“But I through the greatness of your love have access to your house. I bow down before your holy temple, filled with awe.” Psalm 5:7.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” John 14: 23.

Last Friday I celebrated 33 years of sobriety.

Saturday I hosted the first of a new eight-week Writing Workshop.

Sunday was Mother’s Day.

I “went” to 10 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Santa Barbara. This is the beauty of live-streaming: you can jump about and go to Mass, such as it is, where you like.

I’ve only been to this place twice (online; I know I’ve attended at least one Mass there in real life) but I like everything about it: The priests; the mission-style Church with its tin candle sconces, bultos, and stucco walls painted with angels; the cantor, a “normal” guy in a polo shirt who isn’t auditioning for “American Idol” but has feeling and a voice that’s from love. I especially loved at the end when he said, “Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother who I’m sure I drive crazy, and to all our mothers, who we probably all drive crazy.” Amen.

After that I walked the mile or so up to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, which has a Mary grotto in back and a nice shaded area beside it with trees and a fountain and the Stations of the Cross. I sat by the fountain and prayed a Rosary, and then the Stations.

In the midst of life are the seeds of death and in death are the seeds of life. It’s full on spring here in LA, with roses and everything else in glorious bloom, trees wildly leafing out, and the weather, yesterday at least, perfect. Truly, heaven must be like this: 74 degrees, with a balmy breeze, the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle, mountains shimmering in the distance.

And in another five weeks, we’ll have the summer solstice and already, the days will begin to get shorter–just like they started getting longer just before Christmas, in the dead of winter.

The writing workshop had filled me with an also wild joy: That I can help mother forth people’s stories, many of them held in, till now because of fear or other duties or shame. That I’ve been sufficiently (not totally by any means, but sufficiently) healed from my own massive wounds to be able to host such a gathering. That at long last I can bring not just my capacity to “teach writing,” but my whole self, that’s been formed and annealed by those two great disciplinarians: suffering and love.

Last night from my bed I texted my downstairs neighbor who, unusually, I hadn’t seen all day, to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

She’s a wonderful human being, an artist, a wife, an incredibly nurturing mother of a two-year-old daughter. She texted back and said, “Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. I often think of you as the mother of the compound and feel at peace knowing you are around.”

You know how every once in a great while you think, “If I died right this second, it would be okay. I would die happy”?

That was one such moment.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.


  1. Thank you for sharing your life and many congratulations on your 33 years!
    It brings me hope and joy.

  2. bonitamlewis says: Reply

    Many congrats on 33 years! I celebrated 25 years in April! Such wonderful miracles.

  3. Congratulations on the anniversary! God Bless You for staying the course.

  4. Mary Beth says: Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes, Heather. As one who resides in your online neighborhood, I share your downstairs neighbor’s sentiment about you.
    As for Mothers’ Day in these more confined times, a two hour respite from a chilly, dark day to some balmy sunshine meant we could have a safe-distanced visit with our beloved son and my sis in our back yard. Grace abounding! XO

  5. “That I’ve been sufficiently (not totally by any means, but sufficiently) healed from my own massive wounds to be able to host such a gathering.” Heather, this is so beautiful, and moving, and inspiring. I’m grateful for your shining light in these times especially!

  6. Anthony Gomez says: Reply

    33 sure is a beautiful number. Your writing so inspires me.

  7. This entire piece brought tears of joy to my eyes and warmth of the Spirit to my heart. “Mother of the Compound” … that is so you!

  8. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Thank you all so much for the good sobriety anniversary wishes–the recovery, writing workshop and “mothering forth” are all so closely connected. There’s a line from the Psalms–“He pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.” He seems to make something new of us while we’re off trying to make a mark for ourselves or “get things done”–i.e. actually asleep in some way to the deepest reality. But still, no matter what, we’re praying. That’s how we know that anything good that comes out of us is ALL Christ, with his Helpmeet Mary, all the time…I’m very grateful fo your solidarity and understanding–how beautiful to share these rare moments with people who “get” it–and that all the glory goes to God…

  9. Jacob Gatschet says: Reply

    I think you should get a T-shirt printed with “Mother of the Compound” in large, wild lettering! What a great line. Thanks for your posts, Heather, and for your continuing honesty and vulnerability. Much appreciated.

  10. Mary Lou McCall says: Reply

    Simple profundity. Thank you for the gift of your transparent heart. Suddenly I feel such immense gratitude for knowing Him.
    God Bless+

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      That’s the goal! God bless you, Mary Lou and thanks for commenting…


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