Thursday, June 28, 2012

Busy summer days

Lots of summer news on our community's site, including the Nuns on the Bus tour here in the East the last two weeks of June. The three major communities of women in Erie co-sponsored a rally Wednesday in downtown Erie in solidarity with the bus tour and legislation that would help the poor and needy. The Erie Times News has coverage, both print and video, on their website.

These "Miles from the Boston Store" posts are an iconic part of Erie's late 20th c. history. Here's one that still exists---3 miles east of us on East Lake Road. The Boston Store was a popular seven-story department store in downtown Erie, pre-mall days. One of my favorite Boston Store memories is of its elevators. Each included a little fold-down stool right inside, used by the elevator man who ran each elevator. Just wonderful!

Fortunately, it was never torn down as part of inner-city renewal programs. Today it is a low-income apartment complex, still, at least externally, the same.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lake vs Ocean

After spending a week's vacation at the Jersey Shore for a number of years, I've finally realized the allure of this shore-culture, especially to its #1 proponents: the people of Philadelphia and New York.

The beaches and the shore towns and all that goes along with them, is indeed a great way to spend a vacation--if you're a water/sun person, of course. The mountain, woods-loving folks had better stay inland!

But my love for the great lakes regions, with their fresh water, small boating and swimming, ice fishing and ice skating in winter, and overall easily accessible water recreational sports without the "dangers" of the ocean, its currents, storms and marine life, still holds the #1 place in my heart!

But that doesn't mean I'll trade in my Jersey week. I'll enjoy them both!

P.S. Finished, The Confessor by Charles Todd, a great mystery and am just starting A Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Welcome summer

What a wonderful way to welcome in summer--four of us sat for an hour outside in our inner courtyard and watched over 75 Night Blooming Evening Primroses open, as the sun set during the first hours of summer last night.

Don't miss our summer issue of THE MOUNT magazine that is now online on our community's website.

Also, Mary Lou's latest blog entry on the page is wonderful. It's a "tribute" to recently deceased Ray Bradbury. Great comments by readers also.

My new series, "Mailboxes of East Lake Road" continues.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to normal

It's back to "normal" after a week of retreat. It really is a little jarring when you first come out of retreat, isn't it? The schedule was different, demands on your time, even of yourself, were very different--not to mention the sleep schedule--and most everything else that's part of the "normal" day was suspended for a week.

All that changes today---normalcy returns.

A new idea came to me in one of my relaxing moments last week, so here begins a series: "This is the way it was, pre-email."

In reality it still exists, at least on a 15-mile stretch: roadside mail delivery. Within that 15 miles, from the city of Erie limits to the New York state line, along East Lake Road, I found some creative examples--here are the first two:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What I won't forget #6

RB: Chapter 74 "Keeping Monastic Profession Daily Before Our Eyes." Remembering what we did when we did it.

We mirror to the culture an alternative way of living. Prophecy demands absolute clarity about identity. Who we are, what we stand for, with whom we stand. I don't pray for vocations, I pray for authenticity.

Will the world find its reservoir of hope here?

Friday, June 15, 2012

What I won't forget #5

The question is, What do I own and what owns me?

Simplifying, living with what is sufficient, is a great ideal until the day we cut our number of tea choices from five to three and my favorite was one of the ones dropped!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What I won't forget #4

Don't miss the new opening video on our community website, "Reflections on Ordinary Time."

One of today's topics was power, specifically unilateral power vs. relational power. The power spoken of in the Gospel of Jesus is relational--to be able and open to influence and to be influenced throughout our life.

In the common life well-lived we don't just tolerate differences, but we encourage them.

And one funny story: an older sister who was quite simple was out watering the flowers. Another sister who was always telling everyone how to do things (her way) went by and proceeded to tell the sister how to water the flowers, what she was doing wrong, etc. For quite awhile the older sister just ignored the litany of advice. Finally, however, she had had it. In one full sweep she spun around and turned the hose on the other--gave her a real watering herself.

Learn to enjoy the differences, very little is going to go exactly my way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I won't forget #3

The choices we make right now truly will determine whether there will be Benedictines in North America in the future.

Words move but example convinces.

Our call is to live authentically and enthusiastically. We must live who we say we are and what we say we believe in.

We Benedictines working together have a strong voice in the world today, but that voice comes from living an authentic life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I won't forget #2

The first word of the Rule of Benedict is "listen." A holy listening is an absolute necessity in cenobitic monastic life--on everyone's part. And listening is the beginning of obedience.

