth? I suspect she has learned to make spontaneous choices, to improvise. I admire that. Life can be unpredictable….

Sending love your way – from my web to yours,



Life’s a journey, not a destination

Glimmers August 1, 2017


Dear Friends,

When I woke up the second time, the sun was streaming through the window. “There is no doubt it’s morning.” The birds started singing even earlier, my first wake-up call, to announce the brand new day. These days, many hours are spent in my writing room on various projects and passions. I am making time, though, for walking, swimming, stretching and dancing!

I turn 67 this year. This birthday is not the celebratory arrival of 65, a landmark age in our country’s countdown of aging. It’s not even 66, which slid by before I noticed I was one year older. 67?  Well, 67 has significance for me. It is that much closer to 70, which looms large in my mind. 70, an official elder. How can that be?

I always skip now and move toward then,its a habit to escape the difficulties around us. If I stay with anticipation instead of lived reality, I can avoid the feelings that come with everyday concerns or even the more serious challenges. It’s easy to develop that pattern, isn’t it? Especially, if you are faced with fears and pain in the present moment. But if there is breathing room, I take a pause and tune in to now.… “Lisa, you’re not 70. At the time of this writing, you’re not even 67! Instead, stay in this day… this hour… this moment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life’s a journey not a destination.” What is the journey I am on today, this one day, on God’s green earth? What person will I be asked to love?  What accomplishment will I complete to support the greater good, the human family? Does cleaning under the kitchen sink count? Well, it does ease my mind…less stress gives me more space for love.

I choose love. When I encounter feelings of distrust or hurt or confusion in my relationships, I try to see them as lessons in love. If I address the disconnect within myself, I am freer to love this person, fully, just as they are.  I seek a practice of “generosity of spirit” to all I meet – barista, storekeeper, doctor, street person, neighbor – each a Child of God.

Some days are easier than others, but it’s a great way to live in the world. Each of us, bumbling along, sharing our best selves, shining our Light. May it be so!

with a grateful heart, Lisa

Love given, love received…a gift for us all….

Glimmers July 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

Love given, love received…a gift for us all.

Weddings reveal this precious exchange, a treasure found between human beings. Weddings, of all shapes and sizes, invite our hearts into their reality of hope, promise and joy. And we respond, don’t we? Our hearts repeat the love-filled vibration and are lifted up into the Love that sustains us all.

Our son, Jared, stepped into Love with his bride, Samantha, on June 11. All of us present, and those praying from afar, were drawn into their embrace and we remembered…

the birth of regard and respect for another, the gift of possibility the tender trust of an infant, resting in our arms

the moments of nature’s beauty that create a deep sigh and release

the times of forgiveness when we become aligned with another

the memories of discovering the sweetness of emotional intimacy

We saw this young couple’s love for one another as it radiated from their hearts to ours, inviting us to join in….to believe in Love. I offer these images of love to you, dear friends, to stir your own memories of Love. To return, perhaps on a day of doubt or discouragement, to that which nurtures your hearts. To trust the love you have known, to care for it tenderly, abide in it’s unfailing presence. Jesus tried to lead us home to Love, these special human moments remind us what is waiting for us when we say, “yes.”

May we all open our hearts to the dance of love,


Can you read the signs?

Glimmers June 1, 2017

Dear Friends,
The morning light shimmers on the lake.
The dawn chorus greets the new day, sometimes before I’m ready to join them.
Colors have erupted everywhere.
Spring rain and Eastern wind have birthed new life right before my eyes.

When I return to the lake, I return to a state of mind that is filled with trust, with hope. I discover equanimity…mental calmness, evenness of temper, composure.

This does not mean I do not suffer. Anxiety, fear, self-consciousness – they are just around the corner! They are waiting to take me out to lunch!

But this morning, I breathe…look…be.

Over 50 years ago, a “Mitchell Drive” street sign was put up in Walnut Creek, California. It was in honor of my father, Ted Mitchell, who had died while helping Dow Chemical Company build a new laboratory in an undeveloped area of the city. That sign was part of my family story… we took pictures in front of it, introduced our sons to my dad’s legacy. That sign, just like my father’s memory, reaches across time and space to my heart…it’s part our Braid of Love.

This Spring, I asked the town of Middlefield for a speed limit sign on the road around Lake Beseck. I, and others, needed a reminder to slow down when entering the quiet of the lake. But, it wasn’t until it was standing there, tall and honest, that I put the two together. 

My father’s sign, this sign – they are reminders to breathe, look, be.

When I slow down, I am connected. My mind releases it’s relentless list of tasks and activities. When I tune into my surroundings, there is more to see, more to hear. Life is full and all around me, if I just slow down and read the signs.

Thinking of you with a grateful heart,