Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The merry month of May

May is a popular month for First Communions which had my friend remembering her all-time favorite story from her days as a 2nd grade teacher. Seems she practiced for the big day with Necco wafers and constant encouragement to the children to put their tongue out so that the priest could put the communion host on it. On the actual date all was going smoothly (so she thought) until right in the middle of the distribution to the long line of children she saw the priest, who knew of her practice technique, start to blush and obviously stifle a smile. Afterward she asked him what happened. He answered, "Everything was going fine until this one little boy blurted out before I could get in a word, 'Chocolate, please.'"

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Airing our differences!

One of our newer members got me smiling last week when she asked, "How are the air conditioning wars here?" I laughed right out loud and answered, "Just like everywhere else, 50-50!"

This weekend our temps spiked into the 80s and since our heating system hasn't been converted yet all 16 chapel windows came open and Sunday Mass was much warmer than usual. As I correctly predicted, 1/2 were thrilled with the "natural warm air" and 1/2 were perspiring and very uncomfortable! Only three majors areas at the Mount are air-conditioned all the time: the chapel, dining room and library. Fortunately all the bedrooms and offices can be individually set, so that makes the "wars" minimal!

Personally I had a change of heart last summer when our a/c system broke down for a week. The "natural air" lovers were just fine, but as I observed the real heat misery for the a/c lovers: perspiring, red-faced and over-heated, I realized that it's much easier for the "naturals" to put on a jacket or sweater than to get relief for the "a/c-ers." Besides, there are so many more important things in life than "fighting this war"!! So, if I'm ever asked that question again, I may laugh, but my answer will be: "There's no 'war' we co-exist happily."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Amazing and lots of fun

Hope you haven't seen this yet.
Enjoy the creativity and technology: trop forts
( P.S. You can find more on YouTube.)

One of our little "waterfalls"!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Our First Creek Walk

The temperature was better, there was no rain and it became a perfect afternoon for our first Seven-mile creek walk of the spring. It starts right across from the bottom of the big hill as you go onto our Glinodo property and it ends right at a cliff above the lake.

May apples are's one with "an apple."

Ditto Jack in the Pulpits.

Numerous pairs of Canada Geese are around.
No goslings with these two.

Two little evergreens we planted 3-4 years ago.
Looking great!

Our neighbor's bird ferry boathouse,
at the very end of the path.

Pesky lawn and garden violets are pretty--
for about two weeks

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May brings forth everything!

A couple weeks ago I posted "one of my favorite spring sights." Here are the other two (making them my top 3). When they've all appeared I know spring is truly, truly here to stay. Now if the temps would only settle down into a consistent 60 or so!

The tree in the center of the library courtyard is pure white for two weeks a year.
Drop dead gorgeous. Here it is from the library windows.

The two bleeding heart plants in the inner courtyard bloomed this week,
I mean the hearts themselves finally dropped. Another gorgeous sight.

Otherwise things are going along well in this Easter season. Our spring visitors are arriving every weekend. Last weekend we had 5, yes 5, of the blood sisters of one of our sisters here. They were was like having 5 clones of her around all the time: voices, mannerisms, laughs, everything. Great fun.

This weekend leaders in the L'Arche movement will be with us. Nice group to have, too. Some weekend retreats of our own are also going on this month, so we're all in our best hospitality mode! And, finally, our own vacation times are just beginning as some of our sisters are on a couple weeks of long-awaited vacation, now that the nicer weather has appeared and travel is a bit more doable/less risky. Hope they're having a wonderful time!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Weekend snips

A delicious pre-performance reception showcased the Mercyhurst hotel-restaurant management majors' talents.

Marinas are starting to have boats in the water and the bay is looking more and more summer-like.

Sweet chirping birds are appearing at all the feeders around the monastery.

Earlier blossoming trees are fading and later ones are just starting up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The eye is better

My friend and I are having a kind of unofficial contest (no rules, no prizes) to see which one of us can take a photo of our thin, vertical chapel stained-glass windows that really captures what they look like to the human eye. We've taken so many of them--different light, flash or no flash, different times of the year, month, day....and they always, up until now, came out flat--never quite catching the gem-like twinkle and gleam that shines through them at their best.

Until now. Here's her latest, taken last week. It's a beauty and very, very close.

My turn now.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Monday, Monday

Did you ever have one of those weekends where you can't wait to get back to work on Monday---so that you can relax? That's what we had this weekend! Two days of great times but, whoa, lots of people, lots of wonderful input and lots of energy and experiences but I can't wait to get back to the relative calm of Mondays, Tuesdays, get the idea!

See our community website here for the usual fine, fine coverage of our life and you'll have mercy on me for wanting the "normalcy" of Mondays!

Did I mention that they were great days?!?!?

One of my top three favorite spring flowers in our gardens--white, white hyacinths.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Could be Minnesota

Today I talked to "Cathy" a gal in Minnesota that I talk to every year at this time. chat. In the course of the conversation I asked how they're doing, as I told her we've been watching the horrible April storms that have passed through. She said they were doing ok and that most of the snow has melted. "Most?" I thought, holy cow! "Are your daffodils up yet?" I asked. "Almost," she replied, "they are trying." My gosh, it's April 24th and they still have snow remnants and the daffodils "are trying." WOW....

