Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Valentine to My Own Dear Heart


Coyote Sue told me about the contest.

A local coffee shop was holding an art contest with the theme “Sacred Heart” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Oh yeah, I thought. I can collage it up to that theme.

I grew up Catholic, so I was familiar with the imagery of Jesus and his Sacred Heart, but if you’re not, here’s a picture from Two Heart Design (http://www.twoheartsdesign.com):

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Heart) says,

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart[3] shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

Somehow the teachers at my weekly Catechism classes failed to teach me what the Sacred Heart was all about, and I had to turn to Wikipedia again. The aforementioned article says,

The devotion to the Sacred Heart (also known as the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu in Latin) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christ’s physical heart as the representation of His divine love for humanity.

This devotion is predominantly used in the Roman Catholic Church and among some high-churchAnglicans and Lutherans. The devotion is especially concerned with what the Church deems to be the love and compassion of the heart of Christ towards humanity, and its long suffering. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a Roman Catholic nun from France, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a series of apparitions to her between 1673 and 1675,[1] and later, in the 19th century, from the mystical revelations of another Roman Catholic nun in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, a religious of the Good Shepherd, who requested, in the name of Christ that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism.[2]

I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do when I started the project. I knew I wanted to make a collage, and I knew I wanted to profess the sacredness of my heart. As interesting as a heart pierced by a lance wound and surrounded by a crown of thorns may be, I decided not to go the Jesus route with my project. Yes, in the collage for the contest, I would make the sacred heart in question my own.

Most of my collages are small, usually about 4″ x 6″, postcard size. The minimum size accepted for this contest was 8″ x 10″. OH! This was going to be a big one.

I started gathering materials at my favorite purveyor of inspiration, the thrift store.

I took this photos showing the original wall ornament after I painted about half the border with red fingernail polish.

At the thrift store, I found an inspirational plaque with the saying “Home is Where the Heart Is.” I liked it because the words were written on a piece of heavy cardboard that projected from the frame. I also bought half a bottle of red fingernail polish which I used to paint a copper colored border. Finally, I found a big red cardboard heart to use as the focal point of the project.

After painting the border, I started collaging the areas within and outside the border. I used mostly images I had on hand. I also collaged the big red cardboard heart. I went back and forth between those two parts of the project.

Royalty Free Images Anatomical Heart Vintage

This is the royalty free anatomical heart image I got from http://thegraphicsfairy.com/royalty-free-images-anatomical-heart-vintage/.

I wanted my sacred heart to be somewhat realistic, so I found a royalty free image of an anatomical heart from “a Vintage Circa 1884 Science Book” on http://thegraphicsfairy.com/royalty-free-images-anatomical-heart-vintage/. I used colored pencils to color the body of the heart red and the blood vessels a purply blue. Later, I used purple and red glass beads to accent the parts of the heart and the blood vessels.

My final touch on the anatomical heart was to add words of inspiration and aspiration next to the letters marking the different regions of the heart. For example, the letter H shows the part of my heart where “breathing with joy and ease” occurs. Part C of my heart is “joyous.” The letter I points to the area from where my compassion flows.

In addition to the images I cut from magazines and catalogs, I used real stones on my collage. I added turquoise (which is said to stimulate romantic love), rose quartz (the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace) and quartz crystals (a powerful healer and energy amplifier) I dug up in Arkansas. In the middle of the anatomical heart, I glued on a cubic zirconia a friend sent me last summer. The cubic zirconia and the self-stick “jewels” I bought at Wal-Mart give the whole project a bit of bling.

I pierced the representation of my heart with little skewers which once held tea bags from the shop sponsoring the contest. Those skewers sport little red hearts. I think the skewers evoke the piercing by the lance in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I attached  metal spirals which I painted with glittery nail polish, as well as a large red glass heart which had been crookedly glued to my dash. (I used three different kinds of glue to make this collage! Is that some kind of a record?)

The queen of hearts represents me, and the pink image of Guanyin (or Guan Yin) represents the compassion and mercy I want to offer to myself and others. (For those who may not know, Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanyin] says Guanyin

is an East Asianbodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. She is commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English.)

Since I’m a word person, I couldn’t let the piece go without a written explanation.

My heart is sacred, fragile, and precious.

I used the definitions from an old dictionary Coyote Sue gave me to explain the meaings of the words “sacred,” “fragile,” and “precious.”

I call this collage “Valentine for My Own Dear Heart.” It’s a reminder to me that my heart needs to be treated with reverence and care. Anyone who gets close to my heart better be prepared to treat it kindly.

Monticello Christmas Eve


My friend Belle gave me a wonderful Christmas last year. On Christmas morning she cooked a fantastic English breakfast for me and pulled presents from under her tree with my name on them. Before Christmas day, however, she gave me a wonderful Christmas Eve.

She drove us out to Monticello, New Mexico where friends of hers host a fabulous Christmas Eve potluck every year. Before the nice people and the delicious food, we went to a service at the tiny town’s Catholic Church.


Sunset over San Ignacio Catholic Church in Monticello, NM

I’m what’s called a lapsed Catholic. I grew up Catholic, but haven’t practiced the religion since I was a teenager. I think prior to last year, my previous attendance at a mass was near the end of the 20th century. But on Christmas Eve 2015, I found myself attending mass in San Ignacio Catholic Church, a historic adobe built in 1867.

The place was packed. Everyone in the community seemed to be there.

