Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cedar Waxwing

This week a large flock of cedar waxwing have arrived and are spending their days in a tree in the corner of our front yard enjoying the frozen berries they're finding there. They are quite beautiful. Our novice told me yesterday that she can't remember ever hearing so many birds in the winter--and she's just from nearby Buffalo. Maybe that's an abbreviated way to describe the novitiate year: a time of listening, seeing and being in a way that everyday routines and commitments don't allow.

Monday, January 27, 2014

At home weekend

Another at home weekend as the snow that affected many cities of the northern U.S. missed us, but the low temperatures did not. One of our oblates gave us the DVD of the movie The Butler as a late Christmas present and many sisters enjoyed it this weekend as both a Saturday and Sunday showing was organized.

Another sister saved her Christmas present to everyone for this Sunday evening. It was one of our favorites: an ice cream bar with 10-12 varieties to choose from! Great fun.

And third: our 12th Annual Lenore Shaw Memorial Super Bowl Pool was available for sign ups, too. Lenore Shaw was a real treasure--unique in kindness, humor and overall goodness. She exemplified a chapter in the Rule of Benedict that states that a person can enter and leave the community up to three times--Lenore entered twice in the late 1940s as a young woman and then, after 25+ years, came back for good in 1978. One of her many contributions was engineering fun events such as those around the Super Bowl--thus our annual remembrance.

See? You have to make your own indoor fun when you live through winters such as this one.

And finally, students from Canisius College in Buffalo came, with their directors, for a retreat weekend Friday through Sunday. They came to all of our prayer and meals. Very enjoyable young people! Glad they found us--with our 15 guest rooms the monastery is perfect for such events.

Another 7:00 a.m. shot of a morning moon in the north sky.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Courtesy of Youtube

One of our hermitage visitors last January took this little virtual tour of his stay here and posted it on youtube! It's really quite good, I think, and very true to life even though there is no golfing in January usually! Enjoy.

Yes, even we Benedictines have a Francis shrine on the property!
 This one is in the picnic area of Benetwood Apartments.

And now for today's weather report...which is the #1, #2 and #3 topics of discussion not only in Erie, I'm sure, but all over the country from what I see on The Weather Channel. Winter Storm Janus, that you probably have been watching this week as it wrecked havoc up the east coast, missed us entirely. This is not unusual--we get the Canadian stuff far more often than we get things that come up from the Gulf or across the southern midwest. However, we do have the cold temps that just about everyone has....25 in Atlanta? WOW!

In a time of distrust and fear not only in our big cities but also throughout suburbia and rural areas, it was a touching bit of hope to see numerous big-city mayors urging their citizens to "check on your neighbors" during these especially cold winter days. Kindness and goodness live on--they just don't get the (unfortunately dramatic) headlines.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Since it's still January and, hopefully, most of us have stopped writing or thinking that it's 2013 and have adjusted to our new January calendar pages, here's a photo that I think fits with the first month of the year.

In 1993, when I first joined Benetvision Publications, which was then called Pax Publications, the staff was just putting the finishing touches on its first wall calendar (1994). I don't remember how many copies were printed, maybe 500? The years passed and the calendar continued, getting better and better each year. I'd guess they print more than 3,000 now.

Here, in the monastery's first floor room that presents a variety of Joan Chittister's literary archive material, is a new display that we put up during this "change your calendars" time--all the Benetvision wall calendars, featuring Joan's writings and photographs by our sisters, oblates and friends. Kind of awesome to see them all in one place!

Twenty years of Benetvision calendars. The first one is on the second shelf from the bottom, second from the left (blue border). 2013's is in the second row from the top, second from the right (purple iris). 2014 isn't there--hopefully it is in your homes!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Week

On Tuesday morning on the way into town we witnessed the most stunning sky as part of the sunrise. We didn't stop to take a picture of it but as soon as I got to my desk I ran to the end of the hall (which has a window that faces east) and managed to take this one. It doesn't capture exactly what we had seen 10 minutes earlier, but it's close.

