Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Seriousness and humor co-exist

Wed, 2020-04-08 20:22
You can join our annual Good Friday Peace Pilgrimage here anytime during the day Friday.
Hope to see you next year--live.


And in another vein:
My social distancing dress just arrived.
Grammarians--just laugh, don't correct it!




Jan. 1918-Dec. 1920

Sun, 2020-04-05 21:22
There are innumerable things to read during this far from "normal" time. Many of them medical and many of them historical. Here's one that caught my eye and led me to a little research. The 1918 influenza pandemic was also referred to as the Spanish Flu and is measured from January 1918 through December 1920. 500 million people or 1/3 of the world's then population were infected. 50 million (10%) died. In the USA the number of deaths was 675,000. One unusual characteristic about it was that the high mortality rate for those 15-34 years old.

This led me to our necrology board as I wondered if any of our sisters in that age group died during that time. Sure enough I found two: Sisters Germaine, 28 and Angela, 32. I'd have to go to the archives to verify if their causes of death were influenza.

But once I got in this vein, I wanted to see who, how many and when did young sisters die...say under age 25.
Here's some of what I found:
In the 1860s and '70s were these deaths: Placida, 22---Walburg, 19---Austraberta, 21---Hilda, 24---Boniface, 22---Hildegard, 15.
In the 1880s and ''90s: Bertha, 21---Thecla, 21---Stephanie, 17---Angela, 18---Eustella, 21---Pauline, 18---Agnes, 19---Sabina, 22.

And two others that stood out: Sister Zita age 18 in 1904 and Sister Antonia age 21 in 1916.

If I'm remembering my community reading correctly, most of these deaths were from diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, as the conditions under which they lived were quite basic and rough, but maybe some were from a type of flu, too.

There are many things to mention in our daily prayer, but those who are dying without any family member present and the families that must live with the memory of their loved ones dying under these conditions, are truly heartbreaking.

Let us remember all of these and the other sacrifices and sufferings that our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing these weeks. God's blessings and mercy be with you and yours during these days of Holy Week.




Quarantine Follies

Wed, 2020-04-01 22:46

In an effort to offer activities for a variety of interests we have sisters coming up with a wide range of suggestions of movies, documentaries, art, writing and music efforts and just about anything else that we think of. Every day there is at least one offering for the sisters to choose, sometimes more. Friday night "The Quarantine Follies" is being presented: a talent show type event that has seven acts already, with, hopefully, a couple more at the planning meeting Thursday.

Since parents are bending over backwards to keep their school-age children engaged, we can certainly do the same for the 64 residents of the Mount community.

Stay at home=Exercising

Sun, 2020-03-29 19:32
Spring is coming so early this year; I honestly can't remember spring bursting out this much in March. And, with the "stay at home" reality nowadays, many of our sisters are taking to a daily walk all around our property,even on our Glinodo property across East Lake Rd. down to the lake. They report on the wildlife they are seeing, the first signs of greenery on the trees, buds on flowers and bushes and anything that catches their eye. The last few days the temps got warm enough (over 50) that I could work in our inner courtyard garden--mostly just raking and clearing up after last fall and winter. Here's what I've found"

The primrose near the foyer door are flourishing.
How they survive under the snow is amazing.
This corner will be a spray of iris in a couple weeks. 
A half dozen daffodils just need a day or two more
of warm sun and they are going to pop.
These are the first to open..
sheltered behind some rose bushes.
And my favorite, bleeding hearts!
At least this is what they look like right now!
A couple weeks and they'll be gorgeous.
P.S. Every day from 5:00 -5:30, the half hour before Evening Prayer, we gather in chapel to spend a half hour in quiet prayer for all of the people of our suffering world.
Hoping you and yours are well.


From the web

Wed, 2020-03-25 19:11
A couple things from the web have caught my eye. One is an activity to use six words to describe your life/ideas/thoughts/daily living during this highly unusual worldwide "adventure"!
Here are a couple to get you going:

What day is it? All alike.

Gas two twenty-nine--sure! Low now.

Virus, no visitors, only family virtue.

Living by yourself, is it lonely?

