Sunday, October 29, 2017

7:45 am- late autumn

I've taken this photo before, but it was a different year, a different day, and a different sky--but it was roughly the same time of year. The time of year when our sunrise comes around 7:30 am.

We saw this last Friday on the way in town. I was just hoping it would still be there, in some way, when I got to my ministry, which is four stories up--above the power lines and most rooftops--with a window that faces east, whose screen pushes down.

And there it was. The steeples are on St. Stan's church which is one block up and about 2 blocks over...east, of course.

May your mornings bring such beauty. It does stay with you all day!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

will deter people who work for peace! (As well as postal carriers). And to that end 50-60 of us gathered at the site of an old city bridge, now a pedestrian and bike thoroughfare, for the third of our Silent Peace Walks. And it was raining and cold and windy but "Neither..." Actually it was quite interesting as the bridge is a land one, rising over multiple sets of railroad tracks and factories and other city transportation businesses. In fact, three long locomotive trains passed under us as we walked the 1/2 mile across the bridge and back again. Urban artists have covered the bridge's sides and flat surfaces with those famous balloon-like letters and some really quite artistic scenes. A few bicyclists passed us, as did a couple walkers who were not part of our long silent, single-file parade.

After dozens of cold, windy, snowy, bone-chilling TBTS prayer vigils throughout the years, this was mild! The fourth Silent Peace Walk will be held in mid-November at Erie High. See you there.

And for a visual follow up on the last post. Benedict's new afternoon friends.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Even though our recent temps are higher than average for mid-October, autumn is coming anyway! The trees are turning, albeit later than most years. The grapes have just been harvested and their smells still linger along Routes 5 and 20 for all the traffic going by. And, here's this summer's growth on one of my little evergreens, planted maybe 4 years ago now. Its growth is rather slow now but I know that it will go faster in years to come. Meanwhile it's pretty well protected by the larger trees nearby and, as you can see, the leaves and the ground coverage.

The fact that we are having a lot of (somewhat unwelcome) Canada geese who are spending their days grazing on our lawn, made me want to share Mary Oliver's lovely autumn-time poem, "Wild Geese."

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

They're everywhere

Visiting St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota is "a wonder around every corner," as it is the home of the late iconographer and artist Sister Mary Charles McGough (d.2007). The "wonder" is seeing her work everywhere--be it in chapel or in every hall--residence, dining hall or even the ground floor. And, to see the originals of the prints that we all have in our rooms and offices, that we use as cards and bookmarks. It is just wonderful. I find myself on the lookout wherever I go. Here is just a sampling:

THE most popular contemporary Benedict and Scholastica of the past few decades. This original is about 4-5 feet tall, on wood and in a specially lit alcove of their chapel.

The original of her the Holy Rule of Benedict of which we have a print copy in our gathering space. These pages are of special paper.

One of her etchings or metal works. I'm not sure which. It's just in an everyday hallway as so many of her works are here. 

Perhaps her second most popular icon. Again on a round piece of wood, maybe 2" deep and 3' in diameter, in the main corridor of the monastery. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Tale of Two Trips

This week I'm in Minnesota, very north, Duluth right on Lake Superior in fact. Their autumn peak was last week but it still looked like we were landing in fields of gold as we flew in... tops of golden trees everywhere. And Lake Superior can be seen right from my window (we are four stories up).

But I forgot to relate one memorable moment from our other trip out of town 10 days ago to Canada---at the other end of the Great Lakes. As we crossed the Peace Bridge on our way home we were told that our car had been chosen at random for a customs check. What that ended up being was a one hour delay in a large crowded room of 50-60 people waiting to cross into the USA. Mostly families, all Middle Eastern or Indian or African I'd guess. We were in the minority in race and gender--- it wasn't even close. It was quite the experience---not unpleasant but very "official." Everyone was just sitting or standing quietly until their party was called. All I could think about was what it must be like at more militarized checkpoints around the world. In a word: terrible.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Eight in eight

I'm dubbing the eight weeks of September and October this year as the Eight in Eight experience....meaning that we had/are having eight major events in these eight weeks. Wheee...they are all wonderful, but a little bit exhausting. It's no wonder I find myself gravitating to the woods more often, just to catch a breather from Mother Nature and see what's going on in the natural world. Here are two happenings that I came upon this week. I wonder what stories they would tell if they could!

