Thursday, September 30, 2010

Amidst the Angels

One of our sisters, who works at a local hospice, invited the staff to the Mount for some prayer together. She set it up in our new gathering space--this is what it looked like: very intimate, conducive to a prayer group--really quite lovely. This hospice is just starting out so it was an important and special experience for them as a new staff.

This is a nice end-of-the-week time: our prayer has brought us amidst the angels, with Michael, Gabriel and Raphael's feast yesterday and the Guardian Angels this Saturday.

Here's one of Mary Oliver's takes on these heavenly companions:

About Angels and About Trees

Where do angels
fly in the firmament,
and how many can dance
on the head of a pin?

Well, I don't care
about that pin dance,
what I know is that
they rest, sometimes,
in the tops of the trees

and you can see them,
or almost see them,
or, anyway, think: what a
wonderful idea.

I have lost as you and
others have possibly lost a
beloved one,
and wonder, where are they now?

The trees, anyway, are
miraculous, full of
angels (ideas); even
empty they are a
good place to look, to put
the heart at rest--all those
leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly
ready to be
the resting place of
strange, winged creatures
that we, in this world, have loved.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Beauty

Our community website continues to add updates while in the process of a total redesign. I will note the updates here for you. They give news and insights into the community's life. Here's one.

A new edition of Joan Chittister's commentary on the Rule of Benedict just arrived at Benetvision. Essentially it is the same text as the original from 1990, with a new introduction and some additional text for a few of the days. The addition of photos and font changes give it a very up-to-date look. After all, it has been 20 years between editions!

Chapel environment this weekend.

Right from our gardens.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Irish Weekend

Lots of tourist places and cities with large Irish-American populations have a type of "Irish Weekend" in late September--6 months from St. Patrick's Day.

Here at the Mount, home of a lot more German and Polish ancestry but with a smattering of Irish, we're having our own Irish Weekend with our autumn Seasons of the Spirit retreat that has a Celtic Spirituality theme this fall. To that end, the director, Sr. Carolyn, has engaged our local Rince Na Tiarna Irish dance troupe, a couple dozen 8-18 year old girls, to perform Saturday night for both the retreatants and community. I've seen them many times on television or video, but never live. It ought to be great...can't wait! (The link takes you to coverage by one of our local TV stations. Google the name to get more information.)

The "Christmas" cacti in the library are blooming wildly this week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Weekend

A few interesting things "around our place" this weekend. First, the monarchs. Monarch butterflies are migrating back to Mexico these days and we've seen them fluttering all over the grounds for about a week. One of our guests even saw one of those large gatherings of them hanging on a bush down at our Glinodo Center this weekend. A unique sight.

Secondly, our crab apple trees--we have at least 5 near the monastery building--are loaded and our deer are feasting these days with the apple orchard, our grape arbor, the crab apples, and with the acorns under the large oaks. Living off the land easily!

Which brings us to #3. We sat at dinner with a first-time visiting couple from the Cleveland area. They were very interesting telling us of their 48-acre property in the city of Cleveland and their interest in growing their own food. After Cleveland passed an ordinance that city residents could have up to 6 chickens, they bought some and find them easy to raise. They get 24 eggs a week from their six. They also grow or pick loads of veggies and fruits--canning like mad for the months to come. They compost and indulge in a variety of such pursuits. Their 17-year-old daughter tells her friends that she lives with hippies! She eats all the food they produce but doesn't do much to help they said. The table, which was full of jr. high and high school teachers, just howled.

And finally, especially for those of you who know our place: We walked to the lake Sunday night and were sitting on the pier, about half way out, on the steps there. Suddenly a blue heron (we have lots at Presque Isle State Park) flew up and landed right at the end of the pier. We became like statues and spent 20 minutes watching it--just 25-30 feet from us. A very, very rare and wonderful experience.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Week Before Autumn

It's only one week till autumn officially comes, but we are experiencing seasonal pre-fall days this week: which means, in our part of the world, temps dipping into the 50s overnight and high 60s or low 70s during the day. Dramatic temperature differences after a very steady hot summer.

One other noticeable change that we observed last night with an after-supper trip to a nearby marina: beautiful, colorful skies at sunset. Here's the marina to the east and, shifting to face west: the sunset. Yes, WOW!

PS. Last night was the annual Taste of the Arts fundraiser for our Inner-City Neighborhood Art House. Beautiful evening--under the tent. See this link for lots of photos of the event.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adventures in Wood

This weekend Erie hosted a Tall Ships Festival with six tall ships arriving and docking in our port for 4 days. They were a marvelous sight and thousands came to see them, go on board and just enjoy the uniqueness of their sails, their history and their majesty.

