Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In between

This is an odd week. It's in between two huge holidays--holidays that are both civic and religious. So, in that "odd" vein I offer you some trivia and yet not too exciting information...but somewhat interesting, too---in its own way!

For those who live in two calendars: Gregorian and liturgical, the week is full of Christian feasts. In just one week we hear about the martyrs: Stephen, Thomas Becket and the Holy Innocents; a pope, Sylvester; an apostle, John and a transferred feast that usually pops up on the Sunday after Christmas but was pushed this year to a Friday: Feast of the Holy Family.

Then along comes New Years Day which seems to have a couple dozen names, depending on your choice of emphasis. For example: The Circumcision of Jesus (for oldies but goodies), Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and also the World Day of Peace, to name three. And also, (I did warn you that this might not be exciting but interesting), the birthday of J.D. Salinger, American author, and the death anniversary of Mario Cuomo, governor of New York.

So, here we are, all working less than five days this week, yeh, and getting in some quick visits home or mornings sleeping in, time to read those put-aside novels or use gift certificates for a lunch out or the chance to see a movie. BTW, if you loved or even just liked, the Harry Potter books/movies you'd probably enjoy the new movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowlings, herself. Very Potter-ish, imaginative, creative and fun.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas scenes

On our community website you'll find a number of excellent entries on our Christmas events and celebrations. As a supplement to them I'm adding these four "scenes" that I came upon over the weekend which contributed to my own Christmas joy and gratitude. And then, add in the excellent homily given by our Christmas celebrant who spoke on this being "the feast of vulnerability" (as he contrasted the standard cultural meaning of the word vs. the vulnerability of Jesus and his life and message) and it made for a very special holiday.

"Our" herd of deer are coming quite close to the monastery these days. In fact, this trio  was very near as I  caught them right outside the north-east door.

The Winter King Hawthorn in the backyard is wild with berries right now. Hopefully the birds find them edible!

The Advent wreath turns into a Christmas centerpiece for the next three weeks.

Our handbell choir played this weekend and will be playing for New Year's and Epiphany, too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas comes closer

Day 6 of the O Antiphons: O God of All the Earth

PEACE to all who pass by on East Lake Road

The cardinals in the woods all summer come to the feeders in winter.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Relief from the holiday mayhem!

Whether this time of year has a spiritual, commercial or recreational base for you, one thing we can all probably agree on is that the days are full. Very full. It seems that they catch us up as in river rapids and we just get swept away from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next. Very little down time and even less time to just breathe.

So as a small break from all that I'm sharing part of a fun and funny website that was sent to me recently. Its name is: 25 Jokes and Puns No Grammar Nerd Can Resist. I've picked my five favorite, but if you want to read them all, just click on the link and enjoy this "little break" from the craziness of the season. I think you'll laugh right out loud.

Number 5: The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.

Number 4: Knock knock. Who's there? To. To who? No, to whom.

Number 3: What do you say when you're comforting a grammar Nazi? There, their, they're...

Number 2: Spellcheck has become my worse enema.

Number 1: My life is a constant battle between wanting to correct grammar and wanting to have friends.

Advent banners in one of the chapel niches.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Korea, Mexico, the world

Eight years ago we welcomed a Benedictine sister from South Korea who would spend a year with us, primarily to improve her English--and as a sideline, to experience monastic life in another culture/country. As part of her "Erie experience" a group of us decided one snowy weekend that we'd gather up some sleds and saucers and take her down to Glinodo for a sledding adventure. Now, not one of us was under 50 so I jokingly (yet half seriously) asked if I should call Emergi-care right away so they'd be there with their ambulance when the first one of us sprained something either on the way down or on the way back up the hill---or---should I wait to call them when it actually happened. Not IF, but WHEN.

Ha ha ha, we all laughed.

Here's a picture of the sledding gang, before the downhill experience, which, much to all our surprise we survived with nary one sprained ankle, a single bruise or the promised call to Fairfield for a winter rescue.