Living with others, is it lonely?


And this wonderful graphic humor from google images.

Looking at the map for some weekend travel ideas:


Hang in there, everyone---stay well---and if you're not writing down or recording your experiences/thoughts--think about it.

Interesting Times

Sun, 2020-03-22 22:42
The web is full of live streaming, story sharing and simple interactions, everyone seeming to want to share thoughts or conversation with their friends, colleagues or anyone else out there, to replace the face-to-face interactions that are now missing. In that vein, here are two of Mary's poems that I add to the group. Not sure why I picked these...they say something to me, particularly at this time.

"There Is a Place Beyond Ambition"

When the flute players
couldn't think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest--
so quiet, not even thoughtful--
are still there,

still listening.


"Don't Worry"

Things take the time they take.
Don't worry.

How many roads did St. Augustine follow
before he became St. Augustine?








Back to where we belong

Wed, 2020-03-18 19:12
My friend recently told me this story of her daughter and son-in-law taking their 4-year-old to "the city," San Francisco, for the first time.

As they emerged from BART, their rapid transit train system and came up the escalator, Lucy saw the city for the first time. She looked stunned. She turned and said to her parents, "Where are we and how do we get back to where we belong?"


From our community website:"We just die to self, through inconvenience and more,in order to truly love the most vulnerable among us."


America Stays Home

Sun, 2020-03-15 19:27
We are as involved in adaptations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as you are. In addition to all of the preparations and tough realities that we are hearing from all over the country and the world, there are many beautiful stories that are energizing, also. Here is my favorite so far.
A young 20-something gal was going into a grocery store when she heard someone calling to her. She turned and saw a women gesturing to her from inside a car. She went over and came upon an elderly couple inside their car.
The woman told her that they needed supplies from the store but they were afraid to go in. They had been waiting outside for 45 minutes hoping to see someone who might help them. At that moment she cracked the car window and slipped out a grocery list and a $100 bill. Would she get these groceries for them?
She went into the store, shopped for them and took the groceries out to their car. They were overcome with gratitude.When she went home and told her boyfriend he insisted that she tell others because, he said, all of us need to be aware of others and help our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable. Amen!

Stay well, everybody. Help others. Stay in touch.

New dawnings

Wed, 2020-03-11 21:59


A couple of years ago a Sister received an orchid--beautifully in bloom. After the flowers died and she was ready to discard the plant, I asked for it and said I'd give it a try to see if I could get it to bloom again--knowing very little about orchids. So for the past 2-3 years I've watered it faithfully (1 Tablespoon) each week, turned it, talked to it, dusted the leaves when they needed it, and just lived with it in my office. About 3-4 months ago I noticed the light grey stringy roots growing and growing and growing. Amazing! It is, after all, I was told, an air plant! Who knew? And then after another couple months one day it caught my eye and I saw a 3" dark stem! Where did that come from I asked myself? It grew very quickly and then pod-like growths came along the stem and finally, finally--look what arrived: 5 gorgeous flowers. WOW, Oh WOW. Welcome spring!


Earlier this week, two days after the time change on our clocks, we were driving into our ministry at 7:30 am and were treated to a beautiful sunrise--this photo does absolutely no justice to the beauty of that eastern sky. And yet another, WOW. I hope your early spring days are as blessed.

Springing ahead in many ways

Sun, 2020-03-08 18:02

The natural world is coming alive around the Mount. As if these two birds alone don't show it, we are hearing birds singing every morning now. And yesterday an actual "herd" of six deer grazed in our backyard as they passed through it at about 5:00 pm. Their coats are still very, very dark, but soon enough they will turn golden and, from the looks of a couple of them, we'll have fawn again this summer. As that great old song by the Byrds says, "To every season turn, turn, turn."


Behind closed door #6

Wed, 2020-03-04 22:13
The final closed door of this little winter interlude shows an ordinary laundry. An ordinary laundry with a far from ordinary story.

A number of years ago, in an effort to be more environmentally conscious, we had a speaker who came in to tell us all about this new laundry soap that was more environmentally friendly than the standard brand detergents and could do the same job, even less expensively. We all sat there attentively, listening to her very-practiced marketing pitch. After she was done, she asked for questions. That was her undoing.

