Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Begins

Over the last four-five months our Sustainability Committee has been joining the efforts to educate our community on the natural gas drilling (that involves fracking) that is sweeping the US. Locals in a little town just 8 miles east of us signed agreements for wells to be dug before they were aware of the horrid dangers thereof...most particularly to the surrounding water supplies.

Most of our sisters viewed the DVD Gasland and were reading more and more about the issue, as we feared the offers would spread to our township next. Miraculously, on Friday our local newspaper announced that the efforts by a citizens' group caused the drilling company to announce that it is halting all proposed drilling in the nearby town! We still hope to continue our voice to intercede for other communities in Pennsylvania, New York and many, many other states.

Our prioress, Anne, has gone gaga (no not the singer, the emotion) over a nest of four baby robins that hatched 2 days ago. The nest is located right outside one of her windows, right at eye level, yet hidden pretty well in a bush there. She made me take about two dozen photos until she got the mother and I got the open-mouthed babies seen here. Tours are being given over the holiday weekend.

And the irises are beginning to bloom in our area. Joan Chittister's June issue of The Monastic Way is based on the famous painting of irises by Van Gogh. You should have received a free electronic copy of this issue if you get the weekly e-newletter from Benetvision.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ten Unique Days

Within ten unique days--four significant funerals for us: first, the father of one of our sisters; three days later, our own Mary Margaret; the very next day the sister-in-law of another of our sisters--yet another cancer story; then five days more to the 50-year-old husband of one of our longtime oblates and colleague in one of our community ministries--five years of ALS.

Four wonderful people---and sad, yet glorious celebrations of their lives.

Here's a take by Mary Oliver that seems to fit:

We Shake With Joy

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.

Our community website has some new stories if you haven't visited this week.

Monday, May 23, 2011


One of the things that "got us through" the recent snowy winter and just-ended cool and rainy early weeks of spring was our falling in love with Christopher Foyle.

If you:
a) appreciate the marvelous writing and acting in BBC-produced TV;
b) like mysteries that are a great story without a lot of gore and violence;
c) had American History classes that emphasized the American Revolution and the Civil War but never quite got into WWII at all,

You'll love Foyle's War, a DVD series of 90-minute mysteries that are terrific. The series is set in the seaside town of Hastings in southeast England beginning in 1939. By the sixth set of 3 DVDs we've moved to 1945 and the beginnings of the post-WWII world.

Christopher Foyle is a marvel of understatement, intelligence, integrity and compassion. A combination that has given us hours of historical fiction intrigue and transported us to the WWII world we didn't know.

Not bad to get into for summer, too, I'd say.

Michael Kitchen as DCS (Detective Chief Superintendent) Christopher Foyle.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Way We Are

"If there was anyone suited to attempt the process of change, it had to have been Mary Margaret. She went through life a saint of the relaxed grasp. Almost totally without ego, it seemed, she vested her own success in nothing but the understanding and acceptance of the people around her. She lived the rules herself, of course, and she taught them to the community. But she simply had no rigid or unyielding expectations of anyone. She was far more adept at explaining why sisters couldn't do a thing than why they must. The Rule of Benedict, monastic scholars taught repeatedly, was built on exceptions. If so, then it was Mary Margaret Kraus who most embodied the spirit of it.

"In communities made up largely of an older generation, the pace of change was slow, the boundaries of change were clearer. In Erie, where the median age at the beginning of the renewal period was 52, the pressure for change was high. Change was a head-long attempt to catch the future before it was too late. It was Mary Margaret Kraus's laser-like attention to the needs of the members and the signs of the times that provided the stars to steer by toward tomorrow."

From The Way We Were, a story of conversion and renewal (The Benedictine Sisters of Erie 1958-1990), Joan Chittister, Orbis Books.

Available from Benetvision

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tender of Souls

There is great sadness in our community today as our former and much beloved prioress, Sister Mary Margaret Kraus, entered into everlasting life Sunday, May 15 right at the end of Evening Praise at 6:00 pm. The coincidence that it was Good Shepherd Sunday was not lost on us, as this beautiful woman "shepherded" this community for 14 years: 1964-1978, the years immediately following the Vatican II Council and surely the most challenging of times for all leaders in the Catholic Church and, in particular, in religious life.

