Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Updated: 56 min 2 sec ago


Wed, 2019-08-21 20:21
Here are two unique events from my knowledge of vacationing in New Jersey:

1) Wawa--a great conglomeration of local convenience stores. In our town they might be close to Country Fairs, but these Wawas are something...there is a CONSTANT flow of traffic in and out and, since "ours" is rather small, customers are kind of shoulder to shoulder, but they seem to be able to glide among each other, find what they need and make their way to the cashiers. All at fast, yet calm speed. Amazing establishments!

Our Wawa.
2) At the ocean yesterday we viewed a group of dolphins "passing by." As in 20 or so dolphins swimming in a long, long line parallel to the shore. Every once and a while one would rise up just a little, but we never saw a full jump or anything even close. Among other things this experience takes me back to one of my favorite books, An Exaltation of Larks. Just what is a group of dolphins called? Answer from the book: a pod of dolphins. No where near as clever as a leap of leopards, a parliament of owls, an ostentation of peacocks, a smack of jellyfish or a murder of crows!

The Heard Museum-Phoenix

Sun, 2019-08-18 17:59
While we were at the LCWR assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona, we went to this museum that is home to an outstanding collection of Native American art. It was begun by a couple that moved to the southwest from Chicago. They started showing their pieces right in their home, but as the collection expanded they moved it to a building across the street where today it is a first class collection of art and artifacts from numerous tribal traditions from the southwest.

Native American women from five nearby tribes.
A beautiful needle work quilt.
Beaded Native American woman, horse, baby, two small horses
and two (non-visible) children riding in the back.
Barry Goldwater's family donated their extensive collection of Native American dolls.
Material for fences.

Saguaro world

Wed, 2019-08-14 23:58
I'm in the southwest this week and amazed at everything that is so Arizona-like. It has been over 105 in the afternoon every day...a totally different kind of heat than ours! But the natural world here is beautiful...I'll share lots of photos Monday. The most amazing single thing is the saguaru cactus. If you have 5 minutes go to and see saguaro and you'll see them.

We also went to the Heard Museum which specializes in Native American art (again, pictures Monday)! However the special exhibit on the Indian schools of the late 1800s+ breaks your heart...thousands of children taken away to awful boarding schools to be anglo-sized.

Black-eyed Susans time

Sun, 2019-08-11 21:48

We are "recuperating" from this year's really wonderful Summer Community Days, last Wednesday through Saturday. I put the word in " " because it's not that it is like getting better from a disease, it's just the coming back to "ordinary time." Since only a minority of the 91 of us are blooming extroverts, (not I), all that time with people, people everywhere (even ones you love!) and activities each day, take their toll---and coming back to the everyday pace and interactions are welcome.

In fact, we were walking around the Benetwood and Mount grounds tonight, feeling awash in black-eyed Susans, which are around every corner and in every single garden patch, when we came upon one of our postulants. She was sitting by herself, music coming through ear buds I'd guess, and just enjoying the quiet and peace of sitting on a bench in our backyard. Forty feet later we passed the sun room and who's sitting there by herself reading, the other postulant. Both "recuperating" I'm sure, from their first Summer Community Days. Smart gals!

Alarming Grace

Wed, 2019-08-07 21:47

This week I had a chance to see live and in person one of my very favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor---speaking at Chautauqua. (Here's the review of her talk in the Chautauquan Daily. ) I had read her magnificent An Altar in the World and before that, Leaving Church and just this summer finished her latest, Holy Envy. They were all so real, so spiritual, so witty. Please read about them on amazon or someplace and if one at all sounds "possible" for you, give it a try. She is one of the best!

Cover of TIME April 28, 2014  her book
about finding God in the dark.

How can it be August?!

