Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Updated: 36 min 35 sec ago


6 hours 27 min ago

 A Democrat, feminist, Vatican II Catholic and Mr. Rogers all wrapped into one---

and fireworks that were magnificent.

WOW--What a day!

Helicopter happenings

Sun, 2021-01-17 19:26


Here's the backstory: About 15 years ago or so a helicopter landed on our front lawn! It was in the middle of the night or late enough that most of us were asleep. One of my friends was one of the two sisters that witnessed this and told me later, "I didn't get you because I didn't want to wake you up that late." How often does a helicopter land at your house?! I have never forgiven her and at least once a year when something unusual happens I remind her that the next time a helicopter lands nearby I want to be awakened--no matter the time! 

This weekend I got a phone call that began "This is the makeup for the helicopter!" In other words, she hopes this will be enough that I stop reminding her to get me when anything exciting is going on! 

The call was telling me that a car was in the middle of our (large) side lawn. Sure enough, there is was. Stuck, deeply, in the muddy section that appears every winter due to the snow, rain and poor drainage there. Within an hour another car was stuck, a friend called and trying to help we presumed. What a mess! 

Soon the local state police arrived and over the next hour or so got a tow truck to come and pull both cars out and got our side yard cleared--although it was left with rather deep muddy ruts. 

I was "thrilled" that I was asked if I'd go out there, get the needed information and take pictures of the helicopter, I mean, stuck cars. (See above for a tire extraordinarily covered in mud.)

All is forgiven and not to be mentioned ever again.

Keeping our sanity

Wed, 2021-01-13 20:09

Today is Day #20 of our quarantine and it's getting a little kooky! So, we are trying hard to make our own fun. Here's a quick but challenging game. See how you measure up in our Monastic Match Game!

Five Benedictine "saints"---year of birth and year of death:

 _____St. Scholastica              A.  1832-1881          

_____St. Gertrude the Great     B. 1256-1302

_____Benedicta Riepp            C. 1098-1179

(First Benedictine woman in the USA)

_____St. Hildegard of Bingen    D. 1825-1862

_____Scholastic Burkhard        E. 480-543

(First prioress Benedictine Sisters of Erie)

 Five community members who were not born in Erie, Oil City or Sharon, PA

_____Mary Ellen P.            F. Rapid City, SD

_____Maggie Z.                G. Danvers, MA

_____Linda R.                    H. Muskegon, MI

_____Jen F.                        I. Honolulu, HI

_____Placida A.                J. Verdun, France

Turning to Nature

Sun, 2021-01-10 19:21

After the atrocities of the past week, I think I'm going to keep my eye on nature to calm my soul, ease my anxiety and find honesty, truth and wholeness in the world. And, of course also to my friends!

Here are two shots that one of those friends, a fine photographer in her own right, took in our backyard at sunrise a week or so ago. The "red" one she took facing east, then she pivoted 180 degrees and found the "blue" one in the western sky. Very cool, isn't it? Nature speaks--beauty and loveliness.


Wear a mask

Wed, 2021-01-06 20:53


We are doing fine, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers that have been coming into us all week. You can see from the photo above that even Benedict is taking care! Who climbed up there and did this?! We don't know, but we think it's great. "We're all in this together," as they say.

On the other bit of news today, we are as amazed as you surely are at the goings on at the Capitol Building in Washington. Perhaps our national-elected officials will be "shocked" into realizing that for them to strive for common ground, peace and respect, in all their dealings, for all the people, are much more important than partisan politics and re-election strategies that so many of them seem to be under the spell of. 

Be well, stay healthy, help others. We will, too.

Wise ones

Wed, 2020-12-30 16:21

In the year 2000, at the turn of the millennium, the National Catholic Reporter newspaper ran a contest, inviting artist to produce a rendition of Jesus for this time. The winner, “Jesus of the People” was painted by New England artist, Janet McKenzie. You can see it here.

I came in contact with Janet’s work a couple of years later when Orbis Books (Maryknoll) published a book, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: the art of Janet McKenzie. It included reflections for each piece. Joan Chittister, OSB, wrote the reflection for “The Visitation.”

Through this project Orbis sent us prints of some of Janet’s other works and the one that really impacted us was the one called “Epiphany. We framed it and use it annually.

