Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Untrimming the Christmas season

Sun, 2022-01-09 19:50

The (liturgical) Christmas season is now officially over. 

Our poinsettias have left the chapel and been delegated to the foyer, 

to be picked up by any sister who wants to try and keep a poinsettia alive for awhile.



 Here's the community room tree...sans decorations. See it in all its glory a couple blog posts ago.


And for the untree trimmers--an ice cream bar!



With cookies!

A resolution to consider for the New Year

Sun, 2022-01-02 17:13

     
                                                                Three Things to Remember

As long as you're dancing, you can break the rules.

Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules.

Sometimes there are no rules.

Mary Oliver

Christmas at our house

Sun, 2021-12-26 20:05




 




Holiday lighting

Sun, 2021-12-19 20:38

We are still having a snowless  December but that hasn't lessened the preparations for Christmas, particularly the outdoor light displays. One night last week we were driving home after dark and turned into a nearby residential area that was all lit up. Much to our delight it turned out to be a kind of neighborhood light display as most of the houses had some sort of lighting on their homes. Some were quite subtle with tiny white candles in all the front windows. Others had beautifully decorated Christmas trees in their front windows. But the ones that went "all out" were, of course, the most fun to see. 

Here were our two favorites:



Back on the home front this year our inner courtyard has multi-colored lights on five rhododendron and hyacinth bushes along with a drizzle of lights across the azalea bushes that line the cloister walk from the dining room to the chapel. As we approach the Christmas weekend, this week they are set to come on every day from 4:30 and stay on till about 10:00pm. A nice homey feeling.

Been a while

Sun, 2021-12-12 19:05


 One day last week the serving group that was suppose to work at our soup kitchen one day couldn't come. So they called in the B Team to fill in. The B Team ended up being four Benedictine Sisters, one of which, myself, hadn't worked at the soup kitchen in ages.

I found it to be new and a different from the last time I was there, and yet familiar and very much the same! The biggest difference was, of course, that the guests haven't been coming inside for their meal in months. As you can see above, there is still a food  line, but it's just for serving up everything in some sort of order and in a to-go package rather than on a dinner plate. 

The first hour we were there was taken up by making PB&J sandwiches. We made at least a hundred, I swear. Jif peanut butter and Smuckers squeezable strawberry or grape jelly. Very good indeed. These served as "extras," a snack so to speak, for anyone who wanted one.

Then we started to serve up the main meal that was given out at a window in the front of the kitchen. Goulash, beans/salad, a roll, butter and a small envelope of parmesan cheese was the day's main course. In between making up the meals we filled brown paper lunch bags which I think served as a kind of dessert/snack bag. That day it included a piece of cake, a chewy bar and a small bag of nacho chips. I think I missed that somewhere along the line there was a bottle of water, too.

Without plates and glasses the clean up was able to be done in and around all the things mentioned above and we were walking out of the soup kitchen about two and a half hours after we arrived with 187 meals served that day.

Oh, and I really loved one more thing: wearing an Emmaus apron. The B Team was official.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Sun, 2021-12-05 16:15


I've stumbled onto a new author, for me, and I am enamored of her writing--both style and content. I first read one of her more recent books of short 2-3 page stories, but now I found her Pulitzer Prize winning book, interpreter of maladies, and can't put it down. You have to put it down, however, as it is composed of 5-6 page stories and you have to read them separately and let each one stand and "speak" on its own for a time.

What a talent she has for framing the simplicities and regular moments of everyday life into strong and deep reflections for the reader. At least that's how I'd try to explain her style! She either is an outstanding observer of life or such a gifted writer that she can pair the perfect words with the experiences of characters. 

They came this weekend

Sun, 2021-11-28 21:42



 Two "events" came upon us this weekend.

Saturday night we held the Vigil of Sunday for the First Week of Advent. Some years the Christian liturgical year starts on Thanksgiving weekend, some years it doesn't. This year it does, as Advent has nearly four full weeks--from November 28 through Friday, December 24. Which is really nice for those who celebrate all the special psalms and songs as we do.

