Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Could be Minnesota

Wed, 2019-04-24 21:36
Today I talked to "Cathy" a gal in Minnesota that I talk to every year at this time. chat. In the course of the conversation I asked how they're doing, as I told her we've been watching the horrible April storms that have passed through. She said they were doing ok and that most of the snow has melted. "Most?" I thought! Holy cow! "Are your daffodils up yet?" I asked. "Almost," she replied, "they are trying." My gosh, it's April 24th and they still have snow remnants and the daffodils "are trying." WOW....

Our last snowfall was March 31 and here are three shots of our inner courtyard. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and a gorgeous flowering magnolia tree are truly taking our breaths away. Sure we won the golden snow globe contest a couple times (this year we were fourth, thank God) but spring does come in April here.

Cathy ended with, "But it's a beautiful sunny day today, so I think we've turned the corner for good." I should hope so for their sanity---after all--next Wednesday is May 1.

BTW, that's a feeder that's suppose to attract Baltimore Orioles, who love oranges. Hmmmmmm, we'll see.

Easter 2019

Sun, 2019-04-21 21:13

Holy Saturday Triduum Day 3

Fri, 2019-04-19 21:01

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

Mary Oliver

Good Friday-Triduum Day 2

Thu, 2019-04-18 22:42

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, wide 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.

Mary Oliver

Our new bird bath, which the birds don't seem to have discovered yet--but they will.

Holy Thursday-Triduum Day 1

Wed, 2019-04-17 21:36

The vast ocean begins just outside our church: the Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.

They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward

to receive the gift
from the priest's hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds

or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man

and clearly
someone else

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

Mary Oliver

A small but colorful beginning to our flowers!

Another Holy Week Begins...

Sun, 2019-04-14 20:37
"The Poet Thinks about the Donkey"

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave
or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual,
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined
what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been:
small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man
who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped,
as he had to, forward.

Mary Oliver

Gearing Up

Wed, 2019-04-10 21:13
The countdown is just about over and we are "gearing up" for the busiest two weeks of the year--both liturgically and in hospitality: Holy Week and Easter Week.

The guest list for the next 14 days has not be disseminated yet, but I'm sure that it will be full and long--as in one guest leaves in the morning of a certain day and the next one for that room arrives that afternoon!

The outline sheets for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil Saturday evening and Easter Sunday itself are starting to trickle out. Tuesday, the handbell choir received a separate sheet of rehearsals and events just for their performances, the next day a similar one appeared for the schola. Oh, my--talk about a full dance card!

Everyone of us has her own way of keeping track of all this, particularly your own parts. A few years ago I stumbled upon what works for me. I transfer all the information on the separate sheets to two Master sheets that are taped to my bedroom door. One holds all my commitments from Palm Sunday through Good Friday. The other is the same thing for Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Without going "all crayola," I even color code a little bit--rehearsals are one color, the actual event is another. It seems to work for me--or at least it makes me feel calmer! It's a wonderful couple of weeks. Just seeing all of the out-of-towners is itself a treat.

Exhausting? Sure, but catching little cat naps is sometimes a needed part of the day's schedule, too! But it is well, well worth it....wonderful, creative rituals, lovely people, memory-making everywhere and blessed/holy moments galore.

We are indeed blessed.

Did they survive? Yes!

Sun, 2019-04-07 20:40
Last summer we received 12 "twigs" from a friend who had made a donation on Arbor Day. Always grateful for new trees, I planted the twelve little sticks in some of our garden spaces. At the end of the summer 5 had taken root, grown a few leaves and seemed to be making it. Now, how to get them through the winter: snow, winds, storms, etc. I read about a few methods and enlisted one of our great maintenance guys to put tubes around them. The best protection it seemed.

In this photo you can see how they have spent the last 5 months.

This weekend was the great unveiling. Snow is gone now, the temps are more and more in the high 40s, 50s and even 60! I got the tubes and the support stakes out and lo and behold, there they were. Looking skinny (still), bare (the leaves had fallen off), but otherwise alive and looking pretty good to me. So here we go into the summer months to see what these three dogwoods--and the other two (a hawthorn and crab apple) become!

