Monday, January 30, 2012

I is for Interfaith

Lately I've been very careful when using the two words "interfaith" and "interreligious." I know that they are used interchangeably, have the same meaning in everyday parlance, but people often prefer one or the other.

Inter-church (and yet another term!) Ministry of Erie County is an organization that has been in our area since 1910 and has a dedicated number of members with real interest in cooperative efforts among Christian religions in our county. We have had a sister-representative on the group for many years and even hosted their events at the Mount a few times.

This weekend one of our sisters spoke at the Presbyterian Church here in Harborcreek at one of their annual gatherings. Sister Mary Ellen Plumb's reflections were wonderful as she briefly shared the lives of five individuals who transformed the world of their time through their lives, often including interfaith efforts. Mary Ellen is an online discussion leader in our new Monasteries of the Heart program.

The graphics that groups use for interfaith/
interreligious efforts are beautiful. Here are a few I found. The meanings of most of the symbols can be found here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

H is for Halcyon

Last week I got an email from a friend who ended his message with a one-liner that went something like this: I hope you're surviving in this neurotic and dysfunctional church of ours. He is an outspoken and very well-spoken advocate of an open church, the tenets of Vatican II, and the hopes and dreams of what the Catholic Church could be if it was less institutional and would be more like followers of the social gospel of Jesus of Galilee.

I answered right off the top of my head, without a second thought. I wrote: Yes, I am surviving, primarily because of where I am and with whom I share my life.

I was referring, I believe, to an inner life of calm, peace, acceptance and purpose within a world, a church, a country, a reality that does not always bring those about.

This exchange all came back to me in choosing the word halcyon for H. As a noun halcyon is the name of a bird, a kingfisher, who legend says builds her nest in early winter on a raft of sticks that fishermen push out to sea to keep winter storms at bay.

I met it as an adjective, meaning calm and peaceful. I first heard it on a Mary Chapin Carpenter album, in the beautiful, yet sad song "Jubilee."

If you have a few minutes here's Mary herself singing "Jubilee." Halcyon comes in right at the end. Enjoy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

G is for God

"The One Hundred most beautiful names for God" from Islam.

Ya Muhyee O Quickener, Bringer to Life
Ya `Aahad O One and Only
Ya `Aakhir O Last
Ya Mu`akhherr O Fulfiller
Ya Mu`idd O Restorer
Ya `Aazalee O Eternal
Ya Mughnee O Sufficer
Ya `Aallah O God
Ya Mumeed O Slayer
Ya Mumeen O Faithful
Ya `Aawwal O First
Ya Mubdee O Beginner
Ya Barr O Good
Ya Baari O Skilled Worker
Ya Ba`eeth O Raiser from the Dead
Ya Mujeeb O Hearer of Prayer, Glorification
Ya Basir O Seeing
Ya Baseet O Uncloser
Ya Batin O Hidden
Ya Baaqiy O Eternal
Ya Rahmaan O Merciful
Ya Razzaaq O Provider
Ya Rasheed O Unerring
Ya Raffee O Exalter
Ya Raqeeb O Watchful, Guardian
Ya Ra`oof O Provider
Ya Salaam O Peace
Ya Samee’ O One who hears
Ya Shaakir O Thankful
Ya Shakoor O Appreciator
Ya Shahid O Witness, Martyr
Ya Saboor O Patient
Ya Sammad O Eternal, Solidity
Ya Musawwir O Sculptor
Ya `Aadil O Equitable
Ya `Azeez O Strong
Ya `Azeem O The Most High
Ya `Alim O Knower
Ya `Ali O Exalted
Ya Ghaffaar O Pardoner
Ya Ghafoor O Forgiver
Ya Ghanee O Sufficient
Ya Fatih O Opener, Conqueror
Ya Qadeer O Providence, Fate, Omnipotent
Ya Muqtadir O Powerful
Ya Muta'alee O One above reproach

