Monday, May 30, 2016

Our morning hymn on Memorial Day

How beautiful, our spacious skies, our amber waves of grain;
our purple mountains as they rise above the fruitful plain.
America! America! God's gracious gifts abound,
and more and more we're grateful for life's bounty all around.

How beautiful, sincere lament, the wisdom born of tears,
the courage called for to repent the bloodshed through the years.
America! America!God grant that we may be,
a nation blessed with none oppressed, true land of liberty.

How beautiful, two continents and islands in the sea
that dream of peace, nonviolence, all people living free.
Americas! Americas! God grant that we may be
a hemisphere where people here all live in harmony.

"How Beautiful, Our Spacious Skies"
Miriam Therese Winter, MMS

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Helen comes to our house

I don't know if it's the same in the south, but up here in the north as soon as a speaker from the deep south opens his/her mouth, everyone starts to smile. Their drawl is so casual, so friendly, so welcoming. And, often, their delivery is down right witty! Do southerners who hear it all the time think the same thing?

That marked the beginning of Sr. Helen Prejean's presentation at the monastery this week. For a woman who has dedicated the last 30+ years of her life to the most serious of subjects (see: Dead Man Walking) she came over as charming, funny, down to earth, and yes, deeply committed to the subject that set a fire in her heart and has been her passion ever since.

Her follow up book,The Death of Innocents, brings to us the new area that she embraced about a decade ago--the innocence of so many of the people on death row throughout the country or, as she shared, primarily in the pockets of the country that have death sentences as a primary "trophy" for their prosecutors.

We are more than blessed, as I'm sure the 200+ people that came to hear her would agree, to have such speakers, such "people of faith and good works" come among us. The local media was here so you can check our local paper for their interview and story.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Setting free the Irises

We have passed spring's "yellow" stage: daffodils, dandelions, forsythia and tulips. We now enter the pink and purple stage (along with other colors) of irises, azaleas and their cousins. Enjoy!

Here in the corner of our inner courtyard we find a whole little grove of purple irises ready to burst forth. In recent years these spring delights have been overwhelmed by fiddle head ferns. Lovely as they are, these ferns grew very tall, spread  underground and nearly obliterated the fragile irises. Last fall I went after the ferns and with the help of some burly guys who could dig out the largest of the fern roots (more like tree stumps), I believe we now have a freer space for the purple irises to flourish. Should be this week! Can't wait.

Along the cloister walk windows 7 or 8 azalea bushes grow. Green 50 weeks of the year, these are the 2 weeks of beautiful hot pink. 

An old garden flower, Bleeding Hearts, burst forth in late May on this quite large bush ...dangling over everything within a 2 foot radius. Lovely. We have a smaller bush trying to get going also. Maybe next year. In the background pick rhododendron are starting. 

One of our resident Eastern Bluebirds. Absolutely stunning in the sun--whether flying or just sitting on its house.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hummer time

From my window hummingbird feeder!

For a delightful 2 and 1/2 minutes, click here. But I'm warning you, don't google: hummingbird nests, hummingbird babies or even just hummingbirds. You'll be hooked for an hour before you know it!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pentecost guests

We had a huge crowd for liturgy Sunday--the feast of Pentecost and the liturgical end of the Easter season. Bring on Ordinary Time! Our presider, Jim P, gave one of his usual great homilies. Somehow he manages to make us laugh one minute and the next, ponder deeply on his reflections. Very nice.

After Mass many of our congregation come to the dining room for a little morning agape of breads and coffee/juice. Here's one of our younger visitors enjoying the raised dais from our meetings the day before. Darling!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pineapple Princess

This week we had our annual Benefactors' Event--a lovely evening of Evening Praise and dinner with over 100 of our faithful donors. It's a really nice time---special and casual, friendly and fun for the sisters and so many of our supporters and friends.

Our own food service does the food and always goes "all out" to do some unique things----lots of oohs and aahs!

This year, courtesy of a great find on Pinterest, they found this pineapple tree, and with the help of our clever maintenance guys for the "tree," they added the pineapples and fruit and voila....this year's #1 presentation! Though I think the watermelons came in a close second.

Thanks to all of them for their hard work and creativity...and thanks to all the fine, fine people of Erie and out-of-Erieites for contributing to our dreams of bringing all the goodness of life to those who have too hard a time getting it by themselves.

Pineapple Princess? If you remember this you're really, really a trivia geek!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Windows and weeds

Thanks in some part to the cooperative weather and in a large part to all the preliminary and setup work our own maintenance men have done, the windows for our new Sun Room were installed this week and, on Saturday, a local Roofers' Union put on the roof. Beautiful job, for both.

Another outdoors beauty, in a different sort of way, are the miles of rows of grape vines that have been prepared for the upcoming growing season. In many of the fields these yellow wildflowers are abundant and make a very pretty sight when there really isn't anything else on the vines yet.

P.S. This weekend we welcomed a Wisconsinite (is that right?) to the community for a 10-week stay as an intern in our Benetvision and Monasteries of the Heart programs. Hope she has a delightful time both at the Mount and in our spirituality ministries.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mid-morning break

After a couple of hours of some pretty concentrated desk work, I stood up and took a needed mid-morning break yesterday and look what I found. The temperature had gone up enough for some outdoor playtime. The shouting and yelling, giggling and laughing that came from the playground behind our building lured me to an open window.

Click to enlarge.

I know there are probably many good pre-schools in our area, but ours just has to be one of the best. The newborns to 5-year-olds are always laughing and enjoying whatever activity I encounter as I trudge up and down the four flights of stairs to our offices, located above their classrooms. Ditto for the teachers and aides at St. Benedict Child Development Center--they are always smiley, calmly directing or interacting with their children every single day.

And yet another sign of spring: Recess outdoors!

Monday, May 2, 2016

The merry month of May

Of course it would be delightful if the month of May was merry, but we would so very much prefer that it could be the sunny month of May. We have been "stuck" in a week or so of cool, damp weather where the flowers, bushes, birds and all non-human life seem to be flourishing....however, the human forms are shivering and so anxious for the temperatures to start with a "6" or even "7."

Regardless, we ventured out in the weekend 52 degree drizzle and found these two shots to share this second day of May:

1) We benefit greatly from the waterfowl, birds (including eagles and blue herons) and everything else that frequents our Presque Isle State Park, as it is only about 8 miles directly down the shore from our own shoreline. The "visitors" travel along the lake shore and cut in at the creeks and grassy areas---our Glinodo property and Seven-Mile Creek are perfect for them. Here are a pair of Canada geese who were about 10 feet off of our shore---fishing.

2) Despite the misty, cool days our guys are doing a great job in getting our new Sun Room erected. Here's the latest. Note the 10 windows, all with a strong southern orientation. Since the foundation, electricity and water hook ups were in place from the old greenhouse, I think we can have realistic hopes that it will be ready very, very soon.

P.S. If you don't regularly follow the cartoon, "Francis," at right....give it a look. The artist recently put in a cute change!