Thursday, February 27, 2014

End of February

Here we are at the end of February, a month I must confess I am always glad to see pass by. This year was unusual as Lent did not start yet, although it is coming next week and we are already in some pre-Lent modes.

Here is another small, yet unusual site:

Do you see that dark, grainy stuff on the left and right side of the stones? That, dear reader, is grass--or what grass looks like after 5-6-7 weeks under snow. Our deer are having a field day on our east lawn as they graze, heads down, for 45 minutes or so every afternoon in the newly-exposed grass.

Also, do you see that lighter region on the wall with the windows, continuing along to the left side? That is sunlight and today, although our temperatures were quite chilling by themselves, bright, bright winter sunlight warmed our hearts something fierce after, again, how many days of grey and overcast skies!

All in all these are positive signs and with the calendar changing over to M-A-R-C-H this Saturday--I'm nearly euphoric.

Here's a long overdue reflection by Mary Oliver, on life (be it winter or summer):

On Traveling to Beautiful Places

Every day I'm still looking for God
and I'm still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it's late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Floes and flows

A walk along Seven-Mile Creek down to the lake brought us these stunning photos: a strongly flowing creek because of all the melting snow over the last few days as the temperatures have gone above freezing and thick (6-10") floes of ice that wash 4-5 miles down the creek and pile up when they hit the sides or some other impediment. Can you tell that the large one in the center is actually balancing atop a downed tree? Wild!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

North vs South

At this time of year the southeastern part of the US and the Great Lakes region are polar opposites... pun intended!

Here is a blue heron that lives at a pond on the grounds of a residential complex we visited.

These trees cover the state park and the shoreline roads near Gumbo Limbo Environmental Center. They might be banyan trees, but I'm not sure.

Here's a view of the beaches along the Atlantic with palm trees and a lifeguard stand, which is more like a little shack...very cute!

On the way back home we were treated with a live view of something I've only seen via TV or photographs: a frozen Lake Erie... but no longer completely frozen as the ice is breaking up everywhere, which has to be an early sign of spring, doesn't it?

Click on photo to enlarge.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gumbo Limbo

Gumbo Limbo is the name of a marvelous nature/environmental center that we visited. Its emphasis is on sea turtles, both their nesting, protection and medical needs. They also have acres and acres of protected land. Another of those fascinating nature places.

Butterfly garden.

Rehabilitating injured or sick turtles is a big part of the center. This one had an infection and is ready to be released soon after antibiotics and a good feeding schedule for five months.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scholastica high

Still having warm memories of Monday's feast celebration. You can read about it on our website.The table decorations in the dining room were a taste of spring in all pastels.

A couple years ago we were caught in a hurricane on the Jersey shore, my first experience in a gas line! Now we're in the results of the winter storm, Pax, that's going through the southeast. Does wonders for patience and letting go of the reins of "control" in life!!

It gives me pause in awareness of those, good people, who don't ever have even a chance to get caught in airport delays. God bless them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thank goodness for blips

St. Scholastica in the chapel of
the Benedictine Sisters of Clyde, Missouri.

Today is the Feast of Scholastica in the Church calendar and I say, "Thank goodness for blips"---breaks in the winter that seems to have no end! No end to cold days, greyness and, yes, snow, snow and more beautiful snow. The many feast days (blips) in January, February and March bring with them beautiful prayer, special meals and desserts and overall enjoyment (all indoors, of course). A welcome relief from the list above. (I'm already looking forward to the triple in March: the 17th, 19th and 21st--all in one week.)

And then there are always "surprises" such as this very unusual shot for me: a female cardinal. She is so skittish I almost never see her settled for long, but lo and behold, there she was this weekend and the camera got her. Nice surprise!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Lady of the Snows

I have no words to accompany this except maybe: it's really not as bad as it sounds. After all, it doesn't come all at once! And it could sound a lot worse---if they said: 8 ½ feet!

Our own Our Lady of the Snows!

From online pages:

Improbable as it is for snow to fall during August, history tells of a snowfall that seemed more impossible. August 5, 352, snow fell during the night in Rome. There lived in the Eternal City a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of the Pope, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.

In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. And what would be the sign that John and his wife had requested? “Snow will cover the crest of the hill.”

Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.

The Basilica of St. Mary Major was built on the site. It was restored in the fifth century and dedicated to Our Lady. The appellation "ad nives" (of the snow) originated a few hundred years later, as did also the legend which gave this Our Lady of the Snows name to it.

From the fact that no mention whatever is made of this alleged miracle until a few hundred years later, it would seem that the legend has no historical basis. Originally the feast was celebrated only at St. Mary Major; in the fourteenth century it was extended to all the churches of Rome and finally it was made a universal feast. In the reform of the breviary in 1741 the reading of the legend was struck from the Divine Office and the feast again received its original name, Dedication of St. Mary.

Googling this title I found not only dozens of Our Lady of the Snows parishes but a National Shrine to Our Lady of the Snows in Illinois!

Struck from the breviary 273 years ago-----yet. You gotta' love our Church!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Three celebrations

Sunday brought three "celebrations" for us:

a) A Super Bowl party complete with four winners in our 12th annual Lenore Shaw memorial Super Bowl Pool. Can't believe it's been twelve years since Sister Lenore died. She was such a grand woman--generous, humorous and a marvelous good time whether at home, work or anywhere. We miss her very much;

b) Ground Hog's Day--since we are in Pennsylvania, and Punxsutawney is even in our diocese, it is a celebrated day--at least in the papers and in the media;

c) The Feast of the Presentation or Candlemas Day. The readings and prayers of this feast usurped Sunday's, which is saying something! As circumstances would have it, our celebrant for liturgy is a native of a town near Punxsutawney and he gave a wonderful reflection on the early German tradition of Candlemas (the coming of the Light) from which this crazy ground hog tradition evolved.

Here are two renditions of Simeon's hymn, "Nunc Dimittis." If you search on youtube you'll find 100s, but I thought you might enjoy these: contemporary and traditional.

Finally, we awoke to yet another winter wonderland Sunday, with a light, morning freezing snowfall that made our trees and bushes sparkle as every branch held a 1/2" of glistening beauty. Here's a scene right outside my bedroom window.