Coming Out Parties

Wed, 2019-04-03 20:25
This week we've hosted two "coming out parties."
The first was finding patches of snowdrops in the garden! A welcome sign of early spring for sure.

The second was witnessing the first day for outside play time for the toddlers and pre-schoolers at St. Benedict Child Development Center, located on the lower three floors of the building that also houses our offices. There's nothing like little children's voices--laughing, screeching, yelling--such delight!

More signs of our welcome mat for spring!

March 31

Sun, 2019-03-31 16:36

The fact that it is still the month of March allows me to calmly post one more message about snow! Yes, that late winter storm you may have seen on the nightly news and on the weather channel this weekend did pass through us today--bringing a wet, sno-cone like snow of about 2". It stayed only on the grass, trees and bushes..leaving the roads wet but clear.

It brings the season total to about 83" here in Harborcreek. The website which gets its totals from the NWS, has a similar total for Erie. And on their top 25 list of cities of 100,000 or more, we're at #4 for the season. Good---this is not a title to win!

One beautiful effect the surprise snow coverage brought: cardinals right up to my window feeder. Against the snow: just beautiful.

Excellent observers

Wed, 2019-03-27 20:18
Our sisters are excellent observers--particularly when it comes to our chapel's stained glass windows. With the return of the early spring sun our side windows are "going crazy" when the sun's just right--and those of us who spend all our prayer times with them, know just when and how these special moments will occur.

If you scroll down a little you'll see an unusual design on the ceramic floor that we caught at 12:45 pm last week--unusual because no one is usually in chapel at that time! One sister who loves our windows, too, asked me exactly what time it was when I took that picture--see? they really are knowledgeable!

I've thought that it would be a great "adventure" to spend the whole of a bright sunny day in the chapel just taking pictures as the sun played around from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. Maybe we'd have to do a sort of tag team every couple hours....but it would surely bring some great shots!

As much as I love the 16 huge side windows there's something about the seven slender ones on the west side that grabs my interest. Again, at this time of year the late afternoon sun is giving us breathtaking views throughout Evening Prayer of these jewel-like sparklers. One of my friends and I have tried endlessly, and in vain, to capture the look, but we can't get it. All the photos fall terribly short. If you think these photos are ought to see them in person!

Finally, (I fear I could go on and on about this subject!) a couple of my friends told me of an unusual sun-event they saw in the chapel at about 5:00 pm Sunday. The sun, shining through the ceiling clerestory, hit one of the green EXIT signs and produced an unusual result on the wall. Can you see the beginnings of the word EXIT? See, I told you they are excellent observers.

P.S. When professional photographers come here for an interview or photos, no matter how many possible places we show them for their shots, they always, always, always come back to the chapel. They love to catch settings with the windows in the background. Maybe they'd like to come and sit around for 14 hours some sunny day!

First trail walk

Sun, 2019-03-24 20:55

Sunday afternoon it seemed dry enough and warm (46!?!) enough to drive out to the park at 18-mile creek and hike the short walking trail down to the lake and beach. We saw a couple fishermen, kids kicking a soccer ball around and a young family and their dog, George, out for a walk. But what really surprised me were two things: 1) that although the shore where we live is clear of ice chunks, the shore in North East is not; ditto for large sand-ice dunes; 2) I'm missing the beautiful colors of the natural world, as in these are color photographs though they may at first appear to be black and whites! Hurry up spring....bring on the yellow daffodils and forsythia, the red tulips, purple violets and greens everywhere!

Spring equinox in 3 parts

Wed, 2019-03-20 20:47

Our morning trip into Erie takes us down a street that has us heading right into the sunrise and this morning the timing was perfect. There it was through the trees. No cloud cover today...warm (50s) and sunny. Happy spring!

Noon time brought a unique look through our stained glass windows. The uniqueness? No reflections on the side ceramic tiles. The angle must have been perfectly straight on--the windows appeared directly onto the floor and anything else in their way. Bright and colorful. Gorgeous.