Sun, 2019-08-04 21:49
The cutest little kids were all around at this family affair event this weekend at one of our many local wineries.
 I haven't officially heard yet, but I'm betting that it's been a banner year for our grape crop and, if so, the annual
North East Grape Festival in September will be a very happy event for the many grape farmers of the region.
We have thousands and thousands of acres of grape vineyards....primarily for wine and for Welch's in
New York state about 20-25 miles east of us.
Our final concert of the season, I'm afraid. The Rooftop Project at Penn Shore Winery.
 Great music, great time.
Continuing on the weekend theme of enjoying summer events, about a dozen of us took in a game Sunday afternoon for our AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers: the Erie Seawolves. It was my first game of the season and they won! 3-2. Reeking of Americana...I thought I saw Norman Rockwell in the stands sketching the crowd in all their baseball paraphernalia, hitting hot dogs and singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Yes, we really do stand and sing it in the seventh inning!

Humdrum and ho hum

Wed, 2019-07-31 20:36
One of my favorite authors had the July 30th reflection in "Give Us This Day" the daily booklet we all have. Here's an excerpt of what Barbara Brown Taylor wrote: "Heaven is the Humdrum and the Ho-Hum"

"If the kingdom of heaven is hidden in this world, it is hidden really well, and only the most dedicated detectives among us stand a chance of finding it at all. Unless, of course, God has resorted to the oldest trick in the book and hidden it in plain view. There is always that possibility, you know--that God decided to hide the kingdom of heaven not in any of the extraordinary places that treasure hunters would be sure to check, but in the last place that any of us would think to look, namely, in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives: like a silver spoon in the drawer with the stainless, like a diamond necklace on the bureau with the rhinestones; the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary, the kingdom of heaven all mixed in with the humdrum and ho-hum of our days."

If she is new to you, do give her a try. I'm sure her dozen or so books are in your local library or on sale somewhere!


Sun, 2019-07-28 19:50

Our Sunday presider put a spin on the Genesis reading for this weekend's Mass that I had never heard or thought of before. We had just had a reading about the city of Sodom and a dialogue between God and Abram on what it would take for God to spare the city from destruction. Would God save the city for the presence of righteous people? Our presider pointed out that the "sin" of the city of Sodom had nothing to do with the standard view that it had something to do with sex. The sin of the people of Sodom was a lack of communal hospitality.

A shiver went through me as I thought, are we (the United States) guilty of that right now, in our time? I believe we are.

In another, more successful, vein of hospitality, however, was the celebratory weekend we had for this year's 50 and 25 year jubilarians. The weather cooperated, family and friends arrived and it was a wonderful time together....prayer, food, camaraderie and just great overall. These are certainly one of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of building community--experiencing events together that bring out special memories and moments of the life that, in turn, add to the "glue" that helps and keeps the community what it is and what it hopes to be....and what it hopes to bring to the world.

We are blessed.

Surprises all around us

Wed, 2019-07-24 21:32
We have a bird/nature-whisperer in town. Of course with an official bird sanctuary and migration route in Erie we have quite a few of them, I'm sure. But our friend told us that when we drive around the outskirts of Erie, especially on Presque Isle State Park, we should turn off the radio, open the windows and just listen. We'll discover a whole natural world of wonders.

Following her encouragement to just listen and look at the world around us, here are two "sights" we caught this week, one going into Erie and the other coming home.

The way into work right after a quick morning rain shower brought this
pretty rainbow over the city, right in front of everyone
driving east to west at 7:30 a.m.
This very lovely natural arrangement is in an inconspicuous place
on the edge of one of our parking lots. No one would give it a second look,
but it caught my eye as I was driving in. Thanks nature-whisperer!

Walking for Peace

Sun, 2019-07-21 21:39
This week I finally was free for a Silent Peace Walk. I'd been unable to attend the last two or three because of other commitments. This was a nice one to be at because many of the Institute attendees were able to come and it was held right on the ridge overlooking the bay. Beautiful scenery.

Unfortunately we'll be gathering again soon for similar initiatives--nonviolence. We have had three young (20-ish) men killed in Erie over the last two weeks--killed by other young men. Six lives "lost" and six families suffering.

The world

Wed, 2019-07-17 21:15
comes through our front door. It really does!

