Monday, March 20, 2017

"FINDING DORY"

So many of you are “Finding Dory” on the movie screen. I found Dori in 1986 high atop a mountain in Medjugorje Bosnia Herzegovina.

“This is a holy place, not a Catholic place, a holy place.” Dori’s words of wisdom captured my heart as I interviewed her for a television documentary on the reported apparitions of the Blessed Mother to six young visionaries.

"...a holy place." This profoundly simple proclamation of heaven’s earthly anointing spoke to my soul-and I immediately felt drawn to Dori! Who knew that this groundbreaking news assignment would lay the groundwork for a deeply spiritual connection with Dori that has spanned nearly 31 years.

What touched me back then and continues to inspire me to this day is Dori’s natural willingness to look at life through an unfiltered lense of universal love; her deeply pragmatic yet prophetic view of the gifts that God has given her; and her willingness to carry her crosses and imperfections with quiet dignity.
Dori’s stepson became her own as she cradled him for years with a mother’s love until the day he lost his battle to M.S. Dori poured every ounce of her strength and devotion into the love of her life, Lou, until the Lord called him home a year and a half ago.

Like Dory in the movie my Dori has understood the core value of life as she consistently and persistently searches out her family and friends to gather them home with joyful gratitude and heartfelt appreciation.

Today Dori turns 86 and I marvel at God’s goodness, gifting me with a friend who is not only loyal and giving, but overflowing with a contagious spirit of adventure and an overarching desire to unite individuals from all walks of life.

The best part is that I can actually keep up with her! Seriously-I’m not joking! If we were the same age she would have left me in the dust a long time ago!

So thank you Dori for the uending laughter, for teaching me by your example how to climb over the walls of separation that conquer and divide others, and for the hope that you have given me through your unquenchable thirst for life! You are an inspiration and a gift that I am praying will keep on giving for many many years to come!

Happy Blessed Birthday my friend!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

WORLD YOUTH DAY 2016 KRAKOW POLAND

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven..."
Matthew 18:3-5

Out of the mouths of babes!

World Youth Day in Krakow Poland announced to the world that God is very much alive, hope is in endless supply and the future of humanity rests in the energizing faith of our youth!

Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the globe converged to make this the largest gathering of its kind in the world! They inspired unity among diverse cultures and their obvious joy yielded an outpouring of love that is certain to spread far and wide well into the future.

On a personal note I am so proud of my friend Benny's son Daniel who is on the video! Go Comunita Cenacolo!

Check out this story at the link below-
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154005834943821&id=181277843820&_rdr

Sunday, July 31, 2016

CELEBRATING LIFE AFTER DEATH

My friend Karen bid farewell to her husband this weekend and I know the passing of his life from here to eternity has been painful.

She celebrated anyway, because that’s what loving someone is really all about; celebrating their life and their love and their unique imprint on our world…even when they are no longer here.

Great loves always leave an indelible imprint that never fades. It is as though an ethereal spirit remains to remind us of the value of that person and their place in our life.

We feel them in the raw and rigorous process of grief that only time can carry away. We embrace them in the joy that, for now, is secondary to the loss that lingers longer than we would like. We hold them in our hurting hearts because it is so true, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”

In a special ceremony Karen celebrated Mel in one last dance of love that honors the gift of their marriage, the joy of their lives together and the hope that they brought to so many by their bold choice to live a life of love, “until death do we part.”

For the living, death often destroys us because when we define life only as a tangible physical reality then we close the door to the unlimited potential of our supernatural forever. Karen’s celebration of life after death reinforces that living and dying co-exist in a natural unfolding of our eternal destiny.

Karen released the pain of Mel’s passing to the resurrection of beautiful memories; soulful laughter, humble forgiveness and heartfelt moments of truth. And though she probably didn’t know it, she also honored her husband and her friends with renewed hope….For out of the darkness of Mel’s death came an illuminating light of love and an inspiring peace that can never be put to rest.

Monday, July 25, 2016

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL IN LIBERIA

Where there is life there is hope and where there is hope, there is God. I’ve always believed in that uncompromising truth despite the debilitating darkness that refuses to dissipate during active addiction.

As I watched my oldest son Johnny slipping deep into the abyss I clung to hope, praying through the paralyzing terrain of relapse and recovery, believing with every fiber of my human will in the saving grace of God who is the source and the summit of all hope!

Last December I witnessed the powerful manifestation of hope in action during my 24 day visit to Liberia West Africa where Johnny has now been a missionary for 31 months. I watched with gratitude as he juggled his daily work routine, which is wrapped around prayer, with his responsibilities to the other missionaries and to the orphans, 31 children ages 1 and a half to 17. I marveled at his strength and resiliency amid the long hours, the sweltering heat, and the humble living conditions.

I was deeply touched by his desire to reach out to a badly battered nation reeling from poverty following two civil wars and life threatening diseases like Ebola, Typhoid and Yellow fever, and Malaria which Johnny survived three times.

Seven and a half years sober, Johnny is a man for others and the man I always believed he could become. As we strolled down a winding dirt road in the “bush” where mud houses are nestled in between overgrown shrubs and palm trees he introduced me to his Liberian friends. Laughing and joking with them in “Bassa” the local dialect he has been teaching himself, Johnny proudly announced. “This is my “ma,” she’s come to visit me and Liberia.” The villagers beamed with pride, hugged me tightly and said, “He is a good man. He is also our son!”

