Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Wed, 2020-08-12 21:46


Since beginning this blog in May 2007 I don't know that I've missed more than perhaps one or two Monday and Thursday entries. But that is coming to end with this post. After 10 years of 24/7-365 days of ministry to our wonderful community, Anne and I are taking an extended break to unwind, relax and become "our everyday selves" again. The ones without the constant responsibilities, decision-making, worry and endless availability. 90% of which was really no problem, it's just the everyday life with 85-100 other women (and many more in the friends and family category!) with whom we are on our monastic journey. But these "down" weeks have to include my taking a break from writing LTSGW.
I know that your life won't be the same without it!!!!! So many of you, faithful beyond my imaginings, have expressed to me such kind remarks about the little daily "stuff" that is shared here. Thank're very nice. I'll be back Sunday night October 4th, Feast of St. Francis. Until then, try some of our other blogs that perhaps you haven't followed so much. They are very good at sharing a tiny glimpse into our life, also. Blessings to you and yours...stay healthy and come see us as soon as we get this virus under some sort of control. We miss seeing you very much.

Deep into summer

Sun, 2020-08-09 21:25


After a busy May and early June of hummingbird activity, the summer's sightings tailed off greatly and we seldom saw them at all for a while. But lately they have made a great return and I'm filling our feeders at least once a week, if not twice. Here's a little fellow sitting on the smallest of branches "guarding" my feeder from any other hummers that decide to come by!

In our COVID-19 "return to nature" summer the sisters are continuing their reports on our resident wildlife. These include two young-ish bucks that come around almost daily; a growing fawn and its mother that come separately from the bucks; more chipmunks than normally (so the sisters attest); and the occasional appearance of our coyote, wild turkeys, ground hogs and other "critters." The wide variety of birds continues to be the most enjoyed, however. In fact that's what our Birds and Blooms magazine reminds us, "Feeding birds in the summer is for human enjoyment, feeding them throughout the winter is actually for the birds health."

BTW if you haven't had a chance to go to our website or Facebook page lately, I think you'll enjoy a picture collage of our golf tournament and Jubilee celebration, both held last week. Even though we seem to be able to make our own fun, so to speak, we are missing our guests greatly. It will be a wonderful day when we can have our friends and visitors back with us.

debbie or susan?

Wed, 2020-08-05 21:05
So according to my mother the name was going to be Debbie...I guess the alliteration was too tempting. But when this totally bald (yes, I've seen the pictures) baby arrived with huge dark became Susan. And these days I'm thinking of my Mom a we are awash in Black-eyed Susans everywhere! Thanks, Mom.  

Cliff dwellers

Sun, 2020-08-02 18:11
We took our annual hike along the cliffs that over look Presque Isle Bay. This trail begins at the foot (north end) of Peach Street and winds its way west to Liberty St.--about a mile, I'd guess. The views on a beautiful summer day such as this were nothing short of stunning.  
Here's the Sheraton Hotel and the Convention Center, along with a small number of boats.  
Lots of bushes and trees along the path provide natural habitat for our many summer birds.   Here is the restored building that serves as the Erie Water Works, really a lovely masterpiece of the architecture of its time.
  Here is a large marina right in the bay.  
And, finally, Niagara Pier. A heavenly place to live, at least in the summer. I don't know about those howling, cold winter winds!

Shoring up...our shoreline

Wed, 2020-07-29 21:35

The erosion along the shore of Lake Erie has been considerable over the last few years. With the rising water level and the storms and high winds that are inevitable throughout the year, all property owners along the whole length of Lake Erie lose a lot of beach and cliff wall annually. We have been talking for the last year or so about options for our primary lake access area and this week our conservative, yet people-friendly plans became a reality. 
Thanks to our multi-talented building maintenance guys, we replaced the old broken and bent wire fencing with a natural wood 5' high fence, including new wiring on one side of it. Earlier we had new cement steps put in to replace the eroding ones--all the way down to the beach area. It's nothing fancy or overdone, just  a simple way to continue to enjoy the great blessing we have of beach and lake--for us and for our guests. 

COVID in everyday life

Sun, 2020-07-26 20:09

At St. Benedict Child Development Center they may not always have success
getting their one and two year olds to wear a mask,
but they surely model it for them--
both on the staff and on the "paper children" in the halls!
These are so cute.

