Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Susan Doubet, OSBnoreply@blogger.comBlogger1261125
Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

Whiling away the days

Wed, 2019-02-13 19:59

More suggestions for getting through these cold, snowy winter days: have a friend send you the New York Times annual full fold-out crossword puzzle--mount it on your bathroom door (sorry, no room for a card table), put the clues right beside it, and you're good for 2-3 months of standing and filling in clues---at least at my rate!!

Lots of fun--thanks Joanne!

Wisdom is everywhere.

Sun, 2019-02-10 20:25
Our bluebirds winter in their houses in our backyard.
Photo by Jo Clarke
We had a two-day celebratory weekend that included the feast of St. Scholastica (sister of Benedict) and the 2019 Prophet of Peace award. Lots of visitors, prayer and song, good eats and good times. However, it limited the usual weekend "down time" quite a bit. Which got me thinking about one of my favorite Zen proverbs: "After ecstasy, the laundry."

And that led me to an old Zen proverbs and koans book I are some more for your cold February Monday morning meditation!

Relax. Nothing's missing.
Rest and be kind, you don't have to prove anything.
Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else to you expect it to be?

At last

Wed, 2019-02-06 21:06

This orchid's story goes something like this: five-six years ago it was a gift to one of our sisters. After the blossoms died off I inherited it, moved it to my office, began to water it once a week (the prescribed tablespoon), talked to it, watched the large dark green leaves live on and on, and went about my life. Two or three years ago I began to see these odd white things growing out of it (roots) and after quite a bit of time, it bloomed. Miracle! The blossoms eventually died off, repeat story.

Here we are again....the long, winding roots began about two months ago, the three buds maybe a month ago. Today the third one opened and I knew it was time to share yet another miracle!

PS A couple years ago I inherited yet another orchid. Water, talk, watch. Nothing....until a month or so ago...the roots are about 1/2 as long as these, no stalk for flowers even showing---yet I continue my vigil! What a hope-filled way to get through a winter.

Sweet memories

Sun, 2019-02-03 22:56

At lunch today I was mentioning that I hadn't had a chance on Saturday morning to do my weekly watering of the six ferns that hang in our dining room because of community meetings that we had all weekend. But I was worried about them because the air is so dry this time of year and a couple of them looked especially in need of water. So I planned to water them during the half-time of the Super Bowl game!

This declaration lead to questions that brought these answers: a) for about 20 years; b) no, but they all are offshoots of the original two; c) I think they came from Sr. Mary Philip at a jubilee. Then we realized that this was the death anniversary of this lovely and quite unique gal, Sr. Mary Philip Kiehlmeier who entered the community in her 30s (unusual at that time) and lived into her 90s.

Sr. Lenore Shaw, another late bloomer, entered community twice in her 20s, (left both times) and then returned for good 30 years later! Lenore was a true "character" who we remembered this weekend, also, as our Super Bowl pool is always in her honor (she was the first organizer of this annual event).

I can't imagine we'll ever stop missing Mary Philip and Lenore....great women and very special community members.

(Very) tough trivia

Wed, 2019-01-30 21:41
This BBC trivia is so tough I'm going to make it multiple choice for you! Good luck.

What are these?

Old fox deceived
Anodyne necklace
Dirty duck
Deer leap
Old contemptibles

A) The subtitles of Agatha Christie mysteries

B) The clues that unveiled Miss Marple cases

C) Final solutions to Christopher Foyle's dilemmas.

D) Pubs where Richard Jury solves his crimes.

It's hard to think of something to share besides an update on the weather! Yes, we are under the same winter wildness that most of the country seems to be experiencing this week. One of the housebound activities that many of us undertake is reading and that lead me to think about our website's page: "What Sisters/Oblates Read." There are 99 book reviews on it now and I've been thinking about what I'd like to put up for #100. We'll see.

If you, too, are part of the harsh January weather I hope that you and the folks in your area are safe and warm. We have these wonderful overnight centers that open only during the winter months. Primarily sponsored by churches, they offer not only sleeping areas but a variety of other things such as showers, warm clothing, TV, health screenings, etc. Very, very personal and compassionate Christ-like service from Erie's parish communities.

