Sunday, January 29, 2017

Three years ago

In December 2013 I posted a photo of a red-tailed hawk that had landed on the fire escape outside the 4th floor hall window where I minister in the a.m. --which happens to be the last remaining piece of the original motherhouse on E. 9th Street in Erie. It was quite a sight.

Last Friday, near the end of the morning, as I was packing up to come home to get ready for the funeral of a sister who had ministered on 4th floor for over 25 years, lo and behold, what should appear on that same fire escape, at that same window--a red-tailed hawk. The same one? Why today? Native Americans have wonderful legends of the natural world's interactions at times of death. Hmmmmmm...Beautiful thoughts.

Here's the hawk--January 27, 2017

And here's another unusual "natural" event--a row boat has been pushed by the waves right up onto our shore. Notice that it is completely filled with sand!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I knelt in the dark

Eleven years this month. That's how long I worked every morning, Monday through Friday, with our Sister Maureen. And in that time I came to know her and truly appreciate and care for her. If I HAD to name just one characteristic that rose to the top for me, I guess it would be constancy--faithfulness--presence. She was a lovely woman, who died too quickly. Now we are headed into a three-day celebration of that wonderful life and what it brought to ours. If you haven't read about her yet, you can do so here. She will be greatly missed.

Mary Oliver's dog, Percy, helped her get through the death of a dear friend.

Percy (Four)

I went to church.
I walked on the beach
I played with Percy.

I answered the phone
I paid the bills.
I did the laundry.

I spoke her name
a hundred times.

I knelt in the dark
and said some holy words.

I went downstairs,
I watered the flowers,
I fed Percy.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Erie Womens' March

Even in Erie, 2,500-3,000 came out Saturday afternoon on a quirky, sunny, 68 degree January afternoon to join the millions around the country and world showing their concern for the philosophy and remarks by the new USA president, this administration and his supporters. It was the largest rally for a cause that any of us could remember in Erie. There were many men in the crowd and many people who brought their young children. The signs, similar to news reports from Washington, were varied and very creative!

From the marvelous homily of our Sunday preacher this week (my paraphrasing, except for the last two words): If you don't know what to do in the face of the present political realities in the country and the world, all we have to do is remember the words of Jesus: Follow me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Becoming Wise

Krista Tippett's new book, Becoming Wise: an inquiry into the mystery and art of living is a huge best-seller. (In the top 1% of books sold on I've read so much about it and read so many excerpts and snippets from it I feel like I've read it, but I haven't. The recent edition of "The Occasional Papers," a seasonal publication of the LCWR for its member leaders of Catholic sisters' communities, carries an interview of Krista.

At the end of the Q & A, which is primarily about the ideas that come through in her book, she is asked about her thoughts on the changes going on for Catholic sisters and their communities in the US. Here is part of her answer:"I see what is happening among the Benedictines (monks) in Collegeville (Minnesota) where I spent time. This is a community that is much smaller than when I first met them, but at the same time they provide a place of quiet that a growing number of people are looking for. One of the most fundamental parts of your life is becoming irresistible and necessary for the sustenance of ordinary people who may not have any religious or spiritual life. Who knows where this is going to go or how to foster it, but it's one of the most interesting things happening. There is an important calling that was once more hidden within your larger calling of service that once seemed more relevant."

"Becoming irresistible," I never thought of it that way, but if getting to know, choose and manifest the following of the life of Jesus in the Gospels comes through in all that we do, especially as a community, maybe we someday could be "irresistible"!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Under the snow

Our winters are a continual snow cover followed by complete melting, followed by snow cover and then complete melting. Over and over and over.

So, although the first half of January brought us 20 inches of the white stuff, it is now all gone, thanks to 3-4 days with temps in the 40s and 50s. The ice on the bay has melted considerably, ditto the ice dunes along the lake shore. We were also able to walk through the paths in the woods for the first time in quite a while. Look what I found on some snowless tree stumps by hermitage #1.

Here's a look at our own lake front. The ice/sand dunes are still there, but totally over the beach. The water is clear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We all found ways

We all found ways to survive the first "lake effect" snowstorm of the season--all 20+ inches of it. Another sister and I have taken it upon ourselves to look out for the local wildlife at particularly snowy times, when all the bushes, trees, grass, etc. are buried.

This last bout was the worst so far this season and you can see that three of our young bucks were desperate enough to come right up under our windows and help themselves to bird seed.

Could they be the triplet fawn we had in the summer of 2014?!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lake effect snow

Our first (and hopefully last) Lake Effect Snow blew in on Thursday and stayed through Sunday. True to form, it depended where you were in the local area as to how many inches you received. The airport is the official recording station for Erie, but it is located in west Erie, 13 miles from Harborcreek where we live. They've recorded about 20". We had at least that....maybe a little more. Here is a photo of the Troupe Rd. sign and the two bushes which frame it, taken at 9 pm Saturday night. Yikes!

This photo was taken on Friday from inside the hallway between chapel and the dining room of one of the bushes outside in the inner courtyard garden. I'd say about 6-7".

This is the shepherd's hook on Saturday which holds our two bird feeders, including this house for suet blocks. Maybe 11-12" balancing on the roof!

At the beginning of the "event," Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, I took this of the bird feeder that is attached to my bedroom window, with a 6" ruler taped to the window. I think the height is between 3-4"

A one-minute video on Lake Effect Snow here. Enjoy!

For more on this storm, see Sister Valerie's blog post (link in right column).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In the beginning...

Here's a very nice venture into some important history of Benedictinism: The Abbey of Norcia, Italy, the legendary birthplace of Benedict and Scholastica. According to the 2015 edition of the Catalogus Monasteriorum (Latin lives!) there were 10 monks, 4 first professed and one novice in the community at that time.

Their website is lovely, full of beautiful photos and videos. Be sure you go to History and Earthquake, particularly. Enjoy your mid-winter trip!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

1-1-2017: 1:30 pm

Camera in hand I start out to find something to share with you--my friends and blog readers--something that our very fine communications office and other community bloggers won't be choosing, too. This is not always an easy task, as we share most common experiences, conversations and ideas. But I found one that was even new to me: yet another, and yet new, photo of our wonderful chapel windows and their interplay within the chapel.

The day and time are what make these new. January 1st, a Sunday at 1:30 pm. The chapel was totally empty. I was the only one there. But then I was hard pressed to think of any Sunday at 1:30 in the afternoon where anyone would really ever be there! There would never be prayer or private reflection (we particularly have smaller places for that), a funeral or any miscellaneous celebration--except once in a blue moon maybe a musical concert. But, really, 1:30 pm on a Sunday the chapel should be empty--and it was--except. Except for our glorious windows and a clear, sunny winter day. Here's what I saw and tried to capture, in the center, on the Christmas wreath.

Happy New Year, everyone. Our wish is that the year 2017 will bring you many, many blessings and experiences that will enhance your spiritual journey through life!