Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thirty days

Every school, club, sport team, family and even work places have rituals and traditions. Hopefully, if they are sincere and faithful to them, these times become an important part of the life of the group.

Being Benedictines, forerunners in liturgical movements since the Middle Ages, our rituals and traditions are a rich and significant part of our community life. Here's a very small but much-treasured one that we have. It only lasts a month at a time, so if you're not here or you're here but don't notice it, it could go right past you. But, for us, it marks a very special time.

For the first month after one of our sisters passes away we place a small, round table right at the entrance to our chapel space. On the table is a candle that is lit during every prayer time. An acrylic frame holds a sheet on which we read the words:

This candle burns
for thirty days
in memory
of our sister
who shared her life
with us
in community
until her death
May peace eternal be hers!

This one has about 5-6 days to go and has been a beautiful reminder for me and many others, I'm sure, of the life of Sr. Maureen who died in January. One sister has kept a vase of fresh flowers on the table, too. (Where she finds these in the middle of an Erie winter is a mystery to me!)

I think after the 30 days I will steal away the little table, along with the candle, frame and vase for fresh flowers and place them in my room for the next 30 days---no, I think 300 days.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Building a better world

Having loved enough and lost enough,
I'm no longer searching,
just opening.

No longer trying to make sense of the pain
but trying to be a soft and sturdy home
to which real things land.

These are the irritations
that rub into a pearl.

So we can talk for a while
but then we must listen,
the way rocks listen to the sea.

And we can churn at all that goes wrong
but then we must lay all distractions
down and water every living seed.

And yes, on nights like tonight
I too feel alone. But seldom do I
face it squarely enough
to see that it's a door
into the endless breath
that has no breather,
into the surf that human
shells call God.

"Yes, we can talk" by Mark Nepo

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sci-fi lives on

I enjoy the sci-fi genre of books and movies. Not the fighting, war types, more the ones with advanced ideas or experiences that are beyond our current life. Just like in today's world the most common theme is "good vs evil," with good taking a beating, but coming through in the end.
My latest sci-fi fix is from the Netflix series Travelers. People from
the future return and take up in the bodies of people who are dying and continue with their life while working together "to save the world." (Another common theme). The team that we meet are: left to right, a young mother and abused wife of a police officer, an FBI agent, a teenage football star, an autistic library aide and a heroin addict. At least those are the bodies they must live in.
There's only been one season so far, twelve episodes..but I'm hooked!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Immigrants-refugees welcome

From Sunday's reading: "Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked..and do not turn your back on your own....If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness..." The book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 58.

My great-grandparents were from France, Ireland and Germany. How about yours?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Two important events

Two important events, though often low keyed and in the background, will occur in the next two days for our community.

After 17 years of Take Back the Site prayer vigils at the site of every homicide in Erie, we will have #100 for the Dec 31st death of yet another young man through gun violence. It will be held Thursday at 5:15 pm on Rte 20/Buffalo Rd. one block west of the  intersection with Franklin Avenue.

Friday, we will hold our monthly First Friday prayer for equal rights and acceptance for immigrants. They were held at 2nd and State for a long time but are now at 6th and State in front of the Federal Building---12:15-12:45 pm.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Three years ago

In December 2013 I posted a photo of a red-tailed hawk that had landed on the fire escape outside the 4th floor hall window where I minister in the a.m. --which happens to be the last remaining piece of the original motherhouse on E. 9th Street in Erie. It was quite a sight.

Last Friday, near the end of the morning, as I was packing up to come home to get ready for the funeral of a sister who had ministered on 4th floor for over 25 years, lo and behold, what should appear on that same fire escape, at that same window--a red-tailed hawk. The same one? Why today? Native Americans have wonderful legends of the natural world's interactions at times of death. Hmmmmmm...Beautiful thoughts.

Here's the hawk--January 27, 2017

And here's another unusual "natural" event--a row boat has been pushed by the waves right up onto our shore. Notice that it is completely filled with sand!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I knelt in the dark

Eleven years this month. That's how long I worked every morning, Monday through Friday, with our Sister Maureen. And in that time I came to know her and truly appreciate and care for her. If I HAD to name just one characteristic that rose to the top for me, I guess it would be constancy--faithfulness--presence. She was a lovely woman, who died too quickly. Now we are headed into a three-day celebration of that wonderful life and what it brought to ours. If you haven't read about her yet, you can do so here. She will be greatly missed.

Mary Oliver's dog, Percy, helped her get through the death of a dear friend.

Percy (Four)

I went to church.
I walked on the beach
I played with Percy.

I answered the phone
I paid the bills.
I did the laundry.

I spoke her name
a hundred times.

I knelt in the dark
and said some holy words.

I went downstairs,
I watered the flowers,
I fed Percy.