The last of winter berries before a huge flock of cedar waxwings stripped the trees this week.

The day the ruler "died"--enter a yardstick

Sun, 2019-01-27 19:35

In a (serious) four seasons climate such as ours you fare much easier and better if you have "hobbies" in the winter months. Whatever they may be doesn't matter. As long as you enjoy them and they pass the time indoors, especially on days of extreme cold and/or snow. The first of those days this season hit us this week: snow, and lots of it, and cold temps, with colder ones predicted later this week. One "comfort" undoubtedly is knowing that we are hardly alone as these winter storms seem to often cut a very wide swatch across the upper half of the country. But the hobbies do help!

One of mine can be seen here--my neighbor and I have taken on the task of providing seeds and overly ripe/uneatable apples to the birds and deer that frequent the pathways down the east side of the Mount, right by our windows. Out we hike faithfully and are rewarded with great sightings.

Another one of mine is measuring the new snow and the snow pack right outside one of our entrances, one fairly protected from extreme winds and drifting. This Saturday was the day that I knew would be coming soon....the ruler I use to measure disappeared into the snow pack Saturday morning! 12+" had accumulated. The ruler was replaced by the yardstick--hopefully to be reversed soon!

I caught one of our newest members taking a short video of the backyard Saturday afternoon, too. Probably to amaze (if not scare to death) her family and friends in the south! Nonetheless, we must always end this type of reflection with this final remark: It IS absolutely beautiful.

In tribute

Wed, 2019-01-23 19:58

Today I join the hundreds who are paying some sort of tribute to Mary Oliver, who died a week ago. Here she is with Maria Shriver who was granted a rare personal interview. And the interview itself is here.

Finally, it's hard to pick just one of her poems, but the one I want to share today is this:

"What I Said at Her Service"
When we pray to love God perfectly,surely we do not mean only.(Lord, see how well I have done.)

Winter storm Harper

Sun, 2019-01-20 20:04

The view from inside..note the accumulation on the screen!
The six-tiered railing on our outside porch.
Sister Karen clearing the lower backyard entrance. Big job.
Again, note the drift up against the doorway
and the huge "globs" of snow on this little fir.
Poor Scholastica, snow covering her feet and lower robe,
not to mention piling up all around her!

The ways of winter

Wed, 2019-01-16 20:58

I had three different encounters with winter today. The first was at 7:30 am when I joined other sisters out in the parking lot as we faced that unique thin layer of solid ice that our overnight icy rain left on our car windshields. Windshield wipers are useless, only a strong, hopefully metal-tipped, scraper will do. (Backed up by the heat on high inside the car!). Starting at the bottom you work away upwards, finally loosening a piece of the solid covering--sort of a very thin yet strong version of those thick, heavy ice floes that come down our creeks in the early spring. You continue to break off these large, paper-like pieces of ice until the windshield gets universally warm and you can reach the top and unloosen the entire windshield. What a job!

Secondly, in late afternoon I found that nearly an inch of snow had accumulated on our grounds, but it was in dots/little spheres, not flakes ...just like those Dippin' Dots that are popular ice cream treats these days. Odd!

And third, while reading my second favorite book of Mary Oliver's works I came upon this winter tale, unique not only for its depth, but that its title is nearly as long as the poem! Enjoy:

"Watching a documentary about Polar Bears Trying to Survive on the Melting Ice Floes"
That God had a plan, I do not doubt,But what if His plan was, that we would do better?

PO does not always mean post office

Sun, 2019-01-13 16:20

This past Sunday brought poinsettias and postulants to our community.

The poinsettias are courtesy of the end of the liturgical Christmas season which included dissembling the chapel's poinsettias gardens. The beautiful red and white plants were free for the taking. With the right temperatures, light and a little luck they can stay in bloom for quite a number of months.

