Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Week

Ursuline Maria Cimperman will be our speaker this Saturday at our April Community Days weekend. Her topic is "From Paralysis to Analysis: toward a socially conscious spirituality." Additionally this weekend is our annual recognition of our major benefactors--at the Benefactors' Brunch Sunday morning. This is always a delightful affair, a good time to "touch base" with some people we only see a couple times a year.

Monday, April 25, 2011


He is risen, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday


Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

Mary Oliver

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

"Making the House Ready for the Lord"

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice--it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances--but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the racoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

Mary Oliver

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday


The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye
that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did,
maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree,
and didn't move,
maybe the lake far away, where once he walked
as on a blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wide awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut,
that could not keep that vigil,
how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Triduum

I'll be posting a Mary Oliver poem each day through Easter Sunday. Her book, Thirst, has so many spiritual-seeker reflections. Perfect for the next few days.
I hope you like them.

"The Poet Thinks about the Donkey"

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

Mary Oliver

Our community website has some new things on its opening page. If you haven't been there you'll enjoy them. Here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

And to the amazement of all

For our third Lenten community gathering we were asked to choose our favorite story from 40 Stories to Stir the Soul our Lenten reading. Here was mine, #39: "A handful of wheat grains was found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian kings. The grains were five thousand years old. Someone planted the grains and watered them. And to the amazement of all, the grains came to life and sprouted. After five thousand years!"

We were given a choice of five groups to join for expressing and sharing: drama, art, song, poetry or dance. I chose poetry--not wanting to miss the rare opportunity. Here was one of our "exercises": One line from each story was given and we were to write it five times and finish the phrase. From #39 the line was: And to the amazement of all...

An apt beginning for your Holy Week, try this "spiritual exercise." Here's a start for you:
1. And to the amazement of all,
the grains came to life.
2. And to the amazement of all,
the maimed child spoke of peace.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Engaging Impasse

Spent a couple days this week in Washington, DC at the regional LCWR meetings. The main presenter was Nancy Sylvester, IHM. She is the founder of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. She began this ministry in 2002 in response to her experiences working for justice and right relationships in church and in society. Contemplation and consciousness are two large parts of their offerings. Here's one definition that Nancy posited, "Contemplation is a long, loving look at the real." Their website is here and gives an idea of this fascinating ministry if you'd like to browse.

Her workshop for us was titled, "Compassionate Conversing in a Time of Chaos." Fascinating concepts and right in sync with the following of Jesus with his own challenges to the world of his time and his offerings of other directions, toward other realities than the accepted ones of that time.

Here are five Benedictines relaxing one night at Colonel Brook's Tavern near the retreat center in NE Washington--right across from the campus of Catholic University. We did visit the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Quite the place.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Everyday and not so everyday life

This weekend was the funeral of a marvelous woman who I met via the Neighborhood Art House. Also, this week I read of the death of a woman who spent some time as a housekeeper at the Mount. Though these two women were polar opposites as far as their lives read, they were both a part of our life.

These two experiences lead me to reflect on the non-community members that come our way, usually through either our ministries, directly at the monastery or through retreats or other spiritual moments.

They really are significant to our journeys. I'm guessing that we may not tell them often enough how special a part of our daily life they are.

And in my mundane, daily life I pass this old, rather beat up birdhouse every morning and every afternoon as I walk to and from the car. It's attached right to the Mount itself. Most of the time I see one of the birds standing on the perch, sitting on the nearby ledge or peeking out of the nest. The best times are catching them with nesting material in their beaks, on their way into their home.

After many failed attempts, finally I was able, by hiding behind one of the entranceway pillars, to get a couple good shots. Now, of course, I'm getting attached and look for them every time I come or go. I'm even trying to mimic their whistle. Do you think they'll light on my finger? Not without food, I'm sure!

We are indeed blessed by excellent reflections every Saturday night in Lent at our Vigil for Sunday prayer services. This past Saturday even exceeded the average. Sr. Mary Miller, director of our Emmaus Ministries, gave a truly marvelous reflection on death--creative, personal, deeply human and yet divine. It should be up on our community website today or very soon. Don't miss it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thought for the Day

The Today Program, the British equivalent of NPR's Morning Edition, has a daily 3-minute slot called a "Thought For the Day," a religious "thought" which briefly interrupts the daily news items.

The "thought" for March 30th was a reflection on the RB for today's world. (Put 30/03/2011 in the Search box.) "One benefit of having a State religion," says my friend in southeast England!

And, oh, that accent!

If you haven't been to our community's website in the last day or so, now is the time! Two great new posts are there: 1) our new Monasteries of the Heart program officially got off the ground April 6; and 2) a short, lovely smilebox for one of our sisters honored this week by the local Sisters of Mercy and their Mercy Center for Women.

Yesterday afternoon around 4:00. "Quick, beam us up Scotty. And put us down anywhere...anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line!"

Monday, April 4, 2011

April at last


I wanted to speak at length about
the happiness of my body and the
delight of my mind for it was
April, night, a
full moon and---

but something in myself or maybe
from somewhere other said: not too
many words, please, in the
muddy shallows the
frogs are singing.

Mary Oliver

Well, the frogs may not be singing yet in Erie, but the "daffies" as one of our sisters calls them, are just days away from popping out; the birds are coming to our feeders in greater numbers and we are almost, almost, getting used to having spring sun nearly every day and temperatures that start with a 4 or even a 5! Nature doesn't seem to mind a bit the 0.4" of "white rain" we had April 1st--although we humans just shake our heads and sigh.

Here are some April 2nd looks at our creek and lakefront--beautiful even this time of year: not winter anymore, yet not fully into springtime. Caught in the "in between" for a couple weeks.

If you haven't read it already, there was a lovely review of our March Art Show in the Erie Times Showcase magazine last Thursday. Click here.