Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The world is green

Our world is warm and sunny and green. Even our guests are amazed at how lush our spring is. We have had enough rain to have everything growing wildly and yet enough warmth and sun to add to the growth. So, I thought today I'd feature three just plain green beauties.

First, you'll never see this green bush. It's nearly hidden on the east side of the Mount, at the opening of a little indentation in the building. But, the sun was shining on it so nicely I just had to take its picture and I think it turned out quite lovely. Plain green can be beautiful, too.

This evergreen was planted by our prioress, Anne, over 20 years ago, as a sapling that was given out free to her school children as a part of an Earth Day celebration. One of our experienced sister-gardeners told her to plant it in a garden area, not out in the grass so that it would have a protected place and perhaps make it. It sure has made it! Twenty years and twenty feet tall. Gorgeous.

And this is the ugliest tree on our property. It has a straight center, but nothing else about it is symmetric, balanced, or beautiful and yet every spring it is still there and even has new growth--sporadically popping out of course, but new nonetheless. We call it our Charlie Brown tree; we look for it to see if it survived the winter and, as you might expect, despite all its less than desirable features, have come to look on it as unique, interesting and displaying character. In other words, we have grown to love it!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Miscellany for Memorial Weekend

Miscellaneous sharing on this Memorial Day weekend:

1) Today's Erie Times News article on tourism had this fact, "With annual attendance of about 3.7 million, Presque Isle welcomes more visitors than Yellowstone National Park." And this weekend will do that statistic no harm as we have three beautiful, warm, sunny days. Presque Isle will be packed;

2) One sister saw our first fawn of the year on Thursday and what did it do Saturday afternoon? Appeared at lunch for many others to see--WOW;

3) Our fourth group of Methodist ministers is here for their study days. This time they had 2-3 Asian ministers with them. They seem to like our accommodations so much they keep bringing group after group;

4) A new addition to our long patio that both the community room and dining room open onto: flower boxes attached to the railing. Beautiful addition bringing spring flowers closer than in the gardens;

5) I attended my first ever writing "course" recently and one session was on haiku writing--the traditional 5-7-5 syllable ones and the modern ones, which don't count the syllables as strictly. Since haikus are often about nature we began with a 15-minute walk around our Glinodo property, staying aware of any subject matter for our writing. I saw my first Jack-in-the-pulpit and this came forth:

Reverend John is preaching
but I much prefer

Our morning hymn, "How Beautiful" by Miriam Therese Winter.

Verse 2:
Indigenous and immigrant, our daughters and our sons:
O may we never rest content till all are truly one.
America! America! God grant that we may be
a sisterhood and brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rain, rain and the world turns more and more green

Just Rain

The clouds
did not say
soon, but who can tell
for sure, it wasn't

the first time I had been
fooled; the sky-doors
opened and
the rain began

to fall upon all of us: the
grass, the leaves,
my face, my shoulders
and the flowered body

of the pond where
it made its soft
music on the pond's

springy surface, and then
the birds joined in and I too
felt called toward such
throat praise. Well,

the whole afternoon went on
that way until I thought
I could feel
the almost born things

in the earth rejoicing. As for myself,
I just kept walking, thinking:
once more I am grateful
to be present.

Mary Oliver

It's amazing what comes up in the grass
when it's too soggy to mow.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Bat houses along Long Pond Trail at Presque Isle.

One of three beaver lodges in the peninsula's lagoons.

Annual goslings  arrive at the plastics plant
1/2 mile up Troupe Rd.

This past weekend I heard an appropriate song for the Easter season. I had forgotten how much I loved it. It's "Hallelujah" with the Canadian Tenors. If you have a few minutes---enjoy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Sisters Are Reading

On our community's website I organize a small section called "What Sisters Are Reading." We just passed one year of postings with 38 "book reviews" uploaded from over 30 sisters. Now I'm starting over, eliciting a second review from the first year's "posters." One of our sisters suggested that I expand it to include entries from our 250+ oblates. Good idea! I haven't asked them formally yet, but if there are any oblates reading this, please feel welcome to send me an entry. Summertime/vacation weeks is a great time to catch up on fun reading.