Check our community website often as her complete obituary and prayer card will be posted soon.

Sister Mary Margaret has been the keeper and loving gardener of our inner courtyard garden for over a decade.

Feeders for hummingbirds and Baltimore orioles are also hung there amidst the many flowering plants, bushes and even a few small trees--not to forget the statue of the Blessed Mother, featured often here in LTSGW!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

First spring walk at Glinodo

Since on Monday I shared the first spring walk at Presque Isle, today our own Glinodo property gets equal billing. Here's the first spring walk through our property on the north side of East Lake Road.

This tree is on the land right next to ours. How does it stay there? Here's an artsy shot through the trees of one of our waterfalls along the creek path; jack-in-the-pulpits are all along the path and throughout the woods; finally, one of my favorite signs of spring--two pure white hyacinths on the cliffs--same place, same time, every year.

One of our sisters, a lifelong baker, is featured in the latest issue of our Catholic diocese's magazine, Faith. Go to page 8 in the May-June issue here. Great photos, too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

First peninsula trip

It was a beautiful Sunday in Easter season, Mother's Day weekend, for everyone in our area. As we sing "Alleluia" throughout our prayer and, especially on the Sundays of the Easter season, it was much easier to feel the spirit of rejoicing because our weather has taken a much-anticipated turn to warmth and sun.

Though there are still many flowers in chapel, the first ones have begun to fade and we were able to plant their bulbs in the inner courtyard garden. Fun to see lilies blooming in July and August!

We got the opportunity to travel to our peninsula, too. This time of year, pre-tourists, you only run into locals. Nice!

Here's the Oliver Hazard Perry monument area at the very tip of the peninsula, two of many fishermen on the bay, our lighthouse at the entrance to the channel with the Flagship Niagara out for an early spring sail, and the professional kite fliers on Sunset beach (quickly becoming known as the kite flying beach!).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May is Flowering

I thought our onslaught of guests would wind down a bit, I was wrong. We have 4-5 women here this week who are fitting into our post-Easter "Let's all just be quiet and return to the every day" atmosphere just perfectly. They are all smiles, yet quiet and unassuming. We are trying to be the same! One, however, has taken me off guard, as she announced that she had me in high school some 30+ years ago. Yikes! She is back in Erie for awhile because of an ailing parent and she needed a quiet, away place to be while negotiating some parenting. This is just what Benedictine hospitality is for.

Our website has some new entries, including a fun slide show from Sunday's benefactors' brunch. A brief disclaimer on why yours truly looks so tired----I was! But was a fun event.

Despite our barrels of rain, acres of standing water ponds and endless sun-less days, our trees are flowering beautifully. If we weren't so cold we could get outside and enjoy them! But nonetheless, here are a couple lovely, delicate ones that I found hidden in obscure corners of the Mount. Can you tell where they are?

Monday, May 2, 2011

And Happy Anniversary

Our guest speaker this weekend was terrific. Maria Cimperman is an Ursuline currently living in San Diego, CA, though doing some online teaching with occasional on-campus time in San Antonio. She is writing a new book on social analysis and we got a dose of the ideas, with twists and tweaking for religious congregations. The example we used to go through some of the process's steps was the natural gas drilling question that is THE topic throughout much of Pennsylvania as we are poised above huge natural gas reserves in our shale. However, the environmental and human costs, dangers and risks of this drilling and fracking are monumental. The film, Gasland, which documents one young man's research into this drilling, is currently #1 on amazon's DVD list---so interest in the topic is really taking off...thank goodness.

Two of our favorite Easter gifts: The DVD of "The King's Speech" from one of our English oblates and two volumes of the St. John's Bible: "The Psalms" and "Gospels and Acts." Beautiful, both.

If you haven't given the new Monasteries of the Heart website a look yet, you might try it soon. It's very cool and has lots of options, such as a blog with reader conversation, videos, and some daily postings by some of the sisters involved or those already in MoH groups or interested in starting one. It's here.

Happy Anniversary LTSGW....Today begins year #5.