Thursday, January 29, 2009

Different Looks of Our World

Here is a new painting that's just been hung right in the front hall of the Mount, near the switchboard, outside of chapel. The title is, "Full Moon Over Dormition Abbey." The artist is Jim Schantz. It was a donation to the community by Bernie and Sue Pucker, longtime supporters of Brother Thomas. Their gallery in Boston is the primary source of his work. Dormition Abbey still exists today--in Jerusalem--with a Benedictine community of 15-20 monks.

And in a completely different vein: even if statistics are not among your favorite things, I think you'll enjoy this website that a friend sent me this week. It's quite an amazing look at our planet, its people and situations. World Clock.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Year of the Ox

Today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year: the year of the ox. Last Friday I spied a basket of Chinese fortune cookies at our Child Development Center and snatched one up, eager to see what the new year foretold for me.

My fortune? "You will share with a friend." Share what? With whom? But I quickly thought of this web page and all I'm sharing with our community and its friends---so here are two more for your interest: the first is an article that appeared last week in the Washington Post, written by an Erie guy who spent his last days in the armed services at Guantanamo Bay and what he came to because of it. A very real story about a very ordinary guy who grew extraordinarily. "I was slow to recognize the stain of Guantanamo."

The second is this beautiful photo of our creek, caught in mid-freeze a week or so ago. Hope you enjoy them both.

Seven-mile creek--half frozen over.

Photo by Charlotte Ann Zalot, OSB

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mary Oliver

"It's been a quiet week in Lake Erie"--just another Ordinary Week except, of course, for a day and night of excitement Tuesday with the historic Inauguration Day.

So I think it would be a good time to share another poem from Mary Oliver's book, Red Bird. The only thing is, Which one do I share? they are all so wonderful. Ok, here goes. Hope you like this one.

"There Is a Place Beyond Ambition"

When the flute players
couldn't think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest--
so quiet, not even thoughtful--
are still there,

still listening.

Mary Oliver

Our woods--our winter world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An Historic Day

Since many of us are more in sync with the Democratic party's philosophy than the Republican's, the inauguration of Barack Obama and a Democratic congress make this week an exciting time. There's even an Inauguration lunch set up at the Mount for all employees and sisters: noon prayer and lunch with CNN on the community room's large screen TV!

In this vein, let me encourage you to check regularly the new BFP, Benedictines for Peace, website (see side bar). They are making great efforts to keep current issues of interest, local, national and international, on this site. Whether you are a strong or quiet activist or just like to be knowledgeable on topics of justice and peace, this is a good place to find them, especially ones that community members and oblates are engaged in.

Unusual for our area at this time, a snow bunting at Glinodo.

Photos by Jo Clarke, oblate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monastic Lexicon #7

Chapter 57

The Rule of Benedict has 73 chapters. The title of chapter 57 is "Artisans of the Monastery." Therefore, when it came time to find a name for the gift shop at the Mount, the name Chapter 57 was chosen.

Makes perfect sense if you know all of this. Without it, however, it sounds a little strange at first: "Where is Chapter 57?" "When is Chapter 57 open?" "You can buy it in Chapter 57."

Chapter 57 is one of those, not-a-Hallmark stores. It has a lot of unique things including first-class handmade items by ours sisters: candles, wood-turned pieces, ceramics, craft jewelry, cards and framed photographs. There is also a large selection of Joan Chittister's books, items from the children at the Neighborhood Art House and native people of El Salvador, and Mount St. Benedict sweatshirts and T-shirts.

It's a very special part of our monastery.

PS. Sr. Irene's famous bread and bakery items aren't sold there--sorry! You have to get those on Sunday mornings or put in a special order.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Ends-Winter Still Going

Liturgically we have reached the end of the Christmas season and a short respite of six weeks of Ordinary Time before Lent begins--February 25. In Erie, winter continues on with 10" of snow falling last Friday alone, and then a little more that "piled on" over the weekend. Thought you might enjoy a few views around the Mount.

Beside the front entrance.
Those little "lumps" are bushes.

Mary in the inner courtyard.

