Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Two favorites

I've baptized one of my friends with the new nickname "Willow" because she reminds me of the little owl that I wrote about a month ago (see April 30). Willow is the Tamarack Center's resident hospitality queen, as she's the one they turn to whenever a new batch of orphaned, usually hurt, baby birds come into their place for care. Willow steps right up (flies right up?!) and becomes their friend, protector and guide during their stay. That's what our "Willow" does for newcomers here...she is a natural when it comes to hospitality and, as she is doing this week with our latest 20-something summer intern who has just moved in, has stepped up to become a kind of guide to the who, what, where, when, whys and how of moving into a 65-resident monastery!

This is one of my favorite photos. I first took it 3-4 years ago as I was walking the grounds of Benetwood Apartments which are located on the southern part of our property. To me the rather freely flowing, lovely white and purple irises, up against the weathered, yet practically built out building made a striking pairing. I wait for the scene every year and this is the week. I saw it yesterday. It looks exactly the same! I can't help but share it with you again. I hope that you have once-a-year spring scenes that you eagerly await each year, too.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Then and Now

A year ago Sister Mary Therese Egan's brother, Jack, died in little Franklin, PA 60 miles south of Erie. Unknown to the family, thousands of miles away in Holland, a man named Felix de Klein found the obituary online and wondered if this was the Egan family he had been searching for. As a hobby and a goodwill gesture to the American soldiers of WWII for helping to save Holland from occupation, Felix walks the WWII war fields searching for memorabilia of the many men who died there. Whenever he finds something he does all that he can to find family members and return the memorabilia to them.

Felix had found a Miraculous medal engraved "Joseph P. Egan," Sister Mary Therese's 19 year old paratrooper brother who died of wounds received in October 1944 in the Market Garden battles in the Netherlands. Needless to say, Mary Therese, her brother Tom and other family members were thrilled to receive the initial email and the medal and piece of Joe's parachute. Felix reminded the family that Stephen Spielberg's movie, "The Band of Brothers" was about this very battle.

Buried for 70 years, a medal and piece of a parachute were returned to the Egan family as the result of the findings of a metal detector in a field in Holland that was the site of a US field hospital.

And back home on a much more peaceful Memorial Day weekend, at our Presque Isle State Park, a young boy was being taught how to fish by his mother! May he never have to fight in a war and risk losing his life or of returning home but psychologically scarred, as so many vets are.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dawn Patrol

A couple of years ago I shared with readers about the addition of two "fierce looking" plastic owls on our back patio, set out to ward off birds, especially while we are enjoying warm weather meals out there. They seemed to be doing a great job, so last year, after consulting with the sister who made the purchase, I bought two more and put them out to discourage the "droppings" of said birds onto the cars nearest the house and also onto the little cement patio and windows of the inner courtyard.

All started out going well but after a bit I noticed that although the incidents were down, they weren't totally gone! Finally one day I was chatting with a guest who works at a garden center and she told me that the birds quickly figure out the "plastic protectors" and adapt! "You have to keep moving them around if you really want them to be effective," she said. Well, that's not going to happen because these two are on roofs!

They came out and went up this week so we'll see. So far, so-so.  

Otherwise our spring continues to be absolutely delightful and I can attest that all Erieites that I run into are brimming over with joy and gratitude--nothing like four complete seasons to bring out appreciation for each of them!

The corner of the inner courtyard garden is a little iris heaven this week.

You can see that the owl is semi-successful.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Blest Are They

Blest are we who were able to attend a church music concert in neighborhood Fairview, PA this weekend where we heard Marty Haugen and David Haas playing and singing their music, which, along with others of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, helped form the current liturgies of the Catholic Church in the USA. I never even dreamed I would have such an opportunity. It was a "sell out crowd" of 500 strong who sang along with them on nearly every tune. Just wonderful.

I found a concert they did with another great writer of the time and genre, Michael Joncas, on line here. It's an hour and a half, but you can move ahead and stop where you wish. There's a sample at 27:56 min. that will give you a perfect idea of our own live event. WOW! Enjoy.

