Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Venues change, sadness does not

This week, at the beginning of the latest and quite unusual Take Back the Site vigil, one of my former students who now helps organize them, said to me, "I think with this one we are finally 'caught up,' it's been a long time." It took me a second to get what she was saying--finally we have held TBTS prayer for all the victims of a homicide in Erie; there are none still to be held. Unfortunately through most of 2017 we haven't been able to keep up with them in a timely fashion--there was always one waiting to be held. But now they are all in.

This one may be the most unusual we've held in terms of venue. These photos will show you that it was held on a pier, right on the bay in downtown Erie. The woman we prayed for was killed on their family fishing boat and put into Lake Erie. The date was in June; her body appeared about 30 miles east of Erie a month later.

More photos from one of our local media groups are here. Scroll down for a short video.

It was so moving to be praying for such a reason on a beautiful, warm late summer day, next to the bay/lake that we all love. When I went into work the next day I browsed through the listing of all TBTS prayers and noticed quite a number of unusual venues, ones I never would have expected when this all started.

Sure the most common ones are outside bars or corner eating places, fights or disagreements on the street. Ditto for a few drive-bys. The ones that I couldn't have predicted and were therefore, memorable included one at a Dairy Queen, a couple in upper middle-class suburban neighborhoods, at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse that had been converted into HUD apartments, inside a high rise apartment complex, at a corner convenience store, along the fence of a neighborhood baseball field, in the green space surrounding a huge mall complex, and on the corner 1/2 block from our workplace.

Eternal rest grant unto them O God.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Walking for Peace

Our Benedictines for Peace committee has initiated monthly Silent Walks for Peace at designated sites in Erie. We had our second one this week and it was an eye-opener for me, a native Erieite who had never been to the pier at the foot of East Avenue near the Erie Coke plant. This plant, a longtime environmental concern, is one of many along the lakeshore that environmentalists and health experts have challenged for decades over the effects on the air and water quality of their productions.

Despite the smokestacks, remnants of the now-closed paper plant, and the nearby still-in-operation coke plant, children were frolicking in the lake as we gathered. No, I won't--not for $1,000.

A beautiful sky as the sun set over Presque Isle, just a short distance across the water.

And this took my breath away--alongside the sidewalks and black-topped roads we walked, this beautiful flowering bit of nature---amidst a not-so-friendly natural area. Just stunning.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

9-22 this year's fall equinox

Sister Anne, prioress, returned safely from her two-week trip to South Korea. The three Benedictine communities of women they visited have a total of 1,000 sisters! All of them have schools and they visited numerous kindergartens and were sung to by the children. Here she is "surrounded." Note the subtleties: peace sign, water bottle, European St. Benedict in the background. Can you find any others?! They also visited some men's communities and were amazed by the "industries" they had built up as their income sources.

Back on the home front, signs of the fading summer and early autumn are showing full force. Here are some great fungi on an old stump by Hermitage #1. Beautiful in their own right. Our temperatures are cheating summer a bit and giving us sunny, warm days in the high 70s, with even two 80s last week. We continue to eat meals on the back least until the snow flies!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September golf

Golfing in the early fall is totally different from summer golf. This weekend I experienced two of the many reasons--both delightful.

I was looking for my ball that I thought flew past some evergreen trees and as I approached the little grove, look what I found--an autumn group of mushrooms--which are all over the place in our world right now. This shot is via my phone as I put my club down. BTW, my ball was not here, luckily nearby out in the open!

I don't play on country club courses as a rule, but rather on these real country courses which in many cases have been built in between the grape fields. By mid-September the grapes are just about ready and their smell travels even into your car as you go by them-- Miles and miles of Concord grapes. This year has been a very, very good one, as I can personally attest now, as we taste-tested them on both the second and eighth holes! Sweet and warm and delicious. WOW!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hidden stars

I was utterly "gobsmacked" the other morning as I cut through the inner courtyard on the way to the dining room for breakfast. "Hidden" up against the west wall, so that you have to be out in the garden to see it, is this I've-been-green-all-summer trellised plant. WOW, look at it now! They look like little falling white star bursts.

Gobsmacked: adjective, chiefly British informal.
utterly astounded; astonished.

Contemporary definitions for gobsmacked:
flabbergasted, shocked.

And just in time for our 100+ guests this weekend for William Meninger's retreat!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Break in (late) summer

After a week of cool, damp days we caught a break in the weather for the weekend. It was particularly nice for a weekend retreat we had--a dozen or so women for Mid-Life, Long-Life sessions. They had a wonderful time, helped in at least a small part by milder temps and sunny days.

Meanwhile, yours truly was squeezing out all of summer that I could with a trip to Presque Isle. This time I found these sights--one in a pond, one along a roadside. Truly, heavenly.

A half a world away, in South Korea, our prioress was engaged in an international meeting of Benedictine women from around the world. Here she is (You can always tell the Americans!). She's having a great time and enjoying seeing some of the Korean sisters who had spent time with us here in Erie, in their native land and home monastery.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


My morning companion is looking at me (which is one of her major occupations whenever there is a person in the room) and chirping away softly.

Not a bad way to spend a rainy morning working at a desk....having another part of creation nearby. Ditto the flowering shamrock plant on the window sill.

(Don't miss the 1/2 crunched file cabinet label that she reached one in: Bring your pet to work day and be ready for anything!)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

On being and becoming


Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answers: first cause, God's existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing,
not going to the mall, not the Super

"Wild roses," I said to them one morning.
"Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?"

The roses laughed softly, "Forgive us,"
they said. "But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses."

Don't Worry

Things take the time they take.
Don't worry.

How many roads did St. Augustine follow
before he became St. Augustine?

Mary Oliver