Wednesday, May 20, 2015

why I watch #DWTS

I like to watch Dancing with the Stars

There, I said it.

Unlike the minions who follow every aspect of the show and its cast of dancing professionals, I cannot claim to be a fan since the show began 10 years ago.

In fact, I credit (blame) my dear Pat Stankus with getting me started. I first watched the show at her home, then came back and kept up with the rest of the show that season!

I can take or leave the often overly dramatic backstory on the stars, what they call “the package” on the show, where they not only video each couple’s week of rehearsals, but often include personal history and background on each “star.”   These videos end up transforming it from competitive “game show” to “reality TV.”

Whattruly cherish about DWTS is watching those exceptional moments when two talented dancers truly come together, becoming "a couple" on the dance floor

It’s not about how well they execute the steps, although that can be truly impressive.

For me, it’s about the wonder of two people so perfectly in tune and attentive to one another that only a light touch is needed to move in sync. It’s about taking a leap and trusting that your partner will be there when you land. It’s about reaching out, sometimes together, other times towards one another.

The beauty of it takes my breath away.

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand, only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back—it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it. The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment.”

“Gift from the Sea”

This season's champions: Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy dance the Foxtrot

Monday, May 18, 2015

open up within me the gate to awareness of you

O name of Jesus,
key to all gifts,
open up for me the great door to your treasurehouse
so that I may enter and praise you
with the praise that comes the heart
in return for your mercies
which I have experienced in latter days;
for you came and renewed me
with an awareness of the New World…

Gather my mind into the silence of prayer,
so that all my wandering thoughts
may be silenced within me
during that luminous converse
of supplication and mystery-filled wonder.

O Sun of righteousness
by which the righteous beheld their own selves
and became a mirror for their generations,
open up within me 
the gate to awareness of you.
~Isaac of Nineveh, †late 7th century
as published in Magnificat magazine,
May 2015

Vol. 17, No. 3, pp262-3

[Photos: top, Mont-Sainte Michel, France;
bottom, Mission La Purísima Concepción, California
all photos © Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda]

Saturday, May 16, 2015

life + prayer = writing

The awareness that for me there’s an intricate connection between writing and life was a pivotal moment in my faith journey. 

But I often need reminding!

When I say connection, I’m not talking about balancing the hours of the day, or how to handle interruptions, or the necessity to often shift gears, or even my response to family demands. 

Certainly, all of those are skills and values that I’ve learned over the years. And how I react to “life” makes an enormous difference to the quality and the quantity of my writing. That is true. And for someone working out of a home office perhaps doubly so.

Yet there’s a weaving from my writing to my life and from my life to my writing—a back and forth flow, that is both indisputable and difficult to describe.

I’ve written here about my latest book project, the biography of Father Stanley Rother, Oklahoma martyr.  You can see some specific blog entries and read more about it here, here, and here.

And—you will be hearing a LOT more about the book and about Father Stanley’s story in the next few months, because it is in the final stages of production (woo hoo!) with a publication date of September 2015!

What you may not know is that I consider this book somewhat of a miracle, or at the very least, full of Divine interventions.

During the year that (under contract) I agreed to complete the book manuscript—and the six-month extension I requested, the “events” of my life included:
  • ·      Multiple stays at the hospital with and for my dad and countless doctor visits as his health issues became more and more complicated;
  • ·      The decline and death of my close friend and fellow writer Carrie Swearingen;
  • ·      The diagnosis of brain cancer and death of my best friend and Camino de Santiago partner Pat Stankus—as well as
  • ·      The births of THREE glorious grandchildren

That’s a lot of emotions, all intense ones – and to my weird, creative temperament—all energy sucking emotions. Or is there any other kind?!

There was one point as I saw my deadline looming closer and closer when I remember saying to a close friend, “I am certain that I was meant to write the biography of Father Stanley right now… so what is God telling me by what is happening in my life?  I honestly have no time, let alone any energy, to actually complete this book!”

My friend Patricia was silent for a moment, before replying, “María, it’s like prayer. You have to trust that the events of your life are meant to be incorporated into your writing, into the telling of Father Stanley’s story. Don’t separate the two… let one guide you to the other.”

That’s how I got from this:

To this!

you can pre-order the book on Amazon by clicking here

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

within oneself... the Beloved

 “Within oneself, very clearly, is the best place to look [for the Beloved]… and it’s not necessary to go to heaven, nor any further than our own selves; for to do so is to tire the spirit and distract the soul, without gaining as much fruit.”

~Teresa of Ávila, Collected Works, vol I, 357

It has been way too long since I last posted—and I have so much to tell you about!

There’s a new book, a new baby, a landmark anniversary, an upcoming gathering, a new beginning… where do I begin?

After a string of several days of violent and downright scary storms here in Oklahoma, the past couple of days our weather has been lovely, with chilly nights and plenty of sunshine.

And I simply can’t get enough of being outside.

Sometimes I am in awe at how much nature affects me, how deeply it blesses and renews my spirit. It’s not about just recognizing the beauty in creation—and the hand of the Creator, but about the peace and grace I find just being in it.

I know, I know. Nature can also be fierce, unpredictable, combustible, extreme. Trust me. I know. I live in Oklahoma!

But no matter what I need, or what emotional state I’m in, or how much anxiety I’m fighting, or what feelings are bubbling from deep inside me, or how dry my prayer life seems… I look at the clouds in the sky, or listen to the concert put on by the birds in my backyard, or feel the wind come sweeping down the plains and across my face—and I breathe deeper.

God is here. The Beloved is within me… and I can rest in the Beloved.

I have so much to tell you! But that’s enough for now...