What is it like for a person when all her dreams come true? Difficult for most to believe, for sure! But that is the story of Frances Smalkowski, CSFN -- nun, nurse, poet, very amateur guitarist/songwriter, psychotherapist, chaplain, spiritual director, and teacher. Imagine capturing some of the feelings that might be associated with all the above in one little book of reflection and poetry! That is what Sister Frances does in "Panning For Gold" as she looks in her "pan" retrospectively and appreciates all the nuggets there for half a century. Yes, all the dreams evolved through fifty plus years, and her conclusion: "The world is my hermitage" basically sums it all.
In "panning for the gold" through many decades for this chapbook, S. Frances combed her numerous poetry, dream and retreat journals. Though several of her poems have already been published individually in various publications, it is her whole life that is basically contained therein. In her compilation, she shares a type of vulnerability as in seeing something very deep in her own heart and putting it on paper for others actually to see. In summary, her poetry shows an appreciation for God; a love of people and her deep relationships; cherishing nature; and trying to find the gift and meaning in suffering. Other themes include gratitude for life, family, friends, and following one's heart in life. After one reads some of her reflections, simple gifts of birds' nests, beaches, forests, clouds and azalea bushes will never seem the same. For example, in her poem on "America Reflects (9/11/01)," she speaks about "The clouds crying asbestos tears."
At the heart of all she wrote is the importance of following one's inner dreams. Regardless of obstacles, such as society's currents, she concludes that "being oneself and being true to that life's gift is always primary." Join her in "Panning For Gold."