The postulants are courtesy of two women who wish to continue their spiritual journey by spending time with us to explore whether God is calling them to community here. These months precede the more serious and intensive commitment to a year as a novice. We welcome them and offer both community life and prayer for them as they explore their continued "seeking."

Ordinary Time Approaches

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:01

Blessed "Ordinary time" is coming (Monday) and if you have been browsing on our website at all you can understand how we look forward to it--we have had a ton of activities and events over the Christmas weeks. All of them were great, but the "everydayness" of Ordinary Time, the small feasts that are scattered through it and just its regular rhythm all make for a nice backdrop to the weeks before the "special" seasons (aka Lent) begin again.

BTW, for those of you who knew my Dad, this Friday, the 11th, would have been his 100th birthday! And for those of you who did not know him...he was a great guy--a real people person, which was perfect for his career as a small business owner (jewelry store) as he dealt with customers all day long. Happy Birthday, wish you were here!

Epiphany-Three Wise Women

Sun, 2019-01-06 16:43

We had a wonderful Sunday Epiphany liturgy this weekend. The homilist was great, music came off very well, including a prelude by the 30-member schola of the Huron Carol, a beautiful Native American story of the birth of Jesus. At gift time, the hand bell choir played an old Polish folk hymn about the visit of the shepherds, which had our sisters who grew up learning a little of the language humming along!

And finally, in memory of my mother who used to claim she couldn't tell who were nuns after the habits disappeared, yet delighted in "picking them out" whenever we went out (and she was always right!), here's proof that "habits" still live: nearly identical attire from our Sisters Laura, Kath and Dianne, on Sunday.

In at full force

Wed, 2019-01-02 21:32
And the wait continues.
Eleven days. It's been eleven days since I and all the people I usually deal with, both local, national and even just down the hall, have all been "at their desks," full throttle and at the same time, so to speak. In between we had all been in occasionally, off occasionally, on Christmas break, and at any other holiday end-of-year event you can think of. Today, everyone was back...texts and emails were sent and calls were made and a response came through. But---it is a bit of an overwhelming experience after having ratcheted-down for more than a week.

All in all, I survived and I think everyone else did, too!

It helped that we began and ended the day with beautiful Christmas octave prayers and songs and that we are looking ahead to one of our very favorite feasts: Epiphany---and this year it is even on the traditional Epiphany date, January 6th.

Flowers in December

Sun, 2018-12-30 20:45

Every year we have poinsettias in chapel and every year they are beautiful. But this year...I know it's crazy, but they look more beautiful than ever: the reds look brighter, the whites seem clearer...they just look healthy and "happy"..if flowers can look happy. Ditto the orchids in my office.

After hearing all my life that orchids are a special flower, that people who grow and watch over orchids are a special breed, and that orchid flower shows are unique in their own right, I never even entertained the idea of getting one, let alone caring for it. But that changed about 5 years ago when a sister received a beautiful orchid as a gift and, after the flowers fell off, didn't know what to do with it. "I'll take it" I chirped up, forgetting my previous thoughts.

All I did, really, was put it in my office in indirect sunlight, yet lots of sunlight; talked to it, watched over it, and gave it the prescribed teaspoon of water a week. Life continued month after month after month until one day more than a year or so later I saw these odd long things growing out of it. Turned out they were roots (above ground) and after another while a stem appeared and finally flowers. It was absolutely beautiful and I was dumbstruck at the process and at the results.

That was about 2-3 years ago and I've been watering, talking and watching over it yet again, not really giving it the attention that I do all the other flowers which seem to need more.....and voila, it's happened again: roots, stem and flower buds have appeared. Watch this space: I hope in the next few weeks to share its beauty with you.

P.S. In another forgetful moment, I adopted a second gift-orchid a couple years ago and have given it the same treatment. Nothing happened...until two months ago: out come the roots and now I am watching diligently for a stem to appear! Ha--maybe I should look up when the next local orchid show is scheduled!