Flash forward to this week--same place, same time, different country represented. Our yearlong (and delightful) resident from always sunny Mexico is talked into a rite of passage--building a snowman following our first snowstorm of the season. The culprit was another yearlong resident, not from Mexico or Korea, but from one of the snow capitals of the USA: Minnesota, for goodness sakes.

Here they are before and after. Great, great fun was had by all--especially the onlookers and snowman admirers from inside the community room!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Snowstorm #1

Oh, my, did the lake effect snow, that started somewhere in northern Canada a week ago, quickly make its way down and across the great lakes--and after socking the places in the snow belts of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, "pow"--we got hit last Thursday as it sailed across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario burying the cities and towns in its wake! Jessica, our year-long visitor from Mexico, was entranced and it was beautiful--but it kept coming and coming.

The one thing all snow lovers, or even those who are just amazed at the phenomenon, all know is that the "official" snow is measured at one certain place in a region: for us it's the Erie Airport, which is located 13 miles west of us. In our geographic location every little suburb, village, town and borough has its own unofficial snow measurer. Conclusion: When answering the question, How much snow fell this weekend? the answer has to be: Anywhere from 3" to 18", depending on where you live in the metropolitan area!

As a Harborcreek resident I would answer the question this way, I'd guess about 8-10". I'd say this because we had to clean 5-6" off of the cars a couple of times! I'm sure one of our neighbors has a set up in the backyard with a flat plain surface and a yardstick. I'll have to find out who it is.

The Troupe Rd. entrance after the 3-day storm.

The water fountain in the library courtyard, a natural measuring stick.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Living in two worlds

Here's how it goes. This year Advent started just three days after Thanksgiving and 10 days after the radio stations had started playing Christmas music. Black Friday sales continued throughout that whole weekend, as did Cyber-Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday....

I've made it very clear that I love Advent and so does every other sister I know. But it causes us to live in two worlds--simultaneously. Whenever we walk in chapel, we enter the world of Advent: quiet, peaceful, waiting, preparing. And then we come out of there into the American consumer's high point of the entire year, it's a Hallmark and frenetic whirlwind!

We try, we really do, but we love Christmas, too. So, waiting until the "official" deck the halls (and decorate every place else) date of December 21 is just too hard. Advent managed to maintain its prominence last week, but this week (Advent week #2 aka 16 days until Christmas) Christmas has started to creep and seep and ooze its way in--ever so slowly but steadily!

I took a walk around the Mount, with my camera in hand last night and this is what I found: Creeping, everywhere.

An everyday plain night light has been replaced!

A small white angel has landed.

What is this? No Advent wreath!

We haven't had snow yet, how can we have a snowman!

Just because it's holy doesn't hide the Christmas message!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wind chimes

When we renovated our chapel 10 years ago, we replaced a large gallery that was at the east end of it and completely spanned the width. We also removed a kind of open-air stairway that was one way to access the gallery right from the chapel floor. With the removal of the stairway it opened up the entrance space and also allowed the east wall (of stained-glass windows) to be pushed back about 15 feet to form the back wall of a new small, enclosed, private prayer/devotional space fashioned there.

As for the gallery, a smaller version of one was designed off to the side and accessible only from the second floor. It was meant primarily for any sister who wanted to be present for a chapel event, yet couldn't be in the main chapel area downstairs. It isn't used very much these days, probably because we also installed a video system that broadcasts chapel events on channel 72 of our televisions.

But lately there's been a very nice addition to the chapel entrance way and it's hanging from said gallery: a large set of wind chimes. I've always loved the sound of wind chimes and have two sets in my office now. One is solar powered instead of activated by the wind. Here are a couple views of our new one. Look up next time you're with us and take a look. How do they sound, you ask? Low in pitch and very mellow, but very beautiful.

From the gallery.

From the chapel below.