Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer story

In these first days of summer one of my favorite summer "things" happened: many of our green bushes and plants have flowered. It's that short time period of 1 or 2 weeks each year when they are something other than a rather unremarkable pile of green leaves. Here are four that I wanted to share with you. With apologies to the plants, for in reality they are much more attractive than what I caught with my camera.

Maybe you'll notice some around you, too. It happens so fast. Before you know it they'll be back to their "everyday look."

Summer Story

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine,
into the funnels

of the blossoms,
and the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,

I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in this world

that aren't
pieces of gold
or power--
that nobody owns

or could buy even
for a hillside of money--
that just
float about the world,

or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines,
and now here I am

spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling,
so that I feel I am myself

a small bird
with a terrible hunger,
with a thin beak probing and dipping
and a heart that races so fast

it is only a heartbeat ahead of breaking--
and I am the hunger and the assuagement,
and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,
and, like them, I am full of delight, and shaking.

Mary Oliver

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Very clever engineers

I know that I inundate you with the nature side of life here at the Mount, but we do love it. As those who live in Erie often advise: "To be really happy living here you have to love all four seasons!" And I think they're right--or at least three of the four! And spring and summer are definitely two of my favorites.

Here is a great piece that a friend sent me: Engineers without diplomas. I've included one photo to entice you to check out the link. Enjoy!

Otherwise things are going well this week. Summer came on Friday both literally and with temperatures in the 80s. They have lasted all weekend. The 80s are about as hot as it gets for us. Anything above 90 is very rare; so we're hot.

For your browsing pleasure I hope you've had time to look through our latest edition of The Mount magazine. There's a link in the upper right of this page. It's very nice, as always.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beauty right around the corner

Those moments poets write about so frequently are true: sometimes you're just going about your everyday life and you make a turn, figuratively or in reality, and you run right into beauty: unexpected, breathtaking and, well...just beautiful.

That's what happened to me last Sunday as I came through the community room doors, casually looked around (why, I do not know) and saw these: 100 handmade (hand turned) wood vases covering the top of one of our large bureaus. They took my breath away.

Here's the background story: Our Sister Audrey, who is a wood turner and belongs to a wonderful club of wood turners, enlisted her friends to provide 100 small vases for the August meeting of the Benedictine women in the US who are "under age 55." They meet every couple of years for camaraderie, friendship, encouragement and support. Their meeting this year is in August in the middle of the Midwest plains, in Yankton, SD (Sacred Heart Monastery). Each of them will receive one of these--from their Benedictine sisters and friends--1,000 miles east on the Great Lake, Erie.

Click to enlarge

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend snapshots

As we wind up our annual retreat and get ready to "head back to reality" Monday morning, here's a little snapshot of some of the things you'd see or hear about if you were with us this weekend.

1) At the end of retreat Saturday afternoon we had a community picture taken, our first since 2006. Ninety-five of us were able to be present and the other four, through the magic of photoshop, will be "placed" into the final print.

2) We continue to be Wild Kingdom East as the fawn I've mentioned made its first appearance in our backyard right after morning liturgy Sunday for all sisters and guests who were in the dining room to see; wonderful experience. Additionally, two of our oblates, who live right down the road, reported seeing a baby killdeer and baby woodpecker Saturday--their first sightings ever. And here is a pigeon that has taken up temporary residence in our gardens for the last few weeks. This is a picture from google images and although it might not be exactly this type, it's pretty close--very pretty: all black with wings that are white when in flight. In the evening it makes that low cooing sound.

3) At noontime this Father's Day the father of one of our sisters passed away. He was well into his late 90s. She had faithfully been by his side daily during the last few weeks as his death approached. Accompanying your Dad into heaven on Father's Day--not a bad present!

4) And on a very sober note, in the middle of retreat we read in our local paper that a young man had been killed outside of a bar in the early morning hours in the city. His will be our first Take Back the Site for Nonviolence Prayer Vigil of 2013.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mid-retreat week

Our retreat is going along very well. The temperatures are holding so we're able to be outside quite a bit, but storms are predicted for tomorrow--our desert day. The "desert" may be in our rooms amidst rainy skies.