It features Janet’s usual androgynous people, both in gender and race. But, if you look closer you can see that they are definitely female. What a wonderful visual of the Magi, especially as it portrays women as the wise ones from the East.

It is eye opening when you first begin to experience such things as: to reading commentaries of biblical books from the point of view of the women involved; seeing visuals such as this that feature women as the principal players or discovering the spiritually rich material now available from a woman’s perspective, as well as a man’s.

So be sure to watch for wise men and wise women--both travel through our lives.

Sharing our "joy"?!

Sun, 2020-12-27 19:57

That time of year has come again...what time is that, you ask? The time when I share with all my friends in California, my cousins in Florida and the Carolinas and friends everywhere who grew up in Erie or visited often as a child, the snowy winters of the Great Lakes.

We had our first lake effect snow of the season December 25 and 26, and it was a winter wonderland for Christmas. I was so happy for the kids. They say Frontier Hill and Peak 'n Peak were full of sledders and skiers.

Here's a look at our 20.8" that fell on those days:

Looking out my bedroom window, with a huge amount of snow on the bird feeder. That's my yellow ruler to give you perspective!!
Here's the magnolia tree in the inner courtyard taken from a sister's room on 2nd floor. See how the bottom limbs are almost lying on the snow!
And here's a shot looking outside at 6:30 am on Christmas morning.An outside security light gave some light, but otherwise it was pretty dark.

Quite idyllic

Fri, 2020-12-25 09:08

 Waking Christmas morning to 5-6" of new fresh snow and these: 

The male is a little squeamish, comes if the indoor lights are off!

 The female, however, comes right over to the window feeder--and stays!

Christmas 2020

Wed, 2020-12-23 21:20


This year our chapel Christmas tree is lovely. Quite perfectly shaped. A perfect height and even, for the first time that many of us can remember, adorned with little lights.

We are very much enjoying the ten minutes before Morning Prayer when only the tree and the Advent wreath are lit in the dark chapel. Quite a special moment.

Here it is all by itself.
Please know of a special and continual remembrance in our prayers and prayer services,  for all of you and for your loved ones, at this unusual and really quite sad Christmas time. Let us be good to each other--and for all those in our families and local communities.

Mild December gifts

Sun, 2020-12-20 20:19


December has been a mild one---so far. Here in Harborcreek we have had barely 4" of snow and daily high temperatures in the 40s and, just lately, 30s. Among the benefits that such mildness brings are these two fishermen who we ran into last weekend when we were walking down to the lake through our Glinodo property. 
They are seen here leaving for the day, each of them dragging two very large fish (Walleye??) hanging on hooks that they are holding...what does that make the fish, about 24"? At least, I would say.
So instead of making ice fishing plans on the bay, which has to have a minimum of 4" of ice, I believe, they are still enjoying the flowing open waters of all of the creeks emptying into Lake Erie. Especially ours: Seven Mile Creek.
Merry Christmas to them...and happy fresh fish dinners to all.

Around the house

Wed, 2020-12-16 20:14

Here are a couple of "projects" around our house right now. The first is a project that one of our novices organized. With the help of many Sister-elves (I know, corny!), they produced 50-60 ceramic Benedictine crosses as Christmas gifts to our neighbors at Benetwood Apartments. This year our annual dinner with them had to be cancelled, so hopefully this makes a nice substitute neighborly gesture to our friends there.

A second "project" is a special collection idea. The committee of sisters who were interested in organizing Advent/Christmas events, came up with this idea in lieu of exchanging Kris Kringle gifts this year. It also satisfies the need we all have to help the people of our city in some way. This photo shows the four boxes into which we can put our donations. Some sisters choose only one, some put in something in all four. Either way, hopefully this organizations will get some much-needed support from the Benedictine Sisters of Erie this Christmas: local needy children and adults, assistance to families at the Mexican border, a group working on Black Lives Matter, and the community Christmas collection cause.

City Art

Sun, 2020-12-13 20:09

I talked with a lovely gal, a traffic engineer in the city's traffic office, this week. Here's the story I got from her. 
She was visiting friends in Montana a couple of years ago and notice painted boxes around the city. She was so taken with them that when she returned home she talked about them at work. One thing led to another, as many good ideas do, and, after applying for a grant to the Erie Arts and Culture group, the traffic dept. erected four boxes over their traffic control equipment right in downtown Erie around Perry Square. The boxes were painted by a local artist, and all show beautiful flowering plants and bushes of our region.
They were such a hit that they applied for a second grant and, lo and behold, they received the OK for more "city art." Now 15-20 more of these unique pieces can be found again built around traffic control boxes throughout the downtown area. This time they each showcase special people or groups of people that are important to Erie, as one of the sides of each box details their history.
What a wonderful thing for our city. Thank you to L. at the City of Erie traffic department!