When the priest took the pulpit for the sermon, he said he was going to read a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. WHAT? I can tell you, I never experienced a Catholic priest of my youth get up in front of a congregation and read the work of any bohemian poet. The poem the priest in Monticello read is called “Christ Climbed Down.”


Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck crèches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
with German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody’s imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carolers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary’s womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody’s anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest
of Second Comings

The poem blew me away! What would Jesus do, indeed.

I wasn’t touched by the Lord or the Holy Spirit that night. I didn’t have a religious reawakening. I didn’t embrace my Catholic upbringing and run back into the arms of the church. I was touched by Ferlinghetti’s poem, was glad to hear it read in a church by a man of the cloth. I was also touched by the love and comradery exhibited by the people in the church when it came time to offer each other a sign of peace.

After mass we went to the potluck, where I was touched by the love and comradery of food. After stuffing ourselves with deliciousness, we rode off into a cold New Mexico night topped by a sky sprinkled with a million stars.



The Thrift Stores of T or C


To close out this series on Truth or Consequences, NM, I will share my thoughts on the thrift stores in the commumity.

I know of five thrift stores in T or C, which is an impressive number, considering there are only 6,246 people in the town (as of 2013, according to https://www.google.com/search?q=population+truth+or+consequences&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8) and only 11,572 in all of Sierra County (as of 2013, according to https://www.google.com/search?q=population+sierra+county+nm&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8).

From my first day in T or C, I’d seen the sign outside the Catholic church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) on Date Street, the sign that said the thrift shop was open 10am to 2pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The problem was I couldn’t find the thrift shop. I walked around the group of church buildings in the vicinity of 515 N Date Street, but found no shop opened at the appointed hours. Finally, on my fourth visit to the town, during a Wednesday coffee klatch, I thought to ask Coyote Sue (another thrift store aficionado) about the location of the shop. It was on the same block as the church, she told me, but on Cedar Street instead of Date. IMG_4104

The mention of the Catholic thrift shop got the other coffee klatch ladies talking. It was too crowded, too cluttered, the other ladies said. Coyote Sue, however, said she’d had luck buying old-school religious figurines there, then selling them for a profit on Ebay. I was excited to see it for myself, now that I knew where to find it.

I tried at least twice to shop at the Catholic thrift store before I left town. The first time I went there, on the Saturday after learning its location, there was a funeral being held at the church, and a huge black funeral ribbon on the door of the store. The door was locked despite the sign in the window reading “open,” and there was no shopping for Catholic castoffs that day.   IMG_4102

I swung by the following Wednesday, and the “Sorry We’re CLOSED” sign was in the window. Unfortunately, all I can offer is the information that the store is on the 500 block of Cedar Street.

My least favorite of the T or C thrift stores I’ve shopped in is the Paws & Claws Thrift Shoppe at 109 East First Avenue (adjacent to the Family Dollar parking lot). I feel bad about not liking the Paws and Claws because, according to the store’s website (http://www.deserthavenanimalrefuge.com/paws__claws_thrift_shoppe),

Paws & Claws Thrift Shoppe is, by far, the most important fund-raiser for the Sierra County Humane Society. It covers a major part of Desert Haven Animal Refuge’s operating expenses. The organization would not survive as it is today without the monthly income from the shop.

IMG_4121Why don’t I like shopping at the Paws & Claws? Let me count the ways.

The merchandise is overpriced. On the rare occasion I find a piece of clothing I like which  might fit me, it’s typically priced at $4 to $6. I know for a lot of people that’s a good deal, but I don’t usually pay more than $1 for a piece of thrift store clothing. I currently have way too much clothing in a wardrobe stocked with items that only cost me a dollar.

The Paws & Claws never has sales. It’s never green-tag day or half-off day. There’s just no way to get a bargain. I see the same things in the store every time I browse there. Ladies in the coffee klatch said they’d been seeing the same items in the store for five years. In my opinion, these items are sitting around because they are overpriced to begin with and then never marked down.

Add in rumors of an unpleasant and difficult manager and moldy books for sale, and I have little desire to walk through the front door.

I don’t have much experience with the All That & More Thrift Store. IMG_4105I’ve only been in the shop a couple of times, but the last time I went in, I found what I was looking for (plastic drawers for van organization). All That & More is one of those unusual thrift stores that isn’t full of old clothes so ugly I wonder who wore them new. The store is small, but neat and clean, and the prices are reasonable. The store is located on 4th Street, a block or two off Date and not far from the library and convention center.

The SJOA (Sierra Joint Office on Aging) thrift store in the senior center complex at 360 W. 4th Street is one of my favorites.  IMG_4113The store is small, but the ladies who run it know they need to move merchandise, so the prices are great. Most items of clothing cost 50 cents or a dollar. I’ve gotten small balls of yarn for a quarter. There’s usually a small selection of free magazines outside the entrance door.

The final thrift store in T or C is also the biggest. The CHF (Community Health Foundation) thrift store is located at

In addition to cool merchandise and good prices, the CHF Thrift Store is one of the places to see and be seen in T or C. My friendship with Coyote Sue was forged in the CHF store’s old location, and if we’re both in town, we’re likely to run into each other in the CHF’s aisles.


This photo shows the entrance to the CHF Thrift Store. The free table can be seen in the far right of the picture.

Thrift Stores in T or C tend to open early in the morning and close early in the afternoon. They are sometimes closed on strange days (Closed Wednesdays? Who does that?), and I think every one of them is closed on Sunday. Your best bet is to swing by the stores and see if a sign on the front tells you the hours and days they are open.

If you like thrift stores, you are going to love T or C.

I took all of the photos in this post.