Abbot Paul Mark is presenting conferences rather creatively, as he has developed a background story around the stories he's chosen from the gospels. We are meeting wives and friends and learning what may have happened leading up to the encounter with Jesus that the gospel tells us about. It's quite creative and comes, he says, from his own lectio.

I have read books that do this, too, as you probably have--filling out a possible scenario that is "unreported" by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's a very helpful technique especially for expanding our understanding and view of Jesus, his message and his times.

I also had the thought this week that I might approach a techie friend to see if it would be worth considering live-streaming our retreat conferences next year. I've seen some websites that have live-streaming from their chapels and we already have a camera set up for an internal TV channel. Since we have more than 250 oblates, the majority who do not live in Erie, it might be worthwhile. We'll see.

This is the week of our roses. Here's how they start out, outdoors and how they end up, indoors.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Retreat week

Tonight we start our annual community retreat. This year, for our retreat director, we have a Trappist abbot, Paul Mark Schwan, OCSO, from the Abbey of New Clairveux in Vina, California, which is in the northern part of the state. You can visit their very nice website here.

The title of the retreat is: FOR WHAT HAVE YOU COME? THE RULE’S QUESTIONS. Paul Mark will give two group conferences a day. Their titles are:

The Art of the Question

Prologue 12, Mark 1:9-11

Prologue 15, Luke 19:1-10

Prologue 19, Mark 10:46-52

Prologue 23, John 6:66-69

RB 2:15, Luke 15:1-7

RB 60:3, John 20:11-16

RB 73:3, John 4:7-42

RB 73:8, Matthew 28:1-8

We are looking forward to the quiet, peaceful and prayerful time that this week always brings.

But, in the midst of everything, as always, life goes on and here is the first of our 2013 new family members--right on time to sample our salt lick which I picked up Saturday and put in its usual place in our apple orchard.

Photo: Patricia Hause, OSB, administrator of Benetwood Apartments. Taken right outside her windows there a couple days ago.

PS. If you've read Where the Wilds Things Are to a child, or just heard about it, don't miss today's Google logo--a tribute to the author.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Authority, power, leadership

Our sister, Joan Chittister, does quite a number of interviews in the course of a year. Often they are somewhat repetitive as the interviewers tend to ask similar questions. But, here's one I can't not highlight. It was done by a woman from the Center for American Progress, a think tank of sorts. I was impressed by the non-canned topics and, of course, Joan's always non-canned answers. She talks about the difference between the concepts of authority vs power vs leadership. Wonderful exchange of ideas. Are we surprised?!

Benetvision's weekly e-newsletter does a great job of keeping its readers up on Joan's latest professional events and publications such as this, but I didn't want to take the chance that all of you don't get that regularly. When I find something I think is really good from Joan, I try to reference it here, too. Hope you enjoy it. Authority, power, leadership.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Corpus Christi---Texas?

This weekend we had our usual group of guests and another great Sunday liturgy. A dozen or two of the guests came via a Seasons of the Spirit retreat that had gorgeous weather for their time here. The other 30-40 additions to Sunday morning came from the SBA event that was held this weekend: 200 alumnae gathered for a summer luncheon with tours of their alma mater to follow. Then, on Sunday, they were invited here for Sunday liturgy and quite a number came. They are energetic, loyal and fun-loving women--still faithful to the school that closed 25 years ago this month. Amazing.

The liturgical calendar this Sunday brought the feast of Corpus Christi--the Body and Blood of Christ. Which made me wonder, If you took a random survey of 1,000 residents of Corpus Christi, Texas and asked them what the name of city means, how many would know? But, then again, how many of 1,000 people who live in Erie know that it is named for the Eriez Indians, a group of the Iroquois nation!

Here are two of the environment pieces from Corpus Christi Sunday: the first was moved onto the altar after liturgy and stayed there all day. Very nice. The three flower arrangements were scattered throughout the chapel and I caught them just before they were being taken other places. These little, seemingly small, yet eye-catching pieces in the chapel really add much to our liturgical experiences. Thanks always to our "environmental artists"!