This week the second Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality is being held at the Mount and it has brought 27 of the greatest gals together to learn, share and experience some time with Joan's works and to live and pray with our community.

They come from 13 different states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Washington, DC. WOW! We are so blessed to have "the world come past our front door."

And it's the week the yellow day lilies bloomed all around the chapel.

Summer nights (and days)

Sun, 2019-07-14 21:15
We're continuing to work our way through the summer music scene here in Erie
and in the little towns surrounding the city. Once again we were in the vineyards
 (think the nearby Welch's grape factory) and caught our #1 favorite local band:
 Tennessee Back Porch. What an event...and such a huge crowd.
The music? Out of this world great. 
Since the nightly concerts go till 9:00 we get a glorious
setting sun in the sky just as the concert is ending.
This sunset was in between the trees.
But the hands down shot of the week is this one taken by one of our oblates
who caught one of our twin fawn in mid gallop/jump.
I have seen 100s of photographs of our deer but this is #1 by far.
We are getting treated to a daily exhibit of their running and jumping skills.
Darling, just darling.

Easter flowers

Wed, 2019-07-10 21:49
Here's a very sweet picture from our inner courtyard this week.
The blooming yellow flowers provide a pretty addition to our hummingbird 
and oriole feeders, which get emptied every few days, by the way.
The story of Easter flowers. Every Easter our liturgist is very generous in
giving away the flowers and greenery that we have in the chapel during the Easter season.
I have never had good luck planting them and getting them to "re-bloom" or come back 
the next summer. exception to that rule are these white Easter lilies. 
They are great at reappearing,  note that their natural appearance comes in July!
 They aren't as tall as they were when we first got them, but they are just as pretty.

We have four climbing plants and they bloom in order,
which was an accident, but a really nice one.
This is #2, pink star-like flowers. Number 1 is really early in June and
 #3 (purple) and #4 (white stars) are in August and September.
A little aside to anyone attending church this Sunday. The first reading from Deuteronomy is just beautiful. If you catch it, it's short and will pass quickly, I think you'll agree.

Summer music

Sun, 2019-07-07 21:02

Our first outdoor concert of the season: Sam Hyman at Arundel (Air'-un-dell) Winery just outside of North East, PA. Erie's own James Taylor...wonderful music!

And a Norman Rockwell-ish Americana....freight trains going through the grape vineyards! Eight in the 2 hours we were there. Tom Luckey would have been thrilled.

Our Morning Praise

Wed, 2019-07-03 22:29
One verse of our morning hymn "How Beautiful, Our Spacious Skies":
(adapted from "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates, 1893)

"Indigenous and immigrant, our daughters and our sons;
O may we never rest content till all are truly one.
America! America! God grant that we may be,
a nation blessed with none oppressed, true land of liberty."

Arborist wannabe

Sun, 2019-06-30 21:32
I won't get even to first base in the world of trees, but I think I may qualify as an arborist wannabe after the last year.

Since last summer I have had a hand in the growing and/or planting of 6 trees on our grounds. The first three I started from 10" sticks, a free gift for Arbor Day. The are dogwoods and they survived the winter wrapped in plastic piping as protection against the snow and wind. This summer they are growing like wildfire, right below my window in a protected garden area. A friend told me that dogwoods are loved by deer, as in eating their bark et al....but I am undaunted by this, choosing instead to "train" our deer to eat our apples and, maybe, not the young dogwood that I think will be ready for transplant somewhere in the yard next spring.

But my real thrill is in the three young (6-8' tall) trees in the front of the house. One was planted last September: a black gum. It was planted and staked, professionally, after we picked it out up at Stan's Garden Center. It and an American Larch that we put in this spring, again by professional trees guys, are in memory of Sister Anne's mother who died one year ago this week. They are both doing great.

A larch in autumn.
The third, I decided to try and plant myself. I read all about planting trees, found a site that listed the process in 10 easy steps, and took it on about three weeks ago. It's another memorial in honor of Sr. Maureen. It's a hawthorn and is, so far, surviving well. You can't miss it as the stakes are attached to the tree with yellow strips from an old t-shirt (yes, that was one of their hints!)