Our local library branch is back in full swing--thank goodness.
That's my car, the blue one on the right. After I parked and got out
I got laughing right out loud as I noticed that the drivers
 of the red car and the white car and I had (subconsciously??) 
practiced social distancing in our parking practices!

Social butterflies' migration

Wed, 2020-07-22 21:59
This week I'm like a (COVID-19) social butterfly. We had to celebrate a special occasion, so we chose the new Courtyard Marriott right on Presque Isle Bay. Here are two indoor shots of Erie's latest bayfront ediface:

But, of course, we were outside on the beautiful deck 20' from the bay itself, in 80 degree weather, with a lovely breeze off the water. The prices were reasonable, the sandwich platters (which we all chose) were delicious and even with social distancing and masks when appropriate, the evening was great. That fluttering you hear is my social butterfly-ness floating by!


Sun, 2020-07-19 19:05
This weekend we discovered Lake Erie Community Park...a new place to us. It's located about 20 miles west of us, right on the lake, outside of the little borough of Lake City. The land along the lake is on cliffs out there and the people of the little towns there have a real gem of a community recreation area. Here are a few photos to give you an idea of this lovely place. It makes me wonder, how many other places, especially along the lake, are there that I've never visited or even known about?

In one area they have a playground. Here some photos of playground equipment I never saw before. My favorite? the curved teeter-totter!


Wed, 2020-07-15 22:02
I have become a snob. Yes, it's true, embarrassing, yet honest. In the last 2 weeks I have started three books and put them down, taken them back to the library after a chapter or two. I have become a book snob. I only want to read books where the plot doesn't sound vaguely familiar and gets more familiar as it goes on; nor ones that never use a word that I don't know (e.g. I have to read Martha Grimes with a dictionary or my phone nearby to look up a word per chapter: "antimacassar"); nor ones that aren't excellently written--as in, "I'm no artist, but I know what I like." I'm not a great writer but I know good writing....and it spoils you terribly. I cannot tolerate drivel anymore. Give me Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood and John Hart, for example.

Now, being a science and math major in both undergraduate and graduate school, I never read many classics, so the whole area of the classic English language books (are they really that good?) is unknown to me. But I don't feel a strong pull, a longing to read them now. There are great writers among us today and I am on a mission to find them!

BTW, it's a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric underneath. Congrats if you knew that. I didn't.

P. S. Clever joke writers, especially of word play, count in my snobbery, too.

Click to enlarge.

Native Americans

Sun, 2020-07-12 22:30

The 14th is the feast of Kateri Tekakwitha, the 17th c. Native American saint of the Iroquois tribe. Her story is one of the blending of her Indian heritage with her adopted Christianity. The awareness of her feast this week made me want to tell you of the Netflix series I've been watching lately.The title is Longmire and you might call it a contemporary Western. It has similarities with the Westerns I watched on TV as a child, but it has put down the Hollywood parts, the simulations and stereotyping, and picked up what is the reality, so they say, of life in a small rather cowboy-like town in Wyoming today. Here they blend the use of cell phones with rodeos and ranchers, which leads to the weekly crime adventure as Walt Longmire is the county sheriff. But the reason I like the show is twofold: First, the sheriff is a wounded hero, grieving the murder of his wife while trying to be a good man in a world of crime and flawed humanity; Secondly, a Cheyenne reservation is located right beside the town and every storyline includes interactions between the white world and the world of the Cheyenne people of the area. Lots of Native American philosophy and history are interwoven in the scripts. In this time of "Black Lives Matter" it fits in well.

Memories of Montserrat

Wed, 2020-07-08 21:20

The president of our Federation is here for the upcoming weekend and this evening she shared "home movies" of her visit to 12 monasteries of Benedictine women in Spain. Some of her scenes brought back fond memories of the year I attended the AIM International meeting at Montserrat, the world-famous Benedictine abbey of men about 40 miles outside of Barcelona. Built on a large cliff in the mountains, their primary ministry is to be of service to pilgrims visiting their Black Madonna. Thousands and thousands of people a year drive, ride the train or come up via cable car to spend the day visiting the beautiful church, go to confession (part of the pilgrimage requirements), hear the boys' choir and see the Black Madonna statue.

