Monday, August 30, 2010

Second of two

5. All day I watch the sky changing from blue to blue,
For You are forever
and I am like a single day that passes.
All day I think thanks for this world,
for the rocks and the tips of the waves,
for the tupelos and the fading roses.
For the wind.
For You are forever
while I am like a single day that passes.
You are the heart of the cedars of Lebanon
and the fir called Douglas,
the bristlecone, and the willow.

It's close to hopeless,
for what I want to say the red-bird
has said already, and better, in a thousand trees.

The white bear, lifting one enormous paw, has said it better.

You cannot cross one hummock or furrow but it is
His holy ground.

I had such a longing for virtue, for company.
I wanted Christ to be as close as the cross I wear.
I wanted to read and serve, to touch the altar linen.
Instead I went back to the woods where not a single tree turns its face away.

Instead I prayed, oh Lord, let me be something
useful and unpretentious.
Even the chimney swift sings.
Even the cobblestones have a task to do,
and do it well.

Lord, let me be a flower, even a tare; or a sparrow.
Or the smallest bright stone in a ring worn by someone brave and kind,
whose name I will never know.

Lord, when I sleep I feel you near.

When I wake, and you are already
wiping the stars away,
I rise quickly, hoping to be like your wild child
the rose, the honey-maker the honey-vine;
a bird shouting its joy as it floats
through the gift you have given us: another day.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First of two

In many of Mary Oliver's books of poetry she has a couple poems that are written in six or seven parts, appropriately labeled simply 1. 2. 3.....
At first I was distracted trying to figure out what these parts had in common, why they were all, in her mind, reflections on the same idea. But when I stopped doing that and just enjoyed each one, their relationships often came to me or, if not, I just trusted that they meant something together to her and therefore to me.

Here's one:
"More Beautiful than the Honey Locust Tree are the Words of the Lord"

In the household of God, I have stumbled in recitation, and in my mind I have wandered.
I have interrupted worship with discussion.
Once I extinguished the Gospel candle after all the others.

But never held the cup to my mouth lagging in gratitude.

The Lord forgives many things,
so I have heard.

The deer came into the field.
I saw her peaceful face and heard the shuffle of her breath.
She was sweetened by merriment and not afraid, but bold to say whose field she was crossing:
spoke the tap of her foot: "It is God's, and mine."

But only that she was born into the poem that God made, and called the world.

And the goldfinch too
And the black pond I named my little sisters, since otherwise I had none.
And the muskrat, with his shy hands,
And the tiny life of the single pine needle, which nevertheless shines.

And the priest in her beautiful vestments, her hand over the chalice.

And clouds moving, over the valleys of Truro.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy 120th

We had the opportunity to attend the 120th anniversary celebration of our local LCBA (Loyal Christian Benefit Association)--a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society that sells life insurance and annuities. A very good friend of the community is on staff there and the LCBA is a supporter and donor to our ministries in Erie.

They held the celebration at the Erie Zoo--after hours--so the only attendees were their staff and guests. What a treat and what fun! For a small city we do have a great zoo. Congratulations to the LCBA and thanks for the wonderful time at one of Erie's premier attractions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our Own Spa

I think our Wellness Director/recreational therapist outdid even herself this week--what a presentation!

This week Sr. Helen transformed our downstairs all-purpose room into a kind of pseudo spa--complete with areas for chair massage, bed top yoga, a massage table and an herbal tea corner. Throughout the whole room came the sounds of beautiful instrumental music and the soft aroma of heated oils and spices.

As the announcement forms said, "Think prevention, mobility and flexibility" and that's just what she and her assistants aimed for and provided. Many of our sisters signed up and some just showed up (including yours truly, with a tension-filled lower back ache). Fifteen minutes in "the spa" and I was a new person--only trouble is I wanted to lie down and take an equally relaxing mid-afternoon, mid-summer nap. Alas, I dutifully returned to my office.

What a treat, what creativity and, as I overheard one of our octogenarians saying as she left, "We are so blessed with talented sisters." Amen. We are.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Publications

Here are some more looks at our gift shop's new "corners." Click to enlarge.

And here's the new Benetvision 2011 calendar, just delivered this week. Dynamic cover!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One to One

A one-to-one correspondence in mathematics means that the elements in one set of things are perfectly paired up with the elements in another set of things. Unfortunately that is the exact way to describe the relationship between homicides in and around Erie and the months of the year 2010.

Tuesday we held a Take Back the Site prayer service for our 7th victim in seven months--a young 20-something gal, killed by her boyfriend. Very sad. Here are some shots of the prayer held in the driveway between the houses. And, I hate to add, we've already had #8 here in the eighth month of the year--prayer vigil coming in a couple weeks. Very, very sad times.

And now for a very exciting mini-announcement: Our community website is in the first stage of a major re-design. The first stage uses our present design and is adding updated material. This is a transition time you might say---while we work on a major new look. Don't go too deep into the site, just the News and Inspiration may be far enough, but at least you'll see some latest material and photos from us and our life here.

There is an update every few days. Hope you enjoy this "new beginning."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bus Trip to Cleveland

On Friday we visited the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage outside of Cleveland. It is sponsoring the traveling exhibit "Women & Spirit" a history of Catholic sisters in the USA. Go figure!

It is a beautiful exhibit, one of a couple that are presently touring the country. The LCWR procured a number of grants to assemble such a huge and comprehensive display of the vast effects thousands of religious sisters have had on education, health care and social services over the last 200 years in this country.

Some of the next stops include:
Statue of Liberty National Monument/Ellis Island Immigration Museum
New York City
September 2010-January 2011

Mississippi River Museum
Dubuque, Iowa
February-April 2011

Center for History
South Bend, Indiana
September-December 2011

Also this weekend you'll find a column by our Mary Lou Kownacki here in our Erie Times News Saturday Faith section.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hit the Jackpot

Wow! Did we hit the jackpot this week with a speaker for our Summer Community Days. His name is Richard (Dick) Sparks and he is a Paulist priest from the Chicago area--a moral theologian and a marvelous speaker/presenter. What do I mean by "marvelous"? Knowledgeable, down-to-earth, practical, spiritual, and yet very funny! All wrapped into one.

He gives these presentations on Catholic morality to a variety of Catholic church groups, parish education courses, and to communities like ourselves. In answer to the question on how to know him--which he gave to the sister picking him up at the airport--"You can't miss me, I'm the one who looks just like Brad Pitt!"

And here's something for those of you who know our backyard and have seen our cross--or rather, haven't seen the cross, as it's been almost entirely hidden by a few years growth in bushes, trees, grasses, etc. This week it was "unearthed" thanks to some of our summer workers. Voila! A view from closer up and one from farther away.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dorian Theme and Variation

In the late 1960s one of our sisters who was a young composer/musician getting her masters degree, wrote a symphony. She heard it performed once out in Indiana. None of us were there.

Thirty years later, in the mid-90s, we arranged for a local orchestra to play that symphony along with a few of her hymns sung by a small chorus of our sisters. It was a glorious night as we marveled at the talent it must have taken to produce such a masterpiece--which we all loved, by the way.

Since then Sr. Mary David has passed away, but the local conductor that answered our request to showcase her work here in Erie, Bruce Morton Wright of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, continues to produce top notch orchestral programs for our city. Since 1983 he and the Sisters of St. Joseph have combined each summer to offer two free outdoor concerts (one classical and one pops) on the large outdoor patio and lawn of Villa Maria Academy on Erie's west side.

This year the concerts were this past weekend and throughout the evening memories of the night we first heard Sr. Mary David's work played by many of these same musicians came flooding back. Here's what it looked like from our view: pre and post sunset!