Mary Oliver's take:
I ask you again, If you have not been enchanted by this adventure--your life--what would do for you?

And where are you, with your ears bagged down as if with packets of sand? Listen. We all have much more listening to do. Tear the sand away. And listen. The river is singing.

Let me put it this way--if you distain the cobbler may I assume you walk barefoot?

For myself, I have walked in these woods for more than forty years, and I am the only thing, it seems, that is about to be used up. Or to be less extravagant, will in the foreseeable future, be used up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I won't forget #1

Retreat 2012

To the Cave of Wisdom and Life came three seekers. The guard at the gate said, "Before you enter you must answer one question: How far do you wish to go into the Cave of Wisdom and Life?"

The three went into consultation and discussion about their answer. After awhile they returned to the guard, who asked again, "How far do you wish to go into the Cave of Wisdom and Life?"

And they answered, "Not really very far; just enough to say we've been there."

And as T. S. Eliot wrote, "Where is the life we've lost in living?"

Another Haunt

Within about 4 miles of the Mount we have a WalMart and a KMart. Both have grocery sections--WalMart's is quite large. But we also have a grocery chainstore from the Pittsburgh area, Giant Eagle, and although lots of folks shop at the two other stores, Giant Eagle does a huge business, too. So big in fact that it just finished building a new, bigger store which is set to open this Thursday. Here it is shiny new!

One of its big draws is their 10 cents off a gallon of gas for every $50 spent there--and that includes prescription drugs, dry cleaning or anything else they sell there. With gas about $3.59 in our area right now, 40 or 50 cents off/gallon can save some serious money.

Most of us frequent Giant Eagle regularly, just to pick up something special that our kitchen doesn't usually stock or to buy flowers, a USAToday newspaper, Tootsie Roll pops from the bulk candy bins, Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia, special ice cream treats, personal items, a particular food favorite or a host of other things that are sold along with the standard groceries.


An aside: we'll be starting our annual community retreat Monday night and I think I'll post just a little something from the day each evening. The director is a Benedictine sister from the Midwest and I know she'll have lots of good reflections on our life as monastic women. Check in if you wish

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


At our peninsula, officially known as Presque Isle State Park, they posted this on their facebook page this week. Just can't resist sharing it:

"Students who were participating in a field trip lesson yesterday with the Environmental Ed. staff got a real learning experience. A fawn came and laid down near our boots and took a nap. When students asked why the EE staff weren't going to do anything for the fawn they explained that the animal is fine and just needs to be left alone, the mother is nearby. Sure enough, later in the lesson the mother doe called out and the fawn got up and walked back into the woods. A good reminder for everyone to leave young animals be. The mothers are close by and the young don't need to be 'rescued.'"

I have a friend who is a wonderful graphic artist. From her I've learned countless things from the world of visual artistry: font types and sizes, layout tips, ways to take good photos, how to crop them and use them in all types of areas. The most important thing I've learned from her is how to see better.

If you enjoy the creativity and delight of graphic design you've got to get into the habit of checking the Google Doodles page every week or so as they post the word "GOOGLE" in every imaginable manner (see link on sidebar). This is the peak of creativity and there seems to be no end to their ideas. But be warned, this is not one of those quick look pages....once you get hooked it's very, very hard to leave the site!

Here's one from last week that celebrated the birthday of the Russian artist Fabergé---with commentary by the artist.

"An artist whose ornate sensibility earned him royal regard, Peter Carl Fabergé is a jeweler worthy of a doodle! Best known for his intricate eggs, Fabergé caught the attention of the Russian court. The Tsar commissioned eggs from him every year, and each time he crafted gems that were more surprising and florid than the previous. With such a reputation, he even represented his home country in the 1900 World's Fair in Paris.

"His discriminating eye did not stop at detail, he and his studio were also perfectionists. Perhaps in the spirit of finding just the right composition to celebrate Fabergé's birthday, I went through numerous positions/designs for this doodle."

Monday, June 4, 2012

June is here

Here is a very interesting "letter" from the writer Mary Gordon of The Company of Women, Final Payments and others. She is a longtime Catholic. I think you'll find it quite something.

We had a lively retreat here this weekend in which Sr. Carolyn used as the theme the life and works of our Brother Thomas, the potter, who passed away four years ago now, I believe. Many of the retreatants are also oblates, which reminded me that I wanted to share these unique photos that I received from one of my oblate friends who lives in Colorado. You won't believe your own eyes. The photos of the flowers are really photos of people!