Wednesday, August 31, 2011

People Watching

As I spent 3 years in the original habit I remember quite vividly the unexpected awareness of always being stared at, living in the proverbial fishbowl. "Guess what we saw today, Mommy---nuns!" For a basically shy person it was awful. As much as I had looked forward to receiving it, the return to lay clothes and their accompanying anonymity was a welcome relief.

Beaches have to rank right up there with airports and malls for people-watching and we have done a great deal of that this week. Three observations: families are alive and well--all three generations, grandparents, parents and kids are everywhere; people still read books, as we saw paper books all over the beach----of course, Kindles and Nooks may not get along too well with the fine Jersey sand; and finally, vacation time is great, as most people we are seeing have a smile on their face, are dressed in shorts and summer tops, and are drinking and eating with friends.

Not to spoil the reflection, but the realities of the world don't take a vacation, so let us remember today all those in our world for whom the above experiences would be only a dream or even an unknown concept, as their life is one of just trying to meet their basic needs each day. Take a vacation? You're kidding.

Here are some everyday views of "life at the shore"!
Click to enlarge.

Two blogs you'll like: Alyssa's and Carrie's

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Night, Irene

Having a little adventure on vacation this week as we traveled to the Jersey shore for some fun and sun and ran right into the coming of Hurricane Irene and a mandatory evacuation of all shore towns 24 hours after we got there! Ended up in Philadelphia for the weekend but, hopefully, back to the sand and salt water soon.

We waited in a line for over 1 hour to fill up with gas before leaving. There were three lines feeding into the station and it was exactly like what we've seen on TV in numerous evacuation scenes. The locals here are split on the disaster warnings and preparations. Some think it's much ado about nothing and others think precaution is always the best decision. Everyone seems to agree that the east coast governors, mayors, and disaster officials have a strong memory of the Katrina mess in New Orleans and "don't want that on my watch"---so it's better to be overly cautious.

Unknown to us, Philadelphia just set a rainiest month record in August with over 13", so they rightly worried that an onslaught of water wouldn't be handled well by the city, its ground, reservoirs and streams.

As Irene passed by overnight the only two effects on us were 8 hours without electricity (3:00-11:00 a.m.) and a night of listening to wild winds and loads and loads of rainfall. Not much damage outside of trees down and isolated power outages. Low lying areas, as always, were the most affected with flooding in predictable places.

By noon Sunday we actually started to see bright sunshine and Jersey residents were allowed to start to return home. We'll be heading back Monday ourselves. Better a few days than none at all.

Meanwhile, back at the Mount, here is one of our loveliest bushes--the flowers are a beautiful light green.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In 1861 the young (only 5 years old) Benedictine community of Erie responded to a request by Louis Fink, OSB, to send sisters to Chicago to conduct a girls' school in a parish there that was headed by Benedictine monks. Three sisters were sent from Erie.

To take a quantum leap---this week the Benedictine community of St. Scholastica Monastery began celebrating their 150th anniversary of presence and ministry to the people of Chicago.

Four of our sisters, representing the founding monastery, traveled to Chicago for the opening of the year-long celebration.

Every columnist in the country, be they at national newspapers or local newsletters, will be reflecting on the 10th anniversary of 9-11 in the next couple of weeks. Here is a good column already by Mercy Sister Camille D'Arienzo. She mentions our Joan Chittister prominently.

Finally, two weekly blogs you might enjoy: Alyssa's Year and Carrie's Year

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lazy, Hazy Days of August

We still have lots of retreatants around and some of our sisters, too, are getting in some last days of summer quiet time. Here's a beauty by Mary Oliver that would certainly take care of a day of retreat reflection by itself.

How Many Days

How many days I lived and had never used
the holy words.
Tenderly I began them when it came to me
to want to, oh mystery irrefutable!
Then I went out of that place
and into a field and lay down
among the weeds and the grasses,
whispering to them, fast, in order to keep
that world also.

Mary Oliver

As a sign of the lessening number of summer days we have a number of patches of Black-Eyed Susans that are dying away. On the other hand, luckily, we have other patches that are alive and bright.

This is one of my favorite trees on our property. It probably looks like a rather average tree to most, but it has three outstanding characteristics: 1) It is beautifully shaped, with feathery leaves that give it a rather wispy look; 2) It is positioned in the backyard so that whenever we eat out on the patio we get a perfect view of it; and 3) It's the last, very last, tree to get its leaves each spring, so late in fact that we all say, "Is that tree dead?" and luckily someone who knows its cycle is nearby and says, "No, it's just the last to come out, but wait until you see it." The proverbial best for last?!

