Thursday, October 30, 2014

October ends

Roses, Late Summer

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can't sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children

to live in the valley
so they never seem to vanish, they are always
there in the blossom of light
that stands up every morning

in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn't mind being a rose
in a field of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them,
nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses,
and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

Mary Oliver

Monday, October 27, 2014

One last look-St Ben's, MN

Sacred Heart Chapel-100 year anniversary this weekend.

Huge cemetery for hundreds of sisters.

Mother Benedicta Riepp -age 37.

Home Sweet Home

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beauty abounds

Life in central Minnesota goes on. Here is more of a look at St. Benedict's Monastery here.

When they renovated a couple years ago they "discovered" these brick walls behind the painted walls. They cleaned them off and now they have two long halls that are "drop dead gorgeous.'"

These are four weavings from one of their great artists. Beautiful!

This photo of a winter farm scene is striking.

I spied this nest of some sort outside our workroom window in a crab apple tree. Even through the screen you get the idea pretty well. If you've never noticed the nests that "appear" when the leaves fall off, look up.

Monday, October 20, 2014


This week I am at the epicenter of Benedictine life in the United States--60 miles west of Minneapolis-St. Paul home of the largest women's OSB community (St. Benedict Monastery) and men's (St. John's Abbey).

The 240 sisters that call this "home" share their land with the college they founded, the College of St. Benedict, a liberal arts school with an enrollment of 2,000 women.

Perhaps because prioresses interact among themselves so much nowadays or as we are all exposed to the same good monastic literature, ie. contemporary commentaries on the RB, there is a strong feeling of "home" here for the six of us who are visiting. I hope that they would experience the same if they were in Erie!

Here are some shots I took around the campus (and, yes, it is a very large campus). If you're ever out this way (1,000 miles from Erie), do stop by. Quite the places.

The formal entrance to their Sacred Heart Chapel. Celebrating 100 years this year.

The view when you open the doors.

Three lovely panels on the life of Hildegard of Bingen.

A autumn harvest display at the entrance way of their Gift Shop.

In their archives: vestments with hand-done stitchery, much of it in gold. At one time this ministry brought in a large percentage of their income.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October walk around our grounds

A half-hour walk after work one day this week brought beautiful fall scenes everywhere we looked. Here are a few I tried to get. They are much more beautiful "in person"!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Serious reflections

Pick up any newspaper or these weeks and you'll understand these two serious reflections by Mary Oliver. To me they're related.

"The Morning Paper"

Read one newspaper daily
(the morning edition is the best
for by evening you know that you at least
have lived through another day)
and let the disasters, the unbelievable
yet approved decisions,
soak in.

I don't need to name the countries,
ours among them.
What keeps us from falling down, our faces
to the ground; ashamed, ashamed?

"Was it necessary to do it?"

I tell you that ant is very alive!
Look at how he fusses at being stepped on.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A first class optical illusion

Do you remember browsing through books of optical illusions and/or seeing the famous Rorschach designs? Well, this is in the same genre, but puts them to shame.

This is not a parrot!

This is a reclining woman with body paint. Can you see her? (Hint: the white part of the parrot's head is her face; its tail is one of her legs.) Go here to see more about the artist and his works. Extraordinary!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A mushroom is a mushroom

A week ago I was able to attend the first part of a photography workshop we had here. About 12-15 of our sister-photographers came and learned loads of tips and procedures for taking better pictures. The one I'll remember is this: when you photograph something, take shots from lots of different angles and/or move the subject around if you can. She showed us many series of photos, the first one she always called "ok"/standard; the second: "more interesting" and finally, "the best," the one that finally captured and showed the best/the uniqueness of the subject.

When a sister told me that she thought there was a "photo opportunity" in our courtyard I went out and, remembering Peggy's lesson, I took three photos...the first: standard and ok, I'd say; the second, more interesting, as it shows the mushroom in its unusual setting and the third, I hope she would label, "the best."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This Pope means Business

I went to a lecture at Mercyhurst University tonight and it was great. A theologian from Fordham speaking on the economic vision of Pope Francis. No, the title wasn't all that exciting, but her presentation was. Imagine a nuclear physicist sitting in your living room talking about and explaining his work and interest AND not only did you "get it" but it was wonderfully interesting and engaging. That's what this was!

She highly recommended this article on the web, so I'm sharing it here "This Pope Means Business" from Fortune magazine, Sept. 1, 2014 edition. It's a bit long, but has graphics, photos and is very engaging. If you can take 15 minutes or so I think you'll really like it.