We also spent a day in Barcelona, staying in the guest house of a small group of Benedictine sisters. Nearly all of the communities are small (5-15 members) but very welcoming and wanting to hear all about the monasteries in the USA. We had to share the same information 10 years ago when we visited. Another memory of Barcelona that just came back to me is the remembrance that it was Thanksgiving Day when we were there, and we "celebrated" by going to McDonald's along a waterway and enjoying eating American!

If you go to southeastern Spain, the Barcelona area, I highly encourage you to look into a side trip to Montserrat! Incredible.

The lure of a playground

Sun, 2020-07-05 21:51

When Joan C. wrote the book Two Dogs and a Parrot she sent it out to a dozen or so "readers" before the final edit was due to the publishers. She asked not so much for their copy editing but more for their general reactions and suggestions as a "typical reader." I still remember one man's response which was, in fact, the exact type of thing authors want. He said, "I was never a animal lover or owner of a pet, nor could I understand why people go crazy over their dogs and cats, but after reading this book I now understand why people feel so much affection and are influenced so strongly by their pets. Your stories were entertaining and yet the lessons learned through their interactions with their animals were simple, deep and powerful."

On that note, here is my morning animal sitting subject once again, engaging in the pure play that animals seem to revel in. I must take a lesson! For full effect, click Full Screen.

Watch the tram car, please

Wed, 2020-07-01 21:32

We have a number of "temperature" stations, but here's my favorite. It's right inside the front door of our former motherhouse where I work, but which is also the home of a marvelous child development center. Thus explaining all the procedures and processes that have recently appeared. Here's the best:

It looks like an ipad attached atop a 4 foot pole--I guess that's because that is what it is! Many of us come in that way and are now using it to take our daily temp. You step up to it and immediately a female mechanical voice with absolutely no inflections begins with, "Please adjust your position for temperature screening" at which you move an inch or two forward or back. Only to hear, "Please adjust your position for temperature screening." Now back if you had moved forward or forward if you had moved back. And again, "Please adjust..." If you've ever been to the Jersey shore boardwalks and heard that automated voice that comes from the boardwalk trams, something like, "Watch the tram car please, Watch the tram car" or "Mind the gap" or whatever they say. It's the same gal, the same voice. The first time I kinda' panicked and move four or five times before it finally showed "Measuring." Which is followed by showing your temperature and another voice message, "Normal normal, normal."

We are having such fun!

I tried to take a photo of the working screen, but ended up taking a temperature measuring selfie!

Living with the lake

Sun, 2020-06-28 21:48
Lake Erie is rising, as you probably know from your climate change reading. We are seeing the effects here with a significant rise in the bay and lake all around our peninsula, Presque Isle State Park. It even gets so bad after a rainstorm that they have to close some of the roads as they get flooded over.

Here along the lakeshore we are seeing the effects, too. Erosion is all along the shoreline in Pennsylvania. Since this includes quite a few residential areas and homes, people have invested mightily, I hear, in trying to save their lake front.

We have a few old, old piers that over the course of years and years have changed. Parts have fallen off, other pieces are submerged, and some sections are dipping into the lake but still passable. We decided to take on the most savable one and see what we could do. On the advice of a local constructor that has done a lot of work on lakefront property (and admits that some of what he did just a few years ago is already being reclaimed by the lake because of erosion and the change in water levels) we have having the upper part of the pier re-paved so that at least there is some access to the beach area and a walk out to the water. Here is how it looks this week.

There is also going to be a new fence along the bluff above the lake, with a gate at this pier. I'm very excited that we are at least trying, sensibly, to keep our lakefront people-friendly/enjoyable.

June 23, 1856

Tue, 2020-06-23 21:19
An excerpt from our history: "The Benedictine Sisters of Erie trace their beginnings to the Benedictine nuns at St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany, founded in 1035. Sisters from there first came to St. Marys, PA in 1852 to educate the children of the newly arrived German immigrants. On June 23, 1856 Mother Benedicta Riepp and five sisters from St. Marys arrived in Erie at the request of the Erie bishop. Sister Scholastic Burkhard was appointed first superior by Mother Benedicta thus establishing the first community of women religious in the Erie area." You can read more of an abbreviated history of our community here. 

164 years! "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm a hundred and sixty-four?"

