Showing posts from December, 2015

So You Say You Want A Resolution?

Last year my friend and I joked that we would make New Year's resolutions to do things we really had no desire to accomplish, knowing the general success rate of these sorts of decisions.

This year I read a piece that Parker Palmer wrote for the On Being blog, one of my favorite blogs and my favorite radio show.

He said that as he was writing about resolutions, he made an easy typo, and "resolutions" became "revolutions." He then realized it wasn't a mistake at all and instead wrote about the revolutions of which he wants to be a part in the new year:

The revolution against our fear of “otherness,” and against those who manipulate this fear for their self-serving ends. I want to stand in solidarity with those whose lives have been made even more difficult by the ignorance, cruelty, and shamelessness of the Donald Trumps of this world and their minions. When I hear people speaking against Muslims or Mexicans, to take but two examples, I need to say, “Your wor…

"and the darkness has not overcome it."

May your eyes and your heart be open to the Light that reveals itself to us at Christmas.

A blessed holiday to you, one and all!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Slowly, Slowly

Be gentle, Val.

No, these aren't words I heard as a baby getting ready to pet a bunny. These are the words I hear as a twenty-seven-year old receiving self-care advice from wise women who surround me.

Be gentle, Val.

I, like many others, have a hard time showing myself care and compassion. But, the past few weeks I have had no choice but to practice as I have been under the weather. God literally said, "Slow down, my child. Rest."

Be gentle, Val.

So, this Advent has been full in a different sort of way than my normal. I haven't been reading. I haven't been writing. I haven't been riding my bike or running to the lake. I can't give a lot of detail about how I've filled my days.

Be gentle, Val.

But, I have spent a lot of time with the Visitation, my favorite Bible story. Although Mary traveled "in haste" to Elizabeth, she stayed for three months. When I imagine what might have happened during that time, I have visions of nurturing, compassion, an…

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

With Christmas less than a week away, I am beginning to see more than Advent blue. Each day decorations and ornaments slowly show up around the monastery. There is much joy in being observant right now! On Friday, I helped a sister put up the tree in our hallway. This evening we will decorate our tree in the community room. And, look! It had to happen...our first real snow that accumulated to something, though not much. Remember that view out my window from August and October? Here is the December 20th version!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

An Almost-Christmas Blessing

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets…

A Matter of Perspective

Within the past few days, I have had two experiences stay with me.

One: Classrooms have shifted around at daycare as the East Coast Migrant program ended for the season. This means some children have new teachers. I was across the hall from the classroom where two of our sisters teach. I listened to one child who wanted to get the attention of his teacher as he said loudly, "Sister! Sister!"

Two: I walked to the lake on Saturday. I spend most of my time at the lake as close to the water as I can get without soaking my shoes. This time I tried something different. There is a steep hill right next to the water. So, I climbed. Once I reached the top, I was able to see a lot more lake.


By (literally) looking at a much bigger picture of the lake, I was reminded how important it is to always bring more and more into my image of God. God is the entire picture, no exclusions. Ilia Delio writes, "Only in embracing all can we become the arms of God."

And, this w…

The One Where Val Walks Into Chapel on Reflection Day

But I wasn't the only thing reflecting!

Check out our stained glass windows! Can you even tell where the glass ends and the walls begin?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

I Can(not?) Wait

Last night we had our second Advent vigil. Each week a sister offers her reflections, and in this week's reflection we were given three words to ponder: waiting, birthing, and gratitude.

I hold much gratitude for my experience yesterday. I attended an Advent retreat given by the poet, writer, and all-around lovely person, Edwina Gateley. The theme of the day was birthing God in the contemporary world.

Edwina reminded us that we are called to gestate. Growing into God's fullness isn't a day-long project. How often I believe that if I can just figure out this puzzle or that idea, then I will finally get the ever-elusive "it" and understand the Mystery of the fullness.

And so I read a poem, engage in a conversation, sit with my thoughts, work with the kids, all the while search, search, searching for the answer. And I cannot wait for those moments. I cannot wait to spend time with a friend. I cannot wait to find that poem that I've been thinking about all day. I…

Art and Advent

Advent is a great time for me to use my favorite painting as prayer.

That painting is "The Annunciation" by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Not only is it my favorite, but it lives in my favorite city, Philadelphia.

Robert Morneau also wrote a beautiful poem to go with the painting - called Fiat:

On her bed of doubt, in wrinkled night garment,
she sat, glancing with fear
at a golden shaft of streaming light,
pondering perhaps, “Was this
but a sequel to a dream?”
The light too brief for disbelief,
yet its silence eased not her trembling.
Somehow she murmured a “yes”
and with that the light’s love and life
pierced her heart
and lodged in her womb.
The room remained the same
     -rug still need smoothing
     -jug and paten awaiting using.
Now all was different
in a maiden’s soft but firm fiat.

Perhaps you, too, have a favorite piece of art to use as prayer during this Advent season.
Let us walk in the holy presence.