In the audience was Sr. Genevieve, Genny to all of us. Genny was kind of like what used to be called a lay sister. She didn't have a college degree, didn't speak too eloquently, but was a happy community member, serving in kitchens and laundries throughout her religious life. Formal education or not, she knew her stuff! So when the laundry lady asked for questions, it was inevitable that Genny's hand eventually went up. When called upon, "Yes, Sister?" she stood up and blurted out the only truth she knew, "You can't beat Tide!"


As you can see, behind this closed door, even though our laundries are equipped with the low suds, environmentally friendly version of today, there is the Tide bottle. Sometimes you just have to, because "You can't beat Tide!"

Behind closed door #5

Sun, 2020-03-01 20:14
I've got two more "Behind Closed Doors" entries which will fill this week, before we turn our thoughts to loftier posts!

This "thing" that you see is something that most of our sisters probably haven't even seem. It's downstairs on the ground floor in a nondescript closet---it's our Direct TV system. Each of those vertical black boxes with the white label at the top, is a channel that we get. About 35 of them, I think. We took a survey of our sisters with all the channels that our local service offers and the top ones became our system. That, along with the thousands of DVDs our local library offers and even some streaming services, certainly gives us lots of options...especially on those snowy winter housebound days (as we had last week).




Behind closed door #4

Wed, 2020-02-26 20:56
I admit that I staged this photo a little bit! Well, not really staged it, more cleaned up the closet that you see when you open this door. This used to be the storage area for the holiday decorations used by our sister who ran our Good Grooming room. Door wreathes were hung all over the walls and other paraphernalia filled the space, shared by a vacuum cleaner, complete with multiple attachments.

These days the closet has been taken over by two bird lovers, who tend to a combination of 6 bird feeders in the winter and summer--just different kinds. Luckily my friend's mother works in a garden center, what luck! and she often visits bringing us the cast off or torn open bags that give us a more than steady supply for the many birds that winter-over in Erie.

I especially enjoy the variety of woodpeckers that come out only in the winter. Right up to the feeders they come, chipping away, primarily, at the suet bars. Even the cardinals, male and female, come close these months, yet in summer we only see them from afar. The males are truly Norman-Rockwell-ish on the snowy trees.

A year ago we expanded our feeders by adding two in the inner courtyard so that the winter birds could be seen by more sisters. (Truth be told, I was feeling very guilty that we were the only ones getting to enjoy them, as the feeders were right outside our rooms.)

So this closed door continues to hold valuable things, just a different kind. And, yes, I moved the vacuum cleaner and attachments out to get you this shot!

Behind closed door #3

Sun, 2020-02-23 21:09
You can tell that the spring longing is getting pretty strong by today's "behind closed doors." It's a door that really is hidden away in the basement and houses, among lots of other things, our summer patio and lawn furniture.


The wooden benches that can be found all around the monastery, next to the sidewalks, can be seen piled high, one set on top of and upside down on the lower ones. The green metal furniture goes on the patio that runs the whole length of the community room/dining room along the back of the house. In the back corner you can even see one of the three umbrellas that go with the oval tables. Out of sight somewhere are two white picnic tables and the two gliders on which many summer evening readers can be found.

Behind a closed door #2

Wed, 2020-02-19 21:52
Behind door #2...what was that game show where you had to choose among three doors?

Well, I did not have a key to get behind this interesting door, but luckily it has a window, so I took this shot through it. This is our little-known luxury--a beauty shop. The beautician, who offers everything from a simple hair cut to perms and even wig care, is a dream--excellent cosmetologist and works wonders, at a fair price, too. The room is locked except for Monday's, her day, and even has a bit of a retro feel to it-- 70s or 80s in some parts--but everything that's suppose to work in a certain way works perfectly. Thank you, Stacey. We think you're great.




Ah, ha: It was Monty Hall on "Let's Make a Deal."

