Friday, April 16, 2021

National Poetry Month

From Mary Oliver

Maker of All Things, Even Healings

All night under the pines the fox
moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death which it deserves.
In the spicy villages of the mice he is famous,
his nose in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it, makes himself
as small as he can as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses for the ripe seeds.

Maker of All Things,
including appetite, including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow

let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.

Let us walk in the holy presence.



Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Night the Lights Went Out: Easter Vigil at the Monastery

Well, no one could say it didn't have a thrilling ending.

Of course, the Easter narrative holds our greatest finale, and we lived into that pretty fully last night.

Easter Vigil was set to begin at 8pm. Around 6:15pm, as I put loads of dishes through the dishwasher, the machine stopped, the lights faded in an instant, and we all started to laugh.

The power was out.

This is the night the light broke the chains of death, oh holy night. We always sing as the Vigil begins and the Paschal fire blazes.

Out of nowhere appeared a rechargeable sound system, flashlights, lanterns, headlights, systems rigged to hold them all in place. Everyone began to give the could hear the music traditionally played on the computer-powered organ being practiced on the piano.

The show must go on. By 8pm, we were off, on the journey toward Alleluia.

The flexibility and adaptability on display were the essence of what I've come to know in my 5+ years at the monastery. As the eight traditional readings unfolded leading us to that first "Alleluia" in ages, there was a beautiful simplicity as we adjusted to the unexpected.

The power company told us to expect electric again around 11pm. In line to share communion at 9:45, Let there be light, and there was. And it was good.

Just in time to enjoy our closing hymn, All Shall Be Well and our Easter postlude on the organ.

"Jesus alive! Rejoice and sing again. All shall be well forever more, Amen."

Let us walk in the holy Easter presence.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Beginning of April: Poetry! Triduum! Snow?

National Poetry Month begins today. We enter into the Triduum as well.

Here is a poem for both:

Mary Oliver

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, wild 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.

And poem in the form of a song:
First Aid Kit (a favorite of mine) singing Leonard Cohen's Sisters of Mercy.

And, of course, since today is April Fool's Day...

May your experience of Triduum be meaningful, however you are able to experience it this year.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Happy Feast!

Today is the Feast of Benedict. (We will observe the celebration here tomorrow evening.)

For me, one of the most beautiful things about Benedictine spirituality is experienced in its appreciation for beauty. And it's not necessarily "big" or "awesome" beauty like standing before a famous artwork or hearing a symphony performed. (Of course it is that, too, though.)

But often it's simple, everyday beauty.

Yesterday I was turning the corner and looked into an office. I couldn't help but smile. Surrounded by technology, the first daffodils of the season.

It was so ordinary, and yet those moments of routine, small joys have kept me going this past year.

The simple beauty of these daffodils signifies so much more: the return of spring, the glory of creation, the awe-inspiring diversity of the natural world.

Benedict calls us to live an ordinary life and make it meaningful. Happy Feast to you all! We wish you could be with us.

As for me, I'll think I'll go for my first bike ride of the season.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Happy Pi Day!

Praise God for whomever the mathematician/scientist was who loved equally the lab and the kitchen. For this we get to celebrate Pi Day on March 14th each year. 3.14 translating to 3/14...just wonderful!

We took to the kitchen yesterday in preparation. All we be enjoyed at our noon meal today, plus a little freshly whipped cream! Yes, I will be donning my "Pi Day" shirt, given to me by someone who loves numbers just as much as I do.

It took about 3 dozen key limes just to get 1.5 cups of small as they are!

the amount of graham crackers purchased was the exact amount we needed for the crusts
INCREDIBLY satisfying!

very serious bakers

and some regular crusts, too...6 graham cracker, 6 flour in all

Fascinated by the consistency of the condensed milk...

Let us walk in the presence.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

A "Busy," "Normal" Weekend

You know how sometimes you experience moments, and they almost feel "normal." Like a moment that you would have experienced before March 2020. This weekend had a touch of that.

On Saturday we heard an excellent presentation on contemplation and grief. When I say "excellent," I mean, it was the kind of material that one works with for the rest of her life. One of the lines that I wrote down and will contemplate for a while was:

I have to believe that I can never have an experience apart from God.

Today we listened in on Zoom as our sister, Joan, spoke on the theme of beauty to inaugurate a lecture series on Art and Spirituality sponsored by the Pucker Gallery, where much of the pottery collection of Brother Thomas, who was an artist-in-residence in our community, is located.

Today, in the mild, about 50-degree weather, I even gave a haircut to one of my sister's outside!

Last night, in our Lenten vigil reflections, we heard about "sacred encounters" as this weekend's gospel was the Transfiguration. Our sister who reflected reminded us, so simply and wonderfully, that all experiences have the potential to be a sacred encounter with the present moment, with the Divine.

I have to believe that I can never have an experience apart from God, indeed.

This weekend was full of those holy moments. I hope you had a few, too.

Blessings as we continue on this journey.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Our squirrel friend is usually not so still and centered while on the feeder pole.
He's usually an acrobat! In this moment, a Zen master! Goals.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

In-between, yet again

I was indulging in some winter self-care the other morning, a February necessity. Sure, there are thoughts and memories of spring, but not yet any visible signs presenting themselves in nature. We are straddling that space—the in-between of winter and spring, as the feast we celebrated on the first day of this month, Imbolc, reminds us. Imbolc marks winter's midpoint, and it is also the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Kildare, that wonderful woman saint who you'll remember by her miracle where she turned water into beer.

I've made it pretty clear that winter is not my strong suit, but I am trudging through. I haven't been outside yet today, or checked any official measurements, but by simply looking out the window, it seems as though last night's storm wasn't as bad as predicted here in Erie. We pray for those in the south and midwest going through major power outages and conditions very much unseasonable even by winter standards in those areas.

The other day I smiled when I looked at the "divider," as we call it here at the monastery (it divides the dining room and community room), and saw this very visible reminder that we are in-between winter and spring...a poinsettia and a daffodil! Ha! Yes, there is snow outside, but it is no longer completely dark as we leave evening prayer these days.

We are on the way.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

National Poetry Month

From Mary Oliver Maker of All Things, Even Healings All night under the pines the fox moves through the darkness with a mouthful of teeth an...