Sunday, June 30, 2019

Arborist wannabe

I won't get even to first base in the world of trees, but I think I may qualify as an arborist wannabe after the last year.

Since last summer I have had a hand in the growing and/or planting of 6 trees on our grounds. The first three I started from 10" sticks, a free gift for Arbor Day. The are dogwoods and they survived the winter wrapped in plastic piping as protection against the snow and wind. This summer they are growing like wildfire, right below my window in a protected garden area. A friend told me that dogwoods are loved by deer, as in eating their bark et al....but I am undaunted by this, choosing instead to "train" our deer to eat our apples and, maybe, not the young dogwood that I think will be ready for transplant somewhere in the yard next spring.

But my real thrill is in the three young (6-8' tall) trees in the front of the house. One was planted last September: a black gum. It was planted and staked, professionally, after we picked it out up at Stan's Garden Center. It and an American Larch that we put in this spring, again by professional trees guys, are in memory of Sister Anne's mother who died one year ago this week. They are both doing great.

A larch in autumn.

The third, I decided to try and plant myself. I read all about planting trees, found a site that listed the process in 10 easy steps, and took it on about three weeks ago. It's another memorial in honor of Sr. Maureen. It's a hawthorn and is, so far, surviving well. You can't miss it as the stakes are attached to the tree with yellow strips from an old t-shirt (yes, that was one of their hints!)

The maintenance men and I have been taking turns hauling out water in big buckets to keep them well hydrated during their early weeks (on days when it didn't rain). Again, I read that this is very important as it takes their roots a "lot of energy" to grow and establish themselves in the new soil.

A hawthorn in spring.

So, here we are in a new venture with great hopes and natural beauty to remind us of the beauty of our dear friends.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Adoring or Enduring

I'm sure that some of you adore and some of you endure my endless sharing of the poems of Mary Oliver. To me so many of them are a prayer, granted hand-in-hand with nature, but they speak strongly, yet simply of things beyond our limited human ways.

So when I read "Facets of the Maker" an essay on Mary's life and works by a fellow poet, but also a college student of hers, I just knew I wanted to share it with you--the adorers and endurers. It's quite different than reading a poem. Here you are reading about the poems, the poet and how she and her work fit into the world during her time.

Hope you'll give it a try. It was in one of the spring editions of America magazine.
Click here.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Guests having guests

We are still "basking in the afterglow" of the delightful golf tournament and the interactions among the guests and community members last Monday. And what should occur four days later? A weekend with a full house of summer guests! Since the weather this weekend was truly glorious we had a continuation of enjoyable hospitality with the many relatives and friends and people on retreat that came through from Thursday through Sunday.

One the most unique situations I like is when our guests have guests! That's happening right now as we have a recent college graduate here for two months working on a writing project. She's already had two guests come to "see what this place is" and is scheduled to have more as the months go on. They think nothing of jumping into a car and driving 7 hours for a long weekend, and, equally, we think nothing of pulling them into the place for a quick visit! Fun all around. One of them mentioned at lunch that she didn't expect it to be this warm and nice. "Don't you get a lot of snow?" she asked. "Oh, yes," I answered, "about 100" on average." I thought she was going to choke!

I think there's got to be a high correlation between lots of snow and extreme appreciation of summer. Because we definitely have both!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Julie and Whoopi couldn't make it.

At the now area-wide famous golf tournament this past Monday, my favorite part was when about 30+ of us sang an Irish Blessing before the buffet meal to the dining room full of golfers. Now when is the last time you heard a choir of REAL sisters sing? In the Sound of Music? Nope, actors. Sister Act 1 or 2? Actors again. A local production of the play Nunsense? Local actors! And even if you can go back to The Trouble With Angels or The Nun's and no....professional singers/actors. Until this week!

It really was wonderful to sing in front of a group of people who, for the most part, had never heard us sing. Luckily, the acoustics in the room were great and when our director gave us the first 2-3 notes--off we went, on key, clear and steady! You could have heard a pin drop---on the carpeted floor!