Here's what one of the original four.

This one is at 8th and Parade St. and honors the founder of Kraus Dept. Store. 

The side not shown here gives a brief bio. on him.

 This is one of a number that offer "Welcome" to the many new citizens who have come into our community during the last few decades.

Our favorites

Wed, 2020-12-09 22:27


Today I am showing this photo, my first good "catch" of the chapel south windows. It was taken about 12-15 years ago now, but at exactly this time of year--the first week of December. It was on a Saturday morning, about 10:00 a.m. I was in the dining room vacuuming the carpet, when a friend ran in and said, "Come, you have to see the chapel windows!" So I did and then ran for my camera and this was the result.

After that I kinda' got hooked on them, as many of us are. I took each window individually, took each one with its reflection on the adjacent wall and even took a number of shots of the floor.

A couple of times I got very lucky and caught some of the colors going through a glass or plastic piece in the environment in the center of the chapel. Once I got some through the plastic stands for the handbells and, of course, there's the "famous" Sunday morning photo that two or three of us took--through the Charlie Brown Christmas tree the year the light went right through its branches onto the wall behind it.

But there is one shot that I don't have, though I've tried: the sunlight through the north windows. It's very hard to catch as it has to be at sunset, with strong, bright sun and at just the right angle, which honestly, I don't know the best time of year for all of those conditions to occur. But I almost got it, at least I got a pale version of it, a couple of times. Someday, maybe.

P.S. I love to see visitors trying to take photos of them. Sometimes, if they don't seem to mind, I'll go in and suggest they stand in this spot or that spot and get a certain shot. It's very nice to share them, as everyone is just as taken with them as we are.

P.P.S. Another "window memory": whenever we have a professional photographer here, especially for the first time, we'll show him/her around, making suggestions on possible places for pictures that they could use with their article or interview. No matter how many place we suggest, at the end of the tour they are sure to say, "Could we go back to the chapel, I think that's where I want to set up a shot." 

The windows, of course, the windows!

O Come Emmanuel

Sun, 2020-12-06 20:23

The Federation of St. Scholastica, an organization of 20 American Benedictine women's communities of which we are one, (there are three other federations in the country, also), will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary soon. To that end there is a page on the federation's website that is dedicated to pre-celebration events--one is the sharing of weekly reflections by various community members. This month and next I was asked to be that person. 

Many of my reflections are taken from ideas that came, over the years, from this blog. If you are interested in taking a look, you can find the first two weeks here.

Other news this weekend comes from the premier appearance of the handbell choir for the 2020-2021 season. Sunday's prayer included our playing of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"--fitting for the season. It came off without a hitch, as they say, but that is no small feat because we have two "rookies" in the choir of 10 ringers. Congrats Jen and Colleen on your debut--you were just great! Rookies no longer.

Duck Blinds Part 2

Wed, 2020-12-02 20:23

"The recent several-days windstorms blew many of the blinds across the road or onto the multi-purpose trail. One was even blown into one of the lagoon ponds. That is the reason for the support pole and the oddly positioned blind. Some of the blinds were even blown apart. During my Presque Isle run they were interesting sights, well over a dozen blown off moorings." This is the comment that my Duck Blind Part 1 received by community friend Victor R. Thanks so much Victor for sharing this fascinating first-person story of this year's duck blinds at Presque Isle.

Here is the final grouping: 

                                    This one seems to be in the water. I liked its side door!

Here's one we spied across Misery Bay--again in the water.

This one looked like it had a hard time in the storms Victor mentioned.

We almost missed this one. It's quite hidden from cars whizzing by.

Nature Watch

Sun, 2020-11-29 19:10

Our local newspaper carries a weekly column every Saturday titled, "Nature Watch." This weekend part of the entry was this: "This week an estimated 50,000 ducks were concentrated about 2 miles off-shore from the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, and it is possible there might have even been as many as 100,000 birds."  