Our last snowfall was March 31 and here are three shots of our inner courtyard. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and a gorgeous flowering magnolia tree are truly taking our breaths away. Sure we won the golden snow globe contest a couple times (this year we were fourth, thank God) but spring does come in April here.

Cathy ended with, "But it's a beautiful sunny day today, so I think we've turned the corner for good." I should hope so for their sanity---after all--next Wednesday is May 1.

BTW, that's a feeder that's suppose to attract Baltimore Orioles, who love oranges. Hmmmmmm, we'll see. One sister asked if someone had hung a pumpkin in the courtyard! Another thought it was a small basketball. We need a field trip to Wild Birds Unlimited!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Holy Saturday Triduum Day 3


Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Good Friday-Triduum Day 2


The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye
that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did,
maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree,
and didn't move,
maybe the lake far away, where once he walked
as on a blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wide awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut,
that could not keep that vigil,
how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

Mary Oliver

Our new bird bath, which the birds don't seem to have discovered yet--but they will.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Thursday-Triduum Day 1

The vast ocean begins just outside our church: the Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.

They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward

to receive the gift
from the priest's hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds

or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man

and clearly
someone else

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

Mary Oliver

A small but colorful beginning to our flowers!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Another Holy Week Begins...

"The Poet Thinks about the Donkey"

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave
or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual,
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined
what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been:
small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man
who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped,
as he had to, forward.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Gearing Up

The countdown is just about over and we are "gearing up" for the busiest two weeks of the year--both liturgically and in hospitality: Holy Week and Easter Week.

The guest list for the next 14 days has not be disseminated yet, but I'm sure that it will be full and long--as in one guest leaves in the morning of a certain day and the next one for that room arrives that afternoon!

The outline sheets for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil Saturday evening and Easter Sunday itself are starting to trickle out. Tuesday, the handbell choir received a separate sheet of rehearsals and events just for their performances, the next day a similar one appeared for the schola. Oh, my--talk about a full dance card!

Everyone of us has her own way of keeping track of all this, particularly your own parts. A few years ago I stumbled upon what works for me. I transfer all the information on the separate sheets to two Master sheets that are taped to my bedroom door. One holds all my commitments from Palm Sunday through Good Friday. The other is the same thing for Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Without going "all crayola," I even color code a little bit--rehearsals are one color, the actual event is another. It seems to work for me--or at least it makes me feel calmer! It's a wonderful couple of weeks. Just seeing all of the out-of-towners is itself a treat.

Exhausting? Sure, but catching little cat naps is sometimes a needed part of the day's schedule, too! But it is well, well worth it....wonderful, creative rituals, lovely people, memory-making everywhere and blessed/holy moments galore.

We are indeed blessed.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Did they survive? Yes!

Last summer we received 12 "twigs" from a friend who had made a donation on Arbor Day. Always grateful for new trees, I planted the twelve little sticks in some of our garden spaces. At the end of the summer 5 had taken root, grown a few leaves and seemed to be making it. Now, how to get them through the winter: snow, winds, storms, etc. I read about a few methods and enlisted one of our great maintenance guys to put tubes around them. The best protection it seemed.

In this photo you can see how they have spent the last 5 months.

This weekend was the great unveiling. Snow is gone now, the temps are more and more in the high 40s, 50s and even 60! I got the tubes and the support stakes out and lo and behold, there they were. Looking skinny (still), bare (the leaves had fallen off), but otherwise alive and looking pretty good to me. So here we go into the summer months to see what these three dogwoods--and the other two (a hawthorn and crab apple) become!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Coming Out Parties

This week we've hosted two "coming out parties."

The first was finding patches of snowdrops in the garden! A welcome sign of early spring for sure.

The second was witnessing the first day for outside play time for the toddlers and pre-schoolers at St. Benedict Child Development Center, located on the lower three floors of the building that also houses our offices. There's nothing like little children's voices--laughing, screeching, yelling--such delight!

More signs of our welcome mat for spring!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

March 31

The fact that it is still the month of March allows me to calmly post one more message about snow! Yes, that late winter storm you may have seen on the nightly news and on the weather channel this weekend did pass through us today--bringing a wet, sno-cone like snow of about 2". It stayed only on the grass, trees and bushes..leaving the roads wet but clear.

It brings the season total to about 83" here in Harborcreek. The website which gets its totals from the NWS, has a similar total for Erie. And on their top 25 list of cities of 100,000 or more, we're at #4 for the season. Good---this is not a title to win!

One beautiful effect the surprise snow coverage brought: cardinals right up to my window feeder. Against the snow: just beautiful.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Excellent observers

Our sisters are excellent observers--particularly when it comes to our chapel's stained glass windows. With the return of the early spring sun our side windows are "going crazy" when the sun's just right--and those of us who spend all our prayer times with them, know just when and how these special moments will occur.