Then, today, Sunday, we had our first measurable snow, at least out here in Harborcreek. Up to now we've had loads of "trace" amounts and even the frosty rain type that sticks to the grass and bushes but doesn't accumulate to any official amount other than slush! Today that changed. We had at least an inch, the wet  stuff that sat on every little branch and twig of every tree. Quite beautiful. But it doesn't last too long and then in an hour or two we get another round of the same thing. Over and over.

If you look closely you can see two little birds, probably sparrows, picking around on the ground under one of our feeders. The feeders will get more attention now that a lot of the autumn seeds et al are disappearing. 

End of a year

Sun, 2021-11-21 19:18


 This weekend, the last of the 2020-2021 Christian liturgical year, the Feast of Christ the King, we included a lovely poem by Mary Oliver along with the scripture readings. As in former times of thinking of Christ as the "king" of the world, we now, with knowledge of modern cosmology, can see the Christ as the Cosmic Christ--in a world, a universe much larger than it was once known.

Song of the Builders

On a summer morningI sat downon a hillsideto think about God--
a worthy pastime.Near me, I sawa single cricket;it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.How great was its energy,how humble its effort.Let us hope
it will always be like this,each of us going onin our inexplicable waysbuilding the universe.

Weekend welcome

Sun, 2021-11-14 21:14

It was a very happy day this Saturday, as we welcomed our three novices into a new stage of their religious life, First Monastic Profession. They pronounced their monastic vows for three years as well as will take up full time ministry again, now that their novitiate year is over.

See this article on our community website, along with a photo. Sister Colleen is the one of the far right, Jaqueline two down from her and Jennifer two down from her! It was very nice to have Jen's siblings and niece and nephew here from New England, and Jacqueline's mother and step-father from New Jersey. But to be able to livestream the ceremony to New Zealand and Australia for Colleen's family and friends, was extra special, albeit at 6:00 pm Saturday for us, it was around noon on Sunday for them!


Our larch is into its normal late, late fall look.

I came upon these right outside in a little area surrounded by pine trees 

and a bit protected and hidden. Guess all the moisture we've had lately

got them going!



Fun in the backyard.

Sun, 2021-11-07 20:11

The first frost is past so I guess that makes our high 50s and predicted low 60s temps officially Indian summer now. Getting outside as much as possible this weekend, I took a little trek "around our backyard" and here is what I found: a red border under the west wall of the chapel; beautiful tall grasses in the library courtyard, one red tree in the yard on the way to the hermitage trail and the black eyes on tall stems from this year's Black Eyed Susans. Blessings of autumn and its boundless harvest of nature, to you and yours. 














P.S. Two weekends ago, see October 24 blog entry, I wrote about The Power of 3 male voices at our prayer. Since blogs like mine are automatically transferred to our community Facebook page, it was posted there also. There readers can leave comments and, much to my delight and surprise, a couple days later doesn't this comment appear under the October 24 story:

"I was one of those ‘three’. Two of us are Evangelical Covenant and the third Presbyterian; all pastors. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the monastery. Thanks for the wonderful hospitality!"



This is why.

Sun, 2021-10-31 21:09

One day when I was in my mid-30s we received a call that announced that my sister had developed stage 4 breast cancer. Within a couple weeks my Mom and I flew to Florida to be with her and to get a firsthand view of what was going on. At that time I was into about 15 years of teaching and one of the ongoing "conversations" among the staff was the reality of the number of our students who went with their families on a 10-day or 2 week winter vacation to Florida each year. What to hold them responsible for? Should they have to make up tests? Would the absences effect their grades? On and on.

I remember that when we got off the plane in Jacksonville that February, one of my very first thoughts was, "This is why they come each year. It's heaven here!" Coming from the "winteriest month" of the winter months, February, into bright sun, warm breezes and happy, laughing people in shorts and t-shirts, was shocking, to state the obvious. But I did finally understand and never forgot it.