Here is a telephone pole like arrangement of beautiful fungi on a tree in the little park area of Benetwood Apartments, just south of us. It's really stunning, but rather hidden away. Maybe others will come take a look when they see it here!

Now here's a real-life mystery. A real baseball right along the path we walk regularly at Glinodo--but it wasn't there last weekend, I assure you! It is covered with cuts and gouges....and 100 yards ahead of it we came upon a fat ground hog scurrying away. Ah, ha!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wonder of the world

So here we were: myself, my sister and our cousin. One summer my parents decided to take us on a "road trip" across the country to California and back. We were all teenagers at the time, so we experienced this with mixed "drama"! Although I do remember parts of it a bit, one of my strongest memories was meeting a family at the Grand Canyon who were also on a road trip--from California to Niagara Falls! We couldn't imagine traveling 1,000s of miles to see something that was in our own backyard and to which we had traveled numerous times!

Well, it's been about 15 years since I've seen this backyard beauty so when I had the chance to go there this week, I was thrilled--and it was to the Canadian side to boot! We had what they call a "Falls view" room in the hotel and a couple of these pictures were taken right through the window. (We were attending the CWR, Communicators of Women Religious conference---the great people who run the communications depts. of communities of sisters throughout the US and Canada).

What a beautiful, stunning and amazing wonder it is. Haven't seen it in person? Time for a road trip!

The Falls from the Canadian side. Rainbows are very common.

Horseshoe Falls--named because they have a horseshoe shape.

The famous Maid of the Mist boat ride in the Niagara River. It gets very near to the Falls and all the "flamingo" passengers get quite wet!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Make me a channel of your peace

The feast of St. Francis was celebrated fully this year: an icon graced our chapel entrance way, our hymns at both Morning and Evening Prayer told of the beauties and glories of creation--in all its forms and the Prayer of St. Francis was recited at the end of the day as a final Franciscan  send off.
Here's a choir singing "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace."

Yesterday, as our afternoons have returned to the 70s, I took the opportunity to clean up our five trellises, each of which had featured a beautiful clematis this summer. The largest trellis held the largest plant. It was so thick that no one could see what was hidden deep within, until I uncovered it. Nature is full of surprises, isn't it?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October=early signs of autumn

The calendar pages turned to October this weekend and I realized that we are beginning to see the first signs of autumn around the monastery and around the rest of our world, too. Here are some that seem to come out right away:

* After the hummingbirds have flown through our area on their way to Mexico, our shepherd's hook converts from a holder for hummingbird nectar to one for suet bars and it moves from the inner courtyard to the east lawn right under my window (easier to keep filled and bird watch). Ditto for apples for the deer population, thanks to the helpful sorters among our kitchen staff who save the uneatable ones for us to set out for the deer. They are not really needed now so much, but come January and February....

* The cosmos flowers are still in bloom and we had a beautiful arrangement in chapel this weekend for the environment. So nice to see their wispy, delicate appearance this late in the season;

* The air-conditioning hasn't been automatically coming on for a few days, but neither is the heat. We're caught in that in between time. Thank goodness for sweaters and windows that open and close as needed;

* We have baskets and baskets of freshly picked Concord grapes out every day--delicious;

* Sisters are getting in their last bike rides, golf rounds, vacation days and ice cream cones at Sara's. We won't see them again until April;

* The many feast days that fill the liturgical year in October, November and December have started--Guardian angels, Theresa, Francis, All Saints, Souls, Nicholas, Guadalupe and many, many more--they bring days of rich prayers and beautiful song.