Three gorgeous evergreens at the Troupe Road
side entrance.

We laugh at a foot of snow! Into the woods, down to the lake, and one sled ride each down the Glinodo hill--and we didn't even have to call the EMT's!

In another vein, two of our sisters are in Merida, Mexico this week, visiting the diocesan sponsored Mission of Friendship, run by two of our oblates. A few years ago they started an active oblate group there and our prioress and oblate director traveled south to oversee the entrance of new members into the group. Quite shocking for them--not the oblates, the temperature: high today was 93.

Morning and Evening Prayer for Ordinary Time (see side bar).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Red Bird

I received Mary Oliver's two latest poetry books for Christmas: Red Bird and Thirst. So, in the interest of all of us who wish we had read more poetry growing up or have now discovered the beauty and spirituality in such, I'll be sharing some of my favorites in the upcoming weeks. I think they fit in so well with the world of nature and the world of God that make up our life here in Erie--and, hopefully, yours, too.

"Maker of All Things, Even Healings"

All night
under the pines
the fox
moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death
which it deserves.
In the spicy
villages of the mice
he is famous,
his nose
in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet
on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it,
makes himself
as small as he can
as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses
for the ripe seeds.

Maker of All Things,
including appetite,
including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us, sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow--
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine
what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.

Mary Oliver

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ministry News

Many of our ministries, and the community itself, have periodic publications. A number of them have issues during the holidays. Here are links to some of them that are online--for your browsing pleasure!

Christmas MOUNT magazine.

AIM USA newsletter.

Neighborhood Art House newsletter.

A portion of the old wire fence on the northern most border of our property--Glinodo--on the bluff overlooking the lake. November and December combined for 70" of snowfall so far this season. It sounds terrible, but it really has been more beautiful than horrendous.

Photo by Elia Lee, OSB

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

Things are pretty quiet around the community these days. Most of us who work full time had only two or three days of ministry during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's. It's a good time to catch up on anything you need to catch up on.

So, for your New Year's thoughts here's one of the good articles I found while catching up on my browsing through magazines that I've neglected recently.

It's a list of a dozen or so basic life/spirituality questions and answers from Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Here are a couple to whet your appetite:

What is religion, and how do I know which one is right for me? Think of a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Each piece is unique--no two pieces are the same--yet unless each piece joins with all the others, it has no meaning or purpose. Life is like this puzzle, and you are one piece within it. Religion's task is to help you take your place, to help you recognize and live out your connection with and responsibility toward all life. A religion is right for you when it helps you find and take your place in the puzzle. A religion is wrong for you if it forces you into a shape that isn't you at all. If your religion celebrates who you are even as it helps you become more than you are, it is probably a good fit.

What happens when I die? Place an ice cube in a tub of warm water. Where does the cube go when it melts? You are the cube; God is the water. For a while you seem separate from the water, but eventually you melt--you die--and discover that you, too, are water. Have fun being a cube; just don't forget that all cubes are water, and everything is God.

Which is true: science or religion? Which is true: basketball or soccer? In basketball you dribble the ball, but you can't kick it. In soccer you kick it, but you can't dribble. Each is a way of moving a ball from one end of a rectangle to another. If you play soccer, you have to play by soccer's rules. If you play basketball, you have to play by basketball's rules. The same is true of science and religion. They are two games people play to understand life. Each has rules, and both are true, according to those rules. Learn to play both games; the more you play, the more fascinating and meaningful life becomes.

These are from the magazine Spirituality and Health. It is available online, but not till mid-January when the next issue comes out. Right now it's only in the magazine. But here's the link in case you circle back and want to see it later. The column is: "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler" by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, November-December 2008 issue.

Seven-mile creek as it ran through our property this weekend in the midst of the first big winter thaw. All the melting snow from 4-5 miles south of Lake Erie flowed down into the lake via the many creeks that line the shore. Many of them overflowed or nearly so. Ours doesn't, but it certainly gets high. For those who aren't familiar with its "normal" look, let's just say you can normally see rocks and shale sticking out of it all along the way.