Ya Tawwab O Relenting
Ya Jaami O Gatherer
Ya Jabbar O Compelling
Ya Jaleel O Glorious
Ya Jameel O Beneficent
Ya Hatim O Mighty
Ya Hafiz O Preserver
Ya Haqq O Truth
Ya Hakim O Wise
Ya Hakim-al-Mutlaq O Judge of Judges
Ya Halim O Clement
Ya Hameed O Praiseworthy
Ya Ha`iy O Life
Ya Khabeer O He Who Knows
Ya Mukhbeer One Who Informs
Ya Khafeez O Abaser
Ya Khalaaq O Creator
Ya Rabb O Lord
Ya Raheem O Beneficent
Ya Kareem O Generous
Ya Lateef O Gracious
Ya Mateen O Firm, Robust
Ya Hasib O Reckoner
Ya Majeed O Glorious
Ya Mukeed O Maintainer, Assurer
Ya Malik O King
Ya Malik-al-Mulk O King of the Kingdom
Ya Mumeen O Faithful
Ya Mannaan O Giver of Good
Ya Manee' O Withholder
Ya Nafi' O Favorably Inclined
Ya Muntaqim O Avenger
Ya Noor O Light
Ya Hadi O Guide
Ya Muhaymin O Helper in Peril, Protector
Ya Wajeed O Perceiving
Ya Waahid O One
Ya Wadood O Loving
Ya Waarith O Inheritor
Ya Quddos O Holy One
Ya Muqaddeem O Forewarner
Ya Muqsit O Equitable
Ya Quahhar O Conqueror, Violence, Force
Ya Qawee O Mighty, Strong of Mind
Ya Qayyoom O Self Sustaining, Straight
Ya Kabeer O Very Great
Ya Mutakabbeer O Majestic
Ya Wasi' O Abundant
Ya Wakeel O Guardian, Trusted One
Ya Walee O Nearest Friend
Ya Walee al-Ahsan O Friend of the Believers
Ya Waliy O Governor
Ya Wahhab O Bestower, Giver

And we say: O Holy One, O Adonai, Savior of Israel, God of All, Desire of Nations, Holy Spirit, I AM.

We have so much to share with each other.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

F is for Firefighter

It was an eerie feeling (a word we Erie-ites love to use) a couple weeks ago when I was browsing through USA Today and saw the short list (only 3) of the latest casualties from Afghanistan with an Erie boy's name first. He was really from our suburb, Harborcreek. We've had three from our borough, this latest an EOD (explosive-ordnance disposal) technician, age 23.

The wake and funeral were held in the high school he attended, with full military and local honors, as he had also been a member of our area volunteer fire department since a young teen.

We caught the 140+ vehicle procession at the corner of Buffalo and Nagle Rds. A small group of 8-10 year olds (scouts, I'd guess) were positioned right at the turn and waved flags and stood at attention as the cars and numerous emergency vehicles and firetrucks passed by.

Let us pray for an end to the wars that send so many young, young men and women back to their hometowns--for burial.

Here is a stunning list: total casualties in 20th century wars.

Monday, January 16, 2012

E is for Egan

I try to always have a novel in process--usually a who-done-it, as I like mysteries and have a half dozen favorite authors. But lately I felt a need to try something else and after seeing Anderson Cooper's interview with three contemporary American novelists I thought I'd try one of theirs. This is what led me to a visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan.

What a read! First of all, it's different; not just the story line but even the print layout in one of the chapters. Secondly, it won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction--WOW! and finally,'s review includes the phrase, "a story of self-destruction and redemption"--perfect.

So for the last week I've been reading a chapter at a time. Since every chapter is set in a different time period (past, present or future) it's the best way I can keep all the characters and what's going on straight.

Winter is a great time for reading as outdoors time is drastically reduced: see below. Hope you can find some good books, too.

My own personal snow gauge. When I went to bed Friday night this feeder was clear. When I woke up Saturday morning...voila 3-4". And we got another 2-3" Saturday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

D is for Daily

Liturgically we are back to Ordinary Time, which we all claim to love--a break from feasting! But I must tell you that there has been nothing ordinary and daily about this first week after the Christmas Season. Most obvious has been our extraordinary number of guests/visitors. Sunday alone we had teenagers everywhere as a Confirmation class from Warren, PA. came for liturgy and our eight Canisius University students arrived at the exact same time to begin their week of ministry, prayer and community during their semester break. They are delightful, just great to have around.

