Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessings to All!

It's been awhile but I've been busy! You can read about it below.

Christmas Blessings to All!

I am grateful for 2011, a year that opened up new friendships and possibilities. I led a 5 part workshop on late life spirituality at Mariandale in the Spring, began training to become a docent at the NY Botanical Gardens in the Fall and have been volunteering there as well. The Spiritual Heart contemplative formation program began in February; we've had 3 weekend retreats and monthly small groups. I feel blessed to have found even more companions on the journey.

When my good friend Sister Noreen retired from her ministry at our parish in April, she invited me to lead the senior spirituality group she started. What an awesome gift this group has been to me! One of my Met Club friends introduced me to the Dobbs Ferry Women's Club and I am now a member, enjoying the monthly book discussions and other activities. Sadly, we lost a dear friend Terry, who was in our monthly Met Club circle of ex-Catholic Charities colleagues. Terry was also in my spirituality workshop and will be missed dearly.

Great news! My daughter Tina published her first book of comic strips and comments on homeschooling. Tina has had a blog for years and we are delighted to have her wise and witty art in old fashioned book form. You can get it on Amazon – No School Today? by Cristina Ramos-Payne. Marina continues to do well – honors – at college. Sierra's blog contains her unique 9 year old perspective on life – it's even generated a bit of controversy. Chase improves steadily on his acoustic guitar and learned Happy Birthday as a surprise for my 70th.

The year did have its share of losses. Aunt Grace and Uncle Steve, my Dad's brother, passed away this year. My cousin Cindy died in June after a long illness. Cindy was such a dynamic person and left behind quite a legacy. We visited our cousins in Pennsylvania in May and again last month when Lisa and family came for a visit to New York. I also got to spend some time with them this summer. It's always a treat to be in California. I even got to join in an old fashioned 4th of July parade with Jackson and Aidan!

My son Angel, Sylvia and Sam have all moved to their new home in Pittsburgh; I miss them and look forward to seeing them early next year. I see my sister Kathy often, though she is busy with her new grandbaby Hope, born June 2nd. We love seeing Hope and hearing her sweet laughter, along with her big brothers Braden and Dylan. Angel's nieces Guli, Damaris and Carolina visited from Puerto Rico – on the hottest day of the year!

I resigned from my part time job at the NY Citizens Committee on Aging. So doors close and windows open. But my dear family and friends remain. I am so grateful for you all. I look forward to even more adventures in 2012. May you enjoy a Christmas and new year blessed with peace, health and many moments of sheer delight!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scribbles, R.I.P.

Today is a sad day. Our pet cat, Scribbles died early this morning. His illness came on suddenly and we took him to the vet on Friday. They could not identify what exactly was the cause of his illness. We decided against expensive and intensive treatment that didn’t have any guarantees, and brought him home.

Suddenly I missed all the things about Scribbles that I used to complain about. Like when he would jump on the table. His uncanny ability to appear when I took out the can opener from the drawer or some Deli meat from the fridge. How he’d stand up, paws on the kitchen counter, head looking up expectantly. I’d have to keep a pile of turkey to feed him to get a little space to make my sandwich. I missed him chasing Shady around the house, galloping up and down the stairs, waiting at the door when he heard Angel’s car, sitting on top of the rocker while I did my crosswords. I feel so guilty for yelling at him. I didn’t realize how much I loved that little ball of orange fur. How much a part of our family he’d become.

When Scribbles was a kitten, the pattern on his side looked like the letters J-O-Y. Tina named him Scribbles; it was a good name for him. But he did live his life filled with “Joy”. And he brought lots of joy into Angel’s life. And mine.

Angel was so good to Scribbles. He cared for him when he was well and during the two week mysterious illness that claimed his life. Angel said that Scribbles was a good friend to him. Well, Angel was a good friend to Scribbles. He sat with him and comforted him to the end. That’s what friends do. And it’s hard.

What did Scribbles teach me in his brief life? That when you are free to be totally yourself - and he was! - no matter what old lady is yelling at you, then you live a full life, a life of joy. And you bring joy into the lives of others, even though you are a lowly furry creature.

I learned that what annoys me about others may very well be what I miss most when they are gone. So maybe I need to reassess all my relationships. They may not be what I think they are. They may mean a lot more to me than I realize. Thank you, Scribbles. Thank you for being you. For bringing joy into our lives. Thank you for annoying me - I needed that. I will miss you mucho.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ecclesiastes and 9/11

September 11th is a day of joy and sorrow for me. A time for dancing and a time for mourning. A time for celebration and a time for grieving. (Ecclesiastes 3)

I give thanks for my beautiful daughter Lisa, who was born on September 11th, 45 years ago. One of the greatest blessings of my life.

What happened on this day 10 years ago can never erase the beauty of September 11th for me. For it is Lisa’s birthday. So how can I stop from singing?

At the same time I mourn the loss of so many lives that day I remember so well. And I mourn the loss of so many more lives that followed because of the attack. I mourn the loss of freedom, trust and innocence that has permeated our world because of the attack.