If you scroll down a little you'll see an unusual design on the ceramic floor that we caught at 12:45 pm last week--unusual because no one is usually in chapel at that time! One sister who loves our windows, too, asked me exactly what time it was when I took that picture--see? they really are knowledgeable!

I've thought that it would be a great "adventure" to spend the whole of a bright sunny day in the chapel just taking pictures as the sun played around from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. Maybe we'd have to do a sort of tag team every couple hours....but it would surely bring some great shots!

As much as I love the 16 huge side windows there's something about the seven slender ones on the west side that grabs my interest. Again, at this time of year the late afternoon sun is giving us breathtaking views throughout Evening Prayer of these jewel-like sparklers. One of my friends and I have tried endlessly, and in vain, to capture the look, but we can't get it. All the photos fall terribly short. If you think these photos are ought to see them in person!

Finally, (I fear I could go on and on about this subject!) a couple of my friends told me of an unusual sun-event they saw in the chapel at about 5:00 pm Sunday. The sun, shining through the ceiling clerestory, hit one of the green EXIT signs and produced an unusual result on the wall. Can you see the beginnings of the word EXIT? See, I told you they are excellent observers.

P.S. When professional photographers come here for an interview or photos, no matter how many possible places we show them for their shots, they always, always, always come back to the chapel. They love to catch settings with the windows in the background. Maybe they'd like to come and sit around for 14 hours some sunny day!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

First trail walk

Sunday afternoon it seemed dry enough and warm (46!?!) enough to drive out to the park at 18-mile creek and hike the short walking trail down to the lake and beach. We saw a couple fishermen, kids kicking a soccer ball around and a young family and their dog, George, out for a walk. But what really surprised me were two things: 1) that although the shore where we live is clear of ice chunks, the shore in North East is not; ditto for large sand-ice dunes; 2) I'm missing the beautiful colors of the natural world, as in these are color photographs though they may at first appear to be black and whites! Hurry up spring....bring on the yellow daffodils and forsythia, the red tulips, purple violets and greens everywhere!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring equinox in 3 parts

Our morning trip into Erie takes us down a street that has us heading right into the sunrise and this morning the timing was perfect. There it was through the trees. No cloud cover today...warm (50s) and sunny. Happy spring!

Noon time brought a unique look through our stained glass windows. The uniqueness? No reflections on the side ceramic tiles. The angle must have been perfectly straight on--the windows appeared directly onto the floor and anything else in their way. Bright and colorful. Gorgeous.

And evening brought the annual free small cone giveaway at our local Dairy Queen that opened today! "We'll take two chocolate-vanilla twists, please," we said--"and thank you." I asked the fellow we thought might be the owner, as he served us at the drive thru window, how many they expect to give away. "Last year we served 1,300 small cones," he answered. I figure that's about 100 an hour and a whole summer of goodwill for them!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

One week of 50s-60s

One week of temperatures over 50 degrees and the inner courtyard garden jumps at the chance to begin its springtime revelations! Sure the Christmas lights are still on the magnolia tree, but now the buds are also just around the corner.

But the real celebration this weekend was the pronouncement of First Monastic Profession by Kathy McCarthy. The story and Smilebox on our community page tell the story beautifully. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

My choice

Our simple environment for Lent.

My (sad) attempt at being artsy--all lights off, only candle light and flash of the camera!

I forgot to share the poem I read at the Celebration of Mary Oliver last week. It is from my favorite book of hers, Thirst. My favorite because it is so spiritual. Not spiritual in that organized religion kind of way---or with any religion in particular. Just in that way that acknowledges and treasures all the beautiful (spiritual) things about life: nature, people, events. 

Since I have spent the winter looking out of my window at the five newly planted trees from last summer and wondering and hoping that they are making it through the wilds of winter in the protective tubing we put around them, I chose this one on trees--and, of course as in all Mary Oliver poems--on more than trees.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

First five days

The first five days of Lent have been anything but quiet, secluded or retiring. Well, that's not totally true--our chapel has taken on its annual simple, yet stunning Lenten environment, our daily prayer has changed to include Lenten hymns and responses and the first weekend of the Vigil and Sunday Mass brought back the heard-once-a-year songs and the beautiful deep and mournful sounds of the oboe.

But amidst all of that we also had the seasonal Lenten reflection afternoon for 35 oblates and a very interesting weekend group of leaders of a small, rather new Presbyterian congregation from Pittsburgh, who joined us for every prayer period and Sunday Mass. Our prioress, Sister Anne was part of presentations at an event celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week held at Mercyhurst University. And, over it all, we experienced our first spring-like thaw which brought enough rain to melt all, I say all, of the snow on the grounds. What is that long flat carpet-like green stuff that covers so much of our property? Grass, you say...what's grass? (We've been snow-covered for so long it's no wonder both male and female cardinals are coming closer than usual. Our poor birds are in need of some natural food sources!)

May spring come quickly.