Behind a closed door

Sun, 2020-02-16 19:37


For the last couple weeks of February and the beginnings of March, I'm presenting a little series, "Behind a closed door." It may not be overly creative or exciting, but more in the genre of "making your own fun" when the days are dark and dreary and the high temperature is 16 (yes, that was our reality last Thursday!). As you will see, I literally opened closed doors and will enjoy sharing the ordinary parts of our home/monastery with you.

For the first entry, here's a closet under a set of stairs--think Harry Potter's room in that marvelous opening of the first movie. Since it's right beside an outside door, it's the perfect place to store a bicycle and golf clubs for the winter. Year ago we had long, large storage areas--one in the garage for about 20 bikes and one on the ground floor for a dozen pairs of cross country skis. Most of them are long gone now, but we still have need of some outdoor sports equipment--and here it is!


From last Thursday, can you see the nest hanging in the tree with its 5" topping of snow?

Spinning off

Wed, 2020-02-12 19:40
From September through December 2013 I ran a series here called "Nooks and Crannies." In it I shared a dozen nooks and crannies around Mount St. Benedict that I thought even our most frequent visitors probably miss. It was a lot of fun, especially for those frequent visitors who fessed up that they saw many things for the first time from this grouping.

Then in 2015, from March-August, there were 20 entrees in a series titled "Seldom Seen." Again, I was sharing some behind-the-scenes things from our life that aren't on the first page of most known places.

Now I'm going to start a similar sharing, at least to get us through the rest of February. But today, here are two from 2013 and 2015. Enjoy!


They started out as possible "pets" for our sisters in the infirmary. They are extremely beautiful and cute... but they didn't last too long there. They did learn to talk a little. From what I heard they could say "Be quiet" quite clearly! Now they are in a more private area and doing well--no shhhing needed.


If you've visited our place you may have seen this nook and cranny or you've walked right by it but haven't really seen it. It's tucked away in the corner of a stairway landing, next to a door leading out to our memory garden area. It has good enough light and a steady temperature in both summer and winter to make it an ideal place for keeping many plants healthy and ready for use, especially for the environment in chapel. It is a unique corner, almost a crack in the stairwell.

Ah, ha!

Sun, 2020-02-09 21:20
Natural snow measurers.


Getting through "the Febs"

Wed, 2020-02-05 22:54
We're continuing to slog our way through "the Febs"--29 days (this year) of an in between time for sure. One day it's dark and dreary and 30 cold degrees. The very next day can be bright with winter sun which takes all the edge off the day before. We always have one day in the 70s or high 60s--the meanest tease there can be! And every other day is a weather mixture of unknown predictability.

This year Lent does not fall in February until its last days (the 26th) which gives us weeks and weeks of ordinary days, a few feasts interspersed and lots of pre-Lent preparation time. (i.e. We're learning new songs in both the monastery schola and handbell choir).

In my more personal choices to get through "the Febs" we have added the excellent British movie The Crown, as our local library has both Seasons One and Two available for borrowing. I saw them both a couple years ago, but am pleasantly surprised how many details and dialogue I don't remember well on this second viewing. Those Brits are such fine actors and the dialogue in these historical fiction dramas is marvelous (think Mash or West Wing as roughly suitable comparisons.)

Add that my friend, Anne, just finished Where the Crawdads Sing; a first novel by a wildlife scientist that just spent 27 weeks on the top of the NY Times best seller list, and she is begging me to read it---there's another getting through "the Febs" option.

Our prioress just came back from a meeting in a small town on the southern border of South Dakota...hmmmm maybe I should re-read Kathleen Norris's Dakota that was another unique and very attractive look at the upper mid-west---where we have a number of Benedictine monasteries and abbeys, BTW. "Go west young monk/young sister" and west they did go: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakotas, Idaho, Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Arizona...California.

February 2

Sun, 2020-02-02 20:34
Here on this Feast of the Presentation (aka Candlemas Day) and Super Soul Sunday...we had a really great Liturgy including songs that we sing only once a year or so, that fit the Presentation theme. The reflections by our presider were terrific and whole prophetic theme that under pines it was very special--the Simeon and Anna story is one of my favorites from the early years.

Here are two images of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple...one in the more traditional mode and one quite contemporary.




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