I am sorry we could not have held together in unity for longer. I remember singing “God Bless America” with hundreds of strangers of every race and color and creed along First Avenue days after the attack. It was such a feeling of solidarity. But it did not last. Instead we sent troops to kill and die. And get even.

A time to be born and a time to die.

Today I choose LOVE, not fear.

Here is a reprint of a poem I wrote years ago that speaks to what I feel today.

for Lisa & Me

There are shadows in the rainbow
Did you notice?
You can hear the heavy silence.
It whispers to you of what was.

Come rain, wash away
the guilty tears of summer
with drenching drippling.

September has returned
Fair daughter of Virgo
Who dares to rip out her radiance
from your grieving heart

Her softest breath caresses
wounded memories
that wrinkle
the still surface
of your soul.

Her bountiful blue
and sultry perfume
shout to you
of what is.

Copyright E. Ramos 9/7/2002

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hurricane

The hours before Irene’s arrival were eerily quiet; I believe in the calm before the storm.

After so much worry and anxiety, it was as though nature was forcing us to rest before the big fight…. that she would win. And a poem came.

The Hurricane

Asleep, awaiting Irene,
dread drudged down deep
beneath a numbing calm.

Perhaps they’re wrong.
Perhaps she’ll pass us by.
Perhaps the storm of reckoning
is yet another day ….

Time, inscrutable time
races as slowly as death,
drawing incredibly near.

Irene will surely come
to claim her crown of victory
over mere mortals.

© E.M. Ramos 8/27/2011

Happily there was not much damage in our area. The media can sure make you crazy. Then again, it’s always wise to be prepared. As always, prayer helps. I kept thinking of the gospel of Jesus asleep in the boat and the apostles panicking. Help me, Lord!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Time to Slow Down

Here’s a poem my spiritual director shared with us.

A Lazy Thought

by Eve Merriam

There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Subway rush,
Traffic crush;
Hurry, scurry,
Worry, flurry.

No wonder
Don’t grow up
Any more.
It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.

The other day I called a dear friend. She’s 97 years old. She complained of being so tired, so slow. Summer is for slowing down - it should be conducive to contemplation.

But it takes a lot of slow to grow, as the poem says. We want to go, go, go. So we can forget the pain of who we are - deep, deep down. Where the real “me” is waiting to become all she is meant to become. Waiting to be discovered and embraced.

It’s summer. Slow down. Be “useless” as Henri Nouwen says. Hang out with God. It’s slow time, like the old age time of life. Grow time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Many years ago, when I was 8 or 9 years old, my aunt gave me a little pendant. It was a lucite heart with a tiny pink rose inside. She had bought it to help out a cousin who was out of work and selling them to tide his family over. I loved this little heart and wore it all the time.

Last December, I lost the little lucite heart pendant with the rose inside. I was heartbroken. You see, I had planned to leave it to my granddaughter; it was to be her legacy.

Now it was gone. I discovered it missing when I got home from my walk in the Botanical garden. I felt for it and oh no! there was the open chain around my neck but no pendant. I searched and searched. When my husband got home I was in tears. I called Lost & Found and went back to the CafĂ© the next day to search, retracing my steps, asking the staff to search. But finally, despite my prayers to St. Anthony, I knew it was gone. I couldn’t even tell anyone at first - I felt the same dull gut feeling of loss, like after my house was robbed, like after the terrible diagnoses of the past years, like after deaths of loved ones.

Why did I feel so devastated about a “thing”? And I came to realize it was really about keep me alive. My memory would live on in Marina, my granddaughter. When she wore the pendant she would remember me, how I loved the little locket, how I loved her. I would not be forgotten. I would live on somehow, through her. Was this a way of avoiding facing the reality of my own mortality? Of avoiding looking at death, time running out, and choosing to live life fully whatever time I have left. What opportunity, what dangerous opportunity did this loss, this “stripping” bring me today in this NOW moment. Humility? I am who I am. Marina is who she is. The mystery of how we “live” in others, the connection - well it’s a mystery to me.

I know I hold Marina in my heart. As I hold my grandmother in my heart. When I pray each morning. When Christmas comes and I think on the old days of Christmas Eves at Nanny’s and midnight Mass. When I do the jumble and think of her at the table each night, calmly and quietly pealing her orange, doing the jumble. What faith and love she (and all my forbears) left to me. What a legacy! How beautiful is the faith and love in Marina. It lives on.

And there’s a wonderful postscript to this story!

On Mothers Day I received a new pendant and it was a gift of love. My daughter Tina, Marina’s Mom, searched for a pendant on the internet to replace the lucite heart with the rose that I had lost. When she couldn’t find one she made me a pendant with a rose inside! Poured the resin into the mold and placed a little rose there. (You can see a picture of it by linking to "my daughter's blog" on the sidebar - then go to "A Heart full of Memories" May 8, 2011.) Just her desire to replace the lost heart that broke my heart fills me with humbling awe. Now this new pendant has an even better meaning and legacy that the 60 year old one that I lost. This new one represents the pure unselfish love of daughter for mother. It is a new symbol to treasure. Legacy. What connects us to the past and to the future.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Marina!


