Thursday, February 26, 2015

Super Sunday

No, it's not football, as in the Super Bowl, this is Super SOUL Sunday and this Sunday, March 1st our Sr. Joan is the guest of host Oprah Winfrey. My guess? Things are going to rock! (Spiritually that is.)

Sr. Joan Chittister with Oprah Winfrey in California-November 2014.

Go to this "Sneak Peek" page and you'll find not only the Sneak Peek short video at the top, but three other ones down a little--all snippets from the show:

"How to Become a Living Prayer"

"What All Major Religions Share in Common"

"On Humanity"

Monday, February 23, 2015


The path between the Mount and Benetwood Apartments has many nice benches where one can stop for a little bit to relax and take in the beauty all around. On a walk down the path Sunday we decided this first bench certainly wasn't "available" today, even for the weary!

Then we came upon the second bench---we could see the back and wondered how deeply buried the seat was!

And then we came upon the third least we think it was the third bench. Can you tell? Oh my! At least we've dropped to 6th in the contest....not even 100" yet. Yeh.

Couldn't resist this hallway viewpoint of Mary..snow almost up to her robe and totally enveloping her head! 

But truly, we never do miss the beauty that most often accompanies 4-5" of fresh overnight snow. Here's the east end of our property one morning. Just stunning.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent is special

The liturgical season of Lent is really quite special here at the Mount. We are all so appreciative of the efforts that go into the prayer, environment, music, community gatherings and all of the things that make the next 6+ weeks very meaningful and blessed.

Ashes for sisters, guests and even some of our employees stopped by.

The simplicity speaks loudly.

New music booklets for Lent are beautiful.

Carry it with you wherever you go!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day weekend

Valentine's weekend brought a short community meeting on Saturday, made easier with Valentine decorations and treats everywhere! Ditto for the sub-zero temperatures (quite unusual for our area) that landed on us Sunday. Hope things are warmer in your corner of the world.

Here's a bowlful of  Hershey kisses that didn't last long with 75+ of us around!

This is a little Valentine's Day display that some of the sisters put out in the small kitchen area of their hallway.

Our kitchen staff's contribution to the celebration: white and chocolate cake cupcakes with various delicious frostings.

Four days previous we had the celebration of St. Scholastica with white tulips (!!!) as part of the environment. White tulips! I could hardly believe my eyes. In  these deep, cold last weeks of winter, tulips are nothing but a dream.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Nuthatch

I have thought of Mary Oliver often lately as I believe she lives on Cape Cod and therefore has been "buried" in those historic snowstorms that have come on Boston and its surrounding areas. I wonder if she is able to write, most probably house-bound, surrounded by a world of white and silence and its own kind of beauty, once you handle the inconveniences and destruction such an amount of snow can bring.

Here's what she wrote once and since we have nuthatches at our feeders daily, it rings true.

Winter and the Nuthatch

Once or twice and maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still, with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn't cooperate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about those walnuts.

But there was a morning I came late and, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger's hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister
that nuthatch and I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree and trust my fingers.
But I didn't say anything.

Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human and partial therefore to my own successes--
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs--

I'll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.

Mary Oliver

Sunday, February 8, 2015

4" plus

The ice on the bay has reached the magic number and ice fishermen and even some ice hockey enthusiasts have taken to it. I believe the annual Golf Tournament on the Bay is coming up soon, too! They use orange golf balls.

I was driving over the Bayfront Highway this afternoon and stopped to catch these photos of ice fishing huts. Also, note how deep the hockey skaters are having to shovel to get down to the ice.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Land of 10,000.....

Maybe it's my fondness for all things Lake Wobegon or the trip I took to Minnesota last October to the Benedictine Sisters, but I always enjoy seeing their "Land of 10,000 Lakes" saying--which appears on everything out there.

So, when our two postulants came in the other day with these brand new hooded sweatshirts I smiled and laughed all over the place!

Maybe it's the font they used for "Erie, PA" that looks like the letters were formed by falling snow; or maybe it's the play on the Minnesota motto: "Land of 10,000 Flakes"; but I really think it's the double entendre of "flakes" that brings the biggest chuckle.

Either way, I stand in admiration for these two gals, no, not for the sweatshirts---for being 50 years old, having lived 25+ years as an independent adult, uprooting and traveling 300 miles from their homes, leaving career/work and setting out into what must seem some days like a land of strangers, all new customs, living on $100/month discretionary money, picking up a whole new pace of the day, and through it all wondering: What is this all about? Do I fit? Is this worth a life? In other words, having your life turned upside down and trying to find your way in that new world.

So far they have been amazingly resilient, flexible, generous and kind, kind, kind. Guess they're becoming Benedictine/Erie, PA "flakes."

Our postulants: Karen (blue) and Dina (red). Thanks for posing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thurs/Mon. combined

Unforgettable and deeply meaningful experiences came through our lives these last days. The sadnesses and bewilderments were certainly well-matched by gratitude, joy and memories that we're sure will be with us for months and even years to come.

Here is one small way we remember our sisters for the first 30 days:

And now: why were there no entries Thursday or Monday? Because yours truly landed in UPMC Hamot for 5 days with pneumonia! Here's a part of the story: Thursday morning at 3:30 am I went to my friend, Anne, and said, "I don't feel good. Something's not right." After a half hour talking about options, pros and cons, we decided to go to the ER, banking on a non-crowd at such a time. We were right, walking in at 4:15 am we were the only non-staff members there. As we were moving into the rooms in back a security guard wheeled in an elderly man whom we greeted with a muffled "Good morning" and his response became, "Good morning ladies," and then looking right past me (for which I don't fault him) he says, "My don't you have lovely hair"! We are used to this in restaurants or at public events, but it is 4:30 am on a cold, snowy January morning at the downtown hospital ER for crying out loud!

"My don't you have lovely hair" and I continue on back to a room and, five days later, here I am back from my first and, hopefully only, bout with pneumonia (in both lungs). The professional care, personal kindnesses and compassionate manners of the medical personnel and oodles of staff were all top notch, really, really superb. Only one other shocking experience: the standard questions they must go through for anyone over 55 who comes in:
Do you walk with a cane?
Do you need assistance with care at home?
Are you able to feed yourself and take care of your personal needs?

I learned to be calmer about answering them after the first round, but it still was a shock to have them asked!!

And finally, I became aware as I walked around the 7th floor, of the large number of people there who were in obvious misery. I asked one of my nurses about it and he told me that they have many patients with what he called co-morbiditers: people who have 3-4 conditions that cause chronic and constant health issues for them. It's in and out and in and out of the hospital month after month: (diabetes, heart conditions, COPD, obesity, cholesterol, etc). They spend their days "doctoring" for these multiple problems, ending up as an in-patient every few months and then going home to begin a decline again. It was very sad. So, today I am very grateful for my own health and for having friends, sisters and many others who care enough about me and each other, to encourage such.