Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Oh my God! What are these that are making an appearance throughout our gardens this last week of February? Could it be another sign of spring? Yes, the little squirrels and chipmunks have started to appear; some birds we haven't seen for 4 months are back; we can drive to work and home without our car lights on---so what are these? Could they be daffodil leaves and other first greenery of a new season? Yes...they are.

Now, can they survive the March wintry days that are sure to come? We'll see. If we can survive another 4-5 weeks, so shall they!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lenten Monday meditation #2

"I will try"

I will try.
I will step from the house to see what I see
and hear and I will praise it.
I did not come into this world
to be comforted.
I came, like red bird, to sing.

But I'm not red bird, with his head-mop of flame
and the red triangle of his mouth
full of tongue and whistles,
but a woman whose love has vanished,
who thinks now, too much, of roots
and the dark places
where everything is simply holding on.

But this, too, I believe, is a place
where God is keeping watch
until we rise, and step forth again, and---
but wait. Be still. Listen!
Is it red bird? Or something
inside myself, singing?

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Three days in a row!

Our Canisius visitors on the boardwalk at the lake....Despite the warm air temps, the lake has large frozen areas and ice fishing huts are still visible on the bay.

Monday: set a new daily record high of 65;
Tuesday: set a new daily record high of 72;
Wednesday: tied the daily record high of 70.

In the words of Pat Brodie, our first Benedicta Riepp member in 1999: "Your winters are so interesting--one week there's 6" of snow on everything and two weeks later you see pavement and grass and it's 65 degrees." Pat was from Vermont where, she told us, once the snow started they didn't see the bare ground again till spring!

Between this somewhat annual February weather phenomenon and the latest delightful group of Canisius students here for a service/spirituality experience, we had a great weekend.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lenten Monday meditation #1

"In the Storm"

Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing

hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,

five inches long
with beaks like wire,
flew in,
snowflakes on their backs,

and settled
in a row
behind the ducks--
whose backs were also

covered with snow--
so close
they were all but touching,
they were all but under

the roof of the duck's tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,

for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away

out over the water
which was still raging.
But, somehow,
they came back

and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
let them
crouch there, and live.

If someone you didn't know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?

Belief isn't always easy.
But this much I have learned--
if not enough else--
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn't a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness--

as now and again
some rare person has suggested--
is a miracle.
As surely it is.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Where do you get your ashes?

I received ashes at our Morning Prayer, right after the psalmody this morning. Very nice. The prioress also distributed them before noon prayer. Many of our employees and friends come by for them, too.

I however have two Ash Wednesday stories: one 20 years old, the other, brand new. First the old one. One of our faculty members was on her way home one Ash Wednesday and realized that she hadn't been able to get ashes as one of her homeroom girls needed attention during the service and she had missed going up for them at the school Mass. Not wanting to face her husband's questions (he was a great guy, but she was tired and didn't want to get into the day's adventures) so she improvised--as she admitted to us sheepishly the next day. She reached down to the floor mat of her car and fashioned the cross on her forehead with the "ashes" she found there! Jack never knew the difference! What a card this gal was...and very clever. We assured her that God would not hold this against her!

This year Erie is fully into alternative ashes distribution. So one of our employees, who missed getting up, on her day off, to get them with us or at an early Mass, took her friend's advice and drove into a local Presbyterian church who advertised "Drive through ashes for Ash Wednesday." (Or as one of our sisters said, "They're giving drive-by ashes all over town.") Everything was going fine until she noticed a photographer from our local newspaper. She tried to beg off, "I work for the Benedictines, I don't know how they'd feel about this," she tried to plead. But, he was not to be deterred and voila, there she was on the paper's afternoon website in a full Ash Wednesday drive-through pose with fresh ashes on her forehead. Can't wait to see if it makes the morning newspaper tomorrow, also!

Thanks, Greg, (photographer) and Robin (minister), both friends of the community, for attending to our Health Services Director--who, with all she deals with caring for the 90 of us and our health needs, can use all the help she can get--Presbyterian ashes or not!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A mid-February lift

If I Were

There are lots of ways to dance and
to spin, sometimes it just starts my
feet first and then my entire body, I am
spinning no one can see it but it is
happening. I am so glad to be alive,
I am so glad to be loving and loved.
Even if I were close to the finish,
even if I were at my final breath, I
would be here to take a stand, bereft
of such astonishments, but for them.

If I were a Sufi, I would be
one of the spinning kind.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Where to look

When you visit our chapel, don't look up and out our stained glass windows--look down, too.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Remembering Lenore

Lots of sisters grew up in the greater Philadelphia area, which made our annual Super Bowl party more fun than usual. The highlight for me was the 16th Annual Memorial Lenore Shaw Super Bowl Pool. Sister Lenore Shaw was unique— entered the community twice as a young women and then 30 years later came back for a third try and stayed. She was funny, loving and outrageous... she ran the Super Bowl pool every year and we keep it going in her honor.

Day before the “big game” brought a ride at the peninsula... too cold to walk outside much, but brought these views of early February at PI.