To that end, I posted one myself today--and here it is:
Richard Russo's 2001 book, Empire Falls won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. That fact and the joy of discovering that our Mount library had a copy were enough for me to read it and fall in love with Russo's writing style. That Old Cape Magic is my second Russo and I truly am crazy about them both.

Why? First and foremost, Richard Russo is a talented writer. It reminds me of the old adage, "I may not be an artist, but I know what I like"! Ditto for writing; second, the story itself is interesting, very ordinary and yet special at the same time; third, he makes me laugh, cry, think and wonder about his characters' lives and my own.

The only drawback, and it's very, very small, is that they are both told by a man. But that's not much of a drawback because I'm realizing that I'm "learning" a lot about the way some men (Russo and his main characters) go about life: its living and reflection thereon. Also, the women in the stories, and there are many, are wonderful characters who without a doubt play a very strong and predominant role in the men's lives.

I just started my third Russo, Bridge of Sighs and it is already another engaging and very enjoyable "ride" for these early summer days.

If you want to try one of these, I'd suggest That Old Cape Magic. It's the shortest of the three and if you like it, you'll love the longer ones (as in, "I hope this book never ends.")

Monday, May 12, 2014

May is in flower everywhere

Don't miss the Smilebox show on our community front page, as it very well summarizes our Prophet of Peace Award ceremony last Thursday night. Simone Campbell, SSS, director of Network, was a lovely guest and a most worthy recipient of our community recognition.

Hummingbird feeders and oranges for our Baltimore Orioles, (I used to love watching Brooks Robinson play 3rd base for them),  went up this weekend. This first hummingbird was there within the hour.

Benedict is his most welcoming when the daffodils surround him.

This is the tree in the Garden of Memories, just beginning to flower. It is pure white and breathtakingly beautiful.

And this is one of my favorite spring scenes--the blossoms of the tree above fill the windows of the library as you look in from the hall. Luckily it is right across from my office so I see it hundreds of times during the week of its blooming.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Look up and listen

When Susan Smith, local bird whisperer, was here last month she encouraged us to look up and be quiet and listen. During the spring bird migration there is a whole world going on above us she said. Well, the migration may be 1/2 way or almost all over, but my friend Judith looked up this week one morning when we were walking to our car at 7:30 a.m. to head in town for work---and look what she saw.

My camera was ever-at-the-ready and we caught it, I mean, them.

Chanting along with morning prayer--albeit from the outside!

As Judith said, "We have four weather vanes on the roof."

(And, of course, we were all silently thinking: please don't be pooping on the windows!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

May days

Spring and the month of May have descended on us full force. This weekend SoS held its spring retreat which coincided with World Labyrinth Day and activities to celebrate that were woven into the retreat for the 35 retreatants who attended.

Also this weekend our hospitality "minister" posted the schedule of visitors for the next two weeks, all 9" of it: single-spaced. Guests are listed in the order of their arrival and the next two weeks (the beginning of our busiest season) bring these people to our home:

May 1: 6 arrivals
May 2: 11
May 4: 1
May 5: 1
May 8: 4
May 9: 4
May 10: 1
May 11: 2
May 13: 1
May 16: 6
May 18: 3
May 19: 2

Can you say "revolving door"?

And what will they find when they arrive? Hopefully a place of welcome, peace and quiet if they want it, camaraderie and discussion if they want that, and prayer and hospitality to all.

My favorite spring flowers: white hyacinths. How these escaped the damaging winds and rain that we have had over the last week, is a miracle. But here they are: erect and tall and beautiful.

Walking by the inner courtyard today I glanced outside, as we all do no matter how many times we pass those windows every day, and saw what looked like a "rash" that had broken out in the grass! Discovered that they are tiny white and purple violets. All over the lawn, cute as can be!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Community Celebration

The opening of the Joan Chittister archive room at Mercyhurst University has brought the community and Sr. Joan two wonderful days of celebration, friendship and gratitude.

Our community page's Smilebox gives a perfect summary of the events, here.

Enjoy the Erie Times News front page story-here.

TV coverage, here.

Time also to share another Google Doodle: the first animated one.