And evening brought the annual free small cone giveaway at our local Dairy Queen that opened today! "We'll take two chocolate-vanilla twists, please," we said--"and thank you." I asked the fellow we thought might be the owner, as he served us at the drive thru window, how many they expect to give away. "Last year we served 1,300 small cones," he answered. I figure that's about 100 an hour and a whole summer of goodwill for them!

One week of 50s-60s

Sun, 2019-03-17 20:58

One week of temperatures over 50 degrees and the inner courtyard garden jumps at the chance to begin its springtime revelations! Sure the Christmas lights are still on the magnolia tree, but now the buds are also just around the corner.

But the real celebration this weekend was the pronouncement of First Monastic Profession by Kathy McCarthy. The story and Smilebox on our community page tell the story beautifully. We are so blessed!

My choice

Wed, 2019-03-13 21:59
Our simple environment for Lent.
My (sad) attempt at being artsy--all lights off, only candle light and flash of the camera!
I forgot to share the poem I read at the Celebration of Mary Oliver last week. It is from my favorite book of hers, Thirst. My favorite because it is so spiritual. Not spiritual in that organized religion kind of way---or with any religion in particular. Just in that way that acknowledges and treasures all the beautiful (spiritual) things about life: nature, people, events. 
Since I have spent the winter looking out of my window at the five newly planted trees from last summer and wondering and hoping that they are making it through the wilds of winter in the protective tubing we put around them, I chose this one on trees--and, of course as in all Mary Oliver poems--on more than trees.

When I Am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,especially the willows and the honey locust,equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,they give off such hints of gladness.I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,in which I have goodness, and discernment,and never hurry through the worldbut walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leavesand call out, "Stay awhile."The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,"and you too have comeinto the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine."

First five days

Sun, 2019-03-10 22:19

The first five days of Lent have been anything but quiet, secluded or retiring. Well, that's not totally true--our chapel has taken on its annual simple, yet stunning Lenten environment, our daily prayer has changed to include Lenten hymns and responses and the first weekend of the Vigil and Sunday Mass brought back the heard-once-a-year songs and the beautiful deep and mournful sounds of the oboe.

But amidst all of that we also had the seasonal Lenten reflection afternoon for 35 oblates and a very interesting weekend group of leaders of a small, rather new Presbyterian congregation from Pittsburgh, who joined us for every prayer period and Sunday Mass. Our prioress, Sister Anne was part of presentations at an event celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week held at Mercyhurst University. And, over it all, we experienced our first spring-like thaw which brought enough rain to melt all, I say all, of the snow on the grounds. What is that long flat carpet-like green stuff that covers so much of our property? Grass, you say...what's grass? (We've been snow-covered for so long it's no wonder both male and female cardinals are coming closer than usual. Our poor birds are in need of some natural food sources!)

May spring come quickly.

We must celebrate

Wed, 2019-03-06 21:10

In the nearly twelve years of writing this blog I have posted poems by Mary Oliver 100 times. Her death January 17th brought a sadness to me and to many of my friends who are equally admirers of her extraordinary work. Tomorrow night I will be one of many, I'm sure, attendees at "Celebrating Mary Oliver" to be held at the former St. Mary's School building on E. 10th St. (aka: a local artists' colony of sorts, with a writing studio included).

I'm taking my favorite book of hers, Thirst, with two or three choices to share. We'll see which one comes out.

I should probably sponsor a private celebration and just recite all of her works from all of her books I own. My own poetry filibuster!

The annual "March madness" is beginning

Sun, 2019-03-03 20:30

We come by the annual "fever" of March Madness legitimately. After all, I live in the home of one of the strongest and longest lasting Erie high school girls rivalries: Villa vs St. Ben's! That's all I heard about growing up (my aunt was the Villa coach for years)--the annual basketball game between the two local girls basketball powerhouses...and this was years before Title IX and the real development of powerhouse teams!

