Author Archives: Catherine Ann Lombard

God likes small places…

Line Drawing of Restaurant by Jenny Beale

Roseleen’s Restaurant’s entrance, by Jenny Beale

Twenty years ago I published God is in Roseleen’s Restaurant, a small book of reflective meditations about my time working as a waitress in Ireland. Can two decades go by just like that? Twenty years ago I was 44 years old, living in a round wooden house in Kinvara, a small village on the West Coast of Ireland. I had just met and fallen in love with my Dutch husband. We would marry in May the next year and have our wedding feast at Roseleen’s.

When I got the job as a waitress, I was an unemployed technical writer with little knowledge of either psychosynthesis or Assagioli. But (as always) I was searching…

Waitressing in Ireland – the performance of this simple everyday task – unexpectedly led me to the Divine. Not only did I discover God amongst the cutlery, boiled potatoes, Irish eccentrics and lost tourists, I also discovered my own human limitations and vulnerability. God is in Roseleen’s Restaurant is a collection of vignettes that capture Irish character and wit and reveal one woman’s soul in her daily meditations on Universal Love.

This is what Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, has to say about God is in Roseleen’s Restaurant:

“This charming and deceptively simple book re-awakens the kind of sentiments that ultimately form the foundation of social justice and world peace. The meaning of life is to be found in a small restaurant in a small place as seen by an author with a large heart and a great imagination.”

After five years of writing this blog, I have decided to dust off the pages of God is in Roseleen’s Restaurant and take a brief pause from my usually “Love and Will” reflections. For the next few months, I will offer you my voice from twenty years ago, the voice a younger woman during younger times – before Kinvara was riddled with gigantic €500,000 homes, the world was oblivious to smartphones and Facebook, and the Twin Towers stood tall in NYC.

I hope you enjoy the journey – both in time and space. The place itself – Roseleen’s Restaurant – disappeared a long time ago. Today there is a supermarket with a guest house above. Roseleen still lives in Kinvara.  With much gratitude, I thank her for letting me share her beautiful paintings as part of this series.

2

Artwork by Roseleen Tanham, http://kava.ie/rosaleen-tanham/

And now…let’s begin…

Introduction to God is in Roseleen’s Restaurant

God is persistent. I learned this after receiving my third rejection letter when seeking work as a technical writer of computer manuals, a job I’ve performed successfully for the past twelve years. “We are sorry, but you are overqualified and too highly-skilled.”

God has a sense of humor. I learned this after ordering a cup of coffee and a scone at Rosaleen’s new restaurant. “Catherine, do you want to work as a waitress?” Rosaleen’s eyes pleaded with me. It was May, and every young girl in Kinvara was busy studying for her Leaving Cert — the Irish college entrance exams that determine, not only where you can study, but also what you can study. I had waitressed twenty-five years before. I laughed with God, and said yes to Rosaleen.

God has a plan. I learned this as a waitress at Rosaleen’s Restaurant. On my very first day, I realized I was going to learn more about myself and life in general while working for five hours in Rosaleen’s Restaurant than I had in more than a decade of working in front of my computer screen.

God likes small places. Kinvara has a population of about 3000 people and is nestled in a crook of Galway Bay in the West of Ireland. It is a place of megalithic tombs, holy wells, a 14th century castle, ancient cairns, Irish music, and weekly set-dancing.

God likes big places. Like the hearts of all the people I worked with, served, and met. Like your heart and mine too.

God is not dead. God is alive and in Rosaleen’s Restaurant. I promise, if you look, you’ll find God alive in your life too. That’s why I wrote this book. To help you to look.

Imagine All the Healing

Finally I was able to let go of fear and found courage and trust. Marije Smits

“Finally I was able to let go of fear and found courage and trust.” (Marije Smits)

When Susan arrived for her first counseling session, I was struck by her almost fairy-like beauty. With dark hair, creamy fair skin, and crystal green eyes, she reminded me of Snow White. At the time of our meeting, Susan was a 28-year-old PhD student studying philosophy and ethics. Not long before, she had discovered a mole while taking a shower. Susan had been going to tanning salons since she was 20. By the time she was 23, she was addicted to looking and feeling “sun-kissed”. By then she was working at the tanning salon to help pay for her own treatments. For nearly two years, she was tanning every other day.

The mole turned out to be diagnosed as malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. “I didn’t even know what ‘melanoma’ meant,” she admitted to me. “When I found out the results, I was all alone at home and started to panic. I thought I was going to die.”

Continue reading

Two Newspapers to China

tiananmen_1989_pays_reutersIn 1989, ten days before the Tiananmen Square massacre, my friend Julie and I sat in the China Travel Services office in Hong Kong and debated whether we should travel to Beijing. The U.S. embassy was warning that our safety could not be guaranteed. Should we go anyway? Grappling with our indecision, Julie asked the stone-faced woman behind the counter, “Is it safe?”

The woman stared hard at us and then looked away. “It is China.”

Continue reading

An Imagined Apology

Apology - Street ArtNot long ago, I reflected on the process of forgiveness and how much time it can take. Recently, I heard a fascinating interview of the playwright and author Eve Ensler about her new book The Apology. Throughout her childhood, Ensler had been physically and sexually abused by her father. Decades after his death, she decided to write an apology for him – the apology that she had yearned to hear all her life. The book is written entirely from his perspective. In its “Introduction”, she talks about using her imagination to create the words she needed to hear her father say:

“My father is long dead. He will never say the words to me. He will not make the apology. So it must be imagined. For it is in our imagination that we can dream across boundaries, deepen the narrative, and design alternative outcomes.”

Continue reading

Spring Breath of God

With standing room only, the bus sped down the freeway on a bright warm morning. Once we turned onto the bollenstreek, long ribbons of intense blue, mauve, and white stretched to the near horizon. At the same time, the colours seemed to invade inside and pour over us. Fields of yellow daffodils blared spring’s final triumph over the particularly long winter. Every head on the bus turned and gazed. And then suddenly, quite spontaneously, everyone sighed together, “Aaahhhhhhhh.” A breath song of collective awe.

We were headed to Keukenhof Gardens, near the Dutch town of Lisse, famous for its variety of bulb flowers, especially tulips. I was feeling particularly triumphant because I had two Dutch people in tow. My husband had finally run out of excuses and decided to appease his American wife. Along with us was a friend who had actually lived near the gardens for the past 35 years and had never visited them before. Continue reading

Birthing Forgiveness

forgivenessForgiveness is a transpersonal quality whose essential role is often overlooked in the story of Good Friday. Today Christians mark the death of Jesus, who before dying, forgave his executioners as well as the thief crucified by his side. Born out of a paradoxical mixture of human suffering, responsibility and love, the essential power of forgiveness is that is contains rather than proliferates violence. Today seems like a good time to explore where forgiveness comes from and the power it holds. How does it happen? And what are the steps that we, in our personal lives, can take towards it?

Forgiveness is a creative process. You decide how much, when, where, how, and under what conditions to forgive. As Jungian psychologist Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “The important part of forgiveness is to begin and to continue” (author’s italics). It does not happen overnight, it does not have to happen fully. But one thing is certain, it cannot happen from your head. We cannot reason our way around, into, or towards forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the heart, and it requires a great love, a Love beyond ourselves. Continue reading

Official Free and Wild Creatures!

KittyReaders of A Free and Wild Creature have been sending me photos of themselves with my book. What fun! This has inspired me to announce that you too can become an Official Free and Wild Creature! It’s very easy, just send me a photo of yourself with the book or post your Official Free and Wild Creature photo to the Love And Will Facebook page. Here’s a few to inspire you… Continue reading