This shot of "The Bounty" was taken through our library's windows as we approached it.

Down at our Glinodo Center, volunteers from Wayside Presbyterian Church came and watersealed the deck outside the Big House--Tekakwitha. This social service group offers their elbow grease to outdoor projects such as ours.

And, on the same day, a local Eagle Scout candidate organized a crew to replace the foot bridge that leads to our hermitages. Here's before...

And here's after.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monastic Lexicon #17

Years in Community

How many years have you been in community? An easy question you'd think. But it's not.

Do you start with the very first day you arrived, when you were given a bed? Postulants aren't really recognized in canon law. How about when you entered the novitiate? Novices are canonical. Yes, but you're not a vowed member.

So, maybe the year of first or temporary vows? Could be then, yes. But don't those first 2-3 years count for anything? How is the 25th Silver Jubilee determined, entrance? novitiate? first vows? final vows?

Answer: all of the above. Some communities go by entrance, some by novitiate, other by first vows.

Why this monastic conundrum today? Because yesterday, September 8th, was a big entrance day for many communities and many of our own members, including yours truly. Although sisters certainly entered at other times, Sept. 8th may rank as one of the most if not the most common day for such a ceremony. It was right before the college school year started, summer was over, in the case of school teaching it was right in time to jump into a classroom and, finally, liturgically it is the Feast of the Birth of Mary.

As for our community, jubilee is measured from first vows, but sure enough yesterday I heard a lot of "I entered 42 years ago today!" They were talking about the very, very first day.

And we were very welcomed on that day, too. In our present hospitality director's office this Willow Tree statue, Hospitality, welcomes our many guests today. The book on the lower level is Radical Hospitality by Daniel Homan, OSB.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Third Summer Holiday Weekend

The last of the 2010 holiday weekends brings this assortment of events in "our world."

1) Our temperatures took a dive Saturday into the mid-60s with winds and rain showers off and on. One huge benefit, of course, is air-conditioned less and windows-opened sleeping conditions. Thankfully they rebounded Sunday and today.

2) Some sisters are in the midst of late summer vacations and our own guest rooms and hermitages are full, too. Lots of family visiting is still taking place. Sisters who are teachers are already a week or so into their 2010-11 school year.

3) Sunday's liturgy yesterday had a full congregation and an especially good homily by one of our regular presiders. He really hit the answer to, Where does real wisdom come from? right on the head. Great reflections.

4) Today eight of us are attending the last game of our local minor league baseball team, the Erie Seawolves. Lots of fun in the sun at our beautiful baseball park. They are in last place in their division, but we don't care--we support them anyway! Six o'clock brings our annual Labor Day picnic: hot dogs and hamburgers. The last time I checked the list there were over 80 signed up.

5) And finally--the world of nature is alive and well on our 120 acres. Our deer families are out all the time--with their still-darling summer fawn who gawk at us as much as we do at them! The apple orchard in back and the crab apple trees in front of the Mount are attracting them daily. I'm still having to fill the three hummingbird feeders I tend. In fact, as I write this I'm looking up at my own window feeder watching a hummingbird drinking away! Doesn't that sound just like something from Birds and Blooms? (A great magazine/website for flower and/or bird lovers.)

Wishing you blessings of the all too few remaining summer days.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last days of summer

These last days of pre-Labor Day summer are slow and easy--even though our summer of 2010 temperatures remain unusually hot (85-90) most days. Here are three shots of some everyday things around the Mount that caught my eye and I wanted to share them with you.

This first is a group of coxcomb that one of our gardeners planted from seeds I gave her from a friend in the midwest. Surprisingly they grew and are vivid in their coloring and height--straight up about 12-15"-- towering over the border of impatience.

Last weekend the Erie branch of Church Women United marked their 120th anniversary. Their group began in 1890. The celebration was held here in the Mount chapel and our Sr. Mary Louis was recognized as a 2010 Valiant Woman.

Additionally they had a tree planted on our property--a darling little (6 feet tall) evergreen. It's on the east side and, as luck would have it, right outside my bedroom window. So far it's making it!

Finally, here's a new addition: a Jewish doorplate, a mezuzah. This one says, "Peace to this House" and is on the door to the prioress's room. We picked it up at the Jewish Museum in Cleveland when we were there for the LCWR exhibit.