And, welcome Alyssa and Carrie!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photos of Light

I bought a copy of Games magazine to help pass the time on the 4+ hour flight from LA back to Erie last Saturday. Games has just what you'd think, a wide variety of games from a couple standard crosswords to word games, visuals and puzzles of all kinds and levels. One of their famous games is called Eyeball Benders. Here they take a closeup photo of common everyday objects, where only a small part of each is visible. The challenge is to see if you can identify them.

So, here I am walking through our first floor making a type of Eyeball Bender for you. Can you identify where these objects are on first floor at the Mount? For those who have never been here, please just enjoy my small attempts to take photos of objects difficult to capture as such.

I think the first one's easy, the next medium, and the third challenging!

Sister Anne's personal reflections on the LCWR conference can be found here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Purple Martin Time

From the Erie Times News this week:

Purple gaze: Hooray for the Purple Martin Conservation Association. The association is based in Erie, and members estimate that as many as 20,000 purple martins can be seen when they stop in the reeds at Presque Isle State Park during their fall migration to Brazil and Peru. The birds are showing up a little earlier than usual this year and are expected to fly south in early September. "It's really unbelievable," nature photographer Michele Franz says about the experience of watching the birds fly into their roosts and hearing them land. It's especially stunning to see the birds pepper the sky during a gorgeous Erie sunset.

"The purple martin is impressive not only for its remarkably long migration (an estimated 5,000 miles), but also because they tolerate people so well," says John Tautin, executive director of the association, based at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

Of course, we're tickled that the thousands of purple martins visiting here also attract more than 100 participants to this annual conference, to learn how to protect the purple martin population. We're not so happy, though, that individuals can no longer traipse to the foot of Sommerheim Drive to watch the birds at the head of the peninsula. The site is off-limits because of construction and vandalism.

For another great story on this "Erie phenomenon" click here.

Don't miss another of our LLL "reports" on our website.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On the West Coast

Here are some images that caught my attention at the LCWR assembly in Anaheim.

There was a whole aisle of religious candles in Target! Don't know whether it's because they don't have a religious goods store or that the people here are just very devotional!

Here are the beautiful foothills we came to when we visited the Benedictine Sisters of Glendora, CA. Just beautiful.

More from Glendora, at an outdoor dinner with wonderful music from a gal who records for Oregon Catholic Press.

Benetvision has a booth here among the exhibitors. Amazing how many sisters already know about our Monastery of the Heart program.

Though we didn't actually go inside one of the "worlds," we did go into the Disney entrance area that has this famous sign!

You'll notice that there aren't any photos of the 650 leaders of religious communities who are meeting...but those gatherings are going along fine, too!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back in LA

I will be outside of Los Angeles on the day this is posted, attending the annual LCWR assembly. Ironically, I have been to 6-7 of these already while handling the booth of products for Benetvision--and one of those times was in this very place, in Anaheim, home of Disneyland. This time I come as a participant. In an unusual event, a Benedictine from our Federation is one of the keynote speakers. Since Benedictines comprise somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of Catholic sisters in the US, I say it is somewhat unusual.

Catch our homesite this week which will surely carry a variety of photos from our LLL summer community days last week which were just terrific--or so the early feedback indicates!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peace Plant

What a lovely ceremony and celebration Wednesday night for Al and Peggy Richardson, two longtime advocates of justice, education, peace, dignity and acceptance of all peoples in the Erie area. They and a couple dozen of their friends and family joined us for prayer and the awards ceremony with a reception following. It was very moving to see some of the "quiet" people, the ones somewhat behind the scenes, yet always part of the planning committee or organizing group, the ones that have truly dedicated their lives to causes for the betterment of humanity, receive some public recognition.

A peace plant was one of their gifts, along with a beautifully-framed award that include a Benedictine medal and an engraved metal-worked design with "Seek peace and pursue it" from the RB as the centerpiece of the award.

Monday, August 1, 2011

LLL Week

This week finds our community committed to our annual summer community days, aka LLL Days: Learning, Leisure and Legislation. They begin Tuesday night and run through Saturday.

The Learning this year includes the area of Wellness: both for each of us personally and for the group communally. Additionally, there is always time for good community discussions on issue of import for all.

Leisure will find us with time for our own hobbies and interests along with reservations for the Erie Playhouse production of Fame, the musical based on the story of the New York City High School for the Arts.

Finally, Legislation comes in the form of Monastic Chapter meetings that are always needed since we are both a non-profit corporation of the State of Pennsylvania and a canonical entity within the Catholic Church and the Federation of St. Scholastica.

Though all three will be interesting, the real enjoyment comes from just spending 3-4 days together, which strengthens the bonds of friendship and community no matter what we are actually doing!

Each year for only 2-3 weeks our chapel is rimmed by these gorgeous yellow lilies. Beautiful.