I had a similar, albeit shorter and not as intense a shock, this weekend as I had the opportunity to fly to Florida for a family wedding and, in the process, to experience a very similar feeling when I debarked from the plane. It's not snowy here yet, and certainly not even near freezing, let alone below it, but it's cold enough, and rainy and beginning that lake effect darkness that we have in winter. The difference was still there--still rather surprising, if not shocking.  My conclusion: if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line and you get an invitation to travel south of it during the winter months: GO! Enjoy and come home and share pictures and stories. Let your friends experience it virtually, at least. It's very, very nice. May you have the experience soon.



 Some of the southern scenes!

The Power of 3

Sun, 2021-10-24 19:26


 Our guest list is appearing more and more like its old self every week. The weekends bring the most guests, of course, but there are always day-trippers and weeklong visitors. This week we had four women who were all related to one of our sisters or are close friends. It was a kind of family reunion. They were delightful and fully entered into the daily life here, even participating in the cut-throat card games most nights (just kidding!)

But one evening praise took the cake for the week. Coming into chapel for Evening Prayer I noticed three guys seating together in a back row. They looked like they could be Methodist ministers (we've had them many times) or something akin to that. Sure enough when the opening hymn began it was one they obviously knew well and they entered into the singing in full voice. That's when I was reminded of the power of just a few men who are good singers, as you often see in choirs. There were over 40 of us and only 3 of them, but they balanced us just fine!

When it came to the chant tones and the Magnificate we didn't hear them at an equal volume, but I'm guessing that if they are here two or three days, they'll catch on pretty quickly to the melodies and we'll have that mixed choir experience again. It was really great. 

Fall Weekend

Sun, 2021-10-17 20:09

 

Saturday: after a big, bad rainstorm.

Our usually placid lake looked like an ocean!



Saturday night: I'm only about 50 pages intothis "thriller" but so far it's pretty good.
Lots of Washington, DC scenarios, butI heard that Armand Gamache makesan appearance later on!


Sunday night: Coming home at about 7:30 p.m.Gorgeous post-sunset sky. 

New paths

Sun, 2021-10-10 20:50

On the drive home this week we experienced a late afternoon soft, summer shower. The time of the shower, 4:00 pm, combined with a bright sun that wasn't affected by the rain, produced this gorgeous sight in the eastern sky. Very large and very bright. 

I pulled over immediately, grabbed my phone and did the best I could. 

 

Meanwhile, on the home front, we were greeted this week with the final steps of the new paved path  in the inner courtyard. Go to the August 1st blog entry to see photos of the beginning of this endeavor. By next spring, when the new grass comes up, as well as the new plants and flowers, it will be its familiar lovely self again!



Another book review

Sun, 2021-10-03 18:42


I just finished Louise Penny's latest Armand Gamache mystery novel. She wrote it during the COVID lockdown and chose the setting in a post-COVID year. I think I would call it a medical ethics theme. A professor of statistics has developed a philosophy, based on the COVID pandemic experience, of a kind of survival of the fittest by advocating legislation allowing/assisting medically or developmentally fragile people to die. She brings her national campaign to Three Pines to give a speech at a local university and the story, including new and old murders, erupts from there.

What is really captivating about it, beside the usual cast of delightful and quirky characters of Three Pines, is the contemporary issue that Penny proposed as a topic for universal consideration---a fascinating offshoot of the experiences and conversations we all have had with the pandemic. Can you say "underlying conditions"?  Or how about "assisted suicide" from some 3-4 decades ago? 

BTW: The latest Daniel Silva book also incorporated the COVID reality into its storyline. 

Harvest time is upon us.