Summer scenes

Sun, 2020-06-21 21:40
Summer officially came Saturday, but our temperatures have been beautiful since much before that. This weekend was no exception. I ran into our postulant from New Zealand and she was grinning from ear to ear...she had tried the pool down at Glinodo and found it wonderful. She has been missing the tropical temps of her home country and neighboring Australia (and has endured, courageously, our snowy winters). She is in heaven now, as we are hitting 80s regularly and even 91 today, I believe. A bit too hot for most of us.....but, not for her, mate!

Here are three summer scenes from this week:

Door Harp

Wed, 2020-06-17 21:27
I just received a door harp, one that I heard on a nearby sister's door for quite a few years. I loved the sound so I was thrilled to receive it for one of my doors. I was curious about them and here's what I found.
"The door harp originated in Scandinavia, mostly in Sweden but also in Norway and Denmark and has evolved over time. It's estimated the door harp has been around for about 700 years. It was inspired by the Chinese Feng Shui tradition of hanging bells or chimes around doors and windows to "alter the Chi" (good energy in, bad energy out).The Swedish adopted this idea but instead of bells, they incorporated the strings and beads which you see on the modern day door harp. The original superstition behind them was to repel evil spirits but has since evolved to signify welcome, luck, health and prosperity to all that pass through the door. It is usually hung on the inside of the front door (some hang it on the outside but this will make it easier for the wood to get warped and the strings to go out of tune).
The door harp is a flattened hollow box made from various kinds of hardwood that comes in many different shapes and sizes, with hanging balls that bounce off the strings which are tuned to different notes. The amount of strings can vary from 3 to as many as a dozens (or more!). Traditionally the strings were made of braided silk, however, these days they are usually wire."

Mine has four wire strings hit by 4 very light wood balls. It has a lovely light sound. From google images this is close to what mine looks like. There are pages of others, it's fascinating. See them here.

Posting a card

Sun, 2020-06-14 17:04
Ecards are fun and easy to send. But the people who hang onto the "ministry" of sending cards through the post office are really committed to making an impression--an impression of time and effort and, most importantly, of care for the intended receiver. And there are people who still do this, do it regularly and beautifully. If you are the recipient of the thoughtfulness of one of these people, you know what I mean.

Of all the sympathy card messages I've ever read, this is the one that has meant the most to me. I have sent dozens of these to friends, through Cards by Anne.

"And can it be that in a world so full and busythe loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deepthat nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!"
Charles Dickens

Retreat with BBT

Wed, 2020-06-10 20:56
This week we have our annual retreat. I decided to "have a retreat with Barbara Brown Taylor" one of my favorite spirituality writers. Our library has 7-8 of her books--amazon lists 17. I'd read the more recent ones, so I took out two of the older ones. Here's the one I've started:
Sure enough, it is filled with 3-4 page homilies/reflections on readings from both the Old and New Testaments--used by Barbara when she was the pastor of a rural church in Georgia in the 90s. My expectations were confirmed immediately: creative, thought-provoking and unusual--her wonderful style. 
 e.g. "Manna was the Israelites' food in the wilderness. The ate raw manna, boiled manna, baked manna, ground manna....There has been a good bit of speculation over the years about exactly what manna was....Does manna have to come out of nowhere in order to qualify as a miracle?...Or to put it another way, what makes something bread from heaven? Is it the thing itself or the one who sends it? If your manna has to drop straight out of heaven looking like a perfect loaf of butter-crust bread, then chances are you are going to go hungry a lot....If, on the other hand, you are willing to look at everything that comes to you as coming to you from God, then there will be no end to the manna in your life." 
See what I mean? And, yes, I do have a favorite of hers, in case you'd like to try: An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.

Angels in trees

Sun, 2020-06-07 21:27

About Angels and About Trees

Where do angels
fly in the firmament,
and how many can dance
on the head of a pin?

Well, I don't care
about that pin dance,
what I know is that
they rest, sometimes,
in the tops of the trees

and you can see them,
or almost see them,
or, anyway, think: what a
wonderful idea.

I have lost as you and
others have possibly lost a
beloved one,
and wonder, where are they now?

The trees, anyway, are
miraculous, full of
angels (ideas); even
empty they are a
good place to look, to put
the heart at rest--all those
leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly
ready to be
the resting place of
strange, winged creatures
that we, in this world, have loved.
Mary Oliver