During those precious weeks with Johnny I experienced his humility and yes-his humanity, as he talked about the future. “I don’t have to make a lot of money, but I want a career that has meaning,” he shared. “I’d like to get married, but I want a wife who prays.” We can only hope!

Hope is the eternal whisper, the persuasive knowing that prods us to hang on when we are feeling helpless and afraid. Hope pushes us to believe in a solution even though we may be blinded by disbelief. Hope is heaven’s promise to carry us when we think we cannot go one step further. Hope harnesses the power within that propels us forward so we can rise above the darkness until we reach the inevitable light that always comes after the storm.

It takes an act of our human will to reach out to the hand of hope; to believe in a power greater than ourselves; to summon every ounce of strength when we are depleted by one more disappointment. Hang on anyway and remember my son Johnny who is living, breathing proof that Hope springs eternal!

Mary Lou McCall
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

LANDING IN LIBERIA: PROVIDENCE PREVAILS!

“God calls us specifically to love this world, to be carriers of hope and sparks of light and kindness that resurrect humanity.” Mother Elvira

Dec. 3-4, 2015
In the chalice of my being I could not contain my joy! Ripples of laughter flowed across the vast ocean from Brussels to Africa as my new friend and fellow passenger Margiah and I joked about the comedy of errors that brought us to this space. Providence had provided me with a seat on the final flight to Liberia, right next to a wonderfully entertaining Liberian woman!

Margiah wore a festive skirt called a Lapa and a headdress which only accentuated her colorful personality. She told me she lived in Houston but was returning to her homeland for the holidays. Since neither of us could sleep we giggled away the miles like two school girls on Christmas break! I felt warmly connected to her spirit and the peace that flowed heart to heart. In fact, I felt at home among all the passengers the majority of whom were African.

Exhausted, exhilarated, excited-so many emotions welled up inside of me as we approached our final destination and the conclusion of a nearly two day pilgrimage from New Orleans to New Jersey to Brussels to Sierra Leone and finally to Liberia.

As we began our final descent through the pitch black night I noticed through the window tiny flickers of light drawing us to the small airstrip where my son Johnny would be waiting.

What a journey! Logistical issues, Ebola...everywhere I turned there were roadblocks. Six months ago I wondered if I'd ever make this trip. “I’ve been waiting for more than six years to do an experience with Johnny,” I said in frustration to Albino the Italian gentleman who runs Comunita Cenacolo in America. “Yes,” Albino replied. “And when you go it will be a very good experience!”

I knew Albino was right but the wait tested my patience and my trust. Now-at this moment all those challenging years melted away and I understood the wisdom in the wait. “I have hit the jackpot of experiences,” I thought to myself.

We landed at a small airstrip about 2 hours outside of Monrovia, the capitol of Liberia, in the middle of the “bush.” “I won’t need this sweater,” I mumbled to myself, as I stepped out of the plane into the December heat.

A man directed me to wash my hands at a barrel with a spicket that contained water and chlorine and then a woman pointed a thermometer at my temple to check for fever before allowing me to enter the airport building to retrieve my bags. “Ebola precautions,” I whispered to Grace.

Miraculously my five suitcases arrived along with the luggage of Grace, Joe and Mitch. God had protected our providence and our travels!

“Wow,” that’s a shock, I laughed when I spotted my handsome son Johnny sporting long blonde hair and a beard. “We’re doing a play tomorrow and I’m Jesus,” he laughed as we hugged tightly. “Thank you God for this beautiful gift,” I whispered to myself.

Johnny introduced me to his friend Marlin, the missionary surgeon from Costa Rica who had requested the medical supplies and then we loaded up the SUV with the luggage, and exited the airport down a rocky, winding road to our final destination 2 ½ hours away.

“What’s this?” My heart skipped a beat when I saw the roadblock. Johnny smiled reassuringly, “Don’t worry mom you just have to know how to speak to the Liberian people.” He leaned out of the window and said, “Hey man we have no money today, we are just coming from the airport…next time…yes next time.” Johnny was confident, kind and respectful. I was impressed.

The roadblocks were set up by local authorities who were conducting security checks and in some cases by locals who were trying to score money. An Archdiocesan decal on the side of the vehicle gave us instant legitimacy and so we sailed through at least seven different roadblocks with no real problems.

We passed through overgrown shrubs, palm trees and a scattering of small mud homes with tin roofs, through the outskirts of Monrovia and eventually into the mission compound just past midnight.

What a glorious, joyful welcome! The guitar playing missionaries were lined up outside serenading us into the kitchen for cake, pizza and old fashioned fraternity! It was surreal! I have never received such a warm welcome anywhere and my eyes brimmed with tears at this special anointing!

The missionaries and the children sleep bunkhouse style however, as the mom I was given a private room with a private bathroom. A mosquito net covered my bed and screens and bars covered my open windows. There is no air conditioning or hot water but there is filtered water for drinking. None of the sacrifices mattered to me and I made a mental decision to ignore the heat and to concentrate on the gift of this profoundly personal experience.

Before leaving America, I fielded a lot of questions from people who couldn’t understand why I would go to Africa, especially after Ebola and with all the unrest in the world. A close relative warned, “If you disappear I’m not coming to look for you!” “And I wouldn’t," I replied "because you won’t find me.” I honestly did not fear the destination, though I was grateful to be traveling with other people.

Physically exhausted, I lay down on the top of my sheets just before 2 a.m. and as I drifted off to sleep I felt deep within my core that God had personally called me to Liberia and I couldn't wait to experience why!