Monday, April 28, 2014

That Old Cape Magic

I am the coordinator of a little section of our community's website, What Sisters Are Reading. Thirty-five sisters have already contributed by sharing a short review of a recent book they have read. Their reviews are very fine and, with the variety there's been, it's a goldmine for avid readers.

In this post I want to share one I recently finished--here's the story.

A year ago a friend and I were chatting about books we'd read and authors we knew. She asked me if I had ever read anything by Richard Russo. No, I answered, too embarrassed to mention that I hadn't even heard of him! Russo won a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his book Empire Falls. I got the book, read it and loved it. What writing! The only "however" is that it was huge, very large, and since I read primarily late at night, except on vacation, it took me forever to finish it and so it was read in fits and starts.

Recently I came upon another Russo book, That Old Cape Magic, one that is more in the average size range. I read it and WOW, another wonderful read from a talented writer.

Both books' stories are told by a middle-aged man as he looks back over his past and reflects on it and on his present circumstances. In other words, he's trying to figure out his life and the adventures and situations that have brought him to where he is today. But the writing, the writing is just marvelous. I had the same experience when I read John Hart's novels, one of which is reviewed on our site, too.

So whatever you're reading, I hope it's good...if not, try Russo or Hart. Theirs are.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Windsock Visitation

This weekend, for our annual April Community Weekend, we have the privilege to welcome Brother Mickey McGrath to our home and to enjoy his presentations on blending art and faith.

We own one of his paintings, Windsock Visitation, a beautiful and unique take on the Visitation scene of Mary visiting Elizabeth, celebrated liturgically in late May.

Here's ours:

Our first floor hall is a little bit of an art gallery for us. Besides this painting we have two or three sites where pieces from our Brother Thomas collection are always on display, a number of lovely gift pieces down the east hall, and even sisters' works along the Chapter 57 south hall. Sister Jean, our hospitality director, always gives our first-time guests the full tour of our "collection" when they arrive.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

"Making the House Ready for the Lord"

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice--it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances--but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday


The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye
that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did,
maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree,
and didn't move,
maybe the lake far away, where once he walked
as on a blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wide awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut,
that could not keep that vigil,
how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Triduum is Here

Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are upon us. Easter is only days away.

Here's how our chapel has looked most of Lent. The stained glass window is one of seven small vertical ones in the front wall, almost missed by most people, I'm sure. But these days of bright sunshine have their "jewels" just glowing during prayer. This doesn't do them justice, but I tried.

Thirty-five retreatants have arrived for the Triduum and many more "locals" will drift in for each service. Weather promises to be good and it is truly a beautiful time for the annual Paschal Mystery come alive. The retreatants are using The Way of the Cross with text by our Joan C. and art by Janet McKenzie. We have the fifteen prints used in the book framed and they help provide the "atmosphere" in the main retreat room.

"The Poet Thinks about the Donkey"

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

Mary Oliver

Monday, April 14, 2014

SoS #10

Words ending in "us" whose plural is "i":


Three or four days in the high 60s and even low 70s has brought out all the crocuses (croci?)and friends:
SoS series is officially over.....Spring is here!

Our community website has special Holy Week postings that you may enjoy.
Blessings of the week to you and yours.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SoS-D.C. style

We're in Washington, D.C. for a couple days and have very happily run into spring by re-locating about 175 miles south. The weather is warm, sunny and they are in the midst of early spring--complete with cherry blossoms, daffodils, tulips and fresh green grass.

I have a friend who gave a month of retreats one year, starting in March down south, then moving in late March to the Carolinas I think it was, and ending up in mid-April in Pennsylvania. She said it was the most wonderful experience because she experienced the coming of three springs--all in a row.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

These are daffodils in case you've forgotten!!

And these are 3-4 blooming cherry trees right in front of the retreat house.

Monday, April 7, 2014

SoS #9

Sign of Spring #9 is one that wasn't on my potential list but this weekend reminded me of its presence: seeing sunsets. You notice that I didn't say sunsets, I said seeing sunsets. During the last few months, when the sun sets anytime from 4:30-6:30 we aren't really down at the lakefront to catch them, not to mention that 1/2 the time the clouds hide them entirely and the other 1/2 of the time it's too cold! So after we turn the clocks ahead and also when the days are getting longer on their own, sunsets return to a time where we can walk to the lake for a look. This night I almost missed it but just caught it through the trees right near the end. So nice to have cloudless skies and later times for this magnificent daily event.

Other things going on in Lake Erie right off of our shore:

As always, click on a photo to enlarge.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

We all need to stand out sometimes

I love this Chinese proverb: “It is only when the cold season comes that we know the pine and cypress to be evergreens.” It came to mind when we were driving around Presque Isle last weekend.

Still in its winter landscape, the barrenness and grey hold an odd beauty and strength. As we rounded a rather sharp corner heading back on the beach side of the park, all of a sudden groves of birch trees appeared all along the road. I guess I've always known they were on this part of the peninsula but here in winter, with no greenery to hide them, they stood out dramatically. There were so many and they were so tall and commanding of our sight that we exclaimed that they looked like white giraffes...and they did. the pine and cypress are when their "competition" is out of sight, too.


I wanted to speak at length about
the happiness of my body and the
delight of my mind for it was
April, night, a
full moon and...

but something in myself or maybe
from somewhere other said: not too
many words, please, in the
muddy shallows the

frogs are singing.

Mary Oliver