Click here to hear the schola sing. Scroll down a little to the one labeled "Gift of Community."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wisdom saying...

"After ecstasy, the laundry."

This week our own version of this wisdom saying becomes, "After retreat, the golf course" as we follow the famous Star Trek definition of its voyages: To seek out new life...and to boldly go where no Erie Benedictine has gone before---to a golf tournament fundraiser for the community!

Following a wonderful annual 5-day retreat this past week, we will be trekking (pun intended) out to our first fundraising venture into golf. Over 125 golfers will enjoy (we hope) time at a local golf club on behalf of funding our ministerial and community needs. Of course, they will be experiencing things that I'm pretty sure they don't have at most tournaments: the community choir singing a blessings, homemade chocolate cookies from one of our sisters, beautiful divot tools handmade from our wood turner and over half the community placed as guides and helpers throughout the course! Not to forget the pre-golf events such as Putt With the Prioress (trying to beat her to earn a free mulligan on their round) and a hot dog lunch on the grill by two sister-grillers (is there such a term as that?!??!)

I like everything about it so far...but this logo is at the top of my list...don't you love the clapper and the bell ringer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Listening for another voice

We're on retreat this week...listening for another voice.


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sitting on the back porch

Sitting around on the back porch has new meaning when you see ours.It's about 50' long x 15' wide. It's a patio, spanning the full length of our dining and community rooms. There are three outdoor round tables with umbrellas and 14 matching chairs, two picnic tables, 1 glider, four wood-like chairs (2 regular and 2 rocking) and two large Rubbermaid containers for holding pads for the chairs.

Additionally, there are three fierce-looking owls standing guard, just daring our scores of birds to do a flyover and make a deposit. Yes, they do work, we have no bird poop on our patio! On the west side is a large kerosene grill and along the entire length a railing that is perfect for two large flower boxes that were filled and hung this weekend. Very nice touch.

On the far east end are the remains of a rain gauge..just the backing, no cylinder. I'll have to find a replacement, now that there's no snow to measure, we have to measure something, surely!

And it is from this very patio that this past Wednesday we saw our first fawn of the season. The mother and baby appeared crossing Troupe Rd. and proceeded to race across the entire length of our backyard, sticking right along the tree line. The fawn, and was it ever small, was keeping up with its mother (miraculously I thought) and seemed to fly behind her. What a beautiful sight. We were able to alert the sisters inside quick enough that lots of them witnessed the hoof-race, too. Ah, summer.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A riot has broken out

in the form of irises! They are everywhere and they are just beautiful. The only "predator" they have is rain and we have had some this week, so it has taken a bit of a toll on the taller ones. The short ones seem to be able to handle it. Feelings of summer are really setting in a little now and it couldn't be welcomed more. Blessings on your summer days, too!

These are one of my favorites of all the ones we have around.
They are short and really stay upright no matter
the summer storms that come through.

This bunch is right downtown, right next to the curb of a street,
but they are beautiful and bring that beauty to the inner-city neighborhood.

These is a photo taken from one floor up, looking down from
 my bedroom window to the small garden below. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Expanding hospitality

This weekend we had a group from out of town for a weekend "retreat" of their own direction and organization. They filled most of our guest rooms and a hermitage or two. We only saw them at meals but they were absolutely lovely, easy to interact with, respectful and gracious. And they were all some kind of "Anonymous" member.

I checked on the internet and found over 30 Anonymous groups: alcoholics, over-eaters, gamblers, narcotics, codependents, sexaholics, workaholics, marijuana, nicotine anonymous and many more. Their commonality, it seems, is the 12 steps. It is the mainstay for all of these groups.

We have hundreds of people that come through here as part of our hospitality ministry. Most are friends, family members, oblates, many nuns or people in spirituality/religious ministries. They blend easily into our rhythm and daily life. But this group really gave me new thoughts on the hospitality we can offer: if we can provide a place that offers safety, non-judgment, kindness and respect, especially to relative "strangers" who need such, that has to be a very important piece of our Benedictine hospitality, too. I hope they'll be back.