From 2010 through 2016, I started every day at 0500 or sunrise – whichever occurred first – at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, Arizona.  Those were special years.  My first act of every day was to kneel silently before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help illuminated in the winter months by a handful of flickering candles in the dark church.  The act brought me great comfort to start my day

Since leaving Picture Rocks in the winter of 2016, I’ve not found a church that offers daily Mass much less the comfort I found at the Redemptorist Center in Picture Rocks.  Since those magical days in the desert, I begin each day with three acts:

Lighting candles has been a part of every spiritual culture since the dawn of time.  Its enduring tradition validates the comfort the action brings to the millions who practice it every day.  I am one of those millions and speak from experience.

Following those three actions, I prepare a cup of coffee and move outdoors and sit quietly on my front porch.  As I wait for Mrs. tVM to join me with my neighbor and friend of 40 years and his dog, I quietly say my litany of prayers, many of which I learned as a young boy growing up in the Berkshire Hills.

Despite its challenges, life is good made all the better by a personal relationship with God.

I don’t remember hummingbirds growing up in Massachusetts.  I first noticed them when we moved to Arizona in 1998.  Our landscape in Eloy includes a pair of orange jubilee bushes that attract hummingbirds with their fiery blossoms.  After a year, our landscape matures and more color attractive to the hummingbird erupts throughout the year.

In recent weeks as Mrs. tVM, my friend, and I share coffee, we’ve noticed a steady flow of hummingbird visitors.  Somewhere, I read that these diminutive guests bode good luck.  I want to think it is an Indian legend, but I’m not certain.  Even so, I’ve come to wait for our little friends with the conviction that when they appear – like angels – they promise a good day.  When I see them – and that has been daily for several weeks – I breathe a special prayer of thanks to God for presenting his messengers to us.

Signs abound in our natural world… in a clear night sky, in a morning sunrise, in a rambling thunderstorm, in a blooming flower… Be attentive to them.  They can guide you to a productive path and give value to your life and those who share it with you.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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  1. We don’t see many hummingbirds in FL…but we had Many of them at our home in Westfield MA. It was an Old colonial house built in 1885, and had a beautiful, ancient Trumpet Vine, climbing up the side of the house by the back door. When we’d sit out on the back step in the evening the hummingbirds were so plentiful feasting on that gorgeous vine, they’d ignore us, and fly so closely that one landed on Ernie one evening and just “sat a spell” ! One of our favorite memories of that old house !! NOW…we enjoy many new ones all summer long on the deck of our in-law apartment at our daughter’s. Ernie has 3 feeders and they are very territorial about who eats where !! They have a lovely yard, and we Totally enjoy our time there with them… Our Family, and the hummingbirds !! Hope You are continuing to improve, Gene !
    We are Grateful for your healing, and continue to keep You in our prayers !! Sending HUGS to share, Bette and Ernie

  2. Gene
    Don’t forget, you entertained us with the Indian flute in the early hours of the morning at the Renewal center, you sitting up on in the hill.

    1. … and it was truly one of the highlights of my life. I was blessed the many times you asked me to play at your Easter sunrise services. That was a special and memorable time in my life.

  3. I light two candles every day. One I call my “Nicole” candle, which brings me so much peace. I don’t have hummingbirds but (lately) two robins have been spending lots of time in a tree, right outside my window. It’s the little things…

  4. It has been on my mind lately that all creation has purpose. Naturally, humans have purpose in life, but also animals, birds, shrubbery, vegetation, etc. have purpose. You are alluding to what those purposes might be. Romans 8:19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”