Christmas week

Wed, 2018-12-26 19:25
We have a lighter number of overnight visitors these holiday weeks, but we do have one very special guest. From the Benedictine Sisters of Daegu, South Korea, Sister Xavieria is with us for the four-week break between semesters at the University of Dayton in Ohio where she is studying English. This is a lovely community of a couple hundred Benedictine women who run all levels of schools, including a college, as well as large hospitals. We have had two or three of these Sisters here, usually to improve their English. Xaveria comes for the same reason and is just delightful. We hope she comes for other "college breaks"!

When snow comes, our animal neighbors come closer!

Christmas 2018

Sun, 2018-12-23 18:41

Some Kris Kringle presents begin to accumulate under the Community Room tree.
A holiday scene in a corner of a residence hall.

A look at our snow-less backyard through a silver wreathe.
I've been hearing lots of versions of Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah. It is such a haunting, deeply spiritual song. Despite all the beautiful renditions my favorite is still the one sung by Cohen himself--here.
Merry Christmas!

Blessed Holidays to All

Wed, 2018-12-19 23:17
As promised, Christmas decorations began to make their appearance today. This is one of my favorites. It's a huge wreath that goes up right at our switchboard/hospitality desk at the front door. A lovely welcoming to all of our holiday visitors.
This year's chapel tree is a tall one. They are never perfect, but always beautiful My favorite was a "Charlie Brown" one whose branches were horizontal, enabling us to see the ceramic wall behind it easily. But, oh my, when the sunlight came through the south stained glass windows the reflections on those same tiles with evergreens boughs superimposed were a sight we've never seen since. Gorgeous. You can see it for yourself by going to the archive list in the right sidebar and going to 2011, the December 26th entry!
And here's our "home" tree--the one we will decorate, put presents under and sit beside and just gaze, while sipping tea or hot chocolate.

Advent Week 3

Sun, 2018-12-16 18:32
My friend who is a poet, finds wonderful poems that she shares on the blogs she manages. Here's her entry for this Advent.

“Once a young woman said to me,
“Hafiz, what is the sign?
of someone who knows God?”

I became very quiet,
and looked deep into her eyes,
then replied,

“My dear, they have dropped the knife.
Someone who knows God has dropped
the cruel knife that most so often use
upon their tender self and others.”

Here's one of my new surviving-winter experiments. Quite unsightly but, hopefully,
will do the trick by protecting five (three shown here) new trees that grew
about 12-18" this summer, but would never last the winter,
let alone the deer, if they were out in the open.

1/2 down-1/2 to go

Wed, 2018-12-12 20:54
With great sadness I realized that we are 1/2 way through Advent already. I haven't even heard every song in our Advent music booklet yet, in fact it may be an impossibility as there are 57 songs and only 23 days of Advent this year!

Nonetheless, Kris Kringles are alive and well. Little gifts appear in mail boxes and shoppers get out to purchase their little package for the gift exchange Christmas Eve. Here are two Kris Kringle items that appeared in my hallway: a lovely vase of berries and greens and a Merry Christmas Advent calendar (isn't that an oxymoron?) with Peanuts characters!

By this weekend Christmas will begin creeping in more and more.....slowly, slowly.

Hardball comes to Erie

Sun, 2018-12-09 22:22
Last evening we had the opportunity to attend an hour and a half "event" held in downtown Erie, a conversation with Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC evening show "Hardball." Sure Cokie Roberts was here a couple years ago, and we heard Doris Kearns Goodwin last month as part of the same series, but generally these aren't an every week occurrence here, 350 miles from DC as we are.

In contrast to his rather in-your-face interview/hosting style on TV, he was casual, warm, very funny, Catholic, Irish, and generally "a regular Philly guy" as Anne, a regular Philly gal herself, concluded. He shared his opinions and mostly his experience of years in the world of national politics and journalism. He was not overly judgmental nor overly critical. One of the memories I will have is that although he clearly admired some presidents and politicians more than others, he said that most of our presidents were a mixed bag...good and admirable things in all of them and the opposite, too.

His latest book is about Bobby Kennedy who he thinks was quite the unique man and politician--and often the not-so-secret influence behind his brother's presidency.

It was delightful evening.

Beautiful, unique, special Advent moves into its second week.