Monday, September 28, 2015

A Tale of Two Moments

Emmaus Ministries experienced two very opposite moments this weekend.

The first one was rather surreal, as they suffered a fire in one corner of the soup kitchen building that started at ground level and spread upward to the roof. Luckily no one was injured and the building was secured within hours after it was stopped by firefighters. A great thanks goes out to Erie's city fire companies who did a first class job arriving on the scene immediately and working expertly to control the fire and minimize its damage. Go here for more.

But, as scheduled, the Emmaus staff went ahead with its 3rd Annual Harvest Fest on Sunday afternoon under clear skies and warm early autumn sun. A large crowd continued to stop by all afternoon and the shows of support, emotional and financial, are pouring in.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Brig Niagara

Last weekend we had a rare opportunity--the chance to climb aboard the Brig Niagara, the replica of one of Oliver Hazard Perry's ships from the War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie. Here are some of the shots I got, along with a resolve to watch for the announcement of public trips and sign up for the next one that is available!

The Niagara at its berth behind our public library, right on the bay.

The masts are unbelievably tall.

Neatness seems to be a virtue here.

One of the summer crew, some of whom were living on board yet.

A bell with surely an interesting story.

As I said above, neatness!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Special experience

I had often read and heard from serious birders that wild birds can be trained or teased into eating from your hand. But until this week I had never experienced it. One morning when I saw that my feeder (see below) was empty I thought that perhaps I'd try, so I put some food in my hand and maneuvered my arm outside my open window so that my hand would be right up against the feeder. Then I just stayed that way for about 5 minutes, very still and waiting.

The birds saw the food and started flying up to it, but veered quickly away when they saw where it was. After 5 minutes I quit and resumed getting ready to go to work. The next day I tried again. And again, there was a lot of flying and swooping and even noises, but no landings.

Day three: same procedure, same result, until a little tufted titmouse (see below) bravely landed on the feeder and then jumped down to my hand. After flying off with a seed, didn't a little chickadee (see below) follow suit. The landings were so soft, the birds so light in weight, and the picking up of the seeds so delicate, with the take offs so quick, I almost had a heart attack from the experience. I couldn't believe it had happened, wild birds feeding from my palm. WOW, WOW, WOW.

Black-capped chickadee

Tufted titmouse

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Approaching 100

Since the community started, in 1999, the Take Back the Site vigils at the scene of homicides in the city, they have increased in number every year it seems...and certainly, if for no other reason than their constancy, the sadness of the attendees. Today's was # 90-something, as we continue to creep toward #100.

They are, in many ways, all the same--and yet, each has a uniqueness. The one today had two unique elements that stood out to me: one, the victim and the accused were cousins. Both young, black males, 12:30 am outside of a bar: those elements were not the unique ones.

The second uniqueness is the increasing number of men who are attending the prayer. Some clergy, some teens and young boys with their mothers, but an increasing number of just adult men. It's heartening, as the great majority of the victims are male.

The sadness continues, the shaking of heads in bewilderment and helplessness continues, the prayers for both the living and the dead continue.

And hope continues, too.....

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Weekend of Roses

This weekend we hosted two lovely events, both highlighted by roses and roses and roses.

The first was the funeral of Lucille Powers, longtime teacher at St. Benedict Academy, which was followed by a stint as Food Service Manager at Mount St. Benedict. Her funeral and following luncheon brought beautiful hot pink, white tipped roses to both the chapel and to our dining room, as one single rose in a bud vase graced every table. One of our sisters, who was a friend of Lucille's for 49 years, gave touchingly personal reflections as part of the service.

The next day our roses turned white as Lakeland Area Hospice held its annual Memorial Service for the families of over 80 people they accompanied during the past 12 months. One of our sisters is their recently retired chaplain and she has offered our prayer space and dining room for their event for a number of years. A large crowd attended and, as you can see below, a large bouquet of white roses was the flower of the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Before and After

Labor Day we hit 90, only the third time this summer: once in mid-June, once in mid-August and on Labor Day. Meanwhile the flowers, bushes and trees are at their fullest, overwhelming smaller nearby foliage and giving it their all for the last few weeks of summer. Our inner courtyard is at one of its best moments!

Trellis #1   July

Trellis #1  September

Trellis #2  July

Trellis #2    September

Trellis #3   July

Trellis #3   September

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pope Francis

Since watching the ABC special, "Pope Francis and the People," hearing a great homily about it today and living in Pennsylvania, one of his stops, I suppose it makes sense that I was also drawn to one of Mary Oliver's spiritual poems. Lovely reflection--here it is:


Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold--the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water--
sometimes, for days
you don't think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight,
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bone and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked to it--

tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was--
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer sea.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What's Up?

About once a month or so I find myself at a loss for what to post here. I can usually get out of it by asking myself the question, If a guest was here today what would they be experiencing, seeing or hearing us talking about? That's what occurred today and, as happens, something came along and, voila, here it is.

At the far end of both our north and south wings is an addition that was built on in the late 80s. They are basically the same color brick and are three stories high, just like the original wings they were attached to, so it's hard to tell where the additions start. But, there was also something new. Between the wings was added a covered walkway. And, along the walkway, set in both the pillars and in the entrance ways, are old marble tombstones, used before all our cemetery stones became uniform.

Over the last couple of days some fellows have been cleaning up both our gazebo and this walkway (You know how things that are permanently outside need a special "cleaning" or "weatherizing" every couple of years.) Anyway, these old, old marble stones are now just shining as the natural colors and veins in the marble just popped right out. (Pun really wasn't intended!)

So here's what you might see if you were taking an easy stroll around our place this week.

Very, very nicely done. Thank you Paul and friend and to our great physical resources department!