David Haas, creator of: We Have Been Told, To Be Your Bread, You Are Mine and countless others.

Marty Haugen, creator of Shepherd Me O God, All Are Welcome, Eye Has Not Seen and many, many more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wish you were here!

In the inner courtyard facing west--which happens to be exactly the way my office window faces.

Just on the way across the parking lot. Look who's landed on the car!

If you have to have an air conditioning unit in a garden, at least put it right next to a beautiful pink rhododendron.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring wonders

How Would You Live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks flew in circles around your head?
What if the mockingbird came into the house with you and became your advisor?
What if the bees filled your walls with honey and all you needed to do was ask them and they would fill the bowl?
What if the brook slid downhill just past your bedroom window so you could listen to its slow prayers as you fell asleep?
What if the stars began to shout their names, or to run this way and that way above the clouds?
What if you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang from its painted branches?
What if you suddenly saw that the silver of water was brighter than the silver of money?
What if you finally saw that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day and every day--who knows how, but they do it--were more precious, more meaningful than gold?

How Would You Live Then?
by Mary Oliver

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

First and Last

Two timing references this week:

First: Our Benedictine Women's Service Corps volunteer, Erin from Iowa, is down to her last weeks with us. And I don't want to talk about it anymore. Her last entry on the BWSC blog is just lovely and I don't want you readers to miss it. Please take 3 minutes and enjoy her reflections on her time in Erie. Click here and scroll down to her May 5th entry.

Secondly: This week "Light Through Stained Glass Windows" marks its 10th anniversary!!! Yes, I'm amazed myself! In the right hand column are links to all the years, but I thought it would be fun to reprint the very first entry (minus any photos--I didn't know how to do that yet!). Here it is:

TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2007
Stained-Glass Windows
We are all still reeling from the "official" opening of the renovated chapel this weekend. This morning's Morning Praise was breathtaking. The no-longer-carpeted floor, now ceramic tiled....and the no-longer acoustically-tiled ceiling, now Pennsylvania natural wood have transformed the sounds of the chant and music. It is overwhelming. The 16 floor to ceiling stained-glass windows still make up the north and south walls. I'm taking a seat on the north side, facing south, so that I have a view of the morning sun through the windows and their reflections on the tiles.

One of the most popular Benedictine mottoes fits the day: That in all things may God be glorified.

A lovely rhododendron bush bloomed this week at our East 9th St. building.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

From everywhere

This weekend we had a group of women (and one brave man) for a retreat, "Mid-Life, Long Life." These retreats used to be rather small and local, but this time the participants were from NY, PA and OH, as you'd expect, but there were also people from MA, CT, MI and GA!

The difference? The wonders of the scope of the internet, our great website and maybe a little bit of word of mouth.

I remember one weekend a few years ago: it stands out because for those two days we had people in the monastery from six continents: North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Imagine--the whole world passing through our little place here in Erie!

We've had a week of spring rains and cooler than normal temps. The rains really stir up our creeks and Lake Erie. One of the few times when it looks more like an ocean!

All the rain has caused the natural world to "explode"--- growth is everywhere. These purple cone-like things are on one of the evergreens. Not sure what they are.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sisterly care

Conversation overheard at the front door this week as one of our nurses accompanied two sisters who live in the infirmary to a waiting van that would transport them to an activities "outing." The nurse had been telling them what the agenda would be for this first adventure. "The van will take you into town, and then you'll be met by the staff'll meet some new people and enjoy some activities planned just for you. If you need anything don't hesitate to ask. There will be lunch and then the van will bring you home."...and on and on with everything she could think of to ease any anxiety.

The older of the two (89 to 86), who is also the sharper of the two (mild forgetfulness to severe forgetfulness!), listened attentively and when they got to the front door was heard to say to the anxious nurse, "Now we'll be fine, we'll be ok." And gesturing toward her companion, "Don't worry, I'll take care of her."

After 70 years of monastic community life I'd say "they got it"!

The two-toned dogwood in front of the original convent on East 9th St. is in its annual 2-week flowering. Just beautiful.