The twin domes are on St. Stanislaus Church on East 12th St.

If you come directly to this site and not through our community's webpage, you should go to it and see a number of new entries right on the front page--especially the Winter scenes slide show. It gives the beautiful side of our snowy days.

Also, you might enjoy The 3rd Shriver Report that focused on women and the economy, particularly on the working poor and the underpaid. Our Joan Chittister was one of the first speakers Wednesday the 15th and the website says the program, which was live-streamed, will be available soon. Try here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Red Bird

Red Bird Explains Himself

"Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves,
but this was only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience:
bringing sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.

But don't stop there, stay with me: listen.

If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart,
that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed there,
with all its followers:
gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.

And this was my true task,
to be the music of the body.
Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul.
And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth
and I am of the inexplicable beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent,
to teach this to your heart."

Mary Oliver

The male of the cardinal couple that
frequent my feeder most winter days.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hercules and Ion and one missed

Two years ago the Weather Channel started naming winter storms. They said the main reason was to make communication clearer for weather people in order to tell what storm they were talking about. Here are the names for 2013-14. Very clever!

In between H and I we got a walk outside back to the grounds of our Benetwood Apartments. Lo and behold look what was there: 4:45 pm.

Our very dark-coated deer in winter.
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Some trivia about other names: Do you know what the names "Sophia" and "Jackson" have in common?

A huge storm (name?) came off Lake Ontario and socked Buffalo and western NY terribly early this week. Luckily it missed us and all others on the southern shore of Lake Erie.

Our woods after these heavy snowstorms.

Monday, January 6, 2014

In memory of Hermana

You'd have to be an extraordinarily faithful LTSGW follower to remember that I wrote about Hermana Marietta in January 2008, but I'm going to do it again today, six years later.

Marietta, a marvelous language teacher, was my 9th grade Latin teacher and a fellow teacher of Spanish when I joined that school's staff a few years later. She spoke at least four languages fluently (including Latin!)and had unique teaching aids that her students, I'm sure, recalled and appreciated more in their 30s and 40s than they did as young teenagers. One was this: every year she gathered up all the Christmas cards that she could find that included the Magi on them. Her post-Christmas lesson plans included stories and translations of Epiphany and Wise Men, aided by these visuals. To this day not a Christmas goes by that I don't think of her annual gathering.

In this same vein I have my own Christmas "tradition" which is to select my favorite card from the 100s that come in the monastery or in my own mail and hang onto it for a few months as a memory of the beauty of the time of year. This year it's one of the Magi.

It's from France, the monastery of a group of 38 Bernardine sisters from the Monastere N. D. de la Plaine--members of the Cistercian family.

Hermana will also be remembered for her malapropisms. We used to wonder if she had so many translations in her head that words just came out in unique patterns even she couldn't control. Luckily, her sense of humor matched her language talent. Here's one of her best: One day she put up a note asking for a ride to a funeral home for the viewing of a women she knew. She wrote: "Can anyone give me a ride to Mrs. Walker's viewing? She is being laid out at Russell Stover's." She was really being viewed at Russell Schmidt's Funeral Home, not at the candy store of Russell Stover's!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


This is how our weather people announce that we're right in the path of winter storm Hercules:

Tues. morning: "We expect 2-4" fresh snow by driving home time."
Tues. evening: "3-5" will be part of your morning commute tomorrow."
Wed. morning: "The New Year is coming in white with 1-3" by noon."
Wed. afternoon: "Looking forward to just an additional inch or so before midnight."
Thurs. morning: "Winter storm Hercules is moving across the upper midwest and will bring 3-4" to the lakeshore."
Thurs. evening: "Our weather will finally clear out tonight with only 2-3" by morning."

And that is how you get 12-18" of snow over the New Year's holiday!

And this is how the newspaper announced it: December 2013 ranks at least 8th through Tuesday at 5:00 pm with 46.6" The seasonal total now stands at 62.2"

(We're so far ahead in the Snow Bowl they aren't even listing the other 9 cities!)