On Saturday afternoon we took a car ride around the peninsula, as it is locally known, and I got the idea to give readers of this blog a duck blind tour, as this is prime duck hunting season and the different configurations of the duck blinds are fascinating. Little did I know it would be so timely.

Here are three of the more interesting ones I found. Others will be coming in Duck Blind, Part 2 on Thursday.

I'm not quite sure why all the camouflage. Doesn't it look like some sort of sci-fi woods monster!

This is a much more common looking one, except for the piece of wood appearing to hold it up.I'm not sure what that's for.

This is a very nice one, wheel chair accessible...

except that it wasn't positioned along the shoreline of the bay as were all the rest. 

It was across the road. Maybe it just hasn't been positioned yet or 

maybe these hunters catch the ducks flying over land on their way to the water???

Thanksgiving 2020

Wed, 2020-11-25 21:50

 Since we aren't able to have guests this everywhere else in the world, it seems, I thought I share a couple photos of Thanksgiving scenes here at the Mount. You'll see them next year when you come!

Here's the simple yet lovely place settings for our noon dinner Thursday.We sit four at a table during this distancing time.

Here are the two niches in chapel, both with ferns and grasses. Again, simple, yet beautiful.

Some of the Christmas cacti in the library are blooming now, too.

I'll show those next week: red, salmon, white and yellow.

Thanksgiving week

Sun, 2020-11-22 19:20

 This photo doesn't really do justice to the sunset one day last week. But I tried! This is the time of year when we get these lovely, bright orange, yellow, panoramic sunsets at about 5:15 pm when the sky is clear of clouds. This one is right outside our front door, with Benedict in the foreground. 

Here's one that turned out a little better. Our Presque Isle state park has entered a really bleak period: there is very little color since the leaves and flowers are gone. And there is no snow cover yet to bring those beautiful Norman Rockwell-like winter scenes. Everything is brown and tan and quite uninspiring. A place that only locals could love! And we do. Here is Horseshoe Pond and a photo that I've taken a hundred times--but with the water almost like glass, I couldn't resist yet another: one of the two dozen houseboats and its perfect reflection. Not so bad for a bleak period!
Otherwise the days are going along here. Erie County is having an upsurge in COVID-19 cases. They can't even do much contact tracing anymore, because the daily numbers and the spread are too great. We are being faithful to masks, distancing, hand washing and little presence in public or even private group gathering outside of "our household" as they refer to it. 
Thanksgiving will be muted here, too. Our sisters who would normally travel out of town to visit parents, siblings or friends will be visiting via Facetime, telephone calls or texts. We are trying to reach out to the needs of our area, too...with financial donations and through contacts in our ministries, with our employees and in responding to any need that is brought to our attention. I am sure that you are doing the same. I read this line recently and thought it was perfect: Be safe, stay healthy, help others.

Snow showers predicted

Wed, 2020-11-18 20:34


Anticipation is rising here...the other day we had what's called "snow showers." That's sort of like fluffy rain or half snowflakes coming down fast. Then the next day we had what the newspaper called "a trace" of snow. which means that there was the slightest covering of snow, but too small to be measured. It's always made me wonder if the "manna" in the biblical story would sort of been like that.

The point of this story is that no one has won our First Day of Snow contest.....yet! You see, the house rules, so to speak, say that the local paper is the "judge" of the contest and they have to report at least 0.1" of snow and we haven't had that amount yet this season.

When you're rather housebound as we are and very limited in any serious visiting or shopping, you have to make your own fun at home. And this contest one of our recent ways of making our own fun. (Yes, there is even a prize!) The upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are sure to bring lots more.Stay tuned to this station!

In Between November

Sun, 2020-11-15 20:47

 November is an in between month for us--especially this year. In just the first half of the month we have had a week of record-setting high temperatures for each date and another week of cold and pre-winter days.

This weekend Saturday was cool but added lots of sun to balance it out. Sunday, on the other hand, was cool, also, but a wild, strong November wind and rainstorm swept through the area for a couple hours in the afternoon. 

Here are two scenes from this weekend:

The 7:00 am sunrise on Saturday morning.

Our beautiful and much-loved willow tree in the backyardwas toppled by the ferocious wind and rains Sunday afternoon. (VL)

I have 10 new trees from this summer's plantings that we just "winterized" so that they will make it through the upcoming snow and winds. Maybe one of two of them will be able to take our willow's place.