Sun, 2021-09-26 20:19

All of a sudden, it seems, we have leapt into autumn and harvest time. There are end of the summer/beginning of autumn events everywhere: county fairs, small town fairs, wine festivals, grape festivals, a huge full moon this past week and the last pickings of pears, apples, corn and countless other produce from area gardens.
I noticed that we have 3-4 lovely looking squash and a large and perfectly shaped pumpkin in the area beside our compost containers out back. Just like last year!
Personally, I'm beginning to cut back lots of our bushes, climatis and the withering leaves of the larger bushes and grasses  in our flower gardens so that next spring I'll be happy I did it now.
As far as the little trees go, I am amazed at their growth, in this their second summer. I've decided to leave them uncovered for the winter, but I will connect a support stick to each so that they don't get broken or damaged if pushed over by the winds or an unusually ferocious snowstorm. And then, next spring/summer, into the yard them will go. Here they are today:

                                         This is a tulip tree, on the left, and a bald cypress on the right.                                                They have each grown tremendously this summer and look healthy and strong.

This is a river birch, according to the Arbor Day literature that came with it.

I don't think that this is not a tree I planted.I'm not sure how it got here or what it is...the best I can guess is some sort of locust.It's very hardy looking, so it can go out with the others!


And this last one, I believe, is a Washington hawthorn.It's small but is looking good.
Many of our sisters go around proclaiming that fall is their favorite season of the year, so they are very, very "happy campers" right now! The oppressive heat of summer is gone and the colds of winter aren't here yet. Yeh!

One in a thousand

Sun, 2021-09-19 20:31

 


I read once that there are a lot of great books out there, but there are very few really outstanding books--maybe one in every thousand. I guess I would kinda' agree. I read many good books, but do any of these really stand out from all the others: a greatest one among all great ones?

This might be one. Its author has won a Pulitzer, numerous other recognitions including a 2014 National Humanities Medal by then President Obama, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award.

The book flap reads, "Whereabouts celebrates ordinary life and community...the city the narrator calls home acts as her companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores and coffee bars..."

Chapters are short, 2-3 pages, and include titles such as, In the bookstore, By the sea, Upon waking, In August, and On the street.

Her observations, the phrasing, the images give new meaning to the search and finding of the extraordinary in the ordinary

This is a novel, but it is unlike any I've read. I've read journals, diaries, poems, etc....all of them great. Whereabouts tops them all.

Great to go away and great to come home again!

Sun, 2021-09-12 19:17

My 2021 vacation is over and it's back to the rest of the year starting tomorrow. But, one more memorable sight from the time away. 

I think it's part Norman Rockwell, part rural America and part back-to-school.

The Mid-County Trail we walked daily is sometimes totally bordered by trees, bushes and vegetation and sometimes a few houses are quite near the trail. I'm guessing that the houses were there first and when they put in the power lines and the trail under them, they wove as best they could around the suburban-rural parts of the towns they needed to get through. 

Here is a scene I walked past on the first day of school this week. New clothes, new backpacks, new sneakers and eagerness that showed itself by the constant looking down the lane for the big school bus that I also passed later on. 

A great scene...but don't miss their house and environs behind the kids!


  

  

Sitting in a little bit of heaven

Sun, 2021-09-05 19:34

 


Do you have favorite chairs? No, not a special type of furniture, a chair or chairs that's become a special place to sit! Like your Dad's old recliner or Mom's TV chair with the side table of all her projects or readings. I've reached the "favorite chairs" stage of my life and here's one that I have even on vacation. This photo was taken from my favorite outdoor chair here, a very comfortable tall back lawn chair. Its place is on the patio facing west, which shows a small flower garden, a little lawn area that borders the complex, with Rte 9 on the other side of the fencing. You can even see the homes across the street.

This is where I read Give Us This Day every morning, check my emails and read the Erie Times News with a Diet Coke beside me, and where I am swallowing great mystery novels day after day after day.

Nothing "too exiting," certainly nothing "earth shattering" but oh, so wonderful.

A Great Nature/Walking Trail

Sun, 2021-08-29 19:19



 



Hope you have one near your home...this one is a beauty: 4-5 miles long, diversity of nature, private and even somewhat hidden, well taken care of but not groomed, and a real haven for bikers and walkers.  

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