Adding to our non-ordinary week is the continuation of the 24-48 hour flu which first appeared December 18th and is still with us--appearing subtly every couple of days in a new person. It has gone through our houses in Erie as well as the Mount. When we are "attacked" by one of these winter bugs we are much more use to the kind that puts 20+ of us down all at once. This one is unusual in its one-by-one advance. Most sisters seem to spend a day or two sleeping, lying low and then popping up as quickly as they went down.

Finally, with our out-of-the-ordinary winter (so far) we are seeing blue skies and white clouds rather than the normal grey dome that settles over the area. Earlier this week we were treated to a huge, beautiful, full moon at 7:30 am on the way to work. Here's one shot of it from East Lake Road.

Monday, January 9, 2012

C is for Child

There are some feasts in the liturgical year that are just simply loved by everyone here. Yesterday, the Feast of the Epiphany, was one of those. We sing the song "Shepherds and Kings" only once a year, Epiphany; some held out adding the three Magi to their creches until just a few days ago; and we have other once-a-year references to the Wise Men, Wise Women, Wise Ones whose story we hear on this weekend: we come in search of the Child.

During Saturday night's Vigil of Sunday Evening Prayer this poem by Julian of Norwich was read. It's called "Seeking is as Good as Beholding."

If truth be told
we came
thinking we possessed
what we ought--

bearing frankincense
or myrrh,
as we ought,
bearing gold,
so we thought.

And today
finds us still
upon the way
in a landscape
we did not expect
with a treasure
we did not select
bearing incense
bearing gold and myrrh.

What least is ours
how will we give?
What most is ours
how will we give
and live?

Beneath a sky of night
alive with life
accept is give
and seeking is
our have.

When I heard this it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: "The God you seek, is also seeking you."


Finally, in my ongoing foray into Marlin Perkins's Wild Kingdom, look what I came face-to-face with this weekend. I'm sure he/she was spying the treats in my feeder and trying to gauge whether he could jump from the tree and land safely on it. As far as I know he didn't try---yet. But he did hold quite still for this shot!

See our community website's home page for some new entries.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

B is for Bishop

Good news: the woodpecker that I saw a couple weeks ago has now become a regular. However, looking at google images I'm suspecting that it is not a red-headed woodpecker but rather a red-bellied woodpecker. This photo of one looks very much like mine. The photos of a red-headed show that they have completely covered dark red heads. Either way, it's coming daily and when I happen to see it (it's extremely skittish), it is a delight. Never thought I'd be into birding, but the feeder that attaches right to my window has given me a very up-close view and has made me a happy birder. Getting the magazine Birds and Bloom sealed this new hobby.

We have a guest this week who works in a parish a few hundred miles from Erie. She has shared with us a little of the "challenges" of working with all the entities in a parish scene. These stories confirm in me the belief that the people who work in parishes and in diocesan offices are all leaders in the church. Day after day they minister within those structures to bring Christ's message to the realities of the every day--within our institutional Church. Not an easy "job."

This brought me, also, to a moment of gratitude for the good fortune of having a very good man as our current Bishop. He truly wants to serve the people of God and yet be faithful to the Church. He actually attended the Vatican II Council as a very young priest and we often see its philosophy alive in him. Personally, he has stood with us on a number of occasions, supporting our monastic life and our community. Would that we all had such fine, holy, simple, trusting and dedicated men as he.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A is for Autopsy

It had a holiday surrealness about it as the neighboring row house had a display of lit candy canes and the nearby houses still had their outside lights up for the season.

It was cold and rainy (as we've had a green Christmas this year), just four days after December 25th. Nearly 75 people braved the elements and the sadness to Reclaim the Site for Nonviolence.

"Here we are, again," I thought, ending 2011 with our fifth prayer vigil this year; fifty-eighth since we began a dozen years ago. This one was not our "average." The average Take Back the Site Prayer Vigil is for an 18-30 year old young man---black, white, Hispanic. It's held downtown, near a bar after a fight or other type of confrontation. There are others, of course, like this one: our city's latest homicide victim, age 19 months.

The autopsy said he "suffered lacerations to his liver and his pancreas and a cut to his intestines." The day before we gathered was the Christian Feast of the Holy Innocents--the baby boys slaughtered by King Herod as he sought to root out the "newborn king of the Jews."

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted
because they were no more.

Matthew 2:18

Abecedarian: an alphabetically arranged listing.