The maintenance men and I have been taking turns hauling out water in big buckets to keep them well hydrated during their early weeks (on days when it didn't rain). Again, I read that this is very important as it takes their roots a "lot of energy" to grow and establish themselves in the new soil.

A hawthorn in spring.
So, here we are in a new venture with great hopes and natural beauty to remind us of the beauty of our dear friends.

Adoring or Enduring

Wed, 2019-06-26 20:48
I'm sure that some of you adore and some of you endure my endless sharing of the poems of Mary Oliver. To me so many of them are a prayer, granted hand-in-hand with nature, but they speak strongly, yet simply of things beyond our limited human ways.

So when I read "Facets of the Maker" an essay on Mary's life and works by a fellow poet, but also a college student of hers, I just knew I wanted to share it with you--the adorers and endurers. It's quite different than reading a poem. Here you are reading about the poems, the poet and how she and her work fit into the world during her time.

Hope you'll give it a try. It was in one of the spring editions of America magazine.
Click here.

Guests having guests

Sun, 2019-06-23 20:26
We are still "basking in the afterglow" of the delightful golf tournament and the interactions among the guests and community members last Monday. And what should occur four days later? A weekend with a full house of summer guests! Since the weather this weekend was truly glorious we had a continuation of enjoyable hospitality with the many relatives and friends and people on retreat that came through from Thursday through Sunday.

One the most unique situations I like is when our guests have guests! That's happening right now as we have a recent college graduate here for two months working on a writing project. She's already had two guests come to "see what this place is" and is scheduled to have more as the months go on. They think nothing of jumping into a car and driving 7 hours for a long weekend, and, equally, we think nothing of pulling them into the place for a quick visit! Fun all around. One of them mentioned at lunch that she didn't expect it to be this warm and nice. "Don't you get a lot of snow?" she asked. "Oh, yes," I jumped in, "about 100" on average." I thought she was going to choke!

I think there's got to be a high correlation between lots of snow and extreme appreciation of summer. Because we definitely have both!

Julie and Whoopi couldn't make it.

Wed, 2019-06-19 21:47
At the now area-wide famous golf tournament this past Monday, my favorite part was when about 30+ of us sang an Irish Blessing before the buffet meal to the dining room full of golfers. Now when is the last time you heard a choir of REAL sisters sings? In the Sound of Music? Nope, actors. Sister Act 1 or 2? Actors again. A local production of the play Nunsense? Local actors! And even if you can go back to The Trouble With Angels or The Nun's and no....professional singers/actors. Until this week!

It really was wonderful to sing in front of a group of people who, for the most part, had never heard us sing. Luckily, the acoustics in the room were great and when our director gave us the first 2-3 notes--off we went, on key, clear and steady! You could have heard a pin drop---on the carpeted floor!

Click here to hear the schola sing. Scroll down a little to the one labeled "Gift of Community."

Wisdom saying...

Sun, 2019-06-16 22:30
"After ecstasy, the laundry."
This week our own version of this wisdom saying becomes, "After retreat, the golf course" as we follow the famous Star Trek definition of its voyages: To seek out new life...and to boldly go where no Erie Benedictine has gone before---to a golf tournament fundraiser for the community!

Following a wonderful annual 5-day retreat this past week, we will be trekking (pun intended) out to our first fundraising venture into golf. Over 125 golfers will enjoy (we hope) time at a local golf club on behalf of funding our ministerial and community needs. Of course, they will be experiencing things that I'm pretty sure they don't have at most tournaments: the community choir singing a blessings, homemade chocolate cookies from one of our sisters, beautiful divot tools handmade from our wood turner and over half the community placed as guides and helpers throughout the course! Not to forget the pre-golf events such as Putt With the Prioress (trying to beat her to earn a free mulligan on their round) and a hot dog lunch on the grill by two sister-grillers (is there such a term as that?!??!)

I like everything about it so far...but this logo is at the top of my list...don't you love the clapper and the bell ringer!