I give thanks to God for one of the greatest blessings of my life - my first grandchild, Marina, 18 years old today. I was present at her birth and was amazed at how ready & raring she was to go. I have watched her grow in wisdom, beauty and grace. Seen her develop her many talents: art, knitting and poetry to name a few. I’ve marveled at her ability to devour books, to discuss all manner of topics. I am humbled by her kindness to others, delighted at her dedication to family and not at all surprised at her love of animals and nature.

We’ve shared so much over the years: museums and movies; religious ceremonies and family celebrations; outings and trips, especially Italy and California. We’ve laughed and cried together, comforted and counseled each other, learned together, shared the beauty of nature and wondered at the world.

I love Marina so much and am so proud of the young woman she has become. My heart is confident that whatever paths she chooses, the world will be a better place having her in it - it already is! I look forward to being her grandmother in the years to come.

May God send innumerable blessings your way, Marina. Happy happy birthday!

Sunday, April 24, 2011



Friday, April 1, 2011

Where's My Feet?

As I was walking in the Garden the other day, hurrying along, I wondered why I hadn’t been inspired to write any poems lately. And wouldn’t you know - a poem popped out of nowhere. Well actually it came from my feet.

Where’s My Feet?

I can’t feel my feet.
Now that can’t be good.
Oh Lord, please don’t take
away my feet.
I need them, you see,
to visit your precious
to explore new paths.
You know how I love
to go go go
out out out.
Surely You don’t
expect me to
just sit still
and be
- You know how I
hate waiting -
for You
to speak.

© E.M. Ramos 3/29/2011

Now I realized that this poem was really about my resistance to sitting quietly and meditating. And since I had to sit on a bench to write the poem down before I forgot it, I took the time to spend a few moments in silence. Which is very hard to do. For just as my feet want to hurry along, my thoughts and distractions act like they have running shoes on too!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men

It is a rare occurrence to come across a film that is like watching a prayer unfold. “Of Gods and Men” is that film and a wonderful choice for Lenten viewing.

The true story is about 8 French monks living in a monastery in an African country in the 1990’s. They are integrated into the impoverished Moslem community, serving their neighbors through a clinic and sharing their celebrations. They live an impoverished prayerful life, chanting, meditating, gardening, even selling their honey at the local market.

Then fundamentalist terrorists, at war with the government, change everything - foreigners are murdered; violence strikes. And fear takes over the life of the villagers and the monastery. The monks struggle with the decision - to stay or to leave. Their fear is palpable, the acting is that superb.

Finally after each one’s soul searching, the monks unanimously decide to stay. This is their home. They do not seek martyrdom; they take precautions. But … I will not reveal the ending because I strongly urge you to see this film.

What a tremendous lesson in faith! I really connected with all these men, each strong and weak in his own way. The stark landscape, psalms and chanting add to the artistry of this film. Most of all the facial expressions as the monks agonize over their situation - you feel the fear, the faith, the joy.

A powerful and moving story of faith and Christian living. I recommend it, especially for Lent.

PS You can google the website. Sorry, still don’t know how to do links.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The unending snow and winter weather led me to search for my old winter prayers and poems. They help cheer me up when I am snowbound, which seems to be every few days….

In a Bronx Ice Forest

I walk in a magical garden
Immersed in God’s icy miracle
Jeweled icicles dangle from branches
Like frosty Faberge surprises

Star flies beam up to crystal forests
Dancing dizzily in
diamond dusted
tinsel tossed
tree tops

Frozen fringe frolics on ev’ry twig
Each tree has become a star catcher

What secrets sleep in silvered silence?
What wonders await in wintry webs?

Out of pain filled snow shadowed darkness
God gifts us with graced growth
Glist’ning in
the frigid

© E.M. Ramos 3/1996

Psalm 147: 12-20

Jerusalem, give glory!
Praise God with song, O Zion!
For the Lord strengthens your gates guarding your children within.
The Lord fills your land with peace, giving you golden wheat.

God speaks to the earth, the word speeds forth.
The Lord sends heavy snow and scatters frost like ashes.

The Lord hurls chunks of hail.
Who can stand such cold?
God speaks, the ice melts;
God breathes, the streams flow.

Prayer of the Season

Shall we praise you, hail-hurling God, in winter’s splendor,
in the grace of snow that covers with brightness
and reshapes both your creation and ours?

Or shall we curse the fierce cold
that punishes homeless people and shortens tempers?

Blessed are you in the earth’s tilt and course.
Blessed are you in the sleep of winter
and in the oncoming Lenten spring.

Now and then and always, fill these lands with peace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Bench

Winter always inspires me. Walking in the cold, snowy, quiet Garden, I see a lonely bench. Such a lovely sight. And a poem comes.

Winter Bench

What use a bench
alone in snow?

For long ago remindings?
Or far off summer yearnings?

Yet, to be is but a dream.
Ago, a faded mem’ry.

How serves this bench
in here right now?

To place its emptiness
near my crowded deep down dark.

Then sit awhile
and leave some stuff
upon its seat.

To rise again
in lovely light
upon my way.

© E.M. Ramos 1/11/2011