Saturday, September 22, 2018

Running Into Morning

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

—“Song For Autumn,” Mary Oliver

And just like that, autumn came. Yesterday we had to come in from playing outside because the temperature was too hot. Today, I wore a flannel.

It makes running much more pleasant. I went for an early morning run today, my favorite time to head out on the open road. Last weekend I did the same, but we were at Villa Maria, the home of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary for another intercommunity formation weekend. As I turned around from a run down a long country road to head back, I noticed the sun coming up (another reason I love early runs).

Here is a bit of time lapse that I was able to capture in between breaths and steps.

Benedict tells us in his Rule to “run with the inexpressible delight of love.” This isn’t too difficult to accomplish literally with a view such as the one I experienced at Villa Maria. Today we celebrated five of our own sisters who have been running with this inexpressible delight for fifty years—their Golden Jubilees. They have embraced the call of this season that we begin today—letting go, allowing transformation, and embracing change. It’s the only way to live the monastic life faithfully and joyfully. I am grateful for the witness their lives are for me. In her remarks, our prioress reminded us of the primacy of relationship that roots this life as well—respect the elders; love the juniors. While this led to a little laughter with the sister next to me, recognizing the age gap that separates us, there is such truth and necessity in this statement. We cannot live this life well if we do not learn from each other.

So, thank you—Marla, Susan, Sue, Dorothy, and Janet. Thank you for your love, for your sharing life with me, and for your fidelity to Benedict’s Rule to which you have committed yourself for the past fifty years.

Let us walk in the holy presence. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cover Songs and Cover-ups

What a treat! Last weekend we took a road trip to New Jersey. I went to celebrate the wedding of a dear, dear, dear friend who I met on the first day of college. My Erie friends joined. Who could pass up an opportunity to dive into the ocean in late summer? Especially when it’s your first time ever for one of them. So, we put on our cover-ups, got some sandwiches from Wawa, and headed out on the NJ turnpike. Below you see a true Jersey native, body packed with all things beach, getting ready for a day embracing sand.

Jumping waves for a few hours exhausted us, but we sang our gratitude to Mother Ocean.

One highlight of the road trip were two extended sing-a-long sessions. We cranked up an eclectic YouTube playlist and sang our hearts out. Here are three wonderful songs we belted, sung by someone other than the original musicians.

A Case of You — Passenger

Romeo and Juliet — Indigo Girls

America — First Aid Kit

This weekend, we are off to Villa Maria for a formation weekend with Nancy Sylvester, IHM. Until next time...

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Monday, September 3, 2018

To be of use, by Marge Piercy (aka An Ode to Labor Day)

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

In Honor of Valentine's Day...

Here are three things currently on my "love list." 1. This photo that Jen, a postulant in our community, took of a snowy tree...