Then along came Kayla McBride in the early 2000s..first at VMA and then as a star for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's team and March Madness returned to my life. Ever since Kayla's stint at ND as an All-American, then onto the WNBA (currently for the Las Vegas Aces), my friends and I have been hooked on college women's basketball--and ND in particular. Last year they won the national championship with last second heroics--such fun (at least for the winners) and this season they are among the top 5-6 teams predicted to make a strong run for The Final Four and this year's championship.

Unless you live in an anti-sports cave, quite understandable truly as it does become rather feverish, this month is a sports followers dream. The regular season ended this weekend, the conference championships are next weekend and the national championships begin the next: 64 teams playing single elimination rounds culminating April 5-8 for both the men's tournament (Minneapolis) and the women's (Tampa) and on every sports channel in sight.

It is a great way to make it through the snowy weeks of winter and much fun reminiscing about our own school, recreation league and college teams of the past. Go Irish!

Are you mechanical?

Wed, 2019-02-27 21:00
When I was growing up there was a popular "test" at the time, named The Kudor Preference Test. It might still be around today-not sure. Anyway, it was made up of what seemed like 100s of questions and for each one you had to select from the three options what you're favorite was and what your least favorite was. Here's a sample I'll make up!
a) Walk a dog
b) Play with a dog
c) Teach a dog to fetch
So after answering thousands of these you got results that predicted, I think, possible jobs or things you were good at, or I suppose, areas to avoid...something like that. Anyways, in those kind of things I always scored pretty high..not 99%, but high enough, in "mechanical" ability.

Flash forward decades and here I was a newly arrived substitute for our handbell choir whenever a member was absent or sick for the weekly practices. I enjoyed it very much because it greatly improved my reading of music and it was a nice transition back to music after years of being away. A couple years of being a "sub" led to an invitation to be a permanent member when a position opened up.

Flash forward another few years. One day, one of the hard rubber hinges that is in each bell, cracked and I'm not sure of the next step, but "Yes," I said, "if there is an instruction booklet, I'll give a try at replacing it." (Memories of those pins used in the Kudor Preference were flashing through my mind!) Reading the directions carefully and trying not to break anything else on it, I finally managed to take the bell apart, replace the hinge and put the bell back together. The whole process probably took 2-3 hours, over a couple days, if I recall correctly.

So here we are today, dozens of cracked hinges have been replaced and I thought I'd share this adventure with you, as so many of you have probably heard us playing at various Mount liturgies. An aside to others of you who are "a little mechanical": I'm sure you'd guess which part is the hardest--not the taking apart, not the replacing of the hinge--yes, it's the putting it back together! Best to give the most attention, however, to the taking apart....that's what helps put it back again!

Here's the bell in one piece (D4).
Here it is with the handle and the inside taken off. The offending hinge is the black piece on the right,
held by the two small silver screws.
And here it is with every single piece separated. A very scary moment.
BTW, you'll notice that this is done on my bed. Nothing falls on the floor
or rolls off of the bedspread. They just stay quietly where you put them!

In the 8th century

Sun, 2019-02-24 18:22

Today is the feast of St. Walburga, a popular, yet little known saint of the eighth century. She began her Benedictine life in England but traveled with her uncle, St. Boniface, and her brother to Germany to spread Catholicism and Benedictine life there. She and her brother became the leaders of two communities and when her brother died she was made abbess of the double Benedictine monasteries-one for women and one for men. One hundred years after she died her remains were moved to Eichstatt in the Bavaria region of southern Germany. The group of women who tended her grave site became the nucleus of what evolved into the present community of St. Walburg in Eichstatt.

In the 1850s Sister Benedicta Riepp and two other members of the Eichstatt community came to the United States to teach the German immigrant children in western Pennsylvania. From that first foundation 50 communities were founded, 35 of which exist today. Our community here in Erie is currently the longest in existence at 163 years of age! In the 1930s during uneasy times leading up to WWII, Eichstatt sent sisters again to the US and founded two communities that remain members of the German Federation today. One is east of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, PA the other in northern Colorado in Virginia Dale.

If you have time and would like to "visit" these communities, click here:
Abbey of St. Walburg, Eichstatt, Germany
St. Emma Monastery, Greensburg, PA
Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, CO