Sunday, October 29, 2017

Living Stories

This weekend was our community weekend. Dr. Diana Hayes spoke to the community and our oblate community on the subject of race. She shared personal stories and encouraged us to share who we are, too.

The story that moved me most came near the end of the day on Saturday. A gay woman told us about a group to which she belongs that advocates for the rights of LBGT elders in the community, while providing them safe space, too. A similar group of young gay people invited them the night before to celebrate Halloween together. She noted that the younger gay community did not seem to have the same prejudices that the elders had; they were more open to intermingling among races, ages, and genders. She said it was the best party because, it seems, it was true community.

In community we celebrate together, support one another, and strive to live right relationship authentically. Today's Gospel reading reminded us of just that: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Our presider reminded us how much that second commandment depends on the first, on developing one's own relationship with God. What I loved about his homily today was that as he shared those words with us, he realized he had nothing more to say. He sort of stopped and admitted, "I don't know what else to say," so he left it at that as he left the ambo. It was such a humble moment. There is only so much talk that we can do; then we have to go live.

I hope we all have opportunities to live stories like the one shared on Saturday, one that enlivens not only those present but those who hear the story, too. We need stories like that more than ever, and we won't be able to share them if we don't start living.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Geese getting on with living as I was getting on with running

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Back in the Classroom

On Monday I returned to full-time ministry at Saint Benedict Center with my dear 1-2 year olds. So far it has been wonderful; the past three days have been filled with runny noses and running feet!

I have always done a bit of pondering about the nature of God via classroom contemplation, and now the experience continues after a brief hiatus called novitiate. I think about what teachers offer to their students: compassion, mercy, instruction, and wisdom. But, while I often run out of all of those things (sometimes by 9am), God doesn't.

But I have also noticed that novitiate did work some conversion magic as I have found that I am more willing to be patient with these young explorers. It is exciting for me since I used to spend a lot more time worrying about small stuff in the classroom. To think of the infinite patience God has for us is magnificent indeed. May we bring that patience to everyone we meet.

Here is a Mary Oliver favorite on contemplation called Song of the Builders:

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

At the River, Life

It's that wonderful time of year when you can still comfortably wear shorts to go for a run while also crunching leaves as you move along the pavement.

This time of year is also wonderful for a different reason now. Yesterday I made my first monastic profession--promising stability, obedience, and fidelity to the monastic way of life with the Erie Benedictine community.

I certainly do not have adequate words to describe the day yet, as the experience has only just begun to soak into my Spirit.

I do know that I am grateful that family and friends arrived safely on their journeys to be here with community for the celebration. I do know that I am grateful for the warm cup of coffee I drank in the afternoon. I do know that I am grateful for the quiet moments of reading Mary Oliver poetry right before the ceremony. I knew I had to read At the River Clarion, my Mary favorite poem, before the evening began. I am going to let a few lines from the poem do the talking until I am ready.

I don’t know who God is exactly.
But I’ll tell you this.

If God exists he isn’t just churches and mathematics.

He’s every one of us, potentially.
The leaf of grass, the genius, the politician,

     the poet.
And if this is true, isn’t it something very important?

Yes, it could be that I am a tiny piece of God, and
     each of you too, or at least
          of his intention and his hope.
Which is a delight beyond measure.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Friday's Sunset at Presque Isle

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Community Milestone

Our community celebrates something big on this fine Sunday. Today is the birthday of Sister Placida, the first member of this group of Benedictine women to reach 100 years of age.

Placida's spirit is still young, vibrant, and sharp. She is an avid reader and lover of beauty. The other day when I was talking to her, she told me about her evolution of finding God. Now she finds God in the breeze.

My first memory of Placida takes me back to a time before I was a community member myself. At my first Holy Week, Placida sat at a table with me during dinner on Holy Thursday. We struck up a good conversation, and by the end of Triduum, she had given a Benedictine medal to another sister to give to me. The catch was that she thought she was my biological sister. It created a fun bond, and I credit my first Benedictine medal to Sister Placida. Since then, I have gained many more wonderful memories of a very special woman...and a few more medals to boot!

Join with me in celebrating our dear Sister Placida! L'chaim!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

(Placida trying on my scarf right after I entered the community)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Field of Stars

We just heard an enrichment series program from one of our oblates who walked the Camino--a pilgrimage through France and Spain that ends at Santiago de Compostela. It is well known now; most have probably heard of it, so it is always nice to hear a personal account.

My favorite book that I've read about the Camino is To The Field of Stars, which is the account of an American priest walking the journey. And these are my favorite lines from the book:

We want that one star to reveal a twinkle in the eye of God for us. Well, actually we want to see far more than just one star; we want to see them all, strewn, cast, dancing away in their galactic pinwheels. We want to see there an extravagant God who does not count or measure but just pours and pours and pours, grace upon grace, stars upon stars, in our sky, into us. We hope against hope that before we die we might see what Abraham saw: a universe shot through with sparkling care. Then everything will make sense. To witness all this, to see the stars dance, to dance with them ourselves, this is what attracts us, this is what has grabbed us by our souls, and this is what is pulling us down this crazy road. Ah, yes, the seeing of stars is indeed a great thing in this life.

Stars, and the night sky in general, fascinate me. Isn't this a beautiful reflection?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

(I don't remember where I found this picture, but I love it.)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Profession Blessings

Yesterday our community celebrated a beautiful moment--the perpetual monastic profession of Sister Pat. It was a beautiful day in every way: joyful, sunny, and full of love.

I personally loved the chapel environment with rose arrangements symbolizing death and life. They perfectly represented the Paschal Mystery into which Pat professed to live through obedience, stability, and fidelity to monastic life.

Many blessings to Pat as she continues her journey into the Heart of Love with this community.

Uphold me, O God, according to Your word and I shall live; and do not fail me in my hope.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cycling With Sisters

I went into Monday's bike ride knowing that it would personally be a fitting way to end my novitiate year: a tangible and meaningful journey that represents the commitment I am about to make two and a half weeks from now--a prayerful pilgrimage with community.

And it was just that.

There were no exceptional, extraordinary moments that were the "must-tell" stories. The whole experience was just plain ol' wonderful, filled with beauty throughout...and we did it together.

A fellow journeyer asked me about my vocation story while entering into Buffalo--telling my tale while riding felt appropriate. Riding across into Canada on the Peace Bridge was a thrill, too.

And, there was the destination.

Thank you all for your support, for staying connected with us throughout the day, for wanting to hear about it all upon our return. We did it together.

Let us ride in the holy presence.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Journey

Here is a picture of the early days of me learning to ride a bike with a friend.

You might be surprised by how old I look. Yes, I learned to ride a bike when I was 24.

I don't have a picture of the actual day that I was first able to "push off" and remain stable, but it was a long journey to get to that day.

Tomorrow, a group of us will be riding our bikes from North East, PA to Niagara Falls in support of the Communicators for Women Religious (CWR) and women religious in general. The network's annual conference meets in Niagara Falls this year, and a bike pilgrimage will begin the meeting with prayer stops along the way--mindful of social justice issues at the heart of the Gospel work of women religious

Yes, a 100-mile journey. And, yes, we are excited!

You can follow us live on Facebook tomorrow by clicking on this.

You can also read about the ride, called Cycling With Sisters.

And here.

See you on the road!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time      to linger           for just a little while                out of your busy and very important day      for t...